Thursday, January 31, 2008

Generic food court beef noodles

The so dubbed Hainanese beef noodle has become ubiquitous everywhere. Meaning almost every food court sees a stall that sells them and I'm sure most people don't really think of them as a Hainanese dish anymore. It's just generic food court beef noodles which uses mass produced ingredients and can be whipped up to serve the masses in short order with relatively little sophistication in the course of preparation. For $4.50 as a set, this beef noodle from the food court at Century Square (2 Tampines Central 5, S529509) was actually something I had little complains about apart from the fact that the sauce was uninspiringly flat and the beef balls tasted of flour fillers. Still, it beat numerous others of a similar kind and the notable thing about this dry beef noodle was that the gravy didn't have the starchy lumps that are commonly in other unnamed places.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Some pizzas from Mondo Mio

Mondo Mio (Riverside View #01-02A, 30 Robertson Quay, S238251, tel:67362503), an Italian restaurant just out of the courtyard at Robertson Quay does a very regular array of the usual Italian stuff. They also provide delivery of their pizzas down to Wine Connection. One can actually request for a menu from Wine Connection as a drinking customer with a phone number to reach Mondo Mio for orders.

Speaking of which, the pizzas were pretty decent. The parma ham and rocket was reasonably tasty and their Mondo Mio flavour which featured prosciutto, mushroom and a very nicely done egg was pretty awesome. The awesome part came mostly from the runny egg. I'm considering a visit for pasta. I spied gnocchi on their menu and their prices looked pretty affordable as Italian places go.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kazu Sumiyaki 2008

Kazu Sumiyaki, Cuppage
Kazu Sumiyaki, CuppageThe reason for this visit to Kazu (5 Koek Road, #04-05 Cuppage Plaza, tel: 6734 2492) apart from the great grills was the attempt to get some more of their seasonal items from their menu for the winter harvest before it goes away soon. Primarily it would be their creamy ankimo (angler fish liver) which I enjoyed. I'm sure a lot been said in this blog about most of the regular items that we tend to order from our previous visits, so the pictures will be doing the majority of the telling. Despite that, I find myself discovering new things every time we visit. One of the discoveries was that the owner and chef was apparently a star of a certain Japanese drama serial before turning his chef skills of 13 years into use in this restaurant. 

What we also noticed from the regular items, was that the fatty pork with apple have gotten larger pieces of apple in the skewers and a more flavourful apple sauce over the top. Which was a good thing. The lamb chops were still as tender, oily and full of flavour from the charcoal grill. Chicken hearts were as chewy and well salted as I remember them and the hot, tender foie gras skewers were still dripping with heart clogging oil. Oh, did I mention too that Kazu also has oysters and they're still filled with briny juices in each bite, sweet potato's as sweet and fragrant and I remembered them with that awesome butter melt and the crunchy prawn and scallops in pork belly that hasn't disappointed yet even once.

