Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back to &Made

C says:

Second visit to &Made wasn't as mindblowing as the first
, maybe due to what we ordered.

The lamb burger with coriander was still arguably a good, juicy burger but it's hard to top the 3 Little Pigs, in my opinion. When we mentioned this to the waitress, she said her favourite was a toss-up between the 3 Little Pigs and the original B Burger. Guess one more visit is on the cards...

The Farmer Toastoo, with ham, raclette cheese and caramelised onions, also fell short of the Viking one. The ham and cheese were both so delicate compared to the onion that they were all but lost in each mouthful.

The Lollipop waffle was an interesting idea - a lolly-shaped waffle served with 3 shots glasses containing dark and white chocolate dips, and caramel. It was an interesting idea, but the shot glasses were a bit too small to really facilitate proper dipping. And the dips weren't really potent enough.

Finally, the Salt Caramel Hot Lava Cake, served with a caramel ice cream coated in crumbled filo pastry. The cake actually arrives intact, and they slice into it upon arrival so you get the full impact of the oozing caramel. This was so sinful, but oh so good, with a proper salty caramel.

This is apparently the Deliciae Group's new signature dessert, and is available at all the group's outlets, including L'Entrecote and Sabio.

This visit was far from disappointing, but it really shows how important menu choice is in determining your experience of a restaurant. 

A says:

Okay, some burgers here aren’t as good, but there is so much here to like. Definitely on the shortlist for best finds of 2012…

9 Scotts Road
#01-04/05/06 Pacific Plaza
Tel: 6732-9808
Sun – Thurs: 10 am to 10 pm
Fri & Sat: 10 am to 12 mn

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


C says:

Pollen, the Singapore outpost of Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social in London, almost needs no introduction. Located in the Flower Dome at the newly opened Gardens by the Bay, it’s probably almost as sought after for its location as its food (as a Pollen guest, you are entitled complimentary entry into the Flower Dome).  Weekend dinner reservations are hard to come by, but thanks to W’s single-minded determination when it comes to snagging elusive restaurant reservations, we managed to get a table for dinner the day before Hari Raya.

They offer a dinner tasting menu – 7 courses for $170. The waiter tried to discourage us from taking a mix of tasting and a la carte orders, but we ignored him and A had the tasting menu, and the rest of us ordered a la carte.

Instead of an amuse bouche, we were offered olives and a home-made bacalao brandade to go with their baguette or sourdough bread. Minus points for their butter not being salted, but the brandade was addictive.

First course in the tasting menu was the English Breakfast slow cooked egg. The runner was holding the dish 2 metres from our table for the longest time, as she waited for one of the ‘proper’ waiters to take it from her, walk 3 steps to our table, and explain the dish to us. I appreciate what they were trying to do, but they could have timed it a bit better – I’m not sure if the quality of the dish suffered as a result of the rather long wait. It was tasty but it lacked the oozy yolk of a real slow cooked egg.

Next tasting menu dish was crab cocktail with avocado, beetroot sorbet and caviar on toast. Besides the caviar on toast, this wasn’t particularly memorable.

Next up was a deer tartare with pickled beetroot. The beetroot was slightly overpowering but the deer tartare itself was excellent; really flavourful and just the right levels of acidity.

Our a la carte starters arrived together with the tartare. I ordered the back to front squid risotto with cauliflower and roasted squid consommé. The white “rice” part was actually chopped squid, and a nutty black rice was sprinkled on top along with the cauliflower. I haven’t been to Andre but I’ve read at length about his version of squid risotto, also with the squid forming the rice portion and topped with black rice crackers. Anyway, wherever the inspiration for this dish came from, it was pretty damn tasty.

Instead of the John Dory on the tasting menu, they changed it to roasted seabass instead. After tasting M’s a la carte order of the John Dory, this was a pity, because it was much tastier than the seabass. The seabass was ok, but the Dory would’ve been so much better.

The tasting menu meat dish was a tenderloin and oxtail dish with charred eggplant and smoked potatoes. The oxtail was more like brisket, but the tenderloin was amazing. Perfectly cooked and wonderfully flavourful, I dare say that as far as steaks go, this was better than Ruth’s Chris.

In contrast, the lamb rack that I ordered fell far short, also partly because we’ve experienced the awesome Ruth’s Chris lamb chops. The lamb here didn’t taste like lamb at all; the meat had a pretty benign flavour, almost like veal. It came with artichokes, asparagus and “prickly ash”, which though indicated on the menu, I had no idea where it was on the plate.

