Akanoya Robatayaki

I love barbecue; I'm a sucker for anything barbecued. And robatayaki, the Japanese take on barbecue, would ipso facto be one of my favourite styles of Japanese cooking. One of the most renowned robatas in Singapore is Akanoya, a concept under the often underwhelming Akashi group. While I may not be a big fan of their mass-market sushi offerings, I'll happily admit that their robatayaki restaurant is one of the very best on the island.

It says volumes, too, that a certain Facebook billionaire and the Tatler-set frequent the casual restaurant. The food may be a tad pricey, but the ingredients are sparkling fresh, and finessed over a coal-fire with aplomb. A bonus, parking is always available at the adjacent Orchard Parade Hotel carpark, and the restaurant is open till late.

There's no menu, so you pick out whatever's laid out on the ice in front of you, and they'll cook them all right there in the open grill in front of you. If that boggles your mind, just ask what's available and the staff will rattle on whatever's in season.

Staples like the Yaki Tori ($6), hunks of chicken thigh dice, are a fail-safe.

Ditto for the Lamb ($18), a specialty here and a must-try. Lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, this was absolutely sumptuous.

The Eringi ($7) fat slices of oyster mushrooms, married the trio of dips wonderfully.

I love peppers, and the Piman ($5) lightly charred and mildly sweet, was excellent.

I never understood why people hate brussels sprouts, because I adore them! The Mini Kyabetsu ($6) beautifully seared and smoky, boasted a delightful crunch.

Ditto for the Kyabetsu ($10). There's something about Japanese cabbage that's extra sweet, and its sweet undertones played off well against the scorch of the fire.

Some carbs by way of potatoes, Jyaga Imo ($8) draped with melted butter and a good sprinkling of salt.

The Tontoro Kushi ($8) is another regular feature of our meals here, pork crisped with a golden sear and enlivened with a touch of lemon juice.

Pretty studs of Ginnan ($8), or gingko nuts, simply flavoured with salt.

The piece de resistance, the Omi Gyu ($40) was perfectly melt-in-your-mouth. So decadent, so indulgent, so insanely good.

One thing I didn't like about Akanoya was the obligatory add-ons of an appetizer and fruit finish, which were both chargeable. The appetizer of a seasoned octopus, was charged as an 'Otoshi' ($4) like a mandatory indirect cover charge. Not a fan of the appetizer, and not a fan of being charged for something I wouldn't have ordered anyway.

Ditto for the Kudamono ($12) a less-than-saccharine melon and persimmon that I didn't quite fancy either.

Akanoya Robatayaki
1 Tanglin Road #01-01
Orchard Parade Hotel
Tel: 6732 1866
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 6pm to 1.30pm;
Sundays from 6pm to 12midnight
Website: akanoya.com.sg


Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine

Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine Restaurant is our new favourite for Teochew fare. It's been a long while back that I last dined at the illustrious upmarket option under the Imperial Treasure group restaurant. And it's apparently gotten even more celebrated, and picked up a Michelin star in the last year along the way.

While Chui Hui Lim remains one of our top go-tos for when a craving for Teochew food hits, Imperial Treasure shines that little bit brighter with its unparalleled refinement. Here at Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine, the essence of Teochew cooking is captured: exquisite, polished, and delicate.

The Poached Baby Milk Cabbage in Chicken Broth ($20), or 'nai bai', was an exercise in restrain and simplicity. The mild crunch of the leafy green picked up the nuanced notes of the collagen-rich chicken stock.

An absolute must-try, the Teochew Braised Duck ($20) here is the best rendition of braised duck I've ever had. Fresh, luscious, and draped in a thin, delicate soy emulsion, this was glorious. And it's consistently fantastic as well. We've taken away from them multiple times and they've always been nothing short of excellent.

The Teochew-Style Braised Beancurd ($24) silky with a velvety garlic-oyster sauce gravy and topped with juicy pork mince and mushrooms was a superb recommendation by our waitress. Another favourite of ours to take away.

The Teochew-style Steamed Cod Fish ($14), was a mixed bag: the fish was a smidge overcooked, but the soup was brilliant, piquant with accents of ginger, salted plums, preserved vegetables, and tomatoes.

But the Teochew-Style Steamed Marble Goby ($68) was outstanding. The fish was luscious and flaky, and mild taste soaked up the broth wonderfully.

Another cannot-miss, the Pan-Fried Baby Oyster in Flour Omelette ($28) was more pancake than omelette but boy was it amazing. So good on its own, in fact, that it almost rendered the chilli redundant.

Another regular order of ours, and one so delicious that we don't even share between ourselves, is the Congee of Minced Pork ($12) steeped in the umami-ness of dried sole fish, and laced with julienned Chinese black mushrooms.

The Wok-Fried Kway Teow Noodles ($20) dotted with scrambled eggs, chopped kailan greens and preserved radish nubbins, turned out, surprisingly, pancake-like too. Robust and flavoursome, the charring was a delightful plus.

