About orionstar

Easily amused, easily interested, easily bored. Always looking out for new experiences..The world is so vast...

Oh Hot Hot Hot!!!

I have read about this brand of Korean instant noodles “Samyang Buldakbokeum Ramen” that is supposedly the spiciest above all the other brands.

There were also hilarious You-Tube videos showing various people challenging themselves by slurping up these noodles as fast as possible and looking like they had just ate fire coals. One guy was so overwhelmed by the spice that he had actually fell backwards over a chair, which is pretty dangerous actually. Another guy, some joker, had either underestimated the spice level or trying to prove his tolerance for spicy stuff, had actually added more chilli powder and sliced chillies. At first bite, he had cried as if someone had castrated him.

So when I spotted this brand of noodles at a Korean supermarket, I had decided to get a pack for Gary. He has a much higher tolerance for spice than me. Spicy dishes such as “Ma La” (which I absolutely refuse to touch), which got me all flustered and heaving, he would be like, “It’s not very spicy leh.”

Ok lor, let’s see if his rhino leather tongue can take these noodles… Hehehe…

He seems enthusiastic to take on this challenge…

In fact, he was so curious about the spice level that he had asked me to cook these noodles late last night, just shortly before bedtime. Wah, brave ah..

Phew, even without tasting it, I can literally smell the spicy fumes from the deep red sauce to mix the noodles in. The noodles seemed redder than in the image below.

After the first few bites, Gary started to perspire heavily and kept shaping his mouth into an “O” shape and making blowing sounds as if the spiciness would be any lesser by doing so. Like those folks in the funny videos, he agreed that the noodles are extremely spicy. He said it feels like chewing on crushed chilli padi… Luckily, I didn’t even try a strand or I might just have to stick my tongue in the freezer…

I had asked him if the poses above are deliberate since I mentioned that I would post this on my blog. He said, it’s not, and this is really the “natural” expression showing the effects of the spiciness. Hahaha….

So there, Gary had taken this challenge as well.. Haha… Despite the crazy hot spice, he had enjoyed it and don’t mind eating it again… Serious?? The next time, he’d even suggested adding other ingredients such as fishballs.

Well, the next time would be once in a blue moon. Frankly, I don’t think it is good for the stomach to be assaulted with that much spice and there isn’t any favour since the tongue is essentially numb. Not sure why some people like that sort of feeling… hmm..

Of Hainanese Curry Rice and Chwee Kweh in Tiong Bahru

Actually, this happened quite some weeks ago which I meant to post about it then but didn’t, obviously, until now when I am feeling not so lazy. Ha…

It’s been a while since we had been to Tiong Bahru. There are quite a number of eateries located at the ground floor, where some of them are new cafes, which is quite a contrast against the archaic backdrop of these old apartments.

While these apartments might have gone through a repaint, quite a number of old-style designs and features are still retained. Like the absinthe-green window panes, old-fashioned window grills and folding scissor gates and the spiral stairs either at the side of or behind the building.

I am not really into curries, largely because of the spice and the richness though I am not averse to it that I don’t eat it at all. But somehow, the unusual sweet and savoury combination of Hainanese curry is probably the only curry that I would have craving from time to time.

Fans of Hainanese curries would be familiar with Loo’s Hainanese Curry Rice (71 Seng Poh, #01-49). The queues can get very long during lunch time and had diminished much by the time we’re there near 2pm. But that also runs the risk of the dishes and curry being sold out for the day.

From the outside, the stall is rather simple looking and quite small and behind the glass displays are containers of curries of different orangey hues which the stall owner would deftly drenched each plate of plain rice with a bit of each container. Other dishes to accompany the fragrant plate of savoury curry rice are the typical Hainanese dishes such as deep-fried pork chop and chap chye (mixed vegetables), and fried egg with dark soy sauce drizzled on it.

Thankfully, we had managed to satisfy our Hainanese curry craving. If we were say 15 or even 30mins later, I think everything would have been sold out. This is a rather fulfilling meal.

