Monday, February 26, 2007

The fried rice from Pasta Mania


I got this packed for lunch just out of curiosity. I'm not picking on a low cost pasta place and  then complaining excessively because I prefer the original dish, but this was definitely fried rice. I don't know how I could have been convinced that it wasn't, unless in the context of Pasta Mania, Riso = fried rice. The name attempts to suggest risotto, but this doesn't look or taste remotely like it. For fried rice, it's actually not too bad. Lol. There's a fair bit of mixed mushrooms and wow, even pine nuts. And the rice tasted garlicky enough. If it had been a tad less oily with fluffier rice, Crystal Jade should watch out.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

More from Brussels Sprouts...


I have been down dinnering and drinking at this place for a couple of consecutive evenings. I know I mentioned repeated visits previously. But these were totally unplanned and I'm digging this place more than I expected. I swear it's the excellent selection of Belgian beer, Hoegaarden and Leffe Blond on tap and it gives me the excuse to try their other mains and mussels. Not the waitresses. For one, this is probably one of the drinking places that does at least passable food instead of the regular overpriced and overfried pub grub or what is passed off as drinking snacks.

Vin Blanc ( onion, parsley, celery, butter & white wine)

Cream (onion, parsley, celery, cream & white wine)

Gratinee (gratinated with breadcrumbs, butter, nutmeg & cheese)

The mussels pretty much taste the same since it doesn't really absorb the broth in the pot. You need to be scooping up the broth to eat with the mussels to really appreciate any differences. I end up drinking it after I'm done with the mussels mostly. With the exception of the Gratinee, I think it would be true for most of the broth varieties. And I'm getting the hang out of scraping out the nice chewy flesh that glues the rest of the meat to the shells. Cheese lovers ought to try the Gratinee....it's cheesy enough and with the butter, it's really quite mouth watering.

Braised Meatballs with dark beer, onions and mustard

These meatballs are larger than the usual variety expected and are more lumpy than ball like. Meat's hearty as minced ones get, but there's really nothing much to the sauce. The menu omits the mentioning of mushrooms there.

Braised beef cheek infused in Belgian beer with Pommes croquettes

un-crepe like crepe stuffed with wild mushrooms, ham and cheese

Leffe Blond

the Grand Cru

The Forbidden Fruit

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A foot in the Subway


No I didn't find someone or something's feet lying in the subway. What I did was to uncharacteristically order a foot of double meat Subway Club in Parmesan Oregano for lunch, not realising that double + foot = much more enormous than usual of solids I had to ingest. I think I can skip dinner today already.


Sun Maids in Vanilla Yoghurt


I saw these for the first time and never realised that Sun Maid's raisins actually come "flavored". These vanilla yoghurt actually don't taste anything like yoghurt. In fact, it's like white chocolate coated raisins. They're not too bad.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Senso, 21 Club Street


This elegant looking restaurant piqued my curiosity from some time back with their colonial styled decor decked out at the front with all white. I've been told that the food is pretty good. This very first visit left a good impression that exceeded my expectations in terms of service. From the sommeliers to the waiters, the staff at Senso did indeed make a more than visible effort to provide a very pleasant dining experience. The restaurant itself also featured a small (and subjectively romantic) courtyard in the middle - a dining sanctuary of a totally different ambience from the rest of it. And it seems that Senso has seen more than its fair share accolades from various local presses and media.

bread basket

chickpea puree dip for the bread

amuse bouche of tuna on a square of beetroot

carpaccio

mozzarella


We had carpaccio with what I thought to be very good shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. Their mozzarella (Pan-Fried Buffalo Mozzarella Wrapped In Parma Ham, With Marinated Raisins And Pine Kernels In Balsamico), a supposed signature antipasti of Senso was delicious as well. The texture of the cheese was light with almost of a soft fungi like texture and a light chewiness. The Parma ham was fragrant. Both cheese and ham worked with the marinated raisins and balsamic vinegar. Mouth watering would be a good word to describe them.

ossobuco

The ossobuco (braised veal shank with mashed potatoes, rosemary and lemon Gremolata) here was great stuff. Even though I thought it could have been as good without the gremolata, this was excellent veal with flavourful meat that fell off the bone. The prize of this dish was the marrow in the centre of the bone which was heart clogging delicious. It was almost like eating foie gras.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Brussels Sprouts, The Pier @ Robertson


