Saturday, March 26, 2016

American-style BBQ meats at Red Eye Smokehouse

When eating out, the darling and I like places that serve up food that isn't easily replicable at home. For example, for American-style barbecue'd meats like brisket and ribs, you'd need to smoke them in a smoker for hours on end (expensive, and not practical for the majority of us who live in HDB apartments).

It's this train of thought that leads us to a honestly rather ulu corner of the Jalan Besar neighbourhood, where Red Eye Smokehouse has set up shop, serving up varieties of smoked, fatty, sinful meats!

Red Eye Smokehouse

Red Eye Smokehouse's dining area is industrial chic while yet maintaining a casual vibe; We particularly dig the huge blackboard menu outlining all the available meats. There are the usual suspects, of course - brisket, beef/pork ribs and pulled beef/pork - and some other interesting items like salmon fillets and sriracha bbq wings. Oh, and of course a number of sides, and a complement of beers and soft drinks.

Red Eye Smokehouse

We end up going with 116gm of Brisket ($17.40), 152gm of Smoked Salmon ($12.16), 356gm of Short Rib ($39.16), and sides of Broccoli Salad and Sweet Potato Fries ($8 each). No GST or Service Charge is tacked on to the blackboard/menu prices, which is a nice surprise.

The sides first: Sweet Potato Fries were pretty delicious! Nicely seasoned, crispy on the outside while still adequately moist and fluffy in the center. Broccoli Salad - nice vinaigrette providing a bit of acidity to cut through all the fats in the meats.

Red Eye Smokehouse Brisket and Ribs

Speaking of meats - Red Eye Smokehouse's short rib was the most expensive but also the best meat of the three. Nice bark, terrific juiciness/moistness, and a great balance of fats to meat. A tad bit bland in some areas, but nothing a dash of either of the two supplied BBQ-sauces can't fix.

The brisket, on the other hand, was rather a disappointment, being too low on smoke in the flavour profile, and being too dry. Salmon was somewhere in between the two - nicely seasoned and having retained an adequate level of moisture.

Red Eye Smokehouse Brisket and Ribs

At over $40/person, Red Eye Smokehouse's meats are ... somewhat reasonable. It's got the potential to be a regular hangout for carnivores who live nearby, but otherwise we feel that a better place to feed a brisket addiction would probably be Meatsmith in Telok Ayer.

Red Eye Smokehouse is at 1, Cavan Road; Reservations accepted for parties of 6 and above. Non-halal.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Juice Exploration ::: Watermelon + Strawberry + Cucumber Juice

1.5kg of Watermelon
250g of Strawberries
1 Cucumber

Health Benefit of Watermelon Juice
High quantities of iron
rich in antioxidants, it can preempt the development of kidney stones
Soothes sore muscles
Improved circulation can benefit more than just the heart
Antioxidant linked to both the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer, Stomach Cancer, Lung Cancer
Very hydrating
Helps to control blood pressure
Promotes weight loss
Helps to lower cholesterol
Offers natural sun protection
Relieves edema (water retention)
Relieves mental depression and fatigue
Rejuvenating blood tonic
Perfect piece to beat the summer heat
vitamin C
When juicing with seeds and rind, the result is a good source of chlorophyll, vitamin B1, B6, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iodine, nucleic acids, and enzymes that aid in digestion.

How to choose and store Watermelon in general?
- Store whole watermelons in a cool place. Once cut, store for up to two days in the fridge.
- Thump a watermelon with your knuckles. If it sounds hollow, it will taste sweet. Look for a dark green melon, dull rather than shiny, with a pale yellow underbelly.

Some good reads are found here About Watermelon

Health Benefit of Strawberry Juice
Vitamin C
Vitamin B6
Vatamin K
Folic Acid
Omega-3 Fats
Digestive Ailments
Teeth Whitening
Skin Irritations
Blood Sugar Levels
Boost Immunity
Promote Eye Health
Help fight or Prevent Cancer
Anti-aging properties
Help fight Bad Cholesterol
Reduce Inflammation
Regulate Blood Pressure
Help aid in Weight Management
Promote Pre-Natal Health
Boost Short-term Memory

How to choose and store Strawberry in general?
- Store whole watermelons in without washing or removing the stems. Arrange them on a paper towel-lined tray, cover with plastic wrap and then refrigerate. Before consuming wash the strawberries under cool water and then remove stems.
- Choose strawberries that are firm, plump, unblemished, free of mold, shiny, deep red color and bright green caps attached.

