Ms Skinnyfat

A Food & Travel Blog from Singapore

TLDR version of 2019 Chinese New Year reunion meals reviews. Decided it's quite impossible to feature each at length (i tried and died) so here's a summary of what i tried and liked at each of the restaurants. Will update this as there are more lo heis to come!

Yàn- National Gallery
Our first feature is Yàn, and Chef Lai Chi Sum has curated a selection of auspicious set menus and hearty Pen Cai to celebrate the Year of the Pig. With six set menus, ranging from $128 to $278 per person, and a bounteous Pen Cai, there is something for everyone. 
Yu Sheng ($138) at Yàn is of the Shun De style and features a mountain of crispy fried vermicelli is topped with gold leaves, and a medley of vegetables, sesame seeds, crispy youtiao, as well as slices of fresh salmon or yellow tail. This year, the special addition is bak kwa (bbq pork jerky).

The Signature Roast Crispy Suckling Pig ($288/whole pig) has been and will always be one of my must-order at Yàn. Eaten three ways- firstly the crispy skin on a thin steamed bun with hoisin sauce, spring onions and cucumber; secondly the carved shoulder meat; and lastly the oven-baked fillet with lemongrass.
Braised ‘Mee Pok’ with Fresh Mushroom and XO Sauce. We had the latter and it was absolutely heavenly. The thin noodles were crunchy and smooth at the same time. 

Jade at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore has the ultimate decadent Lunar New Year feast From 21st January to 19th February 2019, Jade’s Executive Chef Leong Chee Yeng has curated an eight-course Grand Fullerton Golden Feast, 富丽豪华金猪宴. 
If you're looking to impress, the Golden Feast is priced at a whopping $2388 (for 10pax) and features ingredients such as lobster, suckling piglet, caviar and bird’s nest, alongside traditional Chinese New Year staples. The star of the show is the Gold Rush Yu Sheng featuring lobster, Australian abalone and Norwegian salmon and champagne jelly with gold flakes. The jelly maybe seem a little OTT but it actually provides a cool texture to the dish. Of the delicacies, i thought the abalone contributed to the overall texture and flavor of the tossed salad. Overall, it's quite a balanced yusheng with notes of citrus from the honey pineapple dressing, which wasn't too cloying.
A nod to the Year of the prosperous Pig is the Triple Bliss Braised and Roasted Pork Belly with Steamed Mantou Bun and Crispy Suckling Piglet Skin topped with a generous dollop of caviar. Jade has found the golden ratio for the bun- the thin slice of braised pork belly packed so much flavor in it and the pickled vegetables was a lovely contrast to the rich sauce. The piglet skin was also super crispy but it was not hard, nor oily. As decadent as it may sound, the caviar worked perfectly with the thin crisp with a layer of gelatin under it.
My favorite was the fragrant Wok-fried Glutinous Rice with Chinese Sausages. The five-grain rice is well flavored as it had been cooked with stock repeatedly and fried for that smoky wok-hei. My favorite part is definitely the lup cheong because it provides a light sweetness to each bite. Oh and the crispy puffed rice helps to make the dish less heavy somehow and i finished every grain in my bowl.
For a slightly different reunion meal that is star studded, Shisen Hanten at Mandarin Orchard is the highest Michelin-rated Chinese restaurant in Singapore featuring Sichuan-Japanese fare. This year, there are seven auspiciously-themed set menus— from the eight-course Prosperity menu at $538 for four persons, to the Splendour menu that features Braised Four-head Australian Abalone among its courses, at $2,588 for 10 persons. 

