Affordable “Nouveau?” Lunch Sets @ Nuvo on 8Sep2014

spiced carrot soup

spiced carrot soup

a friend recommended nuvo. the ongoing S$15pax set lunches looked ok (even though it had a lot of supplements for dish selections) so 6 of us went for lunch on 8.9.2014. chef mark richards hailed from keystone (which i went several times when it was accepting palate privileges – 50% discount for 2pax ala carte. i viewed keystone as the standard of saint pierre & slightly less expensive), and excelled in sous vide techniques. 🙂

the restaurant was located at the food edition at marina square at the corner facing citylink mall & suntec convention centre. it was nice, bright & airy & had a attached bar that was directly overlooking raffles link & raffles boulevard. we all commented this a place to be to watch the F1 (though i always prefer the couch at home..haha..not to mention it cost S$500 to come here & watch the cars turn round a corner!).

we were debating the name. i googled afterwards but there was no special meaning associated with the word so likely nuvo was just short for nouveau. 🙂

i was late, arriving at 12.15pm. the restaurant soon filled up & i would say perhaps >60% occupied during lunch hour on a monday.

a practice that did not find favour with me was NOT serving tap water.  we ordered 1 still & 1 sparkling for 6pax. they cost S$4.50each for a 500ml bottle. for me, i looked at the overall price vs the food & experience so paying S$9 for bottled water for 6pax (which also meant we have to drink less water) was not a big issue.

olive focaccia

olive focaccia

olive focaccia with herb butter

olive focaccia with herb butter

the olive focaccia bread with herb butter was pretty good, ok. 🙂

cha smoked salmon

cha smoked salmon

there were 3 choices of starters & main courses & 2 choices of dessert.

i thought my spiced carrot soup (top photo) with mascarpone, croutons & honey was really good & of fine dining standard. it was creamy, smooth in texture & flavourful, looked wonderful as well! 🙂

the smoked salmon with wasabi cream, furikake & baby spinach came with S$3 supplement. it looked great & appetising. the thick square cuts looked more like ceviche, cured or sashimi. my friends all liked the dish. 🙂 i asked 1 friend afterwards. he said the combination of flavours with the baby spinach was great. 🙂

tempura soft shell crab

tempura soft shell crab

the tempura soft shell crab had S$4 supplement. soft shell crab not my favourite dish but this looked fine & no complaints on the taste. 🙂

grilled pork collar

grilled pork collar

grilled pork collar

grilled pork collar

3 of us took the grilled pork collar on our friend’s recommendations. 2 took the risotto & 1 took the pesto cold soba.

the pork collar had good consistent texture of sous vide. the chef is famous for his sous vide cuisine. the friend who took cold soba & i both commented that the pork collar was kind of lean. i personally would prefer it the usual fatty collar. the 2 other friends preferred it lean. 🙂 fries were good. mash/cold slaw? were good too. i didn’t take much of either.

kabayaki squid risotto

kabayaki squid risotto

the squid risotto looked a bit skimpy to me. 5 or 6 pieces of squid on risotto. maybe it was the minimalist philosophy (just kidding…lol). i asked 1 friend afterwards. he agreed it was kind of plain.

pesto cold soba

pesto cold soba

the friend who took soba said it was too salty & maybe the set lunch was not that great for the price. i said a zaru soba could cost S$12 to S$15 so everything depended on how good the taste.

panna cotta with honeycomb

panna cotta with honeycomb

panna cotta with honeycomb

panna cotta with honeycomb

green tea kochi with melon

green tea mochi with melon

i hardly ever ordered panna cotta in singapore. so i started with the green tea mochi. when the dessert were served, i thought the panna cotta with honeycomb looked quite good so i asked to change the dessert (S$4 supplement).  i had excellent panna cotta at pizzeria balognett at tremezzo, i thought i would give the singapore version a try since it looked quite good. it was pretty good – light, smooth texture – but nothing amazing. the green tea mochi also looked competent. 🙂

overall including S$1.50pax for the mineral water, my share came to S$25++ (S$30nett). to me it was pretty ok & something i would not mind doing again. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

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Tak Shiok! (No Thrill) Dinner @ il Ciliegio Monterosso on 19Apr2014

scampi pasta

scampi pasta

we arrived at monterosso about 3.50pm on 18.4.2014 after returning the car (we drove from tremezzo lake como) at malpenssa airport & taking the malpenssa express to milano centrale to connect the train to monterosso.