I was eagerly anticipating the desserts, since their pastry chef is an El Bulli alumnus. The tasting menu offers 2 desserts – a coconut water panna cotta with pineapple and yogurt ice cream, and something with coffee and cognac. The coconut dessert was a very refreshing palate cleanser and very good because of its simplicity. The second was good too, but I think there were too many components.

That seemed to be the trend with the a la carte desserts that we ordered as well. The burnt meringue with cucumber sorbet wasn’t too bad, but the cucumber sorbet, which had hints of green tea, simply didn’t go with the meringue. We also tried their famous PB&J dessert, which fared better but again, I think the elements were better deconstructed than eaten together.

Because we were there at night, we couldn’t fully appreciate our stroll through the Flower Dome – it was simply too dark to see very much. Pollen has a very decent 3-course set lunch for $55, so all things considered, I think appreciating the Gardens during the day, and a much more reasonably priced lunch option, means Pollen gets my vote as a lunch rather than a dinner venue.

A says:

Some really great dishes, but nothing really blew me away. Service is great when the waiters are attending to you, which unfortunately, is not often. So for the price, it probably isn’t worth it.

Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay
Tel: 6604-9988
Open daily
Lunch: 12 noon to 2.30 pm
Dinner: 6 pm to 10 pm

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Violet Oon’s Kitchen

C says:

Violet Oon is arguably one of Singapore’s pioneer celebrity chefs, way before the likes of Andre Chiang or even Justin Quek. Her latest culinary venture is a family affair – front of house is run by her two children, while she oversees the kitchen. The bistro, right next to Bar Bar Black Sheep along Bukit Timah Road, is decorated simply yet very chicly in black and white, with hints of mosaic and Peranakan tiles giving a clue as to the nature of the eatery.

Violet’s reputation clearly precedes her, because even without much opening fanfare and despite only being open for a few weeks, they were full on a Sunday night. Reservations are definitely highly recommended, as they sometimes close for private events as well. I assume her son was manning the front of house, and doing a very good job. We noticed him being attentive yet not obtrusive, making sure customers were happy and answering questions about the menu and the food, without imposing on the customers’ time/space.

The menu comprises of the usual Peranakan suspects, like ayam buah keluak, beef rendang and pong tauhu soup, as well as some Western/fusion items like her famous shepherd’s pie, braised beef rigatoni and hae bee hiam Panini.

We (I) were immediately drawn to the Ayam Goreng, since it features fried chicken wings. I think the chicken was slow cooked first before being flash fried, because the meat was fall-off-the-bone tender. It was dusted with fried grated coconut, which surprisingly wasn’t as sweet as I feared, and just added a nice texture to the wings.

We’ll be hard pressed not to order the 2 Dip Pita again when we’re next here. Wedges of soft, fluffy pita bread were served with 2 dips – chilli crab and Indonesian black nut (buah keluak) tapenade. I’m used to the usual ayam buah keluak dish but it was a stroke of genius to turn it into a tapenade dip. It tasted like buah keluak yet not exceedingly so. Apparently they blend plenty of fresh prawns with the buah keluak nut, which explained the moreish, complex flavour.

The shepherd’s pie deserves special mention. Besides being really yummy, it’s one of the few places that prepare shepherd’s pie with minced lamb. Most places use minced beef, probably because lamb may not cater to all palates, but the use of lamb is what, I think, really made the dish. Random bit of trivia – apparently shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb, due to the connection between shepherds and sheep. The minced beef version is apparently cottage pie, though most people use the terms interchangeably.

The chicken curry wasn’t quite what I expected. I thought it would be like a Singapore curry – coconutty and with a fairly thin gravy that you can almost drink like a soup. Instead, it was almost like a rendang. The consistency made it suitable for the accompanying roti jala, but personally I prefer the other type of curry. The chicken was really moist and tender though. Even the breast meat pieces, which usually end up being stringy and dry, were surprisingly tender.

The bubor cha cha panna cotta here has been lauded at length so we decided to try it. It did indeed pair all elements of a bubor cha cha with a traditional panna cotta, and with elements of chendol thrown in for good measure. This was good, though it's hard to go wrong with this combination. We’ll try the pulot hitam with ice cream next.

We’ll definitely be back; there are enough enticing items on the menu that warrant at least one more visit, like the dry mee siam and the ayam buah keluak. Not to mention more of the buah keluak tapenade.

