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In Chef Mode


As Chinese New Year is fast approaching, I've concocted a special brew for it! Named the Orient Express, it can also be called the Eight Treasures Tea. So what are the eight 'treasures' that I've used?

  1. Black Tea
  2. Green Tea
  3. Osmanthus
  4. Dried Longans
  5. Black Wolfberries
  6. Red Wolfberries
  7. Honey
  8. Red Dates 
I've been receiving quite rave reviews for this flavour and I'm glad that everyone has been enjoying it thus far! Do order yours a week in advance so that I have enough time to brew as I brew in small batches.

To order, please click here.

If the above doesn't seem like your cup of tea (pun intended), then feel free to browse through the other flavours as listed at kombucha.thewellnessinsider.sg.

Happy Lunar New Year in advance!

Little Sheep Hotpot from Inner Mongolia is now in Singapore thanks to No Signboard Holdings and I was kindly invited to their official opening! Located at One Fullerton, Little Sheep Hotpot Singapore does have a nice view of the bay area (if you're seated next to the glass windows) and will attract quite a lot of tourist traffic.

No Signboard intends to open one outlet per year over the next five years and Little Sheep will add diversity to the group's restaurant business, which is already known for fresh seafood.


The soups

Established since 1999, Little Sheep Hotpot is famous for their lamb delicacies and their original soup base (S$9++ for small, S$20++ for large) is apparently made from 36 different spices and herbs such as goji berries (aka wolfberries), jujubes, black cardamon pods and ginseng. Needless to say, there is also the spicy mala option (S$9++ for small, S$20++ for large) that's cooked with chilli and Szechuan peppercorns. You can choose to have two soups in a pot like above with prices starting from S$12++ (small) and it depends on which two soup bases you choose from. Besides the original and mala, they also have mushroom and tomato soups (both at S$8++ for small, S$16++ for large).

Taste-test: I liked that the mala wasn't too chilli spicy and I think most people with various chilli tolerance levels can enjoy this hotpot together. If you like it more spicy, feel free to get more chilli but otherwise, I think it's a good chilli-hot level. However, in terms of flavour and fragrance of spices, I'm afraid that it is a bit lacking. The one that I had at Spice World Singapore was A LOT better.

As for the original white soup, the taste of the herbs was a bit faint. I prefer my soup to have a stronger herbal taste. It was rather garlicky and we fished out plenty of garlic that was served in the soup.

Interesting fact: hotpot can be traced back to more than 1,000 years ago where Mongolian horsemen would fill their overturned helmets with water and place them in embers to simmer before adding meat and vegetables. As they travelled throughout China, people began to create their own unique hotpot dishes by adding local ingredients! Well...I hope those helmets were washed thoroughly before being worn. Can you imagine wearing a helmet that still smells like last night's dinner? Hmmm....

The ingredients



Since Little Sheep is known for their lamb, this 3-tier is their Signature Lamb Platter (S$36++) and you get to sample a few their signature cuts. Needless to say, you can opt for individual cuts. They do have beef as well but we only managed to get a plate of what I think is their Signature Beef Selection (S$13++ for small, S$26++ for large). They also have Pig's Brain (S$8++)!!

The first bite of the lamb was very...lamby. If you don't like lamb, this might be your worse nightmare. Subsequent slices tasted a lot more like beef. I didn't find the lamb nor the beef particularly tender and I have bought more tender cuts from the supermarket (yes, for shabu shabu even).

We requested for pork and they gave us the Pork Shoulder (S$9++ for small, S$18++ for large) and it was ok. Not sure whether they misheard us or they were too busy...but we were questioning whether it was pork because the colour was quite a deep shade of red. Maybe we got beef instead?


If meats aren't your thing, don't worry as they have various kinds of seafood too and I think that their white pomfret at S$22++ is actually quite reasonable! They have lobster and scallops too...but they didn't serve those to us. We also tried their Handmade Snakehead Fish Paste (S$9++ for small, $18++ for large) and unlike other hotpot restaurants, this came in a plastic bag and squeezed out like a piping bag. It was fresh so it was good!