*One of my favorite lohei for 2019* is the oldie but goodie Salmon and Fried Fish Skin Yusheng with a traditional sweet plum sauce here.
Shisen Hanten's signature Foie Gras Chawanmushi with Crab Roe Soup is a must here and will be available on their a la carte menu and also on their CNY menu. The foie gras is blended into the egg pudding and we enjoyed the silky sweet pudding with chunks of crab and roe. 
I could really use a Sichuan-Japanese Wok-fried East Spotted Grouper with Shishito Pepper. It smelled like spicy sichuan fish except that it's not. We could taste the Sichuan flavors in this (the tingling numbness of the peppercorns and pickled chili) but the soup was sweet and fresh. 
Our favorite dish was the Double-boiled Hashima with Yam Paste served in Young Coconut. Hot coconut is damn shiok. Super tender and when warmed, you can smell and taste the fragrance more. Wished there was more of the silky yam paste!
Min Jiang- Goodwood Park and One-North
From Min Jiang, dine in their lovely restaurants at Goodwood Park and One-North, or take home their dishes and have it in the comfort of your home. At One-North, do take home their Double-boiled Whole Chicken Stuffed with Bird’s Nest and Duck Foie Gras Dumplings ($308.15 nett, good for 6 pax). Each portion only consists of 1 chicken but you can not go wrong with a double portion of the chicken and the soup! I'm thankful for all the chicken which died for the super rich and creamy superior stock. 
I also highly recommend the Braised Pork Belly with Pan-fried Lotus Root Pork Patties and Sea Treasures in Claypot ($298++ dine in/$318.85 nett for six persons, includes claypot). The pork belly has been braised and steamed and it’s so tender and well flavored. I also really love the pork patties with crunchy strips of lotus root in them. 
From Min Jiang Goodwood Park, you could takeaway their Prosperity Duo of Deep-fried Pork Knuckle and Slow-baked Honey Butter Pork Ribs ($147.65 nett, good for 6 pax). I was amazed at how the crispy pork knuckle was still juicy! The Aussie pork knuckle is first brined, then steam-based, roasted, and finally deep-fried. The flavors were amazing and i really enjoyed the mixture of pickled pineapple and cabbage that came with it.

Of course, you cannot miss the durian desserts at Goodwood Park Hotel and their Trio of ‘Nian Gao’ ($32/42/52++) has just that- Chilled durian ‘nian gao’ roll, Deep-fried cempedak ‘nian gao', Pan-fried yam and pumpkin ‘nian gao’. My favorite was the nian gao roll made of gula melaka and glutinous rice and rice flour, and rolled with a mix of D24 durian puree and kaya, then coated in desiccated coconut. Sadly, you can only have this at the restaurant.
Other worthy takeaways include Min Jiang's special Ba Kwa ($88/kg) and their Homemade Salted Egg Yolk Lotus Root Chips ($36.80)

Another place that i'll be ordering from this CNY is Chef Pang (of Antoinette) Pang’s Hakka Delicacies 小彭客家菜, his brand-new concept which serves delicious, authentic Hakka cuisine for take-out only. I cannot stop thinking of his Hakka Abacus Seeds 客家算盘子 ($8/250g, $30/1kg), which is made from premium yam from Thailand and individually shaped by hand. They are then boiled and sauteed with other ingredients such as premium dried shrimps, dried cuttlefish, leek, garlic, black fungus, dried mushroom, Chinese celery and fresh minced pork that are sourced daily. The yam gnocchis are then garnished with home-fried shallots, fresh spring onion and coriander. T$8 (approx. 250g), and $30 (approx. 1kg).
Other items on offer include a Hakka Mee Tai Mak, mugwort kuehs, leek kuehs, and also yam cake. There's a 10% surcharge for CNY and they are available everyday of CNY except for the first 2 days. Place your order via WhatsApp and pick them up at Antoinette. 
Antoinette
Of course, a variety of bakes and sweets are available also at Chef Pang's Antoinette. His variety of cookies were really tasty. My favorites by order- Ondeh ondeh, curry cheese, hae bee hiam (it packs a punch), and kopi susu. Other special bakes include a Hong Bao ($10/25), a red dragonfruit soft bun filled with 年糕 mochi - made with black sugar and fried shallots, pork floss, lightly candied yam and sweet potato, and cubed salted egg. I liked how the pork floss breaks the sweetness of the other ingredients. The large bun requires a 3 day pre-order if you're interested. 
My preference for sweets is Antoinette's Abundantly Cake ($38) aka 财源滚滚 cake is a favorite of mine. I'd say it's like a bubble tea cake, with the salty cream cheese and black and golden tapioca bubbles on it. Ignore all that decoration and you get a really delicious and light purple sweet potato chiffon cake with a salty cream cheese frosting. It's certainly not as sweet as bubble tea!

Man Fu Yuan- InterContinental Singapore 
I've never ever been disappointed by Man Fu Yuan's dishes and i don't think i'll ever be. Their yu sheng is one of the better ones- we had the Prosperity Yu Sheng ($138, good for 10pax) with Hokkaido scallops, salmon, crispy pork skin, with a refreshing apple sauce. Another of my must-orders include the Man Fu Yuan Abundance Treasure Pot ($398, good for 5pax), which is packed with fresh seafood, trotters, and cured sausages!

