Saturday, August 19, 2017

Tonkotsu Pink from Tonkotsu Ikkyu from Ramen Champion

Ramen Champion has a new outlet at Clark Quay Central (#03-97/98, 6 Eu Tong Sen St) which operates a little differently from their other premises. There are actually wait staff around that take orders and deliver the food to you instead of having to wait on the buzzer to collect your own. However, this seemed to have inadvertently taken away the options that the ramen-ya ask of order preferences. At least I wasn't asked when I ordered. But then again, maybe they've decided that they're not letting you choose the strength of your broth, how much oil you want and the doneness of your noodles. Not that most of them get my preferred harigane right anyway.

So here's a refreshing dusky pink bowl of Tonkotsu Pink from Ikkyu's shop. I've had their green bowl a couple of years back. The most obvious difference apart from the colours was that the broth today had less viscosity. That tonkotsu broth - infused with blueberry and beetroot was light yet creamy. There's no berry or grassy beetroot flavour. It was just a tiny bit sweeter. I actually didn't mind that at all. And there's happiness to be found in the bowl if you finish your broth. Double happiness.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Joyden Canton, Shaw House

Joyden Canton (#04-00 Isetan Scotts, 350 Orchard Road, tel : +65 6908 3833) is part of the Joyden Concepts group, a local group which manages a few Chinese/Cantonese restaurants which bear the Joyden name. I've heard of them for a while but this would be my first visit to any of their restaurants.

These guys serve a lor mee with quail eggs. It's part of a bunch of local inspired dishes that they're doing for a limited time. The menu states that it serves 4 but if one were to order nothing else, it barely feeds two. Pretty decent rendition that got better once the vinegar and chilli paste are kicked in. My gripes include the portions and the misleading pictures on the menu which suckered us into ordering it.

This picture.

Along with the lor mee threading the local flavours is a Chinese carrot cake stir fried in rojak sauce. Not bad.

To fulfil the obligatory greens quota, we had some braised luffa with egg white and conpoy. Actually, I didn't order this just out of any obligation for having vegetables in the meal. I like these.

If I remember correctly the name of this dish was something along the lines of twiced baked egg gratin with you tiao. The fried crullers are embedded in baked eggs which was filled with vermicelli, jellyfish and some stuff which reminded me of Khong Guan lemon cream biscuits.  

What kicked ass was their "Hak Gam" (黑金) olive fried rice. I hear that those olives that they used are imported from China. The generous application of dark soya sauce and pork floss made the flavours while the minced pork and prawns that were in them barely registered. But this was very delicious. I would come back for this.

That's grilled slow-braised ribs with an aged mandarin peel sauce. There's a very good flavour from the mandarin peel in the sauce. The meat was unexpectedly lean but still fork tender. I'd eat this again.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Five Ten, South Bridge Road

I read that this place (237 South Bridge Road, tel : +65 6924 7352) was supposed to be serving Taiwanese inspired food. While it is apparent that quite a lot of us locals visit Taiwan (I'm one of the oddballs here who has never been there) and many of which mention about how good the food is over there; we don't exactly have so much in the way of Taiwanese eateries here. I suppose Taiwanese inspired would do then.

We had sautéed chicken hearts. Tender yet chewy, these little morsels were pretty good in that sweet soy glaze. Ordered this sans the fried ginger shreds which wouldn't have agreed with me. I wouldn't have agreed with them neither.

There was poached red snapper in a dashi broth. The fish was delicious and I liked the clean flavours of the broth with fried garlic bits.

Their grilled squids were passable. They needed more char. Tasted like they had the same glaze as those chicken hearts. While I suppose that each restaurant has their way, I thought they could take a page out of Gerry's Grill with the grilling. 

That's sirloin steak, seared to a medium doneness served with fried garlic bits and picked cabbage. Very edible.

For some reasons, their tripe was served on skewers. These were the only things on skewers. But they were good. Tender, nicely flavoured with that soy based braising. These tasted like they hit the grill for a little bit after they were braised. I could be wrong. Thought this was pretty good.

Rice was free of charge. I give brownie points for this.

And there's Asahi Kuronama on tap.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The king of kings this year

It's been quite a while since we've last bought durians and I believe we're currently in the midst of the season for this year. This was a whole wang zhong wang (皇中皇) that we've gotten and it turned out a lot better than the one we purchased from Balestier last year. One that lived up to its reputation of bittersweet creamy richness. The prices of these things are still hefty and from the look of things, will remain so.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

More food from Keria Japanese Restaurant

Here's an unplanned dinner down at Keria Japanese Restaurant.

Today's otoshi was stewed konbu with pork and beans.

We skipped the customary mentai cabbage and swapped it for the mentai okura. This turned out to be a chilled dish. For some reasons, I had the idea that those okra were stir fried when we were ordering it.

Gyutan was still on the menu. But today's tongue was stewed instead of pan fried like the last time. It was a little sweet and I thought they would be better flavoured grilled or pan fried. But the gobo and carrots in the stew were really good.

Pork steak was delicious. Today's pork was much more nicely browned compared to the first time we had it. The composition of the wasabi butter or what was supposed to be the wasabi butter has changed though. I don't think I tasted any wasabi and they were no longer green.

We ordered chanpuru, something which we had never ordered here before. This was really good, especially when had with rice. There was chunky little strips bacon in the stir fry which flavoured the sprouts and gourd.

Corn tempura was on the menu. It must have been some effort slicing wedges of kernels off those corns to batter and fry.

Stuffed as we were, we made room for uni pasta. Apart from those slivers of creamy sweet sea urchin on top of the noodles, more uni had already been folded into the the spaghetti infusing the strands with their creamy sweetness. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sumo Bar Happy, Waterloo Street

Sumo Bar Happy is by the people behind Tanuki Raw and a bunch of other places that I've never visited. What intrigued me about this outpost was its setup as a casual ramen and sake bar - doing beef based ramen and no less.

Beef based ramen are quite the rarity here if you didn't already know. Apart from the one off beef bone broth bowl from Tampopo ages ago and the gyutan negishio bowl from Sandaime Bunji, they're about as oftenly seen as the nine tailed fox.

There's beef gyoza on the menu. Crispy skin and a shade of beet root red which they have described as capsicum wrappers stuffed with US Prime short rib mince. I could tell that it wasn't pork but I'm not getting a definite beefiness. Pretty looking gyozas though.

We ordered sashimi. These guys aren't exactly the specialist for that and from the nature of this particular shop, I wouldn't expect any real focus be put into sashimi as part of their menu. It's not bad if one were to overlook the small slices and poor knife work though. 

What I liked was their Kinsanji Miso with barley that was served on the sticks of cucumbers. Those were really nice and sweet.

That's a pretty mini loco moco don which featured their house made Nagano pork luncheon meat with a small slab of pan fried foie gras and a fried quail's egg. Pretty small, pretty cholesterol laden, pretty heart clogging and pretty good. That luncheon meat was a lot meatier in texture than the regular canned variety. Probably more akin to a meat loaf. It's actually kinda nice. I liked those sweet marinated mushrooms they put in the donburi too.

Impressive looking was the bone in short rib ramen. The rib that came with the bowl was pretty huge. The meat was chopstick tender. So tender that it fell off the bone on the way to the table.

No real need for the fork and knife which the staff thought might come in handy since one could simply pick the meat off the rib with a chopstick. I thought it was quite good.

The noodles were those thin variety that I liked. But they were not exactly harigane after we were done with the rib to work on them. I'm pretty sure this has got to be one of the heaviest bowl of noodles I've had.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Cheek By Jowl, Boon Tat Street

Cheek By Jowl (21 Boon Tat Street, tel : +65 6221 1911) is yet another establishment under Loh Lik Peng's Unlisted Collection. The restaurant which is helmed by a Rishi Naleendra doing modern/progressive Australian food opened last Feburary. This year, they were awarded their first Michelin star.

I've read somewhere online that each the dishes that the chef sends out "has to be precise"; that precision "a discipline picked up from his one year stint in Tetsuya's". For the first time in a long time, reality wavered and the meaning of 'precise' was suddenly not so precise anymore.

olives and gougeres
I think these are amuse bouche. Olives and gougeres/cheesy puffs with what they called 14 month Compton cheese. I assumed that the cheese has been aged for that period. It's been then processed into a mousse of sorts. Both were delicious by the way.

oyster smoked tomato
The first of the orders that arrived were their Coffin Bay oysters with smoked tomato. The smoked tomato element was shavings of smoked tomato sorbet that's piled onto the oyster. The flavour in reality was less exotic as it might have sounded because it was very much like barbecue sauce minus the sweetness. In shaven ice temperature and texture. I liked this.

raw beef salad | dry aged wagyu | maple | horseradish | brussels sprouts
I enjoyed their raw beef salad to a certain extent. A bit more salt would be nice. I thought it tasted like a dryer beef tartare with textures and aromas of toasted/burnt Brussels sprouts. 

