Spicy Black Bean Paste Chicken with Mango

I've never posted recipes of homecooked food before. People who read my blog have asked me if i cook, and for the record, i do. I just can't be bothered to. We live in a city that has an overwhelming number of good AND cheap food places, and if you're cooking for 2, you invariably end up spending more on groceries than if you were to go to the hawker centre to eat. Plus, the BF hates washing up (because I cook, he cleans, it's fair share of the work, don't you think?).

This is why I relish invites to my friends' homes for some sorely-missed wholesome home-cooked food.

The BF and I went to Ms PR's home for a dinner party, and we were pampered with really yummy food whipped up by the chef. Her husband is a very very VERY lucky man with a gem of a find. It's so rare to find an educated, successful and perfectly lovely local girl that can cook. I mean, how many Singaporean girls can cook?!

I'm going to post up the 1 recipe that I managed to wrangle from her. Like most good cooks, she's fiercely protective of her recipes.

200g Chicken, Chopped
1 tbsp Black Bean Paste
1 Bell Pepper (red or green or yellow), Diced
1 Red Chilli, Sliced
Half a mango, Diced
Pinch of Sugar

1) Marinade the chicken with the black bean paste, crush the black beans to release flavour, leave in refrigerator for an hour
2) Heat tbsp of oil in hot wok till smoking
3) Add in marinated chicken and stir-fry till cooked
4) Add sliced chilli and pinch of sugar for taste
5) Add water if necessary
6) Dump in the mangoes just before serving

Voila! 6 simple steps for a yummy dish.


Warung Lele Restaurant

I met up with Jal for lunch. Since the last time I saw him at Gayatri, he's added another son to his young family. Naturally, his evenings and weekends are completely occupied, and so, we meet up for lunches instead. The irony about him is although he's the quintessential rubber-faced funnyman who always seems to draw and attract the limelight, he's actually an introvert who's very private about his life. Although we've got completely differing viewpoints on almost every aspect of our lives, love, work, family, money, even religion, I love that we still totally get each other and share everything about our lives without ever being judgmental.

We went to Warung Lele for lunch, an Indonesian restaurant that used to be at Kandahar Street.  It's now at 8 Shenton Way and it's perpetually packed at lunch. Service is efficient and business is brisk. The restaurant is relatively bare, minimal, no-fuss, almost clinical, with tables jammed so close, if not for the very boisterous noise level of the small-ish space, you can practically hear the next table's conversation without even trying to eavesdrop. Food is reasonable and quite fair. We liked it.

We got the 2 person Set B at $32. We started off with a Nila Goreng ($22 normal ala carte price) Warung Lele's Famous "Flying" Deep Fried Nila fish, intricately plated, golden and crispy, with moist, clear fish meat inside.

The Ayam Kalio ($7.50 usual ala carte price) Padang style curry chicken, was a creamy, rich and spicy concoction with plentiful chicken pieces.

The Kailan Tiram ($7 usual ala carte price) Stir Fried Kailan was really too oily, but at least it wasn't soggy or limp.

The Kue Talam Singkong ($2 usual ala carte price) is a colourful Malay kueh, sticky, mild and slightly sweet, with pandan lending fragrance.

Some Fruits (Watermelon and Honeydew) to round off the yummy meal.

Warung Lele Restaurant Pte Ltd
8 Shenton Way
#01-16 & #01-19
Tel: 6423 1552
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 11.30am to 2.30pm and from 6pm to 10pm
Closed on Sun and Public Holidays


Hawaiian BBQ Buffet

For the Firm's Anniversary Celebrations, we held a Brazilian Beach Party at Sentosa's Tanjong Beach. A big marquee was set up, fire-twirlers were brought in for entertainment, and a full-service outdoor barbecue was catered, with individual food stations cooked a la minute.

We'd catered from Hawaiian BBQ ($50 per person) for an event 2 years ago, so I had very high expectations for dinner that night. Unless I remembered wrongly, the offerings that balmy night just wasn't as great as 2 years ago at a garden party. There were as many misses as there were hits.

We started off with Tropical Iced Tea served with Fresh Pineapple, topped off with a pretty orchid, refreshingly cool in the heat of the evening sun.

It wasn't all meat and heavy carbs that night. As you can see, we had a healthy dose of Vegetables as well.

The Mesculn Mix was crisp and crunchy, with cherry tomatoes lending a tart sweetness.

