$9.90 Sirloin Steak Set Lunch at Jack’s Place

jacks place promotion

I’m not sure about you, but I think $9.90 for a sirloin steak set lunch is a steal. And the set lunch comes with a Soup of the Day, wholemeal garlic bread, Dessert of the Day and coffee/tea. I think I’ll be eating steak a few times this month at Jack’s Place. ๐Ÿ˜€ And if you don’t fancy steak, how about a FREE Cheese Fondue Sampler Platter* (worth $16) with any main course / set lunch? (*If you have one of their mailers)

Just $9.90 before service charge and GST…

jacks place set lunch

Previously there was a Grilled Chicken set lunch, and after the Sirloin Steak one, it’ll be the Fish Fillet set. But I do still think that the steak offers the best value-for-money. ๐Ÿ™‚

As for the *Free* cheese fondue, I was surprised at the portion size. It was a yummy starter for us. It has portobello mushrooms, which you can dip in their very generous serving of nacho cheese. And there are onion rings, which I thought were calamari at first glance. And what I liked most were those chicken mid wings, which were well marinated so they are tasty throughout. Did not find the salad appealing but thought the fried crabsticks were interesting – not your usual addition to such platters.

jacks place singapore menu

As my fussier half prefers combos, he went for a steak and fish combo. And the staff at Jack’s Place are so nice – they come over with the condiments so you can decide how much goes onto your baked potato.

Thumbs up for the service ๐Ÿ™‚

jacks place halal

Also enjoyable were the soups and garlic bread. Soup of the Day today was cream of broccoli. It had some shredded crabstick on top. I’m not sure why Jack’s Place likes using crabstick in their food. ๐Ÿ˜€ But I have no complaints.

jacks place review

The Dessert of the Day was a slice of their fruit pie. I didn’t want us both to have pie since we’d always share our food. So I upgraded my dessert to Mango Pomelo Udders Ice Cream. ๐Ÿ™‚

jacks place cake

I was very impressed by the staff at Jack’s Place, SAFRA Punggol. Besides being friendly, I thought I saw the manager mopping the floor before the restaurant opened at 11am today (I’d popped in to check if they were ready as the sign still read ‘CLOSED’ outside). Their part-timer, a mother with a 30+-year-old son, was friendly and had a full face of makeup on, which I found made her look very presentable (I don’t usually see part-timers looking so good in F&B joints). And when staff emerged from the kitchen to serve us our food, we smelled cologne instead of ‘oil’.

If I had to offer recommendations for improvement, it’ll be to ensure there are no vegetable ends served. I found the sharp spiky end of a french bean on my plate, and also a small piece of spring onion on the dessert spoon that came with my udders ice cream. Spring onion ice cream might be a new flavor. Somebody tell Udders now! ๐Ÿ˜€

The $9.90 Sirloin Steak set lunch can only be enjoyed this month. Come February, it’ll be Fish Fillet. So pop by Mondays to Fridays and dine in to enjoy this offer. Apparently, there are only 50 sets per day so you don’t want to be the last in store. ๐Ÿ™‚ *Not available on eves of/and on Public Holidays!

Head over to SAFRA Punggol to enjoy everything listed here. ๐Ÿ™‚

*Present your SAFRA card for 10% off regular priced items on the menu.

Oblong: Ice Cream Cafe at Serangoon Gardens

Oblong Ice Cream

Cream cheese between waffle layers? Jackfruit ice cream with actual jackfruit bits? Rum-and-raisin ice cream that seems like it has actual alcoholic content?ย Yup. That’s what we had at Oblong Ice Cream cafe at Serangoon Gardens. If you’re craving for some waffles, brownies or ice cream, this is one cafe I’d recommend.

The first thing I saw when I stepped into the cafe was their brownies sitting pretty in a cake stand. I asked if they served the brownies warm (the staff said they can heat it up for me) and my mind was set. My pals ordered the waffle… and here’s their kiddo trying to telepathically communicate his desire to have some of that ice cream:

๐Ÿ˜€

Waffles Serangoon Gardens

And you don’t say ‘no’ to those eyes.

Apparently, the mao shan wang and chocolate ice cream here is good (according to my pals). I went instead for the jackfruit and rum&raisin – both of which we’d sampled before deciding on what flavors to order…

Oblong Serangoon Gardens

The brownie is moist and tastes good when served warm. It’s not the sticky or chunky kind, which some people may like. It’s more like a light, sponge cake that’s not overly chocolate-y. The kind that won’t give you a sore throat too quickly. A good size for sharing too.

As a couple, I like to have us pick one ice cream flavor each when we’re out for dessert (that’s fair, no?) and this time, he went for rum&raisin (didn’t tell me why till later) and I thought jackfruit was such a ‘rare’ flavor for ice cream that I just had to order it at least once.