Themed by the peroxide blond Chef in Black, Emmanuel Stroobant of Saint Pierre, this is a relatively new place located along the river at Robertson Quay just within sighting distance from the courtyard at Frasier Place. Brussels Sprouts in it's sparse and minimalist decor appears to be a bar cum restaurant establishment whipping up "Belgian food" and importantly Norwegian mussels that gets served by the pots. The mussels were for me the major highlight of the place. I came here bent on trying them if not anything else. These Norwegian mussels are smaller than the regular ones that are frequently found locally, but are decidedly much more tender and sweet. And because of their size, eating them by the pots isn't really as intimidating as it sounds. A starter portion comes with 300 grams of them mollusks and a main portion ups the portion to 700 grams. Minus the shells, it's really not that hefty. Plus it was all really good with the large selection of Belgian beer on their menu. Hoegaarden white ($11.50 for the Magnum, $9.50 during happy hours. Yay!) and Leffe Blonde is on tap at this place too! This combination means that I will be back....and possibly back again....and again. Lol. This is actually my third visit here, but it is the first time I'm ordering food.


The mussels here are served with a variety of broths. I don't know if that's an appropriate term for description, but it just means that there is quite a few different flavors you can get them in. I've only tried the Brussels Sprouts Special where the shell fish is cooked in a buttery broth with celery and pepper. The broth was so tasty with the mussels that I was drinking it from the pot after the shellfish were finished. Each order of the mussels comes with a free flow of Belgian fries which are pretty good. Totally hearty and heart clogging with the accompanied mayonnaise.

Apart from the mussels, Brussels Sprouts has a small menu of mains (ranging from $20-$30) and a variety of sides on menu. The mains are supposedly Belgian styled, but I'm not exactly familiar with what's the signature of Belgian food apart from a mentioning of horse steak (which isn't in the menu by the way) from someone. We managed an order of the pork belly and unexciting chicken.

Pork belly glazed with Juniper Berry Honey and Braised Red Cabbage with Apple ($20)

Poached Chicken Waterzooi with leek, carrot, baby potatoes, parsley and lemon juice ($20)

I didn't think too much of the mains up there. I'm not too big a fan of non roasted fatty pork meat and to be fair, it didn't taste bad. Could have been the beer affecting my tongue but I could have sworn a hint of ginseng in there. The side of red cabbage tasted a lot like raisins and the little lump of orange is sweet grated carrot. The poached chicken drenched in the creamy sauce felt like chicken carbonara... which is about as direct as I can describe it without too many words.

This turned out to be a great place to hang out for dinner and drinks. The selection of drinks almost guarantees that I will be back for repeated visits. And I've discover another good label based on recommendation by a friend. Kwak!


Creation Cafe, Shaw Leisure Gallery


I've been recommended this place which I've walked past numerous times by a colleague. The bustling lunch crowd here looked indeed promising as there hasn't been a time that I recall seeing empty seats. The food here is.....well, edible stuff. Which means that while I'm not doing major griping over that they serve, I'm not likely to come back to this place again. Feel free to disagree with me. Creation Cafe does set lunches at from $10.90 which includes soup (soup of the day), pasta and a drink. A top up of $4 gets you your dessert of choice from their menu. The choices of pasta are limited to fuscilli, linguine, spaghetti and mushroom ravioli.

Today's soup of the day was a carrot cream soup that had a cheesy taste to it. Immediately the cheese scored with me and honestly, I liked it. I'm was actually surprised that it wasn't another cream of mushroom number which seems so rampant. The side of fried calamari (an extra order for sharing outside of the set lunch) was mundane. It's not the worst of fried calamari I've eaten, but I didn't really think too much of it. Maybe I'm not so much into deep fried things. Just can't shake off the oily feel after too much of them.




The linguine vongole aglio looked a lot better in the picture than real life. It tasted a tad "stir fried oily" with little garlic flavor. Which triggers memories of a couple of places that did pasta that way which I've sworn off. Lol. I'm really dissatisfied with the clams. Tiny shriveled looking pieces of meat that when put together doesn't make a half mouthful. And the mushroom succeeded in making the pasta look more clam filled than it really is.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Beppu, Suntec City Basement


I've decided that after today, I won't be back here for the ramen again. I first visited this place years ago at the outlet at Far East Square when they were fairly new and the idea of sprucing up the ramen with chilli count was a novelty. I thought they weren't too bad. That was then. Today, they don't seem to be as good as I remember them to be. Things have changed, so it's either their method of preparation or it's me. And I cannot fathom why anyone who wants to enjoy their food would want to opt for the seven chilli option since it removes almost every trace of other flavour and drowns the whole bowl of noodles with chilli powder and it's flavor. It just doesn't make sense to go that far.

