Sunday, September 30, 2007

Moo Moo Burger from Vittles


For $10.90, this burger is pretty decent stuff. I was pretty surprised by size of it when it was served and it's not often that I'm taken aback by the size of the patty of most burgers. Vittles at Sembawang Cottage, across the road from Khatib Camp is apparently a pretty new diner that does western chow at very affordable prices sans GST and service charge. This would put it up in the good books of many people since most places that do actually charge for service don't actually deserve a small fraction of it. This place works somewhat like Cafe Cartel where you write your orders on a chit and bring the chit up to the counter for payment and then you wait for your orders and help yourself with free popcorn.

Back to the burger, it's really quite a decent attempt here despite it not being the best one around. But at the price, this is something I think is worth checking out if you like big meat. Big hand chopped patty meat (250g of it) with onions, sauteed mushrooms, real bacon, cheese and lettuce on a lightly oat encrusted bun that probaby uses the oats for decorations rather than anything else. The beefy patty definitely a noticeable up from the kind that you get from Botak Jones and certainly has potential still, for improvement. One main gripe which is a personal thing here is the barbeque sauce which is something that I really do not understand about in burgers. Doesn't make it taste any better for me and if there is a need to break the monotony of the taste in the huge patty, aged cheddar works as well. I'd be willing to throw in a dollar or two more for a better cheese option. With an egg, it'll give the Epicurious burger a big run for it's money. Do take note again, that this burger is really huge. Remember not to dislodge your jaws if you're eating with your hands.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Watershed Wine Dinner @ Senso


Watershed as I've learnt is one of the few vineyards that resides in the region of Margaret River down in Australia. This wine dinner - a collaboration of WineBOS and Senso, as you may have surmised from the name is accompanied by various wine from Watershed. I'm not knowedgeable about wines, but I do drink it and preferences at this point of time is purely dictated by the tongue. I know what I like or not based on the taste. I know very little else despite having attended wine appreciation. The differences between the new and the old world doesn't quite settle in me and I haven't quite gotten the grasp of the varietal of grapes that are used. So I hope you're not expecting me to engage in the subtleties of the drink. But for those that might be interested, I do have the listed course and accompaniement of this 5 course dinner.

Poached crabmeat salad with avocado, orange and green apple with Sambuca dressing served with
Watershed Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon, 2006

Rigatoni pasta with braised rabbit in tomato sauce with Taggiasche black olives and fresh thyme served with
Watershed unoaked Chardonnay, 2005

Traditional Carnaroli risotto with braised duck and Italian porcini mushrooms served with Watershed Shades, 2004


Braised veal shank "Ossobuco" served with mashed potatoes, rosemary and lemon Gremolata served with
Watershed Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot, 2004


Chef's selection of cheese served with
Watershed Shiraz, 2003

The food was pretty much as I had expected, but some factors fell flat on the overall satisfaction. It was so uninteresting without any highlights that the cheese was actually a highlight of the 5 courses. Those cheeses were really quite good and to think that it was probably something that required the least preparation.

There were a few items that I thought could have been improved. For one, the rabbit in the rigatoni tasted pretty much like fish and the braised shredded duck meat of the risotto tasted boringly flat and had too little meat, rendering it almost unidentifiable as duck. This poached crabmeat salad seemed quite overdone and brought up more than a faint reminder of a unremarkable trout and crab roll from Bontá. I suppose the osso buco was fine. Just part of the meat from the shank. If I had to call it, the justification to the price tag of the dinner were the generous pours of wine.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Superfamous wagyu burger


There's a place down at Chulia Street just beside the OCBC building near Raffles Place done like a cafe in a little park called Superfamous. The cuisine reads like fusion/Australian but then I'm not sure of the actual differences between the two. Perhaps it can just be described as largely European with some Asian accents. Anyway, I dropped by for lunch prior to an appointment and decided to try out their Wagyu burger. Now I'm just wondering, since Wagyu is a breed of cattle, does it mean that there are those that do not go through the fattening treatment process or is something like Grade 1 really affordable? This one was priced at about $24 dollars and after seeing how places like One Ninety or the defunct überburger charges for a Wagyu between bread, this does smell like a different beast. Pun intended.


