Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rumah Makan Minang, Kandahar Street


Wow, this (18 & 18A Kandahar Street, tel: + 65 6294 4805) was another great find located right behind Sultan Mosque. I've no idea how long this place has been around since I don't often wander into this vicinity, but I think I will be heading back again pretty soon for their great nasi padang. What was good here? Let's see....there was a good telur dadar (chilli filled omelette), crispy chewy paru goreng, a great squid in squid ink stew and mackerel in a coconut gravy. Sweet shaven coconut toppings for the rice? Checked as well.

I think this place has a bit more going on in terms of variety than Sabar Menati right down the corridor. It seems that they're related by extended family. It's going to be difficult to determine which one of them I would like better since the both of them has so much that looked good that I was really spoilt for choice. But for now, this place is calling me back.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Loo's Hainanese Curry Rice, Tiong Bahru


The flavors here (Blk 57 Eng Hoon Street, #01-88 Tai Kwang Huat Coffee Shop) were a trip down memory lane for me even though my hazy memory told me that it used to taste much better in the past. There's a number of these Hainanese curry rice joints over the island and most of them couldn't capture the memories of what I had when I was young. But I was probably far too young to remember which particular stall it was, though it might have been once located at Telok Blangah where I once stayed.

This particular stall probably came closest because of their pork chops which had a batter that was different from what's being sold in other places. I believe it includes the use of biscuit crumbs and that these pork chops weren't sliver thin and were really how I remember them as a kid. Was this the best representative of Hainanese curry rice? I couldn't say, but I think it's pretty good. Love the over simmered eggs that were packed with the flavors of the dark sauce they've been in. The simmered cabbages weren't as nice as I remember them though. Sure didn't beat Tai Dong at that.




Friday, September 23, 2011

Lontong goreng from Mas-Ayu Restaurant


This lontong goreng from Mas-Ayu (55 Upper East Coast Road, tel : +65 6449 2844) was certainly not what I had in mind initially when I had first heard of the dish. I was imagining that it would be literally stir fried lontong with the vegetables and possibly a dried out the sayur lodeh gravy from the stir frying. Instead, it looked like Chinese chai tau kuey and it was basically stir fried ketupat with eggs and fried chicken in a sweet and savoury sauce. Sans the garlic-ky flavours.

The taste of this greasy stir fried dish wasn't as intense as radish cake. Apart from the mentioned lack of garlic and char aroma, it did taste like chai tau kuey. Which made for a pretty decent comfort food item that I wouldn't mind eating again. I think it would have been great if it were spicier.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Donna Carmela, Greenwood Avenue


So I've heard that this place (2 Greenwood Avenue, Hillcrest Park, tel : +65 6463 4206) is essentially run by the people that used to do Mama Lucia, which would explain the similar theme of having both Italian food and churrascaria under the same roof. The dinner had started off quite promising with their rich and creamy burrata cheese that was topped off with truffle oil and some shaven black summer truffles. They had both of them mutually accentuated the flavors of each other resulting in a heady and creamy concoction.


Their Gorgonzola risotto was actually pretty disappointing as I was expecting some unadulterated pungent flavors coming from such a straight forward dish. While it tasted cheesy, it lacked the stinky factor of blue cheese and it was actually saved by the serving of grated cheese and pepper on the side. I would think that for $28, one could be much more generous with the Gorgonzola. Sigh......


This was the bombette which was really strips of tenderloin rolled with Scarmoza cheese and then probably pan roasted. The result were tubes of flat salty medium rare meat which I had though to be something more suited in their churrascaria offerings rather than the Italian menu. While it wasn't bad tasting, it didn't come across as spectacular neither. And tad overpriced for what they had charged if I was asked.


We picked the white profiteroles (the other option was black) and the choux pastry turned out to be blanketed under a thick coat of cream which tasted suspiciously like melted marshmallows. The pastry underneath which was a little soggy, housed a rich chocolate cream in the middle. I actually liked this even though it was a little too sweet for my usual preferences.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Gindara teriyaki and others from Chikuwa Tei...


