As Good As Home!

First, it was CK who posted a delicious-looking bowl of laksa on whatsapp. Captioned: Very good! -.- But since he's from up north, I have little doubt that he means business when he said the Penang food he's trying tastes pretty authentic.

So,  before dinner, all of us went for a swim at the Ang Mo Kio swimming complex and I actually swam 1.5k! Longest distance I've swam in a very, very long time... Some more we did it non-stop eh ;) I've still got it ! *deluded*

The place is aptly called 'Authentic Penang'. Just to name a few items they serve here, hokkien mee, char koay teow, lor bak, LAKSA, lor mee. And most importantly, they are reasonably priced! $3.50 for a bowl of laksa or a plate of CKT, I'd say that's value for money. But then again I suppose the location lowers the price as well, It's way off the MRT radius of hiked up prices.

The place is also not ridiculously crowded or a long queue - none of those. We got seats with no problems. Only about 4-5 tables were occupied.

One of the shop's popular drinks - Sea coconut lime juice! Refreshing and sweet. $1.50 I think.

Then our food arrivesssssssss!!!!!!!!! Each of us ordered something different so we can test this and that, but I'm just craving and salivating at the laksa OMG!!!

Verdict: YES the laksa is damn nice pretty authentic if I may say so!! Has pretty much all the essential ingredients, way better than the one in Novena! Slurp to the very last drop :D

Hokkien mee broth is pretty good as well, a pass more like. Laksa still the winner!

Lor mee : My judgement is most likely biased as I am not a fan of lor mee, if I had a choice, it would be the last thing I would order. The gravy is really thick and starchy. So-so.

Char koay teow is awesome too! As good as it gets, only no hum (cockles) nia. It was so good that I decided to tapau 2 packets back! (for SE and myself, I'm just a swell sis). But not recommended to tapao lah... Cos after refrigerating overnight and dumped into the microwave for a few minutes, it's far cry from the delicious, greasy-off-the-wok served in front of you steaming sort of yummy!

The owner (or at least I think he's one of the owners) is very friendly and kept coming to our tables to ask if everything's alright. I jokingly asked him if he's planning to come out with member cards hehehehhe. I inquired if the chef is at least a Penangite and surprise, surprise, he's not! Apparently, these people had to sort of 'buy' the recipe from a well-known hawker in Penang. A whopping $10,000 for the secret! Walao!

I'm really pleased with this find. At least there's a decent place to feed those cravings although the shop is pretty far from the MRT - close to 15 minutes walk I think. Still!! ;)

Authentic Penang
Blk 338 #01-1677
Off Ang Mo Kio Swimming Complex

Le Bistrot Français

Partially ignore the post title, could be incredibly wrong due to my very poor French hahahahha but I can confidently tell you what it's supposed to deliver in English - The French Bistro.

The French Stall Bistrot or TFS is an affordable French restaurant situated close to Little India. MCC told me about this place in addition to a couple of colleagues who mentioned TFS as a must try place. Me, I'm just game for a good food experience! Even as TY was getting his tatt done, I told Sha that we're visiting The French Stall, and Sha who lives around the area advised us to make reservations as the place is usually a full house!

TFS also a bit pa pai. I called them in the afternoon to make reservation and told the lady who picked up that there will be five of us. She then asked me to confirm this number of pax because if our party arrives and we are one short, we will have to pay $10 for each absent person! Siao or not you say la... Anyways when we arrived, the place is only a quarter filled, so we can in fact just walk in for dinner, even though it was on a Saturday.

The place itself is cute, quaint little café, with comfortable chairs lined just by the street. There's no air-conditioning, pretty much fuss-free. Service is average, I think they roped in some of their own relatives because I spotted an old aunty serving water and collecting plates from tables lol.

There is quite a fair bit of choice if you prefer to order a set meal, which consists of a starter, main and dessert. An average type of set meal costs $25.80 whereas for a 'better' choice, the 3-course meal will set you back by $36.80. You can check out the full menu from their website here TFS Bistrot. Chef and owner is French, if I'm not mistaken, but the staffs are mostly local Chinese.

The rest ordered set meals whereas I chose a soup and a foie gras entrée as my main... kekekeke (how can I ignore foie gras!)

Carrot soup - Soup of the day. Very thick and rich. I find it quite delicious, thought sadly there is no bread served alongside with the soup. Su En then asked for bread - which we find out later is not complimentary! I think they charge about $1.80 for each serving.

