the hinata diaries

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Flog Exchange: Pairings!

Sorry for the delay as some peopl needed a bit more time to get back to us... but here we go, the moment you've all been waiting for!

Below are the pairings for the Christmas Flog Exchange. You'll each be getting an e-mail from Joone and I providing you with the contact e-mail and address of the person who's wish you'll be fulfilling - do get in touch directly to arrange how to exchange gifts! Sorry if some of us couldn't get first choice wishes, it was difficult to match everyone up exactly :) For detailed wish descriptions, please refer to previous post.

1. Brenda's wish for Mexican/Jewish delights will be fulfilled by Hinata!

2. Cheryl's wish for dark chocolate will be fulfilled by Nadnut!

3. Nadnut's wish for personalized cupcakes will be fulfilled by Mia!

4. Umami's wish for a surprise will be fulfilled by Jasmine!

5. Viviene's wish for Christmas goodies will be fulfilled by Umami!

6. Samuel's wish for chocolates will be fulfilled by Viviene!

7. Jasmine's wish for strawberry shortcake will be fulfilled by SuperFineFeline!

8. Callen's wish for German chocolate cake will be fulfilled by Vivien Teng!

9. LeRoy's wish for macarons will be fulfilled by Joone or Brenda!

10. Mia's wish for risotto with truffles will be fulfilled by Callen!

11. Ivan's wish for a t-shirt will be fulfilled by Samuel!

12. Joone's wish for a serving plate will be fulfilled by Ivan!

13. Hinata's wish for Japanese confectionery will be fulfilled by LeRoy!

14. Viviene Teng's wish for chawanmushi cups will be fulfilled by Brenda or Joone!

Do post up on your gift and giver, or even your meeting session! It would be fun to see what ideas everyone came up with and how they turned out :)

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Flog Exchange Part 2: Fulfil a Wish!

Thanks everyone who's participating in the Christmas Flog Exchange!

This is the fun part now, seeing everyone's wishes and choosing a wish to fulfil. We've got 14 wishes, listed below. Please reply to the same email as before - - by next Thursday, December 21, stating your 1st choice, 2nd choice and 3rd choice of wishes to fulfil (need 3 choices in case everyone wants to fulfil the same wish lah). Joone and I will post up the pairings next Friday, and then off to gift-swopping land we go!

Don't forget to reply soon - if you're not fulfilling someone's wish then obviously it's not fair that you get your wish fulfilled, and you don't want to get scratched off our Santa's helper list :)

Wishers and wishes:

1. Brenda of Monstrous Appetites would like some Mexican/Jewish delights, e.g. chili, falafels and tortillas.

2. Cheryl of She Bakes and She Cooks would like your favourite dark chocolate.

3. Nadnut of would like 6 pretty decorated cupcakes spelling out her nick (i.e. one with the letter N, one with the letter A, etc.)

4. Umami of Umami would like to be surprised :)

5. Viviene of Sweets For My Sweet Tooth would like any Christmas-related food items that can be conveniently posted to her in KL.

6. Samuel of Yummy Dummy would like "nice, yummilicious chocolates" (preferably dark), or anything chocolatey.

7. Jasmine of Love At First Bite would like to eat the best strawberry shortcake ever.

8. Callen of Whiskey Lullaby would like the German chocolate cake (dark chocolate) featured on

9. Superfinefeline of Superfinefeline would like (1) a chocolate cake baked by Cheryl :) or (2) organic tea or walnuts from Bunalun

10. LeRoy of The Hungry Cow would like macarons and their recipe.

11. Mia the Skinny Epicurean would like a creamy dish of risotte with white alba truffle shavings.

12. Ivan of Recent Runes, in a non-food related request, would like the T-shirt featured on in black, size XL.


13. Joone of Nibble & Scribble would like a serving bowl/plate, or something Japanese for her kitchen.

14. And I would like Japanese confectionery (like those pretty mochi cakes), preferably winter themed.

So what are you waiting for? Harness your inner Santa/Santarina and let us know which wishes you'd like to fulfil!

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Flog Exchange!

Attention all food bloggers! Since 'tis the season and all that, Joone and I are organizing a Christmas Flog Exchange!

All you have to do to take part is send an e-mail to with your name, blog, snail mail address and wish by this Thursday, December 14. Joone and I will publish the completed wish list the next day (Friday, December 15), after which you have one week to sign up to fulfil someone else's wish. Needless to say, you only get to make a wish if you're gonna fulfil someone else's in return :)

To keep things fun and friendly, you can wish for anything food-related that's under S$20. It can be something specific (e.g. a box of organic cherries) or something that requires a bit of creativity on your wish fulfiller's part (e.g. "the best cupcakes you've ever eaten").

