Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Tavern @ Tanglin Club

And wow, place does pretty decent prime ribs at less than half the price that you pay for at Lawry's. Seriously speaking, the standards of the meat here here were almost comparable and at a significantly less cost. We're talking prices like they do at Hog's Breath. Unfortunately for most, this was located at Tanglin Club (5 Stevens Road) and that one would probably never be able to visit unless you had a member that would bring you in.

At 380g, the Gentleman's Cut for about $38 was decently sized prime rib with sides of carrot sticks, steamed brussels sprouts, baked cauliflower with cheese, Yorkshire pudding and a baked potato with the works (if you need to know, butter, sour cream, spring onions and bacon bits). There's also the option of a strong English mustard for the tender rib meat. No complains about the food at all, but the Yorkshire pudding from Lawry's is probably fluffier and the medium rare that I asked for here was really more of medium. I'm going to be forgiving on this one.

The Lady's Cut which weighs at approximately 280g, similarly to the Lawry's cut. Comes with similar sides as mentioned above, costs less than half of that expensive place and much better service.

What got us that we've not seen elsewhere were the spreads which accompanied the breads. A small selection of sliced breads, loaves and crackers are placed on a table where one can freely help themselves to. If you're already guessing from the picture above, it's actually beef fat, herb butter and pork lard. The lard was fragrant without being overpowering and creamy like kaya with bits of the fried pieces mixed in them. The herb butter tasted of honey. This restaurant would be good for returns just for the lard spreads and prime rib.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Tapas Tree, Clark Quay

The enduring memory from this restaurant besides the paella (which I was recommended by a friend) was the blotchy service which made me undecided about how to feel about this place. My impression of tapas definitely didn't come out that well after having tried some of them over two consecutive nights. I'm wasn't close to being impressed. Perhaps I didn't order what's good on the menu, but then again, I am too thinking that shouldn't it all be good? Allow me to go into what I didn't quite agree with on the service of the place. I called to make reservations at approximately 3.45 pm on a Friday afternoon and I was told that they were filled up and subsequent probing confirmed that there was no more seats to be had for the night. However, I did decide to try my luck and sure enough, there were seats available. What's with that? On the first night, the recommendations from the service staff sounded like there was a total lack of interest. On the second, a waiter was quite helpful in getting the seats and recommendations. The place also needs better air conditioning for sure. Indoors.

There was a decent selection on menu. Some of which, were actually pretty tasty while the others come across as passable and the rest, downright boring. The bottom line didn't quite make me feel enthusiastic about returning any more.

chorizo fritos

trio de pinchos (marinated pork, beef and chicken skewers)

berenjena y tomate con queso parmasano (baked stuffed aubergine and tomato with parmesan cheese)

solomillo al jerez (tenderloin cubes in dry sherry)

The chorizos were fried in olive oil tasted like sourish and salty sausages. It wasn't really spicy and was otherwise unexceptional. The tenderloin cubes in dry sherry were actually rather juicy and not cooked to death. I must admit that I had very little hopes for them until I ate the first. Theeir accompanying gravy taste like something you can get from tze char stores. In fact the whole dish tasted like a Chinese stir fried beef with bell peppers and mushrooms with a hint of wine. It certainly wasn't I had expected, but it was pretty good. Probably better with rice. But for $15, I really did expect more meat.

paella valenciana

paella negra

I thought the paella here was pretty good. I've not much basis for comparison apart from the pasta version from Esmirada which I didn't feel was anywhere close to the real deal. The valenciana featured seafood like mussels, squid with additional of chicken compared to the regular one. And to my surprise, there was pork belly too. The rice came piping hot and loaded with meat and crispy rice bits at the bottom. Reminded me of claypot rice. I didn't really taste any saffron in it and most of the flavour was a tangy one. The negra which is the squid ink variant of their paella on the other hand was very much filled with squid ink flavour (and squids too) and it's probably the blackest rice dish I've ever come across. It was more thickly coated than the squid ink risotto at Pasta Brava. Something to watch out for to avoid if you're out on a date.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Goat's cheese salad, Irish stew and Fish & chips

