Monday, August 23, 2010

(weird) Japanese snacks

Snacks from Hokkaido

My female boss went on an 'all-ladies trip' to Hokkaido with her 3 friends recently. These are some of the souvenirs she brought back.

The non-food item is a small pouch filled with lavender petals, the scent of which help to relax our mind when placed inside the pillow we sleep with. It's bought from this flower farm called 'Farm Tomita'. She went right when the lavender & sunflowers are blooming nicely. Gorgeous!

Here are a list of the weird snacks (some) she brought back.

Unique Kit Kat flavours

The one on top is: WASABI flavoured Kit Kat. I, of course can't resist trying. Well, the wasabi flavour was disappointingly mild. A tad too sweet for my tastebuds, too.

The lower one is : Green tea/matcha flavoured Kit Kat. Yet to have a taste of that. Will update when I finally do.

**update: The matcha (green tea) flavour, like its wasabi counterpart also lacks its namesake flavour. To creamy, too sweet. Even the green tea-flavoured ice-cream from Haato packs more punch!

Milk candy

My colleague had a taste of this. "Very milky," he said. I asked if it's similar to the 'white rabbit candy' that we have here. "This one nicer."

Well, no surprise there, seeing that Hokkaido milk is known to have a 'strong milk taste & is smooth'. It's also much favoured by the Japanese themselves.

Seasoned dried scallop

We've heard of dried squid snacks. But it's my first time seeing a dried scallop snack. And they are really small, so cute!

This one, I believe, will go nicely with piping hot rice. Reminds me of the seasoned scallop sushi one can easily get here. But I guess, this one here is chewier.

Potato snacks

Hokkaido (or Sapporo) potatoes are known to be really tasty so it's no surprise that these snacks were soo delish!

The small packet on the right, called Jyagapokkuru, is apparently a pretty famous product that sold out pretty fast almost everywhere there. Looks and taste a little like Calbee's Jagabee. A box of 10 small packs cost a little more than SGD13. Limited to only 1 box per customer. Can you believe that?!

Check out more details HERE.

The box on the left is Hanabatake Bokujo Angel's potato caramel. In case you are wondering, yes, they are CARAMEL-COATED potato chips.

As a non-caramel fan, I wasn't too enthusiastic about it. But my boss made us have a taste and boy! The caramel flavour is pretty mild, almost creamy; so it isn't cloyingly sweet. And when paired with the tasty Hokkaido potato chips...? YUM! Pretty addictive.

Chocolate potato chip

And this one here... is from Hokkaido. But it was purchased in Singapore. At Suntec City, in fact.

Eversince I read about these chocolated-coated potato chips, I had been most curious about the odd-pairing. However, I can never find the time to actually head down to any of Royce's outlets (Suntec City, Taka & ION). Yes, Royce, the Japanese chocolate boutique where the products are flown in directly from their factory in Sapporo, Hokkaido.

When my colleague had to go here for a site visit, I can't help but asked a favour from him.

The verdict? Well, I don't know if I should compare with the Angel's caramel potato but I just can't help it.

One difference is how Royce's potato chips is a lil' salty (Angel's chips are just plain). The taste was pretty jarring, at first. But with more bites, I find how interesting it was to have 2 contrasting tastes (salty potato + sweet chocolate) finally complementing each other. Another thing is how Royce's chips are much thicker.

As quoted from their website:
"... The wave shape of the potato chips is to enable a well-balanced taste when the sweet taste of the chocolate and the salty taste of the potato chips melt together in the mouth. The nice crispy sensation generates from the thickness of the potato chips and the chocolate. The combination is unexpected and once you start eating them you cannot stop ..."

Ahhh.. sohhh....

That box also didn't come cheap. $15 for 190g. I'm also curious to try their 'Potechi Crunch'. (Pls pardon the weird use of English on their website...)

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Cove Trailer


Really need to find some time to watch this movie. Hate to admit this but motherhood make my 'me' time all the more precious, cos' it's just so rare!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hawa Restaurant part deux

As I've mentioned previously, my colleague and I came back here the very next day, bringing with us, our other 2 colleagues. I was a tad apprehensive about bringing the fella, he who loves his food (plus he can be critical) and he's also Chinese so he must have had wayyy better Chinese fare.

Well seing how Hawa serves halal Chinese food, I wanna know his take on it.

Half a roasted chicken - $14

He was pretty impressed by the sight of roasted chicken on display and sought to order 1/2 a chicken to share. He even asked for chicken rice instead of the regular white rice.

I asked for his opinion and he said, "Not bad." He continued to remark that he's eaten those that are wayy better but they're non-halal so there's no way he can compare. Especially when he often prefer to have some char siew (roast pork) alongside his chicken.

