September 28, 2012

{Recipe} Mooncake Making ~ Piglets Can Fly!

Of all the Chinese festivals, mid-autumn festival (中秋节) is the one which is seldom celebrated in my family because none of my family members are a fan of mooncakes... except me! I love this snack which is traditionally served during the festival. The combination of sweet silky lotus paste and savory salted egg yolk baked to a wonderful fragrance is just so irresistible. It makes me forget about my expanding waistline, reaching out for piece after piece. I always tell myself, hey it's only a once in a year indulgence. I can always mitigate the damage with a pot of chinese tea!

Mooncakes are now readily available as early as a month before the actual day of the festival, which falls on 30th September this year. Other than the traditional baked flavor, there are now numerous contemporary take on it.

But nothing beats traditional, and to make it better, homemade traditional.

So, when my friend, Alena, invited me over to her place to learn how to make mooncakes from her mother, I jumped at the chance!

Anyone remembers the piglet shaped pastry packaged in small brightly colored plastic baskets which is usually sold in bakeries? It's actually made from the same dough as mooncakes, but kosong without any fillings.

I'm gonna learn how to make this piglet which will be filled with lotus paste and melon seeds ~ Piglet Mooncakes!

So, my piglets can fly? Read on.....


 PIGLET MOONCAKE (makes around 30 pieces)

Ingredient A (pastry)                                   
  • 300 gm Top Flour or Hong Kong Flour
  • 300 gm Plain Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Alkali Water
  • 210 gm Golden Syrup
  • 75 gm Peanut Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Brown Coloring

Ingredient B (filing)
  • 1kg Lotus Seed Paste
  • 100gm Melon Seed

Ingredient C (glazing)
  • 1 Egg Yolk

  1. Sift the flour together, add in the rest of ingredient A.
  2. Using a mixer, mix in slow speed into a soft dough.
  3. Let the dough rest for 20-30 minute. Divide into portions of 20gm.
  4. Mix ingredient B together. Divide into portions of 26gm.
  5. Flatten the dough with your palm. Place a portion of filing in the centre. Gather and seal the edges into a oval shaped packet.
  6. Dust the piglet mould with a bit of flour. Place the packet into the mould and press gently to fit.
  7. Knock out the piglet from the mould . Place onto baking tray.
  8. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven, glaze the center of piglets with egg yolk.
  10. Return to oven and bake for further 5 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven. 
  12. Let it rest for 2-3 days before consuming.

The steps are really easy! Even for a noob baker like myself.

We're using the piglet mould, but you can use any other mooncake mould you fancy.

The most memorable part is knocking the piglets out of the mould. It's best to get it out within 3 knocks else the dough will go out of shape. The first few times was hilarious! We were knocking it too softly, too many knocks, knocked until disfigured, knocked too hard that my piglet flew! and hit the wooden board! Yes.. that explains the heading ~ Piglets Can Fly! LOL!! It took us a while to get the hang of it.

 All the effort and knocking is worth it when the aroma of freshly baked mooncakes starts filing up the kitchen. 

So, here I am, survived my maiden attempt, proudly presenting to you my piglet mooncake! 

Why not try baking your own mooncake this mid-autumn? It would make a wonderful gift with a personal touch!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, everyone!

September 25, 2012

Hatched ~ Hatching in Holland Village

On a drizzling lazy Sunday afternoon when half of Holland Village is asleep, there stood a bright, cheerful looking bistro with a "OPEN" signage beckoning the hungry piggu to come in and feed her tummy. The piggu opened the wooden door, peered inside, and realized she stumbled upon the land of eggs, eggs, and more eggs!

Yes, Hatched has opened a 2nd outlet at Holland Village, following the success of their 1st at Evan Lodge. They are now serving all-day-breakfast at a much more convenient location.

Kid you not when I say this is the land of eggs, eggs, and more eggs. Sunny-side-up, scrambled, poached, baked, or even an egg white-only omelette, you can eat it whatever way you fancy! This is an egg specialist heaven for egg lovers. The only 'egg' you can't eat here is the egg-shaped salt and pepper shakers :p

I took a long time to make up my mind. Flip, flipping and re-flipping through the menu, awed by the array of eggs and the selection of pancakes, waffles before finally deciding to give away this piggu's tummy space to Ben.

Sir Benedict (Just One S$13++ / Do Two S$19++)

Oops! I beg your pardon, make it Sir Benedict! Yes, the classic breakfast egg is such a favorite that it is being knighted here. The poached egg sits proudly on its throne of streaky bacon, smoked ham and half an English muffin, crowned by Hollandaise sauce.