Well, that was dinner and the subject is probably as obvious as it can get. Except for the part that it's Molly Malone's again. I thought the goat's cheese salad on toast here was pretty good if you're into pungent cheeses. This one had just enough kick to knock on the taste buds and was subsequently more of a rich and slightly creamy cheese as an afternoon. The salad was nicely tossed. This is one lean and clean tasting dressing in spite of appearing like Thousand Island.

I don't really know what's definitive about Irish stews, but I'm guessing it's the lamb and root vegetables like onions, potatos and carrots. And Guinness. That's the impression I have of them anyway and it's actually not bad, especially for the cooler nights when something hot is always welcomed. The lamb was pretty tender and the rest was basically what you see and can imagine of it. Nothing hiding beneath there. The stew did come with a bowl of real mashed potatoes which were rather good. By real, I meant that it did not come from powder and does not contain fillers. It's just a hundred percent finely mashed potatoes with some butter where the earthy taste was still detectable.

It's kinda tough to find good fish and chips here. These ones at Molly Malone's are probably one of the better ones I've had around. Other memorable mentions include Fisherman's Wharf and the next in line would actually be Fish & Co already. I'll probably have to try it at the Greenwood Fish Market & Bistro to draw another line of comparison. The menu here states pacific dory and it's really just a nice fish and chips with crispy battered skin. The fish was served hot and came in pretty good portions. For $16, I would say that it is a very decent deal. Doesn't the golden brown beckon to you?

Monday, November 19, 2007


Good friend of mine enjoys cooking on the occasion and one of the things that he has done to his satisfaction after numerous trials and errors is prawn noodles. I was invited to dinner on one of the recent times so this is pretty much what this entry is about if anyone has been guessing and re-visiting to see updates. Being one of many numerous ubiquitous dishes locally, prawn noodles are something that is judged by varying standards, very much like other local favourites like laksa and chicken rice. Various visible ingredients are measured across different yardsticks, subjected to differing preferences of individuals that eat or enjoy them. The prawns, the soup and possibly the noodles being the key items. These large prawns that you see in the picture, courtesy by my very lovely hand model (I know you can't tell) are however not for the noodles. They're actually river prawns from Thailand, cost about $8 a pop and were grilled with very simple condiments of salt, pepper, and not forgetting - the ever useful and tasty butter.

The highlight of the dinner was originally the prawn noodles despite the appearance of this entry, knowing now that the huge prawns are actually not part to it. In retrospect, both were well done and definitely made it a difficult choice as to which was the star of the table at dinner. If you are wondering why is that, behold the hay mee!

I admit that it did look like ba kut mee (pork rib noodles) instead of prawn noodles since the pork ribs are clearly the only visible item in the bowl apart from the noodles. And no, the prawns are not hidden at the bottom. There is no prawns in the noodles. Which brings me to the ingredients which I will divulge the most of with the exception of a few key items which must remain secret or this would be the last entry that anyone will ever read from me. The key items that were used to create the sweet stock of this particular rendition of prawn noodles includes obviously prawns (or shrimps if you would), flower crab, pork ribs (I presume that you might have guessed easily), pig tails, cloves of garlic, onions, some ginger, belachan, kang kong and a couple of other items which are easily available. As my friend would say it as he learnt it from his grandmother, there is no unit of measurement for the various items that are used. It's a trial of estimation until you get the proportions of the ingredients right.

The result was a very delicious prawn soup noodle. The shrimps that were put into boil for the stock were mostly used for the flavor, along with the disintegrated meat from the flower crabs. As you may have surmised, the soup was sweet from the use of those ingredients. The pork ribs however, survived the cooking process and had turned delicately soft, sliding off the bone with ease. The meat at this point fell apart quite easily in the mouth. Which takes us to the large grilled prawns.

