the sous vide crispy duck breast was one the dishes i was ambivalent & uncertain about. first, it was troublesome to buy a whole duck, cut out 2 duck breasts, and then think what to do with the rest. i usually made a good lor arh (braised duck) from the remaining pieces but it was not healthy to keep eating duck with all the fat. second, while i was quite confident the sous vide meat would turn up well, i was not confident of doing the crispy skin w/o overcooking the duck & was not entirely convinced that the crispy skin was not just much ado about nothing (same ambivalence i had when practicing crackling belly pork). did the skin add much to the experience? i guess it did but whether the result was deserving the effort?
anyway for this evening, it turned out that the sous vide duck breast & the striploin pot-roast, a method i did for the first time on striploin, were quite excellent! 🙂
menu planning – i was looking for a change of menu for my RI buddies dinner from the usual miso cod & pan-fried wagyu as main courses. i did a good gordon ramsay crispy salmon so i knew i would do ok with garoupa fillet. it was not convenient to practice the gordon ramsay pepper sauce nor the pot roast but i felt quite comfortable to do it for the first time for my friends. 🙂 the poor man’s buddha-jump-over-the-wall was also a new dish. i did it once & it was good. for the pasta, i thought to revisit my seafood pink sauce linguine (& i did a very good one recently) to replace my usual alio olio. 🙂
#1 got dinner started with a very good pan-seared giant hokkaido scallop & my usual 4hr miso belly pork. both were very good. this the first time i added cooked vegetables. the carrot sticks were done in the steam oven, very sweet & consistent. the pencil asparagus were pan-roasted after i did the scallops & miso belly pork.
#2 next was the poor man’s buddha-jump-over-the-wall. the pig trotters was done overnight (about 7hrs) together with dried scallops & thick dried mushrooms & 2 chicken drumsticks (skin removed) for stock in a crockpot on low. the pig trotters were removed & put in the fridge to preserve the nice gelatinous texture. 🙂 the limpets & sea cucumbers were added just before serving, together with cut pieces of pig trotters. the soup was quite perfect at the time i was about to serve, but i was worried it was not enough for 8pax, so i added a bit of chicken stock. it was still good but i felt the flavour was not as intense, and actually there was enough soup w/o diluting it. it was kind of guesstimate thing as cooking for 8pax & practicing it once for a smaller serving did have some variations. 🙂
#3 the duck breast turned up supremely good! was brined in sugar & salt for 2 days & cooked at 60degC in the oven for 4hrs. the skin was then scored & i put on a pan at medium fire for 5mins to render out the fat to create a thin crispy skin. an important addition was orange sauce (see recipe here). i reduced this substantially to produce a thick caramelised nicely citrous sweet sauce. it went really well with the duck which was super tender. 🙂
#4 next was the seafood linguine in pink sauce. all my friends thought it was very tasty, but another & i still preferred the alio olio style which i did very well every time. 🙂
#5 then came the 2 main courses. first up was the pan-grilled garoupa fillet with gordon ramsay pepper sauce. my hand-held food blender was evidently not the right tools to produce the very smooth blended sauce in gordon ramsay’s pepper sauce video (a real beauty). the garoupa were marinated well so flavour was ok. the texture of the garoupa fillet (frozen pack) was not great. of course it was too much to compare with my usual miso cod (also frozen pack).
#6 the striploin pot roast was a beauty. see the nice maillard reaction brown ring in the photo. it was nicely seared all round before placing in a crockpot on low with the vegetable ratatouille to reach 125degF (52degC) – about 1.5hrs, then in a 55degC oven for another 1 hr. it was a very nice medium rare, & medium at the ends. i was very pleased with this first crockpot roast on a striploin. my first was a chuck pot roast. it was good but this was lots better! 🙂
#7 the last course was my chocolate lava cake. i had done very many good lava cakes. this time i did the exact same recipe & timing (3m 40s in a 210degC oven on broiler setting). somehow it was overdone & there were not much lava. will need to reduce to 3m 30s next time. sigh! i really need to work on another dessert recipe.
