NEW & NOTED: Hong Kong Highlights

Always something NEW to look out for in Hong Kong.

KFC Opens Concept Store At Causeway Bay!

Yes you read right, Mac-kers did it and now its the Colonel’s turn. KFC has opened a concept store in Causeway Bay on the corner of Hennessy Rd and Percival Street promising a contemporary chill-out fast food experience. The semi-cafe dining experience offers a street level grab-and-go “sweet box” for desserts and ice creams lovers. Go up to the first floor and find self-ordering kiosks with modern bar seats and a second floor main dining area with 150 seats. The new premises are comfortable with a chill ambience of unique insta-worthy pop-art and 3D art installations.

Try the Grilled Chicken Combo (HK$138) – freshly-grilled-to-order and serve with crisscut fries, salad and two soft drinks; Oven-glazed Hot Wing Platter (HK$88) – 3 garlic cheese-glazed, 3 honey BBQ-glazed and 3 sweet chili-glazed hot wings, plus large fries, salad and two soft drinks, Chizza (HK$88) – the chicken pizza with a giant KFC chicken fillet as the base with cheese & pineapple and two soft drinks (regular version with one soft drink is priced at HK$49) and Baked Rice with Chicken Fillet Combo (HK$52) – salad or tomato soup with soft drink. Go check out: http://www.kfchk.com

Late-night, Eat and Drink at TMK

Sheung Wan debuts another all-day dining venue, TMK by the Pirata Group worth checking out for its fun, rowdy ambience and food that take you through the day well into the night.  Unapologetically loud and rowdy, this Japanese punk rock inspired joint has a 1980’s style Japanese custom motorcycle parked as part of the decor, Japanese art on display and a tattoo room inspired bathroom.

There are lip-smacking hand rolls, as well as a selection of sushi and sashimi with a refreshing take on the traditional Japanese temakeria. Interesting eats include the crispy Iberico Kushikatsu (HKD108) and the chewy textured Green Tea Soba (HKD88; additional HKD40 for Yellowfin Tuna), classic hand rolls such as the fresh Hamachi Tomato (HKD58) and the vegetarian Avocado & Quinoa (HKD38), Tuna Hotdog (HKD98) and Salmon Taco (HKD78) with a rich yuzu mayo and buttery avocado tempura. There are also two appetizing tasting menus  – the Denim (HKD288 pp) is ideal for guests who prefer to drink their night away while the Leather (HKD398 pp) is a ‘best-of’ platter.

If you are feeling generous, shout “Drinks On Me”, it will cost you only HKD290 per round and each person there will be poured a generous serve of sake, with boisterous cheers and the sound of the restaurant’s gong following. Alongside this the beverage menu features a selection of smooth sake, refreshing draft beer and Japanese highballs and high quality sake.  See: www.TMK.hk

Nostalgic Tea House Comfort Food At ‘Peony Garden’

Just opened at the Xiqu Centre in West Kowloon’s cultural district, wander into the Peony Garden Tea House which serves up quintessential comfort food classics – from tea house favourites to hawker street-food snacks in an exquisite 3,000 sq ft venue with an ‘open garden’ interior design setting that reminisces ancient traveler rest stops for weary travellers in China.

Hong Kong’s street-style cart noodles, popular Malaysian-style curry, braised Chaozhou specialties and Cantonese roast meat favourites like barbecue pork, roast goose, soy flavoured chicken and crispy pork belly are all part of the menu.  With an expert Chef at the helm, who is one of China’s leading masters of Chaozhou cuisine, you can also expect specialties including premium Goose Fillet (HK$178), Liver (HK$158), and Blood (HK$45); Home-made Stewed Goose Soup with Preserved Lemon (HK$48), Premium Marinated Meat with Taiwan Ramen (Sliced Goose Fillet, Goose Liver, Goose Intestine, Pork Belly and Pork Intestine) (HK$138).

