Made in Singapore – The Singapore Salad: CNY Yu Sheng Edition

Made in Singapore – The Singapore Salad: CNY Yu Sheng Edition

As Chinese New Year approaches, many of us must’ve started figuring out our feasting plans. While we are limited by the number of houses we can visit and the number of unique visitors per household, I still believe that this season is one that we can all enjoy together – over food (of course).

Yu Sheng (or lo-hei) is such an integral part of our Chinese New Year tradition here in Singapore that I’m sure many of us eagerly anticipate it. While many restaurants and shops provide Yu Sheng, I’d like to introduce The Singapore Salad: CNY Yu Sheng Edition, which was recently released by Backyard Productions.

The CNY Yu Sheng Edition of the Singapore Salad includes a bag of locally grown Singapore greens, smoked barramundi, red radish, kale, and Crusty’s soy skin crisp. Chef Haikal Johari, a local Michelin-star chef, created the sauce just for this dish.

While this may not appear to be your typical Yu Sheng, it did contain the essential ingredients: colourful vegetables, raw fish, sweet and tangy sauce, and crunchy garnishes. We could tell the difference when I ‘lo-hei’ed’ this entire plate of goodies — there weren’t any shredded carrots or salt and pepper, but it was still a good toss.

The Singapore Salad: Yu Sheng Edition Toss

The Singapore salad with kale and red radish was crunchy and refreshing to the taste. The sauce was delicious! I was worried that the sauce would be insufficient, but the vegetables were delicious when combined with the sauce, smoked barramundi, and soy skin crisps (crunchy taukee).

This Yu Sheng version of the Singapore salad appealed to me since I knew all of the ingredients were sourced from local farms. These local farmers are constrained by Singapore’s resources, but they’ve done an excellent job of cultivating our local crops. So, as we continue to keep our lo-hei tradition in Singapore, we can do so with pride and joy thanks to this local product.

Image credit: Backyard Productions

If you are keen on getting it, you can order a set here for S$30.80 or purchase it directly at XPACE Xupper Club @ 218 Pandan Loop from January 14 to February 15, 2022.

Rolling into the new year with some Rolling Rolling cinnamon rolls!

Rolling into the new year with some Rolling Rolling cinnamon rolls!

A friend of mine made me some lovely cinnamon rolls earlier in October, and since then, I’ve been having lots of cravings for it. Another friend then decided to introduce one of the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever tasted before – Rolling Rolling 捲捲人生 in Taipei and I’d hands-down recommend to ANYONE who likes (or doesn’t like) cinnamon rolls.

Rolling Rolling @ Taipei Main Station

There are two outlets in Taipei – one in Taipei Main Station (Level 1) and one in Zhongxiao Fuxing’s Sogo (Basement 1).

The outlet in Taipei Main Station has a consistent long queue, and I’ve queued for an hour in that outlet before. Fresh rolls come out on the hour, and the options you have left are pretty limited if you happen to be at the end of the queue. However, the outlet in Zhongxiao Fuxing often has a much shorter queue and often has more options when there.

But let’s get on with the actual cinnamon rolls. The store has many flavours, including the classic original roll (109 NTD = 5.30 SGD), toffee , strawberry (Both 119 NTD/each= 5.85 SGD) and a couple more. The ones listed here are the ones I’ve eaten, and all were amazing.

Each cinnamon roll is well-buttered – it was savoury, buttery, and dusted with just the right amount of cinnamon powder. It wasn’t overly sweet and had a very slight aftertaste to it. The best part of it was the walnuts rolled into the bun itself – the walnuts give the rolls a fantastic crunch. For the caramel, coffee and strawberry rolls, the toppings were mainly on the top of the roll and gave it a slightly different taste.

Filled with Walnuts!

I’ve had many cinnamon rolls that are either too dry, have too much cinnamon powder, or have insufficient fillings. The cinnamon rolls from Rollin’ Rollin’ are right up my alley because of how buttery, sweet and savoury it is. Most importantly, this cinnamon roll does not have an overpowering cinnamon taste.

I’d highly recommend the classic original roll, but if you like your cinnamon rolls to be a bit stickier, sweeter or have some berries on it, the other flavours are great alternatives too!

If you’re having a bad day, this cinnamon roll may be the thing that brightens up your day! I bought 20 cinnamon rolls for my friends on Thanksgiving, and every single one of them loved it – even the ones who aren’t fans of cinnamon rolls.

You definitely have to give this a try if you’re around Taipei!

Bite feel: 👍👍👍👍👍

Look: 👍👍👍👍👍 (There’s individual packaging available!)

