Intermission in London

28 Feb

Half a year ago, like many not-so-recent college grads who are bored slumped over their desks at work, I decided to tick one item off of my bucket list – to go to culinary school! So I handed in my resignation and 2 months ago arrived in London to start a 6-month course at Le Cordon Bleu for Basic and Intermediate Patisserie. (This paragraph is an oversimplification of course – in reality there were plenty of “OMG..is this the right move” moments)

Since then, my days have been filled with classes, doing “research” by visiting as many bakeries and restaurants as possible (but seriously, I do take this extra curricular activity as an integral part of my Food and Beverage education), traveling around England and visiting art galleries and museums in London.

It has been an absolute dream come true.

It’s also part of this intermission that I plan to blog more (haven’t had much success on this, as you can see habits of procrastination dies hard)…. but here are some photos to start me off!

ImageDessert from Dinner by Heston at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

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Raclette from Borough Market

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Snowy Bath

ImageBakery at Ottolenghi in Angel

ImageHampton Court Palace

Down and dirty in Jakarta

22 May

It’s officially been 85 days since my last blog post. How embarrassing! Talk about self discipline (or my obvious lack of).

Due to a lack of a better excuse, my new job (almost 5 months in now) has really been keeping me busy. I spend the majority of my waking day hunched over a laptop now and I’ve developed quite an allergy to it since. I’m determined to get my blogging mojo back though…slowy but surely.

I’ve moved back to Jakarta now and there’s certainly no shortage of good food here. One of the most famous food areas is in Krekot or Pecenongan, in the middle of old Jakarta. This area is famous for its late night down and dirty cuisine. One of them is this stall famous for its pork skewers and pork ribs soup. The easiest way to describe its location is that it’s right across the street from the Alila hotel (address below). The stall is open everyday from about 6 pm onwards. Look for this neon sign – the stall is literally on the street side:

Sign reads: Krekot Pork Skewers Stall

Raw skewers ready to go - chicken, beef, pork and innards

Pork skewers eaten with sweet soy sauce and pickles

Grilled over charcoal with cars whizzing by

Juicy and succulent pork skewers

Pork ribs soup with salted vegetables

Each skewer stick goes for Rp. 4,500 (less than 1 Singapore $) and one bowl of soup goes for Rp. 30,000 (about 4 Singapore $). Both best eaten with lots of sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) and pickled green chilis and shallots.

Not for the faint hearted

Sate Babi Krekot

Across from Alila Hotel
Jl. Pecenongan Kav. 7-17
Jakarta 10120
Or you can call the stall on its mobile phone +62 815 1089 4113

Shinji, the Singapore Version

26 Feb

After having a great meal at Sushi Kanesaka in Tokyo, I was really curious to try Shinji at the Raffles Hotel. The experience turned out to be equally impressive in both places – fresh off the plane ingredients and meticulous Japanese service. I’m not exaggerating when I say Shinji is one of the best sushi restaurants in Singapore (if not THE best).

We went to Shinji for dinner and chose the omakase. 3 different set menus are also available starting from $220. I said the food was good but I never said it was cheap…

Starting the meal off was a cup of warm seaweed soup.

Seaweed soup

Now for the REAL start of the meal…..

Squid sashimi and sea urchin with fresh wasabiSweet and creamy uni with crunchy squid. Who cares if my cholesterol level is 215??

Grilled tuna cheek and leek skewer

This was something different – I’ve never had tuna cheek before, fish cheek yes, but not tuna. Never had it grilled and skewered either. If I wasn’t told beforehand that it was fish, I would’ve thought this dish was beef, the kind that melts in your mouth with the right amount of fat.

Ankimo

Ankimo or monkfish liver stewed in sweet broth.  I’m not a fan of liver (except goose), but this one was surprisingly un-liver-ish and tasted more like very rich and dense Italian tuna, which I absolutely love.

Fat Hokkaido CrabSweet and succulent Hokkaido crab meat dipped in a sweet vinegar sauce.

Steamed abalone eaten with saltSteamed abalone eaten with salt

Grilled fish with grated radish and soy sauce

Raw ama ebi or sweet Japanese shrimp. Shinji usually serves it with a topping of fish stomach which I opted out of

Grilled baby barracuda

After the cooked dishes, we had an assortment of mouth-watering sushi…

For the last plate, the chef made us a mini tamago sushi (see comparison with finger). Cute but the only problem was that there just wasn’t enough of this sweet, custard-like tamago.

Shinji

328 North Bridge Road
Raffles Hotel Shopping Arcade #02-20
Singapore
+65 6338 6131

L’Operetta

30 Jan

I can’t even remember the last time I ventured out to Boat Quay, but I was surprised to know that in the middle of all the dodgy massage parlors and karaoke bars was a gem of a restaurant – L’Operetta. This Italian restaurant is owned by a Japanese ex-investment banker who moved to Italy to learn to sing opera (hence the restaurant’s name) and decided to open his own restaurant in Singapore. The owner, Katsumi-san, was a great host, pouring us wine on the house and telling us all about his time in Italy. The meal was of course utterly delicious from start to finish.

Entrance to L'Operetta

The best way to order at L’Operetta is to share everything. There are so many great dishes that you’d want to try them all AND save some space for pizza.

The first appetizer we had was burrata cheese with Parma ham, rocket leaves and cherry tomatoes, drizzled with olive oil.

