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Saturday 31 January 2015

Afternoon Tea at Tian Kee & Co Cafe

12 Dakota Crescent #01-48 Singapore 390012
Tel: 6344 8527

Tian Kee & Co is a very vintage provision shop turned cafe situated at an old block of 2-storied shophouse in Dakota Crescent. From the name to the signboard bearing it, to the-fashioned metal mugs, to Dolphin kiddy ride sitting outside the shopfront, the rusted metal grill gates and windows - everything has been retained to give it an authentic, nostalgic ambience.

Ok, some new additions like high-stools and couches have been added onto the furniture collection - and even the washroom was surprisingly pretty with flowers and pebbles (pity I didn't take camera into the loo - but I doubt anyone would??) - but other than that, most of the furniture here are made up of vintage breadrack (aka water station), wooden table with fornica tabletop etc.

Despite its minimalistic and dated settings though,  Tian Kee & Co serves surprisingly modern desserts such as cheesecake and Japanese cupcakes. That was what piqued *Wendy's and my interest actually, hence we made our way on a sunny afternoon to this hidden gem of a cafe in a HDB block, knowing that it is not air-conditioned too.

I debated for a long time on what drinks to have - since everything seemed interesting - should I take the Very Berry or Iced Pink Lady or Iced Snag?

In the end I settled for the latter - Iced Snag (SGD$6.50), essentially double Ristretto and Rose Syrup with Fresh Milk. It is a lovely latte beverage with the sweet linings of rose syrup, both suitably concocted so that they complement each other smoothly without obliterating / clashing with each other's flavors.

*Wendy came earlier than me and she was finishing up her delicious Nuts About U (SGD$7.00) - Nutella and Espresso Ice Cubes with Fresh Milk. They were an indiscernible mess of pale brown by the time I arrived, but she insisted that every sip was rich with the lovely taste of nutella - an iced mocha done right.

Then we tried the Rainbow Yogurt Cheese Cake (SGD$7.50) - looking nothing like the average tiered rainbow chiffon / sponge cakes we usually see / eat. These light, dreamy swirls were so pretty, so surreal, so eye-catching, and reminding us of the Paddlepop Ice-cream (anyone remembers?). The biscuit base was light and crumbly, a good fit for the lightly creamy-textured cake.  Yes, the gently-sweet, colorful cake was a delight to the palate, in its smooth, soft, pudding-like form, we unwittingly finished the cake in bites before we realised it.

We later learned that we should "shake" it to see the colors quivering prettily like jelly... oh, well, too late.

Hence, we began to dug into the other signature item - the Yuan Yang Cheesecake (SGD$6.50). Thankfully they separated the layers into coffee and tea respectively - I had thought it would be a cake tasting of both flavors blended into one (just like the Hong Kong's yuan yang drink literally).  The chocolate base was brilliant. The cheesecake was light but creamy, with equally delicate tones of coffee and tea flavors on each layer - distinctive when eaten separately; but a blissful marriage of taste when eaten together.

Tian Kee & Co is indeed the perfect place to reminisce on the good old days, yet indulge oneself in creative pastries. The service is good as well, even though there is no service charge. Do come on down to cop a feel / bite or two, because sadly, this lovely place will be closed at the end of 2016.

Friday 30 January 2015

Dinner at Momiji @ Revenue House

55 Newton Road , #02-02 Revenue House, Singapore 307987
Tel: 6253 2469

*Celine texted me for dinner, and since it seemed both of us had the same cravings, decided to hit Momoji Japanese Buffet Restaurant for dinner. For me, it was purely because I have not been there before. The restaurant was simple in decor, with uniform rows of dining rooms by the side and uniform rows of tables in the main dining hall.

I took a mini tour of the place to see what their offerings were, and was surprised to find a rather extensive offering here - from seafood to sashimi to sushi to nabe items to fried stuff to noodles dishes to desserts. I had pegged Momiji as a lower-range Japanese buffet restaurant, hence had expected a more limited range of food varieties based on previous experience with other locations.

Anyway, it only cost us SGD$48.00 per pax, inclusive of free-flow Sapparo beer for the first hour! You would need to bring the empty bottle back to the station to exchange for another bottle; hence some people with ugly behaviour poured their beer into cups just so they could redeem more.

I started with Oysters, Salmon Sushi Roll, Hana Maki , Salmon Sashimi and Crayfish Cold Tofu.  The sashimi was rather fresh, and I loved the Salmon Sushi Roll that contained cheese as well. The oysters were delicious, especially the ones with the caviar sprinklings. 

Then we had Chawanmushi with seafood - I took the one with the roe. The egg custard was nothing to rave about, but the seafood bits was rather generous.

Next, there were the Mentaiko Scallops - soft and delectable, made more so with the creamy lusciousness of mentaiko. 

We also had a Black Pepper Beef Nabe (hotpot), with thin beef slices and a bed of vegetables all brewing atop the sizzling pot. The beef was succulent and the thick black pepper sauce was very aromatic, giving the beef a tasty spicy flavor.

