Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bombay Woodlands Restaurant, Tanglin Shopping Centre


This quiet little restaurant (19 Tanglin Road, #B1-12 Tanglin Shopping Centre, tel: 6836 6961) at the basement of Tanglin Shopping Centre turned out to be pretty promising. In spite the fairly small selection on the menu and prices being a little high because they're located in town, I'm not adversed to coming back.


I enjoyed the paneer chat which was essentially paneer pakora (cottage cheese fried in chick pea batter) tossed with chopped onions, tomatoes along with a blanket of sev. The chaat was then mixed with the yoghurt mint gravy and some chutney. The pakora retained some chewiness. Better than the ones at Mustard.

There was a rava idli which I thought was pretty good as well. Especially awesome with the piping hot sambar and coconut chutney. We were intrigued by a rice dish named bisi bella bath. Turned out to be a pretty tasty porridge that was flavoured like sambar. Hot and just the thing for a rainy afternoon. I also like the papads here. Thin, crispy and greasy.

Unfortunately, the masala tea wasn't up to scratch. But I would come back just for the food.

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. Indian vegetarian restaurant to be precise. One makes an order from the counter, pays the cashier and gets a chit which is subsequently used to collect your order at another service counter. I've walked by their various outlets on various occasions before, but this was the first time I'm actually eating here. We ordered 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 idli on the side was a little salty than I had expected. The vadai was dense but soft and I thought it pretty good. The accompanying chutneys weren't too bad but I thought the mint yoghurt dip was quite salty.

Their rice meal wasn't comparable to the one at Komala Vilas. It came with some chewy naan, a gulab jamun which was milky tasting and quite good. I normally avoid those because of their excessive sweetness. There was curried cauliflower, some raita and a paneer butter masala which wasn't as great. Another weird thing. There were croutons in the rice. Where did those come from??

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

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sri Kamala Vilas Restaurant, Buffalo Road


This was a good recommendation by a friend (thanks Gabriea!). Despite the fact that I'm often around the vicinity of Little India these recent times, 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 was Indian coffee shop at the foot of the housing block just beside Tekka Market.


Their briyani was pretty damn good. The portions of the fragrant rice was huge and the meats were rather tender for both the chicken and the mutton variety. In fact, I thought the mutton was exceptionally good. Tender pieces of flavourful sheep drenched in an also compelling nutty curry. This pairing was definitely lethal. I noticed that the chicken briyani had the meat plopped on top of the mountain of rice while the mutton was served in a separate dish. The only disappointment was the masala tea which was overwhelming with the taste 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 were pretty small, didn't taste that good and their service was irritatingly slow. For a restaurant that has been around for years, I was expecting something that justified their existence.

One of the peeves I had with Sofra was that bread wasn't topped up and was separately chargeable. It also had to be ordered separately even if one had gotten their mezze.


There was a oddly named dish, sultan kebap which was some sort of grilled lamb with a potato and cheese gratin on the sides. The dish looked like it had been baked in an oven. The mashed potato underneath the melted mozzarella cheese tasted very earthy. It was otherwise pretty much like how it looked. The chef platter which was a mixed grill plate of meats that tasted pretty ordinary as well. The sad thing was, I thought that the bread from the platter was actually the best tasting item. Everything felt rather uninspired and I don't think I'm returning. There're better mixed kebabs elsewhere.

Komala Vilas, Serangoon Road



I have to say wow to the food here! It's been a long time since I've eaten at Komala Vilas (76/78 Serangoon Road, S 217981, tel: 6293 6980). The last time was a vague recollection 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 thought that the rice (which comes with an array of condiments) was so good, you could eat it on its own. The likelihood of that happening is little however, since you get a bunch of other 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 . One can always request for more rice and vegetables.

There was also a Bombay Thali (also known as the vegetarian briyani on the menu) which was served on a steel tray. That came with saffron infused rice and an additional piece of chapati. I'm not familiar with all the names of the vegetable sides here but they were all tasty.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

El Sheikh Restaurant, Pahang Street


I've noticed this place (18 Pahang Street, tel: 6296 9116) from quite a long while back. We happened to be roaming around the vicinity, came upon the restaurant and decided to check them out. The place sold itself as Lebanese, but it was also a little bit of generic western as well? Like penne arrabiata or crinkle cut fries in the menu? But then again, I haven't been to Lebanon, so what do I know?

