Saturday, June 30, 2007

Cafe Oliv, East Coast Road

This establishment has some ways to go with their food. Cafe Olive (220 East Coast Road) is affordable; costs less and provides equivalent or better quality than the run of the mill family restaurants in town. There isn't any GST and service charge. I dropped by on the notice from a reader regarding their tenderloin sandwich which I did not regret. In fact, I was surprised by what I had and judging from what I saw from the other tables, there were other offerings which looked good enough for me to come back. Including some good looking braised lamb shanks going around the tables.

Salty egg soft shell crab biscuit fritter

This would make the second soft shell crab in recent years that I've had that was good enough to be mention worthy amongst the gamut of many. Most soft shell crabs today have become unremarkable and many are poorly done. To the point that I've really been avoiding them. I picked this starter based on the recommendation of a friend and it turned out quite good. The entire of the exterior of the crab was crispy and the insides were hot, tender and juicy. And at $4.90, I couldn't complain. I only wonder what did the salty egg of the named referred to because I was expecting it to be covered in salted egg yolk sauce and it didn't really taste anything of that.

tenderloin foccacia

This tenderloin sandwich was surprisingly good. It's beat the ribeye sandwich from Marmalade Pantry which now paled badly in comparison. And this went at about half the cost at $10.90. There's a doneness option. Tenderloin cut for the sandwich was noticeably heftier than the ribeye in comparison. Shame on Marmalade Pantry. I believe that the buttered and lightly toasted focaccia stood out more than a ciabatta in a weak wasabi sauce in comparison as well. That said, if anyone does know of good steak sandwiches, I'd appreciate a heads up. For now, this recommendation is the best I've had around.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Some spoils from the Hokkaido Fair

I have no idea how often the Hokkaido Fairs come by, but I seem to see it every few times I pass by Istetan. This time round, they seem quite particular about people taking photos so I didn't get to get pictuers of some of the interesting sights of the fair. Temptation did succeed in making me part with some money for the Hokkaido produce which were really good stuff. These fairs are also really great for picking up tasty bites that one normally do not find elsewhere. Look out for the mouthwatering cheese scallops and check the price tags before you pay!

preserved octopus

cheesy cuttlefish

more processed cuttlefish

grilled, dried and sweetened scallops

candied crabs

Ribeye steak sandwich from Marmalade Pantry

It was just wishful thinking on my part imagining the rib eye steak in this sandwich to be thick and dripping with juices. Well, it was dripping with juices, but it didn't quite qualify with what I had in mind for the thickness. That's what wishful thinking gets you. Lol. The bread, which I think is ciabatta, isn't actually as large as it appears to be. It's puffed up in side so it just looks larger than it actually is. There was the option for the doneness of the steak in the sandwich. The really enjoyable thing about this sandwich is that you get a real piece of meat which you can rip out with your teeth. Apart from that, I thought that the ultimate beef burger was ultimately more satisfying. I would attribute that to that the wasabi sauce which did mask up quite abit of the beefy flavor. It wasn't a really strong wasabi in there, but the taste got through and I honestly thought that it would have been better if there wasn't any of it. The fries here are pretty good, so the tapioca chips probably should go as well. I am entertaining the consideration to attempting on this what I do at McDonalds. But that would probably make it the most expensive sandwich I've ever had.

The sticky date pudding I was told, is pretty good. It wasn't really as good as the descriptions that I've been given of it. I very much prefer the one at B.R.O.T.H.. And the magic involved was plenty of hot butterscotch and sour cream which worked for me, much better than vanilla ice cream on this particular one.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Esmirada, Orchard Hotel

The lingering impression of this place from the last time almost 3 years back was that the food was pricey and quite forgettable. Three years later today, the experience at Esmirada (442 Orchard Road, #01-29, Orchard Hotel) turned out similar and service in this place really needs work. A service that could be described as wildly inconsistent. I've only discovered that they're the same group that manages Brasserie Wolf down at Robertson Quay.

This place is spoken of for their grills which I thought was quite decent, but really nothing to rave over. The price of the grills goes a little on the high side and portions aren't exactly generous. Esmirada does paella and the noodle option of that dish actually comes with penne instead of noodles that I thought would be. What doesn't feel right is that there isn't chorizos in the platter and the description of chicken from the menu really just involves a couple of mid wings. Really, a couple means just two if you still remember the actual definition of the word. That is certainly astounding generosity.

The rabo del toro is described by the menu to be a Spanish ox tail stew that is served with saffron rice. I really do not know what's so distinctively Spanish about the ox tail stew but it wasn't too too bad with four chunky pieces of the tail and served with boiled root vegetables. A signature dessert from the place known as Melting Moments probably has outlived it's moments. The unromantic description of it, is two tiny molten chocolate cakes with a scoop of walnut ice cream and cherries. There are places that does equally good or better renditions these days which also comes in larger portions.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Cheok Kee Duck Rice, East Coast Lagoon

This stall (Stall 29) at East Coast Lagoon seemed one of those (out of two in the stalls that was opened for lunch) which had a long queue during lunch. I'm usually not a fan of queues. I've learnt that they are usually not worth the wait and I personally dislike having to wait. I made an exception because I was told good things their duck. That and that I'm not likely to be here often so I thought why not.

