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Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Artichoke Adventure!!!

Artichoke Adventure!
How many of you guys watched Masterchef and always wanted to try a dish from there, well you actually can! With Bjorn Shen (Masterchef Singapore Celebrity Chef Judge) at the helm of Artichoke, getting fun middle-eastern inspired fusion food can never be more interesting! Artichoke is an extension of Bjorn’s slapstick personality; inspired by his favourite movie, You Don't Mess with the Zohan. Authentic middle-eastern flavours combined with Bjorn's ingenious creativity, you'll certainly get an interesting unorthodox middle-eastern theme culinary experience!

Bjorn is chef­owner of Artichoke, and author of the Artichoke cookbook. Notorious for his rebellious personality and outlandish style of cooking, Bjorn has earned significant industry recognition over the years. Outside of starting food brands Artichoke, Bird Bird and Neh Neh Pop, Bjorn wrote a monthly column titled ‘Bjorn Says’ for Time Out magazine, lectured at the Culinary Institute of America, and actively consults on menus for restaurant openings. Industry accolades that he has accumulated over the years include ‘Chef of the Year 2013’ ­ SC Global, ‘Rising Chef of The Year 2015’ finalist World Gourmet Summit, ‘Best Local Chef 2016’ ­ SG Readers’ Choice Awards, and ‘WGS Best 20 Chefs 2016’ ­ World Gourmet Summit. Bjorn is also frequently on television, having most recently featured as a judge on MasterChef Singapore on Mediacorp’s Channel 5, and also on programmes such as MasterChef Asia and Secret Eats, and in lead roles on Eat List Star Season 2 and The Ultimate Brocation.

I was invited to be part of the media testing group to try some of Artichoke's signature dishes and to also experience Bjorn's infectious energy & charisma! We had a plethora of dishes ranging from an appetizer that is not even on the menu yet, to their best sellers, their pizzas & their full range of sweet dessert treats!!! 

Fresh Home-made Lemonade
The appetizer we had was a very special one as it was not even on the actual menu and we were the first few people to taste this incredible appetizer. It was called "Devils on horseback" and it was made from dried apricot, labneh, mint & almond that was wrap with wagyu ham. I personally want it to be in the menu permanently as it was really unlike any other food item I have tasted before & the sweet & salty flavours together with the slightly crunchy texture blended very well with each other. 

As Artichoke gathers it's inspiration from the middle-east, most of its dishes have a twist of it here and there and the "Mezze platter" which features a few of this week's best vegetable dishes and they are "Burnt miso hummus" (chickpeas blended with miso, torched, topped with dried blackcurrant and walnuts) "Babaganoush" (smoked eggplant, pomegranate teriyaki sauce, pomegranate and sesame seeds), "Samphire" (sea asparagus, labneh, shallots), "Falafel" (breadcrumb crusted quinoa balls), "Jerusalem salad" (crumbled falafel, tofu tahini, mango amba) & traditional Turkish toast. 

Mezze platter on the bottom left
Next in the line-up is the salad, but it ain't no ordinary salad, it's a fried cauliflower salad! It is made from fried cauliflower, 5-min egg, miso hummus, labneh, Israeli salad, tahini, skhug and mango amba served with a side of toast. So is probably not the best choice for you health-nuts but it is certainly one of the tastiest salad I have ever tried as we all know anything fried taste good automatically. 

Up next, we have the "Shakshouka"- two eggs simmered in tomato sauce, green harissa, and halloumi cheese, Turkish toast; available with a roasted lamb variant instead of halloumi. This dish originated from Tunisia but it is a very popular dish served throughout the Middle East.

Now it's time for the pizzas! We got to taste two types of pizza which are the "Green Machine" pizza (burrata, pistachio pesto, abalone mushrooms, fresh herbs) & the "Cheeseburger Lahmacun" pizza (smashed beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, sesame seeds). I was surprised at which pizza I preferred as I liked the Green Machine pizza more than the Cheeseburger, this is because I am one who would pick meat over vegetables any day. The pizzas here are not the best I have eaten but I am impressed with the flavours of the green machine as it tasted very fresh with the pleasant aroma of the pistachio pesto coming out. The Cheeseburger Lahmacun was very average with just the toppings tasting of beef patties & pickles but it was interesting how a pizza can taste so much like a burger!