Value: 👍👍👍👍

Overall: 👍👍👍👍👍

Popcorn for (almost) all tastes

Popcorn for (almost) all tastes

Think of popcorn and I think of going to the cinema. Popcorn plus drink and watching a movie go hand in hand. And it conjures a happy feeling because it means a time of relaxation, being entertained and indulging in the snack.

When given the opportunity to review The Kettle Gourmet’s popcorns, I was expecting to just do a taste test of the two familiar flavours — saltish or sweet (just like at the cinema counter).

I was blown away when the packages arrived with each box containing eight different flavours. Each is a unique taste, some very Singaporean — chilli crab, chicken floss, chocolate, fish head curry, kaya butter toast, nasi Lemak, pulut hitam, and salted caramel.

It’s hard to fathom how the local flavours will taste as a popcorn — my head’s still wrapped around just saltish or sweet popcorn.

This is not a job to be done alone (can’t afford to consume so much) so I got the family to take part in the taste test. What stood out in common are that the popcorns are crunchy and have a good bite feel. That’s our preference as we would rather each such popcorn instead of the soft and chewy version.

In terms of taste, different ones have different preferences.

One was intrigued by the chicken floss flavour, which is caramel coated and mostly sweet. Only wish is to have more chicken floss.

Another liked the curry fish head version, which is mildly spicy, adding a nice kick to the popcorn.

The pulut hitam popcorn looks and tastes like pulut hitam. It has a milky taste and strong flavour, dividng opinions in our family.

More than the flavours, The Kettle Gourmet’s offerings score on creativity.

  1. Packaging — We love the packaging and the fact that parts are perforated and can be repurposed as Christmas decor. It’s simply brilliant and so thoughtful. Also, the brightly coloured boxes make lovely gift packs for giving as presents, giving a happy feel to the recipient.
  2. Size — The packs come in handy sizes with the 30g version fitting nicely into the palm of the hand. Additional, they are resealable with a ziplock so one is not compelled to finish everything at one go.
  3. Well-curated — The flavours offer a mix of sweet and savoury so there’s something for everyone.

The Kettle Gourmet’s snack pack of eight flavours come in two sizes — classic with eight 65g packs (S$40) and mini with eight 30g packs (S$24). They make great Christmas gifts for families and groups of friends, who can hold a tasting session to see who likes what.

Verdict

Taste: Hard to grade because of individual preferences

Bite feel: 👍👍👍👍

Look: 👍👍👍👍👍

Value: 👍👍👍👍

Overall: 👍👍👍👍

Meatless meats, healthy alternatives

Meatless meats, healthy alternatives

Alternative meats are gaining greater visibility as more brands start rolling out their versions of the products. Besides being environmentally friendly, they are claimed to be healthier and do not compromise on taste.

Being a true carnivore, I am a little apprehensive about these as I really prefer the real bite feel, juiciness and chewiness of my meats. When Ayam Brand’s public relations agency sent the yumeat plant-based luncheon meat and minced meat with bean paste for testing, I adopted a wait-and-see approach.

Packaging wise, the two canned products look like regular items on the shelf. What stood out were the words “plant-based”.

It is understandable that these two items have been chosen as among the first to be released. Luncheon meat is popular for eating any time of the day and goes well with a variety of staples. Minced meat with bean paste is something which I have brought along on my travels, especially to Western countries where eating out can be expensive and spicy food hard to find.

The truth is in the pudding, or in this instance, eating the plant-based meats. I had them cooked for dinner, paired with white rice.

Plant-based luncheon meat: The air-fried luncheon meat looks like the real thing, except perhaps for the colour. It looked more brownish than pinkish. Smell-wise, it has the same aroma of luncheon meat. In terms of taste, the texture was softer compared to meat-based version, sort of more jelly feel.

Plant-based minced meat with bean paste: This is probably more authentic in terms of looks and taste. After all, bean paste is bean paste. This is a mite saltish so eating it with rice made it more edible. I won’t recommend having this on its own — complement with rice, bread or noodles.

While it’s hard for me to give up the original version, especially the luncheon meat because of bite feel, yumeat does have its merits.

  1. They are cholesterol free. Say “Hello” to guilt-free eating!
  2. They are healthier. Works great for the health-conscious who want the taste but not the cholesterol, MSG, GMO, antibiotics, sodium nitrite, and other preservatives.
  3. They are affordable. S$2.95 each for the 190g version.
  4. They are easily available. Get from more than 30 FairPrice Finest and Xtra supermarkets.

If you’ve not tried a plant-based meat product, these are great to start with. I’m thinking of getting the plant-based minced meat with bean paste for my next trip to Europe. Don’t want to risk bringing it into the US, in case it gets confiscated by customs for having the word “meat”.

