One of the bright spots in the food and beverage scene here has been the interesting collaborations between chefs during the circuit breaker period.
Two of them are going to be working together for some time to come, and my weekends are brighter for that.
Chef Dylan Ong of The Masses, a restaurant in Beach Road, has teamed up with chef Daniel Suren of Heavens, an appam stall in Ghim Moh Market, to offer appam for brunch on weekends. If you have ever had food from The Masses or Heavens, you'll know this is a match made in you-know-where.
For now, there are two appam options. Both are excellent.
The batter for the rice pancake is fermented for 12 hours, then cooked in a wok-shaped pan so that the edges are crisp and lacy and the middle is pillow-soft. The contrast in textures and the tang in the pancakes make me swoon.
It takes so much skill to make a perfect one and chef Suren is not called The Appam Prince for nothing. Chef Ong is also known for offering food with luxe touches and solid cooking without diners suffering wallet meltdown. In this collaboration, his accompaniments for the appam reflect his philosophy.
So, for Appam ($21.90), the perfectly made pancakes come with prosciutto, creamy mushroom and spinach ragout, a sous-vide egg with an oozy yolk, and a very punchy and addictive chilli chutney.
Dip the crisp edges in the runny egg, lick fingers. Spoon the ragout into the centre, tear apart with hands, lick fingers. Fold slices of Italian ham into any part of the appam, lick fingers. Dunk everything in the chutney, lick fingers.
There is also the Triple Cheese Appam ($16.90) - consisting of mimolette, aged parmesan and halloumi, with that runny egg and a (too small) pot of chilli chutney.
Can you tell I love the chutney? I would love it even more if the new appam offerings also come with coconut chutney.
Yes, there will be more variations coming. I can't wait.
WHERE: The Masses, 01-02, 85 Beach Road MRT: Bugis DELIVERY: Order at order.themasses.sg; free delivery for orders above $100, otherwise, it costs $6 to $9 depending on distance DINE-IN: Appam available for dine-in from noon to 3pm on weekends only TEL: 6266-0061 INFO: themasses.sg
CHURROS X WAFFLES
If a churro tangoed with a waffle, a chuffle might pop out mid-dance.
This delicious mash-up can be had at Sunday Folks, Creamier's dessert parlour in Chip Bee Gardens. And it is delicious. Sticks of waffles are deep-fried and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. If you have had Creamier's waffles, you'll know how good they are. Deep-frying takes them to another level.
I am happy to eat the Chuffles ($7 for six) on their own and to really savour the crisp edges (there are many edges in a waffle). But there are three compelling dips to order. I cannot tell you which one is best because I kind of love them all.
Classic Chocolate Dip is suitably dark. If I am ordering this for delivery, I'll add a splash of cognac at home just because I can. The Salted Caramel Sauce has the sort of salty-sweet flavour I love. I do wish, however, that the Lemon Creme could be a little more tart. It should please most people. I have learnt that Singaporeans are wary of lemons, goodness knows why. This version is too gentle, in my opinion.
So I would get all three, at $2 each. I figure with six chuffles, I can drape two generously with each sauce.
WHERE: Sunday Folks, 01-52 Chip Bee Gardens, 44 Jalan Merah Saga MRT: Holland Village DELIVERY: Available via GrabFood and Deliveroo DINE-IN: 1 to 7.30pm (Tuesdays to Sundays) INFO: sundayfolks.com
The substantial bento meals from The Gyu Bar in Stevens Road are what I would order if I were really, really hungry.
How can anyone go wrong with rice topped with beef and other accoutrements? And I am impressed by how hefty each box feels.
Lest you think it's full of rice, it's not. There is a thin layer of it at the bottom and then it's blanketed with goodies.
My favourite is Wagyu Chirashi, with cubes of seared A4 Japanese wagyu, ikura, cubes of Japanese omelette, cucumber and takuan pickles. In the middle is a scoop of uni, delicious sea urchin gonads.
I love the different textures I get when I scoop from different parts of the box - juicy beef, crunchy cucumber and pickles, soft omelette and creamy uni.
The Yakiniku & Foie Gras bento comes with slices of seared A4 Japanese karubi or short rib, seared cubes of foie gras, ikura, tamago, cucumber and takuan. Sprinkle some garlic chips on it and eat with wasabi. Beautiful.
The third option might please truffle fans. Slices of summer truffles fan out on top of A4 Japanese sirloin sukiyaki, sweet onions and a runny egg. The truffled rice, alas, moves me not at all.
All three are priced at $48+ each if you order direct from the restaurant. The price is $48++ for dine-in until July 31. The bentos cost $58+ if ordered from food delivery companies such as GrabFood, Foodpanda and Deliveroo.
WHERE: The Gyu Bar, 01-08, 30 Stevens Road MRT: Stevens DELIVERY: Order by WhatsApp on 9150-3164 or online at thegyubar.com.sg from 11am to 8.30pm; fee for orders under $60 depends on distance; delivery costs $8 for orders of $60 to $150 and is free for orders above $150 DINE-IN: Noon to 3pm, 6 to 10pm daily TEL: 6732-0702/9150-3164 INFO: thegyubar.com.sg
The circuit breaker period has opened a new world of online food shopping for me. And I stumbled on Foster Foods while looking for vanilla extract.
This Singapore gourmet food distributor and retailer stocks Heilala vanilla, made in New Zealand from beans grown in Tonga. I'd used it many years ago, but the brand disappeared, and I am so happy to have found it again. The perfume of its Pure Vanilla Extract ($28 for a 100ml bottle) is enchanting.
While excavating the website, I found some other terrific things.
One of them is Tierra Palaciega Fried Tomato Sauce ($8.50 for a 365g jar) from Spain. The family who runs the business has its own tomato farms, and the care it puts into tending them shows abundantly in how rich, rounded and full of umami the sauce is.
So pasta and pizza are obvious uses for the sauce, but you can make a shakshuka too, and I like the sauce warmed up as a dip for focaccia or sourdough bread, together with some olive oil on the side.
The other very-goodie find is Full Moon olives from Spain. Get the Gordal Olives Stuffed With Caramelised Figs ($8.90 for a 300g jar). The large olives - Gordal means The Fat One - from Seville are like the large Sicilian olives I love. These ones are stuffed with sweet figs. The balance of sweet and salty is perfect, and they are so good for snacking.
So are the Hojiblanca Olives With Lemon, Fine Herbs And Transparent Balsamic Vinegar ($8 for a 300g jar). The green olives are smaller and the flavour of the lemon, herbs and vinegar permeates them so thoroughly. I stand by the fridge door and eat them out of the jar.
WHERE: Foster Foods DELIVERY: Free for orders above $40, otherwise it is $5 INFO: fosterfoods.sg