Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bombay Woodlands Restaurant, Tanglin Shopping Centre

This quiet little place (19 Tanglin Road, #B1-12 Tanglin Shopping Centre, tel: 6836 6961) at the basement of Tanglin Shopping Centre turned out to be pretty promising that I think I'll be back again in spite the fairly small selection from the menu and prices being a little bit higher since they're located in town. I've heard of Bombay Woodlands being mentioned and it's also one of those places that I have passed by countless of times, but haven't walked in until today.

I found myself really enjoying the paneer chat which was essentially paneer pakora (cottage cheese fried in chick pea batter) thrown into a mix of chopped onions and tomatoes along with a blanket of sev. The whole is mixed with the yoghurt mint gravy and some chutney and came out very appetising. The pakora retained a small level of chewiness which was definitely much more enjoyable than the one which I've tried once at Mustard.

There was a rava idli which was pretty good as well, especially with the piping hot sambar and coconut chutney. Interestingly, an item from the rice dish named bisi bella bath turns out to be a pretty tasty porridge like dish that tasted like sambar as well. Served hot, this was really suitable for a rainy afternoon. I like the papads here. Thin, crispy and greasy.

Unfortunately, the masala tea wasn't up to my mark in terms of flavour, but, I'd return just for the chow.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Komala's Restaurant, Serangoon Road

Woah, this place (330-332 Serangoon Road, tel: 6299 4464) felt like a fast food restaurant with air conditioning that can barely be felt. Of course, it would be of the Indian vegetarian variety where one makes an order from the counter with the menu displayed on the panel at the cashier and gets a ticket which is subsequently used to collect your order at another service counter. I've walked by their outlets on various occasions at different places before, but this would be the first time I'm actually eating here. Here's a masala dosai meal and a North Indian rice meal which are a couple of the set meals that they have.

The dosai didn't taste that freshly made. It wasn't crispy at the edges and the accompanying idli was a tad more salty then I had expected. The vadai was dense, but soft and I thought it pretty good. The accompanying sauces was pretty good, but the mint yoghurt dip was quite salty. The rice meal which wasn't quite comparable to the one at Komala Vilas comes with some chewy naan, a gulab jamun which was surprisingly milky and quite good despite the fact that I normally avoid them for their excessive sweetness. There was a stewed cauliflower, some raita and a paneer butter masala which wasn't as great as others which I've had. Another weird thing was the presence of croutons in the rice. Where did those come from??

All in all, despite the fast food appearance it wasn't too bad. But I think there must be better options in the vicinity.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sri Kamala Vilas Restaurant, Buffalo Road

This was definitely a good recommendation by a friend (thanks Gabriea!). Despite the fact that I'm often around the vicinity of Little India and Selegie Road, I haven't heard of or seen Sri Kamala Vilas (Blk 662 Buffalo Road, #01-16, tel: 6291 1164) until today. But I guess with the little corners around the blocks, many locations are easily overlooked. This one happens to be an Indian coffeeshop at the foot of the housing block just beside Tekka Market.

The briyani served here is pretty damn good. The portions of the fragrantly pronounced rice was simply huge and the meats were rather tender for both the chicken and the mutton variety. In fact, the mutton here was quite the exceptional dish. Tender pieces of flavorful meat drenched in an also compelling nutty curry. This pairing is definitely lethal. An observation I made was that the chicken briyani had the meat plopped on top of the mountain of rice while the mutton was served in a separate dish. Maybe it means nothing. The only disappointment was the masala tea which turned out to be what I felt to be overwhelming of star anise. The brew tasted rather diluted as well. I'm definitely coming back again someday to try something else.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Of hot vanilla, smoked egg and star anise...

Despite having visited Lai Lai for a few occasions already, I've never really noticed that they actually have rou cuo fan (minced meat with rice) because I've always been caught up with their beef noodles and lu rou fan. And of course their delicious braised pig intestines which I haven't been able to find elsewhere. In comparison with the lu rou fan, this one didn't work out quite as well for me because of the star anise flavor. I'm not saying that it wasn't good, but I would prefer it if the spice didn't taste quite as strong. So if I'm ever having this again, I guess Peng Lai Ge would be the better option.

