Sunday, September 30, 2007

Moo Moo Burger from Vittles


For $10.90, this burger is pretty decent stuff. I was pretty surprised by size of it when it was served and it's not often that I'm taken aback by the size of the patty of most burgers. Vittles at Sembawang Cottage, across the road from Khatib Camp is apparently a pretty new diner that does western chow at very affordable prices sans GST and service charge. This would put it up in the good books of many people since most places that do actually charge for service don't actually deserve a small fraction of it. This place works somewhat like Cafe Cartel where you write your orders on a chit and bring the chit up to the counter for payment and then you wait for your orders and help yourself with free popcorn.

Back to the burger, it's really quite a decent attempt here despite it not being the best one around. But at the price, this is something I think is worth checking out if you like big meat. Big hand chopped patty meat (250g of it) with onions, sauteed mushrooms, real bacon, cheese and lettuce on a lightly oat encrusted bun that probaby uses the oats for decorations rather than anything else. The beefy patty definitely a noticeable up from the kind that you get from Botak Jones and certainly has potential still, for improvement. One main gripe which is a personal thing here is the barbeque sauce which is something that I really do not understand about in burgers. Doesn't make it taste any better for me and if there is a need to break the monotony of the taste in the huge patty, aged cheddar works as well. I'd be willing to throw in a dollar or two more for a better cheese option. With an egg, it'll give the Epicurious burger a big run for it's money. Do take note again, that this burger is really huge. Remember not to dislodge your jaws if you're eating with your hands.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Watershed Wine Dinner @ Senso


Watershed as I've learnt is one of the vineyards that resides in the region of Margaret River down in Australia. This wine dinner - a collaboration of WineBOS and Senso. As one may have surmised from the name, the dinner was accompanied by various wine from Watershed. I'm not knowledgeable about wines but I do drink it and preferences at this point of time is purely dictated by the tongue. I know what I like or not base on taste. I know very little else despite having attended wine appreciation. The differences between the new and the old world hasn't settled in me and I haven't gotten the grasp of the varietal of grapes that are used. So I'm not engaging in the subtleties of the drink. But for those that might be interested, I do have the listed course and accompaniment of this 5 course dinner.

Poached crabmeat salad with avocado, orange and green apple with Sambuca dressing served with
Watershed Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon, 2006

Rigatoni pasta with braised rabbit in tomato sauce with Taggiasche black olives and fresh thyme served with
Watershed unoaked Chardonnay, 2005

Traditional Carnaroli risotto with braised duck and Italian porcini mushrooms served with Watershed Shades, 2004


Braised veal shank "Ossobuco" served with mashed potatoes, rosemary and lemon Gremolata served with
Watershed Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot, 2004


Chef's selection of cheese served with
Watershed Shiraz, 2003

The food was more or less as I had expected. Not so much on satisfaction. It was uninteresting without any highlights that the cheese was actually a highlight of the 5 courses. Those cheeses were quite good and to think that it required the least preparation.

There were a few items that I thought could have been improved. The rabbit in the rigatoni tasted much like fish and the braised shredded duck meat of the risotto tasted boringly flat. And had too little meat, rendering it almost unidentifiable as duck. This poached crabmeat salad seemed quite overdone and brought up more than a faint reminder of a unremarkable trout and crab roll from Bontá. Tthe osso buco was fine. I guess. It only had a small part of the meat from the shank. If I had to call it, the justification to the price tag of the dinner were the generous pours of wine.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Superfamous wagyu burger


There's a place down at Chulia Street just beside the OCBC building near Raffles Place done like a cafe in a little park called Superfamous. The cuisine reads like fusion/Australian but then I'm not sure of the actual differences between the two. Perhaps it can just be described as largely European with some Asian accents. Anyway, I dropped by for lunch prior to an appointment and decided to try out their Wagyu burger. Now I'm just wondering, since Wagyu is a breed of cattle, does it mean that there are those that do not go through the fattening treatment process or is something like Grade 1 really affordable? This one was priced at about $24 dollars and after seeing how places like One Ninety or the defunct überburger charges for a Wagyu between bread, this does smell like a different beast. Pun intended.


