Vietnamese Steamed Clams with Lemongrass and Basil (Nghêu Hấp)

Since falling in love with Nghêu Hấp (Vietnamese steamed clams with lemongrass and basil) in Da Nang, I’ve been eager to replicate that delicious memory at home.


“Nghêu” means shellfish and “Hấp” means steamed. I had my first taste of this delightful dish at Tucana Restaurant and it was sooooo delicious, we went back for a pot every day throughout our 4D3N stay in Da Nang.

So here’s my first attempt at Nghêu Hấp and I’m posting my recipe here because, not to toot my own horn, it turned out really well. I fell off my chair at how good it tasted!


500g Fresh Clams (also known as “lala” in Singapore)

50g Ginger (sliced)

3 Stalks of Lemongrass

150ml Coconut Water

150ml Water

2 Green Chillies

2 Cloves of Garlic

1 Tablespoon of Fish Sauce

Dash of Pepper

Basil and Mint (amount according to preference)


Fresh clams, lemongrass, small green chilli, garlic and ginger surrounded by a profusion of sweet basil and mint leaves.


1. Wash clams in clean water and soak them in the water for about 30 minutes.

2. Rinse the lemongrass, peel the garlic, slice and de-seed the green chillies, and peel and slice a small nose of ginger.

3. Split / crush the lemongrass, garlic and chilli by smashing them with the flat side of a cleaver. I don’t have a cleaver so I split them with a knife sharpening block.


Lemongrass, garlic, and green chilli all smashed up with slices of ginger placed at the bottom of a medium-sized ceramic pot. Ceramic or otherwise, the pot must be suitable for cooking with direct fire. Add coconut water and water (about 300ml) to just cover all the base ingredients and bring to a boil.

4. Line the crushed items (lemongrass, garlic and chillies) and ginger at the base of a pot.

5. Pour in the coconut water and water (total of 300ml) into the pot, cover it and bring to a boil for 15 minutes.

6. Add in the tablespoon of fish sauce and dash of pepper.

7. Add in the clams and turn to low fire. Cover the lid and simmer. Although the dish says “steamed clams”, it is actually boiled clams.

8. Boil the clams for about eight minutes and turn off the fire. Then open the lid of the pot and add the basil and mint leaves. Cover the pot with the lid again and wait for about 3 minutes.

9. The clams would absorb the aroma of the base ingredients while getting infused with the fragrance of the herbs.

10. Now, open the lid and serve.


My home-cooked version of the Vietnamese Steamed Clams (Nghêu Hấp). Total preparation and cooking time is about 30 minutes. The outcome may not be Instagram perfect, but it is super yums nonetheless. Success! 🙂

Nghêu Hấp has a delicate flavor where the steamed clams hint lightly of a fresh sea’s harvest with a refreshing note of earthy herbs. The light broth steeped with the essence of all the ingredients is where the magic is embodied in this dish.

Leave no drop un-savoured!

The Rise of Black Rice

Rice has the effect of garlic to vampires for any gym bunny trying to carve a 6-pack or those on a low-carb high protein diet to lose weight. I know, because I’m one of those carb adverse even though I love rice and the floury taste of banmian (板面).

So instead of giving up rice altogether, I’ve found an alternative to make the calories count with every mouthful by carbing on not white rice, but a mixture of grains and herbs to increase the nutritional value of my bowl.

Here’s an herbal rice blend I’ve experimented with that’s packed with more fibre, vitamins, minerals and higher protein content than regular white rice. And the added Chinese herbs have health promoting efficacies as well!

Ingredients for herbal rice : (left to right) Green Lentils (绿扁豆), Wolfberries (枸杞子), Brown Rice (糙米), Red Cargo Rice (红糙米), Black Rice (黑紫米), Dioscorea Opposita (淮山), and Angelica Sinensis (当归). Angelica Sinensis is not pictured here.

The ingredients sound exotic but they can all be found at local supermarkets in Singapore such as NTUC, Cold Storage, Giant and Sheng Siong with the exception of Black Rice which I bought from Mustafa Centre. If you can’t find the herbs at the supermarts, Chinese medicinal halls are bound to have them. The non-white rice varieties cost more than regular white grains with black rice being the most expensive (depending on brand, a 1kg pack of black rice costs around S$8 while white rice of the same weight costs between S$4 to S$6).

How to Cook : Simply wash all the grains and herbs and cook them together in a rice cooker. Cooking duration is approximately 30 minutes.

In terms of quantity, brown rice should form the bulk with red rice at half the amount used for brown and black rice at a quarter that used for brown. That is, if you used 40g of brown, then use 20g of red and 10g of black (use the same amount of lentils as black rice). But this is not cast in stone and you can vary the rice and lentils ratios according to preference.

