Chef Andre Chiang shares His Favorite Flavours of Taipei

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Fun Taipei Salon with Chef Andre Chiang (third from right)

Ask everyone who’s been to Taiwan what’s the top attraction there and most will say it’s the food. That’s why for this year’s NATAS Travel Fair, which runs till Aug 13, the Taipei City Government has launched a special tour package with the Singapore foodie in mind. And helping them to promote Taipei’s distinct flavours was native son Chef Andre Chiang who shared his favourite Taipei culinary delights at the Fun Taipei Salon event held yesterday at the InterContinental.

Prior to owning the Michelin 2-star Restaurant Andre in Singapore and Restaurant RAW in Taipei – both of which are ranked in The 2017 World’s 50 Best Restaurants list – Chef Chiang was head chef of the 3-starred Michelin restaurant, Le Jardin de Sens- Montpellier, in France.

“My memories of food growing up in Taipei is that the many different flavours the city offers are not tied to just the ingredients or the condiments used in the dish,” says Chiang in a statement. “Rather, these flavours are almost always a collage of physical ingredients and the feelings that come from soaking in the beautiful nature around us, the festivals we celebrate and the constant desire to explore Taiwan to fuel our need for new cultural experiences and memories.”

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Chef Andre Chiang with Taipei City Government’s Information & Tourism Commissioner, Ms Chien Yu-Yen

Here are Chef Andre Chiang’s 5 Most Memorable Taipei Flavours:

1. Shilin Night Market
Located in the Shilin District, Chiang has fond memories of this market which is regarded as the largest and most famous night market in Taipei. After school, he would alight one bus stop before home and walk through the market stalls, trying out various snacks and delicacies.

2. Danshui Old Street
When young, Chiang also lived in the Danshui district for six years. Danshui Old Street is renowned for its many shops and street stalls that sell a variety of snacks – from Iron Eggs to Fish Crackers. What he loves most, though, are the different types of handmade drinks, ranging from freshly made fruit juices to sweet honey and ginger tea.

3. Beef Noodle Soup
Tender braised beef with egg noodles served in a flavourful broth – you can’t mention Taiwanese food without mentioning beef noodle soup. Each time the chef returns to Taipei, this dish is a must-eat for him. And though there are many stalls all over Taipei, Chiang’s favourite stall is Lin Dong Fang Beef Noodle in Zhongshan District.

4. Taiwanese Hot Pot
Another traditional foodfare that Chiang enjoys is hot pot or steamboat where various meats, seafood, vegetables are cooked in a rich broth. And just like beef noodle stalls, there are many hot pot restaurants one can find in Taiwan’s capital city.

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Chef Chiang’s version of the Pineapple Tart at RAW

5. Authentic Snacks Re-styled at RAW
For his fifth pick, Chef Chiang couldn’t resist giving a shout-out to his restaurant RAW where he create dishes by blending Taiwanese ingredients with modern international influences, and where reservations are usually booked up to 3 months ahead. Whenever he could, Chiang would take an authentic Taiwanese delicacy and churn out a new “look” for it using new ingredients and techniques. One example is the traditional Taiwanese pineapple cake. Unlike our local Chinese New Year types which look like tarts, the Taiwanese ones are more blocky, with a crumbly crust and pineapple bits either in a jam form or fruit slices. The RAW version (pictured above) is like a cube with a soft and buttery crust and layers of juicy pineapple slices within. Certainly unlike the pineapple tarts I’m used to but nonetheless an unique variation of it.

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Various Gifts-To-Go ideas from Fun Taipei

Taipei’s 5 Distinct Flavours
Back to the foodie package offered by the Taipei City Government. The 3D2N free-and-easy package which costs from $545 per person (tax included) offers foodies to go on a hunt to discover Taipei’s “Five Distinct Flavours” which comprise:

1. Classic Taiwan Tastes: The likes of xiao long bao, beef noodles, bubble tea, mango ice, and so forth.

2. Everyday Aromas: Taiwanese stir-fry that usually features seafood, Chinese herbs and local fruits as ingredients. Popular dishes include chicken steak, egg omelette and soy-based pork.

3. Hotpot Hotspots: From mala (“numbingly spicy”) twin-sided hot pot to Taiwanese-styled shabu shabu, having a hot pot in Taipei is a must.