Honestly, I've definitely had better. Better and less costly with the Garageburger from Wine Garage coming on top of that list of cheaper and better. Similar does the Wild Rocket Burger fare. Sure, those aren't wagyu but they were certainly much more enjoyable than this which featured meat that was marinated almost to death resulting in a sweetish herby flavour to the patty. That to me isn't enjoyable for beef. It could have had some flavours, but it still needed to retain the beefiness which this particular one didn't possess. I would have preferred sautéed onions rather than the caramelised ones that was used. So the result was a slightly pepperish/sweetish taste that reminded me of cheap black pepper sauces.


The upside of the lunch was actually the seared tuna salad which came with rather delicious seared tuna slices with a very generous helping of greens with olives and quail eggs. The portions of the salad was bigger than I had expected. I'm not too sure what was the dressing but I thought I detected sesame sauce and vinaigrette.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Burritos, enchiladas and magaritas...


These Tex Mex stuff seem to be my recent craze lately, so you people have little choice but to bear with it since this is my blog. Hahaha! Funny how little of them I've had until recently, which pretty much started from that night at Cha Cha Cha. Now that I'm hung up with Café Iguana, I've decided that doing a late Sunday lunch at this place might be in order since it would be probably the only time I get to look at everything that I'm eating in clear daylight. Back to topic, it's a lunch that I'm doing with my brother, so we wisely stuck to a single order of a starters of an ancho dusted calamari, along with a shredded steak burrito and tuna enchiladas.

calamari

These are fried calamari, generally good for keeping the mouth busy while waiting for the rest of the food to arrive. But these were served just shortly before the rest of the mains did. The calamari here have a soft/soggy batter coating. The ancho dusting was like a dusting of the spice but I didn't quite discern the flavour. The plate came with a salty and garlicky sauce of sorts which turned out to be quite good.

burritos

I didn't realize that their burritos were so large. The word I would used to describe this would be hearty. They were filled with the choice of meat, black beans and cilantro rice. I'm thinking that this may just be the beginnings of me not rejecting cilantro/coriander since the flavour of the in the food here were fairly mild and bearable. In fact, I'm starting to find them quite pleasant. All in all, it was good and as I mentioned earlier, hearty.

tuna enchiladas

The last time I had enchiladas, the skin was softer. This time round, there was more crisp and it did look a little like prata. So more black beans and rice which I'm not complaining about. There's the salty fried black tuna wrapped in the tortilla skins and topped with melted cheese and the tomato/onion things. Pretty damn good and I must say. I enjoyed this.

Crab tang hoon @ Geylang Lorong 37


Heads up, this is pretty good stuff. Located right at the entrance of Lorong 37 of Geylang, this coffeeshop known as Ya Kwang Dai Pai Dong does some pretty damn tasty tang hoon stir fried with their special mix of sauces and stock to produce a very tasty and flavorful dish, accentuated with the flavor of crab. The tang hoon had a springy consistency and was a bit thicker than the usual ones. It was fun slurping them and having them slither down the throat. The place looked to be selling some pretty delicious looking kuay chup right at the front and also had a kitchen at the back where the owner was able to whip up some of his specialty seafood dishes. This crab tang hoon was just one of it. Since we were already there, we decided to try one of this recommended steamed fish head in bean sauce and the kuay chup.


The steamed fish head wasn't too bad. But it was the tasty bean sauce that does most of the trick for the dish imparting the bulk of the flavor. Apart from the commendable freshness, this was basically a regular steamed fish head. Probably isn't something I'll see myself coming back for. I'm not exactly a big fan of fish head unless they're exceptional.


The kuay chup that they served was very enjoyable. The mixed dish came with braised duck, some pork which I thought might have been trotters, braised egg, tau kua, braised intestines, preserved vegetables and fish cakes. I definitely can see myself ordering this again.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New York in Mexican


I've been having a bit of fun exploring Tex Mex food lately. This was something called a New York Steak ($21.99) from Café Iguana. It's from a section which is labelled Tequila Grill which featured lime marinated meats that is finished with a spicy tequila glaze. The steak sat on top of a stick of grilled vegetables that's lying on some sweet poblano scalloped potatoes. It turned out that this steak was the medium rare that I requested. The lime marinate did come through in terms of flavour but I couldn't quite make out what the tequila glaze was. I was pretty glad that those marinads weren't too strong which allowed the flavour of the beef to still be tasted. There was also a decent char on the surface of the meat to ramp up the flavour. Thumbs up here. The faith that I have in this place is building so that means that I will probably come back again.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Café Iguana, Riverside Point