Apparently, the rum is pretty strong. I wonder if this ice cream can even be fed to kids. Adults will no doubt have a kick from eating this. Yumz. Yes, that’s why he wanted this flavor.

I like how there are the chewy bits of jackfruit in the ice cream and how it’s a fuss-free way to savor jackfruit. If you’ve eaten the fruit before (using your hands), you know it leaves a kind of sticky sap(?) on your fingers that goes away only with multiple washes. And oh… you get jackfruit breath after, too. ๐Ÿ˜€

Also, stalk Oblong on Instagram and you’ll find that some of the local radio DJs, Mediacorp artistes and famous Youtubers have been to Oblong for some “waffle lovin'” as they call it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Oblong is @ 10 Maju Avenue, Serangoon Gardens.

NEX: Auspicious Cupcakes, 18-Herb Bak Kwa & Ltd Edn Champagne

Twelve Cupcakes Singapore

Image Credit: Twelve Cupcakes SG

If you didn’t get enough of Twelve Cupcakes during their recent S$2 promotion (I sure didn’t), then look out for the auspicious-looking ones this Lunar New Year. The mandarin orange-lookalike has got my vote for being most creative. And I’m sure the taste will be pretty good, as always. Near my home is NEX where they don’t just have cupcakes, but also bak kwa and Ernest Rapeneau Limited Edition Champagne.

nex mall

I sure didn’t know that Fragrance’s bak kwa has been marinated with 18 Chinese herbs. (Thanks, NEX) That’s A LOT. And I guess everyone has their favorite bak kwa brand. I did a taste test of several brands one year… [ find out which is the best bak kwa here ]. I’m not about to do it again because it’s just wayyyy too many calories and the prices have likely already shot up. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyway… about the cupcakes, if you’re *not* getting the CNY ones, I’d recommend you go for the ones with brownie cubes on top. Because you get cupcake + brownie for the price of one. ๐Ÿ˜€

Twelve Cupcakes Brownie Cupcakes

*I just wanted to do a post about their awesome cupcakes. ๐Ÿ˜€ I hope the brand continues doing well even though the founders have split.

Flame Cafe: The One Famous For Its 4-Tier Steamboat

the flame cafe tai seng

Did you know that The Flame Cafe at Tai Seng is famous for its 4-tier pagoda steamboat? Well, I found out only after getting there and spotting the folks at another table and their legendary steamboat setup (really WOW). Meanwhile, we tried the mains and dessert at Flame and here’s a quick review so you know what to order when you’re there. ๐Ÿ™‚

In the first picture above, you see the Salmon I ordered. It’s about 2cm thick with miso slathered on top. Quite nice. Would be better if the flavors had been infused into the fish as it tastes a little bland if you remove the salmon skin first. The roast potatoes were good, as they should be.

As for the Chili Crab Pasta, I think it looked a little sad…

the flame cafe singapore

Using the same ingredients, a different presentation would have wow-ed. Maybe serve it on a platter, like a deconstructed version of this dish. Pasta twirled in one corner, poached egg in the middle and chili crab sauce in a little jug. And IF one whole crab claw (deshelled or otherwise) is served together with the dish, I guess I’d be willing to pay more. This costs $13.90 before service charge. ๐Ÿ™‚

We also tried the Sambal Escargots. Nice mix of portobello mushrooms and escargots – the colors turned out rather similar so it was hard to tell which was which. I would order it again.

 the flame cafe singapore menu

Sneaked a pic of the folks with their pagoda steamboats:

flame cafe steamboat

I need to round up some friends before coming here again for steamboat. ๐Ÿ™‚

Love the decor, especially those industrial style chairs and interesting feature walls that must be a pain to dust. The cafe is big and airy. I also like how thoughtful the staff are. As much as possible, they leave alternate tables empty so you get all the privacy you need, until more customers stream in.

flame cafe tai seng

As for the dessert, I felt it was a letdown both in presentation and taste. Here’s the Waffle For One…

flame cafe singapore review

It looked like someone had torn a whole waffle into 4 quarters, using his/her bare hands. Yikes! Quite shocking, I have to say. I’ve seen mini waffles before, and those were served whole (at other establishments), and not torn apart like this one. The taste left more to be desired as well, but for $4.90 I guess I shouldn’t complain.