4. Refreshing Sweet Treats: Handmade drinks from classic bubble tea to shaved-ice treats with seasonal fruits can be found everywhere in the city.

5. Gifts To-Go: From pineapple cakes to nougat candies, Taipei has a wide selection of tasty tid-bits for visitors to present as gifts to family, friends and co-workers.

Fun Taipei’s 3D2N free-and-easy package “foodie” package will be available from the Taipei booth at the NATAS Travel Fair at Suntec City till August 13. There will be extra perks for the first 100 sign-ups each day. For more information on Fun Taipei, visit http://www.travel.taipei.

All Photos by Marguerita Tan.

 

Questions Raised From ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 SDCC Trailer

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‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 [Credit: AMC]


After months of waiting, fans of TV’s most popular zombie series were relieved when AMC finally debuted the first trailer of The Walking Dead‘s latest season at last month’s San Diego Comic-Con, before it was simultaneously released online.

At the end of the Season 7 finale, we saw Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes leading the Alexandrians, The Kingdom and Hilltop colonies, taking on Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan head-on. Hence it was expected that Season 8 will feature much of the “All Out War” storyline as depicted in the comic book series.

And true enough, the action-packed Season 8 trailer gives an indication that there will be many intense confrontations and battles between the communities and key characters up ahead.

Check out the trailer below:

Questions from ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 Comic-Con Trailer

It’s just five minutes long but the  trailer already provided much fodder for fans to chew on, not to mention tons of questions that need to be answered. These include:

(Note: Possible spoilers from the comics ahead; then again, the TV show doesn’t always adhere fiercely to the comics in terms of certain characters or incidents. Either way, you’ve been warned…)

1. Will Father Gabriel be the first to die?

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‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 [Credit: AMC]

Being asked by big bad Negan himself whether he has “shittin’ pants” can’t be a good thing. Being alone in a room with Negan surrounded by walkers on the outside doesn’t make it much better. Will Father Gabriel make it out of that situation alive? In The Walking Dead comics, the character did eventually die but it doesn’t happened till long after the “all out war” with The Saviors. Last season, Father Gabriel has redeemed himself somewhat by giving support to Rick whenever the Alexandrian leader needed it and even advising Rosita when she was hell-bent on going on a suicide mission. It would be thus a shame to see him go so soon.

2. Who gave the “tomorrow” note to Dwight? Is he still on Team Rick?

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‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 [Credit: AMC]

To take on Negan’s men at The Sanctuary, Team Rick definitely needs an inside man and Dwight could still be that man. There were two other scenes that show Dwight hanging around the walker compound at The Saviors’ hangout. Maybe the plan is for him to let the unchained walkers out by “tomorrow”, the time the “all out war” will kick off? Let’s hope so. In the comics, Dwight did go on to become the new leader of the Saviors.

3. Why is Morgan fighting with Jesus?

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‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 [Credit: AMC]

In The Walking Dead‘s earlier seasons, Morgan was a fan favorite and it was easy to understand why ‘cos the man who doesn’t believe in killing was fascinating. In the world of the walking dead, his philosophy may be unrealistic yet nonetheless it has kept him alive thus far. In Season 7 however, his behavior has been highly illogical and fast became a character who has long worn out his welcome. Though part of The Kingdom unit – see his red wristband – the scenes of Morgan fighting with Jesus from the Hilltop seem to indicate that he may have finally lost his marbles more than the fact that he is teaching the Hilltop man new fencing moves. If so, that won’t bode well for Rick and gang.

4. Will Morgan’s “I don’t die” remark comes back to haunt him?

Which bring us to “famous last words”: will Morgan’s “I don’t die” statement issues a warning that his character will have to eat his words sooner or later? In the comics, Morgan is long gone. For the TV show, it seems his passing is already written on the wall…

5. A silver-haired, bearded Rick Grimes awaking from sleep. Will there be a time jump or is it all a dream?

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‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 [Credit: AMC]

There is a fan theory bouncing around that Rick has been dreaming the entire zombie apocalypse all this while, even though creator Robert Kirkman has long denied it to be so. Well, The Walking Dead producing team better not give us a Dallas‘ Bobby Ewing moment and expect us to buy a dream sequence premise because that is really highly unbelievable. What is expected is that, just like in the comics, there will be a time jump of about 2-3 years after the “all out war” ends. Rick is expected to survive but is not as mobile as before having badly injured his leg in the fight against Negan (hence the shot of a walking stick in the trailer). Whether this scene will appear at the start of the Season 8 premiere – which is also the series’ 100th episode – or in the mid-season finale remains to be seen.