The Coleslaw Mix with salad dressing on the side wasn't my favourite thing, but it was really a preference thing, and not a quality thing.

The Macaroni Mayo Salad & Short Pasta Salad (with olive oil & nuts dressing) wasn't as limp as I'd expected, having been left out for a while. The pasta was still a little chewy and had a little bite.

The Exotic Fresh Fruit Mega Platter was a towering creation of tropical island delights, dragonfruit, pineapples, oranges, apples, watermelons and pears. Sweet and refreshing.

The Smoked Whole Lamb Carcass, roasting on a spit, was a crowd winner. Fresh, devoid of the gamey taste, and robust.

The Square Cut Sirloin Steak, in contrast, was gamey and quite chewy. As The Professor would say, "very smelly".

I loved the Huli Huli Chicken. This was easily my favourite roast of the dinner, juicy, succulent and wonderfully herbed and flavoured.

The Huli Huli Chicken on the rotisserie.

The BBQ Jumbo Chicken Wings paled in comparison to the Huli Huli Chicken. This was tasteless and still bloody near the bone.

The Jumbo Hot Dog with meat bolognaise sauce was good, but I skipped the buttered buns as they were such a stomach filler.

The Bell Pepper, Squash, Onion, Egg Plant, Tomatoes & Mushroom Skewer was my favourite vegetable, perfectly softened with just that right amount of crunch. Like satay, only healthier.

The Butter & Garlic Spice Large Prawn wasn't great, the prawns weren't sweet or fresh enough.

The Signature Tomato Beef Stew fared better than the sirloin. Robust, rich, subtly spiced and flavoursome.

The Blue Hawaii Punch, despite its artificial alien-like bright hue, was not too sweet. It reminded me of those 10 cents coloured drinks you get at the school canteen when growing up.

The Chicken Satay was also very good, spiced, juicy, and tender.

The Mutton Satay wasn't my favourite, mostly because I'm not a fan of mutton.

Hawaiian BBQ
Tel: 9851 0989
Email: hawaiian_bbq@yahoo.com


Sushi Tei, China Square Central

I was craving deep-fried foods, and who does deep-fried foods better and more healthy than the Japanese? So off we went to Sushi Tei at China Square. This is about the only outlet that doesn't have a waiting time of 30-45 minutes, unlike their Raffles City or Playground @ Big Splash branches.

I got the Tonkatsu ($9) a very moist and tender Pork Cutlet, well-marinated with nicely-crisped crumbed skin

I liked the Potato Croquette ($3.20) so much, I promptly ordered another one after a bite.

A bite through the crisp breadcrumbs, and you get a soft mashed potato filling, chunked up with corn nibblets, peas and diced carrots.

We liked the Potato with Chicken Curry ($8). Thick potato wedges, soft carrot slices with succulent chicken pieces drenched in a sweetish, thick, mildly spiced curry gravy, this was really quite palatable.

Sushi Tei
20 Cross Street
China Square Central
Tel: 6223 0070
Open daily from 11.30am to 10pm (last order 9.30pm)
Website: www.sushitei.com/


Crystal Jade Kitchen, Suntec City Mall

I've read somewhere that stress is a major cause of overeating. It's totally true! It's been absolutely madness at work and you wouldn't believe the cravings I get. Just the other day, I was hankering for some dim sum. So off we went to Crystal Jade Kitchen at Suntec for lunch.

The BF mistakenly ordered the Deep-fried Dried Beancurd Skin with Pepper & Salt ($5.50). He thought it was the deep-fried cubed beancurd with pepper and salt. Ahh well, wrong order notwithstanding, I liked this. The outer beancurd skin was crisp, whereas the inside layers were still chewy and soft.

We got the ubiquitous Steamed Pork with Crab Roe Dumpling "Siew Mai" ($4.30), bouncy, juicy and succulent.

I got the Roasted Duck with Hor Fan in Soup ($6.80), with slurpilicious smooth flat rice noodles in a comforting light prawn-based broth.Though I'm not that huge a fan of the shrimpish soup base, the plain rice noodles helped absorb the salt content of and balanced out the soup.

The Conpoy with Chive Thick Soup ($7.80) was so mild it was almost bland, but with a hint of the dried scallops and julienned black fungus providing some crunch and texture. Not my favourite soup.

