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Food I have enjoyed at pop-ups and events.
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

M E D I A D R O P
I am familiar with @chefshentan’s twice-steamed nasi lemak rice. In fact, my familiarity goes back more than a decade to when I first had it at her stall in Maxwell Road Hawker Centre in 2008.
Her gently fragrant, moist but not clumpy rice forms the “foundation” of Nasi Lemak Bento Sets by newly-launched @tginasilemak. You can place your order online for their food anytime but please note delivery is only available from Thursdays to Sundays weekly.
Each set meal ($15) comes with two pieces of thick, fluffy omelette, crispy ikan bilis, lacto-fermented rainbow pickles plus a “hot main” of your choice. Because I got to try two sets, I decided on the Crispy Chicken which lived up to its name and was convenient to crunch on as it’s boneless, and the Beef Rendang, which I ended up favouring as it really impressed with its fall-apart tenderness and lip-smacking rempah. I topped up $10 to purchase 2 extra “hot mains” of Sambal Goreng (a stirfry of beancurd with vegetables in a spice paste) and Sambal Brinjal (priced at $5 each). Both were really decent and I wouldn’t mind ordering them again.
To enjoy with the #nasilemak were not one but two housemade sambals - a dark, earthy Coffee Sambal and a bright, sharp and spicier Sambal Belachan. They were both terrifically addictive. I had a lot of fun trying them together in different ratios.
The dark horse from this meal though was the dessert of Double Valrhona Fudge Cake ($8 for a piece / $64 for a whole cake). This is not to be missed. The large square of fluffy and moist deep chocolate cake tasted incredible on its own but when I had it with the caramelised-coffee infused 64% Valrhona chocolate fudge sauce, it made my jaw drop.
@tginasilemak also offers their food in larger servings for sharing under the a la carte section, and even retails a couple of items on their website too, such as the aforementioned sambals. Do tap on their link-in-bio to find out more and to place orders. I would also suggest doing it sooner rather than later because it seems there is an end date to this and it falls on 9th August 2020.

H O S T E D
On Sunday, 8th March, three female chefs banded together to present a 6-hands menu in celebration of International Women’s Day. Held at @tonocevicheria, the dishes that Tono’s Head Chef Tamara (@tamarachavez_chef), @restaurantnouri’s Sous Chef & Head of R&D Culinary Ashlee (@ashleemalligan), and Chef-owner Petrina Loh (@pe3na) of @morselsinsingapore came up with, were every bit as spunky and vibrant as they are.

To whet appetites, it was their takes on Ceviche, a Latin American marinated raw seafood specialty first. Each imbued it with her own culinary style (this was to be repeated for their respective Tacos and Main Courses that followed). So while Chef Petrina served a distinctly Southeast Asian Ceviche with a slightly “lemak” Thai Tom Kha-dressed Hokkaido scallops, Chef Ashlee’s octopus and prawns in tamarillo broth boasted a clean and bright flavour profile, and Chef Tamara’s tortilla-scattered creation hit the highest level of intensity as she had tossed prawns, octopus, clams, crabmeat and avocado in the zingy citrus of “Tiger’s Milk”.

For the Tacos, different proteins were showcased, making things more interesting. Chefs Petrina and Ashlee decided to use Asian ingredients but their delicious results were a world apart. The former’s aromatic and rich Angus beef rump rendang with raita and pickled green mango was decidedly Southeast Asian, but the latter’s ventured further afield, into the South Americas actually as her Taco had lamb shoulder in an earthy buah keluak “mole” and finished with pickled jalapeños. Roasted chicken marinated in “Achiote” sauce, black beans and pickles were what Chef Tamara chose to fill hers with. Frankly, all three Tacos were stellar - yes, even the lamb, a meat I don’t usually order myself. I would have been very happy to continue inhaling more of them but there were the Main Courses to consider.