"Green Machine" pizza


"Cheeseburger Lahmacun" pizza
Last but certainly not least is the Artichoke Fried Chicken (za’atar honey, spiced crinkle chips, pickles, garlic toum). Now, this is hands down one of the best fried chicken I have ever tasted. Imagine perfectly fried chicken drizzled with aromatic za'atar honey set upon a heavenly bed of crushed garlic sauce. The sweetness of the honey blends well with the spices used and when dipped together with the garlic toum, you'll get an experience like no other. Depths of flavours & textures will make you go for another bite and soon enough you'll need another plate!

Now for the desserts, we got to try their full range of desserts they have to offer which are soft served ice-cream made with burnt honey & sea salt, Date pudding (smoked milk custard, cashew caramel, coffee jelly, sea salt) & Malabi Split (coconut vanilla pudding, strawberry ice, pink peppercorn). All three desserts have a very unique and interesting taste profile but my personal favourite would be the Date pudding as I felt the flavours blended well with each other and the texture was the most palatable. The ice-cream was both sweet and a little bitter because of the caramelised honey but was too sweet to my liking. The Malabi split would be a favourite if you are a big fan of coconut & strawberry. As those are the two main flavours, the Malabi split gives out a tropical vibe. The pink peppercorns enhance the taste by providing a hint of sweetness & pepperiness to the Malabi split. The date pudding has a great balance between sweet, salty & bitter and the texture is really good too as the custard is nice and fluffy, the cashew caramel is crunchy and chewy, making this my favourite dessert.

Clockwise from top: Soft served ice-cream, Date pudding & Malabi Split
Once again, thanks to the kind folks at Artichoke & Bjorn Shen for having me over to taste their food & experiencing the warm and friendly culture of Artichoke! As quoted by Bjorn himself while chatting about keeping relevant in the F&B industry "You cannot follow the trend, you must set the trend, You create demand."

Artichoke
Address: 161 Middle Road, Singapore 188978
Opening hours: Tuesdays- Sundays (Happy hour 1600- 1900) (Dinner 1800- 2230) (Weekends Brunch 1130- 1530)
Phone: +65 6336 6949
Website: www.bjornshen.com/artichoke
Email: hello@artichoke.com.sg
Facebook: www.facebook.come/artichokesg
Instagram: @artichoke_sg

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Halal Kitchen Adventure!!! (SEOUL EDITION)

Halal Kitchen Adventure! (SEOUL EDITION)

Travelling to Korea soon? During my trip to Seoul, finding authentic Korean food is something I thought would not be a problem but it was actually easier to find a fast-food outlet than an authentic traditional eatery. While doing a little researching for authentic Korean food, I stumbled upon this Korean food eatery owned by a Korean-Muslim guy which I thought would be a good bet, and it is situated near the famous Gyeongbokgung Palace & Bukchon Hanok village! I am also travelling with a Muslim friend and this restaurant (as it is owned & operated by a Korean-Muslim) is halal so that means we can all eat till our heart's content!
Halal Kitchen is located around 5 minutes walk from Gyeongbokgung Palace. Walk north on the eastern side of Gyeongbokgung Palace & find Samcheong police office and an E-mart convenient store. After walking 100m, you’ll see ‘Boy London’ fashion store. Take a right turn and you’ll see the ‘Halal Kitchen’ sign. Look at the design of the restaurant! It follows the look of a traditional Korean house or a "Hanok".

As we went while the restaurant was not fully opened to the public, the owner was very nice & invited us to try the tester menu which features two dishes, Samgyetang (Ginseng chicken soup including rice porridge) & Beef Bulgogi (Seasoned beef on a hotplate). Each serving cost ₩17,000 (about $20 SGD) & minimum servings required is 2, so do come with a friend! My friends & I picked 4 servings of the Beef Bulgogi and in Korea, traditionally food is served with an assortment of side dishes or "Banchan". On this occasion, we got seasoned anchovies & Kimchi as our side dishes! We also had rice to accompany the beef bulgogi.
Beef Bulgogi accompanied with an assortment of vegetables

Look at the yummy beef!

Anchovies & Kimchi

The beef bulgogi was very delicious as it was sweet & savoury at the same time! It was tender and had all the qualities of a good bulgogi! The side dishes were very tasty and even though I wasn't particularly fond of Korean side dishes, my friends and I finished it and even asked for more servings as it was really really tasty! In my opinion, this is the best halal food option in the area and would highly recommend this restaurant! This is a confirm must-try for Muslims and fret not, Halal kitchen also has a prayer room too! So do visit the Halal Kitchen while visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace & Bukchon Hanok Village! Meet the owner of Halal Kitchen & special thanks to him for the warm welcome & service provided!
Owner Hassan Lee (top left)
Halal Kitchen
Address: 86-4 Samcheong-ro, Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening Hours: Opens daily except Tuesdays (11am to 9pm) 
Website: www.halalkitchen.co.kr
Email Address: halalkfood@gmail.com
Facebook/Instagram: halal kitchen Korea

Monday, 27 August 2018

Chunky Lobster Adventures!!!

