Posts Tagged ‘Chinese Cuisine’

[Chinese New Year 2017] Gu Ma Jia’s homey and affordable CNY fare

And just like that, Christmas and New Year are over and it’s time to think of how to celebrate Chinese New Year. This year, Chinese New Year falls on 28 – 30th January 2017 (Saturday – Monday), that’s like less than 4 weeks away! This means you have to start planning for your reunion dinner pretty quickly.

If you are looking for a restaurant serving casual homey fare that is affordable, for your reunion gathering, you might want to consider Gu Ma Jia restaurant located at Tai Thong Crescent. Gu  Ma Jia prides itself on serving food with less oil and less MSG. Two set menus will be available during this CNY festive period.

The “Peace” set at $599++ includes

  • Yu Sheng
  • Crab Meat and Fish Maw
  • Steamed Red Grouper with Soya Sauce
  • Braised Duck and Sea Cucumber
  • Broccoli with Macadamia Nuts & Fresh Scallop
  • Stir-Fried Prawns with Superior Sauce
  • Steamed Lotus Leaves Rice
  • Dessert – Longan Wolfberries Sea Birds Nest

The “Prosperity” set at $768 includes

  • Yu Sheng
  • Cold Platter
  • Sea Cucumber, Crab Meat & Bamboo Fungus
  • Stir-fried Broccoli with Chinese Mushrooms & Abalone
  • “Ginseng Fortune Chicken” – Double-boiled Chicken, Roasted Pork, Scallops, Sea Cucumber and Fish Maw with Ginseng in a Claypot
  • Steamed Prawns with Gu Ma’s Home Made Sauce
  • Steamed Red Grouper with Soya Sauce
  • Seafood Fried Noodles
  • Dessert – Yam Paste with Gingko Nuts

Session Timings for set menu on Chinese New Year Eve (27th Jan 2017):

  1. 12pm – 2pm
  2. 2.15pm – 4.15pm
  3. 6pm – 7.45pm
  4. 8pm – 9.45pm

I had the opportunity to sample some of the dishes from the two CNY set menus. I have to agree that the cooking style is more homey and less seasoned as compared to other Chinese restaurants in Singapore. If you want to taste the natural flavours of the food and not have them obscured by heavy sauces, Gu Ma Jia would be up your alley.

Gu Ma Jia CNY 2017 - Longan Wolfberries Sea Birds Nest

Longan Wolfberries Sea Birds Nest 

The dessert was one of my favourites not only due to visual appeal but because of the generous amount of jelly. And as can be seen from the colour of the jelly, it’s flavoured as compared to some versions out there where the jelly is tasteless.

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Ritz Carlton Summer Pavilion–Fantastic anniversary lunch at this one Michelin-starred restaurant

A very Happy New Year to all readers of 365days2play Lifestyle, Food and Travel blog! Hope your new year has been off to a great start! Here’s wishing you good health, happiness and an even more exciting 2017 to come!

Speaking of exciting, I thought it fitting as my 1st post for 2017 to blog about a really fantastic meal I had in 2016. As the title of this post reveals, its our anniversary which we celebrated at the one Michelin-starred restaurant Summer Pavilion.  It’s the 1st time we formally celebrated it after being married for 4 years! Can you believe that? In some circles, that would be grounds for divorce! But truth be told, Christmas is the occasion that we spend our efforts celebrating (with family and all), that by the time 29th December comes along, it doesn’t feel as if we need yet another celebration.

Nevertheless, I was really happy to be able to have the opportunity to celebrate our anniversary. Even though I have dined at quite a number of posh restaurants,  I hadn’t been to Summer Pavilion before, and it has been more than 2 years since I was last at Ritz Carlton, so the whole experience was very exciting! It did help that the Christmas decorations were still up, and the hotel looked so pretty! The stark black and white tableware set up also exuded refinement and was like a prelude of good things to come.

Ritz Carlton Summer Pavilion Soya Sauce

You know you’re in for a treat when even the soya sauce looks like an art work.

We opted for the Lily Dinner Set. Yes, they were able to serve that during lunch (I’d checked when I made reservations). I can certainly see why they managed to obtain the coveted Michelin Star. The 5 main criteria that the Michelin inspectors look out for are as follows:

  1. Quality of the products

  2. Mastery of flavour and cooking techniques

  3. The personality of the chef in his cuisine

  4. Value for money

  5. Consistency between visits

While I can’t comment on point 3 and 5, I can certainly state that with the exception of dessert, all the dishes we were served that day wowed us. Dessert tasted good too, except there wasn’t any wow factor. As for value for money, at $88++ per pax, I think that you could possibly find a handful of Chinese restaurants in Singapore that might be able to match this standard for a lower price tag, if you look hard enough. For hotel restaurants, Yan Ting of St Regis or Wan Hao of Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel come to mind, but they aren’t very much cheaper either. Lei Garden or Crystal Jade Golden Palace may be cheaper too, but guess what, they’re also Michelin Starred restaurants!

One thing that the Michelin inspectors don’t value is ambience and decor. But I do. Ambience, decor, service and how comfortable I feel dining in a restaurant are all important factors to me when it comes to enjoying a meal out. If it were just the quality and taste of food, home cooking would have sufficed!

Anyway… scroll down for the low down on each of the dishes.

