Monday, October 27, 2008

Natural cut fries from Carls Jr

Wow, Carls Jr now has these natural cut fries with skin on and they're actually not too bad. If you are wondering, it does taste different from the regular fries that other fast food places offer and that's in a good way. There seems to be more flavor in the mealy strips of potatoes compared to the flatter tasting regular shoestrings. It seems like I've found my favourite fast food french fries for now.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Some dinner stuff from Din Tai Fung

assorted vegetables and tau kwa strips

It's been quite a while. Possibly two years or more since I've last visited Din Tai Fung (290 Orchard Road, #B1-03 The Paragon, tel : 6836 8336) and the previous times were not at this particular outlet.

Most of the food were pretty much as I remembered them. I liked their vegetable and meat buns. More delicious when they're hot. I've discovered that the portions of meat to vegetables in those are 1 to 9. One of the things that I hadn't seen on menu before are the assorted vegetables with strips of those hard tau kwa which I liked. Their xiao long baos are still one of the better around.

the 90/10 vegetable and pork buns

xiao long bao

chilled drunken chicken

fried rice with pork chops

noodles....neat....kind of

braised beef noodles

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Japanese sweet potato soup from Ah Chew

While down at Ah Chew for their papaya double boiled in milk we came across this dessert. It tasted just like most sweet potato soups with ginger. Except that it's Japanese sweet potatoes and they were less fibrous than the local variety. Unless I get a very specific craving for these, I don't think I'll be having them again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pho from Madam Saigon

That brimming bowl of pho down here at Madam Saigon wasn't too bad at all. Altogether it was definitely a hearty deal for their special (eeks!) pho which essentially features thin slices of beef, brisket and beef balls. I just had to request for the addtional tendons since I spied the tendon pho option from the menu and as you can probably notice, it was quite loaded with ingredients. The lightly spiced beef balls tasted home made too and was filled with some grits. But I have to say that the only minor gripes that I have is what I consider to be the lacking of robustness of the soup which made it less beefy than I liked and that the soup didn't quite come as hot as I had hoped, resulting in the bean sprouts being less than ideally cooked with their raw-ish flavor still intact. I was told that the pho in Vietnam comes with really hot soup and that Pho24 did deliver that. Can anyone clarify if the cooked bean sprouts thing is a preference or are they meant not to be thoroughly cooked?

Of course, there was also that savory pancake which we couldn't quite resist with that appetizing condiment that is served with it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Song Fa Bak Kut Teh, New Bridge Road

Despite the appearance of Song Fa (11 New Bridge Road, #01-01, tel : 6533 6128) with all that crowd, I didn't feel like it was one of the better ba kut teh around town. The soup was less peppery and robust in comparison with Imperial and definitely wasn't on par with the Sin Min outlet down at Kelantan Lane. The lack of kick was a bit of a let down. Refills of the soup fared even worse. Must have been a separate batch of that broth there. I'm going to put this at the bottom of the list of options if I ever get a craving. What was good was the cloves of garlic that were so soft and you could just suck them out of their skins. Their bowls of clear soup mee sua with pig kidneys was always welcomed on a cool evening.

Despite the seeming popularity of the pork rib soup, I thought that their braised fallopian tubes in dark sauce was actually the better dish. They seem to taste better than the usual ones I've had in kuey chup stores.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Finalmente Gastronomia, Goldhill Plaza

With all thing considered, I didn't find Finalmente Gastronomia (1 Goldhill Plaza, #01-47, tel : 6256 2149) really impressive in any manner beyond the friendly service. There was little to fault in the style of the preparation of the food, however, the aftermath left me with little desire to return. I wouldn't say that I'll be avoiding this place for good though, but for the prices that these guys are charging, I certainly found the quality lacking.

The starter of their pork lion turned out to be four slices of pork ham with spinach. While it was all good, I really think that it's a tad pricey for four slices of ham with dressing which I must say was rather appetizing. We requested for additional toppings of ham and mushrooms for the 5 cheese pizza which only contained a light-ish hint of the Gorgonzola cheese that was suppose to be in it. For a pizza with 5 cheeses, it really didn't taste that cheesy and was quite a letdown for it. The topping looked a tad on the thin side as well considering that it's suppose to be filled with cheeses and had extras.

Adding on to the disappointment was the tricolore pizza which features porcini mushroom, rockets, truffle oil and an egg at the center. Certainly wasn't worth the $25 for something that didn't even had the slightest flavor of the truffle oil in them.

All the pizzas were made to order and surprisingly, it took only very little time for them to prepare. I'm wondering if that's a good thing. That was something worth mentioning about the speed of their service, but for a little joint like this, be prepared to pay entry level restaurant prices for the food that's prepared, not by Italians chefs. The dessert was again, quite lackluster as well for a ubiquitous flambé-d molten chocolate cake that costed more than it does at Borgo and didn't taste anywhere as good. I feel inclined to pay a little more and just head a few units down to Al Forno Trattoria instead which serves a very good quattro Formaggi gnocchi which I discovered last month. The overall satisfaction there was definitely greater.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chicken House, Upper Thomson Road

This was quite an ad hoc decision to come down to Chicken House (255 Upper Thomson Road, tel : 6456 0698) which serves kampung chicken, for lunch based on a recommendation by a friend who has eaten it before and felt that it was pretty good. Honestly, this was a place that I've been curious about and yet, not in any urgency to check out since I'm largely a roast (or fried if you will) chicken person and the sallow-ish yellow hue on the skins of these birds here aren't exactly very attractive to me. Here's an honest and shallow reason for avoiding them so far, but that's all behind. Lol.

