Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fatboy's the Burger Bar, Upper Thomson Rd

The birth of Fatboy's (187 Upper Thomson Road, tel : +65 6252 8780) is probably one of the little steps moving the right way forward for the state of burgers in this country since we're looking at establishments that are upcoming and upbringing the standards of the original humble burger into the myriads of renditions that can be found all over the world today. That being said, the first comment that I personally have on the burgers here is that the quality of the beef patties are a rather big disappointment. Especially so for a place that sells itself as a burger bar. Truly.

Being me as usual, we opted for the Fat Basterd which was on menu, the largest burger available weighing at 150g patties X 2. There wasn't really anything particularly special about it apart from the fact that it was larger than the rest and featured a dubious sounding "homemade bbq sauce". Cheese slices were a little thin, looked like they were of the individually wrapped variety and pretty much overwhelmed by everything else in the sandwich. The liquids that oozed out of the patties definitely didn't feel nor taste like meat juices to me. I tasted like water squeezed out of cooked meat which wasn't ideal at all in the fat to meat ratio. In short, the meat was far too lean and tasteless. I'm never ordering a beef burger from this place again.

On the positive side The Elvis kinda rocked as a burger. The pork patty was noticeably a league above the beef version, cooked pink on the insides and possessing of much more of its meaty flavor coupled with the char fragrance from the grill on the outside. The grill bananas and peanut butter definitely made it more interesting for me in the sweet and savory play. Am likely to come back just for this.

Somebody needs to tell them that their peanut butter and banana shake should just be called peanut butter shake. Where're the bananas people?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Izakaya Nijumaru Restaurant, Cuppage Plaza

So here are a couple of teishoku sets from a izakaya place (5 Koek Road, #02-10 Cuppage Plaza, tel : +65 6235 6693) down at Cuppage. The restaurant actually consists of quite a few units and business must be really good for them to be able to afford such space. There seemed to an even mix of local and Japanese clientele. I've heard about this place from a few sources so decided to drop by for what looked to be the the popular items that people order.

The food here was definitely straight forward and frills free. It was also probably not someplace that I would like to order sashimi based on the samples I've had from the Nijumaru bento which also came with some forgettable grilled saba, pieces of mixed tempura and a piece of braised pork which was really the best item from the set. Even though as my memory serves, it probably wasn't as tasty as the rafute from Mimigar, it was definitely still good. And there was also a decent unajyu set which featured fatty eels as well.

I've yet to order much of anything else beyond a agedashi tofu so I couldn't really say if I liked this place much or not. I'm sure there must be an appeal somewhere and perhaps, it lies with the grills.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Le Bistrot, Stadium Walk

This restaurant (2 Stadium Walk, #01-03 Singapore Indoor Stadium, tel : +65 6447 0018) was one of numerous places I've been meaning to come for quite some time. I'm not sure how many people were actually aware of its existence but it didn't look as filled up as I was expecting on a Friday night. The location probably had a part to play with the crowd as well since it wasn't all that accessible. Since it was our first visit, we did take a while to locate the place. But all was good and I'm pretty glad we made this trip.

What you'll find at Le Bistrot is pretty good food coupled with attentive yet non-intrusive service. The wait staff actually knows the menu well!

Gravlax (Saumon Cru Mariné), Oeuf Mollet Croquant, Crème Fraîche à la Menthe

I'd have to admit that their cured salmon slices were actually pretty good and tasted different in a refreshing way with their mint crème fraîche. There was also the flavour of the dill from that as well. This was also the first time I've come across a deep fried soft boiled egg. I suppose it was quite a novelty for  an egg to be cooked cooked to the point where it was about solid enough to hold it's shape; and finished with a lightly breaded and fried surface. The salmon was suppposed to come with truffle oil It was only at the point when most of the fish was done that we realised that the truffle oil that was supposed to be in could hardly be discerned. A little feedblack actually resulted in a fresh portion being brought in as replacement and subsequently doused with a generous dose of the oil. Wow.

foie gras terrine w/ Cadillac

The smooth and creamy foie gras terrine came in a pretty generous slice, topped with what I thought were be very forgettable pan fried pineapples. While the fruit was presumably the balance for the rich foie, the accompanying Cadillac did a much better job. In fact, I really liked that white wine.

