Life! Happenings Aug 11: A complete guide to what to eat, drink, watch and listen to this weekend

Ravioli di Burrata from La Bussola.
Ravioli di Burrata from La Bussola.ST PHOTO: TAN HSUEH YUN

Food Editor Tan Hsueh Yun, Entertainment correspondent Yip Wai Yee, Arts correspondent Akshita Nanda and Music correspondent Eddino Abdul Hadi recommend what to eat, watch and listen to this weekend.

FOOD PICKS

Food Editor Tan Hsueh Yun recommends:

DELICIOUS AND VEGETARIAN

Have you got friends who go meatless on Mondays? I do, and for many years, I would wonder, why?

Now I kind of, sort of, get it. As I get older, and want to be kinder to my body, it makes sense to, as American author Michael Pollan writes in his 2008 book, In Defence Of Food: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

I'm not ready to give up meat but a vegetarian meal once a week is not difficult, especially when I can go to La Bussola in Portsdown Road for vegetarian and vegan Italian food.

The restaurant opened about three months ago, and the people behind it are the owners of Pietrasanta, just across the courtyard.

Chef Loris Massimini, 45, of Pietrasanta, says he was inspired to open La Bussola because he saw the good healthy eating can do. La Bussola's chef, Carlo Alberto Castellini, 36, went vegan six months ago and his blood pressure went down. Massimini's brother Giuseppe, 51, cut out red meat, started eating more vegetables and seafood, and saw his blood pressure levels improve too.

A meal at the restaurant does not have to be austere.

Ravioli di Burrata ($22) comes with six plump pasta dumplings filled with creamy buffalo milk cheese and a fresh-tasting and light tomato sauce. The pasta is a little too thick but I love the contrast between rich filling and zesty sauce. Even better is Funghi Alla Cacciatora ($23), a crock of fresh monkey head mushrooms stewed with tomatoes, celery, carrot, olives and perfumed with rosemary. The mushrooms are thick and have a meaty texture and the dish is so hearty I do not miss the meat. Rosemary is far from my favourite herb but it works very well here.

For dessert, Pistocchi Classica ($15) is rich enough to be sinful. But the dark chocolate cake, really more of a ganache, comes in a small serving that I don't feel guilty polishing off the whole thing. I share it with a friend but really want to have it all.

Budino di Riso ($14), rice pudding, comes in a crisp tart shell. And here is the only time I miss richness in the meal. The pastry should really be made with butter, and the rice pudding needs a bit more sugar so that it is identifiable as a dessert.

Perhaps next time, I'll opt for the cheese platter ($24), pannacotta ($14) or chestnut cake ($17).

Where: La Bussola - by Pietrasanta, 5B Portsdown Road, 01-04

MRT: One-North

Tel: 9114-5087

Open: 11.45am to 2.30pm, 5.45 to 10.30pm (Wed to Mon), closed Tues

Info: www.ristorante-pietrasanta.com

PRESSURE-PERFECT

There are many places to go for a good meal in Little India, but I'll bet not many are as quiet, cool and serene as Urban Roti in Syed Alwi Road on a weekday afternoon.

Its owners must love hexagons - the shape pops up in the floor tiles and wall hangings. One entire wall is taken up by rows of hexagonal wooden rolling pins, very striking indeed.

But I am there for one specific dish, Cooker Me Kukkad ($16).

It is such a good idea I wonder why all of the main dishes on the menu are not cooked this way. Chicken with an aromatic but not too hot gravy is cooked in a mini pressure cooker, and the server appears at the table with the pot, releases the steam with a bit of dramatic flair, and then diners tuck in.

Pressure and multi-cookers are all the rage among home cooks these days, and I wish I could get the mini one the restaurant uses. I dream of whipping up stews and flavourful soups in no time at all.

They might taste half as good as Cooker Me Kukkad. Pressure allows the spices to permeate the meat, and, at the same time, makes the chicken tender. Not that chicken needs that much help. I'd like to put that cooker to work on mutton.

You can order naan, of course, to mop up the gravy, but I decide to try something different. Appetisingly brown Taftaan ($6), and slightly puffy, mint-studded Laccha Paratha ($5) are flatbreads that do the job superbly.

Where: Urban Roti Indian Grill And Bar, 101 Syed Alwi Road

MRT: Farrer Park Tel: 6209-5545

Open: 11.30am to 11.30pm daily

Info: urbanroti.com.sg/

FLAVOURFUL SOYA SAUCE CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS

The good thing about hawker centre dining is that if the dish you set out to eat is disappointing, there are plenty of other choices.

And that is how I discover Xiang Jiang Soya Sauce Chicken at Alexandra Village Food Centre. The noodle dish I'd gone there to eat was unimpressive, to say the least. I join the queue in front of Xiang Jiang because I walk past a couple, see giant shrimp dumplings winking at me from their bowl and ask where they are from.