Café Iguana, Riverside Point
I'm beginning to understand why this place (30 Merchant Road, #01-03 Riverside Point) is often crowded. Just like Brewerks down the river, the food was fairly affordable and margaritas are at half price up to 9pm and after 12am. Reservations can only be made up to 7 in the evening. It definitely took me a while to start coming by to this place, but I do see myself returning. In conversation with a new Korean acquaintance, it seemed that the standards of the Mexican Food at Cafe Iguana were quite similar to that in Texas. Albeit with less grease. It was also much cheaper over there of course with their proximity to Mexico. Like in Italian food in Italy, Mexico has cuisine that tends to vary in style depending on which part of the country it comes from. Not being the expert, I can't really pinpoint anything. I guess it's probably enough to be generic of Mexican food. Are there any good or better ones around here?

Café Iguana, quesadillasquesadillas ($2.99)

These quesadillas were pretty cheap and freshly baked. There was a crisp on the tortilla skins which were filled with cheese and mushrooms. This made a good drinking snack.

Café Iguana, chimichangasshredded beef mini chimichangas ($7.99)

The mini chimichangas here come with either shredded chicken or beef for the fillings. The initial impression of them were that they look like cut up Old Chang Kee curry puffs with guacamole and sour cream dips. They also reminded me of the kolkatta shingara which I've had at Mustard down in Little India. Thick crispy and fried skins of flour with fillings. They're not too bad and quite filling.

Café Iguana, camarones al diablocamarones al diablo ($14.99)

Babelfish told me that the name of this camarones al diablo translates to "shrimps to the devil". The devil in the name I presume, came from the sweet spicy sauce. The sauce which the shrimps were sautéed in was supposed to include habanero chile, capsicum, ginger, cumin and lime. Said sauce had a pretty good balance between being sweet and spicy at the same time. Didn't pack a strong heat if you're wondering. On the sides are more...quesadillas. This kinda made the dinner pretty filling with all the flour and cheeses at this point.

Café Iguana, green chile stewgreen chile stew ($12.99)

For $13, this was pretty good main course. I was initially quite skeptical of the coriander that I remember being mentioned in the rice, but it turns out to be alright. Found this nutty tasting stewed pork with rice and beans (which tasted better than they look) to be pretty good and the portions were actually hefty.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Back in Kazu

Kazu Sumiyaki, cabbage
I'm not sure why some of the photos that I take from Kazu tend look worse than usual. Not that it's a deterrence for me from coming back to visit again and again. The menu seen minor changes since the previous visits. No, I'm not referring to the seasonal items that rotate throughout the year. Some of the regular items that are being offered now comes in differently sized portions - which was not available previously. The old prices for those said items are now tagged onto the smaller potions. Some of which, are smaller than the original ones (single size portion available only) that they previously had. That means that while you get to choose larger portions of your favourite items, prices also have gone up. Now that was a bit confusing.

Kazu Sumiyaki, asarishort neck clams cooked in butter

These clams aren't as buttery as those from Sushi Yoshida, but are pretty tasty along with the salty broth filled with golden mushrooms. The portions I felt are a little small.

Kazu Sumiyaki, salmon miltsalmon milt (sperm)

This item seemed to be seasonal on the menu and taste like something I've had before in Chinese mixed fish soups. The pinkish appearance on the exposed sections indicated that it was not fully cooked. The texture of the salmon milt is akin to a harder tofu. I couldn't taste much of it when eaten with the ponzu sauce and spicy grated radish.

Kazu Sumiyaki, foie grasfoie gras

Kazu Sumiyaki, tororo ringofatty pork with apple

I'm not sure if there is a change in the preparation of this pork with apple but I they did come with some apple sauce the first couple of times I had them here. Those were definitely much better than these ones without.

Kazu Sumiyaki, prawns scallops baconprawn and scallop wrapped with bacon strips

Kazu Sumiyaki, shimeiji pork bellyshimeji mushroom in pork belly

Kazu Sumiyaki, hatsuchicken hearts

Kazu Sumiyaki, lamb chopslamb chops

Kazu Sumiyaki, beef cheesebeef and cheese roll

Kazu Sumiyaki, squid ink ricesquid ink rice

The squid ink rice was quite heftily priced at $20 for a small pot. A pot of it has enough to fill 2 bowls so you can do the math on how much it costed per bowl. The squid ink flavour was very apparent in the rice which also had some mushrooms, vegetables and bits of squid. It wasn't bad, just another one of those items that wasn't spectacular.