We loved the Beansprouts Sauteed with Minced Garlic ($10.80). Simplicity at its best. The properly cleaned beansprouts were crunchy and slightly smoky with "wok hei", and subtly flavoured with aromatic minced garlic.

The thing we noticed about the Braised Beancurd with Assorted Mushroom ($10.80) was that it was the same price as the sauteed beansprouts, which made us feel that the beansprouts, while yummy, was a tad overpriced. Still, I liked the abundance of shimeiji, white button and Chinese black varieties of mushrooms in this savoury dish.

Crystal Jade Kitchen
3 Temasek Boulevard,
B1-013, Suntec City Mall
Tel: 6338 3511
Open daily, 11am to 10.30pm
Website: www.crystaljade.com


Starbucks Coffee, DBS Tower II

Ms PR and I shared the New York Cheesecake ($6.30) for dessert. I was PMS-ing and she was craving something sweet. This was dense and rich, with a naunced sweetness and creaminess so you don't feel too heavy (and guilty!) afterwards.

Mr Harvest-The-Crops got a Chocolate Chunk Cookie ($3.90) for dessert instead, which Ms PR happily helped eat. Both are chocolate lovers, whereas chocolate gives me headaches.

This was crumbly, buttery, with plentiful semi-melted bittersweet chocolatey chunks.

Starbucks Coffee
DBS Tower II
6 Shenton Way
Tel: 6223 1657
Open from Mondays to Fridays from 7am to 9pm
Saturdays from 7.30am to 5pm
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays
Website: www.starbucks.com.sg


Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao, Suntec City Mall

We stopped by here for a quick tea break while grocery shopping at Suntec.

We started off with a Drunken Chicken with Wolfberry and Huai Shan ($7.50), served refreshingly chilled. The heady hint of alcohol, the subtle sweetness of wolfberries and the bitter huai shan herb was a balance of flavours with the juicy chicken. This was the BF's first time trying the classic Shanghainese appetizer and he loved it.

We also had the Sauteed Beansprout with Pork and Salted Fish ($10.80), crunchy and mild, lightly flavoured with peppery capsicums and re-hydrated dried salted fish.

I couldn't resist the Double-Boiled Chicken Soup ($7.50), delicate and light, a steaming hot concoction of simple comfort food.

Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao
3 Temasek Boulevard #B1-028
Suntec City Mall
Tel: 6337 6678
Open daily from 11am to 10pm
Website: www.crystaljade.com



I had a particularly grueling week at work, and so, I surrounded myself with good friends this weekend to unwind. I met with Kong for dinner after work and headed to Jing at One Fullerton, just a hop and a skip away from my office, for some contemporary Chinese food. 

Jing is the second restaurant opened by the people (chef Yong Bing Ngen and hotelier Loh Lik Peng) behind the award-winning, much lauded Majestic Restaurant. With such stellar pedigree, comparisons between the 2 restaurants are bound to be drawn. Unfortunately, this Marina Bay waterfront restaurant is a far cry from its predecessor. We both felt the food was really just a-okay, not bad but definitely not great, and just wasn't worth the price-tag. Service was also not as efficient or knowledgeable as the stylishly-clad ones at Majestic. This was evinced by the barely-occupied restaurant as opposed to a full-house capacity at Majestic.

We got a Seafood Fried Noodles ($26), which was pretty much the same standard as the one offered at Crystal Jade Kitchen, but at almost twice the price. Still, this was one of the better dishes of the dinner, seafood was fresh, succulent and sweet.

We also ordered the Sauteed Kailan in Garlic ($22), topped with roasted pinenuts and coated with a garlicky, oyster-soy seasoning. This was alright, but we both thought $22 for a plate of greens was fairly excessive.

The Sweet Corn Soup with Minced Chicken ($15) was a letdown, it was too starchy and heavy, and I couldn't taste the natural sweetness of the corn. This paled in comparison to the one at Imperial Treasure, which was compounded by the fact that the Imperial Treasure version is more than half the price of Jing's.

I preferred the clear Double-Boiled Winter Melon Soup with Mushroom ($15), though the soup base wasn't as delicate as I'd like. The premium ingredients of shimeiji mushrooms and white fungus made up for the lacking depth in the soup though.

One Fullerton Road
One Fullerton
Tel: 6224 0088
Open daily from 11.45am to 3pm for lunch and 6.30pm to 11pm for dinner
Website: www.jing.sg


Imperial Treasure Teochew Cuisine, Ngee Ann City

Note: it's moved to ION Orchard here.