Verdict

Taste: 👍👍👍

Bite feel: 👍👍👍

Look: 👍👍👍

Value: 👍👍👍

Overall: 👍👍👍

It’s a(bao)t to get Bao-werful

It’s a(bao)t to get Bao-werful

If you’ve been to Hualien, you’ve probably heard of the famous 公正包子 (Gong Zheng Bao Zi). It’s so popular that it has a whopping 14,000 reviews on Google alone! I’ve tried out the buns on multiple occasions, and I had to try it again on a recent trip to Hualien. 

Unlike the Xiao Long Bao (小籠包) in Singapore refers to the hot soupy pork dumpling, Xiao Long Bao in Taiwan is just a pork bun. The hot soupy pork dumpling is called 小籠湯包 or Xiao Long Tang Bao in Taiwan. So imagine my horror when I first ordered the bun six years ago and got an entire tray of pork buns. 

But back to the Xiao Long Bao from 公正包子. The meat is rich and juicy, and each bun is served piping hot from the steamer. The skin is on the thicker side (see the top of the bun) but has a pleasant taste to it. It complements exceptionally well with the pork filling, which is a very well-compressed meatball. The sweet juices from the pork also make the filling moist and make the whole bun very tasty. 

Apart from the Xiao Long Bao, this shop also sells dumplings. Each dumpling’s filling is similar to the bun’s fillings but in a much smaller amount. The skin was also on the thicker side but was still really good. The garlic soy sauce is also a must-add when eating this! 

Interestingly, 公正包子 is next to a 周家蒸餃 (Zhou Jia Zheng Jiao), a shop that has almost an identical menu – same items, same price. 

I preferred the skin of the Xiao Long Bao from 周家蒸餃 as it was slightly thinner than the ones from 公正包子. However, in terms of taste, it was highly similar. The filling from 周家蒸餃 was also a little less compressed than the ones from 公正包子 and seemed to have a higher fat content – it was, therefore, a lot juicier. It also had more chives which gave it a sweet hint. The dumplings tasted the same to me – and the sauce was almost the same too! 

I know most people recommend 公正包子because it seems to be the longer-standing one, but I prefer 周家蒸餃because the buns are sweeter. The queue for the former is longer, so honestly choosing 周家增加also makes sense for me – the buns are nicer, and the queue’s shorter! 

Both shops are good so why not try them if you’re around this (Bao)werful area!  Each bun costs 5 NTD (SGD 0.24), and each tray of dumplings (10 pieces) costs 30 NTD (SGD 1.46) at both 公正包子 and 周家蒸餃。

Address

公正包子
No. 199-2, Zhongshan Rd, Hualien City, Hualien County, 970
Tel: 038342933
Hours: 08:00–20:00

周家蒸餃
No. 4-20 Gongzheng Street , Hualien City, Hualien County, 970
Tel: 03 835 0006
Hours: 00:00 – 23:59

Amorecookies – A Chewy Affair

Amorecookies – A Chewy Affair

Instagram ads can be somewhat bothersome sometimes, but the fact is we can see these ads because we fit their target group. Let’s just say that the ads worked for these cookies I’m talking about today.

Amorecookies is a Singapore-based shop that begun during the Circuit Breaker season last year. What started of as a way to bless her friends, these baked goods were eventually sold to us, the masses.

Each box came with six cookies ($19.90) and a card that had the name of cookies stamped on it. For this box of cookies, it contained the Nutella Lava, Fudgy Double Chocolate, Cranberry Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip Walnut cookies.

So now for the flavour of the cookies:

  • Nutella Lava – chewy chocolate texture and not overly sweet. Realized that I should have really heated it up before eating it as the Nutella wasn’t in a ‘lava’ form. It was better once we heated it up!
  • Fudgy Double Chocolate – on a slightly sweeter side and was on the chewy side as well. I’d choose the Nutella Lava version over this but that’s because I love Nutella!
  • Chocolate Chip Walnut – it didn’t have a lot of walnuts, but the contrasting taste between the chocolate chips and walnut was nice. The different textures also made the cookie stand out.
  • Cranberry Oatmeal – this is a good cookie if you’re not a fan of chocolate! Oatmeal cookies sometimes taste a bit too healthy, but this was actually pretty good!

We made a mistake when initially heating the cookies and ended up burning the chocolate in the microwave oven. The cookies were burnt and nearly inedible. So, follow the instructions on the card, but choose the air fryer option instead!

