EGGS DONE RIGHT
When I feel like Japanese comfort food, I head to Suju (04-05 Mandarin Gallery, tel: 6737-7764). One of my favourite things to order there is Tamagoyaki ($12), the classic Japanese egg omelette.
Thin layers of egg mixed with dashi are layered in a rectangular pan, layer by layer, and are then rolled together, sliced and eaten with grated daikon and a bit of shoyu. At some Japanese restaurants, the egg is too sweet. Or the eggs are way too firm.
Suju's manages to be juicy and custard-like. The sugar is non-existent and it is just a wobbly delight.
It is hard to resist a well-constructed sandwich, and the one at Park Bench Deli (179 Telok Ayer Street, tel: 6815-4600) Kong Bak Banh Mi ($14) is the sandwich of my dreams. I know this because I can't stop thinking about it.
The hoagy style roll is crammed with thin slices of belly pork simmered in dark soya sauce, scallions and garlic. And cutting that richness are Vietnamese do chua pickles. Aromatic crushed peanuts add crunch and another flavour dimension.
Seriously, if parking wasn't so impossible on that street, I'd be haunting it every day.
Now you know how much I love a home-cooked meal and recently, a friend had me over to his place for his mother's popiah. It's an unusual version, definitely many times better than the sort you get in hawker centres.
She got the recipe from her Hokkien mother-in-law, and it is filled with unusual condiments.
On top of the popiah skin go a scattering of deep fried seaweed, beehoon strips and peanuts. Then comes a layer of beehoon cooked with the juices from the filling. Even the filling is unusual - it has no turnip or bangkwang in it. Instead, it is made with carrot, leeks, snow peas, prawn and pork. There is no overwhelming sweetness like you might get from a turnip filling.
Toppings such as prawn, crabmeat and ribbons of omelette are piled over the filling. And then, for the piece de resistance, oyster omelette, made with tiny dried oysters from Hong Kong.
I skip the sweet sauce and chilli but do not miss them. Every bite yields contrasting textures and rich flavours.
Don't ask me how many I had. Too many. And not nearly enough.
THE ART OF FURAI
I remember taking Japanese classes in university in the summer, and during one lesson, our teacher had us falling off our chairs laughing, when he taught us Japlish words. Hambaggu (hamburger), Baggeru (bagel), Hotto Doggu (hot dog), Kohi (coffee) and other words rolled off his tongue, and I never forgot that session.
If you see the word Furai on a Japanese menu, it, most likely, means "fry". A common dish is oyster furai, where oysters are battered and deep fried, then served with tartar sauce.
Ginza Kuroson Takashimaya (03-10 Ngee Ann City, tel: 6235-3785) does a good version. It comes in a set meal ($58) with sashimi, chawanmushi and a side dish of hijiki salad.
The large oysters are expertly fried so they are mostly greaseless. I love biting into one of these. First, I get the crisp breading, then soft, creamy oyster. Quite magical.
One thing I love about Chinese desserts is that they are never unbearably sweet. In the last few years, so many chains have popped up offering homespun ones such as green bean soup, glutinous rice dumplings, and steamed egg.
Ji De Chi (B2-53 Plaza Singapura, tel: 6337-9828) has a vast menu that is difficult to choose from. After a lunch of wonton noodles nearby, we want something to round off the meal, and its offerings do the job.
My favourite of the desserts we ordered is Osmanthus Flower Soya Beancurd ($4.30), a bowl of warm, smooth tau hway with a lightly sweetened syrup flavoured with the tiny but very aromatic flowers. They lend such a delicate flavour to otherwise plain beancurd.
The wait staff brings over the Ginger Moo ($4.80), a delicate balance of milk somehow thickened with ginger juice, very carefully. Any sudden movements might jeopardise the wobbly, pudding-like quality of the dessert. In Cantonese, it is called "zong nai" or slammed milk, a rather violent name for something so delicate. The waitress rattles off the steps for making it, and asks us to try.
I think it might be easier to just go back and order it there.