Monday, October 17

Plusixfive Seafood Feast

Last night, Frangelico, my sister Rice Krispie, her pal JC and I were at the plusixfive supper club again. This was only my second time there, and we looked forward to it with all the excitement of visiting an old friend's home.

The theme this time around was seafood, and the club featured the creations of guest chef Yolanda Augustin. Yolanda is half-Malaysian - of Eurasian descent, she explained, hence the Portuguese surname 'Augustin' - and half-English. She grew up in Malaysia with a maternal grandmother who was one of those amazing-cook-matriarchs that South East Asians will know well. Moving to England for her 'A' Levels, she realised how much she missed the food from home, and she started trying her hand at some dishes. The rest is cooking history. Yolanda, an oncologist by day, is in now the process of setting up her own supper club in London, called Wild Serai, and plusixfive was hosting her first foray into the genre.

We started off with pork belly satay from Goz, chef and founder of plusixfive (day-job: private equity lawyer). If you're in Singapore or Malaysia, you're unlikely to find pork belly satay in a restaurant or hawker centre. Reason being, satay originated in the Malay-Muslim community. Chinese communities in Singapore, however, engineered an alternative that would yield satay as tender and melting as the traditional chicken and lamb. Frangelico described Goz's satay as 'superlative'. I need not say any more, except that the peanut sauce that the satay came dressed in was better than anything I can recall having tried in Singapore: chunky and studded with peanut, limey and aromatic, sweet and sour. If any sommeliers are reading, I challenge you to find a wine pairing for Goz's superlative peanut sauce!

Having seen some scallops (in the shell, bathed in butter, garnished with bird's eye chili, garlic and curry leaves) going into the oven upon our arrival earlier, I expected that to be Yolanda's starter. This canny lady, however, decided to lead with her prawn sambal. (Dear readers, I wish I had photographs to show you, but I chose being social last night over having photos here today. Please forgive me!)

Sambal is a thick, fiery paste made with ground chillies and fried belachan, a ground shrimp paste. Yolanda's sambal was made with a belachan flown in from Sarawak, on the island of Borneo. Sarawak belachan is regarded as being the finest, and foodies will enthuse about Bintulu or Miri belachans. This one was from Bintulu, and Yolanda explained to me that, unlike other belachans, the Sarawak variety is red, not black, because of the quality of the shrimp and the high shrimp content. I found this short documentary on Sarawak belachan, which shows you how it's made.

Sarawak has always had an air of mystery, having been known for its headhunting tribes in the past. This thought working on my imagination must be what led me to conclude that the prawn sambal was other-worldly. The sweet and tangy notes were carried upward by the rolling power of the chili, and we were all hooked.

While Rice Krispie and JC were competing on who could make more seafood jokes than the other ('you were just baiting to tell that one'), two large plates of chili crab made their appearance. Yolanda's chili crab was more fragrant than the traditional version you find in Singapore, with the unmistakable red sauce. Hers had lime leaf and lemongrass added to the mix, which gave the chili crab an interesting Thai-directed dimension. The cutlery had to go, and the hands came out. Nutcrackers were produced and all pretence to table graces was abandoned as we cracked the crab shells, dug out the smooth white flesh with our fingers, and dipped the deep-fried bread in the sauces. The consensus at our table, when the question of etiquette was momentarily discussed, was that there is no wrong way to crack crab. Whatever that may be, if you're sat in Singapore discussing right and wrong, you will go hungry.

The less fiery accompaniment was the mussels with ginger and chili. More fiery was the kang kong belachan. We had wisely taken with us some cartons of cool coconut water to put out the fires.

The main meal over, we were treated to an outstanding chendol from Goz, a dessert of finely shaved ice with coconut milk, home-made gula melaka (a brown syrup flavoured with pandan) and a green jelly. This was followed by cassava cake (for pictures, see the earlier post on my first plusixfive supper club) and kueh lapis, a colourful layered 'cake' made with coconut milk.

As a food experience, Goz's and Yolanda's dishes will be remembered for a long time to come. As a supper club experience, plusixfive was outstanding. As a warm evening with family and friends, it was unforgettable. I said the previous time that Goz and Wen (plusixfive's front-of-house) somehow manage to create an amazing energy. They have something very special about them, as chef and hosts, but also as people. Together with the uninhibited, animated conversation with other guests at our table, I came away feeling happy, enthusiastic and positive. Food is often talked of as a medium that brings people together, as a form of communication, consolation or collaboration. These guys are still there, giving from their hearts. If you want to see what I mean, you'll just have to visit them for yourselves.



+65/plusixfive supper club

Edible Experiences


Devil Curry said...

Thank you, Cinnamon & Truffle, for yet another mouth watering post.

Anonymous said...

It is a fabulous and mouth watering article. We will visit the place someday.

Mañana Mama said...

Sounds incredible. I envy you this meal...and delicious meals generally. Enjoy.

The London Foodie said...

What a lovely account of this delicious meal! Thanks for taking your time to share this.

Luiz @ The London Foodie

Kay @ Chopstix2Steaknives said...

OOh...I was too late to get a spot. Lucky lucky you....I want to have some crab too..=D

Bibsey Mama said...

Wow. I miss Asian food. Your fabulous post is NOT helping.


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