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‘The Walking Dead’ Season 8 [Credit: AMC]

There are many other questions that we love to ask from the Season 8 trailer but I guessed we just have to wait till October to find out. Whatever is happening, expect an “all out war” on the new season of The Walking Dead!

The Walking Dead will return with its Season 8 on October 22, 2017 in the US on AMC (and possibly within 24 hours later in the rest of the world).

For more of my Pop Culture stories, please click on the link below:
 https://creators.co/@margueritatan

The link to my original article on “Questions raised from The Walking Dead Season 8 trailer:
– https://creators.co/@margueritatan/4315296

 

 

 

Wine Tasting @ ONE°15 Marina

IMG_20170715_232400_727There’s lots of things you can do on a yacht and having a wine tasting session while cruising to an offshore island is one of them. As mentioned in my previous blog post on WOK°15 Kitchen, Musings on the M49 was also invited to ONE°15 Marina Club last week for the launch of Jules Taylor Wines in Singapore.
L1160967 (640x372)Hailing from Marlborough, New Zealand, Jules Taylor Wines (JTW) is a boutique, family owned and operated company with winemaker Jules Taylor (hence the name) at the helm. Ms Taylor unfortunately wasn’t present at the session but we have her husband and JTW CEO, George Elworthy, to tell us all about their love for wines.
2017-07-12 15.38.19 (2) (640x635)The tasting session took place on board the ANKA, a 75ft monohull and the latest addition to the fleet managed by ONE15 Luxury Yachting, which charters yachts for events and special occasions. As we set sail towards Lazarus Island, the wines started flowing into our glasses as we piled our plates with various cheeses. (Not forgetting, tasty canapes from WOK°15 as well).
L1160974 (640x480)JTW has three tiers to their portfolio: Classic (‘The Better Half’), Premium (‘Jules Taylor’) and Elite (‘OTQ’, whcih stands for “On The Quiet”). Jules Taylor is responsible for the latter two, while no prizes in guessing what her “better half” George (pictured above) is the winemaker for! The couple source their grapes from vineyards in the Lower Wairau, Omaka and Awatere Valleys in Marlborough, located on the northeastern tip of New Zealand’s South island and the region that placed New Zealand-styled Sauvignon Blanc on the world map.

As we sample each brand, George fills us in on the types of grapes and the conditioning that went into the production of each wine. Here’s a sampling of what we had:
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Jules Taylor Chardonnay  2016: Fresh and light, with hints of vanilla and oak. Smooth on the palate as well. Goes well with fish items, either steamed and deep-fried.

The Better Half Pinot Noir 2016 : This red is a delight with rich berry flavours and a robust aftertaste. Goes well with savoury items the likes of roast pork or grilled beef cubes.

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Jules Taylor Pinot Gris 2016: I’m not a white wine person so it takes a real good one to take my breath away and this one did. Its strong fruity and floral notes hit you by the first sip, and even more so by the second gulp. Very rich and complex, with a lingering finish. Nice.

The Better Half Sauvignon Blanc 2016: This has a fruity aroma, crisp and vibrant, and smooth on the palate. Goes well with crunchy food such as deep fried fish skin with salted egg or corn chips with guacamole.

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OTQ was created “on the quiet” by Jules (hence the name). According to George, it is made of special grapes that are hand harvested and then pressed into old Chardonnay French oak barrels for fermentation and maturation. Limited in quantities, the collection comes in bespoke bottles decorated with birds and flora found in vineyards around Marlborough.

OTQ Sauvignon Blanc 2016 : Pale green-gold in colour, this has a nice blend of fruity flavours with notes of pecan and honey. A tad gassy, but a strong refreshing taste nonetheless.

OTQ Pinot Noir 2016
: Dark ruby red in hue, the fruity flavours are intense with oakly notes. Have a very strong rich taste. Was hoping to have more but the yacht had returned to its ONE°15 Marina berth by then. Sad.