The Chocolate Lava Cake ($8.90) was a little flat – half the height of usual lava cakes. But since the chocolate flows out, nothing else matters. ๐Ÿ™‚

the flame cafe review

There are a couple of promotions you might want to take note of if you’re heading over to The Flame Cafe. We used a Groupon voucher for this meal so we had the ala carte items.

the flame cafe menu

the flame cafe promotion

Here’s the address and opening hours:

the flame cafe address

Vegan Fast Food @ nomVnom & Christmas @ Botanic Gardens

nomvnom menu

A Malaysian pal was in town recently and I brought him to try vegan fast food at Clarke Quay. At Central, which is linked to the Clarke Quay MRT station, is nomVnom which serves up decent meals – I don’t even mind that they’re vegan, which is rare. Then we went to the Botanic Gardens where I (happily) got to clock my 10K steps, equally rare these days too. ๐Ÿ˜€

In the picture above, you see my favorite nomVnom “burger” which features the blue pea flower. My pal told me that this flower can be found right outside his home. So he wasn’t inclined towards eating it here. ๐Ÿ˜€ It happens to be my favorite item there as the burger “buns” are actually potato patties, like hashbrowns. YUMMY!

nomvnom clarke quay

nomvnom promotion

I love their truffle fries and avocado smoothie too. I don’t usually order avocado smoothies as they usually come laced with gula melaka and I think it tastes horrible. But here at nomVnom, they use banana, coconut, etc to add to the otherwise bland taste of avocados.

There’s a promotion at nomVnom right now in which you can purchase their vouchers ($10 each) and get one free when you buy nine. Our meal for 3 cost just over S$50.

As for the Botanic Gardens, I love how there are so many Christmas trees there right now. The trees are decorated unlike your usual Christmas trees, some using very interesting materials, such as this one with roses made from plastic bags:

Plastic Bag Rose

And here’s a novel way to upcycle your (bubble tea) plastic cups and straws ๐Ÿ˜›

Plastic Cup decorations

And since my pal is a yoga master, I brought him to the famous Botanic Gardens gazebo and had him do some yoga poses while I snapped pictures for him. ๐Ÿ˜€

We also found a “new” attraction at the Botanic Gardens: this guy with his canine buddies. I think I counted nine of them. I suspect he’s a dog walker, because I cannot fathom having this number of dogs at home. OMG. Pretty cool occupation too, if he’s indeed a professional dog walker, since he getsย paid to exercise. ๐Ÿ™‚

botanic gardens dog walker

If you’ve enjoyed your Christmas feasting, maybe today’s a good time to head out and burn off some of those calories! ๐Ÿ˜€

Tamako Meal: Truly DELICIOUS Japanese Food @ Casuarina Road

Tamako Meal Saba Shio

Tamako Meal is located at Casuarina Road (if you haven’t heard of this road, I don’t blame you… it’s somewhere near the Lower Peirce Reservoir Park) and not that accessible unless you drive. But I’m quite sure it’s worth the journey there, especially since… wait for it… there’s a Groupon promotion going on right now (weekend groupons are sold out already!). This business was started by a Japanese grandmother and now her grandchild is running the show. I suspect standards haven’t dropped at all as I really enjoyed the meal here.

For starters, we had salmon sashimi (which came in thick slices) and saba shio as I love grilled saba fish. The saba fish served at Tamako Meal is seasoned just right, so you can even eat it on its own withoutย rice! I really do appreciate how there’s a pop of color on the saba fish platter: the red tomato, yellow lemon slice and a bit of green garnishing. It’s not atas Japanese dining, but more of the homely fare which I adore to bits.

I love salmon sashimi:

Tamako Meal review

As for the mains, I had the Una-Tama Don which, as you can probably tell, comes with unagi (yummy!) and egg. I love the mushrooms, sweet onions and peas too. It’s one dish which I can truly eat everyday without getting tired of…

Tamako Meal singapore

He ordered the Curry Udon, and I do approve of his choice. The noodles are really thin as you can see in the picture below, and the curry is the sweet Japanese sort. He was expecting something spicy like our local curries, but this one can be enjoyed without having to ask for a glass of cold water. ๐Ÿ˜€

Tamako Meal Casuarina

Besides free flow hot tea and free wifi, you can also get a small serving of this seaweed if you like Tamako Meal’s facebook page and check-in while you’re there (just let the staff know).

Tamako Meal groupon

The entire meal cost us just S$22.20 with a Groupon voucher ($20 for $40 worth of food). It’s such good value, especially when we didn’t have to pay full price. ๐Ÿ˜€

Pop by Mondays to Thursdays and you can enjoy these items at just $10 too.

Tamako Meal menu

I’m so tempted to buy another Groupon voucher and head back a second time but my wiser half tells me to avoid the ‘curse’ of the second visit – food usually tastes really good on the first visit, but strangely disappoints on the next. Oh well. Why don’t YOU go and give the food at Tamako Meal a try then. Let me know if you enjoyed it as much as I did the first time. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tamako Meal is located at 128 Casuarina Road. Tel:ย 6553 4128.