Chunky Lobster Adventures!

Ahhhh lobster rolls, the American dish which is said to have its roots from New England is one of my most sought-after foods but the only down-side is the price. Most lobster rolls in Singapore often cost $30 to $40 a pop but at Chunky Lobster, they only cost $16 nett! This is by far the most affordable lobster roll that can be found in Singapore, and I mean real lobster, not "slipper lobster" AKA crayfish. I personally prefer the taste of lobster as compared to crayfish as I think lobster has a slightly sweeter taste.
Chunky Lobsters was founded by Leonard and Chris who was inspired by Luke's Lobster which serves quality and affordable lobster rolls in New York. Similarly to Luke's, they use about 90 grams of lobster flesh in each lobster roll served.
The menu features 3 mains. Chunky's Original, Chunky's Connecticut & Chunky's Cheesy. They are all priced at $16 and could be completed as a set. Set A which adds an ice lemon tea for $0.90 & Set B which adds a lobster bisque and an ice lemon tea for $3.90. The lobsters Chunky lobsters used are from Canada as suppose to Maine as Chunky lobster believes that the colder water from Canada helps to preserve the firmness & sweetness in the lobsters.
My friend and I had a Chunky's Cheesy & a Chunky's Connecticut as we were feeling a little adventurous and opt to pass the Chunky's Original. We skipped on the lobster bisque too which I regretted later on. From what I can say, $16 for the lobster rolls are really worth the money as the lobster meat found on the rolls are generous & they certainly do not skimp on them!
Chunky's Connecticut
Chunky's Cheesy
Comparing to my friend's Chunky's Cheesy, my Chunky's Connecticut looks puny in size but for $16 I really cannot criticize it much. My lobster roll was coated with a layer of butter sauce and although the sauce was a tad on the dry side, there was still a hint of fragrance which compliments the lobster flesh. More serving of the butter sauce would be much appreciated in the future.
The Chunky's Cheesy was of bigger proportion as compared to the Chunky's Connecticut (maybe it's because of the cheese? who knows?) but I feel that the cheese kinda overshadows the lobster flesh which beats the main purpose of the lobster roll but if you are a cheese lover, then I think the Chunky's Cheesy would suit you, just look at the gooey cheese oozing out!
Overall, the lobster meat served was generous & most importantly fresh tasting, the roll the lobster was served on was nice & fluffy and the lobster rolls were served with a side of tapioca chips too. The only downside to Chunky's lobster is that they did not have much seating space so be prepared to have your lobster rolls to-go. I rated them on google maps & they replied that they have another outlet at the Cathay #01-01 so do visit them!!!

CHUNKY LOBSTERS
Address: 138 Robinson Road #02-03 Oxley Tower Singapore 068906
Opening Hours: Mondays to Fridays (11am to 7.30pm) Closed on Saturdays & Sundays for Oxley Tower
Website: (New website coming soon!)
Email Address: chunkylobsters@gmail.com
Facebook: https: //www.facebook.com/pg/chunkylobsters/photos/?ref=page_internal

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

牛一嘴 Núodle Adventures!!!

牛一嘴 Núodle Adventures!

Yup, you read that correctly it's Nuodles, not Noodles! This beef noodle originates from Lanzhou, the capital and largest city of Gansu Province in Northwest China. As Lanzhou is home to one of China’s significant populations of Hui Muslims, this beef noodle is of Chinese-Muslim style of beef noodles with clear soup and hand-pulled la mian. As it is an immensely popular dish in China, when 牛一嘴 Núodle has brought the Lanzhou speciality to Singapore, there was a small hype surrounding it.

牛一嘴 Núodle is located on the first floor of the SingPost Centre at Paya Lebar MRT. The decor of the restaurant gives off a traditional Chinese style vibe, inviting and warm. A quaint narrow little dining area lined with tables & chair which leads to the counter & the kitchen at the end. You can see the hand-pulled noodles being made in store by the noodle chefs in the kitchen.
As 牛一嘴 Núodle specializes in la mian, the main dish on the menu is none other than la mian. The signature beef la mian to be specific! The other la mian choices are "Cool mixed beef la mian", "Seafood la mian", "Sauerkraut la mian" & the "Thick soup beef la mian". You also get to pick the type of noodles you like.