Similar to Beauty in a Pot, they too have the Fried Bean Curd Roll (S$5++ for small, S$10++ for large) and I love eating this as it is like a sponge, soaking up the soup but it is very light at the same time.

They served us the Fried Fish Skin (S$4.50++ for small, S$9++ for large) as appetisers but you can also dunk them in the soup. The fish skin was definitely fresh and free from any additives because they were a little bit limp after we started the hotpot.

We also had vegetables! But I didn't take the photos because...vegetables are vegetables? Mushroom lovers can also order the Mushroom Platter (S$18++) that has enoki, shiitake, eringi and shimeiji.

The grilled items


While waiting for the soup to boil, you can also order their grilled items such as the Signature Lamb Kebab (S$8++) as seen above. Do note that the lamb fat was also skewered and grilled together, which explains the tenderness of the lamb pieces. However, I felt that the meats could've been marinated a little bit better...or the spice powder wasn't as strong as I'd like it to be. Also, there wasn't a barbecued taste/ chargrill to them, although you CAN see the grilling action through the window. 

Overall 

Not sure whether the staff was frantic because it was a full house with media and influencers, but there were a few slip-ups. For example, having 1 set of soup ladles for 7 people on the table is waay too little and we had to ask for another set. My plate was cleared but a clean one was never given so I relied on my bowl...which wasn't really a big deal but it does say something about their stress-test. 

They did give us a small metal basket to boil the tofu but it was only 1 but we had 2 soup bases....which again, made me wonder whether they were a bit too frantic so they forgot?

You can't deny that the food served was fresh. But overall, for the prices, I feel more compelled to go eat the conveyor belt buffet hotpot or Spice World Singapore or Beauty in a Pot, considering how the latter two open till late. But if lamb is your thing...then yes, this is the only hotpot restaurant that I know of which serves many cuts of lamb and you can enjoy even a soup base that has been cooked with lamb! 

Little Sheep Hotpot
One Fullerton
#01-05
Website: www.littlesheephotpot.com
Tel no.: +65 6222 9959

Kombucha It is a variety of fermented tea that is produced using a "Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast" (SCOBY). During the fermentation process, enzymes, amino acids, organic acids (sometimes ethanol even), B vitamins, vitamin C and probiotics are produced. Thus, it is often consumed to help with general health by keeping a healthy gut.

You'll learn the basics of how to make kombucha, what to do and what NOT to do when brewing your kombucha. You will also get to taste a few various 'flavours' of kombucha.

Experience includes:

  • Starter kit including your own SCOBY
  • Recipe guide to kick off your kombucha experiments
  • Learn the basics of how to make kombucha
Date: Sunday, 30 September 2018
Time: 2.30 - 4.30pm
Venue: Alexandra Road (full address will be given upon successful registration)
Price: S$50 per person

To register, please complete the payment through Eventbrite.


Come and join me in this special tea (all puns intended) session where you'll get to taste various flavoured kombucha, which is fermented tea full of probiotics, paired with small bites. Learn about the benefits of this brew alongside foods that you can enjoy them with.

Experience includes:

  • Tasting of various kombuchas
  • Healthy bites
  • Goodie bag with healthy food samples (stevia, brown rice and protein brownies)
Date: Sunday, 23 September 2018
Time: 3 - 5pm
Venue: Alexandra Road (full address will be given upon successful registration)
Price: S$20 (adults) and S$15 (children)

To register, please choose one of the options below and complete through Eventbrite.


If you have seen this ad by Pizza Hut Singapore recently, you might be wondering what this is all about and what is this "Slice of Simple"?

At first, I thought that Pizza Hut was going back to basics and serve up what the Italians have been producing all these years - simple, unadulterated, thin crust pizzas. And my curiosity was piqued enough that when I received a media invite to Pizza Hut's pizza buffet, I sent not one but TWO representatives on my behalf to just figure out what this new tagline is all about.

Rep 1 is a home cook who has baked her own pizzas, various other pastries as well as international cuisines but before this, she used to supply flavourings and spices to restaurants and sausage manufacturers. Rep 2 is a self-professed foodie who has eaten enough pizzas to know what she likes and doesn't like.


