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The Long and Winding.. Queue

That’s no stranger at the Tiong Bahru Bakery. Even at 8am this morning, when I finally made it to the Bakery, there was a queue, not major at the very least. The constant flow of customers into the Tiong Bahru Bakery defines its success. From anyone in the neighbourhood, to the office crowd catching a morning cuppa before work, Tiong Bahru Bakery is truly accessible to all.

The bakery churns out mountains and mountains of bread from ungodly hours (i’m sure) till closing time. From squid ink bread, croissants, tarts, etc.. there is much to choose from. But I highly recommend the croissant. It’s buttery, fluffy, a little sweet and simply magnificent. Along with its wide selection of coffee (espresso based) by 40hands, Tiong Bahru Bakery is a must go! Opening hours 8am to 8pm at 56 Eng Hoon Street #01-70. Remember to either go really early or be really patient to queue. It’s absolutely worth it.

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Capsules are dead

That’s the tagline on the coffee saucers at Chye Seng Huat Hardware, otherwise know as CSHH. Set up by the good ol’ fellers from Papa Palheta, CSHH is the newest and probably the only, coffee bar in Singapore. Yes bar! They serve a specialty coffee brew, concocted from lager and coffee! It appears as a dark beer, but is neither heavy nor as malty as regular dark beers. It has a pleasant sweetness that is worth a try for all. The place is outfitted using a lot of steel rods and wood. Tied in together with carefully placed lights that are also custom designed, the place is cosy and relaxing. Not forgetting a uniquely designed counter bar that encourages customers to sit around and have a 360 view of the baristas at work and also have a small chat with them to find out more about the coffee.

CSHH is a fictional name created by the landlord and the Papa Palheta owners, its aim was to commemorate all the past hardware and metal shops that had once been there. I believe Chye Seng Huat means to flourish again, or something along those lines. You can pick up the plaque to find out more. CSHH not only offers you coffee at the bar, there are pastries and even small bites during the day such as a cold platter of parma ham and duck terrine or pancakes with blueberries, creme brulee and others. To up the ante of your experience, book a session at The Annex to have a small lesson about coffee and how its brewed among other interesting facts. Otherwise, take the lesson on how to be a barista at the school just upstairs conducted by the CSHH owners themselves! Last of all, take a little tour of the place and have a look at the Roastery and be sure to pick up a bag, well bags of coffee powder or beans before you leave.

Located at 150 Tyrwhitt Road. Opening hours are from Tues to Fri (0900 to 1900hrs) and Sat/Sun (0900 to 2200hrs)

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Little do we know about Muar, Johor. ..

I don’t suppose many of you have been to Muar. However, I’m certain you have heard of Muar Otah at least.

Muar is apparently the second biggest district in the state of Johor, Malaysia. Within Muar, there are sub-districts on the outskirts, such as Pagoh, Grisek, Parit Jawa, etc. Therefore, depending which part you are in, usually, the locals will describe their area as its sub-district instead of referring to the term “Muar”. However, all are easily accessible to “Muar Town”. Transport is often by motorcycle and car.

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Over the weekend, I headed up to Grisek, Muar. A kampong area about 30min from Muar Town. There, the locals grow their own vegetables for self-sustenance and other agriculture. The local community sometimes hold markets “pasar” where they can sell local catch and produce. The place is generally pretty run down except for clusters of colourful industrial buildings. Sad to say, because of such plans, the area is seemingly losing its charm. Nevertheless, it is still a place to go for food, especially Otah and Durians (availability subjected to season). In the day, things are pretty slow, the locals usually hang around their homes with the occasional trips to work (because they usually have their own businesses) and to the farms. Everyone knows everyone, so it’s easy to head to the nearest kopitiam to find a friend without having to SMS or call ahead of time.

Communities there used to be safer and close knit. However, with recent influx of foreign workers, there have been increased crime rates. The local community had to even organise petrol teams to take turns at night and watch over the kampong. Therefore, people are a little less trusting of the new faces in their town and gradually drift apart. So, if you ever head over there, it is good to develop a little OCD and be careful with wallets and handbags.

