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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.

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!

Posted on

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

a grumpy chef recommendation : Nogawa, Sentosa Golf Club

At your next visit to Sentosa or next food adventure, I highly recommend Nogawa Restaurant in Sentosa Golf Club. There, you will find an array of delicious sea food ready for sashimi or sushi consumption. I recommend you sit by the bar counter and ask if the chef, Kondo-san, is available. He is the senior chef at Nogawa and usually is at the Sentosa outlet most days except tuesday and thursday. (Nogawa has a second outlet at Concorde Hotel, however, I do prefer the setting at Sentosa Golf Club)

At Nogawa, you may always opt for a set menu or leave the decision to the chef. Otherwise, you may try ordering the Hikari Mono, a pure selection of silver skin fish, etc, Tuna, Aji (Horse Mackerel), Saba (Mackerel), and others. What the grumpy chef recommends you try, Kohada (Gizzard Shard, don’t be put off by its name), Aji, Saba, Ottoro (Blue fin tuna belly), Sardine (not available all the time) and Kajiki (Sword fish). The two things the grumpy chef STRONGLY and i mean, really STRONGLY recommends you try is the Kyushu beef sushi (Kobe also available at times) and the Uni sushi. They are absolutely out of this world. And for the more adventurous, ask the chef for fish liver if available and give the flounder fin a try. It’s firm and crunchy and served sushi style with course salt. Of course, usual suspects like Salmon and Ebi are available. It is a regular sushi bar and restuarant with main courses available. However, if you are up for a treat at a nice quiet place and do not wish to over eat or are in the midst of a detox, I strongly recommend Nogawa. Get to know Kondo-san a little and he will be able to give you more recommendations.

Oh yes, and don’t forget to try Hirei Sake (Puffer fish fin fried and soaked in hot sake). Complete your meal with Ume Jelly and I’m certain, you will return again.

Price: about $100-$120 for 10 or more sushi including sake. Uni and the beef sushi are one of the most expensive sushi at $15 per piece.

Service: Pleasant and attentive

Nogawa, Sentosa Golf Club, 6373-7120

 

To the land of pho, pho and more pho

Ah, Hanoi. A part of a country that used to colonised by the French, now left with only but a speck here and there of French influence it seems. Except for a few buildings and french delis, there is really, nothing french left. Strangely, what seems to be the heavy influence, is Korean. Korean ginseng stores, Korean clothing stores and all. A place that I had expected to be swept away by its old world charm was nothing but a victim to tourism. Sad, I must say.

The people didn’t particularly seem friendly, except for a few stall holders that sold pho or porridge by the roadside in the morning and night. English is hardly understood in Hanoi, you’d need to have some knowledge of a few useful vietnamese words. Most stores accepted USD, but of course always, always tried to rip you off. So I’d recommended using the Dong instead and making it known, that you hardly have any USD on you.

On every corner, you’d possibly find someone selling pho, either in its thin string form or flat noodle form. Mostly served in a beef or chicken broth, topped with coriander and mint. Most food off the street cost only a couple dollars from $1 to $4(for the rip off stalls). The most prominent food on the street was strangely donuts and deep friend pastry balls stuffed with green bean/mung bean. We got fooled by a lady and bought 10 of the pastry balls at 50,000 dong (SGD $3.50 or so). The balls were oily and chewy. I wouldn’t recommend it. And you know, you’d think in Vietnam, everybody loved drinking coffee. But no, everyone was drinking tea. A tea they called Vietnamese Tea, which was a pale yellow hardly fragrant cup of tea. Even in the highly recommended (by our tour guide) coffee place, Trung Nguyen (also available at Liang Court Singapore), everybody was drinking tea. Strange! And yes, apparently Trung Nguyen is the best vietnamese coffee you can find! How disappointing is that. The coffee came up to only an inch of the cup, with half the inch being condensed milk. It was thick, sweet with a bitter finish.  And so the search for good coffee continued. We did eventually find a shop with good coffee, just that, we still weren’t blown away. Long story short, don’t keep your hopes too high on finding damn good coffee in Hanoi.

And yes, we did attempt to impress ourselves by taking a trip to Halong Bay. It was a bearable 4 hours bus ride there and a gruelling 5 hours ride back and a mere 2.5hours there. We saw the rocks, met the fighting chickens, figured out the turtle island, climbed 70 steps or so, saw Romeo and Juliet in a cave, discovered a few man and woman special parts in the cave, stepped onto a floating island, met an adorable dog, saw many mantis prawns, spent 1 million dong on a weird sea creature and some prawns and skinny oysters. Sailed for a bit, took some photos and left wondering “hmm…okay…” But at least, I’ve been to Halong Bay. Once, that is.

Nevertheless, I did manage to buy some plates (apparently handmade in Vietnam), ceramic bowls, bell jars, a kilo of lotus tea leaves and a mountain of dried longan and dried lotus seeds.

 

That’s Hanoi for you.

 

Feast with the Grumpy Chef this December