For the herbs, use about a handful of wolfberries, 4 to 5 medium slices of dioscorea and 3 – 4 slices of angelica. Angelica has a very strong flavor so refrain from using too much or the resulting rice may taste bitter. Cut the dioscorea and angelica slices into tiny pieces to mix in better with the grains.

Once all the ingredients are in the rice cooker, add water. The water level should go slightly above the knuckles when you place your palm on the layer of rice and herbs. The more water you put, the softer the rice when cooked but too much and you will end up with a sticky rice mud.

Delicious and Healthy

The combination of nutty flavours from unpolished rice (brown and red) with the beany musk of lentils and aromatic fragrances of Chinese herbs gives the herbal rice a complex taste with a hint of bittersweetness.

You can Google each of the ingredients to read up on their health benefits but I would like to specially highlight the value of consuming black rice as more clinical research are uncovering the powerful antioxidant activity of this dark grain. Due to its scarcity, black rice was reserved and eaten only by emperors in ancient China, hence it is also known as the “Forbidden Rice”.

My first encounter with black rice was during a trip to the Yaeyama Islands, a group of islets off Okinawa, Japan. Residents on the Okinawan islands consume black rice and small bittergourd on a daily basis and the area has the highest number of centurions in the world. Many other factors definitely contribute to longevity but the Okinawans’ unique diet of black rice may be one of the key contributing ingredients.

Already, some health sites are calling black rice the new super food as it contains more vitamin E than brown rice and has higher anthocyanin content than blueberries, bestowing it with super antioxidant prowess that could potentially guard against a myriad of cardiovascular diseases, cancers and age-related conditions.

So the next time you have a carb crave, go black and don’t go back!

Must-GRUB at Bishan Park

As the yuletide season rolls in, so begins the hunt for a restaurant to feast with family and friends. This year, there is a new addition to the Christmas table in the form of GRUB, a contempo-bistro at the heart of Bishan Park.

Curious what a diner within a neighbourhood park looks like, I accepted an invitation to sample GRUB’s Christmas menu and stumbled upon an oasis to chill and unwind!

Sitting next to a shallow stream surrounded by lush greens, GRUB brings garden dining right into our HDB heartland.

“At GRUB, we believe in eating responsibly. This means cooking with as natural ingredients as possible, without the addition of MSG, artificial preservatives, additives or flavourings. We also believe that responsible eating starts with good practices by the farmers, fishermen and artisanal producers that we work with.” – GRUB’s declaration of guilt-free eating.

There’s a choice of open-air seating on a patio or dine in air-conditioned comfort at the bistro that’s just been opened in May 2013.

Hip and uncluttered, GRUB’s layout and design maximises the view of the natural surrounding both indoor and outdoor, creating a great ambience for grazing and gazing.

A selection of exotic hand-crafted beers, ciders and stouts demands just as much finger pointing as the food menu. Taste pleasers are the Brit Thatchers Gold and Pear ciders and the Scottish Crabbies series of fruity beers that taste deceptively like sweet sodas. Booze prices range from S$10 – S$13 per bottle.

My palate’s curiousity was drawn to this bottle of American brew, Magic Hat #9. It’s sweet citrus flavour is no illusion.

#9 was a little lonely so I laid lips on the Belgian Rochefort 6 as well. I think they make a nice coupling… practicing those numbers under the sheets after a few bottles is optional.

GRUB’s Christmas menu (S$30++) is a 3-course affair with 2 choices each for :

Appetisers –  Soup of the Day OR Smoked Salmon Salad

Mains – Slow-Roasted Turkey with Gravy OR Honey Baked Ham with Apple Sauce

Desserts – Banoffee OR Sticky Date Cake

I got a taste of everything Santa would be envious of and one of GRUB’s hot favourites from the daily menu. Here are what the dishes look like…

Appetiser – Smoked Salmon Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette. The addition of almond flakes brought life to the taste and the salmon slices were generous.

Appetiser – Soup of the Day (potato leek soup with light gorgonzola cream and bacon bits). Love the creamy texture that’s done just right and my personal favourite.

Main – Honey Baked Ham on Mash with Apple Sauce and French Beans. The salty ham was nicely balanced by the neutral potato mash and sweet-sour apple sauce.

Main – Slow-Roasted Juicy Turkey Breast with Gravy on Sweet Potato Mash and pea tendrils shoots. The moist turkey medallions were tender and tasty but the raw pea sprouts somehow subtracted the taste for me. I would’ve preferred it with wild rockets but this would still be my choice for a main course. The sweet potato mash was pretty unusual too.

Desserts – Sticky Date Cake with Burnt Caramel, Vanilla Ice-Creamand Toasted Almonds and Banoffee (banana and toffee trifle with freshly whipped vanilla cream).

The winner is the Sticky Date Cake to end the whole dinner on a sweet note.

