Tuesday, March 31, 2009

t//r/st tr/p

I hardly know where to begin with this place (Sosis by Shiraz, 3D River Valley Road, #01-14, Clarke Quay). Maybe I could just start with the misspelled poutine on the menu.

It also occured to me that the service staff was "struggling" with the orders when there were 2 other persons in the queue. It must have been seriously gruelling, trying manage the insane load of 3 orders. The furtile attempt of trying to heat the buns atop the warm sausages was a total failure since work was done at a slug's pace and the buns, arrived cold and stiff. Even the freshly fried fries failed to stay warm enough to melt the little cubes of cream cheese for the "putin". And what's up with the stinge on the onions anyway? These had gone through 2 request for extra onions and I'm sure you can imagine how little there were at the start. For a $6.50 hotdog, one would think that when you asked for more onions, they'd be totally cool about giving you more.

I was left wondering, when I collected my order, what was that almost dried up brown goo in the heated container that was suppose to be the gravy. It was being spooned carefully onto the fries as I watched. Yeah, spooned. At my request for a little generosity with the gravy, the server alerted me that it was very saltish. In the end, that brown good turned out to be what I think is Brovil. Seriously, WTF! Barely melted cream cheese on barely lukewarm fries and that drizzle of Borvil. This stuff was just saltish and dry. Heart clogging and not so good there.

So, does anyone want to buy a vowel?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Alegro Spanish Street Food, Clark Quay

I was initially alerted of this place (3D River Valley Road, #01-13 Clarke Quay) from a Spanish fair at Isetan some time back when I purchased one of their borcadillo de Serrano and was handed a business card. I recalled being quite impressed with the sandwich down at the fair and decided to give this supposedly street food kiosk a try. I didn't expect to be underwhelmed by the selection of what they had to offer. Apart from the borcadillos with the jamon Serrano and chorizos, I was hard pressed to find something else of interest and had to settle for just that. In the end, the sandwich didn't taste as good as I remembered it from the fair and came across as rather pricey for a sandwich with what, 3 thin slices of chorizo and some tomatoes? The subtleties of their flavours was mostly lost on me tonight. Even the churros didn't quite feel like the other time.

I doubt I'll ever return if that's all there is and I'm pretty sure this is a poor showcase, if any, of Spanish street food. By that, I refer to both the variety and the quality. I can always get fried calamari and french fries elsewhere.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lorong Ah Soo Lor Mee, Hainanese Village Food Centre

This stall (Blk 105 Hougang Ave 1, #02-12) I was told, is suppose to be one of those famous places for lor mee. Judging from the queue in front of the stall, there was probably little debate about that fact. My initial expections was something along the lines of what vague memory I can scrape from the days of the old Maxwell Food Centre where the bowl of noodles was piled on the top with sliced pork belly, crispy fried meatballs, ngor hiong and chopped garlic. I was actually a little disappointed that this was not to be. Firstly, there wasn't any fried meatballs nor strips of pork belly. Instead it was a just some fish cake and a bit of shredded braised duck. The major saving grace of it was probably the sliced chilli padi, chopped garlic and vinegar which upped the taste factor by some notches. Otherwise I couldn't really say that there was anything about it that was truly exceptional.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Founder Bak Kut Teh Restaurant, Balestier Road

I've lost count of the number of times I've passed by this place (347 Balestier Road, New Orchid Hotel, tel: 6352 6192) and wanted to give them a try. Today, I've finally gotten the opportunity to do so and very fortunately, we managed to get a table without too much of a long wait at the queue. I've honestly arrived with some expectations since this is one of those places that people always mention when the topic arrives on ba kut tehs to try and the verdict is, it's not bad. There was a nice peppery broth (which gave me hiccups) that didn't diminish in flavor with each refill and I probably would have enjoyed the ribs better if they had been those that slipped off the bone in an easier manner. Very decent garlic-ky salted vegetables and boiled tau kee on the sides there, but I didn't feel that it etched an impression as deep as the one at Kelantan Lane for me. I did notice that the broth was a little brownish instead of the usual white for these peppery types.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Viva Mexico, Cuppage Terrace

Viva Mexico (23 Cuppage Road, Cuppage Terrace, tel: 6235 0440) is one of the new Mexican places that's opened along with the rest of Cuppage Terrace after the renovation along that stretch. Apparently, these guys are run by the Palate Vine group that also manages Vintage India, Ras The Essence of India and also The Tent. I'm going to have to file this as a Mexican and not Mexican't for a personal reference since I thought the food was actually not bad and the prompt and polite service was definitely appreciated.

