CELEBRATE DOLL'S FESTIVAL
Mikuni is celebrating Hina Matsuri or Doll's Festival again this year with a special menu. The festival, which is when Japanese families wish their daughters success and happiness in life, is celebrated every year on March 3, but the menu at Mikuni continues until next Thursday.
The $120 meal is served in three courses, starting with an organic Japanese green salad with snow crab, orange, blueberry and black sesame sauce.
This is followed by a bento in a pretty wooden jewellery box with three porcelain drawers. Each drawer is filled with a different dish.
Slices of kanpachi sashimi in black truffle dressing, truffle shavings and ikura fill the top drawer. In the middle is a medley of cold items such as grilled miso cod, abalone, octopus, umeboshi plum, asparagus, Japanese pickles and a bright orange miso quail egg. The bottom drawer is filled with wagyu don, with cubes of beef and omelette covering a thin layer of rice.
Together with the bento is a serving of tempura, a mixture of vegetables and a prawn, as well as a bowl of miso soup.
Ending the meal is dessert, which is a slice of Shizuoka musk melon and an unusual salt ice cream.
The ice cream tastes a bit odd on its own, but goes very well with the melon. The salty flavour makes the melon taste even sweeter.
Targeted at female diners in keeping with the spirit of the festival, this is not a big meal. But I find it filling enough at lunch.
WHERE: Mikuni, 80 Bras Basah Road, Fairmont Singapore, Level 3 MRT: City Hall WHEN: Till March 10, noon to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm PRICE: $120 a person TEL: 6431-6156
DEAL FOR OYSTER LOVERS
If you enjoy Humpback's oyster Happy Hour, when fresh oysters go at half price from 5 to 7pm from Monday to Saturday, you can now go on Sunday mornings too.
Its new Sunday brunch features a selection of four oysters at $3 each, which is about the same as Happy Hour prices.
The selection changes according to the season, but the current selection includes briny Hama Hama from Washington, United States, which has crisp, clean flavours. For something more creamy, try the Eld Inlet, also from Washington, which is plump and sweet.
Other items to check out in the brunch menu include chef Polo Seah's unusual take on Fried Egg ($14 for small, photo), which is a boiled egg with a soft yolk that is covered with crumbs and fried. It is served with orzo (a grain-shaped pasta) cooked with tete de moine cheese and bits of octopus.
Or try the Egg Benedict ($12 for small), which is a poached egg on toasted muffin with a spread of crabmeat and mashed avocado.
Customise a Bloody Mary ($18) by mixing a selection of ingredients.
Or better yet, get bartender Yishu to whip one up for you. The one he did for me, which included shiitake vodka, Clamato juice and dashi, is delicious.
WHERE: Humpback, 20 Bukit Pasoh Road MRT: Outram Park WHEN: Sunday, 11am to 3pm TEL: 6750-4461
AFFORDABLE HOMEY FARE
With a name like Restaurant Home, one would expect to find home-style cooking on the menu. And now you do.
The Chinese eatery by Singaporean chef Tan Yong Kang in The Rail Mall, which specialises in Peking duck, has a two-month promotion on what it calls Simple Fare.
A special menu of about 40 dishes features homey dishes such as Pork Ball Soup With Dried Fish Maw ($6 a person), Braised Pig Tendon With Leek And Mushrooms In Hot Stone ($16.80) and Braised Pork Leg With Homemade Yellow Noodles ($20.80, photo). Some dishes are a bit fancier but still come with family-friendly prices, such as the Deep-fried Halibut Fish With Dried Chilli, Roasted Minced Garlic, Pepper And Salt ($48.80 for a 1.2kg fish).
The flavours are robust, with dishes such as the braised pig tendon best accompanied by a bowl of rice.
Dishes such as the Vermicelli Soup With Pig Liver ($8.80) will also bring back childhood memories for many. It's a traditional Hokkien dish served on birthdays, together with a hardboiled egg. The liver here is cooked just right - tender and without any unpleasant smells.
Make sure you leave room for the pork leg noodles. It beats the canned trotter version.
WHERE: Restaurant Home, 394 Upper Bukit Timah Road, The Rail Mall MRT: Bukit Gombak WHEN: Till April 30, 11.30am to 3pm, 6 to 11pm daily TEL: 6465-1698
WONTON MEE SAVES THE DAY
I was at the Lorong 7 Toa Payoh hawker centre to check out a popular fishball noodle stall, but it turned out disappointing.
The mee kia (thin egg noodle) was clumpy and drenched in too much chilli sauce. While the fishballs were springy and tasted homemade, they were not the best I have eaten. The dish was not worth the 20-minute queue for it.
Feeling unsatisfied, especially since the $3 bowl was not very substantial, I walked around the hawker centre seeking more food. That was how I chanced upon the Tanjong Rhu Wanton Noodle outlet.
I've enjoyed the wonton noodles at its original stall in Jalan Batu, but that HDB enclave near Tanjong Rhu is not an area I frequent. Neither do I go to its other branches in Marine Terrace and Old Airport Road.
Food at the Toa Payoh outlet was good. The springy egg noodles were what I liked most. They did not clump together, yet were not hard. The chilli sauce was well-balanced and there was a distinct fragrance of lard. Crispy bits of fried lard added to the appeal.
A small plate costs $3. But for $4, you get three boiled wontons that boast smooth, thin skins as well as two crispy deep-fried ones. The char siew slices were lean, but not dry.
While the wontons were rather small and the minced pork filling was underseasoned, this was, for me, one of the better wonton noodles I've eaten in a while.
WHERE: Tanjong Rhu Wanton Noodle, Block 22 Lorong 7 Toa Payoh, 01-49 MRT: Toa Payoh WHEN: 7.30am to 2.30pm (Wednesday to Monday), closed on Tuesday