What’s the first thing that comes into your mind when you think about food and burnt ends? I would think about the caramelized charred parts of barbequed meat, the parts that give it a smoky aroma and a crunch factor, the parts that, although is unfortunately cancerous, are addictive because of the added flavours and textures that amazingly lifts a boring piece of meat to another level. Personally, I quite love the chao ta parts of my char siew :)
Opened at April 2013, Burnt Endsis the newest addition to the vibrant and hipster eateries along Chinatown’s Teck Lim Road that continuously packs-in crowds every single day of the week. Of course, this includes Jason Atherton’s Esquina and the Library (previously known as Keong Saik Snacks), SCDA’s Bistro Soori, and Restaurant Ember that has amazingly withstood strong competition over the past 10 years with its constantly updated menu and quality offerings.
With Singapore’s first ever handmade dual cavity kiln, or more simply known as a wood burning machine, Australian Chef and Owner David Pynt brings a new and exciting dining experience to Singapore. Both cavities are fueled by apple and almond woods and are capable of different temperature settings. One can reach up to 800 degrees for food that require a quick sear to seal in the flavours, and the other reaches only till 200 degrees for slow roasting. And then there is a trio of elevation grills where most of the preparation is done.
Fashioned as yet another small plates eatery with only counter seats and no reservations, Burnt Ends is minimally embellished and only features an elongated 18-seat burnt rain tree-wood counter and just 1 6-seat banquet table tucked at the rear. While the burning wood may be hard to endure for some, I personally feel that there is nothing more entertaining than being able to watch the chefs skillfully prepare the food and hear the sizzle and smell the smokey flavor of the meat searing off on the oven.
We started with the Smoked Quail Eggs (5 for $6), which yolk exploded in the mouth and left a strong smoky flavor and slightly sweet aftertaste. While I definitely do think the dish was unique and ingenious, I didn’t think that it was alluring enough to keep me having more than one.
We wanted to try their Onglet steak but because we were on the verge of over ordering (but whats new), we decided to go with the Jacobs Ladder ($12) that’s served as an appetizer portion. It’s basically short ribs. It was cook perfectly: juicy and tender, and had fats that melts in your mouth like that of a Wagyu IMHO :p
Leek, Hazelnut and Brown Butter($16). Just look at that charred burnt ends of the leeks and you’ll know that this restaurant means business. The leeks were incredibly sweet, yet you could still taste the distinctive smoky flavor. The crunchy hazelnuts provided a textural contrast to the tender leeks, and everything was made even better with an addictive brown butter sauce that had a slight caramelised sweetness.
Fennel, Orange and Burrata($16). Like the leeks, the sweetness of the fennel shone through despite it being singed at the edges. It still had a slight bite to it, complementing perfectly with the creamy burrata. I preferred this dish to the previous dish simply because of the zesty orange that helped lighten up the entire dish.
The Burnt Ends’ Sanger ($20) features pork shoulder that has been slow-roasted for 10hours in a conventional oven, shredded and tossed with sweet, creamy and slightly spicy chipotle aioli, and crunchy, tangy coleslaw, sandwiched between homemade sesame seeds-flecked brioche, and finally toasted in the brick oven before serving. The pulled pork was amazingly flavorful and rich in all those barbequed goodness. But it was not at all overpowering as it was nicely balanced the refreshing coleslaw that provided a crunch element as well. And of course, nothing goes wrong with a perfectly toasted brioche that is slightly crispy on the outside, but soft and buttery in the inside. Overall, it made for really addictive and messy bites.
King Crab and Garlic ($65). There’s no better way to enjoy crab than to dig in with your hands and lick all that sweet and savoury juices trickling down your fingers. There’s no holding back with this dish because the crab was perfectly cooked and quite sweet on its own. But the sauce made it even more over the top because it was slightly sweet, probably due to the crab’s own juices, yet the garlic-ky flavor really came through. Squeeze some lemon to make the dish pop even more.
