Monday, November 28, 2016

Sushi Masato - 4 Valuable Lessons in the World of Omakase

When it comes to Japanese food, I am no know-it-all. My wife doesn't take raw food, and I wander around Bangkok with 2 little kids in tow, so my knowledge is pretty much limited to the reliable family chains (eg. Maisen, Ootoya, Yayoi etc.) and Ramen, oh, how I loooove good Ramen....

Blink, and you will miss it.
On 11/11, things would dramatically change. With some divine intervention, the stars aligned, and I had the opportunity to build up my Japanese food knowledge once and for all at Sushi Masato, the only place I know thus far that actually set up an email address explicitly named "waitinglist" for those yearning for a seat at Chef Masato's counter.

Without boring you with the details of every course (for those interested, I will be writing them on another space), I would like to share a few points that left a deep impression during my first proper Omakase experience.

1. Freshness and rarity of ingredients

I am a firm believer that the best food is usually the one that is made by the freshest ingredients which are not prepared over-elaborately. Sushi Masato literally brings this to another level. Even though sushi is really nothing more than a fresh piece of fish placed over some well-cooked rice, the effort to fly the best produce in from the Tsukiji Market 5 days a week and making sure they enter your mouths at the peak of their freshness is worth much appreciation.

Throughout the 24-course dinner that consisted predominantly of seafood, I cannot use the word "fishy" as a description for any single course. I also expected to taste the unexpected, and I was not disappointed. Some worthy mentions are the monkfish liver pate, shirako (cod fish sperm) and the pleasantly-surprising shiro ebi where the sweetness of the little shrimps danced and developed in your mouth as you chew along.



2. Techniques

Aside of impeccable knife and sushi-assembly skills, I wanted to see more. In many establishments, blowtorches are commonly used to sear sashimi when required. At Sushi Masato however, blowtorches are deemed to impart the smell of gas to the fish, and thus they use hot charcoal to achieve the desired effect.



And of course, there's the shari, the flavoured sushi rice, notoriously known to be the hardest to master for a sushi chef.  Here, it's nicely seasoned, slightly brownish in colour and served to you warm, which was a nice touch as I do not like cold meals.

Perfect picture to showcase the rice. You can separate every grain of rice if you wanted to.

3. Uni

And then there's Uni, the much renowned delicacy of the sea which I never really had a chance to enjoy. It's always either too little (in the Chirashi Dons) or overly fishy and heavy (like some over-aged cheese).

Chef Masato introduced 2 types of Uni during the meal, 1 of which is simply soaked in sea water, and will disintegrate within hours after opening if not consumed.

Uni drained and served on a soup spoon.

Wow. Bursts of the sea in my mouth. I finally understand what Uni is all about, but how, just how can I bring myself to eat any other relatively-inferior grades of Uni after this?


4. Chef's personal flair

Omakase literally means 'up to the chef'. Enjoy anything that the chef serves you on the day. For this to work, ideally you need a chef with personality. Chef Masato has a good command of English. He explains every dish to the diners and gets his staff to show us exactly what fish he's serving with a seafood/sushi encyclopedia.

I would love to have sat closer to him to have more personal interaction, but he made use of his minimal opportunities to show me some of his flamboyance.



All in all, the adventure to Sushi Masato was certainly a worthwhile experience. It not only made sure that my very first Omakase experience was a proper one, it also allowed me to understand the spirit of Japanese cuisine, and taught me how good sushi should taste like.

As of 11/11 this year, the next available slot at Sushi Masato is in April 2017, so I would hereby like to thank Nack and Jacq for making it so effortless for me to warm one of Chef Masato's much sought-after seats.

Khop khun mak khrup.




Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Noah's Book of Jokes Volume 2 (with special guest appearance by Ellie)

Sudden Death

Was talking to Noah about what he should do if I pass away.
"Daddy, before you die, can you call Li Kunqi yiyi to come first"
Eh son, please la. If I manage to die slowly, of course I will settle everything swee swee (nicely) for you before I go and see God right.
But I might go suddenly ma. God might summon me suddenly.
Suddenly, I realise I hope the teacher quickly teaches him the meaning of the word suddenly. In a better way than how I can teach him.


