Still one of the best ramens out there – Ichiran Ramen

Still one of the best ramens out there – Ichiran Ramen

Fancy a bowl of piping hot soup filled with delicious ramen noodles, slices of chashu (sliced pork), and lots of chili? (I’m leaving out the green onions because that’s just pure decoration to me).

When my family and I first tasted a bowl of this delicious goodness, we were obsessed with it. Out of five nights of our stay in Osaka, Japan back in 2017, we saw ourselves heading back to this Japanese chain thrice. That’s two more times from our intended ‘one ramen meal’.

With it being so special, I’d always try to visit an outlet if it’s available in the city – and they happen to have it in Taipei City!

Let’s break down the contents of this ramen –

  1. The broth is thick and tastes pure – there is little residue stuck in your mouth after you slurp it. This pork-based soup has clearly been boiled for an extensive amount of time and leaves close to no aftertaste boiled soup usually has. Unlike other ramen shops, Ichiran allows you to customise how much seasoning stock and how rich you’d like the soup to be. They have their ‘suggested’ serving but give customers the option of making the soup richer and thicker. I love how I had the option to leave out garlic from my broth as well.
  2. The noodles were nice and firm. It can’t be seen in my order sheet above, but I selected ‘firm’ under my choice of how cooked I wanted my ramen to be. Just think, al dente pasta’s firmness – firm, yet still soft to chew, and gives a better bite.
  3. The chili in the broth was what sealed the deal for me. The chili was not overly salty, and it added a great ‘kick’ to the broth. It neutralised the slightly salted broth and ensured that there was no ‘porky’ taste. For my order, I asked for 4 times the spice level. You can choose up to 10 times the chili level at no additional cost!
  4. The chashu, in my opinion, was just an additional topping which did not add much value to the meal – that’s how great the broth and noodles were for me! The chashu had a slight chew and was well-seasoned. I felt that the slices could have been thicker, but I guess you can just order more chashu if you feel like having more protein in your meal!

All in all, this bowl of ramen cost me around SG$13 and in my opinion, was definitely worth the almost two-hour wait I had on a weekend lunch in Taipei.

Taste: 👍👍👍👍👍

Value: 👍👍👍👍

The light giant

Look at the massive cake

There are pandan cakes. And great pandan cakes. Like everything else, not all pandan cakes taste alike though the ingredients are similar for most.

As someone who has tried baking pandan in my teens, I know that while the recipe seems simple, getting it right is not so easy. After several attempts, I decided that it’s better to buy than bake — eating a good cake makes the calories more worthwhile.

At a recent celebration, I was intrigued by a huge chiffon cake. One bite and I was sold.

So, I had to find out more about it and order it for my family to try.

Turns out it’s called The Giant Chiffon and home-baked by Mama Soh.

According to the website, they “work with local suppliers to source the freshest and most authentic ingredients, and use old-fashioned techniques to ensure the highest quality. The ingredients we use in all our cakes are 100% natural, with no preservatives, no chemical.”

“Our goal is to make your tastebuds happy and your belly dance,” it read.

I like that. I’m no belly dancer but it

We ordered one only — the cake costs S$35 plus $13 for delivery — but couldn’t wait so went to pick it up ourselves.

Here’s what I like about the cake:

  1. Light and fluffy — Getting the cake baked right takes lots of know-how. If not baked properly, pandan cakes can turn out dense or have the bottom denser than the rest of the cake. This cake is just right.
  2. Pinchable — I love it that the cake can be pinched without being squashed.
  3. Rich taste — My tastebuds were certainly happy.
  4. Lovely smell and colour — What’s a pandan chiffon cake without pandan, right? The smell is just nice, without being too overwhelming. And the colour is the right shade of green — neither too light nor dark.
  5. Lasting — Since it doesn’t use preservatives, the cake is best eaten fast. But with its ginormous size, it does require quite an appetitie even for my family of four plus helper to finish it at one or two gos. Even after a few days in the fridge, it still tasted just as good.

At S$35 per cake, it is pricey compared with others in the market. But with all that goodness and the sheer size, this cake is really worth every cent.

Overall, I give this my double thumbs up (top rating). You can order it from The Giant Chiffon to check this out yourself.

Drive hunger away on World Food Day

For a food secure nation like Singapore, it’s hard to imagine that there are people who wonder when their next meal will be. In fact, one in 10 in the island-nation faces food insecurity challenges.

Armed with passion and guts, The Food Bank Singapore (FBSG) has made it its mission to eradicate food insecurity in Singapore.