There're a couple of other things that we've picked which I've never tried before from here. One's a rather tasty smoked egg which to my surprise, arrived chilled. I'm taking this in a good way and I thought it was quite good despite it not being very smoky tasting at all. I'm quite sure that one of the contributing factors to my positive reaction to it was the runny yolk. The other thing was a warm vanilla drink which I found to be a little too sweet. It appeared like a rather nice steamed milk foam. It might have been pretty good if it was served hot and a lot less sweet.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sofra, Shaw Towers

Sofra (100 Beach Road, #02-42 Shaw Towers, tel: 6291 1433) turned out to be a little disappointing. The food portions are quite small, didn't taste anywhere extraordinary the service, although polite was rather slow. As with several of the other Middle Eastern places, some of the stuff looks like a mix of western. For a restaurant that has been around for quite some time, I was actually expecting something tasty out of their kitchen, but apparently things weren't quite what I had expected.

One of the little peeves I had about Sofra is the lack of free breads that accompany their dips like the hummus. I had thought that some ought to be available for each order of those dips, but apparently, it has to be ordered separately.

There was a strangely named dish, sultan kebap which was actually some sort of grilled lamb pieces with a potato and cheese gratin thing on the sides. The dish looked like it had been baked in a very hot oven. The mashed potato underneath the melted mozzarella cheese tasted very earthy, and apart from that, the dish tasted pretty much the way it looks. The chef platter which was essentially a mixed grill plate of meats was pretty ordinary as well. The funny thing is, I thought that the bread from this plate was actually the best tasting item on the overall. Everything else felt rather uninspired and I don't think I'm likely to come back again. There're better mixed kebabs elsewhere. And other.

Komala Vilas, Serangoon Road

I would have to say wow for the food here! It's been a really long time since I've eaten at Komala Vilas (76/78 Serangoon Road, S 217981, tel: 6293 6980) and the last time was a vague memory of dosai and tea in metal cups probably 13 years back. I've passed by this place on numerous occasions on my way to Chellas and wherehaveyous in the district of Little India and haven't walked in until now.

This pretty famous Indian restaurant which has been around before 1950 whips up volumes of common Indian vegetarian fare like rice based meals, snacks like dosai, chapati, battura, idlis and vadai for the consistently large crowd on a daily basis. The thali (South Indian rice meal) which comes with soft, fluffy and steaming rice was simply mouth watering. I must mention that the rice (which comes with an array of condiments) is so good, you can eat it plain on its own. The likelihood of that happening is little however, since you get a bunch of other appetizing accompaniment like thairu (yoghurt), spicy pickles or the huge bucket of sambar which the servers walk around with. This rice meals are all you can eat orders and one can always request for more rice and vegetables as desired. The Bombay Thali (also known as the vegetarian briyani on the menu) appeared quite similar in a steel tray with the exception of the saffron infused rice and an additional piece of chapati. I'm not familiar with all the names of the vegetable sides here, but I would have to say that they're all good.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

El Sheikh Restaurant, Pahang Street

I've noted this place (18 Pahang Street, tel: 6296 9116) quite a long while back when venturing in the vicinity of Arab Street. This time round, I was just roaming around the area again, came upon the restaurant and decided to check them out. The place sells itself as Lebanese, but I guess like many of the other Middle Eastern places locally, it's probably a little bit of Western as well as localisation of some of the items. I'm not so sure about penne arrabiata or crinkle cut fries in authentic Lebanese cuisine. But then again, I haven't really been to Lebanon, so what do I really know?

The experience here was a few hits and misses. But I guess there were more hits since at the end of it all, I didn't mind returning again another time to try something else off their menu. There were a couple of items here which I've never seen elsewhere so there's something for interesting. The options on menu was quite good for variety as well. Service however, was very spotty with very disinterested looking waitresses that didn't know what's in the menu.

We started off with a couple of warm appetizers which was a hummus with lamb and chicken liver with mollasses.

I'm quite taken in by the lamb and hummus. The creamy chick pea puree was definitely enjoyable despite the lack of lemon and garlic that flavors them generally. There were some toasted cashews and pistachios scattered sparingly on top of the dish, but they didn't taste too freshly toasted. Also, I found it a little strange that the accompanying flat bread came wrapped in plastic instead of being freshly made or even warm. Still, I found myself enjoying this quite a bit. The chicken livers are another item I wouldn't mind at all, having again. I'm not too sure what mollasses are, but the freshly cooked livers tasted like they were cooked in some kind of mildly sweet black vinegar reduction which made them very appetizing indeed.

And that's the 1/2 kilogram mixed kebab platter which the waitress insisted, consists of only lamb. But the truth is, we got a couple of chicken and lamb shish kebabs, a couple of lamb chops, and chunks of grilled chicken and beef. I guess that people who get this stuff go for the quantity of the meats which not surprisingly, wasn't too remarkable in terms of taste. It was in the end, just regular decent meat that would probably satisfy any one with one of those feral cravings. The accompanying spiced rice was pretty good though.

