In the Jungle we sometimes find a gem…. Les Deux Garcons

Hello,

As I mentioned earlier, we were in KL over the weekend. It’s been over a year since my last visit. I find that when I am in KL, it’s usually for some specific purpose – event or friend’s gathering so I don’t have much time to wander around and explore much else other than the same neighbourhood I’m familiar with and that’s Bangsar. I worked in Malaysia once and lived in Bangsar for a few months. A lot of my friends live nearby so it’s uber convenient to meet up with them, have a night cap over coffee and nice chilled out music or even to sneak in a cheeky Roti Chani in TTDI or SS2. I usually hang around Telawi, Bangsar, Damansara and on this visit, I’ve seen a lot of new boutique shops popping up. For one thing there’s a really glam looking ‘Pantry Magic’!

Anyway, we came across a pristine white shop besides a fruit stall. I peered in wondering what is it exactly. To my delight – it’s a patisserie called ‘Les Deux Garcons’. It’s owned and run by Toto and Ben. On our first visit, we tried a cake each. Den tried the Mango Passion fruit – think he liked the happy zesty colour. I tried the Raspberry gateaux because… well, it was pretty! When we sliced into it, we noticed the layering of the mousse was in a similar style to that of the famed Japanese Patissier, Hidemi Sugino. It’s a style that our friend, C loves and aspires too. We know it’s hard to achieve different coloured and layering of the mousse over delicately thin sponge. But these guys did it and it looks  – well, see for yourself just how pretty the cakes are.Les Deux Garcons, selection of gateaux

On our 2nd visit, we tried another 2 cakes and ordered a dozen of the macarons for our friends. For the cakes, this time we tried the Dark Chocolate Cherry Mousse and the White Chocolate Truffle tart (apparently their signature).  Again, we were impressed with the choices – the lines were clean, the sponge and layering inside were precise and retained the moistness that sometimes gives away mousse that’s been left out too long. The white chocolate truffle creates an interesting flavour for your palate because your brain will associate the truffle with savoury dishes like risotto or truffle shaved on eggs/pasta and yet the white chocolate sweetness will counter the savoury taste in a similar way that salted caramel does except – this is the Rolls Royce version of that sensation.

As we were leaving, we had the luck to meet the both of them (Toto and Ben) – they shared their passion for the patisserie arts with us and their drive to succeed and expand. Ohh… and they used to live in London too 🙂

In short,  it was love at first sight and after tasting and cutting through the middle – truly great craftsmanship and artisan in the colours, layering and precision. I think they are better than any patissier currently found in Singapore…

In Singapore there’s The Patissier at M’md Sultan or Ann Siang HillFlo at DuxtonK-ki At Ann Siang HillAntoinette in Mandarin Gallery…. but Les Deux Garcons is a nudge above their peers. It’s comparable to the best we’ve had in Paris and in Japan like ‘Patisserie K Vincent in Kagurazaka’ or ‘Hidemi Sugino in Ginza.

If you are heading over to KL and you love desserts, trust me you don’t want to miss out. For all you know, they’ll be heading to the bright lights of Tokyo or London and Paris soon!

Au reviour,

PhoodIE.

Sunday Brunch Malaysian Style – Bak Ku Teh

Hello,

Mr K and I had the occasion to visit Malaysia over the weekend. Our friend took us to try the Malaysian style Bak Ku Teh – the dry and the soup one in Puchong on a Sunday morning – before noon!
Our friend helped us order and we just had to eat whatever comes our way. What I like about the Malaysian style BKT over the ones you find in Singapore is that it is what it says on the box ‘herbal ribs’. Slowly stewed Pork Ribs in herbal tea.
I really like the fact that you can add the inoki mushrooms and there’s always plenty of ‘tofu curd’ in the clay pot. Of course, we add the ‘yau char gwai’ too. Oh yes.. there’ s always a token side order of veggies…. just so we feel we’ve done our greens for the morning.

 Bak Ku Teh in Puchong

After about 3 mins of silence when everyone tucks into the first slurps of the herbal tea, rice and ribs…. We look up with a big smile and satisfaction on our faces. Three Words – “hits the spot”!!

The BKT in SG have a huge amount of white pepper in the broth… and not much of a herby taste….. I’m not a fan. Who prefers the ones in SG over Malaysia? You must be a Singaporean haha.

Signing off.
PhoodIE.


Doesn’t happen often, Chef’s Table on CNY Re-union Evening with Michael Han….*Bless*

Hello,

We had a friend come visit us over Chinese New Year. The name is ‘Storm’ – a typical otaku but with a surprisingly well developed palate. The guy doesn’t spend much $$ for 10 months a year and then in spurts of special occasion, he spends like a beast. His travel to Singapore was one such special occasion. His ‘premier’ visit to Singapore at that.

