Sunday, September 25, 2016

A bowl of mee pok from Hua Bee

Hua Bee Restaurant (78 Moh Guan Terrace) is known for a few things. That the 1995 local movie Mee Pok Man (not a spandex-ed superhero nor related to Marvel/DC!) was filmed here and in recent years, a Japanese kushiyaki joint - Bincho operates out back in the evening after the mee pok stall is closed for the day. I’m sure some of you remember Mee Pok Man. A little bit of sensation of its time when the infantile censorship board in this country was struggling with its baby steps to attempt to regulate “artistic” media. Looking back one cannot help but laugh at those feeble attempts and wonder what was there to even censor. But I think people who remember Mee Pok Man probably remember it for Michelle Goh. 

Anyways, here’s the bowl of mee pok from Hua Bee. The noodles were a little sticky, slightly clumped together, vinegar indiscernible and the chilli didn’t pack much of heat. The ingredients were generous in their bowl of soup, but nothing was particularly outstanding. For what they were charging, it was a lot more satisfying to get a bowl of fish ball noodles at Li Xin or at Whampoa Food Centre. This shop might have been decent at some point in the past but it’s no longer very relevant except as a washed out curiosity with a reputation. Like an old movie that was once a sensation. No longer in the game but a part of an endless series of portraits waiting to fade away.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

House of Peranakan Petit, Eng Hoon Street

House of Peranakan Petit (42 Eng Hoon Street, tel : +65 6222 1719) is part of the House of Peranakan Group of restaurants. The group, which has begun from humble beginnings back in the 80s have apparently a number of accolades representing their culinary achievements for Peranakan food. This particular outfit as I was able to determine attempts to carry on that tradition with a contemporary spin for some of the dishes. 

That's their ngoh hiang - minced pork and prawns with chopped water chestnuts stuffed in a bean curd skin that's deep fried. I've personally had excellent home made ones so while this was pretty tasty, I couldn't say that it was a stellar representation of the snack. 

The grind of the minced meat was a little fine - a little too refined if I might add compared to the ones my grandmother made. The water chestnuts were also a little too finely diced to the point where they could barely be discerned. So I suppose the sin here was a loss of two contrasting textures that provided bite and a soft crunchiness made these rolls what they were. At $12 a roll, this was probably the only time I'm ever ordering it. 

HoPP's chap chye was quite garlic-ky. Now I do like garlic in general but I think prefer the renditions of this particular dish that are less brown, more lightweight in flavour and have cabbages that have been braised for a longer time. The kind that's commonly found in Hainanese curry rice stalls. That's just me.

Truthfully, this crayfish curry was my first crayfish anything in Peranakan cuisine. The gravy tasted like assam fish curry without the assam if you catch my drift. Am at a loss for a better description at this point but the flavours were nice. There was a bunch of wilted cabbage and what might have been a sunny side up on top of it. Awesome stuff altogether. If there were to be room for improvement, it would be an additional egg for the cabbage and perhaps larger crayfish.

These was appropriately named scallop lemak. The operative word here is lemak. Which means 'fat' in Malay but is synonymous to mean 'enriched' as well. Usually with coconut milk. The tender scallops were smothered in a heart clogging coconut milk laden gravy which was topped with laksa leaves. Pretty sure this was Peranakan inspired as opposed to being a traditional recipe. And damn it was good. It's a "tempted to lick the plate clean" kind of good if I had to be more precise. Made me eat more rice than I'm normally comfortable with.

Dessert was durian chendol. Pretty good stuff. The shaven ice with coconut milk was replaced with coconut ice cream. While it appeared deconstructed, it tasted like the actual stuff once it was all mixed up with the gula melaka

Friday, September 23, 2016

Etna 2016

Etna has throughout the past years we've visited gotten more focused and refined with their food and also have progressively gotten more expensive. What we liked about them was the consistently good experience (to date!) and that the quality of their food is actually very decent. 

There're a couple of things that I'm constantly reminded of them. The first would be the occasionally nifty off menu specials like their filo wrapped tenderloin with Gorgonzola sauce. The second is the lamented orange and Parmigiano Reggiano risotto which I am constantly wishing would return to their menu.

It seems that there is a little more variety with bread as well. Previously, it was just focaccia.

I'm not sure if it's just us but we've been encountering quite a bit of octopus lately. Here's an off menu starter of grilled octopus with potato puree and Taggiasche olives. Delicious char they had.

