Tag Archives: pancakes

Crystal Jade Golden Palace @ Paragon

Crispy Peking duck skin pancakes

My mum was visiting us in Singapore recently and it coincided with my parents 45th anniversary. With dad not being able to come because of his work schedule (boooo), we took mum out to celebrate at Crystal Jade Golden Palace.

We’d been here several times before and always loved it but for some reason it was this time I seemed to really notice just how good this place is.

Perhaps it was because we ordered our usual favourite dishes – Peking duck and roast pork – and that simply gives the opportunity to compare. I’m not saying other places we’ve been to were at all bad, just that Crystal Jade was really very very good.

The Peking duck was presented to us whole before it was taken to a side table for the skin to be deftly sliced off in impressively uniform rectangles, then served to us in delicate, thin handmade floury crepes, with a slice of spring onion and cucumber and a smear (that doesn’t sound too appetising but I really can’t think of a better description) of hoisin sauce. I’ve raved about how much I love this dish before and this evening it just seemed so wonderfully delicious and light I wished they never ran out – I could have just carried on eating them all night.

We asked for the second course of the Peking duck – where the duck meat from the whole duck is cooked with noodles – to use rice noodles instead of the usual flour noodles, and again, this was just spectacular. Served with a drizzle of vinegar to cut through the richness of the duck, this was another dish where I would go back to the restaurant and just order this one dish.

Perfect three layer Chinese roast pork

Of course there had to be space for the roast pork. Similar to other restaurants, it comes as a square of three layer pork (crispy skin, thin layer of tender fat and meat) and they must have really selected the best quality pork where the fat was nicely layered so it left the meat juicy and tasty, while maintaining that all-important crispy skin. Dipped into the hot mustard that was dotted on the plate each mouthful was a delight of porky goodness.

Just go prepared with some warm clothes – it’s so cold there the restaurant offers patrons blankets !

Crystal Jade Golden Palace
290 Orchard Road
#05-22 The Paragon
Tel: 6734 6866

Open:
Mon-Fri 11.30a, – 3.00pm, 6.00pm – 11.00pm
Sat:  11.00am – 3.00pm, 6.00pm – 11.00pm
Sun and public holidays:  10.30am – 3.00pm, 6.00pm – 11.00pm


Penang Feasting

Apom balik – Crispy Indian pancakes

My mother is from Penang, and although we migrated to Sydney when I was just four years old, my family still has strong roots there. Over the years though, my visits have tapered off and the Penang I know has become a memory – rapid urbanisation has fundamentally changed the city so much I don’t recognise it any more. The city has fortunately been declared UNESCO protected so the the city has been cleaned up, but the traffic is still congested, which makes getting around to the best places to eat that little bit more difficult.

Penang has long been lauded as having the best food in Malaysia – particular hawker food. It’s hard to explain why – the best I can give (based on a thoughtful discussion with a fellow Penang-ite in Singapore) is that each hawker is his/her own artist in the way they prepare and cook their dishes, achieving a distinct character, so much so that a certain dish does not taste the same if it’s been cooked by the owners son even when all other variables are constant.

Malaysians in general are quite obsessive about eating the best food and will often drive for an hour to get to “the best [insert food here]” – chicken rice, crab, fried noodles – you name it. Some have become so famous that there are often lengthy queues, which, in the blistering Penang heat, is something even I am not willing to do.

Penang curry noodles

When we were recently in Penang, we stayed close to a massive hawker centre called Supertanker. It’s a bewildering, bustling, noisy, crowded, mass of hungry people in for a quick bite – this I guess is the Malaysian equivalent of a fast food court. It’s quite difficult to explain the whole experience. There are maybe 200 tables and on the perimeter of the area are tiny little food stalls that usually sell just one or two types of dishes – fish soup, Penang char kuay teow, congee, drinks etc. You queue and order your food, pay the hawker, gesture in the direction of where you are sitting, and somehow your dish manages to find you just a few minutes later. They seem to have an amazing capacity to remember who ordered what.

The pace that these hawkers prepare the food is astounding. They are literally human machines – when you’re only charging the equivalent of US$1 for a bowl of noodles, turnover is critical, and these hawkers work hard and fast to feed the masses.

It’s open air but with plenty of fans and I was so happy to enjoy a few of my old favourite that I haven’t had for possibly over ten years. It’s amazing how smells and sounds and tastes can bring back fond memories.

Two dishes I am thrilled to have eaten: curry noodles and “apom balik”. The curry noodles are a Malaysian speciality. I guess the most easy way to describe it is as a laksa, but here, they somehow manage to extract the flavour of the coconut but with none of the thick creamy consistency of some laksas I’ve had outside of Malaysia. The broth is rich yet almost white in colour and the dish comes with a generous spoon of chilli sambal, tofu, squid, fresh cockles and most importantly, cubes of pig’s blood. Now I know that might sound horrifying to many of you, but I just love the squidgy, squeaky, springy texture of these and you can’t get this easily at all outside of Malaysia. It adds a richness to the entire dish that I just love.

The second dish is probably much more palatable – it’s called apom balik, and Indian speciality, essentially a pancake batter that’s cooked in a mini-wok, so that the edges are thin and crispy and crepe-like, with a small “bump” of lightly cooked spongy batter in the middle. Sometimes they are filled with a mixture of sugar and crushed peanuts which are also delicious but I think the simplicity of the plain ones appeal to me (perhaps because I can justify eating more?).