Go there for the classic favourite Cart Noodles, served from 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. to try their Handmade Taiwanese Ramen and Black Vermicelli with an array of soup bases are unique broths of Coriander, Seafood (shrimp and crab) and Chicken Chinese Rice Wine.  Toppings like Chaozhou Handmade Fish and Beef Balls, Spicy Snails, Homemade Fish Maw, Spicy Duck Blood Curd, Deep-fried Bean Curd Sheet make this an impossible just finish quickly and up and go. See their Facebook page @peonygarden.hk

Patriotic Dim Sum at Yan

It’s that time of the year in Singapore again when we all get into that flag-waving, red-and-white wearing mood. It’s National Day round the corner, and this year, we mark the bicentennial of colonialism on our shores. Hmmm…

Anyway, food is something hardly controversial in Singapore, and round the corner from the historic centre where Singapore all began is Yan, a nice, tranquil Cantonese restaurant in the National Gallery Singapore.

From now until the end of August, it’s serving up a patriotic menu where elements of hawker favourites are spun into re-interpreted dim sum. The steamed xiao long bao ($5.80 for 4) with herbal bak kut teh stock was surprisingly good with full-on BKT flavours; and the hefty pan fried chilli crab meat bun ($9 for three), nicely chewy, was rather elegantly laced with a touch of orange zest.

A Hainanese chicken rice rendition of the glutinous rice, or nuo mi fan was all right except for having a bit too much rice; and the mutton satay spring roll ($6.80 for three) was good, rich, savoury-sweet in flavour but might prove a little heavy for some.

Surprisingly the one dim sum that combined my two favourite nibbles – chai tau kway and chwee kuay – and which I expected to be the best, turned out the most disappointing. Steamed chai tau kway with chwee kuay toppings of preserved radish and garlic should logically be great. But perhaps it’s the perennial problem of too much of a good thing. Best leave these lovelies in its traditional form.

Carry on with patriotic fervour and have the delicious braised mee pok with crab meat and so much aromatic, delectable lard you can see it. It is uncompromisingly good, so just eat it and leave the calorie counting to another day.

NEW & NOTED: Singapore Highlights

Best ‘Eat’ Deal – 27 and 28 July At Li Jiak Ba Buey

I guess if you look really hard you could find a meal under $3 in Singapore but 0.50 cents is an impossible price tag in SG these days. So that’s why we think that the The Fifty Cents Fest (五毛钱美食荟萃) happening on 27 and 28 July 2019 at Chinatown Food Street, Smith Street spotlighting Singapore’s Hokkien heritage with over 40 stalls and mobile vendors peddling an assortment of more than 50 different savouries and sweets, is worth checking out.

50 Cents Fest - Black Hokkien Mee

Everything on the menu at this award-winning festival is priced from a humble S$0.50 to no more than S$3.00 and visitors get to taste traditional Hokkien dishes ranging from Hokkien-style rice, noodles and nourishing soups, to snacks, small pastries, and ice-cold desserts and drinks. See: http://www.thefiftycentsfest.com.sg/

WOAH! Made-in-Singapore Low Fat Protein Ice Cream

The packaging of this made-in-Singapore dessert, reads “WOAH” aptly preparing you for the $24 price tag for a 473g pint (but as they say, you probs can’t put a price on your health!). We think spelling it “WAH” would have probably gone down better with us Singaporeans and brought some ‘Singish’ into the global marketplace as the brand has some exciting development plans! All said, we like the idea of a health conscious ice cream which is has as it’s key ingredient L-Leucine, a powerful branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) which stimulates protein synthesis, helps build muscle mass, is burned by the muscles as fuel and is especially beneficial to older people. Pitched as a Protein Ice Cream with premium ingredients and complete with a low fat, low carb, low calorie, low sugar and gluten-free labelling, there are 6 flavours to love: Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Strawberry,Vanilla, Peanut Butter and Cookies & Cream, with new flavours like Matcha, Red Bean, Latte and Milk Tea, all in the works.

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Singaporean inventor and dutiful son, Edward Foo used his background in heath, nutrition and finance and put all 3 together into one product when he invented this humble but appetising food option for his mum who was undergoing chemo treatments in 2017. He shared samples of his concoction with her fellow cancer patients during his mum’s chemotherapy sessions. They loved it, the nutritionists loved it and even the kids that he gave it to loved it. It’s your turn to decide! See: www.woahprotein.co

 

 

KOMA opens at MBS

Another reason to visit MBS this month… KOMA, a brand new Japanese restaurant and sushi bar by leading hospitality company TAO Group opens 26 July with a modern interpretation of Japanese cuisine, featuring original creations by its Executive Chef Kunihiro Moroi and what they are calling an ‘elevated’ dining experience.