OTQ is priced from S$100, Jules Taylor from $$60-$70 and The Better Half from $$70-$80. For more information, visit www.julestaylor.com or contact its Singapore distributor, SUTL Consumer Goods at www.sutl.com or 65 6266 3378

 

 

WOK°15 Kitchen @ ONE°15 Marina

2017-07-12 14.28.01 (640x617)I can’t afford an apartment at Sentosa Cove (yet), so it’s always nice to attend events there as it gives you a chance to check out the eateries or the luxurious yachts berthed in the marina. Hence I didn’t hesitate to say “yes” when Musings on the M49 was invited by SUTL Consumer Goods – which owns and manages ONE°15 Marina Club, among other brands – for a food-and-wine tasting luncheon at WOK°15 Kitchen.

Just over a year old, WOK°15 serves exquisite Cantonese cuisine and is helmed by Executive Chef Chum Kar Ho from Hong Kong who has two decades of experience working with the likes of Crystal Jade and Imperial Treasure.

The a la carte menu features the usual suspects of appetisers, soups, dim sum, live seafood, stir-fry dishes and grilled items. For the tasting, we were presented with a selection of WOK°15 signature dishes.
2017-07-12 14.28.08 (640x565)First up was a trio of appetizers. The Deep Fried Fish Skin with Salted Egg Yolk (pictured at top of page) was light, crispy and tasty – a good way to kick off the tasting. The Chilled Cucumber with Garlic (above), which was very well presented, wasn’t half bad but it is not exactly a vegetable you can enjoy a few helpings at one go, unlike kangkong or kai lan if you get my drift.
2017-07-12 14.28.20 (640x546)The Sauteed Pork Belly with Special Sauce though was a different story. The semi-thick slices of pork were yummy with lovely crispy skin and enhanced much by the dark soy sauce which had a dash of chilli padi in it. Taste even better with sliced red chilli, it was a dish I  wouldn’t mind ordering a plate of white rice to go with it!
L1160959 (640x457)Next came the “big plates”. Something that is relatively new on the menu is the Deep Fried Marble Goby – or Soon Hock in Hokkien – with Deluxe Soya Sauce. The dish was a delight – the fish is fresh with much meat, the crispy skin was crunchy and the soy-based gravy flavourful. It is tagged at a special price of $48++ till July 31, 2017.
L1160961 (640x470)I’m a carnivore but the next dish, the Sauteed Beef Cubes with Garlic Flakes, didn’t quite shake my tail feather even though the best of Australian Mignon was used. The beef was soft and tender but not exactly sensational either, even with the giant garlic flakes, broad bean pods and onions. Maybe I was just holding out for the next dish…

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… which was this fiery red Singapore Chilli Crab with Fried Mantou, which tasted as good as it looked. Served in a huge wok, Indonesian crabs are used instead of Sri Lanka crabs. Even though they may be smaller in size, they were no less tasty as the crab meat was fresh and delicious.
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Joy too was dipping the photogenic – they usually are – fried golden mantou into the thick gravy, which though was a tad on the sweet side, was still thoroughly enjoyable. If we didn’t have to rush for the wine tasting on board a yacht, I would have unashamedly asked for more mantou because it was that good!

Speaking of wines, we were also at ONE°15 Marina Sentosa Cove for the launch of Jules Taylor Wines in Singapore. At the luncheon, we had the chance to try some of their fine wines – a Chardonnay from the Jules Taylor brand, and a Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir from their The Better Half line. Will tell you more of these exquisite wines by a New Zealand husband and wife team – she’s the “Jules Taylor”, he’s “The Better Half” – in my next blog post. 🙂

In the meantime, if you are looking to have some good Hong Kong-styled Cantonese fare, do give WOK°15 a try. Its 120-seat dining hall is spacious and has a good view of the marina. There are also two private dining rooms that can accommodate up to 12 guests each. You can ask the restaurant to suggest a personalised food and wine pairing set course for private events.

WOK°15 Kitchen is at Level 1, ONE°15 Marina Sentosa Cove, 11 Cove Drive. Opens from Tue-Sun & Public Holiday: 11.30am-2.30pm/6pm-10pm. Closed on Mondays. Tel: 6305-6998 or email: wok15@one15marina.com

 

 

 

 

 

Dallas @ Suntec City Sky Garden

20170614_193154 (640x640)A friend fancied steak for her birthday, so we decided to check out Dallas Restaurant & Bar at their outlet in Suntec City Sky Garden. We were given a window seat, which was nice as we were just in time to see a lovely fiery sunset going down over the South Beach Complex and National Library.

