Sunday, August 30, 2009

Small Potatoes Make The Steak Look Bigger : Year Three

Wow, it's been three years and counting still!

This has become something of an unexpected commitment and I really had no idea how long I could continue. Still I have to say that I've longer running interests so I shouldn't be too surprised that it's been going on for as long as it has been.

More interesting things to come, hopefully.

Like Tony Stark messing with Peter Parker's suit.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mayim, Northpoint

This turned out to be a case of hits and misses for me. I remember Mayim (930 Yishun Ave 2, #02-01/05 Northpoint Shopping Centre, tel : 65 6758 3168) back from the time I had them last at West Mall. Recalled that I've actually eaten there a few times and enjoyed the food quite a bit. I've even taken out yu shen during one or two of the Chinese New Years then. So I was definitely interested when I found out that they have a new and only other outlet at Northpoint.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

District 10, Windstedt Road

This was an unexpected trip down to Luca's new bistro (10 Windstedt Road, #01-17, tel: 65 6738 4788) beside the nice little neighborhood of small apartments at Monk's Hill. Really serene location at night despite being located not too far away from the bright and noise filled Newton Food Centre. I remember having read about District 10 some weeks back somewhere on the Internet, but it didn't really register then. I was also hoping upon reaching the place that perhaps, it would be a little different from the regular bistro, but I suppose it was just in the end, another bistro. The food wasn't too bad I suppose, but it didn't really hold much of a special appeal. The place however, was really nice to hang out.

Started off with some creamy green pea soup with roasted ham and mint. Somehow, I had in mind cube chunks of roasted ham in the soup, but it turned out to be a couple of strips of bacon and there wasn't the slightest hint of mint to be tasted. I guess it's kinda bad practice to be creative with what you serve since people like me actually read the menu to find out what I'm actually ordering. In the end, what I had was just a mashed pea soup. Viscous, but not really creamy and it really wasn't too bad apart from not being what I had in mind. There was some calamari which was decent, but nothing really much to write about unless you've never had calamari before and had absolutely no idea what they tasted or looked like.

I decided on the rigatoni with wagyu meatballs to go with for a couple of reasons. There wasn't really much else on the menu that I found interesting and I wanted to prove myself correct that these meatballs would taste exactly like regular meatballs. True to my guess, it did taste like regular meatballs. Mixed with little bits of herbs which I personally felt would have been better without and tossed in a lightly tart-ish tomato based sauce. I was also disappointed that they forgot the shaven Parmesan on the top, but didn't feel quite inspired to ask for them. Maybe it was a little too much to expect for these guys to be a little more like Bontá.

Like I said, a really pleasant place to chill, but not terribly exciting in the department of food.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pumpkin ramen from Menya Shinchan

This seems to be relatively new on the menu at Menya Shinchan and because it was a pumpkin soup base, I just had to give it a go. with an extra order of egg. As it turned out, the creamy looking pumpkin and pork bone broth turned out to be mildly sweetish yet savory in taste which was something I found quite pleasant. I couldn't say that consistency was creamy by itself since there wasn't really much viscosity involved, but there was a milky quality to it, sans the flavor of actual milk. I suppose it was another twist to the regular tonkotsu broth types. This trip was also another reminder of what I like about this place. The smoky tasting egg and soft charshu slices. All excellent with the generous portions of crunchy bean sprouts and scallion toppings. I hope this item is going to be here to stay.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Zambuca, Pan Pacific Hotel

I never got to visit this place (Pan Pacific Singapore,7 Raffles Boulevard,#03-00, tel: 65 6337 8086) back in the time Angelo Sanelli and Dennis Sim where around to run the show. Now that they're with Mietta's, I've somehow managed to drop by for a visit, not really knowing what to expect out of it since one of my friends absolutely detests this restaurant and no one I personally know have actually visited it since the old chef relocated. The web site is almost sorely in need of an update. I couldn't find out what the current menu as email inquiries are pretty much a one way affair. The first glance at the menu didn't really look that interesting to me and the serving person gave himself the impression that the gnocchi and quail salad was actually pasta. This really didn't appear to start off in an encouraging manner.

Basically, you could say that I was walking myself into an adventure. Or a risk, depending on whether you're the type of person who's a cup half empty or half full.

Cutting through the foreplay, I was honestly quite impressed by whomever it is in the kitchen these days. At least for this dinner.

amuse bouche

This chilled amuse bouche was something made with a blender. Now I cannot fully remember what when into that little glass of something which tasted very much like gazpacho. Well, there was tomato and there was olive oil. I suspect that was the intention of it anyway. It did its job being a light on the palate and also refreshing in a cold way. If you're wondering what's the stirrer like object resting on the rim of the glass, it's a single stalk of chive which I was almost tempted to use as a straw.

warm gnocchi and quail salad

This was hands down one of the most enjoyable salad I've ever had. Not that I was one salad freak in the first place and if you've noticed, it's not something that I tend to opt for despite the fact that do not detest vegetables. The salad was well tossed with olive oil and without excessive use of vinegar and, there was something saltish which I couldn't really identify that made the savory flavor very mouth watering.

