Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to join the "Gourmet Food Trail with Ah Lun" / "阿伦笑吃人间周末趴趴吃" organised by Lianhe Wanbao and Omy.sg
There are all together 5 weekends of eating at different restaurants around Singapore that serves superb food. Thanks to omy.sg I attended Week 2 of the 5 weekends adventure. There are 3 more weekends to go if you think you would like to join Ah Lun for his food outing!
If you don't know who is Ah Lun. Have you heard of Wong Ah Yoke of the Straits Times? Ah Yoke's the food critic on Singapore Press Holding's English newspapers. Ah Lun (or Alan) is the legendary food critic of the Chinese newspapers, i.e. Lian He Zaobao and Wanbao. After listening to him speak and talk about food, I am so in awe! Ah Lun really knows a lot of things! He's probably a walking encyclopedia about food in Singapore and beyond!
How shall I share it with you? I will use lots of photos (40 of it!) in 2 parts. Part I will be the Mandarin Court Chinese Restaurant at Mandarin Orchard Hotel trail. Part II the Lao Beijing Restaurant at Tiong Bahru Plaza trail. The event started at 11:30 AM and ended at 5:30 PM. That's about 6 hours of fun! It's not only eating, but there are games and entertainment too!
Look at how many gluttons are there! No, we are not gluttons, we are just passionate food lovers. There were around 80 of us there!
Due to the heavy downpour, the event started a bit late. Ah Lun was so apologetic, but everyone seems OK. Many skipped breakfast and was totally hungry by 12 noon, we were in fact starving, but a while more doesn't matter.
This is Executive Chinese Chef Sunny Kong. He was the chef preparing the wonderfully delicious food that we all enjoyed.
That's the menu at the first restaurant. Looks good eh?
At both restaurants, there are 'secret dishes' that is not on the menu. The chef will bring it out to surprise the diners!
To tantalize our tastebuds, the prawns were served in 3 different cooking styles. The prawns are so 'q' and it has been quickly deep fried. Do you know why it has been deep fried? It's so that there are lots of surface area with tiny holes that will absorb the coating of sauce.
The above was coated with wasabi dressing. It's OK, but I am a sadist that likes the 'shoot through the head' kind of wasabi feeling if possible.
The sweet and sour prawns was my favourite of the three flavours. The balance of sweet and sour was to me just nice and when you bite it, there's a layer of crispy batter. In the middle was 'qq' / springy texture prawns.
The salted egg yolk version. People have moods. I usually like salted egg yolk sauces, but for the last few weeks, I have this craving for sweet and sour stuff, so although it was nice, it did not satisfy the craving part of me. ;-)
Ah Lun told us about how the restaurant make their prawns so 'q'. :-)
Who is this lady and what was she doing? After the prawns dish was served, there was a 'dress me up' modelling game. This lady won the competition. It was hilarious. Folks nowadays are not as stiff anymore! They can be quite sporty too!
What a nice bowl! When we opened it, oh wow, the fragrance just whiffs through the air and captivated us.
The soup's double boiled and it's from guinea fowl and cordyceps flowers.
When you watch Jamie Oliver's shows, he uses guinea fowl in his dishes. When my mum was in UK preparing confinement food for my sis, she was looking for kampung chicken to cook in London. My brother who is more resourceful than my sister brought mum to get guinea fowl instead. Mum when she came back was raving about her guinea fowl soup and dishes. So, here I am having guinea fowl soup too.
Cordyceps flowers are the cheaper version of corcyceps, that's what the chef told us. It's not as 'potent' but it's good enough if we want to prepare soup at home. I personally quite like the soup! It's very delicate.
This was the Poached Red Grouper in Fish Consomme served with Crystal Vermicelli. It was light and flavourful.The soup base was made from fish bones that has been boiled till it turns whitish. By using fresh fish and ingredients, it turns out so nice!
The chef demonstrated the dish on stage too. It's to show us it's really easy to make it at home. I shall not explain how he prepares the dish from scratch to serving. The post will be too long!
The co-host Xiao Peng was on stage with Chef Sunny explaining the details of preparing the soup.
He's so quick with his cleavers and could fillet the fish so nicely and in such a short time.
We were told, if you want your soup to be whitish, you need a strong fire to boil it till it becomes white. No shortcut by adding milk, that won't do. That's cheating.
He also added 'guo pi' dried orange peel to the soup. Ah Lun told us, if you want high quality ones that are super dry, the only place is to get it from Hong Kong. It's very very expensive too! But a bit of the high quality ones makes a great difference to the soup.
My mum dries her own orange peel, and you know how she suns them? You can laugh, but it works! Hers is not the same high quality as the Hong Kong ones, but good enough. She puts them in a metal container and puts it in back seat of her car. She says the car's clean, and then sun's strong and she does not need to worry that it will get wet when it rains!
Another colleague dries them in the air-con office! His orange peel comes out nicer because the humidity and temperature in the office is constant the whole day long!
The thing that was not in the menu! They prepared Peking Duck for us!
I did not quite pay attention as I was busy taking photos and chatting with people beside me. There was two middle age ladies and I was chatting with them. What a coincidence, one of the lady's son has the same name as me!
Back to the Peking Duck. I heard something about the skin that they use. But my memory's failing and I did not pay attention, I did not really catch it.
But we were all very happy with it being served!
I did remember something that Ah Lun said. The best season to eat it when you visit Beijing is when spring onions have just sprouted. The onions will be super crunchy and it has this 'hotness' in the taste. One bite with the crispy skin of the duck and it's to die for.
The spring onions used was not like that for us. Haha...
We all loved what they did with the duck meat. It was sliced and sauteed with black pepper.
The duck was so tender!
I always like Ee-fu noodles. Ee-fu noodles are like comfort food. The version served here was with egg plant and spicy meat sauce.
The portion that was served to me was without egg plant. The server probably did not portion it properly. I shall make it at home or go back to try it again another day.
This cold dessert was delicious! To me nothing very special, but it was nice and cold, so it was satisfying.
We were then told to quickly prepare to leave and get to the next destination. We are on the 35th floor of Mandarin Orchard Hotel, so we had to orderly go down and wait.
Buses will be waiting for us downstairs to bring us to the Tiong Bahru Plaza.
Mandarin Court Chinese Restaurant
Level 35, Orchard Wing
Mandarin Orchard Singapore
333 Orchard Road
Tel: 6831 6288