Imperial Treasure Fine Teochew Cuisine
2 Orchard Turn
#03-05 ION Orchard
Tel: 6736 2116
Open weekdays from 11.30am to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner;
Saturdays from 11am to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 11pm for dinner;
Sundays from 10.30am to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 11pm for dinner


Camp Kilo Charcoal Club

Camp Kilo Charcoal Club has been on my to-eat list for some time now. I'm a sucker for anything barbecued, and unfortunately, the Hubs isn't a fan of sweating up a storm by a hot grill, flaming his own food. I just could never make it down for its weekend-only opening times, preferring to veg out pantless at home. Also, I was put-off by its somewhat tucked-away location at Kampong Bugis. Which, for the record, isn't in Bugis; it's somewhere in Lavender adjacent to the Kallang River. 

Walking in the bustling courtyard, we were immediately struck by how painfully hipster the crowd was. So painful in fact, you could actually wear your sunnies throughout your meal, past nightfall, and not actually look out of place. Camp Kilo is, from what I can ascertain, designed as a sort of backyard bbq party, but its breeziness was so contrived, so pretentious, so exhausting, that urghh, it was excruciating.

We hated the vibe so much we actually half-hoped the tantalising smells wafting out of the open-kitchen wouldn't translate to deliciousness. But, the food turned out freaking awesome. Like brave-the-annoying-crowd-to-return-for-the-food awesome.

It's free-seating and semi-self-serviced at Camp Kilo. You order your food at the counter, make payment, and the food is sent out to u by the waitstaff, kept lean by the partial self-serviced concept. 

The star of Camp Kilo, and an absolute cannot-miss, was the Boneless Lechon ($12), a Filipino roasted pork dish that's beginning to feel the love amongst the local palate. The skin, thick and crunchy was set off against the luscious salty tang of the meat. Insanely good, this one; the Half Jerk Chicken ($10) was a smidge dry at the breast but passed muster; the Grilled Prawns ($18) were sweet and fleshy, but a pain to peel; Another highlight was the sides of Chipotle Corn Furikake ($10), creamy with jalapeno butter and chipotle mayo; and Deep Fried Brussels Sprouts ($14) jazzed up with a tamarind dressing, Japanese rice puffs and scallions. Seriously fantastic, we doggy-bagged seconds of these home.

Camp Kilo Charcoal Club
66 Kampong Bugis #01-01
Tel: 9830 5262
Open Fridays from 5.30pm to 11pm;
Saturdays to Sundays from 11am to 11pm

Braised Cabbage with Dried Shrimp & Pork

I love cabbage; there's always have a head of cabbage in my fridge for when the midnight munchies kick in. There's a million ways to treat it: u can grill to a nutty char, shred it up, raw in a salad, do a quick stir-fry to keep for a crunchy mouthfeel, or braise to a sweet soft finish.

This is one of my favourite ways to cook cabbage, and I've added a umami element by way of dried shrimp, rehydrated, pounded (in a mortar with a pestle) and toasted to release its fragrance.

Ingredients (feeds 4):
1 medium head cabbage, cut roughly
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp pounded rehydrated dried shrimp
300 gm pork loin, sliced thinly and marinated with recipe below
2 tbsp light soy
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt to taste
couple dashes of ground white pepper
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Pork marinade (at least 3 hours):
2 tbsp light soy
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sake
2 dashes ground white pepper

1) Pre-heat canola and sesame oil. Fry pounded dried shrimp and garlic on low heat until very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add

2) Turn up heat to high and add cabbage, toss through until wilted, about 3 minutes.

3) Add stock and seasoning. Toss through, and leave covered to braise, about 5 minutes.

4) Add pork, toss and fry until pork cooked through.

5) Adjust seasoning, add salt and pepper according to taste, and serve.

Chicken Stir-Fry with Mixed Peppers & Mushrooms

Hellooo, yes, I'm alive. Everything's a-ok, nothing's wrong. I know it's been a long loooooong time since the last blog post, (and friends have hilariously checked if I was still alive) but I was busy with all of life's bustle, and u know, #priorities.

So, this was a quick stir-fry I whipped up over a weekday dinner, it comes together in under 15 minutes if prep work is done before that.

Ingredients (feeds 4):
300gm chicken fillet, diced and marinated with recipe below
3 cups sliced white button mushrooms
3 cups diced coloured peppers (I used a trio of yellow, red, and green peppers)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp light soy
salt to taste
dash white ground pepper
2 tsp canola oil
2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Chicken marinade (marinate for at least 2 hours):
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soy
2 dashes ground white pepper
2 tsp mirin

1) Fry minced garlic in pre-heated canola-sesame oil mix in pan, on medium heat until fragrant, about 40 seconds.

2) Turn up the fire to high and add chicken, with its marinade, and fry till cooked, about 1 minute.

3) Add mushrooms, toss through, until water released is almost evaporated, about 3 minutes.

4) Add peppers, with soy, salt, pepper, and fry for about 2 minutes. Adjust seasoning if needed.

5) Serve hot, garnishing with sesame seeds or ground chilli pepper if preferred.

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