That also meant that we were getting nada from the maple. I personally couldn't taste any horseradish and dry aged wagyu.....really? If I had to grade this dish, I'd fail it for failing to deliver on the flavours based on what the menu described. 

roasted quail | chestnut | mushroom | mint
The other first course item we had was the roasted quail. This was very nice. The chestnut came in the form of mousse and a topping of ceps powder. The bird was of a medium doneness and very tender. 

The only other things on the plate were very umami mushrooms and mint leaves draped over with thinly sliced pickled apple. The combination of flavours from these were extraordinary.

barramundi | wakami | pickled onion | broccoli
Barramundi was very nice and rather small portions. Fish was tender and firm with crispy skin. The wakami was in mousse form on the side. I presumed it was meant to be eaten with the fish rather than the other stuff but the flavours were all pretty good together as well.

lamb rump | smoked eggplant | globe artichoke | caper berries
The lamb rump was seared with a hard crust of spiced rubbed exterior. Tasted Middle Eastern-ish to me. Smoked eggplant wasn't so smoky and those fried artichoke.....not sure how that comes together thematically with the rest of the plate. 

hasselback potatoes | chives | sour cream
Because the portions of the food wasn't very substantial, some carbs were in order. Potatoes with whipped sour cream.

coconut | laksa leaf ice cream | pomelo | green chilli
I'm not sure how to describe the feeling I had for this dessert. I like the peanuts and the pomelo. Didn't think much of the coconut semifreddo. Chilli sauce was a nice touch. I thought the laksa leaf ice cream was a little too milky but I applaud the laksa leave flavours. I will never order this again if I return.

burnt pear | hay panna cotta | pear sorbet | salted caramel
This was the better dessert as much less exciting it sounded over the first. The hay smoked (or was it smoked hay) panna cotta had a tea like flavour which I thought was calming through the creaminess. The clean flavour from the pear sorbet was also much appreciated.

There's much less precision going on in the kitchen than credit is given to them for. From our seating "vantage point", I suppose we had a view of how the kitchen actually worked. Plating for example is also a "fall where it may" attitude rather than a full disciplined process. Noticed different levels of care with varying portions across different kitchen staff working on the same item. Some dude was even scratching his head just before handling food with his bare hands. Something that I would have preferred not to see.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Senso 2017

The last time we were here in Senso (21 Club Street) was about a year back. It was the summer truffle season then and hence it is the same summer truffle season now.

I don't know much about wines but the Moscato that Senso pours is pretty nice stuff.

We had salmon tartare with pan seared scallops topped with Avruga caviar. It was a light and delicious starter. By the way, I just found out that Avruga caviar is really just a caviar substitute and doesn't actually contain any roe.

That's the foie gras and truffle panna cotta with figs and Parmesan crisps from the truffle menu. If anyone was wondering, it's not soft and wobbly like one would generally expect of panna cotta. This one was dense, rich and buttery just like a foie gras terrine - luxed up with a little bit of aroma from the shaven black truffle and countered by a some slices of fig and droplets of balsamic vinegar. There was enough of the foie for us to make good use of their bread basket.

Also from the truffle menu, a creamy bucattini with mushrooms and shaven black truffles. I liked the bite and texture from the bucattini but the rest of the dish didn't leave much of an impression. Perhaps that truffle cream was a little too rich that it desensitized the palate from anything subtler that might have been enjoyable.

The other truffle menu item we thought was worth trying was the potato ball. Just kidding...... that's quail stuffed with spinach and morels. It did look like a potato ball though. Stuffing was very nice and the quail was very small. 

Even though the menu mentions the Senso truffle puree and black truffle jus, there was just too little of those truffle flavours going around. A surprisingly poor showcase of ingredient based cooking by Senso here. But I did enjoy the quail.

It all ended with an affogato. Just like last year.