Main Dining Room (2)_KOMA

Bells and whistles meets bold and distinct – walk into a striking 20 metre-long passageway flanked with orange arches that greet guests as they arrive, to a dramatic 2.5 metre-high, one-of-a-kind bell that overlooks a traditional Japanese foot bridge and reflecting pool. Inside there are 230-seats, an oversized sushi bar and a private dining room at the mezzanine. See: www.komasingapore.com

MOONCAKE updates happening this week on our IG account – look up the latest and yummiest finds that Ee Waun has snapped up at https://www.instagram.com/simplyfabulicious/

Elaine

 

NEW & NOTED: What’s New In Hong Kong

More new eateries and places in Hong Kong to check out…

Eat Italiano Chic – Pici opens in Lai Chi Kok

Serving up fresh homemade pasta and simple dishes prepared with seasonal ingredients, the Lai Chi Kok branch joins its Wan Chai sister offering classic Italian starters and pastas boasting rich flavours.

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We hear that the Prawn Casoncelli with squid ink Casoncelli pasta crab, prawn, tomato sauce, bisque and chilli packs a kick. Led by Italian Head Chef Andrea Viglione, the new restaurant has a modern, relaxed and casual pasta bar vibe that is hard to resist. See: www.pici.hk

So Great you won’t mind sharing   

We visited the Great Room in the heart of Singapore’s Ngee Ann City recently to visit our publishing and watch aficionado friends at HighEnd Media who house their efficient operations in this hip and glam co-networking space that rents small to mid sized offices and desk space complete with access to meeting room facilities, a posh communal area called the Drawing Room where there is fancy coffee and water on tap, drinks in the fridge if you choose to stock it. Here, a group of like minded business partners are available to collaborate with as they are also co-tenants and won’t have a polite excuse to not meet you over  breakfast or in the evening for after office drinks.

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The same concept has launched in Hong Kong and Bangkok. Designed for “grown-up” start-ups and thought leaders. The space in at Swire Properties’ One Taikoo Place was designed by renowned international design agency HASSELL and takes inspiration from its roots as the old Sugar factory. See: https://thegreatroom.co/

Hipster Taiwanese Noodle and Bubble Tea Opens at IFC

Making a statement by opening at IFC Mall in Central, in collaboration with renowned Hong Kong hospitality group Lai Sun Dining, the Taipei brand KiKi Noodle Bar and KiKi Bubble Tea debuts this month. What to Try? Their iconic sun-dried KiKi Noodles, handmade from just flour and water is popular for being 100% natural and healthy, also their authentic Taiwanese tea and bubbles which they have branded as KiKi Tea.

Their Michelin three-starred Chef Albert Au Kwok Keung has created two exclusive KiKi noodle dishes – the KiKi Meat Dumpling Mixed Noodles, Scallion Oil; and classic Chinese favourite, Abalone and Fish Maw Noodles in Chicken Soup. 

2019-07-Sichuan Spicy Tofu Noodles in Soup, Duck Blood, Sliced Pork

Crowd-pleasers to tuck into are the Stir-fried Minced Pork Mixed Noodles with Chive Flowers and Fermented Black Bean, with black beans sprinkled atop to mimic fly heads, mixed with crunching chive flowers, chili and savoury stir-fried minced pork; Sichuan Spicy Tofu Noodles in Soup, Duck Blood and Sliced Pork packing a punch of spice; and comforting classic KiKi Dan Dan Noodles. On top of the classic bubble tea there is refreshing Pineapple Green Teapresso; and Winter Melon Tea, pairing with Sichuan-pepper-flavoured “pearls” and fluffy cream mousse. There are also classic tea-style desserts including Earl Grey Chiffon Cake with Brown Sugar Pearls and Chestnut Mont Blanc. See: https://www.facebook.com/kikinoodlebarhk/

Elaine

Kurios by Cirque du Soleil – A Dizzying Steampunk Extravaganza

With the big top looming nearby, fairy lights overhead,  there’s something incredibly old fashioned and magical about going to the circus. Toss in a free plastic-flute of prosecco and all is complete. We had come to Kurios by Cirque du Soleil, which opened yesterday in Singapore under the big top by Marina Bay Sands.  It turned out a raucous, larger-then-life, buzzing, tumbling, heaving, gravity-defying Victorian era-inspired steampunk-laden extravanganza. Yes, all of that and more.