Crumble au Joue de Boeuf Wagyu, Pommes Sarladaises

Beef cheeks aren't usually my thing, but I picked the wagyu beef cheek crumble for the novelty of having a savoury crumble and I really was curious how wagyu beef cheek would be like. It was in the end, a decently done beef pie with cheese and crumble pastry over the top. I'm quite sure I've had better crumble pastry before though. The duck fat potato slices where on the other hand very nice.

herb crusted spring lamb

I hadn't expected the spring lamb to be a baked dish at all. In fact, I was thinking along the lines of what I had at Mietta's. Still it turned out to be a pleasant surprise as lamb was tender and despite lacking the gamey natural flavour of the meat, was quite enjoyable. I liked that they didn't overdo the herb crust and that the sliced potato gratin that served as the base came with a flavour of goat cheese. That definitely scored things up a notch for me.

Pastilla au Pistache-Chocolat Noir

Don't think we were wowed by the dessert. Most of its saving grace in my opinion came from the dark chocolate for me. The skin of pastilla was a much too tough and the pistachio cream did taste oddly soapy. I'm quite sure it wasn't imagined on my part, but I couldn't understand what could have happened to the flavours of that.

While I didn't quite agree with all the elements of some of the things I had, I was still impressed by the service. Am quite sure I'll be back again..... noticed that the steak frites were beckoning to me from a neighbours table.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Takeaway chicken rice at lunch

This was a takeaway from a JTC canteen near my workplace where lunch options are actually quite limited if one doesn't depart the premises of the building. The options out of convenience for many is usually the food court which I would really prefer to avoid most of the time. This chicken rice was really an example of how much a better choice it is probably for me since it cost me almost the same as the one at the food court and I get a portion of roast pork and eggs with them as well. Now this wasn't anywhere amongst the better chicken rice I've had, it didn't have to be and still was certainly a couple of notches better in taste and portions than the one in the food court.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Some Korean beef and rice set from SGH food court

Having had to spend quite a few evenings at the hospital recently put me through some dinner options that I normally would go some lengths to avoid. One such option is the food court which serves, in my not so humbled opinion, generally expensive food with mediocre quality and poor taste to boot. There are definitely exceptions and this beef and rice set from the Korean stall in the Kopitiam at SGH was unexpectedly satisfying. I've gotten into my head that this isn't really Korean food and I needed not to view them as such.

In the end it was a very decently done beef still simmering in the it's own juices along with that of the shredded cabbage and onions. The seasoning was well handled in a way whereby the added flavours didn't overwhelm the beefiness and I could actually taste the natural sweetness of the cabbage from the residual broth left at the bottom of the bowl of meat. Rice was unexpectedly soft and very agreeable to my stomach.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chili's, Tanglin Mall

As a student many many dozens of moons ago, I've visited Chili's (#02-23 Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Road, tel : +65 6733-3317) once. It was such a long time back then, I really have little to no recollection of my experience there. Then again, it might have been the fact too that, it wasn't anything memorable at all since I do remember really good things from a long time back. This impromptu visit could be consider a clean slate for myself in getting acquainted with the food from this Tex Mex restaurant.

The food was for a start actually fairly decent with generous portions. There was a curiously named fajita quesadillas which was basically just quesadillas with chunks of beef (or chicken options) in them. The skins were nicely buttery, meat was a little more cooked than I would have preferred and the lime flavored rice was strangely addictive for me. Unexpectedly better than I had anticipated was their Southern Smokehouse Bacon Big Mouth Burger. Big mouthful there for the name as well. Lol. I wasn't really expecting much in the way of the meat which was surprisingly not too bad in the department of beefiness. What got my attention was the description of the brown sugar and chilli rubbed bacon which tasted very much like ba kwa.

All in all, rather meaty meals that are heavy on grease, cheese and carbs in a family restaurant like environment that remind me of the early days of Tony Romas. I'll probably have some cravings once in a long while and as an afterthought, I too have embedded suspicions on the decline of the food quality as time passes. We'll have to see about that.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mang Kiko's Lechon, Lau Pa Sat

This particular stall (18 Raffles Quay, Stall #27 Lau Pa Sat Festival Market) was brought to my attention by a Filipino colleague at work who had given it a go and recommended me to try, saying that they're pretty good. True enough, the stall which basically serves just roasted pork (lechon) and chicken on a rotisserie stood out in a couple of compelling aspects.