The cheese was extremely creamy and fresh. It was the perfect combination to the Parma ham. Check out the cheese oozing out…

The next appetizer we had was the Hokkaido scallop gratin made with almond oil and herbs, served in a super adorable mini Le Creuset. This was quite an indulgent appetizer but worth all the calories!

Moving on the pasta…

One of the dishes on the menu that we really looked forward to trying was the uni spaghetti. Unfortunately they had run out of this for the day, so we settled on 2 pasta dishes. The first one was the ama ebi capellini served cold. I’ve only had raw ama ebi and was surprised that when cooked, it still retains that really sweet flavor. This dish was really light and refreshing.

The next pasta we had also had a very strong Japanese influence – the house signature pasta with tomatoes and prawns in a light curry based sauce. This one was definitely interesting and memorable. The curry was just right, not too overpowering.

The pizza we were told was the star of the show. Each pizza is baked for 60 seconds in a 2.3 ton wood-fire oven imported from Tuscany. If you happen to meet Katsumi-san, do ask him to tell you the story of how they managed to get the oven into the restaurant. It will definitely make you appreciate the pizza so much more. Not that you’ll need much encouragement to like the pizza because it really is damn good. The crust is hearty, puffy and soft.

There are about 2 dozen types of pizza on the menu. The one we had was topped with tomatoes, bacon, mushrooms, egg and of course cheese.

Lots and lots of melting cheese…

Katsumi-san also served us Parmesan risotto on the house. While the risotto is hot, it’s placed in a half-round Parmesan to really soak up the flavor . Parmesan is one of my favorite cheeses and this dish was really incredible. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, dinner and not to mention supper.

The giant parmesan round being wheeled over to our table

Risotto inside the Parmesan

I know the risotto doesn’t look very appetizing inside the Parmesan round, but trust me, it was really really good.

For dessert, we had tiramisu (again, on the house). This was easily the best tiramisu I’ve had in Singapore. The lady fingers was homemade and the cream was made fresh upon ordering. The Japanese chef who created this had learnt the recipe from an Italian grandmother. Nyum.

See what I mean when I say that this meal was great from start to finish?

L’Operetta

78 Boat Quay
Singapore
+65 6438 2482

Watch This Space

20 Jan

Happy (very belated) New Year everyone!

I know my first post of 2011 is grossly late but I just wanted to drop a note to say that yes, eatingsumo is still alive and EATING so please stay tuned for a proper update next week.

2011 has started fast and furiously for me. I really hope to be getting back into the swing of things real soon…

Rounding Up 2010

29 Dec

2010 absolutely flew by!

It’s that time of the year again when everyone seems to be taking stock of happenings in the past year and making up resolutions for the new one. So in the same spirit, here are eatingsumo’s top 10 dining experiences of 2010.

10. Hairy Crab Season – Annual cholesterol feast but how can you resist all that creamy roe?

9. Parma ham in Parma, Italy – I have always liked Parma ham, but eating it in Parma was a new level of enjoyment.

8. Nasi Kerabu at Belanga in KL – I would go back to KL just to have this again – rice with curry chicken and mixed with raw vegetables and MORE curry sauce.

7.  Tonkatsu at Maisen, Tokyo – What can say? I’m a huge fan of tonkatsu and this one is the best I’ve had so far. Great value for money too!

6. El Cerdo, KL for some nose to tail eating – This may sound like an oxymoron, but at El Cerdo you’ll find the crispiest most tender suckling pig.

5. Ao-Chan in Singapore – This will always be a favorite of mine. Ao-Chan is one of my (if not THE) most frequented restaurants in Singapore.

4. Ribs at Naughty Nuri’s in Bali – All the food we had in Bali was excellent, but if I had to choose one, it would be Nuri’s Ribs eaten after a great day of rafting on the Ayung River.

3. Cheese service at Santi – I’m one of those people who go crazy at the Jones the Grocer cheese room. So I was totally in awe of the cheese cart at Santi – obscure cheeses from Northern Spain with textures and flavors that were completely new to me.

2. Cooking class in our Tuscan Villa – A great way to spend a day in Tuscany – hands-on lesson to make pasta from scratch, roast pork, tiramisu and a handful other great dishes, followed by a big lunch in our beautiful villa.

1. Getting up close and personal with Chef Andre – Disclaimer: I didn’t choose this to be my #1 because it also happens to be the most expensive meal of 2010. I chose it because the whole dining experience was memorable – from the food to the service and even the tableware. Meeting the chef and visiting his private atelier was icing on the cake.

It was really hard choosing just 10 as 2010 has been a really great eating year for me (as proven by my expanding waistline). Here’s hoping that 2011 will bring in even more amazing food and experiences!

Happy New Year everyone!


Have You Seen This: The World’s Most $$$ Noodles

23 Dec

The claim to the world’s most expensive noodles comes from Taiwan’s restaurant – Niu Ba Ba. At 10,000 Taiwan dollars (approx. US$324) a bowl, this dish is over the top to say the least. It took the chef 15 years to perfect the recipe and each bowl contains noodles, soup, one piece of tendon and five squares of beef. The restaurant also serves a more affordable alternative, called the “ordinary beef noodles” at 200 Taiwan dollars a bowl.

To read more about this $$$ bowl of noodles, click here.

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