The fork attacks! This is my favorite moment when the egg yolk oozes into a pool of gooey goodness. Competently executed, I wasted not a bit of it, wiping it clean to the very last. I regretted ordering just one, when I should do two.

I also enjoyed the side of homemade mash. Instead of just plain smooth mash, chunks of potatoes are added, which makes a brilliant combination of texture. The brownish thick sauce covering the mash has no esthetic appeal at all, but the fragrance of mushrooms emerged soon after I tasted it. Simply delish!

The Designer (S$12++ for 3 toppings, add S$1++ for each additional topping)

My dining companion is an interior designer who can't break away from designing lol. He decided to create his own omelette with chosen toppings of mushrooms, bacon and onion. I tasted a bit of the omelette and find it to be still creamy on the inside, just the way I like it. Other toppings which you can add to your omelette includes tomatoes, capsicums, cheese, bacon, ham and chicken chipolata sausage.

Cheese Fries (S$12++)

Ain't eggs lonely without friends? And so we thought. Let's have some chunky steak fries! It came smothered with cheese sauce, sour cream and bacon bits. Kinda disappointed with this, as the cheese sauce is too little and I prefer the fries to be more crispy on the outside.

Lychee Yoghurt (S$3++)
Freshly Squeezed Grapefruit Juice (Regular S$5 / Tall S$7.50)

Hatched has the usual selection of coffee and tea. If you wish to have something caffeine free, there's always the fruity options. I'm glad I ordered the lychee yoghurt and grapefruit juice. Nothing fancy, but ending my 'breakfast' on a healthier note makes me happy :)

The whole place exudes cosy, chirpy and vibrant vibes with its wooden furniture, warm lights, cutesy eggs decoration. I can see myself coming back here again to enjoy 'breakfast' over a good chat with friends at any time of the day.

The hungry piggu is now satisfied. *pats tummy happily* :D
Which came first? The Chicken or the Egg?

Hatched @ Holland Village
Address: 267 Holland Ave, Singapore 278989
Contact: +65 64630012
Opening Hours: Tue - Sun 8am - 10pm

September 20, 2012

Poulét ~ The Amazing French Roast Chicken is Really Amazing!

When one mentions French cuisine, one always think of duck confit, foie gras, escargot, stiff formal restaurant setting, steep prices... this mindset is slowly changing with the opening of more casual and affordable French dining establishments here in Singapore, latest being Poulét, located at level 4 of Bugis+ (formerly known as Iluma).

I decided to check out the place on a Friday evening and a queue was already snaking around the curvaceous exterior of the open-concept restaurant when I reached around 7pm. I was initially hesitant about joining the queue as I was hungry, but did anyway, as I was tempted by the sight of the roasted chickens from the open kitchen. A restaurant staff handed me the menu to browse through while I waited for a table. By the time I got it, I was sooooo ready to order!

Onion Soup ~ Caramelized French Onion and Fond de Veau served with Cheese Croutons (S$5.80)

Starting off dinner with a hot bowl of Onion Soup to warm up my empty tummy was a most comforting choice. French onions are caramelized and generously served in a rich tasting veal stock. Instead of being covered under a blanket of melted cheese, the soup is topped with cheese croutons. While not exactly traditional, this rendition is acceptably fine and nevertheless enjoyable.

Poulet Roti (S$15.80 half / S$25.80 whole)

With the big signage screaming "Amazing French Roast Chicken", it seemed like a non-question if I should order this star dish. I just have to find out for myself if it's really as amazing as it claims and it didn't disappoint!

The poultry is brined for a full day in a traditional recipe then placed in the rotisserie for a slow roast until the skin tans to a golden brown. The moment my knife cuts into the chicken, the meat just fall apart so easily and I know it's really tender even before I tasted it. True enough, every bite was tender, moist and extremely flavorful. Usually I would leave the chicken breast part aside as it's always too dry but this is so juicy, I finish everything off!

The amazing chicken is coupled with home-made mushroom chardonnay sauce for added oomph. The sauce is creamy without being too heavy and the button mushrooms is simply delightful. But still, I would prefer to enjoy the chicken just on its own to savour it in its all well-marinated tasty glory.

Tiramisu (S$7.80)

Tiramisu, the classic dessert made of mascarpone cheese, sponge finger soaked in espresso and rum syrup are layered and served uniquely in a glass container. Every spoonful of this tiramisu is moist with strong aroma of coffee and rum. Blissfulness bursting in every mouthful! The perfect end to my perfect meal!

