Gula Melaka (Palm Sugar)

Ever since C’s handsome baby fed me his purple sweet potato in Shanghai 2 weeks ago, i can’t help but think about it occasionally. So very sweeetttttttt and the colour was gorgeous! — i cleverly managed to forget how pretty they are despite the fact that i had once baked a few loaves of lovely purple sweet potato bread before.

2 days ago at the wet market (have i mentioned that i love wet markets? i do, i do and i do!), i was merely trying my luck and asked the popo casually with zero expectation if purple sweet potato was available. Needless to say, we all know what her answer was aye? ;)

Don’t you just love this Ondeh Ondeh’s colour?!?!

I know i do.

Very much.

Initially, i only had 2-3 ideas in mind on what to do with my prized purple sweet potatoes, apart from roasting them.

But right after i tweeted my thoughts out aloud — not knowing what to do with the potatoes, yet — my tweet tweet friends tweeted back almost immediately with some very fabulous ideas and this Ondeh Ondeh was one of them, courtesy of Ellie from Almost Bourdain. :)

Not too long ago, i’ve made quite a bit of ondeh ondeh using a new recipe. I didn’t like it that much then.

Then, i remember loving my first attempt’s Ondeh Ondeh quite abit. So, for this attempt, i made sure i use back the very same recipe.

Alas, chewy but not so chewy texture obtained.

Perfect for fussy me! Hehe.

Ondeh Ondeh

(makes 20-22 balls)

Skin
180g sweet potato, mashed
50g glutinous rice flour
20g tapioca or corn flour
25g sugar
30-45ml water, depending on the dough

Filling
80-100g gula melaka, chopped

Coating
1/2 young shredded coconut + pinch of salt, steamed for 5 minutes

Method
1. mix skin ingredients and knead into a smooth dough.
2. divide into small balls and wrap in filling.
3. put balls into boiling water. boil until balls float up, remove and coat with shredded coconut.

For more detailed steps with photos, click here!

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Something which you might wanna know :)

~ Purple-fleshed sweet potatoes are a fantastic source of anthocyanins (especially peonidins and cyanidins) and have outstanding antioxidant activity. In one study, the antioxidant activity in purple sweet potatoes was 3.2 times higher than that of a type of blueberry! An equally amazing fact about sweet potatoes is the antioxidant capacity of all their parts. Recent research has shown different genes to be at work in the flesh versus skin of the sweet potato producing different concentrations of anthocyanin antioxidants. Even the leaves of the sweet potato plant have been shown to provide important antioxidant benefits and are included in soups in many cuisines.

Of course, that is not why i love sweet potatoes.

I love sweet potatoes because well, i simply love sweet potatoes! Heh.

Oh, and their leaves too — think stir fry sweet potato leaves with sambal + dried shrimps (hay bee).

YUMS!

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Submitting this for Muhibbah Monday to Suresh from 3hungrytummies! :)

Keisuke Tokyo has always been on my radar ever since i read about it in the newspaper sometime ago.

My family loves ramen. Whenever i say, ramen for dinner, the boys’ (be it small or big) eyes would lit up immediately. There was a prolong period of time when ramen was our weekly staple. Darcy and i have tried out almost all the much raved about ramen eateries you could think of. But till today, after all that adventures, we are still loyal to 2 ramen places + 1 more now!

Keisuke Tokyo opens in Singapore in April 2010 and it is the first oversea venture. Keisuke Tokyo first launched in Tokyo, Japan in 2005 and has since expanded to 8 outlets in Japan.

Mr Keisuke Takeda, founder of Keisuke Tokyo has been selected as the top ramen chef within his group in TV TOKYO’s Ramen Champion series 10!  After a challenging month of intense ramen competition, the people of Japan have spoken – Takeda has succeeded and will proceed to the final stage as one of the TOP 3 chefs challenging for the coveted Ramen Champion title.

As for the restaurant’s interior and ambiance, i’ll let the photos do the talking ;)

Having been operating in Singapore for close to a year now, Keisuke Tokyo launches their latest ordering scheme – Ramen customisation for their customers. This is in response to the diversity of meal preferences amongst Singaporeans. Customers can now enjoy ramen made to their liking and have the option of excluding certain ingredients such as pork chashu or leek.

Look!

For drinks, our lovely and ever so attentive server recommended us Calpis with Soda ($3.30) to start our meal.

It was love at first sip! – very unique and refreshing. We were told that it was actually a yogurt drink. Never had we dared to imagine it to be yogurt drink honestly.

We took some time to mull over on the ramen we wanted to order.

Too many variety!

Moreover, with the customized ramen form, everything seemed a little exciting.