The hot dessert (literally) at GRUB is their Churros with Dark Chocolate and Tangy Crème Anglaise dips. We were told that the churros were made 100% by hand as the chef wasn’t satisfied with the machine-blended texture. Because this gets so many orders, the chef is getting sore in his elbows and finger joints and makes only a fixed amount daily. So go early for the churros before they get sold out for the day.

GRUB’s Christmas menu jingled my taste bells and the dining experience was made more sublime by awesome wait-staff and the kitchen’s commitment to use no MSG and additives. For a cozy Christmas get-together away from the holiday crowd, GRUB is a must-grab this season. Merry Christmas!

Dark Side of the Spoon : Unicurd’s Black Soybean Goodness

It’s time to join the dark side when it comes to eating clean with Unicurd‘s newly launched Black Soybean Silken Tofu and Black Soybean Tau Kwa. Made with Non-Genetically Modified (Non-GMO) black soybeans that are packed with anthocyanin (a plant-based phytonutrient), the homegrown brand is poised to be the transformer of Singaporeans’ health with these revolutionary soy products!

I got a chance to sample the tofu and tau kwa at an introductory event helmed by Chef John See who signatured six unique recipes using the black soybean products that are the first-of-their-kind in Singapore. With a hand in delighting the palates of celebrities, dignitaries and even the Presidents of State, John also don the toque as chef, contributor and consultant to various publications, non-profit organisations (eg. Red Cross, Cancer Foundation) and the Health Promotion Board to promote healthy diets amongst schoolchildren.

Kitchen God… Chef John See spends most of his time nowadays at The Food Dot (70, Race Course Road), a café cum cooking studio where he conducts classes for busy working adults. With his knack for culinary innovation, Unicurd sussed out Chef John to create dishes using the Black Soybean Silken Tofu and Black Soybean Tau Kwa.

I expected the tau kwa to be all black but they aren’t. Reason? The flesh of black beans are actually yellow and only the outer skin is black. So when the whole bean is used to make Unicurd’s soy products, instead of looking like coal bricks, the tofu and tau kwa appear purplish-grey. The products are all natural with no added colourings and preservatives.

Being a weight-watcher and someone who is perpetually attempting to build more muscles while using less animal protein, my diet include a lot of soy milk, tofu, bean sticks, bean sheets and beancurds. But what got me REALLY excited about he black soybean variety is the anthocyanin content.

Benefits of Anthocyanin :

I first learnt about anthocyanin while researching on supplements made with mangosteen pericarp (rind) extracts some years back. Anthocyanin is a plant nutrient (phytonutrient) known as a flavonoid found mainly in dark red, purple or blue fruits and vegetables. It is a very powerful antioxidant and as the body of in-vitro and in-vivo clinical studies on anthocyanin grew, mainly in favour of the flavonoid’s health benefits, I have been finding ways to get more of it into my body.

However, it is expensive to increase intake of anthocyanin as potent sources such as blueberries, blackberries, cherries, and purple cabbage cost quite a bit. The mangosteen rind supplement wasn’t budget-friendly either. With Unicurd’s Black Soybean Silken Tofu and Black Soybean Tau Kwa, I finally have a cheaper alternative to add more anthocyanin into my diet. Health benefits of anthocyanin include :

– the potential to protect against age-related vision loss

– may have anti-cancer and anti-tumour properties through cancer cell apoptosis (ie. triggering cancer cell death)

– could help prevent cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and clogging of arteries

– potentially have skin beautification effects by acting as a sunscreen (the deep pigments of leaves and fruits are actually anthocyanin at work as a plant’s defence system against constant sun exposure during photosynthesis)

There are many more health benefits of anthocyanin where ongoing animal and human studies are being conducted which I hope can verify its efficacies soon.

A disclaimer though, the information on anthocyanin’s benefits do not constitute medical advice or treatment and does not represent Unicurd’s position on the health benefits of its products. Those purported benefits of anthocyanin are gathered from research I read online, Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch and James F. Balch, and other leading experts on nutritional therapy.

Tofu Need Not Be Boring

I’m one of those who’ve acquired the taste and appreciation for the bland flavour of beancurd eaten without dressing and seasoning but once in a while, I do like to experiment. And thanks to Chef John, my repertoire of ways to serve tofu at home has been expanded with his Unicurd Black Soybean Silken Tofu and Black Soybean Tau Kwa dishes…

Cold Unicurd Black Soybean Tau Kwa Soba Noodle with Black-Sesame Broth. A nutritious low-fat complete meal with carbs and protein that’s perfect for our eternal summer.

Unicurd Black Soybean Tau Kwa slices with Smoked Duck Salad. As tau kwa is unobtrusive in flavour, it can be added to just about any salad and dish to add volume and nutritional value. The tau kwa has been fried in olive oil till bits of the skin are crispy for this dish. Really fragrant with every bite and a medley of textures from the tau kwa, duck meat, greens, and fried onions.

