Saturday, July 31, 2010


Tanyoto sounds like some funky Japanese word but actually just means "Fish Head Soup" in Chinese (Tang Yu Tou).

Steamboat rules the day, with a mind boggling array of soup bases and sauces to choose from.

As it was our first visit there, my kaki and I opted for the lunch buffet (SGD23.80+++ per pax) so that we could try a little of everything. There are also optional add-ons (like SGD4 for free flow plum drink or barley)

The buffet menu. Click to enlarge

We eventually settled on 2 soup bases- the restaurant's "signature" Sichuan peppercorn soup and a tomato fish broth. We paid an additional SGD8.80 for the "signature" peppercorn soup.

We were so taken aback by the thick layer of chili oil lining the surface of the fiery sichuan broth that we scooped most of it out

Here's what we had for starters:
Cold bean jelly- Underwhelming, akin to biting into tasteless konnkayu jelly

Saliva chicken- the sichuan peppercorn sauce was wickedly spicy and the chicken meat was sufficiently tender

Fried fish skin- deliciously crunchy and savoury- we just couldn't resist pinching on these throughout the meal

Before the main steamboat items arrived, my kaki and I scurried over to the sauce counter to concoct our favorite combinations.

Being the boring person that I am, this is the best I could conjure up:

Chilli padi in light soy sauce and sesame sauce with crunchy soy beans and spring onion.

The mains arrived in quick succession

A single serving of fresh medium sized prawns.

Beef and chicken slices. Decadently tender, best eaten with sesame sauce

Fish fillet- Sorry. These were gobbled up before I could whisk out my camera. They were extremely fresh and carried a hint of delicate sweetness, with no fishy aftertaste whatsoever. Apparently the restaurant takes lots of pride in its fish.

Lotus root slices- I didn't really like this. They were crunchy and highly starchy.

Beancurd skin ribbons- Eye candy which unfortunately didn't deliver in the taste department.

Homemade chicken balls, pork balls and beef balls. Temperature and timing are of the essence here. Quickly scoop the balls up once they surface to enjoy them at their best. The balls taste strangely rubbery when overcooked.

Mushrooms and vegetables- We had tons of these. The golden mushrooms go exceptionally well with the numbing hot soup base. Be prepared to cry lots.

By the time we were ready for dessert, it was already 140pm and we were starting to wish that we were tai tais who didn't have to rush back to work.

We quickly caught the attention of a service staff and asked for 2 bowls of aloe vera with honey. These came in pretty little bowls scattered with osmanthus flowers that made our hearts flutter. My kaki was so blown away that she proclaimed this as the highlight of her meal.

Although the restaurant is not very crowded, don't expect tip top service. The staff seem to cluster in corners and do not exercise much initiative. Decor is however tastefully modern, with classy fish murals and dark wood furnishings.

Great for business dining- if your client enjoys steamboat. There are even private rooms on the second level for big parties.

In conjunction with their anniversary celebration, the restaurant presented us with return food vouchers amounting to 50% of our total bill. Being a sucker for freebies, I was quick to make a return visit with yet another unsuspecting makan kaki. This time, we went ala carte and thoroughly enjoyed a medley of vegetables, mushrooms, sweet clams and fish slices. Our accompanying soup bases of tomato and spicy sichuan peppercorn were divine. After factoring in the discount from the vouchers, we ended up paying around SGD25 each, which is excellent value.

Unlike the Chinese Feasts, this is not a steamboat joint that I can afford to come to every week for lunch. However, I will definitely save this place in my "must-go" list for special luncheons.

177 River Valley Road
#01-25/25A, Liang Court Shopping Centre
Tel: 6836 6839

Monday, July 26, 2010

Freebie of the Week

Do you have a problem distinguishing your luggage from others at the airport?

Here's an easy peasy solution.

Click the below link and get your very own personalised luggage tag- Free of Charge!

Thank you KLM!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Osvaldo Ristorante

My tastebuds are quintessentially Asian, having grown up eating potent rempahs and fiery chilli padis. Whilst eating remains my favorite past time, I am almost ashamed to admit that my food vocabulary in recent years has very much revolved around the likes of Asian (Indonesian, Thai, Korean, Chinese, Japanese) cuisine.

Until now.

Yesterday, my tastebuds were jolted awake by the discovery of Osvaldo Ristorante at Maxwell Chambers.