These too turned out to be really enticing and well executed. There was a grilled snapper by Chef Ashlee (its texture was absolutely perfect) accompanied by amazingly done purple sweet potato and polenta fritters, salsa verde and mint. Chef @johnjohn0822 from Morsels represented Chef Petrina to explain her dish, a very juicy take on “Har Jeong Gai” (the popular fried shrimp paste chicken you find at every “zi char” stall). I love how she had marinated it with Cinchalok (fermented tiny shrimp), imbuing it with funky savouriness. The final course of Arroz Con Cangrejo by Chef Tamara triggered an “OMG” moment because the spicy crab meat-laced yellow rice exploded with larger-than-life flavours.

H O S T E D

Whether you are visiting for lunch or dinner, I recommend starting with the other ongoing promotion: “Any 3 appetisers for $20++”.

You get to select from a list of 10 which means there is ample choice. We tried the chilled marinated lady’s finger with spiced sauce, the deepfried mushrooms with salted egg yolk and the wok-fried carrot cake with Chinese pork sausage, beansprouts and X.O. sauce. I found the former two good but the carrot cake was my no-fight favourite. It had a mochi-like texture and was extremely flavourful from the sauce and the way it was fried.

What I also appreciate is the complimentary herbal drink every guest gets. The lovely brew is made from herbs that help with boosting immunity (the Head Chef had gone to source for them himself) and sugarcane for some sweetness.

H O S T E D

Originating from the Jura region in France, the Mont d’Or is a soft-ripened cheese which is made from raw cow’s milk. It is washed with white wine and baked to a sublime gooey-ness which stays pretty much the same even when it has cooled down. This cheese has a subtle funkiness but that is what makes it irresistible.
Head Chef Balaji served it on a board with assorted cold cuts, toast and some impossibly delicious potato grenaille. We could not stop ourselves from dunking the latter two in the creaminess even when the other dishes started showing up.
If you want to give the Baked Mont d’Or ($36++) a try, do note this item is only available until 15th March.

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M E D I A P R E V I E W
The event sells out in a flash. Yes, even the third date that was added after the initial two were filled, had all its slots taken up faster than a strand of pasta can be slurped.

Is it surprising though? I think not.

This is after all, the first 4-hands by the home-grown, much-loved Cicheti group that comprises of @cichetirestaurant, @barcicheti @caffecicheti restaurants. And the other pair of hands getting in on the action belongs to none other than Chef Yum Hwa of @benfatto_95, the private dining chef who has an almost-unhealthy obsession (but I applaud him for it!) for traditional Italian pasta.

Their menu is collaborative in the truest form, with every one of Chef Yum Hwa’s fresh hand-made pastas cooked by Chef-owner @limyewaun and Team Bar Cicheti in a different lip-smacking sauce to accentuate the uniqueness of each. To top it off, the overarching theme of this pop-up is minimal waste which means they have pushed themselves to think out of the box in mining the possibilities from each ingredient. The truth is, I would not have noticed the theme if it weren’t for it being highlighted by PR extraordinaire @bydanieleng because I did not feel the dishes were in any way forced or “out there”. Nor was the tastiness compromised. On the contrary, I was intrigued by how incredibly delicious and new a couple of their ideas were. Most notably, the second pasta, the Tajarin - its hand-cut strands glistening in a sauce of butter and drippings from the ossobucco (due to appear in the fourth course), and the deconstructed Bread And Butter Pudding by new-ish Group Sous Chef @dylancheong_. This dessert is an almost-misnomer as the lemon, truffle milkshake and upcycled crunchy bits of potato in there were too much of a delightful distraction.
To complement the courses served in order from the lightest in flavour to the heaviest, co-owner and sommelier @ronaldkamiyama has curated a few extremely small batch wines. Therefore, due to the limited quantity, do note a couple of the wines at the media preview (and therefore, my video) are stand-ins.
Last but not least, can I just say the complimentary housemade bread by @barcicheti is TO DIE FOR?! Apparently, having a carb-laden meal could not stop me and my dining companions from emptying the bread basket twice.

