Archive for February, 2008

Nam Seng Noodles & Fried Rice Stall.

February 29, 2008

Nam Seng Noodles & Fried Rice food stall that has been around for almost 40 years. They cook and sell delicious Chinese Fried Rice, Wanton Mee, Venison (deer meat) Hor Fun, etc. See a photo of their food menu below.

Numerous locations

This is their most current address, as seen in the photo above. Their first stall location (which made them famous) was at a hawker centre which was formerly beside Singapore’s Stamford Road National Library. The gorgeous old library is now demolished, which is a huge waste!

They’d moved to 33 Pekin St, Far East Square Food Meseum after that. They then moved again to Market Street briefly, and now they are operating at 25 China Street, #01-01 Far East Square. It is along the same stretch as Ya Kun Kaya Toast, right at the other end (where Don Pie used to be). Don Pie is now opposite Nam Seng Noodles & Fried Rice.

Here are some photos I took when I visited the stall with my friends last Wednesday afternoon.

Delicious Venison Hor Fun, they no longer sell the beef version of this.

The best wanton ever. Eat it to believe it. 🙂

My friends and I visited the stall because we happened to be in the area. We had lunch just a couple of hours ago before the visit, so we ordered only two dishes to share. However, we managed to finish up everything. I wish I had more room in my tummy for their Wanton Mee – the fresh Char Siu and homemade chilli in the dish is really tasty. 😛

Here are some interesting links. (Note: This blog post has the most updated address of Nam Seng Noodles & Fried Rice stall)
makansutra
– Channel 5’s “Our Makan Places: Lost and Found” once featured my grandparents’ stall
– List of Yummy Eating Places – Lost and Found (I cannot confirm that everything in this list is updated, this only serves as a guide)

Here is a summary of the stall’s details.
Nam Seng Noodles & Fried Rice
25 China Street, #01-01
Far East Square
Tel: (+65) 6438-5669

Opening Hours
Mondays to Fridays – 8am to 9pm (Last order at 8:15pm)
Saturdays – 8am to 6pm (Last order at 5:15pm)
Sundays & Public Holidays – Closed

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Food Photography Tips, Part V.

February 28, 2008

Part V – Lighting

Today I’ll be covering Textures & What to do when you want to photograph in a badly lit room.

1. Textures

You have to first ask yourself – do you prefer to emphasize or de-emphasize the texture of your food or dish? To me, I would always try my utmost best to emphasize the texture of food. This is especially so in the case of ice cream photography, when it is necessary to capture its texture. Notice the difference between the two ice cream photographs below and how it shows viewers that they are two very different types of ice cream.

It is clear that this is a cream based ice cream, as you can tell from its swirls and ‘heavy’ texture – that holds the chocolate rice and nuts in place.

You can tell that this is a fruit sherbet because it doesn’t look like it included as much cream as the ice cream above. All this is possible simply by looking at the texture of the ice cream. If you want people to know that this is a raspberry flavoured sherbet, you could add some raspberry fruit around or in the glass bowl.

Source: Wikipedia Ice cream

2. What to do when you want to photograph in a badly lit room

I tried my best to draw a diagram out for all of you, to picture exactly what to do if you want to photograph in a dark area. For example, a romantic and dark restaurant. Many thanks to Kejie for drawing this out on the board for the class to see.

Even when a room is dark, never use flash directly on food. If you’re in a restaurant, try your best to request for a window seat. If that isn’t possible, try this method below.

The Napkin Method


Get your friend (or waiter, haha) to hold up a napkin (preferably white) in that angle as shown above. Face your camera towards your food and use your hand to block the flash light of your camera away from the food. Instead, angle your hand so the flash light will bounce off the napkin and reflect softly onto your food. You will hence prevent a harsh flash light on your food.

Well this comes to the end of my “Food Photography Tips Series”, I hope there was a lesson or two for my beloved readers in these posts.

Here are some great sites about food photography and food photographs. I hope this would help inspire you to keep improving your food photography skills. Enjoy!
foodportfolio
fotosearch
flickr
Still life with

Let me know if there are other great sites. 😀

Food Photography Tips, Part IV.