Italian food never tasted so good.

The vibe in Osavaldo is unmistakably homely and if I may add, a little quirky.

A very queer dog portrait

Stacked neatly in shelfs lining the walls are Italian pestos, jams and preserved fruits for guests to peruse and purchase.

For the Italian (cook) in you...

As you can tell, the best things in life do not come cheap (click to enlarge)...

Especially enticing were the huge jars of bottled peaches placed just beside our table.

Unfortunately they do not come cheap.

Owner Osvaldo Forlino himself can be seen flitting from table to table engaging in friendly banter with guests, many of whom have become regulars. Service isn't top notch but our glasses were constantly refilled and it was relatively easy to grab the attention of a passing waiter.

We started off with a simple appetizer of mussels in white wine sauce. The portion was extremely generous and the chef had thrown in some additional clams for good measure. Everything was fresh and perfectly cooked. I enjoyed the jus so much that I couldn't resist mopping it up with some bread.

Mussel delight

Save some bread for the jus

Our next dish turned out to be the highlight of our meal- asparagus with parma ham and poached egg. This is undisputedly the yummiest Italian dish I have eaten in my whole life. The salty richness of the parma ham was not over-cloying. When doused with dripping egg yolk and eaten with tender asparagus spears, the end result was almost orgasmic.

Before bursting the egg

and after- our joy was uncontainable

When the main courses arrived, my mind was still reeling from the after effects of the excellent starters. Whilst my dining kakis were full of praises for their respective orders of risotti and lobster spaghetti, I found my gnocchi lacklustre. On hindsight, I realise I had commited the cardinal sin of ordering something off the menu. (The gnocchi was meant to be served in a walnut cream sauce but I had requested for it to be served arrabiata style instead)

Kaki No 1: Took a bite and went "WOW"

Kaki No 2: Took a bite and instantly went to 7th heaven

Me: Took a bite and sighed

Feeling slightly unfulfilled after the forgettable main, I tried to salvage the situation by ordering dessert. Gelato didn't quite jive with my mood so I decided to stick with good ol' tiramisu.

It didn't take long before I joined Kaki No 2 in 7th heaven.

The mascarpone cheese was creamy, light and slipped down my throat like a soothing balm. I haven't felt so satisfied after a meal in awhile.

As mentioned above, all good things in life seldom come cheap. Our total bill came up to SGD210, or about SGD70 per pax.

I'm already planning my next meal there and I can't wait to try the battered zucchini flowers stuffed with cheese!

Osvaldo Ristorante Italiano
32 Maxwell House
#01-03, Maxwell Chambers

Tel: 6224 0978

An Afternoon with Daniel Tay

Hubby likes to tease me for my unsatiable appetite for cooking books and cooking classes. Alas, the number of man hours I actually spend in my kitchen is dismal.

Last Sunday, I attended yet another cooking class again. This time, it was a baking class conducted by Daniel Tay (owner of Bakerzin) titled "Japanese-French pastries" The class was fully subscribed with more than 40 participants.

Daniel Tay hard at work (in the classroom)

We learnt how to make green tea macarons, Japanese cheesecake, Japanese chiffon cake and the yummiest choux puffs ever- all within a short time span of 3.5 hours. Daniel Tay is a spritely personality with a wealth of knowledge to share. Whilst his teaching method is a little haphazard at times, I tried to catch up as much as I could by furiously scribbling notes. Oh, did I also mention that Daniel Tay has a legion of cheena auntie fans who ask the cutest of questions?

Japanese cheesecake...a little under-done but otherwise light and fluffy

Cutesy chiffon cakes..the use of smaller cake tins ensures better heat distribution

Macarons and choux favorite of the lot, insanely tedious to make but highly addictive

Check out the precise piping of the choux pastry

emerald green macaron shells...don't these look like pretty little buttons?

Here are some things I learnt during the class:

1. Don't buy icing sugar from the supermarket. Make your own by blitzing fine sugar in your blender and sieving it.
2. Almonds bought in Singapore are excessively oily. To get around this, leave the almonds on a piece of newspaper to soak up the oil a few days prior to baking.
3. Good quality flour plays an important role in the taste and texture of the final product. Daniel recommended a special cake flour from Japan which can be purchased from Meidi-ya supermarket.
4. Technique and timing is of great importance. Once a batter is overbeaten, it cannot be salvaged.