Their highlight this year has got to be the Roasted Pork Belly Roulade with Minced Seafood ($368/4kg). The skin was amazingly crip and i absolutely adored the fresh and succulent minced prawn paste which has the lovely sesame oil fragrance.
If you're going for one of the reunion set menus, keep a lookout for the X.O Chilli Sauce Lobster Egg Noodles and Herbal Chicken in Lotus Leaf, which were among my favorites.
Among the above items available for takeaway, you may also want to consider ordering Man Fu Yuan's Steamed Yam Cake with Roasted Duck Meat ($48/1kg) which has a lovely smokiness to it. 

More reviews to be updated:
Madame Fan- JW Marriott
Yan Ting- The St. Regis Singapore

I'm always craving for Japanese food and this is not an easy craving to satisfy given that we live in the East and there're not many decent Japanese restaurants. So when Rakuya popped up a fellow foodie's IG feed and i saw that their omakase are priced from $48 onwards, i immediately made a reservation for dinner. 
Rakuya presents Japanese cuisine with an Asian twist, with signatures like Mapo Chawanmushi with Foie Gras and Ba Kut Teh Udon. The Asian flavors may sound like a marketing gimmick but the typically strong flavors were toned down to the Japanese dish profile. Just don't go there expecting traditional Japanese dishes/experience/service.

The omakase set menu, priced at $48/88/128, comprises an amuse bouche, an appetiser, a cold dish, a hot item, a hot dish, a main, rice or noodles, a soup and dessert. We gave the $48 and $88 menus a go. To accompany the food, a selection of sakes are available,  including seasonal ones from various regions in Japan.
We start with an oyster with a spicy flavored ice, similar to Tobasco. The chunks of ice were quite jarring when eating the creamy and plump oyster. It would be better if the ice were more finely shaved. The appetiser was an octopus with tobiko which i can't remember anything of. 
For the $48 set, salmon carpaccio with homemade ponzu and truffle oil was served. I must say that this Italian presentation was quite tasty. A mini sashimi platter was served for the $88 set, and included chutoro (my favorite tuna sashimi cut), salmon belly, scallop, and also a skipjack tuna (aka bonito) with ginger flower. The sashimi was pretty decent. 
Chawanmushi was served in both sets. I preferred the one with ikura. It's simple and comforting, as compared to the super rich and confused one that is topped with pan-seared foie gras with a slightly spiced mapo tofu sauce. 
We had a simple minced chicken and vegetables cooked in dashi for the $48 set. This is typical of Japanese home-cooking and all i needed was a bowl of Japanese rice to go with this. Think of it like a Japanese version of a Taiwanese minced meat dish. My favorite part was the brinjal that was stewed in the chicken stock!
Jr really enjoyed the Gindara with miso, which was firm and fatty. Miso and cod is always a winning combination. 
We had the Kurobuta Miyazaki Black Pork Neck marinated with ginger onion for 48h with dry chili and red miso in the $48 set. This is one of the chef's personal favorite. The first taste was kind of like the local satay, with a light sweetness from the red miso. The meat certainly has a nice bite but it was a tad dry for me.
You get what you pay for in the more expensive set, that is the A4 Hokkaido Wagyu with seaweed pepper, salt, grated wasabi. The flavor is a lot lighter in this dish, as compared to the pork neck skewers. The different condiments bring out different characteristics of the beef. 

Another comforting Japanese dish was the Chicken soup with tsukune. I enjoyed the fluffy ball of meat in the light broth. A hand roll was served with this and mine had a fat scallop in it. Unfortunately, the rice was lacking in seasoning. 
The signature Kurobuta Ba Kut Teh with Inaniwa udon was served for the $88 set. It smelled like the traditional pork rib soup but the flavor was a lot more subtle to complement the delicate udon. The hidden gem in this dish is the stewed daikon. Surprisingly, it worked rather well. I can see why this is a hot favorite with the guests.

We had a horrible dessert which was a berry yogurt mousse. Be glad to know that the dishes are frequently changed so you would probably get a different meal from ours altogether. The restaurant also serves set lunches and a la carte plates.

I wouldn't mind going to Rakuya occasionally for a slightly different Japanese meal but i guess the search continues for our staple Japanese meal spot in East Coast. 

