TEMPURA NASI AMBENG FOR RAYA
Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
If you are planning a meal for friends and family or need to take something to a get-together over the next few weeks, how about Natsu's version of Indonesian nasi ambeng?
The fuss-free rice platter takes the hassle out of hosting a meal, plus guests might welcome the Japanese spin on it.
Natsu's Tempura Ambeng ($39.90) is good for four people. The halal-certified tempura kiosk at Clementi Mall is offering Japanese short-grain rice with crisp prawn tempura, chicken tempura and kakiage, or shredded and chopped vegetable tempura discs, as well as a mix of Padang-style dishes including beef rendang, sambal goreng and begedil.
The tempura gets slightly limp, which is understandable because of the steam from the other hot dishes, but I am all right with that - it is still delicious. Ask to have the tempura packed separately if the limpness bothers you.
The platter comes with a generous container of fragrant lemak curry gravy, which you can spoon over your rice and tempura. It is a bit of fusion that works.
The fork-tender beef rendang has plenty of flavour too. I love that this nasi ambeng does not shortchange you on the local favourite dishes.
It is reasonably priced and the portion is sizeable, but add more prawn and chicken tempura if you fancy.
WHERE: Natsu, B1-K18 The Clementi Mall, 3155 Commonwealth Avenue West MRT: Clementi WHEN: Till July 14. Pre-order a day in advance in-store or via WhatsApp OPEN: 10.30am to 9.30pm daily PRICE: From $39.90 TEL: 8113-1596 INFO: Go to www.instagram.com/natsu.tempura
AFTERNOON TEA AT TIONG BAHRU BAKERY
You want to have afternoon tea. You don't want to be greedy, but want to try a bit of everything.
With Tiong Bahru Bakery's new Afternoon Three Sum (photo, $25 at Eng Hoon Street and Tangs Orchard outlets; $23.40++ at Raffles City outlet), you can do just that.
The afternoon tea set launched last month and comes in a three-tier dim sum bamboo basket with nine items that include halves of three of its signature tarts, which also means half the calories.
You also get items such as a miniature croque monsieur, and smoked salmon with cream cheese and rocket sandwiched in a soft, savoury squid-ink bun.
The set is good for two not-terribly-hungry people, so add more items from the counter like a savoury roast beef croissant, a Kouign Amann and a tiramisu if you are ravenous.
My favourite items are the chocolate tart, where a velvety dark chocolate filling topped with lush dulce de leche and a chocolate disc is encased in lovely pastry; and the mango coconut cheesecake - an airy coconut cheesecake on a French sable short-bread topped with tropical mango gel that makes me squeal in delight with each bite.
Wash everything down with a cup of TBB Teh Tarik, a rooibos red tea latte that I have been gaga about since the day the Spa Esprit Group, which owns the bakery, first introduced it at its now-defunct eatery Barracks in Dempsey eight years ago.
The drink is similar to a Teh-C, but this tea is caffeine-free and is said to promote heart health and help with headaches.
Tiong Bahru Bakery opened a fourth outlet at Holland Village's Chip Bee Gardens last week and the afternoon tea set will be available there soon.
WHERE: Tiong Bahru Bakery's afternoon set is available at three outlets - 01-70, 56 Eng Hoon Street, tel: 6220-3430; B1-11 Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 North Bridge Road, tel: 6333-4160; and L1-16B Tangs Orchard, 310 Orchard Road, tel: 6735-3787 MRT: Tiong Bahru/ City Hall/Orchard WHEN: 3 to 5pm daily INFO: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.tiongbahrubakery.com
NEW FARE AT OLD CHANG KEE COFFEE HOUSE
Curry puff specialist Old Chang Kee has opened a flagship Old Chang Kee Coffee House at the same location where the business first began back in 1956, at a coffee shop in Mackenzie Road opposite Rex Cinema.
Here, aside from Old Chang Kee's signature snacks, there are also items from the chain's Curry Times brand such as its nasi lemak with dry chicken curry, various curry buns and dishes exclusive to this location. The eatery is currently waiting for its official halal certification, but the food is prepared in a halal-certified central kitchen and some of its staff are Muslim.
Be sure to opt for Hainanese-style curry chicken ($11.90), chicken stew ($11.90) or beef stew ($13.90, photo) served in Flower Bread.
Use your fingers to tear apart the warm, soft and mildly sweet sesame seed-studded buns. Dip a small fluffy piece into the stew or curry for maximum satisfaction. The flavours are wholesome and old-school.
I like the baked beef stew rice with cheese ($10.90) in a mess tin. Here, chunks of tender beef, carrots and radish are served on white jasmine rice - to soak up the gravy - and topped with stretchy melted cheese for an East-meets-West take on beef stew.
A familiar taste that took me back to my childhood.
WHERE: Old Chang Kee Coffee House, 01-01, 19-23 Mackenzie Road MRT: Little India OPEN: 11am to 9pm (Mondays to Thursdays), 10am to 10pm (Fridays and Saturdays), 10am to 9pm (Sundays) TEL: 6732-1665 INFO: www.oldchangkee.com