A says:

Very good food, but not exactly cheap. Still, if you don’t have a Peranakan Grandma/Mum to cook for you, this is the place to go. Parking’s a bitch though.

Violet Oon’s Kitchen
881 Bukit Timah Road
Tel: 6468-5430
Tues to Thurs: 11.30 am – 10 pm
Fri to Sun: 11.30 am – 11 pm
(Last food order 9.45 pm)
Closed Monday

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Parco Caffe

C says:

Raeburn Park, located in the old Gan Eng Seng School premises, houses a whole gamut of establishments including ad agencies, learning institutions and restaurants/cafes. It reminds me of Phoenix Park in Tanglin, and indeed, Parco Caffe is owned by the same group that runs Spruce.

Parco Caffe itself was quite a surprise. It was much bigger than expected, and frequented mostly by large multi-generational families. It’s big enough that I can’t imagine you would have any trouble snagging a table for 2 as a walk-in, as we did, though you may still want to play it safe.

Service is attentive and polite, but there were some issues that, to be fair, were more to do with the restaurant management. At the start, A and I were given different menus, and we spent a good 5 minutes being thoroughly confused as we were referring to completely different dishes. “Lobster? What are you talking about, it’s crab!” “Mine says Aragosta.” “Mine says Granchio!” We finally established that one of us had been given the old menu.

Also, quite a number of the items on the menu weren’t available. I’m not sure if they’d simply run out after the weekend (we were there on a Sunday night), or they weren’t available indefinitely. As a result of both snags, we took a much longer time than usual to finally decide on our order.

We decided to share one “Degustation Menu” – 6 small courses for $55 (the menu indicates $65 but the bill said $55…), and an a la carte pasta – the crabmeat tagliolini with a tomato and ginger sauce. The pasta was good, if a little on the Asian, chilli-crab side. I approve of the fact that the pasta wasn’t swimming in a thin soupy sauce; there was just enough thick sauce to coat each noodle properly.

First course was an egg noodle in superior broth with a chicken roulade. All we could think of was – wanton mee.

Next was a cold angel hair pasta with tobiko, bottargo and truffle oil. There was a slight acidic tang to this from the balsamic vinegar. It was quite nice and refreshing, but certainly not the best version of this dish that I’ve had (that honour goes to Ember).

The seabass with capsicums and zucchini and the wok-fried prawns with pumpkin sauce were ok, though I’m not sure that I see the point of the black nest-like ring on the prawn plate. It wasn’t edible, nor was it a receptacle to hold the prawns, and I’m not a fan of redundant things on plates.

The beef with foie gras and a mushroom sauce was very tasty. The meat was well-cooked and the foie, what little of it anyway, was crisp outside and creamy inside. I don't think it need the perfunctory black truffle shavings though.

Dessert was a chocolate and raspberry parfait. This was a bit of a throwaway and entirely forgettable dessert.

The pasta arrived pretty quickly; unfortunately in comparison the degustation menu took ages. There didn't seem to be any communication between the waiters and the kitchen, because my first course arrived twice, and the waiters kept getting confused about which course I was at. As a result, what was meant to be a fairly simple dinner stretched way longer than anticipated.

I think this place has potential, and prices are definitely very reasonable. I wouldn't exactly recommend it for romantic nights out, but assuming the a la carte dishes arrive as quickly as the crab pasta did, it’s a decent option for a simple no-frills dinner.

A says:

Service is very friendly, but the degustation dishes really took forever to arrive. The food certainly won’t blow your mind, so I’d recommend this for basic, reasonably-priced Italian.

Parco Caffe
10 Raeburn Park, #01-28
Tel: 6223-6338
Mon to Fri: 11.30 am – 2.30 pm; 6 pm – 11 pm
Sat & Sun: 9 am – 11 pm

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ruth’s Chris Steak House

C says:

Together with a few other bloggers, we were very kindly invited by Ruth’s Chris to a blogger’s dinner to celebrate the opening of their very first outpost in Southeast Asia, right here in Singapore.

Ruth’s Chris has almost 50 years’ history, starting with its humble origins on a street corner in New Orleans, and expanding to 133 locations worldwide.  In Asia, there are a few outlets in Hong Kong and Taiwan, one in Japan and now at the Marina Mandarin in Singapore.

We expected bite-sized samples of their offerings at a fairly large event, but to our surprise it was a proper sit down dinner with only about 12 of us in total. True to the Southern hospitality that is a trademark of Ruth’s Chris, the tables were set with a detailed menu and even a Ruth’s Chris stress cow. We were also presented with Mardi Gras beads, which set the tone for an extremely enjoyable evening.