There’s also another famous Hainese curry rice stall at Henderson Road which I prefer over the Loo’s. Maybe another time.

We should have shared one plate of curry rice cos there are other good food at the famous Tiong Bahru market.

Thankfully, there are sill a number of stalls opened but I don’t have enough room to stomach more food. Except for their famous chwee kweh.

Chwee kweh is one of the quintessential comfort food for me, aside from congee and a good bowl of flavourful soup. This could be the fact that chwee kweh was a common breakfast food for me while staying with my late granny during weekends and school holidays so to some extent, eating chwee kueh brings wonderful memories.

While there are a couple of places that sells decent chwee kueh but there are only 2 place which I would hail as having the best chwee kueh- Bedok hawker centre (next to the Bedok MRT Station) and Tiong Bahru market.

Comparatively, the chai poh in the Bedok hawker centre is finer and more savoury while the chai poh in the Tiong Bahru version is more aromatic largely because of the caramelised shallots. Both versions are good but if I’ll to choose, I will go for the Bedok hawker centre version. A bit of shallots is ok but the Tiong Bahru chwee kueh have way too many shallots and this maybe a little unfair, had also lacked the nostalgic memories that Bedok hawker centre holds for me. Had used to “ta-pao” food from Bedok hawker centre with my granny before we took the bus back to her home.

We are definitely not done with Tiong Bahru. There are still a number of food stalls at the market and eateries outside that we have yet to try. Some day lah…

Gooey Rich Brownies

My colleague had given me a box of Cadbury Bournville cocoa powder which can only be bought from Australia. Apparently, her hubby is quite an avid baker too and had bought boxes of this brand of cocoa whenever they’re there. So much so that he couldn’t finish using them up and several boxes had to be dumped cos they had passed their expiry dates. Think one of them is approaching its expiry date (Sep) soon so rather than chuck it in the bin, my colleague decided to pass it to me since I enjoyed baking every now and then.

She warned me that this particular brand of cocoa is so rich that I should use half the amount from my usual quantity whenever I make chocolate yummies.

Hence, I had decided to put this cocoa to good use this weekend. Let’s try something simple. Brownies sound good.

I might have posted this recipe before but would modify it slightly the next time. I find it a little too sweet, given that the brownies are already very rich from the chocolate.

IMG_20150523_233309

Of all the brownies recipes that I’d search online, this is by far the best recipe for rich and gooey brownies. I had tried and tested it many times and had never failed me. It’s also very simple to make. Just add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and fold by hand.

Recipe:

  • 140g chocolate chips
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar  (next time, I am using 3/4 cup sugar)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup plain or cake flour, sifted
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • A handful of chocolate chips (I had used semi-sweet ones)
  1. Pre-heat oven at 175 Deg C
  2. Melt butter in microwave
  3. Add 140g chocolate chips in melted butter while still hot and mix chips and butter till you get a smooth consistency.
  4. Transfer melted chocolate chips butter mixture into a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add cocoa powder, vanilla essence and sugar.
  6. Using a wire whisk, whisk eggs one at a time in the mixture.
  7. Using a spatula, fold flour, salt and the handful of semi-sweet choc chips in the mixture.
  8. Pour mixture into a baking tin and bake for 30mins at 175 Deg C.

Let the brownies cool down a little before serving. Place remaining brownies in an air-tight container and chill in the fridge. To serve, just heat up lightly in a toaster oven but not for too long or at too high temperature (unless you wanna chew on some rocks). Consuming them right out of the fridge is also nice, since the texture would be rather fudge-like. Oh and best served with good vanilla ice-cream! 😄

Of Alligators and Other Rubbish…

My long May Day weekend was ruined by a bout of mild food poisoning (or possibly stomach flu). On May Day itself, the day started fine but I shall exclude a rather depressing episode that I shall not describe. Shortly after lunch, my tummy started to churn and that was when the runs began. 5 times that day. Something is definitely wrong.

Naturally, the tummy would start to cramp up. That totally spoil the mood for any further strolling in town and we headed straight home where I took a long nap. Was just feeling very drained the whole day. I had probably pooped all my energy out as well.

