Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fosters, Holland Village, Singapore

Well, quite a few years ago before the funny tagline "an english rose cafe" appeared, Fosters was pretty much just known as Fosters or Fosters Steakhouse. I have tried them at their original location at Amber Road before they went to Specialist Centre and then Palais Renaissance (or was it the other way round?). Since I've never tried Fosters at any other location than the Amber Road one, I thought it rather interesting to see how they've changed over the years before arriving at their current permutation in Holland Village.

We decided to sample their fare by going for the roast beef dinner set. It's quite evident that Fosters is catering to a wider market now because certain corners have been cut to keep their prices competitive. Instead of cloth napkins are paper towels and the dishes the food was served in were not pre-warmed. The soup of the day was asparagus. Not too bad, tasted better than your regular Campbell's but not by too much. The breadrolls were delightfully warm and moist though and the butter was pre-thawed.

This was ordered as an appetizer in addition to the set becauce it was highly recommended. The breadcrumbs were crunchy albeit too salty but the calamari was not too rubbery. It was pretty ok, but not really as mind-blowing as I hoped it to be.

The roast beef came medium rare as we requested it. It was thinly sliced and since it was striploin; reasonably tender. The Yorkshire pudding was average, the external edges weren't crisp enough. I still prefer mine (way to go Homebrand haha!). I found the servings rather small though, these three slices were each only about half a centimetre thick. I practically inhaled the main in one breath.

We requested to have the tea before dessert because we wanted to cleanse the beefy flavor off our palates. English breakfast tea, it tasted freshly brewed as the tannic acid wasn't overpowering, the milk came hot and frothed too. I guess abit of the old school Fosters touch still remained, not many places heat their milk for your tea anymore.

The brownie did come after the tea was served. Like 10 seconds later. So we were rather annoyed that we had to start dessert first in the end and let our tea go cold. The brownie was not bad, quite rich and the ice-cream tasted slightly premium. I did notice that this was actually half a brownie cut across diagonally to create a triangle.

A quick glance around made me sort of realise that the a la carte servings were significantly larger. So I guess, you get ripped off on the set menu. Adding it all up, the dinner cost us about 80SGD, which wasn't much cheaper than if we went a la carte instead. I'll be back again (a la carte this time for sure) to see if their Carpetbag Steak and Fillet Fantastique were as good as when I had them back at Amber Road.


p.s: They used to do very nice afternoon teas between 3-6pm but a recent trip from a friend of mine reported that the afternoon tea had gone extremely downhill. I hope this is not the trend for the rest of their dishes.

p.p.s: I'm flying out again tomorrow night so I'll resume posting stuff some time next week. Have a happy Wednesday people!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Barbecued Long Ribs Chinese Style

This basically follows exactly the same recipe as my previous post except that instead of using meaty babyback ribs, I used a long rib cut instead.

A slab of long ribs tends to be more uneven that babyback ribs so you may have to prop up one side with a small plate or bowl to get even charring. The uneven thickness distribution also may result in certain areas cooking first, so judicious use of foil for shielding is highly advised.

If you intend on serving it as a whole slab, the long rib cut does in some way look more impressive by virtue of its sheer magnitude.

However, when it comes to the taste test, I still preferred the babyback ribs. The flavor was just as good but long ribs lacked that nice layer of fat and the bone to meat ratio wasn't as good as the babyback ribs. I'm definitely not complaining, I really enjoyed this but still felt that babyback ribs were more suited for this recipe. On the other hand, I reckon this cut will be good for making spicy pork rib soup.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Stuff from Hokkaido

I love Hokkaido, it has got to be my favorite prefecture in Japan. Another trip back there is way overdue. The next best thing to visiting Hokkaido is receiving gifts from friends who had just returned from a trip there.

The vacuum-packed maize was ridiculously but yet naturally sweet (no added sugar) however my eyes were pretty much on the savory scallop candy.

I love these scallops. I remembered when I was a kid I could almost finish a whole pack in one sitting. These are quite salty and go great with beer (the "beer" bit came a bit later after the "kid" bit).

Packaging is almost another fine Japanese art by itself. The Japanese are indeed the kings of packaging and making things look pretty (although Korea and Taiwan are catching up pretty quick). I don't mind a pretty package as long as the contents taste good.

There's like this little story or something on the inside of the box. I can't read Japanese, so I had no idea what it meant. I made up my own story. It went something like this, "Hi, I'm a delicious cream biscuit. Please Eat me. Thank you."