February 27, 2008

Part IV – The Continuation of the Composition of Food Photography

Today I’ll be covering the Rule of Thirds and Perspectives in Food.

1. Rule of Thirds

This rule doesn’t just apply to food photography, it applies to all types of photography. It was created by painters in the Renaissance, who found that the eye doesn’t rest on the centre of the photograph. In addition, photos following this rule seem more professional looking. Below is a picture to depict the Rule of Thirds. Your main object of focus should fall within the 4 green dots.

Here are some examples of mine.

Notice that the marshmallow ‘cloud’ decoration on the cupcake (at the bottom left) is the focus of this photograph and that it falls within one of the ‘green’ dotted area, with reference to the earlier photograph.

However, rules can always be broken! 🙂 It really all depends on the photographer’s judgement. Let’s take a whole cake as an example. If you feel that a photograph of the entire cake right in the middle of a photograph would best express the message you want to bring across, by all mean ignore the Rule of Thirds. It is merely a guideline for you to follow.

This mini-flower cupcake was photographed to be in the middle of the photograph. It doesn’t follow the Rule of Thirds but in my opinion, I feel that it brings out the cupcake’s simplicity and uniqueness.

2. Perspectives in Food

Each person can have very different perspectives in life, and that applies to food too. Which perspective of a particular dish do you want to highlight? The choice is entirely up to you.  For owners of compact digital cameras, Kejie (one of the instructor from the course) advised us to zoom out first and then move the camera physically towards the food, before you take the photograph.

For this garlic fish dish, I wanted viewers to be able to picture themselves actually eating the fish.

For this amazing Chinese dinner prepared by my grandmother, I wanted my viewers to sense a family gathering. I included the chopsticks and individual dishes in this photograph, instead of just focusing on one particular dish.

Oh my goodness, this post is making me hungry. I did not manage to have a proper dinner today. *Scans the dining table for food.

Food Photography Tips, Part III.

February 26, 2008

Part III – The Continuation of the Composition of Food Photography

Today I’ll be covering Focus and the Message.

1. Focus

There are 2 types of focuses:

a. Limited Focus – Photos with an ‘artsy’ feel

When I took a photo of this Colourful Kueh Lapis, I wanted to focus specifically on one Keh’s multiple layers. Such photographs are used more in Naked Food Photography.

b. Maximum Focus – Photos including display components

I’m not sure if this is the best example, but it does show many different Chinese dishes that my Grandmother cooked for dinner. You can see her (at the top of the photo) pointing to the food and encouraging us to start eating. Such photographs are used more in Packaging Photography, which allows the photographer to showcase an array of items like a different food products distributed by a particular company. For example, Procter and Gamble.

2. The Message

What is the message you want your photographs to bring across to your viewers? Do you want people to see your food as “I so got to get myself some of that now!” delicious, sweet, soft, hard, sour or even mysterious? Here are some of my examples.

The message: Fresh and naturally sweet strawberries.

The message: An absolutely scrumptious pasta dish.

The message: Artificially and sinfully sweet donuts, that are incredibly delicious.

The message: Unusual Durian Chee Chong Fun, only for the adventurous and not for the faint-hearted.

I hope you’ve all learned something today. 🙂 More tips coming up tomorrow.

Food Photography Tips, Part II.

February 25, 2008

Part II – The Composition of Food Photography

Now let’s look deeper into how we can compose better photographs of food.

Today I’ll be covering Cropping, Propping & the Two types of Camera Angles.

1. Cropping

There are basically no real rules in food. The shape of the food determines the placing of it, but that could be challenged as well. Author of the Food Photography Blog puts it in a very candid manner.

“Good composition is sort of like p0rn0graphy.  You know it when you see it.  We could discuss things like shapes, tangents, compositional flow, balance, and all kinds of other high-faluten words, but they wouldn’t mean much.  The trouble is that Art is so damn subjective.  One man’s garbage is another’s Rembrandt.”