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H O S T E D

Kicking off Andaz Singapore’s female chefs-powered series at “Auntie’s Wok & Steam”, is Chef Tubtim Warapai from Park Hyatt Bangkok who is in Singapore to showcase her authentic North-East Isan style of cuisine. Between now and 14th Feb (yup, Valentine’s Day), you can taste her repertoire either a la carte, as a lunch tray set ($26++) or a Dinner Set for 2 pax ($68++).

My plus-one Kenneth and I had the Dinner Set which we were agreed is good value-for-money as it includes 2 desserts and lets you choose 3 appetisers and 3 main courses from a decent number of options. The pair of us also had a couple of extra items sent by the kitchen team. Here is a rundown:

1. Som Tum - Chef Warapai’s version of the classic green #papayasalad comes with raw cabbage and hits all the mouthwatering points of spiciness and sourness.

2. Pad Thai - this is on the light and healthy side with springy rather than oily noodles.

3. Grilled Pork Neck - wonderfully done appetiser of tender meat laced with the right touch of fat accompanied by an addictive spicy, herbaceous dipping sauce.

4. Softshell Crab with Green Mango Salad - this fiery-hot number left us gasping but wanting more in that #painispleasure way.

5. Thai Beef Salad - a dryish dish dressed in dried chillies, fresh mint, toasted sesame seeds and kaffir lime.

6. Red Curry Prawn - our favourite from the 3 mains we chose because the gravy was very fragrant (we could not stop splashing it on the accompanying white rice) and the prawns were large and fresh. Love that strips of succulent bamboo shoot were thrown in too.

7. Crab Fried Rice - cooked with organic eggs, spring onions and garlic, this gives off a healthy vibe as it’s not greasy.

8. Pad Krapow Moo - Chef Warapai’s take on the classic of minced pork stirfried with chilli padi, garlic and Thai basil is aromatic and not overly spicy.

9. Thai mango sticky rice and Red Ruby desserts - while the mango was sweet, I enjoyed the Red Ruby more personally.

The restaurant's comfortable ambience and great views from the 25th floor are also good reasons to dine there.

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H O S T E D
Being a sucker for pork, I was immensely curious about the taste of Budou-buta, the “Grape Pork” from Japan that Bedrock has brought in for this festive season. So I said yes at once when I received the dinner invitation.
Of the three dishes featuring the premium pork created by Executive Isaac Tan and his team, the Pulled Pork and Shrimp Sandwich ($48++) was the one that swept both my dining partner and I off our feet.
It’s an extraordinarily tasty combination of the very tender Japanese pork with just the right amount of truffle mayo between slices of brioche. Now, the brioche itself deserves special mention because it‘s crazy buttery in fragrance and possessed an otherworldly airy-lightness.
Honestly, I found the sandwich impressive enough to warrant a return visit but its accompaniments sealed the deal. The in-house pickled cucumber and chillies provided the perfect counterpoint to the rich sandwich while the highly-addictive crispy-fried potato straws contributed extra texture to the overall. I am glad @momofuku doesn’t do potatoes because it meant I could inhale the entire heap freely.
It may not be obvious in my video but the portion is huge. If you have a smallish appetite, sharing might be a good idea. But make sure you don’t miss out on trying other items when you’re at Bedrock, like the deliciously complex Smoked Tomato Soup, the ever-popular and decadent signature Mac ‘n’ Cheese or the well-seasoned Roasted Bone Marrow.

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H O S T E D

Only until 15th November 2019 is the Aki Matsuri Omakase Dinner Menu available at Fat Cow. It is one designed for Wagyu lovers as Head Chef Shigeru Kasama and his team (including Chef Nigel Loh who served us when we visited) have flexed their creative muscles to develop a menu that showcases the best of Kumamoto beef in various preparation styles. Priced at $250++ per pax, the 12-course set is sheer indulgence as it comprises of:

1. Aki Chinmi Moriawase - this platter has a glass of Fat Cow’s own sake warmed up, shark soft bone, abalone liver, koji miso on Wagyu, cream cheese miso yaki and tsubugai umani.

