Jan 16, 2009


peach garden at novena (桃苑). mnz stood me dinner here, her gratitude being overwhelming for my contribution to various things including her current state of exalted employment and her calling cards (subsequently criticized for having unrecognizable hummingbird imagery and wonky type; ingrate). over dinner, i ventured the proposition that chinese food (singapore-style anyway) has no detectable grammar or logic; in addition, there have been distinct transitions in the master chefs at the stalwarts. as a result, it might be interesting to undertake a study of the genealogy of signature dishes (those associated inextricably with particular restaurants) and the spread of variation in dishes across the relatively small chinese restaurant landscape in singapore. anyway.

  • wasabi fried giant prawn with tobiko; roast duck with crisp, rendered skin and a drop of plum jelly; fried eggplant matchsticks with pork floss (the eggplant was The Best Thing Ever)
  • braised tofu with spinach and crab meat
  • shark cartilage and fish maw soup with goji berries (milky with dissolved collagen)
  • perch with strawberries and oranges (this was a bit weird and the sauce was too sweet and over-reduced, though the fish was well done)
  • jellied coconut water. simple, with the ideal soft crunch.
after which, we called sulin and asked her if she would trek out to the island creamery. there was a perplexing pineapple tart flavoured ice cream, but i did the usual and got the horlicks.* so that was nice.

sushi yoshida. yeenteck and love+butter both talked this up a lot so i convinced ego to abandon the life of monastic self-restraint at least briefly. after all, if you're going to be in norway for 12 months, where food of moderate quality will cost a kidney, it's a comparative bargain to spend an arm and a leg here for certifiable tastiness. there was a strange washbasin which required several minutes of intense study before the faucet's location could be deduced (a footswitch disguised as a small rubbery lump on the floor about 2 feet away). it was actually as good as they said it was, but marred by the ichigen-san effect** which was particularly noticeable because we were sitting at the counter surrounded by regulars. a bunch of old soccer buddy types who clearly knew the chef started their dinner by pouring him and the other sushi dude behind the counter a glass of sake. in return for their doubtless extensive patronage, they received an array of delights including what looked like a platter of salt-fried flounder strips so recently in their bath of boiling oil that they were still curling up as they were brought to the table, and spice-dusted chicken gizzard yakitori broiled a overdramatically with a blowtorch.
  • salted salmon roe (ikura) with yuzu
  • poached monkfish liver (ankimo) in shoyu with spring onions and grated chilied lotus root
  • tempura of fiddlehead fern, ginger shoot (myoga), lotus root (renkon)
  • red miso stewed top shells (sazae)
  • grilled ling cod
  • sushi: gilthead bream (some kind of aji), red snapper (tai) with green ginger, sardine (kohada), whelk (tsubu), sea urchin gonads (uni), with really quite good rice though not quite as good as at kiss.
  • sashimi: o-toro, abalone (awabi), tsubu, sweet shrimp (amaebi), bonito (katsuo), bass (suzuki), scallop (hotate), octopus (iidako). this was garnished with red clover sprouts and shiso blossoms, which i'm pretty certain aren't actually in season. they tasted of nothing. but this is also the first ever sashimi i've had where the shellfish completely left the fish in the dust.
  • dashi and clam stock with giant clam (hamaguri) and japanese trefoil (mitsuba) stems. the clam was incredible.
  • two perfect strawberries, a section of tangerine, and a honeydew melon so ripe it was on the verge of deliquescence
* the fabled horlicks tablets (available in both chocolate and malted vanilla flavours) are nowhere to be found these days. where have they gone?
** ichigen-san okotowari (一見さんお断り) is technically a prohibition against strangers patronising a particular establishment. in practice, the ichigen-san effect is when you (an ichigen-san or 一見さ, ie, a person seen by the establishment for the first time) consume a creditable meal even as you observe happy patrons well-known to the chef and staff toasting each other with secret reserves of 20-year umeshu and being handed numerous plates of mysterious but certifiable tastiness that never make it to the menu.

1 comment:

Jess said...

And also, yum, Island Creamery. Apple pie -- so, so. Teh Tarik -- a little sweet. Nutella -- hum drum. But Horlick. Yum.