MsPoshNosh

Delicious things I'm eating: Sunny salad, hot weather food and more

SUNNY SALAD


Baby Spinach Salad from The Bakehouse. ST PHOTO: TAN HSUEH YUN

Sometimes you go to a restaurant for one thing and end up loving something else.

The Bakehouse (01-14 Alexandra Central, 321 Alexandra Road, tel: 6250-0040) in a new mall in Alexandra Road, serves great pizza.

On a visit there recently, I thoroughly enjoy the Portobello and Pulled Pork pizzas (both $14 each). The crust is thin so there is no carbo coma after lunch.

However,  the Baby Spinach Salad ($12) is what I keep thinking about on hot days. That tangy dressing, made with pomegranate molasses, is lovely and bright.

Tender spinach leaves are topped with a scattering of toasted pine nuts, deep red pomegranate arils and rounds of mild goat's cheese.

That salad and a pizza would make a very fine lunch.

NEW DIGS


Chocolate Tart with grapefruit gel, topped with a wildly aromatic Assam tea ice cream from Bacchanalia. ST PHOTO: TAN HSUEH YUN

Much as I liked the food at Bacchanalia when it was at Coleman Street, I never felt entirely comfortable there. It was a restaurant but also a bar and a lounge. The music could be distracting. I felt I could only relax when eating in the kitchen, which I did twice.

 

Now, the restaurant has moved to 39 Hongkong Street (tel: 6509-1453) and finally, chefs Ivan Brehm and Mark Ebbels have the right setting for their food. The new premises breaks down the walls between kitchen and dining room, and chefs come up and serve the dishes, and explain them. Of course, many restaurants do this nowadays, and open concept kitchens are common.

But there is something very satisfying about watching the kitchen staff, who clearly love their jobs, cook and plate up the food. It is like eating in someone's home. Of course, this sort of vibe would not be possible if chef Brehm did not run a very calm kitchen.

The Chef's Menu of seven courses costs $150 and my dinner there puts me in a good mood for the rest of the week. The menu will change but I hope you will get a risotto-like dish made with cold pressed coconut cream, aged Carnaroli rice and topped with Asian herbs. It is one of the best things I have had this year.

Another knock out is a Chocolate Tart with grapefruit gel, topped with a wildly aromatic Assam tea ice cream. None of these things sound like they would go together but they do, perfectly.

I'm expecting great things from the chefs in their new digs and my first dinner there tells me they are up to the challenge.

HOT WEATHER FOOD


Grilled Pork from E-Sarn Thai Cuisine. ST PHOTO: TAN HSUEH YUN

When the days are as muggy as they have been, it's always good to sit down to light, fresh and crunchy food.

My recent lunch at E-Sarn Thai Cuisine (9 Thomson Ridge, tel: 6554 4174) fits the bill perfectly. Thai Iced Tea ($4) cools me down instantly and Mango Salad ($11.50) is crunchy and not too spicy.

Another excellent dish is Grilled Pork ($14.50), springy and perfectly done, with a zippy dipping sauce.

The dog days of August are supposed to be over but they are stretching to September. May the cool weather come soon.

FROM SCRATCH


Assam laksa. ST PHOTO: TAN HSUEH YUN

I love it when friends cook and invite me, and this couple I know are the perfect hosts. Their from-scratch food is always fabulous and there is always a good mix of people and lots of good conversation around the table.

Recently, a group of us comes over for lunch and what a spread there is. Some of the things we have include homemade yuba, pan-seared slices of Ohmi wagyu and pasta topped with generous shavings of karasumi, the Japanese version of bottarga or dried mullet roe.

There is also a huge pot of assam laksa gravy, with big chunks of fish. Even after all that food, we slurp our bowls of laksa up contentedly. Such a lot of work goes into making these dishes and I'm glad for friends who give the  most precious gift of all - time.

PLAIN SATISFYING


Anago Takikomi or rice with conger eel from Kanda Wadatsumi. ST PHOTO: TAN HSUEH YUN

The best kind of food is never gussied up or tricked out.

I keep going back to Kanda Wadatsumi (50 Tras Street, tel: 6221-6264) because of the good, honest cooking with terrific ingredients. One of the things I always order is a claypot rice of some sort. There is usually one with seabream head but on my most recent visit, I order Anago Takikomi ($38) - rice with conger eel - instead.

The eel is not slicked with sauce but that dish is plain satisfying. The ingredients are not fancy: good rice, dashi perhaps, the eel and another essential ingredient - fresh sansho peppercorns.

They are a natural pairing with eel, and the fresh, herbaceous flavour is out of this world, especially when you crunch into a peppercorn with the rice.

I pity the people who have sworn off carbohydrates. They are missing out on a lot.