Honestly, I don't really know much about real Mexican food and there's probably much more to it than meets the usual Tex Mex stuff locally. The eggplant starter for example could have been something that's served in any other Mediterranean restaurant I wouldn't have known any better. In fact, this particular item definitely felt like something I could have had from someplace like the Original Sin. Oven baked and stuffed with spinach and cheese, the semi crunchy texture retained enough flavor not to be overwhelmed by the tomato based sauces. Did I mention that it was a rather generous portion as well?

The hunk of meat with token greens (2 sprigs of rocket there, no less!) and grilled tomatoes that you see on the top is a beef filet stuffed with something call Cuitlacoche mushrooms in the centre. This could have been a Mexican steak of sorts and I'm pretty sure the cut was a tenderloin. Personally, I thought this was actually quite good. So good that I'll be tempted to just order it again if I do come back. A nicely charred exterior providing the usual beef char fragrance melded with a saltish nuttish flavor of those bits of mushrooms inside. I'm not sure about the special sauce which the menu describe, but it might have been the milky stuff over the top which tasted like it has been made with goat's cheese. That definitely scored some for me along with a very sweet caramelized onions served on the side in appropriately small portions.

Could I mention the comforting side of beans and cheese as well. Oh, these guys got medium rare right so that's a good sign for me.

The dessert here that you see would be the pumpkin en tacha. The chilled pumpkin sure tasted poached rather than fresh as described. Sitting in a pool of brown cane sugar concentrate call piloncillo and a generous pour of heavy cream, it did taste like an extremely robust bubor char char. So robust like no other bubor char char in fact. There were some bits of chopped guava at the bottom as well, but nothing was really left of the original flavor of the fruit. Neither could I discern any of the cinnamon and cloves that was suppose to be in this dessert. No complains about the pumpkin, but the rest of it was really too sweet for my liking.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fisherios Fish N Chips, Bugis Junction

A couple of reasons drew me into Fisherios (200 Victoria Street, #B1-K15 Bugis Junction). Firstly, I remember seeing them around for quite a while and survivability of an eating establishment usually counts for something. Secondly, I saw the salmon fish and chips which intrigued me since I've never had that before. I was actually bordering between interest and skeptism since I've had my share of overfried salmons which I really don't care for. It was quite the fortunate thing that these ones were actually not cooked to death and to my surprise, we got a light crispy batter and the meat was actually a little fatty. I was expecting a dry filet and I guess I was wrong about that. Also noted was that, the color of the meat presented itself to be a tad faint instead of of a more vibrant shade of pink. Belly?

The other beer battered option of the snapper wasn't too shabby as well. Perhaps, I did come with really low expectations and being just borderline decent had surpassed those expectations. At this price point, Big D still takes the cake though.

But whatever you do here, it's my advice to avoid the clam chowder soup options from the sets and give the fried cheesecakes a pass. Really. Unless you enjoy a predominant aroma of stale oil in a soggy skin enveloping a dry, crumbly and weak tasting stuff that was the cheesecake. It didn't even arrive warm enough to melt the accompanying ice cream and for $2.90, it was criminal. I should have been paid to eat that stuff.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Big D's Grill, Holland Drive

I've only found out very recently that Big D's Grill (Block 46 Holland Drive, #01-359, S270046) has moved to a location rather accessible to my current place of work and coincidentally in the same coffeeshop with the XO fish beehoon place down at Holland drive (sadly, their standards have fallen far).

Prices at the stall aren't what one would normally associate with coffeeshop food and this place beats the crap out of even Botak Jones for price ranges that skim the top at $90 for a 200g piece of wagyu steak. They do have a variety of cow options I must say and it's one of the reasons that will bring me back here again. Getting to the meat of the matter, we got a very decent beer battered snapper which was really probably the best fish and chips ever to date to be served in a location like this with their generous portions of fluffly white fish in light crispy batter. A pity about the lack of vinegar.

The oily anchovy pasta with bits of garlic, thinly sliced of more pan fried garlic and bits of parsley was impressive in a way that I didn't quite expect. It was one of the better aglio olio renditions that I've had which is totally unexpected because I ordered anchovy pasta and this wasn't really what I had in mind. Honestly, the pasta was saltish, garlicky and spicy at the same time. One might have surmised, that those flavors really overwhelmed any anchovy-ness that I was hoping for. A treat if you're looking for your garlic and olive oil fix, but at prices that they charge in some Italian restaurants. I didn't quite think it was justified. Dude, where's my anchovies?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Zac Cafe, Jalan Pinang

For someone who has visited Nando's, that one probably cannot help but draw parallels of their Peri Peri sauces to Zac Cafe's (17 Jalan Pinang, tel : 6295 1816) pari pari chicken in terms of flavor. Or at least silently snigger at the similarities in the name. In seriousness, this was actually pretty good. By that, I meant that you get nicely browned half chook with some nice char fragrance on the exterior and meat still juicy on the insides along with a certain spicy sauce slathered over the meat. And the spiciness did pack a punch, albeit, it doesn't knock one out by sheer force. It creeps into potency as you eat along...

