Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shuang Yuan, Liang Seah Street

This was another Taiwanese themed place (1 Liang Seah Street, #01-05/06, tel : +65 6336 9338) that was relatively new in the vicinity so we decided to check them out. As the food turned out, things came quite unexpected. For one, the supposed lu rou fan didn't quite look like how we expected. In fact, it came quite generously filled with thin sliced meat and looked pretty much like a yakiniku don rather than braised pork rice with gravy. The accompanying portions of gravy was a little too little to boot, causing the bowl of regular rice (not the short grain variety) to be a little grainy to swallow with ease.

We ordered up a bowl of their shuang yuan noodles, which basically contained the renditions of cooked pork. I guess it was just an ordinary bowl of noodles with little to speak of in terms of the flavors of the sauces or the textures of the noodles which were really unspectacular. What was unexpectedly good were the very porky tasting meatballs which were made in house. The textures were chewy in a good way and the flavors were really quite porkalicious. It must have been the redemption at this place.

On the sides, their breaded fried oysters were dry and really couldn't stand up to the recent ones that I've had at Ootoya even. The stewed eggs came with overcooked yolk which really made them very ordinary.

I suppose if I had to decide to come back, those large pork balls would probably be the only reason.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Nasrin Restaurant, Baghdad Street

This place (12 Baghdad Street, tel : +65 6295 1280) looked to be one of numerous Middle Eastern (Persian for this specifically) themed joints that catered more to people who were into smoking shisha rather than eating food. Evidenced by the number of hookahs that were laying around and the people that were smoking them. But I was told that there was a kebab koobideh on their menu and it's been quite a while since the defunct Banoo or even Persepolis. True enough, there was a menu that offered a small selection of various grilled meats with rice along with finger food and assorted drinks. As per my initial impression, this was indeed a place that people lingered over smokes as I found my way up to the carpet draped second storey; where there were even more people smoking shisha.

What I didn't expect of the kebab koobideh was that it tasted very much like mystery meat. That was not to say that it wasn't tasty, but I was hoping for the flavour of lamb that should have been in it. The lightly buttered basmati rice was fragrant and quite delicious while the grilled chilli on the side brought a welcomed kick to the food. The suspiciously smooth and creamy hummus tasted more lemony than I was expecting.

In retrospect though, this place was quite pleasant to chill over apple tea, especially by their window under the rain.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More items from Tampopo again!

I found myself back at Tampopo again and I suppose, I would credit the draw back to the place to their seasonal menu which features things items on rotation which really hooked me in with the curiosity factor.

I was pretty excited after having discovered that they actually had a wagyu ribeye katsu on the tonkatsu section of their menu a few weeks back and had been trying to return to try it. It was out of supplies for a while and this week, they've actually gotten their meat supplies coming back in again. Despite being a little wary, I was still bent on trying them out since my only recollection of deep fried beef was from a country fried steak from Seah Street Deli quite a few years back. This katsu was unfortunately quite unexciting as the flavors of the batter contented strongly with the thin slice of beef inside resulting in a very lackluster flavor of the meat. While it did arrive nicely pink and filled with grease from the fat marbling, the identifying flavors of wagyu were almost imperceptible, dashing my hopes of a good discovery.

Stick to the wafu steak I shall.

An items from their specials menu came in the form of an anago tem-don which is basically a tempura donburi that featured a pretty generous piece of battered and fried congo eel. I suppose it was actually quite decent if not spectacular and didn't really quite give me the same kind of satisfaction that I had from the anago don from Kaiho Sushi. Frying the eel made this rice bowl basically taste like a fish and chips with more deep fried mushroom, sweet potato and pumpkin on the side.

Craving some ramen, I inquired about their black pig spare rib ramen which I had intentions to request for a change of soup base and noodle if necessary. Fortunately, it did come already with my favourite tonkotsu broth and the Hakata ramen which I also preferred over the other curly variety. The bowl of ramen did appear to me like a sort of Chinese inspired creation as the braised spare rib tasted very much like a sweeter version of the dark soy sauce braised pork that my grandmother does every new year. There was even a few stalks of greens on the side side that helped to that effect. The meat was well cooked, firm yet fell off the bone with ease and was interestingly, a good pair with that smidgeon of mustard. The noodles were as expected, still firm in the milkly savory pork bone broth that strangely, seemed to intermittently exude a very faint aroma of yuzu.

And for dessert, we passed on the usual orders of cream cakes for their really enjoyable negitoro don. Another item in danger of getting into the regular order option.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Annalakshmi, Chinatown Point

It had taken me quite a while to come down to Annalakshmi (133 New Bridge Road, #B1-02, Chinatown Point, tel : 65-6339 9993) since the time it was recommended to me. I'm pretty glad that I made the trip today. This Indian vegetarian restaurant works on the basis of eat what you want and pay as you wish for the food that you have had. Hence the cost of eating here lies on one's conscience and generosity. Apparently, the restaurant which is served by volunteer workers belongs to the culinary arts section of the Temple of Fine Arts.