As hawker prices go, they were a little pricier than usual. A single portion of the duck be it with noodles, rice or porridge was $4.50. Agree that the duck was good and a notch above many other braised (that seems to be the only type at Cheok Kee) ducks. I'm saying this even though I generally prefer roasted variety. Will not mind having this again if I do come back to East Coast Lagoon.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Shades of satiated Epicurious-ity

Just some shots and thoughts of the Epicurious Burger from, Epicurious (#01-02 The Quayside, 60 Robertson Quay). A friend of mine who lives in the vicinity of Robertson Quay/Mohd Sultan area has been telling me about this rather awesome sandwich of theirs. For $18+ $4 (for the works which includes mushroom, an egg and real salty chewy bacon),it was rather hefty a cost for a burger. The nice aspect to this burger was that Epicurious did manage to make the individual toppings identifiable instead of a common mixed mashed burger. Honestly, I was quite impressed by the fact that each mouthful was distinctively flavorful of the mushroom, mustard, sauteed onions, aged cheddar cheese, patty and egg. The marinate of the beef patty can be described as flavorful, but is however crumbly. This meant that if you're eating with just hands, you get disintegrated meat crumbs over the plate as your maw your way through.

One noted feature of the Epicurious Burger was that the patty, which is of regular size comes with buns that are smaller than average. Small bread make the patties look bigger?

The patty, apart from being better marinated is probably just a little better than those from Botak Jones which is along the same standards as wham!burger. Which means that it's visually more impressive than it is tasty. If you like them heftier and firm, this is definitely not the burger. There are better options as I can recall from the likes of Wild Rocket, Brewerkz, or Marmalade Pantry instead. This patty in this one is just good for epicurios-ity, not much more.

Geylang Lorong 9

Geylang is renown at least amongst the locals here to be a very recognizable district which congregates businesses that involve pleasures of the flesh. Not to delve to deeply into the lurid details of the myriad options of carnal pleasures, we have locally and possibly internationally famous food hawkers, drinks, more food and more drinks. Almost everyone knows about this. I'm sure you did.

The stalls around Lorong 9 (and possibly other areas) boasts several food outlets that are opened 24 hours of the day, so one can pretty much drop by the area at any time of the day or night.

Lion City Frog Porridge (235 Geylang Road) is famed for, obviously, frog porridge ($19 for 2 frogs and a pot of porridge). Incidentally, there is also another one at Balestier which also calls itself the frog porridge vendor from Geylang Lorong 9. So which is the original? The taste between the 2 stalls for me were quite comparable but if my memory didn't fail me, the one at Balestier has a stronger kick from the spiciness of the kung pao gravy and was also served in much more generous portions. That one also came bubbling hot which this one didn't. The frogs were hot and had tender succulent flesh that one can simply suck off the bones. The porridge unfortunately for me had shreds of ginger which along with coriander formed the bane of my eating experiences. Apart from that, the thick gruel with the claypot kung pao frogs was an almost unparalleled definition of literal and proverbial warm comfort, especially in the cool rainy nights. Really, apart from the ginger shreds, I have no complains.

Just across the road sits a famous Lorong 9 Geylang beef kuey teow. This was actually my first time having it and I really didn't know what was so great about them. It's not a bad beef kuey teow per se. The lethal combination of black bean and chilli sauce is something that I normally find quite irresistible. There was definitely a char flavor that was distinctive to the food cooked from seasoned black iron woks. However, the sauce wasn't as flavorful as I had been imagining and the beef was simply just limp pieces of unidentifiable meat. Insert your own rat jokes here. Maybe it's just a personal preference for my beef to taste like beef. I really did't think that much of this supposedly famous place.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Seng Kee Ba Chor Mee, Changi Road

I've visited this place before sometime September last year when I was brought to try for the first time this rather special "liao" laden noodle. I had no clue the name of the stall, so I've actually found out the name of the name some months back and also realised that they're only open during lunch hours. Seng Kee also sells an interesting fish maw noodle. Fish maw is usually used in soups and I've never encountered them served with noodles like this. Today, probably because of the crowd, I got noodles that weren't drained as well so it turned out a tad soggy. The overall taste wasn't much as affected as the texture though. The soup was as marvellous as I remember, dense, cloudy and flavourful.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Of black pearls and blue cheese...

fromage bleu ribeye
I remember seeing this item on the menu from the previous visit here at Perle Noir so I decided that I just had to try it to see if it's any good. I often avoid steaks in non-steak places but the blue cheese beckoned and won over the tenderloin stuffed with oysters and wrapped in bacon! It was unfortunately not the hunk thick juicy steak which I was hoping it to be and judging from the quantity of blue cheese used, the flavour or stench was less than exceptional. This turned out to be a thin sliced ribeye. Not even close in terms of taste to the one that I had at Ember.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Bread pudding from Brewerkz