Unlike the crab cakes at most places, the ones here are literally just mounds of straight-up blue crab meat with barely any fillers, finished with sizzling butter poured on top. Without the distraction of breadcrumbs, you could really appreciate the chunks of fresh sweet crab meat. We were each given little yellow parcels, which turned out to contain half a lemon. This ensured that you didn’t get lemon juice all over your hands, and didn’t squeeze lemon seeds onto the crab cake either. Ingenious. 

The barbequed shrimp with Creole butter was served family style, and we all lapped up the sauce for this. The buttery yet not excessively creamy sauce went perfectly with the accompanying garlic bread, as well as their in-house bread. *Note: They serve a wicked whipped salted butter with their bread too.

What distinguishes Ruth’s Chris from other steakhouses in Singapore is their New Orleans heritage, which they proudly continue to showcase in their menu. I chose the seafood gumbo and was not disappointed. The gumbo was chockfull of seafood flavor, and with the rice stirred in, was comfort food at its best.

A chose the chopped salad, which apparently has over 10 ingredients including romaine and iceberg lettuces, radicchio, diced egg, tomato, crumbled blue cheese and topped with crispy fried onions. The bites that contained blue cheese were particularly good, but overall I preferred the gumbo.

With the exception of certain bone-in cuts which currently cannot be imported from the US to Singapore, Ruth’s Chris only serves USDA Prime steaks. (For their bone-in cuts, they use Australian Wagyu.) Their steaks are broiled on a trademarked 982-degree Celsius oven, and served on a 260-degree Celsius heated plate, with their signature sizzling butter poured on top.  No sauces are added, so that you can fully appreciate the flavour and quality of the meat.

(Photo courtesy of Ruth’s Chris Steak House)

Between us, we had one Petite Filet (230g) and one Prime Ribeye (340g). The steaks were cooked to a perfectly even medium rare, and well broiled outside. They were both amazingly tender – the Filet obviously so, but even the Ribeye required barely any effort to cut through. I preferred the Ribeye as it had a good balance between tenderness and beefy flavour. The Filet was remarkably tender but I found the flavour a bit too subtle.

The sautéed mushroom and asparagus sides were served family style, and if I hadn’t been so full from everything thus far I would have polished off more of the mushrooms, which were so simply prepared yet so delicious.

Stan, the President of the group responsible for the Ruth’s Chris franchise in Asia, was raving about their lamb chops, saying how excited he was that Singapore (unlike some of the other Asian outlets) allows the import of US lamb. While not on the menu for the evening’s dinner, we convinced him to get the kitchen to broil a portion so that we could see for ourselves what the fuss was about.

Man, he wasn’t kidding. The lamb was one of the most memorable bites of the evening. I’ve never tasted lamb with that much flavour, yet without too much of the characteristic lamb pungency that some Asian palates aren’t used to. The meat was tender and succulent, perfectly seasoned with rosemary and garlic, and just truly amazing.

We were told to save some room for dessert, and I’m glad we did. The cheesecake here is legendary. Besides the fact that a single portion consists of a whole 5-inch cake, everything about it was stellar, from the buttery crust to the perfect texture of the cheesecake and the topping of sour cream that added just the right acidic edge.

A meal here doesn’t come cheap – a steak will set you back about $85, but then again these prices are no more than other premium steakhouses like Morton’s, but certainly less than Fat Cow. Portions are large, so sharing and doggybagging are very much the norm and are indeed encouraged.

Their a la carte menu is available all day, and in a couple of weeks they’ll start offering a lunch menu too, with smaller cuts of steak, lunch salads, and some steak sandwiches and sliders too.

I’m definitely keen to try their lunch offerings, but right now I’m dreaming about going back for their lamb chops and cheesecake.

A says:

Getting a good steak these days isn’t cheap. But the portions here are HUGE so you get a lot for what you pay for. Although funnily enough the stand out dishes of the night weren’t the steaks, but the crabcake, lamb and gumbo (and the Creole butter that came with the shrimp). The desserts are also a definite must-try. Insanely good for what you’d normally expect from a steakhouse. The only problem is that they are GIGANTIC. One order of the cheesecake is probably enough for 4.

We had this meal as part of a special event, so it may not be indicative of an average visit, so we’ll post another review when we go back. And from what we’ve tried so far, we’ll definitely be back.

