Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hong Seng Curry Rice, Redhill Food Centre

Man, this sure was a satisfying plate. While I enjoy Hainanese styled curry rice, I wouldn't say that I'm a big fan of the most of them because I'm simply not a gloopy sauce person. What works for me here was the absence of gloopy sauce. This plate of curry rice from Hong Seng (#01-74 Redhill Food Centre, 85 Redhill Lane) featured tender stewed chap chye (braised cabbage), savoury chai poh (preserved radish) omelette, strips of meaty braised pork belly and salty (enjoyably so if I might add) minced pork balls. All heaped over rice that's drenched in their mildly spicy curry and braising sauce from the meats. Comfort food as local as it gets.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dinnering at The Lokal

I just realized that the last time I was here was almost three years back. In retrospect, we were glad that we came for dinner because we liked the food.

What did we like? Pretty much everything we ordered this time. Starting with their creamy chicken parfait with lots of bread to go around and caramelised onions to pair with. There's even house cured pickles.

This was just called fried pork belly on the menu. There's also blue cheese, obviously some radicchio, quinoa, some delicious beetroots and prunes. While it might not be apparent from appearances, the pork belly was pretty tender underneath that crisp skin. Like the chicken parfait, portions were hearty and the food was delicious. Much bold flavours going on for this plate.

Here's cauliflowers three ways - fried, pickled and pureed. Tossed with watercress, ricotta and skinned almonds. Can you imagine that? Skinned almonds. All whipped up with some nice olive oil. Tasty.

The only main we picked up was their lamb chops which came with some spicy cous cous, pomegranate and yoghurt. Served on a Staub, no less. Each rib was small, tender and grilled to a nice medium doneness.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Octopus pizza and tagliatelle alla bolognese from 2It&Drink

My first octopus pizza. One with olives and potatoes and a little bit of parsley. I don't really understand potatoes on pizza but I can't say that this wasn't tasty. Double negatives! O_o Would have been great if there was more of the octopus though.

Alla bolognese is something I generally avoid for reasons that I'm not going into in this post. This particular one from 2It&Drink was actually kinda nice. I liked that the ragu was actually beefy rather than too tart from too much tomato concentrate. In all probability, I'm never getting anything close to my grail for ragu in this country but I honestly don't mind having another plate of this.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Butcher's Kitchen, Suntec City

I have mixed feelings about this place (#02-472 Suntec City Mall, 3 Temasek Boulevard, tel : +65 9616 0111). But let's start with a positive note. I liked their Hawaiian pizza. It had thinly sliced fresh pineapples rather than the usual little chunks of the canned variety and the ham that they used was of a much better quality than most if not all the other Hawaiian pizzas. The crust was thin and light, not Neapolitan styled, but had sufficient crisp and I enjoyed it.

This was where the good feelings about the place kinda diffused. The restaurant presented themselves to be a specialist for meats. The various cuts that they were offering had their origins listed on the menu and it did look to be a proper grill joint. But we were given butter knives to work with the meat. Their rack of lamb, decent quality by the way, was doused in a brown sauce. I'm sure it's not just me but I would think that a meat and grill specialist would treat their produce with a little more respect by having the sauce on the side. Even Aston's knows better.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Chicken rice and Hokkien hae mee from Chatterbox

I've finally tried the much talked about chicken rice from Chatterbox. I think the taste was okay. Okay as in passable quality and flavour but not outstanding kind of okay. Chicken came in pretty generous portions for something that's single serving. It'll be my first and last time because I expect much more out of $27 than just decent. 