I had some Sushi in Beancurd Skin, and tried some Tempura items (fried prawn, fish flank and gyoza). The sushi and sashimi were still nice, but the fried items were kind of tasteless.

Finally, we had to conclude and hit the Desserts section - this was the self made waffle (very crispy) with scoops of ice cream. There were many flavors there to choose from. 

The last indulgences were some fruits and cakes. The black grapes and strawberries (meant for fondue) were incredibly sweet, to my surprise, and I was really prepared to wince at the tartness of strawberries! The chocolate cake, blueberry tart, bread pudding , eclairs and strawberry mochi were rather nice as well, not too sweet.

Overall, we felt that this was truly value for money buffet. I seldom praise Japanese buffet meals , and had come in without any expectations. They surprised me with the wide array of food, quality of food as well as polite service.

Thursday 29 January 2015

Afternoon Tea at Paul's Bakery Restaurant @ Tanglin Mall

163 Tanglin Road, 01-16 / 17 Tanglin Mall, Singapore 247944
Tel: 6736 3257

Yes, it was time for a Paul's visit again, this time at the outlet at Tanglin Mall with *Sidney. Do read my past reviews of the Takashimaya branch for tea here and for lunch here.

The branch at Tanglin Mall is prettily furnished, with mirrors , chandeliers and mock Queen Anne chairs. Service was slow and I heard, somewhat biased but I shall not comment further on that.

Anyway, I decided to try the Pure Jee Chocolate Cake (SGD$8.90) which was most pretty in a dome shape, and absolutely delectable because of its smooth velvety chocolate exterior, fluffy soft interior richly drenched in luscious dark chocolate. The bittersweet flavor does not leave one feeling overwhelmed, but rather, crave for more.

I paired this with a steaming hot cup of Cappuccino (SGD$6.90) - a rich, creamy and frothy drink resplendent of coffee's natural goodness.

Overall, it was a rather lovely experience at Paul's at Tanglin Mall.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

[Media Invite] Dinner at Fu Lin Men Chinese Restaurant @ Jurong Country Club

9 Science Centre Road, #02-01 Jurong Country Club, Singapore 609078
Tel: 6569 7011

Fu Lin Men Chinese Restaurant is Passion Group's fine dining Chinese restaurant, with an emphasis on Cantonese cuisine. It was founded by Hong Kong restautanteur Mr. Wong Ping Fai and led by award-winning Executive Chef Mr. Roy Tan executing his creativity herein - hence one can be assured that they are in great hands when it comes to one's epicurean experience here.

The restaurant looks like a perpetual elegant ballroom, with its plush carpet, white overalls and generous installment of chandeliers. From dimsum to a la carte menus to special occasions such as wedding banquets, this place offers nothing but comfort, impeccable service, beauty and good food. If fresh and flavorful is your kind of thing, then do give this hidden gem at Jurong Country Club a try.

Step out onto the verandah and enjoy the lush greenery or breathtaking sights that Sunset paints over the area, a beautiful sight to behold - an added catalyst to further boost this restaurant's merits.

Anyway, having said all that, this is a media invite attended by the representatives of Hungrygowhere as well as invited reviewers such as Hans and Esther, etc; hosted by the lovely Keziah and Daniel.

The current appetite-piquing specials to look out for would be their signature "Four Heavenly Kings" menu, comprising of superior Chinese seafood delicacies served in thoughtful personal sets at incredible prices.

South African 15 Head Abalone - soaked in clear water with sliced ginger and spring onion to reduce
 fishy smell; the entire process takes 4 days and then abalone is braised for another 4 days
Whole Dried Sea Cucumber - soaked in boiling water for 12 hours and repeated twice; washing
done by brush and braised with ginger & spring onion; stuffed with seafood and meat paste
Braised Fish Maw - rich in collagen; soaked in hot boiling water for a day; using foie gras paste
 to cook to perfection
Dried Shark's Fin - steamed and soaked in hot water for a nice texture; seperating the
softness from hardness; re-steamed for perfection thereafter

The special seafood items are free from chemical processes and prepared in the freshest way possible. They are rich in quality on their own, but infused with goodness of other ingredients such as foie gras paste and seafood paste etc, intrigued us even more.

There is also a special The Shroom Set riding on the truffle season trend currently, for the mushrooms lovers.

I had the Braised Fish Maw & Scallops with Foie Gras Paste Set (SGD$45.00), hence I shall describe that first.

We began with this Deluxe Appetiser Platter - comprising of seaweed on cracker, fried shrimp / fish rolls, and octupus with crispy fried lotus root. The dainty items were fresh and promising, especially the shrimp rolls which had a lovely, prominent aroma - a good start of more to come.

Unfortunately, due to the unavailability of sea whelk (if I remember correctly), the soup was replaced but I got a lovely Double Boiled Ginseng and Chicken Soup as a replacement. How's that for a treat? Tender chicken in ginseng's unique bitter-sweet flavored soup, sweetened further by wolfberries.

