Friday, August 29, 2014

Lamb soup with rice at Curry Times

I was honestly skeptical about Curry Times (3 Gateway Drive, #02-08 Westgate, tel : +65 6369 9609) when I had first heard about them because they were opened by Old Chang Kee. Which has become a brand for me to avoid for their over greasy fried food and steadily shrinking curry puffs with prices going on the inverse. After visiting a couple times, I'm starting to admit that they aren't too bad after all. Sure they're trying hard to sell the nostalgia. Old skool food and decor with new skool prices. But I think they're getting the food part right. At least for some of the items. And their curry chicken is pretty tasty. Seriously.

Here's a bowl of their lamb soup which I liked. I think it's good because this happens to be one of those Chinese (local) lamb soup that isn't overwhelmed by excessive use of herbs. There was a noticeable lamb-y flavor in the broth and those fall off the rib meat. Sure there was dang gui, some goji berries and a little bit of ginseng in there. There was even some coriander I spied that was boiled to death. But all those were on the sideline, supplementing the natural flavours of the lamb without much detraction. And that chilli that they provided on the side was pretty nice too. Tasted like a rendition of chicken rice chilli and would have been more awesome with a squeeze of lime. It's just too bad that this would be on menu only for this month. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rediscovering Modesto's

I haven't been to this place for such a long time. But for some reasons, I got reminded of Modesto's and decided to pay them a visit. But before heading down, I actually Googled it and for the first time, found out a little about the person who opened the place (a real Italian by the way) and how the restaurant was formerly started in Kuala Lumpur. That guy, Modesto Marini, has sold off this chain and is apparently running some pretty spiffy (read expensive) fine dining places in KL.

Well, this restaurant hasn't changed very much. They're still using those plates lipped with leopard skin designs. Well, they don't seem to serve their foccacia anymore.

I think I kinda remembered that their mushroom soup was pretty okay. It still is, blended bits of real mushroom with a token drizzle of cream which fails to achieve any purpose beyond presentation. But really, these guys were way ahead many of the competition of their era when they first opened.

You know, I've never recalled ordering any melanzane alla parmigiana. This could be my first! And as wary of tomato sauces as I generally am, this was actually rather enjoyable. But honestly, it's good because it's piping hot tomato paste with cheese and some texture. Those eggplants were soft and well..... one cannot really taste something like eggplants buried in flavours like these. Not complaining at all though. 

I got suckered into ordering their beer risotto which was apparently this month's special. I was initially thinking that the rice could have been a shade more cooked, the cheeses could have been Parmigiano Reggiano instead of the light and mildly bitter one that they used and more salt would have been great for the beer based stock. They used Tiger by the way. But on hindsight, all those heavier flavours would have drowned out the mild beery (I meant hoppy) bitter that was really all there was to the beer component. Their home made sausages could really do with more salt though.

I guess this was one of those things that got me curious and now that I've tried it, I'm never ordering it again.

What kinda rocked, unexpectedly, was their puttanesca which we got with their house made squid ink tagliatelle. The pasta was firm with bite (again, a shade.....just a tiny shade under what would be ideal for me). The sauce was delicious. There's the garlic, tomatoes, some heat and olives with the pungent and salty anchovies. Served piping hot.

Portions here are still pretty generous. We didn't have space for desserts. The atmosphere was old school, like Pete's Place. There's no fancy plating or puny portions. But I think I'm not going to be discounting them so readily in the future. By the way, OCBC cards gets 30% off the bill on Tuesdays.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sambal nasi ayam at Mr Teh Tarik

I wasn't really sure what to expect out of the sambal from this chicken rice stall at Mr Teh Tarik, but it turned out pretty good. The flavours of the sauce were rich, pungent and spicy ladled over some tender roasted chicken. Their rice was beady and well flavoured while the accompanying chilli sauce on the side was lime-y and refreshing. This was definitely one of the more memorable Halal chicken rice that I've had.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The durian mousse from Dessert Bowl (一碗甜品)

This durian mousse from Dessert Bowl (80A Serangoon Garden Way, tel : +65 6285 1278) is actually part of a small bunch of my favourite durian desserts. The others being the durian sago from Ah Chew and the durian Guinness shake from Udders. Of the three mentioned, the former two are made with D24 and the latter, mao shan wang.

Why does this work? Well, I guess that using D24 helps qualify it as legit since anything lesser doesn't quite bring in the flavour. The mousse is always nicely chilled and retains that chill well throughout eating with its thick creamy consistency. And then there's real durian pulp to bolster those flavours. Guilty pleasures doesn't get any better.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

One last meal at Bottle Tree Village

Well, at least until they have moved over to their new location at Marina Barrage at the end of the year that is. According to what's being mentioned in the news, the lease has expired and there are new interests in their site that's bidding two and a half times the current lease. Can I say that the rental economy here is ousting small local businesses? I better not. Dangerous line I be threading.

Not much has changed with the restaurant. The service still looks semi-reluctant and the prices have never been under the economical range for tze char. But one can always argue that they're a proper restaurant since there's air conditioning. It's probably just that their food and ambiance looked like it came from a local restaurant 3 decades ago.

These are scallop and banana fritters. As you can see, there's not so much scallops in there, but I guess it made a rather tasty greasy dish that reminds of goreng pisang.

Their sweet and sour pork has changed. According to them, there were numerous feedback against the fruits that the restaurant had previously used. If that was true, I can only lament that there's too much boring people feeding back. One can eat regular sweet and sour pork anywhere. There goes the cool green maraschino cherries, dragonfruit and lychee.

Here's their steamed garoupa with chai por (preserved turnip). As sinister as the two ivory beady eyes looked, this tasted pretty good. For a freshly slain fish, I didn't expect any lesser. The flesh was firm and flaky.

And then, obligatory greens of kailan with garlic. Which was decently done if mundane in appearances. Presentation is not exactly a forte here.

Then came the butter sotong. I'm pretty sure these were cuttlefish and not squid. As aware of the fact that there are different renditions of butter sotongs around, these didn't quite fit into my imagery of any of them. These tasted like they had a light curry batter with sugar. Quite good until you've had enough for the batter to  let them get to you as the grease builds up.

We dug their scallop fried rice. Well, just the rice. It was one of the really boring looking fried rice which had left impressions crestfallen upon arrival, but it tasted pretty good. Wok hei present if you like that and not excessively greasy. The scallops were unfortunately not so good. Flavours of the shellfish was muted and the texture conveyed their quality.