Honestly, I've definitely had better. Better and less costly with the Garageburger from Wine Garage coming on top of that list of cheaper and better. Similar does the Wild Rocket Burger fare. Sure, those aren't wagyu but they were certainly much more enjoyable than this which featured meat that was marinated almost to death resulting in a sweetish herby flavour to the patty. That to me isn't enjoyable for beef. It could have had some flavours, but it still needed to retain the beefiness which this particular one didn't possess. I would have preferred sautéed onions rather than the caramelised ones that was used. So the result was a slightly pepperish/sweetish taste that reminded me of cheap black pepper sauces.


The upside of the lunch was actually the seared tuna salad which came with rather delicious seared tuna slices with a very generous helping of greens with olives and quail eggs. The portions of the salad was bigger than I had expected. I'm not too sure what was the dressing but I thought I detected sesame sauce and vinaigrette.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Burritos, enchiladas and magaritas...


These Tex Mex stuff seems to be my recent craze lately, so you unfortunate readers will have little choice but to bear with it since this is my blog. Hahaha! No, really, I do dig the food here and it's really quite funny how little of them I've had until recently, which pretty much started from that night at Cha Cha Cha. Now that I'm pretty enamored with Café Iguana, I've decided that doing a late Sunday lunch at this place might be in order since it would be probably the only time, I get to look at everything that I'm eating in clear daylight. You can bet your money, including your bottoms, that this will not be my last time. Back to topic, it's a lunch that I'm doing with my brother, so we wisely stuck to a single order of a starters of an ancho dusted calamari, along with a shredded steak burrito and tuna enchiladas.

calamari

These are just regular fried calamari, which are normally good for bites while waiting for the rest of the food to arrive but these arrived really just shortly before the rest of the mains did. The calamari here have a soft/soggy batter coating. The ancho dusting is probably a really like dusting of the spice, so I didn't quite get the taste. The plate came with a saltish and garlicky sauce of sorts which turns out to be quite good with the calarmari.

burritos

I didn't think that burritos were so large, but here's one. The commonly used word to describe this would be hearty. And truly it was. They were basically filled with the choice of meat from the order, and more of the black beans and cilantro rice. I think this place may just mark the beginnings of me not rejecting those vile herbs since the flavour of the cilantro in the food here were fairly mild and bearable. In fact, I'm starting to find them quite acceptable in the food. All in all, it was good and as I mentioned earlier, hearty.

tuna enchiladas

The last time I had enchiladas, the skin was softer. This time round, I definitely saw more crisp and it did look a little like prata. So more black beans and rice which I'm definitely not complaining about. There's the salty fried black tuna wrapped in the tortilla skins and topped with melted cheese and the tomato/onion things. Pretty damn good and I must say that I liked this.

Crab tang hoon @ Geylang Lorong 37


Heads up, this is pretty good stuff. Located right at the entrance of Lorong 37 of Geylang, this coffeeshop known as Ya Kwang Dai Pai Dong does some pretty damn tasty tang hoon stir fried with their special mix of sauces and stock to produce a very tasty and flavorful dish, accentuated with the flavor of crab. The tang hoon had a springy consistency and was a bit thicker than the usual ones. It was fun slurping them and having them slither down the throat. The place looked to be selling some pretty delicious looking kuay chup right at the front and also had a kitchen at the back where the owner was able to whip up some of his specialty seafood dishes. This crab tang hoon was just one of it. Since we were already there, we decided to try one of this recommended steamed fish head in bean sauce and the kuay chup.


The steamed fish head wasn't too bad. But it was the tasty bean sauce that does most of the trick for the dish imparting the bulk of the flavor. Apart from the commendable freshness, this was basically a regular steamed fish head. Probably isn't something I'll see myself coming back for. I'm not exactly a big fan of fish head unless they're exceptional.


The kuay chup that they served was very enjoyable. The mixed dish came with braised duck, some pork which I thought might have been trotters, braised egg, tau kua, braised intestines, preserved vegetables and fish cakes. I definitely can see myself ordering this again.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New York in Mexican


I've been having quite a bit of fun exploring Tex Mex food lately and this was something called a New York Steak ($21.99) from Café Iguana. It's from a section which is labelled Tequila Grill which featured lime marinated meats that is finished with a spicy tequila glaze. The steak sits atop a stick of grilled vegetables that's lying on some sweet poblano scalloped potatoes. It turned out that this steak was the medium rare that I requested. The lime marinate did come through in the meat in terms of flavouring, but I couldn't quite make out what the tequila glaze was. I was pretty glad that those marinades weren't too strong which allowed the flavour of the beef to still be tasted. There was also a decent char on the surface of the meat to ramp up the flavour. This was definitely a thumbs up here. The faith that I have in this place is building up, so that means that I will probably come back again.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Café Iguana, Riverside Point