Some good reads are found here About Strawberry

Health Benefit of Cucumber Juice
Vitamin A
Vitamin B1, B5, B7
Vitamin C
Vitamin K
Anti-inflammatory Flavonol
Rehydrates body
Fights heat
Flushes out toxins
Aids in weight loss
Revives the eyes
Stabilizes blood pressure
Helps digestion
Smooths hair, nails, muscle and joint pain
Good for diabetics
Reduces cholesterol
Protect Your Brain
Reduce Your Risk of Cancer
Manage Stress
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Pain-relieving effects
Hangover cure
Promotes joint health
Relieves gout
Arthritis pain
Bone health

How to choose and store Cucumber in general?
- Store cucumber should be stored at room temperature and keep them separately from bananas, tomatoes, and melons, which are all high ethylene producers which cucumber will be sensitive to it.
- Choose cucumber that are bright, even color of skin without dullness or sweating, firm and does not bend. Smaller cucumbers are crisper and have finer seeds.

Some good reads are found here About Cucumber

Click here for our blog page Desserts, & Drink for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Friday, March 18, 2016

Octaphilosophy at Restaurant Andre - Singapore's Best Restaurant!

Restaurant Andre, where to begin? Chef Andre's charming little outpost has reigned undisputed as Singapore's Best Restaurant for years. Andre's background is as cosmopolitan as is this city - born in Taiwan, raised in Japan, and honed his culinary craft in France before putting down roots in Singapore. His cuisine, predominantly fine nouvelle French, doesn't come cheap though - so the darling and I have been waiting for a special occasion before paying a visit to his understated, simple, 500-year-old-tree-in-the-courtyard joint on Bukit Pasoh road!

Restaurant Andre

The dining area is gorgeous and elegant, but yet retaining a smart casual vibe - so it's not as intimidating as some other more traditional French restaurants. Service is cheerful and friendly; and the wait staff (helmed by Chef's wife, Pam) are the most well-trained that we've come across anywhere in the city.

Dinner here is centered around Octa-philosophy: Eight concepts which Chef Andre believes best describe his cuisine's DNA. These are: Pure, Salt, Artisan, South, Texture, Unique, Memory and Terroir. Eight concepts, eight courses, two very hungry stomachs. Challenge accepted!

Restaurant Andre Octaphilosophy

For the wine lovers among you, Restaurant Andre's got a really unique wine system: they only serve chemical-free wines, and if you opt for the wine pairing monsieur sommelier doesn't tell you what the wine is until after you've imbibed. The darling and I are teetotalers and so we try out Chef's somewhat experimental fermented juices instead - an elderflower-based 'white' and tamarilo and basil 'red.' The juices were certainly ... interesting, but were perhaps a bit of an acquired taste.

Restaurant Andre Wine List

Fermented juices and still water in hand, we ready ourselves for the first of our eight courses. Except that it doesn't quite come. Andre whets our appetites instead with a number of appetizers (or "snacks," as the waitresses call them). Perhaps "a number" is a bit of an understatement - turns out we got ten snacks in total. What's on the menu varies from season to season so you're unlikely to get the exact same nibbles we got. One constant: All the snacks are to be eaten with fingers; perhaps Chef's way of keeping the dinner fun and not too formal.

Of course, with the sheer number of items there is some variability. The items that stood out: Wild Mushroom Tart, "Fish and Chips" (deep fried mini fish wrapped in thin potato strips) and Assorted Chips (Swiss Chard, Savoy Cabbage, Potato skin). Probably our favorite snack among them all was the Black Dough Fritters, amusingly and amazingly served up hiding in a pile of charcoal, eaten with a delightful bell pepper and ama-ebi (sweet shrimp) dip.

Restaurant Andre Appetizers / Snacks
Restaurant Andre Appetizers / Snacks
Restaurant Andre Appetizers / Snacks
Restaurant Andre Appetizers / Snacks
Restaurant Andre Appetizers / Snacks
Restaurant Andre Appetizers / Snacks

The first concept is Unique: A multi-layered, multi-flavored concoction of spicy (horseradish), sweet (sweet corn), and savory (almond and vanilla). I think this course is where Chef tries to push boundaries and experiment with radical flavors and textures. I'm not so sure that this particular experiment was successful, though - I ended up not being able to quite make up my mind whether it was good, or what story Chef was trying to portray.

Restaurant Andre Octaphilosophy Unique

Pure is up next. This concept concentrates on the purity of the ingredient: using as little cooking or seasoning as possible to let the ingredient take center stage. Today's ingredient: Cucumber puree, sliced Cucumber and Cucumber flowers, sweetened with sea urchin, crab meat, chamomile jelly, and earl grey dusting. Refreshing, crunchy, delicious.

Restaurant Andre Octaphilosophy Pure

Chef Andre uses the Salt course to give us a crash course in seasoning: "Can you make a dish salty without using salt?" Yes, you can. Natural salt and umami from thin-sliced squid and konbu kelp combine to more than adequately flavor the bed of creamy mashed potatoes underneath. Divine.