Pick Me Up Cafe @ East Coast: Menu, Prices, What To Order

Pick Me Up Cafe Petite Charcoal Waffle

Whenever Pick Me Up Cafe has an offer on Groupon, I find it hard to resist. After all, every one of us needs a ‘pick-me-up’ at some point, right? For me, that somehow involves dessert! ๐Ÿ˜€ Been to this cafe at least twice, and I foresee myself heading back again, especially with my dessert-loving neighbors. In the picture above, you see Pick Me Up Cafe’s Petite Charcoal Waffle that tastes as good as it looks (order this!). And here’s what else you might want to try…

Pardon the picture quality but here’s their Hawaiian Pizza featuring turkey ham, pineapple and tomatoes. It costs S$16.90 and can easily feed 3 to 4 pax. Love the thin crust, wish there’s more pineapple. Well, actually, I’ve never had a pizza that has the amount of pineapple I desire. Maybe I should make a pizza myself. ๐Ÿ˜›

Pick Me Up Cafe Petite Charcoal Waffle

We also had the Big Brekkie. Don’t you just love all-day breakfasts? This was eaten around supper time. Haha! It’s simply everything you want on a plate. This also costs S$16.90, like the pizza. So if you want variety but can only order 1 main, choose this. Save for the baked beans which I don’t eat, everything else was good. (I wonder if they’ll give me more mushrooms instead of baked beans. Will ask next time.)

Pick Me Up Cafe Big Brekkie

Menu’s here, for your reference:

Pick Me Up Cafe menu

This cafe is child-friendly, and you can help yourself to water and cutlery at the back of the cafe. Love that there’s alfresco seating in front and a mini playground for kiddos too.

And here’s my neighbor’s kid, who got quite upset when my darling tried to take the plate of fries away from him. Truffle fries cost S$9.50 – not exactly cheap – but if this kiddo wants fries, this kiddo gets fries.

He taught me that fries are not for sharing.

Pick Me Up Cafe truffle fries

If you’re at Pick Me Up Cafe for a date with a loved one, and craving for waffles, my suggestion would be to skip the Whole Waffles (S$15.90 onwards) and pick 2 petite ones instead, so you can try two flavors! The Petite Waffles cost S$8.90 each and you can choose your waffle flavor: Banana, Rose or Chocolate. ๐Ÿ™‚ Trust me on this one.

~

Pick Me Up Cafe is located at 920 East Coast Parkway, #01-02, S(449875). Tel: 63481909.

Get $10 Off! UberEATS Singapore Promo Code

ubereats singapore promo code

Food delivery companies foodpanda and deliveroo are definitely feeling the heat with competitior UberEATS on board. I thinkย these companies are burning cash with their marketing efforts. The one with the most cash to burn will be here to stay, while others simply get burned out. Smaller players need not apply. ๐Ÿ˜€ In this post, I’ll share with you my UberEATS promo codes and whether I’ve preferred ordering food with UberEATS or Deliveroo. Read on…

For $10 off your UberEATS delivery, use this code below. UberEATS will also reward me with $10 when you order, so thank YOU in advance! ๐Ÿ˜€

ubereats promo code singapore

-> eats-gracet4796ue <-

And here’s the code I used for my second order, ‘cos the first one arrived so late:

Ubereats singapore review

I’m not sure about you, but brand loyalty seems to be in my blood. I take really long to switch from one brand to another. I’ve been ordering food deliveries exclusively with Deliveroo, and it’s not like they’re paying me or giving me free food. I’m just so used to their ordering system that switching to another company’s system is like getting me to abandon Samsung and start using iPhones again. (@_@)

So the reason I decided to give UberEATS a try (and also to blog about them) is not because they’re paying me but because they have this promotion via Groupon in which people pay around $2 and get $20 to spend with UberEATS – an offer that’s too good to resist, obviously. And now I’m able to compare UberEATS and Deliveroo and share with you my verdict on what’s good about each company, and what needs improvement.

UberEATS VS Deliveroo

  1. Menu with PICTURES: UberEATS uses their app almost exclusively (I cannot order via their website, but I can do so on Deliveroo’s website) and the menu comes with pictures for many of the items, though not all. And the pictures really help me save time in deciding what to order.ย ubereats singapore menu
  2. No Tips Required: When ordering via UberEATS, you’ll see that unlike Deliveroo, it doesn’t ask you to indicate the amount of tips (if any) that you’d like to give the rider. In fact, it is stated “Tips are not included in the cost of your order. Tipping is neither expected nor required”. Of course, if your rider braved heavy rain to get you your meal, offer him a tip or at least a drink when he shows up at your doorstep, lah.
  3. Track Your Rider: I LOVE that UberEATS allows me to see where the rider is and how far he is from me. Of course, it gets a bit worrying when I see that he’s going in the opposite direction with my food (Noooooooo…Come backkkkkk)ย ubereats promo code
  4. Contact Your Rider: UberEATS doesn’t seem to want to handle customer enquiries regarding orders since they aren’t in the food delivery business only. Instead, you’re encouraged to call the rider directly. I’m not inclined to do this because of safety issues (what if the rider gets into an accident while taking my call?) but if I see that he’s going round and round and seems unable to find the building I’m in, yup, call him I will.
  5. No Minimum Order: Unlike Deliveroo, UberEATS will deliver even if you’re ordering just 1 cup of bubble tea. Deliveroo has a minimum order amount of about S$25 so I don’t usually place an order if I’m dining alone.