Suckling Pig with Cider ($65). This isn’t on the menu. You actually have to order in advance to reserve it, but we were lucky that it was available that day. Or maybe it was partly because we were early that day. Imagine deliciously charred skin, blistered and crackled, and then an incomparably moist, tender, and succulent flesh bursting with sweet, sticky juices. It was soooo good, thanks to the abundant collagen present in the young pig’s flesh that has yet to develop strong, robust muscle fibers. When heated, collagen converts to gelatin, which is responsible for makes all that drippings sticky, as well as lubricating and coating every strand of flesh. And of course, credits to the chefs.
Here at Burnt Ends, the ovens really take centre stage of the restaurant and every night is guaranteed great flavours and smoky theatrics thanks to Chef David Pynt and his team. Other than conjuring up the action and smoke, Chef Pynt presents the dishes to the diners and keeps an eye on how you’re enjoying them. That’s key in the F&B business: you really want your guest to feel at home. They take reservations from 6pm-6.30pm, after which it’s all first come first serve basis. But you definitely want to come early to secure the best front row seat to be upfront and watch the chefs roast, grill and plate.
Duck & Waffle is located 40 floors up London’s glittering Heron Tower and you won’t get a better sight of London than from here, noting everything from Wembley Stadium to the Olympic Park. The glass lift up itself is already an experience. Having been slowed down by 20seconds, it is still fast enough to leave you ashen-faced and shaking, and needing just a few minutes to recover. But you’ll get over its vertigo-inducing venue eventually once you realize the bejeweled views over London and equally delicious food.
Inspired by European and British influences and spirit, Duck & Waffle has been the talk of the foodie town ever since its debut during the summer of 2012 for its location, its rather bonkers eponymous signature dish, and for it opening 24/7 to keep pace with a city that is always on the move.
The atmosphere at Duck & Waffle was vibrant and delightful. The room has long, hefty, wooden tables for large groups, and semi-circular banquettes with marble tables. Nothing too refined nor too casual, but striking a perfect balance just in between to make it proper.
My mum and I arrived just in time for breakfast and we were quite surprised that the restaurant was in fact already quite packed with groups of families and friends and even colleagues who were discussing their business over breakfast.
Going for the title dish Duck & Waffle(£12) can never go wrong. Sitting on top of two classic waffleswere a hunk of confit duck legand a fried duck egg, accompanied by a pitcher of mustard maple syrup. I quite like how chefs these days are coming up with more and more inventive combinations of sweet and savoury flavours. It lets you get the best of both worlds – you no longer get monotonous flavours, but rather a layer of distinct flavours that combine beautifully (when done properly of course) to make a dish so much more interesting and memorable. Execution was perfect here – fluffy waffles, crispy duck skin, moist juicy duck meat and perfectly cooked egg. I thought that the mustard maple syrup was a brilliant idea so that it goes along with both the sweet waffles, and savoury duck confit. It is no wonder that what I saw most on the kitchen counter was plates and plates of Duck & Waffle.
It is a well-known fact now that Duck & Waffle goes the extra mile in high-energy, bold flavor combinations. The Toasted PBJ (£12) featured a nicely toasted buttery brioche topped with banana, peanut butter & strawberry jam, finished off with a fried duck egg& maple-glazed bacon. Here, you just don’t stop at the classic PB&J + banana combination. To make it all the more decadent and over the top, you’re pampered with a perfectly cooked egg with a gooey yolk that oozes out and coats your each and every mouthful, AND sinful yet irresistible sweet and salty bacon strips. It’s love at first sight, and heaven in a bite. And while you may think that it might be too rich, well you’re wrong. Cause it was just so addictive and I wiped it clean. Just writing it makes me drool already.
I hear that Duck & Waffle has plenty of enticing dishes on their lunch and dinner menu and I will definitely be back to try them all. Here, it is both the food and experience that makes it all the worth going, even if you have to travel all the way from the other end (It is located just 3 minutes walk from Liverpool station so it is definitely accessible), or wait in line till the wee hours of the early morning. But either way, you are definitely going to have a convivial experience here, especially if you come to get your hangover cure.
This week has been a draining one for me. Not very much in the physical sense, although my feet are aching from walking around too much and my shoulders too from attempting to do an extremely intense PopSugar workout yesterday :( Not the very best idea given that I haven’t been really been moving my ass. Instead, it has been quite emotionally draining simply because it’s just so difficult to make wise decisions when it mattered the most.