While it this Canadian act had always tended towards a more surreal, modern take on the circus, this time Kurios brought back the elements of the traditional circus, but thankfully without any scary clowns. Running through the acts is a story about a mad scientist called The Seeker whose cabinet of curiosities contain a fantastical world which steps out to engage him. Doesn’t matter to follow that ‘narrative’—you can fully enjoy the acrobatics and contortionists without knowing why they’re doing what they’re doing. Just soak in the amazing spectacle of crazy, gravity-defying human abilities, spectacular sets and creative imagination.

Photo credits: Martin Girard shootstudio.ca

Highlights included a mind-boggling act by several petite but incredibly strong contortionists dressed in body suits that made them look like octopus tentacles or vague jellied sea creatures twisting and balancing themselves on a giant mechanical hand; and another set of vague finned acrobats bouncing and leaping and spinning off a huge net in an adrenaline and humour packed act.

Photo credits: Martin Girard shootstudio.ca

Yet another played out at a mad hatter party type scene where a performer balanced, twisted and tumbled on top of an impossible number of chairs piled high, while from above, a similar scene played out in mirror image, until both images merged in the middle. There’s plenty more but I won’t spoil the surprise. In between was a quieter mini-drama performance where characters were played out by a performer’s hands and projected live on a Victorian hot air balloon.

Photo credits: Martin Girard shootstudio.ca

All the while running behind the main focus was a parade of odd characters, including a tiny lady who often emerged from another performer’s oversized costume, strutted around onstage and babbled away incomprehensibly—to add to the mood and a constant non-stop flow of energy and spectacle, I suppose. All in all, it was a fabulously energised show—a sumptuous feast for the eyes and a dizzying immersion into a fantastical theatrical immersion well worth spending an evening on.

Before the show starts, do wander into the stores under the big top for the merchandise is worth looking at. While they do come at a premium, they are beautifully designed and was a good quality, and prices were all right. Look at particularly for the T-shirts and Victorian-style flight goggles ($25) and aviation cap. Buy them before the 25 minute interval ends for shops close by the time the show is over.

We didn’t buy the goggles, but it was tempting.

By the way, it’s worth noting that ‘facilities’ are quite sufficient in the form of air-conditioned loos housed in small containers. there are several cubicles in each container, so the queue moved quite efficiently.  

Queues for facilities during the 25 minute intermission. Don’t worry, it moves quickly.

The Old Man – Intriguing Libations That Pay Tribute to Hemingway

I got a chance to check out The Old Man recently, the Singapore sister-outlet of the Hong Kong of the same name, and which recently took top place in Asia’s 50 Best Bars list.

A fairly new addition to Singapore’s hip Keong Saik enclave, this quiet, very grown up bar bears no signage, and for a while I was left quite lost, looking at the row of shophouse units which all went by the address 55 Keong Saik Road. The tricks is to look for a hanging pineapple shaped lamp that marks the spot.

The breezy white-washed exterior brings you into a darkened, masculine space dominated by an I-shaped counter. On the wall is a mural of tropical plants and a mosaic installation of Hemingway’s silhouetted profile. Indeed, the bar is a tribute to the literary giant who loved his tipples.

The menu is concise and tight, based on the first ever menu of its Hong Kong outlet. The cocktails—often technically complex using tricks like distillation, fat washing, fermentation —are named after Hemingway’s works, with flavour profiles as complex and intriguing as the writer himself.

Start gently with Islands In the Stream, a tall refreshing tipple of clarified pink grapefruit, salted gin and soda. Fizzy, tangy and fruity, with a slight edge, what’s there not to like? After that, all other drinks that came were quirky, adventurous, odd—but they all worked.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro is, as Louie the bartender described, “an alcoholic Yakult”. This creamy, mildly berry flavoured curiosity comprises gin, lacto-fermented raspberry, a touch of citrus to give it an edge and a dusting of 30-month aged gruyere to give it just a hint of a salty counterpoint. Unbelievable as it may seem, it worked nicely.

Still on milky libations, Death In The Afternoon is a shocking caterpillar green, lassi-like long drink of pandan yoghurt countered by sparkling wine and absinthe. Again, bizarre but enjoyable.