*Disclaimer: atetoomuch did not pay for our meal here, but rest assured that this did not affect our review in any way.*
Ruth’s Chris Steak House
6 Raffles Boulevard
Level 4, Marina Mandarin
Tel: 6336-9093
Open daily: 11.30 am – 3 pm; 5.30 pm – 11 pm

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Foodbar Dada

C says:

What with the success of Esquina, modern tapas joints are now all the rage, with places like Salt Tapas and Foodbar Dada coming on the scene. We've made no secret of our obsession with Esquina, so forgive any comparisons that we inevitably make.

Tucked away next to Stacked dimsum bar at Quayside, Dada is probably Esquina's edgier younger sibling, with a dark interior, indie music and a dedicated mixologist. But how's the food?

The ambience and fare are reminiscent of a typical Spanish tapas joint, down to the 3 decidedly good-looking chefs behind the counter. Dada's main selling point is their Josper grill/oven - practically everything is cooked in it, with a few residual items deep fried.

We started with their cod puffs, which were essentially bacalao croquettas. While nice and light, these didn't really stand out much.

The toast with eggplant, anchovies and red pepper foam was better, with the toast nice and charred from the Josper, and anchovies adding a nice salty edge.

The watermelon gazpacho with olive oil ice cream was, hands down, A's favourite dish of the evening. It was light and refreshing, yet flavourful, and really had good balance.

The baby squid with eggs was another good dish. The squid was cooked on a cast iron skillet in the Josper, and beaten egg mixed in right at the end. This was garlicky and creamy, and perfect with the charred bread that came with it.

It should be noted that portions are quite small, so even though the menu prices seem quite reasonable, you need to order quite a few dishes for a proper meal. The black meditteranean rice, for example, was listed as $8, but it turned out that they served us 2 portions, 1 each. I'm a huge rice fan, and I wasn't particularly impressed with this. 

The Iberian secret with pisto manchego turned out to be 3 small pieces of pork that were quite fatty, and deep fried so they were crisp outside and deliciously fatty inside. This was served with balsamic glaze and really good caramelised onions.

The octopus was quite well cooked; I think they cook it sous vide first because I saw them opening vacuum sealed portions and browning them off in the Josper. The peppers and shitakes would have been better if they'd just been grilled, I think. They were tossed in a balsamic glaze that was a bit too overpowering.

Dada accepts reservations and they're very proud of, and diligent with, that fact. It seems that they're really focussing on the one aspect that sets them apart from Esquina.

Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed our meal here, and don't wish to detract from their concept at all. They've made very smart choices for their menu items, that don't actually comprise many complicated elements nor cooking techniques. Most things are just charred in the Josper oven, and plated with minimal sprinklings of paprika or chives.

They do what they do very well, and if you go with the expectation that it's primarily a bar serving good bar food then that's exactly what you'll be getting. Esquina, on the other hand, serves food that won't be out of place in a fine dining restaurant. Needless to say, there's still no question which we prefer.

A says:

This really reminds me of small tapas restaurants in Spain so plus points for that. Food and service are great, but it’s still very conventional tapas food. I’d recommend this if you want a good tapas experience, where you can book a table. But for spectacular small dishes, I’d still get in line at Esquina.

Foodbar Dada
60 Robertson Quay
#01-12, The Quayside
Tel: 6735-7738
Open Tues to Sat: 6 pm to 12 mn

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Kith Bistro at Park Mall

C says:

We've always had a soft spot for Kith after discovering them while we were squatting in the River Valley area. After we moved away it became increasingly more inconvenient to head there just for breakfast/brunch, particularly because of the limited dining space at their Robertson outlet.

With the slew of new "artisanal" coffee joints popping up of late, it's really heartening to see stalwarts like Kith, one of the pioneers of the trend, still going strong despite the competition and even expanding.

Kith has recently opened a second outlet at Park Mall, with a much bigger space that's more conducive to dining. The menu has also expanded, with an array of pastas and main courses in addition to their breakfast and sandwich options. The cafe is located right next to Xtra, but access is via the outside of Park Mall (facing Penang Road), not within the mall.

On Saturday we decided to have brunch there before I headed to the gym, hence my rather uncharacteristic choice of a grilled eggplant sandwich over a pasta. In my defense, the sandwich sounded very interesting, with grilled eggplant, baby spinach, brie and truffle oil. This was a very satisfying portion for only $12, and a nice flavour combination too.

A ordered the mushroom ravioli in a tomato-vodka cream sauce. The ravioli was rather ordinary, but the sauce was incredible. We mopped, or rather scraped, the plate clean with the bread from the sandwich, to the disbelief of owner Jane.

