Thursday, November 30, 2006

Akashi, Paragon

So, I'm running out of clever words and cliché phrases to describe my food ventures. Those of you whom have been tickled and secretly enjoyed this literary food soft porn of mine, I'm sorry to have to tell you that all good things must come to an end and you'll have to go else where for your reading fixes. Nah. I'm kidding. If you really wanna go off now, you'll never get to find out (for some of you at least) about the fantastic Japanese place Akashi is.

It's difficult to describe Japanese food that comes in great variety without inevitably having to reuse the same old words. Also, it's a challenge trying to remember all the names in Japanese. In Akashi, it's been so far consistently quality fresh food which really deserves mention. No, there's no overly fanciful presentation or extremely stylish decor in the restaurant. What you get is simple pleasant furnishing and great food. Grated wasabi root fresh!

Fresh ground wasabi

Fish liver

Steaming hot Tamago

Beef ribs


Salmon skin rolls

One of the noteable practices of Akashi with the sushi is that it is served as how sushi should preferably be. A generous portion of the topping along with a wad of rice that's really smaller than the said topping. This is something which most of the pseudo Japanese restaurants are guilty of not practicing. Just like Pizza Hut is filling people with tonnes of dough, these many other unnamed Japanese restaurants fills their sushi customers with rice.

On the note of exceptionals, I would say that this place serves a very heavenly uni. Comparative with Ten-Jyaku in terms of light and creaminess, the uni from Akashi tops the crops with very noticeable fragrance which the former restaurant didn't fulfill. Also, it's $10 a piece which makes it both cheaper and more delectable.

I highly recommend this place.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hokkaido Fair at Meidi Ya

Here're some pics from the Hokkaido Fair at Meidi Ya supermarket located at the basement of Liang Court. I have probably missed the interesting part from the first 3 days, but oh well... better late than never.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Helio Cafe, Marina Square

This wasn't a place that one could drop by for food with advance notification. Some of the items required preparation. Thanks to Junie (and Clement too for your time) for the invite down to this lunch. Helio Cafe was just 4 or 5 tables outside Prestige Helio Asia Spa. Headed by an enterprising Chef Clement Ronald Ng who has more than a few tricks up his sleeves in his world of culinary fusion.

I cannot remember what this dish was called, but it involves lemons, seedless grapes, ground rose petals and a bunch other spices that I do not recall in the chicken which is subsequently encased in a dense hard pastry to be baked.

If you've noticed from the first picture, the plate was dry. Subsequently, its filled with a brown juice. That's the "chicken au jus" - natural and delicately accented with the fruits and herbs that were baked with the bird. The pastry shell sealed in all the moisture from the chicken so that little of the natural flavouring and juiciness is lost in the process of high heat baking. The result is a very tender and juicy chicken which tasted quite herbal to me. I thought the grapes were really nice.

That's a beef cooked in red wine sauce on a bed of whipped potato. The beef was ok I guess. I do enjoy a good ribeye, so this isn't exactly the kind of style I'd go for in red meat generally. This tastes more like braised beef. What was interesting to me about this dish is the red wine sauce which slowly eroded away at the whipped potato creating a very pleasant cloudy soup which actually tasted pretty good

This strawberry yoghurt parfait with brandy snap and strawberry/raspberry sauce is a sort of ice cream like dessert which has raspberries trapped frozen in the cold creamy yoghurt hull. Notably mouth watering (literally) is the brandy snap which was the sweetness to the tart profile of the dessert.

And the strawberry cheese in filo pastry was probably one of best pastry stuff I've ever had. I kid you not. The pictures do no justice to the dessert. The layered crispy pastry shell was crispily awesome. I thought that the filling of the strawberry cheese may have been better served with more cheese. I'm not complaining though.

That's Helio's take on the molten chocolate cake. I'm sure you didn't see that coming. Yeah, molten choc cake and it looks little like the other molten chocolate cakes. This rendition of the cake doesn't come with molten chocolate, but very warm soft chocolate and topped with apricot that is aged in rum over two months. There was very pleasant diffusion of the flavour from the alcohol.

What we noticed about the desserts from Helio was that we didn't suffer from sugar saturation. Even after all of these. According to Clement, there is no added sugar in his cooking.

Chicken rice @ My Rice, Balestier Road

My Rice is a chicken rice store with a claim to fame which others cannot. Apparently as stated on the stall, it's chicken rice from the chef formerly of Chatterbox. I don't really know how many chefs have transited over at Chatterbox, but this one at $5 a plate beats paying $20 at Mandarin Hotel. My Rice is located at the first coffee shop along Balestier road. If it helps, this coffee shop is somewhat renown for another stall that sells frog porridge.

Noticeable in the servings was the fairly generous amount of chicken. It's almost Ming Kee portions. Many chicken rice stores are guilty of flattening the meat of the chicken before chopping them up. I never understood the rationale to this practice. It seems to me that the purpose is mere to create an illusion of a larger portion of meant and that also literally squeezes the juice out of the meat resulting in a dry chicken. This stall doesn't do that.

I am generally a chicken breast person because I don't like to deal with bones. The breast meat of this chicken was also noticeably more tender and succulent than the usual. The rice came with saucers of ginger, soy sauce and the chilli sauce which was also quite different from the garlic-ky type that is commonly available. It seems to have a much stronger taste of ginger. Their soup oddly reminded me of french onion soup. I actually finished the bowl of it, so I guess that meant it's pretty good.

Besides chicken rice, the stall also offers sides like pan fried vegetables and tofu. I didn't get the vegetables on recommendation, however the tofu was quite nice.