The Sun Also Rises starts off an ugly moss green, almost black concoction which you might hesitate to try. Put it to the light and miraculously, it reveals a bright green hue—great party trick and conversation starter. The most complex drink on the house, it takes days to prepare its individual components such as including copra fat-washed applejack, curry leaf infused gin and sweet vermouth sous vide with pandan. It is a fascinating jumble of herbaceous, citrus, soft rounded pandan, hints of peppery anise, and mellow applejack and vermouth. Again, delightful.

All drinks on the menu are at a reasonable $17.

 

Culina at COMO Dempsey – Great Steaks and Gourmet Finds

Culina at COMO Dempsey recently moved to new premises at Blk 15, just across the old parade square from its former location, and I must say I like it so much better here. It’s a brighter, more cheerful space, with a much more spacious and welcoming bistro, and a peekaboo kitchen where you can catch glimpses of Chef Timothy at work. There’s also an eye-catching Parisian-inspired wine bar bang in the middle of the market space, and individual counters of produce presenting seafoods, meat, deli and natural cheeses that make browsing more focused. Flower boutique Grandiflora, from Australia, and well know for huge statement bouquets, occupy a lush colourful corner. (Look out for their fragrances too.)

There are some noteworthy products, like ‘Message In The Bottle’ a concentrate of red prawn essence by Rosso Di Mazara made by freeze drying the prawn heads and turning it into a “100% pure product” perfect for cooking, jars of brussel sprout powder, Awani jam from Bali, Ghee Hiang’s famous teelseed oil from Penang and Kwong Who Hing’s premium soy sauces (which you can otherwise get only at the factory door or online). All great for personal indulgence or gifts for your foodie friends.

A delight for all upmarket aunties, here lies the elusive Ghee Hiang sesame oil and Kwong Woh Hing premium soy sauce.

At its breezy bistro, apart from the focused menu, you can also pick meats and seafood from the counters at the marketplace and get it cooked for you with an additional prep fee of a reasonable $15-$25.

Lunch started with some drippingly fresh and sweet Tasmanian Blackman Bay and Japanese Mie oysters (from the seafood counter, from $3 each), served with nahm jim and Tetsuya’s oyster vinaigrette. Then came a unctuous French onion soup ($15). Made with cider, thyme, chicken and beef stock and topped with a generous layer of molten gruyere, it was savoury-sweet in flavour, moderately rich in texture, nicely balanced, neither too cloying nor salty. A must-have if you ate here.

Yes this pot of soup is super tiny, set against the tablespoon for scale. Rest assured this is just a tasting portion, not the actual size. But isn’t it cute?

For mains, the Black Onyx sirloin medium-rare was absolutely divine in the fullness of its hearty flavours and juicy tender bite. The few potatoes that came with it are no sideline players either, so good and tasty and indulgent that they were, shamelessly deep-fried in duck fat. The chimichurri sauce was a lovely match, even if the steak stood out well on its own.

Sumptuous, divine, one of the best steaks I’ve had in a while.

If you must have something else, perhaps in a moment of untimely dieting, then a thick slab of crisp herb-crusted hapuka fish from New Zealand, slowbaked and served with sweet campari vine tomatoes, broad beans and basil, is a great comfort. I am not one for western-style fish dishes, but this was exceedingly enjoyable, much to my own surprise. Sweet, intense flavours and moist flesh with sweet tomatoes made it most delightful. Both beef and fish were options directly from the marketplace counters (market price + $15-$25 prep fee).

If one must have fish in the face of steak…

For peckish pickings, have the truffle fries ($15), moreish sticks of crisp potatoes, fluffy on the inside, with truffle paste, white truffle oil and truffle salt.

Triple whammy truffle fries.

While I could not stay for dessert, I understand the tiramisu ($15) is a good choice.

Worth noting, the bistro is spacious, with car park smack in front of the entrance, and the path from car to restaurant is easily navigable by wheelchair.