An interesting note, this place actually serves a whole lamb/goat for $400.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I know a secret down in uncle Tom's Palette......

Some of you might recognize where the title of this entry comes from. If you didn't, nevermind. It's really not important. Lol.

I've been down to Tom's Palette (100 Beach Road, #01-25 Shaw Leisure Gallery, tel: 6296 5239) two evenings in a row to check out their ice cream which turned out to be pretty good. There's a bunch of interesting flavors like lavender and tangy basil which reminds me of shampoo and cheap tomato pasta sauce. Lol. But honestly, some of the flavors are pretty good. I managed to try a couple of their creations like horlicks and hazelnut (separate flavors) which turned out for both to be pretty awesome in terms of their respective flavors. What that means is that the taste is pretty robust. There was also a chocolate stout and apple pie on the second visit. The former was an average chocolate with a hint of stout. Duh! The latter was a creamy one with bits of soft apple bolstered with crumbles. I wouldn't go as far as to label them orgasmic. Not even close, but they were pretty good. In fact, these guys could be just a notch ahead of Island Creamery.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

From Tetsuya, with compliments....

Okay, I bought this jar of truffle salsa ($28) some time back from Culina and had fiddled with making food with them a couple of times. This turned out to be pretty versatile and tasty condiment for someone who doesn't really know how to cook. It simply just works. Lol.

The first attempt at using Tetsuya's Truffle Salsa was actually the flavoring for pasta. This was one of the weekend lunches I made at home with ham steak and Gordon Ramsay's scrambled egg recipe, sans the chives. You can check out the link to see how the eggs are done, so I'm not going to talk about them here. The pasta, which is cooked is simply just tossed with a couple of generous tea spoonfuls of the truffle salsa along with butter. That's all there is to it, honestly. Because there is just butter to oil the pasta, most of the taste will come from the salsa itself. That means, mostly truffle flavor. Safe and easy to make. Take it from a person who doesn't do real cooking. If I can, so can you.

Pizza is one of those stuff that I do at home when the sun is particularly discouraging to me from venturing out of the house. As some of you might already know, I tend to favor Dr Oetker's and have been experimenting with a bunch of add ons with their frozen pizza ranging from seven cheeses to strawberries and ham.

So this time round, I've decided to add the truffle salsa and see what I can come up with. Doing this at home, I was much more generous with the truffle than any other pizza place outside would. I got one of Dr Oetker's pizza - this time the mozzarella ones, and simply scrape some of the salsa over the top. After that, it's some grated parmesan and more mozzarella and an egg. and then, into the oven it goes. I kinda like how it turned out. This was definitely much more heady with truffle flavor than any other pizza that I've had outside.

Ruby Poh Piah, Whampoa Food Centre

I had heard/read that this was a good poh piah store with generous use of ingredients for their stuffings (#01-53, Whampoa Drive Blk 90) and now that I've had it, I didn't think much of it at all. Seriously. I'm not sure where the buzz of this store is coming from, but the fillings are definitely not up to the mark of numerous other random stores which I've had. There wasn't any garlic, and apart from the boiled turnip, the rest of the fillings were just pathetic in portions. I'm quite sure I can easily find any stores elsewhere that does better poh piah. No, make that "this is actually one of the lousier poh piah I've had". Makes me wonder if the reason for it being around for so long, is because it is the only poh piah stall in this food centre.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

When Angels!

"It is said that a man should be wary of weeping angels, for wherever their teardrops fall, men drown."

Descent of Angels, Mitchel Scanlon

I await. Even though it's probably a very long wait.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Unagi bento lunch set from Matsuo

Because of the recent craving for unagi, I had made it a point to visit Matsuo Sushi for lunch at least once on a Tuesday, because their daily $15 lunch on that day features a unagi bento. I must have had excessive dreams of fatty oily eel in my head because the eel didn't quite turn out as fatty as I hoped it to be, but then again, I might have been rather unrealistic imagining them. It was however a better unagi than the deluxe hitsumabushi at Wakashachiya. I detect a slightly more fatty texture beneath the grilled skin of the eel. Does anyone know which place serves good unagi?

There was a little portion of sake (salmon) sashimi for the lunch set which turned out to be pretty good. The sliced salmon was oily that it left globules of their oil on the shoyu dip. And today's miso soup featured a prawn's head!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Porta Porta, Stanley Street

This sure took a long time. I've been caught up with wizards and snipers and centuries old alchemist being chased by the original 007 of Her Majesty's service that this entry was neglected. But I digress. Dinner at Porta Porta was a "sea catch" set ($40.50) and a couple of pasta and rice from the a la carte menu.

