Monday, 18 April 2011

Ah Lun and Ah Pete - A Match Made in Culinary Heaven!

OK, I know that you know already - I love my food!.. and if you followed my transformation journey late last year with Urban Homme and hard-work and discipline, as featured in Men's Health Magazine in February and April, 2011, I managed to shed the extra 15kg of excess body fat brought about by a few years of over-indulgence.

Although I've remained relatively flat since (in weight, not necessarily the waist-line), I do from time-to-time feel the urge to give in to temptation.... which often brings about a guilt-free binge. But let me get it straight - I would not just eat for the sake of eating - the food must be well-worth it.

Saturday just gone by was one of these days - and boy, oh boy, did I ever let loose! (as did my poor belt buckle)

I was fortunate enough to be invited by OMY and Lianhe Wanbao Chinese Newspaper, to attend the second of their 'Gourmet Food Trail' with legendary foodie, Ah Lun. For those who may not be familiar with Ah Lun, he is a veteran food writer who has contributed to Lianhe Zaobao food columns for years, is an expert when it comes to all things culinary, and these days has a regular section dedicated to him alone on OMY's Food section.

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So picture this - five straight hours of eating some of the most succulent and mouth-watering dishes available in Singapore at two venues, prepared by Chefs - experts in their respective fields.

The day was attended by arounded 80 other guests, predominately readers of Lianhe Wanbao, and although the on-stage entertainment and antics were in Chinese language, I in no way felt left out... admittedly, much of the conversation was lost on my inadequate grasp of Mandarin, but we all still spoke in one common language - that of delicious food!

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Things became even more interesting, when at the second restaurant, I was called up on stage for an impromptu interview (thanks Alvin, for the 'fast-on-your-feet' translation - although the beads of sweat began rolling down my forehead the moment that you asked me to say a few words in Chinese), and continued on to entertain the audience with my own version of preparing and rolling the infamous local dish - Popiah (aside to my mate, Yong Wei, who made some fun of me at a recent media launch, due to my lack of knowledge and problems pronouncing the word - Popiah - now, I challenge you my friend... have you ever made or rolled your own? I can proudly say that I have, and it was extremely successful and even more tasty!!) :)

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The trail began on the 35th Floor of the Orchard Wing of the Mandarin Orchard Hotel. The very extravagant, award-winnning, Mandarin Court Chinese Restaurant. After registration, the food started flowing. As is always the way with food, the best way to blog about it, I believe is in pictures. Below, you will see the menu along with images from the Mandarin Court leg of the gourmet food trail.

Included in these images, are some random shots of the entertainment - from dress-up games to a demonstration by very talented chefs of how to cut and prepare the world-famous Peking Duck, which was the 'special' non menu dish at this restaurant (it also happens to be one of my all-time favourites of dishes).

Once you're done drooling over your computer or hand-held device - whichever way you happen to be reading this article - be sure to continue further down for my take on the second restaurant (Lao Beijing), the delights offered there, and my first-class effort in preparing Popiah for the appreciative audience (also alive with images).

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By this stage, I am completely sated, and my belt has been loosened those couple of notches... so what better to follow on from here? - Of course, more food!!

We walked (rolled?) down to the tour buses that transported us from the heart of Orchard Road to Tiong Bahru Plaza, and directly to the second of the afternoon's sensational taste-bud tempting venues of the Gourmet Trail.

This time, it is for the more 'family style' (ambience) Lao Beijing. Upon talking to the lovely Rae (Assistant VP for TungLok), I understand that the unique experience of being able to roll one's own Popiah is a relatively new and novel offering at Lao Beijing. I also owe a debt of gratitude for Rae making sure that my hand-made Popiah was packaged up for me to take back to my wife at home. :) I don't know what would have happened if I had turned up at home empty-handed, with a camera full of images of the food that I'd spent a full five hours consuming on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

The entertainment also continued, with demostration by the Chefs, as well as a game involving a pair of chopsticks and what appeared to be very slippery marbles in a glass.

As aforementioned, I also unwittingly became a part of the entertainment - perhaps the most humourous of all was my attempt at speaking Chinese - one very nervous Caucasian speaking to a room full of fluent-speaking Chinese Singaporeans.

Although I jest about my stage appearance, I must say I felt quite special to be invited up and was earlier somewhat humbled to be told by one very senior gentleman from Lianhe Wanbao, that he is a fan of my blog and reads it regularly.

So, without further ado... the following is the menu from Lao Beijing for our second session of the day, along with drool-worthy pictures and some random images of the entertainment - including yours truly and my first public food preparation demonstration!! - be sure to check out the location of both restaurants at the bottom of this article... if you like what you see in the pictures and I've aroused any of your senses, be sure to head on down and check them out.

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Venue: 1st Restaurant: Mandarin Court Chinese Restaurant

Address: Mandarin Orchard Singapore
333 Orchard Road
Level 35 Orchard Wing
Singapore 238867
(Nearest MRT: Somerset Station)


2nd Restaurant: Lao Beijing

Address: 302 Tiong Bahru Road
#02-12 Tiong Bahru Plaza
Singapore 168732
(Nearest MRT: Tiong Bahru Station)

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