Block 15 Dempsey Road,
Singapore 249675
T: +65 6474 7338

Travel Notebook – Great Weekend Getaways to Recharge & Reboot

Need some inspiration for planning your next short getaway? Here’s are a few new resorts and destinations that look absolutely enticing to us. If only we had the time to jump on a plane and head for…

A Halong Bay Luxury Cruise
Paradise Cruises has a great package where almost everything is taken cared of for you from the time you land at the airport in Hanoi. From US$195 per person, it packs a lot of value and activities in a short few days. First, grab a flight to Hanoi and stay overnight at the Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi. After brekkie the next day, head to Halong Bay and get on board the cruise boat Paradise Luxury. Have lunch on board while the cruise starts, allowing you to soak in the great views of the massive lake and karst formations. Along the way, stop over at a pearl farm, go kayaking, meander into the largest cave in Halong Bay, then have sundowners and watch a cooking demo as the boat anchors over night at Coconut Tree Island.

The next morning, there’s breakfast aplenty, swimming and a hike on Soi Sim Island before the cruise winds to an end. The best thing about this package is that all transfers (airport, and round trip to Halong Bay), meals and activities on board the boat are included, while breakfast is also included in the first-day stay at the Movenpick Hotel. For a short getaway, I think this is a nice, well thought out package with everything sorted out for you from when you land in Hanoi. Until 30 Sept 2019. Details here.

Six Senses Krabey Island, Cambodia
Set on its own private island, the new Six Senses Krabey Island is a nature getaway with all the luxe you could want, but without being too arduous to get to. It is just 5 kilometers off Ream National Park in the Gulf of Thailand in southern Cambodia. From Sihanouk International Airport, it is a 10-minute drive to the resort’s mainland reception, followed by a 15-minute crossing to Krabey Island and the all-villa resort. Expect sumptuous villas with sundeck for lounging, alfresco dining with infinity-edged plunge pools, rain showers and green living roofs. Meals are at two restaurants which make use of ingredients from the resort’s own 40,000 square feet (3,700 square meters) organic farm and herb garden. Tree, the resort’s signature restaurant, serves traditional Khmer cuisine with a creative modern twist. Then there’s AHA which offers international fare; a Sunset Bar with lots of sofas and hammocks and an ice cream parlor.

What to do for most of the days? Indulge in spa treatments at the Six Senses Spa, which also incorporates a gym, rooftop yoga pavilion, indoor aerial yoga studio, Crystal Water Room, Meditation Cave and the Alchemy Bar, for blending natural skin care products and essential oils using pure local ingredients. For more active pursuits, there’s water sports, fishing, speedboat excursions to neighboring islands, farm visits and cooking classes, star gazing at the resort’s observatory, and or chilling at the open-air Cinema Paradiso. There’s also a kids’ club for children between 4 and 12 years old. More details here.

Images from https://eng.templestay.com/

A Korean Temple Stay
Have you ever considered a temple stay in South Korea? We just discovered that many temples there offer temple stays where you can stay for several days and experience the monastic life. Beyond meditating, there are surprisingly plenty of activities, depending on which temple you choose to go to. Meditate, rest, get centred and practise mindfulness while immersing yourself in the temple culture and routine. Eat what the monks eat, learn about their philosophies, participate in various forms of meditation (including the tea ceremony).

Image from https://eng.templestay.com/

Some temple programs even offer cultural activities like cooking or flower lantern making, while others offer you the choice to go hiking in the surroundings. Some of these temples are UNESCO World Heritage Sites including a cluster of seven Sansa located in the southern provinces of the Korean Peninsula: Tongdosa, Buseoksa, Bongjeongsa, Beopjusa, Magoksa, Seonamsa, and Daeheungsa. Surrounded by mountains, they have been religious spaces for 1700 years since the 4th century when Buddhism arrived in Korea. There are plenty more, with numerous offering English programs so language is not a barrier. Remember though that these are not hotels, so while they offer a unique experience, it is also underpinned by proper etiquette and respect. Take time to check out their website—particularly the FAQ & Contents ‘pages’. It has all the information you need to organise your temple stay, and some. They even have downloadable temple music and a slick ‘Templestay’ magazine. https://eng.templestay.com/

A Horizontal Tau Sar Piah Tasting – See How The Cookie Crumbles

From left: 603 TSP, Thye Moh Chan and Loong Fatt

Last week, I needed to have some tau sar piah (TSP), my all-time favourite pastry. For me, the best is still Ghee Heang from Penang, but there was this small problem that it was up in Penang and I was not there. So in compensation, we went to three places that scorching Singapore afternoon to seek out our local options. First, Thye Moh Chan, then the famous Balestier Loong Fatt tau sar piah, and finally 603 Tau Sar Piah. The expedition was purely on a whim, but we had ourselves a small horizontal tasting of the pastry, which is by no means representative of Singapore’s TSP landscape. Nevertheless we share our tasting notes and observations.