Of course, feel free to spread the word on your own blogs and get more people involved! Depending on the response, we can either organize a gift exchange dinner or a simpler blogging-by-mail exchange (hence the request for your snail mail address).

So get wishing!

P.S. While thinking up your wish this Christmas, please also spare a thought for the less fortunate. Here are just a few of the fundraisers I'm aware of this Christmas. If you're involved with a charity that you'd like to tell others about, do feel free to include a short description and link with your wish, and we'll publish it together with the full wishlist on Friday. Happy holidays!

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Tian Jin Fong Kee

When you're hungry and need filling up in a hurry, you can't go wrong with a big plate of Chinese dumplings, or jiaozi.

My love affair with jiaozis started as a kid. We have a Sam Ee Por (or Third Grandaunt, for the non-Cantonese out there) who lives in London and used to spend a month or so each year in Singapore visiting my grandma. Their catch-up sessions would inevitably take place over the backyard kitchen table, their hands busy kneading, stuffing and sealing wotip after wotip (again, for the non-Cantonese, wotip is Cantonese for guotie, the fried version of jiaozi that I grew up eating) while they chatted.

All tears over Sam Ee Por's eventual return to London's muggy shores would thus be softened with the knowledge that my grandma's freezer was packed with sufficient wotip to ensure the entire extended family would be kept well stocked till her next visit.

And whenever one of the family happened to be in London, a call to Sam Ee Por informing her of our visit would hear her voice perking up over the phone to make the declaration we were all hoping to hear: "Sam Ee Por will make you some wotip!"

And trust me, there is nothing better during a cold London winter than Sam Ee Por's wotip. Except maybe her yau mei fan (a recipe for another day).

So while wotip remains for me, a warm and fuzzy flagbearer of all things good and Cantonese, to Philippe, it's one of the ultimate Beijing dishes.

Jiaozi, the steamed Northern Chinese equivalent, was likewise a godsend during equally harsh Beijing winters. Cheap, warm and filling, it also offered the advantage of being one of the rare dishes in a Chinese university canteen that did not come blanketed in a layer of oil and MSG.

Later, when we both began working in Beijing, jiaozi was the convenient meal-in-a-bag that you could stock up for months at a go at your nearest supermarket, and have ready to eat in under 5 minutes after a late night of work.

So you can imagine we were pretty thrilled when my dad introduced us to Tian Jin Fong Kee when we moved back to Singapore. Formerly (and they're back now) occupying a couple of stalls at the People's Park Complex Hawker Centre, Fong Kee moved into a ground floor unit in the main building when the hawker centre underwent renovation. The new unit got jazzed up with mod Chinese lanterns, airconditioning, and an expanded menu featuring Northern Chinese dishes and coffeeshop favourites such as yangzhou fried rice and beef hor fun.

Their signature jiaozi, however, remain as good as before. Compared to other jiaozi stores, I'd say what distinguishes Fong Kee's jiaozi are the generous amount of chopped chives, which are awful for one's breath but gives the meat a sharp, onion-like edge. The meat contains a fair bit of fat, fast approaching the border of xiaolongbao soupy. The guotie version also carries the charred, smoky imprint of hot frying oil which is especially addictive when contrasted with the vinegar and ginger dipping sauce, while the boiled jiaozi benefit from a skin that is firm but not thick and overly starchy.

It's hard to even consider ordering other dishes when the jiaozi are so addictive, but we usually make an exception for the zhajiang mian. As you can see from the picture, it's not a pretty dish, nor are the ingredients terribly refined. But the zhajiang boasts a strong splash of vinegar that's very kai wei ("appetite opening") and the noodles are smooth.

One thing I never understood about Fong Kee was the high number of burly, tattoo-hewn Caucasians who, together with their rows of beer bottles, usually occupy the outdoor seats alongside Chinatown regulars. I discovered recently, courtesy of Fong Kee's website, that when grandfather Fong Chee Yen arrived from Tianjin in 1948 and set up the dumpling business, most of his customers were sailors who had developed a taste for jiaozi through their round-the-world travels, as opposed to Singaporeans who were initially unfamiliar with the dish. Perhaps there's a big book of sailor lore that lists Fong Kee as a must-visit destination for sailors even today.

Today, Fong Kee has two outlets, both at People's Park (they've moved back to the hawker centre as well now that renovations have finished), a restaurant at Murray Street and a home delivery and catering service. Let me know if you've tried them and what you think!