A "Slice of Simple" with the New and Improved Pan Pizza

Through customer feedback, survey of more than 100 participants, as well as with intensive brainstorming within Pizza Huts' various restaurant teams, they went to find out what an ideal pizza meant. After which, the product team went through repeated product refinement before serving up the all new Pan Pizza versions of familiar favourites such as the Hawaiian, Super Supreme, Chicken Supreme, Curry Chicken, Meat Galore and BBQ Chunky Chic with a crispier crust, improved sauces and toppings that are close to the edge.

As such, the menu is also more streamlined and they're not complicating the food choice. Rather than being fancy, they're just improving what they've always been good at.

Do the pizzas stand the taste test?

(Left to right) Meat Lovers, Hawaiian and BBQ Chicken

As you can see, the toppings are really as close to the edge as possible. It does feel like Pizza Hut has finally found a way to make you eat their crust. The edges of the pizza were definitely crispy while it gets softer and more bread-like after that.


The inside where you can see the bread/crust

Verdict? Both reps said that the crust was definitely a lot softer than previous and was an overall improvement. However, both reps are thin crust lovers so they had to really tell themselves that this was just the Pan Pizzas and they're supposed to be like that.

Rep 1 felt that the so-called cabanossi sausage used in the Meat Galore pizza just didn't have the oomph of proper Italian sausages as they didn't have any fennel seed in it. Moreover, since Pizza Hut Singapore is Halal certified, there wasn't any pork in this sausage so it could've used a bit more spices to bring up the flavours. Unfortunately, she also bit into some tendons/sinew in the minced beef.

Cream of Chicken Soup

Both liked the Hawaiian and Rep 1 even commented that they had really gone back to the same flavours as to when Pizza Hut first set up shop in Singapore.

As for the soup? Don't bother. And the breadsticks? Made with the same recipe as their improved Pan Pizza but it ended up being neither hard nor soft. Thus...which kind of breadstick were they aiming for? You're probably better off just eating the pizzas.

Overall, both felt that the Pan Pizzas were edible pizzas and definitely an improvement from before but if you are a real pizza lover, you're probably a thin crust kinda person and will ditch this for the more artisanal ones. Is it really a slice of simple? Well, it's as simple as Pizza Hut can get and relatively a no-brainer for the rest of us. However, my idea of a slice of simple is a Pizza Margherita that just has awesome crust topped with marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese and basil.

Unlimited slices of Pan Pizza at Buffet Fiesta

Nonetheless, if you really just love pizzas and want to relish in an exuberant indulgence while trying out every flavour of Pizza Hut's new Pan Pizzas, then rejoice! From 25 June to 26 August 2018, selected outlets will have 90-minute pizza buffets each week and the schedule is as follows:

25 Jun to 8 Jul Bedok Mall Harbourfront Centre Jurong Point Lot One Shoppers' Mall
9 to 22 Jul Bukit Timah Plaza Causeway Point The Seletar Mall
23 Jul to 5 Aug Ang Mo Kio Mall Eastpoint Mall NorthPoint City (North Wing) West Mall
13 to 26 Aug Bukit Panjang Plaza Plaza Singapura Sun Plaza West Gate

Prices are very pocket-friendly at S$19.85 (weekdays) and S$22.20 (weekends) for adults; S$12.80 (weekdays) and S$15.15 (weekends) for children aged 5 to 12 years old. Prices stated are inclusive of service charge and GST.

Do note that the buffets are available in 2 sessions on weekdays (6.15-7.45pm and 8-9.30pm) and 3 sessions on weekends (4.30-6pm, 6.15-7.45pm and 8-9.30pm).

As this is a limited time offer, please make your reservations at http://pizzafestival.pizzahut.com.sg.



Photo credits: Pizza Hut and In Chef Mode

Meiji's Hello Panda has introduced a new flavour - COCONUT! This was introduced to Singapore first before their global roll-out. This will be the latest addition to the brand's six flavours - chocolate, strawberry (one of my faves!), milk (haven't tasted this), double chocolate (where do they sell this?), Matcha Green Tea (yum!) and chocomilk (again, where do they sell this?).