What’s not so great about UberEATS is that food delivery takes a REALLY long time. You might be starving when you place your order, and by the time the food is delivered, that feeling of hunger would have long subsided. Good if you’re trying to lose some weight. Give the food to someone else. ๐Ÿ˜€

ubereats singapore discount code

My first order of the Chirashi Don took 1 hr 1 min to get to me. UberEATS responded with an email that said “We’re sorry your order took so long” and gave me a $10 off promo code to use with my next order. I used it immediately for drinks (bubble tea, in fact) and it took even longer to reach me: 1 hr 20 mins. UberEATS did not send me any emails after that.

With Deliveroo, I get my food faster. And when their riders arrive late, I’m well compensated, e.g. $15 credit for being 15 minutes late, $30 credit for being 30 minutes late, etc. Sometimes my meal becomes entirely “free of charge” because of this. But the bad news is that my food is cold. ๐Ÿ˜›

Anyway, if you want a Deliveroo discount code, here’s one for $10 off – just order via this link:ย https://roo.it/gracet3344

How Singapore’s National Culinary Team Is Igniting Talent

This is the third post of a 3-part blogpost series on various F&B masterclasses organised by e2i to connect workers and industry practitioners with industry experts.

Participants benefit from learning best practices, deepening their skillsets and mastering skills in their career to be future-ready.

In October this year, Singapore’s National Culinary Team won two gold awards (and were also crowned overall champion) at the Culinary Olympics held in Germany.

 

About a month after the team returned victorious, e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Singapore Chefs Association (SCA), signaling the parties’ commitment to Attract, retain, and develop the workforce for the Retail and Food and Beverages industry so as to build a sustainable pool of qualified and competent local trade professionals; Enhance, broaden and deepen skills for trade professionals to advance their careers and competencies; (and) Equip young culinary talents to hone their skills and be future ready’.

I had the opportunity to witness the MOU signing, which was done very creatively with handprints using food dyes.

MOU signing

The event was graced by Ms. Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education & Ministry of Trade and Industry.

If you don’t already know, e2i isย an initiative of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to support nation-wide manpower and skills upgrading initiatives.

In the year leading up to the competition, e2i worked closely with the National Culinary Team to support their training efforts.

With the MOU, there will be more collaborations to develop and roll out platforms and master classes such as โ€œCompetition Training Masterclass for Young Inspiring Chefsโ€ where renowned chef experts will share their knowledge of what to look out for at culinary competitions and how to prepare for them. ๐Ÿ™‚

Cold Display Masterclass

A sample of what a “Cold Display” might look like, with every (little) item on the plate coated with gelatin (3 coats in total) – a most tedious process.

On the day of the MOU signing, there was also aย Cold Display Master Class conducted by Chef Anderson Ho and a live Cold Display Cooking Demo by Chef Teo Yeow Siang and Chef Alan Wong.

Some 80 young aspiring Junior Chefs Club members, the strategic sub alliances under SCA, as well as students from Shatec and At-Sunrice attended the class.

Chef Anderson Ho

Chef Anderson Ho explaining how the competitions work, and what to expect.

Culinary Student

A (mature) student trying his hand at coating the food in gelatin for a cold display. Age is no barrier when pursuing your passion!