Tian Jin Fong Kee

#01-100 People's Park Complex

Tel: 6532-3319; and

#01-1448 People's Park Centre

Tel: 6532-3318

Fong Kee Restaurant

6 Murray Street (next to Maxwell House)

Tel: 6220-3318

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Warong M. Nasir

Thought, for a cheap thrill, that I'd try to be the first one to post about today's lunch at Warong M. Nasir - beating out the ever efficient Ivan as well as the vacationing Cheryl, Superfinefeline and Umami (ok, so Umami would argue she's not on vacation, and hearing her stressful moving stories, I'm inclined to agree, Paris or no Paris).

The lunch was part of a month-long drive to ensure that Umami gets to eat all the necessary before departing for colder and decidedly less spicy shores. Happily for me, lunch also gave me an opportunity to try a new eating place, and the combination of good food and good company made it very pleasant indeed.

Will let the pictures do the talking, save these few observations:

- Warung M. Nasir has to be one of the most comfortable nasi padang places in town. Air-conditioning, artwork on cherry red walls, Antonio Carlos Jobim playing over the speakers... sure beats dripping sweat and choping tables with tissue paper packets. They even have a modest wine fridge.

- The beef rendang, highly recommended by a conspicuously absent Joone, was excellent, moist and tender and dense with kecap manis-like caramelized sweetness. Didn't get a close pic but here's its cousin (not literally, that would be messed up) the chicken rendang instead - this was dry fiery in contrast and a bit too spicy for my weak taste buds.

- The beef tongue, despite looking very attractive, received fairly negative feedback (that's it in the bottom left corner). Being a coward when it comes to eating odd bits, I sheepishly passed, but felt somewhat vindicated when words such as "spongy" were later tossed around to describe it.

- Umami's Spider-sense detected a fresh batch of fried potato wedges creeping up from behind her. These turned out fabulous, covered in crispy sweet white bait and bits of chili. If you strain your eyes, you can just make it out as the plate stacked on top of the stir fried spinach :)

For a parting pic, see what happens when you lunch with food bloggers? A group paparazzi moment...


Warong M. Nasir Indonesian Food

69 Killiney Road

T: 6734 6228

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Min Jiang at one-north

I guess now that the birthday's more than a month past, I should wrap up on the birthday blogging. Lunch at Charlie's Corner and dinner at Akane on Thursday were followed by drinks at Coffee Bar K on Friday night, a great place if (a) you like your cocktails and whiskeys and (b) if you want to actually be able to converse without straining your voice/hearing. The bar, which doesn't seem to serve coffee whatsoever (actually I didn't ask - who would even think of coffee when the drinks list comes in a folder the thickness of karaoke song folders in days of yore), surprisingly serves very mean pizzas - thin, crispy, with bits of deliciously sweet chaodar-ness. No pics but use your imagination :)

Wrapped up the various celebrations with Sunday lunch with the family at Min Jiang. In addition to its regular menu, Min Jiang also offers dim sum on Sundays, which turned out to be very passable for a supposedly Sichuan restaurant, and satisfied even the most Cantonese among us.

The highlight of any meal at Min Jiang, of course, is its Peking duck, served three ways. First the thinnest and crispiest skin bits are carved and placed on the table, to be simply dipped in sugar. This is followed by two lots of pancake with duck meat and skin - the traditional spring onions, cucumber and hoisin sauce combination, as well as a garlic and pickled radish strips (kimchi?) combination. Aside from incredibly delicious, the spectacle of having the chef carve the duck tableside and the luxury of having your pancakes wrapped for you added an element of luxury that was welcome on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Some of the other dishes that really stood out for us were:

- As a starter, the drunken chicken is a refreshing wake-up call, cold and gently sweet while the wine gets the tastebuds going.

- The wo tip or fried guo tie. These looked like normal guo tie on steroids, honestly massive and stuffed to the brim with meat.

- The ma po dou fu came in a brilliant scarlet and was numbingly addictive...

- ... likewise the gong bao ji ding was crowned in a heaping of fiery dry chillies. The chicken dice were incredibly tender, free of any distracting bits of skin or gristle.

Min Jiang is now my favourite Chinese restaurant. The Sichuan dishes are, to my knowledge, as authentic as it gets in Singapore - the "ma" and "la" distinct and captivating without overwhelming the otherwise delicate and fresh ingredients. The Cantonese dim sum was a pleasant surprise as well. Add to that a lovely tree-flanked setting and decent service, and you really could do much worse for a weekend family lunch.

As a parting thought, you know how, as a customer, it's sometimes the little touches that make a difference? Thought this was a perfect example of how the restaurant goes the extra mile to think of the comfort of its customers... a mini bag chair! And it's even chained to my grown-up chair, how cute is that?


Min Jiang at one-north

5 Rochester Park

Tel: 6774 0122

Note: Peking duck needs to be ordered at least one day in advance

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