I've been craving for grilled teriyaiki cod of late and remembered that it used to be pretty good down at the old Wasabi Tei. So this was the update of what they used to do down in Chikuwa Tei these days. Things didn't change very much for that. It still appeared as burnt as I remember them, but I think they might have overdone it a little this time round. The application of the sauce was a little spare this time round, but the meat was still pretty juicy and oily. The skin was remarkably crispy even though it was a little bitter from all that char.


I suppose the grilled cod wasn't too bad, but it didn't quite satisfy my craving.


Meanwhile, we had a bunch of other items on the side which included some very juicy and breaded deep fried kaki, their signature laden chawanmushi and an ugly looking favourite of mine, ankimo. The creamy textured fish liver drenched in ponzu and flavored with scallions were nicely chilled and tasted exceptional this time round. Good stuff.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Tong Kee Chicken Rice, Commonwealth Drive Food Centre


I've been eating from this chicken rice stall (Commonwealth Drive Food Centre or is it Tanglin Halt Food Centre?, #01-25) for quite a number of times over the past months this year and it was only not too long back that I realised that they only do roasted chicken. To be more accurate, there wasn't any boiled/steamed chicken to be had. Talk about being oblivious.

The initial impression was that it was pretty decent and the portions are really generous. It wasn't fancy and didn't have anything in particular that was outstanding, but it served well as a generic chicken rice option that wasn't the least shabby. There was also the option of roast pork belly to be had too. If I might add, their sweet sauce which they use for their roast pork and eggs is good. It was all fine here until Sin Kee which had pretty much ruined most of the other options out there for me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Etna Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria, Duxton Road


We dropped by Etna (49/50 Duxton Road, tel : +65 6220 5513) previously for dessert when we visited Inaho's Kitchen Bar and decided that we would come back for the food another time. The place looked sharp and fuss free. Very much like the old Al Forno Trattoria or Da Luca. With a focus on Sicilian styled cooking and pistachios on the menu.


Their focaccia with sun dried tomatoes were actually pretty good. The bread had a light layer of oil and was warm and moist. It was definitely better than the dried out husks that are used very often elsewhere.


Starters was their frittura mista. This tasted better than it looked for the prawns as most of the fried ends were so crispy that they could be eaten. The seafood wasn't over fried or over greasy. Their accompanying tartar sauce didn't taste cheap.

Margherite al Pistacchio di Bronte

We picked their home made ravioli stuffed with four cheeses and walnut stuffings because it sounded interesting with some pistachio pesto sauce. For the lack of a better description at this point, it tasted creamy and walnut-ty. I know the latter is not a word, but I think it conveys quite accurately, how the taste is. The stuffings of the pasta was very robust in flavor. To the point that I didn't quite remember how the sauce tasted like beyond the walnut and a generic creamy salted cheese. Like.

Risotto Siciliano

This was a very nicely timed risotto. I could smell the Parmigiano Reggiano wafting from the rice as they served it. The flavors were a interesting and refreshing blend of orange and the cheese which were truly balanced in a manner that neither overwhelmed the other. The rice was beady, defined, cooked and well coated in the flavors of the stock that made the dish. Enjoyed the slices of oranges and the generous amounts of fresh tasting and crunchy prawns. Like.


Dessert was a caramel cream. Very disappointing stuff which was sweet and boring. The drizzles of the chocolate sauce didn't quite rescue anything at all.

I don't think I'll be deterred by the dessert. I like this place enough to consider coming back again for sure.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A briyani poori set


It's been a little while since my last Indian meal so yet again, I've hit the rather convenient Komala's for their oil heavy vegetarian meals. This time round, it was their briyani poori set which basically consisted of their vegetarian briyani and a couple of the air filled puri. Nothing very unexpected in terms of what I've gotten here, but I wished that they were more generous with their raita which really makes the rice go down a lot faster. That's not to say that the briyani was no good at all. In fact, the old Gardenia tagline on TV advertisements applied more appropriately to them rather than those generic and boring white loaves.

My papadum was not crispy again today.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Black spicy ramen from Keisuke's Tonkotsu King


I think I much prefer the original. This black spicy rendition tasted peppery, but it didn't quite enhance the experience or flavors for me. This time round, there seems to be more oil floating at the top too.


Sunday, September 04, 2011

L'Occitane Cafe, Peninsula Plaza, Bangkok


We started the first meal of this trip at a cafe and coincidentally ended in a last meal with one as well just before we made our way to the airport. It partially out of convenience and also that I've heard that the beef noodles here were good that we landed up at this place (153 Rachadamri Rd, Lumphini, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330) for lunch after dropping our belongings at the concierge.

