Equinox @ Swissotel The Stamford : Dining With A View

Of all unique dining experiences, one of them must be a savouring a scenic gastronomical meal.
Situated on the 70th floor, Equinox completes dining - good food and good company - with a panoramic view of the city area and marina bay sands. I am guessing the view must be dazzling in the night with the night lights switched on and the night skies acting as the backdrop; Imagine, how beautiful it must be.

Equinox offers semi buffet during lunch and ala carte menu for dinner. It was my first time encountering/eating a semi buffet and I like the concept of it - have a quality main course coupled with unlimited appetizer and desserts.

The appetizers played their role of revving up our appetite well as we sinked our teeth into bite sized, one mouthfuls of foods one after the other. There was a fine selection of fresh seafood, sushis, salads, etc.
Rejoice cheese lovers, because they have various kinds of cheeses available for your taking! And it's your choice to pair the cheeses with different kinds of crackers and dried fruits.
 We selected our main courses at the start of the buffet and it was served 15-20mins later upon our request, after we had finished with the appetizers. 

I had the Pan Fried Salmon that was presented very professionally and pleasing to the eye. The salmon was certainly fresh but unfortunately there was nothing special to it; Just a ordinary fresh, thick piece of well cooked salmon fillet with crisp edges. There is beauty in simplicity I guess.

My uncle had the Roasted Lamb Steak (first photo) which I tried and found it rather tough and, though we settled for well done as there was only a choice of well done or medium doneness for the lamb, it felt like medium well to me as there was a slight slit of pink in the middle of the lamb steak. 

Last but never the least, how can a meal said to be completed if there were no desserts. It was hits and misses with the desserts; While I liked the White Chocolate Dome (the red dome you see), the Brownie and the Chocolate Gateau, I didn't quite take to the Apricot Cake and a not-so-chocolatey kind of tart that was available. Chocolate seemed to be the dessert chef's forte, I realized. There was ice cream as well and the creme brulee flavour one was delicious.
To end things off, I ain't a big fan of buffets because more then once has it been quantity over quality and stuffing myself silly to justify the price paid. With that said, I enjoyed my dining experience at Equinox simply because quality was evident. 

2 lessons I've learnt from scouring food blogs and feasting on occasional buffets : 

1. Nothing for nothing and very little for a half penny; If you want a quality buffet, you have got to fork out the money for it. 

2. Credit card promotions makes everything else especially buffets all the more worth it, so go all out to look out for credit card promotions before feasting on a good buffet.

Oh, and remember to make a reservation and they won't hold it for more than 10 minutes so don't be late.

Stamford Road, 70F Swissotel The Stamford
Tel : +65 6431 5669
Operating Hours:
Lunch: 12noon – 2.30pm (Mon to Sat) 
Brunch: 11.00am – 2.30pm (Sun) 
High Tea: 3.30pm – 5.00pm (Daily) 
Dinner: 6.30pm – 10.30pm (Daily) 

Jai Thai Restuarant : Wallet Friendly Thai Food (Plus A Giveaway!)

Eating on a budget yet you're not willing to compromise by eating fast food? Jai Thai would be the place to go for a cheap and good thai food fix. This post will also be containing a giveaway at the end. If you're interested, read on to find out more.

Serving up wallet friendly and authentic thai food is something Jai Thai does well for its customers. Jai Thai has been around since 1999 and 'wallet friendly' is a term that often accompanies it when people mention Jai Thai Restaurant; They offer two value-for-money rice sets here which are popular with consumers : Olive Rice Set ($8.80) & Pineapple Rice Set ($8.80).
As for the Pineapple Rice Set, you'll get a plate of pineapple rice and a platter consisting of thai spring roll, a piece of pandan fried chicken, thai green curry chicken and fried fish with thai chilli sauce; While getting the Olive Rice Set will see one having a plate of olive rice and a platter containing mango salad, mix vegetables, tofu green curry and fried fish with thai chilli sauce - a set meal like that will only set you back less than $10!

