Thursday, March 30, 2017

Hon maguro sushi from Itacho Sushi


It just hit me that Itacho Sushi at ION has been around for a number of years. Time not only flew by but did so stealthily. The first time I ate here was back in 2009 when they were still located at the basement near the underpass. A few years ago, they shifted to their current premise and they've outlasted a number of food places which have come and gone. 

Anyway, bluefin tuna is on the menu and here's a plate of their hon maguro sushi which features the usual setup or nigiri, gunkan and maki. The quality of the tuna was very decent and for what they were charging, I felt was pretty good value knowing how much these things can normally rack up to. Don't come expect top tier quality sushi for these kind of prices though.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sum lou hor fun from Quan Ji


Here's a plate of sum lou hor fun from Quan Ji. That name of the dish which I have used in Cantonese, was how I was introduced to it. The Chinese name is san lau he fen (三捞河粉). In both dialects, the name translates as I understand into "three toss rice noodles". The three tosses refers to the rice noodles (hor fun), the sliced fish and the bean sprouts.

The pale colours and messy appearance of the dish belied a lightly smokey savoury flavour. Quan Ji's rendition was not bad. The quality of their sliced fish was good. Gravy was a little salty which I didn't mind and a little saucier than I expected but still a good eat. This would be one of my favourite cze char items to order.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Violet Oon Satay Bar & Grill, Clark Quay


I googled for 'Violet Oon' and realized that the first few pages of the search results are entirely all about her namesake restaurants. Nothing about the person. One could reasonably come to the conclusion that the legacy of the Peranakan dame is way beyond in importance than the person herself whom could very well have been nobody of note beyond a brand. That her person is of much irrelevance. Or that Google’s defeat by SEO remains emblazoned across the Web even till this day and the most powerful search engine in the world is incapable of deducing objective relevance in human searches. 

I ramble. 

This place (#01-18 Clarke Quay, 3B River Valley Rd, tel : +65 9834 9935) looked spiffy. Must have cost a fortune to renovate and decorate. Even their serving boards and crockery were bespoke.


There's a nice stout called Black Magic Dry Irish Stout to tap. Chocolate-y and smokey and something drinkable apart from the usual Guinness. Not that Guinness is bad. 


We ordered a winged bean salad with hae bi hiam not realizing that the winged beans were raw. On hindsight it wasn't such a good move. The hae bi hiam, which was quite good by the way, helped a great deal in making the "greeny" tasting legume much more palatable. For some reasons, I had the idea that they would be cooked.


Their tripe satay was delicious and very tender. I was informed that they was braised before being placed the charcoal grill for that char grill aroma. The accompanying satay sauce was rich with coconut flavours - it's not the regular kind that one finds in hawker centres but I thought it was quite nice. Prepare to pay kushiyaki kind of prices for these. That being said, I don't mind trying the other satay the next time. The server had actually recommended us the pork skewers. 


I suppose ngoh hiang are a benchmark for Pernakan cooking. While I maintain preferring the home made ones that I can get, these were not bad. The fillings were coarse chopped which meant that there were textures and that's a good thing. The menu mentioned crab which I couldn't identify so that was an overkill in ingredients. The water chestnuts also seemed to be missing but that crunch was provided by chopped onions which surprisingly made very good substitute.

I really liked that the five spice seasoning wasn't overwhelming.


What we came across as unique was their buah keluak otak. There supposed to be prawns in them but all we were getting was a paste texture. We had no idea what to expect at all and after the first mouthful the flavour that registered was chocolate. It tasted like a chocolate. A nutty sweet and savoury warm chocolate-like paste grilled in a banana leaf. After my mind reconciled with that association, I found it strangely addictive.


These were known as meatless meatballs, made with walnut and cheese. I was imagining something akin to the ones at Afterglow but this turned out to have a mushy texture and we couldn't taste much walnuts. The rempah on the top was not bad though, reminded me of some gravy that can sometimes be found used on fried chicken in Malay stalls.


We tried their nasi lemak rice where the flavours were okay. But in a place like this for the price we pay, I suppose it was fair that I was expecting it to be outstanding rather than just okay.


We were looking forward to their cendol because it had durian pengat in it. This was made with shaven gula melaka flavoured ice rather than actual gula melaka syrup drizzled over shaven ice. The sweetness was flat without the aroma. Bummer. Their red beans were hard, attap chee were harder and the cendol itself was stiff. If they were to offer this to me free, I would only eat the durian puree.

I'd take the one at Tangs basement over this any day. While that one may not have durian pengat, it is also traditional and proven. And about seven times cheaper.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Takeaway mixed veg rice from Ah Xi Prawn Crackers


Here's an old shiny rock (#01-83 Beo Crescent Market & Food Centre, 38A Beo Crescent,). Not the shiniest of the lot but a gem nonetheless. Which actually means something in an era where there are a million claimants to hidden gems who do not even understand what's a gem. Or even comprehend the word 'hidden'.

It's an unglamorous frills free and down to earth mixed vegetable rice stall run by an old local gentleman who likely serves more hungry people daily than any - any Michelin starred restaurant in the world at a cost that does not even amount to half the service charge for a restaurant we pay for these days. Here's what $3 buys in a foam box of comfort food. Tasty, satisfying and as local as it gets here.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A vegetable briyani meal from Sri Lukshmi Naarashimhan


Another satisfying lunch at Sri Lukshmi Naarashimhan for the second day in a row. Yes, it was good enough from the previous day that we didn't mind giving it another go so soon. Today I got myself a vegetarian briyani meal. One which was laden with a pretty tasty briyani, savoury stir fried bhindi (okra/lady's finger), a rich and delicious paneer butter masala, more buttermilk and sweet pongal (top left). The last item being a boiled rice pudding made with ghee, cashews, raisins and spiced with saffron. Which pretty much made it the rice version of a kesari bath.

Maybe it's time I headed down to their main branch at Serangoon Road.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Back in Kuro Maguro


We headed back to Kuro Maguro over the weekend for a fuss free lunch of their donburi. Without the office crowd, the shop was actually kinda peaceful and a pleasant place to eat at. Today, we picked their premium aburi wagyu meshi and sansyoku meshi. The latter featuring the trinity of akami, chutoro and otoro from their hon maguro. Hence sansyoku.


It dawned upon me that this was one of those places where the quality of the ingredient held more weight than the skills of the people in the kitchen since it was that quality (in this case, the wagyu and their hon maguro) that really mattered for their rice bowls. Both bowls were delicious, fatty and flavourful. Not to mention pricey.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sri Lukshmi Naarashimhan, Changi Business Park


I hope I got the name of the stall right. We were at Changi Business Park and were getting lunch. A co-worker recommended the Andhra meal from Sri  Lukshimi Naarashimhan. It's the stall with the big words 'Vegetarian' in the basement food court (1 Changi Business Park Crescent). I'm guessing that it's a region variant of the South Indian rice meal that is based of Coastal Andhra.

Anyways, this kicked butt! Let's see - the paper cups on the left were from top down sambar, some spicy curry and rasam. The ones on the right were buttermilk and payasam. The little plastic container above is as you might have guessed - ghee. Paired up superbly with the spicy daal powder/podi on the rice. Not sure what the vegetables dishes I had on the side were called. The left item was cabbages and carrots and the green stuff was made of beans I think. And a nice splash of creamy dal on the side. Damn this was good!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Double Feasting at Salted & Hung


Yes, this was Double Feasting and not double fisting down at Salted & Hung (12 Purvis Street, tel : +65 6358 3130). A pseudo medieval themed communal dining event headed by the chefs Tan Huang Ming (previously Lolla, currently Park Bench Deli) and Drew Nocente. One can sense the undertones of gluttony that's woven into the theme.

In retrospect, this event was a laudable effort by the team behind it. Even though timing of the service could have been fine tuned and well, the food had hits and misses.


I got suckered into ordering a Fallen Angel stout. A mocha chilli stout that's $20. Rather expensive and I was hoping for some of those heat like Cottage Delight's Fiery Furnace but that was not to be. A lot of mocha in there though.

rye bread, wagyu butter 
The first up from the feast was rye and wagyu butter. Bread was amazing and the wagyu butter elevated it. But - it could have been improved if there was some salt in the butter. Now I don't know what actually was used for that butter or if it's truly just wagyu fat, this stuff melted really fast in room temperature.

charcuterie
Cold cuts came next. Not bad altogether but I thought the outstanding one was the lardo with honey.

cured mackerel
horseradish creme 
Their cured mackerel was awesome - rich and flavourful with a soft yet firm texture. That being said, it's for those that would enjoy the fish.

pigeon pie
The pigeon pie was a bit of a bore. I was initially imagining a hot pie but it was a cold one. The fillings were pretty much how they looked and it could have been pork for all I know. The choice of meat was wasted on this one and at this point, we were starting to feel the creeping effects from the fat/suet/oils accumulated from what's been served so far .

quail
chorizo & spice glaze
Next came the roasted quail. These were great. Some people had their's a bit too underdone for their preferences but mine was good. Wouldn't have minded more of these.

pork & shellfish chowder
clams, limpets, prawns
This tasted like a regular seafood chowder. Which is to say that it was seafood-y. In a nice way. It was not bad but at this point I sense that everyone was holding out because there was more food to come and no one really wanted extras of the chowder going around the table. A small portion of this stuff was filling as it was.

dates
We were given dates for some "palate break" from all the richness. These aren't the Medjool dates that's more commonly available I think. It was less sweet and the sweetness was actually manageable.

braised jacobs ladder
roasted root vegetables
Tonight, I learnt that there is actually a dish of braised beef short ribs known as Jacobs Ladder. What it needed was some salt and it would have been much tastier. The laws of diminishing returns have started its work at this point for what we could appreciate from the food. And man, those onions were really sharp.

armoured turnips
roasted in butter, topped with cheese
Ploughing through the diminishing returns, we were faced with turnips in butter and at least a trio of cheeses. There were Mozzarella, Feta (or some goat's cheese) and shaven aged Gouda from the chef's private stock.

suckling pig
duck, coppa & black garlic
The most visually arresting dish arrived at this point. Stuffed suckling pig. Under the crisp skin was lined with coppa and the stuffings were maybe minced duck and pork with black garlic. I'm guessing that it was the last ingredient that made this item unexpectedly sweet. Again, some salt would have elevated the flavours considering that most of us were stuffed at this point. For a restaurant called Salted & Hung, these guys were really careful with salt.

elizabethan lemon cakes
lemon curd
There was a lengthy intermission before the sweets arrived. I had been expecting their lemon cake to be something refreshingly tart like those that they once did in the defunct Lollapalooza but these Elizabethan lemon cakes were what we people of today would know as cookies. So I guess these were considered cakes during the Elizabethan era. At this point, I thought most of us would have appreciated it if the accompanying lemon curd were more tart than sweet.

goat's milk & honey
Followed by something which was supposed to be goat's milk and honey. Couldn't taste the honey and those flakes in there tasted like granola bits.

berry tart
vanilla cream
This was the point of time people were starting to want to leave. This "tart" was actually good with the pastry, berry compote and vanilla cream. The compote was tart, fruity and nicely balanced the other ingredients. There was also some meringue in there which I felt was quite unnecessary.


I suppose it would be fair to say that some animals got more equal opportunities to showcase themselves than others. The dinner was almost 3 hours, lengthy by any considerations for people in this part of the world. I think we liked some of it while some of the later servings ended up becoming part of the sequence of motion we had to go through to get to the end.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Café & Meal MUJI, Raffles City


My first meal from the cafe in Muji (#02-020/22, Raffles City, 252 North Bridge Road, tel  : +65 6264 4189). The setup looked similar to the one we had previously visited in Hong Kong though the offerings were different. Their cafeteria styled food here was decent that I wouldn't mind if I had to eat them again, however it's not exactly something that I would get any cravings for. In fact, it's so comfortably seated at the higher spectrum of ordinary that I'm not sure what to even say except that it's 'not bad'.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Philly Shack, Clark Quay


This was a new establishment (3A River Valley Road, #01-01B Clarke Quay) that claims to do Philly cheesesteak sitting right on the very premise that Butchers Club Burger used to be. My keyhole view into the future whispers to me that a trend is about to recur.


We ordered their regular cheesesteak, one with Provolone and the other with Cheez Whiz. The cheeses were fine and the sandwiches were edible. In retrospect, I would have picked the one at Park Bench Deli over this any time. Actually, I would even pick Yellow Submarine over this. 

What I didn't think much of was that their meat wasn't exactly tender/juicy and the careless preparation left bits of silverskin and sinews in the shrivelled overcooked slices. While that was pretty much the only gripe I had with the sandwich, impressions took a major plunge. Even though the bread was kinda nice.


We asked for hot sauce. They responded with a basket of selections which was honestly, overwhelming especially when they didn't know what was what.


The onion rings were simply a waste of money. There's more batter than onions and whatever onions that were in the rings barely registered flavour. This was mostly grease and deep fried flour.


But their chocolate bourbon shake was rather good. If I were to ever return, it'll be for this shake. Incidentally, it was also the best dip for their fries; not ketchup or chilli nor any of their hot sauces. You heard it here first.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ninja Bowl, Duxton Road


Like a shinobi, Ninja Bowl has sequestered itself into the little corner (15 Duxton Road, tel : +65 6222 8055) that we almost missed it. That little corner that I remember being a coffee joint previously. Not exactly hidden but still mostly out of sight.


What they do are the all in one bowl meals with your carbs and vegetables and protein and sometimes fruit packaged with a range of flavours and textures by the way of nature and condiments. Think Grain Traders or The Daily Cut minus the customisability. The food was tasty. Flavours hit you in the face like Lego Batman. And damn, those seared scallops were nice.


Carbs are optional. The only two options we had were orzo and ninja rice - the latter a mix of Japanese and brown rice. There's also quinoa. These are chargeable on top of the price of the regular bowls, so yes, cost does get ninja-ed in.


Can't say that we were bowled over (haha!) entirely by the food, but it was still undeniably tasty that we wouldn't mind coming back if we were in the vicinity.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tong Ah Eating House, Keong Saik Road


I was recommended by an aunt to this place (35 Keong Saik Road) and it was specifically mentioned that their kaya was buay pai. The home made lumpy type that's filled with pandan flavours minus the additional flour or whatever things factories add to make them unnaturally smooth and silky. And that I could only eat them there because they don't sell them as takeaways. It's not bad but doesn't beat the ones that my mum used to make. Didn't that make me sound like an old fogey? Oh, those French toasts were okay. Didn't look at picturesque as IG has made it out to be though. Lol.


Anyways, their queue system is rather chaotic. One could simply hijack a prepared order of toast and add on additional orders simply by having thick skin. There were only a couple of people churning out the bread and coffee while the weekend queue was in full strength. We got a pack of nasi lemak which was probably not made in house. It was surprisingly edible and featured that sweet and spicy sambal that I didn't find off putting because it had enough heat. The portions of the rice was unexpectedly larger than usual.


Coffee was a pretty thick local brew but it's not especially fragrant. Which works for some people but not quite so for me because the strength is just one half of the quality I look for. It's not bad per se, just not fantastic. And ooooh...testing Google Map embed into this post.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Super Mummy Hainanese Chicken Rice, Chinatown Food Centre


This chicken rice shop (#02-169 Chinatown Complex Market and Food Centre, 335 Smith Street) was one of a few Super Mummy branded stalls down at Chinatown Food Centre. I rather liked this. Their white chicken was slurp off the bone tender, smooth and doused with a fragrant mix of sesame oil and light soya sauce. They also had one of those lime-y chilli sauces that worked very well with their beady rice. Altogether greasy, but deliciously so. I'd eat this again.