Friday, March 28, 2008

Kamakura Nihon Ryori, Circular Road


The truth be told, this is one of those Japanese places (83 Circular Road, tel : 6438 0820) that I would normally avoid. But since a couple of other locations we were originally intended upon were packed to the brim and we had to get a quick dinner, having empty seats wins you customers sometimes. On hindsight, Shah Alam just across the road would have cost less and have been more satisfying. Lesson learnt.


I was initially wondering at the taco chahan which I've had my encounter with initially back in Mimigar as one of the identifying items of Okinawan cuisine in the strange hybrid of Japanese and Mexican styles. I ordered it despite a strong apprehension about what it would turn out to be and this would be one of those times when you feel like shooting yourself for not trusting your instincts. Lo and behold, ground beef fried rice at an amazing value of $8.50! I would have been a lot happier paying slightly more than double for twice the portions and a generous portion of crab meat. The strange salvation of the taco cha.......ground beef fried rice came in the from innocuous small bottle of fragrant and spicy La-Yu on the condiment tray which really upped the taste of the miserably portioned rice to lip smacking levels. Sometimes, the it's the small things that we overlook that make a difference. After all, the fate of Middle Earth once rested precariously upon the shoulders of a certain hobbit. I'll probably not return to this place, but I'll definitely stock up on that La-Yu.

The hotate mentaiko ($11.80) didn't really come across to me or anyone at dinner to be filled with mentaiko on the creamy top neither. And honestly, while palatable, I've had much better.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Balsamic mousse cake from Eden Cafe


Dropped by at Eden Cafe for some sweets again, so that means more of the ostrich egg creme brulee and hibiscus cheese filo. But, here's a look at the balsamic mousse cake. Despite the nondescript appearances as a cake this is interestingly quite pleasant with an above subtle aroma of balsamic vinegar in the light creamy mousse that wells up in your tastebuds as you wedge it between your tongue and the roof of your mouth. The chocolate sauce tasted like those from Hershey's squeeze bottles.

New Harbour Cafe and Bar, Tanjong Pagar


Clinging to the dawn of dusk(wtf! lol) slightly past seven on a Thursday evening, this place (New Harbour Cafe & Bar, 114 Tanjong Pagar Rd, tel : 6226 2657) was brimming with people for drinks and dinner. I'm glad reservations were made. I first took notice of this place some time back on a couple of occasions when I visited Chen Li Yuan and Buko Nero along the same row of shophouses at Duxton. I then realised that this wasn't the just the regular watering hole that serves merely un-nutritious and greasy bar snacks. They too have un-nutritious and greasy proper meals served. There's a full menu of food to be had and despite the grazing mention regarding nutrition, it's rather decent chow and a stop worth a second look for an evening pitstop.

The edibles here are a mixture of local western (read Hainanese originated western), bar food and  a smattering of local-ish fare. Hell there's even sashimi though I admit to being extremely apprehensive at ordering those in a place like this. I generally do not walk into a place like this looking for food that requires finesse to prepare. Ahem!

crispy pork with apple sauce

monster burger

cumi bakar (grilled squids)

The food's saltish, greasy and makes you want to drink. I thought the crispy pork belly wasn't too bad. I had expected bigger portions and it really wasn't that much despite appearances. The pork belly did come with very crispy skin and wasn't ladened with too much blood curdling fat. Would definitely have appreciated a more generous helping of that apple sauce. We had to request for extras as it was merely a small dollop for all that pork belly. How does that even work out? The monster burger wasn't close to anywhere as impressive as the name might have implied. It's a basic bar burgers topped with some ham, cheese, sauteed mushrooms and an egg. There was definitely too much fillers in the patty which I didn't like. For the price of $18.50, one would definitely start to make comparisons. Squid was just passable. I definitely expected more char from being grilled instead of being limp, however the "kick in the face" spicy sambal paste and sweet sauce did help. Seriously, watch out for the sambal.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Never trust a skinny cook"...



...as quipped in good humoured jest by the enterprising and loquacious Clement Ronald Ng, chef and owner of Eden Cafe (54 Club Street, S069431, tel : 6536 1181). It's been quite some time since I've last had his desserts which was back at Helio. Having made aware that he had made a batch of creme brulee with ostrich eggs, I decided to drop by for dinner.





Food at Eden is unsophisticated. Most of the dishes here are of simple design and leans towards being light in flavor. Like the mushroom black pasta. In most cases, black pasta brings forth imageries of squid ink black. Down at this place, the pasta (fettucine) is made in house with toasted black sesame which results in an interestingly textured grey-ish noodle speckled with black bits. Despite the use of toasted black sesame, I found the taste to be quite bland. The pasta is tossed with some fresh sliced button mushrooms and flavored with merely some bits of olives, capers and some sparing sprinkle of powdered parmesan cheese. I honestly think that this dish would be bettered by the use of shaven parmesan. Being a beef kind of guy, I tend to be more discerning when it comes to the associated meat. The brown sauce beef which is of a ribeye cut was a decently medium rare done piece of beef, but definitely wasn't what I would look for in a steak. A marinated beef stew was likewise subdued in flavor, but it being piping hot turned out to be quite the trick for a rainy evening. There was an earl grey milk coffee which was subtly accented by the fragrance of the tea. I personally found the coffee a tad mellow. It's usually thick and milky, or just strong black for me. But let's get to the desserts instead. It's really what I came here for.