We had an order of their dahi vada which were the Indian lentil donuts in yoghurt. I was curious about them, having never eaten vadai in this manner. The vadai which featured a little slice of green chilli and a sprinkle of paprika turned out a little smaller than I had expected, but was both comforting and appetizing at the same time.

These bhaji, or deep fried vegetable fritters in dram flour tasted pretty much like how they looked. Slightly greasy, these were savory snacks from an assortment of eggplant, capsicum and onions with the benefit of the accompanied chutneys on the side.

The butter paneer masala had a gravy that was a little thinner than I had imagined. It was however still good, being fairly rich and yet not overly tart from the tomato base. I'm inclined to compare them with those creamy and smoky ones from Jaggi's which was probably not a good idea since nowhere else I know does them like that. Couldn't help but notice that there weren't much cottage cheese in a single order though.

Our heads were pretty much turned from the aroma of their jeera pulao (cumin spiced rice) as it was being brought to our table. The rice was flavorsome and light. A little oily albiet. Their aroma made people from a neighboring table turn toward. That said neighboring table promptly made an order of the same.

These gobi manchurian were particularly noteworthy. The sauce used on the deep fried cauliflowers tasted like a combination of Chinese sweet and sour sauce and kung pao gravy. The fried vegetables had a slightly chewy crisp battered surface which wasn't soggy. Chopped garlic, spring onions and onions added crunch and their aromas to the dish.

The first dessert which we tried was a rasmalai that was thankfully not overly sweet. We got the usual flat disc of paneer textured like wet cardboard and in a milky sauce flavored with spices and bits of pistachio. Very nicely milky and light sweet.

Feeling good what we've just had, we got a little adventurous and ordered a gulab jamun which I normally steer away from. It turned out to be a pretty good call as the gulab jamun were served warm. After separating the milk balls from the syrup, it was actually manageable sweetness.

All the food were washed down with orders of their cold sweet lassi and a masala chai. Tea had a pronounced flavour from cloves but wasn't overwhelming. I thought that it was enjoyable enough.

Definitely a place to come back to again.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Just one of the rare off topic posts that come in once in a while. I've never really been into what I term as idol tv and I don't usually watch much television in the first place. But I have caught myself catching snippets of certain segments of American Idol and X Factor on YouTube and occasionally television. Mostly through referral of friends. Those budding stars, normally like raw diamonds are sometimes impressive right from the start. Some simply just don't shine.

I came across Ailyn from her videos while scouring YouTube for some nostalgic music and found out that she used to be a contestant that hadn't quite made it to the end for the Spanish version of X Factor back in 2007. This is her doing Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper from that program.

Fast forward to today, this is her after her successful entrance into the Norwegian band Sirenia in 2008.....and wow!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Bistro Burger...

Here's an updated look of the Bistro Burger from Brewerkz. Nothing much of this blue cheese burger has changed except that this was a much better picture than the one previously. In the recent years though, the prices have gone up by a few dollars so for what it costs today, it's actually no longer as affordable as before. Speaking of which, if one were to consider the excellent sides of bacon & sauteed mushrooms that came with the Morton's Prime Burger and its heftier and better quality patty, this one probably costed more! Still, the one laudable thing about this Bistro Burger was that it did come with a generous amount of blue cheese, rivaled only by Morton in portions.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Oysters at Ootoya

Perhaps, it had been the initial excitement of having discovered that seasonal Hiroshima oysters were available on the menu at Ootoya that we came down with eager anticipation to try them. I think these levels of excitement are usually no good for me because I tend to get disappointed. Which was really what happened here since I left the place feeling not so satisfied with what they had served. For one, the fried oysters wasn't really as juicy or creamy as I had expected and perhaps, being seasonal had made me expect much more out of them. Even the nicely breaded shell didn't save them from the fact that they were lackluster.

Likewise with their steamed oyster rice which was really a tad shriveled looking in comparison with the fat succulent shellfish which had imagined. Freshness was probably not the question at hand here since they did taste pretty okay. They just appeared visually disappointing and while at that, had the textures of how they looked like. The flavors of the oysters did not so much permeate the rice as they had claimed and in fact, the hijiki seaweed in it came out more pronounced.

What salvaged the dinner was the charcoal grilled pork rice bowl and a chicken karaage with stewed root vegetables served on the side of the oyster set. The former was certainly a consolation with a very nice char grill flavor, but had too little rice to go along with.

I guess I'll be back to just one option for fried oysters for the time being. This episode has certainly developed me a craving for them.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Cafe de Hong Kong, Balestier Road

The name Cafe de Hong Kong (586 Balestier Road, #01-01 Eastpac Building, tel : +65 6255 3865) seemed something of a misnomer for me as I had the impression that it was just one of the numerous Hong Kong cafe places until recently, when a friend who had patronized the restaurants on a couple of occasions before made mention of the place to me and shed some light on what I had been missing about that place. Apparently, it was not merely one of the other char chan teng places. This particular restaurant had a spread of offerings on menu that was much larger. Dinner plans were then drawn.