2. Snow Crab Chawanmushi with kani miso sauce: the rich sauce is marvelous with the egg.

3. Shimofuri Wagyu Sashimi Negimaki: we found the raw slices of beef with leek, gold leaf and three sauces very delicious.

4. Kaki Ume Wan: comforting seafood soup with an oyster.

5. Seiro Mushi: one of my two favourites from the menu, the extremely soft beef tastes incredibly refine as it’s steamed with pure spring water from Kyoto.

6. Sukiyaki: the other favourite of mine is this course with beef simmered briefly in a sweetish sauce and served with raw egg and freshly shaved truffle.

7. Aki Tempura Moriawasi: this delectable assortment of battered ingredients include shiso leaf-wrapped Wagyu tenderloin, large, sweet chestnuts, gingko nuts and shimeji mushroom, sprinkled in some sea salt flakes.

8. Zabuton Grill: sinking my teeth into the thick, juicy slices of charcoal-grilled Wagyu chuck flap left me in a state of bliss.

9. The Fat Cow Wagyu Sandwich: the very soft toasted buttery brioche and breaded Miyazaki A4 chateaubriand tastes even better swiped through the accompanying tangy sauce.

10. Wagyu Striploin Aburi Nigiri Sushi: served in a glass bowl and topped with Bafun uni, this is “surf & turf” in premium form.

11. Chef’s Special Donabe Truffle Meshi: cooked using pure spring water from Kyoto, the supremely fragrant and appetising Japanese claypot rice has truffle shaved on right in front of you. If you decide to skip second helpings, Chef will pack the remainder in a box with more truffle for you to take home.

12. Musk Melon and Yuzu Ice-cream: ending the decadence with sweet fruit and citrus coldness is lovely.

Every guest is given an elegant sake cup as a souvenir too. I like the design a lot because to me, it looks like Mount Fuji when it’s upside-down.

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M E D I A P R E V I E W
To put things in perspective, as much as I enjoyed myself at the pre-event tasting for @whiskylivesingapore thanks to the unbridled enthusiasm, passion and incredible knowledge of Maison Du Whisky’s Trade Marketing Manager Sebastien and Bar Manager Joey, I know in my bones it was but mere fumes rising off a whisky distillery when placed in context. Afterall, we are talking about the event being “Southeast Asia’s largest premier whisk(e)y and spirits showcase”.
Organised by French spirits house La Maison du Whisky, #WhiskyLiveSingapore will take place on the 9th and 10th November at Andaz Singapore, and promises to be extra special as it’s their 10th edition. So all stops have been pulled as they aim to drop jaws and floor everyone with a multi-faceted celebratory extravaganza.
Whether you are a connoisseur or beginner (I am definitely the noob while Burppler Kenneth Lee and Burpple Tastemaker Russell fall somewhere in between), you can look forward to treating your tastebuds to more than 70 brands of spirits from artisanal to rare collectibles, and to rub shoulders with master distillers, producers, brand ambassadors and industry experts. I suggest clearing your schedule to “Sip, Share & Shop” your way across the six immersive experiences lying in wait - the Masterclasses, Cocktail Class Rooms and the Collectors Room with its rare and old whiskies sound particularly exciting to me.
There is no doubt #WhiskyLiveSingapore is determined to be an event to remember. Or not, depending on how much you enjoy yourself😜.

To find out more and to book your pass, please visit www.whiskylive.sg

You can also purchase the passes at La Maison du Whisky at 80 Mohamed Sultan Road, #01-10 The Pier, Singapore 239013. Or at the door on November 9th and 10th.