Clement has managed to obtain an ostrich egg and has used it to make a small batch of creme brulee. Almost ethereally light and still creamily smooth, this crème brulee doesn't have as eggy a custard as the regular ones. And yes, the flavor of the custard comes from vanilla beans. The sweetness of the custard as explained is from corn extract. Oh, there is usually never added sugar for the desserts. It's all either natural sugars from the ingredients, or already available in them. So I guess in some strange irony, this would be the one naturally sweetened dessert with added sugar for the crispy glazed top.



The other attraction arrived in the form of the hibiscus cheese filo which Clement exclaims has put him up on his minutes of fame on a couple of occasion on television. Back in Helio, I devoured the predecessor which was a strawberry cheese filo. The dessert has apparently transcended from fruit to flower based and it's so good it puts a smile on your face. The fillings of the buttery tasting layered filo pastry are basically a mix of beaten mascarpone cheese and hibiscus. This is something that one has to eat to understand.



The molten chocolate cake here doesn't come hot. In fact it was barely lukewarm, but the cake comes in the form akin to the other molten chocolate cakes. It's soft and lava like. The chocolate wasn't excessively sweet as some which was a good thing for me. However the flavor could have been more robust. As with the previous rendition which was actually a white cake instead of a brown one, these are topped with rum marinated apricots.



These are yoghurt parfaits. I hope I got the name right and I don't remember seeing them on the menu. They tasted like the ice cream yoghurt filled with bits of blueberry and raisins and topped with a dollop of strawberry jam. 

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A beef kebab sandwich from Sultan Kebab


Just a quick note on the tasty beef kebab sandwich ($7.50) from Sultan Kebab (1 Sophia Road, #01-15 Peace Centre, tel : 6338 8750). The beef kebabs are often sold out pretty quickly and by a late lunchtime, most of that huge skewer is gone. Encased in a freshly toasted bread, this stuff can be great beefy comfort which is good for dispelling hunger. The prices seems to have risen by a little. I only wished that the portions were a bit larger since I still felt like eating after that.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Jade of India, Race Course Road















Brought to us all by the same management that did the vegetarian place, Raj down at Syed Alwi (which I happened to have dinner at just the day before by the purest coincidence), Jade of India (172 Race Course Road, #01-01/05 Soho@Farrer, tel : 6341 7656) is the one of several "chindian" restaurants that have been making appearances in the recent years.

boondhi raita

murg gajab ka tikka

gobi manchurian

mutton naan

kashmiri naan

butter marsala paneer

prawn malai curry

saffron & pistachio kulfi

TBC

Samar, Bali Lane


I had tried looking up this place sometime late last year when I visited Alaturka, and saw that the older premise at Kandahar Street had closed. Stuck upon the doors, was a crude paper sign which read that they have moved to somewhere in the east side. So I was actually taking a stroll down to Cafe Le Caire and was surprised to come across the current location for Samar (17 Bali Lane, tel : 6398 0530). Yours truly decided to give these guys a try instead and pend the former location for another time.


I don't know how long has the establishment been located at the current premise in Bali Lane, but the feeling I got was that they hadn't been here for too long. They seem to be out of several of the items on the menu and the place was quiet. Which made it a rather pleasant sanctum to hide from the bustle of being at the outskirts of the city area. In fact, the second storey of the restaurant was a rug strewn area with low coffee tables that one had to enter without footwear. Throw in a couple of shishar smoking customers around and the covered up windows, it did look like some sort of a Middle Eastern opium den. It was such a nice quiet seclusion that I lingered around for more than two hours, rooted to the peacefully atmospheric......albeit slightly musty smelling sanctuary.


The food in this place revolves around the usual styled grilled meats, Arabic flat breads, dips and various caffeine and milk based beverages. They were out of saffron and couscous for today which was a bummer for me. So we ended up having a serving of the hummus and a grilled meat platter which I had originally thought to be a large serving meant for two. It turned out that it's probably just good for one very hungry person. The hummus had more lemon juice than most and was otherwise quite the norm for these pureed chick pea dips, but it came with freshly hot bread which was pretty good. The pleasant surprise here was actually the lamb from the meat platter which was tender that when I tried to pick a rib up, the meat simply slide off the bone. There was also a small potato which seemed to be infused with spices before it got baked making the root a dull shade of orangy brown rather than the usual yellow. I'll be back for these lamb someday.

I'm quite taken in with their honey milk drinks. Since they were out of saffron, we grabbed the almond and rose flavors. The former is simply honey and milk blended with almond nuts. So you get a sweet milk which is lightly accented with almond flavor and many sediments for you to chew on at the bottom of the drink. I don't know how these guys do their rose milk, but it didn't look or taste much like bandungs. The milk was actually snow white and the rose flavor was definitely much more aromatic then the usual overly sweet and flatter tasting pink syrup.

