Food Picks: Wholesome meals from Staunch Food, Tsuta's DIY ramen kits

Squid Ink Grilled NZ King Salmon On Veg & Carb ($30). ST PHOTO: WONG AH YOKE

Staunch Food

The first time I heard about Staunch Food was when a friend texted me last week to say he would be gifting me a lunch from the online purveyor.

I checked out its website and was surprised to find that it is run by two teenage siblings, Claire and Bill Chan. They are tennis players who have represented Singapore in international competitions.

With the help of their mum, they launched the business in April selling dishes cooked with wholesome, non-GMO (genetically modified organism) ingredients that also do not overly tax the environment.

And amid concerns about the amount of waste generated by disposable packaging used for food deliveries, the two youngsters use oven-grade glassware instead. Customers can keep the containers or return them on their next order for a refund of 50 cents to $4 each.

While all this is indeed laudable, what impressed me even more was how delicious the three dishes I received were.

The Spring & Summer Salad ($23) is good for lunch for one person. Or share it as a starter. It is packed with fruit and vegetables - cherries, pomegranate, grapes, pear, pomelo, arugula, baby spinach, cucumber and tomatoes are what I can see.

This is enhanced with a dressing that perfectly balances citrus, sweet and savoury flavours with a touch of sesame oil.

The Squid Ink Grilled NZ King Salmon On Veg & Carb ($30) is a meal in itself too, comprising a slab of fish fillet on multi-grain rice, organic kale and cherry tomatoes wrapped in an opeh leaf.

There are clear instructions on how to heat it up in the oven or toaster, which leaves the fish warm and moist. Just before eating, add some moreish squid ink sauce that packs a punch in a most delicious way with deep and complex flavours.

If you are not sharing the food, you do not really need a third dish. But it was included in my gift pack and it is hard to resist the Bait Up! ($12) since it is billed as a signature and bestseller.

It is like a non-vegetarian twist on nasi ulam, with organic quinoa and aged brown basmati rice mixed with white bait, shrimps and shredded fish meat as well as chopped fresh herbs.

It has lots of bite and it is wonderful how the herbs release little bursts of perfume in the mouth. It is tasty on its own but also goes well with the king salmon.

What: Staunch Food ready meals
How to order: Staunch Food's website

DIY ramen kits by Tsuta

Food delivery is convenient, but what I like better is to stock up on do-it-yourself frozen meals from restaurants.

I can whip up something hot in minutes following simple instructions at any time of the day. And I do not have to nurse a growling tummy while waiting for the delivery person to arrive with my food.

Many of the restaurant DIY kits I have tried are really good too, among them the tonkotsu ramen launched by Tsuta last month.

Tsuta DIY Noodle Kits. PHOTO: TSUTA

There are three flavours to choose from. The most basic is its signature Tsuta Tonkotsu Soba ($9.80), which comes with a serving of noodles, marinated black fungus, pork shoulder char siu and a pack of its house pork broth.

Everything can be stored in the freezer until you are ready to eat. The noodles are the only thing that requires cooking and that takes just a few minutes in boiling water. Heat up the soup in a separate pot and pour it over the noodles and toppings.

There is also Tsuta Mala Tonkotsu Soba ($11.90) for those who like spice. It comes with an extra pack of minced meat cooked with numbing spices plus some mala oil to add to the broth.

My favourite, however, is the Tsuta Kurobishio Tonkotsu Soba ($11.90). It is the basic pack plus black pepper minced meat. And the burnt garlic oil for the soup gives it a lovely aroma.

The results come close to dining-in standards. The broth is thick and rich and the noodles have excellent texture. The only thing missing is the marinated egg that I enjoy with ramen, but that is impossible to freeze without turning it into a mess.

How to order: Buy in-store at Tsuta 313 @ somerset, 01-17, 313 Orchard Road; and VivoCity, B2-29A, 1 HarbourFront Walk; or order online

Aisa pop-up by Ace Tan

If you are looking for a good meal with a bit of fun thrown in, the Aisa pop-up is worth checking out.

Chef Ace Tan from 1-V:U restaurant in The Outpost Hotel is taking up residency at sister restaurant 1-Altitude while the Sentosa hotel is being used as a stay-home notice facility.

He has come up with a creative menu based on his culinary memories and collaborated with artist Justin Lee, known for his artworks inspired by Chinese papercuts, to create a different dining experience.

Seasons (left) and Ember from Aisa. ST PHOTO: WONG AH YOKE

The meal is based on eight words the chef came up with - Essence, Seasons, Child, Purity, Ember, Passion, Soothe and Create - with each course accompanied by a papercut-like design from the artist.

The word Aisa is a play on Asia and the food's influences come from chef Tan's childhood as well as his working experience in Seoul.

I like some items more than others, with standouts being Purity, a poached cod with snow crab essence, and Ember, a wood-grilled F1 wagyu with ginseng beef jus.

Those who enjoy Korean flavours will like Seasons, a turbot sashimi with makgeolli dashi dressing and caviar.

Where: Aisa, Stellar @ 1-Altitude, Level 62, 1 Raffles Place
MRT: Raffles Place
When: 6 to 10pm (Thursdays to Mondays)
Price: $108 for five courses and $158 for eight courses
Reservations: E-mail or WhatsApp 8879-8765

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