They also sell the beef slices ala carte & have an array of side dishes to go with the la mian. They also sell traditional savoury pancakes too! A regular bowl of the beef la mian is $8.80. You can top up $3.50 to make it a set meal where you get to choose a side dish and a drink.

I ordered a Beef la mian set consisting of braised eggs & ice lemon tea. I also had a beef pancake to go with. When it came, I was greeted by the very traditional looking wooden tray with my bowl of noodles!
The noodles were nice & springy with a very clean neutral taste which complements the soup well, letting it have the limelight. The bowl of noodles was colourful due to the scallions, radishes, chilli oil and other ingredients in the bowl adding depths of flavours and textures to it. The thin slices of beef were well cooked and tender, melting like butter in your mouth. The broth was simple but had multiple depths of flavours.
The beef pancake was fairly average in my personal opinion but it was crisp and had all the qualities of a good pastry.
All in all, if you like freshly made noodles, tender beef slices and a great place to unwind with your friends then 牛一嘴 Núodle is a perfect place for you!

牛一嘴 Núodle
Address: #01-136 SingPost Centre, 10 Eunos Road 8, Singapore 408600
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 11 am – 10 pm, Sat – Sun: 11am – 10 pm
Tel: +65 6747 1588
Website: https://www.nuodle.asia/

Saturday, 4 August 2018

The HashTag Cafe Adventure!!!

The HashTag Cafe Adventure!

Here's to another Halal blog post! This time around let's dive into the Cafe paradise of Bugis! Now, we all know Bugis is littered with cafes but not many of them are Muslim-owned and/or halal certified so this is great news for all my Muslims readers! They are one of the newest cafe around as they just opened their doors on 27th July 2018!
Getting there from Bugis MRT was not a problem as we all have access to Google maps and spotting this pretty little gem was not a problem because of the clean looking entrance. Really subtly eye-catching!
Upon entering, we were warmly greeted and were guided to our table as we had made a reservation (reservation not compulsory). The staffs were really helpful throughout and cared for our comfort in their lovely cafe. For example, we were asked if the aircon temperature was optimum as it was quite a warm evening. More about the staff services below.
The menu was wide enough to cover an array of palates and small enough to know that they painstakingly hand-crafted each and every dish. The price, however, was a tad on the high side compared to the average price of cafe foods in Singapore. The difference is the quality of ingredients used as their menu features premium items such as Wagyu Beef, Norwegian Salmon, Fern-fed Ribeye steak, premium Striploin beef & even Lobster! What's more is that there is no GST & service charge so the price you see is the price you pay. The menu can be found below, click to enlarge.



My friends and I decided to share the Has#tag I & YOU Platter before ordering our mains. The price point of $21.90 shared among 4 people is worth it as we get tempura fish, freshly made onion rings, tempura prawns & breaded scallops, all of which is accompanied with a home-made tartar dip. Highly recommended to get your tummy craving for the mains!
We got 3 mains and I am surprised to say the best of the three was the one I least expected! The 3 mains we ordered was the Has#tag Burgs ($38.90), the Szechuan NZ Ribeye ($36.90) & the Boston Lobster($44.90)! We also got a Wafflicious ($14.90) as what is a post without waffles? Before we get on to the mains, let's talk about the waffle. I was not expecting much from the waffle as I had some pretty good waffles and the bar was set quite high but to my amazement, the Waffleicious got my seal of approval as the waffle batter was subtly sweet & fragrant due to a hint of pandan I suppose. The waffle was of a beautiful golden & the texture was also just right as it was crisp on the outside & soft in the middle (qualities of a great waffle). This was seriously worth the try if you are here! #Worth
Now for the mains, the Has#tag burgs remind me of the Krabby Patty from SpongeBob as it is almost an exact visual representation of it. The fresh crisp vegetables with the stringy melty cheese atop the Wagyu patty is a delight to have as the patty is cooked to a nice medium rare. The buns are solid and hold its integrity without being stale and no flaws can be found with its sidewinder fries. In short, the Has#tag Burg is a nice burger with actual Wagyu beef in it but at that price point, I believe better burgers could be found.
The Szechuan NZ ribeye was the dish that surprised me the most as not only the meat was cooked perfectly rare as requested but that the ribeye was tender and juicy. The Szechuan sauce was to die for as it was well balanced and had just the right amount of spice. This delightful sauce with the tender steak only can mean one thing; this is a great steak dish. The accompanying sweet potato fries were also great and this only adds up to this dish! Highly recommend!
The Boston Lobster was the one I got as it is rare to encounter lobster in a cafe menu! The lobster was halved and coated with cheese & served with butter brioche and sweet potato fries. The brioche was fragrant and buttery while the sweet potato fries were the best thing on that plate and that is not a good sign as I found that the lobster was very dry & was not up to par with my expectations. The lobster meat was not sweet & in my personal opinion was overcooked. I gave them my feedback for them to take into consideration & improve the lobster. They took my feedback very seriously and I hope that an improvement was to be made to the lobster as I would not order it again if the standard of the lobster is still the same.
All in all, the food was very pleasing except the lobster but I strongly believe that they are putting in the effort to improve it. My best takeaway from the cafe was the attitude and the effort the staffs put for their customer's comfort & convenience as they were always ready to attend to the customers & are willing to go the extra mile for them. So Kudos to the service at the HashTag Cafe!!! Would like to re-visit the cafe in the future as they have all the traits & potential to be one of the best cafes in the area.