Rakuya
89 East Coast Road, Singapore 428790
Tel: +65 6440 7071
Daily: 12 - 3pm, 6 - 11pm
​​Fresh Italian mozzarella in Singapore? HELL YEA! Be treated to fresh cheeses at The Mast’ of Mozzarella & Co.'s first SEA's outpost at Frasers Tower. Originating from Rome, the concept proudly combines a cheese production laboratory with a delicatessen, osteria and bar all in one space. It is the first in Singapore to make fresh mozzarella, burrata and stracciatella daily on site. 
The cheese are made from high-quality milk from the osteria’s very own buffalo farm in Valle dei Templi in Paestum, an area with the perfect climate conditions for buffalo breeding. Only 6kg of fresh cheese is made daily, most used at the restaurant and the rest for takeaways at a mere price of $8/12 for 125g of mozzarella/burrata.
In addition to being able to purchase freshly crafted cheeses over the counter, guests can enjoy them showcased in a host of sumptuous offerings available from breakfast through to dinner. An all-day dining menu is available for both lunch and dinner. 
In addition to the regular menu, The Mast’ will also introduce weekly specials that showcase the season’s freshest offerings.
Oh hey Sri Lanka, it has been a while! I know i've procrastinated on the writing, probably because i lost all my photos and i've no idea how. But anyway, thank god for Facebook because i uploaded some pictures along the way. So here is finally sharing my experience in this very exciting country.
Sri Lanka will have a place for you, no matter what kind of traveler you are. For the active traveler, you could climb mountains, kite-surf the massive waves, or go diving if you wish. Nature lovers would enjoy hunting the elusive leopards in the safaris, or catching a glimpse of whale sharks. Learn the rich history of the country in the Cultural Triangle. Or if you're seeking some peace and down-time, the tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya will be your cup of tea. Me? I'm an all rounder so i did everything. Here's how i did it.
After a night's rest in Negombo, we started off our trip with the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka, where 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites are located. First, the Golden Temple of Dambulla, also known as the Cave Temple.
This cave monastery with its five sanctuaries, is the largest and best-preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka. There are 157 statues and Buddhist mural paintings in the compound, which you will explore barefoot. Note that there's a short climb as the cave is on the top of a 500 ft rock mass.
When we thought that was the most active part of the day, our guide drove us next to Sigiriya Rock Fortress, the Lion Rock. The history of Sigiriya dates back to over 5000 thousand years! The climb isn't that bad actually but if you're scared of heights.. then you'd probably have some issues with this. 
Check out the scary stairs around the vertical walls!!
Another day was spent at the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, another UNESCO World Heritage site. the medieval capital of Sri Lanka. This is considered one of the most beautiful centres in Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage and the second capital of the Sinhalese kings back in the 11th to 12th century A.D. 
Visit the world famous rock-cut Buddha statues of Gal Vihara and the Parakrama Samudra (‘Sea of Parakrama’), a 2500-hectare man made reservoir built by King Parakramabahu I (1153 –1186 AD) with a capacity of 134 million cubic meters. 
If memory didn't fail me, we skipped Anuradhapura as it was further up north. Plus it was more than enough ruins to last the trip. For visiting the cultural triangle, we stayed at Habarana Village by Cinnamon. The food at the hotel wasn't too bad and they have a huge international and local selection. 
The lunches for the first 2 days were all typical Sri Lankan food- curries in all forms, served with rice and roti (bread). 
Expect to eat a lot of brown and yellow stuff if you were to stick with the Sri Lankan diet. The curries are very mild imo. Here's a short read on some dishes that are commonly served in Sri Lanka. My favorites are the green jackfruit curry, coconut sambal, and the hoppers are not bad too. After 2 days of the typical Sri Lankan food, we reached our quota and went with international cuisine for the rest of the trip. :P
Then it was off to Kandy for the Sacred Tooth Relic Temple, the most revered Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. From ancient times kings have kept the Sacred Tooth Relic in their kingdoms as a symbol of power. It is a traditional belief that, whoever takes possession of the Tooth Relic, ruler or invader, has the power to rule the people. No world domination for me because the tooth is under lock and key, and only taken out for display during important celebrations.

The no-shoes policy will certainly cause you a lot of pain, especially outdoors. Thank god there's an air-conditioned mall nearby which serves Baskin Robbins (i can't remember which) which is perfect for the Sri Lankan.
The drive to Dick Oya continued after lunch. The destination was the charming Governor's Mansion, a fully restored English styled mansion located 4000ft above sea level in the tea valley of Hatton-Dickoya. This is where we prepared ourselves for the Adam's Peak climb ahead. Word is that the British royal family were hosted in the suites before. We had the entire mansion to ourselves when we were there! The dinner here was really decent. We had stuffed crabs, a proper steak, followed by desserts. 
TBH, i did not do any research on Adam's Peak, and i included it because many itineraries said that you can catch a gorgeous sunrise there. And so, that's how we ended up climbing 2243m/5500 steps up this sacred mountain at 2am in the morning. The mountain is known for the Sri Pada "sacred footprint", a 1.8m rock formation near the summit, thought to be the footprint of Buddha/Shiva/Adam/St. Thomas (you get the point that it's sacred). 
Anyhow, it's all stairs and the entire way up is brightly lit. If all the old grandmothers and grandfathers can climb this thing, you can too. Just give yourself sufficient time to get to the top and also keep warm. There are shops along the path where you can buy snacks and drinks. There are toilets along the way but well, they aren't the cleanest. I held my pee in from 2am till we got down to the base at 8ish am. I thought i was gonna die from an erupted bladder. 