I was feeling fine the next day. Could even go through a corporate make-over (some Groupon deal) the next day with my friend and even had some fries with her. Ok, maybe I should let my stomach rest but I swore I (thought) I felt fine.

Shortly after that, when it’s time to leave, I felt this familiar churning in my tummy. Instead of another major diarrhoea attack, I started to throw up. I’d really felt like a Merlion.

Something’s really wrong cos I was feeling totally weak and almost on the verge of hyperventilating. Managed to make my way to the clinic and based on the symptoms given, the doc can only diagnosed what it seems to be mild food poisoning.

I had to back trace the food which I ate since Thurs. I had the same dinner with my friends and they seem fine so it can’t be that right? After that, I went to a colleague’s place for a short gathering. Had some tea and some chocs but others also had the same chocs and I think they are ok. Maybe it could be a case of unfortunate stomach flu?

All I know was this stomach whatever bug had left me feeling so tired and weak over the weekend that I did nothing but sleep.

Too much sleep is also not ideal cos it left me feeling even more drained (something about the sleep cycle being disrupted) and worse, left me dreaming nonsensical stuff.

Imagine the following (as far as I can recall) in my dreams:

– Running through large alligators (or crocodiles cos in dream state, one can’t be too certain) that were resting in the car parks at the foot of some HDB flats;

– Quarreling with annoying people whose annoying personalities were magnified a million times;

– Being in the middle of some parade and having to leave the parade and rejoin the parade again, like a million times;

There are a couple more seemingly repetitive stuff in my dreams, or perhaps some parts can be considered as nightmares. The alligator one was quite surreal cos I remembered that freaked out feeling in my dream state.

Whether I have a vivid imagination or a disturbed sub-conscious, or could be both, thankfully, I am feeling a little better now. Still tired but I shall resist lying down which would lead to naps and maybe more weird dreams. Starting to gain a little of my appetite but bland food seems to appeal to me for now.

Getting back to my plain oats now before it turned cold…

Fresh Fruits Lab at 351 Changi Road

While searching for new eateries in the East, we had chanced upon “Fresh Fruits Lab” (FFL) at 351 Changi Road, which is quite near Kembangan MRT Station. There are quite a number of eateries along this road but not so much cafes like this one.

From the name, we had expected much of the menu would be fruit-based and there would be rows of blenders to whip up those fruit juices and smoothies, and perhaps a basket at a corner stacked with fruits. On the contrary, Fresh Fruits Lab is a little cafe with the usual items, like burgers, pasta, fried finger food and even beer, on their menu.

But there are some fruity stuff too. There is a page on the menu that feature fruit juices (some of them with creative names like “Aunty-Oxidant” and “Viva La Frutas”) and fruit-infused sodas. There is also a fruit salad in the salad section.

Interestingly, some of the decor on the tables are lab-inspired.. Ah, Fresh Fruits Lab… Ok, I get it. The (fake) flowers are placed in conical flasks. Our water was served in beakers. Our complimentary (I think) apple carrot juice (orange-coloured) and apple pineapple juice (yellow-coloured) were served in test tubes placed in test-tube holders.

All the short tables were taken so we were seated at the high table that is perpendicular to the main counter. The interior is rather small so a downside of this high table is, there is very little space at the seating nearer to the wall. In fact, the guy sitting at the end of the table had to get off his seat and let me go in to my seat. Imagine if all the seats except the ones nearest to the counter had been taken. That means everyone at that side of the table had to move out, one after another, so that the person can move all the way in. Definitely disruptive but I don’t think much can be done given the space limitation.

A plus point for a high-table seat is the range of funny props stuck on sticks, like a moustache, huge glasses, top hat and old-fashioned smoke pipe. Great for selfies or group pics while waiting for your food. As you can see, we had helped ourselves to these props.