Restaurant Andre Octaphilosophy Salt

In South, Chef Andre showcases the ingredients and flavors from the South of France, which had the biggest impact on his cooking career. On today's menu is a scallop-noodle-chee-cheong-fun draped over char-grilled lobster (in place of oysters which we don't eat), with vinegary jus and watercress foam for a little acidity.

Restaurant Andre Octaphilosophy South

Artisan pays homage to lesser known ingredients farmed by smaller producers. Today we get introduced to a root vegetable named the 'topinambur,' or Jerusalem Artichoke, in a very earthy topinambur and mushroom broth, complimented by flavors of the sea - vegetables cooked with shima aji fish, clams, and caviar. It's a terrific combination of the hearty, slightly bitter, earthy flavors and the salty, umami seafood, and we found ourselves lapping everything up.

Restaurant Andre Octaphilosophy Artisan

With Texture, Andre toys with our senses by introducing a wild mushroom risotto with shaved white truffles. Sounds yums, no? Well ... except for that fact that the truffles are actually a type of cheese, and the risotto is actually pasta, not rice. Hiding in the middle of all that pasta is an egg yolk injected with chicken stock - poke, mix, eat, enjoy!

Restaurant Andre Octaphilosophy Texture
Restaurant Andre Octaphilosophy Texture

Now we come to Memory, which is the only constant dish on the otherwise ever-changing menu. This Foie Gras puree with Black Truffle coulis dates back to 1997, and was Chef's first original creation when he first started his career in France. It's an amazing dish, and one that's definitely stood the test of time.

Restaurant Andre Octaphilosophy Memory

Finally, Terroir - the flavors of a specific time and place. Tonight we're having pigeon, and the presentation is tres superb. The waitresses first bring out the pigeon, roasting in a mountain of coffee beans, wood, stones and a few other ingredients that we didn't catch; indescribably amazing aromas wafting out of the pot.

It's then, sadly, taken back to the kitchen for plating, and amusingly enough we only get back two small slices of (juicy, tender, not-too-gamey) pigeon meat. Where'd the rest of the bird go? Oh well, what we lose in quantity is made up for in quality - the accompanying unagi jus and dehydrated, crispy onions and other vegetables are delicious beyond words.

Restaurant Andre Octaphilosophy Terroir
Restaurant Andre Octaphilosophy Terroir

We're pretty stuffed by this point - each of the dishes may have been small in isolation, but we've had a lot of them. It's OK though, because it's a known scientific fact that humans have a separate stomach for a dessert or two. Or - in the case of Andre - nine separate dessert items served in three batches.

The first one - cold pea ice cream and green tea chocolate, contrasted with warm green tea foam. The darling and I loved the green tea flavors but ... peas? In a dessert? Definitely the weakest link in the culinary chain for us.

We also got a second pre-dessert: A palette cleanser of muscat grapes on almond cream, swimming in melon juice.

Restaurant Andre Desserts
Restaurant Andre Desserts

The main dessert brings the meal to a playful close - with Andre's DIY cake. Naturally, this isn't really a heap of unbaked flour, sugar, butter, chocolate and a raw egg. The flour is actually a crumble, hiding some sugary nuts underneath; the sugar cubes are actually marshmallows. It's an oh-so-fun, light-hearted and playful dessert, but we have to say the taste didn't quite live up to the presentation.

Restaurant Andre Desserts

Finally - the petit fours. Do you still call them petit fours if you actually get six items? No matter. A somewhat strange omission was any offer of an after-dinner beverage - surely petit fours should normally be served with some sort of coffee or tea?

Anyways, we thought the kaya toast macaron and the churros were pretty interesting!

Restaurant Andre Desserts

While writing this blog post, one thing was quite clear - the darling and I don't yet have the breadth of experience with top-class restaurants to properly appreciate and review Restaurant Andre. Yes, we have dined at some pretty nice places - Kaiseki at Kichisen, or Jaan, or Les Amis, but Andre really is a level above. Nevertheless, even with our limited palettes we can say that Andre is by far the best restaurant that we've ever visited.

With a grand total of 27 items served (28 if you count the complimentary 'happy anniversary' cake), there's bound to be some misses among the hits; but by and large most of the items were heavenly and sublime. Dinner doesn't come cheap, of course, but in our opinions it was well worth the price paid. Oh, if you're not quite willing to jump in the deep end, Andre does serve up a smaller and cheaper menu for lunch.

Restaurant Andre is at 41 Bukit Pasoh Road. Reservations strongly recommended; non-halal.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Modern Singaporean at Wild Rocket - Singapore's 10th Best Restaurant!

Is there such a thing as Singaporean Fine Dining? Chef Willin Low certainly seems to think it's possible: He's busy creating and serving up Modern Singaporean dishes at his Wild Rocket restaurant on Mount Emily. The restaurant space and service standards probably aren't quite up to the more established (and more pricey) Western-leaning fine dining joints in town (yet), but the food's legitimately good - as evidenced by the 38th spot in San Pellegrino & Acqua Panna's Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2016 list (10th best in Singapore).