Having tasted both rice sets, I would conclude that the rice is just a medium to go along with the various dishes; The pineapple rice was not fragrant while the olive rice tasted alright but someone commented that it was too salty. I do hope they work on their pineapple rice because the platter of dishes are good enough for a thai food fix especially the fried fish and chicken. With all that's said, I would still recommend the rice sets, because they really do make a substantial and partially satisfying meal.
One of their signature dishes and a definite crowd pleaser, the Pandan Chicken is wrapped with a piece of pandan and deep fried till crisp. They're generous with their chicken here so you can expect a fairly decent sized chicken piece and not a puny bite-sized one.
A good choice if you want to have a try of all their appetizers, the Mix Platter consist of thai spring rolls, fish cakes, deep fried bean curd and prawn cakes. The fish cakes are a little too soggy for my liking while the prawn cakes were nicely breaded and fried. Dipped into the accompanying thai chilli sauce, they really do make a pretty tasty appetizer.
Baked prawns with glass noodles served in a claypot here, a thai speciality, is delicious and it tasted very much like the ones I had in thailand. This lacked the addictive-ness to it though and the prawns weren't particularly fresh, what a pity.

Beef noodles lovers, you'll be elated yet disappointed. I'll tell you why. The Beef Noodles (first photo) soup was too thin, resulting it being almost tasteless and the beef balls had a sort of frozen taste to it, but the chunks beef you see? They are oh-so tender and good. If there were handmade beef balls and a flavoursome soup, I'll won't mind travelling here just for the beef noodles.

After all that's said, tasted and you have salivated, it's time for the giveaway!

This giveaway is simple - readers of Nigel · Eats will stand a chance to win a complimentary rice set meal. There will be 40 sets up for grab, so be excited! 

This is what you'll have to do:
1.  You are required to go to Jai Thai's Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/

JaiThaiSG and click "LIKE".

2. You will then have to write a simple text to tell us why you like Thai food or which is your favourite Thai dish. *You must also indicate my name and blog address (eg. I read about Jai Thai from Nigel at Nigel · Eats) at the end of the entry. 

3. 40 lucky "LIKERS" will then receive a personal inbox from the Jai Thai FB administrator to inform them of their win.

The winners then show the inbox message to the staff upon ordering, to get the rice set free (choice of pineapple rice set / olive rice set).

Terms & Conditions:
- Redemption not applicable on weekends and public holidays
- Valid only at Purvis Street and East Coast branches
- Only one set is redeemable per table during dine-in
- Each person is only entitled to post one entry and therefore win one free set, duplicate entries will not be entertained

Jai Thai 

Purvis Street Branch
27 Purvis Street
#01-01 An Chuan Building
Singapore 188604
Tel: 6336 6908


Jln Pemimpin Branch
7 Clover Way
Singapore 579080
Tel: 6258 0228
East Coast Branch
205 East Coast Road
Singapore 428904
Tel: 6346 4940
Website : http://www.jai-thai.com/

Thank you Jai Thai's owner Suchana for the invite and her kind generosity with regards to the giveaway and Thox  and Paul for organising this lunch!       

Pineapple Tart Recipes : A Chinese New Year Tradition

Commercial goodies might be good but nothing beats eating home-made goodies. Love and effort will compensate for any lack of taste or aesthetic issues.  

In the coming week, Chinese all over the world would once again usher in the new year with great joy and splendid celebrations. As with the arrival of Chinese New Year, there would definitely be the customary practice of giving of red packets, annual house visits, feasting and certainly snacking of new year goodies!

Oh, don't we all relate to how guilty yet satisfying snacking on new year goodies is; the mindset of  'eat first, worry later' is certainly at work here during every new year season. New year goodies have evolved and new variations keep appearing every year to tempt and suit each's palate but I'm glad the traditional and classic ones are always here to stay, just to name a few that comes to mind would be : love letters, kueh bangkit, kueh bulu and the all-time favourite pineapple tarts.