The HashTag Cafe
Address: 743 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198711
Opening Hours: Sunday-Thursday (11am to 10pm), Friday (3pm to 11pm), (11am to 11pm) 
Mobile: 9722 4628
Website: http://hashtagcafe.sg/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thehashtagcafesg/
Email: hashtagcafesg@gmail.com

Saturday, 19 May 2018

WildSeed Adventure!!!

 WildSeed Adventure!

Imagine this, good food with a calm, alluring atmosphere with your family? What better way to chill on a nice relaxing Sunday morning? So don't just laze your precious Sunday morning away & come to the dynamic duo of The Summerhouse & The WildSeed Cafe now! Opens at 10am in the morning, you could have a nice filling brunch in the morning then come back in the evening for a drink at the bar located in the same vicinity!

Located in the Seletar aerospace region, this gem tucked away hidden in a secluded part of Singapore serves up a variety of great brunch options as well as delightful pastries and desserts. The scenery around the Cafe itself is so already so beautiful and calm that I might as well convert this food blog post into an area dedication post! (which I will do below!) Now back to the Cafe, it is beautifully decorated with a Nature theme that suits well with the environment that the cafe is located in.


Just take a look at the miny florist located directly in the cafe itself which sells a variety of bouquets that could be handy if you ever plan a date here!



The Cafe also sells a wide range of items ranging from Candles to body scrubs to dry shampoo and even books that are wrapped up so it will be a mystery if you want to buy a book! I personally love these kinds of books that are wrapped up so every purchase you make will be a surprise! Before this, I thought this kind of ideas could be only found in hipster bookshops but I guess I am wrong! The range of beauty products that they sell are hand-made and cannot be bought in major departmental stores, so if you visit this place, you might want to take a look here!





Now for the food, We bought 4 mains, 4 drinks and a dessert set to go with. Ordered a Wagyu Beef & pork Ragout Linguine, a Pulled Pork Burger, a Grilled Chicken Thigh and an Easter Special which is a Ham & Gruyere Cheese Sandwich! The 4 drinks were Hot Chocolate, Chocolate Shake with whipped cream, a Latte & and a Macchiato. The dessert set includes Brownies, Caramel Walnut cakes, Madeleines and an array of assorted sandwiches.

Hot Chocolate ($6.50)

Cafe Latte ($6.50)

The drinks we ordered (from left, clockwise)
- Hot Chocolate ($6.50)
-Chocolate Shake ($7.50)
-Cafe Latte ($6.50)
-Macchiato ($4.50)

Ham & Gruyere Cheese Sandwich ($15)

Pulled Pork Burger ($20)

 Wagyu Beef & Pork Ragout Linguine ($19)

 Grilled Chicken Thigh ($20)

 The Dessert Set ($40 including two drinks)

Overall the food was pretty average considering the price point so there are certainly areas to improve on but the good news is none of the food is below expectation and you can tell that love and effort is put into each and every dish served! The drinks are all on the richer side of things and none of them is watered-down! 

More Pictures of the food, cafe and the areas found below! Really enjoyed my day here at this beautiful pristine area of Singapore! Such a joy to spend my weekend here!






WILDSEED CAFE AND BAR
Address: 3 Park Lane, Singapore 798387
Opening Hours: Wildseed Cafe 10am to 7pm. Wild seed Bar 4pm to 10pm. Both are closed on Mondays
Mobile: 6262 1063
Website: http://www.thesummerhouse.sg
Email Address: reservation@thesummerhouse.sg