All I can really say about the kampung chicken is that the meat was pretty tender and that I couldn't see any fats beneath the skin. Apart from that leanness, there wasn't really that much of a difference from any other regular chickens from other chicken rice places and the health issues over the birds raised in supposedly traditional methods wasn't really an issue for me since I think it's probably just a marketing gimmick.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More circular sumptuousness...

I suppose it was inevitable that I returned to Circular Sumptuous Square for more of their mouthwatering greasy duck. To put things into some perspective, the duck here was delicious in the greasy fatty way which wasn't matched by places like Sin Sian Yuen down at Chong Pang or Jin Xing. Those were dry and more thickly sliced. That's not to say at all that the mentioned places weren't good. They were just different and tasty in their own ways especially if you liked your duck free of sauces and in chunky portions.

This time round, I passed on the rice and decided to give their noodles a shot. That had turned out to be a good call as those noodles here were springy with bite and delicious. No more rice for me here. The accompanying noodle sauce was just okay. It was the chilli on the side that really elevated things. Personally, the texture of those noodles did it more than anything else.

We had some preserved mustard greens (mui choi or mei chai) which was pretty tasty. Served as a nice dish on the side to compliment to the main orders. Note to myself : This is something I could consider again the next time.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ya Kwang revisited

Man, this sure was a good one down at Ya Kwang Dai Pai Dong (Ya Kwang Eating House, 709 Geylang Road, Lorong 37, tel : 6747 663). I was surprised that on a Saturday night, there wasn't anything resembling insane queues or crowds outside this stall. This trip was a specific one to eat their seafood based noodles which the stall known for. And rightly so. That being said, there's also a bunch of other items made the consideration list as they looked inviting over the neighbouring tables.

Moving on to the lobster tang hoon. Price aside, this was seriously great stuff. The stock that infused those glass noodles was both sweet and savoury. The lobster was also fresh with their natural sweetness and had firm meat. There were some similarities with the crab tang hoon that I tried previously. The only difference between that this was probably just the shellfish.

The clam noodles, or also known as the la la mian from Ya Kwang was what most vongole pasta should've been. Locally. Where many have failed pathetically living up to. This one was loaded with meaty clams and garlic flavour. This plate was nicely accented by the bits of sliced chilli padi with noodles that soaked up the seriously drool inducing stock. So good that I was sure that I could easily take on a large portion by myself.

On the side we had an order of the Penang char kuey teow which looked like a phad thai and even tasted like one. Minus the crushed peanuts. Pretty decent and they were generous with the eggs. We had ordered this as a filler since the previous dishes didn't have the volume. There were a also some deep fried pig intestines call Da Chang Jing which were served like Peking ducks where one would wrap the fried intestines in some egg crepe along with a strip of cucumber and/or sprig of spring onion and then coat with a sweet brown sauce before eating. This wasn't bad at all. 

Friday, October 10, 2008

Biryani from a coffeeshop at Ang Mo Kio

This Indian food store located at Ik Wah coffee shop (Blk 252, Ang Mo Kio St 21), which is less than 10 minutes away from Hong Heng, turned out to be quite good. The biryani had enough of the fragrance from the spices in the rice that one could actually eat them on its own while the curried bone-in mutton was surprisingly tender. Would have been great if the meat portions were larger. I certainly wouldn't mind having them again if I'm in the vicinity.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Kashmir, Race Course Road

The website of Kashmir (52 Race Course Road, tel : 6293 6003) makes a very confident claim that once one has visited the place, said person will add them to their personal list of best restaurants in this country and will subsequently come back for more. I thought that was a rather bold statement, but hindsight has told me that the claim, is probably not very far from the truth. This is one of those places which I left happy and telling myself that I'll like to come back again. It's definitely not the first time that I've gotten such a feel about a restaurant, but I would say that one that inspires as such, is not the majority of the occasions.

We started off on a promising track with some really good kabargah. This was basically lamb ribs that was boiled in milk and spices before being deep fried. There wasn't a lot of meat for a $12 portion, but what was available was definitely very nicely done. The resultant dish retained the aroma of its meat and was quite tender to boot. I could have finished two portions of these easily by myself.

I'm very impressed with this Afghani murg which is basically chicken that's marinated in almond paste, cream, some ginger and garlic before being charcoal grilled on skewers. Marked with very nice char terrain on the surface and surprisingly juicy on the insides, the robust char aroma could just be described as....beautiful. It certainly was good with all that moist meat and half a chicken ($12) felt a little too small. The is seriously good stuff with two thumbs up to the chef.

I ordered this chilly cheese naan for novelty's sake of trying another rendition of naans and their stuffings and it turned out to be pretty good. The crumbly cheese that was used was unexpectedly light in flavor each mouthful of the naan came with the burst of flavors of the raw sliced green chillis.