"There," she says, pointing at the stall.

The wait is interminable, even on a quiet Sunday, but the big, beautiful dumplings (80 cents each) are worth queuing for. I love that the filling is not too tightly packed, despite the fact that there is a lot in there - minced pork, prawns and strips of black fungus. As with all things delicious, fat is the key. There is enough of it in the filling to make every bite swoonworthy.

Better yet is the Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle (from $4). A sign on the stall suggests you order mee pok but I much prefer mee kia, and pay an extra $1 for a chicken drumstick. The flavourful braising sauce, and meat that is just a little blush pink near the bone, make this one of the best versions of soya sauce chicken I have tasted.

My mother and I tuck in. Silky chicken flavoured with cinnamon and star anise. Noodles with bounce.

Our heads bob up in happy surprise.

"Wow," we say in unison.

Why didn't I order half a chicken? Or a whole one?

Where: Xiang Jiang Soya Sauce Chicken, 01-77 Alexandra Village Food Centre, 120 Bukit Timah Lane 1

MRT: Queenstown

Open: 7.30am to 2.30pm (Wed to Mon), closed Tues

DEEP-FRIED TREATS

Ngoh hiang guan chiang, that hawker dish of deep fried meat rolls, fish cake, sliced pork sausage and prawn crackers, is never on my food radar. But a friend tells me about her favourite stall, in Sembawang Hills Food Centre, with such a gleam in her eye that I have to go check it out.

Sin Sin Ngor Hiang Prawn Cracker has been in business for over 40 years and a line quickly forms once the signboard lights up - even though the 1.30pm opening time is usually past the lunch time peak.

But oh, the offerings are terrific, and miraculously grease-free despite the double deep-frying.

Zoom in first on the prawn cracker ($1.20), palm-sized, with a tiny prawn embedded in the middle. The filigree batter is phenomenally crisp. Another must-have is the guan chiang or pork sausage ($3), which comes in shades of pink not normally found in nature. Sin Sin's is lean but manages to be soft and pliant.

There is a large selection of deep fried rolls and I am in love with a meatless one made up of squiggles of crisp batter in a sausage shape. The frying is next level, and there is no sog in it at all. The classic meat roll ($1.20) or ngoh hiang has a decent amount of meat and good spicing, but I'll save my calories for the prawn cracker.

As dipping sauces go, this one is good but not mind-blowing. It has the requisite tartness but needs a little sweetness and heat for balance.

My friend lets slip that the stall's fried beehoon ($1) is also good. I get it to go, and it is; simple and unadorned.

Where: Sin Sin Ngor Hiang Prawn Cracker, 01-21 Sembawang Hills Food Centre, 590 Upper Thomson Road

MRT: Yio Chu Kang

Open: 1.30 to 9.30pm (Fri to Tues), closed Wed and Thurs


FILM PICKS

Entertainment correspondent Yip Wai Yee recommends:

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (PG)

120 minutes

Screened as part of a celebration of the works of acclaimed Japanese film-maker Hirokazu Kore-eda, this drama follows a man named Ryota (Masaharu Fukuyama), who discovers that his biological son was switched at birth with the boy he is raising.

The critically acclaimed film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize.

WHERE: The Projector, Level 5 Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road

MRT: Nicoll Highway

WHEN: Until Sunday, various times

ADMISSION: $13.50 from theprojector.sg

THE OLD TRILOGY

National Day celebrations continue through the weekend with this selection of documentaries about Singapore, all showing at The Projector.

The Old Trilogy - Old Places (2010), Old Romances (2012) and Old Friends (2015) - are loving tributes to the Lion City, looking at our favourite locations, relationships and hawker haunts. The films are co-directed by a number of film-makers, including Royston Tan and Eva Tang.

WHERE: The Projector, Level 5 Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road

MRT: Nicoll Highway

WHEN: Until Tuesday, various times

ADMISSION: $13.50 from theprojector.sg

VIDDSEE JUREE AWARDS SINGAPORE

Following similar events in other parts of South-east Asia, this short film competition organised by the Viddsee video streaming site comes to Singapore for the first time. Ten films, from independent film-makers and schools in Singapore, have been shortlisted for the finals.

The event will also feature talks and workshops, which are open to the public, and will close with the awards ceremony on Aug 19 at The Projector cinema.

Among the short films is The Drum by Ler Jiyuan, a 25-minute work about a man named Kang (played by Wang Yuqing), who finds solace in a pair of Indian drums after being forced into early retirement.

INFO: www.viddsee.com/ juree/singapore2018


ARTS PICKS

Arts correspondent Akshita Nanda recommends:

IMAGINARIUM: INTO THE SPACE OF TIME

This family-friendly exhibition at SAM at 8Q features interactive installations to interest kids, such as the squeaky yarn toys of The GedAze Project's Passage.

