Monday, April 30, 2007

A few glimpses of Glutton Bay

Glutton Bay (Esplanade Mall) emerged after Glutton Square (Orchard Road) was closed and the premise is suppose to be representation of Asian food or popular local street food at its better. After a tryout, I was far from being impressed. To be fair, I did not manage to eat everything. But I do know of more than a handful of people who are able to recommend better players for most of the food representation. I wouldn't be too sure about Makansutra's term "top hawkers" which was definitely a very loose and superficial reference. It's a gathering spot for tourists to experience some local eats though. It's also tourist prices here anyway. Avoid the horrible sambal squid.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Muddy pub grub

Irish themed ale tavern/pub that has chunky chilli crab dip for chips. That's something to say about Muddy Murphy (442 Orchard Road #B1-01/01-06, Orchard Hotel Shopping Arcade). Well, maybe not so unusual here. I generally like Irish themed pubs because they normally do Strongbow on tap and I can find a couple of other reasons come back. Their bar snacks while was not amazing were things that I didn't mind . We had chips with chilli crab dip and green lip mussels tonight.

The chilli crab dip tasted like what one could expect from regular chilli crab sauce. It probably isn't as spicy, but it did taste the local and not just an attempt do a western rendition of the sauce. Don't expect Chinese restaurant standards. Those mussels we got were pretty fresh tasting, large and chewy - chewy in a good way that's full of bite. Something that the sweeter smaller varieties from Norway that Brussels Sprouts serve, doesn't have.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Marmalade Pantry, Palai Renaissance

Marmalade Pantry (Palai Renaissance, B1-08/11, Orchard Road) is a spiffy tai tai canteen secluded in the basement of a building laden with branded boutiques. I learnt of the ultimate beef burger and came here to try it. I had soup too. Service here on Saturday was pretty bad and the entire place looks pretty understaffed with only half the seats filled

The parsnip sweep potato and butternut soup was a bad call on my part. I didn't like it. For some reasons, I was expecting something like a butternut squash soup. It tasted more like a carrot flavoured dahl. Not something I enjoyed except for the cheese filled loaf on the side.

I thought their burger might have been better without the mayo but I'm not complaining. This was a serious heavyweight beef burger with a firm and thick patty accompanied by slices of gherkins. Made holding the burger together a tad slippery. Juice were dripping out of the patties as I ate. Quite impressive. The thick looking buns were also much softer than they looked and it was actually not bad. Though a bit pricey at $19.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Quarter chicken lunch at Kenny Rogers

We live in a world where commercial fast food restaurant chickens are sold by aged country singers and even long dead colonels. Kenny Rogers is but, another of those that used to have better tasting roasted chickens in the past, but has seen declining standards on their quality of food, very much like many other restaurants. It seems that all commercial food businesses are condemned somehow into a slow downward spiral which is a sad thing.

The chicken here is still edible actually if you asked me. The portions are however wildly inconsistent and very much dependent on the "luck of the draw". Sometimes, the portions can be just pathetic. The lack of consistency for that is a major drawback for me. Also, the signature roast chicken doesn't get into the lunch deals which offers the option of some chicken filet instead. I had to get the regular quarter chicken ($13.55 with tax) off the menu. Where's the deal here really? The people that decided on the menu of their lunch packages obviously didn't not care so much about what people come to this place for as opposed to how to sell meal boxes that cost less to produce. How much more obvious can that get when you throw in shitty lunch deals that make people not want to come back again after having them one time? So said my new Israeli colleague.

The side of macaroni with cheese and corn muffin fortunately still delivers.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Miss Clarity Smoked Gnocchi

Wow, this was probably the cheapest place I've encountered gnocchi so far. Am pleasantly surprised that Miss Clarity is making inroads with not so commonly available pasta. At $9.80 and no service charge, there's probably no one else with a lower price. It's almost three times more across the road at Garibaldi. This particular plate came with a smoky cream sauce topped with artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and real bacon. The cooking was done with good timing as none of them looked like they were about to disintergrate.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Taman Serasi Food Garden, Botanic Gardens

This not so hidden gem of a food court located near the Napier Road entrance of the Botanic Gardens reminded me of King Albert Park. It was actually quite a pleasant spot in the spacious outdoors from the serenity during the week evenings. I heard that it gets really crowded in the weekends and holidays. Food courts generally are boring pretty boring with a similar configurations everywhere since they are monopolised (mostly) by the food court conglomerates that inject little variables into individual outlets. There are exceptions though. Like the Food Republic at Wisma. The generally feel to them is that they are costly and do not have much that's good to eat. Once in a while, exceptions happen.

The stalls in Taman Serasi Food Garden (1 Cluny Road) are named after the food which they sell, so it's pretty easy to figure out what's what from the huge labels overhead at the stall fronts. There's the usual nasi padang, fish soup, chinese mixed rice, roasted meats, dessert and drink stall. The drink stall has Erdinger. Wow. A unique vendor here that doesn't go by the regular labels is Yummy Crab. Yummy Crab does a variety of food items with crab ( e.g. noodles & rice). And they whip up a mean fried rice with crab meat!

Besides the regular diced barbequed pork (larger chunks here!), egg and shrimps (larger shrimps too!), there's a generous amount of crab meat with the roe in their fried rice. It's not cheap though. This portion which I suppose feeds one hungry big eater or two smaller ones goes for $18.

For a week night, the crowd was sparse. I was told that it does get horrendously long during the weekends and crab noodles (which seem to be a trend these days) are also one of their specialty. I don't like do deal with shells and bones normally so this fried rice worked for me.

There was also a roasted meat stall which had excellent char siew. There's also the usual roast pork belly and duck which were pretty pedestrian though they came in rather generous portions.

We found a combo murtabak which was available at the Indian food store. I was told that this used to be a stall back in the old hawker centre (gone a long time ago) with leaky roofs during the rain which I fondly remember for the Roti John and teh tarik.

What made the combo murtabak was the use of variety in the fillings instead of a single meat option. We had one with shredded chicken and ground mutton. There was also sliced fresh green chilli which gave the prata more kick. I certainly appreciated that. There seemed to be a crab murtabak on menu as well and I'm speculating is that it's might have something to do with Yummy Crab.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Homemade burgers for dinner

These are one of my guilty pleasures in life. Buttered and lightly oven toasted buns, double patty, double cheddar cheese, lettuce and marinated ground beef hand made patties. It's a lot more work than it looks getting everything prepared. I'm still trying to find out how to make the patties more firm. Also trying to find someone who will hand chop the meat instead of getting minced ones. Suggestions will be entertained.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Baladi, 709 North Bridge Road

Baladi at North Bridge Road (across the road from the mosque at Arab Street) purports to serve authentic Lebanese food. This was my first time having Lebanese. Noticed that that parallels can be drawn with Persian food. I'm not sure what were the differences between the food of the two cultures though. There's grilled meats, flat bread, hummus, rice, more vegetable dips and arrays of spiced teas.

artichoke hearts
hummus & moutabbalstuffed grape leaves

We didn't start off well with the appetizers. The hummus didn't taste like what I'm used to. The moutabbal was delicious but was also not like any eggplant dip I've had. And the artichokes was acidic that I felt needle prick sensations on my tongue. Stuffed grape leaves had rice that didn't taste properly cooked and the leaves were too fibrous.

Didn't not enjoy them much.

beef sharwarma

beef kafta kebab

Grilled meats on the other hand fared a lot better. The amusing thing about the presentation here was that they tried to look sophisticated with the powdered paprika stencilling and the smudge of herbed yoghurt on the side. Both dishes are served on rectangular "crockery" which weren't plates but were actually tiles. The beef sharwarma came with nicely browned chunks of spiced beef on brown rice. I don't know what went into the rice but it was good.