Thankfully they haven't done away with the toasties that we loved so much at the other outlet; in fact, they've added a few flavours like the banana, caramel and cheddar one that we ordered as dessert. Again, the 3 flavours went together a lot better than I expected, with just enough cheese to add a savoury edge without overpowering the banana and caramel.

At noon on Saturday they were pretty full, with all indoor tables occupied. I'm really happy to see that they're doing well, and if they keep up the good food at their very reasonable prices I think they'll continue to draw the crowds. I think next time we'll come back for dinner, so that I can really order what I want. Can't wait.

A says:

Even better than the original. Lots more seating, although the indoor area is still quite small. And with the bigger kitchen, they’ve got a much larger range of food (which is excellent). Best of all, it’s still not expensive considering the sky-rocketing prices of food at a good coffee café nowadays. The only reason I wouldn’t recommend this is so it doesn’t get overcrowded. Heh

Kith Bistro
9 Penang Road
#01-01E Park Mall
Tel: 6338-8611
Open daily: 8 am to 10 pm (last order 9.30 pm)

Monday, August 06, 2012


C says:

We were contacted by a fellow blogger (Daniel’s Food Diary) to consider being part of an initiative to encourage more people to cook for, and eat with, their families. I instantly agreed to take part, since I’m always extolling the benefits of home cooking, and how it’s actually much easier and quicker than some people expect.

Our regular readers may remember our Japan Diet - well, we’re still going strong, and while my repertoire is somewhat more limited these days based on what’s the easiest for me to make, I still make dinner twice a week (we get home at around 8.30 pm, after   work and a half hour run). I thought I’d write about one of these typical meals, and show how, in about 15 minutes, you can get a half decent home-cooked meal ready for your family.

Some of the things I make, like pan-grilled salmon, require some minimal prep work on weekends, where I descale and pin-bone the salmon, before portioning and freezing it till mid-week. I’ve chosen this grilled tuna, zaru soba and tofu combination, since this really doesn’t require any prior effort at all.

Step 1: Marinade the tuna. I use frozen yellowfin tuna steaks from Fairprice Finest. By all means use sashimi-grade tuna if you wish, the results will be awesome I’m sure, but it’s hard for me to justify spending over $20 on fish for a weekday night dinner.

I just use some ginger sauce and soy sauce, and let the tuna marinade while the water is coming to a boil for the soba.

Step 2: Cook the soba. Soba’s good because it takes only about 5 minutes to cook, and after it’s done, all you have to do is rinse some of the starch off, and pop it in the fridge till you’re ready to eat, dunked in soba dipping sauce that you can get at any Japanese supermarket.

Step 3: Grill tuna. You can do this while the soba is cooking but sometimes I can’t multitask all that well, and don’t want to risk overcooking either the soba or the tuna. If you like your tuna rare in the middle, then these just need about 2 minutes per side (depending on the size of the pieces). And if you hate cleaning up oil splatters, cover the fish with some baking paper with a hole cut in the center for steam to escape.

When it’s done, just like steak, the tuna needs to rest for a few minutes before slicing. I made the side dish during that time.

Step 4: Make crab mayo tofu. I got the idea to serve cold tofu from my friend W, and I thought it was a brilliant one. You don’t even need to cook the tofu, just slice it from the pack. You can top it with bonito flakes and some soy sauce and mirin, or another option that A likes is crab mayo. Chop up some crab sticks, mix with Kewpie mayonnaise, some Maggi seasoning and black pepper. Top with chopped spring onions if you have them on hand and voila, a side dish in about 3 minutes.

Step 5: Call A to come to the table while assembling everything into bento box (since he always takes ages doing goodness knows what).

Step 6: Clean up the aftermath. A insisted that I include this part, since he does the washing up after. I still clean up the kitchen and my grill pan myself though, because I don’t trust him with either. I’ve discovered method cleaning products, which make cleaning the hob much easier, and my Oxo grill pan brush - a recent acquisition from Amazon – is now my best friend.

There you have it. I timed it and this really did take about 15 minutes to put together. Granted, clean up took about 10 minutes, but isn’t it satisfying knowing that you’re putting something healthy on the table for your loved ones?

With some careful planning and perhaps a teeny bit of effort on weekends, it really is possible to have home-cooked food more regularly than you’d expect.

A says:

My pet peeve with chefs saying how easy it is to cook at home is they don’t have to do the washing up. At least I have a wife who makes great meals.