Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sabar, Japan Food Town @ Wisma Atria

There has been some buzz lately regarding the newly opened Japanese Food Town at Wisma Atria that features 16 Japanese eateries. The event has no doubt revitalized Wisma as a still relevant destination in a food obsessed country with a non abating appetite for Japanese food. And since this was a new opening, every shop was crowded.

Sabar (#04-50 Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road, tel : +65 262 3453) is a shop from Osaka. They didn't have as much of a queue as the others when we were there. Which was a stroke of good fortune since they were one of those that I wanted to try. A self professed mackerel bar that brings in the fish from the Aomori Prefecture along the North Pacific coast of Japan. The atmosphere was oddly subdued for a new and crowded shop. No hearty hails of "Irasshaimase!". No music being piped in the shop as well. Place looked understaffed and the menu looked like it only had lunch teishokus going on.

There's Kirin on the tap at Sabar.

We ordered a half portion of their saba shioyaki since these guys specialized in the fish which appeared to be flying off their grills in a non stop manner. The half portion came without the spine - which was a good thing I guess. Less bones to work with. The meat was moist and delicious while the skin was a good crisp. I wonder what happened to the other half.

This came off their sushi teishoku. Their teishoku portion was simply an additional bowl of senbei-jiru (rice cracker soup), a cube of cold tofu and a bit of pickled cabbage. These mackerel sushi didn't taste like the usual shimesaba as there didn't seem to be much of vinegar in the fish. Two of the pieces were aburi-ed and another two which had ginger were roasted. If I didn't recall wrongly, they were toro saba. I rather liked these.

There was higawari teishoku as well. A daily special. Today's special was a non marinated saba donburi. There appeared to be a marinated version (with shoyu I think) on the lunch menu so I guess that made this one higawari. Anyway, I'm also guessing that that's toro saba slices there since the meat was fatty tasting and filled with flavour from the fish. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bistro Du Le Pin, Orchard Plaza

I was wondering if you people knew of those 'hole in the wall' kind of shops. The ones which many people write about but do not appear to understand the term 'hole in the wall' and yet still desperately attempt to use that description in their writing so that they can appear to be trendy and informed? Bistro Du Le Pin (#02-25 Orchard Plaza, 150 Orchard Road,  tel : +65 6734 5530) is one of those shops. Like Otowa.

Small plates fuelled with sodium, alcohol to help with said sodium and a friendly Japanese helm cooking in a tiny spot of a kitchen with no open flame.

That's potato salad with a dollop of mentaiko cream. It tasted like how it looked and it's hard to go wrong with this combination.

We had black cod, pan roasted with some vegetable which I couldn't identify. The shaven black truffles added a little aroma and no taste but the green stuff on the side was a puree/pesto made with shiso - that was delicious in a refreshing way. So the fish was pretty tasty but pricey for the portions. 

There's pan fried scallops with uni and uni cream sauce. And then there's ikura as well. The shellfish was tender and the buttery sauce made me want to like the plate clean.

Tenderloin was on the menu. Came with pan roasted potatoes and a rosemary scented blue cheese sauce made upon order. How awesome is that coming from a bar? The burnt parts of the sauce was so good.

This was baby lamb - cubed and pan fried with a garlicky black pepper sauce. That green stuff on top is nori. Not so much lamb flavour coming from the meat. I think it was just enough to know that it's lamb but that's all good with the seaweed and salty black pepper sauce. This is stuff that makes people consume copious amounts of steamed white rice.

And for desserts gyu tan with a delicious negi sauce and lemon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The recent tragedy at the Golden Arches

So here's a look at the recent what seems to me to be a disaster from McD. Their salted egg yolk burger. This item has been plagued by not so positive feedback about the quality and the quantity of the said sauce and I'm hearing that they're using the powdered variety from a known distributor which uses chicken egg - not duck eggs as salted eggs are usually made from.

Salted egg yolk sauce has been around in some form or another for a while. I gather that quite a lot of people here like it and have their opinion of it. And one doesn't expect to fly by without some form of criticism if it's not done at least decently. I expected that the local McD should be well aware of that. I have no idea if the guy in charge of this was incompetent or simply couldn't care less - but take my word for it, this is nothing like the real deal. For what they charged, I expected something that tasted like the real deal even if it wasn't the real deal.

I requested for more of that salted egg yolk sauce. This stuff is actually more like a paste. And possibly because of the initial backlash feedback, they probably have already started increasing the quantity of the sauce in the regular distribution. So that kinda compounded to the point where the entire chicken was buried in that pasty stuff.

Which would not have been so much of a problem had it tasted good like how salted yolk sauces should. This actually tasted pretty milky and a little sweet. The salted element of the salted egg yolk sauce was virtually non existent and it along the way, wiped out any that might have existed in the fried chicken with its flavour. Imagine a poorly done liu sha bao. This is one step below. 

So while it was too measly, people made noise. Now that they've upped the amount, I'm making noise. So it is damned if they do and damned if they don't. Capitalism doesn't hand out awards for trying.

I was kinda hoping that their grilled chicken salad would save them and wipe the taste off the burger. For grilled chicken, it was a little sad. The skin wasn't particularly crisp like grilled chicken should be. In fact, it was soggy. The marinate was sweet and I didn't like it. Here's a first and a last time. 

The current burger gimmick comes with the option to get twister fries with what they called a salt and pepper crab mix. A shaker twister fries item. I get the salt and the pepper, but none of that crab. I didn't expect any crab in the first place so I guess I wasn't surprised. I recommend that one eats this sans that powder. It tasted like a MSG bomb.

Yeah, they are having some spicy nuggets to go with the current setup as well. It was indeed a little spicy but I didn't quite enjoy that additional flavour that came with the spiciness. I couldn't make out what it was and the skin of the nugget was thicker than usual. I wouldn't recommend it.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saravanaa Bhavan, Syed Alwi Road

I've been wanting to try the food at Saravanaa Bhavan (84 Syed Alwi Road) for quite a while so this visit was made possible from a reminder when a co worker recommended it. The name is part of an international chain that has its roots in Chennai. As humble as this shop looked, it was part of an intercontinental presence.

Those on top are mini idli in a pot of sambar. If I recall, the dish was called 14 idli because there are fourteen of those little steamed rice cakes. The sambar in this place was pretty kickass so this dish was a no brainer good kind of thing.  

That's a North Indian thali. Pretty good, but doesn't quite beat the one from Komala Vilas in quantity value there. Clockwise from the top right - vegetarian briyani, some long bean korma, a raita that unfortunately contained ginger, dhal and the ball at the top was a sweet made with rice. In the middle, naans and papadum and oddly - gobi 65. I'm certainly not complaining about the cauliflowers though.

This was a little bowl of soup that came with the thali. Some vegetable soup of the day with long beans and it was actually pretty good.

This was not soup. Those green stuff floating on top were not long beans neither. It's supposed to be their masala milk if they had gotten their order right and those green stuff were bits of pistachio. But I'm pretty sure this was a badam milk instead and it was really sweet. Certainly not the masala milk as I had been expecting.

I wouldn't mind coming back again if I'm in the vicinity.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hotate katsu at Saboten

The ebi katsu season had just passed by about a month or so ago and now it's hotate katsu! I suppose it was fine. Just scallops clad in the same breading that they do for their regular tonkatsu. For some reasons, I had been expecting the scallops to be much larger than the ones that they were actually serving. That would have been something. Now that I've tried it, I suppose the next time round wouldn't get me excited. I think their prawn cakes taste better.