Defining torture

Torture.
Is when you need to pee badly.
But your son says he needs to too, and you bring him to the cubicle to see and hear him pee before you.


What you doing Daddy? feat. little sister Ellie

Ellie pooped not once but twice tonight after I came home from work.
During the second poop clearing session in the shower, I was using my soapy hands to wipe her butt clean when she turned over to me, looked at me in my eyes before saying in her most serious tone.
"Daddy, what you doing?"
"Err... Poopoo 臭臭bye bye Ellie...."
She then smiled and turned away to continue playing with the stickers on the wall.


The Parenting Life Hack

Yesterday after dinner, Noah started to carefully remove the plates and bowls from the dining table and passed to me to put in the sink. I was so pleasantly surprised and asked him who taught him.
"You lor," he said.
"But I didn't."
"I see you clear the table everyday what."
OK, so this is a parenting life hack, don't teach them, show them.
But in case you find your kids wearing their boxer shorts around the house and farting all over the place, remember, no one taught them.


The Best Picture Ever

Noah, "this is the best picture ever"


Me,"but how come it is not complete?"
"No no, it's like that it's like that. I am very tired already it's finished already."
"OK. I will take a picture of it and put it on Facebook."
"No. You need to put it on the wall."
*Roflol


Too many cooking videos

Me: I am so tired I bring you home still gotta rush dinner out for you. I didn't get to rest.
Noah: If tomorrow I ask you to cook dinner again you need to do something.
Me: What.
Noah: Rest. Rest for 6 minutes.
So he treats me like a piece of seared steak.


The moment that convinced me that this is all worth it

Noah just told me before he slept:
Daddy. You are the nice Daddy that God made for me.

*sob

Also see, the even more hilarious Noah's Book of Jokes Volume 1.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Delicious vegetarian food available everyday in Bangkok

Thailand has a 9-day  Vegetarian Festival every year which is celebrated at a grand scale nationwide, but outside the festival, delicious vegetarian food is alarmingly-elusive. However, if you look closely, there are more than enough restaurants that actually have permanent vegetarian offerings, which taste pretty impressive, and this is coming from someone who is not turning vegetarian anytime soon.

My list only includes places which I have personally tried before, and will continue to expand as I discover more places.

1.       Little Bao Bangkok

Newly opened at 72 Courtyard, Little Bao Bangkok is Little Bao’s first foray outside Hong Kong, and certainly one of the city’s most anticipated openings in 2016. Commonly known as a place for hipster groups to share tasty bites over creative cocktails, Little Bao unexpectedly serves some delicious vegetarian plates. The Sloppy Chan Bao is a tasty mess of Shiitake tempeh, pickled Daikon and truffle mayonnaise, and once you start on their signature ice cream baos, it is not possible to stop at 1.

One is not enough!


2.       S&P Restaurant

One of the most established restaurant chains in Bangkok, many forget that S&P restaurants actually have a solid permanent selection of vegetarian dishes, more than good enough to grace this list, especially with their accessibility across the whole Kingdom. I like their black olive fried rice, holy basil fried Japanese mushroom and stewed vegetables with shiitake mushrooms, which really defies logic. How can such a tasty stew be made purely from vegetables?


3.       Misoya Ramen



Misoya Ramen Bangkok is part of a massive ramen empire that spans from Japan to North and South America. Taking advantage of their special Miso blends  infused into every bowl, Misoya is able to come up with perhaps the most unforgettable vegetarian ramen ever, complete with a good mix of greens and silky-smooth fried Japanese tofu. Even the non-vegetarian customer will slurp up every drop.



4.       Broccoli Revolution

The only 100% vegetarian restaurant on the list, Broccoli Revolution looks and sounds like the THE vegetarian restaurant to go to in town, with high ceilings and hanging plants giving it the modern hipster feel. Its cold-press juice bar has some incredibly delicious concoctions, while the coffee (Roots), cakes (Veganerie Concept) and ice-cream (Farm-to-Table Café) are sourced from the perfect local suppliers.

The famous signature burger.

The charcoal broccoli-quinoa burger looks a dream for instagrammers looking to impress with a #healthyeating hashtag. Broccoli Revolution is certainly worth a visit for the health-conscious, even though I still feel that their food can and should taste even better.