Wild Rocket

If you're in the mood to splurge, Wild Rocket's Omakase (leave it to the Chef) menu ranges from s$80-s$160 depending on time of day; Otherwise the three-course set lunch is priced at a remarkably reasonable s$35++. We dip our toes in the water with the latter choice, which starts off with some warm toasty garlic brioche, whose shape reminds us of the ubiquitous tau sar piah.

Wild Rocket Garlic Brioche

The appetizers are up next: Wild Rocket's “Roast-Chicken-Rice” wings with calamansi chilli sauce is glutinous rice-stuffed roasted chicken wings, with Singapore chicken-rice flavours and chilli sauce. It's delicious (if perhaps a tad bit under-seasoned), and evokes memories of three iconic Singaporean dishes: Lo Mai Kai, Roast Chicken Wings, and Singapore Chicken Rice.

Wild Rocket Roast Chicken Rice Wings

The Beef Carpaccio with sesame ginger puree is a little more Western leaning. Carpaccio, tartare and other raw beef dishes live or die by the seasoning and accompaniments; Wild Rocket's choice of sesame and ginger puree adds a very nice Asian flavour profile.

Wild Rocket Beef Carpaccio

The first of our main courses was the Sarawak Curry Chicken Shepherd’s Pie, i.e. A delicious baked base of curry chicken, covered with mashed potato and cheese. Curry and cheese aren't probably too high up on your mental list of "ingredients that go well together," but it really works. Of course it's not perfect - we do have some minor nitpicks like the curry could be spicier, the dish could have more mash - but these are really down to personal preferences.

Wild Rocket Sarawak Curry Chicken Shephards Pie

The Roast Red Snapper with Tom Yum Bouillabaisse (s$8 supplement) was perhaps not quite as interesting. The fish was well-cooked - crispy skin and moist, juicy flesh, and the mussels were fresh and juicy. But we didn't really care much for the thin, watery Tom Yum broth, which was neither spicy nor sour nor flavourful enough.

Wild Rocket Red Snapper with Tom Yum bouillabaisse

For my dessert, I chose the Teh Tarik Panna Cotta with “Pearls” ("Pearls" referring to those little tapioca balls you get in bubble tea). It's a delightful, if a little small, dessert, though interestingly enough I thought it tasted more like Earl Grey (milk) tea rather than Teh Tarik.

Wild Rocket Teh Tarik Panna Cotta with Pearls

The darling had the deconstructed Wild Rocket Strawberry Cheese Cake (s$2 supplement) - mounds of cream cheese on strawberries and biscuit crumble base together with walnuts and ice cream - which was definitely the better of the two desserts.

Wild Rocket Strawberry Cheesecake

Final bill came to s$102 for the both of us after the price supplements, drinks, service charge and GST, which we think is quite reasonable for the caliber of food we had. Portions are a tad bit on the small side, perhaps - it was 'enough' for our appetites, but a growing teenager would probably be hunting for snacks by mid-afternoon.

Wild Rocket is at Hangout @ Mt Emily, 10A Upper Wilkie Road. I'm not sure if reservations are typically required, but you can make them online. Non-halal.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Sliced Fish (Red Garoupa) with Ginger Recipe

We had a lot Old Ginger left in our kitchen. Looked back on what fish dishes and decided we would try sliced fish with Ginger. Red Garoupa was used as deary loves Garoupa.

Was wondering how to describe the way we prepared our Old Ginger and stumbled over this interesting informative page, click here. It mentioned a few types of preparation style: Planks, Matchsticks, Minced, Grated.

Fragrance Fried Garlic Ingredients
100g sliced Old Ginger (thin Matchsticks)
4 tablespoons of Sesame Oil

Heat Sesame Oil. Fry the thinly sliced Old Ginger until Golden Brown. Remove and set aside. Use the remaining Sesame Oil to fry sliced fish with Ginger.

Other Ingredients
300g sliced fish (Optional Choice: Red Garoupa)
2 tablespoons Fish Sauce
1 teaspoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Oyster Sauce
1 teaspoon Rice Wine
80ml Water
1 teaspoon Corn Flour (Optional. If you prefer thick sauce pre-mix it with the Water)
1 teaspoon Sugar
Dash of White Pepper
few 1" long Spring Onion
Sliced Chili (Optional)

While the remaining sesame oil is still hot, pour in the sliced fish and let it lightly cook on both sides.

Add in Fish Sauce, Soy Sauce, Oyster Sauce, Rice Wine, Sugar, White Pepper and stir fry.

Finally add in the sliced Chili and Spring Onion for a quickly toss to mix evenly.

Top the dish with the Fragrance Fried Garlic and served.

Click here for our blog page Cooking Classes for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~