They menu has expanded since I last came and now they have beef char siew ramen. Granted that I've only had char siew of the pork or vegetarian variety, I have no idea what beef char siew is like. It certainly didn't turn out to be recognizable as char siew in any form. It's just marinated and sliced cooked beef which while wasn't poor, shouldn't really be called beef char siew. On a positive note, the grilled squid here is still good as I remember it. The slightly crispy charred surface and chewy flesh. Despite that, I'm not sure I'll be back here just for the grilled squid. There're options aplenty and this place just doesn't quite seem enjoyable anymore.


Monday, February 12, 2007

The Call of the Muthu

I definitely didn't plan to re-visit Muthu's Curry again so soon. It's all a result of lethargic spontaneity. Whatever it is that you make out of that term. Also it meant that I liked enough of what I had here previously to be back again. This time round, it was even better because I've found some really delicious items on menu that can be described as pleasant surprises. Apart from the much talked about fish head curry which I've mentioned previously, there are a slew of other offerings in the menu that comes from both southern and northern Indian cuisine. That certain didn't deter us from getting a serving of the fish head curry again. This time round, the portions were noticeably less meaty, but seemed to taste fresher.

Fish head curry

Murg pudina kebab

This murg pudina kebab reminds me distinctively of the murg malai tikka from Copper Chimney which wasn't really my thing. The initial apprehension was removed after the first bite and I must say that this is pretty good stuff. The only smilarity with the malai tikka is the burnt chicken. Apart from that, it isn't overly stuffed with herbs. Spicy yoghurt marinate and ground mint was good here.

Marsala prawns

These marsala prawns deserved special mention simply because they were excellent. I was totally surprised by how good those prawns were and it was something that had to tried to be understood. What rocked wasn't actually the marsala at all. In fact, the sauce turned out fairly unremarkable. It was the prawns that made this dish. Big, fat and fresh tiger prawns fully loaded with meaty crunchiness. Made me a happy man. Lol. This place gives you the options of having them with shells or deshelled. We picked the deshelled option which left us with the tail end and the head which were easily extracted from the flesh. Again, excellent stuff. It's $6 for one prawn and judging from the menu, prices may fluctuate.

Cheese naan

And there was better cheese naan this time round. Somehow, in comparison with the previous visit, the naan exuded more fragrance, arrived warmer and had more cheese. It looks like there might be some point in the future which I will be back again.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sum's Kitchen, 3 Jalan Legundi


Jalan Legundi runs perpendicular from the main road where Sembawang Shopping Center is. I was brought here once by a friend who told me that the owner here use to do roast duck in Hong Kong and it apparently a signature dish in this restaurant. That time, we were here at about 8pm and we just managed to get the last of their roast duck for the day. The duck was pretty good. This place serves roast duck breast meat that's tender, so I guess it says something about how they're a cut above the norm. Besides duck, the restaurant does serve other Chinese cze char dishes. The menu is not large, but there's a bunch of other dishes that can be gotten to accompany the duck.


a serving of roast duck

three egg spinach


This three egg spinach wasn't as tasty as I've had at other places previously. It could have been a personal thing where I prefer the soup to be more robust and rich as opposed to being lightweight. Apart from this little thing with the soup, the rest of the dish was quite rather enjoyable.

sliced fish with black bean

I enjoy dishes with black beans (fermented?). Their sliced fish, although freshness were quite disappointing. Similarlt to the one I had at Chin Chin Eating House (which is in sauce mode), the flavoru of the black beans were underwhelming. I didn't think that this stir fried fish remarkable in any way.

fried bean curd with salted skin

I was expecting plain fried bean curd for this one with perhaps just salt on the surface. These crispy skinned bean curd (which are served really hot by the way) was stuffed with a small variety of vegetables and some of which, made enemies with my tongue. Besides the bits of carrot and mushroom in the mashed bean curd, I there was coriander. If not for the coriander, the bean curd was actually not too bad.

The cost for dinner was about $50 for four persons with rice and Chinese tea. Service was relatively snappy, though curt. Although this was relatively inexpensive, one can do with more for less at Taste of Thailand just across the main road at Sembawang Shopping Centre.