CANTONESE DISHES WITH JAPANESE TWIST
Japanese ingredients are popular because of their quality and chefs are taking notice. But they are used mostly in Western restaurants.
Peach Garden is one of the rare Cantonese eateries here to put out a promotion menu centred on Japan produce.
Called Oishi Flavours Of Japan, it is available until April 30 at all the seven Peach Garden outlets.
Available a la carte and in set menus, Japanese ingredients are used in the Chinese dishes.
These include a chilled sea urchin tofu ($22) appetiser.
The main, pan-fried shirobuta pork ($28), is excellent. It comes with three sauces - chef's special mala sauce, black pepper sauce and mushroom sauce. The meat is good on its own and, in fact, I prefer it plain.
A huge, plump oyster on top of the fish noodles is good enough reason to try the poached surimi-men.
Unfortunately, the noodle soup is available only as part of a set priced at $68 a person. But you also get the shirobuta as well as sea urchin tofu and pan-fried amadai.
At the Thomson Plaza and Hotel Miramar outlets, there is also dim sum such as steamed xiao long bao with A5 wagyu ($8.80) and steamed dumpling with Japanese geoduck clam ($7.80).
WHERE: Peach Garden restaurants at 33-01 OCBC Centre, 65 Chulia Street; Level 3 Hotel Miramar, 401 Havelock Road; 01-88 Thomson Plaza, 301 Upper Thomson Road; 02-01B Block N2.1, Nanyang Technological University, 76 Nanyang Drive; 02-36 Chinatown Point, 133 New Bridge Road; 02-02, The Metropolis Tower 1, 9 North Buona Vista Drive; and 036-084 Changi Airport Terminal 2, 60 Airport Boulevard MRT: Various WHEN: Till April 30 for lunch and dinner TEL: 6535-7833 (OCBC Centre), 6736-3833 (Hotel Miramar), 6451-3233 (Thomson Plaza), 6219-9398 (NTU Block N2.1), 6702-0603 (Chinatown Point), 6334-7833 (The Metropolis) and 6386-3033 (Changi Airport T2) INFO: www.peachgarden.com.sg
CHICKEN RICE AT MONGA
Taiwanese fried chicken chain Monga's new outlet at SingPost Centre gets a thumbs up from me for several reasons.
It is the first to offer dine-in, unlike the other two takeaway counters at Jem and Ion Orchard malls.
And it has an exclusive Monga Crispy Chicken Rice Box (photo, $6.90) that comprises two pieces of fried chicken, acar, fragrant rice and hot chilli sauce. The rice and chilli are based on Hainanese chicken rice recipes and are good.
I love, too, that the set comes with a piece of chicken thigh and a drumstick, instead of the breast meat used for Monga's traditional Crispy Fried Chicken.
Or, for the same price, you can opt for Monga Nuggets, which are six small pieces of juicy thigh meat to go with the rice and chilli.
WHERE: Monga SingPost Centre, 01-131 SingPost Centre, 10 Eunos Road 8 MRT: Paya Lebar OPEN: 11am to 9.30pm daily
FRENCH CLASSICS NOT TO BE MISSED
French eatery So France's expanded dinner menu now offers more serious bistro cooking, with classic dishes that remind me of visits to Paris.
Duck confit (photo, $32) is a dish I haven't eaten in a while and it brings back good memories with its tender salted meat under a golden roasted skin. It comes with roasted Grenaille potatoes.
Oeufs Meurette ($22) is an ugly delicious dish that is seldom found here. The Burgundian dish comprises poached eggs in a red wine sauce made with beef and chicken stocks and veal jus. It comes with lardons and pearl onions and is eaten with sourdough bread.
You won't find any French onion soup, though. Apparently, that is more popular outside France than in its country of origin. So make some noise if you are a fan and maybe it will be in the next menu.
WHERE: So France, 01-51/56 Duo Gallery, 7 Fraser Street MRT: Bugis OPEN: 8am to 9pm (Mondays to Thursdays), 8am to 10pm (Fridays), 9am to 9pm (Saturdays), 9am to 6pm (Sundays) TEL: 6909-6449
JAPANESE SET THAT IS VALUE FOR MONEY
The newly launched Sushi & Dashi Omakase at Mai by Dashi Master Marusaya offers about the best-value meal you can get in a fine Japanese restaurant.
Priced at $88 a person, it is available for lunch and dinner, though I find it a bit too heavy for lunch.
You get seasonal appetisers, sashimi, Japanese omelette, cooked dishes, seven pieces of sushi, miso soup and dessert. Items change according to what is available from Japanese markets.
At my lunch, I started with firefly squid and crab sesame tofu with ikura in dashi. Sashimi was chutoro and kinmedai while sushi, which was served piece by piece, included tai, otoro and sawara.
And one of the cooked dishes was wagyu with bamboo shoot and bell pepper in salted rice malt.
WHERE: Mai by Dashi Master Marusaya, 46 Bukit Pasoh Road MRT: Outram Park OPEN: Noon to 2.30pm, 6 to 11pm (Mondays to Saturdays) PRICE: $88 a person TEL: 6327-8414