And it's true that Hawa restaurant serves pretty good chicken rice. The chicken meat ain't dry, the skin look & taste like it's been roasted well and the sauce poured over the chicken pieces complement them nicely. And the 1/2 chicken was more than enough for us 4. Would have fed 5 pax just right.

The chilli is available free-flow in a jar on every table, alongside the pickled green chillies. Cut red chili padi available on request.

Cereal Squids - $12

Felt like trying out their rendition of 'cereal prawns' but we find that having prawns during lunch seem a tad overwhelming. Therefore, we settled for squids instead.

The squid ringlets aren't tough or overly chewy. And those cereal bits... Yummy! Love it enough to have a spoonful with every mouthful of rice.

Kailan w/ Beef - $10

For our choice of veggies, I have no idea why we didn't settle for the popular kangkong belachan (morning glory/water convolvulus stir-fried in shrimp paste chili).

Here they used the baby kailan (chinese kale), which has tender leaves with slightly sweet taste. The regular kailan have thicker leaves which are slightly bitter. Plus they also have these very thick stems that can be a turn-off to some.

The beef slices were tender (not sure if they used tenderiser or simply corn starch). The canned button mushroom was just.. ho-hum. Would have preferred straw mushrooms instead.

Personally, in Chinese cooking, I prefer to have the slight gingery scent & flavour with any beef dishes. To counter the meaty smell and it also add dimension the the taste. That aspect was missing here.

Tom Yam Soup - $12

It was drizzling when we were dining here. Seeing that this is an al-fresco dining area, with no walls; we felt 'exposed' to the weather. So we took the chance to order a bowl of hot soup.

What better than to have a bowl of tangy & spicy tom yam, chock-full of ingredients? Not exactly the best I've ever had but it's good enough to please us.

I'm just so glad to have discovered this place. Should I happen to have cravings yearning for a good plate of chicken rice or some halal zhi char, at least I know there's a place nearby for that. (((:

Verdict: As quoted by my colleague, "Not baddd..."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hawa Restaurant

Al-Fresco dining, outside City Plaza.

I sure have been neglecting this blog much, haven't I?

I tot' of using this fasting month to give myself a break, but I guess not. Not when the publishing of these pics here have been more than a month overdue...

My colleague who always drove us around for lunch headed to City Plaza to see a chiropractor there, leaving me with another colleague wondering, "Where to..?" for lunch. One colleague was on leave so it's just us 2.

Arnold's is out of question. Last time we dined there, we had to wait more than 1/2hr just to enter the restaurant. Then I recalled the Indonesian eatery, Es Teler located just outside the main building. When outside, we noticed that a new eatery has taken over the Sembawang Satay Club.

What drove us try check them out were the yummy looking roasted chickens hanging in the display counter!

However, we realised just how extensive their menu is and we got fickle. Instead of the initial intention to simply order chicken rice, we decide to share some dishes between ourselves; to try out their food. Besides, we were pretty hungry.

**All small portions, $10 each (checked receipt).

Sambal Chicken

Chose this dish, which easily met our criteria for 'some chicken' and 'something spicy'.

Small cuts of chicken fillets - deep fried and then stir fried with sambal sauce (plus lots of onions). I wish I can describe the sambal as 'fiery' but it is sambal done the Chinese way, heavily infused with dried shrimp (hae bee hiam) and was rather mild.

But it did go well with the chicken, its slightly pungent aroma reminding me of Har Cheong Kai; the deep fried prawn-paste chicken.

Deep-fried baby squid

Who doesn't love this dish? Baby squids, deep-fried and then stir fried with sweet & sour sauce.

The only risk involved is to have the squids undercooked, making them tough & rubbery. Or overcooked, putting them beyond crispy to very hard instead. Thankfully these were nicely crispy with the sauce evenly coating every bit.

Chewing on those crispy morsels had been fun!

Hot-plate Tofu

This, to me is my idea of an all-in-one dish. I can have my veggies, seafood, tofu, egg & gravy by just ordering this!

And this one here was done nicely. Chock-full of ingredients, pretty much overwhelming for us both. Wayy better than the dismal one we had during lunch one time. Notice how the soft tofu was cut into rectangular pieces instead of the usual round ones?

We had anticipate our colleague to join us after his massage session but he had to rush off for a meeting, even leaving us behind cos' we chose to take our time to savour the food, since we eventually had to finish up food meant for 3 pax.

Thankfully, the taxi stand is a mere 10 metres or so away!

Only after paying and looking at the receipt, do I realise that this had been 1 of Hawa Restaurant's branch. That explains the yummy looking roasted chickens, since they've been known to serve pretty delish chicken rice!

Verdict: We like it enough to come back here again. The next day, in fact. With our other 2 colleagues in tow.

Friday, August 06, 2010

B Bakery

Desserts galore!