My personal favourite was this duo of Unicurd Black Soybean Tofu dressed with a paste of salted egg and the other topped with crispy fish skin. Both are sprinkled with chicken floss and spring onions that made my tastebuds sing.

Unicurd Black Soybean Silken Tofu can also be blended with 1 cup of unsweetened soymilk, 1 cup of UHT milk, and 1 cup of water to create a creamy soup. Sprinkle some salt, a tablespoon of oyster sauce and a dash of sugar to taste and add in vegetables, meat or seafood to enjoy hearty bowl of soup…

… or use it as a broth for steamboat! Surprise friends and family with this healthy soup base at your next dinner party!

Rounding up the tasting session, Chef John balled up tiny scoops of Unicurd Black Soybean Silken Tofu to complement a mango-sago dessert given a Peranakan hint with the addition of Gula Melaka. The sweet dessert went really well with my cuppa of neat black Espresso. Sugar rush met caffeine high… Awesome!

From ice cold to hotpot, savoury to sweet, the dishes demonstrated the versatility of this very humble and traditional Asian culinary canvas for one to express creativity in the kitchen. The good news is that Unicurd‘s Black Soybean Silken Tofu (S$1.50) and Black Soybean Tau Kwa (S$2.20) are now available at all leading supermarkets in Singapore.

I went to a NTUC Fairprice supermarket near my house after the session with Chef John to buy the products but only the tofu was available. I was planning to make Black Soybean Tau Kwa salad for dinner. As the products have just been launched, perhaps it will take some time before both are available on the refrigerated shelves. I shall patiently wait.

Because now that I’ve gone black, I will never go back! *burp*

A Mystery Package from Nestle

A mysterious package marked “Top AFL Secret” arrived at my doorstep this afternoon. Could Nestlé have mistaken me for Tom Cruise or David Duchovny?

The red label made the parcel even more intriguing. What secret does it hold? Will it self-destruct in 5 minutes?

The truth is in there. Love the simple yet eye-catching packaging that came with a balloon floating above the box.

There’s even a docket customized with my photo taken during Songkran in April this year! How very apt that this pic was chosen to fit the secret spy/agent theme. This shows the effort undertaken by the sender in researching my background.

But the photo was only a prelude to the amount of trouble Nestlé went through to know the person they are sending the package to. I was so tickled and amused by the Bio section that I was laughing from beginning to end. This is the first time I received something from a brandowner with this level of creativity and thoughtfulness to launch a campaign. By going the extra mile to know its customers, no wonder Nestlé is at the top of the food chain.

*Drum roll…* Ta-da! The contents inside the box. It was another surprise as I was expecting the parcel to be a food hamper of the company’s household brandnames such Kit Kat, Milo, NESCAFE and Maggi noodles among others. But no! It’s a call for a holistic approach to health and nutrition through the T.A.G. principle in order to enjoy an Appetite for Life (AFL).

Enjoy an Appetite for Life (love the double meaning in the phrase) is Nestlé’s latest campaign to reinforce its promise to deliver good food and a good life to Singaporeans by reminding us that sound nutrition, an active lifestyle and connecting with people around us are tenets to great health and overall wellness.

The 3 items in the box each represented the T.A.G. principle to enduring health. ‘T’ is for Togetherness where sharing a good meal or snack with friends and love ones strengthens our communal bonds and social ties. The t-shirt sent to me were size ‘S’ instead of the often over-sized ‘M’ or worst still, ‘L’ sizes that I’ve been given for events. Either my preference for tight tees is very obvious or Nestlé and its PR company once again showed how meticulous they are in knowing their target audience.

‘A’ is for Activity to keep the body and mind in good shape through exercise and continuous learning. Based on my ‘Agent Profile’, I’ve been assigned the mission of completing an activity, which is to spend an adrenalin-pumping day at Adventure Cove Waterpark! Nestlé must’ve known that I haven’t been to this theme park and marked this as my mission. Fantastic!

‘G’ is for Goodness and a shoutout to eat well to ensure we get adequate nutrients. Eating well is more than just about having fresh, nourishing food but eating everything in moderation. There is no such thing as a good or bad food but a good or bad diet! It is okay to indulge in an occasional chocolate or ice-cream, but balance is the key.

Not that I’m a big-time blogger or social media blockbuster but amongst the campaign launches I’ve had the privilege to be included in so far, ‘Appetite for Life‘ has to be one of the most interesting and fun in terms of concept, mechanisms, copywriting and execution. I think it’s a great case study in marketing via social media engagement.