From October 16 to 18, FBSG is targeting to receive 100 tonnes of food donations for 360 beneficiary organisations that feed more than 300,000 individuals.

It is rallying car owners and clubs to “Drive Hunger Away” by donating, collecting and delivering food items to FBSG on those three days.

“With many unable to work and some losing their jobs during this season, the observance of World Food Day is of extra significance this year as we raise awareness on prevalent hunger issues in Singapore and ensure that vulnerable individuals and families do not go hungry,” said Nichol Ng, Co-founder of FBSG.

Other than staples and non-perishable food items such as rice, oil and preserved food, FBSG is looking for donations of healthier food items such as canned protein, whole wheat products and bread spreads.

Members of the public can make their donations at collection points in malls and Shell petrol kiosks across the island, where cars will collect from and deliver the food items to FBSG.

Among the car clubs that are supporting this initiative are Breakfast Drive by Assure Group Insurance, Eagles Car Club, Jeep Owners Club Singapore, Outlander Passion Club (Mitsubishi), and Tridente Automobili (Maserati).

If you’d like to do your part in tackling food insecurity, contact Margarita Seah at margarita@foodbank.sg by September 30, 2020.

Missing Taiwan? Have the next best thing – A Taiwanese breakfast at Fong Sheng Hao

Missing Taiwan? Have the next best thing – A Taiwanese breakfast at Fong Sheng Hao

Joined the party a little late in discovering a (not-a-new-kid-on-the-block) Feng Sheng Hao – a Taiwanese Sandwich (Toast) joint located at Paya Lebar Quarters.

What started off as a sandwich stall in the famous Shihlin Night Market back in 2013 has evolved to a popular joint here in Singapore, where customers can indulge in Taiwanese-styled sandwiches.

Similar to Ah Seng (Hai Nam) Coffee Stall which prides itself in serving charcoal-grilled toasts, Fong Sheng Hao also goes ‘back-to-basics’ in creating the perfect (albeit rather pricey) sandwich which comprises of fillings that go beyond spreads.

Among the four of us, we ordered three types of sandwiches – Taiwan Special Pork Patty Sandwich, Spicy Pork, Egg and Cheese Sandwich as well as the Pork Floss Egg and Cheese Sandwich. Seen below are half the sandwiches of the Spicy Pork, Egg and Cheese Sandwichand the Pork Floss Egg and Cheese Sandwich.

The Taiwan Special Pork Patty Sandwich consists of a pork patty, cheese and egg. Compared to the Spicy Pork, Egg and Cheese Sandwich which boasts similar ingredients, the Taiwan Special Pork Patty Sandwich, the store’s signature item has a sweeter taste that’s a mix between a Chinese sausage and a Taiwanese sausage.

The Spicy Pork, Egg and Cheese Sandwich had a spicy sauce which had a rather good ‘kick’ – ain’t too spicy, yet it made the sandwich more flavourful. The patty was also on the saltier side. I’d say that this suits a typical Singaporean’s palette.

The Pork Floss Egg and Cheese Sandwich was the most memorable of the lot for me as I it brought back memories of when I had my first solid pork-floss with egg sandwich in Taiwan almost 12 years ago! Stuffed with pork floss, this sandwich has both the sweet and savoury elements to it. This sandwich doesn’t give the same bite as the previous two as it is more ‘airy’ and ‘springy’, which makes it exceptionally nice.

In all honesty, the toasted bread was not too much of a highlight for me, but it was pretty good!

Aside to the sandwiches, we also got the milk tea and a regular coffee. Taiwan’s food chains do serve milk tea on their regular breakfast menus. The breakfast milk tea, however, tastes pretty different to what we’re used to – customized bubble tea. Instead, it’s has a stronger creamer taste and tends to be on the sweeter side. The milk tea from Fong Sheng Hao definitely falls into the ‘breakfast chain-type of milk tea. The coffee was a typical Singapore-style coffee – not fancy, but decent!

Conclusion

This is definitely a nice place to hang out and to savour some Taiwanese toasts. With the limitations of air travel during this period, Fong Sheng Hao really gives the holiday vibes as you eat the Taiwanese breakfast! It is a bit on the pricey side, but I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys savoury breakfasts.

I’d give it a solid 4/5 for its sandwich.

Fun fact: Fong Sheng Hao has been listed Top 10 outstanding Singapore Food Masters in the East Zone by SPH.

What? You burnt my cheesecake?

What? You burnt my cheesecake?