In the course of 2 days, I had the opportunity and the time to test bake and try out 3 different pineapple tart recipes. Initially, I set out on a mission to look for a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth kind of pineapple tart pastry that I have eaten and have been wanting to recreate on my own. A plan quickly formulated in my mind and I was onto my first recipe, one that I have seen previously and had mentally bookmarked - little teochew's buttery melt-your-mouth pineapple tart recipe. 

The freshly baked tarts looked decent and I got excited. However, after tasting a few, the verdict was out : I failed. I failed to replicate the same buttery texture and the melt-in-your-mouth effect. I haven't given this recipe a death sentence yet so I might just come back to try it the following year!

Recipe for Pastry
(Adapted from Little Teochew who adapted mainly from Delicious Asian Food) 

- 400g plain flour*
- 50g corn flour
- 1/4 (heaped) tsp salt
- 280g cold, unsalted butter (do not allow it to soften)
- 3 egg yolks, beaten
- 3 tbsp cold water (or iced water)
- 6 tbsp icing sugar**
- 1/2 tsp cognac or pure vanilla extract
- For glaze, mix 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp water
* Note that the original recipe called for 450g plain flour. I changed it to 400g plain flour + 50g corn flour to make the dough more "melty".** The recipe called for 4 tsp castor sugar. I used 6 tbsp icing sugar in its stead. I read somewhere that icing sugar helps soft pastry dough keep their shape during baking.

1. Sift the flours, icing sugar and salt. Mix well to combine.

2. Using the pointed ends of a fork, rub the butter into the flour until it looks like fine bread crumbs. If necessary, use fingertips to continue rubbing lightly the bigger pieces into finer pieces. Basically, just scrape / flake the butter with your forks. You essentially want to coat the butter crumbs in flour. Using forks prevents the cold butter from melting since there is no contact with heat. If you want to rub the butter into the flour using your hands, make sure you use only your fingertips.

3. Beat together egg yolks, cold water and cognac (or vanilla extract). Add it into the butter-flour mixture. Using your finger tips, gently coax all the crumbs into one large dough ball. Do not knead. As long as all the crumbs come together, stop. Chill in the fridge for about 10mins, covered.

4. Roll out to desired thickness (mine was about 8mm thick). Cut out dough using cutter. Arrange neatly onto baking tray, with at least 1.5cm apart. Since this is a very buttery, oily pastry, it would be good to use a small portion at a time. Keep the rest covered in the fridge, otherwise it will ooze oil.

5. Once you have arranged the tart shells on your tray, glaze them (the entire surface, not just the rims).

6. Place the pre-rolled pineapple jam balls onto the centre of each tart shell.

7. Bake at 160°C for 20 minutes, turning the tray halfway through baking. According to the original recipe, when placing jam onto the pastry, take caution not to smear jam onto the sides as this will easily “burn” and render the sides of the pastry (the flowery design) darker. I did not have a problem with this because I used a very sticky, dry jam.

More notes from The Little Teochew:
~ This recipe yields about 96 tarts.

~ I tried baking 2 batches - one using cognac, the other using pure vanilla extract. They were both equally aromatic. So, no real need to use cognac. But do use a good quality vanilla extract.

~ I decided to be hardworking and glazed all the tarts. The egg wash helped make the pastry "studier" during baking. This pastry has a tendency to puff and expand a little. Also, glazing makes the colour a little more golden, a little more festive. ;)

~ Always pre-roll your pineapple jam before making the pastry. I like to pre-roll the day before.

~ Chill your pastry. It's much easier to work with it. I chill my pastry dough, always. The only time it didn't do a thing for me was the
Kue Nastar episode. Maybe it was the addition of margarine.