Next, the specialty of Braised Fish Maw & Scallops with Foie Gras Paste - one has to recognise superior fish maw compared to the fried ones easily available everywhere. The fish maw was smooth, with a chewy, bouncy texture nearly like squid, only much softer. The gentle flavor was enhanced by foie gras pate infusion; and the pairing with succulent scallops was simply invigorating.

Following that, I had the Stir-Fried Chicken Filet with Mint and Sweet Pepper, arranged artfully on a rectangular plate. The creation was lovely, with the stir-fried chicken retaining its natural sweetness, yet acquring a chargrilled-like texture and flavor. Prepared brilliantly with mint and sweet peppers, the dish reminded us of kebab - the healthier version.

Being a small eater, I thought I was very full after the previous course, but when the Fuzhou Braised Rice was served next, I surprised myself by eating far more rice than I usually do. The gravy was awesome, tasty but not overly-thick or starchy like what one gets at some zichar stalls. It tasted strongly of the seafood it was prepared with, softening the rice to make every mouthful a worthy wonder.

Finally, the conclusion of a sumptuous meal came in the form of Mango Sago - startlingly fragrant. In my experience with various mango sago desserts - the soup is usually creamy / milky and sweet, lacking in mango-aroma even though one could still enjoy the mango chunks within. This one - mango's aroma has its stamp from the light soup to the mango cubes all the way, cooling the palate like a dream.

Now, let's explore the Superior Comb Shark's Fin in Stone Pot set (SGD$48.00) -the other set that I managed to steal the most bites from, other than my own.

Besides the thick slabs of shark's fin here as one could see - soft, tender in its gel-like chewiness, this has to be the most generous personal serving of shark's fins broth we came across. The stone pot kept the soup piping hot, and best of all- the broth was prepared with superior stock, carrots and Australian pumpkin to give it the attractive golden hue. It was a very refreshing flavor with just the tiniest tinge of sweetness, complementing the natural taste of the shark's fin very well.

Then there was Deep Fried Fish Fillet in Thai Style  - an interesting deviation from the traditional Chinese dishes. The fish was crispy on the exterior and succulent on the inside; its slight flavor boosted by the Thai chilli sauce served with it.

Next up, Baked Roast Pork with Jumbo Mushroom - plump juicy mushroom with roast pork made tender through baking. There was a filling in the mushroom cap that was indiscernible, giving it a piquant savoury taste, a tad salty in my humble opinion.

Udon with Sesame Sauce came up next - looking deceptively plain, but the lure was in the bite. It was very bouncy, one could not help chewing strand after strand like an addiction, especially when the noodles were infused deliciously with sesame's fragrance. Well, take that from someone who usually does not eat udon!

The Hawthorn Pudding was something I had been eyeing since the start of the meal, and now at the end of the meal, I must say that the wait for this was well worth it. Served in a sophisticated glassware, this tarty pudding had a unique class of its own, melting lusciously in the mouth, like chilled jam literally - a welcome respite from the savoury dishes of earlier on.

Next, the most luxurious set here - the South African 15 Head Dried Abalone Set (SGD$88.00). The deluxe appetiser was the same for all the sets (except the Shrooms set), and the soup for this set was the Ginseng soup I had mentioned earlier on. The verbal review on this dish was that it was superb, needless to say - nothing like your canned abalones at all.

The other item for this set is the Stir-Fried Diced Beef Fillet with Garlic, also artistically arranged. We shared these cubes of very tender, very palatable beef - holding its own beautifully amongst superior treasures of the sea. If anyone of us had doubts on whether the beef would taste as suculent as it looks, the first bite was all that one needed to clear all doubts.

Finally, the Ramen with Szechuan Minced Pork for the set.

Last but not least, let's take a look at the Pan Fried Sea Cucumber Stuffed with Prawn Paste Set (SGD$38.00). Appetiser was the same as ours, and the sea whelk soup was replaced by Ginseng soup as well.

Next is the Pan Fried Cod Fish, followed by the Ramen with Szechuan Minced Pork as well as Hawthorn Pudding, both aforementioned.

Finally, let's look at The Shrooms Set. The Starter Platter comprises of Char Siew (BBQ pork), Black Fungus and Beancurd Skin Roll.

The Soup is Morel Turnip Chicken Soup.

Next, the Truffle Cod Fish.

Following that, the Stir Fried Diced Ribeye with Ceps Sauce - a mushroom sauce that gave the rather succulent beef a lovely flavor, making it sumptuous and akin to western mushroom-beef patty flavor.

The last savoury item for this set is the Flat Udon in Golden Soup - also a mushroom soup. The dessert was also the lovely Hawthorn Pudding.

We have come to the end of the review of Fu Lin Men Chinese Restaurant and its sumptuous "Four Heavenly Kings" menu. Thank you Fu Lin Men and wonderful hosts + crew for the excellant recommendations, as well as Hungrygowhere for the invite.