We tried their Hokkien hae mee. I'm going to call it not bad at all. The plate of noodles was slightly saucy, properly stir fried without any sogginess and we're seeing lots of ingredients in there. There're scallops and huge prawns which one will never find in the hawker renditions as well. The chilli that they provide on the side was pretty good. This costs as much as the chicken rice if anyone's wondering so while I kinda liked this, I don't think I'll be having them with any regularity.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Pancake Boss, Bugis Cube

The portions that Pancake Boss (#04-15 Bugis Cube Mall, 470 North Bridge Road) makes for their martabak were unexpectedly large. Fillings were much more generous than the one from JTown Cafe but something was off from the way the prepared these. The chocolate rice and cheese shreds barely melted even though this was freshly made on order. I need to go back to JTown again to be sure which is the better.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Venue by Sebastian, Shenton Way

The name of the restaurant refers to Sebastian Ng, former chef of the defunct Ember. Venue (#01-02 Tower 1 Downtown Gallery, tel : +65 69049688) is his current place - a venue (yeah) that's more casual and ambiently clinical. The menu has diversified/restructured compared to the more traditional setup at Ember and I suppose I could say that it's also more aligned to what people like from the perspective of portions.

That's the breaded lamb cutlet with romesco and some balsamic. I found the lamb flavours a little weak. I'm getting some of them from the fat and not so from the meat. Otherwise this would've been quite tasty. No excessive grease from the frying and no complicated flavours contending with one another.

The Jerusalem artichoke soup was good. Creamy and sweet. Also nicely paired with the crispy duck bits that also served as the salty counter to the sweetness of the soup. Good for returns.

We had these things called lamb riblets which are kinda like satay. Flavour is very Middle Eastern and the meat was very tender. As non-descriptive as it may be, I'm going to say that it's nice. 

Great angel hair pasta with shaven bottarga and mentaiko. Those eggs provide a salty/savoury/umami accent against the main flavour profile from the sorrel pesto. The noodles aren't green themselves but seem to be well coated in the pesto - which tastes quite like shiso. Tangy and refreshing. I'd eat this again.

For those of you who have been to Ember, might recall that they're pretty well known for their pan seared Chilean seabass with truffle yuzu butter sauce. The good news obviously at this point is they've brought that into the menu at Venue. The dish of firm and flaky seabass was as delicious as I remembered it.

The mushrooms with toast were supposed to come earlier. Due to an order misinterpretation, they came after the seabass which was incidentally a good thing since we now have bread to mop the yuzu butter sauce clean from the plate. These mushrooms were chopped up, doused with truffle oil. No idea what kind of mushrooms were used.

Here's grilled octopus on a bed of pureed bean and some burnt butter with capers. I'm running out of adjective so it's nice. The tentacles had a bit of bite which I thought was a good thing even though I too enjoy the very tender renditions.

Burnt cabbage with shaven Parmigiano Reggiano and chive oil. Our token greens/fibre for the meal.

And finally the dessert which is called apple "pie". It's more like caramelized apple in some crsipy pastry. Filo maybe. With crumbles and an eggy tasting rum and raisin ice cream. The latter was quite good. Could definitely get that rum and alcohol flavour. As a whole, I liked this.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hitsumabushi to hotaru ika from Man Man

Spring has arrived in Japan and the firefly squids are finding their ways into the nets of fishermen and eventually into the market or a restaurant. Man Man has whipped up a seasonal bowl of hitsumabushi with the hotaru ika. I tasted some shiso there with the squids.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Satay babat and nasi ayam sambal at Gelang Serai Market

That's a mix of tripe (babat) and chicken satay up there from Geylang Corner Food Stall. Those tripe skewers were tender and tasty. 

I followed the queue on this for a tray of nasi ayam sambal with ayam lebih. The stall was simply called Nasi Ayam Sambal (#02-129). The sambal, which seemed to be a signature of theirs was a little nutty, sweet, spicy and salty. While it was quite atypical of Malay sambal and stood on its own merit, the flavours were overwhelming on the rice which was already pretty tasty on its own. I thought the fried chicken was passable but also atypical of most ayam goreng, the meatier parts of the bird are a little dry. I'd pick Mat Noh & Rose for nasi ayam over this anytime.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

PS. Cafe, Ann Siang Hill

PS Cafe has been around for a number of years now. I remember it used to be just a cafe at Project Shop Blood Brothers. Besides the setup at Dempsey, this (45 Ann Siang Road) is the only other location amongst the branches that one can actually consider to be a sanctuary by virtue of location. I can't say that I'm a fan but occasionally, I end up here. 

They do Bloody Marys here. This one is made with some lapsang souchong infused whisky and the thing that suckered me into ordering one was the bacon and blue cheese stuffed olive. Yes, just one olive and I couldn't even tell it was blue cheese. Bacon was oddly dry and grease free. No lapsang souchong flavours as far as I could tell. Sometimes these wannabe fancy editions are just that. Wannabes. Yes, I'm measuring this against my yardstick.

There's a section for Asian food on the menu. Ordering Asian here is akin to doing so at the old Island Cafe or Chatterbox. The rendition one gets will never be the same as the hawker centre/coffee shop. It will be spruced up. And it will cost easily several times more than the "street value" that many would consider exorbitant. 

This was an oxtail nasi goreng. It's a Malay styled fried rice with a chunk of oxtail. Like I mentioned earlier, one will be hard pressed to find this outside because there is no such dish. There is nasi goreng and there's oxtail whathaveyous. But not as one.

I'll trim further verbosity here. Oxtail was not bad. The nasi goreng was a respectable fried rice and not just an attempt at nasi goreng. What really impressed me what their house made achar. There was enough acidity from the pickling. The flavour was reminiscent of those that my grandma used to make and there's even string beans in them. I've never seen string beans in achar before.

Their hae mee here was exceptional. The broth has a rich crustacean depth of sweetness. Flavour was impressive and the bee hoon has all that captured in its collective strands. The bowl contains more prawns and thinly sliced pork than the "street rendition" and was honestly much tastier than most of them. There's quail eggs and lots of kang kong. I'd eat this again.

We had affogato because this was a pleasant hideout and we wanted to avoid going back out into the sweltering heat so soon. The espresso for their affogato was thick, bitter but not so aromatic as coffees go. So it kinda works with the ice cream but doesn't quite work for me as a coffee.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Steamroom with The Pillar and Stones, Orchard Central

The name is definitely unusual. Steamroom with The Pillar and Stones (#03-08 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, tel : +65 6592 0571) is a retail and restaurant business. I can't see any connection between the both of them. We were just here for the food which the restaurant described as borderless. I can understand that. In another time, it would have easily been labelled fusion.

We had a petite looking and pretty tasty steak tartare. Most of the flavour came from the mustard dressing and chives and the truth is, it's not just pretty looking. It's also pretty tasty.

Steak tartare came with sourdough. These were pan fried with olive oil and butter just before they were served. God damn - these were good. The restaurant volunteered seconds for us which we readily agreed as it would have been a disservice to say no.

There's a lobster bisque based fregola that came topped with an onsen egg. The flavour on the pasta was excellent from the bisque and the fact that there was a soft boiled egg for that additional richness, this was really really good. Lots of the crustacean flavour and a little peppery heat along with quite a bit of minced crab meat.

Here's be some gratuitous egg porn. 

That's the coal smoked red snapper. At least the menu says it is. I thought it was pan fried. The fish was very good quality and very nicely done. Skin was crisp and meat was firm. Underneath was broccolini and parsley risotto. The latter was delicious and I tasted generous portions of butter that made it delicious. 

Those artichoke chips and pea blossoms on top were simply overdoing things. Absolutely unnecessary and I couldn't help but smell the blatancy of the attempt to look good - which failed. Those chips didn't even taste good. What the menu mentioned as saffron bisque which I'm guessing is that sauce thing which didn't register any saffron flavours.

The flavours and quality of the base ingredients were exceptional. I think fish, broccolini and risotto would have sufficed.

Some dietary fibres which included heirloom carrots and sweet tasting asparaguses.