5.       Greyhound Cafe

Saving the best for last, I am directing you to Greyhound Café for a dose of delightful vegetarian dining. The folks at Greyhound are the true pioneers of fashion and style in Thailand, their food is no different.


Their huge selection of vegetarian favorites range from vegetarian phad thai to international flavors like lasagna salad and grilled vegetables with pesto sauce. I confess that I frequently order their vegetarian dishes as our mains as they are just so good.


Have a go and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Birthday Letters from Daddy: Ellie turns 2

Dear Ellie

Sometimes I look at you marvel at how much you have grown within the space of a year.

From the bald, serious-looking baby to the endearing, independent, humorous little girl you have become, God's blessings have been more than abundant.

You walk without wanting Daddy to hold your hand, you sometimes even eat alone by yourself without our assistance. It's amazing how much you look like your brother while being the complete opposite.

Still, you are Daddy's little precious baby girl. I only just started putting you to bed, and finally got to experience the intimacy of you crawling up onto my chest in the middle of the night, something I enjoyed with Noah since his first day home. I am thankful it's not too late for me to properly feel every little bit of baby left in you.

Finally, I would like you to know that while I am writing this, Thailand, the land you are born in, is deep in mourning, because their beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away barely a week ago. Daddy and Mummy are wearing black everyday to grieve with our friends around us.

We must never forget that without this beautiful land and its people, meticulously nurtured by the late King for the best part of 7 decades, we will not enjoy what we have right now.

I hope you will grow up remembering this, and understand the late King's undying spirit as a guiding light in your life, that is, in His own words, "to do what I think is useful for the people, and that is all".

I am proud that you were born in Thailand during His reign.

Meanwhile, it's also important to recall your small little party at Devilish, our neighbourhood restaurant and remember everyone who came to bless you, plus the ones who made it all possible.


Pretty purple-themed 'party', photo credit: @strikingjacqpot

Can't resist these owl pegs


Ellie and Mummy, photo credit: @visanue

Noah! Photo credit: @visanue

Patrick serves the food. Photo credit: @visanue

Aileen and the Kawayiis

What a feast. Photo credit: @visanue
Noah and his true love. Photo credit: @visanue

Birthday cupcakes.  Photo credit: @visanue

Happy Birthday Ellie! Photo credit: @visanue

May you continue to grow into the bright, cheeky Ellie that we are all starting to see. We love you very very much.

Kisses and Hugs,
Daddy



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

If the Stranger can cook: The Legendary Foochow Chicken Soup

If you had a choice to choose your last meal, what would it be?

For me, the choice is clear. I would yearn for something that brings me back to the scents and sizzles at my grandparents' backyard, and the slurps during the birthdays of every single member of my family - our legendary foochow chicken soup.

Recently, I have had multiple requests to share my recipe for this soup, so here you go!

THE LEGENDARY FOOCHOW CHICKEN SOUP

Ingredients (serves 3-4):


  • 1 kampung chicken (1.2-1.5KG) chopped to KFC-size pieces, lightly blanched in boiling water
  • approx. 50ml of red rice wine or shaoxing wine
  • a thumb of ginger, sliced 
  • splash of sesame oil
  • 2-3 medium sized dried scallop, soaked overnight (optional)
  • 6-8 dried mushrooms, soaked overnight
  • 4-6 large red dates, soaked overnight (optional)
  • small handful of gojiberries
  • approx. 1.2-1.5litres of water
  • a whole lotta love


Cooking Procedure:

Fry the ginger in sesame oil till fragrant

Stirfry chicken in the aromatic ginger-sesame oil concoction till slightly brown, and when the pot is searing hot, pour in the wine and let the alcohol evaporate

At this stage, add the rest of your ingredients. the scallop, innards, dates, gojiberries and mushrooms

Add just enough water to cover the ingredients (add more if you have more mouths at home), bring to rolling boil, remove scum from surface, then turn down to a slow simmer for at least an hour or until the soup becomes a gleaming golden colour before finally adding salt to taste

So that's it, as easy as ABC.

Then again, I have to say, please use a good chicken, if you only have a soggy battery-farmed chicken in your freezer then you might want to forget about this dish until you can get your hands on a better bird.

