Food Picks: Xi Yan, Teppan-Ya and Lee Kheong Roasted Delicacy

Custard tang yuan immersed in a lightly sweetened ginger broth. Exotic ketchup crafted from carrot and beetroot. A new teppanyaki restaurant in Mandarin Oriental. The Life! food team recommends these foodie finds and more for the week.

Custard tang yuan, anytime

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Dinners at Xi Yan are intimate affairs, sort of like dining in the home of a friend who skilfully blends flavours from different Asian cuisines and plates them all beautifully.

Its casual offshoot, Xi Yan Shaw at Shaw Centre, serves more homey fare, but with the same kind of flair.

I am thrilled by the idea that I can have its Custard Tang Yuan ($4.80 for two) any time I want. This is my favourite dessert from the Craig Road restaurant, but it is not always available there.

The springy glutinous rice flour balls are filled with candied melon, white sesame seeds, crushed peanuts, salted egg yolk and butter. They meld together beautifully, sweet and savoury playing off each other. Lightly sweetened ginger broth and a chunk of soft sweet potato complete the dessert. - TAN HSUEH YUN

Where: Xi Yan Shaw, 03-12/13 Shaw CentreOpen: 11.30am - 3pm, 5.30 - 9.30pm (last order), dailyInfo: Call 6733-3476

New teppanyaki restaurant

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Mandarin Oriental Singapore has launched a new teppanyaki restaurant which replaces Wasabi Bistro.

Highlights include a variety of seafood and meats including lobster tail (market price) and Australian wagyu ($110 for 100g); portobello mushrooms glazed with a sweet sauce and topped with bonito flakes ($15); and seared Italian scamorza cheese ($18).

Lunch sets (from $56) and dinner sets (from $98) are also available. For those who are not keen on teppanyaki items, order the Hana course, which comes with the restaurant’s signature Kumi’s No. 1, which includes crabmeat, avocado and white fish baked in a special sauce; as well as salad, sashimi, shrimp and vegetable tempura and grilled salmon.

Desserts include Japanese musk melon ($35) and Kinako-Mochi ($12), sticky rice cake with sweet soyabean powder. - EUNICE QUEK

Where: Teppan-Ya, Mandarin Oriental Singapore, 5 Raffles Avenue, Level 4Open: Noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 10pm dailyInfo: Call 6885-3595 or e-mail rsvp@teppanya.com.sg

Savoury, sweet, succulent roast meat

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Regulars are always queuing for the delicious charcoal-roasted char siew and roast pork at Lee Kheong Roasted Delicacy in Hong Lim Market & Food Centre.

A $6 plate of spare ribs comes with char siew. The seasoning is right, with the ribs slightly savoury, a tad sweet and so succulent you relish eating them piece by piece and slowly chewing the meat around the soft bone.

The char siew does not have a visible speck of fat, but don’t let that deceive you into thinking the meat is dry. It is tender and juicy and the charred parts are irresistible.

The roast pork looks so good I cannot resist buying $5 of it. It is excellent, with crispy skin and flavourful meat.

The roast duck drumstick ($5.50) is not bad, but while the meat is tasty, the skin is not quite crispy enough.

If you prefer to have the roast meat with rice, it costs $3 to $5 a plate. - THNG LAY TEEN

Where: Lee Kheong Roasted Delicacy, Block 531A, Upper Cross Street, 02-15 (Hong Lim Market & Food Centre)Open: 10.30am till sold out, closed on Monday

Exotic ketchup

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Say ketchup and the tomato variety inevitably comes to mind.. Yet, the condiment can be made with varied ingredients that include plums, mushrooms, oysters and even walnuts.

French brand Pur offers two variations to consider as alternatives to tomato in hotdogs, burgers and, of course, fries. Its Carrot Ketch’up is like a thick puree of the root vegetable, zinged up with white vinegar and orange juice. Ginger and perhaps cumin might also have gone into the mix, making it a very exotic dip for fries.

Equally beguiling is the Beetroot ketchup. It is not a smooth puree and the slight chunkiness helps it cling well to food. The earthiness of beets, which some people dislike, is muted here and there is added pep from raspberry vinegar.

The Tomato version is sweeter than many commercial brands, but boasts a fruitiness that is very easy to like. It also contains red capsicum, which adds nuance to the ketchup.

Each 230ml bottle costs $7.10, and it is what you would reach for to dress a gourmet burger. - TAN HSUEH YUN

Where: Pur Ketch’up, Culina, Block 8 Dempsey Road, 01-13 Dempsey HillOpen: 10am to 9pm (Monday to Thursday), 9am to 9pm (Friday to Sunday)Info: Call 6474-7338

Gangnam tea bag is a mini-sauna

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Drinking a cup of tea on frantic work days is always a relief, but Gangnam Sauna Maum Tea from South Korea also makes me smile.

Instead of flimsy paper tags which inevitably fall into the mug, these bags are anchored by sturdy cardboard outlines of louche-looking men with arms outstretched. The arms conveniently hook onto the rims of teacups so the guys look like they are soaking in a sauna.

The tea blend contains mate leaves, lemongrass and lemon flavouring.

Mate leaves are a real pick- me-up, being rich in caffeine; and the lemongrass provides a beguiling scent to the tea, provided you do not use too much water.

The lemon flavour is superfluous, since it is barely discernible. A box of five tea bags costs $6. - TAN HSUEH YUN

Where: Gangnam Sauna Maum Tea, from larger Cold Storage supermarkets