Posts Tagged ‘chicken satay’

VIOLET’S HIGH TEA

Welcome to National Kitchen by Violet Oon! Your table is ready.

The meeting happened this time unlike my unsuccessful Sunday Brunch get together. Her suggestion was high tea at National Kitchen by Violet Oon. I was game because I hadn’t seen her – her is my former-freelance writer-now-friend Marguerita Tan based in Singapore – in ages and I have always been partial to high tea since Bekasi is bereft of it. There is also this inexplicable elegance in sipping tea (or coffee) in fine china and nibbling bite-size delicacies. Curiosity was another factor. The Peranakan restaurant, nestled nicely in the refurbished City Hall building which is also the new home of the National Gallery, is new to me. There were truly a lot of things to look forward to.

Look at the exquisite chandeliers! Check out the mirror ceiling!


For the uninitiated, Violet Oon is a household name in Singapore being a food critic, author, cooking show host, restaurant owner, and former journalist. Her National Kitchen by Violet Oon is drawing crowds that it is a must to reserve a table because it is impossible to just drop in and dine. Our meet up was propitious; tables were available, but we had to get there before high tea. No problem. Both of us were ready to savor the pre-high tea menu and waiting an hour plus was a walk in the park.

To get to National Kitchen, one is advised to enter via the Coleman Street entrance. The restaurant is at the corner of the City Hall wing of the National Gallery on the second floor in which you get to by walking a bit and turning here and there. The strategically placed signs easily gets diners to the eatery. It is small establishment yet not cramped although you will hear cachinnations from the tables around you and see what the others have ordered. Still, it is a cosy venue to catch up on each other’s lives. Plus point: the service crew is polite without being too unctuous and well-versed in the dishes. One recited the items of our high tea set without skipping a beat!

It was still early for high tea so Markie, as she is called, and I went for two popular starter dishes on the menu: chicken satay (S$15) and kueh pie tee (S$17). These we complimented with the hot and cold versions of Kopi VO “C” or coffee with evaporated milk. The chicken satay was generous in terms of thickness and number of pieces skewered on a stick. Tender too and with just the right level of spiciness, meaning the satay doesn’t “burn” your tongue. It is served with spicy peanut sauce with grated pineapple (a new take for me), steamed rice cake, cucumber, and red onion. Meanwhile, the kueh pie tee never fails to capture my attention. First, I am taken by the esculent cup masquerading as a “top hat” and, second, I like how the flavors come together and end with a crunch. The deep-fried cup-top hat holds the julienned bamboo shoot and turnip poached in prawn bisque which is topped by prawn, and can be dipped in chili sauce or sweet sauce depending on one’s preference.

The chicken satay is good for one or two diners.


Kueh pie tee – split it with a friend or have it all


Hot Kopi VO “C” goes well with the satay and kueh pie tee


Kopi VO “C” Peng or coffee with evaporated milk and ice with satay? Go for it!

KWe were finally able to sink our teeth into the Singapore High Tea by 2pm. Priced at $56++, the three-tiered serving stand showcased savory and sweet bites along with Kopi VO or teh (tea). Counting from the bottom, the first platter held the pulled beef sambal in steamed bun and hae bee hiam sandwich or spicy dried shrimp floss finger sandwich. The second platter highlighted the nasi kuning serunding, glutinous rice with turmeric and topped with spicy fried coconut flakes; kueh pie tee; otak crostini, spiced coconut cream fish quenelle on a buttered crostini; and buah keulak crostini, buah keulak infused with spices, minced prawns, and milk on buttered crostini. Skipping the pulled beef sambal, each savory delight was a bite of piquant flavors rolling in the mouth.

The top tier held the sweet stuff of which I instantly checked these two as my favorite kueh or cake: kueh lapis legit (layered buttery cake) and roti jala (traditional Nyonya laced pancake served with gula melaka – dark palm sugar – and banana coconut sauce). The other kueh included kueh beng kah, tapioca cake with coconut cream; kesturi pie, citrus curd on a a buttery shortcrust base topped with papaya and limau kasturi (golden lime) compote; kueh dah dah, grated coconut cooked with gula melaka wrapped in crepe infused with pandan; and kueh lapis sago, pearl tapioca multi colored layered steamed cake infused with pandan.

the piece de resistance – Singapore High Tea for two

Meet ups with good friends are never unpleasant events. The hours go unnoticed with the exchange of stories in between sips and bites. Undoubtedly, the whole experience is ameliorated with a good selection of a restaurant for the recollection of the past, talk about the present, and musings on the future. Indubitably, high tea at National Kitchen by Violet Oon made the meet up even memorable.
National Kitchen by Violet Oon at National Gallery Singapore

1 St. Andrew’s Road #02-01, National Gallery Singapore 178957

E-mail: eat@violetoon.com

Reservations: +65 98349935
Lunch: 12pm – 3pm (last order 2:30pm)

Dinner: 6pm – 11pm (last order 9:30pm)

Veranda: 5:3m – 11pm (last food order 10pm)

Advertisements

FOOD TRIPPING IN BALI

Mention Bali and food in one breath and the flavourful nasi campur that lights up the palate come to mind. But iconic local dish aside, restaurants abound in and out of Sanur that makes food tripping in Bali a very delectable experience. It is also an advantage to have a gal-pal who has had her ear on the ground when it comes to the culinary delights around the island.

Sanur is replete with myriad dining choices, but my culinary adventure always started each day with breakfast at La Tartine, the restaurant where guests of French-owned Hotel Puri Tempo Doeloe troop to from 7 am to 10 am. One’s choice of breakfast set comes with fruit salad, orange juice, and black coffee or tea. A creature of habit, my choice was always scrambled egg with fried tomatoes and herbs partnered with a thin pancake from the other sets of bacon and egg, scrambled egg with grilled cheese, tartine of the day, and nasi goreng (fried rice) or mie goreng (fried noodles). Each breakfast set is prepared on the spot with the right amount of oil and spices, and absolutely basking in freshness. For a mid-day repast of Italian, gal-pal Eta swears by the nonpareil menu of Massimo – Italian Restaurant on Jalan Danau Tamblingan. This more-than-a-decade old eatery sees nights teeming with diners already seated or waiting for their table. The first time we got there we had 40 minutes before we could get ours, so we had gelato (the cannoli is good) first and walked around the area. The gelato counter at the entrance is similarly swarmed by diners. The special dish that night was paccheri in salmon tomato sauce in which the creaminess of the sauce was a beautiful melding of cream and tomato sauce that zigzagged on the palate, urging me to finish the dish to the last tube pasta. Meanwhile, Eta’s favourite spaghetti carbonara was equally bursting with flavour. On our next visit I went for the classic mushroom fettuccine while she went out of her comfort zone and had spaghetti aglio olio.

La Tartine breakfast

Breakfast of scrambled egg at La Tartine, Sanur

pasta from Massimo

Paccheri with salmon tomato sauce from Massimo

Spaghetti aglio olio at Massimo

Spaghetti aglio olio at Massimo

Massimo gelato

gelato by Massimo

Another dinner excursion in Sanur led us to Kuu Izakaya Dining located also along Jalan Danau Tamblingan. Eta and I were in the mood for Japanese and took our chances when we spotted this one. Kuu was a serendipitous find: strong, palate-tickling flavours; food served on elegant glazed earthenware; refreshing Mango Tango and Apple Cinnamon drinks; Zen-like ambiance; and gracious servers. We had a feast: tempura ebi (crunchy and not oily), tori teriyaki (succulent and not salty), dragon maki (creative dragon rendition with the shrimp head), and chawan mushi (bouncy egg custard).

dining al fresco of Kuu

Dining al fresco at Kuu

Dragon maki

Dragon maki for two

Chawan mushi 2

Piping hot chawan mushi

Kuu

Kuu drinks

L-R: Apple Cinnamon and Mango Tango

Going beyond Sanur, it was Cafe Lotus on Jalan Raya Ubud for lunch. It is another iconic dining establishment on the island that beckons the guests because of its location and view. Located between Ubud Palace and Museum Puri Lukisan, and adjacent to a Starbucks, the sittings near the entrance are fantastic. They offer a majestic view of one of Ubud’s main temples, Pura Tama Kemudra Saraswati, which is the stage for the nightly performances of traditional dances. The temple lies beyond another pull-factor of the restaurant: an enormous lotus pond with ancient kamboja (or magnolia) trees joined by the newly added by orchids standing regally against the alluring blue skies. My chicken satay were not scrawny slivers of grilled chicken, but succulent chunks that almost melted in your mouth while Eta’s breaded chicken was not oily or thickly wrapped in bread crumbs. Sadly, service was less than welcoming – the server that greeted us was crabby.