With my gran passing away I’m not sure I will have as many opportunities to sample the amazing food in Penang. But I can take the wonderful memories of the food with me and they come attached with the even more wonderful memories of enjoying it with her.


Overeasy

Blueberry and banana pancakes

Celebrating a very late birthday with a friend, last Friday we went to Overeasy at One Fullerton.  That place has really got it right.  The entire strip of restaurants and bars along there barely has any customers, and Overeasy – an American restaurant – is mobbed.  Then again, Overeasy is run by the same people who also brought Singapore the likes of Loof, White Rabbit and the insanely popular Butter Factory.

The vibe there is excellent.  Great tunes keep feet tapping and the food keeps the tummy lined so the patrons there can drink more and be merry.

And how could you not be – the staff do well considering it was a mobbed Friday night (are my standards lowering from being in Singapore for four years now I wonder), the aforementioned music old skool cool and you get a fantastice view of Marina Bay Sands.

Add to that the pancakes which my friend was determined to have that night.  I seem to be on an unintentional pancake mission of late. Nevermind – I’m more than happy to sample pancakes because I love them. And these were really very oddly great.  Odd because it’s strange to be eating pancakes in an outdoor bar at 10 in the evening (Overeasy serves all-day breakfasts), great because they are well, great. And I think the odd surroundings and timing make them seem even more good.  Three small pancakes, fluffy and perfectly cooked, covered in strawberries or a blueberry/banana topping.

We also tried the chicken wings which were a little greasy for my liking – might sound strange saying that about deep fried wings but Que Pasa/No 5 manages to make them perfectly crunchy without the additional grease, and the battered fish which were more batter than fish.

I’d not go there specifically for the food, but I’d definitely try the pancakes if you’re there.  Add a “giant laser” show (it’s not really, I just wanted to write that haha) off Marina Bay Sands and it all makes for an easy way to spend a Friday night.

Overeasy
One Fullerton
1 Fullerton Road, 049213
Tel: 6423 0701

Open Mon-Thu 11am-2:30pm, 5pm-1am; Fri-Sat 11am-2:30pm, 5pm-3am; also open Sun

Pancakes at the Rocks

Buttermilk pancakes with vanilla ice-cream and maple syrup

Well, theoretically, we were at Harbourside, but it was one of the franchises of the famous pancake house from the Rocks.

It’s been years since I’ve been to Pancakes at the Rocks to eat – my family and I used to go when I was a little girl, and my sister and I would both order the kids pancakes – the Mad Hatter (a pastry-wrapped square beef patty on top of a pancake) and Alice in Wonderland, which was a pancake topped with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream with hundreds and thousands. It was always such a fun experience.

The menu has changed a lot, the old restaurant is still there and they’ve clearly flourished because now they have three franchises (with more opening soon).

We decided to go to Harbourside just because it was closer than the Rocks, but the franchise lacked the old world charm of the wooden stairs and the actual location at the Rocks.  Which meant the pancakes had better be spectacular.  And which they sadly were not.  I stuck to their “famous buttermilk pancakes”.  So famous they now sell the pre-mix to the public.

I ordered the two stack, and two enormous pancakes turned up with a large scoop of ice-cream on top, dusted liberally with icing sugar, with maple syrup on the side. The pancakes tasted really heavy and doughy – the opposite of my idea of a good buttermilk pancake which is light and fluffy.

The service was good although the ambiance of the place is extremely loud – there are no soft furnishings at all so all the sound gets trapped in the room and bounces around the wood and glass which makes for a not too pleasant way to enjoy your food.

If you want to experience Pancakes at the Rocks, I’d recommend you actually go to the original at the Rocks.  Perhaps the surroundings make you a little more forgiving for what are pretty average pancakes.  I think I’ll just live with my memory of the fun I used to have as a little girl.

Pancakes at the Rocks – the original
4 Hickson Rd, The Rocks, Sydney
Tel: 02 9247 6371
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week

Pancakes at the Rocks – Darling Harbour
229-230 Harbourside Shopping Centre, Darling Harbour
Tel: 02 9280 3791
Open: Sunday – Thursday 7am till 1030pm | Friday and Sat 7am till 12midnight


Pancakes

With breakfast being such a rushed affair during the week, it’s nice to enjoy a leisurely meal to start our weekend mornings.

Last weekend, I had a craving for pancakes.  Thick, fluffy, American style pancakes with crispy bacon on the side and drizzled (or, smothered) in maple syrup.  And a big cup of tea.  Ah, what a lovely way to spend the weekend.

I’ve struggled for many years to get that super fluffiness in pancakes and now have a fail proof method.  It’s all about gently folding in stiffly beaten egg whites into the batter.

Ingredients (for 6 pancakes)

  1. 1 cup flour
  2. 1 tsp baking powder
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 1 cup milk
  5. 1 egg, separated
  6. 2 tsps caster sugar
  7. 1 tbsp oil

Method

  1. Combine flour, baking powder & salt in a bowl and mix well.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together egg yolk, sugar and milk followed by oil.  Add into the flour mixture and whisk to combine.
  3. Beat egg white until stiff peaks form, loosen the batter with a small spoonful of the beaten egg whites, then fold the rest gently into the mixture. You really want to keep the air in the egg whites as much as possible.
  4. Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium low heat then scoop batter, about 1 ladleful, onto the pan. Cook until bubbles appear evenly on the surface, flip it over and cook until golden.