Healthy Eats

Healthy Eats

When guilt sets in after I've indulged in too many rich meals consecutively, I try to balance things out with lighter, healthier food. It's no coincidence that vegetarian dishes become my top choice at these times.
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

I celebrated my friend Angeline’s birthday belatedly at the @nakedfinn yesterday. We had a lovely time catching up and feasting on delectable treasures from the sea prepared and presented in the restaurant’s simple-in-appearance but mindfully-developed style.
What draws me here is their curation of seafood, and the emphasis on its provenance. For eg. the Blue Cod featured in their Teochew-style #FishSoup ($35++) is a specie from New Zealand that cannot survive in polluted waters. So there is no doubting the quality of the line-caught ones used here. Angeline and I loved the rich soup, an opaque liquid that takes 5 hours to brew, in which 35gms of the fish came in, along with deep-fried yam, tofu, Chinese cabbage and baby tomatoes. We also scooped the rice served on the side into the soup to enjoy as a comforting porridge.

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M E D I A T A S T I N G

Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner has a new spin-off concept in town - quite literally as you can only find Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner at Funan Mall and Raffles City. For now anyway. The menu is by Chef de Cuisine Paul Albert, a young French bistronomy chef who radiates a bright-eyed energy. Having spent time at a few of France’s top Michelin star restaurants and an apprenticeship at The Slow Bakery in Rio, Brazil, he has not only grown passionate about the art of fermentation but also amassed knowledge for it. Hence, the technique is showcased pretty heavily in his food which is more exuberant in flavour than what one would expect of such healthy and wholesome looking and sounding dishes.

Here is everything we got to try:

1. Chayote Kimchi & Mung Bean Salad (VV) $18 - For a salad, it’s punchy! I was taken aback by how tasty the combination of homemade chayote kimchi, mung bean, crispy buckwheat, green parsley oil, watercress, pea shoots and roasted peanuts could be. Second helpings? Yes please

2. Hot Chicken Salad & Caramelised Pumpkin $20 - The slow-cooked chicken breast with kabocha pumpkin confit and herb pomelo salad with wasabi dressing also got my vote. Love what the brown butter brought to the overall especially.

3. Super Green Warm Soup (V) $16 - We had a tasting portion but it was enough to get what it means to drink your greens. Chinese spinach, bok choy, Shanghai green, chye sim and lady’s finger were blended into a thick liquid and served with beetroot pickled ricotta, roasted candlenuts, sautéed shimeiji and green herb oil. I appreciated this for daring to be different and thought it was actually quite slurp-able.

4. Miso Whole-wheat Spaghetti with Broccolini (V) $19 - The pasta has the company of made-from-scratch basil and almond pesto, miso eggplant confit and grated grana padano cheese which gives it a hearty taste. You can also choose to make it #vegan by leaving out the cheese.

5. Pulled Pork Creamy Risoni Pasta $22 - The rice grain-shaped pasta is tossed with king oyster mushroom, pulled pork that’s been prepared in the Classic American style - with a mix of smoked paprika, brown sugar, mustard seeds, garlic and a pork jus and shiitake reduction. Having absorbed all the rich butter, broth and cheese, the small slippery carb becomes delicious.

6. Portobello, Avocado and Hummus Black Sandwich (VV) $19 - Between the lightly toasted slices of charcoal bread is a veritable bowl of salad because packed with the dhal hummus are roasted portobello, avocado, shredded pickles and fresh herbs. On the side, a basket of amazing housemade, still-warm purple potato chips. Majorly addictive.

7. 100% Sourdough Waffles - Originating from a 158-year-old ancestral "mother”, I enjoyed the Liege-style waffles plain the most because of their insane fragrance and flavour. You can pick them up at #TBBSafari or have them dine-in, presented in sweet or savoury styles at either of the #tiongbahrubakerydiner outlets. For the former, they come with a delightful mix of lemongrass chantilly cream, ripe Thai mangoes, caramelised almonds and a salted butter caramel sauce. The latter sees them plated with crispy bacon, a fried egg, goji berries, ricotta cheese and a housemade special maple syrup ($23).

8. Fluffy Brown Butter Pancakes (V) $21 - Served with the same toppings as the sweet style of the Waffles, these are made using fermented buttermilk batter and brown butter which gives these pancakes a distinct colour and taste. I would recommend sharing one for dessert as the portion is big.

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It will be downhill after this point but at least my first meal of the first weekend of 2019 is a healthy bowl of sliced fish beehoon soup.
This $8 portion is big enough to be shared by two but if you’re famished, having it all to yourself won’t leave you feeling guilty at all. The dish has enough flavour so it tastes good in a “clean” way by itself but I prefer it with the housemade sambal belachan.

I have loved the Green Goddess Pasta at P.S. Cafe since forever.
A vegetarian dish that uses the firmer (think very al dente) whole wheat penne, it comes tossed with plenty of vegetables in a tasty housemade herb and pine nuts paste.
I think their choice and preparation of the greens have always been spot-on; the crunchy bite from the asparagus, broccoli, skinny french beans, edamame and raw watercress really enlivens the whole dish.
The final touch of shaved Parmesan not only helps to add a nutty savouriness but seems to bring all the elements together even better.

