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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kkongdon Korean BBQ @ Marina Square (Marina Link)

JP Pepperdine launched its first outlet of Kkongdon Korean BBQ Restaurant at Marina Square (Marina Link).  As most of you will know, JP Pepperdine started with the popular Jack’s Place Steakhouse in 1966.  Since then, it slowly introduced other dining concepts into Singapore such as Restaurant Hoshigaoka, Brewbaker’s kitchen and bar, Eatzi Gourmet etc.

"Kkongdon" translates to "best price value" in Korean.  With this philosophy in mind, the first Korean BBQ restaurant was opened in Sinchon, Seoul in January 2005. Providing high-quality Korean BBQ at reasonable prices, it has managed to capture the young generation who seek quality food in a chic and modern environment. Over the years, Kkongdon has grown and to date, there are a total of 67 outlets in Korea.
The design of this restaurant is adapted from Kkongdon Korea. 
Another distinctive plus point here is that you can find individual retractable exhaust pipes installed at each dining table to minimize the BBQ smell.
At the salad bar, you can find lettuce (which can be used to wrap the BBQ meat), leek, green cut-chillies, raw onion rings and garlic cloves. 
If you don't take BBQ meat, maybe you are just accompanying your group of carnivorous friends for a BBQ dinner, you may opt for their kimchi and salad only at $5++.  
The four different types of dipping sauces that they offer are namely sesame oil, the Oriental dressing (sweet & sour sauce), soya sauce and Ssam Jang sauce (a spicy chilli sauce imported from Korea). These are popular dipping sauces used in Korea.  In fact, as per most Franchise Agreements, the majority of the sauces and dips are imported direct from the Master Franchisor in Korea.
Onion Sauce was also served and the staff told us that we should dip our BBQ beef finger onto it to enhance the taste.
Spicy Pork Belly ($16)

We BBQ the meat on our own and also cut it to slices on our own.
As what the staff had recommended, we dipped it in the onion sauce to try it out first.  Somehow, I felt that the pork belly were sort of "chewy".  Be careful, the meat were rather spicy too.  Make sure you have your water ready by your side.
Beef Fingers ($16) were nicely presented on the plate.  Beef fingers the parts at the ribs and these were very fresh.  The beef served at the restaurant is chilled, prime steer cuts and natural-fed Beef that is directly sourced and shipped from N.Z. Silver Fern Farms. This beef is from the very batch imported and served at Jack’s Place restaurants.  As such, the quality is not being compromised.
Probably we BBQ them for too long, the beef fingers were quite tough though.  It does take some skills to BBQ them well.
Eat it the way the Korean eat!  You can wrap the meat onto the lettuce together with some beansprouts and sauce.
Kimchi Pancake
Bibimbap (Smaller portion)
Kimchi and Pork Belly Stew Hotpot
This was one of our favourite dishes, with the hot soup warming our stomach.  The pork belly in it was very tender and absorbed the flavour of the kimchi soup.

Cold Kimchi Noodles
The noodles were smooth and this dish was quite refreshing.
Steamed Egg
 The restaurant was full at around 1pm+ on a Saturday.  However, the setting was quite comfortable and you wouldn't really feel hot and sweaty in this BBQ place.  It is a good choice if you want to have BBQ in an air-conditioned and comfy setting.
It was an enjoyable lunch here with my hubby on a relaxing weekend.  

Thanks Ms Evelyn Lew from JP Pepperdine for this food tasting session.

Kkongdon Korean BBQ
6 Raffles Boulevard
#B1-01/02 Marina Square, Marina Link
Tel: 63362580
(Nearest MRT Station: Esplanade)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery @ Bedok North Blk 84 St 4

I was happy to make it here at Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery together with my four friends, by invitation of the owner, Gavan.  Although I grew up around this area, little did I know that there was a hidden gem here, selling all my favourite kuehs!  The shop is located near the famous Bedok North Blk 85 Fengshan's Bak Chor Mee, just opposite a carpark behind the food centre.

All items here are Halal-certified and mostly vegetarian (no egg too), so to our Muslim friends also, please come and try out the traditional kuehs here!
Gavan conducted a special learning journey for us at his shop.  :)
Firstly, he gave us some background about the shop.  They are actually a Teochew family and his grandparents learnt how to make nonya kuehs from a peranakan lady.  They started off as a home kitchen in the kampong during the late 1968 and set up the current shop here in 1987.