I haven't yet gone into the nice savory bits of morels and slightly crispy on the outside pan fried gnocchis, which created a comfort element for this salad. Well, quail tastes very much like chicken and there's really nothing to embellish on that. I'd come back for this again if I do.

tomato and goat cheese tart

Almost a no brainer for myself here, I picked the tart with goat cheese. The flavors that are played between the two main toppings don't involve very much of subtlety. The little tartness from the tomato offsets the richer and creamy flavors of the goat cheese. Simple as that. Would have been better if they were more generous with those artistic drizzles of balsamic vinegar, but I'm really not complaining here. Very tasty warm tart. I only wished that something like these were more readily available that I do not have to come to a restaurant like this to eat them.

porcini risotto

I'm going to draw a little comparison between this risotto and the one at Mietta's. I thought it might be an appropriate standoff since the latter was made by the person that once cooked at Zambuca and we could draw really simple parellels between what they do today. The foie gras and porcini risotto clearly has something which this one doesn't, which is foie gras. That being said, the flavors of the liver was a little lacking, but it soared pretty much with the porcini taste. This one, while adequately flavored with the mushroom didn't quite pack the punch of the other porcini risotto. It was however, quite cheesy here and that really made it up for me.

Really nice simple comfort food with good flavors minus unnecessary sophistication.

tenderloin with red wine reduction & foie gras sauce

Zambuca does a very nicely grilled hunk of medium rare tenderloin which was appreciably, not as puny as the one from Valentino's, but didn't quite do the trick with the sauce for me as the latter. Note that this might be a biased opinion because the use of blue cheese was involved in the latter place, but also that the supposedly foie gras inclusion into the regular red wine reduction didn't quite play itself out as I expected. When I read that fat liver is included into a sauce, I would want to taste that fat liver. There was really little to fault with the steak itself, it's just something personal between me and the sauce. Those onion things on the side were however, an amazing mix of sweet and tartness.

apple tartine

The obvious comparison that comes to mind for this would be the really nice apple tartine from Saraceno. There isn't going to be a clear indication of which, would be the better dessert. Honestly I liked them both in their own ways. This one (apart from the carefully carved fruit) has apples which were baked and retained more of it's crunch then the other. Also the crust tasted less heavy. Both are what I would consider something worth trying if one visits.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Barossa, Esplanade Mall

Wow, this prime rib from a watering hole (8 Raffles Avenue,Esplanade Mall,#01-11, tel : 6534 5188) was really not bad. It was in fact a much better deal in the department of both price and taste than the cote de beouf down at Absinthe which tasted quite flat by comparison. In fact it was one of those that made me feel quite agreeable to coming back again for another shot at it.

What made this prime rib a hit for me was that it wasn't overly thick, nicely charred without being overly so and was well flavored with a well measure of coarse grained salt over the top that was just sufficient to flavor the meat with savory goodness. Steak comes with an option of two sides. We picked the cream spinach and an option called apricots & walnuts. The latter turned out to be a chilled rocket salad with apricots, walnuts and goat cheese. Yes, nice crumbly goat's cheese so I would definitely recommend the latter over the creamed spinach which didn't quite match up to what I had imagined (think Lawry's). They had a roasted pumpkin soup with apple and almonds which unfortunately didn't taste like it was roasted to any degree, was totally absent of any apple whatsoever and used cheap sliced almonds that one could buy off the shelves. Avoid that soup. Waste of money.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Morton's USDA Prime Burger

I was initially a little skeptical about how good a burger this might be at $30 even though it was Morton's, but I'd have to say that I was pretty impressed by their hefty 12 oz patty oozing with deep red juices from each bite. That being said, these guys have really inched my expectations of a good burger up by at least a couple of notches. That much I can give them credit for.

The options were really quite simple here. A choice of doneness for the fine minced patty and one of three cheeses (blue, cheddar or swiss) to top it with. Everything else comes with it including a couple of strips of grilled bacon and sauteed onions. One cannot tag frills onto something like that and that simplicity done well was something that quite impressed me. What didn't feel as hearty about it was that it lacked the grits which made the meat feel a little refined. The generosity of the blue cheese and the thick salty melted cheddar slice over the top certainly scored points for the Prime burger. It seems that they're charging $5 less if you do your orders after 8p.m. so that's something to look out for if you're in the vicinity having dinner later than usual and willing to shell out some bucks for a man sized burger.

