CHAO ZHOU PORRIDGE
The humble Teochew muay gets an update at two-week-old eatery Chao Zhou Porridge in River Valley Road.
Instead of a kopitiam stall, which is where muay or porridge stalls are usually located, this is more like a casual restaurant. The place is air-conditioned and has a proper menu. Some dishes, such as steamed fish, are cooked a la minute, while others are ready-cooked and displayed neatly on white ceramic platters.
There is also a display chiller for cold dishes such as chilled squid and cold crab.
For all its modern trappings, the food is traditional and the prices are not that much more than a kopitiam stall's.
For example, the chilled sotong starts from $5.90 each and the preserved radish omelette is $2.50. Both are very good.
A platter of braised duck is $8.90 and braised large intestines are $6.90. Cold crabs start from $12 each. And a bowl of porridge is $0.70.
I like that the place is comfortable and clean and that care is taken to ensure the food is of a high standard. Those who wonder how to keep traditional food in Singapore relevant in modern times can probably find some lessons here.
WHERE: Chao Zhou Porridge, 221 River Valley Road MRT: Outram/Clarke Quay/Dhoby Ghaut WHEN: 10.30am - 4.30am daily
LONDON PEKING DUCK
TungLok XiHe restaurant has switched to using ducks from Ireland's Silver Hill Farm for its Peking Duck. These are the same ducks that London Fat Duck in Scotts Square uses for its roast duck.
Marketing it as Peking London Duck, TungLok XiHe uses ducks that are 42 days old, before their feathers start to harden. The result is tender and juicy flesh under a paper-thin crispy skin that is like a cracker. It is superior to the dry Malaysian ducks the restaurant used previously.
The dish is served with the same condiments as before, such as sugar, blueberry sauce, mustard sauce and black bean sauce, and wrapped in a wheat crepe. But I enjoy the taste of the meat so much that I am happy to eat it on its own.
WHERE: TungLok XiHe Peking Duck, 01-23/26 The Grandstand, 200 Turf Club Road; 07-07/09 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road MRT: Botanic Gardens/Somerset WHEN: 11.30am - 3pm, 6 - 10.30pm daily PRICE: $66 a duck TEL: 6466-3363/ 6736-0006
HAWKER MASTERS BUFFET
There are good hawker stalls in Singapore, but they are scattered all over the island. You may have to go to Chinatown for yong tau foo, for example, and trek to Casuarina Road if you want roti prata.
But the Hawker Masters Dinner Buffet at Fullerton Hotel's Town Restaurant makes it easy for you by bringing 15 of the best hawkers under one roof. Plus, you dine in air-conditioned comfort.
The 15 Hawker Masters are among those who have been selected through an annual search organised by The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao over the past four years. They include Haron Satay, Roxy Laksa, Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh and Rojak & Mee Siam from Geylang Serai for its Indian rojak.
There is also my favourite this year, My Cosy Corner, whose popiah boasts a thin and soft skin rolled over a delicious filling with crispy rice grains.
WHERE: Town Restaurant, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, 1 Fullerton Square MRT: Raffles Place WHEN: Till Mon, 6.30 - 10.30pm daily PRICE: Sun & Mon:$55 an adult, $28 a child; today & tomorrow: $86 an adult, $44 a child (with additional barbecued items & free-flow Tiger Beer & Singapore Sling for two hours); $69 an adult, $34 a child (with additional seafood selection) TEL: 6877-8128
YONEZAWA WAGYU BEEF
Yonezawa beef is one of the three best-known wagyu brands in Japan, alongside Kobe and Matsusaka beef, but it is seldom found in restaurants here.
If you are curious about how it compares to the other two, you can try it these two months at Keyaki in Pan Pacific Singapore. And because the hotel bought a whole cow from the farm in the Yamagata Prefecture instead of just specific cuts, it is able to serve the prized beef at quite a decent price.
There are three seven-course set menus, ranging from $160 to $180 a person. The $180 menu I tried is pretty good value, considering that you get about 260g of beef in dishes such as a seared wagyu chuck roll. Most top-grade wagyu sells for at least $100 per 100g here.
Making up the other courses is an amuse bouche, chawanmushi, salad and fresh fruit for dessert.
The A5-grade beef is tender and well-marbled and I enjoyed it most steamed. The heat brings out the aroma of the thin slices of meat really well and melts the fat into the rice.
WHERE: Keyaki, Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Boulevard MRT: Promenade WHEN: Till Sept 11, daily PRICE: $160 - $180 a person TEL: 6826-8240