Hand in Hand Beijing Restaurant – Revival of the 小笼包

20 03 2011

Recently I was doing some equity research on BreadTalk and found out that they are the ones who franchised Din Tai Fung over to Singapore which I’m really thankful for. I honestly think that it was this single action that ignited our local xiao long bao craze. But have you ever wondered how the xiao long bao came about? Well, I have a theory…

You know how it gets super chilly during the winter months in China (I visited one of my China classmates in Jilin a couple Decembers ago and it got as low as -16 degrees celsius!) Anyway we all know how the Chinese love their wantons but I’m guessing that they aren’t shown as much love when they and the soup they are in turn cold within 3 minutes being out in the open during winter. So one fine day, an enlightened China man experimented putting his soup inside his wanton to keep it from turning cold and that became what is now known as the xiao long bao!

Not sure if that’s how it really went down but it sure sounds logical, doesn’t it?

While Din Tai Fung might have started the craze, sadly their xiao long bao standards have been falling over the years, leaving many in despair and gloom. But there’s finally some good news!  A really decent xiao long bao has been spotted at Hand in Hand Beijing Restaurant!

It’s more of a neighbourhood joint, somewhere you would go for casual family dinners or even to down a beer or 2 over some small eats after work. The menu is an extensive 10+ pages long which is affordably priced, catering to customers who just want a simple pork rib la mian to the more sophisticated diner who wants his four treasures of the sea (abalone, sharks fin, sea cucumber and crab!).

For appetizers, I would recommend the Sliced Pork with Garlic ($9.80++) if fats aren’t too much of a concern but if it is, just tell yourself that fats contain collagen which is good for you. This goes really well with rice!

As I mentioned earlier, the xiao long baos ($6.80/8 小笼包) are really good. The skin is soft but not too brittle, with a solid soup stock.

The Chinese Chive Puff ($6.80++) was meh. You’d do better saving stomach space for better alternatives on the menu.

Spoiled by mum’s home-made dumplings, I found the Cabbage Pork Dumplings ($13++) to be just so-so. Do eat it with a dash of vinegar!

I loved the Homemade Beancurd ($20++) topped with a layer of seaweed. Really silky smooth and tasty!

Delightful little Deep Fried Prawn with Salad ($27++) they have here too.

The Steamed Grouper ($26.80++) provided was much too small for our large group but given the fixed price (instead of going by weight), I guess there isn’t much to complain about. It was fresh but might have been slightly oversteamed given that the fish was real thin.

Despite being a signature dish, I found the 3 Cups Braised Chicken ($27++) to be nothing spectacular. It was just slightly better than the average economic rice stall.

Stewed Pork with Preserved Vegetables aka 梅菜扣肉 ($15.80++) was pretty awesome. The pork was braised till a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness that went well with the buns provided.

Can’t believe the plain Pea Shoots ($16++) cost more than the 梅菜扣肉!

Overall, dinner here was splendid and satisfying yet affordable at about $25/pax.

Bon Appetit!


HAND IN HAND BEIJING RESTAURANT

141-143 JALAN BESAR

TEL: +65 6297 1398





Cacio e Pepe – Authentic Italian Fare

26 12 2010

This is what food blogs should be about, reviewing and unearthing restaurants with potential that are tucked inconspicuously away at uhloo places. When I first read about Cacio e Pepe roughly a year ago, I decided to KIV it first and get back to it when I had the time. Since then, I have had 2 separate friends randomly coming up to me raving about it so I knew it was finally time to check it out personally.

Lunch Sets are available here at an affordable $12.80++ and comprises of a Soup of the Day, Pasta of the Day and a Drink (Coffee, Tea or Soft Drink).

Today’s Soup of the Day was the Potato and Leek Soup.

Pasta of the Day was a Choice between the Chicken Penne and Mushroom Fusilli.

The Chicken Penne came in a Tomato Base and I really loved the flavourful tang that hits you only after some mastication.

Out of the 2 Pasta Choices, I preferred the Mushroom Fusilli which had the perfect kick-ass cream sauce. Just the right amount of thickness and richness.

Feedback from my friends was that they found the pasta slightly too chewy and the portions too minute. In Cacio e Pepe’s defence, personally I prefer my pasta with more bite so the chewy pasta was fine for me, and when you pay $12.80 for a set lunch, I guess we can’t complain much about portion size.

On the other hand, if you order ala carte as I did, the portions are slightly larger.

My order of the Spaghetti Vongole($18) was well-executed. The spaghetti was uber smooth and very palatable. The only downside was the bitterness from the clam juice which I found slightly overbearing.

For Dessert, I had the Chocolate Lava Cake($13) which comes in both an alcoholic and non-alcoholic version. I chose the later. I didn’t find very impressive as the exterior of the cake wasn’t crisp, having the texture of a butter cake instead, not to mention it’s slightly overpriced. You’d be better off having one from Bakerzin.

Overall, I felt Cacio e Pepe did a decent job for their pastas, especially the pasta sauces and given the extensive array of choices on the menu, I will definitely be back for a better assessment.

Bon Appetit!

CACIO E PEPE

4 ROCHDALE ROAD

TEL: +65 6281 1905








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