Alas, he asked me which is my favourite Singaporean home grown chef and without a shadow of a doubt, I informed him it was Michael Han of Fifty Three.   We had to get a booking there. Fifty Three was actually going to be closed on the day and for the entire duration whilst Storm is town. Luck would have it that I spoke to Michael and he made an exception and was kind enough to host us for dinner on Sunday 22nd Jan. We invited two other fabulous friends (also from Japan) to join us to share the gastronomical evening together.
This is my second visit to Fifty Three. On my first occasion, we were diners like any other and were seated upstairs so I wasn’t sure what is happening downstairs with all the cooking. This time, we had the privilege and pleasure to be seated at the chef’s table so to speak. We saw everything happening before our eyes and surely this heightens any phoodie’s anticipation of what we are about to be served. I shall leave the few pictures of the evening’s meals speak for itself. Overall, a very personable, special and delicious meal for a special occasion

  • Ambience  – understated, modern
  • Wine  – Clos St. Denis, Domaine Dujac, 2000
  • Highlight – Seeing the kitchen quite literally set alight. we are assured this is part of normal process for charing the pork loin to seal the moisture. The waiter had a cheeky grin on his face when he saw us  stop our conversation in shock of the blaze shooting up into the air vent.
  • Favourite Dish – Lobster with duck’s tongue and bone marrow sauce – lobster was cooked perfectly with yummy savoury jus of bone marrow. I also really enjoyed the refreshing and lightness of the whole dish of the Boston Scallops with yuzu and variety of herbs and heirloom orange tomatoes
The main features of the Degustation Menu

The main features of the Degustation Menu at Fifty Three

Below is a selection of the sack of freshly baked bread, the Danish cheese puff , Potatoes and the signature ‘gin and tonic on the rocks’.  Oh… I thought I’d throw in the picture of the spectacular little blaze in the kitchen too.

Nick Nacks and the FIRE

Knick Knacks and the FIRE - part of the experience?

I cannot possibly end this post without a feature of the Chef Michael Han  – one of the most humble, kindest and passionate chefs I’ve met.Chef Michael Han

My advice? Go dine at Fifty Three Armenian Street and you will see what I mean.

Taipei, Taiwan – places I’d recommend…

Ola,

Lately a number of friends have been asking me about travelling to Taiwan, Taipei to be exact. I went recently in Sept 2011. As always, D will compile a list of  ‘places to visit and eat’.  When we’re back home, we sometimes have time to review the list again and short list the ones that we really did and enjoyed.

Here’s our list for our favourite phoods during our travels to Taipei this year.

Soyamilk Shop - Quintessentially Taiwanese

Fried dough, sticky rice wrap, savoury soyamilk, sweet soyamilk..... and a grilled flat bread.... (siew beng)... yummmm

Type Restaurants/ Good Food to bring home

Cuisine

Remarks

Lunch and open till late 老張牛肉麵
南昌路一段50號之2號
MRT: 中正紀念堂站
TEL:02-23960927
南海路 71 m
Left onto 南海路2巷 46 m
Right onto 南昌路一段31巷 110 m
Left onto 南昌路一段
Beef Noodles  
breakfast 永和豆漿大王‎
台北市大安區復興南路二段102號
BEST SOY MILK, yau cha gwai and all things yummy Taiwanese soy. I loved their omelette sticky rice too A MUST
They close for a break in btwn bfast and late lunch. Go before 11am or after 3pm. I think this is a brekkie place… so go early and you won’t be disappointed. We went there… daily!
Dinner or lunch 食養文化山房 (Taiwanese)
02-2646-2266
新北市汐止區汐萬路三段350巷7號
http://www.shi-yang.com/
(booked.  Re-confirm on arrival to taipei)
MRT: 南港展覽館站 (30 mins)
then taxi address (35 mins 15 km TWD350)
Organic, gastronomy. Beautiful setting…. Relax and enjoy. A MUST
U can try to go at lunch when it’s less busy. The owner, Mr Ma is usually there. Hardworking and down to earth guy. Nx time should interview him 😉  It’s in a very remote location. Be prepared for taxi drivers refusing to go there. Whilst you are up the hill and thinking you have arrived…. remember.. u are not there yet!!! Keep going till you see a white roofed building! and it really will cost 350 TWD!
Snacks 哈肯舖
Hogan Bakery
台北市信義路四段265巷18號
MRT: 國父紀念館站
South 光復南路 toward 仁愛路四段 400m
Right 仁愛路四段 8m
Left 光復南路 230m
Right 光復南路456巷 160m
Continue 信義路四段265巷
http://www.hoganbakery.com.tw
Cookies and bread This chap won the best bakery and french techique award a few yrs ago. V good bread for Asia 🙂
Lunch and open till late 度小月擔仔麵
忠孝東路四段216巷8弄12號
02-2773-1244
MRT: 忠孝敦化站
Exit 3
Right 忠孝東路四段194巷 66 m
Left 忠孝東路四段194巷1弄
Noodles A MUST
Very good and tasty. V. reasonably priced. The place was in an area good for snacks. Recommend a walk about in the neighbourhood
Open till late 桃源街牛肉麵
台北市桃源街15號
MRT: 西門站 Exit 3
http://www.pigpigscorner.com/2010/05/rice-noodles-in-taipei.html
   