So a photo of a banana muffin could be taken these two ways (below), and still look good both ways. It all depends on the story you want the photo to tell. Rules are there for us to break them. 😛

Source: Mad Baker

2. Propping

This really sets the mood for the photograph. The colour, texture (I’ll be covering this in another post) and style of the entire photograph should complement each other. Everything should just come together with ease and it should allow the viewer of the photograph to ‘get it’. Keep it within two to three props per photograph. The Stand Up and Cook blog says this about propping.

“Good propping will appeal to the subconscious of the viewer without detracting from the food itself.  Sample props would include glasses, table decorations, interesting serving ware.  It’s best to use props sparingly.”

Check out the amount of work that goes into propping and taking this photograph.

3. Two Types of Camera Angles (To create a 3D effect)

It is best to avoid a 90 degree angle in photographs, it makes the food look flat and unattractive. I’m sure the first photo below looks much better than the second one (90 degrees).

Photos that are taken at a lower levels usually turn out better.

a. 10 degrees (Almost at eye level, you could see inside the food)

b. 45 degrees (There’re more components involved, for example a glass of wine in this photo)

I hope you’ve learned from this post! 🙂 Check out Part III tomorrow for more tips on food photography.

Food Photography Tips, Part I.

February 24, 2008

Part I – Types of Food Photography

I attended a food photography lesson last Friday, organised by the Singapore Management University‘s Visual Arts Society (SMUSAIC). This society was formed by members with an interest in photography, digital imaging and cinematography.

With the permission of Kejie and Gabriel (the two student instructors), I am going to do a series of tips on food photography which I picked up from their class on my blog. Let’s all strive to capture the gorgeousness of food in our photography. 🙂

Today I’ll be covering the different types of food photography.

There are 3 types of food photography:
1. Packaging Photography
2. Naked Food Photography
3. Display Food Photography

1. Packaging Photography

This is one of the toughest types of photography. It is the responsibility of the photographer to create a 3-dimensional effect out of boxes, sachets of packets of chips, etc. One tip would be to tilt to packages at different angles before taking the photograph.

2. Naked Food Photography

Naked food photography simply means food that is out of a package and is styled. There is usually only one or at most two components in this type of photography. This type of photography is great for beginners with compact cameras.

3. Display Food Photography

Display food photography simply means that the photograph showcases a range of components. It could be a set meal with drinks and dessert or perhaps different types of food that used a particular ingredient, etc.

The most important thing before you plan to photograph food is to settle on your objective. Ask yourself, what do you want your photo to portray and which type of photography would suit that objective the best?

My personal favourite is Naked Food Photography. I love taking close up shots so that my viewers can almost touch and smell the food. In my opinion, the ability to do that is what sets great photography apart from good photography.

Here’s a behind-the-scene video on food styling and the hard work that goes into food photography.

Barley Drink Recipe.

February 22, 2008

For us Chinese, we believe that the barley drink has a cooling effect, which is generally good for sore throats and fever.

Barley Drink (Serves 6)

Ingredients
1 cup of uncooked barley
1 cup of preserved sugared winter melon (糖冬瓜)
2 tbsp rock sugar (also known as rock candy)
10 cups of water
3 strips of pandan leaves (tied into a knot to release the flavour)

Directions
1. Wash the barley and soak it for 5-10 minutes with some water if you prefer a less cloudy drink.
2. Mix the washed barley, pandan leaves and 10 cups of water into a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil.
3. After the barley has turned semi-soft (about 10 minutes later), add in the rock sugar and winter melon.
4. Boil for a further 10 minutes, cool and it is ready to drink.

I love having this drink. 🙂

Fruit Muffin Crumble Topping Recipe.

February 21, 2008

As promised in my previous post, here is the recipe I use for all my fruit muffins. It really brings so much more flavour and texture to the muffins. It is for anyone with a super-sweet tooth.

Fruit Muffin Crumble Topping Recipe (For 12 muffins)

Ingredients
3 tbsp of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (I prefer slightly course brown sugar)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Directions
1. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together and mix it with your finger tips (as it is the coolest part of your hands and it will prevent the butter from melting too quickly). Mix till a crumble consistency is achieved.
2. Sprinkle over un-baked muffin, before placing muffins into the oven.
3. Enjoy a delicious muffin(s) with tea!

