Comfort food from Hong Kong's best
It may be the first time legendary Hong Kong bakery Tai Cheong has introduced a dine-in concept, but the food it serves is so comforting you'd think it has been at it forever.
Tai Cheong Bakery has been around in Hong Kong since 1954, and is famous for its egg tarts and deep fried pastries.
The dine-in menu at the 42-seater restaurant in Singapore contains items that you are likely to find at any char chan teng (teashop in Cantonese) in Hong Kong.
The food may not be innovative, but since it opened at Holland Village in mid-November, queues have been a constant fixture.
In the evenings, expect to wait about 90 minutes for a table. Chances are, you'll have to share that table with others.
To add to the chaos, there are two queues: One for the food, and a shorter one to buy the famous pastries.
Be sure to join the right one.
Comfort food is the big thing here, and - for me - the Three-Egg Macaroni Soup with Luncheon Meat ($8.50) looks the most comfortable. The red of the tomato soup is warm and inviting, and who can resist an egg, much less three? The bonus is the luncheon meat. The dish tastes as beguiling as it looks. I may hate to queue for anything but I'll consider it for this.
I didn't expect to like the Beef Brisket Curry Rice ($10.90) because I need my curries to be of the Malay/Indian variety. While the spice level here is brought down way too low, it remains aromatic. I even forgave it for being slightly sweet. The beef - braised for six hours - is tender too.
The Scrambled Egg Toast Stack with Chicken Chop ($9.50) was a miss for me. The eggs oozed over like lava (which was good) but the chicken was either overcooked or recooked. It was rock hard at the corners.
The item most associated with Tai Cheong is the egg tart ($1.90). I've never tasted the Hong Kong version because I am too impatient to queue up for it. The buttery crust is delightful, although I found the filling too sweet. I've never been a fan of sweet food. The coconut version ($2.50) was sweeter but strong on the coconut flavour. I didn't try the durian and cheese version ($3.60) but I gave it a sniff. The aroma was mild but my dining companions did not have any complaints.
This month, winners of the recent RAS Epicurean Star Award are offering special deals, such as Best Western Restaurant (Casual) winner Supply & Demand's $39 degustation menu, featuring The Morning After pizza (left) and garlic truffle fries.
Other dining deals include the three-course set menu from Bunoa Terra, which won Best Western Restaurant (Fine Dining), at $88 (usually $128). Seoul Yummy, which won Best Asian Restaurant (Chain), is selling Andong Jjim Dak at $28 (usually $39.90).
For details, visit www.rasepicurean.com/winners-promotions
EAT IN JAPAN
If you've planned a japanese holiday but can't get a table at any of its top restaurants, try booking via tableall (www.tableall.com), especially for english-speaking travellers.
Its list of restaurants include Sushisho Saito and Tempura Motoyoshi.
True Blue Cuisine (39, Armenian Street, Tel: 6440-0449) is offering something unique for Christmas - Buah Keluak cookies ($38 a bottle). The distinct taste of the nut - a mainstay in Peranakan cuisine - is subtle which makes it easy for all to enjoy. The cookies are available now at the restaurant.
The festive Gingerbread Fruit Loaf ($28) from Shiberty Bakes (46, Owen Road) makes a pretty and tasty gift. It's filled with organic dried fruits, nuts and seed, spiced with ginger and cinnamon, with a touch of single malt whiskey. I love that it's not overly sweet.
Call 6291-5221 to place an order.