Burnt cheesecake – If you told me that a shop will be serving burnt cheesecake a couple of years ago, I’d wonder why the shop’s still in business. But truth be told, burnt cheesecake is a cheesecake that is toasted (not totally burnt) on the outside.

I was blessed with a Cat & the Fiddle Burnt Cheesecake for my birthday this year, and was surprised at how good it tasted.

Charred on the outside, the char forms a layer of ‘skin’ outside the cheesecake that provides a soft cakey texture on the outside. It does not leave a burnt after taste, and the texture’s pretty good.

This cheese cake is unique because it’s a mix of the jiggly Japanese cheesecake style, with the seemingly creamy texture like a New York cheesecake. The cheese filling has a tangy flavour – perhaps sour cream or lemon juice – which gives it a refreshing taste. The texture of the cake, coupled with the tangy and cheesy flavour makes this cake, delectable.

Interesting knife!

Aside from the cake, the other elements of the Cat & the Fiddle store is also really appealing. The cake is in a plastic container within the box – this ensures that the cake does not stick to the cardboard box, and is easy to store! The knife that came with the cake is of good quality, and bears a unique shape (still practical enough to cut the cake).

Apart from the burnt cheesecake, Cat & the Fiddle has many other flavours available. I’ve had the Milo, Durian, and Oreo cheesecakes (on separate occasions), and all were good. I highly recommend the Milo cheesecake as it is covered in Milo powder too!

If you’re looking for a cheesecake that’s rich, tangy, yet not too overpowering, Cat & the Fiddle’s cheesecakes are a must-try! You can take your time to enjoy the 18 cakes they serve.  Cat & the Fiddle has physical stores in Clarke Quay, Westgate and Junction 8.

In search of cakes

The so irresitible Lady M cakes — original (left) and salted caramel (right)

Cakes have a way of invoking that oh, so good feeling. Once the staple of birthdays and other celebrations, they have become the go-to dessert for any occasion.

In Singapore, we’ve been so blessed by the variety of cakes available — from local bakeries to renowned global cake shops. There’s something for every cake craving, whether it’s Bengawan Solo’s kueh lapis or Lady M’s crepe cakes, which are simply to die for.

Since the circuit breaker measures were put in place, it’s been a frantic search for cakes. And I discovered that I was not alone. “Cake” is the most searched word on qoo10.sg, seemingly more important than “Mask”, which came in 4th.. “Cake delivery” is at number 6.

Cake is the most searched word in qoo10.sg with cake delivery also featuring in the list.

Before I dive any further, this article is NOT about where you can find cakes in Singapore at this point in time. It’s about how we’re yearning for cakes and the last few that we had.

Just prior to the closures, my family and I managed to sink our teeth into a couple of slices of Lady M‘s Mille Crepes (see photo at top). I consider it the western version of Bengawan Solo’s kueh lapis. The crepe cake is rich without being overpowering. Though there are a few types, my favourite is the original, which feature about 20 paper-thin handmade crepes layered with light pastry cream.

Layers of creamy goodies (Source: Lady M)

When all dine-in outlets were closed, we spotted a Bengawan Solo outlet that was open at Jewel and snagged a Chocolate Hazelnut cake. Coated with a layer of chocolate with buttercream in between, this cake is great for any occasion. We still miss the store’s Chocolate Gateau which is no longer available but remains one of our all-time favourites.

Great for any occasion (Source: Bengawan Solo)

Another that I managed to get online was Secret Recipe‘s Chocolate Indulgence. This cake deserves a five-star rating for value for money for its size and height. Underneath its Belgian chocolate coating are layers of milk and white chocolate filling.

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Layers of chocalate decadence (Source: Secret Recipe)

When D-Day (all cake shops to close) arrived, it was a case of desperation setting in. Since no standalone cake shop was supposed to be open, I went online and discoverd Whyzee still had some cakes available plus free delivery for orders above S$80. Shortly after the order was placed, the Chocolate Desire and Tiramisu cakes (why order one when you can have two) was delivered to my place. The cakes are small but dense and rich.

Super quick delivery (Source: Whyzee)

Our final cake for this season came from Four Leaves. And surprisingly, it was discovered during a quick grocery run to Parkway Parade. One of my daughters loves its Coco Exotic cake, which has a layer of feuilletine at its base. This is our last for the season, which we hope will end soon.

Our final cake for this season (hope it ends soon!)

So, over a period of just a few weeks, we have enjoyed some of our favourite cakes.

My search for cakes has ended — for now. As all cake shops and factories have shuttered, whatever is available was made weeks ago so it’s not fresh anymore.