These prawns spent about 15 minutes or so in the oven to bake. After which, the essense and roe/brain oozed out onto the tray and was summarily scraped clean by the spoons of almost everyone at the table. I can only describe it was foie gras good. Heart clogging richness coupled with a fragrant char in every mouthful would also be quite accurate. The flesh of the prawns were firm with crunch from each bite and slightly sweetish. I'm normally not in favour of bones and shells, but this was one of those exceptions when I discarded my utensils in favor of better tools. I meant my fingers of course.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ohsho, Cuppage Plaza

I've been to this place Ohsho (5 Koek Road, #01-10 Cuppage Plaza) once some years back for ramen and noticed the food that was being served in this counter styled eatery which featured Japanese food and cooking that reminded more more than a little of tze char. I have wondered if that was Japanese styled Chinese or Chinese styled Japanese? I'm guessing that it's a fusion of both if I had to put a label onto it. Well, it's probably more Japanese than Chinese though. Run by a bunch of Chinese guys that does the cooking and overseen by one other Japanese dude that was probably the one in charge of the eatery. Tucked in a little corner by the entrance of Cuppage Plaza, this cosy shop sees their regular share of crowd during the meal hours.

The menu features a bunch of stir fried dishes, a selection of ramen & fried rice and various set combinations of the a la carte items. There is a set dinner which always seem to be available for $16 which consists of a very delicious fried rice, omelet with chopped vegetables and crabsticks, stir fried pork with onions and bell peppers, breaded fried prawn, mashed potatos, some shredded cabbage with mayo dressing and a bunch of gyoza. The portions of that set is pretty substantial and the fried rice with minced pork here is pretty good stuff. There is a char aroma from the wok and that's something that's to me, really more Chinese than Japanese.

Their gyoza were pretty decent, if unexceptional. The skins are nicely browned, a little oily and the insides were hot and juicy. The condiments that are available for them included white vinegar, a chilli paste and something that's labelled as gyoza sauce which I didn't try. The vinegar however, worked well with the dumplings especially when paired with the chilli paste which has a noticeable kick and really adds zest. I would prefer the Chinese pot stickers (guo tie) over these any day though. Maybe, I just haven't had really good gyozas. The char siew ramen wasn't very noteworthy except for those tasty char siew slices which were rather fragrant. The noodle weren't of the type that I liked and their broth doesn't come across as outstanding.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chocolate and banana prata from Spize

I've passed this place (409 River Valley Road) on several occasions, but never really stopped by until today. And I realised that this location is probably really good for the post-clubbing crowd in the vicinity. The menu at Spize essentially features commonly found local Muslim food like mee gorengs, pratas and et cetera. There is a variety of pratas based on the menu which includes some of the common renditions, specialties and dessert pratas. I decided to try out the chocolate and banana prata which turned out to be pretty much how I thought it might have been. This was actually not too bad. Semi melted banana slices and chocolate sauce drizzled generously over the top of a freshly made prata. The crispy surface doesn't stay so for very long though.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

One cool evening with three Hot Bitches

That's what Wild Oats (Emily Hill, 11 Upper Wilkie road) calls their hot dogs and in the face of perspective, according to a friend whom was present, "These aren't hot bitches, they are just bitches". Really, I have reasonably expected more out of the poor show from Buffy, Dizzi and Sassi. The bitches arrived barely lukewarm and the buns weren't even toasted at all. Now remove all sexual connotations to whatever you've just read. This is a food blog if you remember. The toppings are really, not much to speak of apart from the novelty of having things like creamed peas which really doesn't do much to the dog apart from aesthetic color contrast for the toppings. Peas aren't exactly the strongest tasting of things and having them on sausages with spicey beef sauce already isn't exactly going to add much of a dimension if at all to the flavor. The caramelized onions and mustard were pretty regular tasting and I thought that it would probably be easier if the regular chopped variety were used instead. I must also mention the $6.50 plate of miserable looking and overfried crickle cut fries which looks like the frozen variety that can be purchased from any supermarket. Yikes, and to think that Wild Rocket and this place are related? Who's da boss in the kitchen?