Although it says "chocolat" on the box, there was definitely not sign of any cocoa-based chocolate in this. Was the filling supposed to be white chocolate? It tasted pretty much like a very light and fresh cream to me. Nevertheless, these crisp cream biscuits were pretty decent overall.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

CWF Part 4: Spicy Honey Lemon Drumettes

This is the fourth and last in the four-part "Chicken Wing Fourplay" (CWF) series. The inspiration for this is pretty obvious. I'm quite the fan of buffalo wings and although I was always pretty disappointed with the "extremely hot" level that I got from the "Buffalo Wild Wings - Grill and Bar" in the States, I still find myself back there for some wings and to watch sport on the big screens.

I've always been rather amused (I guess I'm easily amused heh) with their pager system, not only does this thing vibrate but it flashes as well. That's really what I need before my dinner, a moment of hysteria haha.


1. HP sauce, chilli sauce, honey, barbecue sauce, grated parmesan (basically any random thing you can find in your fridge that's tangy and spicy)
2. Drumettes
3. Salt and pepper
4. Plain flour
5. Lemon


1. Marinate the drumettes with salt and pepper
2. Coat with plain flour

3. Deep-fry the drumettes till just about cooked

4. Pour your sauces and other random condiments onto your drumettes

5. Mix well
6. Bake in the oven at about 180degC (non fan-forced) at 10 minute intervals

7. Stir the wings to evenly distribute the sauce at each interval

8. Continue to do this until a nicely charred texture and thick, saucy glazed consistency is achieved
9. Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice and stir just before serving

Serve hot!

Hence ends my little four-part series on how to jazz up your little humble chicken wing. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did creating it.


Friday, November 24, 2006

CWF Part 3: Deep-fried Stuffed Wings (Canh Go Nhoi Thit)

This is the third in the four-part "Chicken Wing Fourplay" (CWF) series and is really the dish which started it all. This dish gave me the inspiration to create this little medley of various styles for cooking the chicken wing.

I wanted to include the word "traditional" in the name for this dish but I'm actually really not very sure if it's "traditional". I first had stuffed chicken wings in a Vietnamese restaurant and they were deep-fried. My qualms about whether this is really a traditional dish or not are not unfounded because I seemed to be the only person ordering them and from the English menu at that hmm... this reminds me of some Chinese restaurants where there are two menus as well, and yes, I'm quite ashamed to admit it but sometimes I do feel like eating sweet and sour pork, lemon chicken and eggrolls or pseudo-Asian food as I call it (I think the buzzword now is "fusion"? Haha). I've encountered, more than once mind you, a waiter who whispered in my ear, "You sure you want to eat that? That's what the non-Chinese eat". Well, looks like I have totally digressed from the main topic again!

I did sound out some of my Vietnamese friends and it seems that deep-fried stuffed chicken wings are somewhat of a Vietnamese dish known as "Canh Go Nhoi Thit" and after eating this appetizer (as they usually are served as) a few times, I thought to myself, "Hey, I've eaten this so many times, I know what's in it. Why not just make them myself?" and that's pretty much how this recipe was created. This is actually the predecessor to the "Viet-Do" and I guess in the end is somewhat more "traditional".


1. Deboned mid-joints (please refer to Viet-Do for the "instructional")
2. Salt and pepper
3. Fish sauce
4. Rice flour
5. Filling (please refer to Viet-Do again)

1. Season the deboned mid-joints with salt, pepper and fish sauce

2. Add in the filling
3. Coat lightly in rice flour

4. Deep-fry

1. I left the wing tips intact for this purposely because:
a. Cutting it off creates a "tube" which isn't a good idea for deep-frying because the filling may spill out
b. This is how it's always been served in the Vietnamese joints that I frequent
c. The wingtip makes a great handle for you to hold onto this tasty morsel haha!

2. You can use a light batter instead of just coating it in flour if you so wish
3. This goes very well with the sweet fish sauce used for Vietnamese spring rolls or plum sauce as a lesser substitute

Serve hot!