The current menu has a carbonara di mare. A carbonara with some fish caviar and bottarga. The flavours of both fish roes came through together with the tiny bits of bacon. But I though it was a little salty. I do think that I rank the carbonara di mare from Trattoria Nonna Lina higher and more befitting of its name.

Their ciriole alla Norcina is as good comfort food as ever with the chunky minced sausages, mushroom and shaven Parmigiano Reggiano. I've just found out that the name Norcina originates from the town of Norcia - a place known for their cured meats, cheese and truffles.

The other off menu special of the week was their "scottadito" styled lamb chops. A variable recipe that contains salt, pepper and rosemary. Damn this was delicious. The lamb was pink and the savoury sauce was literally finger licking good. While it's not apparent in the picture, it was accompanied some bitter roasted radicchio and mashed potatoes.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

No. 3 Crab Delicacy, Outram Road

I’ve seen No. 3 Crab Delicacy (265 Outram Road, tel : +65 6327 2148) around for a number of years but have never really had the opportunity to be in the vicinity long enough to remember or consider them until recently. If anyone was wondering, they’re a local cze char (an old school one at that) and are also known for their crab dishes. I guess that much would be evident from their name. Heh.

That's their bee hoon with clams. Noodles had a good bite and the garlic-ky broth was pretty tasty spiked with some heat from the sliced bits of chilli padi. Note to self - the small portion is good for only one.

The dish that we had for the first time ever in any rendition was their rojak styled chicken. We never realized that such a cool thing existed. This was essentially battered fried chicken heaped with julienned cucumber, guava and turnip that were tossed in rojak sauce with crushed peanuts. The consistency of the sauce was a little thinner than what one normally gets in rojak but I thought this worked even though I would have preferred a little more viscosity. And more crushed peanuts. We actually enjoyed this.

In the interest of a healthy balanced diet, stir fried kailan with garlic. The bits of brown stuff on the top were crushed ti poh (dried sole). It added a toasty umami aroma to the vegetables but there was a little too little to go around all the greens.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Brunch @ Humpback

As it says, it's brunch time at Humpback. The folks here mentioned that are working on a theme that had inspired them from New York. I'm not sure where exactly in New York that inspiration came from. There's not much of coffee but one gets a healthy option of drinks to go with the food. Many of the latter in small plates. Sounds like many places.

These are their devilled eggs. Hard boiled, halved and topped with fish mousse, ikura, olive oil and I think that's paprika.

Their burrata was unexpectedly good. The key ingredient that elevated this creamy cheese with EVOO and pine nuts over a thick toast was their salsa verde which I thought was nicely done. 

This was sea urchin, served in a half shell with cauliflower puree. The urchin was sweet, floral - much tastier than the dull colour had suggested. But there was too little to go around the buttered brioche. Twice that would have been good portioning.

Their fried egg was pretty good. Served with orzo and bits of octopus and blanketed with a little Parmigiano Reggiano. Salt, fat and a nice hit of umami packaged with the tasty egg.

I suppose there'll be expectations for the gratuitous molten yolk porn so there you go.

And there there's a lobster roll. This wasn't bad as well. The bun was buttered but airy and had a light crisp. I'm tagging this along with the warm one from The Naked Finn and the one from Luke's to be those I found more enjoyable. Luke's is still my favourite for their heavier hand with the butter.

We tried a couple of their oysters.

The Kumamoto ones were pretty good. It also had a very different flavour profile after being paired with that rhubarb vinaigrette they provided. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tino's Pizza Cafe, Tiong Bahru Plaza

We had passed by Tino's Pizza (#01-160 Tiong Bahru Plaza, 302 Tiong Bahru Road, tel : +65 6352 7759) on several occasions and were wondering where these guys had come from. After some digging online, I found out that they're a pizza chain by the Sun Spark Group from Taiwan. Recently, they were handing out samples of their Blue Formaggio which got us interested. We came back for a whole pizza.

Tino's makes what they classify as Neapolitan and Roman pizzas - to be believed with a healthy pinch of salt of course. We haven't tried the former and I'm not sure what's Roman about this Roman styled one we had. Interestingly, the cheese covered the entire crust of the pizza including the cornicione. Anyway, the amount of splotchy blue surface got us excited. These guys were quite generous even though it was a rather mild blue cheese that they were using. Scattered with walnuts and drizzled with honey.