With most of the items on the menu under S$20, this is affordable dining in a casual, comfortable environment. There are so many items I've yet to try and I'd be sure to be back for more!

Poulét @ Bugis+
Address: 201 Victoria Street, #04-12 Bugis+ (Former Iluma), Singapore 188067
Contact: (+65) 6509 9411
Opening Hours: 10am - 10pm Daily

September 17, 2012

WABAR ~ A Birthday Celebration in Gangnam Style!

Oppa Gangnam Style, anyone?

There's no denial that Korean singer PSY's "Gangnam Style", with its addictive music and comical horse-riding dance, is making waves way beyond Korea. Its music video draws more than 130 million views from 220 countries around the world in less than two months! This is not counting the countless parody video clips that is being uploaded onto YouTube everyday.

I was not spared this globally-viral song when WABAR, a Korean-pop concept bar, is decided as the venue to hold a surprise birthday celebration for my friend, Joey. Gangnam Style was played throughout the night, sometimes even being repeated consecutively. Not a bad thing to some customers as they were cheering whenever it comes on. A good thing because the birthday gal like the song.

The stunning neon-lighted display of beer bottles captured my attention as I entered the bar. Very aptly decorated, as this is where you can enjoy Korean beer and Soju, as well as a wide variety of beer from around the world.

Korean music videos dominates here, instead of the ubiquitous sport matches usually played in bars. Numerous flat screen televisions adorned the walls, blaring the top K-pop hits of the moment.

WABAR also serves a variety of food ranging from Korean classics to western bar snacks. My friends, Alena, Jay and I decided to meet earlier and have dinner here, before the birthday gal and the rest of the gang arrives. The food menu is rather extensive for a bar. It would be helpful if it is segregated into sections like appetizers, mains, desserts, instead of having a long list of items numbered from 1 to 50. We ended up ordering a few popular items as recommended by the waiter.

Kimchi Pancake (S$12++)

No Korean meal is complete without kimchi. While being great on its own as a staple side dish, it can also be added into pancakes and pan-fried into a hearty snack. Unfortunately, the kimchi pancake here came out dry and hard instead of crispy.

Crazy Garlic Chicken (S$15++)

Garlic generously accompanied the chicken pieces, which is covered in a sweet and not-very-spicy sauce. Caressed by the gentle aroma of garlic, my hopes for this dish went up. It was dashed immediately when my teeth sank into the soggy chicken.

Samgyetang (S$15++)

This is a Korean classic which is not too classic here. The chicken here is prepared with ginseng, liquorice and garlic, but missing the glutinous rice. While the chicken is not as dry as it looks and falls off the bones easily, it couldn't save itself from drowning in its bland tasting soup.

Bossam (S$16+)

The Bossam (Braised Pork) came sliced in uneven thickness and was not tender nor well-marinated. The meat was tasteless with a strong pork smell.

The pork smell still came through very strongly even when wrapped in a fresh lettuce along with kimchi, hot bean paste and onion. I was hoping all these condiments can masked the smell but I was wrong. Very disappointed by the promising looking dish.

Magners Pear Cider (S$15++)

What makes the meal a lot more bearable is this Magners Pear Cider from Ireland. I managed to wash the food down with its crisp, light and refreshing taste.

Spotted this popcorn machine at the corner of the bar! Popcorn is freshly made and served with the drinks.

Despite a very bad start with dinner, we had a great celebration! The birthday gal was visibly touched by the surprise we've planned for her.

Joey likes ice cream. Joey likes cake. So we got her the best of both worlds... Ice Cream Cake! Midnight Delight from Cold Stone Creamery ~ Layer of moist devil’s food cake and chocolate ice cream wrapped in a rich fudge ganache! Doesn't that sounds amazingly yummy?

Here is the very pretty birthday gal (L), Joey, and Alena, the super friend (R) who coordinated the whole surprise.

To keep with the Gangnam Style theme, we were all dressed in black and gold to reflect the cool and classy image of a rich lifestyle.

We do feel very pampered by the great service here. Not only do they help us reserve the private room, they took the extra step of decorating it with the 'Happy Birthday' signage. They played a special birthday song when the cake is brought out, and pro-actively provide the cutlery without us asking. Oh, did I mention that the waiter served me a glass of ice water when I was waiting for my friends earlier as I was the first to arrive? He did it even though I did not request for it and had not ordered any food yet. I mean, can you even count the number of F&B establishments that are so stingy with water nowadays? I was impressed by all the little gestures which made us feel welcome.

This might not be a good place for food, but is certainly a great place to have a drink or celebration.