After class, we got to take home a box of the baked goodies to share with our loved ones. Hubby particularly enjoyed the choux puffs and pronounced them "the best he has eaten in his entire life". (Unfortunately they don't sell choux puffs in Bakerzin outlets)

I think I should really start cutting down on cooking classes and focus my energies towards making the perfect choux puff.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Char Siew Pau Woes

A couple of weeks back, I attended a char siew pau making class.

I had paid SGD80 per head for the class and taken a day off from work just to learn the art of char siew pau making. I was really looking forward to it.

There are generally 2 kinds of char siew pau- the fluffy melt in the mouth ones which you typically find at cha chan tengs and the inferior tough ones which you grab off a convenience store when you are too hard-pressed for time.

To my disappointment, the teacher started the class by explaining that she wasn't going to teach the fluffy version (since it requires a few days prior preparation). She then proceeded to introduce us to 2 "essential ingredients" which she would be using for the class- a bottle of Lee Kum Kee Char Siew Marinade and a packet of pau flour from Sheng Siong (kind of like a readymix flour with straightforward instructions written at the back). This was starting to sound like a quick fix recipe to me.

the pau flour

The next 3 hours just comprised of marinating the pork, simmering it in a wok, cutting it into small cubes and encasing it in the pau dough before steaming it.

diced char siew with minced garlic..a little too salty for my liking

The fun part was learning how to fold the dough nicely around the meat to form a nice "pau "shape.


After steaming for 15 mins...

Some participants in the class were Caucasian. Being new to Asian cooking, they were easily enthralled by every little step. I felt a little tickled when the teacher proudly pierced a toothpick through a piece of char siew and green apple and introduced it as an "pre-dinner snack" which they could serve to guests.

it didn't taste particularly nice...

Don't get me wrong. I love this teacher. Some of her dishes are downright delicious and her funny little antecodes can really crack me up at times.

In this instance however, I felt that that the amount of research spent developing this relatively straightforward recipe did not quite justify the hefty price tag.

Spanish escapades

If you have some moolah to spare and an appetite for all things Spanish, the promotion below might just be the right one for you.

Afterall, what is life without a little wanderlust?

Click to enlarge

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What has Stanley Ho got to do with durians?

Casino magnate Stanley Ho apparently has a penchant for Maoshan Wang durians too!

Click below to find out the lengths he went to obtain his prized stash.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Quickie cheesecake

How to make cheesecake in 3 mins..

Yum! Can't wait to try.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


All hail Paul the Octopus who won me 100 bucks this World Cup

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Spruce Taqueria

Thoughts from the Taco Man (written by the fun loving folks behind Spruce Taqeuria)

1. Sit beside someone you don't know, maybe over taco's you will become friends
2. If you liked your tacos give us a thumbs up
3. If you want to know our Secret Menu, follow us on twitter@sprucetaco
4. You are not allowed to eat your taco's with a fork and knife in public, what you do in private is your own business
5. You can bring your own beer, but you must offer one to the taco chef on duty
6. Contrary to popular belief we do not lace our guacamole with crack cocaine
7. If you want our special sauce on any of your items just ask, however we will never tell you the ingredients in the special sauce
8. We like tongue, so should you
9. You want hot, we can give you burning, screaming hot
10. Sharing taco's with someone means you love them

As you can see, I really enjoyed my experience at Spruce Taqueria. The taco-ria only opens for lunch on weekdays and operates out of a tiny shack atop a little hill in Phoenix Park, with an abundance of surrounding greenery, mosquitoes and chirping crickets.

Everything here is self service and casual. You line up to order, hang around and wait for the service staff to yell your order number. Seats are highly limited (there are only about 4-5 little tables) so go early to avoid disappointment.

Pls clean up after yourself

I wasn't in the mood for surprises so I opted for the safest sounding item on the menu- the fish taco set. It costs 9 bucks flat and comes with 2 tacos, chips, salsa and a drink.

A rundown of all the sets

It was love at first sight when my number was called and I was handed a piping hot fish taco set. The aroma of grilled snapper, creamy guacamole and piquant salsa was simply irresistible. I scurried to my seat and quickly snapped a picture before tucking in with fervor.

