Comfort food for your year-end celebrations

Executive Chef Jeffrey Chua from Happy Cafe and Lucky Cuisine shares three recipes that are sure to impress your party guests!

At Happy Cafe, chef Jeffrey Chua has curated and served a diverse range of thematic menus ranging from Thai to fusion cuisines. For your home festive celebrations this Christmas and Lunar New Year, he presents three different and versatile staples to uplift any party!


What do you think is Happy Cafe’s key ingredient for success?

For me personally, I am singularly focused on our consistency. While I do think first impressions count, it is our return customers that truly enable the success of our eatery. It takes just one bad experience to sour their opinions of our food and service quality. And seeing that we have a substantial number of loyal customers, I do think that we have been doing exceptionally well on that front! Also, we dedicate a significant amount of time and work to our food preparations. Customers are only presented with the final product, but each dish comes with a lot of attention to its many minute details, such as garnishing, stock base and seasonings. This is all thanks to my kitchen staff, who are both passionate and meticulous about our food.


Any new updates to share with us?

We have since returned to the basics, with a full continental menu!


What dishes will you be presenting to us today?

For this issue, I’m especially excited to showcase two incredibly definitive dishes that can easily be reinvented and customised! The first dish is our Chicken Roulade, a ubiquitous Eastern European meat roll that is braised and browned with our homemade stock. The other dish is a classic favourite – a charming plate of Carbonara best known for its simple fusion of eggs, cheese, meat, and pasta.

These also complement the delicious Pen Cai that we’ll be showcasing later on!


Could you tell us more about the Chicken Roulade?

A roulade is essentially a spiral roll layered with a delicious filling. Think of local staples like the Swiss rolls you can find in our local bakeries. However, ours will be packed with a savoury chicken filling that will then be seared and  roasted as a whole. Not to mention a drizzling of decadent gravy! This dish will require some culinary expertise, but I’m sure some of our more experienced cooks are more than up for the challenge.


Chicken Roulade 

2 Slices Boneless Chicken Breasts
10-12 Button Mushrooms
2 Finely Chopped Onions
2-3 stalks of Parsley
2 teaspoons Chopped Garlic
3½ teaspoons Butter
1 tablespoon Refined Flour
1 cup Chicken Stock
2 teaspoons Salt and Pepper

1 sprig of Parsley (chopped)

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C

2 Butterfly the chicken breasts, and open them out. Season them with salt and pepper on both sides.

3 Separate the mushrooms by their stalks and caps. Chop the caps and stalks into finer chunks. Keep the stalks for the sauce.

1 Heat 1½ teaspoons of butter on a non-stick pan. Once heated, add a teaspoon of garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.

2 Gradually add in the chopped onion and continue mixing until they are translucent. Following that, add the mushroom caps and sauté until the moisture evaporates.

3 Turn off the heat. Add the sprig of parsley and spread the mixture on a plate. Set aside to cool.

4 Once cooled, coat the chicken breasts with the mixture and roll tightly.

1 Heat the remaining butter in the same pan. Toss in the remaining garlic and onion. Sauté well.

2 Add in the mushroom’s stalks and any remaining mushroom chunks you might still have.

3 Gradually add the flour and incorporate it into the mixture. Steadily add in a cup of chicken stock (while stirring well) and let the sauce simmer until it thickens.

4 Strain the sauce.

1 Cover each stuffed chicken breast with aluminium foil. Once sealed, transfer them to a baking tray which will then be placed into the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

2 Once cooked, unwrap the chicken rolls, cut them into halves and place them on your desired serving plate.

3 Drizzle the strained sauce over the chicken and garnish with parsley.

How do you make your Carbonara dish different from others out there?