Normally, I prefer not to announce commercial promotions on this blog because I would like to keep things I talk about heartfelt and grounded in direct personal experiences. Afterall, this blog is not a classifieds listing. But I really enjoyed and appreciate the creativity and attention to details in this marketing exercise. So here’s what the good folks at Nestlé has in store for Singapore netizens and shoppers these coming months…


In conjunction with Appetite for Life, Nestlé has launched a ‘Give-a-basket‘ campaign where you can send colleagues, friends, love ones and even strangers virtual baskets of Togetherness, Activity, or Goodness and you or your sendee get to win a real basket packed with Nestlé products weekly!

To take part, simply LIKE Nestlé Singapore Facebook page and click on ‘Appetite for Life’ to start sending baskets of delights from now till 31 October 2013!

What’s more, in the month of June 2013, shoppers of Nestlé products at Giant or Sheng Siong outlets islandwide stand to win Nestlé goodies baskets at any time of the day!

And from now till July 2013, every S$25 purchase of Nestlé products at NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage, Giant and Sheng Siong entitles shoppers to exclusive premium gifts such as food warmers and glass bowl sets.

If there is any good reason to enjoy an Appetite for Life, the time is now!

Day 326 : Prickly Pear Cactus Salad

Cactus, its very mention summons ouch to the brain. And it also spells F.O. to evil spirits for the plant’s purported power to banish paranormal mafia. Other than keeping cacti as hardy houseplants who are supposedly immune to death (I said ‘supposedly’ because I managed to kill quite a few despite their reputation for thriving with little care), the succulents never made it to our dinner tables.

But we do consume aloe vera don’t we? Yes, but aloe vera is not actually a cactus. It is a succulent plant like echeveria, agave. yucca and a whole lot of other fleshy arid species but the category of cactus has specific identification traits such as having spines (NOT thorns), pressence of areoles, and complex flowering structures. So technically, Singaporeans never tasted cactus. Until now…

Fresh Prickly Pear Cactus, a.k.a. nopal cactus, on sale at NTUC City Square Mall. Oh so exotic!

I was out playing Aunty Lucy during lunchtime today and came across these huge green oval paddles in the fruits and vegetables section. I thought the aliens have finally landed.

Upon closer examination, I was amused to find that they were actually cactus pads! Is internal acupuncture an upcoming health fad? Should I be swallowing a porcupine next? Or sea urchin perhaps?

Health Benefits of Prickly Pear Cactus

Apparenty. treating Prickly Pear Cactus as a health aid isn’t wrong. Because I was going to eat it, I did extensive research on the web and found many sites hailing it as a food-cum-medicine super plant. The Mexicans have been using it for centuries as food and to treat a host of ailments from superficial to diabolical. Recent studies have further confirmed the plant’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels as well as bust bad cholesterol, making it invaluable in the complementary treatment of diabetes and high cholesterol.

Okay, I have to qualify that the health benefits I dug up do not constitute medical advice. One study I read that examined the effects of Prickly Pear Cactus on diabetic patients only had 10 subjects. That’s hardly a convincing study at all. But other studies, such as one published in the Journal of American Medical Association concluded that phytonutrients in the cactus has the ability to block inflammatory agents in the body that causes swellings and even hangover!

How Does it Taste?

All the health benefits of the cactus should convince Popeye to ditch spinach. But wait. Does it taste good? Personally, I find it rather lacking in flavour except for a mild lemony tinge. The flesh is quite slimy like that of okra. And hardened fibres resembling fish bones are found at the narrow part near where the cactus ear had been removed from the main plant so that posed an eating hazard hassle.

So would I eat it again? Yeah I would. claimed that bodybuilders and athletes are including the cactus in their diet to speed post-workout recovery and reduce pain. The cactus has anti-inflammatory properties remember? But the green paddles don’t come cheap considering the yield in edible flesh after removing the tough outer skin.

After the creation of the Fish n Prick Salad (canned tuna with Prickly Pear Cactus and assorted garden harvests), I think I’ll try cooking it with chicken in a soup! Bon appet-prick!

Day 305 : A French Affair at 2fifteen Kitchen

When I think French cuisine, I think of snooty menus with hard to pronouce dishes and stuffy atmospheres where not a strand of hair is allowed to be out of place. So I was kinda apprenhensive when I received a meal invitation to 2fifteen Kitchen, a nouveau French eatery by Epicurean Concepts.

But I’m glad the unpretentious restaurant took the pain out of un dîner français (unlike how I’m trying so hard to be chi-chi by peppering my post with Googled French phrases. Heh heh).

2fifteen Kitchen is a short walk from Bouna Vista MRT Station and the restaurant’s name is as casual as it’s approach to French dining… it is located at unit #02-15 of Rochester Mall, hence the name 2fifteen.