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M E D I A T A S T I N G
It’s been a while since I had this at the hosted tasting. But the vegetable dishes by Head Chef Seumas Smith have left me with such an indelible impression I always make sure to recommend friends who’re headed there to order them.
Take this plate of carrots for instance - it made quite a journey before appearing here in all its glory. Every step was integral to the amazing flavour finale, beginning with the carrots being confit in butter, then charcoal-grilled in the INKA oven before the final stage where brown butter, black sesame seeds, parsley and honey were added.
I’m sure this and the other vegetable items have enough yumminess to please even the more hardcore meat-lovers out there.

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H O S T E D
Under the “Large Plates” section of the menu are heartier choices that could make a filling dish for one person, or along with maybe another dish, as something to share between two.
The Cauliflower Steak is something you should consider if you would like a meatless dish that’s got punchy flavours.
Seasoned with scallion aioli, scarmoza (an Italian cow’s milk cheese) and smoked paprika, the slab of cauliflower is delicious. I really enjoyed how smoky and juicy the vegetable was cooked in this method.

H O S T E D
Grain and salad bowls are always a popular choice with the CBD crowd. So naturally, Head Chef Bertram decided to come up with a few options, five in fact, to cater to different palates.
Shown above is the one with couscous. Hearty in size, this dish is bound to be more than ample for those looking for a healthy but substantial meal. In here are feta cheese, hummus, avocado, olives, pine nuts and Japanese cucumber. The dressing used to toss the couscous is a red wine shoyu dressing which is on the light side.

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For those of you who prefer a healthier munch, you can’t go wrong with this.
The Brussels sprouts’ tight little ball of leaves come halved, roasted and seasoned with some Parmesan cheese and a dash of balsamic vinegar. I like that they aren’t overly charred and remain firmly crunchy and fresh tasting.
This also makes a good side to accompany your choice of main dishes.

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M E D I A T A S T I N G
This month (September) is the restaurant’s 3rd anniversary and I am embarrassed to admit today’s visit was a first for me. But I now see why it’s beloved by many.
Group Executive Chef Seumas Smith who is below thirty years of age, has an impressive resume from having started work in kitchens at the age of sixteen. He hails from Scotland’s Isle of Mey, and has cleverly tapped into his roots, working with small producers there to incorporate unique elements in his food.
Speaking of which, for me, the show-stealers at the tasting I attended, were the vegetable-centred dishes. They‘re part of “Maggie Joan’s” new menu and were all gorgeous to behold and fabulously delicious.
Even if you’re not by nature a greens-lover, you ought not to skip the following:
1) The beetroot done two ways - barbecued in the INKA charcoal oven and pickled in a mix of red wine, red wine vinegar, sugar for 2 days. They were plated with smoked creme fraiche over hickory wood chips, candied walnuts and upland cress.
2) The refreshing gazpacho of green French tomatoes finished with deep-fried artichokes and goat’s curd from Neal’s Yard Dairy in London.
3) The unbelievably beautiful carrots that were first confit in butter before being grilled in the INKA charcoal oven then tossed in brown butter, black sesame seeds, parsley and honey.
4) The salad of Japanese cucumber and English sugar snap peas dressed in a white miso sesame.

With such strong non-meat dishes, it’s great to see “Maggie Joan’s” offers a vegetarian Chef’s Selection Menu. It can also be tweaked to suit vegans.

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I have been under the weather for the last couple of days and it has affected my appetite. So I made up my mind to start today off on a healthy note with a quick stop at “Brawn & Brains” for breakfast.
Instead of my usual order of their spicy Curried Chicken Wrap (which would have have made my throat worse), I very sensibly chose the avocado on whole wheat toast and half-boiled egg.
As you can always expect with #brawnandbrains, the avocado was at its perfect point of ripeness and immaculately sliced. The toast, which was cut quite thin, was nice and soft too. Complementing these, a half-boiled egg served separately so nothing gets soggy by accident.

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Stupendous hummus alert.
With smoked jalapeños and plenty of garlic amping it up, this housemade beauty is a real diva amongst wallflowers. Unabashed and fabulous, she will stomp your tastebuds in her heels. And you’ll be begging for more.
The price is inclusive of two pieces of woodfired sourdough baked fresh daily on the premises and trust me, they’re very good.
If you want extra bread to mop up the hummus, you have a choice of more sourdough, or opt for pita bread or Turkish bread instead. They each cost $4+.

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H O S T E D
Dee, the lady boss of PR agency, Bless Inc. Asia, had mentioned the "Black Bean Strozzapreti" was her favourite item here and I knew exactly why once I had a taste of it.
In accordance with their mission to close the distance between farm and table, and support producers located in the region while creating wholesome, tasty dishes, Head Chef Oliver Truesdale-Jutras and Sous Chef Phoebe Oviedo made the pasta from scratch using black beans from Zenxin Organics in Malaysia. Not only did this add colour to the twirls of carb, but a fermented edge to its flavour too.
Representing producers in Singapore were mushrooms from Kin Yan, fresh sorrel from Edible Garden City and organic tofu from Unicurd. I was particularly struck by how delicious the tofu was as it had been smoked in-house at the restaurant. Silky soft in texture, the white blobs had a smokiness that was pretty aggressive yet strangely seductively. I loved it.

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Can't cook to save my life but boy, can I eat! 😄 (I pay for all my meals unless otherwise stated)

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