If you are a fan of chewy cookies, you can check this place out! They offer free delivery for orders above $55 too! As I’m writing this, I can’t help but think of the DrKitchen’s SBB Brownies – go check that out too if you haven’t!

TAIPEI FINDS: Mi Yue Mochi Tang (米玥麻糬堂)

TAIPEI FINDS: Mi Yue Mochi Tang (米玥麻糬堂)

Mochi comes in many forms – some classify mochi as muah-chee (where it’s a flour ball coated with stuff), or there’s mochi that has filling inside. Hailing from Taichung, Mi Yue Mochi Tang opened a store in Taipei City earlier this year. It usually draws a queue in Taichung, so I was pleased to find it on UberEats in Taipei.

In my order, I decided to try three flavours of mochi – the classic peanut mochi (23NTD; $1.10 SGD), milk tea (tie guan yin) mochi (35NTD; $1.70 SGD), and a taro salted egg mochi (35NTD; $1.70 SGD). Do note that these prices are UberEats prices – it’s around 5NTD cheaper per mochi if you buy it from the store directly!

Before I comment on the taste of the mochi, I’d like to compliment the excellent packaging this shop has. Customers can choose between white rabbit packaging or a ‘medicine pack’ packaging if they purchase at least four mochis – and that’s what I did – to get the cute packaging. I chose the ‘medicine pack’ packaging, which was well-packed in a small bundle. When I got my delivery, I was so tickled that it looked like an actual Chinese medicine pack:

The skin of the mochi isn’t flavoured (slightly sweet) and was consistent across all mochis. What I like was that the mochi was chewy yet thin enough. I’ve eaten many mochis where the skin was so thick that it tasted rubbery. This mochi skin is light, soft and chewy – and it doesn’t break easily. It complemented the fillings well.

The classic peanut mochi – the peanut with sugar gave the mochi a good crunch; the different sizes of crushed peanuts gave the mochi a good texture. It was not too sweet and was very satisfying. The mochi was stuffed with peanuts – it was so good.

The milk tea (tie guan yin) mochi – the paste inside consists of ‘tie guan yin’, bean and milk paste. It wasn’t blended and instead was layered within the mochi. If you like the filling of typical mooncakes, you’d like this. I felt that the taste of the filling was a tad too strong. Unlike the peanut mochi that had different textures, eating this mochi felt like eating a snow-skin mooncake. It was good, but perhaps I’d instead share it with a friend next time – one is too much for a single sitting.

The taro salted egg mochi – the taro paste was slightly sweet, and the ‘powdered’ salted egg yolk filling was nicely salted that wasn’t too salty. The contrast in flavour is good, and the different textures with the soft mochi skin made it a nice snack.

If you’re around Taichung or Taipei City, I’d recommend you to try it out. From the excellent variety in flavours to how good it tasted, it’s a worthwhile snack.

Verdict

Classic Peanut Mochi – 👍👍👍👍👍

Tie Guan Yin Mochi – 👍👍

Taro Salted Egg Mochi – 👍👍👍👍

Dr.Kitchen’s SBB – the blackest brownies ever

Dr.Kitchen’s SBB – the blackest brownies ever

We previously covered a review of some really delicious brownies, and as we go on to the another brownie review, here’s a local gem that we’ve uncovered.

Dr.Kitchen, a home bakery, offers a variety of desserts such as brownies, fruit cakes, sable cookies, and durian puffs. It has amassed more than 8,000 Instagram followers and regularly shows behind-the-scenes of the kitchen.

They take pride in utilising only the highest quality chocolate in their famous brownies. The So Black Brownies (SBB) brownies are the darkest brownies I’ve ever seen – and boy, do they taste amazing.

There are several variations to the brownies, including hazelnut Nutella, malden sea salt, and lotus speculoos. Their brownies menu is as seen below.

Dr.Kitchen SBB Menu as of Aug 2021

I’ve tried the three mentioned above and each brownie stood out differently.

Hazelnut Nutella – soft fudgey inside with molten Nutella (when eaten warm). It is not overly sweet and the richness of the dark chocolate complements the sweet Nutella filling. The hazelnuts sprinkled on the top are also generously distributed, making each bite wonderful.

Malden Sea Salt – a must if you are a fan of sea salt chocolate. The contrast of the saltiness and sweetness of the brownie is good. The saltiness is a little overpowering for me, but it is overall a great brownie to eat too!

Lotus speculoos – the gooiness of the chocolate and speculoos was smooth and it similarly had a good contrasting taste to the brownie itself. The biscuit crumbs (and half a biscuit at the top) added a nice crunch to it but I personally found it a little sweet (others loved it though!).

