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, must have been 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 was pretty much as I remembered them and on the overall, it was quite decent especially the vegetable and meat buns which were very tasty when hot and I've found out that the portions of meat to vegetables in them are 1 to 9. One of the things that I've never seen before are the assorted vegetables with strips of those hard tau kwa which I liked. And their xiao long baos are still one of the juiciest 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 taking a trip down to 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 the tubers are probably a little less coarse grained then the regular ones. Apart from that, I can't really say that it's something good enough that I'll order them again unless I really have a craving.

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 popular appearances 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 flavor in comparison with Imperial and definitely wasn't on par with the Sin Min outlet down at Kelantan Lane. This noticeable lack of kick was a bit of a let down. Refills of the soup fared even worse. Must have been a new batch of that broth there or perhaps it's all that way. So I guess this ranks as one of the less favorable places if I ever get a craving. What was good was the cloves of garlic that were boiled to the point where they 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 actually thought that their chewy braised fallopian tubes in dark sauce was actually the better deal. They seem to taste better than the usual ones that can be found from most 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 the inevitable thing that I returned to Circular Sumptuous Square for more of their mouthwatering greasy duck. To put things into some limited perspective, the duck here was good in the greasy fatty way which wasn't quite matched by places like Sin Sian Yuen down at Chong Pang or Jin Xing which serves them dry and in heartier chunks. That's not to say at all that the mentioned places weren't good, but they were just different, and tasty in their own ways especially if you liked your duck free of sauces and in larger slices.

This time round, I gave a pass on the rice option and decided to give their noodles a short instead. Which turned out to be a good call for that matter as the noodles here were springy with bite and delicious on the whole. No more rice for me here. The accompanying sauce was just decent while the chilli on the side made them better. For me, the texture of those noodles did it more than anything else about them.


I found the salty preserved vegetables (mui choi or mei chai) with some pieces of pork belly which was available from the stall pretty tasty and serves as a good compliment to the main orders. I suppose this could be a note to myself that it's 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 forming outside this stall. But I guess it could have been unmanageable for the proprietor if the place was any larger. This trip was a specific plan to eat their seafood based noodles which the stall was quite famed for, and rightly so. That being said, there's also a bunch of other items that fell into consideration as they looked pretty inviting over on the neighboring tables and this place was quite exemplar of evolving hawker fare.

Moving on to the lobster tang hoon, prices aside, was seriously great stuff. The stock used infused those glass noodles and made them both sweet and savory at the same time. The lobster was also rather fresh with the natural sweetness and had crunchy meat. Certainly, there were some similarities with the crab tang hoon that I tried previously and the main difference between them was probably just the shellfish.

The clam noodles, or also known as the la la mian from Ya Kwang was what I feel most vongole pasta should've been. Where many have failed pathetically living up to. This one was loaded with meaty clams and garlic flavor. General similarity aside, this one was nicely accented by the bits of spicy chilli padi and had noodles that soaked up the very savoury and seriously drool inducing stock. That was so good that I was pretty 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. This was pretty decent and saw a generous use of eggs. We had ordered this as a filler since the previous dishes didn't have the volume. There was a also some deep fried pig intestines call Da Chang Jing which were served in the similar manner as Peking ducks where one would wrap the pieces of 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, even though I had expecting the regularly deep fried variety where it's more chewy.

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...


Staying on my word since the last visit, I am back again down in Serangoon Ave 4 for more of their delicious roasted meats. This time, it's one of my favorite sweet and savory combination of char siew, roast pork and roast duck breast. As you can obviously see, they're all greasy succulent cuts of meats with soft fatty portions that are ready to dissolve in your tongue. Not forgetting to mention the wonderfully charred char siew and crispy pork crackling from the roast meats. My mouth waters just at their mention....

Pity about the rice though and the sauces as well. But I don't see myself having any problems eating them without any condiments at all.




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) down at the coffee shop where Uncle Leong Seafood is located down in Ang Mo Kio. Granted that I was drawn to this stall mostly because it was a beef noodle store and was initially thinking of some soup kuey teow rather than the usual dry rendition which comes with that boring starchy gravy. The laksa option caught my eye and I certainly wasted no time giving it a try.

I'm not too sure about the Katong Laksa name up there, but the gravy which wasn't of the viscous variety didn't quite feel like any of the namesake laksas which I've had before. Still, it was a decent gravy, 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 related spare parts featuring tripe, tendons, beef ball and some parts that looked like belly to me was certainly quite good, served mostly half cooked. Notably, the tendons looked rather raw which gave me pause initially, but was all good when I realised that they were one of those that broke apart easily in the mouth with little chewing involved. And on the side, some nice cincalok chilli to get the taste buds on the workout.


Another noteable mention were the beef balls which despite their regular looking appearances, reminded me in taste (not texture) of those that you get in Subway's meatball sandwiches. These meaty tasting beef balls certainly didn't feel like the regular mass produced variety that one commonly finds in the food court flavor of Hainanese beef noodles and I must say that 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.