Kazu Sumiyaki, uni tofu ikurauni tofu with ikura

Kazu Sumiyaki, ankimoankimo

Kazu Sumiyaki, asparagus pork bellyasparagus in pork belly

Kazu Sumiyaki, kurobutakurobuta pork

Kazu Sumiyaki, avocado pork bellyavocado in pork belly

Kazu Sumiyaki, halibuthalibut

Kazu Sumiyaki, chicken mentaikochicken with mentaiko

Kazu Sumiyaki, hatsuchicken hearts

Kazu Sumiyaki, kawachicken skins

Kazu Sumiyaki, foie grasfoie gras

Kazu Sumiyaki, tororo ringofatty pork with apple

Kazu Sumiyaki, shishamo tempurashishamo tempura

Kazu Sumiyaki, oysters baconoysters in bacon

Kazu Sumiyaki, cheese scallopcheese hotate

Kazu Sumiyaki, lamb choplamb chop

Kazu Sumiyaki, sweet potatosweet potato

Kazu Sumiyaki, wagyutanaustralian wagyu tongue

Kazu Sumiyaki, scallops prawns baconscallop and prawn in bacon

Kazu Sumiyaki, kushiyaki sticks...and finally, the score cup

Some items were apparently new on the menu and the choices are still dizzying. Previously a salmon tofu with ikura has become a uni tofu with ikura. I thought that the salmon rendition was more flavourful in comparison with the current uni version which didn't quite carry the flavour of the sea urchin across. This was especially so when paired up with those ikuras that were firm and bursting with flavour. We also had a tasty avocado wrapped in pork belly that held up pretty good on it's own, some pretty good grilled halibut and chicken skewers with a generous portion of mentaiko. The cheese hotate didn't turn up as cheesy as much as it was creamy and it probably would have been great if it was served hot rather than lukewarm. In spite of their fairly hefty prices, this joint still places the smile of satisfaction on my lips when I leave and that's a good thing.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Moondarra's honey and pistachio cream cheese

I bought these sweet cheese from Marketplace some time back and had almost forgotten about them after leaving them in the fridge. These were flavoured cream cheese and this particular one was pistachio and honey. The flavour was sweet from the honey, however there were very little of the pistachio. The nuts were mostly bits at the base of the cheese. While you could actually tell was that there were bits of the nuts in the cheese, there wasn't pistachio aroma, so I guess it might not have made much of a difference if it were another nut. This was basically a honey scented sweet cream cheese with soft bits of nuts.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

More eats from Isetan....and a crab

Ok, I've been guilty of lurking around Orchard on Saturday again because of the Japanese fairs. And some other appointments that I have in that area. It's the last weekend of this particular fair and I wanted to drop by Isetan for some of the winter goodies before it's over. The only thing I ended up buying was more of the shio ramen. I realized that it's a good idea to go at the end of the fair because that's when stocks have to be cleared and offers get better. The ramen which I had purchased were going at 1 free packet for every 3 that was purchased. Here's lunch and some pre-dinner snacking. Also, I saw a very big crab there. It looks cold, angry and lonely....


After having tried the umaki tamago from Botan, I decided to grab these chilled and takeaway version from the supermarket in Isetan. These were cut in big slices. The toppings were teriyaki unagi encased in tamago and were much larger than the vinegar-ed rice bottom. That made it a challenge to pick them up with chopsticks. Flavours of the eggs and eel were much less compared to the warm and freshly made ones.

You might also have noticed that I liked the otoro sushi quite a bit to be eating them again. The batch from today looked fattier and indeed tasted more flavourful than the ones which I had last week. In fact, I enjoyed them so much that I got a second round of them later in the day. The swordfish sashimi wasn't too bad as well.

Before dinner...

pumpkin croquette

This ice cream was strangely shaped like a jester's cap. The light pink side is actually sakuramochi flavour. There're some chewy bits which was supposed to be the mochi. Of the sakura, I didn't quite detect. The yellow side of the jester's cap is pumpkin. Flavour was more light rather than rich for the pumpkin.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Botan, Far East Square

Until the time I had discovered that Botan (36 Pekin Street, #01-01 Far East Square, tel : 6536 4404) was located at this spot, I had never taken note of what location was I passing through every time I happened by this specific unit in Far East Square. So I hadn't any idea how long this Japanese restaurant has been around. Or if it was another tenant in the prior times I had walked past. Rather innocuous looking joint that's wedged between the more conspicuous Harry's Mirchi and Shin Kushiya, this place is easily overlooked since there was very little apart from a menu stand that reaches the pedestrian path. Since I have discovered it, I've been telling myself to drop by one day to try the food. Now that I've actually tried it, the next thing I'll be wondering to myself would be, when will I come back? Because I'm quite sure I will. Pretty verbose way of saying that I discovered a place and that I liked it eh?

