Wong Ah Yoke Food Critic recommends

Food Picks: Salted egg yolk lotus chips, Thai pork ribs, Brizo's buffet and Ho Rang I

Spicy Salted Egg Yolk Lotus Root Chips
Spicy Salted Egg Yolk Lotus Root ChipsPHOTOS: GOODWOOD PARK, HO RANG I, PARK HOTEL CLARKE QUAY, WONG AH YOKE

STANDOUT SALTED EGG YOLK LOTUS CHIPS

Among the Chinese New Year snacks that have come on the market this year, the Spicy Salted Egg Yolk Lotus Root Chips ($36.15 a jar) from Goodwood Park Hotel are a standout for me.

Lotus root is an ingredient that carries auspicious meanings for the Chinese, with suggestions of unity and abundance. It is traditionally made into candied lotus root.

Goodwood Park's chips are a refreshing idea and very addictive. The thin slices are very crispy and the combination of salted egg yolk crumbs, chilli padi and curry leaves is irresistible.

It's a good thing the heat from the chilli stops me from eating too much at one go. Otherwise, I'd empty a jar easily in one sitting.

WHERE: The Deli, Goodwood Park Hotel, 22 Scotts Road MRT: Orchard OPEN: 9am to 9pm daily TEL: 6730-1786


JUICY THAI PORK RIBS

Sabai Fine Thai On The Bay is my go-to place for fine Thai food. I was there recently and the manager recommended a new dish I had not tried before. The deep-fried smoked honey pork ribs ($24.50, photo) were excellent, with well-marinated and juicy meat.

I was also happy to be reacquainted with an old favourite of mine - red curry with roasted duck, coconut cream, sweet basil leaves and seasonal fresh fruits ($26.50). The curry has a nice balance of spiciness and sweetness, the sweetness coming from pieces of pineapple and lychee. The duck is meaty and I like that it is not cooked till soft, but still retains the juices of a freshly roasted bird.

WHERE: Sabai Fine Thai On The Bay, 01-02 Customs House, 70 Collyer Quay MRT: Raffles Place OPEN: 11.30am to 1.45pm (weekdays), 6 to 9.30pm (weekdays and Saturdays), closed on Sundays TEL: 6535-3718


FLAVOURFUL ITALIAN- SPANISH FOOD

Park Hotel Clarke Quay's buffet eatery Brizo has been replaced by a new restaurant called Porta Fine Food & Import Company.

The name makes it sound like a food purveyor, but it is actually a casual Italian-Spanish restaurant with a small corner selling products such as mustards and oils.

Helming the kitchen is executive chef Michael Suyanto, who was last at Bistro du Vin, and his classic cooking techniques are employed well in the new restaurant.

While the menu is simple, the quality and flavour in the dishes are something new to the hotel. Spanish Octopus ($18) boasts tender pieces of octopus grilled to smoky perfection on a plancha. They come with Idaho potato bravas and aioli.

Another dish I enjoy is Iberian Pork Secreto ($26, photo). Iberian pork comes from a region in Spain and Portugal and is known for its flavour. And secreto, or pork shoulder blade, is a cut marbled with fat, giving the meat a juicy and tender texture. The pork is sous-vide before being roasted with a pommery mustard glaze and served with honey mustard mash.

WHERE: Porta Fine Food & Import Company, Level 1 Park Hotel Clarke Quay, 1 Unity Street MRT: Clarke Quay OPEN: 11am to 10.30pm daily TEL: 6593-8855


HOMEY KOREAN DISHES

Ho Rang I is a relatively new name, but the restaurant may be familiar to those who have been dining at Your Woul over the past 10 years.

That was the name of the Korean restaurant in Novena until late last year, when the owner's sons, Mr Edward and Mr Eugene Chia, took over the running of the place. Their mum, Madam Sul, still helms the kitchen.

The restaurant has been spruced up to make it more comfortable for diners. The menu has been tweaked too, but the focus is still on homey dishes from Madam Sul's family in a rural part of South Korea.

Lunch offerings are more casual, with the menu comprising largely of noodle sets and bibimbap. The dinner menu is more extensive.

I particularly enjoy the Haemul Pajeon ($22), a seafood pancake that is delicious and cooked the way I like it - slightly crisp around the edges and with the pieces of shrimp and squid cooked just right.

The Samkyub Sal ($26, photo) is good too. Here, the delicious pork belly is served on lettuce with some gojuchang sauce and eaten as a wrap.

WHERE: Ho Rang I, 165 Thomson Road MRT: Novena OPEN: 11.30am to 2.30pm, 5.30pm to 2.30am daily TEL: 6251-0123

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2017, with the headline 'Food Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe