Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jiu Zhuang (酒庄), Dempsey Road

Heard about this place out back in secluded corner of Dempsey which I never realize existed. Jiu Zhuang (6D Dempsey Rd, tel : +65 6471 1711) is essentially a contemporary Chinese watering hole veneered with a mid 1900s Chinese decor burnish. There's a small selection of food and dim sum on the menu but the operating hours commences from late in the afternoon. Not exactly the time of the day I would normally go dim sum but, what do I know? 

There's chilled tofu with century egg, some crab mean and ebiko. I thought this would have been better textured if there were more of the "blacks" to go with the liquefied yolk. Crab meat tasted like it was thawed.

The gem from what we had was their dumplings in double boiled soup with conpoy accompanied by nu er hong (女儿红). The latter, a Chinese rice wine from Shaoxing came on the side in an old styled wine cup so that one can add as preferred. The server had advised us to do a bowl per person because one would be insufficient for sharing. To their credit, they were absolutely right. After the first, we ordered another because the soup was really good.

We had stir fried carrot cake with X.O. sauce. There was supposed to be lup cheong in there, but it must have been so minced that it got lost in the sauce. Nothing really noteworthy here.

Jiu Zhuang's siew mai came with seaweed skin. The stuffings were pretty decent if unspectacular.

They are also apparently known for their whisky xiao long bao. I would like to think positive and applaud their enthusiasm with the whisky (I don't know what they used, it didn't taste classy but it probably does not matter) but I felt that the whisky element was a little too strong. There was little from the rest of the ingredients in the dumpling that was sufficient as a balance. Too little fat in the meat and far too little salt as well. Memorable in not a good way. In essence, this was a literal whisky meat dumping.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Lamb ribs and tongue from Bahrakath Mutton Soup King

I recall seeing some offal options from the last time I had kambing soup so today I managed to try some of the lamb tongue along with meat from the ribs from Bahrakath Mutton Soup King (#01-10, Adam Road Food Centre, 2 Adam Road). The tongue was a lot more tender than I had thought and I must say that I liked it. Ditto that for the ribs. Maybe I can try the brains the next time.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Huber's Butchery & Bistro, Dempsey Road

Here's some of the eats from the bistro of Huber's Butchery & Bistro (22 Dempsey Road, tel : +65 6737 1588) located just outside the butchery. The first thing that caught my interest in the current list of specials they were having was chanterelle on scrambled eggs. The eggs that arrived were more omelette than scrambled eggs but it was all good with the woody mushrooms. That being said, those eggs did need a little more salt.

That's the Bünder Teller - plate of cold cuts with pickles and cheese. If I'm not mistaken - it's air dried beef from the left, moving clockwise, some thinly sliced bacon and then ham. That came with a few wedges of creamy brie, pickled gherkins/onions and even butter. All of which I happily inhaled with their basket of baguette and rye. By the way, butter and pickles on bread are pretty good.

I'm definitely coming back again for another go at the other stuff in the bistro.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chicken dum briyani and chocolate lassi from Shami Banana Leaf

I didn't realise that Shami's has dum briyani until recently even though I've patronized them many times since their early days back in the old foodcourt at Northpoint. So it happened that in the last visit, we inquired about it and they mentioned that the chicken version is available on Fridays and Sundays while the mutton one can be had on Saturdays. Pro tip - go during lunch or even better, call them and reserve a set because they do sell out rather quickly.

The rice was packed with flavours. I'm not sure if I want to go back to their regular briyani rice again after having had this. Buried underneath those flavourful basmati grains was tender bone-in chicken thigh. And yes, that chocolate lassi. Tasted like it was frothed up with those Hershey's squeeze bottle chocolate but I kinda liked it. Seems like there're a couple of more things to look forward to than fried fish roe.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cacio e Pepe, Chu Lin Road

The name of this restaurant (3 Chu Lin Road, tel : +65 6760 3534) refers to a Roman pasta dish which involves mostly cheese and pepper. Strangely, it wasn't available on the menu. Or perhaps, they had just wanted it to literally mean cheese and pepper and nothing more. By the way, there used to be another Italian restaurant called La Noce that used to be in this very unit.

We had bruschetta. Something that we normally don't do but somehow did today. This was actually quite nice. The bits of garlic came through with the juicy bits of tomato and crispy bread.

That above was portobello mushroom. We had the idea that it would be a large mushroom cap but it turned out to be three little ones. Baked with crab meat and prawn then topped by a cream sauce and lashed with aged balsamic vinegar. It tasted much better than the looks suggested.

We had lamb chops too. This was really nice. The meat was "perfectly" salted and peppered and the medium doneness was good. It was suppose to come with peas but I think they ran out of peas or don't do peas anymore so we had even more tomatoes. Those were also nice.

Those lamb chops came with a Gorgonzola sauce. While we could taste the cheese, it wasn't one of the better of such sauces we've had. But since the lamb was good on its own, we didn't think it was worth a complain.

Lobster linguine. The bug came with lots of meat. Sauce was a lobster tomato bisque thingy. Not bad if you didn't mind getting your hands dirty with the hard work of getting all the flesh out from the claws and dropping a few pretty pennies for it.

Dessert was a molten lava cake which I've been avoiding for a long time. This one had rum, so that made it a little better than most.

And because we've just had that awesome affogato at Senso recently, we didn't think that this one was worth further words.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A ragi dosa from MTR 1924

Ragi dosa is made with spiced finger millet flour. The millet flour component contributing as a healthier alternative to the regular fermented rice flour pancakes if one is inclined towards things such as battling weight loss, gaining additional calcium, regulating blood sugar and avoiding gluten and all that.

If not, this was just a nuttier tasting dosa. One that is still aromatized by the spices and savoury the same. Slightly crisp at the edges, chewy as it goes inwards. Always a treat though with their delicious chutneys which more likely than not, reverses any health benefit that one might extract from having that ragi option. As such this is simply a choice of the lesser between two evils. Both are evil. 

Between this and their masala dosa, I'd definitely inclined to pick the latter.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Tandoori chicken in the Subway

Yes there is a tandoori chicken limited time option at Subway now. I'm pretty sure that no one is under the illusion about the meat having actually seen the insides of the tandoor. So there wasn't any point at all in comparing them to real chicken tikka or tandoori chicken. It was a weak but still credible marinate that did the job. Credible because it did taste like what it was supposed to be, albeit lacking the depth of flavours from the actual thing. Weak because all the vegetables that came with the sub was actually sufficient to subdue most of that flavour.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Shinzo, Carpenter Street

Once upon a time in a restaurant called Hinoki, there were two chefs Gary and Lawrence. Both departed and ventured into their personal restaurants with Gary down at Hakumai and Lawrence in Shinzo (17 Carpenter St, tel : +65 6438 2921). Just like rice and heart.

So here's some sushi from their tempura/sushi lunch set. I guess I kinda liked it. Their chutoro was outstanding and there was a gunkan that featured some sweet shrimp that was pretty good. Sweet and oceanic if that meant anything. 

Halfway through, the chef presented a complimentary nigiri which had torched marlin (with what I thought might have been a strip of spicy mayo and yuzu salt). I'm assuming that the fish is the mekajiki many of us are familiar with.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Chwee kueh from Tangs Market

Tangs Market is a small cache of local goodies. It's probably a little more expensive than the ones that one can get at hawker centres but it's far from being a tourist trap. Not to mention that some of the stuff are actually pretty good. Like these chwee kueh. Steamed piping hot rice cakes topped with chai por and the option of delicious savoury/spicy chilli sauce with that bit of kick from the heat. In the words of an old horror flick, enough is never enough.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Yomoda Soba, Japan Food Town @ Wisma Atria

This was yet another shop from Japan Food Town. The previous occasions when we were here, Yomoda Soba (#04-53 Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road, tel : +65 6262 3467) had a queue which looked long and slow moving. By a stroke of fortune this time, we managed to walk in and got ourselves the last empty table. Shortly after we were seated, the queue appeared. Phew! 

It seemed that the majority of the non-soba/noodle items were not available. Out of what was, we decided to try the tori tempura. I guess these weren't too bad, but didn't seem to quite match up with those from Menya Takeichi.

There was a hot spicy soy milk chicken soba. This was pretty good. The creamy broth was savoury and came with a little heat from the rayu and ball of spicy miso minced meat. I think there were little chunks of chicken inside too. I liked this enough to come back again for it.

This was their hot tomato soba. Not that it wasn't any good but on hindsight, it might have been a better idea to have gotten the cold version which would have been much more refreshing. That dashi broth that came with the soba had tomato flavours in them. And just that tiny hint of yuzu too. I'll definitely be interested in getting the cold one another time.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Fresh figs, big ebi tempura and others at Suju

A dinner at Suju. Also our first time after having had lunch here twice.

They had fresh figs with goma sauce on their seasonal menu. These were not bad but I lament over the fact that we have somehow never encountered ones that were as awesome as those that we once had at Valentino's.

There was gyu suji on the seasonal too. Braised beef tendons in dashi with radish. The beef was really tender than it almost fell apart when it was picked up. The broth inherited that beefy flavour from the cow. Delicious stuff.

Their fried pumpkin tempura was creamy and sweet.

We ordered their ooebi tempura which also came with tempura-ed nasu and maitake mushrooms. The prawns were huge and meaty. These bugs probably had more flesh than most crayfish we've encountered.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Another year, another Lawry's

Another year has passed. These guys have maintained their status quo as one of the best if not indeed the best prime rib guys around in this sunny island. I'm not sure how to feel about that these days but I suppose it does make deciding a little easier with the dearth of options. In further development of old news (the oxymoron!), Lawry's has also been raising their prices. Their Diamond Jim Brady has gone up by more than $60 over the past 9 years and it is almost $160 before tax and service these days. Ouch!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Heng Kee Curry Chicken Noodles (兴记咖喱鸡米粉面), Hong Lim FC

So here's a bowl from Heng Kee Curry Chicken (#01-58 Hong Lim Food Centre, 531A Upper Cross St). The competitor to Ah Heng which is located just one floor up in the food centre. Both stalls have been around for many years and seem to share the same thin curry broth, but this one seemed to taste a little nuttier and sweet. Which can be remedied with their accompanying chilli paste. The noodles have also soaked up the broth allowing the flavours to permeate pretty much every mouthful. What I didn't quite like about Heng Kee is the way the chicken was chopped up. There were bone fragments that one had to be careful with and the texture of their tau pok was spongy and rough. If I had to choose between the two, I'm definitely going with Ah Heng.

That being said, the curry noodle which trumps for me in Hong Lim comes from Cantonese Delights. I know they're a different style altogether. But hey, they're all curry noodles right?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Paddy Hills, South Buona Vista Road

This spot used to be Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice which has relocated to somewhere in Little India. Today, it's Paddy Hills (38 South Buona Vista Road, tel : +65 6479 0800) - I suppose contemporary international fusion kinda fits the description of what they do. Food that's more fun than serious. One could simply also drop a moniker like 'a cafe' to describe them as well. Albeit one with a little more interesting food than the run of the mill establishments that we have everywhere.

What have we here? A sheet of seaweed with a bit of wet rice poking out at the corner, some white powder and an ivory dollop of something? 

It's what they're selling as ramen risotto. A tonkotsu ramen in risotto form. A paradigm shift of a dish with ingredients that many of us are familiar with.

It took some seconds for my mind to register, but in the end, I thought it was quite good. It's a lot less heavy than most risotto because there's no cheese and butter. The stock was pretty flavourful and it came with thinly sliced Japanese styled kurobuta charshu that was torched briefly and pickled shimeiji mushrooms. I rather liked this.

The powder is what the menu described as tonkotsu powder. I have no idea what it was and it didn't register as anything familiar when I tasted it. The ivory globule was a quail egg's yolk.

Here's their crab roll. Real crab meat stuffed between a sweet squid ink roll topped with ebiko and some other fish roe. Comes with a kimchi slaw on the side. This roll was quite good. It's all crab meat and the sweetness of the buns work with all the toppings. I liked this too.

That's some Parmesan croquette served with jam. Couldn't taste much of the Parmesan to be honest and the potatoes are chunkier and less creamy than the usual Japanese croquettes. That's not a bad thing though.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

D.O.P. Mozzarella Bar & Restaurant, Robertson Quay

Seems like quite a bit has changed down at Robertson Quay. We haven't seen D.O.P Mozzarella Bar & Restaurant (#01-04A The Quayside, 60 Robertson Quay, tel : +65 6908 0830) the last time we were here. Couldn't find out much about them either but it seems that the owner is a Luca Iannone from the Campania region in Italy and the restaurant seems to be featuring food from that region. By the way D.O.P. refers to Denominazione di Origine Protetta - also known as Protected Designation of Origin, the legal protection given to food whose characteristics or origins come from specific regions. Like how prosciutto di Parma can only come from the city of Parma.

DOPMBAR (my abbreviation for this restaurant) has a make your self antipasto board where we could pick a cheese (just Mozzarella types), a choice of vegetable and cold cut. We got ourselves a buratina, some grilled vegetables and bresaola. We also had pasta, scialatielli (some short noodle) served in a halved Caciocavallo cheese bowl with a truffle cream sauce and black pepper. Tasted as rich and aromatic as it looked.

Dessert was Mama Teresa lemon cake, presumably a recipe from the mother of the chef. Where else could the know how have come from? No where else I tell you! Like all food produce under the D.O.P., it only comes from mothers and grandmothers. Lol. Tasted like most of the other crumbly lemon cake we've had. That being said, it wasn't too bad thought. The lump on the side was mascarpone and chocolate.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Luke's : The kale salad and Luke's Blue Label Burger

The last time we were here, I mentioned breaking the steak and burger routine. I tried. So no steak today and no Travis Burger. Just Luke's Blue Label Burger which came naked by default. Before we get ahead onto the food, the bad news is that their poppyseed buns for their burgers isn't coming back. Apparently, they are illegal here even though it's for buns. I suppose the third world mentality of the authorities is incapable of transformation like the rest this country. True story.  

Ah yes, the kale salad. This was very nice. Ruffly leafy texture from the kale with the crunch of peanuts married to a perky citrus from a squeeze of lime, nuttiness from the dressing and mint. I'd order this again easily. Can't believe I've been overlooking it.

Presumably, the Blue Label burger is served the way it was because someone wanted the opportunity for the meat to shine. There's no cheese and the vegetable accompaniments are on the side for those that might want them. Sadly for me, I couldn't even figure out what was exciting about it. I wasn't able tell what was different from the Travis burger. It's a short rib blend if I recall correctly. Other than charring more, it didn't taste like it should cost more - which it does. Meanings that I'll be falling back to the tried and tested. While it sounds like I might have been exaggerating, those current sesame buns certainly feels a lot different from the old ones.  

Saturday, August 06, 2016

La Tapería, Shaw Centre

La Tapería (#02-10/11 Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Road, tel : +65 6737 8336) is a Spanish restaurant/tapas bar by the Les Amis Group. A little upmarket in appearance and like Les Amis' other restaurants, hallmarked by pretty good service from their staff. 

They opened a couple of years ago. Before they did, it was suppose to be called Terry's - also Spanish food to be led by a veteran from Manila, a chef named Terry who left because his understanding of what the restaurant was to be did not align with what the owners were trying to do. This place might have ended up differently and we could have suffered a culinary loss - or not. But we shall never know.

A fast forward to reality - the Terry's that was to be became La Tapería. To sherry-tint the establishment, there's a little interesting tidbit to them. The head chef Ng Wei Han, a local Chinese was previously from the defunct Au Jardin. Since 2007. Levelled up to become their executive chef in 2011 and was there till their last days. So what we have is a Chinese guy who's experienced in French cuisine making Spanish food. Cosmopolitan.

The first of the small plates was thinly sliced chilled Momotaro tomato with 50 year aged sherry vinegar according to the menu, olive oil and shaven bottarga. I thought this was refreshingly awesome. The thin slices upped the dressing to fruit ratio with the bottarga adding a fishy (yet tasty) saltiness to the sweetness of the tomato. Like.

Then came their patata bravas. Those potatoes were fried to a dry crisp with mealy soft insides. Pretty good.

This was served as fried eggs with blood sausage. Which we knew wasn't. It's actually eggs with chorizo and peppers. The mistake was realized when the actual fried eggs with blood sausage arrived and the restaurant didn't bill us for this. Classy because it was their mistake and they didn't make us pay for it but it did add an additional egg dish into our dinner.

That above was the actual fried eggs and blood sausage. There was some truffle reduction and quite a bit of mushrooms inside which is obviously not so obvious because of how the dish appeared. Those mushrooms tasted pretty good. Blood sausages were nice, but I'm pretty sure we've had better.

Sherried onion soup with saffron and almond flakes says the menu. There were little chunks of chicken too. This was by far the most memorable onion soup I could remember. If I had to describe it more accurately, it was actually an onion bisque. There was quite a bit of sweetness coming from those onions and sherry that went along with a savoury undertone. The second outstanding dish of the night after the Momotaro tomatoes. Now I wonder how much butter went into it.

Here be white asparagus with truffle and more eggs. Not bad, the asparaguses were sweet and juicy.

We had the charcoal grilled lamb rib confit with honey mustard. Pretty good too. Pretty glad that the honey mustard didn't mask the flavour of the lamb. The meat was scratch off the bone with a fork tender rather than fall off the bone tender.

Dessert was olive confit ice cream with raisin cream and Albariño syrup. So olives in itself, dried grapes and sugared fermented grape juice. At the base of the large ball of ice cream was something that tasted like bread pudding. We tried this for the novelty of having olive ice cream. Not bad, but not good enough to stop me from trying something else if I come back.