I’ll have to wait for the cake shop closure measure to be lifted, which hopefully is next week.

Three things you can do on a daily basis while social distancing!

Three things you can do on a daily basis while social distancing!

Almost one-third of the world is currently under some form of ‘lockdown’, and here in Singapore, our Circuit Breaker measures are still in full force, which means many are currently working from home and have more time on our hands. Here are some of the things that I’ve come across in recent weeks that may be of interest to you for you to make full use of your time – the three activities mentioned below can be done on a daily basis (even on a workday!) –

Head to the kitchen and prepare a unique cup of coffee for yourself

You may be used to getting your morning dose of coffee outside, but the Dalgona coffee has been making many people learn how to prepare their coffee at home! The craze is still on, and if you’ve not made this wonderful, frothy drink for yourself (think inverted cappuccino – frothed coffee on milk instead of frothed milk on coffee!), why not try it out? Here’s a quick instructional video that has raked 10 million views!

My take on the Dalgona coffee – a simple and delicious recipe

Pick up a course or two online

I’ve posted on online sites where you can pick up courses before, but many do come at a cost. With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging on, many organizations and schools have decided to provide free courses for those who want to learn – and the list of schools includes Harvard University.

Photo by Julia M Cameron  from Pexels

These courses are free, taken on audit – which means you have access to the materials, but will not be provided a certificate at the end of it (to link to your LinkedIn account or as a memento), but you can easily purchase one if you think it will be of value to you! Check over 60 free courses offered by Harvard here – the range is pretty wide and I’m sure you’ll find something that you’re interested in. There’s another site that has more than 1,500 free courses and can be found here.

Do a workout and sweat it out

From classes that help you with your flexibility to Tabata classes that make you ‘sweat it all out’, many classes are easily available online and these are great resources you may want to make use online.

Photo by Li Sun from Pexels

Something fun that can have technology involved is Just Dance Now – you can use your mobile phone as the game control that allows both you and your partner(s) to dance along to songs, it’s a fun and good way to work it out. Alternatively, if you also own a Nintendo Switch, you may want to check out Zumba Burn it Up! – it has full classes that range from 15 to 60 min! I’ve recommended this previously in a post, but it’s so good that I’d highly recommend it again!

#stayhome #staysafe #strongertogether

Three online grocery stores to tide over this Circuit Breaker season! (great price, quality and speed!)

Three online grocery stores to tide over this Circuit Breaker season! (great price, quality and speed!)

The Circuit Breaker measures are taking Singapore by storm, with a new law implemented today which prevents any form of social gathering (if the members of the party are not from the same household) in both public and private areas. While these measures still allow individuals to head out to buy groceries and food, many have turned to get their groceries online – but many are facing delivery slots limitation – so why not try other online stores during this period?

Here are three online grocery sites I’d recommend if you’re in search for options:

Amazon.sg + Prime now

If you have an Amazon prime account, delivery is free on the Amazon.sg site as well as through the Prime Now app. Otherwise, delivery is free on purchases that are more than $40.

One can easily find groceries on Amazon.sg (less fresh food and frozen food), and the user interface makes purchasing of items easy! For fresh and frozen food that require refrigeration, you will have to purchase these items via the Prime now app which allows delivery as soon as two hours. However, delivery slots are currently pretty limited and some items may be out of stock so you’ve got to try your luck there.

I’ve got to say that Amazon has pretty amazing service and the delivery guys are very friendly! Amazon.sg is one of my most go-to sites for groceries!

FoodXervices Inc

This company has served the F&B industry for more than 80 years, as a food distributor that serves the likes of large hotels and restaurants. They have just made their wholesale online store for consumers and this allows consumers to buy many items in bulk (think Costco!) – on top of that, they also provide free delivery on purchases >$60. Delivery slots are also ample. Delivery is the next working day for orders made before 4.30pm on weekdays (and before 12 noon on Saturdays), and two working days for orders otherwise. My family made an order (>$60) after 4.30pm on a weekday and our delivery slot was two working days later – pretty impressed with the slots availability!

Most products are sold in bulk, but consumers have the option of selecting smaller quantities for some products. I’d highly recommend this site for those looking to buy bulk items at a lower cost! They carry many brands and have ample stock on paper products and sanitizers too!

OpenTaste

Mainly for fresh fruits and vegetables, OpenTaste has a wide range of options that are good for families. I’ve ordered from the online store in the past and the items were fresh and delivered on time. This online farmer’s market is a platform where consumers like us can purchase a wide range of farm-fresh products with OpenTaste’s partners (more than 200 of them).