The food were a few hits and misses. But I guess there were more hits than misses. Service however, was very spotty with very disinterested looking waitresses who didn't even 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 was quite taken in by the lamb and hummus. The creamy chick pea puree was enjoyable despite the lack of lemon and garlic. There were some toasted cashews and pistachios scattered sparingly on it, but those didn't taste freshly toasted. Also, I found it a little strange that the flat bread came wrapped in plastic instead of being freshly made. The chicken livers were also pretty good. Good like I wouldn't mind eating them again. There was something in them that made them tangy.


That's the 1/2 kilogram mixed kebab platter which the waitress insisted, consists of only lamb. But the truth was that we got a couple of chicken and lamb shish kebabs, a couple of lamb chops, and chunks of grilled chicken and beef. They were okay. The accompanying spiced rice was pretty good though.

What caught my interest was, this place actually serves a whole lamb/goat for $400. Hmmmm....goat party!

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. The salsa turned out to be pretty versatile and a 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 the flavouring 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. Not going to talk about them here. The cooked pasta was simply tossed with a couple of generous tea spoonfuls of the truffle salsa along with butter. That was all to it. Because there was just butter to grease the noodles, most of the taste will come from the salsa itself. That meant, mostly truffle flavour. 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 especially when the sun is particularly discouraging at my attempts to go outdoors. As some of you might already know, I like using 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.

This time round, I've decided to add the truffle salsa and see what I could come up with. Since this was by me for me, I was much more generous with the truffle than any other pizza shop out there. I got one of Dr Oetker's mozzarella ones and scraped some of the salsa over the top. After that, some grated parmesan and more mozzarella and an egg. And then, into the oven it went. I kinda like how it turned out. This was definitely much more heady with truffle flavour 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 descend......online!


"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 was because the food which I thought a notch up in flavour at the Changi location. This was obvious especially for their still excellent prawn cream penne and their fish soup. But in spite of being lesser in flavour, the food was still enjoyable. Definitely room for improvement with the doneness of the pasta, but I'm not complaining.

In spite of the differences, food here was generally good. Almost everything was bursting with flavour. From the fragrant aromas of garlic and tangy vinegar in the tomato bruchetta (this was really awesome by the way) to the richly flavoured fish bruchetta to the olive tapanade for the bread and the gravies that were used......every edible item with sauce sang.



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

The sea catch set I had mentioned earlier consisted of a fish (or baby squid) soup, 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, flavoursome 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. The rest wasn't much to write home about. 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 popping up lately. Leo's Espresso Bar was one (Leo's Espresso Bar, 1 Raffles Place. B1-03D, OUB Centre, tel : 6533 6853) of those. I heard that these guys did brisk business. Unfortunately, I like my coffee fragrant and strong and the ones here didn't quite make that cut. Even with an extra shot, their cappuccino didn't pack the oomph that I was looking for. But for a nice shop that places house/dance music early morning serving breakfast and coffee at $8, this wasn't too expensive. Still, I would have preferred the bacon to be more browned instead of limp. Their minuscular kitchen area didn't look like it could handle anything more complex than what I've had and waiting time looked to be a bitch if it got 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 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 combination of flavours 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 taste from the chocolate was pretty subtle. It could be detected but wasn't close to overwhelming anything. 

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 number of them are pretty good. To be fair, I agreed that the greasy rice from their shop was a notch above many. The grains were was quite soft coupled with the eminent aroma of chicken and garlic. It's good enough to be eaten without the chilli, but that being said, the tangy spicy chilli was enjoyable as well.

The key difference with the roasted chicken from Loy Kee with multitudes of others was that, the chicken here were actually roasted. Lol. General roasted chicken are actually fried.


On the whole, it was quite decent, but the portions a little small for what they charged. 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.