Saturday, November 10, 2007

more of my home made pizzas...

One of the random things I made at home. If you recall on the previous occasions, I don't actually make them from scratch. This time round, it's the same brand of frozen pizza with spinach topping....AND additional stuff which I thought would be good to have. I'm talking about shaven breakfast ham, sundried tomatoes, generous sprinkles of grated parmesan & mozzarella and an egg. I was actually pretty surprised that the egg was still runny when the pizza was done, having spent the same amount of time spread out on the top in the oven.

Da Paolo Il Giardino, Cluny Court

I'm quite taken in by the location of this place (501 Bukit Timah Road,#01-05, Cluny Court) which is actually secluded in the back of the row of shop houses just beside Serene Centre along the junction of Bukit Timah and Adam Road. The funny thing is that the huge sign stood just beside the bamboo lined and stone pathed walkway, which was so obvious that I had actually overlooked it for some moments before realising that the innocuous path had actually lead to a shaded sanctuary which was the restaurant.

The starter for lunch was the portobello al forno which is are grilled portobello mushroom caps topped with mozzarella cheese, basil and rosemary on some greens and cherry tomatoes. The mushroom tasted pretty much like how it looks and apart from being rather juicy which can't be seen from the picture, it's a regular and decent rendition of its kind. After having had the magic mushroom from the Original Sin, I found it hard to really consider portobellos from anywhere else, exceptional. I know it's not a very fair comparison here.

I didn't make note of the pasta names, but the ingredients would pretty much speak out for themselves. This duck liver tagliatelle I found, was quite the outstanding pasta which was very well flavored in the oils of the pan fried liver tossed in cherry tomatoes and sliced mushrooms. This isn't the regular quivery foie gras but it comes a distant close, being not overcooked and seeped in their fragrance. I didn't expect anything less than al dente there for the noodles and it definitely didn't disappoint in that department, being firm and of sufficient bite.

This other tagliatelle comes tossed in a tomato cream sauce with vodka, and not to any surprise, I couldn't actually taste any of the liquor in the sauce. I was actually hoping for a noticeable hint of it. Still, it comes with that rich and flavorful sauce that is loaded with minced crab meat that permeates the dish and that makes it very memorable for its taste. This item definitely looks to be something that I could return for again.

Da Paolo is one of the places that you shouldn't pass up on tiramisu because it's just so much better than most of the other places. I'll be lazy here and skip the description because I've already done it previously, but suffice it is to say that the ones here are just good.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A return to Yoshida

So, I came back again for lunch because the chiraishizushi was so memorable. I think I got some fish liver today which wasn't in the box the last time I was here. The chutoro seemed to melt more smoothly. I was wondering if that was psychological for the chutoro part. Everything was as good as I remembered it. I'll definitely be hard pressed to want to pick anything else from the lunch menu if I come back again and I'm wondering if this was a good thing or not. Lol. If I really had to find a fault here, it'll probably be the pickled ginger which I was quite willing to overlook. The sashimi moriawase (I believe there was salmon, hamachi, maguro and a juicy scallop) turned up smaller than I had expected. I didn't get to taste it but it looked as good if not as impressive as the chiraishizushi box. And not to forget, the wonderful chilled onsen tamago in yuzu infused soy sauce. Mouthwatering is god damned right!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dinner @ Sage

I had taken a step into a time capsule and realised that it had been almost a year since I have first walked into Sage for a very nice lunch. So I have finally come for the dinner that I've been wanting to do for quite some time, courtesy of fatpig, whom has had in diligence, made the effort to organize a monthly eveningfest in the past moons.