I had a quick dinner with Cho here before drinks with the BF at The Wine Company. Cho had a family dinner but he was so sweet to rush down after the dinner to keep me company and watch me eat because the BF was busy at the gym. How lovely are my friends huh.

The Braised Beancurd with Assorted Mushroom & Spinach ($14) was really yummy, like the braised homemade tofu with monkey's head mushroom at Cherry Garden. But at a fraction of the price. The smooth and soft beancurd, sitting on a bed of mashed spinach was flash-fried for a crisp skin texture. Add lashings of shimeiji mushrooms, par-boiled spinach and a liberal slathering of a gooey oyster sauce gravy and you get a healthy protein-rich vegetable dish.

At the waitress' recommendation, I got the Double-Boiled Fish Maw Soup with Shark's Cartilage ($25), delicate yet rich in depth and flavour. I liked that this collagen-rich soup didn't leave that thin milky film on the tongue.

The Honey Dew Sago ($4) was a refreshingly sweet end to a simple and light meal.

Imperial Treasure Teochew Cuisine
391 Orchard Road
Ngee Ann City
Tel: 6736 2118
Open daily from 11.30am to 2.30pm for lunch and 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner


The Wine Company, Evans Lodge

Although I'd driven past The Wine Company along Evans Road (opposite the current NUS Law School), numerous times, I've never thought to pop in. You see, I'm not much of a wine drinker. Hmm, actually, for that matter, I'm not much of an alcohol drinker. All it takes is one glass of wine to get me all euphoric for the rest of the night. Yes. Really.

So when the BF and I met up with Cho, one of my best men and childhood friend, for drinks and to chillout, he suggested this place for its fairly casual atmosphere and wide range of both old and new world wines.

Looking through the food menu, we were surprised to find that it was pretty extensive, for a "drinking hole". The Wine Company doesn't just serve up the typical nibbles like chicken wings, dishes like burgers, meats, seafood, pastas, salads, soups with an Asian twist are all on the menu. A plus point is the very attractive price points, which are nett and already inclusive of GST. Too bad we'd already eaten dinner. Ah well, we'll have to check out their food another time.

We couldn't resist sharing dessert though. We got the Wine Poached Pear ($10) a whole pear bathed in white wine served warm, with strawberries and blackberries, and topped off with a scoop of icy vanilla ice-cream. The natural sweetness of the perfectly softened pear was enhanced by the fruit-forward sweet dessert wine, with vanilla ice-cream complementing the elegant creation.

The Wine Company
26 Evans Road
#01-05 Evans Lodge
Tel: 6732 1229
Opening hours:
Monday - Thursday from 12noon to 12midnight
Friday, Saturday and Eve of Public Holidays from 12noon to 1am
Sunday and Public Holidays from 11am to 11pm
Website: www.thewinecompany.com.sg


Santouka, The Central

Of all the ramen shops in the predominantly-occupied-by-Japanese-ramen-shops mall also known as The Central along Clarke Quay, Marutama and Santouka Ramen are arguably 2 of the best known and popular. I'd previously reviewed Marutama, and we wanted to try Santouka to see how it'd compare.

We both got the Santouka specialty, Tokusen Toroniku Shio Ramen ($19.50) Pork Bone and Salt Ramen, with Roasted Pork Cheeks.

The pearl-coloured, collagen-infused pork bone broth is delightfully rich yet mild, and the atypical thicker noodles are springy and light. The ramen's good and the soup broth doesn't leave a thin milky film on the tongue, but I've realised that I'm really not that big a fan of the tonkotsu soup base. I prefer the clear and delicate shio soup base.

The Roasted Pork Cheeks, with a sprinkling of crunchy black fungus and bamboo shoots, is sweet, tender, fatty and practically melted on the tongue. It's separately served on the side instead of being dipped into the noodles, so the soy flavours of the pork don't seep into the salted-just-right broth and make it overtly salty.

The Komi-Tamago ($1 per flavoured egg) was perfectly soft, not runny. The whites were nicely wobbly and never rubbery.

We also supplemented the meal with some Gyoza ($5.50), Japanese pot-stickers. These were non-oily, with chewy thin skin wrapped around a freshly minced pork and chives filling. 

6 Eu Tong Sen Street
The Central
Tel: 6224 0668
Open daily from 11am to 9.45pm
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