I was informed that the roast chicken had to be pre-ordered and I thought that it was certainly quite unusual for such a common dish to have to go through such request. Fortunately, it had already been done so we managed to try a supposedly popular dish. It was ok. To me, if felt like a competently done roast chicken with thin crispy skin that was pretty much devoided of fat. Pretty enjoyable, but not exceptional. There was an accompanying sauce that was made with fermented beancurd, however it didn't really do anything to enhance the flavors of the tender bird. In fact, it robbed the chicken of it's aromas.

One of the highlights of the dinner which also require pre-order was their lup mei fan. These waxed meats cooked in claypot rice are usually seen during the Chinese New Year festive seasons. I personally don't know if one could get them in any other times of the year since I haven't had these very often. The waxed meats were apparently prepared by a chef from Hong Kong who had flown over to do them for this season. The lup cheong, liver lup cheong, pork belly and duck were pretty good and greasy, paired with the beady grains of claypot cooked rice that turned out pretty well done and exceptionally tasty paired with a very good chilli which they had provided.

What caught my eye from the menu was their braised crocodile paw. Certainly not something that one gets to see often served in restaurants here. This was essentially a stewed dish of a whole crocodile paw with strips of pork belly and some vegetables. I am guessing that some effort had been made for the cooking process which ended up with a rich tasting broth that was slick with collagen that our lips remained sticky after they were wiped clean by paper napkins. The meat tasted so much like chicken that I would not be able to tell if I had to identify it. The skin was soft and textured like sea cucumber. I was pretty impressed by the flavors.

The french toast arrived pretty much as an ad hoc decision after we were told that it was good. For the record, this was probably the best french toast that I've had here. Despite the greasy appearances, the fried exterior was crispy and the bread was light to the point that I could simply stick a butter knife going right through smoothly without a fork. The rest of the trick was accomplished by the drizzle of honey, butter and the fillings of the creamy peanut butter in the middle of the bread.

All in all, this was one of the dinners that had turned out much better than I had anticipated and I certainly look forward to returning again some time to try something else.

Thanks Alice, for the arrangements and introduction.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Lechon @ the Youth Park

I think we might have over greased ourselves by a bit this time from all the roasted pork belly at the Mang Kiko's Lechon stall down at the Kopitiam at the Youth Park(121 Somerset Road, National Youth Park, tel : +65 9646 6444). It all started with an order of a half kg of pork belly while we were waiting for a friend to arrive and we had jokingly said that it was just the appetizer to start with. After the arrival of the friend, we picked up another half kilograms of the same and another whole roasted chicken with rice to go along. At the end of it, I couldn't help but feel that my arteries were clogged. I had actually been wondering about the amounts of cholesterol and carcinogen I've ingested for tonight.

At the same time, we were lamenting about how the only beer that was available at this place was just canned Tigers.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Commonweath Cresent Fei Zai Eatery, Holland Village Food Centre

Here's a massive bowl of ba chor mee from this stall (#01-14, Holland Village Food Centre) which I had for lunch. Even though I had requested for the large bowl of noodles, the portions was still unexpectedly big and loaded with meatballs, fish cake, mushrooms, minced meat and liver. In fact, there was so much liver in it that I actually couldn't finish them all. Imagine a ramen bowl size almost filled to the brim. The taste was unfortunately nothing beyond ordinary and the noodles which were a little too well cooked were a far cry from the standards of Tai Hwa. The wad of mee pok was so large that there were some strands of them still clumped together. The rendition from this stall also does not seem to include vinegar which I had to request for separately. Still, it made a cheap ($4) and filling lunch.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Affordable prime ribs...

A heads up if you do not know already that Hog's Breath is having a promotion of sorts for Mondays where the prime ribs are going for a one for one deal. That in short means that two persons can snag themselves a 300g slab of All Natural prime rib (sans the unnecessary toppings) at a nett cost of approximately $20 a person which I honestly think is a pretty good deal. This kinda puts things at the prices that Aston's is selling their steaks for.

Speaking of prime rib, I guess after all these years, Hog's been a fairly reliable place to fall back to for relatively inexpensive prime rib. It's quite unfortunate that the cheapest option that I know of is usually not available to myself, but this place is second best on that note. A change that I've noted though was the increased options of sauces on the side which they now charge a dollar for (free previously). The brown sauce is no longer listed on the menu, but was available for no charge when requested for.

And I am not affiliated with them in anyway, so don't even ask.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Mentaiko katsudon set from Tampopo

This was definitely interesting for me since it was a tonkatsu that featured mentaiko stuffings within the cutlet. However, good as the idea might have sounded, the execution fell a little short for me in the department of flavors. That is not to say that this wasn't a piece of enjoyable tonkatsu, but more of the fact that the flavors of the roe stuffings was insufficiently pronounced. Truth of the matter is, there was more of that leek/onion aroma while the mentaiko itself barely discernible even though there was a noticeable amount of the roe in the middle of the layers of sliced pork. That being said, this layered thin slice rendition of the tonkatsu was actually pretty tasty with the meat being more tender than the usual hire katsu.