Home-based Bakers & Cooks’ Enjoyable Creations

Home-based Bakers & Cooks’ Enjoyable Creations

Since they don’t have geotags, I will include their Instagram accounts, so you can find out more about them there and also place your orders via DM.
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

(Media Tasting) With the “World’s Highest Food Farm” next to it, newly opened @kaarla.sg has bragging rights to being a farm-to-table dining destination of distinction. Situated at the rooftop of the iconic CapitaSpring building, they are both part of Singapore’s latest integrated lifestyle destination, 1-Arden.
Upon arrival, our small group was taken on a tour by the bubbly @iamsarahrod of @ediblegardencity - the company that manages the six themed garden beds spread over 10,000 sq ft. We got to meet Head Farmer @christopherleow as well. Without pausing his work, he shared a little about what he does, such as the sustainability programmes they have in place at 1-Arden Food Forest, the challenges of cultivating vegetables and herbs high up in the sky, and even revealed how the 6-years-and-going-strong “bromance” he has with Kaarla’s Executive Chef @jpfiechtner, spurs inspiration for them both.
(Note: As this was a media tour, special permission was given for us to pluck a few of the plants but please note, this is actually not allowed).
@huatkaliao and I were then ushered into @kaarla.sg for lunch. It is within the same space as @oumi.sg, a modern Japanese kappo dining concept that also embraces the same principles of Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as Kaarla.
The “Coastal Australian Cuisine” menu curated for us, brimmed with fresh ideas and flavours. There was a newness to every course that felt genuinely refreshing. Naturally, they incorporated the Australian and Singaporean heritage varieties of produce from the 1-Arden Food Forest we had just walked through. Here is what we had:
1. Sydney rock oysters with a kombucha-like vinegar made from fig leaf and 1-Arden-grown oyster plant reduction.
2. Damper from Chef JP’s sourdough starter, its unusual soft fluffiness and flavour the result of being fermented and aerated at room temperature. Really delicious with the macadamia spread, lardo, garden-picked lemon balm and dried quandong powder.
3. Surprisingly moist salt-cured lean kangaroo loin from Queensland, Australia that had been brined and smoked for three days. It was coated in a vegetable trimmings powder and complemented by bunya nut, Australian finger lime, an anchovy-based dressing, plus watermelon radish, daikon, breakfast, purple korean radish, and edible flowers from the 1-Arden Food Forest.
4. Shockingly different but very good was the Kaarla Closed Loop Salad. The day’s harvest from the rooftop garden formed the bulk but propelling it to distinction were the tiger nut curd, pickled daikon and mixed herb powder.
5. We loved the steamed and lightly charred garden-grown Zucchini flowers that was presented with pickled mussels, Japanese tomatoes, trout roe and lemon balm.
6. One of my favourites was the wild-caught Fremantle octopus tentacles. Grilled swiftly and sliced, it was plated with smoked and charcoal-burnt leeks, pickled boab, beef fat-cooked muntries and 1-Arden-grown succulents.
7. Of the mains which Chef @jpfiechtner thoughtfully sized down so we could sample more of, the woodfire-grilled White Pyrenees Lamb Saddle with salsa verde was the standout for me. Its slight gaminess balanced beautifully by lemon myrtle-infused stingless bee honey from Batam, a salt bush and bunya nut pesto, and dried saltbush leaves.
8. Australian free-range Asado Pork from Northern New South Wales was brined then slow-cooked for 8 hours to flavourful tenderness. It was brushed with toasted black sesame and jazzed up with a warm minya and riberry vinaigrette that had elements from the 1-Arden Food Forest, the same source as well for the eggplant which arrived charred and puréed.
9. Brined, steamed and finished in the wood-fired oven ensured the farmed Cod from Murray, Australia to be moist and lovely. While the sauce was a complex thing of fermented fennel juice, fish bones’ stock thickened with butter and cream, a bouquet of pickled carrots, endives and radicchio leaves layered on crispness.
10. Served as a side, the stunning Blue Pumpkin had been grown in the 1-Arden Food Forest too. Cooked over the residual heat from the coals for 12 hours, its soft sweetness was matched with a miso made from its own seeds and creamy goat's feta.
11. Tiger nuts harvested from the sky-high food farm led to a Tiger Nut Ice Cream, accessorised with tiger nut nougatine, calamansi jelly and poached oranges.
12. The other dessert of wood-fired pineapple with shoyu ice cream and miso pecan crumble possessed a sweet and savoury mix I found highly appealing.