~ If you are not averse to lard, you can try adding some lard oil. Lard always gives that additional oomph to pastries. Someone left a comment to say that the best Pineapple Tarts he/she has ever eaten was made using lard. I have heard this many times and I believe this 100%

But for now, let's move on to the other recipes. I was unsatisfied and I knew my next best bet to find another recipe that would fufill my expectations would be Google. I google-ed and came up with 2 other recipes that contain gorgeous pictures of their tarts and had good reviews. 
The recipes came from Food-4Tots and IndoChineKitchen.

The following day, I had 2 extra pair of hands helping me at the work station - Clarence and Stephen, my classmates. Stephen is officially awesome for helping me with the prep work of rolling the pineapple filling into balls for easy assembling later. On the other hand, Clarence must be commended for his efforts of 'tasting' every batch of pineapple tarts haha.
Of course I couldn't have pulled off this whole operation by myself. I had help from my aunt, who stamped out the tarts #likeaboss when the inexperienced me was failing to do so badly heh. Thanks aunt!
I got to work with IndoChineKitchen's recipe first thinking it was Food-4Tots's recipe as one of the dough had to be chilled for 30mins and I got it mixed up. But I learned something from this - the dough was always easier to handle after being chilled. I had an easy time stamping out the tarts from Indochinekitchen's recipe dough after having mistakely chilled it in the fridge.

The first batch was sent into the oven soon and no very long later, they came out piping hot and looking great. Like a child who have spotted a new toy in the house, I was very eager to give the tarts a taste test indeed. Once the tarts have cooled a little, I immediately popped one into my mouth and I love it. I love it! Everyone agreed unanimously that the tarts are nice and so this recipe is good.(:

Pineapple Tarts, Nastar (Adapted from IndoChineKitchen)
Yield 700 g cookies


For pineapple jam
2 kg pineapple, roughly 4 medium sized pineapples
600 g sugar
3 cloves
5 cm cinnamon stick

For cookies
200 g butter
50 g confectioners' sugar
40 g powdered milk
280 g flour, low gluten or all purpose
20 g cornflour
2 egg yolks

For egg wash
3 egg yolks
1/4 tsp condensed milk


For pineapple jam
Puree pineapple in an electric blender till smooth.
Combine puree with sugar, cloves and cinnamon stick in a pot. Cook over low heat for 3-4 hours, stirring continually.
When it thickens and can be piped or rolled, remove from heat.
The jam will thicken during cooling. Prepare this one day in advance. You will end up with 500-600 g pineapple jam, enough for one batch.

For cookies
Preheat oven to 150 degree Celsius
Sift flour, powdered milk and corn flour twice.
In a mixer bowl, combine butter and sugar. Cream till light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes, over high speed.
Add egg yolk, one at a time. Beating well.
Add flour mixture into the bowl and beat over low speed using paddle attachment. Do this for 4-5 minutes, until everything is mixed well.
Work with 50 g of dough one at a time. Roll dough between plastic sheet to 0.2 cm thickness.
Pipe pineapple jam on top of the dough. Roll the dough to cover up the jam completely.
Use a pair of scissors to cut them up into 4cm log and arrange on greased pan.
Brush with egg wash mixture twice using small pastry brush.
Bake in preheated oven till golden, 15-20 minutes.
Let cool and store in airtight container
Moving on to Food-4Tot's recipe, I chilled it for 30mins but still it was a little too soft for me to handle and my aunt took over from there. It was yet another batch of tarts into the oven and came out looking great as well! Each of us tried the tarts and had no complains about its taste but came to a consense that the tarts were too soft. It is warned that this recipe might not do so well for the open type of tarts but I decided to have a go at it anyway. You can have a go at it too with the rolled type if you like and tell me what you think of it.