The malai kofta turned out to be a mixed bag of a very good and sweetish creamy sauce of saffron and cashew which contains a couple of what is described as cheese dumplings. It's a mixed bag because the gravy didn't taste too nutty or retain much of the saffron flavoring, but it was still good in its own ways, especially as a dip for the naan. Those cheese dumplings didn't taste anything that I knew of cheese at all. Even after having numerous experiences with cheese in Indian restaurants, this one takes the cake of being the weirdest tasting one with a texture that reminded me of sweet potatoes.

Known as 'Honeymoon' on the menu, this dessert was basically a gulab jamun served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Gulab jamuns were basically my first introductions to Indian desserts and have thus made me a little wary of them since there were mostly sweet to the point that I consider excessive. Adding vanilla ice cream seems to have pushed back the attention of the tongue from all the sweetness and yes, despite it being very sweet still, this was really good. Hot ball of spiced thing with the cold ice cream, I'm sure one can just imagine.

This would be the phirni, which is basically a steamed semolina based dessert that feels like a very soft pudding with the texture of many mini sago. The added sliced nuts didn't really do much to enhance the flavor than the texture of each mouthful. Great stuff as well. It's not so common that I find myself truly pleased by sweet endings.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

More roasted meat from Jin Xing...

Kept my word from the last visit. I am back in Serangoon Ave 4 for more of their delicious roasted meats. This time I got myself a favourite sweet and savoury combination of char siew, roasted pork and roasted duck breast. If it wasn't already apparent from the pictures, they're all greasy and succulent cuts of meats with tender fatty sections that are ready to fall apart in your mouth. Not to mention the nicely charred char siew and crispy pork crackling from the roast pork. My mouth waters just at their mention....

Pity about the rice though and the sauces as well. I could do without them. Not a deal breaker.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Mixed beef laksa from Hong Heng

Quite an interesting find by happenstance at Hong Heng Beef Noodle & Katong Laksa (Blk 233 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3, #01-1194 Bing Garden Eating House) at the coffee shop where Uncle Leong Seafood is located in Ang Mo Kio. I was initially drawn to this stall mostly because it did beef noodles and was initially thinking of some soup kuey teow rather than the usual dry rendition with that boring starchy gravy. The laksa option caught my eye and I wasted no time giving it a go.

I'm not too sure about the Katong Laksa name up there but the gravy which didn't even have the right viscosity didn't quite taste like any of the Katong laksas I've had before. The flavour was not bad albeit a tad watery and served just lukewarm instead of hot. That's pretty much the only gripe I have. The toppings of the beef and other cow offal was quite good and not over cooked. The tendons in the bowl looked rather raw and gave me pause initially. Upon popping them into my mouth I realised that they fell apart easily in the mouth with little chewing. And on the side, some nice cincalok chilli to get the taste buds on the workout.

A notable mention were their beef balls which despite their regular looking appearances, reminded me somewhat (in flavour) of those that you get in Subway's meatball subs. These meaty tasting beef balls certainly didn't taste like the regular mass produced variety and I rather liked them.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Mughals Hyderabadi Biryani Restaurant, Race Course Road

Mughals Hyderabadi Biryani Restaurant (72 Race Course Road), despite being named as such and also having a dedicated portion of the menu with Hyderabadi cuisine, does not serve just biryani but a smattering of other commonly encountered Indian cuisine as well. We came here for their biryani because I had heard mention that it was pretty good.

We started off with some freshly fried onion pakoras which I think should replace onion rings in all fast food places. Crispy dram batter on the outside and still slightly crunchy onions on the inside, I wonder how come these things never got popular outside of Indian food places.

egg biryani

mutton biryani

We had a couple of orders of the biryanis which were served with what appeared to be a thin raita and some nutty tasting curry which was mildly spicy. I wanted to try the egg briyani because I had always been curious about the flavors came about when a dum briyani is cooked with eggs. And also, I generally like eggs. Unfortunately, there wasn't any eggy flavors involved, but mashing the hard boiled yolk to mix with the rice made it pretty good.

The mutton biryani wasn't exactly what I had in mind of what it could have been because the flavor of the meat didn't really seep onto the rice. The lean meat wasn't moist but was flavorful. I felt that Mustard and the goat variant at Swaadhisht did a better job of infusing the biryani with the meat juices.

For both the egg and mutton biryani, the basmati rice was a little dry (that's what the gravies are for), quite strongly scented with spices and was little heavy with the cloves.

The side of Kadai paneer didn't arrive looking like how the menu had described it. We were given the impression that it would be stir fried, dry and contained dried fruits. This tasted like a cashew nut curry which wasn't bad at all with those nice soft chunks of paneer. It was the shreds of ginger that got to me.

We ordered both their Irani and masala tea just to see what were the differences between them. The menu described the former tea to contain bits of biscuits and the server claimed that the latter was just more spicy than the first. Having tried it ourselves, we had to conclude that they tasted exactly the same.

Prices were pretty affordable here. I had realised after getting the bill that there was no GST nor service charge incurred.