How wonderful to have this unconventional addition to Singapore’s dining scene. Thank you Chef JP and Team Kaarla for showing the way.

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His great-great-grandfather started this Teochew Porridge business on Beach Road several decades ago - that’s what we learnt from the fifth generation young man who served our food. He added that “Choon Seng Teochew Porridge” has been at their current location at Blk. 43 Cambridge Road for twenty-four years. I also witnessed for myself that regular customers don’t even need to state their orders - they just take a seat and food is sent over shortly after. One of them even nonchalantly mentioned he had forgotten to pay the day before and the hawker was super chill about it.
Anyway, I did go a bit mad when ordering and ended up with enough food to feed three (the bill came to about $27) but somehow, @huatkaliao and I managed to conquer the spread.
What was most unusual was the dish of shark meat and its liver. It seems they are purchased from Pek Kio wet market, a stone’s throw away. Both flesh and collagen of the fish were firm and quite chewy, while the liver was softer with an iron-rich creaminess. If you are sensitive to strong smells, I suggest skipping this even though it does come with a housemade dip of plum sauce, chilli, garlic and peanuts that helps to neutralise.
I also picked the following to have with our bowls of plain porridge:
- Braised Pork Belly - Very good!
- Bittergourd With Egg - Full of “wok hei”.
- Braised Pig’s Ears - Excellent.
- Braised Egg
- Tau Kwa
- Tau Pok - Always enjoyable.
- Kiam Chye Buay - Theirs is not salty.
- Fish Cake
- Stirfried Chye Sim
- Stewed Cabbage with Tau Kee and Tau Kwa

I liked this stall’s vinegar-sharpened chilli and garlic dip very much - it’s a great complement for all the braised items.

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“Kway Chap” stalls are getting rarer these days. Most likely because preparation of this hawker dish is labour-intensive and more people are increasingly health-conscious. I feel, besides the older generation, not that many crave this traditional #nosetotail braised dish often, if at all, these days. Clearly, this shows my age because I still love it 😆
My favourites are quite close to home - #fengjikwaychap at Jalan Batu and the no-name stall run by an elderly couple at Jalan Benaan Kapal Food Centres. Each has their strengths. Therefore, in my ideal world, it would be the fried garlic and coriander garnished extra thin “kway” (rice sheets), large intestines, “tau kee”, “tau kwa”, hardboiled eggs, “zhup” (gravy) and spicy-tangy chilli from the former coupled with the pork belly, pig’s skin, pig’s stomach and “tau pok” from the latter.
But of course, I am always on the lookout for other stalls to try. And “Dunman Duck Rice” in the basement of Dunman Food Centre is pretty good as well. Their sauce is very viscous and quite herbal. You can get braised duck to go with the “kway chap” items but I tend to skip it. I like that they offer hard-to-find pig’s ears along with the braised pork and parts of the pig. Their chilli dip is very vinegar-forward, which could be too intense for some. Pricing is ridiculously cheap. We paid less than $12 for everything shown in my Reel.

Ridiculously shiok!! My family and I were left speechless by @straitscurryco’s Penang-style Nasi Kandaq Bantal ($28).
What a gastronomic bliss that mountain of rice with Daging Masak Kicap (tender beef in black sauce), Sotong Masala (lightly springy squid in dry curry paste), Teloq Asin (salted egg) and assorted vegetables turned out to be, not least because everything was heavily doused in Chef Edwin’s very own “Spesel Kuah Campur” (a heavenly mix of currries and gravies). The amalgamation of fragrances and flavours in the swaddled bundle triggered salivary glands from first sight and whiff. When the medium-spicy coconut chutney was added, it brought another dimension to the riot of richness.
Chucked my cutlery after two seconds. It was much more fun to enjoy the #uglydelicious mess with my hand.
FYI - @straitscurryco will be taking a break till around the end of February 2022. You bet I’ll be putting in another bulk order of this the moment they’re back in action.