The only thing we ordered that we thought they screwed up quite spectacularly was their hot chocolate. That was a little surprising considering that they did pretty well with the food we had ordered. Not so hot and not very chocolate-y. It tasted like cocoa flavoured warm milk with too much milk. Starbucks makes much better hot chocolate. Strange thing was, it came with some sparkling water. 

Friday, May 05, 2017

Oxwell & Co, Ann Siang Road

English/British fare by and large isn't so common here for some reasons. In spite of the fact that this island was once a British colony, the only culinary legacy Her Majesty's people left behind, and not by design, was Hainanese western food. 

I never knew Oxwell & Co (5 Ann Siang Road, tel : +65 6438 3984) served English food until this visit which was admittedly triggered by watching fish & chips being consumed in Broadchurch. That got a craving going on.

Pea soup was delicious. The pea-y tasting soup had a sweetness, was savoury at the same time and also a little smoky - filled with bits of pulled ham hock. 

This was their fish & fries chips. I suppose on a technicality, it's fries and not chips. Those fries were actually pretty good eating though. There was a house made tartare sauce that had dill so that kinda wins. The menu stated that the fish was Pacific ocean perch. Honestly I'm not very good at telling the difference. All I knew was that there was something about the texture that set it apart from cod or haddock. The crisp batter was salted, flavoured with something and was quite tasty.

We ordered their honey glazed carrots on the side. Not sure if that was buttermilk or sour cream or a mixture of something similar - those carrots tasted good with them together with the honey that pooled at the bottom of the bowl. By the way, that honey mixture with the carrots was also an awesome dip for those fries. Butt kicking kind of awesome. You heard it here first.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Al Tasneem Restaurant, North Bridge Road

Al Tasmeen (709 North Bridge Road, tel : +65 6291 1781) is the other shop right after Zam Zam and Victory which does pretty much the same food as the latter two. Namely briyanis and murtabaks and whathaveyous of the Indian Muslim variety. The shop is actually located at the junction connecting North Bridge Road and Jalan Pinang. Al Tasmeen however does have a lamb shank briyani which the other two doesn't seem to have on the menu. For $15, the portions were huge and it can feed two. The shank was sufficiently tender and could be removed from the bone with relative ease, draped in their spicy curry. Wasn't bad at all if you asked me.

Maybe I'll try their murtabak someday and see how it stacks against the other two.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

The Masses, Beach Road

Remember Taste Affair which is run by one half of the former duo behind Saveur/Saveur Art? The Masses (85 Beach Rd, tel : +65 6266 0061) is opened by Dylan Ong, the other half. From the vibe, this feels like Saveur 2.0 that has drifted away from the French roots and a restaurant interior that feels more brightly lit.

They have a chicken collagen veloute which has clams and according to the menu - duck fat and scallion oil. It tasted like buttery chicken broth.

I'm pretty sure their chilled C&C pasta is the spiritual successor to the other pasta with sakura ebi back in Saveur. This has crabmeat and caviar. The crab meat which is in the gloopy sauce that tasted almost like kani miso. I'm pretty sure it wasn't but it had that sweet crustacean-y flavour. Pretty good.

There's octopus tentacles which seem to be trending in many restaurants in recent years. The tentacle was well roasted with an accompanying char and the respective aroma from the char. The orange blob on the side is a gochujang aioli and the other thing is pickled lotus root with fennel seeds.

Foie gras on brioche was delicious. Don't know why the need for the granola though. I'm not so sure that chewy oats make a complementary texture.

Their U.S. Black Angus striploin was okay. Competently done if not particularly outstanding. The potato mille feuille was nice. Each layer was light and the edges were crisp.

The deep fried Camembert cheese was small and not exactly outstanding if you asked me. The yoghurt ice cream wasn't particularly yoghurt-y (I'm measuring them against llaollao) and the gula melaka granola's flavour eluded me.