Since Lunar New Year is just around the corner, they also sell the all-time favourite festive goodies such as the kueh bangkit, almond cookies too!
Gavan's dad proudly let us sample some of the kueh bangkit and brought to our attention, the fine details on them.  Some were of the shape of deities.
Look at the intricate details!
We were quite surprised when we saw that all their rice kuehs were white and not those pink ones that we normally see.  Gavan explained to us that in the past, it was expensive to add colouring and thus, rice kuehs in the early days were most white, without any colouring.  For people who find all white a bit inauspicious, they can get those with a red dot added onto the rice kuehs.
Lek Lim's kueh and many other food items are all hand-made from scratch.  Gavan does not believe in mass-production through the use of machines.  They had tried both hand-made and machine-made kueh, and there was a distinctive difference in the taste.  He added that for machine-made, the ingredients such as bamboo shoots, turnip etc will become quite mashed up, and the texture will be different.  

This is indeed a laborious task and the shop has to open by 4am everyday, ready to serve the customers and also for distribution to hawker stalls, hotels etc.  As such, by 3+am, they need to start preparing the ingredients!  The only rest days they have are the Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival.

The fillings for the soon kuehs.
The "Ang Ku Kueh" not only comes in Red, but also available in Green and Black.  
Each of them cost only 50 cents!  
Mini-sized "Huat Kueh" of different colours, something that kids or old kids who are young at heart like me will like too!
They have 2 versions of the yam cakes, steamed and fried yam cakes.  Gavan said that by "accident", they realized that deep-fried yam cakes tasted good so they decided to introduce them into the shop.  Both have their own merits and I seriously think these were the best yam cakes that I ever had so far, with generous servings of yam chunks, mushrooms and shrimps inside to give them more flavour.  Each piece is only 80 cents, very value-for-money too!

It is fun eating these kueh lapi (9 different coloured layers) 九层糕.  I seldom eat these nowadays but I loved peeling them layer by layer when I was a kid.  If I were to eat them now, I will still eat them in this manner.  :P

Gavan also demonstrated to us on the making of the Ang Ku Kueh.  Being humble, he said that he was still learning too and was trying to improve his skills.  After his demonstration, we had a hands-on session making Ang Ku Kuehs!

All the different types of fillings here had been pre-prepared for us so don't ask us for their secret recipes.

 My first attempt to make an Ang Ku Kueh! :)
This tray of Ang Ku Kueh was made by me and my four friends in Lek Lim's Kitchen.
 The tray of Ang Ku Kueh was then sent into the oven.
Gavan then showed us around the kitchen and it was amazing what this small kitchen can whipped up!

We had another hands-on session here, trying to wrap a perfect Pulut Inti.  This is also one of my favourites snack because I like most food items with glutinous rice.  At Lek Lim, they continued with the tradition of wrapping the rice in banana leave instead of plastic wrapper.  By the way, wrapping the hot rice in plastic is not quite wise thing to do as it might be harmful to our health
Demonstration by one of his staffs.
These were wrapped by my friends and myself.
Gavan's staff at the shopfront making the Rice Kuehs ($0/80), Soon Kuehs ($0.70/pc) and Ku Cai Kuehs ($0.70/pc).
 This tray of Ang Ku Kuehs were so pretty!  They were customized for a regular customer.
 The Ang Ku Kueh that we made were out from the oven!

At the end of the session, Gavan and his mum packed a full bag of goodies for each of us to try at home.
Glutinous Rice 
Ku Cai Kueh ($0.70/pc) and Soon Kueh ($0.70/pc)
Kueh Salat/ Kueh Lapi ($1.20/pkt)
Oneh/ Kueh Kosui ($1.20/pkt)
Their spring rolls!  Die-Die must try!  It was really good, with generous fillings of turnip, carrot, beansprouts etc.
At Lek Lim's, they definitely don't skimp on the ingredients!
 A group photo with Gavan and his dad at the shopfront.  
 It was a great learning journey for myself and my friends.  We all enjoyed this trip and had great fun.  Thanks Gavan and his family for the warm hospitality extended to us.

Lek Lim Nonya Cake Confectionery
Blk 84, Bedok North St 4, #01-21,
Tel: +65 64490815
Mon - Sat: 4am - 6pm
Sun: 4am - 2pm