I've never been much of a fan of bread pudding. The only one that I recall ever thinking was good was from Miss Clarity. It's usually far too starchy and sweet and it's normally not warm enough for my liking. This one from Brewerkz falls in the same category as most where it's not warm at all. But the taste was actually pretty good so I could just imagine if it had been warm and it would have been awesome. What made this was the whiskey caramel sauce and the generous raisins which broke the monotony of sweetness. If I ever come back and have this again, I'll have to remember to ask for them to be heated before serving.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Shunjuu, Robertson Quay

Shunjuu, Robertson Quay
Beside a couple of items which we thought weren't bad, the rest of the food was quite disappointing. To venture a guess, I speculate that there was a poor system of batching up the grills that are ready to be served. Most of what we had were already cold by the time it got to the table. We were thinking that there was no way the standards of the kushiyaki here can approach the quality at Kazu or Kushigin. To top off the experience, there was a cocky serving waitress that believed this restaurant made exceptional garlic rice which was better than what she labels as "other places". But there's more - the servers were apparently very adapted to "professional eye aversion" when you're trying to get their attention anytime after you've made your orders. This could be my first and last visit.

Shunjuu, pitan tofupitan tofu

Pitan tofu was quite good. Suitably chilled. The century egg sauce made with its yolk was sweet. This tasted almost like a dessert. The tobiko on the top added a touch of saltiness to this dish. We were pleasantly surprised.

Shunjuu, natto meshinatto meshi

I was feeling adventurous when I ordered this against the recommendation of the waitress. I'm not sure what her reasonings were for asking me not to try. I haven't had natto before and I didn't like her, so I went against her recommendations anyway. This was not very pleasant. While I'm not discouraged enough to be adversed against trying out unusual stuff, I don't think I'll order natto again. Not exactly tasty and the smell was pretty pungent. Having a raw egg over the top did add to the flavour.

Shunjuu, kushiyakiox tongue & chiizu aburage maki

Had to admit that the ox tongue was pretty good. The tongues were sliced thinly and then packed onto the skewers. They looked like they were in chunks but unfold as you pulled them out. The main gripe I had with Shunjuu's grills were that they weren't served hot which made them a vastly different experience from the other two Ks. The chiizu aburage maki are bean curd sheets that were stuffed with cheese. I couldn't taste much cheese in them so I though they were no good at all.

Shunjuu, kushiyakiquail eggs wrapped in pork belly & shishamo

Shunjuu, mentaiko yakiyaki mentaiko

Shunjuu, lamb chopslamp chops

The lamb chops were quite good. Comparable to what we had at Kazu but much more fatty. This was hot off the grill unlike the other items we ordered. While in that temperature, the fats are usually easy to eat but this one simply had too much.

Shunjuu, sweet potatojapanese sweet potato

We were thoroughly disappointed with the sweet potato. Looked almost totally a different thing from what we had in Kazu. The sweet potato here wasn't as fragrant and it was very dry. And also not served with butter which would have helped greatly. Do not order this here. It's not worth it.

Shunjuu, hamachi collargrilled yellow tail

This yellow tail collar tasted fine but the meat disintegrated easily. Pretty sure that's now how the texture of this fish is supposed to be like. This made messy eating with chopsticks. While the fish was properly flavourful, the crumbly meat made the quality suspect.

I'd clearly rather pick Kazu over Shunjuu anytime. Both experiences that I've had there made the former a clear winner in experience and value.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lunch @ 85 Fengshan Centre

This place (Blk 85 Bedok North St 4) is supposed to be pretty popular I hear from some colleagues. This was one of the old styled hawker centre/wet market places that isn't so much of a common sight these days. Think Tiong Bahru Market. Strangely, half the stalls in this hawker center seemed to be closed in the middle of the day and the lunch crowd was almost threadbare. I was pointed out to a Hainanese styled curry rice which reminded me of the ones that had in Tiong Bahru Market and Maxwell Food Centre a very long time ago.

One gets a plate of rice with 2 meats and 2 vegetables at a very affordable $2.50. It looked to be a rather good lunch deal. One might get the idea that portions aren't very big because of how cheap it was but I personally thought it was a fair portion. I only wished that they were more generous with the crispy breaded pork chops.

Located in his hawker centre was also a stall call Western Food 85 that does fried pork knuckles. I'm not going to even compare to the German restaurants. Suffice it is to say that for $12.50, you get pretty much what you pay for. There's not much in the way of presentation. The meat wasn't too bad but watch out for the excessive fats under the skin. Tasted like something that's good to go with beer.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Godzilla Handmade Tim Sum & Pau, Elias Rd

These baos (meat buns) were really large. Each of them big enough to make a meal with stuffings that were pretty generous. There were mushrooms, boiled egg, salted egg, pork, crab sticks and lup cheong. I remembered reading somewhere saying that there was supposed to be abalone but I didn't find any of those in mine. Quite similar to a $2.50 bao that East Ocean Court use to do years ago. Those as I recall were smaller but much tastier. This shop was at GC Foodcourt, 623 Elias Road, #01-01.