Lunch 林東芳牛肉麵
八德路二段274號(中央日報旁)
MRT: 忠孝新生站
Exit 1
North on 安東街 toward 忠孝東路三段251巷1弄 350 m
Right onto 市民大道三段 37 m
Left onto 安東街 270 m
Left onto 八德路二段
02 2752 2556
 Beef Noodles Tiny place famous for beef noodles. I liked the side veggies too
Lunch 回留 (vegetarian)
台北市永康街31巷9號
+886-2-2392-6707
MRT: 忠孝新生站 then Taxi
11:30-22:00
 Vegetarian It’s EXCELLENT for tea ceremony if u don’t have time for any meals. The lady will guide u through the options. Go for ‘Ah Li San’ Lung Jin which is what Taiwan is famous for. The key is to relax, slow down and enjoy the tea break. It’s near to 度小月擔仔麵 so maybe come here after the noodles 🙂
Pineapple Tarts 舊振南餅店
台北 SOGO 新光三越 新天地A11
台北市松壽路11號B2
光復南路456巷
Right 光復南路
Left 基隆路一段364巷
Left 基隆路一段
Slightly right 松壽路
http://www.jzn.com.tw
pineapple tarts I only buy this branded pineapple tarts.The rest sold in airports etc aren’t v tasty…
Dinner 茶酒沙龍 (Chinese)
+886 2 2721 1970
仁愛路四段15號 2-3F
MRT: 忠孝復興站
South on 復興南路一段 400m
Left onto 仁愛路四段 73m
http://www.isabelle-wen.com/wenfifi/
   
Places to see 太魯閣國家公園
龍山寺
MRT: 龍山寺站國立故
宮博物院
北投區(Hot Springs)
大龍峒保安宮
Bus 涼州重慶路口 601 (天母), 223 (大南汽車關渡站) to 酒泉重慶路口
Walk 哈密街
   
In bwtn meal snacks DTF – the original shop  Shanghai Dumplings – filled with lots of yummy juice Was actually very good even though there’s many branches in SG.
Go at an offpeak hour to avoid all the coach load of Japanese and mainland tourists.
A Mountain Area for walks Yang Min San Really lovely walk. U will see all the local oldies with their picnics, chit chatting/ playing chess games. I went here once when I was younger and have very good memories of it. Happy to find it almost as I had remembered it.
private kitchen Cat’s Private Kitchen is at
#25, Alley 20, Lane 391, He Ping East Road Section 3, Da An District, Taipei
台北市大安區和平東路三段391巷20弄25號
Tel: (886) 961-173451
 Private Kitchen Extremely difficult to get a reservation for 2 pple. Need a group of 4. and book 2 months or more in advance. For those who are determined – give it a shot. Better still if you can converse with them in Taiwanese I think… I had to struggle a bit with my broken mandarin…. they tried to fit us in but alas they had another larger group booked in. Makes business sense 🙂

Hope you peeps enjoy your visit to Taipei!! 🙂 There’s also a snacks markets in Shilin which we visited – you should go too at night and enjoy the street food there.

Ciao for now,

Phoodie signing off

When is it a good time to bake brownies?… Why Sunday morning of course :)

Mr K is away in Hong Kong for business. Yesterday I finally made some more vanilla gelato…. and I needed an accompaniment….so I thought… why not Brownies? I’ve not yet made any whilst in Singapore. There’s so many variation of brownies around – the ones that have a gooey center,  icing on top, fancy fillings such as white chocolate, peanut butter… pretty much, you name it, you can convert it into a brownie!

Then I thought back to THE best brownies I’ve had… which were the Fat Witch Brownies – in NYC, located in the Meat Packing District… this was back when I still studying my masters! It’s always lovely to see a small little shop like that grow and survive all the economic blows to a small business. Put a smile on my face… this is just a small shop selling brownies 10 years ago and is going strong now.

