Food Picks: Bamboo shoot dishes by Jereme Leung, new bee tai mak stall Shu Heng in Ang Mo Kio, DIY noodle kits from Penang Culture

Roasted Bamboo Shoots with Vinegar Pearls and Flaxseed Dressing, by chef Jereme Leung.
Roasted Bamboo Shoots with Vinegar Pearls and Flaxseed Dressing, by chef Jereme Leung.PHOTO: RAFFLES HOTEL

Bamboo shoot dishes by Jereme Leung

If you are a fan of bamboo shoots, the current promotion at Yi by Jereme Leung is a rare treat because the delicacy is seldom used by restaurants here. I like it a lot, which is why I am happy to get three dishes from the seasonal menu delivered to my home.

Although the shoots are a main ingredient in all of them, they could not be any more different. My favourite is roasted bamboo shoots with vinegar pearls and flaxseed dressing ($32), a cold appetiser that is wonderfully refreshing in the ongoing heatwave. The delicacy is just lightly roasted, so it keeps its crunch.

Drizzled over the stack of julienned shoots is a flaxseed dressing, which looks like sesame sauce but smells and tastes much more delicate. It adds a faint fragrance, but the flavour is mild and does not mask the sweetness of the bamboo.

A small heap of what looks like caviar on top are actually pearls of black vinegar. Their mild acidity counters the fat in the dressing and cleanses the palate, and before I know it, I have polished off the entire plate.

Braised abalone, bamboo shoots and chicken casserole in a mild, spicy sauce ($88) is a more traditional dish, but no less delicious. The thick, savoury braising sauce goes very well with rice. It is pricey, but you get a good number of mid-sized abalone and the serving is enough for three persons if you have other dishes.

The third dish is less successful. Rice cakes with bamboo shoot, Jiangnan pickled mustard and edamame ($28) is a pretty healthy dish with a pleasant, clean flavour, but the Shanghai rice cakes or nian gao are too chewy for my liking. I prefer them to be a bit more yielding to the bite.

There are eight more dishes on the menu, including flambeed soya braised chicken stuffed with bamboo shoot, pickled mustard and free-range eggs ($78) and stir-fried bamboo shoot and beef brisket hor fun with poached egg ($30). All are available for takeaway and delivery until July 31, as well as for dining in when that resumes.

Where: Yi by Jereme Leung, 03-02 Raffles Arcade, 328 North Bridge Road
Open: 11.30am to 2pm, 6 to 9.30pm daily
How to order: Go to this link
Delivery charge: Calculated at checkout. It is $23.36 for me. Free for orders of $150 or more.
Self-collection: 01-22 Raffles Arcade, 328 North Bridge Road
Telephone: 6412-1816

New bee tai mak stall Shu Heng in Ang Mo Kio

Shu Heng Bi Tai Mak in Ang Mo Kio sells bee tai mak in soup or dry form. ST PHOTO: WONG AH YOKE

As its name indicates, Shu Heng Bi Tai Mak sells bee tai mak in soup or dry form. These are stubby rice noodles also commonly called lao shu fen or rat noodles because of their shape. Opened last December in Ang Mo Kio, the hawker stall offers kway teow and yellow noodles too, but the bee tai mak options are what almost everyone orders.

Shu Heng does not offer delivery and the long lines before phase two (heightened alert) were, for a brief period last month, a bit shorter. But when rules for dining in are relaxed, you can count on having your patience tested again.

There are four items available: Pork Leg Noodle, Mushroom Pork Mince Noodle, Johor Bi Tai Mak and Fishball Pork Mince Soup. Except for the pork leg version, which is the most expensive at $5.50, the rest are priced at $3 and $4. There is a 20-cent charge for takeaway but because I take along my own container, that is waived.

The Mushroom Pork Mince Noodle is the bestseller, mainly because this dry version comes with a scoop of moreish fried minced meat, mushroom and shallots. And because you eat the noodles with a spoon, every mouthful is filled with its rich flavours. There are also toppings of sliced fishcake and two fish balls for the $3 serving. But while springy, they are bland like most factory-made varieties. A lettuce leaf completes the dish.

The Johor Bi Tai Mak is purportedly a soup variation, but instead of a clear broth, you get something that looks and tastes like a thin gravy. It is flavourful and the minced meat-diced mushroom combo is cooked with less seasoning, so it is lighter and fresher. There are also lots of small prawns, but they are tasteless and probably frozen. It is a pity because fresh, sweet shrimps would have added so much to the dish. Instead, I find more delight in the bits of fried shallots floating in the soup.

There is no fishcake or fish balls in this, but they are not missed. I would not have minded the lettuce though.

Where: Shu Heng Bi Tai Mak, 01-25 Kebun Bahru Market and Food Centre, 226H Ang Mo Kio Street 22
Open: 7am to noon (Wednesdays to Mondays); closed on Tuesdays

DIY noodle kits from Penang Culture

Penang Culture offers kits for prawn noodle soup (above) and assam laksa. PHOTO: PENANG CULTURE

DIY cooking kits from restaurants make cooking at home really easy and, in my experience, the results have always been very impressive.

My latest shortcut cooking is with Penang Culture's kits for prawn noodle soup and assam laksa, hawker dishes that not many vendors here do well.

Both kits ($13 for a four-person serving) come with a pack of ready-cooked broth, the component that requires the most work and is critical to the success of the dishes. Noodles and sauces are included too.

The Penang Hokkien Prawn Noodles Set, for example, includes 1kg of prawn seafood soup broth, 500g of mixed yellow noodles and bee hoon, and the restaurant's signature chilli paste.

Toppings are your own and you can get creative by adding more than the usual prawns and fishcake. Penang Culture is halal, so you can keep to that with seafood like scallops or clams and some halal chicken fillet. Otherwise, pork slices are great too. Poach everything in the broth to make it even sweeter.

But cook the noodles in a separate pot of water, together with some beansprouts and kangkong for the crunch. You may also want to get some extra noodles because 500g may not be enough for four big appetites.

For the Penang Assam Laksa Set, which comes with 1kg of soup, 500g of laksa noodles and shrimp paste, the main work is cutting up vegetables for the toppings. Cucumber, onion, pineapple, mint and red chilli are a must, but some shredded ginger flower makes the dish very aromatic. These do not need cooking, so the only other thing you need to do is to heat up the broth and blanch the noodles - easy peasy.

How to order: Go to this link. Minimum order of $50.
Delivery charge: $6