My family and I also tried their fruit cake, but I found it a little too dense for my taste (it’s great for people who prefer rich and dense fruit cakes, though!).

For additional information, see Dr.Kitchen’s Instagram feed. This bakery also provided wedding favors at a recent wedding I attended, and all of the attendees (including myself) raved about it.

Best wedding favours ever!

The SBB from Dr.Kitchen is by far the finest I’ve had in recent years, and I’d recommend it to friends at any time. It also makes an excellent gift!

Verdict: 👍👍👍👍👍

Mini Nasi Lemak from Ah Miao’s Kitchen

Mini Nasi Lemak from Ah Miao’s Kitchen

I recently stumbled upon an article about Ah Miao’s Kitchen, a home-based nasi lemak business, and decided to give it a shot. $1 mini nasi lemak isn’t typical in Singapore, and the photos in the article and on their Facebook page looked delicious. Interestingly, their page was only launched on July 16, 2021, and I was pleased to support this small business near my hood. 

The Malaysian-style nasi lemak is served with coconut rice, a slice of hard-boiled egg, Ikan Bilis, and a choice of sambal shrimps, sambal sotong or sambal Ikan Bilis. 

When I tried placing my order via WhatsApp late at night, I initially didn’t get a response and decided to give them a call to place my order. They were accommodating and allowed us to put our order three days before collection. Collection of the nasi lemak was at the driveway of Block 527A Pasir Ris Street 51, and although we ordered five packets of each of the choices, they were sadly unable to provide us with the sambal sotong version. We ended up collecting ten packets of sambal shrimp nasi lemak and five packets of sambal Ikan Bilis nasi lemak. 

Each packet is palm-sized and is pretty packed with coconut rice and a decent portion of ingredients (by decent, I mean decent for the price). When we called to ask, we were told that an average adult portion is around three packets of nasi lemak. 

The coconut rice was cooked using short-grain rice and was very fragrant. The coconut smell was stronger than the taste on the rice (still lovely, though!). The sambal shrimp was good – there was a good number of small shrimps, with one bigger shrimp there (bottom left image) The taste of the sambal was not too spicy and had a rich, strong flavour. I’d prefer it they gave slightly more sambal to go with the rice, though! The Ikan Bilis was also good, and the contrast of taste of the sambal and Ikan Bilis complemented the coconut rice well (bottom right image).

Mini nasi lemak is such a novel idea because it allows us to try many different flavours at a low cost. It makes an excellent treat for a party (when the COVID-restrictions are eased). I believe in supporting small businesses, and if you stay nearby, why not support Ah Miao’s Kitchen! The food’s good and their service is good too! You may want to check their Facebook page out on the ordering process, as it seems that they are pretty much booked out now. 

Verdict

Value: 4/5; Taste: 4/5

Are you nuts over nuts? [Three Squirrels Box of Nuts]

Are you nuts over nuts? [Three Squirrels Box of Nuts]

If you enjoy nuts, you’ve probably heard of Three Squirrels (三只松鼠), a Chinese company that sells exceptionally fresh tasting nuts. An ex-colleague introduced me to this brand after she brought it back from a business trip to China, and I haven’t looked back since. So, when my family and I traveled to China in 2018, we made a point of visiting their store just to purchase the nuts as gifts for relatives and friends back home. Fast forward to 2021, when many of us are still working from home and the need to munch has risen.

My dad found the Three Squirrels box of nuts (每日坚果) that comes with 30 individual packets. These snacks have been highly appreciated at home, with all of us going back for more each time.

Each packet has 6 different kinds of nuts (almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts and cashew nuts) as well as 3 kinds of dried fruits (blueberries, raisins and cranberries). The six types of high-energy nuts take up at least 65% of the packet.

Another box variant comes with 4 different kinds of nuts and 4 kinds of dried fruits. We prefer the former but will go for the latter if we want more dried fruits.

Here’s why we keep going back for more:

It’s healthy

Compared to other snacks, these nuts and fruits are definitely healthier options. As it’s not fried, and unsalted, these make great healthy snacks.

It’s individually portioned

It’s easy to control the quantity as well because it’s well-packed individually.

The nuts and fruits are fresh and excellent

The nuts and fruits are fresh and excellent. The nuts and fruits are packed in two compartments in each packet, keeping them fresher and less sticky. Before eating, just tear down the centre and shake the pack of nuts to ensure a proper mix.

Conclusion

If you like variety and are looking for nutritious snacks, this package of 30 packets of nuts may be precisely what you need. Each box is supposed to last one month (30 days), but if you’re anything like us, you could find up nibbling on two packets a day instead.