“PorkMi” is what I reckon the mouthwatering Indo Bakmi by @hunterskitchensg should be christened. It is a flavourbomb disguised innocently as a packet of noodles with pork plus an entourage of condiments. Included is a sinfully rich pork oil-based sauce which acts like a binder for everything.
Preparation is simple and straightforward, and barely takes a minute once the pot of water starts to boil. The end result after you’ve given the noodles a thorough mix is so shiok, I had to take a moment.
Christina also sent me her newest variation of Bakmi to try. It comes with a Spicy Pork Belly sauce and is just as tantalising with those chunkier cuts of meat.
If you are like me and adore pork well as springy noodles, you need to give these noodles a try ($12 a packet). Orders can be placed via DM to @hunterskitchensg.

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Aside from the cute branding (@im_pielang literally means “I am a baddie” in Hokkien), this
is a super solid, old-school style chicken pie.
I love the buttery crust and spectacularly generous filling of chunky chicken, mushrooms and a bit of mixed vegetables. It’s damn tasty on its own but a squirt of McDonald’s garlic chilli sauce doesn’t hurt 😋 A must-try if you are into traditional savoury pies.
To order, please DM @im_pielang. Thanks again to my friend Abbey for blessing me with this.

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(Gift) Kenneth of @quesmokehouse was so impressed by a barbecue he had in America, he decided to teach himself how to smoke meats from scratch. This journey of learning and experiments has been going on for close to two years. A few days ago, he delivered his Beef Ribs Platter (good for 3 to 4 pax) to my family and I to try.
Packed in a sleek black box was a pair of massive meat-on-bones that were as audaciously smoky, flavourful and tender as they appeared. Smoked meats aren’t ever going to be as juicy as steaks but I found his ribs very decent in texture, especially the slightly bigger of the two. I really liked that they were not too sweet either. The set included a small tub of sauce which I pretty much ignored since I prefer relishing the meat on its own, but for those who like their meat glossed up and slick with sauce, it’s great.
For the sides, there’s a tub of creamy Mac ‘n’ Cheese and another of, I quote - “incredibly dirty smoky BBQ beans”. The former was pleasant but the latter had everyone going “wow!” - it’s the addition of those smoked meat cut-offs that pushed it to extra tastiness.

You can place orders via Instagram DM to @quesmokehouse, and in case you missed it, Kenneth is doing a Giveaway this month of October too. So do check out his recent post for details.

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GOT to share my discovery from a few minutes ago - the SOFTEST Kueh Koswee I have ever put in my mouth.
Not sure how Chef @gabdominic_kuehstry does it but those cubes of gula melaka-rich cubes tumbled in freshly grated coconut, literally melted in my mouth like butter in a hot pan. I wouldn’t even call it mochi-like because the comparison isn’t apt as it doesn’t do the ultra-soft texture of his kueh justice.
I heard that he will be opening for orders soon. So, if you’d like to be equally amazed by his #KuehKoswee or other #kuehkueh (I love his Kueh Salat and Rempah Udang very much as well), please don’t be shy about stalking @gabdominic_kuehstry on his Instagram

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G I F T
My foodie friend @blackmamba1507 didn’t only order lunch for my fam and I, but took the trouble to deliver it himself. Considering how popular his cousin Christina’s home-based business - @hunterskitchensg has become, I couldn’t appreciate it enough.
This gorgeous lady’s specialty is authentic Indonesian cuisine based on her grandmother’s recipes. And you know it’s super legit because Antonio who’s a genuinely discerning food-loving Indonesian, is hooked on it.
Besides the beautiful (and reusable) packaging (even the brown paper lining is cut into a flower shape!), I was wow-ed by how intensely flavourful her “Nasi Besek” was. Which by the way, is a style of traditional Indonesian rice and dishes served at special events, and gets its name from the basket used.
Everything in Hunter’s Kitchen’s version tasted so shiok and came together with the fragrant yellow rice deliciously. The aromatic and juicy “Ayam Goreng Galangal” and the crunchy corn fritter were the standouts for me.
Carefully tucked on the side was a dollop of Christina’s homemade chilli sambal. Antonio had warned me of its fierce spiciness, so I approached with caution. It burned for sure but was addictive, so I pushed through the pain and kept going back for more 😅😂
Thanks again, Antonio for the surprise treat.