Fresh and unpretentious

Sadly, I didn't enjoy the set as much as I had so desperately wanted to. All the ingredients were fresh and flavorful but the "shiok" factor just wasn't there. Each taco came with 2 skins, which added an unnecessary dough-like aftertaste to every bite. The fish pieces, whilst tasty were smallish in portion and not as robustly seasoned as I would have liked. Next time, I will ask the cook to remove the extra layer of taco skin and ask for a bigger serving of fish.

Since I'm a big fan of guacamole, I decided to order an additional serving to go with my chips. A small serving (the size of a ping pong) costs SGD3 and was consumed in a matter of minutes. I wish they had been more generous.

To wash down all the carbos, a most unique Watermelon and Lime Aqua Fresca was my choice of beverage. Since the service staff were pretty swamped, my drink only got to me when the ice had melted. I didn't particularly like the sweet-sour combination (give me ice lemon tea anytime) but it was a reasonable thirst quencher nonetheless.

I'm no taco connoisseur but I like Spruce Taqueria for its laid back "close to nature" vibe, no frills setup and wholesome unpretentious food. Its inaccessible location also makes it an excellent spot for chillout weekday lunches.

And one last thing. The Taco Man was right. Tacos do taste better when shared.

Spruce Taqueria
320 Tanglin Road
Phoenix Park
Open 12-3pm weekdays only.

Friday, July 09, 2010



It feels almost like an adventure getting to Kinki Restaurant at the Customs House.

Depending on which route you take, you could either end up walking through a construction site OR, if you are really fortunate, you might discover a shortcut through the "yet to be opened" Fullerton Bay Hotel.

Needless to say, I belong to the former category. (I only discovered the shortcut after trailing some street smart customers making their way back to Raffles Place after lunch).

Having done a little homework on the restaurant beforehand, I wasn't just there for the food. The restaurant sports a "Japanese with attitude" theme, complete with graffiti grazed walls, a gorgeous floor motif designed by Chris Garver from Miami Ink and manga inspired menus.

designed by Chris Garver...worth a trip to the restaurant in itself!

"manga inspired" menu

graffiti tinged walls

A rebellious streak is clearly evident in all aspects- from the restaurant's funky website to the swashbuckling attitude of its service staff (the domineering tone of the lady taking my reservation almost made me feel like a timid schoolgirl).

lights which resemble gigantic fish hooks

The restaurant's set lunch menu, though palatable, doesn't really impress. There are 12 options to choose from, ranging from sushi sets to breaded pork cutlets and grilled meats. My lunch kaki and I ordered a vegetarian tofu steak set (SGD18) and kurobuta katsu curry set (SGD22) to share. All sets come with an appetiser, miso soup and dessert.

We thoroughly enjoyed the appetizer for the day - plump juicy momotaro tomatoes lightly doused with a tasty seasoning.

a refreshing treat.. momotaro tomatoes

This was followed by a luscious tofu steak encased in a thin crispy batter which crumbled beautifully in the mouth. Although the flavors were fresh and uncomplicated, they came across slightly bland after awhile.

tofu hidden in vegetables

When the kurobuta cutlets arrived, we could barely contain our excitement/greediness and tucked in with much gusto. Unfortunately, the dish fell short of expectations and we could barely taste the purported richness of the prized pork. There were bits of mushroom in the filling and I felt like I was eating a supped-up mashed yam puff (wu-kok) from a dim sum pushcart. Thank goodness for the accompanying Japanese curry dip, which was sufficiently thick and flavorful.

"supped up" wu kok

Dessert was a pretty looking slice of green tea sponge cake. As it was served to us on the onset (together with the appetisers and mains), the cake looked decidedly dejected by the time we got to it (the cream was melting). Pity. It would have tasted so much better if eaten slightly chilled.

The shocker came when I received the bill and found out that my kaki and I had been charged SGD4 each (before service charge and tax) for our green tea. I have not paid so much for plain ol' green tea before. It was an oversight on my part (and a painful lesson) not to have checked earlier. I wonder if the restaurant also charges for plain water.

Kinki is definitely worth a visit at least once for its unique decor. If making reservations, ask for a seat directly by the window to enjoy an unobstructed view of the stunning Marina Bay waterfront.

Kinki Restaurant & Bar
70, Collyer Quay
Customs House
Tel: 6533 3471


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