Service was slow but very polite. These people apparently take their time to prepare the food, but it did feel worthwhile on the whole if you're not in a hurry to eat and leave.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Char shio, shio ba, arh heng peng


Their ubiquity. Their abundance in food centres everywhere and more than a handful of them despite the common availability are actually pretty good. That however, doesn't quite distinguish many vendors from each other. I often think many comparisons are quite senseless by virtue of enormity of options. It should be simply just, good enough to come back for more...or not. But I guess sometimes things aren't so simple.

I came across Tuck Kee Roasted Meat (#08-17, Golden Mile Food Centre, 4679 Beach Road) store by chance of being in the vicinity. This combination of meats is a particular favourite of my brother and myself. So there's the roast duck, char siew and roast pork. Each of them to speak of on taste, would constitute a dissertation. I'll just settle for, it's not bad. I'd come back again. The distinguishing factor for this store comes from their interesting plum flavored gravy which adds an appetizing glaze in comparison to the regular brown ones. The tender char siew did taste a bit sweeter than I'm used to and there wasn't excessive fat under the skin of the roasted duck breast as well.

Of shrimps and durian


I was looking at the options for a very late breakfast and made an interesting find of a durian chee cheong fan (rice rolls) down at Beach Road in the Golden Mile Food Centre (#01-86). I've read about them sometime back in the past before and it was some store that was mentioned down in Geylang. The chee cheong fans from the store are all made as you order them, so there aren't any pre-fabricated ones lying dry in some heating mediums waiting to be bought. I thought this durian rendition was pretty good with a rather generous filling of durian puree. It wasn't the most fragrant of durian flesh that I've had, but it was decent. It would have been great if the ground peanuts had been more fragrant rather then tasting flat and lacking of any toasted aroma. On the other hand, the shrimp fillings of the second one which I've gotten weren't anything special at all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Portuguese Egg Tarts from Lisboa Bakery

This is some place that I probably wouldn't visit if not for a fact that a co-worker lives there. Lisboa (Blk 642 Bukit Batok Central, #01-150, tel: 6563 5423) is a bakery selling Portuguese-styled confectionery and naturally, egg tarts come to mind.

PET aka Portuguese Egg Tarts

I was given a box of these goodies by my co-worker during tea break one day. The crusts look weak, dry and maybe a bit unsightly, while the surface of the eggs does not look as charred. Although their looks are not appealing, I have decided to give them a try because the strong egg aroma coming from the tarts are weakening my willpower.

I did not regret as they tasted quite good. The crusts were not too oily and crispy at some parts. The egg custard were soft and fragrant, making me want to pop another tart in my mouth. I was hoping that the surface was more charred and the tarts were warm. This was my afternoon salvation nonetheless.

Egg tarts anyone?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Milk tea pudding from Tampopo Deli


I picked this one up from Tampopo Deli (#B1-16, Liang Court Shopping Centre, 177 River Valley Road, tel : 6338 7386) thinking that it might just really taste of milk tea. I was wrong. The little container of milk turned out to be just as it is. A little container of milk. There wasn't any enchantment in them to magically unlock any hidden flavors in the pudding. Nada.

More breakfasting at Simply Bread


Funny thing how sometimes, the firsts are quickly succeeded by seconds and before you realise it, the third arrives and then it becomes what we term as a habit. It was just about a week back that I was mentioning about the rarity of myself doing breakfast and what do you know? I'm up for another one again. Since I'm actually enjoying this, I'll probably consider it again in the next weekend. By the way, that's a very expensive sandwich that you see up there. It actually cost me more than $20. If you haven't yet penetrated the disguise, it's the roast beef sandwich from Simply Bread with 2 sunny side ups, 2 strips of bacon and aged cheddar slices. Apart from the fact that I was overcharged by about $4.50 already for the sandwich before the add ons, the eggs actually cost $6! The best part of this is, Simply Bread simply doesn't have a contactable email address from their website and their staff are apparently unaware at all of any feedback avenue for the company.


The sandwich was verifiably, great. Why wouldn't it be considering that it gets stuffed with a generous portion of roast beef topped with eggs dripping with runny yolk/sliced cheddar/bacon and then, slathered across with whole grain mustard. I could barely open my jaw wide enough to take a large bite. I'm definitely hard pressed to find a better sandwich else where, but then again, I'll be hard pressed to find a more expensive sandwich elsewhere. The cost of it did leave a bitter aftertaste despite the enjoyable heartiness.


The sausage brunch platter which was a varietal of the ham steak version that I had previously was pretty good as well. I didn't expect these meaty sausages to be packed so taut in their snappy cases that the first couple of bites were literally bursting with juices. The style of the eggs on the side can be chosen and in the case of the choice of omelet, there is also the option for fillings as well, of which which I picked the mushroom. The filled rolls with bacon and scrambled eggs which they have over at the counter wasn't as good since it was pre-made on display for anyone to pick. It was already cool and orders were not heated before serving. But they did account for some of the visual appeal to customers in the queue.