Also, if you are into herbs, feel free to add in herbs like cordyceps, ginseng, tang gui, huaishan etc., but it's really not necessary.

I will leave you with a short video of me making this dish for myself during my own birthday earlier this month. Have a go at it and let me know what you think!





And here's one glowing review from a fellow hands-on cooking Daddy who has tried this recipe. Glad you enjoyed it Liren!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hidden Dining Jewels in Suburban Bangkok: Bestow - Healthy Wraps with Killer Sauces

I NEVER thought I would be writing about healthy wraps on my blog, but here goes.

Proof that healthy food can be yummy too

Bestow is a health food restaurant open along Suan Luang R.9 Road, near King Rama 9 Park. 25 year old owner Best had no prior culinary experience, but through 8 months of sheer practice, research and determination, executed his concept, to bestow health in the form of delicious food to all his customers.

Unexpectedly cosy place, don't forget to read the signs!
Aside of a few minor exceptions (eg. a small selection of soft drinks and things like hot dogs/dessert tortillas to appease to children), the theme of 'lean, healthy and delicious' runs through the entire menu, which in itself is designed like a fun game of chess, where you can mix'n match your selections, understand how many calories your meal will have and and also its price.

#saucematters
I am no health junkie. No amount of healthy food will appeal to me if they don't please my palate. So why am I talking about some healthy wraps that contain at least 70% worth of shredded raw carrots, onions and lettuce? The answer lies in Bestow's array of home-made sauces.

I am going to reveal something big here. I HATE ketchup. On a normal day, nothing will convince me to dip anything into a pile of raw ketchup. One of the 'dares' I had to perform while trying to break into my wife's house during our wedding day was to eat a ketchup sandwich. Oh, I can live with dishes cooked with ketchup as seasoning, but raw ketchup---thanks but no thanks.

When I knew that one of Best's signature's sauces was the BTK aka Better Than Ketchup, I knew he was on my side. That said, his BTK (sweet, sour and slightly spicy) is only my 2nd favourite sauce in his repertoire, I order his Sesame Zinc (a creamy Japanese-style sesame dressing) sauce more often. After visiting Bestow a couple of times, I was convinced that sauce really matters. A good sauce can make even a low-calorie, veggie-centric wrap taste good.

Blowtorching the spring roll.

Final product

If you are dining in, I absolutely recommend you to try their spring rolls. It is their only selection which is blowtorched, resulting in a warm, crispy wrap. The crispiness does not last though, so if you are ordering a takeaway, their tortilla wraps will be more suitable.

Mostly veggies
If there was any gripe I had about Bestow, it would be that their food offered little variety. Ok, lots of wraps, but nothing much else. This was my feedback, and Best was quick to react.

Bestow's new BBQ ribs. Try their blueberry smoothie too!
He has just released his BBQ ribs (still on limited offer, check Bestow's FB/IG or call in to check availability) which turned out to be really enjoyable. The bones slide off cleanly, and it's flavourful without being completely drenched with BBQ sauce.


Bestow is proof that healthy food does not necessarily have to taste boring. Their location is not the most convenient, but if you are in the vicinity, no harm popping by for a quick meal, or you can try their delivery services on Foodpanda.

If Best continues to refine his craft, I am sure you will see Bestow appearing in more accessible locations in Bangkok in time to come.


Monday, August 15, 2016

The Best Day Ever!

Have you ever exclaimed, "This is the best day ever"?

Or even better, exclaimed, "Daddy, this is the best day ever"?

Noah did last Sunday, his first full day in Bangkok after 5 weeks away, spent with only Daddy, as Mummy and Baby Ellie were still in Singapore.

There was nothing fancy, just a normal Sunday out. Church, lunch, and a movie. Plus his wooden camera around his neck.

BTS Station



Nana

Beside Chuvit Park

Up the escalator

Golden Gate Bridge?

On the red carpet?

Before his movie

Heading home after the movie

Taking pictures of his toys before dinner

I wonder when he will get his next 'best day ever'.

Maybe when he wins a prize in a competition, or when he holds his girlfriend's hand for the first time?

The day he gets married, or when he finally gets to hold his own little baby in his arms?

Whatever the case, I know I was part of his first 'best day ever'.

And it was one of my 'best day ever' too.


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