The truffle fries ($12) were the first to arrive. The aroma of the truffle oil is strong and the taste as well but that was only in the initial bites of the fries at the surface where the truffle oil is most concentrated. The truffle flavour wasn’t very strong in the rest of the fries beneath the mini-bucket like container. Maybe if these fries are served in a wider container or plate, the truffle oil might be more evenly spread?

I love mushrooms, however they are cooked. The great thing about these beer shroom ($10) is, they are large and juicy. Yum. But there isn’t any taste of the beer. Largely cos much of the beer would have evaporated during the deep-frying process. In that case, there is, erm, no need to add any beer to the batter right? Nevertheless, these mushrooms are pretty good.

The masago caviar pasta ($20) caught our attention. Actually, more like the word “caviar”. The spaghetti is cooked al dente style with a slight crunch at each bite. Nice. The sauce is interesting. Mainly savoury with a hint of sweet, topped with a generous dollop of caviar and a cute quail egg sunny-side-up.

At a separate occasion, we had a farewell brunch for some colleagues just last Friday (a few days after our first visit) at FFL. Our table had ordered some wings, beer shrooms and our individual main.

I went with “The Club” ($19). It is not so much a club sandwich but a roast chicken burger with crispy bacon, romaine lettuce, avocado, egg (check out that yolk just waiting to ooze out), melted colby cheese and cornichon mustard. There’s also a mixed salad with watermelon and pineapple cubes served on the side. For an additional $3, you can change the normal fries to truffle fries.

This burger is ginormous by my standards but oh so fulfilling. Unfortunately, my picky taste does not do great justice to this hulk of a burger. I had passed the tomatoes and avocado to my colleague. Tried to shove the bacon (not a fan of this salty strip of meat) over but he is not that keen on it so the bacon got dumped at the side. Sounds like I had carved out much of the burger but not quite. I had enjoyed the sunny-side-up and the succulent chunk of roasted chicken with the toasted bun. Yummy yum!

We don’t mind visiting FFL again for their other food. It’s great that they are located in the East.

First Attempt at Making Kimchi Pancake

Kimchi is an acquired taste. It used to be just an ok dish for me. Most of the kimchi I had tried in the restaurants here are either too spicy or sour. 2 years ago, we had bought a few packs of really good kimchi from a kimchi factory during our vacation in Korea. A whole napa cabbage generously coated with chilli paste encased in a pack that was bloated, but thankfully did not burst, from the pressure of some 6 hours flight time.

It didn’t take us long to finish all the kimchi. This kimchi has the right blend of spiciness and the sourness from the fermentation process. It goes especially well with plain rice. Had also used some of it to make kimchi jigae (kimchi stew). Since then, I had a new-found love for kimchi, particularly those that are full flavoured and have me relish at each bite despite the spiciness.

Yesterday, I had that sudden kimchi craving while watching a movie. How did that happen? After the movie, we headed straight to the nearest NTUC and bought a jar of kimchi imported from South Korea. My craving must have been so strong that upon reaching home, I had immediately opened the jar and dig in.

Hmm… ok… the kimchi is really just ok. Definitely not in the same class as the ones we bought from Korea 2 years ago. It’s actually pretty sour. There’s a slight fizz, reminiscent of that sourish zing upon tasting something like the “sour lemon” candy at the first instance. Think the kimchi must have been overripe or something but thankfully it is not spoilt otherwise I would have a major and unpleasant detox session today.

This also means that I should probably try to finish the kimchi as fast as I can. It is quite a small jar so that should be easy. And an idea struck me. Maybe I can try making kimchi pancake. I love these korean pancakes, whether it is kimchi or seafood, but I have never tried making them before.

So I searched online for some recipes and modified them a little and tada…

Unfortunately, my flat-based pan is a little too small. A wider pan would allow me to spread the batter thinner and get a crispier base. I would also need to practise on my flipping. The damn thing broke into half and only half was flipped, and I had to quickly flip the other half with my stir-fry spatula.

It is quite an easy dish to make but I would need to make a few more time to get the right thickness and taste. But my first attempt wasn’t that bad..heee..