So what is this brownie like? It’s baked in such a way that the center is delicately and moist. The Fat Witch ones are a little on the sweet side… it could be because the size of the pieces sold. So anyways, a long time ago, a friend who is now living in the US showed me how to make brownies. It’s on a little piece of notepaper – it’s pretty simple:

Ingredients:

  • 100g butter (unsalted)
  • 115g dark chocolate ( I used 68% mixed with about 30g of 55%)
  • 150g  caster sugar
  • 75g plain flour
  • 70g roasted walnuts
  • 4 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven t0 175oC
  2. Line & grease the tins – I had actually 1 rectangular (approx 16cm by 8cm) and 1 square one (approx 9cm by 9cm)….
  3. Melt the butter and mix well with the chocolate over a bain marie. Do not fold too much air into this (tip from Petit Chateau).
  4. Once mixed well, and all butter/chocolate is melted  – place the bowl in an ice bath to help cool down immediately.
  5. Beat the sugar and eggs and then slowly add the cooled chocolate mix.
  6. Add in the vanilla essence during this process.
  7. Sift flour and salt into the mixture.
  8. Gently mix the batter – again mindful not to introduce too much air into the ‘batter’.
  9. Pour the mixture into the tins and make sure it’s all nice and even
  10. Scatter the walnuts into the mixture, you then need to poke them a little to submerge into the batter. I spread it this way to ensure even spread.
  11. Bake for 25 mins at 175oC
  12. Once done, you can remove it and then place it on a cooling rack so you can slice into squares or rectangles – as you wish. You can get about 12 pieces from this like the ones below
Brownie with Roasted Walnuts

Home Made Brownie with Roasted Walnuts

Debut, First Step, The Start of… the Phoodie Travelogue…..

Hello World!
Many things to be all happy and wiggly about today (05.10.2011):
1) My wedding anniversary
2) Went for a lovely meal at Restaurant Andre
3) Last but not least, I’ve finally bucked up and kick start my dabbling in wordpress – sharing my yummy PHoodiE Photos with you.

PHoodiE Travelogue – so goes the name, combines simply my love of good food, photography (of food mainly…) and travels (often in search of good food)…..

So let me begin with today’s journey.
This evening we dined at a Restaurant Andre. Chef Michael Han of Fifty Three recommended me to pay a visit to Andre. The restaurant exterior is discreet and thoughtful – tucked into a little corner of Outram Park area with a distinct olive tree outside it’s front doors.

Restaurant Andre

Restaurant Andre - the signature Olive Tree

The service was prompt and attentive throughout the meal. Sweep all that aside – what of the food?
I’ll not spoil the whole course by show casing every single dish – that’s is an experience I’d like you to try for yourself if you are in Singapore or will pop over soon.

The evening of degustation is organised into 8 segments – Octophilosophy – designed by Andre. I enjoyed ‘Pure’,  ‘Unique’ and ‘Terroir’ the most.
‘Pure’ is a beautiful and delicate lilac dish of purple cauliflower juice, scallop cappacio and Japanese chives and vintage olive oil dotted around to add a little interesting spots into the dish.

'PURE'

PURE

‘Unique’ is about taking a basic or common ingredient and making it different somehow. Andre creates this dish with barramundi – slices quite thinly, chargrilled and then layered with archichokes infused in a wonderful delicate zesty sauce.

Unique

Unique

‘Terroir’ is supposedly the masculine dish (read, red meat) and I loved it. the whole dish was like a work of art with greens and reds and a beautifully cooked duck and the jus… to die for. See for yourself.

Terrior

Terrior

And since I’m sure a dessert lover – I must of course feature the chocolate dessert (amoung 3 other palate cleansers, pre desserts and petit fours he indulged us with)…. It was basically chocolate in as many % you can image in the form of ice cream, spong, brittle, soil, wafer. The result was a delish yummy happy PHoodiE ending…

Chocolate

Six Chocolates

We were lucky enough to speak to Chef Andre this evening though it well past midnight….We are very impressed by his passion, genuine love of the craft, art and his customers and staff.
A little fact for you – early adopters and subscribers to my ramblings….. Andre is rather good with his hands (outside of the kitchen too!) – he handmade many of the serving dishes, cups even your bread plate – make sure you take a second look at the things closest to you at the dining table – he is THAT thoughtful when it comes to dining experiences with him.

He loves trees – hence the olive tree in front of his restaurant and…. He’ll be in Melbourne for the Melbourne Food Festival next March 2012! So … you lucky Melbournians – buy your tickets and go to his sessions/demos!!!

Till next time, ciao,
A very full and sleepying PHoodiE……