it was a really enjoyable & fulfilling experience for me (1 of my good friends described as full-filling haha!). i really feel good about this! 🙂
doing a 8pax dinner for my RI buddies this evening – feeling excited! 🙂
for me, cooking is about planning & making it happen, and the process is quite fun.
i don’t have to start cooking until 1.30pm.
the soup for poor man’s buddha-jump-over-the-wall was done overnight. so i just need to add back the individual servings of pig trotters, limpets, sea cucumbers & mushrooms when serving the soup.
the miso belly pork & crispy skin sous vide duck breast will be in the oven at 60degC for 4hrs. during the 4hrs, i will prepare the chocolate lava cake (takes <1/2hr) and 4 sauces- orange sauce for the duck, gordon ramsay pepper sauce for the garoupa fillet, pink sauce (creamy tomato) for the seafood linguine & vegetable ratatouille for the striploin pot roast. each takes say 15 – 30minutes.
at 5.30pm, i will start my striploin pot roast (700g) with ratatouille in the crockpot on low & should get to 125degF (52degC) in 1 hr, & i can place it in a covered oven dish in a 55degC oven for another 1.5hrs, probably serves it at 8pm.
when the friends are here at 7pm, i will do the pan-charring for the scallops & then miso belly pork (which were marinated in miso for 3 days & “sous vide” at 60degC for 4hrs in the oven, & then pan-roast the pencil asparagus.
after that i will serve the soup, and then do the cold pan method to try to get the crispy skin “sous vide” duck breast (brined for 2 days & also 4hrs at 60degC in oven). as i told my friends the medium rare duck breast is ok, but i unsure of the crispy skin (both texture & taste) & will probably not do this dish much in future if it doesn’t work well (just like the crackling pork belly – not worth doing if cannot get it right).
the seafood linguine in pink sauce is straight forward just tossing, with both pasta & the prawns & squid already prepared.
for the garoupa fillet, i had a good marinade (2days) so it should be quite nice pan-grilled. i am doing the gordon ramsay pepper sauce for first time today, but the video sure looks really exciting. 🙂
for the striploin pot roast, i have done this before on chuck pot roast (a cheaper cut) but this the first time i am trying it on striploin. never really know how it will turn out especially i am varying the temperature a bit to make rare instead of medium rare, but that’s the fun & challenge of the unknown. 🙂
my chocolate lava cake is quite standard fare, so should be ok though occasionally the lava part still doesn’t work out well as the timing is too short & any slight variation in oven temperature & timing will affect the result.
looking forward to a fun evening. we are going to share our secondary school photo albums too…haha. 🙂
a friend & fundonate partner bought 5pax lunch @ chui huay lim restaurant on 4.11.2013.
chui huay lim is a club with history – all 168years! it has been called a “teochew gentlemen club” or to us a teochew towkay club. 🙂
anyway the restaurant is part of the jumbo group, which has also acquired ng ah sio bakuteh (黄亚细肉骨茶), which now has an aircon branch located on level 1, which chui huay lim restaurant is also located. 🙂 i tried a few very good set dinner promotions in the rooms with karaoke set in 2012 not long after the restaurant started, they had chefs & servers from shantou. the food was generally good though not better than the other good teochew restaurants in singapore.
we had the ter ka tan (猪脚冻) pork trotter jelly – top photo. it was good here as usual – flavourful, nicely set & presented. i had not been here for maybe 1 year, it used to be harder to get braised goose (i had duck the last few times here), however this time there was no problem & my friend ordered the goose. i must say it was “underwhelming”. i prefer braised duck or goose to be served with little sauce & not drenched in them & most important is the “pang” flavour. this goose was to me quite average, & the few times i cooked braised duck (though i was not 100% consistent & made mistakes), my duck was more “pang” than this “wet” goose.
the crispy cucumber with mushroom & brocoli was excellent, both taste & texture with excellent brown braising sauce. it was not better than what i had at tunglok signature @ central though. the prawn rolls & liver rolls were ok, i guess competent (ordinary?).