It’s also nice to have bulk purchase discounts, especially if you’re feeding a large family! Fruits also make great snacks – you’ll probably need a lot more now that home-based learning and working from home arrangements are in-force.

I’ve got to say, though, that it is harder to qualify for free delivery (minimum purchase of $150) but if you’re looking to buy from this site on a more regular basis, or if you’re looking to buy more items at once, you can try out OpenTaste premium where an order of $49 and above qualifies for free delivery (subject to a monthly membership fee).

Thoughts

There are many online groceries stores at the moment, and the three I’ve mentioned here are those that I’ve tried and I’d recommend to others as well because of their service, quality and price.

Let’s all help flatten the curve during this season and refrain from heading out yeah!

Eating your way through Queen Victoria Market

Eating your way through Queen Victoria Market

The middle of the city of Melbourne sits Queen Victoria Market – a market that has been in operation since 1878! This attraction not only has an abundance of stalls selling fresh produce, but also specialty products and cafes that are peppered within the 7-hectare land! Dubbed as the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere, Queen Victoria Market is a must-visit for locals and tourists alike.

Queen Victoria Market has various sections, and one of them is the specialty section that sells bags, shoes, road signs (which can also be customized), toys, and more! Souvenirs sold in this section are also really affordable, with t-shirts (the kind that screams ‘I’m a tourist’) going as low as AUD$5. Items here are very unique, but there was a shop that stood out – something that I’ve yet to see in other touristy markets globally – this store sold large images of one’s eyes. I don’t have an image of the store, but here’s the link to the shop, Iris Photo! In this store, one can get your iris taken and when magnified, it makes a really beautiful piece of art.

Another section of the market has a huge range of fresh produce – from organic vegetables to other kinds of fruits and vegetables, this market is a haven for those in search of fresh local produce. Produce here are reasonably-priced, and can be bought by box as well. My family bought a box of 10 mangoes on our last day in Melbourne, and it came in a box that was easy to pack.

In another area of the market lies the poultry and seafood section that sells a wide range of meats and seafood. Many purchase meats for home-cooking, and some of the stalls sell cooked seafood that can be purchased by weight. A highlight of this section (for me) is that one can easily buy a dozen oysters that can be eaten on the spot! A dozen oysters can cost around AUD$18, but do note that you CAN buy half a dozen oysters if you ask the stall holder! The oysters here are so fresh, sweet and juicy that I came back again for another fix of oysters.

Fresh Oysters

While researching on nice places to have coffee around the Melbourne city centre, I read a review that recommended Market Lane Coffee – a small bistro that sold coffee and pastries. I decided to visit it as I saw a long queue at the store (yes, I’m one of those that follows the crowd!) There, I ordered the almond crossaint, danish pastry, a latte and a cappuccino. If you are heading there, I would certainly recommend the almond crossaint and the cappuccino – a light, fluffy pastry with a very solid nutty filling that goes extremely well with a creamy coffee!

Thoughts

I’ve visited Melbourne City a total of three times over the recent years, and I’ve always made it a point to visit the Queen Victoria Market as it never fails to surprise me with local goodies and produce. Go take a look at this gem in the heart of the city!

Tip: If you’re looking to purchase fresh produce at a lower cost, visit the stalls during the closing hours as they tend to drop their prices at the end of the day!

50K meals for needy in Singapore

Source: The Food Bank Singapore

In such trying times, many low-wage earners may have lost their jobs. Food and beverage (F&B) establishments are bleeding as people stay home. Charities are experiencing massive drops in volunteer numbers and donations. Against this dire backdrop, The Food Bank Singapore (FBSG) has come up with Feed the City (Take-Away Edition), a community effort to feed the underprivileged while supporting local eateries.

The idea involves getting donors to pay for meals, food and beverage (F&B) partners to provide cooked meals at special rates, and volunteers to distribute 5,000 meals to needy households island-wide.

First to suppoort this scheme are electric retailer Geneco and online caterer Grain. The initial beneficiaries are expected to be needy senior citizens who do not have a place to gather following the cessation of Senior Activity Centre activities in Singapore.

“FBSG is committed to take on the crucial role during such uncertain times to continuously provide food to vulnerable communities and remain fully operational to ensure no one gets left behind. We are issuing a rallying call to sponsors and F&B outlets to come on board Feed the City (Take-Away Edition),” said Nichol Ng, Co-founder of FBSG.

The programme is expected to last two months but FBSG is prepared to extend it till the DORSCON level returns to green.