Bar service is surprisingly poor in comparison with the restaurants. I thought I had detected one of those professional aversion skills that many service staff acquire in the course of their work.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A packed away nasi padang lunch

It is sometimes a chore going for lunch in the building at my current workplace. Occasionally, when the sun is not as blistering, I venture out a little further into a grimy food centre amidst some JTC blocks and get some nasi padang which costs less and actually tastes pretty good. Here's a pack of that with curried mutton, a hard boiled egg and some salty fried squids. I did not register the name of the stall since I never really looked, but good food finds a way. There couldn't have been a more blatant invitation for the Z monster to rake its claws across your back in the mid day.

Monday, August 03, 2009

A random nasi lemak breakfast

Here's a grease bomb of a breakfast with the sweet Taiwanese sausage, greasy fried egg with semi liquid yolk and deep fried chicken wings in bed with some hot coconut rice. It was definitely miles away from a healthy breakfast, but one doesn't begrudge the satisfaction that comes after. And to make up for something like this, I skipped lunch at work. Heh.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Lamb chops from Zac Cafe

What struck me about this rack of lamb from Zac Cafe was that each piece extra thick. Not double cut but thicker than most single rib. It was unfortunate that the meat was a little more cooked that I was hoping for. This resulted in them being a little more chewy than I would normally like. I recalled them being tender even when they were well done from a previous visit. It's hard for me to argue against thick hunks of grilled bone in lamb laced with fat. I'm going to try this again another time.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Bistro Du Vin, Shaw Center

Another good one by the Les Amis Group.

Admittedly, these guys are a little pricey down at Bistro Du Vin (1 Scotts Road, #02-12 Shaw Centre, tel : 6733 7763), but I'm really thinking that the price tag does somewhat match an assurance of really tasty, quality food here. I don't pretend to be an expert on what they do, but previous experiences and more seem to point out a number of qualities where their restaurants tend to outshine others.

Fricassée de Champignons aux morilles et oeuf poché

The mushroom fricassée was something that I couldn't find myself disagreeing with. I'm pretty sure that they're available elsewhere and are probably good as well, but I'd have to admit enjoying the one here quite a bit, especially the salty bits of morel paired with the aroma of bacon grease. Liquid yolks rule!

Foie gras de canard des Landes aux pommes et réduction de
vinaigre balsamique

The foie gras came with the balsamic vinegar reduction a little dried out on the sides, but was otherwise familiarly lip smacking with a thin crusty exterior and the quivery insides that one would expect. The only complain was that I would have personally liked them better in thicker slices. It came with some poached apples on the sides.

Soupe a l’oignon gratinée au gruyère et croûton

I'll rate the French onion soup as warm and comforting. Little else need to be said of the sweetish broth filled with soft layers of boiled onion and topped with that salty gruyere cheese. Excellent for a rainy day and something on the menu that I can foresee myself wanting to order again if I come back

cured ham sampler (Sanchez Romero Carvajal Cintos Jotas & Marcos Iberico de Bellota)

I'm not going to wonder about Spanish ham in a French place. These thinly sliced bits of cured meat could just be described as tantalisingly teasing with the nutty smoky flavour enhanced by the slivers of fat along the edges. Minus the saltiness of Parma ham. With a couple of years of prerequisite ageing, one might understand why they cost so much.

Confit de canard

I don't find myself ordering duck confit very often. Then again, I don't eat French food that much neither. This was really quite nice in my opinion. The duck came with a nice crispy skin and tender flavourful meat. A bonus came in a form of a little jug of what I had heard to be a duck based reduction that enhanced the flavours of the meat noticeably to another level of - erm.... duckiness. In a good way.

kurobuta pork cutlet

I've only had a couple of pieces of the pork cutlet, and I'd have to say that these were surprisingly very good. It tasted much like a refined version of that kurobuta pork loin from Big D's Grill and possessed too, a very nice smoky aroma from the grill.

steak frites (ribeye)

Now this was surprisingly awesome. Surprising because I hadn't been expecting a fat laced piece of ribeye that had enough natural flavours in the meat that widened my eye. I was honestly expecting a regular steak and this was definitely better than your average steak. Mileages may differ of course, but this made the stuff down at Aston Prime look like an amateur's job. Unfortunately, it doesn't look very impressive on photo which doesn't quite translate itself into the fatty tender pieces of greasy beef after it was cut up. And $42 wasn't really something I would consider in the affordable range for a cut of that size, otherwise......

Crème brûlée

Nice crispy top and a very eggy custard. In short, I liked this.


Well, I kinda like profiteroles for some reason. Maybe it's because of the soft choux pastry stuffed with ice cream in their texture. This wasn't anything very extraordinary, but I liked them the same.

apricot tart

The apricot tart wasn't necessarily bad, but it was the least interesting amongst the dessert and it did turn out to be pretty much how I imagined the taste to be. But at least now I know for sure that I won't be missing much by giving it a pass the next time.