Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ryoriya Sangokushi, Robertson Quay

This place (30 Robertson Quay, #01-03 Riverside View, tel: 6238 8962) which I've happened by from time to time, from what I've been told is suppose to be Taiwanese and Japanese. I'm not sure which is suppose to come first, but the restaurant serves bottled beer from both countries and the food was very much Chinese styled while a large number of the clientele is actually Japanese. I suppose that there is an element of Okinawan influence in the food here since the Okinawa Prefecture extends all the way to Taiwan and the food that hails from that region is very much similar to Chinese food.

The menu items at this place ranges from really affordable ($3 braised meat rice) to a brow raising pricey ($35 for fried oysters). I'm not sure I have the logic behind the prices figured out here. The food was pretty enjoyable to the point that I'm sure I'll be back again someday.

fried rice

deep fried pig liver with garlic

ruo cuo fan (braised spiced pork with rice)

guo tie (minced meat and chives dumpling)

One of the items which I got was the braised pork rice which I had a basis of comparison from the lu rou fan from both Peng Lai Ge and Lai Lai. Besides, I love that stuff. The one served here tasted much like the ones served in the former location, savory rather than slightly sweet. The portions were a little smaller than I had expected, but it was tasty and I could have easily downed two of them. There was a pretty good fried rice as well as deep fried pig liver which I've not had  prepared in such a manner before. The pot stickers or guo tie was quite decent, but I think I prefer the ones that are sold at the food centre down at People's Park which were meatier and has more flavourful fillings with crispier skins.

Being a Taiwanese place, I was hoping to see braised or fried pig intestines on the menu. Unfortunately, those weren't available. And I'll also stick to a proven Asahi compared to their Taiwan Beer the next time.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Yuzu gum candy from Muji

These jellies have the little devils in them that make you subconsciously reach out for the next one after you've had the first and then another. This will only stop when the packet is finished. There's actually very tiny bits of yuzu peel in them jellies too.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Chella's, Take 3

Chella's is fast becoming my current favourite Indian eating place. Little had I expected that for a place that didn't serve meat. Things were still looking pretty good from this third visit in a couple of weeks. What reeled me in were the tasty food, affordable prices and the interesting variety in the menu. Beside a couple of favourites like the kesari bath and the masala teas/milk, I was still finding new things to like.

One of the things that got me excited was the cheese pav bhaji; which was essentially some sort of tangy and spicy mashed vegetable stew with potatoes or yellow beans. There were a couple of options for this pav bhaji. I picked the one topped with cheese. The bhaji was served with buttered and toasted soft buns and chopped onions on the side which added a very pleasant depth to the spicy dip. I found myself wolfing this stuff down really quickly.

The other notable mention goes to the jeera ghee rice which in spite of its plain appearance, was packed with an amazing fragrance akin to those found in good Chinese fried rice. Was pleasantly surprised by the aroma from this innocuous looking dish. Remember the old Gardenia tune "So good you can even eat it on its own."? That's what they were talking about there.

Over the past few months, I've had a few renditions of gobi manchurians at a few places. I thought the one here would be one of the better tasting ones. Along with the one from Spice Junction. The gobi (cauliflower) was lightly battered and deep fried before being stir fried in the gravy which tasted a little like a garlic-ky kung pao gravy. It would have been perfect if not for the ginger.

These dahi puri are part of what is known as chaat. Snacks . They're spherical taco like shells that are hollowed out on the insides. Those were then filled with potato, some chutney and yoghurt before being blanketed by the crispy yellow bits which are known as sev. Each of these balls were a large mouthful to be popped in whole at a time. I liked these.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Akashi again!

It is said that a picture paints a thousand I'll let the pictures do most of the talking here. I always thought that Akashi (290 Orchard Road, #B1-01 The Paragon, tel: 6735 8887) which has been around for about 10 years or so is pretty good for Japanese food, however there seem to be others that feel otherwise. I wonder what kind of comparisons are being made. I'm normally one that avoids things like Californian and spider makis and I found them to be pretty tasty here. There's definitely no complains on the portions nor the freshness, though I must say that prices have noticeable inched up a little this year. But then again, prices always go up some time or another.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Butterfly Effect

I was prompted to visit Le Papillion (28 Maxwell Road, #01-02 Red Dot Traffic Building, S069120, tel: 6327 4177) before they were closed for good at the end of the month because of their highly recommended rigatoni pasta with crustacean oil, shave bottarga and tiger prawns and this I did. It's quite unfortunate that this dish may not see the light of day for much longer. This turned out to be one excellent pasta and one of the more enjoyable ones that I've had from memory. My photo of it unfortunately does not do it much justice.

Rigatoni Pasta Tossed in Crustacean Oil, Shaved Bottarga, Tiger Prawns, Seaweed and Arugula Salad

I can't begin to even describe how impressed I am with the al dente quality of the rigatoni. I'm sure many Italian restaurants, good as they may be in the execution of the cuisine of their homeland falls short of the standards that I tasted here in a French place. Or maybe the restaurant wasn't very busy and more attention was put into the cooking of the pasta? The doneness was excellent and the crustacean oil which I was told once tasted like hay bee hiam from Wild Rocket, didn't quite taste so much that way here in Le Papillion. It was aromatic to an extent without having the flavor being to excessive and the spiciness was definitely appreciated. This comes paired with four plump tiger prawns shelled to the tail that are crunchy to the bite. Those were definitely enjoyable. The bottarga slices were unfortunately a tad underwhelmed by the spicy nature of the pasta. So, where's the seaweed?