When you were young, you never really had to worry about so much things. You believed that as long as you wished upon a star, your dreams will come true. But as you grow older, you start to realise that when you actually wanted some strawberries to make a pretty cupcake, life gives you lemons that throws you off your game and you start to question why. You start to question the things you’re doing and if you’re on the right track; you start to think if you should have not even began in the first place and if you should just give up now. You start to doubt your abilities and basically just everything that you have been doing right from the start.
I’m sure everyone has had their own difficulties and have resolved them in their own ways. For me, I chose to turn to the Holy one above who watches me everyday. Disappointments in life are inevitable and no doubt it is difficult to keep your trust in someone that you admire, worship and praise, but have not seen before. But having faith is to believe in something you have not seen. He creates miracles we do not understand, and I believe that he has His own ways in making things happen. Sooner or later, you will come to know that things happen not by your own doing, but because of God’s grace and mercy that you are able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and maybe the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
I really love just seeing the vibrant colours of a rainbow cake. It’s not very much of the taste, but rather because it is just so appealing to the eyes! And neither is it very difficult to make either, just a standard cake batter, divide it and add whatever colours that you like. Why not do just a few more steps to bring some joy to others’ lives? :)
Rainbow Tiger Skin Swiss Roll
Rainbow sponge cake:
6 Egg yolks
120g Caster sugar
12g Sponge gel/Ovalette (commonly used in sponge cakes to help keep the cake light and airy)
150g Cake flour 1 tbsp Water 100g Unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp Green food colour
½ tsp Red food colour
½ tsp Egg yellow food colour
Preheat oven to 170C.
In a large mixing bowl, add the egg yolks, sugar, sponge gel, cake flour and water. Whip up at a high speed until it has doubled in volume and is pale and creamy. About 10 minutes.
Add in the melted butter and mix only until thoroughly incorporated, about less than a minute. Do not over-mix.
Divide the mixture into 3 equal portions and add the colours into the individual portions. Mix well, and adjust the colours accordingly.
Drop dollops of each mixture randomly on a 14×14 inch baking tray and mix with your finger to create a swirl effect. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then take out and let cool completely.
Hibiscus is run by chef-patron Claude Bosi and his wife Claire. Lyon-born, Michelin-starred chef Claude started his training at the famous brasserie Léon de Lyon before going to work for a number of famous French chefs including Michel Rostang, Alain Passard and Alain Ducasse. In 1997, he moved to the UK and in 2000, Claude and Claire Bosi opened their own restaurant Hibiscus in the sleepy yet culinary well-endowed town of Ludlow in Shropshire. The restaurant was met with immediate acclaim, gaining its first Michelin star in 2001, and a second one followed in 2004. In 2007, the restaurant re-located to the affluent streets of London’s Mayfair, where it has now regained its brace of 2 Michelin stars.
The cuisine at Hibiscus marries tradition with invention perfectly. Chef Claude Bosi’s energy and ingenuity in experimenting with intense flavor combinations can be seen through his creation of exiting dishes that present an excellent balance between bold and subtlety. I admire his bold usage of oriental flavors to balance French flavours, and bringing harmony and synthesis to the plate despite having both East and West flavours.
Hibiscus is open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday till Saturday. The restaurant offers a seasonal tasting menu for dinner (3 courses 87.50, 6 courses £95, 8 courses £105) and there is a 3 course lunch menu for £34.95. We opted for the 6 course tasting menu.
We started off with some nibbles before the main event commenced. What took me most by surprised was the unassuming Candied cashew and peanuts with vinegar and sea salt. Firstly, they were roasted to perfection and that crunchy texture is quite enough to make it so addictive. But Chef Bosi definitely would not stop just there, he added sugar, vinegar and salt, so what you get is a perfect balance between sweet and savory, and all livened up with a little bit of zing from the vinegar. I guarantee you it’s the perfect snack for any type of taste bud. So casual on the outside, yet so refined in the inside.
Choux pastry with cheddar cheese and onion. Of courses, these gougères are always so light and addictive as well. Pop the whole thing in your mouth, and you will be greeted with a nice burst of cheesy goodness.
The Chicory and date tartlet, and the Sweet potato and yuzu crisp were equally delicious as well. Extremely thin pastry and crispy was accompanied by creamy fillings that were just refreshing to the palate.
Brown and white sourdough served with lightly salted Shropshire butter.
Miso ice cream with yuzu and sesame. While this may sound a little odd on paper, the flavor combinations actually worked out for me. The slight savoury and umami flavor of the miso was balanced out by the brightness of the yuzu, such that the miso flavor does not hit your palate too strongly, but subtlety enough that you are able to distinguish what you are having. The sesame seeds provided the must needed textural contrast.
Mushroom royale, coconut foam and curry powder was presented in a fragile egg shell and placed in a Hibiscus egg carton. How cute! I was quite surprised how neither the coconut nor the curry flavor overpowered one another. The touch of curry powder was a clever move to provide just a touch of spice and some body to the dish.
Veloute of leek and potato, with parmesan cheese and black truffle. The soup was silky and smooth, similar to the one I had at Berners Tavern. Again, neither the parmesan cream at the bottom nor the black truffle overpowered one another. The parmesan crisps was a nice crunchy element for the entire dish.
I wasn’t too particularly impressed by the Crab salad with Tokyo turnip leaf and syrup, olive oil creamhonestly, given the fact that we have had such mind blowing amazing dishes. Well I do appreciate something light and refreshing in the middle of all these strong and heavy flavours.
The Mackerel tartare and cucumber, compressed rhubarb juices and hibiscus flower was presented in such a beautiful cylindrical shape. The mackerel had such a vibrant colour to it and the hibiscus flower popping out of the cylinder made the entire dish feel so alive. The slight fishy and oily taste of the mackerel was offset by the sweet and refreshing cucumber and tart rhubarb juices, and every bite was just a joy.
Turbot with Jerusalem artichoke puree and caramelized artichoke. The fish was cooked perfectly; it had a firm exterior, but an interior that was still so slightly rare. The caramelized artichoke helped lightened the dish with its sweetness.
Duck with smoked eel and potato. Again, the execution is indeed commendable here with the perfectly medium rare duck. But there isn’t much for me to comment here. Its perfectly cooked, it’s delicious, but nothing too memorable.
Apples and celeriac jelly, chestnut foam. I loved how both the sweet chestnuts and apples were balanced out by the rather bland celeriac. The chestnut “foam” should really be called mousse instead as it was more towards the creamy side, rather than being light and airy.
Chocolate tart with Indonesian basil ice cream and star anise chili. I have to particularly commend this dish. Firstly, I was expecting this chocolate tart to be just filled with a regular chocolate ganache or a filling of some sort; but I was definitely not expecting it to contain a molten chocolate lava! Just look at all that decadent, rich and gooey Valrhona chocolate flow out of that amazingly thin and crispy tart! Secondly, here is where I would have to commend on Chef Bosi’s brave use of basil. I was afraid that the strong flavours of basil would not go along with the richness of dark chocolate, but I was actually mistaken. The savoury notes of the basil actually helped brought out the sweetness of the chocolate, and so did the slightly spicy star anise chili. The texture of the ice cream was extremely smooth and fine as well.
Now on to the petite fours.
Rhubarb Yorkshire with vanilla sugar. This, I thought was quite interesting, although I was not a big fan of it. The rhubarb itself was slightly too bland for my liking. It was a touch sour though, and when dipped into the sugar, it was supposed to give the perfect balance between sweet and sour. But I find coating my entire mouth with sugar, just to salvage a bland piece of rhubard, was not exactly too pleasing for my taste buds…
And last but not least, we ended the meal with warm and delicious Madelines: Orange, Pistachio, Raisin.
Service at Hibiscus was excellent. The waiters were knowledgeable, yet not too obtrusive, polite, yet not too uptight or strict. I also loved how despite it being a fine dining 2 Michelin-starred restaurant, the atmosphere was pretty casual and you could hear loud chattering and laughter from guests all around you. Yet, the décor, with its large chandeliers, grey upholstered chairs, light wooden paneling and dim lightings, still reminds you that you are in one of the finest restaurants in London. Indeed it is, and I definitely recommend that you put down your name way in advance unless you are fine with dining at 1030pm.