There's a temple at the top and there's a ceremony every morning to mark the break of day. It gets crowded so get there slightly earlier to snag a spot for sunrise. 
We got back to our mansion at about 9ish 10am and we took a long bath to refresh ourselves. Breakfast was a sumptuous affair on the terrace before we headed to Nuwara Eliya. To get there, we wanted a train ride experience but didn't wanna toot the whole way to the tea valleys.
So our driver-guide packed us on the train, made sure we were safe (he's such a mother bird), and drove our luggage to our pick up point (2 stops away) and waited for us to arrive. We were exhausted from the climb since we did not get much sleep at all and ended up dozing on the train. Before we fall asleep, we caught glimpse of the rugged hills, and then the manicured tea estates.
The reason for visiting Nuwara Eliya was for the tea plantations. It was in our itinerary but my gf was way too exhausted to want to do anything else when we got to our hotel. Despite our guide's protests, we stayed in. :P So if you have the change, go see the fields, pick some leaves, and have some tea! 
This is the view from our accommodation: Blackpool Hotel
Another highlight of the trip was the Safari visit! I thought it was seriously amazing that we could see animals in the wild so close to Singapore! We'll save that Africa safari trip for the future. We decided to check out Yala National Park as it has the largest leopard density of leopards in the world.
Here is a listing of the animals that you may see, as provided by my tour guide. You may see Elephant, Sloth Bear, Sambhur, Spotted Deer, Wild Boar, Stripe-necked, Brown & Ruddy Mongooses, Black-naped Hare & several civet species.
In the water holes you may see Mugger Crocodile, Painted Stork, Lesser Whistling Teal, Black-headed Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Great, Median & Little Egrets & the rare Black-necked Stork. Also drive up to the Buttuwa Tank to see the rare winter visitor, Bay-backed Shrike. The migrant bird species that you are likely to see include Indian Pitta, Brahminy Myna & large flocks of Rosy Starling flying for roost. The monsoon forest vegetation of the park is dominated by Palu Trees (Manilkara hexandra) and the thick undergrowth is dominated by thorny bushes. 
As we only got to our resort late morning, we had lunch before heading out for the afternoon safari tour. Be prepared for a bumpy and dusty ride in the safari jeep. I was amazed at how i was able to doze off on the ride.
We woke up early next morning (before sunrise) for another half day of hunting down the leopards. Unfortunately for us, it was few moons just several nights ago and the leopards were all hibernating after their hunt. so NO LEOPARDS for us. Only a lot of elephants. We spotted a large cat too but i can't remember what. LOL. 

We stayed at the nearby Laya Safari resort which is by the sea. Dinner was included in our stay and there are live bbq stations which were pretty decent. 
After exploring the land, we headed to Mirissa to catch some blue whales in action! For this, we based ourselves at Matara and stayed at Amaloh by Jetwing
We got up bright and early for a morning drive to Mirissa Fishery's Harbour for a whale and dolphin watching experience. Well.. be prepared to get a tan, plus endure a rocky ride out. I must say it wasn't the most comfortable experience but seeing the wild dolphins was worth it. We also spotted a blue whale after what felt like forever. The whole trip took us a good 6 hours i believe! 
Our last stop of the trip was to Galle, before we headed into the capital to catch our night flight. The main attraction is the Dutch Fort-Galle, yet another UNESCO world heritage site. We had a short wander around the fort walls to stretch our legs mainly. I'm glad we did not spend more time than required here. 
We had half a day to chill around Colombo without much to do really. Of course we occupied ourselves with a tea break and had the most amazing bakes at The English Cake Company- The Cakery, followed by a long spa session at White by Spa Ceylon, before dinner at Ministry of Crab.

Our 9 day tour with Jetwing Eco Holidays was US$1485/pax and it included the accommodation with half-board, transport and guide, entrance fees (to the safari as well) and the dolphin and whale watching charges, as well as our Ayurveda treatment. I thought it was a steal! They are more focused on nature travel and may not be able to provide a lot of information on cultural sites. 

XOXO
Travelerintransit