But I ended up with a braised ox tongue with butter rice.

This was actually not too bad. The chewy ox tongue was came with a light tomato sauce which tasted slightly beefy. It made a sufficient meal that wasn't too heavy since that butter rice didn't quite taste of butter and light was something I was really looking for before the return flight.

A breakfast of duck kuey teow at Otoko market


Yes, this was a real breakfast of braised duck rice noodles that we got in the morning. Not the type that we normally grab during lunch because we didn't wake up early enough for a real one. For 50 baht, it was a relatively cheap bowl of noodles. The portions were rather small as well. But, it was also quite good. It came with cubes of duck blood too. This was one of those things we saw people eating around at the market and it didn't take us too long to decide to get us a bowl.

Their kuey teow was a little chewy that I had initially mistaken them for a thinner version of mee pok. The accompanying broth was a mix of sweet and savory with a umami depth. If that makes sense. All in all, a comforting breakfast that we didn't expect to find. This market will be locationmarked for returns.


Saturday, September 03, 2011

Fireplace Grill, InterContinental Bangkok, Bangkok



There were definitely encouraging signs that this place (InterContinental Bangkok, 973 Ploenchit Road, Bangkok 10330, tel : + 660 2656 0444 ) could be good from the start. For one, it was located conveniently within strolling distance from where we were staying. The ambiance was pleasant and the menu looked like that of a serious steakhouse that didn't attempt to confuse with variety. Service was pretty sharp. They even had some superlative award on display right near the front door by Thailand Tatler for 2011. All encouraging omens right until the moment the food arrived.




Truthfully, the bread was ok. There was a small variety for selection and they came with unsalted butter. I would definitely have preferred the salted ones.


Amuse bouche was a shrimp with salsa. This was ok as well. Nothing much to talk about here.



Some of us tried the caramelised onion soup with cognac because it was listed as a signature item and there were even little symbols on the menu indicating that it was a food item that contains alcohol. And also possibly that there was Emmenthal cheese croutons. When the soup arrived, all that fanciful description on menu was reduced into a pretty singular dimensional French onion soup with toasted cheese topped baguette. And it's not even the best one I've had.



The biggest bummer came in the form their prime rib. The meat was a little to close to rare for a medium rare, suffered from poor distribution of fat and lacked flavor. Even on the caps and the edges where most of the salt and rubbings went, this one tasted pretty bland. The meat in the middle was a little sinewy and could not even be redeemed by the jus they had provided. Their crispy shelled Yorkshire pudding and vine ripen tomatoes were safe to say, the best tasting items on the plate. This is possibly the first time ever, I've left my prime rib unfinished.

Wait, there's more....the creamed spinach they had one the side were merely boiled spinach in a cream sauce. Nothing like I imagined and tasted lousier than the microwaved stuff I had on plane. In response, I'm giving this place a pass for ever. I cannot imagine this to be a quality beef restaurant and certainly, expected much better for what they charged. I've had much better tasting roast beef at Javier's.

Greyhound Cafe, Siam Centre, Bangkok

the hangover view

Greyhound Cafe (Siam Centre, ground floor, +66 2 6581129 30) is pretty much like PS Cafe. Reasonably convenient from where we were staying after a late night and casual enough to grab the first meal of the day with much hassle. Which was really lunch.


We hit up a bunch of finger food for starters which included plates of nicely browned and deep fried half mid wings which were very good by the way, and some corn and crab fritters which was also very nicely done. All the latter just needed a little salt that would have gotten along very very nicely with the sweetness from the corn and crab meat.



The main reason for us to hit this place was to have their recommended Complicated Kuey Teow. What might that be? I actually hadn't a clue until it was served and I had always imagined it to be some stir fried or soup kuey teow with a fancy name. It turned out to be a board of lettuces with a stack of kuey teow, some green chilli condiment with coriander and a thick minced pork gravy on the side.

If I needed still to really go on, one places a thin slice of the kuey teow on the lettuce, adds the sauce and minced meat which will be folded into a vegetable wrap and eats it. That's really how complicated it all is. And it was really quite good with the play of textures and spicy flavors.