I doubt I'll be back to anytime soon. Probably will not return at all. There're a couple of other interesting places around the corner near Baghdad Street which I've noticed so those might be next. Meanwhile, I'll take Banoo anytime!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Lobster a la carte buffet @ Honjin

Honjin offers a self termed lobster a la carte buffet at $52++ if I remember correctly. Disappointing is the word to describe the experience here. Even for fact that I was already prepared knowing that such an offer comes probably with fine print. Is that bad or what? The buffet includes a tiny menu tiny various sashimi, sushis, tempura, yakimono, agemono, ramen, temakis and so forth. UOB card holders get a 1 for 1 deal in this buffet. Now that "buffet" and "1 for 1" is mentioned, one would think you're probably geared up for what's to expect for the lobster. You think! Behold the lobster butter yaki portion for 2!

Yeah, that's pretty much 2 mouthfuls for you there. The condition attached to this a la carte lobster buffet is that each table is only eligible for one serving. One serving per table, not per patron. Yippieee!!! I wonder why is it that with foresight did I not see that coming. This place is suppose to be run by a top notch executive chef that has 15 years of experience in places like Nadaman and Keyaki? This puts into me some questionable light about what kind of experience was that. Dish washing is experience too.

Doesn't the sashimi presentation look just fabulous??!!

The food was palatable. Certain items turned out to be pretty good (tasting better than they look) while others fared worse than Sakae Sushi. This is definitely not a place that I would re-visit. One can reasonably expect lowered standards because of the nature of buffets in the effort to churn food out en mass to mobs hungry people. This, was simply a lack of effort with respect to the quality. Without the benefit of the UOB card offer, it would have been seriously overpriced with mediocre food to boot.

I shall refrain from further visual terrorism. I'm positive that in the realms of a la carte buffets, I've had better.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Changing Appetites, Marina Square

Changing Appetites at Marina Square does some sort of western/Japanese fusion food on their menu. I can't put a finger into their identity, but there's a variety. The food's fairly affordable with a somewhat creative menu. I didn't really think too much of them beside being a novelty when I first visited them a few years back when they were just opened.

The Classic Double 2 Thick burger ($15.90) was really thick. The patty wasn't as firm as I was hoping for. It fell apart easily and there was no option for done-ness. The marinate of the meat was so strong that it took the beef out of beefiness. Couldn't tell from the taste what meat it was. The saving grace was that it didn't taste bad. They used a butter brown rye bun which was quite good.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Brewerkz, Riverside Point

Brewerkz, conspicuously located at the ground floor of Riverside Point by virtue of the unit, position itself to be one of the really attractive watering holes around. In spite of the emergence of competitors and those that arm themselves with the shiny spiffy arsenal of a microbrewery, this place to me still remains one of the better locations for good beer at pretty reasonable prices. In the afternoons, Brewerkz does have the cheapest beer in town. Bar none.

This also makes it a good place to do dinner because there is really little need to adjourn for drinks. Ever since I can recall, it's always had a healthy crowd and coming by with no reservation is usually never a good idea. Decent selection of reasonable food, great drinks, reasonable prices....note down the secret formula the rest of you!

To the Bistro Burger...

Brewerkz actually serves pretty decent burgersThe Bistro Burger ($19.90) is just a regular hearty burger which is the way burgers should be everywhere else that thinks to justify their upscaled prices. These people should know whom I am refering to. The main factor that drove me to order this is the smelly blue cheese.

Yes, on the patty sits a lump of mould infused pungent milk curdle. This is definitely not the stinkiest of it's varietal, but packs enough stench for most blue cheese lovers to be drawn by the taste. The patty is a good medium done as requested, firm and not crumbly. Very much like the hand chopped patty from the sirloin burger from ├╝berburger. Paired with the evergreen Golden Ale (truly a nectar among beers), it isn't very hard to understand why people keep coming back.