Located in the El Born district of Barcelona, Comerç 24is one of the city’s most forward-thinking restaurants that feature traditional Catalan and Spanish cuisine with a liberal dose of fashionable molecular gastronomy. While it bills itself as a tapas restaurant, its dishes certainly don’t resemble the traditional tapas fare and I would rather call it a more luxurious form of tapas, which is not surprisingly given that Chef Carles Abellan was a pupil of Ferran Adria.
Amidst the darkness and closed shops along the street is a glowing bright yellow banner of Comerç 24 that beckons you right in. The interior is dimly lit, and grey walls and yellow accents call for a rather industrial feel (because the building was originally used for salting and selling of pickled and preserved goods). An open kitchen on one side of the room allowed one to sense the immaculate precision inside.
There was the a la carte menu and two tasting menus to chose from – 7 course Festival menu (92€) and 12 course Grand Festival menu (116€) – which I felt would be more worth it than jus the individual a la carte dishes because you get to taste all their specialties, plus the Chef’s secret creations of the day. And of course because Comerç 24 focuses on fresh local produce, the tasting menus differs slightly everyday. At the end of the meal, you will get your very own small little menu with the date stamped.
We opted for the Festival menu, and started off the meal with a few amuse bouches.
Smoky “TROMPETTA de la Muerte” Infusion. From what I have researched, Trompetta de la muerte (also known as black chanterelle, black trumpet, or even trumpet of the dead, but scientifically known as Craterellus cornucopioides), is a type of edible mushroom that grows mainly under beech, oak or other broad-leaved trees in the woods of North America, Europe, Japan and Korea. The mushroom is usually almost black, blending in with the leaf litter on the forest floor and hunters say they resemble black holes in the ground. And while they look rather unattractive, they have a very strong earthy flavor which was what I definitely got from this small cup of infusion. The smoky flavor hits you straight in the nose when served, but it just not stop just there as the taste definitely lingers in your mouth after every spoonful.
CAULIFLOWER with rice Vinegar and Ginger was meant to be a palate cleanser before the next dish.
MONKFISH with Black Sesame and Black Garlic. I’m not a fan of monkfish because it’s usually fishy and just slightly too tough to bite. But this seared monkfish, still rare and translucent at the centre, was totally unexpectedly silky and soft like that of a sashimi/carpiccio. The pungent black garlic and nutty, savoury sesame helped accentuate its salty and briny taste.
PHILLO Cannelloni with parmesan, LEMON and basil. We were instructed to have the basil leaf last. The phillo cigars were remarkably thin, crunchy and not at all crumbly. The parmesan filling was creamy, yet light at the same time. And I thought that the basil at the end gave a strong aroma and finishing taste that helped reminded diners that this was actually a savoury dish, despite the slightly sweet and light filling.
PIZZA 24 had a thin crunchy base topped with briny anchovy, creamy mozzarella, sweet cherry tomatoes and the tinniest strawberries i’v ever seen and a handful of bitter arugula. I felt that there was a little too much going on in this tiny little pizza. Just a little too many ingredients and competing flavours that you’re not actually able to savour the freshness of each component.
CEVICHE sponge. I don’t quite know what this actually was. Tasted like raw white fungus too me that was unexpectedly sweet.
A basket of thick crusty bread and a selection of priced Spanish olive oils and salt were then brought to our table. As the server poured the different types of olive oil into four different dishes, he explained them one by one from right to left: spicy, sweet, fruity, bitter. The difference in taste was so subtle that it took my quite a few dippings before I could really discern the flavours and finally deciding that the fruity was my favourite.
SARDINE with Orange, Wasabi and “Carquinyolis”. Not a fan of sardines usually, but the fresh orange segments helped cut the fishiness and salty sardines. The crunchy Carquinyolis (the Catalan biscotti) crumbs on the side added a textural contrast while the micro greens added a touch of freshness to the dish.
