Friday, August 26, 2011

Hong Kong Report : The Krug Room

The long awaited blog entry about the exclusive The Krug Room at Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong. My apologies for the delay as I was busy fostering Tinkerbelle, a rescued sheltie from a wretched puppymill.

For serious foodies, The Krug Room is a must-visit if you are planning to be in Hong Kong. It just celebrated its 5th anniversary in Hong Kong and is still always fully booked (well, September reservations are all taken up). My advice is to book a month in advance, if not earlier.

The most "secretive" chef's table. The Krug Room in Hong Kong is located next to the kitchen of Mandarin Oriental's main kitchen, with access only through a secret passage. Formerly opened for only private dining, it sits up to 12 pax. However, now it's open to public and you might share the table with others if you are a party of 2-4 pax.

Executive Chef, Uwe Opocensky was trained under culinary greats like Alain Ducasse and Ferran AdriĆ . He describes his cuisine as “progressive gastronomy". Most great chefs now move away from the term "molecular".

The dinner is only degustation menu, but they are able to make some changes according to your dietary preferences. The menu was written on the wall for us to discover in a crossword puzzle style.

Here's what we ate when we there on 29th July.

Amuse bouche - Wagyu
Beef pastry puff inspired by dim sum

1st - Mini Flower Pot
Salad with herbs and edible soil

2nd - Benedict
Truffle and egg based on recipe 1311

3rd - Papillote (meaning wrap)
Gravlax with herbs and flower (can you see the thin pieces of transparent wrap?)

4th - Quail In A Jar
Quail meat and jelly

5th - A La Francaise
Peas cooked in 3 ways with ham bits on the side. Before we were served this dish, we were given a pillow filled with scent of peas.

6th - Coq Au Vin
I love the unique presentation of the coq au vin in a half sliced bottle. This is the bottle that holds the type of red wine used to cook the dish.

6th - Cod (I opted for a non-chicken dish)
Black cod with seaweed, fennel, dashi and mussel. I love the presentation inspired by a Japanese zen garden.

7th - Duck A La Presse
Duck with pastry. The cherry is actually a foie gras in disguise.

8th - Arrived in the form of a big black book

8th - Steak + Chips
When I opened the big black book, a nice piece of "fat cap" steak was waiting with bits of bone marrow drops and potato souffle.

9th - Cheese
This is not a real Babybel cheese, but a deconstructed cheese cake. The cream cheese is packaged to resemble a block of Babybel served on a digestive biscuit. The raisins were also impressive. I have never seen raisins served on a branch. This is true luxury! Making raisins from grapes still in branches.

10th - Champagne
A cake in a shape of Krug bottle, with a cork and champagne jelly.

Preparing for our last dessert... rolling out a mat...

11th - Krug On The Moon
An edible art installation by the chefs. A masterpiece of chocolate and candied treats painted in front our very eyes...

I got really excited by the sight of so much sweet treats in front of me. It was a "Charlie & the chocolate factory" moment for me.

The meal cost HK$1,988++ per pax, but the amazing gastronomy experience is priceless!

For more information, please visit

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gaggenau Cooking Class with Ryan Clift

It better be a good reason for me to wake up early on a Saturday morning... especially if I had been out drinking champagne with good friends the night before. The draw? To experience the Gaggenau dream kitchen with a cooking class by Chef Ryan Clift of the famed Tippling Club.

Ryan Clift, along with 3 other chefs - Luca Pezzera (Bonta), Jean-Charles Dubois (The French Kitchen) and Michael Han (FiftyThree), have been recently appointed as Gaggenau Culinary ambassadors.

(L to R): Jean-Charles, Ryan, Luca, Michael.

Gaggenau Experience Center at Bishan Street 21. It is not just a showroom, but a functioning state-of-the-art kitchen to showcase its range of cutting-edge professional-grade kitchen appliances. It also serves as a "live" kitchen for cooking demos and dining events.

The theme for the cooking class today is the Gaggenau combi-steam oven. Chef Ryan demonstrated and taught us how to make progressive cuisine similar to what you can find at Tippling Club... using the combi-steam oven at home.

Note: I always tell people that molecular cuisine is a highly misunderstood term. It has been given a negative light by chefs who abused it using superficial methods such as liquid nitrogen or creating foamy food. I explained it as applying science on the art of cooking. Chef Ryan prefers to say "progressive cuisine" instead of "molecular cuisine.

Chef Ryan taught us how to cook yummy clams by steaming them. One tip I learnt is to wrap the tray with cling film when steaming the food. This will ensure all the flavours will not escape through the steam. So the myth of not putting plastic in the steam oven is debunked. Chef Ryan said plastic will only melt in the oven when it's over 650 degrees celsius.

I also learnt how to do "sous vide" at home using ziplock bags. No need for fancy machines, combi-steam oven with its steaming function can do the trick too.

Chef Ryan taught us how to make steamed cake. I never knew steamed cake can taste just like baked cake, but with a better texture. Also, to prevent ice cream from melting too fast, the trick is to add in some pectin powder when making the ice cream! How cool is that? (Pun intended)

After being a good and attentive student, I was rewarded with a delicious meal prepared for us by Chef Ryan. This is what I call a true chef's table! I now wish I could spend every Saturday morning at the amazing Gaggenau kitchen!

