Rebecca Lynne Tan Food Correspondent recommends

Food Picks: Rebecca Lynne Tan recommends Mentaiko Madness and luxe chocolate

Japanese restaurant group RE&S celebrates its 30th anniversary with an array of mentaiko or spicy cod roe offerings at Japanese Food Street Shokutsu Ten. ST Food Correspondent Rebecca Lynne Tan susses out the tastiest treats.
PHOTOS: CRYSTAL JADE, NAMI/ SHANGRI-LA HOTEL SINGAPORE, RE&S/SHOKUTSU TEN, THE DARK GALLERY

CHOCOLATE FIX AT THE DARK GALLERY

I am a chocoholic and coffee addict and certainly not a purist. Often, I like a touch of java with my cacao.

The Dark Gallery, a chocolate specialist, does a good job of marrying the two. It opened a second outlet in the basement of Takashimaya Shopping Centre last month.

Here, you can have chocolate paired with single-origin pour-over coffee as well as an array of cakes, pastries, ice cream and more.

My favourite items are the rich, full-flavoured vegan-friendly dark chocolate sorbet ($5) and the chocolate souffle ($15). I like that the airy souffle, which is made-to-order and takes about 20 minutes, has the richness of dark chocolate with a nutty hit of java, thanks to ground espresso powder.

Exclusive to this outlet is the Four Senses of Chocolate ($10 for each drink) - sucre, savoury, spice and sangria.

Spice is my pick of the four. Think bold flavours of a chai tea latte - turmeric, star anise, ginger and cloves - infused in a thick, velvety hot chocolate.

This is the flavour of Christmas in a cup with a little extra luxe. It comes with an adorable gingerbread man biscuit too.

WHERE: The Dark Gallery, B2-29 Takashimaya Shopping Centre, 391 Orchard Road MRT: Orchard OPEN: 11am to 10pm daily TEL: 6935-2603 INFO: www.thedarkgallery.com


LEARN ABOUT DASHI AT NAMI

Dashi is the backbone of Japanese cuisine. It is quiet and unassuming. But without the right balance of flavours in a dashi broth or stock, dishes will often fall flat.

Now you can learn more about the different types of dashi and how it is made at a dashi appreciation course at Japanese restaurant Nami. It is conducted by its head chef Shigeo Akiba, who has been practising the art of dashi-making for 30 years.

The first session, for eight people, takes place on June 30. Thereafter, it will be held on the last Saturday of every month.

The restaurant makes up to eight types of dashi for various dishes. The unique umami flavours in each brew, made to taste, come from kombu (kelp) and katsuobushi (bonito) and other types of fish.

After the class, tuck into a four-course set meal featuring the various dashi. A seven-course dashi meal is also available for dinner from June 5.

Expect to be wowed by dishes such as a flavourful and delicate soup with hamaguri clam, chicken ball, lettuce, eggplant, shimeji mushrooms and carrot; a custard with udon cooked in dashi (above); and rice that has been steamed with dashi and tossed with sakura shrimp.

WHERE: Nami, Level 24 Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, 22 Orange Grove Road MRT: Orchard/Stevens Road WHEN: Classes ($118 a person) are held at 10.30 to 11.30am, followed by a four-course lunch, on the last Saturday of the month. The first class will be held on June 30. The seven-course dashi meal ($180 a person) will be available for only dinner, from June 5 TEL: 6213-4398 INFO: E-mail dining.sls@shangri-la.com


MENTAIKO MADNESS AT SHOKUTSU TEN

I perk up whenever I see mentaiko, or spicy cod roe, on the menu. I love its savoury, slightly umami flavour and fishy aftertaste.

Japanese restaurant group RE&S celebrates its 30th anniversary with Mentaiko Madness at Japanese food street Shokutsu Ten. Participating restaurants include the Tokyo Eater Pop-Up Store, Western food and pasta chain Kabe No Ana, Men-ichi Japanese Ramen and Ichiban Sushi.

If you like your mentaiko whole, go for Tokyo Eater's mazesoba with onsen egg ($13.80) - dry ramen noodles with soft pork chashu and chunks of mentaiko served with vinegar and chilli oil.

I also like the Mentaiko Cream Sauce Omu Rice Set ($22.90, above) from Kabe No Ana.

Tomato pilaf rice is encased in a fluffy omelette and served with seafood and mushrooms in a creamy and comforting mentaiko sauce that you will just want to slurp up. Each set comes with an ume soda, an appetiser and a salad.

WHERE: Tokyo Eater, B1-08 Nex, 23 Serangoon Central; Ichiban Sushi - 11 outlets islandwide, including 02-01 AMK Hub, 53 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3; 06-05 Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road; 02-23 IMM, 2 Jurong East Street 21; & Kabe No Ana - two outlets: B1-55 Jurong Point, 1 Jurong West Central 2; & B1-80 Nex, 23 Serangoon Central MRT: Serangoon/Ang Mo Kio/ Dhoby Ghaut/Jurong East/Boon Lay OPEN: Various opening hours, but all outlets are open daily for lunch and dinner INFO: www.res.com.sg


CELEBRATING PARENTS AT CRYSTAL JADE

Crystal Jade celebrates parents throughout May and June with a range of special dishes at various outlets. There are set meals at both its fine-dining and casual restaurants as well as a la carte items.

If there is one dish you must eat during this promotion, it is the roasted honey barbecue Iberian pork collar ($16.80 a serving), which is available only at Crystal Jade Kitchen.

The fat is well distributed in this cut of meat, which makes for supple, juicy char siew that I cannot get enough of. It goes well with the chain's three new types of congee (from $8.80 a serving, above), with ingredients such as prawn balls and spinach; pumpkin, spinach and lean meat; and yam, wolfberry and dried scallop.

WHERE: Crystal Jade Kitchen, 11 outlets islandwide including B1-11 Tampines Mall, 4 Tampines Central 5; & B2-38 Takashimaya Shopping Centre, 391 Orchard Road MRT: Various WHEN: Until June 24

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2018, with the headline 'Food Picks'. Print Edition | Subscribe