If you're not familiar with Hello Panda (hello childhood biscuit), it was first released in Japan in 1979 and is characterised by individual crispy biscuits filled with cream.


Adding a fun touch to the snack, Hello Panda has recently introduced 100 panda characters printed on the biscuit. Spot the unique designs as you eat the biscuits! This was from one pack and I was quite tickled to find out that none of the pandas are the same design.

"With the strong local snacking culture and rising popularity of Asian flavours in snacks, Hello Panda Coconut was crafted as a treat for our South East Asian fans," said Akira Suzuki, Sales & Marketing Deputy Director in Meiji Seika Singapore.

Taste test? Reminds me of Kueh Bankit, which is a coconut biscuit that I help my mum make for Chinese New Year every year. It is very coconuty in flavour (thumbs up!) and I'm glad to know that it is made from natural coconut extract.

If you've grown up eating Hello Panda snacks like I did, you should try their latest flavour which will be in most leading retailers from June 2018.

You've been warned. Chocolate lovers will revel in the fact that Fullerton Hotel's The Courtyard has brought back their Chocolate Buffet (S$45++ per adult; S$22 per child) and it is only on Fridays and Saturdays from 8.00pm to 11.00pm.


Bigger, better and helmed by Executive Pastry Chef Siddharth Prabhu, the weekend evening affair features a slew of novel creations that will tantalise the tastebuds of both young and old.

Chocolate Savouries


(From top left in clockwise direction) Bitter Sweet Chocolate Lime Arancini, Cocoa Spice-rubbed Baby Pork Ribs, Wagyu Beef and Peruvian Chocolate Poblano Chilli Empanada and Baked Ocean Trout Mini Quiches

I was really intrigued by the savoury section of the buffet as I've always heard of beef with chocolate sauce but I've never ever tried it before. Moreover, most people think of chocolate as a sweet treat rather than paired with a meat.

What I liked: the pork ribs and mini quiches. The ribs were so tender and fell off the bone (no wonder there wasn't any knives on the table) and although the chocolate powder was a tad bitter at first, it does melt into the meat upon chewing and provides a nice flavour. You MUST eat the meat together with the fried curry leaves to add another dimension of flavour.

The quiches were fun and bite-sized although one of my quiches had too little trout for me to taste it. My aunt was dreaming of spinach in hers. No chocolate in this dish but it does help break any overwhelming chocolate taste in your mouth that you may already have.

What I didn't like: the empanada and arancini. Sorely disappointed in both dishes. The wagyu filling wasn't well seasoned and because of that, I started to be a bit picky with the pastry as it wasn't flaky nor rich tasting as you'd expect from either a puff or a Cornish pasty.

Arancini is essentially a fried risotto ball and while I liked the crispy outer layer, the burst of chocolate in the middle didn't quite go. Lime? What lime? Me no taste lime. Meh. Skip the carbs and move on.

Interactive Stations

Executive Pastry Chef Siddharth Prabu at the Live Nitro Station

Cue the theatrics at the Live Nitro Station, where liquid nitrogen is flamboyantly used to instantly freeze liquid chocolate into a ball and placed on a bed of meringue.


You probably can't see from the photo above but there are wisps of 'smoke' from the liquid nitrogen. Crack it open and...


The core of Valrhona 70% Chocolate sponge, crumble, espuma and meringue is revealed. My aunt and I really loved this dish as it was fun in terms of presentation but it was also very light! It was amazing how the sponge and meringue simply melted into your mouth, which made me feel like I was eating chocolate flavoured air. Delightful!

Create Your Own Hot Chocolate Station


Besides eating chocolate, you can also drink your chocolate the way you like. Select from 3 types of chocolate (white, milk and dark) and add your choice of spices or matcha. The chef there told me that if it's white chocolate, it would be with matcha while dark chocolate is preferred with the spices. 

I chose to have dark chocolate with all the spices. The result was very rich but it could use a bit more cinnamon. Perhaps they should've used the powder instead of the bark itself.