“We put the unit number in the restaurant’s name so there’s no need to guess our address,” 2fifteen Kitchen’s Executive Chef Kenny Yeo shared. Likewise, the menu is well spelt out and listed in English so that diners need not second guess their orders. For a palate like mine which is untrained on French food, I instantly know what I’m getting; which is nice when compared to menus I had to wrestle with previously from other restaurants who insist on naming their dishes in French and I had to read the descriptions to know what they are. Sophistication shouldn’t come at the cost of convenience.

Enough of my misadventures with French food. Here’s more about the correction facility I went to that got me to re-like the taste of France. Food portions pictured have been reduced so I can sample more dishes.

2fifteen Kitchen, Rochester Mall

The frills-free decor is pleasant and I like the bright lighting as I can see my food without having to shine my handphone over the plate to appreciate what I’ve been served.

This photo doesn’t show it but the slightly fan-shapped drinking glass is delightfully unique!

Started my dinner with the sinful Warm salad of Duck Foie Gras with Grape petite salad & Raspberry Vinaigrette. Worth every bit of the cholesterol!

Sautéed Escargots with walnut oil, assortment of herb butter & Garlic on toast. The soft, succulent snail meat with the fragant sauce is simply délicieux!

Lobster Bisque with Crab meat & Pistachio (front) and Pan-seared Hokkaido Sea Scallop, braised Cannellini Bean Lobster Bisque Foam (back).

The lobster bisque was thick and creamy and went really well with bread. The scallop, however, sat on the fire for a little too long I think as it was rubbery.

Grilled Angus Flank Steak, garlic Potatoes, shallot Confit in red wine sauce. Ordered this to be medium done but probably should’ve gone with medium rare as flank steak tend to get chewy when overdone.

Roasted Lamb Loin with Provencal Vegetables & Garlic herb crust.

Crispy Duck Confit from Périgord, Medley of Mesclun, Balsamic Vinaigrette. One of my fave dishes. Crispiness of the skin is perfect and the meat slides right off the bone. I would eat the bone too if I could!

The winner at 2fifteen Kitchen is the Prawn Cappellini in Aromatic Oil. Cappellini is also known as angel hair pasta and the texture resembles bee hoon. This is one of Chef Kenny’s special creation and it’s flavoured beautifully.

Trio crème Brulee Custard with Caramelised Sugar (espresso, classic and pumpkin). Can you see the grape-sized kiwi fruit on the plate? So cute!

Home-made Apple tart, Vanilla Ice Cream & Almonds. Love this too… the amazingly thin crust is so light and crispy.

Photo with 2fifteen Kitchen’s Executive Chef Kenny Yeo…. a really friendly and warm face of the restaurant who’s ever ready to give an insight into the dishes. Chef Kenny’s culinary flair is much sought in Singapore and Taiwan. He headed several restaurants here before spending a year coaching chefs in Taiwan.

Having tried a 5-course appetiser, soup, main, pasta and dessert meal at 2fifteen Kitchen, my appetite for French spreads was rekindled. Chef Kenny, the service staff’s Singaporean-ness and the simple chic of the restaurant made French dining so much more accessible without compromising on presentation and taste. Bon appétit!

2fifteen Kitchen @ Rochester Mall

Address : 35 Rochester Drive, #02-15, Rochester Mall

Reservation : +65 6659 8215

Website :

Day 300 : A Cake That Blows Your Mind

Attended a friend’s birthday party at the luxurious Marina Bay Sands suite on level 52 that offered a breathtaking aerial view of Bay South where Gardens by the Bay has bloomed.

But the bigger attraction sat on a table grabbing astonished gasps and eyeballs. It was a totally swell cake!

Day 288 : Dinnpper

Juliana needed test rats for her culinary experiments and so my kitchen became her laboratory for the day as she served up a fruity brown rice, sticky sauced snow fish, drunken prawns (done with Bek Se Ju), beef-dunno-what, and Korean style fried leek with kimchi.

I’m writing this post so obviously her Frankenstein menu didn’t kill me. The dinner-supper was meant for 2, but it grew to 3 and God must’ve known we needed a fourth to finish the food and sent Anis our way. I was amazed by how the mouths just appeared to help finish up the volume of food. Juliana is known for her generosity and excesses in all her indulgence. The food was good, so it’s not that we needed more appetites to chow down, but the portions were simply too much.

The meal was also thoughtfully made with considerations given to my palate’s fancy and for that, I’m very grateful although I balk whenever friends show me too much favour. It’s nice to catch up with friends over a homecooked meal and some wine once in a while 🙂

Day 276 : IKYU Sushi & Bar

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

When it comes to Japanese fine dine, three factors determine whether a dining experience gets the ichiban-oishii squeal or you wished you were on a kamikaze mission. The trinity that makes or breaks a Jap restaurant, to me, is Freshness, Authenticity, and Beauty (plating, presentation, decoration). I call it the FAB rating.