I also mentioned that I had my fair share of problems while baking muffins. My muffins would sometimes turn out like rocks and have large holes in them. I did the following to solve this.

  • I added less egg.
  • I added less liquids.
  • I avoid over-mixing my muffins by mixing the wet & dry ingredients with my hands, instead of a wooden spoon or electric mixer.

However, somehow my banana muffins always don’t turn out as well as I would like them to. They aren’t that moist. Any tips?

Muffins & Cupcakes: Why they are different.

February 20, 2008

I found a lot of talk and misconceptions about the similarities and differences between a muffin and a cupcake online. Some say a muffin becomes a cupcake when there is frosting on it. Some say that cupcakes are smaller than muffins. That is incorrect, here is my take on it. Let’s conquer the cupcake first.

Cupcakes

  • A cupcake is essentially the same as a whole cake. It is simply baked and served in a portion to serve one individual.
  • It is usually frosted (like those in the photos above) and decorated. It is common to see it at birthday parties and weddings.
  • It is sweet and hence eaten mostly as a dessert or a sweet treat.
  • An un-frosted cupcakes does not equate to a muffin.
  • Butter is usually used in a cupcake recipe.
  • Conclusion: A cupcake is a cake.

Muffins

Source: Wikipedia

  • A muffin is one of the easiest things to bake (although I’ve had my fair share of failures, will give you tips to succeed in baking a muffin). It is simply mixing the wet and dry ingredients together and some recipes do not even require the use of an electronic beater or whisk.
  • It can be frosted or not frosted. For fruit muffins, I like to use a crumble on top (recipe in the next post).
  • It can be sweet or savoury and is mostly eaten during breakfast or tea.
  • A frosted muffin does not equate a to cupcake.
  • Oil is usually used in a muffin recipe.
  • Conclusion: A muffin is a type of bread (quick bread).

I hope this clarifies the difference between a cupcake and a muffin better. Watch out for my next post on my experience with baking muffins.

What If You Only Had These 12 Ingredients In Your Kitchen?

February 19, 2008

My previous helper did not cook at home and hence my kitchen always had too little ingredients for me to whip up any dish. However I always managed to get creative, sometimes with the help of additional items (a quick visit to my Shop & Save supermarket, a five minute walk away).

What would you cook if you only had these 12 ingredients in your kitchen? (Assuming in any reasonable amount)
1. Apples
2. Butter
3. Chicken Meat (Any part)
4. Chicken Eggs
5. Garlic
6. Fresh Mushrooms
7. Chocolate
8. Rice
9. Flour (Any type)
10. Herbs & Spices
11. Pasta (Any type)
12. Sugar

I would cook these two dishes:
1. Herbed Mushroom & Chicken Pasta
2. Apple Crumble

1. Herbed Mushroom & Chicken Pasta

Ingredients
Butter, Garlic, Mushrooms, Chicken, Herbs & Spices and Pasta

Directions
1. Marinate the chicken (cut into small pieces) with Herbs & Spices for an hour in the fridge before cooking.
2. Boil pasta till al dente with some salt – I’m assuming there’s always salt in the kitchen! 😉
3. Mince garlic and cook in butter till lightly browned.
4. Add in chicken and fry over low heat.
5. Add in sliced mushrooms and continue to mix till it softens.
6. Add more Herbs & Spices/Salt to taste.
7. Mix in the cooked pasta and serve.

2. Apple Crumble

Ingredients
Apples, Butter, Flour and Sugar

Directions
1. Pre-heat oven to 180 °C.
2. Slice and core the apples.
3. Rub flour, sugar and cubed butter together till it resembles breadcrumbs.
4. Place apples into a bowl and sprinkle over some sugar and incorporate it lightly with your hands.
5. Butter a baking dish and place apples in first, followed by the “breadcrumb-looking” crumble.
6. Bake in oven for 40 to 50 minutes until you see the apple browning and the crumble looking gorgeously golden brown.

I didn’t use any eggs or rice. As for the chocolate, I would probably eat it on its own at a later time. 🙂

What would you cook if you only had these 12 ingredients in your kitchen?