I have been following self-taught chef Shen Tan since she opened her nasi lemak hawker stall at Maxwell Food Centre in 2009.
The chef, who later went on to open a modern Singaporean restaurant Wok & Barrel in Duxton Hill, which has since closed, is now back as the executive chef of month-old Ujong at Raffles Hotel Arcade. It serves local and locally-inspired fare with a modern twist. On the menu are some of her signature dishes, such as nasi lemak, bak chor mee pasta and a sticky gula melaka toffee pulot hitam pudding.
There are new additions to the menu, too, but not all of them wow the palate.
However, Har Zi Meen ($17.90, above) with crispy chicken, does. It may not sound like much, but this flavoursome dish is a true surprise. The noodles are tossed in aromatic shallot oil and sweet kicap manis, and served with succulent and crispy fried chicken. The uncomplicated creation is comforting although not really linked to any particular hawker favourite here.
On the day I tried the Nasi Lemak With Beef Rendang ($19.90), the coconut rice was only mildly fragrant. However, the rich, well-balanced gravy of the tender beef rendang more than made up for its shortcomings. Don't expect the traditional tangy nasi lemak sambal. The dish is served with a piquant sambal belacan instead.
For dessert, Shendol Delight ($15.90, above right) is a smooth coconut panna cotta served with a gula melaka syrup and housemade red-bean ice cream.
Other dishes that sound promising include breakfast items of kaya brioche sticky buns ($6.90) and carrot cake terrine with crispy prawn fritters ($13.90), and the fish curry laksa ($23.90) for lunch or dinner.
Where: Raffles Hotel Arcade, 328 North Bridge Road, 01-10. The restaurant is located on the corner of North Bridge and Bras Basah roads MRT: City Hall Open: 8am - 10pm (weekday), 10am - 10pm (weekend) Tel: 9107-3028
TOFFEE PUDDING BEER
Beerfest Asia is back for its sixth edition next month, so block off your calendar if you are keen to taste some new and unusual craft beers. Think British brewery Wells & Young's Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale (left) as well as Australian brewery Moon Dog's Bjorn To Boogie. There are also ruby-red beers from Italy, cider aged in whisky casks from Scotland and Trappist beers from Belgium.
Wells & Young's dessert- inspired ale is sweeter than most, with light notes of toffee. It will likely appeal to more adventurous beer drinkers, especially those keen to experience more than just a hoppy flavour.
If fruity flavours are more up your alley, go for Bjorn To Boogie, which is brewed with watermelon, lime and fresh mint. It is a malty beer with fresh tropical notes.
Where: Marina Promenade MRT: Promenade When: June 12, 6pm - 1am, June 13 & 14, 6pm - 2am, June 15, noon - 10pm Admission: From $20 a day from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg) or at the door on the day of event. Each ticket entitles you to one free beer Tel: 6338-8277 Info: www.beerfestasia.com
Hashida Sushi at Mandarin Gallery has just turned one - quite a feat given Singapore's cut-throat dining scene.
To celebrate the milestone, its chef, second-generation sushi craftsman Kenjiro Hashida, is offering new items on its omakase menu, which I was invited to try earlier this week.
Of these, I enjoyed the steamed uni sushi rice encased in a thin slice of torched pen shell for its interesting presentation and mix of flavours; and the smoked mackerel nigiri sushi. I'll admit that mackerel may not be the sexiest of fishes, but how it is treated here and its subtle smokiness, plus an extra dusting of citrus zest, made it a pleasure to eat.
For dessert, do not miss the sakura macarons (above), which will be available until only the end of the month, when the sakura season ends.
Where: Hashida Sushi, Mandarin Gallery, 333A Orchard Road, 02-37 MRT: Somerset/Orchard Open: Noon - 3pm, 7 - 10pm (Tue - Sun), closed on Mon Price: $80, $120 & $250 (lunch), from $200 (dinner) Tel: 6733-2114 Info: Go to hashida.com.sg or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
For a story about waffles that was published several weeks ago, I ate my way through my fair share of these crisp battered delights around Singapore. Good thing I don't ever get sick of waffles.
One of them, from a dessert cafe in Hougang, stood out, with its appetising golden brown hue.
Hatter Street's waffle ($8 a serving) is somewhat of a cross between the Belgian Liege waffle and the lighter and fluffier type. It is chewier in texture but not heavy, and does not taste of uncooked dough.
You can have it with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, but I would recommend the fragrant housemade pandan ice cream (left) - white and not bio-hazard green in colour - and sticky gula melaka sauce.
Where: Block 212 Hougang Street 21, 01-333 MRT: Kovan Open: 1 - 10pm (Tue - Sun), closed on Mon Tel: 6988-4591 Info: www.hatterstreet.com