the red garoupa (very large one almost 1 kg) with chye poh (salted dried radish) was excellent! very fresh, tasty, great sauce & chye poh condiments. 🙂
jumbo was having an amex promotion where you get a S$50 voucher for every S$100 spent, and a S$50 voucher can be redeemed next round for every S$100 spent. the bill came to S$230, so my friend was able to redeem S$100 & paid S$130. w/o voucher redemption lunch was S$46pax net. i guess it was not too ex but not cheap either. i will probably come again as i have the jumbo card & some jumbo $ to redeem before they expire. 🙂
another quick update – went back for the S$38pax groupon 7-course set @ chao yue xuan wth my brother & sister on 28.10.2013. food was pretty much the same as the memorable lunch i had with 4 friends on 21.8.2013. most dishes were still good, especially the soup, abalone & kurobuta. this time however, the lobster was much below par. 🙂
the chicken salad looked pretty, was quite good though kind of heavy & sesame sauce a bit overpowering.
the soup was good, though not better than a good lie tong.
the abalone was excellent, good in taste & bite accompanied by the defining brown braising sauce. 🙂
the kurobuta was tasty & my brother liked it especially.
the 1/2 lobster though was a tremendous let down. the meat was not bouncy – seemed not live & overcooked (something that don’t happen much these days with all the controlled kitchen environment). this really took away the shine from this set – look at the corresponding photo of the lobster when i had it here on 21.8.2013.
the vege & noodles were run of the mill & i didn’t take the green bean dessert of the day included in the set. overall, the set was poorer in quality c/w what i had here previously though menu items were same. i guess it was still very good value at S$38nett (chao yue xuan & ah yat though charged S$2.40pax for tea & peanuts whether or not you take them, & the tea was quite ok).
but price aside, the poorer quality overall made it less “wow”and just another good value above average set. so i would choose to go back to tunglok signature for the lobster & seafood set with palate 50% weekend discounts even though that cost a bit more.
a good friend organised an early birthday dinner for me at tunglok signature @ central which is next to his office on 22.10.2013. we had 4pax for the evening including my wife & a mutual friend. 🙂 my friend’s god-sister pre-ordered an ala carte menu which turned out to be very good indeed!
we had the usual roast pork as a starter. the look wasn’t that great. taste-wise it was good as usual, especially with the mustard. 🙂
we had a very good lie tong 例汤 (soup of the day) with chicken stock & some roots, again a very competent & enjoyable dish as usual for tunglok restaurants.
the wasabi prawns with light mayo topped with some mangoes were excellent, better than what we had recently at peach garden.
the best dish for the evening was the thick sea cucumbers. this was served in a very nice brown braising sauce which was served commonly with abalones or goose webs. the taste was exquisite, & i liked the jinbai (津白) as well.
next up was the star garoupa fillet with broccoli & lily bulbs. the wok hae was super – another excellently executed dish. & i liked especially the deep-fried tofu with shimeji mushrooms, very flavourful. 🙂
my friend also arranged for a very nice chocolate truffle birthday cake from swiss bake,and the restaurant made a great presentation with the longevity buns (which came as mini 流沙寿桃) on a plate with calligraphy of meaningful verses by their manager. the servers sand recited the verses & happy birthday song. service was excellent here – the server had advised us not to order more dishes earlier when my friend asked.
it was a very enjoyable dinner with the company, food & conversation. 🙂 i didn’t ask how much the dinner cost. i estimate the 6 dishes + dessert (excluding the cake to cost S$250. there was a 25% palate discount for 4pax ala carte, so probably about S$220nett.
a short update since my last Patara post!
Creative Eateries group of restaurants (Patara, Tajiyama, Shabuya etc) left amex palate earlier but had taken the opportunity of GSS (Great Singapore Sales) to sell 50% dining vouchers. Patara Fine Thai Cuisine is 1 of my favourite restaurants (when the price is right! haha) so i bought some more vouchers (S$300 worth for S$150 price) when i last dined there. 🙂
for our monthly (almost) G8 dinners, we have tried several italian, spanish, indian, french restaurants, so this time the guys took my recommendations to try out Patara on 29.7.2013. 🙂
we had a mixed appetizer – 2 prawns fritters, 2 spring rolls & 2 pouch dumplings – quite good.