While the freshness of ingredients is expected of any restaurant regardless of cuisine and artistry in plating definitely whets the appetite further, authenticity can sometimes be a dirty word. By ‘authentic’, I mean the traditional taste of a dish. Not that tradition is bad, but if there are a gazillion places using the same heritage recipe, the marketing spiel could get kinda tired and stale.

Then once in a while, something like IKYU Sushi & Bar happens to redefine tradition and raises the stakes in competing for the eyes and stomachs of Singaporeans.

Yong Siak Street, IKYU Sushi & Bar, Tiong Bahru

Snuggled amongst a plethora of avant-garde nouvelle restaurants and cafes in the retro-hip part of Tiong Bahru’s residential estate, IKYU can be found at No. 5, Yong Siak Street.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

IKYU (pronounced as E-Q, 一休) means “take a break”. The restaurant is swarthed in a bold copper skin that befits an art gallery.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Interior of IKYU viewed from the main entrance. It can seat about 50 diners.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

View of the IKYU from the restaurant’s restroom.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Retro taps at the restroom provided a link between the restaurant’s modern design with Tiong Bahru’s reputation for nostalgia.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Food is a little pricey considering the Smurf portion they come in but the taste and creativity patches the hole in the wallet.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Started the food tasting session with a refreshing sip of chilled Pear Sake.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Grilled Edamame flavoured with Truffle Oil – S$8.50.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Chef’s special creation of the day – Cream Cheese with Snapper’s Stomach (not in menu). Depending on the exotic fresh catch of the day that suppliers bring to the kitchen, diners can be surprised by special items not on the menu. Ask the staff for the day’s special and prepare to be delighted. This Snapper Stomach appetiser just blew my tastebuds away. Nice!

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Wafu Marinated Salmon Carpaccio – S$16.50.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Deep fried SAKURA baby Prawn – S$8.50. Very fragrant and flavourful.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Blow Fish Tatsuta-Age with Sansyo – S$16.50 and Smoked Whale Salad (not in menu, you have to ask for it). So very exotic! My first time having Blow Fish meat and it’s pretty good.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru, Pufferfish

Blow Fish (a.k.a. Puffer Fish) is well-known for sending adventurous diners to meet their maker. I’m surprised it is available here for I am under the impression that it can only be had in Japan.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Yup, I survived tasting the notoriously toxic delicacy to write this blog. Heh heh.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Breaded Oyster from Hiroshima – S$12.50.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Assorted Vegetables Wrapped in Pork – S$15.50.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Hirame (2 pcs) -S$10.50. First encounter with Flounder Nigiri and I love the taste plus texture.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Blue Fin Tuna O-Toro (2 pcs) – S$35.50. The meat kinda just slippery-melt in the mouth.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Kagoshima Wagyu Beef Sirloin (120g) – S$58.50. Juicy, tender and totally worth busting a diet plan over.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

Grilled pair Quail Legs – S$5.50 each (Happy Hour menu). So who’s the man behind all these exotic salivates that fused classic Jap with some French / Italian twists?

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru, Chef Seki

No compromise. The Executive Chef behind IKYU is Executive Chef Takuma Seki. The former chef-de Cuisine of Hide Yamamoto at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands is such a jovial and funny guy. His vision for IKYU is a new breed of Jap restaurant that takes tradition to the level of excitement.

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

For dessert, we had a platter of honeydew, persimmon and Kyoho grapes imported directly from Japan. A perfect sweet ending to a FAB dinner!

IKYU Sushi & Bar, Yong Siak Street, Tiong Bahru

As a keepsake for the food tasting session, we were presented with this beautiful Zen-style thumbdrive. Love it!

Everything that we had tonight at IKYU tasted really good and unusual. Ingredients were fresh, the fusion flavours were delightfully unique, and aesthetic appeal from restaurant decor to food presentation were a sensory odyssey.

All of us bloggers and media who were fortunate enough to get invited for the food tasting agree that this place is definitely worth coming back for seconds, or thirds. Definitely ichiban-oishii!

Day 243 : Diner en Blanc Drew a Blank

Singapore saw red over a white-themed picnic recently that resulted in a furore of nationalism. Suddenly, everyone’s united to stand by our Singaporean identity. Be it tau huay or cooking curry, food has became our cultural weapons.

You can criticise our government, we can protest National Service, but don’t insult with our cuisines!

The inaugural Diner en Blanc docked at Marina Bay Sands.

The controversial event in question was Diner en Blanc, an outdoor picnic concept originating from France where attendance is by-invite only. Apparently, more than 8,000 people applied to participate in Diner en Blanc but only 888 were picked.

I went because Juliana invited me. If not for her, I would not have known of its existence. But my attendance was reluctant right from the beginning, even before the whole food fight started. I wasn’t keen because I feel intimidated at chi-chi events or in the company of thoroughbred Singaporeans speaking English with rolled tongues. I find comfort in my LAHs, MEHs and HORs.

