Pesto at its best is fresh, piquant, zingy, creamy, and surprisingly luxurious. It’s comforting for me to know I always have a jar of it in the fridge because it’s not only incredibly tasty and versatile, it also helps me put meals together instantly. To fuel my pesto obsession, I currently have fifteen basil plants growing in my garden. Yet I still use them up too quickly! Pesto effortlessly jazzes up roasted new potatoes, steamed broccoli/french beans/asparagus and it’s utterly delicious paired with mozzarella or avocado in a toastie.
There was a time when I was married to a lovely Turkish man and that meant summers in Turkey. His mother was as obsessed about kitchen arts as I am. As such, I learned how to make a great many wonderful Turkish meals while in their open air kitchen on the Aegean Sea. And among my favorites is her recipe for Kofte – grilled lamb or beef kabobs. This recipe is something between comfort food and the exotic ethnic food that if prepared for friends, never fails to impress.
This dish of spare rib ramen—that the Japanese call pakomen (and if you read the kanji, it would be called pai gu la mian in Mandarin)—leapt out at me when I first studied the menu at the Capitol Hotel Tokyu’s all-day dining restaurant, Origami, on our most recent trip to Tokyo. It is part of the hotel’s old time favourites menu that consists of beloved dishes that that had been served at the old Capitol Tokyu Hotel for decades. As it turned out, pakomen was one of eight varieties of ramen that had been served at the Capitol Tokyu. It was the most popular, and the one dish that purportedly every Japanese prime minister has enjoyed.
Choosing a hotel in a big city is always a tricky thing. Do you choose style over substance or substance over style. Do you choose convenience over cost? Do you choose a hotel with great F&B outlets or just something with a comfortable room, preferring to eat and drink elsewhere? If the city has multiple great neighbourhoods, how do you decide which one you want to stay in? All hard questions and for each traveler, what qualifies as the best hotel is entirely subjective. For me, right now, my favourite place to stay in Tokyo has to be the Capitol Hotel Tokyu.
I have a thing for British food personalities. Maybe I’m drawn to their accent, the way they speak with their hands and how easy they make cooking seem. Or it could just be because familiarity breeds liking; they get tonnes of airtime on TV, and their countless glossy cookbooks dominate the food section in bookstores. For whatever the reason, these guys first got me hooked on cooking and eating when I was in my teens, and today, a lot of what I do in the kitchen is still inspired by them.
In the heart of Harlem, a new restaurant called Red Rooster is quietly making waves. During a recent visit to the Big Apple, I decided to make the journey uptown to Lenox Avenue to check out the comfort-food restaurant launched by Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit fame. I was hugely impressed, both with the quality of the food and the total experience.
My girlfriend K has been a wonderful companion on my journey through the restaurant scene here in Singapore as well as in New York, where we lived for close to three years. Pescatarian by choice, she also lived in Paris for a year, and, as a result, never fails to remind me that when it comes to food, the French, quite simply, do it better. It isn’t just about the razor-sharp techniques of the chefs there, she explains, but also about their commitment to fresh and quality produce, which makes something as simple as a summer salad – or even a baguette from a nondescript boulangerie – taste brilliant.
I’ve known Hossan Leong for quite a while now. I really admire his determination and his passion, both on and off stage/screen. When it was announced that he’d be directing a Dream Academy production of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company, I was really thrilled. I’m a big musical theatre fan and Stephen Sondheim is my all-time favourite composer-lyricist. Company is opening here in Singapore on 1 November 2012 and will run until 11 November (please, please, please support Hossan and Dream Academy and buy tickets for this show). Hossan was kind enough to chat with me a bit about Company, Sondheim and French food.
If you’ve been put off by bland tasting quinoa salads (as I have), this recipe for roasted vegetable and quinoa salad may just change your mind. For the longest time, I put the blame on quinoa itself. Despite that fact that quinoa is a complete protein high in fibre, iron and magnesium—an all-round superfood—I’d avoided it like the plague for many years because the first time I’d eaten quinoa, I felt like I was being punished. It tasted like damp cardboard someone had forgotten to season.
When I took my beautiful wife S to Tokyo to celebrate her birthday in March, because we only had three days in town, we had to very carefully curate our dining choices. While we did visit an old favourite, most of the restaurants we visited were new to us, including two sushi joints that we’d been meaning to try for years. One was a much-ballyhooed three Michelin-starred place in Ginza that is regularly discussed on forums like Chowhound and which many punters like to claim is the best sushi restaurant in Tokyo. The other is a much more modest (and much livelier) place in Yotsuya that has no Michelin stars and is rarely mentioned in Western or English-language media. Amazingly–although some Japanese friends tell me I shouldn’t have been surprised–we left the three Michelin-starred restaurant feeling very ripped off and extremely underwhelmed. But, the meal we had at Sushi Sho (also sometimes spelled Sushishou), the cultish little joint just east of Shinjuku, delivered what I can honestly say was the single greatest sushi meal of both my life and my wife’s. S has since been describing the experience to friends as “life-changing sushi.”