Came back the next day for more of the same stuff up there.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Phaiboon Seafood, Bangrak, Bangkok


More Thai Chinese food again here in Bangkok and this time round, it's the localized home styled restaurant (598/3 near Soi Jomsomboon, Rama 4 Road, Bangrak, Bangkok 10500, tel : + 66 0 2234 9568, 0 8504 70330) down a street near the old Mandarin Hotel.


The oyster omelette they served was a little different from the local variety. We get bigger oysters and a more sticky and almost viscous flour batter along with the crunch of beansprouts in a sizzling hot plate. This was quite delicious.


Phaiboon's tom yum goong contains coconut milk, but wasn't done in excess like the rendition served at Baan Khanitha. The flavors from this prawn laden soup were still relatively clear in spite of that addition. It was also a tad spicier.


We had a deep fried prawn spring rolls that married savory, crispy and not excessively greasy.


One of the signature dishes at Phaiboon is apparently their curry crab. This wasn't the conventional curry as many people know of it outside of Thailand. The viscous "curry" tasted only slightly spicy, noticeably sweet and was also quite eggy. Amidst other flavorings. After it cooled, the "sauce" congealed and became what I thought looked like otah. While I couldn't say that I didn't like it, the taste was quite singular in dimensions and did become cloying after a while.

The crab however, was fantastically fresh with the sweetness of the meat that shone in the mash of all the other flavors.


The stir fried kang kong appeared to be quite ordinary and I suppose in the style of the cooking here, doesn't come with sambal or belachan. It seemed at the start to be a tame plate of vegetables in garlic until we all hit upon the small camouflaged slices of green chilli (very similarly colored as the kang kong there) that exploded with a powerful kick. Pretty good stuff.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Small Potatoes Make The Steak Look Bigger : Year Five


This marker post might have been a little later than usual, but it's been 5 years! :)

Scala Shark's Fin Restaurant, Siam Square, Bangkok


This retro looking Chinese restaurant (218-218/1 Siam Square 1, opp. Scala Theatre, Bangkok, tel : +66 02-252-0322, 02-251-8899, 02-251 4799) has been around a little longer than I have and on the authority of someone who had been a customer for about three decades and is clinically allergic to MSG, the food here was good and recommended for its quality.

It seemed that the wait staff in this place were in a similar position as the ones from Shaslik. Most of them had been part of the crew from the early days of the restaurant and that they had been around forever. Apparently there are a few other similarly named restaurants that use the name of Scala and this one is the original. They even indicated that they do not have any other branches on their business card.

The restaurant was an altogether not unfamiliar facade where the main stay dishes consisted of abalone, shark's fin, crabs and prawns. Traditional fruits of the sea for the wealthy Chinese. I was told that the food here hasn't changed much since the beginning.


Not to fill the shoes of Captain Obvious here but, the specialty of the restaurant is shark's fin soup. These things come in a claypot and comes in portions from 800 - 5000 baht. The price of course, commensurates the amount of fin that one gets in the serving. The quality of the fin I hear, is all the same. Only the good ones are served. The accompanying brown soup, was wicked with a healthy dose of powdered white pepper and sloshes of vinegar.

I couldn't really comment much on the fins since I'm not really in much know of them in spite of having had them for numerous times in my life. I actually do not even consider ordering them under usual circumstances.


The restaurant also serves stir fried fish maw which was awesome. The texture of the maw was expectedly sponge like and lightly chewy, flavored by a certain savory seasoning which I couldn't identify. It might have been a soy sauce based mixture and it was to say the least, mouthwatering. I'm probably going to remember this place for the fish maw rather than the shark's fin.


We ordered a pot of collagen rich braised goose web. In retrospect, there was a little much to much soup going on in this lunch. After the shark's fin, none of us in particular were really interested in having more fluids.


Our obligatory greens for the lunch today was boiled kale with oyster sauce. The stems of these greens retained quite a bit of crunch and sweetness, almost akin to water chestnuts. I must say that they were pretty good.


The option of carbs came in the form of crab fried rice. This was nicely done with the rice well tossed in the wok with eggs and came with very generous portions of chunky crab meat. It was also light enough that I had seconds.

I'm marking this place for returns the next time I visit Bangkok.