~ What I Learnt From the Olympic Gold-winning chefs ~

  1. Chefs Work Hard. Chef Anderson Ho shared that chefs can work some 12 to 14 hrs a day. When you’re an apprentice, you might even have to brew coffee for the head chef every morning – prepare to be met with a ‘black face’ if you unfortunately forget to brew the coffee one day. During the competition, to prepare the cold display, the chefs worked throughout the night!
  2. Do What Nobody Likes To Do. Volunteer to do things like debone a lamb shoulder or fillet a fish. Chef Ho says he is thankful to colleagues who don’t do these tasks so he got the opportunity to learn how to do them. He also asked us in the audience whether we can catch, kill and debone a chicken or whether we expect it to be packaged nicely (like in supermarkets). *ahem* I’m not so sure about the catching and killing bit but I have experience cutting up a chicken into its various parts: drumstick, breast meat, etc. ๐Ÿ˜›
  3. Lack ‘Basic’ Skills? Get competition points deducted. If you are supposed to fillet a fish, make sure you don’t end up butchering it!
  4. Do Your Research Constantly. Yes, you can search the Internet for ‘modernist cuisine’. You may not try to recreate anything right now but it gets imprinted in your memory bank. And in future you may just create something based on all the knowledge you have gathered. Remember though that reading without any actual practice in the kitchen is not ‘real’. Get your hands dirty in the kitchen and keep honing your skills.
  5. Always put the team above your own personal interest.
  6. Know the ingredients you work with. For instance, in Europe where the climate is dry, the gelatin you use for your cold display may curl up. If the food stinks, the judge deducts points even though there is no tasting for cold display.
  7. Your food descriptions must always match the display. If the description reads that something is “roasted”, it must not look ‘steamed’ on your display, for instance.
  8. When your Sifu (read: teacher) wants to teach you something, just say “Yes, Chef” to what he tells you. Don’t argue. If he walks away, you end up learning nothing.
  9. Your idea must be refreshing and new. Judges don’t taste the food so it must look good!

What struck me most was how animated Chef Teo Yeow Siang was when he was talking about the competitions and about being a chef:

Chef Teo Yeow Siang

The animated Chef Teo – he REALLY loves culinary competitions!

~ What A Student Had To Say About the Masterclass & His Culinary Passionsย ~

Shatec student

Jayme Ooi, 23, a Shatec student

When I was in Secondary School, there was an Open House event and I was tasked to cook fried rice. When I saw people of different cultures and races interested in my food and culture, I realized the joy of interacting with people who enjoy the food I cook. Once they tried my fried rice, they became interested in knowing how I cooked it, and the history behind the dish.

After I graduated with a diploma, I realized that what I want to do is to pursue this culinary journey. After I joined Shatec, I found out there’s a lot I don’t know about food. This piqued my interest in pursuing this journey further.

Yes, it was quite tedious to pursue a diploma but I did it on the advice of my parents. But it allowed me to realize this is not what I want. What I really want to do is to prepare delicious meals for other people. At first, my parents rejected this notion, and thought I was wasting my diploma. But I don’t want to live my life doing things I don’t want to do. I want to pursue my goals. I strongly believe that I will make my parents proud eventually.

To my peers, I’d tell them to follow their dreams and passion. Go ahead, don’t be scared. I’m 23, don’t have to take care of a family, wife or child. So this is the best time to pursue what I want to do and I can dedicate all my energy and attention to it.

It’ll help if you take up internships before deciding (or finding out) what you want to study. Get to know the whole economy and how things work. I had short stints at Gong Cha and Ritz Carlton. I never once felt it was a job. I felt each was a place for me to learn a lot of things.

I want to be like these (award-winning) chefs, reach a certain level and inspire the next generation. Now, I’m trying to gain as much experience as possible, absorb as much as I can, like a sponge.

A lot of people think a chef’s pay is low and it is just about working in a hotel every day. If you go in every day to do a job, then you are in a job the rest of your life. If I interact with others, e.g. those in the pastry, butchery sections, I can slowly learn through the years, expand my horizons, and then I can truly take off.

[When asked what he’ll say to folks who are older than he is, but feel they aren’t pursuing their true passions]ย Age shouldn’t determine what you want to do. If you still have the courage and drive, go for it. If you love cooking, take up a class. Cook for your family. Make your life more meaningful and fulfilling.

In Singapore, everyone wants to be successful. If you are successful in what you are doing, people will take notice.ย Make some achievements for yourself, get recognized. I think this is the best way to spread the culture.

People are taking more notice of Shatec, At-Sunrice, etc. They take pride in their students and curriculum. It is up to us, the younger generation, to change the stereotypes people have that students here are those who ‘can’t study’. Poly grads also come here because of the energy and the atmosphere.

Now, with this MOU signing and collaborations, we get to meet chefs and witness what’s going on in this industry. ๐Ÿ™‚

~

What I took away from this session was the hard work, endurance and continuous ‘skills upgrading’ required for one to be a great chef. As we were told during the masterclass, “Before you slam a chef’s food, recognize the effort that went into it”.

I believe that the students who go for the masterclasses and get infected by the contagious enthusiasm of the chefs in the national team will certainly produce culinary works of art that few would be able to ‘slam’. I certainly look forward to more champion chefs emerging, and for Singapore to retain its World Champion title on the international culinary stage.

~

Read Part 1 of this Series here, and you’ll never look at sashimi the same way again. Then read Part 2 to find out which are the 12 things no one will (ever) tell you about Japanese Green Tea. ๐Ÿ˜€

12 Things No One Tells You About Green Tea

This is the second post of a 3-part blogpost series on various F&B masterclasses organised by e2i to connect workers and industry practitioners with industry experts.

Participants benefit from learning best practices, deepening their skillsets and mastering skills in their career to be future-ready.

I’ve read and heard so much about the benefits of drinking Japanese green tea that attending the ‘Japanese Green Tea Master Class’ organized by IPPIN, Marumo Mori and e2i seemed like a good way to find out if all the hearsay is true.

After all, the speaker, Mr Nobuki Mori, the President and CEO of (Japanese tea company) Marumo Nori Co. Ltd is of the 6th generation of the Mori clan – the family business has almost 140 years of history since it started in 1877.

As a tea master, Mr Mori is also a 9th level tea examiner (the only one at the 9th level in Shizuoka prefecture, which is famous for green tea production).

During the class, we learnt about everything from how jobless samurai in the past became farmers producing green tea in Shizuoka, to how you may be mistakenly buying Uji matcha that is not actually from Kyoto, to how bottled green tea might not be as nutritious as you expect it to be.

Read on to learn about these insider secrets and lesser-known facts about Japanese green tea shared by Mr Mori…

Japanese Green Tea Masterclass

Japanese Green Tea Masterclass e2i

Tea Master Nobuki Mori

Tea Master Nobuki Mori holding up a teacup which he uses to ‘check’ the color and quality of tea (the teacup has blue circles at its base which helps make the color of the tea more evident)

In this post, I’ve compiled 12 nuggets of information from the class. Besides food pairing with tea, we learnt everything from the history of tea to its proper brewing techniques.

Among my classmates were chefs and even HR personnel from the Paradise Group of restaurants.

Whether you’re in the F&B business or not, if you think green tea has health benefits you’re interested in (weight loss, antioxidants, cancer prevention, etc), such a class might be suitable for you too!

Nobuki Mori

Checking the fragrance of various tea leaves

Japanese Green Tea

~ 12 Things You Might Not Know About Japanese Green Tea ~

#1: Singapore is the 2nd largest importer of Japanese green tea, ahead of Hong Kong and just behind USA! However, we do not consume THAT much green tea – the tea is imported into Singapore and then re-exported to other countries.

#2: If you think green tea originated in Japan, think again. It’s actually from Yunnan province in China. The Japanese word for tea is ‘cha’, which is from the Cantonese word for tea in the Canton province. From the Fujian province, we get ‘teh’, and that’s why we call it ‘tea’ in the English-speaking world.

#3: Interestingly, the ‘original’ way of drinking matcha did not come from Japan. The Japanese learnt it from the Chinese some 1200 years ago. Then the Chinese supposedly abandoned this way of drinking tea. Mr Mori was recently invited by Chinese monks to visit their temple and demonstrate this (lost) way of drinking matcha, in what was apparently an effort to reclaim part of their culture.

Japanese Tea Master

Mori-san weighing out 4g of tea leaves using four 1-yen coins as weights (1 yen weighs 1 gram)

#4: Among its many health benefits, green tea also has anti-bacterial properties. Previously, primary school pupils in Japan washed their hands with green tea, and green tea was also added to tap water as it helps prevent colds.

#5: The process of harvesting and processing tea leaves is a complex one. Harvesting is done by hand or by machine, then the leaves go through processes like steaming, drying, rolling, sorting, cutting, separating, (another) cutting, roasting, blending, packaging together with nitrogen to prevent oxidation, etc. Each tea master will also create a special blend of tea based on his own skill and experience.

#6: ‘Uji matcha’ is world famous but what you think is matcha from Kyoto may not actually be from Kyoto! The Japanese know that it is not uncommon for Nara green tea to be used to make Kyoto matcha. Kyoto is famous for matcha but it has little farmland available so green tea from farms in the surrounding areas also use the “Uji” / “Kyoto” name. As long as the product has even 1% of Kyoto green tea, it can be considered “Kyoto matcha”. It’s hard to get 100% pure Uji matcha as this usually goes directly to the tea ceremony masters.

#7: Gyokuro (the highest grade of green tea) is grown in the shade for 3 to 4 weeks prior to harvest. Good gyokuro tea leaves can be purchased at a wholesale price of 40,000 yen per kilogram. That’s about S$535/kg wholesale. If you want to try good gyokuro, head to Waku Ghin in Marina Bay Sands. Gyokuro tea has a seaweed-like smell, and a delicious umami taste. Unlike Chinese tea which is usually about the fragrance, Japanese tea is more about the taste.