we were booked at the very nice ballembra hotel in the old part of town & walked about 700m from the station. it was very pleasant as monterosso has a nice beach & there were lots of shops & gelato stalls.

for the first evening we had earlier made reservations & enjoyed a super dinner at miky, after strolling around.

the friendly proprietor of ballembra recommended & arranged for us to have dinner at il ciliegio, 200m up the hills the next day on 19.4.2014.

gianni, il ciliegio’s owner, came in his MPV to fetch us from the town centre. he stopped near the top for us to take photos of the monterosso coastline in the sunset. 🙂

the service was excellent. the view was actually quite limited as surrounded with trees, mostly ciliegio. afterall the whole cinque terre & monterosso offered awesome vista everywhere.

regrettably, dinner @ il ciliegio monterosso = tak shiok leh…NO THRILL! 😦

grilled zicchini

grilled zicchini

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swordfish steak

swordfish steak

swordfish steak

swordfish steak

scampi pasta

scampi pasta

food was quite mediocre & would be poorest if c/w miky OR even the cheap & very good trattoria scogliera at manarola.

scampi pasta was skimpy, 4 tiny scampis for 2pax portions (mike’s seafood risotto while 50% more ex had like 5times the ingredients so much greater value & of course superior taste & dining experience), trofie (a risotto like pasta that looked like our chinese “beetaimak”) pesto was totally plain, swordfish was ok, vege was actually good, very sweet.

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il ciliegio has a nice setting, but almost no customers. only 1 other table was occupied.10260019_10152334390929494_7737027130625861121_n 10171003_10152334390774494_7807149832331859890_n

the outside was pleasant. it was cold so more comfortable to dine indoors.10273369_10152334391954494_6956391925483448181_o 10153760_10152334391849494_2718618501736750980_n 10175067_10152334391549494_696552267939311361_n

we took some photos of the monterosso coastline & also in the direction of vernazza in the sunset. 🙂

owners gianni & rosanna are very nice people. after dinner, gianni drove us back to town below. he turned & reversed his MPV like >50m in one fluid movement on the narrow path like in car chase movies, but he drove safely & not fast.

food was ok, & i am sure if you speak italian, the company & conversation would be most pleasant. just on food however monterosso was filled with nice restaurants, so regrettably i would not recommend this. 😦

c.h.e.f andy

11pax Homecooked 11-course Family Birthday Dinner on 14.6.2014

chicken rice chicken 白斩鸡

chicken rice chicken 白斩鸡

time passes us by. my brother’s & sister’s birthday fall on 14June.  since i had started cooking for 2 years hence, and had hosted many homecooked dinners, i wanted to do a homecooked chinese dinner for my brother & sister. 🙂

the chinese dishes i planned were simple stuff like chicken & duck & belly pork. there’s also fish & 2 vege as they both like vege. i added a lamb as my sister like lamb. my niece & her husband are buddhist & vegetarian, so i cooked a pesto pasta for them. also i had the tofu cheese cake. 🙂

chicken rice chicken 白斩鸡

#1 chicken rice chicken 白斩鸡

#1 chicken rice chicken 白斩鸡 was a favourite when i did my 27pax homecooked buffet for my RI friends recently on 28.5.2014. it was brined in sugar & salt water for 48hrs, then 10minutes simmering & 20 minutes poached in hot water, and placed in ice water bath to taut the skin & stop cooking. this time though i only tried a small slice of breast meat, but it did not seem as sweet, juicy & tasty as it usually were. 😦

dry salt spice brined duck 盐水鸭

#2 dry salt spice brined duck 盐水鸭

dry salt spice brined duck 盐水鸭

#2 dry salt spice brined duck 盐水鸭

dry salt spice brined duck 盐水鸭

#2 dry salt spice brined duck 盐水鸭

#2 the 盐水鸭 (dry salt spice brined duck) though was very good this time. it was flavourful yet not too intense, and the meat was tender as the boil-poach preparation (similar to 白斩鸡 but 15mins+30minutes for duck) produced a more gently cooked meat. i applied a dry brine of salt, sugar, cinnamon bark, anise seeds, clove, bay leaves, and sichuan chilli pepper for 48hrs. 🙂

when cutting & tasting the breast which was thicker than the thigh, i felt the breast meat was less flavourful. so perhaps i will reserve thigh meat for this preparation & breast meat for the sous vide duck a l’orange. 🙂