Starting with the roast pork belly, despite being very akin to Chinese roast pork, had a much more smokey aroma of the roast. These guys were quite generous with the portions as well which might or might not be a good thing for everyone since that chunky pieces of chopped up roast meat was really laced with quite abit of fat. Some of the skin was a little tough though. Chicken was well roasted, greasy and had breast meat which was surprisingly tender. The nice add ons here were the spicy vinegar and a black sauce which tasted very much like those dark soy sauce with sliced chilli padi from ba kut teh stores. There was a distinctive aroma of chilli even though it wasn't really very spicy. One the side, there was also a sour and garlicky soup that one could have free refills on.

Needless to say, I'm probably going to come back again some time.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Bratwurst Shop, Plaza Singapura

It must have been quite a few years since I've last ate at The Bratwurst Shop (68 Orchard Road, #B2-39C Plaza Singapura, tel : +65 6884 4093). I was thinking about coming down to this place after seeing them grill a beef patty the last time I was around. It did look pretty good on that grill so I finally came to that. This place has some of you might already know is a no frills sandwich and hotdog stall. There's not too much to look forward to aside from a variety of sandwiches and hotdogs and the burgers are something that I've only noticed recently.

We opted for the basic burger so that we could get an opinions on the patty. The patty of the burger was quite marinated which resulted in a tussle between the marinate and the flavor of the beef. Despite that, I must say that the result of the nicely grilled patty was rather decent and the first couple of bites drew dripping juices. I personally felt that what could have made it much better was onions that was surprisingly absent and that the cheese used was the regular pre-packed sliced variety (major disappointment here) which I remember someone once telling me that they tasted like plastic. Lol. Sliced cheddar from the block would have been great. As you can see, we're just a couple of steps away from a really decent burger here.

The initial reaction to the chilli dog was also a tad underwhelming as the sauce didn't look like it was of that meaty consistency that I was hoping for. True enough, it was really quite forgettable there. To be fair, the entire hotdog pretty much held up with the hearty sausage (spicy beef and pork option there). What's up with the scarcity of onions?

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Handburger, Raffles City

So this is a relatively new burger joint (252 North Bridge Road, #B1-77/78 Raffles City Shopping Centre, tel : +65 6334 4577) that's opened in town and it seems that they are opened by the management that runs Soup Spoon just next door. I recall seeing the unit boarded up for renovation and made myself a mental note to watch out for the opening even though I hadn't any idea then what they could be about. There were some things that I would say that I liked and didn't like about them, but I guess the final impression that was left behind was still quite favorable.

What they called The Works was pretty much as the name resonated, being the burger with, well, the works. For them, it was the onion jam, sunny side up, cheese, mushrooms with pesto, lettuce and bacon. The only issue I have with burgers like these are that they are really impossible to eat with your hands unless you start taking out some of the extras that are piled on top of the patty. Eating them with a fork and knife just felt different and I guess what made it appealing was also the very thing that worked adversely, against my favor. Apart from that, this was one burger that had a reasonably well made patty which had a very nice char fragrance on the exterior, juicy on the insides and beefy enough for my likings. The bacon was unfortunately dry-ish and a little hard.

The blue cheese burger had potential to be one of the really good blue cheese burgers out there if not for the fact that the amount of blue cheese itself was quite underwhelming in terms of quantity. That meant that in some of the bites, I could barely taste the cheese. It was probably the singular and biggest disappointment for this one and I'm not likely to ever want to order this again even though I really like those generous slices of poached pears they had on top. Interestingly, the option of the chilled tomato stuffed with coleslaw on the side could have been pretty good if not for the carrot and sesame dressing which I thought, pretty much ruined it.

I guess it just goes to say that burgers in this country have a lot of catching up to do if that's the standards we're getting out of a new joint. Personal peeves aside, I also certainly wouldn't mind coming back to try something else from the menu. These guys have a rather decent peanut butter and banana shake as well with some barely toasted marshmallow. Again, portions have room for improvement.