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G I F T
Cindy, my ex-BBC and then Tripadvisor client (yes, she engaged me for projects when she was leading the regional sales teams at both) has been operating @mood_bites, a home-based bakery business for a while. And she was kind enough to send me a box of her tarts to try.
Elegantly oblong in shape, the pastry crust which was a little on the thick side, tasted fresh and buttery and packed a satisfying crunch. It paired scrumptiously with the assorted fillings she filled each with.
The prettiest and most feminine looking tart award has to go to the Rose Panna Cotta and Lychee which was decked out in pearly lychee boba (pearls) and pistachio for loads of textural fun.
A perk of picking the Berries Delight has to be getting to choose between having the fresh, juicy fruit arranged on a filling of vanilla mousse or a slightly savoury cheese. I chose the former and enjoyed it very much,
Inspired by her favourite drink, Cindy’s Yuzu Meringue Tart was a burst of luscious bright sunshine. If you adore sour citrus desserts, this would be perfect for you.
It’s really hard to pick a favourite from the four tarts but if I had to, the Dark Chocolate with Candied Hazelnuts would be it. With crisp wisps of caramel spun over the top, it spelled decadence with a capital D.

To place an order for @mood_bites’ bakes, please WhatsApp: 8818 8061.

Growing up, I never used to like Rempah Udang as the ones I’d tried tended to be dry, have an imbalance of pulut-to-filling, lacked freshness or simply didn’t taste nice. Quite likely it could also have been just my luck to have not bought from the right places. Or there’s the possibility I wasn’t evolved enough to appreciate it properly.
Regardless, somehow, and I’m not sure what possessed me to, I decided to order @gabdominic_kuehstry’s Rempah Udang the other day. It proved to be a life-changing decision.
His version, an exquisite banana leaf-wrapped log of soft glutinous rice naturally tinged a pretty blue in places, was filled with the ideal amount of deeply aromatic spicy dried shrimp filling. I didn’t waste any time inhaling one but mere seconds later, a WhatsApp message arrived from Chef Gabriel, asking me to “panggang” (grill) the kueh in a pan. I took it as a sign that I needed to have another 😁. So since I was at my parents’ home, I dug out their old-fashioned wire grill and did it the traditional way. Good golly - the man was right!
This is one step you should not skip because while the fire charred and blistered the banana leaf, it also softened the “pulut” (glutinous rice) and sharpening the flavours of the filling. When I took a bite of the still-very-hot Rempah Udang (greedy me couldn’t wait and had reddened fingertips to show for that), the smokiness on top of everything else, had me swooning.
Having left KIN where he was making kueh-kueh day in and day out, Chef Gabriel is now able to focus fully on his home-based #Kuehstry business. I recommend following him on Instagram so you’ll know when he’s ready to accept new orders because last I heard, he’s sold out.

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G I F T
Really grateful to my foodie friend @eechong for snagging a box of the elusive and very much sought-after @banelesg for us. Everything I heard, and read about on social media about it, proved true. There was definitely no exaggeration.
After adhering strictly to the heating instructions: 200 degrees for 5 mins in the air fryer, I had my mind blown good and proper. Caramelised to proper crustiness on top and around, the Banele was cushiony soft, a little fluffy and moist within. That, coupled with the heady fragrance of cooked bananas intertwined in dark chocolate triggered all salivary glands within smelling distance into overdrive. I inhaled one that very night of receiving this gift. And followed up with another the next day for breakfast. Now, I am someone who hardly does breakfast, let alone a sweet one, but exceptions must be made for the exceptional.

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