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 cup kimchi
  • 3 tbsp kimchi juice
  • 1 onion, sliced or diced, whichever you prefer
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  1. Heat up oil in a flat-base frying pan.
  2. Mix all ingredients till you get a glue-like paste.
  3. Add the pancake batter into the pan. You should hear a slight sizzle as the batter touches the hot oil.
  4. Quickly flatten the batter with the back of your stir-frying spatula and spread the batter out.
  5. After a minute, flip the batter onto the other side. Otherwise you can try using 2 spatulas to flip the pancake over.
  6. After another minute, the pancake should feel intact and ready to serve. I prefer my pancake to be on the crispy side, so I had let it cooked in the hot oil for another minute.

Why did the chickens cross the road?

Or “pavement” to be specific…

As we made our way back to our car after lunch somewhere along New Bridge Road, an accidental turn into this pavement behind Keong Saik Road led to a pleasant sighting of something that is pretty uncommon these days.

Seriously, how often do you spot a congregation of roosters hanging around freely and…

… a watchful mother hen vigilantly looking after her brood of chicks while taking a walk? Speaking of which, I was so caught up trying to get a good shot of this little family when I didn’t notice the mother hen cocking her head and looking straight at us. After a few seconds, she must have realised we meant no harm and she turned away, focusing on her kids instead. Wow, for that split second, she does look she’s ready to fly at my face if I tried to be funny…

Think these chickens belong to somebody? While chickens roaming around had been a common sight during the kampong days some decades ago but in the metropolis that is Singapore today, this is very rare indeed.

Apart from these chickens, these 2 kitties caught my attention as well. The black one startled me with its glowing golden eyes in the dark of the shrubs which it had emerged from. I had actually exclaimed, “Hey, a panther!”. More like a mini one… Haha… it’s a joke obviously but the cautious gait and cold stare does remind me of a predator in the wild. The other kitty on the chair was unfortunately roused from its nap, as evident by its grouchy expression, no thanks to my excitement in snapping a shot of it looking so blissfully asleep. That was a second before it heard me. Sorry kitty…

Before we got into our car and leave, I stopped and took a look around. We had parked along Keong Saik Road, once (in)famously known for being a red light district in the 60s and probably 70s.

Similar to the rare sighting of chickens in our urban landscape today, these shophouses are also an uncommon aspect of today’s architecture, save for those designated for conservation and a couple more in various parts of the city and in Joo Chiat.

In the past, the lower level of these shophouses would typically be shops while those on the upper levels would be residences. Today, the ground floor are still occupied for commercial activities- Mainly a mix of traditional kopitiams, chic and quaint cafes, restaurants, small businesses like those in the creative line and some others… Not sure if there are any residences upstairs or they could be used as additional office or storage spaces for the businesses downstairs?

The vibrant colours of these shophouses suggest a recent make-over, perhaps in the past year or two. When seeing me snapping pictures of these shophouses, Gary said they looked like they would be around for a while so I shouldn’t be worried that they would be demolished anytime soon. That is true but we won’t be sure the type of changes that would take place in the near future. Take Orchard Road for example, I never thought the grass field next to Wisma Atria would be occupied by a gigantic mall like ION Orchard or that the Specialist Shopping Centre is now demolished for another mall/ office building, Orchard Gateway.

Guess I didn’t want to regret not taking enough pictures of these places with cultural and historical significance. Just like how I should have done that for my granny’s home in Siglap (where the Coffee Club now stands) and its vicinity or various parts of Singapore before certain changes had taken place which changes the facade or even identity of the place. It is something that I still regret till today. Sigh..

Had recalled fondly on 2 group projects on Chinatown during my university years. For one of the projects, we had created a video which we thought would effectively capture the essence of the place. That was during the mid-90s so a video presentation was a rather innovative change from the usual powerpoint or via the OHP, which thank goodness, no groups had used that then. Apart from the fun in making this video, it was through these projects that I had read up and learnt more about the rich and interesting history of Chinatown. Through these experiences, Chinatown has a special place in my heart, amongst the other heritage sites in Singapore.