Amuse bouche - Creme brulee of white truffle with black truffle crunchy bits

Appetiser - Steamed clams with radish and dashi

Main course - Steamed salmon with broken eggs and potatoes

Dessert - Steamed Muscovado cake with Tonka ice cream

I couldn't get enough of Chef Ryan's creation and decided to head down to Tippling Club tonight for the full monty! Stay tuned for the blog entry...

For more information:
Gaggenau -
Tippling Club -

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Ugly Truth Of Puppy Mills

This is a big departure from what I usually write about. This entry is about the ugly truth that pet stores don't want us to know. The reason why I am writing about it is to lend a voice to the suffering animals. It is through creating awareness about the plights of these animals that we can do our part and make informed decisions to stop the brutality.

There are many kindhearted souls who are doing their best to help these poor dogs in Singapore and all around the world. Check out to learn more about cruel puppy mills and how greed drives humans to commit such heinous acts. Some photos on the site may be too graphic for some of you to handle, but it is by no means the truth and are not meant to shock you. The truth is out there, you just need to click the link to find out more.

Here's how my little fostering journey began. It all started last week on Friday, when I got in touch with to offer my help in fostering a rescued dog named Tinkerbelle. I have a sheltie of my own named Butter who is 15 months old.

This is Butter. My happy, healthy, balanced and well-trained sheltie. She is 15 months old and weighs 11.5kg.

Day 1 - This is Tinkerbelle on the day she came to us. Even though she is a sheltie like Butter, she's half the size of Butter despite being 2 years old. Sad, skinny, hairless, with itchy and flaky skin... and really stinky. She curled up in insecurity when she slept. At least she felt safe enough to sleep. :)

Day 2 - We gave her Butter's old bed to sleep in. Tinker felt safe and relaxed and now stretches out when she sleeps. Having slept on cold wet concrete floor for the past two years, this is one dog who appreciates the warmth of a soft bed. Gave her a bath with normal shampoo but she still smelled really bad. I had to use Dettol spray hourly to disinfect and to remove the funky smell in my apartment.

Day 3 - passed me the oral meds and a bottle of medicated shampoo that the vet prescribed for Tinker. It relieved her from the itch and she seemed to look and feel better. She also learnt how to use the pee tray. It took me less than 3 days to teach her the concept of doing her business on the pee tray. The trick is patience, supervision, and action. (Email me if you want to learn how I toilet trained Butter and Tinker).

Day 4 - Looking happier and in good spirits. It is amazing how TLC can transform a dog. Gave her some of Butter's toys to keep her company. Tinker's maternity instincts kicked in and I saw her licking the soft toys as if they were her puppies. I also socialise Tinker with Butter, and other dogs from the dog run and neighbourhood walk.

Day 5 - I got Tinker a little t-shirt to keep her warm (her hair is growing out). The t-shirt also serves an aesthetic purpose... so people can look at her pretty face and not judge her by her hairless body (for now).

I took her for daily walks with Butter. As Tinker is still learning how to walk (poor dog had never been walked, since she lived her life in a cage for 2 years), I had to carry her in a bag for most part of the journey.

Day 6 - Tinker has found her confidence and is now hanging out with Butter more. Dental chews are important in maintaining dental health of dogs. Tinker has very bad teeth when she first came to me but her conditions are now better as she has been chewing dental treats since day 2.

Day 7 - Tinker is now used to the routine at home. She will greet me in the morning or when I get home. She has also found her voice. She let out a little bark when she heard some noises outside. I was very relieved to hear her bark as I heard horror stories of dogs being debarked by having pipes rammed down their throats at puppy mills.

Day 8 - This is Tinker today. She learnt the commands "sit", "stay" and "ok". She now waits for my command before she approaches food or treats. She also learnt to go up and down stairs. She is a sweet and gentle dog who is willing to learn and please. There is a family that indicated interest in adopting her but she will be staying with me for a couple more weeks to learn basic obedience and manners.

I hope the story of Tinkerbelle will inspire you to adopt and not buy a puppy. Contrary to popular belief, rescued dogs are not damaged goods with emotional issues. With good and well-informed owners, rescued dogs can be happy and balanced without issues. Dogs move on from their PASTS, live in the PRESENT, with hope for their FUTURE.

Remember that you cannot buy a "perfect" dog, you can only train your dog to be "perfect". All dogs can be "perfect" with training and TLC. It depends on the owner, as the dog looks to the owner for guidance.

Please spread the message about puppy mills. Help put an end to the misery.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hong Kong Report: Aqua Luna

In the previous blog entry, I talked about seeing Hong Kong by air, aboard a helicopter. To see Hong Kong by sea, I think there's no better way than taking a traditional Chinese junk boat.

Aqua Luna is one of Hong Kong's last remaining traditional red-sail Chinese junks.

Possibly the last handcrafted traditional red-sail junk using age old designs and traditional materials by an 80 year old local craftsman.

The most stylish ride to discover Hong Kong's magnificent skyline and harbour views. We took a 45-minute Victoria Harbour cruise at 5.30pm from Central ferry Pier 9 on Hong Kong Island, and disembarked in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. If you are thinking that it will cost a bomb, you thought wrong. It costs HK$190 (approximately S$36 or US$30) and includes a drink.

These comfy loungers reminded me of those used in opium dens.

Here are some snapshots taken with my Blackberry Bold camera. When the view is great, it doesn't take much effort to take great pics... well, except that you need a good eye to find the right angles. :)

For more information, please visit: