Homely fare at Gu Ma Jia 姑妈家

In view of the upcoming Mother’s Day, Gu Ma Jia (姑妈家) kindly invited some bloggers for a feast and review of their home-cooked dishes. I have heard positive reviews for a while and keen to check it out myself.

As the shop’s name implies, dining here is akin to dining at an Auntie’s house. The woman behind the show is affably known as Gu Ma and she honed her cooking skills while growing up in Pulau Ubin. Together with Head Chef Yap Geok Loong from Malaysia, they created homely Chinese dishes which do warm the hearts and fill the tummies.

Here are some of the highlights we tasted for the evening:

Fruity Enzyme Drink – I am quite acquainted with fruit enzyme as my mum makes them at home! It is the liquid collected after the fermentation of fruits. There is a widespread agreement that there is good probiotic bacteria in fruit enzyme. But honestly, I have yet to fully appreciate it’s slight sour taste. The jelly at the bottom does help to make it more palatable for our taste buds.

Crispy Bean Jal – Often mistaken as bacon, this is actually deep fried brinjal with four season beans. The dish see me going for seconds just because it doesn’t taste like eggplant! Coated with marmite-like sweet sauce, this is seriously addictive.

Ubin Lala Bee Hoon – the highlight is not the lala. It is the wet beehoon soaked in savoury broth! I am a fan of wet beehoon and this goes down very well with me. The beehoon is unlike some which you found at zi char stalls where they barely boil the beehoon and throw the gravy on top. This Pulau-Ubin style dish is soaked through with flavours. A must-order.

XO Prawn Noodles – the photo doesn’t do the dish justice. A classic Cantonese dish, the special home-made XO sauce (almost soup-like) made me eat more of the yellow noodles which I would have normally avoided. Fresh succulent big prawns are the highlights too! A must-try.

Gu Ma Signature Traditional Bean Curd Soup – This plain looking soup is no plain Jane. It is power boiled over 6 hours with ingredients such as salted fish head, Chinese ham, pork ribs, peanuts and bean curd. I loved the wholesome taste and Xi En had more than a bowl too. Really comforting double boiled goodness.

Homemade Yam Ring with Kyoto Pork Ribs – Lip smacking sweet ribs (no bones, yeah!) with creamy and crispy yam ring. I will order this again.

Assam Fish Head – Not too spicy and you can still taste the sweetness of the flesh amidst the spices. Gravy goes well with rice definitely; might be too small a portion for the real fish lovers though.

Salted Egg Yolk Crab – My favourite next to chilli crab. The flesh comes off the shell easily and the salted egg yolk is fingers-licking good!

Yuan Yang Kai Lan – Kai Lan done in 2 way – blanched and fried. It’s like 2-in-1 shampoo I think. If you can’t decide how to have your vegetables, how about having them 2 ways?

Shrimp paste chicken mid joint – A common dish but not all chefs get them well.  This is above average with the right amount of shrimp paste though I could have them crispier.

Desserts (Left to right/Top to Bottom)

Mango Pudding – Not on menu yet.

Gu Ma’s Dessert – $4 (hot or cold)

Black Glutinous Rice with Ice Cream – $3.80 (my favourite; pardon the melted ice-cream photo!)

Fruity Enzyme Jelly – $5.80 (this is an acquired taste. you need to appreciate enzyme in order to like the healthier dessert option).

Husband and I agreed that the dishes are homely fare cooked in a more meticulous way. It is similar to having a meal at your “Auntie’s” house except it might actually be better than hers! With no additional MSG, less oil and healthier food options (such as brown rice), you can be sure Gu Ma Jia is a Mummies-approved place. For the upcoming Mother’s Day, there is a promotion and a set menu which is available from 1st May to 17th May 2015.  Details as below. Ala carte options are available too. Do make an early reservation if you are planning for Mother’s Day. Parking are available along the roadsides but be prepared to wait a while during peak dining hours.

Details:

Website: http://gumajia.com.sg/

Address: 45 Tai Thong Crescent, Sennett Estate Singapore 347866

GMJ_motherday2015v6

N.B: We were kindly invited for a food tasting session. All opinions and photos are ours except credited. No further compensation is received.

Get Saucy, Salty and Wet this Songkran!

What a teaser tagline!

I like it! 😀

Saucy and Salty I meant. Wet – not quite. 😛

For the uninitiated, Songkran refers to the traditional New Year’s Day which is celebrated from 13th to 15th April in Thailand. If you are in the county, get ready to be drenched, soaked, poured, sprayed with water – a symbol of washing away all the bad. Well, if you are not in Thailand during that season, fret not. Soak up the atmosphere with sizzling spicy food at your friendly ThaiExpress or Basil!

We were kindly invited to sample the new dishes in conjunction with the Songkran festival at Basil by ThaiExpress. Basil is a contemporary casual dining restaurant with a fresh and young interpretation on Thai food. I actually prefer Basil’s fresh outlook and “hipper” feel. It’s located at Kallang Wave, Sport Hub Retail Mall if you will like to check it out.

Drinks to start off the dinner; try the Virgin Basil Mojito, Bael or Roselle Drink for a refreshing take. If you like a sweeter beverage, the Pandan drink or the traditional Thai Iced Tea will not fail. One tip here: If you can’t take spices that well, get a Thai Iced Tea. The milk will help to neutralise the “fire” in the tummy. 🙂

Without much disappointment, we tasted rich varieties of spices in traditional Thai cooking styles. Here are what’s new on the menu:

1) Phad Mee Phuket (Stir-fried Thai-Style Bee Hoon served with Tiger Prawns)

The bee-hoon had been infused with a homemade sweet and sour sauce and every bite entails a taste of fragrant coconut taste. This is right up my alley! I enjoy bee-hoon slightly wetter with sauces and the “lemak” taste make it so Singapura! Tiger Prawns are fresh and succulent; done nicely to the T. This is my favourite new dish for the evening. Share it with a few persons to allow tummy space for other dishes! 🙂

2) Songkran Wing

Now now now…. what is there not to like about deep fried chicken wings???!!!! If there is any food that you can bribe me with; it got to be fried chicken wings. We try not to deep fry too much at home and thus my indulgence got to be fulfilled when we dine out.

These wings are specially sprinkled with crispy basil leaves, fried garlic flakes, dried chilli, salt and sugar. It could do better with a longer time in marinating to give the meat more depth but otherwise, I will devour any chicken wings with crispy golden brown skins! Yes – I eat skins! Do you? 😛 (Gone with that diet-plan for now).

3) Pla Muk Khi Khem ( Thai-Style Salted Egg Calamari)

My 2 favourite ingredients doing a duet! This is something tough to duplicate at home due to the high heat needed for this dish to taste good. With a unique sweet-creamy salted egg sauce coupled with a slight tinge of basil and spice, it marries the squid pretty well. A twist to the usual salted egg dishes, try this for a twist in your usual salted egg dishes.

4) Som Tum (Papaya Salad)

I hate papaya. period. I dislike papaya to the core!

And guessed what I didn’t realise I ate papaya salad till I started writing this post and was reading the menu! Ok – granted – it’s green papaya. And it is such a refreshing appetizer that I didn’t ask further what were the ingredients! It was the dish nearest to me and I greedily gobbled it up! Enough said, order this as an alternative to the usual green mango salad.  It’s so good that you don’t know you are eating papaya (yes, papaya-loathers? Or it’s just me?!)

Some other dishes we had which are worthy a mention too:

** Grilled Beef Salad **

Chewy sliced ribeye beef tossed in chilli & lime dressing and sprinkled with roasted rice. This is a chef recommendation and I totally agree. Load up if you like your beef spicy! I enjoyed this while the hubby felt it’s a little too spicy for him.

** Fresh Prawn Omelette **

Simple as it sounds; but big on taste and crunch especially when it’s paired with fried basil and the special chilli dip on the side. One of those dishes that is tough to get it right at home as you need a deep oil wok with a big fire. Order this if you are craving for simple comfort food! 🙂

Lastly we sampled almost all the desserts!

Thai desserts are sweet and sweet! If you like your desserts sweet, you have to order one here.

Sharing with you 2 of my favourites:

** Mango Sticky Rice **

Good quality mangos on a bed of warm sticky rice served with fresh coconut cream; B.E.S.T. combination. If you have tummy space for only 1 dessert, got-to-try-this.

** Homemade Lod Chong **

Not my first time having Lod Chong but I kinda forgotten it’s name! The lod chong is freshly home-made and has a slightly herby-fresh taste (like chewing on a fresh mint). It goes well with the sweet coconut-based dessert. Good for those who might like a lighter taste for desserts.

Win a luxurious trip to Thailand

In collaboration with Bangkok Airways and Tourism Authority of Thailand, ThaiExpress will be giving away a pair f return Business Class tickets to Bangkok and Koh Samui to experience the festival of SOngkran in Thailand itelse.f!

Winners will fly off on 10th April to Koh Samui, stay 1 night in Anantara Lawana Samui Resrt & Spa –Deluxe Plunge Pool Room from 10th to 11th April followed by 3 night stay in a 1 bedroom Suite in Anantara Sathorn Bangkok from 11th to 14th April 2015. The accommodations include breakfast and a round trip airport transfer.

How?

Simply spend a minimum of $50 (before GST and service charge) to get a free mini water gun (great for waterplay!) and a unique code to enter the lucky draw for the grand prize. The unique codes will be given out till 29th March and the winner will be announced on ThaiExpress’ Facebook Page on 1st April 2015.

Pose and Win

If you at ThaiExpress/Basil outlets, you will see a “Trick-eye” museum-like standees, Pose with it and post it on Instagram with the hashtages #thaiexpresssg and #songkranthaiexpress, and stand to win $200 worth of ThaiExpress vouchers. The 3 most creative photos will be chosen as winners! We are “gunning” for it too!” 😛

More details on the Songkran promotion at http://songkran.thaiexpress.com.sg

Basil 1

Don’t miss the promotion now!

Check ThaiExpress website: www.thaiexpress.com.sg and Basil: http://basil.com.sg/ for more details and locations of outlets.

^Songkran promotional dishes will be available 9th March till 19th April 2015.

Disclaimer: We were kindly invited to sample the new dishes in line with Songkran festival. No other compensation had been received. All photos and opinions remain blogger’s own. Flabbier tummy included.

Lunch at Beanstro–The new Bistro

Sponsored Food Review

We were invited for a food tasting last week at Beanstro – a casual dining restaurant by The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

P3123686

If you go shopping at Ngee Ann City often, it’s hard to miss this restaurant. You will see the familiar brown and woody deco when you glance upwards from the atrium.

This is their second halal-certified Beanstro. The first successful outlet is located at Marina Bay Sands. The company has plans to open up 2 more restaurants in Singapore.

P3123683

We were ushered in promptly. The warm lighting and cozy ambience set the mood for a great lunch!
I love restaurants which provide booth-like seats. Beanstro has them in U-shapes; thus making it easier to seat more people comfortably.

P3123691

I brought along 2 makan-kakis – Siangling & Maxie – who share common love for food. A senior server attended to us while we pored over the menu; trying to decide what to order from the extensive American-style options.

Finally we decided to share selections from the various categories so as to sample a wider variety. After we placed our orders, Steven – the restaurant manager – came by and apologised that he was away when we arrived. He said that he had a look through our orders and would like to recommend some others as those are the signatures. We were happy to take on his suggestions.

It was a short wait before the drinks and food arrived:

P3123708

Our drinks – Sunrise, Mucho Mango Fru Tea & Black Forest. All familiar drinks well mastered by Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf; can’t go wrong with it.

First dish served up is one of their rustic soups: French Onion Soup.

Most of the time, it’s not my first choice of soup but I must say this proved me wrong! The piece of cheese toast complemented the soup too. Yumz!

P3123695

Next up is one of their signatures: Tuna Nicoise. This is a classic French dish; yellow-fin tuna loin coated with sesame.

The tuna is soft on the inside and slightly pinked on the edges. The accompanying raw onion and cheery tomato went well together with the tuna.

P3123727

We had 2 items from their breakfast selections:

One of them was the Classic Eggs Benedict. This was strongly recommended by Steven – a “MUST TRY”.

The poached eggs with hollandaise sauce were my all-time favourite being runny and gooey. However the chicken ham was a little disappointing; taste being too processed and tough. Otherwise, it’s a fair recommendation for a hearty meal.

P3123742

2nd breakfast item which we choose was the Breakfast Steak and Eggs.

The accompanying blackcurrant onions were yummy and sweet! Unfortunately, the beef sirloin was overdone and a tad too tough for our liking.

P3123763

We also sampled 2 vegetarian options:

1) The Grilled Portobello mushroom with melted Emmental cheese and ragout of capsicum, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula. The mushroom was grilled nicely; a little crunchy on the outside without losing the mushroom flavour on the inside. Perhaps I love a more robust taste; thus felt that further marinates will enhance this dish.

P3123755

2) Caprese – Grilled Ciabatta Sandwich with fresh mozzarella cheese and semi-dried tomato & pesto.

I loved this! Simple but oh-so fresh ingredients won my taste buds! This make a quick and light afternoon snack.

Worth a try if you are not in a meat-y mood.

P3123770

The mains were next.

A worthy mention is their signature: Vongole – Squid ink spaghetti with New Zealand clams tossed in extra virgin olive oil.

Steven told us that because Beanstro is a halal-certified restaurant, the chef cannot use wine in this dish which is commonly used in the preparation.

Instead, the clever use of chilli-padi gave this dish its’ kick and I love the fact that your mouth won’t be smeared with squid ink on a hot date!

P3123782

P3123787

We also had the Chilean cod fish with mashed potatoes and sautéed greens in a seafood broth.

I am not a fan of fish dishes due to presence of bones and their fishy smell/taste; thus I would normally avoid ordering them.

Our in-house food gourmet commenter (Maxie) said the best way to know if a restaurant does a good job is to order their fishes. And that we did!

I must say the cod is fresh and when served with the seafood broth; there is no fishy taste whatsoever.

Won this non-fish-lover over!

P3123780

As all good meals have to be, we had something sweet to end the meal. Steven proposed 2 favourites amongst the rest:

Bread & Butter Pudding (my all-time favourite!) and Cheery Clafouti.

The bread & butter pudding was served in a mug-sized bowl. The buttery sweet bread was a prefect contrast with the tangy-lemony sauce & its’ serving is just nice for a sweet ending.

P3123800

My two companions loved the cherry clafouti – it’s sweet/sour taste.

P3123805

Overall it was a pleasant dining experience. Thank you Beanstro & my 2 makan-kakis for joining me!

P3123795

A conveniently located beanstro with a cozy setting for catch-ups with friends; a place for a cuppa & dessert to rest your legs after shopping the halls or a full hearty course with the family!

Do check it up when you are next in town. Smile

Beanstro – Ngee Ann City

391 Orchard Road

#B1-37 Ngee Ann City

Singapore 238872

Mon – Sun: 8am – 11pm

N.B: This is a sponsored food tasting review. All photos and opinions are based on personal dining experience on premise.