While waiting for our ramen, 2 jars arrived – Preserved bean sprouts and freshly chopped onions.

Preserved bean sprout is really very appetizing. Spicy, sourish, salty… i would have eaten plates of this had bestie not stopped me. :P

Not too long after, our Gyoza ($3.00) arrived.

Bestie (J) loved the gyoza quite a bit. In her own words, they are juicy and very tasty, nothing like the ones i make at home! Tee hee hee! I, on the other hand, was more amused by the vinegar used. It was colourless and not the usual black! Also, a dash of chili oil was added into the vinegar instead of julienned ginger.

J’s ramen : Premium Tonkatsu Ramen ($14.80)

For this particular ramen, cheese is added as one of the toppings as you can see above, which explains the unusual and interesting but nevertheless delicious tasting soup.

Of course, if you are not keen on having cheese in your ramen, there are plenty of other Tonkotsu ramen with pork broth to choose from.

My ramen : Watarikani Ramen Ajitami-iri  — crab stock ramen with flavoured egg ($15.80)

I love my bowl of ramen very much!

The crab broth was excellent! Think thick, rich and flavourful… I simply can’t find fault with the broth no matter what. If anything, i suspected prawns were added in as well. But then, i could be wrong. Anyway, who cares…. so long the broth is good. ;)

And the noodle, aaahhh.. the noodle, i have to say, it’s totally my kind of noodle. The thickness, the texture, the doneness … perfecto!

Do pardon the ramen photos though. As we requested for just half portion of the noodle, the toppings, chashu and the noodle seemed to be swimming merrily in the soup. Not exactly very photogenic, i’d say.

left : my slightly thick egg noodle right : J’s white noodle

I’m quite particular when it comes to chashu. Paper thin chashu doesn’t rock my boat that much. Thankfully, the chashu at Keisuke wasn’t paper thin at all. But it was not too thick either (*PHEW*). Most importantly, the chashu was soft and tender, unlike some thick and rubbery chashu at some ramen eateries.

One thing i don’t dig gotta be the flavoured egg. The yolk was not running at all! I was quite disappointed to be honest.

To share : Mentaiko Gohan – cod roe on rice ($5.00)

Hmmm.. after all that delicious food, i must say, Mentaiko Gohan was pretty mediocre. It was just rice, egg, spicy cod roe and shredded seaweed, basically, nothing to shout about really. But then, if i don’t feel like having ramen on that particular day when my eating buddy does, this bowl of rice would be what i will order! It’s always good to have a bit of variety in menu, especially for couples (read : Darcy and I) who sometimes can’t quite reach an agreement when it comes to food.

Matcha and Kurogoma Ice Cream ($5.00)

Ice cream!

To be more exact, green tea and black sesame ice cream!

Well, creamy with strong flavours, what’s there not to love? :)

Conclusion : Keisuke Tokyo, you now have 2 additional fans! I’m bringing my whole gang over this weekend!

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Keisuke Tokyo

9 Raffles Boulevard,
#P03-02 Millenia Walk,
Singapore 039596

Call for reservation : 6337 7919

Website : http://www.grandcuisine.jp/keisuke_sg/

Opening Hours :

Mon – Wed: 11:30 am - 3:30 pm
5:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Thurs: 11:30 am - 3:30 pm
5:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Fri: 11:30 am - 3:30 pm
5:30 pm - 10:30 pm
Sat – Sun: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm

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Special thanks to Ken Yashiro from WonderAsia Pte Lte and Keisuke Tokyo for the wonderful dinner.

For more information on Keisuke Tokyo, LIKE their Facebook! Every now and then, there’s free give away and many attractive promotions!

(the happening side of the town)

Day 5 & 8

Tangkou is an expanding jumble of narrow lanes, hotels and restaurants on the Taohua Gully where most of the Huangshan buses terminate. Many affordable hotels can be found in here, a sleepy town situated on either side of a small river spanned by several bridges. A perfect (location wise) town to be used as a base camp.

Touts are everywhere. From the first step you take, right after you alight from the bus from wherever, to your last step, right before you board the bus to wherever. It’s rather annoying, if you were to ask me. But most people would tell me it was due to the non-peak season when i was there. Businesses are crawling slow for most. So it’s understandable why we got pestered incessantly.

As annoying as it may be, the locals are very harmless. Once the heads are shook, they will leave you alone.

We ran into a few glitches when we first arrived. Mostly because we were overwhelmed by the choices of accommodation, transportation and food. We said no to all. In the end, we went into a restaurant where we were most comfortable with. Probably the only restaurant with English signboard  that reads, Mr Cheng’s Restaurant.