At the back of the carrot soup is our salad for sharing - caesar salad. Typical, romaine leaves, croutons, some shredded chicken I think and hard boiled egg.

French onion soup - ala carte, $6.20. Good but I find it lacking in a sense... Not the best I've had, but still pretty acceptable.

TY's braised lamb shank with spring vegetables. Lamb is really tender and probably the only main that we tried that day which comes in a large portion. Everything else that followed is mediocre in comparison.

Su En's Pan Fried Dory Fillet with Mashed Potatoes and Garlic Butter. Dory fillet is oh-so-tender, with no hint of fishiness (which may have otherwise masked in the stronger garlic butter). Small in portion but Su En said it's really filling because of the mashed taters.

Pan Fried foie gras with spinach and sweet xérès jus $26.80 - xeres that's sherry by the way. Two small but fatty pieces of goose liver seared.... yummy yummy. The sauce is a tad too salty for my liking but Su En seems to really like it, she dips her bread in it lol.

MCC's grilled and marinated chicken leg with BBQ sauce and sautéed potato. Chicken leg is tender and fresh, but otherwise nothing special about it.

Finally IKK's Tagliatelle with mushroom sauce and parmesan shavings. Doesn't look nice but the sauce is really creamy and quite good, surprisingly! But IKK walloped it all in about 3 mouthfuls, lol, it is that small.

Sweet hor?

Dessert! Baked Alaska. Not French, but decided to try this out as others like tiramisu, ice-cream is a bit boring sudah. With an outer meringue shell and an inner core of ice-cream and something sour-ish which I can't quite place what it is.... Despite the small portion of each course, all of us struggled to finish this...

MCC with built-in camera sensor! Can sense whenever a lens is directed at her... lol.

Quaint, right? :D

 Bill came close to $40 per person. Well.... I guess not bad la the price but it's not exactly cheap, cheap either. And I'm pretty sure if you top up an additional $20 or so can have a decent dinner at a fine dining restaurant. Hmmm... and the quest continues....

The French Stall Singapore
544 Serangoon Road
Tel: +65 6299 3544

Cooking Up a Storm

'Collected' TY at the airport (Air Asia is surprisingly early, their services are really getting better and better), and TY was already waiting for more than 30mins when I arrived lol. Next morning got up early for breakfast nearby before heading off to permanently have skin poked and dyed.

My favourite butterfly bun!

 The whole tattooing progress took about 4 hours to complete. Pity that guy. But it's really no joke, the pain I mean... But I assure you, the end result will make you feel like the whole trouble's the worth... until you get the next patch of skin inked.... The whole vicious cycle.

Afterwards dragged TY to a tea place which I've always seen, but never got the chance to try. TWG! They've got about a zillion selection of tea from all over the world...

 A very atas sort of place... sparkling silverwares, shiny gold plated teapots, immaculately dressed patrons with flawless makeup and toting expensive handbags, prim and proper table manners... LOL! Whereas in direct contrast, both TY and I trudged in, with shorts, tie-dyed top, slippers and all kekekekke.

 One macaron is about $2. They all have fancy names which I obviously cannot recall but one is some sort like passion fruit and the other sort of tea-ish blend lol yes I'm hopeless here... After ordering our macarons, I asked the attentive waiter for a tea recommendation (omg, digressing, the waiters at TWG are well-dressed, clean-cut and one in particular, really cute! Hiks.... ok back to main topic...) and he said since TWG's macarons are sour, he recommended a sweet, floral tea with a fancy sounding name (Silk White Tea). 

I thought they will serve us individual cups of tea, and yes they did..... in addition to serving individual pots! Lol... That's about equivalent to 5 cups of tea I think. Both of us lim teh ka pa kekekeke.

 Apple pie with ice cream. The fine layers of I-don't-know-what-you-call-it, crepes(?) adds up to a rich sweet combo.

 Those tins on the left side are just *some* of the many, many tea tins TWG has, and the whole pillar revolves!

 The very nice shot that I took ;) Some of us are born with it...

 We were seated just next to another pillar filled with decoratives.... check out the thin layer of dust!

The macaron shot I got cos I was pretty lucky! lol. After finishing our tea, on the way out and I raised my cam to take this shot but the lady behind the display held up her palm to stop me, only to be saved by another waiter who said it's ok :P Yes I am grateful for the kind-and-non-assuming face that God has given me LOL.