I'm beginning to understand why this place (30 Merchant Road, #01-03 Riverside Point) is often crowded. Just like Brewerks down the river, the food was fairly affordable and margaritas are at half price up to 9pm and after 12am. The crowd was so consistently even on weeknights, that reservations can only be made up to 7 in the evening. It definitely took me a while to start coming by to this place, but I do foresee more instances of returning. In conversation with a new Korean acquaintance, it seems that the standards of the Mexican Food at Cafe Iguana are quite similar to that in Texas. With less grease. It was much cheaper over there of course, with their proximity to Mexico. Like in Italian food in Italy, Mexico has cuisine that tends to vary in style depending on which region of the country it hails from. Not being the expert, I can't really pinpoint anything of the origins, but I guess it's probably enough to be generic of Mexican food. Are there any good or better ones around here?

quesadillas ($2.99)

These quesadillas were pretty cheap and freshly baked. There is still a bit of the crisp freshness on the tortilla skins which are filled with cheese and mushrooms. This definitely made a good drinking snack.

shredded beef mini chimichangas ($7.99)

The mini chimichangas here come with the option of either shredded chicken or beef for the fillings inside. The initial impression of them were that they look pretty much like cut up Old Chang Kee curry puffs accompanied with guacamole and sour cream dips. They also reminded me of the kolkatta shingara which I've had at Mustard down in Little India. Thick crispy and fried skins of flour with fillings. They're not too bad and it fills you up quite a bit.

camarones al diablo ($14.99)

Babelfish told me that the name of this camarones al diablo translates to "shrimps to the devil". The devil in the name I presume, come from the sweet spicy sauce. That sauce which the shrimps were sauteed in is supposed to include habanero chile, capsicum, ginger, cumin and lime. Said sauce had a pretty good balance between being sweet and spicy at the same time, so it's not something that packs a strong heat if you're wondering. On the sides are more...quesadillas. This kinda makes the dinner pretty filling with all the flour and cheeses at this point.

green chile stew ($12.99)

For $13, this made a pretty good main course. I was initially quite skeptical of the coriander that I remember being mentioned in the rice, but it turns out to be alright. I personally find this nutty tasting stewed pork with rice and beans (which tasted better than they look) to be pretty good and the portions were enough to fill up.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Back in Kazu


I'm not too sure why some of the photos that I take from Kazu tend look worse than usual. Not that it is a deterrence for me from coming back to visit again and again. The menu of the place has seen some small changes over the previous visits to what it offers today. No, I'm not refering to the seasonal items that rotate throughout the year with their exotic delicacies. Some of the regular items that are being offered now comes in sized portions - which was not available such options previously. The old prices for those said items are now tagged onto the smaller potions. Some of which, are smaller than the original ones (single size portion available only) that was previously sold. That means that while you get the option of getting larger portions of your favorite items, we also see an upping in the cost of eating here when you compare it to how things were months back. Now that was a bit confusing.

short neck clams cooked in butter

These clams aren't as buttery as those from Sushi Yoshida, but are pretty tasty along with the salty broth that is filled with golden mushrooms. The portions, I felt are a tad small.

salmon milt (sperm)

This item seems to be seasonal on the menu and taste like something I've had before in Chinese mixed fish soups. The pinkish appearance on the exposed sections of the cuts indicates that it is not fully cooked. The texture of the salmon milt is akin to a harder tofu, but I couldn't really taste much of it when eaten with the ponzu sauce and mildly spicy grated radish.

foie gras

fatty pork with apple

I'm not sure if there is a change in the preparation of this pork with apple, but I they did come with some mashed apple sauce the first couple of times I had them here. And that was definitely much better than these ones without.

prawn and scallop wrapped with bacon strips

shimeji mushroom in pork belly

chicken hearts

lamb chops

beef and cheese roll

squid ink rice

The squid ink rice comes quite heftily priced at $20 for a small pot. A pot of it has enough to fill 2 bowls so you can do the math on how much it costs, per bowl. The squid ink flavor is very apparent in the rice which is mixed with some mushrooms, vegetables and bits of squid. It wasn't bad, just another one of those items that wasn't spectacular.