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Even though I had plans that night, there was no way I wouldn’t stop by the “Kebab Party” thrown by Meatsmith Little India. I mean, how often do you get to stuff your face on freshly-made, warm chickpea naan cradling different delicious fillings by Resident Chef Kurt Sombero and his Guest Chefs, right? (The correct answer is about once every 3 months but that isn’t the point here 😆).
Not that it was in any way a competition but I‘d say Chef Kurt’s “Butter Chicken” resonated strongest with me. Big, tender pieces of smoky grilled meat came smothered in a kickass curry gravy rich in Indian spices, and juxtaposed by cool, crisp pickled veg - what a mouthwatering combo. That’s irrefutable proof right there again of Chef Kurt’s knack for spinning palate-dancing flavours.
The Lokal’s Chef Darren Farr’s Vietnamese-inspired “Pork Banh Mi” leaned towards a lighter, cleaner taste profile with slices of the meat dressed in a pretty melange of fresh herbs and sauces. Keeping in line with Chef Darren’s style of cooking, he made everything from scratch too. I am glad I started with his creation as it allowed me to appreciate its flavours better.
The third was the “Sabab” by Japanese Chef Sho Naganuma. It featured a hefty piece of spice-rubbed, grilled mackerel. T’was a rather interesting mash-up of condiments on that naan but it was the smoky fish that I was drawn to the most.

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H O S T E D
Wagyu fans, this is for you.
Located on the 55th level of ION Orchard (yes, spectacular views of Singapore are guaranteed when you dine here) has created a special “Meat To Share” platter. It features 500gms of prime Wagyu Ribeye blanketed in Manjimup Truffle, accompanied by the tastiest of sides.
The steak is from @Westholme, an Australian company that has bred Wagyu cattle for over two decades. The proprietary nutritional feed and free-roaming arrangement for their cattle to graze on pristine tracts of native grass result in meat that’s highly impressive in quality and flavour. Executive Chef Jake serves it carefully charred on the outside but still a gorgeous pink within, so you can be sure every bite of that smoky, ridiculously tender juiciness segues into a knee-weakening #beefgasm.
Now let’s examine the company the Ribeye keeps. There’s a serving of hand-cut chips (a.k.a. chunky fries) dusted with herb salt, a vine of slow-roasted sweet tomatoes glossed in aged balsamic, as well as perky crisp baby romaine lettuce over which buttermilk-cured yolk is crumbled.
As for sauces, you have chimichurri, Madeira jus and aioli fighting for your attention. I must admit though, I loved my steak bare as the default sprinkle of sea salt flakes was all it needed to make my mouth water.

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H O S T E D
With everything that is going on in Hongkong right now, it was a touch-and-go situation for the scheduled 4-hands by Executive Chef Daisuke of One MICHELIN Starred “Takumi by Daisuke Mori” and Chef Benjamin Halat of CURATE. Fortunately, things turned out favourably and the dining event is proceeding as planned, starting from today till 22nd August.
An alumni of Three and Two Michelin Starred restaurants in Tokyo and Paris respectively, Chef Daisuke brings his style of exquisite French haute cuisine showcasing Japanese ingredients to the “Art at CURATE” collaborative menu (4-course lunch: $138++ per pax, 8-course dinner: $308++ per pax). Included are dishes such as his iconic squid ink barley risotto with lotus root and squid, topped with shimmering flakes of silver leaf, and his shabu-shabu-style of Kinmedai in hot dashi swirled with mushroom puree.
Chef Benjamin presents creations that draw from his German heritage, personal memories and inspiration from his travels. Hence, you can expect courses such as an amuse bouche of a Japanese-inspired shiitake and shimeiji mushroom chawanmushi with tarragon dashi, crowned with ikura from Hokkaido. And for dessert, the latest interpretation of his eternal favourite chocolate, the Snickers bar.
Make sure you don’t skip the breads served at the start because those “snails” and “pave” are fabulous schmeared with loads of salted French butter.
You can also trust RWS Sommelier Takayoshi Aoki to choose the best wines for pairing to heighten your enjoyment of the meal (S$198++ for lunch, S$428++ for dinner).

Reservations can be secured by calling‪ 6577 7288‬ or via an email to [email protected]

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