Loong Fatt Eating House & Confectionery – A huge favourite here, Loong Fatt’s TSP pastry is delicate, crumbly and buttery. The fat gave it just that nice hint of moistness, enough to make it a smoothly textured, fun-to-eat pastry rather than a dry, flaky one. It crumbled elegantly, so the pastry broke away neatly with the smaller pieces holding together nicely. The filling was sweet, very moist and pliable, with a texture of lotus paste rather than the dry-ish, sandy filling that I was expecting.

Loong Fatt’s buttery crumble encasing a moist, almost lotus-paste like filling. Note the pastry is yellow-hued from the butter.

The thing is, this TSP had a distinct taste of butter or margarine in it, which is rather odd for Chinese pastries. There should not be butter in the mix. Then we discover that the decades-old Loong Fatt had Hainanese roots. Like so many early Hainanese in Singapore, the founder had worked with Europeans and learnt to use butter. So he had incorporated butter into his version of this Chinese pastry, imbuing it with the indulgent crumbly texture that many like. It didn’t quite work for me because the buttery taste came on front and centre. Having said that, it was a nice pastry—just not one that I want from a tau sar piah.

Ancient salon seats at Loong Fatt.

The buying experience was business-like. A long queue snaked halfway down the length of the shop which had not changed since the 1970s. It was a scorchingly hot afternoon, but it was a huge testimony that so many would brave the heat to buy their pastries and cakes. An old aunty sat in the middle of the shop, assembling a sea of Loong Fatt paper boxes. She was one of the long time staff there, and literally runs the place, I understand. Another younger aunty was dealing with the customers.

Behind her, about eight people beavered away in the kitchen in front of an army of whirring industrial fans, kneading and shaping and baking the pastries non-stop. All done by hand too. Our queue moved quite quickly and the wait was perhaps no more than 10 minutes.

Apart from the tau sar piah, there were retro cakes like butter and chocolate cakes. Their cream puffs were also big favourites, so much so that by the time it came to our turn, there were only four left. We bought two—they were good, old fashioned flavours.

603 TSPs waiting their turn

603 Tau Sar Piah – Down the road from Loong Fatt is 603 TSP, a quiet, neat little shop with the benefit of air conditioning. It offered more flavours, including a peanut filled tau sar piah, beh the sor, wife biscuits, large cream puffs, and other western cookies.

Large cavities, moist filling and large flakes of pastry
See how the cookie crumbles. In the forefront. Thye Mog Chan’s packed cavity and thin flakes of pastry. In the back, 603’s specimens have collapsed into large layers. The bottom came off in one, unbreakable piece.

On tasting them back home, we find that 603’s TSP had big airy cavities in the middle, with less filling than Loong Fatt’s TSP. It was also paste-like though slightly less moist and sweet and actually quite nice. The pastry was flaky and unfortunately, hard. It broke apart in large, thick sheets. It was dry and could have done with more shortening, I think. The bottom of the pastry where it was all pulled together and sealed before baking, was tough too – it could not break away easily. Very messy to eat. Flavour-wise, it was fine; but the texture was the hardest of all three we tasted, and took more effort to chow down on.  Some may like it, but personally, it was not for me. The peanut-filled variety was an explosion of filling — super generous, and nicely moist. If you like peanuts, this is definitely a winner. Their retro cream puffs are larger than Loong Fatt’s and also very good, with soft tender choux pastry and a nice smooth custard inside, which was just sweet enough without being cloying. Frankly, I think I’d get their cream puffs anytime, but not sure about the TSP.

Thye Moh Chan is the most expensive of the lot. You be the judge if it’s worth the price tag.

Thye Moh Chan – For me, this was the best of the lot, but compared to the 80 cents I had to pay for Loong Fatt, this comes at a hefty $2 a piece. In Thye Moh Chan’s TSP, I can actually taste the mung bean, and the filling was, while still paste-like, the least moist and ‘paste-y’ of the lot. The filling was generous, not too sweet, and the flavour was more like what I expected. The pastry was not as crumbly (being a nice element) and buttery as Loong Fatt’s, but the mouthfeel was refined, with delicate thin flakes as you bite down. We tried the Teochew yam filling piah as well – it was smooth, but somewhat bland and not too exciting.