Porta Porta at Stanley Street (5 Stanley Street, tel : 6222 7461) turned out to be a slightly different experience than the one at Upper Changi. Most of that difference came from the food which I thought was a noticeable notch up in terms of robustness of flavour at the Changi location. This was definitely felt where comparisons can be drawn like the still excellent prawn cream penne and their fish soup. But, in spite of being less robust in flavour, the food was still enjoyable. Of course it all means nothing to people who don't even like seafood in the first place. There could be some improvement with the doneness of the generously portioned pasta, but hey, I'm not really complaining.

Flavours from the food in Porta Porta were good. Almost everything was bursting with flavor. From the rich aromas of garlic and vinegar in the tomato bruchetta (this was really awesome by the way) to the flavours of the fish bruchetta to the olive tapanade for the bread and the gravies that were used......every edible item with sauce tantalised the taste buds.

The seafood risotto wasn't too bad, but became one dimensional after a while.

The sea catch set I had mentioned earlier consisted of a fish (or baby squid) soup, the bruchettas, squid ink ravioli with crab meat (or a vongole pasta), a calamari & prawn secondi followed by desserts. The ravioli was properly done and like everything else tasted flavourful with the sauce. The tissue thin batter for the fried seafood wasn't as thin as the ones from the Changi outlet. Still, for anyone who's been to Tenshin and think that those tempura gurus do the lightest and thinnest batter around - you haven't had the calamari here yet.

There was quite a lot of espresso flavour in their tiramisu, but otherwise there isn't much really to talk about about the desserts. We're pretty sure we'll be back again for their pasta.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Breakfast from Leo's Espresso Bar

There seems to be quite a few coffee places springing out lately and this seems to be one (Leo's Espresso Bar, 1 Raffles Place. B1-03D, OUB Centre, tel : 6533 6853) that is rather well tuned to the crowd at Raffles Place. I hear that this small cafe gets pretty crowded and the takeaway customers look to be doing good for the place. Unfortunately, I like my coffee fragrant and strong and the one here doesn't quite make that cut. Even with an extra shot, the cappucino didn't really pack the oomph that I was looking for. But for a nice little coffee shop that places house/dance early morning and a breakfast and coffee at $8, this wasn't too expensive. Still, I would have preferred the bacon to be more browned instead of limp. The butter for the warm soft bread was rather salty as well, but I'm not complaining on that. The minuscular kitchen area doesn't look like it can handle anything more complex than what I've had and waiting time looks to be seriously be a bitch if it gets crowded. I happened to have wandered in the vicinity of Boon Tat Street and Amoy Street recently and saw another outlet there at Telok Ayer too.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Chocolate chilli anchovy pasta from Eden Cafe

Previously, this item used to be a lunch menu option. I see that it has now made it into the main menu and probably will be there until it gets swapped out for the next rotation (meaning no one likes this much) or stay there as a permanent repertoire of Eden Cafe's Menu. This wasn't bad at all considering the mash of flavors that was in this dish. There's saltiness from anchovies, sour from the olives, spicy from the chilli and of course, the chocolate which wasn't really sweet. The flavor of the chocolate was very subtle that it could be noticed, but didn't overwhelm the pasta. This is pretty tasty stuff.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice, Balestier Road

Talk about bragging rights, Loy Kee (342 Balestier Road, S329774, tel : 62521115) actually has a store that says 'best'. That's a claim to fame that's hard to make considering that there're countless stores of chicken rice and quite a handful of them are pretty good. To be fair, I did feel that the greasy rice here was a noticeable mark above many. For one, it was quite soft and the other winning factor was the eminent aroma of chicken and garlic. It's good enough to be eaten without the chilli, but that being said, the sourish spicy chilli was enjoyable as well.

The one difference with the roasted chicken from Loy Kee with multitudes of others is that, the chicken here is actually roasted. Lol. General roasted chicken rice are actually fried, but these reddish glazed birds aren't done the usual methods that we're used to expecting from roast chicken.

On the whole, it was quite decent, but the portions are quite unfulfilling for what they cost. And at their justification for the prices that these "chicken rice specialists" charges for each item, I would expect them to do a better job out of shelling the bean sprouts. It's decent, but I don't think I'll go out of the way just to eat these. There is also a better value for money option in the vicinity.