second appetizer was a seafood salad. this was really good – very generous helping of sweet plump scallops, grilled prawns & 2 salmon fillet, & very nice thai salad. must order! 🙂
the deep-fried whole garoupa with 3-flavoured sauce was excellent as always – crispy & fresh! 🙂
the tom yam talay was ‘lagi’ best here – full of scallop, prawns & sotong (squid) & suitably sour (see top photo & above left)
the roast duck curry was very lemak (lots of coconut milk) & tasty. the thick duck slices were nice but i would have preferred the ones with roasted skins – alas they don’t do it here these days.
the NZ beef steak panang curry was another great dish! forgot to ask for gravy to be provided separately but anyway gravy was very nice too, though maybe in smaller dips. 🙂
as always olive rice was here was 1 of the best! 🙂 forgot to take photo of the mango sticky rice dessert!
total dinner bill for 6pax 7 dishes+1 dessert+ S$78 white wine+1 iced tea was S$349=S$199 with Creative Eateries GSS (Great Singapore Sales) 50% vouchers. 🙂 super deal right?
the group decided on trying sichuandouhua after we dropped the plan to try Esquina’s S$95 tasting menu on a friday 12.7.2013. we picked the S$288 6pax suckling pig 8-course menu, with 20% added discount using UOB card. the very delicious dinner came up to only S$46pax nett. 🙂
i had never been to this sichuandouhua at Parkroyal Kitchener. it had a very pleasant, classy, slightly understated ambience, but it was just <50% full on a friday night.
the 1/2 suckling pig for 6pax (whole for 10pax) appeared bigger than the ones we usually had. it was the片皮 style eaten with cucumber, sweet sauce & chinese crepe, and comprised 4 eats including for steaming red garoupa, deep-fried & porridge afterwards.
the double-boiled kampung chicken soup with conpoy (dried scallop) & cordyceps flowers was excellent, very sweet & tasty goodness. 🙂
the 避风塘prawns in XO sauce with garlic & almond flakes was very good too, a welcomed variation of the usual cereal prawns. 🙂
next we had a red garoupa shunde style. fish was very good. it was like teochew style with lots of tofu strips & steamed with suckling pig neck replacing the usual belly pork (didn’t see much diff there!).
next we had a spinach tofu (similar to Tunglok’s 三层楼) with diced abalone & seafood. great dish! 🙂
the next eat for the suckling pig was a deep-fried (椒盐) meat. i liked it though i agreed with 1 friend that it might be even better to just chop up & eat the meat. 🙂
the last before dessert was a porridge again using the suckling pig meat & bones…this was once again an excellent tasting dish-very smooth porridge & very sweet. 🙂
we ended with the signature douhua with wolfberries, and it was good. very smooth indeed!
according to 1 friend, this menu was popular when they introduced last year so they decided to repeat this year. we checked with the service personnel & they confirmed that was so & the current promotion would end Jul2013.
i think it was a truly excellent meal for the quality & quantity of food at this price. 🙂
Taohueng 稻香group operates a number of mid-range restaurants catering to different cuisine like cantonese, teochew, shanghai & hakka etc. In my previous visits, I found the individual sets at 迎Joyous One at Tsimshatsui (which was the newest & more up-market within the group) and at Chung Cuisine at Times Square quite ok and good value.
I had a very enjoyable dinner at 稻香超级渔港 at Mongkok with my sis when we visited in Jan2013. However there was always the concern about consistency in these type of restaurants – that one could not really tell the quality of the dish just by looking at the online menu. indeed we had a “not so great” dinner at 潮楼 (another Taohueng restaurant) just the night before (though the set menu had looked very impressive), and we had wanted to change to a late dinner at beef hotpot @ budaoweng 不倒翁 instead. 🙂 however KCP, who was joining us for dinner this evening, could not make the change, so we went ahead with 稻香超级渔港.