Young and old can seek familiar landmarks in the giant, detailed cartoon mural In Our Time by illustrator Lee Xin Li.

Today, the museum canopy also hosts SAM Late Nights, a block party which lasts till 11pm and has live music by home-grown band Ocean's Children.

WHERE: SAM at 8Q, 8 Queen Street MRT: Bras Basah

WHEN: Until Aug 26, 10am to 7pm (Saturdays to Thursdays) and 10am to 9pm (Fridays)

ADMISSION: Free for Singapore citizens, permanent residents and children under age three. For others, $6 (adults) and $3 (students and senior citizens). Free admission on Fridays from 6 to 9pm and on Open House days

THE CAT IN THE HAT

Singapore Repertory Theatre's The Little Company stages Dr Seuss' popular book as a play in Mandarin. Hang Qian Chou is the titular Cat In The Hat who has come to shake up the day of two children, played by Sugie Phua and Ann Lek.

Recommended for families with children aged two and up.

WHERE: KC Arts Centre - Home of SRT, 20 Merbau Road

MRT: Fort Canning

WHEN: Till Sept 7, 10am (weekdays) and 11am (Saturdays and public holidays); additional 2pm show tomorrow

ADMISSION: From $26 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)

INFO: www.srt.com.sg/show/catinthehat

TRADITIONAL FLUTE FESTIVAL

This celebration of wind instruments from across Asia features more than 100 exponents from China, Japan and Asean countries. It is organised by the Singapore Dizi Society, under the artistic direction of three Singaporean musicians: dizi maestro Zhan Yong Ming, award-winning bansuri player Ghanavenothan Retnam and flautist Tan Qing Lun.

There are free concerts in the Civic District and heartland, alongside ticketed events such as Twilight Tunes tomorrow, in which Japanese musician Yasukazu Kano and Thailand's Surasak Kingsai play jazz using the traditional shinobue and khlui flutes.

The festival closes on Sunday with Wings Of Resonance, in which an international ensemble plays a variety of wind instruments, including a nose flute from the Philippines.

Twilight Tunes

WHERE: Ngee Ann Auditorium, Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place MRT: Raffles Place

WHEN: Tomorrow, 7.30pm

ADMISSION: $25 from Sistic

INFO: dizisocietysg.wixsite.com/tff2018

Wings Of Resonance

WHERE: Victoria Theatre, 9 Empress Place MRT: Raffles Place

WHEN: Sunday, 4.30 and 8pm

ADMISSION: $18 to $68 from Sistic

INFO: dizisocietysg.wixsite.com/tff2018


GIGS PICKS

Music correspondent Eddino Abdul Hadi recommends:

AT HOME WITH SUNGHA JUNG

South Korean fingerstyle guitarist Sungha Jung found fame through YouTube and his videos have collectively clocked more than 1.5 billion views. The 21-year-old returns to Singapore for a show that is part of his global tour to promote his newest album, Andante.

WHERE: Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, 1 Straits Boulevard

MRT: Tanjong Pagar WHEN: Today, 8pm

ADMISSION: $76 and $96 from Sistic (go to www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)

CLEAN BANDIT LIVE IN SINGAPORE

British classical/electronic pop trio Clean Bandit are back to play a make-up show after they cancelled their performance here in January due to drummer Luke Patterson contracting chickenpox.

The band, also comprising Grace Chatto and Jack Patterson, are known for No. 1 hits like Rather Be, which won Best Dance Recording at the 2015 Grammy Awards. Their collaboration with pop singer Demi Lovato, Solo, is in the pop charts.

WHERE: The Star Theatre, 1 Vista Exchange Green

MRT: Buona Vista WHEN: Wednesday, 8pm

ADMISSION: $68 to $188 from Sistic

WALK THE MOON AT ZEPP @ BIGBOX SINGAPORE

American alternative rock band Walk The Moon, known for hits such as Shut Up And Dance, Anna Sun and One Foot, will play their sophomore show in Singapore. They released their third and most recent album, What If Nothing, last year. They first played here at Fort Canning Park in 2016.

WHERE: Zepp @ Bigbox Singapore,

1 Venture Avenue MRT: Jurong East

WHEN: Thursday, 8pm

ADMISSION: From $65 for single tickets, $59 each for two or more tickets; from Apactix​ (www.apactix.com

RADWIMPS ASIA LIVE TOUR

Japanese rockers Radwimps are returning to Singapore with a show that is part of the Japan Music Festival series of gigs. The band have been making their name in recent years for works such as their soundtrack for acclaimed 2016 animated film Your Name, as well as Human Bloom, their latest album released in the same year.

WHERE: Zepp @ Bigbox Singapore, 1 Venture Avenue

MRT: Jurong East

WHEN: Monday, 8pm

ADMISSION: $98 to $128 from Apactix