#8: If the matcha powder you wish to buy is ‘cheap’, you should doubt its quality as making matcha is a time-consuming process. The matcha powder should be very fine (about 5 to 10 microns) and that’s hard to achieve with even modern machinery. So what you get in your ‘matcha latte’ here might not be, strictly speaking, “matcha” as the powder used is larger than 10 microns in size.

#9:ย Green tea is usually harvested 4 times a year, with the first harvest (a.k.a. “first flush”) being the best. In the winter, the tree gathers energy and nutrition and so the first flush green tea leaves are the most nutritious. However, what goes into our bottled green tea usually sold in supermarkets are the 4th flush green tea leaves. Green tea can have up to 5 times more Vitamin C than lemon of the same weight! Unfortunately, bottled green tea contains about 2g of green tea leaves, which are usually “fourth flush”. Those brewed in teapots contain about 4g, and you might get better tea leaves.

Japanese teapot

4g of tea leaves go into a small teapot versus about 2g into your regular bottle of green tea.

#10: Tea is more than just a beverage in Japan, where there is a whole ‘tea culture’. According to Mr Mori, watching your host prepare tea for you is a way of reducing stress while enriching your life. Also, it is a symbol of friendship between people who share that time and space together to enjoy tea. *Even the time spent waiting for water to cool before you pour it over the tea leaves is part of enjoying tea – that time is for conversation with family and friends!

#11: Japanese tea masters place emphasis on cha-do (่Œถ้“) which is a way/ method and a philosophy. It is more than just cha-ge (่Œถ่‰บ) which is only about the skills and not the philosophy. For instance, the former requires that you ‘train’ your mind to focus on the tea ceremony, instead of letting it wander.

#12: Marumo Mori’s first retail shop, chagama, was opened in 2014 in central Shizuoka. Within the store, you can try over 60 different types of tea as well as Sencha espresso made using their espresso machine from France!

 Chagama Shizuoka

(bottom right) Sencha espresso at Chagama in Shizuoka, Japan.

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Interestingly, Mori-san made a comment that if you are in the F&B business, you have to serve food and/or beverage that you don’t like, if your customers like them. It seems that according to the Japanese, the customer experience is very important! And this was most evident during the food + green tea pairing session.

Cold brew Gyokuro tea

Gyokuro tea tastes best when brewed in water that’s about 45 deg Celsius. This retains the umami taste. Here, Mori-san’s translator is holding up a bottled of chilled gyokura tea.

We enjoyed the colorful appetizer below, together with cold-brew gyokuro. The taste became almost secondary, as the presentation had already blown us away.

IPPIN appetizer

Then we had squid on a bed of burdock chips, paired with warm sencha. Squid is usually tricky to eat as it can get rather ‘chewy’. Here, it has been cut into bite-size pieces. I appreciate the thoughtfulness! I’d love to see more F&B businesses being thoughtful as well, e.g. by removing chicken off the bone or de-shelling prawns.

Squid with burdock chips

Squid on a bed of burdock chips

Next, we had fried oysters with yuzu-flavored mayonnaise, and fukamushicha (This tea was ‘invented’ for people in Tokyo, as it allows for a faster brew. Just wait for only 30 seconds) It’s light with a bitter aftertaste. With genmaicha and hojicha, you don’t have to wait for the water to cool too…

IPPIN fried oysters

Then we also had fish and rice, with genmaicha.

Dessert was hojicha pudding with hojicha sauce served in a shotglass, and of course, paired with hojicha. *We were also told that green tea goes well with alcohol! Try it!

Japanese Green Tea Masterclass

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Becoming a respected tea master certainly takes years (if not decades) of hard work and dedication. Being able to correctly identify tea leaves (type and origin) and brewing a good cup of tea with water of the right temperature is certainly a valued skill if you were to be working in restaurants like Waku Ghin. So far, more attention has been on barista training as Singaporeans do love their coffee, but I think tea (with its many health benefits) is something more people will come to appreciate.

Interestingly, at this particular masterclass, there was a lady at the back of the room taking notes and drawing illustrations and caricatures. Here’s one of the ‘panels’ she created:

Summary by SketchPost.

I’m aware that some companies do hire these ‘graphic recorders’ to transform words into hand-drawn visuals in real-time. This allows participants to snap a picture after the session and get an instant summary of everything that went on! ๐Ÿ˜€

The talented artist came up with about 6 of these panels for the full-day session and I was told that charges start from S$2,000 for 1 day. Actually, if you’re not into tea, but you’re good at drawing, this might be a lucrative career option, no? ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ll leave you with some food for thought from Jim Rohn who said that “You must either modify your dreams or magnify your skills”.ย 

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Part 1 in this series shares a very unique way of pairing sashimi and green tea. Read it here. Then find out how Singapore won gold awards at the Culinary Olympics this year in the final installment of this Series by clicking right here.