Lemon tart

My boss's order. She loooooves lemon-y desserts. This had been the umpteenth time that I saw her ordering a lemon tart wherever they're available.

It's thanks due to her that I became a lemon tart convert. I used to have a phobia of them ever since that one time, I actually ate one where the cream tasted like detergent. No joke!

The lemon curd/cream inside this one was thankfully, not too... tart (ok, pardon the pun). It's tangy alright but not overtly so. And the beautiful meringue over it is also not too sweet and help to nicely balance all that sourness.

And the crust... Oooh I sure liked the shortcrust tart base. Nicely crunchy with a hint of buttery taste. Almost like a biscuit!

Sad to say, though, I've yet to find a lemon tart that can contend with the one from Ricciotti at Riverwalk. If I'm not wrong, it's called, 'Limoncello'. That one was... fwah!

Chocolate raspberry tart

My boss had initially wanted this. However, seeing that we've chosen it first, he stepped back *guilty*. Well, we all end up sharing anyway, so he did have his bite of it. Naturally, he declared this one his favourite.

Chocolate ganache sitting atop the raspberry layer with dark, maraschino cherry on top. Yeap, that's gold, flake-y crumbs, there. Ah, and that nice tart base. Who would have thought that chocolate and raspberry can go well together? Well, this one does. Slightly bitter and sweet, intertwined with a hint of tang.


Manjari chocolate cake

'Manjari' is short for Valrhona Manjari - where the cocoa beans originate from Madagascar, with 64% cocoa content. Yes, pretty bitter stuff but it sure taste awesome when whipped into a cake like this.

Manjari chocolate mousse that sandwich a layer of pretty tart lemon mousse. Yet another sweet-sour pairing. However, unlike the raspberry-chocolate pairing, the lemon flavour comes off as way too sour, giving it a somewhat jarring taste.

Well, I guess it takes some getting used to. By the 3rd forkful, my tongue had gotten used to the taste and it then start to blend well. Thankfully. Or it would have been such a waste of those fine chocolate mousse layers.

Chocolate fudge/mousse cake

One word came to mind, with the first taste of this: DECADENT.

Damn rich chocolate cake, I tell you. Dark chocolate... Mmmm....!

Don't be fooled by the term 'fudge'. It's not those cheapo chocolate fudge you get at your regular confectioneries. This is equivalent to a chocolate TRUFFLE cake. My fave!

We were initially eyeing this small, cylindrical cake with a glossy chocolate covering. Were told that it's called the Praline Mousse cake. The friendly lady at the counter told us that it's chocolate mousse with a layer of crunchy praline at the bottom. Sad to say, she added that those remaining 2 pcs have already been reserved. Okay.... I don't know that one can reserve cakes like that. Interesting service they have here. Rather personalised, eh?

The lady who took our order at the counter comes across as the proprietress of this little cafe. And true enough, when she was free, she came by to our table and enquired about the cakes. Really warm and friendly service.

When we were done with our cakes, our boss asked if we want to have their 'sticky buns'. STICKY buns?! I'm sorry, but only funny things come to mind when I hear that. I took a look and saw a tray loaded with what looked like large cinammon rolls, albeit more brownish looking.

She bought 3 of them anyway and remarked that, "These will be our breakfast tomorrow morning." As she made her payments, a group of boisterous working ladies came in, hung around the counter area and left before us.

As I looked back, I saw that the 2 'reserved' Praline Mousse cakes were gone. And only 1 'sticky bun' was left. Hmmm....

I checked B Bakery out on and found out just how popular those 'sticky buns' are! Apparently, they make a limited amount daily and one have to be truly lucky to get their hands on them. Besides selling out fast, there are people who call them up to make reservations, prior to heading there. Is that cool or what?!

And yes, those buns taste fabulous. And mind you, we consume them the morning after (heated, of course). Imagine how much better they would be, when eaten fresh? Unlike those common cinnamon rolls, where white sugar icing is used; here it's only brown sugar- inside and out. So it's the caramelised brown sugar that makes them buns, sticky.

You can also go here for another review on B Bakery. Be sure to click on the individual cake links near the end!

B Bakery
15 Bussorah Street
Singapore 199436

Tel: 6293 9010

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Alaturka Turkish & Mediterranean Restaurant

My bosses want the company to have a meal together (all 6 of us) before the start of Ramadhan (the Islamic month where it is compulsory for Muslims to fast - namely abstaining from eating, drinking and sexual activities from dawn until sunset).

It's always the same dreaded question that really ticked me off, "SO what's for lunch?"

My lady boss suggested Indonesian. Or Japanese? *Yawn!* Same old.. same old...

Then she mentioned 'mediterranean food at Arab Street'. I instantly thought of Alaturka, where my parents and I were really pleased with the authentic Turkish food in a really nice setting during our previous visit.