The ‘mixed’ pastry by Thye Mog Chan. Love the sweet complexity of flavours and textures.

What I enjoyed most was the the ‘mixed’ pastry—it wasn’t strictly a TSP having no TS in it—comprising red bean paste and a soft, slightly sticky filling of winter melon, melon seeds, spring onions, and glutinous rice flour. Nice.

The different ways the pastry flakes tell you a lot about its texture.

My final conclusion, I still like Ghee Heang and Him Heang of Penang the most. But I am sure there are TSPs in Singapore which I would really like. For TSP connoisseurs out there, I am well aware that the few I picked are quite random, though I think it encompasses the two grand dames of TSP in Singapore. But my hunt is still on. We are not done yet.

Loong Fatt TSP : 639 Balestier Rd, Singapore 329922
603 TSP : 603 Balestier Rd, Singapore 329904
Thye Moh Chan : 133 New Bridge Road, #01-45 Chinatown Point, 059413

NEW & NOTED – Hong Kong Crocodile Meat Hot Pots

I would have thought that crocodile meat would taste lean and bony but I have to confess that I’ve never eaten crocodile before and if I had to have croc, I would prefer mine be skin-on-bag which may seem a little heartless but if I had to have croc, Hermes would be a distinct preference.

Still, there are gourmets and there are gourmands. And in Hong Kong, The Drunken Pot out to reinvent the tradition of enjoying hotpot, is known for their very innovative ‘new-age’ trendy hot-pots piled with novel ingredients and interesting flavours. They are serving up a“CROCPot” that is mean, lean and packed with protein. Theirs is crocodile tail meat cooked in a rich broth based on a king-sized hotpot. On the menu from 3 to end June as a Fathers’ Day special at their two restaurants – in Causeway Bay and in Tsim Sha Tsui Hong Kong.

Nutritionally-rich tail is that new foodie craze that seems to be hitting the fragrant harbour and it apparently tastes like a cross between chicken and crab. Farmed on China’s southern tropical island of Hainan, it is said to contain less fat than chicken, and is heart-friendly with considerably lower cholesterol. Used in traditional Chinese medicine, it dates back to  the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century, as “heaty” food believed to cure colds and asthma, and improving skin condition reducing wrinkles.

CROCPot for The King (6)

“CROCPot for The King” is HK$388, as base for personalised choice of ingredients. The broth contains heart healthy, weight loss-friendly guava and fibre-rich guava, with carrot for sweetening, chicken and pork meat for enhancing flavour.

The “Crocodile Rocks Set” at HK$468 per head for at least four guests alternatively features a host of hearty set ingredients – including onion, pork, shrimp & egg dumplings, mapo tofu dumplings and new-on-the-menu conger-pike eel balls, along with The Crafting Bears, and such signature specialties as Hanging Premium Sliced Angus Beef Short Ribs, Kurobuta Pork Slices, Seafood Platter, Taiwan Duck Maroon Jelly, Sliced Squid Ink Sausages, Freshly Made Egg Noodles, Vegetable Platter, Deep-Fried Homemade Bean Curd and Seaweed Rolls, Deep-Fried Salmon Fish Cracklings, Brine Trio with Beef Tripe, Beef Shank and Pork Belly, and Canada Sea Urchin Sashimi Cap.

Croc Pops

Also on the promotional Father’s Day menu are specialty items including a crispy, spicy, deep-fried “CROCPop” snack (HK$98 / 3 skewers) of crocodile tail meat, perfect with beer before a hot pot feast; Conger-pike Eel Balls (HK$58 / 6 pcs); Brine Trio with Beef Tripe, Beef Shank and Pork Belly (HK$88) and Deep-Fried Salmon Fish Cracklings (HK$88).

There is also a takeaway delivery option of  The Crocodile Rocks Set (also priced HK$468 per head, for 4 persons or above) through the brand’s door-to-door service (www.tdpdelivery.com).

Where:
The Drunken Pot is at 2/F, No.8 Observatory Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon and  Victoria Harbour from 27/F, V Point, 18 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. For our Vietnamese readers and visitors, the brand has also recently opened in Ho Chi Min, Vietnam in 2018.   See: www.thedrunkenpot.com

Elaine