Kazu Sumiyaki, whale tonguegrilled whale tongue

This grilled whale tongue was from the seasonal menu. Womething I probably will not be ordering again. The taste was not bad. Just unremarkable. The meat has a fatty texture much like satay but the fatty portions was tough and chewy instead of soft. In fact, it was chewier than the beef tongue.

Kazu Sumiyaki, sweet potatojapanese sweet potato

These Japanese sweet potato takes time to grill, so it's good to have them ordered early. Hot and buttered, these will make you hot and bothered. Lol.

Kazu Sumiyaki, gyutangrilled beef tongue

Kazu Sumiyaki, tiramisuKazu's tiramisu

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Cha Cha Cha, Holland Village

Cha Cha Cha, Holland Village
I've been hearing good things from various friends about this Mexican restaurant located just across the road from Wala Wala and next door to competitor El Patio. Cha Cha Cha (32 Lorong Mambong) did have a healthy crowd going for it even on weeknights. Thought the food was not bad. The portions were a bit small for the price they charged. One main course isn't going to do the job. Even for this combinados (if I remember correctly) item which allowed you to pick a duo of either a enchilada, taco (soft or hard) and a fajita. I found the ground beef for the soft taco to be quite measly. The rest of the fillings were just a bit of cheese and vegetables. Still the food went down pretty fast and it was satisfying to say the least. I'm still getting the hang of the names of Mexican food here. Think I'd probably be an enchilada person. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Z'en, UE Square

Z'en, UE Square
I thought that this place (UE Square #01-75) has potential,  like its sister establishment En just around the block. The biggest gripe I had was the air conditioning. Lol. It needs to be turned up. That aside, this modern Japanese bar and restaurant was better than I had imagined. That came from their surprisingly firm and fresh swordfish and yellowtail sashimi which turned out better than I thought. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of those. The service staff were observant and courteous.

Z'en, pumpkin butterpumpkin cooked in butter ($8)

This was just described as pumpkin that is cooked in butter on the menu. They tasted like they were steamed before frying lightly. There was a hint of butter on the surface of the pumpkin, but I thought it would have been much better if there were a lot more butter. Reminded me of the sweet potato with butter from Kazu. Almost.

Z'en, asparagus bleu cheesegrilled asparagus in bleu cheese dressing ($12)

The grilled asparagus were just regular grilled asparagus. The bleu cheese dressing was what made me decide to try this. Came with of bread which one can use mop up the excess blue cheese sauce. The sauce didn't taste as strong as the actual cheese, so I think it might be palatable for people who don't do blue cheese. YMMV though.

Z'en, maguro carpacciomaguro carpaccio ($16)

The presentation looked quite fancy for tuna carpaccio. Like En's maguro tataki salad, the carpaccios here were sliced thicker than I expected. Probably the way Japanese interpret theirs. It's the same way at Ma Maison with their scallop version. This carpaccio was served a little over cooked. On top of that (pun intended), the baked garlic chips contended with the puny slices of fish in the ponzu resulting in a flavour and texture that wasn't quite carpaccio like. I wouldn't say that this tasted bad, it's probably overdone in some areas.

Z'en, squidgrilled squid ($11)

Decent grilled squid here, however was lacking in the char which I enjoy. The only charred parts were the tentacles which made them the tastiest parts.

Z'en, unagi chahanunagi chahan ($15)

This unagi fried rice was served in ia bamboo "trough" container. There was little salt in the rice. Did not look like it had much ingredients beside the unagi that were already prepared in teriyaki sauce. Despite how it looked, the portions weren't huge and can be easily finished by a single person.

Z'en, sirloin steaksirloin steak seared rare in ponzu sauce ($30)

The need for something meaty prompted me to order this and at $30, it wasn't cheap. I wasn't expecting much gor the sliced steaks, but it turned out pretty damned good. There was proper searing done on the surface leaving the inside succulent medium rare. The ponzu sauce didn't overpower the flavour of the beef which was filled with yummy fats. This was quite a pleasant surprise. Would order again if I came back.

On the whole, this was a pretty good experience at Z'en. A re-visit in the future would not be out of the question.