Anyway bill came to about $40+. Steep for just tea for two, an apple pie and a couple of macarons. I jokingly told him to tell his pop that we went for tea that costs us RM100+ LOL.

Sort of as a show of gratitude, we told MCC that both of us will mess up the kitchen and cook dinner for the night! So after almost a full day out shopping for ingredients and miscellaneous items, when we hit home, it was already 4pm!

 Scramble, scramble to task - TY settles the cake while I busy myself with the asam belai. We hitched the carrot cake recipe off Nigella Lawson's site LOL, though the cake does call for some fancy ingredients, but this being Singapore, we could gather all the ingredients easily. Also, I was putting my trust on the curvy Nigella to have simplified the processes to the carrot cake!


Carrot Cake:
1/2 cup regular olive oil, not extra virgin, plus more for oiling pan
3 tablespoons pine nuts (we substituted these for chopped almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts cos pine nuts are really pricey and we thought it's not worth the price)
2 medium carrots, grated (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup golden sultanas
1/4 cup rum
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups almond meal / flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced

Mascarpone cream, optional
1 cup mascarpone
2 teaspoons confectioners'sugar
2 tablespoons rum
1 (9-inch) springform or other round cake tin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the base of the springform pan with a nonstick silicone liner or baking parchment. Grease the sides with olive oil. Add the pine nuts to a small dry pan and toast them over low heat.

Grate the carrots in a food processor or with a coarse grater, and put them on a double layer of kitchen towels. Wraps the towels around the carrots to soak up the excess liquid.

Put the sultanas in a small saucepan with the rum, and bring to the boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.

Whisk the sugar and 1/2 cup of oil in a stand mixer or by hand, until creamily and airily mixed together.

Whisk in the vanilla and eggs in a large bowl. Fold in the ground almonds, nutmeg, grated carrots, golden sultanas (and any rum that clings to them) and finally the lemon zest and lemon juice.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. The batter will be very shallow in the tin.

Sprinkle with the pine nuts and bake until the top is risen and golden and a cake tester comes out sticky but otherwise more or less clean, about 30-40 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it sit on a rack for 10 minutes before removing the sides. Let cool until ready to serve. Transfer the cake to a serving platter.

Combine the mascarpone, confectioners' sugar and rum in a small bowl. Slice the cake and serve with the mascarpone cream.

 The whole time that TY was busy over the cake, I fussed over the asam belai which was at one point either not salty enough or too sour! Pengsan... lol.

So..... after 4 hours slaving in the kitchen, I present you the final outcome! Jeng jeng jeng!

 Stir fried snap peas with sliced carrots and oyster mushrooms.

 My favourite! Steamed stuffed red chillis with minced pork and bittergourd. Sooo goood.

Le assam belai. Followed the recipe book so did not get any pineapples or cucumber like how Ah Ma used to make. Other than the paste blended a tad too coarse, it was pretty good, cos MCC helped with the seasoning kekekekke.

 The very yummy tau eu bak that has been braised close to 40 minutes, maybe more! Meat is reasonably tender, with a very rich and caramelised gravy. Looking back at this shot, it looks like it has sesame seed sprinkled all over, but it's not. That's just the sheen of the tau eu.... Looks pretty good eh, but the sesame seed is a bit of an inspiration, would be nice too if added I think.

 Stir fried sawi that requires no over the top description. What you see is what you get.

 The whole yummy spread. 


And then finally the cake....

The end product! It's quite a shame that the top is slightly darkened (aka burnt) but only ever so slightly. But otherwise it still tastes good nevertheless! Some parts of the cake is a bit moist at the center. Probably the springform pan is a bit too deep, that's why the top is burnt but slightly undercooked in the center. Love it to bits though ;)


I've got tons of pictures from TY's recent trip to Singapore. But it's a weekday, there's not enough time to blog a proper post, so I'll just post a few shots from a not-so-short trip to the tattoo parlour...

Artsy-fartsy shots

Dials on a Sanitizer

Book of anatomy. 

 The tattooist's 'cubicle'. Much more interesting, at least.

 Ink & Blood

That's pretty much all I have... loads of food ventures coming up, soon I hope!

The Georgian Adventure - Hike to Chalaadi Glacier

Our third, and last hike in Svaneti. There are so many more places to hike and explore around Georgia, it was a hard decision to premature...