"sous vide" char siew

#3 “sous vide” char siew

"sous vide" char siew

#3 “sous vide” char siew

#3 “sous vide” char siew was a bit too fat but melt-in-the-mouth tender after 5hrs at 90degC in the oven & quick pan-grilled with butter.  it was marinated for 3 days & well infused & tasty, but after many attempts i felt the marinade recipe i used was still not the best tasting & not comparable with my miso belly pork, which marinade requires a much simpler preparation. 🙂

spicy garlic pork 蒜泥白肉

#4 spicy garlic pork 蒜泥白肉

#4 my brother loved the 蒜泥白肉 ( spicy garlic pork). this was also a crowd favourite during my recent 27pax homecooked buffet dinner for RI friends. 🙂

actually i over added the sichuan chilli so the sauce was overly spicy. i had to drizzle less sauce than i usually did. the sauce was made from light soy sauce, sugar, chopped garlic, chopped onions, sliced ginger,  cinnamon bark, anise seed, dash of cumin & sichuan chilli. the belly pork was done using the crockpot method – in cold water on low for about 4hrs. this another inventive method of slow cooking as it starts from room temperature & very slowly gets to boiling & remain simmering not hard boiling thus retaining the moisture. pork & skin were very tender. 🙂

miso lamb shoulder chop

#5 miso lamb shoulder chop

#5 my sister like lamb so i did a miso preparation for a cheap lamb shoulder chop. the lamb was marinated for 3 days in miso to infuse the flavours. it was then placed in the marinade bath in the oven at 90degC for 5hrs. this meat has lots of connective tissues & so very tough & not easy to make tender. 90degC happens to be the optimum temperature to convert collagen (the tough connective tissues) to tasty excellent texture gelatine. this time though i forgot to remove from oven & it dried out a bit c/w a quite perfect preparation for a 11pax sit-down dinner i had for RI friends recently on 5.5.2014.

pesto spaghetti with grilled eggplant, zucchini & mushrooms

pesto spaghetti with grilled eggplant, zucchini & mushrooms

as my niece & her husband are vegetarians, i prepared a separate vegetarian dish, a pesto spaghetti with grilled eggplant, zucchini & mushrooms for them. this was a very tasty dish that i experimented/recreated after very good meals during my recent travels to lake como, cinque terre & milan. 🙂

the pesto was made with pine nuts (i used almonds as substitute as pine nuts are very ex), spinach, basil, cheese & olive oil & a dash of salt, and blended. the pesto & grilled eggplant, zucchini & mushrooms were added to the pasta & tossed, with a teaspoon of sugar, some white wine & sea salt to taste. 🙂

fried large prawns with leek

#6 fried large prawns with leek

fried large prawns with leek

#6 fried large prawns with leek

#6 fried large prawns with leek was quite poor this time. the leek was “sek” somehow very tough. usually i cooked it just right so it was still brightly green but soft & tasty. this time i had to cook it very long till blackish to get it to soften. i did not try the prawns but my wife & daughter both thought the prawns were poor. i knew the prawns were large & very fresh when i cut the heads & shelled. & the butter pan-grilled method always produce a very tasty, slightly bbq flavour prawns. but because i had to heat up the dish 3 times, even though i took out the prawns & put back each time, the steam got into the prawns & the meat became “hu hu” i.e. mushy.

poor man's buddha jump over the wall

#7 poor man’s buddha jump over the wall

poor man's buddha jump over the wall

#7 poor man’s buddha jump over the wall

#7 the shorthand 佛跳墙 (buddha jump over the wall) was a dish i modelled after the very nice soup jh’s father (a chef) made. i used pig trotters, thick mushrooms, belly pork, dried scallops & also 2 cans of cheap limpets (S$10/can). 🙂

#8 auntie bes made a teochew steamed pomfret (did not take photo). this time though the pomfret was not very fresh & had a “chow chor” (fishy) taste. 😦

fermented bean curd raomaine lettuce 腐乳油麦菜

#9 fermented bean curd romaine lettuce 腐乳油麦菜

#9 腐乳油麦菜 (fermented bean curd romaine lettuce) is a common zi char dish e.g. kok sen. this time 腐乳 & chilli were just right & my wife liked it. 🙂