The interior of the restaurant appears simply furnished with little frills. I suppose there is a greater emphasis on the food that is served rather than the upkeep of veneers. Prices here are by no means cheap - but I suppose could be considered fair and affordable.

anko kimo ($7)

Their anko kimo (angler fish liver) here was pretty good though wasn't as creamy nor as chilled as the ones that they serve at Kazu.

mentaiko chazuke ($6)

This was my first chazuke. It didn't quite taste like what I had imagined as a tea based porridge, I found myself quite enjoying this. I'm not sure if the mentaiko or the nori had that much to do with the final flavour of the broth, but it tasted quite like fish soup rather than any sort tea and the heap of toasted sesame seeds added a depth to the fragrance. Imagine Teochew fish porridge without fish slices nor the hint of ginger in the broth.

uni gunkan maki ($12 for 2)

I liked the uni sushi here. The portions of the sea urchins toppings were quite generous. For $6 a pop, it was certainly much more affordable than many other Japanese places. I'll be sure to get more of these the next time I'm back here.

umaki tamago ($8)

These umaki tamago were quite good. They were actually oozing with juices when I tried to pick them up with chopsticks and they are served piping hot. The sweet egg was soft and really just slides down your throat. Packed in the tamago were tender pieces of teriyaki marinated eel. I've been avoiding unagi for ages because they generally don't taste very good to me. These were exceptions. Another something which I am sure go for again.

chirashi bento ($30)

Chirashi bentos are the way to go. Apart from their own brand of aesthetics which I generally find pleasing, it represents what I enjoy about Japanese food. For $30, Botan delivered a rather generous serving of the bento with the usual slices of sashimi and tamago, a dry smoked mackerel, simmered vegetables (a couple of pieces were wrapped in egg yolk!), teriyaki chicken, potato salad ball, 3 pieces of tempura, more unidentified mix of root vegetables/green battered crabsticks/fungus like things, chawanmushi, miso soup and watermelon. The quality of the raw fish slices were actually not bad and there is certainly no complains about the portions. The rice below the raw fish was a medley of sweet from the pink fish floss, brininess from the ebiko, seaweedy-ness from shredded nori and some aroma from sesame seeds.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pancakes from Mr Obanyaki

These Japanese pancakes have been around in some form or another for as long as I can recall. I remember eating them as a kid back in the days when it was Daimaru in Liang Court and a Yaohan in Plaza Singapura. Throughout these years, there has been relatively little changes to these pancakes apart from the fillings. It used to be just red bean paste back in the old days. As the years went by, the fillings have gotten more variety. The same can be said for the standards of the pancakes. Mr Obanyaki, which I thought does pretty decent ones is located at the basement level of Takashimaya. I've been meaning to try their pancakes for some time and finally got to do it. I was also fortunate to get the cheese with kaya and the cheese with blueberry ones while they were still warm.

I guess the pictures themselves will do their own talking and I'll save myself the trouble. They're as good as they look.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

1st attempt at mentaiko pasta

As you might have observed, there wasn't much mentaiko on the pasta. That was because I have grossly underestimate the amount of roe needed. Not to mention, I didn't think that I'll be cooking for 4. Scrapping the eggs out of the sac for the first time turned out to be a messier than I had imagined. The result did turn out to be pretty tasty but I wouldn't call it a success since the main ingredient for the sauce which is the spicy roe could barely be tasted. The ingredients used were modified from a relatively well known blog. The main reason for the deviation was because I couldn't get my hands on some of the items on time and other recipes did suggest other viable alternatives which was obtainable at the said time of cooking. The steps for making the sauce stayed pretty much like the original recipe which I had derived from. Basically, it's a frying of the onions in butter, addition of soy sauce and sake for the reduction before adding the cream and the mentaiko.

The ingredients if anyone is interested are
  • 250g angelhair pasta
  • a chunk of butter (I used SCS)
  • one whole yellow onion, diced
  • 10 soup spoonful of sake
  • 5 soup spoonful of cream (mine was President)
  • 1 sac of mentaiko (I think 3 would have been better)
  • shredded nori
There wasn't any chicken stock readily available so I had substituted that with Japanese soy sauce. It was the closest thing to chicken stock that I could find at home. If anyone has a good method of removing the roe from the sac, please let me know how. Comments and suggestions are welcomed as well.