Online reviews stated that Dallas is great for their baby back ribs and steaks, so it was to my surprise that their menu only has one Prime Rib Steak item ($40) and one Baby Back Berry or Fiery Ribs ($30/$44 for half/full rack) item. Though there were beef burgers, the rest of the menu comprises mainly chicken, pork, fish items and a selection of salads, desserts and bar snacks (that include beef brisket tacos and Dallas BBQ Wings).

Looking at the prices, we decided to go for the Meat Platter ($70 for 2/$130 for 4), which would give us more choices of meat to sample as it has fiery braised prime ribs, Australian lamb cutlets, rib eye, rotisserie chicken, with a bunch of sides including mint jelly, mushroom sauce, black pepper sauce, garden salad and roasted vine ripe cherry tomato.

20170614_191750 (639x640)As there was already salad with the meat platter, we ordered Garlic Bread and this Sweet Potato Chutney, which was one of 3 starters (not on menu) that cost $8 if you order any of the signature dishes. The sweet potato was tasty but the chutney was rather overpowering. We didn’t quite had time to finish it as the meat platter didn’t take long to arrive!
20170614_193048 (640x640) (2)Dallas have small 2-seater tables and this meat platter tray covered 2/3 of the table, leaving us with just a small ledge to have our small plate, starter dish, drink and I can’t remember what was on my left. It was arguably the most popular customer choice as we could see it on almost every other table. And seriously, it was not shabby at all. Instead of ordering a $40 steak, for $35 each, you can try 4 meats on this dish and have salad and mashed potato (under all the meats) too.

First off, the fiery braised pork ribs are really, really good. Fresh and tasty, with the meat coming off the bone easily. Then there is the rib eye steak – and mind you, it’s a full-sized steak too – which was done medium rare, and was succulent and tender.
20170614_193009 (595x640)The lamb cutlets were a tad disappointing as it was tough, seemingly overcooked. Thankfully, the robust mint sauce given helped. As for the roasted chicken, it was good and tasty, except we would have prefer to have more pieces of ribs.
20170614_191842 (640x640)Drinks-wise, Dallas has a large cosy bar area that’s good for casual drinks with friends; it also have an al fresco area if you prefer natural air-conditioning. Its menu has an extensive list of wines, cocktails, draft and bottled beers, and non-alcoholic beverages. I had a pint of Stella Artois ($12). while the birthday girl had a refreshing Lemon & Lime Bitters ($8).
20170614_191818 (640x640)All in all, Dallas is a nice place for dinner (and probably lunch too). A main dish+drink meal would probably cost $50-$60 per person and if you are looking for good baby back ribs, this place has it. Plus, if you come around 6.15pm-6.30pm, you will be able to catch a (hopefully) nice sunset by the window. Definitely a place worth a second visit.

Dallas Restaurant is at 3 Temasek Boulevard, 03-302/303 Suntec City Sky Garden.

Sunshine Coast – Sun, Sand & Sea @ Noosa Heads


When in Brisbane: Take a day trip up north to Noosa Heads in the Sunshine Coast to take in some of the most beautiful sights of sun, sand, sea and sky you will ever see. This is Laguna Bay where you can folick in the waters, build sandcastles, or stretch your leg mucles on the boardwalk that takes you all the way to the top of Noosa National Park where a lookout offers breathtaking views of the entire area. Actually, considering the long drive – 3 hrs each way – best to stay a night or two cos you still need time to check out all the shops and cafes along the main street, Hastings Lane. Hmm, should I go again?… 

Photo by Marguerita Tan

Brisbane – Sunset over the River

When in Brisbane: Catch sunsets (about 5ish during winter) over Brisbane River by positioning yourself on the extremely busy Victoria Bridge. Just be careful and avoid being knocked down by vehicles or pedestrians. Besides sunsets, you can see beautiful fluffy clouds posturing themselves in a clear, blue sky almost everday in the city. Naisee.

Photo by Marguerita Tan