Valrhona Tasting Table

Good quality chocolate is used for all of the creations at this buffet and it's really cool to see the 12 varieties of chocolate in bite-sized 'coins' of varying cocoa percentages so guests can sample the delicacies in its purest form.


I chose one to try out (see the bottom left corner) where it is a 40% milk chocolate with notes of caramel and vanilla. I liked the idea of the tasting table because you get to taste the real chocolates first, so I do suggest trying these first before hitting the other delicious goodies.

Chocoholic Wonderland

Chefs topping up the chocolate fountain

They've kept the ever popular Chocolate Fountain that's accompanied by choux puffs (it already has chocolate...so why would I want to double the chocolate?), fresh fruit and marshmallows. Too bad the air-con isn't cold enough to harden the chocolate after you take it out from the fountain.


There were so many other creations such as cakes, mousses, tartlets, macarons and even 3 different types of Chocolate Ice Creams. There were frozen Matcha and Milk Chocolates too, and I guess it's supposed to be a little bit like the Japanese Nama Chocolate? They're not very hard despite it's frost-bitten look (see above, bottom right).

There were cake pops such as the Snickers which looked like a dressed up Petit Four but really tasted like a massive Snickers bar. I also liked the White Chocolate Caramel cake although my aunt found it a tad too sweet. Do note that the jars can also be opened for more chocolate coated nuts or chocolate balls. 

I just wished that there were better descriptions to tell you what you're eating. They had a tray simply named "Selection of Pralines" and although it was a nice surprise to bite into a lavender flavoured centre, it would've been really helpful to know what I was eating. Some of the desserts had no description and you just had to guess the flavours as they hit your tastebuds.

Dessert Cocktails

Milo Zero mocktail (left) and Mile Zero cocktail (right) with cocoa cereal bar (bottom)

More liquid desserts in the form of cocktails (S$25++ per glass) are available, such as the Tolberone Martini, featuring vodka, butterscotch, milk, Kahlua and chocolate sauce. Specially created for the Fullerton's 90th anniversary, the Mile Zero cocktail (additional S$15++) is a chocolatey drink made of vodka, Bailey's and milo; while a child-friendly Mile Zero mocktail (additional S$9++) is a drink of fresh milk liberally topped with Milo powder and Milo Cereal crunch balls. 

The drinks are so-called because Fullerton is the starting point where milestones were measured from. You can read more about the milestone system in Singapore here. Thus, it is quite apt that these drinks contain Milo, which is quite the Singaporean favourite for both young and old.

Initially, I didn't quite like the cocktail as I found it a bit diluted due to the choice of milo instead of chocolate milk. Nonetheless, it did grow on me and was quite nice to sip on throughout the meal. This might actually taste better than my favourite Chocolate Mortinis at Morton's. As for the mocktail, think of it as Milo Godzilla on crack. Yup, it is beyond the Milo Dinosaur. It really is Milo gaogao. One sip and I was done. And I actually like Milo Dinosaur.

Chocolate Calligraphy


At the end of June, Clarence Wee of Craft Varies will take up residency at The Courtyard to personalise dining plates with his beautiful calligraphy. You can have your name written in chocolate or dedicate a special message, then plate up your unique creation at the buffet.

Conclusion

You can taste that the chocolate used is of very high quality and if you love bitter chocolate, you'll definitely be in chocolate seventh heaven. I'm not so sure whether the children would really appreciate all the dishes, but they'll definitely be happy that there's such a thing as a chocolate buffet. S$45 may seem like a lot to pay for chocolates but when you think about the quality of the chocolate and how each creation really takes a lot of effort to produce, it really is value-for-money.

I think my tastebuds have changed as I aged. If I were still in my 20s, I think I'd be revelling in the buffet and you'll see me grinning from ear to ear on a chocolate-high. As much as I indulge my sweet tooth, I find that sweets are a good finisher to a meal and I wish that I could taste every single creation on its own at separate meals. But I'll go back for the cocktails!

For more information and reservations, please call Dining Reservations at +65 6877 8911 / 8912 or visit www.fullertonhotels.com



Photo credits: In Chef Mode and The Fullerton