A quick note: Parking is a nightmare during lunch hour!

Meze Tabagi
clockwise from top: Patatessalata, Tabouleh, Hummus, Dolma, Saksuka, Babaganoush & some mysterious, spicy dip

'Meze' is a selection of appetizers or small dishes that acts as a start to Mediterranean meals.

My female boss left it to me to order for us, since I seemed to be familiar with the food there (I've only been there all of ONE time- years ago!). Egad!

What better way for a group of 6 to start a meal, than to share a large platter of mixed 'mezes'? There's the:
~ Dolma - Spiced rice wrapped in grape leaves.
~ Patatessalata - Mediterranean potato salad
~ Tabouleh - Mint leaves & 'bulgur' (ground durum wheat) salad
~ Hummus - Chickpea w/ tahini dip
~ Saksuka - Deep fried eggplant w/ tomato sauce
~ Babaganoush - Roasted eggplant & garlic dip
~ and the spicy, reddish dip that reminds me of heavily spiced hummus

All were good and the Saksuka was a hot favourite amongst most of us. This platter was accompanied with Lavash, the traditional middle-eastern bread (seen in background of picture above) that came bloated with hot air and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Really yummy!

I ate one of the dolma and find that it tasted a lil' tart. I wonder what contributed to that. The spiced rice (assumed to be pilaf) or is that how grape leaves taste like?

I also ordered the falafel
(deep-fried chickpea patty) which reminds me of the Indian masal vadai (deep fried 'dhal'/lentil patty), though this one here seemed lightly spiced.

My boss the meat-lover was appalled to see that the platter was very much a vegetarian dish. We assured him that the dishes we've already ordered will be pretty much carnivorous.

Chicken Etlipide

Pide is generally 'Turkish pizza', where 'pita' (bread) is topped with ingredients such as veggies or meat with cheese and then baked. The sides of the bread are usually folded in to create a boat-like shape.

This one here had marinated chicken pieces with a generous amount of cheese. The bread was soft and fluffy. All of us love it!

Tavuk Sis/Shish Tawook

A skewer of marinated chicken pieces that's served with pilaf (middle-eastern rice), vegetables and spicy mushroom & tomato sauce.

I highly recommend their chicken. The chicken meat was nicely marinated and the cooking, well-executed. It's tender and juicy. Quite pleased to see that my boss was impressed with this. Phew!

The pilaf was very fluffy and aromatic. "Like chicken rice!" as remarked by my boss. Well, the reason is that; like chicken rice, pilaf is also cooked in broth. And the sauce that the pilaf and cooked veggies soaked in was also yummy!

Karisik Kebab

Mixed kebabs platter.

There are pieces of Sis Tavuk, Kuzu Pirzola (lamb chops) and Lamb Adana Kebab (minced meat on skewers).

My boss got the lone lamb chop and he remarked that it's really good and we should order another plate of simply that. But we're afraid that we wouldn't be able to finish everything else.

The lamb meat in the Adana kebab was a tad too salty for my liking. Thankfully, it didn't smell or taste too 'gamey'.

Chicken Iskander Kebab

Sliced marinated chicken in tomato sauce sitting on bread cubes, with homemade yoghurt on the side.

The tomato was tangy enough. Together with the yoghurt, this dish comes off as tasting a tad too sour. I guess, Turkish people likes their food that way, huh?

The cubes of bread at the bottom soak up all the flavours from the sauce and chicken and comes off as pretty delish; sans yoghurt, of course.


My female boss remarked that she loves eggplants so I was contemplating to either order this or the Ali Nazik, where cubes of lamb meatloaf stew is served in creamy, mashed eggplant dip.

Then I recalled that she doesn't like lamb so I got her the Chicken Moussaka instead, which had layers of eggplant, potato and chicken meatloaf that's topped with cheese and then grilled. Oooh.. all that hot, melted cheese with the works... Really delish!

Looking at the pics, you might have noticed that they were pretty generous with their greens. Those fresh salad clusters were prevalent in almost every dish, much to my delight. And the varieties used were the 'higher-end' types; like the rocket/arugula, butter head, cos/romaine, oak leaf & lollo rosso lettuce, radicchio and endive.

I'm just soo glad that the bosses somewhat enjoy the foods here. I was pretty apprehensive about the fact that I felt almost responsible for the choice of restaurant and food. Took a whole load off my shoulders to see them smiling at the end of the meal.

Their menu here.

The service was a tad patchy. Sometimes the servers were attentive and responded quickly & warmly. At times, they just seem like wanting to ignore us. It wasn't THAT busy...

My boss told us about a confectionery next door and that we'll be having desserts there...

Let's save that for the next post, shall we?

Alaturka Turkish & Mediterranean Restaurant
16 Bussorah Street Singapore 199437
Tel/Fax: 62940304