Tuna TARTARE was unfortunately not particularly impressive. This fresh raw tuna, lightly marinated in soy sauce and topped with salmon roe, tasted just as good as any great tuna tartares out there. The raw egg yolk which you usually see with a beef tartare didn’t do much to elevate this dish either..
CONSOMME with Egg, Parmesan cheese and Truffle. This soup was like a work of art. 3 different coloured spheres, yellow for egg, white for parmesan and brown for truffle, were arranged beautifully into a colourful pyramid. The waiter then poured a warm and wonderfully scented black truffle consommé that caused the spheres too float around. Popping each sphere into your mouth each time results in a burst of intense flavor. I had expected the parmesan cheese to be really salty, but it was just savoury enough. While the conosomme had a deep depth of flavour and umami-ness, I would have to say that it was a little heavily seasoned, given the fact that the parmesan sphere was salty on its own already.
CODFISH with Chard, Chickpeas and Miso. I really love cod, especially when its cooked so perfectly just as this. It had a slight bite on the outside, but it was still rare and silky on the inside that it just melts in your mouth.
Pure Iberian “cochinillo” HANOI. You know you’ll get the best suckling pig when in Spain. Crispy crackly skin, followed by a layer of fat that is juicy and slightly sweet, a top moist and tender meat that tears off so easily. It’s really the perfect bite altogether. And you really don’t need any sauce to go along with it because the skin and fat provides just so much flavour. And such a thin piece of the suckling pig is really enough to blow you off your feet. What also came along with this dish was also a bowl of hot olive oil with rosemary and thyme, and you can really tell that they pay attention to engaging all your 5 senses. We were instructed to smell the flavours of the fresh herbs first before devouring the star of the show.
GLAZED Veal cheek. Another delicious dish. I could imagine this simmering in a potful of vegetables and gravy, allowing it to soak up all that intense flavor and resulting in it being extremely tender that it tears off so easily as well with the slightest push and pull of the fork.
Lemon ICED TEA was actually a lemon sponge cake, lemon mousse, lemon sorbet, caramelized tuielle, and a sweet broth. Refreshing and light, it was like a palate cleanser between the savoury and sweet courses.
Starting from the Recuit “NAPOLITA” on the top left, I can’t remember exactly what this is but I rembered that it was my least favourite dessert. I think it was some kind of bland strawberry mousse at the bottom topped with cottage cheese that was neither cold nor really creamy, that’s why I think I didn’t like it. Moving on in the anti-clockwise direction is the APPLE/SAFFRON. The sweet mushy apples beneath the crunchy coffee crumble paired well together and the creamy saffron gelato provided quite a perfect balance in flavour with its slight savoury note to. At the bottom right is the NOUGAT, Chocolate & COFFEE. So inside this chocolate bar is a chocolate and almond cream, and on top of it is caramelised almonds, salted caramel and a coffee cigar. Lovely balance of crunchy and creamy! And last but not least my favourite dessert of the night, CONGUITOS C24. It was actually a brownie topped with peanut butter and caramelized tuielle, and finished off with a chocolate peanut butter sphere that bursts right in your mouth. You have to take it all in one bite if not the peanut butter filling will splurt right out and you definitely wouldn’t want to waste all that goodness.
The petit fours were equally exceptional. Starting with the OREO Vanilla and Black Sesame, it is actually basically a black sesame oreo ice cream sandwich. And of course what can you not love about an ice cream sandwich! The WILD Pine are just a handful of caramelized almonds, while the GOLD BAR was just a chocolate bar with a crunchy cookie bottom coated with quite unnecessary gold. Lastly the Matcha TABLET is a green tea white chocolate bar that had such a potent green tea flavor.
And at the end of it all, we were all stuffed.
With attentive service and perfect pace and delivery of dishes, dining at Comerç, 24 is definitely a one of a kind experience. With molecular gastronomy, you will be surprised and challenged by almost every playful and creative dish. However, I do have to say that when it is good, it is very good. But when it doesn’t work, it feels like an affectation. Overall, this meal was truly memorable. We started off strong with the amuse bouche, and the ingenious desserts and petite fours finished it off with aplomb.
Comerc 24 Carrer del Comerç, 24 08003 Barcelona, Ciutat Vella Tel: 93 319 21 02
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