Maybe I was just unlucky that night to order all the wrong food items, but sometimes......

It's Not Just About The Food, It's About The Company.

Thanks to Joey, Alena, Ruth, Jay, Jason, Derek, Doris and Byron for the wonderful company!

A Very Blessed Birthday To Our Angel, Joey!!

Here's your favorite version of Gangnam Style for you!

Address: 62-64 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088483
Contact: +65  62247073
Opening Hours: 3pm - 3am Daily

September 12, 2012

Izakaya Nijumaru ~ Simple & Homely 日替わり定食 (Daily Lunch Special)

I’m blessed to be working in a company where the office is located in Orchard area, because… I have the luxury of having an abundant choices of places to have lunch! However, there’s one place which I find myself re-visiting very often, and that is - Izakaya Nijumaru, a Japanese restaurant located at the 2nd level of Cuppage Plaza. The restaurant has already been around for 25 years, with the same Japanese chef hemming its kitchen! Not only does it has a main dining area, it also occupy several units surrounding it, creating its very own "overflow" rooms to accommodate all customers during peak hours.

This is a place where you can find simple & homely 日替わり定食 Higawari Teishoku (set meal consisting of main, rice & miso soup which changes daily) lunch special at an affordable S$10 nett on weekdays.

As the higawari teishoku menu changes daily, this little menu slip which is newly available on every Friday allows me to plan ahead my lunch for the coming week. Sometimes I find myself coming here a few times in the same week because the items seem so tempting and I wanna try it all! There will always be a good mix of different mains & sides so no worries about having similar items within a short period.


If the higawari teishoku is not to your fancy, there’s always the ala-carte menu where you can order items like bentos, donburi, yakimono, agemono, amongst others. I came for dinner before and was impressed by their teriyaki gindara and niku jaga, which I highly recommend.

Check out the menu which is almost entirely in Japanese! But fret not if you do not understand the hiragana and katakana, because the staff is always around to give you recommendations. There are no kawaii manga-style maids here, but our very own local obasans who speak English, Mandarin and a smattering of Japanese. Well, at least they can pronounce the items on the menu effortlessly! Service is prompt and straightforward.

I always try to come early at 12pm because their higawari teishoku set is limited and it sometimes can be sold out by 1pm plus on days when they have mains like grilled salmon or teriyaki chicken, which is popular with the office crowd. You will also find quite a number of Japanese enjoying their meal here.

 I can't wait to get started! Itadakimasu!

Here's the Rosu Katsu (Deep Fried Pork Cutlet) which I had during my latest visit! My mouth was salivating the moment this arrived at my table, as I've tried their deep fried mains many times, and it almost always never disappoint. This pork cutlet is no exception.

The pork loin is enveloped by a layer of breadcrumbs and deep fried to a crispy exterior, while still retaining its moisture within. The texture is slightly chewy with a nice well marinated delicate aftertaste. I like how it is without the overwhelming porky smell and being not too oily. While this may not be the best pork cutlet I've tasted, this is still very tummy satisfactory when eaten with the bowl of warm Japanese rice, tofu miso soup and refreshing shredded cabbage.

The lunch set also comes with a side dish of Atsuyaki Tamago (Sweet Omelette Roll), which is a bento box staple and popular sushi topping. Over here, it is wonderful here as a not-too-sweet, soft, moist companion.

Free flow of Japanese green tea is also being served with the meals. If this doesn't excite you, maybe some Japanese beer or sake, at an reasonable prices, will. Afterall, this place is supposed to be an Izakaya, a Japanese drinking place where locals enjoy some after-work drinks, though the food is taking centrestage here.

My only gripe is that the place is not very well ventilated due to the open kitchen where the chef does the grilling. Be prepared to leave the place with a smoky smell.

Izakaya Nijumaru always draws me back with their homely style dishes, in a no-frill unpretentious setting at affordable prices. It is a nice break from the usual Japanese restaurant chains, with its relaxing and laid back environment. I believe many of their regulars shared the same sentiments. While waiting for my meal earlier, a Caucasian guy walked in and announced loudly "TADAIMA"!! before all the obasans service staff greeted him brightly and showed him to his regular table. "Tadaima - I'm back"- This is what the Japanese say when they reached home. And this is what this place feels like - coming back home for a nice comforting meal.

Izakaya Nijumaru
Address: 5 Koek Road, #02-10 Cuppage Plaza, Singapore 228796
Contact: +65 6235 6693
Opening Hours: Lunch Mon – Sat 12pm – 2:30pm, Dinner  6pm – 10pm / Sun Dinner 6pm – 10pm