Pineapple Tarts (Adapted from Food-4Tots)
Makes: 75 rolls
250g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
50g icing sugar
2 egg yolks
360g plain flour mixed with 2 tbsp corn flour (sifted)
¼ tsp salt

Pineapple filing (Take 6g or ½ tsp heapful of filling and shape into a small elongated roll).
Egg wash – 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp milk
  1. Preheat oven at 160°C. Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
  2. Cream butter and icing sugar until light.
  3. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time.
  4. Add in salt and beat until fluffy.
  5. Fold in sifted ingredients (divided into 2-3 times) and mix into a firm dough.
  6. Leave aside for 30 minutes.
  7. Put the dough into a pineapple roll pastry press or mould, and then press out into a strip of 5cm length.
  8. Place pineapple filing at one end and roll up the pastry, as in a Swiss roll, enough to enclose the jam. Do not overlap the pastry. Cut off the excess pastry.
  9. Put the rolls on the baking tray. Brush with egg wash.
  10. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes and turn the baking tray 180 ° and continue to bake for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Leave to cool before storing.
  1. Pineapple tarts must be cooled completely before storing so that the rolls/ tarts will not turn moldy easily.
  2. Roll the pineapple filing one day in advance.
  3. Adjust the baking time and temperature according to your own oven. Mine is just a guide for reference.
  4. Use a premium brand for butter to get the buttery flavour for the pastry. I used Luprak brand.
  5. Best to be consumed within a week for its freshness.
  6. This recipe is only suitable to make the rolled type. It may not work well for the open-type and the closed type. So, please do your own experiment.  
IndoChineKitchen's recipe worked best for me and was sliently declared as the winner amongst these 3 pineapple tarts in my heart. I strongly suggest anyone keen on trying out IndoChineKitchen's recipe to visit her blog for the very detailed recipe as she makes one of the most gorgeous looking rolled type of pineapple tarts that I've seen and it's not very hard to do so!

 The texture of the tarts were to my liking but the butter taste in the tarts were still too subtle for me. Anyone has any idea how to let the flavour of the butter be stronger and for the tarts to not be too sticky on the teeth?

Ippudo @ Mandarin Gallery : Really Good Japanese Ramen

Here at Ippudo, the ramen chefs does their ramen right, especially the Akamaru soup.

Shigemi Kawahara, founder of Ippudo, is also known as the Ramen king after three consecutive first place wins while competing with other ramen masters. Everyone knows how meticulous the Japanese are when they do things, choosing quality over quantity, and when it comes to food, there are no exceptions; So one would conclude that this has gotta to be a good bowl of ramen right? You're right, and you're wrong.  Why? People's verdict of food at Ippudo has been controversial; Some say that it's overrated and others complain about the noodles being tough while lovers say the ramen is delicious.

I'm a lover, fortunately. It would have been -sad face- for me to spend close to $20 for a bowl of ramen and not gain any gratification from it. I ordered a bowl of Akamaru Kakuni (photo above) and it was sooo good, I couldn't stop drinking the soup.

Akamaru was Shiomaru with a dollop of specially prepared miso paste called Umami-dama and fragrant black garlic oil. Shiomaru, being its original tonkotsu base soup, was good but the miso paste and the black garlic oil gave it extra goodness and the oomph factor. The noodles were cooked just right for me and oh, the cha shu was good but the simmered tender pork cubes were even better! The layers of fats between the cubes and the meat being so tender just melts in your mouth. Mmmm... Even if this means your day's intake of saturated fats, take it. It's worth your every calorie.

My friend ordered a bowl of Shinomaru Chashu and it was good but I highly recommend you ordering a bowl of Akamaru Modern to try. 
In addition, we ordered a bowl of fried chicken as an appetitizer and what came surprised me. There were only 3 bite-sized pieces of chicken and we're paying $7 for it. Though I have to say it was nicely fried to a crisp, I wouldn't pay for it. 

Next time you're here at Ippudo, go for their ramen only, it's enough to fill you up. You've been warned.        

