FOOD CRITIC WONG AH YOKE RECOMMENDS

Food picks: Sichuan Food Festival, Edge, White Rose Cafe, Diamond Kitchen

Hong Kong Steamed  -- PHOTO: DIAMOND KITCHEN
Hong Kong Steamed  -- PHOTO: DIAMOND KITCHENPHOTOS: SI CHUAN DOU HUA, WONG AH YOKE, YORK HOTEL, DIAMOND KITCHEN
Fish Head Curry -- PHOTO: YORK HOTEL
Fish Head Curry -- PHOTO: YORK HOTELPHOTOS: SI CHUAN DOU HUA, WONG AH YOKE, YORK HOTEL, DIAMOND KITCHEN
Kuala Lumpur Hokkien Noodle -- PHOTO: WONG AH YOKE
Kuala Lumpur Hokkien Noodle -- PHOTO: WONG AH YOKEPHOTOS: SI CHUAN DOU HUA, WONG AH YOKE, YORK HOTEL, DIAMOND KITCHEN
Sichuan "Ma La" Fish Coldpot -- PHOTO: SI CHUAN DOU HUA
Sichuan "Ma La" Fish Coldpot -- PHOTO: SI CHUAN DOU HUAPHOTOS: SI CHUAN DOU HUA, WONG AH YOKE, YORK HOTEL, DIAMOND KITCHEN

ALL FIRED UP

The current Sichuan Food Festival at Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant in Beach Road is a good way to get introduced to the Chinese province's famously fiery dishes.

Stalls set up inside the restaurant are manned by chefs preparing popular dishes such as Dan Dan Noodle and Sliced Beef And Tripe In Chilli Sauce. These and many more, including a spicy version of douhua (soft beancurd), are offered in unlimited servings to diners who order any of three set menus under the month-long promotion.

Two of the sets ($43.80 a person) feature five dishes each, such as Steamed Silver Cod With Olives, Sliced Pork With Leek In Spicy Sauce and Braised Rice With Crab Meat And Enoki Mushroom.

The third set is a bit more special. It features a Sichuan "Ma La" Fish Coldpot ($58.80 a person for a minimum of four persons and available only for dinner).

This comes to the table as a pot of soon hock fish (marble goby) and bamboo shoot cooked in spicy ma la broth. After you've eaten up the contents, the broth is heated up on a portable stove and, voila, you get a hotpot in which you can add meat balls, pork and beef slices, prawns, vegetables and sweet potato noodles.

All the meals come with a serving of mini panda dumplings filled with red bean paste.

Where: Si Chuan Dou Hua, Parkroyal on Beach Road, 7500 Beach Road MRT: Bugis When: Till May 31 Price: $43.80 - $58.80 a person Tel: 6505-5722


MYRIAD CUISINES AT EDGE

To celebrate SG50, Edge at Pan Pacific Singapore is going local for its Saturday lunch buffet.

The food is a rojak of dishes from the major races here - Chinese, Malay and Indian - as well as the Peranakans.

Some have been made more luxe, such as the Lobster Ngoh Hiang, with beancurd skin rolled over chopped prawns, water chestnuts and lobster (which replaces the usual minced pork).

Others are more traditional, such as Bak Kut Teh, Peranakan Chicken Curry, Stewed Pork Trotters In Sweet Vinegar And Ginger, Nasi Lemak and Mee Goreng Mamak Style.

There are some Malaysian items too and the Kuala Lumpur Hokkien Noodle is pretty good, even though the noodles are slightly thinner than what you get in the Malaysian capital. Check out the Penang Prawn Noodles Soup too.

Where: Edge (Level 3), Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Boulevard MRT: Promenade When: Every Sat, noon - 2.30pm Price: $48 an adult, $24 a child Tel: 6826-8240


SUMPTUOUS LUNCH BUFFET

I usually go to York Hotel's White Rose Cafe only when the Penang hawkers are in town for their thrice-a-year promotion. But a weekday a la carte lunch buffet of local dishes is reason to be there more often these two months.

At $22 a person, you can order as many servings as you want from a selection of 20 dishes.

My favourite is the Fish Head Curry, where the meaty fish head comes in a delicious gravy with a generous amount of ladies' fingers, brinjal and tomatoes. The curry is not overly rich with coconut milk, but is fragrant and spicy.

Other good dishes include Black Ink Sotong, Chap Chye and Beef Rendang.

If the selection is not enough, you can supplement your lunch with orders of Sambal King Prawns ($3 a piece instead of $8) and Crab Masala ($10 a crab instead of $32). The king prawn is an especially good deal. You'd probably pay the same price at a nasi padang stall.

Where: White Rose Cafe, York Hotel, 21 Mount Elizabeth MRT: Orchard When: Till June 30, noon - 2.30pm (Mon - Fri) Price: $22 a person Tel: 6830-1156


NEW DIAMOND KITCHEN OUTLET

If you have been having difficulties getting a reservation at Diamond Kitchen in Laguna Park, you would be glad to know the restaurant now has a bigger, posher branch at Science Park.

The a la carte menu is the same, but the new outlet is offering a set menu worth $150 for $88 a person.

Dubbed the Diamond Seafood Signatures menu, the seven courses include the restaurant's popular dishes such as Gan Xiang Crab, Garlic Steamed Bamboo Clam and Stir Fried Sweet Potato Leaf With Salted Fish. But there are also recent additions to the a la carte menu such as Lobster Porridge and Giant Garoupa, cooked Hong Kong Steamed or braised in Superior Claypot.

The new location is a bit difficult getting to without a car, but parking space is ample, especially in the evenings and on weekends.

Where: Diamond Kitchen, 01-01 Oasis, 87 Science Park Drive MRT: Kent Ridge When: Till July 31, 11am - 2.30pm & 5.30 - 10.30pm daily Price: $88 a person Tel: 6464-0410