From there, we were brought to a hotel, partly owned by Mr Cheng (he’s famous, he’s on Lonely Planet), or so he claimed.

A nice, sincere, young lad who drives a crappy tiny van was our driver for the day (more about him later!).

We paid RMB120 for our room for 3, which we thought was extremely reasonable. Of course, do not expect 100% working heater or rain showers. My poor macho friend, P, was freezing her arse off when she first showered. Later, we found out that we gotta let the shower water run for a good 10 minutes before the hot water comes onboard (thank goodness i showered last that day! haha!).

Then C, who never once turned off the tap had problems with inconsistent supply of hot water. Her screaming in between while showering was hilarious. Hehe! And me, the last one who showered.. had no problems at all! Inferring from the friends’ situations, i turned off the water tap quite a few times in between and the hot water worked just fine though a better shower head would be most welcomed — the one we had, the water flow was almost like my boys’ pee, friggin’ teeny weeny drip drops!

Dinner that night was obviously at Mr Cheng’s Restaurant, not because we wanted to but mostly because he sorta pestered us to but we were ok with it since we have nowhere else to go anyway :)

Food (RMB80+) was quite delicious and not expensive either.

We gave strict instructions on NO MSG, less salt and less oil + a leeeettttle bit spicy.

Stir fry vegetables. SPICY good!

Fried omelet with tomato. Yums!

Signature local dish – Stir fry chicken with tofu, mushrooms and fresh bamboo shoots

My favourite gotta be the first dish which was a little bit spicy but too spicy for P. Heh.

During the dinner, Mr Cheng kept telling us that it would be raining at Huangshan the next day. He doesn’t see any point at all going up to the mountain hence he took the initiative to plan our next day’s itinerary, which was to visit the 3 villages (which i mentioned here) that are similar to Hongcun but better for just RMB200 in a comfortable private sedan (the nice young lad quoted us RMB150 – after discount – for Hongcun). Obviously, he was out to tempt us knowing very well the deal we had the young lad on Day 8.

However, i remember very clearly that Huangshan’s weather forecast for the next day was supposed to be light snow. I remember because i remember jumping up and down in the bedroom with much excitement when i saw the forecast just a couple of days ago. So, how could light snow = rain? Mr Cheng even showed us the forecast on his handphone (in Chinese) which none of us could read of course.

I was skeptical.

I told him the sudden change of plan was not what we were prepared for and we would seriously consider our new itinerary by him. Phone numbers were exchanged and i told him once i’ve discussed with the friends, i’d give him a call.

What i did next was to text Darcy and told him to check the weather forecast for Huangshan for next day. As expected, “light snow” came flashing on the phone’s screen less than 5 minutes later. That was when we put our feet down and decided to go ahead with our initial plan, rain or snow.

And guess what?

I am so damn glad we stuck to our plan because it really snowed the next day!

the other side of the town where we didn’t explore

The next morning, we took the young and nice lad’s van to the cable car’s station for RMB50. If we were to go by the public bus, it would cost us RMB13 each and some walking required. So we rather pay a little bit more for comfort and everything else. :)

Uh huh, u read correctly. It was cable car for us after all. The ground was wet and it was snowing. I reckoned it would be much much safer for us to take the cable car instead. After all, many who have been up the mountain advised me to do so too, mainly because there was not much scenery to see if we were to walk up. Darcy was pleased as punch upon knowing this decision of mine. Heh.

left : our ‘bus stop’ right : some say, the best and cheapest food is under the bridge but we didn’t manage to find out of course

After we came down from the mountain, the first thing we did was to look for proper food, proper cooked food with tons of vegetables. We have been deprived rather badly.

After walking for a while, we hopped into a restaurant where a table was occupied.

Lunch (RMB80+) was promptly ordered and stir fry leafy vegetable was a must for me.

We mentioned less salt but the dishes came out almost salt-less. Ha! However, we were alright with it.. Better than being too salty, which we agreed in union. I must say, it was quite a good, homey meal. Then i thought out aloud, Is there no bad food in Tangkou at all?

An hour later, we were back at Mr Cheng’s Restaurant again but not for another meal this time.

This was where we we will be picked up to Hangzhou, the first bus (RMB100) for the day at 2.30pm. (fyi, Mr Cheng helped us to secure the bus tickets but fret not if you can’t find Mr Cheng because almost everyone in town could help you book it) Tickets are hot for this particular time slot so it is best to buy the tickets in advance if possible.

probably the only bakery in town. very decent and everything looked tempting, especially the black sesame goodies!

Important : do travel with your Passport all the time. P left her passport in Shanghai and it was quite a hassle whenever we tried to check in at all hotels.

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