still shy of the set menu the evening before, we decided to go for ala carte instead. the 2 cold dishes we ordered – 酱蹄 sliced sauce trotters & 蒜泥白肉 garlic sliced pork (JK thought this was very good) – were both good & not pricy, so that gave us some confidence. 🙂
the scallop seafood soup in wintermelon, which the restaurant was promoting was kind of disappointing c/w the usual very good cantonese 例汤…so it looked like we were in for some hits & misses.
thankfully we had a really wonderful steamed garoupa next. this was very good & everyone liked it. 🙂
the roast goose was quite good really but we just had a really good one that morning at Yat Lok 一乐@ Stanley Street which was more crispy & tasty. 🙂 JK complained that the garlic 油麦菜 romaine lettuce did not look like romaine lettuce, and it was just so-so – lacking in “wok hae”.
we ordered a lobster noodle. the lobster was good but the yi min noodle 伊面 was quite lacking in flavours. it used to be that Mandarin Kitchen in London was the “go-to” place for lobster noodles in London like for 30 yrs. these days any restaurant in Singapore could do a good lobster noodle. it was surprising that the noodles here should be so below par!
we had 7 dishes including steamed garoupa & lobster for 5pax for HK$930. that’s about S$30nett. price was not high for just above average food but we were really expecting better. the tricky thing about ala carte was ordering the right dishes which were good for their price. in this case we did just ok but probably still safer than going with the set. 🙂
on the final day of our Hong Kong trip, we did not plan a restaurant to go to.
we first wanted to lunch at the seafood place Rainbow Restaurant at Lamma Island (南丫岛) after the excellent food pictures of mantis prawns, lobsters & what else in my friend’s Facebook set off our “tam chiak” (means greedy for food) cravings…alas we should have done that earlier as Rainbow was only open for dinner & we were taking the 8pm flight.
next we thought to go to Caprice @ Four Seasons, a 2 michelin star restaurant after looking at the online menu for Joel Robuchon, Pierre, Ember & Caprice set lunch. unfortunately Caprice was full for the Monday lunch.
we finally got Lei Gardens(利苑), which I always thought was among the best Hong Kong traditional chinese restaurants, especially their soup (例汤). the one nearest was at Tsai Yee Street洗衣街 Mongkok outlet (as we were staying at Sam Shui Po) and that also happened to be the only 2 michelin star outlet (the other outlets were 1 michelin star). 🙂
CJ ordered 3 dimsum items. the first – 鲍汁凤爪 braised chicken feet in abalone sauce – was the best we had thus far c/w Timhowan添好运 & 迎. the abalone sauce was similar to that for abalone & goose webs so it was very tasty. 🙂 I guess the preparation was different from the usual deep-fried then steamed with black beans chicken feet so may not be fair to compare.
the soup (例汤) was good as expected,much better than Tao Heung 稻香 restaurants (which was also to be expected). however for this particular soup it was no better than, & indeed not as good as, the many 例汤 I had at Imperial Treasure Nanbei (from green papaya to 鸡脚草). 🙂
the 小笼包 didn’t look that great, skin looked thick but actually it was very good, the sauce/soup was very sweet & the skin was normal thin. 🙂
JK was pining for lobsters so we ordered a HK$598 twin dishes combination (common in Hong Kong). the star dish was 2 small lobsters halved 上汤局 steamed in superior sauce with golden mushrooms – this was very good. 🙂
the 1/2 roast chicken had very crispy skin & was tasty so no need the usual 5-spice salt dip. in Hong Kong they called this the 龙凤 dragon phoenix pairing. 🙂
we had another HK$298 2-eats combination. the 海斑 (garoupa) in claypot was also good tasting very flavourful. it was different preparation, not better than a steamed whole live garoupa but very good the way it was done. 🙂
the other dish was a thick beehoon in seafood soup – no fish or seafood but very tasty like our good fish beehoon.
and in Hong Kong, always order vegetables. the garlic heng chai was very good & flavourful too. 🙂
both JK & I were fan of 奶黄流沙包 custard egg bun. this was good, but I guess no better than Royal China or Imperial Treasure in Singapore.
we had 3 dimsums & 6 dishes for HK$1320 for 4pax (about S$55nett per person). it was a premium to Tao Heung but for a great deal more satisfaction & “shiokness”.