Friday, December 26, 2008

Singapore - Christmas Goodies from Vis-a-Vis and Centre Ps

Christmas... a time of sharing, giving, receiving, and of course like the good Asian in us, FEASTING! In this spirit, the need to have goodies of quality, festively packaged is ever so important.

I relied heavily on two places worthy of mention... one old, one new, nothing borrowed, nothing blue.

Vis-a-vis, a long standing veteran in the French dining scene in Singapore, and known for its Christmas roasts. Of worthy mention, the boneless turkey stuffed with foie gras, is as decadent as it sounds, but with none of that greasy badness, and still a winner after all these years. The roast US Sirloin encrusted with black peppercorn, garlic and fresh herbs, did not pale in comparison either and despite cooked ahead of time for delivery, retained its juices well and remained pink and tender.

Centre Ps' fruit cake was a winner with various sizes for gifting and is actually a delight to savour. Dense and moist, with generous amounts of fruit, and not a tad too sweet, embodied the right amount of holiday cheer. If you like your chocolate, their log cake is also one of the best I've ever had.

Happy Holidays and may 2009 bring more cheer and success to all!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hong Kong - Sun Kwong Chiu Chow Restaurant

Chiu Chow or Teochew or Chaozhou cuisine originates from the region in the easternmost part of Guangdong province. Being part Chiu Chow on my Dad's side of the family, the cuisine holds as dear to me as Cantonese food is on my mother's side. Cuisines I grew up with and probably would be happy to die eating..

Although from the same province, their styles are different. Chiu Chow cuisine is generally lighter in cooking method and flavour, with much more emphasis on the orginal flavours of the produce being cooked.

As one of my favourite Chiu Chow restaurants in Hong Kong, Sun Kwong on Lockhart Road creates a good sampling of traditional Chiu Chow cuisine.

The priciest thing on the menu is the fresh steamed crab served cool, with dark vinegar laced with a little sesame oil. While pricey, it is definitely worth the moola if you like your crab. The meat has a firm bite and falls off the shell easily from the freshness. Steamed with a mixed bag of herbs, chilled and then served, the herbs enhance but do not detract from the natural flavours of the crab.

The braised goose is a must try of course at any Chiu Chow restaurant and Sun Kwong is no exception. Perfectly braised and retaining its juices, it combines well with the soya sauce in which it had been braising. You can combine the goose slices with innards from the goose or pig, all an exciting combinations of textures and flavours.
Other Chiu Chow representations worth trying include:
Oyster Omelet (served with a piquant fish sauce)

Steamed grey mullet (served with salty yellow bean sauce).

And the rice porridge with baby oysters and minced pork.

Comfort food at its best.. no wonder Sun Kwong gets more crowded as it gets later into the night..

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hong Kong - Yuet Wah Hui Seafood Restaurant

Yuet Wah Hui at Lockhart Road, nearer the Causeway Bay end, is one of my default choices for -simple and well-executed old-style Cantonese favourites. Their piece de resistance in my opinion, is the free-range chicken steamed with ginger and spring onion. It is succulently juicy and the flavours from the marinade steeped into the plump chicken. Perfect with a bowl of steaming hot rice.

Other dishes always worth ordering:

Crayfish stir fried with chillies and garlic

Chinese style Calamari Fritters

Bittergourd stir fried with milk and egg whites

Clams in spicy Chinese wine is also a favorite and the kick from the pepper and chillies in the clear broth never fail to give me heat.

To end, the popular steamed lotus leaf rice always hits the spot.

The beauty of the location is that dessert is always available in nearby bustling Causeway Bay, after a brisk short walk to walk off a hearty meal.

Simple pleasures..

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Macau - Restaurante Litoral

Macau is not one of those places you head to unless you're a fan of the vices, and of course, gaming is a great revenue generator, surpassing even Las Vegas at last count. To attract non-gamers, the Macau government has spared no effort in bringing music stars for concerts, Cirque de Soleil, and of course, I am there again this year to watch Mr. Roger Federer, this time accompanied by James Blake, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.
Another highlight of Macau is of course, Macanese food, which is heavily influenced by Portuguese cuisine, having been a Portuguese settlement up until 1999, when it became a special administrative region of China.
Restaurante Litoral aptly describes Macanese food as the original "fusion" food, a blend of East and West with many recipes handed down through the generations. Sitting in a cosily decorated restaurant with wooden beam ceilings, old-fashioned blue-and-white tiles, you would not be blamed for thinking you were in a restaurant in Portugal.
Having lived in Hong Kong for a while, I have grown to like Baked Pork Chops with Rice, a cha chan teng staple. Its origins are Macanese and the best I've had is at Restaurante Litoral. I like my rice and the rice at Litoral is immaculately coated through stir frying, the tomato paste and therefore fragrant. The pork chops are also perfectly crumb-coated before being deep fried. All this topped with a layer of tomato based sauce, is baked in the oven, prior to serving. YUMS!
Other goodies on offer were the: prawn bisque served in a bread bowl..
.. and grilled sardines, which retain its freshness, through a quick grilling process, and served simply drizzled wtih olive oil.
To round off, the coconut egg custard, with its topped, slightly charred from a blowtorch was perfect - fragrant, and surprisingly, light.
One of those "go back in time" meals always worth going to if you are going to be in Macau looking for good food.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Confections of the Heart

Japanese love their pastries and even western style cakes are very much a part of the Japanese culture and have been since the late 70s. They love to make them, eat them, give them and receive them. Aside from being delicious, they are therefore packed into the prettiest boxes and wrappers.

From Gramercy New York Bakery where the strawberry shortcake is as good as where it originated from...

... to Nenrinya in Ginza where the only things on offer are their famous baumkuchens. Literally "tree cake" an originating from Germany, these cakes are painstakingly made layer by layer, traditionally roasting on a spit. The eggy fluffiness combined with icing is excellent with a siphon-brewed Blue Mountain. No wonder the queues outside its store are never-ending.

The use of seasonal offerings like chestnuts in November, in Konigs-Krone's green tea or chocolate cake is also heavenly. And if you cannot choose, they offer a half and half where you can get both flavours in one cake. And to top it off, no need to struggle with cutting. A whole cake comes ready cut in 8 glorious pieces.
So the next time you are in Japan, don't miss out on these heavenly creations!