Ang moh Guanyin Ma. It was a parade of high fashion with guests coming in long flowing dresses, huge sun hats (at night) and constructed suits.

I have nothing against Diner en Blanc and what it represents (the picnic started in France 24 years ago as a gathering for friends and later spread to the rest of the world as a posh picnic party at exotic locations), to me, the rukus about the event’s organisers dissing local food as being too low-class for the event was the result of toxic public relations.

However, I do take issue with the PR company uninviting invited bloggers to the event on the pretext of not having enough space. I wasn’t an invited blogger but a couple of my prominent blogger friends were. It’s either the organisers are terrible planners to not foresee the space issue in the beginning or that they treat bloggers as second-class citizens. The ‘no space’ excuse sounded like a bull defecating. From what I saw, there was plenty of space for more tables at the event venue.

Dress in white, pay an al fresco restaurant to bring your own food, table, chairs and cutleries… and you get Diner en Blanc.

When I learnt about the disrespect Diner en Blanc showed my blogger friends, I told Juliana I no longer wanted to go. But she’d already paid for a bottle of champagne (S$85) and white wine (S$30).

Juliana tried getting a refund but it wasn’t allowed. Not wanting to loogi the hard earned cash, we decided to go anyway and see what’s the big deal about the exclusive picnic party.

Char siew baos tasted so good with champagne!

Juliana prepared a wonderful spread complete with delightfully floral table decorations. I felt really bad because I didn’t lift a finger to help with any preparation for the night picnic. I don’t share her enthusiasm and passion in couture dining. I prefer to keep things simple.

The organiser’s stance on the food to bring was that they must be made with care and discourages da-bao (packaged) food. Yet they held Diner en Blanc on a Thursday night at 6pm. Guests were actually encouraged to take half a day off work to prepare for the picnic. On top of that, there were many rules and regulations to follow. So mah-fan (cumbersome)!

Singapore is the first Asian country to host Diner en Blanc. Will it be a one time only event?

During the picnic, a live band serenaded guests with some entertainment and a moment where everyone lit up sparklers. That’s about it.

My camera ran out of juice so I didn’t take more photos than I wanted to but then again, there wasn’t much to remember about the event except the immense trouble Juliana went through to make the evening special. I guess that’s the spirit of Diner en Blanc, a celebration of friendship!

Day 209 : 心的作品


今天这友人为我做的泰式沙拉有虾、蟹肉、嫩牛肉、石榴果仁、黃花南芥菜 (wild rocket leaves)、爽口杂生菜,还有特制的酸辣泰式浆料,口味十足!



Day 200 : Insatiable

A bowl of Chicken Curry Noodles with added liver followed by a 6-piece McChicken Nugget Set Meal, upsized. Those were what I had for lunch today. It seems that the more I try to diet, the more I eat. My appetite lately has been an out-of-control free train speeding to wreck my waistline.

To compensate for my weak-will at the dining table, I have to be strong-willed at increasing gym frequency and intensity as muscles torches fat. So far so good. Hopefully this strategy to increase my metabolic rate by building more muscle mass will convert my monster appetite into a second puberty.

Day 168 : Cook-Out

Instead of “eating out”, I always treat steamboat dinners as a “cook-out”. We didn’t plan to celebrate Father’s Day but since I’m home on weekends most of the time, we decided to have a family meal. I suggested this new PRC restaurant that served authentic Chinese cuisine as well as a hotpot buffet because I passed by it earlier in the week while helping an old lady locate SNEC’s Balestier Clinic.

Steamboat buffets have always been my gastronomic kryptonite and I’m glad we found this place near home to satisfy my craving. The restaurant is open from 5pm – 5am! So anytime I feel like a late-night cook-out session, I just need to take a 10-minute walk. And the best part is, the soups are gorgeous!

We ordered the tom yam and herbal soup bases and they tasted really good! My love for steamboats had me cooking all over town and I must say this counts amongst one of the best. I’m getting hungry from writing this post and recalling the steaming, delicious hot soup! Furthermore, the ingredients for going into the pot were fresh and replenishment was prompt. At S$19.80 per adult for an all-you-can-eat, this place is good-value-for-money if one looks past the sparse decor.

Can’t remember the name of the restaurant but it’s along Balestier Road, opposite the once-famous Loy Kee Chicken Rice shop. I look forward to going back and trying other soups.

Day 160 : A Grand Small Dinner Gathering

Glistening chandeliers like overhanging galactic flowers, rich rosewood married to oriental psychedelicness, and familiar Chinese evergreen classics sighing up nostalgic memories… Stepping into the Grand Shanghai Restaurant took us back to the elegant old-world opulence of the 大时代, a feast not only for the stomach, but the senses as well. Great ambience for a small dinner gathering with our family friend.

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