After extolling the virtues of the pasta which I thought should be mentioned before the rest, let's take a step back in time and start from the beginning......

The bottom line of Le Papillion was that, I'm not too impressed. With the exception of the rigatoni, I think I can see why a place like Red Dot Museum would be a place that draws a crowd all around while this restaurant was barely a third filled on a Friday evening. Dinner started with an amuse bouche of a cube of green apple with crushed toasted almond, balsamic vinegar and a leaf of arugula. I must say that I had expected something more out of this, which is something I probably could have done myself at home. Me, someone with minimal to no cooking skills of mention.

Freshly Picked Mud Crab with Mango and Tomato Salsa
Served with a Light Orange-Mango Espuma

Sauté Foie de Canard “Duck Liver” with Vanilla-Pineapple Compote Brioche Toast, Mesclun Lettuce and Spiced-Pineapple Syrup

The opening notes definitely didn't leave much of an impression. I thought that the mud crab smothered in everything mango turned out quite refreshing to the taste because it was nicely chilled, but that was all there is to it. The terms "freshly picked" didn't quite register on the taste buds. For a French place, the foie gras was quite unremarkable. There was a glaring omission of the flavor associated with the duck liver and instead of a charred appearance, it looked a little blistered. Usually, the accompanied glaze/compote/sauce would be something with citrus, a little sour zest or a tartish flavor to compliment the rich fatty liver. This liver didn't really taste fatty at all and the pineapple compote was all sweet.

Chicken Consommé with Foie Gras de Canard and Truffle Oil

So we see the same kind of foie gras here again with the chicken consomme which was decent but otherwise quite unimpressive if not bolstered by the truffle oil.

Grilled Yorkshire Pork Rack with Orange and Honey-Glazed Carrots
Granny Smith Apple Compote and Raspberry Vinegar Glaze

The Granny Smith apple compote was very nice, so were the orange and honey glaze carrot strips which was pleasantly, slightly sweetish. Cushioned with a small amount of fats, the pork rack was a tender piece affair which was downplayed by the raspberry vinegar glaze which was again mostly sweet and didn't really remind anyone of raspberry of vinegar. I think salt and pepper would have sufficed.

There wasn't enough of a wow factor to this point to inspire a pick from the small selection of desserts.

Au revoir, le papillion. Je ne m'affligerai pas pour votre perte.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Chellas Vegetarian Corner, Serangoon Road

I liked this place (70 Serangoon Road, tel: 6297 6297) in Little India more than just a little bit despite the fact that there is only vegetarian food served here. Was initially apprehensive since the front of the restaurant looked like a fast food joint of sorts. To that image, the food was served pretty fast after we had ordered. But the lingering doubts were dispelled after a very satisfying dinner..

Being not too familiar with many of the items on menu, we picked what we thought looked interesting and asked the serving staff when we came across things that we didn't recognize at all. Here's a show of what we ended up with.

pineapple & cheese dosa
gobi masala

ragi iddiyapam

kara bath

paneer butter masala

paper dosa

Appealing were the variety of appetite whetting sauces/dips that were available for the dosa. Those gave variety to the flavour of the rice flour pancakes. As I had also imagined, their pineapple & cheese dosa was savoury and delectable - married by the salty cheese and sweet pineapple chunks in them.

The ragi iddiyappam was a variant of the regular iddiyappam (string hoppers) using another type of flour. It was quite similar to the regular version and it tasted freshly made. Delicious with both the orange sugar or spicy coconut chutney. I also thought I may have found what I had been looking for from the Song of India, in the form of the kara bath which was a savoury semolina cake with diced vegetables. Pretty sure that the sweet version called kesari bath was it.

The gobi masala's delicious with the bits of battered and fried cauliflowers soaking in the spicy gravy. I was a little surprised to see an actual piece of butter melting in the paneer butter marsala.

This place had me scraping up the residual sauces with the spoon. All for $20.50 and very friendly service.

19/04/2008 update - A revisit!!

I had not planned to return just the next day, but I'm not complaining. Originally, we waned drop by Chellas for some nice hot masala tea or milk. We ended up ordering something to munch while at it. This innocuous looking earthy orange mound above was the kesari bath which I have mentioned earlier. A sweet steamed semolina cake flavoured with saffron and some sultana. Now in case you were wondering, this wasn't excessively sweet as one might imagine. In fact this wasn't even on the desserts section of the menu. I thought it was pretty awesome.

While at it, we grabbed also a chilli, cheese and mushroom dosa and helped ourselves with an order of rasamallai. That dosa came with a robust kick from the spices. Delicious with the salty cheese. The rasamallai we were told, was a milk based dessert. I had something similar back in Mustard which was made of cottage cheese and had a texture like damp cardboard. Does anyone know the differences if any between these two?