I also couldn't really complain any about the accompanying toasted "arabic bread" which brought forth a little more than a faint reminder of roti prata and there was nice crunch from the strips of onions on the side as well. Perhaps, there is a good reason why this particular chicken required a 20 minute wait.

This lamb bohari rice which featured braised lamb on a bed of spiced rice was notably large in portion. I'm not too sure how should I feel about it since I did enjoy it and on the same hand, felt that it could have been something better. Like perhaps more fragrance to the rice. The meat wasn't as tender as I had hoped for and neither did it slide of the bone as easily as I would have liked, but these things aside, it really wasn't too bad. What positively got the nod of approval was the hearty samosas which was stuffed with minced beef. They probably beat many similar other puffs sold elsewhere to shame and for the price they cost here, even more rightly so. They would have been awesome for me if there wasn't the faint bits of coriander which I personally preferred without. The only similar snacks that I recall that might have been better than these were the kolkatta shingaras from Mustard.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A beer chilli bowl from Brewerkz

I've been having really lousy food for about 2 weeks now and this is probably my first decent chow since. What do I make out of this spicy bowl of ground beef and bean porridge with a blanket of runny cheese over the top? Not too bad I would say. Not that I've had a whole lot of these beef chilli stuff apart from them being served on fries or burgers. Pretty comforting in the belly at the least on a cold day and otherwise, good to go with a pint or three of their golden ale. I kinda like that crumbly sweet and savory corn bread/cake thingy that they had on top too.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Does anyone know where to get this?

I can't really recall how I landed myself one of these but I like them and I don't remember seeing them around in the supermarkets. Does anyone have any idea?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Crystal's Ohn no kaung swe

Imagine something along the lines of laksa with a less rich broth. That's how I would describe how this tasted like.

And I think it all begins with a cooked chicken, with the bones for the broth along with chopped garlic and coconut milk. The rest of the bird has the meat boiled in the broth which is actually rather mild in flavor on its own. The dried chilli, along with sliced raw onions and a squeeze of some lime helped perk things up noticeably and added some crunch to the slurpy noodles here.

Many thanks for the Turkish coffee and delights Crystal.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Bella Pizza, Robertson Quay

Hey, here's one Italian place that serves Hoegaarden. That aside, I must admit that despite a few chinks here and there, I kinda like Bella Pizza (30 Robertson Quay, #01-14 Riverside View, tel : 6734 0139) and that to the point that I would probably come back again. Service was adequate, polite and best of all, snappy yet observant. I must too confess, that having pizza bianca on the menu helps make me decide favorably on this place as well.

We started off with some light chunks of tomatos and buffalo mozzarella wrapped in one of the more thinly sliced Parma ham I've had with the courtesy of just a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground pepper. I'm not that picky as to fault the cheese for not being in the state of creamy perfection (what the hell is that anyway?). It was soft, smooth and basically fulfilled my expectations of what I expected out of a starter like this. Personally, I thought it was rather light and enjoyable.

The menu described the home made fettuccine to be done with a touch of cream. It was simply just creamy, but fortunately not overwhelmingly so. The flavor was light that one could simply still taste the bits of shaven black truffles and morels in them as well. The burst of flavors came from the bits of salty sausages that were really tasted home made from the texture of them. I meant that in a good way.

Which brings us to the pizza. I only have one grip with the pizza cotto which is topped with mozzarella, cooked ham and Gorgonzola. It definitely needs more Gorgonzola. But otherwise, it's actually one of the more decent ham and cheese based pizza I've had in a while. Nice thin crust that folded under the weight of the generous topping of milky mozzarella toppings and salty ham. Really, more Gorgonzola!

Usually, ordering desserts kind means I like the rest of the food. But not ordering them doesn't mean otherwise. This crepe alla nutella con banane I must admit, was a little let down because I was expected a little more and these good fellas serve them exactly as it was described. Crepe with mascarpone and nutella served with bananas. It tastes pretty much like the way it looks and the salvation of this dessert is actually, nutella. I could have made this myself at home.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Another bowl of beef noodles from...

...Hong Heng down at Ang Mo Kio. It was one of those unplanned lunches on short notice and I must say that I remain impressed enough to want to come back again.