Chicken satay at Cafe Lotus

Chicken satay by Cafe Lotus

view from Cafe Lotus

View as you dine at Cafe Lotus

Venturing into Kuta, we went American for lunch at Hard Rock Cafe on Jalan Pantai Kuta, which is just opposite the famed, crowded Kuta beach. Ironic as it may seem, I had the duck breast which wasn’t a disappointment. The slices of duck breast were juicy and the kailan crunchy. Adding a zing to the noontime meal was having chicken wings with tangy barbecue sauce for appetizer. Meanwhile, Eta’s fish and chips were a good choice – succulent fish that wasn’t thickly coated in batter or swimming in oil.

fish and chips from Hard Rock Cafe

duck breast from Hard Rock Cafe

Tangy Chicken wings

Food tripping in Bali is a gastronomic experience with the myriad restaurants ready for the picking. The choices are endless with each new day promising a palate-tickling, tummy-satisfying culinary journey.

COSY NOOK

It has become a routine of some sort particularly after having worked on my legs with my personal trainer. Going home would have been my next move but my legs had a mind of its own. They would straight away head to this new cosy nook I discovered. Literally next Helio fitness centre at Bekasi Cyber Park, past the row of restaurants starting with Domino’s Pizza and ending with McDonald’s- or you might want to cut through the parking lot – is the newly built Aston Imperial Hotel and Conference Centre. On the left of its entrance is the lobby lounge, its comfortable sofa-like chairs surrounding either a square or circle tables, that has provided me with a quiet spot to get lost in my head. A corner near the counter is the spot I’ve selected to plonk down on the chair to collect my thoughts and rest my fatigued legs.

cappuccino and chicken sandwich

iced cappuccino and chicken sandwich from the lobby lounge of Aston Imperial in Bekasi

The view is hardly picturesque from my cosy nook, albeit it’s nowhere near the undulating rice crops against the lush foliage of Bali or the rolls of waves rushing to the shore and dissipating into traces of white foam, they offer a chance to observe the denizens of Bekasi. Zooming through the intersection on an ojek – motorcycle for hire – or their own Fortuner or Avanza, I wonder at their stories: Where are they heading to? How did their day start – on a good note or not? Are they happy with their lives? Do they like their jobs? Do they like living in Bekasi? I let those questions sashay through my mind which, thankfully, overwhelm the other wretched thoughts pressing consistently and heavily on my heart and soul for a few moments.

20170309_181711

20170325_123520

juicy chicken satay and lontong

Prompted out of my silent musings by hunger pangs, the menu at the lobby lounge – an extension of the Imperial Coffeeshop on the second floor – is a cornucopia of savoury, filling dishes from local to international dishes that would satisfy any gastronome. The chicken sandwich on wheat bread served with French fries is a light repast that goes well with either a drinking jar of iced cappuccino or freshly blended pineapple juice. When feeling particularly ravenous, I opt for the 10-piece chicken satay with lontong (or rice cake) and sweet-spicy peanut sauce. The servings for both orders are huge so I end up packing them to go and having them again while marking papers. Meanwhile, dessert was a special treat following a post-yoga class with my gal-pal, Theresia. We were extremely famished and after completing our meal we had a sweet coup de grace of three scoops of ice cream – vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.

20170309_192910

ice cream – a sweet ending to a meal

Finding a cosy nook is like finding a needle in a haystack in the midst of the urban jungle where everything is packed with people. But lady luck seems to have noticed that I needed a respite from my heavy heart and led me to a cosy nook, a corner that lets me recover from my workout sessions and to stay the continual assault of the low-spirited thoughts.