As with the "Viet-Do", I've included whole scallops and prawns again in this just to make it slightly a bit more special.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

CWF Part 2: Spicy French Onion Drumettes

This is the second in the four-part "Chicken Wing Fourplay" (CWF) series and is slightly less complex than the first. It still tastes awfully good though. I cannot recall when was the last time I actually used French onion soup powder to make French onion soup. It is however, an excellent seasoning for fried chicken and when mixed into sourcream; a great dip. After using the mid-joint to create a stuff chicken wing in the Viet-Do, the other half begged some attention. As such, I decided to create a simple and straight-forward tasty treat.

1. Drumettes
2. Salt and pepper
3. Chilli powder

4. French onion soup powder
5. Rice flour
6. Soy sauce


1. Mix the drumettes with the salt, pepper, chilli powder, French onion soup powder and soy sauce
2. Leave the drumettes to marinate for an hour at least
3. Coat in a thin layer of rice flour

4. Deep-fry till crimson brown

1. Chilli powder tends to get "burnt" very easily, so please use well thawed drumettes and a moderate heat to prevent this from happening

Sprinkle on some Japanese chilli flakes and serve hot!


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

CWF Part 1: Enter the Viet-Do

This is the first in the four-part "Chicken Wing Fourplay" (CWF) series and sets the foundation for the other three recipes as well. I thought it'll be good to post this one first so I won't repeat myself unnecessarily in the rest.


*For the Wings*
1. Chicken wings
2. Salt and pepper
3. Fish sauce

*For the Filling*

1. Shredded carrot
2. Minced pork
3. Soaked bean vermicelli
4. Chopped water chestnut
5. Prawns and scallops
6. Chinese black fungus
7. Salt and pepper
8. Soaked Chinese mushrooms
9. Crab meat

*For the Rub*
1. Pounded lemon grass stalks
2. Sesame oil

*For the Basting Sauce*

1. Coconut cream
2. Indonesian sweet thick soy sauce (kecap manis)
3. Fried shallot oil
4. Fried shallots
5. Honey


*Deboning the Mid-joint*

1. Expose the elbow joint (the joint between the mid-joint and the drumette)

2. With a cleaver, cleanly cut the region of the ulna and radius (the two bones in the mid-joint) just before the elbow joint

3. Use your hands to fracture the wrist joint (the joint between the wing tip and the mid-joint)
4. Create a clean incision with a sharp knife

5. Twist and remove the ulna and radius through the little incision created at the wrist joint

6. There you go, a nicely deboned mid-joint. Pretty easy eh? Deboning a whole bird is another thing altogether, but let's leave that for another day shall we?

*Stuffing the Wing*
1. Seasoned the wing with some salt, pepper and fish sauce

2. Mix the filling (this is where I added the Chinese black fungus which I forgot to include in the picture of ingredients above)

3. Put in some of the filling supporting one end of the wing with your palm. I actually cut off the wing tip for the Viet-Do so it becomes a little tube. This allows me to place the complete pieces more efficiently on my rack for roasting later on

4. Stuff in a prawn and scallop

5. Top up with more filling

*Pre-roasting Rub*
1. Mix the pounded lemon grass and sesame oil to form a paste

2. Coat the stuffed wing in some of the rub
3. Let it sit with the rub for at least an hour

*Roasting the Viet-Do*

1. Put them on a rack
2. Roast at about 160degC

*Making the Basting Sauce*
1. While the Viet-Do wings are roasting, prepare the basting sauce
2. Mix some coconut cream, kecap manis, honey and fried shallot oil in a pan

3. Stir till semi-thick (a slight bit should cling to your stirring spoon when you lift it)

*Basting the Viet-Do*
1. After about 30-40minutes, the wings should be about cooked

2. Baste generously with the basting sauce
3. Place the wings back in the oven and turn the heat up to 180degC
4. Continue basting the wings every 5-10minutes until the sauce is expended
5. A nice caramelized surface would form after awhile

Top with some crispy fried shallots and serve hot!

I appreciate a twist in a movie if it's done well. Likewise, I like to create food with a little twist as well. Stuffed wings aren't that common to begin with, so your dining partner(s) might go, "Wow, interesting." and once they take a bite of it and hit a juicy and succulent prawn or scallop (the twist) they'll be blown away even further haha!

I named this dish "Viet-Do" because the first time I had a stuffed chicken wing was in a Vietnamese restaurant. The use of coconut cream and kecap manis gave this dish the Indonesian influence, hence the term "Viet-Do".

Hmm, it almost sounds like a new martial art doesn't it? "Hey mister, you want to mess with me? Wait I Viet-Do your ass!" Hahahaha!