A bit has changed in the past year for the dining scene at Sage. Firstly, there doesn't seem to be lunch anymore which I think is a pity because what they did was good. Dinner seems to be available in only a la carte where there were set options previously. That aside, the food still lived up to how I remembered it last and that's really a good thing. Bear in mind that the photos that you see here doesn't do justice to the actual food. The ambience of the restaurant could be considered romantic and my mobile phone camera can only bring out so much image quality with 2 megapixels. Thanks Adrian, for the extra lighting.

complimentary amuse bouche

I'm not too sure what this was so I can only describe it by taste. The fuschia layer at the top has a tangy flavour which reminded me of berries or tomatoes. I couldn't really put my finger onto what it was. At the bottom was apudding of sorts in the color of oatmeal. That seemed to be made of finely minced meat akin to pate.

Seared King Scallops on a Salad of Homemade Squid Ink Capellini, Marinated Ocean Trout and Avruga Caviar, Braised Scallop Lips and Leek & Potato Vichyssoise

I found this scallop to be very enjoyable. In the layers of complicated composite, the sweetness of the seared scallop was still resonant and I thought that really scored. There was a saltish avruga roe with a very smoky morsels of scallop "wings" at the top and a tasty squid ink capellini at the bottom which was mostly mixed with the warm tasting creamy sauce known as leek and potato vichyssoise on menu. Which by the way was excellent.  To the point that most of us were rummaging the bread basket for remnants to mop up all the remaining vichyssoise. The marinated trout unfortunately didn't really taste much more to me than salty salmon flakes.

Pan Seared Duck Foie Gras with Pistachio Crust and Fig Compote, Granny Smith Apple Puree and a dressing of Red Grape Mustard Vinegar

This foie gras probably heard the most praises sung from the table and I would definitely have to agree. This was probably one of the best I've had so far. Recall the cliche descriptions of crispy skin and quivery soft insides that disintegrates in your mouth, diffusing rich buttery flavours into the tongue. It's all there fellas. And there's more. I had particularly enjoyed the pistachio crust which gave additional 'nuttish fragrance'. That was definitely not just window dressing on food. This is the first time eating apple puree here and I though it was worth mentioning because it was so smooth that it was almost creamy. It's a very well done citrus balance to the duck liver which was absolutely heart clogging good.

Caramelized Black Angus Beef Cheek topped with Melted Foie Gras Mousse and a Fricassee of Mushrooms, Compote of Butternut Squash and White Onions

I picked the beef over the fish for the main. That's what I would usually do. This time round it was almost regrettable because I had a taste of their very good cod which was the other option for mains. Yes, the abhorred 'melt in your mouth' description would be very appropriate there. Even though I detest that phrase, I think it fair for me to say it because it simply was so.

Not to digress from what I had, this beef cheek was unfortunately quite atypical of what I had expected. There were some saving graces to the dish though. A light hint of that caramelized bitterness over the sweet and savory meat and also the fact that it was tender enough to be eaten with just a fork. This method of cooking was not typically how I enjoy beef and despite the fact that I had used the term 'saving grace', this was not bad at all. The beef cheek sat in the sweetish rich jus which was made richer by the foie gras mousse on the top. There wasn't much to be said about the mushrooms which I thought was rather usual, but I thought the butternut squash compote was a very good touch. I liked those.

Lemon & Triple Cheese Bavarian

I made a swap for the dessert and landed myself this mascarpone, ricotta, cream cheese and Meyer lemon Bavarian with peanut butter ice-cream and baked honeyed-lemon filo. I was thinking as I tasted the pudding that the use of the three cheeses didn't really come into effective play. The whole thing tasted like a curdled lemon yoghurt. It was pretty enjoyable with the sweet filo pastry bar but was overshadowed by the creamy peanut butter ice cream which I thought was really good with bits of crushed nuts on the side.

This place would definitely be for re-visits.