grilled whale tongue

This grilled whale tongue is something from the seasonal menu. It is also something I probably will not be ordering again. The taste is not bad by any means. It's just unremarkable and it's probably good just to try them out. The meat has a fatty texture pretty much like satay, but the fatty portions are tough and chewy instead of soft. In fact, it was chewier than the beef tongue. Apart from that, it isn't really identifiable as any form of other meat.

japanese sweet potato

These Japanese sweet potato take some time to grill, so it's good to have them ordered early. I'll probably be making an order of this sweet fragrant roots everytime I come by here. Hot and buttered, these will make you hot and bothered. Lol.

grilled beef tongue

Kazu's tiramisu

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cha Cha Cha, Holland Village


I've been hearing some good things from various friends about this Mexican restaurant located just across the road from Wala Wala and next door to a competitor place El Patio. Cha Cha Cha (32 Lorong Mambong) does seem to have a healthy crowd going for it even on weeknights and I thought the food was actually not bad. The portions do come a bit small for the price they charge for the food ($15 for what you see up there), so one main course isn't really going to do the job. Even for this combinados (if I remember correctly) item which allows you to pick a duo of either a enchilada, taco (soft or hard) and a fajita. I found the ground beef for the soft taco to be quite little and I'm sure it does not cost that much to be a little more generous since the rest of it are simply a corn flour shell , a bit of cheese and vegetables. I was quite sure of reading about refried beans, which turns out to be the tasty beany mash on the side. Still the food goes down pretty well and the satisfaction factor was there. I'm still getting the hang of the names of Mexican food here, but I think I'd probably be an enchilada person. The crispy things don't really work out for me most of the time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Z'en, UE Square


I thought that this place (UE Square #01-75) has quite some potential, just like its sister establishment En, just around the block. The biggest gripe I actually had was the air conditioning. Lol. It really needs to be turned up. That aside, this modern Japanese bar and restaurant certainly whips up chow with standards that I didn't quite expect. That came from their surprisingly firm and fresh swordfish and yellowtail sashimi which turned out better than I thought. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of those. The service was marked by very observant and courteous staff.

pumpkin cooked in butter ($8)

This was just described as pumpkin that is cooked in butter from the menu. I'm not really sure how the cooking is actually done, but they did taste like they was steamed before frying lightly. There was a hint of butter on the surface of the hot pumpkin, but I thought it would have been much better if there was a lot more butter. This almost reminds me of the sweet potato with butter from Kazu. Almost.

grilled asparagus in bleu cheese dressing ($12)

The grilled asparagus wasn't special in any way. Just regular grilled asparagus. I generally like them so it's something that I would order. The bleu cheese dressing was a major plus that contributed to the decision to try this and the cool thing about this asparagus dish was that it comes with slices of bread which one can use mop up the excess blue cheese sauce. The sauce didn't taste anyway as strong as the actual cheese, so I would think that it is quite palatable even for people who don't do blue cheese. YMMV though.

maguro carpaccio ($16)

The presentation looked quite fancy and a tad gimmicky for tuna carpaccio. Like En's maguro tataki salad, the carpaccios here are sliced thicker than I was expected. I am guessing that it probably is the way Japanese interpret theirs. It's the same way at Ma Maison with their scallop version. Z'en's carpaccio arrived a little over cooked resulting in a much more cooked taste than I was hoping for. On top of that (pun intended), the baked garlic chips contended with the small slices of fish in the ponzu sauce resulting in a flavour and texture that wasn't quite carpaccio like. I wouldn't say that this tasted bad, it's probably overdone in some areas.

grilled squid ($11)

Decent grilled squid here, however was quite lacking in the char which I enjoy. The only charred parts were the tentacles which made them the tastiest parts.

unagi chahan ($15)

This unagi fried rice was served in ia bamboo "trough" container. There was minimal salt in the rice and from appearances, looked to have been cooked with very little apart from oil and unagi that is already prepared in teriyaki sauce. The result was a fried rice that did possess the taste of unagi. Despite how it looked, the portions weren't huge and can be easily finished by a single person.

sirloin steak seared rare in ponzu sauce ($30)

The need for something meaty prompted me to order this and at $30, it wasn't cheap. I wasn't expecting much in the way flavours for the sliced steaks, but it turned out pretty damned good. There was proper searing done on the surface leaving the inside succulent medium rare. The ponzu sauce didn't overpower the flavour of the beef which was filled with yummy fats. This was quite a pleasant surprise and I would order again if I came back.

On the whole, this was a pretty good experience at Z'en. A re-visit in the future would definitely not be out of the question.