333A Orchard Road
Singapore 238867
Tel : 62352797
Mondays to Saturdays
Last order at 10pm
(Last order at 9pm )

Touring Thailand : Fishing @ Bungsamran Fishing Park

Don't we all love to eat? Well, I live to eat and the search for good food has already been integrated into me so I wouldn't say it's a hobby or a passion, I just do it haha; On the other hand, fishing's my passion and a hobby to me.

Out of all my annual trips to Thailand, this year's was a little extra special because I had the chance to fish.(: We fished at Bungsamran Fishing Park in the outskirts of Bangkok. I've been drooling and vying for a chance to fish at Bungsamran ever since I saw photos of how the fishes there can be as big as you or even bigger! :O Rarely do we get a chance to see, what more fight, a big fish in Singapore because they are just too rare here.

So on the second day of my trip, still having a little fever, I was all too exciting and raring to go! We had an excellent fishing guide with us that day, Kai. In fact, two guides were with us, but I didn't catch the other guide's name.
As soon as we arrived, our guides greeted us cheerfully and wasted no time in baiting their two rods and casting it towards the centre of the pond. As we waited, we were told to be patient as the bite rates in the morning are a little slow as the water have yet to warmed up hence causing the fishes to feed slower than usual.

It didn't take too long though...!
  - The Actions -
- Our Firsts -
My First... great shot with my grandpa. Love this photo. SMILE.(:

- The Agony & Joy -

The group shot marks the end of our epic fishing adventure, coincidentally that was also our biggest catch of that day.(: The bait was scented with a special essence made by Kai himself (yes, he's experienced enough to do that) to target giant Mekong catfishes. We caught a total of 16 or more Mekong catfish that day alone; We left with smiles all around but awoke the next day with back aches and sore arms hahah.

Thank you for the adrenaline rush Kai and our other fishing guide, and of course, uncle Aek for going through the trouble to arrange this so that we could have a memorable experience!

Bungsamran Co., Ltd. 
21/596 Soi Navamin 42 Navamin Rd., Bungkum Bangkapi  Bangkok 10240
Tel. 02-734-9272
E-mail : info@bungsamran.com 
Website : http://www.bungsamran.com/en/index.php

Roaming Italy : Milan (Day 1)

Happy new year to my readers! Oops, a day late, but better late than never or so they say heh.

I just got back from Australia awhile back and am still feeling a little jet lagged. Hence the late new year wish and another long pause in posting! But I'm back in action now.(:

This is day 1 of my Italy trip and it was mindless walking around as we didn't have a clear itinerary and it was free and easy for us. The duomo, being the most famous in Milan, stood out physically and virtually as well (yes, my best friend, Google) and so that was our first stop after we settled down in Milan.

A massive and unmistakable monument, you'll be sure to see it once you step out of the metro station at Duomo. Don't forget, this intricately designed and gothic architecture was built in a time when technology wasn't as advanced as it is now; It took nearly six centuries to complete Duomo del Milano!
After touring the inside of the duomo, we came to a beautiful, glass-roofed arcade called Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II next to the duomo. You can do some luxury shopping here if you want to because here you'll find brands like Louis Vuitton, Prada and others. 
 Walking further down from Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, located quite a distance away, we spotted Luna Rossa, an Italian restaurant. We went in as the place was filled with people during lunch time in Italy. When in Italy, you should know that a good indicator of a good restaurant or any meal places is that it's either filled or have queues outside of them during meal times; Italians don't usually queue and they know where to eat.
The piping hot, fresh out of the oven Prosciutto e Funghi pizza didn't not fail us. It had a thin and crispy crust, was delicious and downright cheesy good. 

Continuing our exploration of Milan with renewed energy after lunch, we saw trams. 
And came to a castle, Castello Sforzesco.
On the way back, we saw fresh produces, meats and cheeses.
And guess what I ended my day with? 50 cents MacDonald's hamburger! They were on offer till 31 Dec 2011 haha.

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