Travel: Exploring Khao Yai, Thailand


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Khao Yai in Central Thailand is a true treasure trove of stunning natural beauty. It’s a popular tourist destination for its various man-made attractions and themed parks. But what really captured my heart was the quaint tranquility of its nature parks, amid all the commercial cafes and borrowed European architecture.

Our first stop? A tropical vineyard owned by a local family — GranMonte Wine Cottage.

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I was absolutely fascinated by the fact that they could grow a whole variety of wine grapes right here in Southeast Asia, given our rather humid and tropical climate.

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Granted, the weather in Khao Yai is somewhat cooler and drier than the rest of Thailand, but to see rows and rows of these succulent bunches of Syrah grapes growing on these vines, was just such a delight!

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We hopped on a little tram where we were given a quick tour of the vineyard and we even had some time to just enjoy walking among the harvest and see for ourselves how different grapes were grown.

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Michelin Guide ★★: Shoukouwa, Singapore


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What a wonderful surprise from my love this Valentine’s Day! We never really celebrate it. Usually, a home-cooked meal, or just us spending some quiet time together. A part of me finds the overpriced flowers and exorbitant set dinners a little contrived. Why do these things on just one day a year? But this year, I had the day off. And Sean surprised me with a super memorable dinner at Shoukouwa. It’s an 8-seater sushi restaurant in Singapore that won and kept its 2 Michelin stars just 4 months into its opening!

Funny story, I’d actually booked the exact same dinner for his birthday the following week. Talk about ESP.. Haha.

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Can you tell how excited we were? We were led into a small but cosy private room that seats a total of 6 people and had a clear view of the chef who painstakingly prepared our beautiful meal. IMG_5254

Shall we begin? Presenting the Hana Omakase Dinner ($480/person). It consisted of 5 cooked dishes, 10 nigiri sushi, 1 handroll and dessert.

Here we have our first starter of Shiroamadai or Tilefish. 

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The skin was slightly seared for flavour but otherwise the taste was mild, with a firm texture. And it went perfectly with sea salt and freshly-grated wasabi.

Next, a very interesting dish of Komochiyariika or Grilled Squid stuffed with Squid Egg and Sea Urchin.

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Michelin Guide ★★: Shisen Hanten, Singapore


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It’s Chinese New Year! The time of family gatherings, lots of feasting, drinking and all round celebrations of another auspicious year ahead. This year, for our reunion dinner with Sean’s parents, we went to the home of the “father of Szechuan cuisine”, Shisen Hanten. It’s the most celebrated Chinese restaurant on the Michelin Guide clinching a coveted two stars. But don’t be confused by its name. That comes with a little bit of history.

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Akasaka Szechuan Restaurant is known popularly in Japan as Shisen Hanten. The establishment was started in 1958 by the late Chen Kenmin, who is lauded as Japan’s father of Szechuan cooking.

Born in the Szechuan province of China, Chen Kenmin perfected his craft in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China before settling in Yokohama, Japan. After becoming a culinary legend in Japan, he passed down his legacy to his eldest son Chen Kenichi, who went on to become one of Japan’s most celebrated iron chefs.

Nicknamed the”Szechuan Sage”, Chef Kenichi went on to open acclaimed restaurants around the world, dishing up the Szechuan classics embodying seven basic flavours -sour, pungent, hot, sweet, bitter, aromatic, and salty.

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To be honest, I’d never really been a huge fan of Szechuan cuisine. I found it too overwhelming and don’t usually go out of my way to seek it out. But perhaps we just haven’t had good renditions of the cuisine, and we were very excited to find out how this place could educate us.

We decided to go a la carte to try out some of their signature dishes.

First up,  海鮮酸辣汤 or Szechuan Hot and Sour Seafood Soup ($15 /person).

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Korean Cooking: Ginseng Chicken Soup 삼계탕 (Samgyetang)


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Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup or Samgyetang is one of the most comforting, nourishing one-pot meals you can make for the whole familyGinseng is believed to help boost the immune system, improve physical and mental energy levels, lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as reduce stress. It’s both good for health and absolutely delicious. Shall we begin?

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Ingredients:
1.2kg small chicken
5 bulbs of garlic
1 fresh ginseng root
3 tablespoons sweet rice/mochi rice
1 thin ginger slice
2-3 jujubes or dried red dates
1 white scallion
5 cups of chicken stock
2 scallions to garnish
salt & pepper to taste

Start by soaking the mochi rice in water for two hours. After that, save the rice water for the soup! It really helps give it a thicker, more creamy consistency.

Then, clean out the inside of the chicken, and stuff the whole garlic bulbs, jujubes and ginseng inside the chicken before tying its legs shut to seal the opening.

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