HK steamed chicken, mushrooms, chinese sausage rice(香汁蒸蘑菇鸡饭)

#10 HK steamed chicken, mushrooms, chinese sausage rice(香汁蒸蘑菇鸡饭)

HK steamed chicken, mushrooms, chinese sausage rice(香汁蒸蘑菇鸡饭)

#10 HK steamed chicken, mushrooms, chinese sausage rice(香汁蒸蘑菇鸡饭)

#10 香汁蒸蘑菇鸡饭 (HK styled steamed chicken, mushrooms, chinese sausage rice) is the common steamed rice dish in hk’s dim sum restaurants, usually they used chicken feet and/or pork ribs, drizzled with tasty black sauce. the sauce is very important. it is easily made – just 1 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tsp dark sauce, 1 tbsp sugar & 6 tbsp water or to taste. it looked dark but was not salty & quite perfect taste – mildly sweet & nice soy flavour. 🙂

tofu cheese cake

#11 tofu cheese cake

#11 just as in my 27pax recent gathering, the tofu cheese cake was again a crowd favourite. it is the easiest of dessert, a no bake very light cheese cake. the simplest of recipes = 200g cream cheese, 200g silken tofu, 200ml yogurt, 100ml whipped cream, 4 tbsp brown sugar (60g), 2 tbsp lime juice (30ml), & dissolved 3 tsp gelatine powder (15g) in 50ml hot water, then blend & pour over the biscuit base (made with 7 digestive biscuits (105g) & 60g melted butter). 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Protected: Yong Siu’s & Yong Hui’s 63 Birthday 11pax Homecooked 11-course Dinner on 14.6.2014

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Pesto Pasta

pesto spaghetti with grilled eggplant, zucchini & mushrooms

pesto spaghetti with grilled eggplant& cherry tomatoes

first came across pesto pasta when i had wild rocket’s laksa pesto almost 10 years ago. was pretty impressive at the time. 🙂

i had mostly associated pesto pasta with vegetarian, and since i only started cooking 2 years ago & i mostly prefer meats, so i had started with seafood alio olio, later experimented on pink sauce (creamy tomatoes), chilli crab pasta etc. i have not yet attempted a carbonara myself (though my son makes a pretty good one & it should not be hard to do also).

recently during my lake como, cinque terre, milan trip, i tried some pesto pasta & they were really good, especially the one at fresco in milan. so i thought i might try out a pesto recipe & if it worked out, i would include in a grand tour tasting menu (haha…just kidding) for my good friends, now planned for 1st week of july. 🙂

i looked through several internet recipes e.g. how to make a tasty pesto pasta

i tried the recipe first on a small pasta dish, as i was reminded that pine nuts were very expensive…haha. 🙂 the first attempt was top photo above, which i grilled the eggplant & cherry tomatoes first, then tossed with the spaghetti & the pesto sauce. it was very flavourful, the nutty fragrance with the spinach & basil, and very tasty eggplants & tomatoes. it was though a little salty.

pesto spaghetti with grilled eggplant, zucchini & mushrooms

pesto spaghetti with grilled eggplant, zucchini & mushrooms

on the next occasion i prepared a larger portion as 1 of 3 pastas for a 6pax homecooked family dinner. this time i included zucchini & also caramelised some button mushrooms.

for the pesto sauce, i added basil, spinach, 1 clove of garlic & 1/2cup olive oil, some salt & pepper. i used chopped toasted almonds as proxy to the pinenuts & i added some shredded parmesan. it was a really excellent pasta.

pesto spaghetti with prawns & chicken

pesto spaghetti with prawns & chicken

pesto spaghetti with prawns & chicken

pesto spaghetti with prawns & chicken

and i had some leftover pesto sauce. so on the next day i added prawns & chicken (first fried in butter) & tossed with the spaghetti & pesto sauce, and it was excellent too. so, no need to be entirely vegetarian, though the vegetarian version was very good on its own. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

Ingredients:

  • spaghetti (300g)

pesto sauce-

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup basil
  • 20g chopped toasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan

Directions:

  1. cook spaghetti 1minute less than instruction, & drained in colander
  2. add spinach, basil, almonds to blender & blend. then add olive oil & grated parmesan & blend.
  3. add spaghetti to pesto sauce in a pan & toss. add salt & pepper to taste. serve.