On to a little more happy things, the food! I discovered a newly open dimsum place in the area of Bukit Gambir, just 5 min from Grisek, called Yun2 Lai2 (“Cloud Coming” Literally translated) selling a very, very familiar Tau Sa Pau, that has been popular here in Singapore. They of course tasted exactly the same and naturally, at a friendlier price. Dim sum is served just outside the shop and customers are encouraged to make their own selection, afterwhich, will be reheated and served to your table. There is a good selection of Paus, lotus paste, red bean paste, chicken meat and of course charsiew. All the paus are served piping hot with generous fillings. More importantly, the pau itself is pillow soft and every bite is so comforting and warm. Definitely, unlike the paus here that tend to be a little tougher and sometimes slightly more chewy. It’s hard to stop at just one! However, I can’t give you the address because I don’t know! roads are little confusing, but I hope the name of the shop and area will help! Opening hours 0630-1500hrs. Prices from 1.30RM for paus and 2.00RM for dimsum and above.

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I was also lucky to have enjoyed a fantastic Bak Kut Teh, served with a choice of white rice or yam rice (my pick!). It is also in the Bukit Gambir area and located next to the Shell station. It is open from 0700 to 1400hrs, except of wednesday or thursday, can’t recall. The herbal broth is great to start the day. It is served in a claypot with golden mushrooms, beancurd skin (my favourite!), lettuce, canned mushrooms, meat balls, pork ribs(of course) and pig innards (optional). Per person is approx 10RM and above. The owner is quite a dashing and well built man in his 40s. I had the additional joy of enjoying the bak kut teh with home grown oyster and king shitake mushrooms grown by my husband’s family in Grisek. Yes, you can bring your own mushrooms and the owner will be more than happy to add them in for you.

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Oh yes, there are also many little shops selling old fashion biscuits in all shapes, sizes and colour (sometimes). Roti Prata, or Roti Canai (as referred to in Malaysia), is of course a common find. Muar is also quite famous for its wanton mee. Each stall does it differently and is usually sold in very small plates (like the size of a coffee saucer), for approx 3.50RM. A trip into Muar town with a desperate mission to find a clean toilet, I discovered a wanton mee stall. The noodles are slightly similar to those found at Fei Fei wanton mee (Joo Chiat). They usually use a dark sauce for the wanton mee there and the noodles have a mild alkaline taste to it. You may or may not like it, depending. However, it’s worth a try! Muar Town is usually quiet in the day and comes to light at night with food stalls lining up along the road, similar to Lau Pa Sat, with locals selling Otah, ice kachang, wanton mee, char kway teow etc. Muar Otah tastes different with every stall, so you should just go around trying to decide which you like. I’ve yet to discover my favourite! The usual Otah is made of fish, however there are new creations such as prawns, crab, cockles, clams and squid. There is a night food market that is near the bus station which I believe opens from 6pm onwards. It is brightly lit with a pretty wide selection of food.

I was only there over a weekend and didn’t have enough time or knowledge to explore more. However, it is only 1 1/2 hrs to 2 hrs away from Singapore, so if you’re bored in Singapore, I think it would be nice to stop over Muar just for some food and otah shopping. It is not far from the bustling Melaka (Approx 45min).

Kill 2 birds with one stone! Why not!

It’s a change of plans!

The Grumpy Chef Private Dining scene will cease and be repositioned whilst Private Chef for hire will continue. For more details, kindly email to grumpychef@rocketmail.com 

Kindly note that the contact number 8104-8181 will be discontinued. 

The Grumpy Chef can be contacted either via email as above or facebook “The Grumpy Chef”. 

Apologies for any inconveniences. 

Notice!

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The Grumpy Chef will be temporarily closed from 31st May to 30th July 2012. Business resumes 1 August 2012. Sorry for the inconvenience. Meanwhile, do eat well and drink well.

Have a Happy & Hearty Lunar New Year

The Grumpy Chef will be ushering in the Dragon Year from 21st January 2012 to 26th January 2012. Feasting at the Grumpy Chef’s will resume on 27th January 2012. Many apologies for the inconvenience.

Here’s wishing everyone good health in the Dragon year and of course good appetites all year round.

Cheers & Gong Xi Fa Cai

The Grumpy Chef Newsletter #06