Ritz Carlton Summer Pavilion - Deep-fried prawn head and tail, salt, pepper chilli prawn, sesame sauce (2)

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Avenue Joffre at Sentosa (Restaurant)

If you’re looking for a restaurant to try out good and authentic Shanghainese/Sze Chuan/ Cantonese food, you might just want to check out Avenue Joffre at Sentosa this month. Avenue Joffre will be hosting legendary Culinary Master Chef Zhou Yuan-Chang where he will present his award-winning signature dishes for a limited time only until 31 May 2016!

Chef Zhou is regarded as one of the most famous chefs in China. He has won awards including the China Golden Chef award, and the “Middle Age Cooking Elite” award of the first “Champion Cup” in Shanghai. His dishes have been praised by movers and shakers such as China National People’s Congress Wu Bang Guo and former USA Vice-President Walter Mondale. Chef Zhou deploys authentic but rarely practiced Shanghainese cooking methods to create natural flavours and textures in the dishes that he serves. Just in case you find the name “Avenue Joffre” familiar, this is the former name of Huai Hai Road in Shanghai during the 1930s.

We had the pleasure of sampling a number of Chef Zhou’s dishes. While the dishes may look like what you would find in many Chinese restaurants, we soon found out that there’s more to it than meets the eye. Here are the dishes I enjoyed the most.

Avenue Joffre - Deep-fried chicken wing stuffed with birds' nest $15

Deep-fried chicken wing stuffed with birds’ nest $15

This might just be my first time eating stuffed chicken wing, much less one stuffed with birds’ nest, although apparently this is a classic Cantonese dish. Love how the crispy skin complements the delicate bird’s nest stuffing!

Avenue Joffre - Simmered Mud Crab with Asparagus Lettuce in clay pot

Simmered Mud Crab with Asparagus Lettuce in clay pot (market price)

Absolutely loved the taste of this soup that I had at least 3 servings. Those green strands are not noodles but asparagus lettuce shredded into thin strands to act as noodles. A lot of knife skills going on here. They were the perfect vehicle to soak up the aromatic mud crab broth. A must order!

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Jade Restaurant Fullerton Hotel Nostalgic Feasts

As a tribute to Singapore’s golden jubilee, Master Chef Leong Chee Yeng of The Fullerton Hotel’s Jade Restaurant is introducing his SG50 Nostalgic Feast Menu inspired by traditional Cantonese dishes from the ’70’s and ’80s. The menu is curated in partnership with Wong Ah Yoke, the highly respected restaurant reviewer and food critic at The Straits Times.

When you look at the pictures of the dishes below, you will undoubtedly be able to recognise elements of yesteryear which we did not even realise have quietly disappeared with time’s passing. For example, when was the last time you saw coloured rimmed keropok adorning a banquet dish?

Wong Ah Yoke chose dishes that he used to eat as a youngster growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, where the dishes were served only at banquets and special occasions. For example, Roast Chicken or Chinese Eight Treasures Duck was served mainly at weddings or birthday banquets. Roast Chicken I believe I’ve seen served over the years, but I don’t recall 8 Treasures Duck at all! Do you?

Group Shot- Double boiled winter melon soup, Roast Chicken, Kung Pao Chicken with Cashew Nuts served in Buddha's Bowl, Pork King Ribs

Of course, this being Jade Restaurant at the Fullerton Hotel, all the dishes are jazzed up and presented exquisitely.

Jade Restaurant - Lobster Fruit Salad, Traditional Fried Prawn Roll (Hei Zhor), Fried Crab with Eggs, Crispy Kung Pao Chicken , Fried Pork Rib with Garlic and Red Fermented Bean (1)

Combination Lobster Platter : Lobster Fruit Salad, Traditional Fried Prawn Roll (Hei Zhor), Fried Crab with Eggs, Crispy Kung Pao Chicken with Cashew Nuts, Fried Pork Rib with Garlic and Red Fermented Bean

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Yan Ting Restaurant St Regis 宴庭

My office is located just outside the Orchard area, which makes it sound like it’s in an excellent location. It is indeed but 5 minutes for those blessed with cars, but without one, it takes 1/2 hour to get to Orchard! So when my parents were in town and available to pick me for lunch, I had to select a restaurant befitting of the occasion. It wasn’t a difficult choice, given that it was Restaurant Week. Took the opportunity to check out Yan Ting, which is in one of my favourite hotels, the St Regis Singapore.

Yan Ting owes its inspiration to the Ming Dynasty, when authentic Chinese culinary art flourished. The words 宴 (Yan) 庭 (Ting) translates as an Imperial courtyard for a lavish banquet, where royalty and influential diners meet for a feast befitting their importance and stature.

Yan Ting St Regis (3)

I think Chinese restaurants can sometimes have decors that are a bit garish, if you know what I mean. I love Yanting’s elegant and refined look using pastel colours, with black rimmed chairs to accentuate the place. Can’t help but keep an eye on what makes for a pleasing look, now that I’m redecorating my house.

Yan Ting St Regis - Trio of Appetisers

Trio of Appetisers – Steamed pork and shrimp dumpling with black truffles, crispy beancurd roulette with shrimps and seaweed, steamed crystal shrimp dumpling with bamboo pith

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