It’s all about the sauce. The entire dish consists of everyday ingredients, and a great Carbonara is measured by the unity of these ingredients while still allowing each of them to shine. My version does so by centralising the freshness and depth of these ingredients in its sauce. Our sauce comes from a blend of leftover vegetables, meats, and bones (also known as mirepoix) that we sauté (light fry) before breaking them down into a savoury stock. The light fry caramelises the sweetness of our mix, accentuating its natural sweetness and acidity with a touch of oil or butter.

What are your tips for the sauce?

You want to intentionally reduce the sauce so that you are left with a delicious residue of its core flavours. I really recommend that you use cream with a generous amount of fat content. It helps punctuate the dish with a stronger base when it is emulsifying. Remember the extra egg yolk at the end for an extra punch!

From your experience, what is an invaluable appliance to have in the kitchen?

A multi-layered stackable steamer akin to the baskets we use to cook dim sum! It enables healthier cooking and prevents sogginess


Pasta Carbonara

340g Pasta Noodles
85g Turkey Bacon
28g Parmesan Cheese
28g Mushrooms
2 Large Eggs and 2 Large
Yolks (beaten and mixed)
1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Once the pot of water hasstarted boiling, add in  a large serving of salt (1 tablespoon of salt for every 2 litres of water). Add in a quarter cup of oil.
2 Place the noodles in. Cook the noodles until they are al dente (firm when bitten). Make sure to reserve the pasta water.

1 Mix the beaten eggs with parmesan cheese well. Add salt to taste.

1 Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add in the garlic, turkey bacon, and mushrooms into the fold. Cook the mixture slowly until fragrant.
2 Move the pasta from the boiling pot to the pan quickly. Make sure the pasta is dripping wet.
3 Add in the beaten egg mixture. To avoid the pasta from drying out, add the salted pasta water.
4 Serve at once with the remaining parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper. 


It is interesting you would pick Pen Cai (literally translates as basin of vegetables) as your dish of choice.

Pen Cai is the metaphorical face of prosperity, luck, and fortune during the Lunar New Year festivities! It very much embodies the theme of unity, mixing layers of a myriad of ingredients in a large poon (basin).

And you never see Pen Cai eaten alone! I love what it represents and the happiness that it often brings. 


What do you think makes a great Pen Cai?

You cannot make a Pen Cai without its golden pillars such as scallop, fish maw and fatt choy. Then, you layer these pillars with a delicious mix of the prawns, the vegetables, and the roasted meats. Do not forget the abalones, the star of your Pen Cai.

Pen Cai is reputable for its aromatic flavours. How do you best accentuate them?

It is the stock that uplifts the dish with its umami accents. You want to sauté your ingredients first so that the dish’s layers can encapsulate and store these fine aromatics. 


Pen Cai (Basin of Vegetables)

Ingredients (Measurements Are Flexible and Customisable)
Sea Cucumber
Fish Maw
Dried Oyster

Chinese Cabbage
Fatt Choy (Fa Chai)

Roasted Duck or Pork

1 Your Preferred Stock (Eg. Chicken Stock, or any leftover stock/soups you might have)

1 Rehydrate and boil/pressure cook the sea cucumbers.

2 Remove the veins from the prawns. Leave heads and shells intact.

3 If you’re not using canned abalones, heat them up for 3-4 seconds and set aside.

4 Blanch the broccoli and carrots for 2-3 minutes and then place them in iced water.

5 Cook the scallops and prawns and then set aside.

1 Pour the stock into a large clay pot over medium heat.

2 Add in the vegetables first. Let them simmer for about 10 minutes, or until they are soft.

3 Layer the ingredients gradually into the pot. First the aromatics, then the seafood, followed by the meats. Then lower the heat so that the ingredients can gradually soak up the stock.


Be sure to visit Happy Cafe and Lucky Cuisine at Gain City Megastore@ Sungei Kadut!
71 Sungei Kadut Drive,
Level 1 (Happy Cafe), Level3 (Lucky Cuisine)
Singapore 729577

Happy Cafe: 11.30am to 9.30pm daily

Lucky Cuisine: 11am to 9.30pm daily