Friday, March 28, 2008

Kamakura Nihon Ryori, Circular Road

The truth be told, this is one of those Japanese places (83 Circular Road, tel : 6438 0820) that I would normally avoid. But since a couple of other locations we were originally intended upon were packed to the brim and we had to get a quick dinner, having empty seats wins you customers sometimes. On hindsight, Shah Alam just across the road would have cost less and have been more satisfying. Lesson learnt.

I was initially wondering at the taco chahan which I've had my encounter with initially back in Mimigar as one of the identifying items of Okinawan cuisine in the strange hybrid of Japanese and Mexican styles. I ordered it despite a strong apprehension about what it would turn out to be and this would be one of those times when you feel like shooting yourself for not trusting your instincts. Lo and behold, ground beef fried rice at an amazing value of $8.50! I would have been a lot happier paying slightly more than double for twice the portions and a generous portion of crab meat. The strange salvation of the taco cha.......ground beef fried rice came in the from innocuous small bottle of fragrant and spicy La-Yu on the condiment tray which really upped the taste of the miserably portioned rice to lip smacking levels. Sometimes, the it's the small things that we overlook that make a difference. After all, the fate of Middle Earth once rested precariously upon the shoulders of a certain hobbit. I'll probably not return to this place, but I'll definitely stock up on that La-Yu.

The hotate mentaiko ($11.80) didn't really come across to me or anyone at dinner to be filled with mentaiko on the creamy top neither. And honestly, while palatable, I've had much better.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Balsamic mousse cake from Eden Cafe

Dropped by at Eden Cafe for some sweets again, so that means more of the ostrich egg creme brulee and hibiscus cheese filo. But, here's a look at the balsamic mousse cake. Despite the nondescript appearances as a cake this is interestingly quite pleasant with an above subtle aroma of balsamic vinegar in the light creamy mousse that wells up in your tastebuds as you wedge it between your tongue and the roof of your mouth. The chocolate sauce tasted like those from Hershey's squeeze bottles.

New Harbour Cafe and Bar, Tanjong Pagar

While clinging in the dawn of dusk (wtf! lol) slightly past seven on a Thursday evening, New Harbour Cafe (New Harbour Cafe & Bar, 114 Tanjong Pagar Rd, tel : 6226 2657) was brimming with people for drinks and dinner. Was glad reservations were made. I first noticed this place some time back on a couple of occasions when I visited Chen Li Yuan and Buko Nero along the same row of shophouses at Duxton. I then realised that this wasn't the just the regular watering hole that merely served un-nutritious and greasy bar snacks. They too have un-nutritious and greasy proper meals. There's a full menu of food to be had and despite the grazing mention regarding nutrition, it's rather decent food and a stop worth a second look for an evening pitstop.

The edibles here are a mixture of local western (read Hainanese originated western), bar food and  a smattering of local-ish fare. Hell there's even sashimi though I admit to being extremely apprehensive at ordering those in a place like this. One generally does not walk into a place like this looking for food that requires finesse to prepare. Ahem!

New Harbour Cafe and Bar, crispy pork apple saucecrispy pork with apple sauce

New Harbour Cafe and Bar, burgermonster burger

New Harbour Cafe and Bar, grilled squidscumi bakar (grilled squids)

The food's saltish, greasy and makes you want to drink. I thought the crispy pork belly wasn't too bad. I had expected bigger portions and it really wasn't that much despite appearances. The pork belly did come with very crispy skin and wasn't ladened with too much blood curdling fat. Would definitely have appreciated a more generous helping of that apple sauce. We had to ask for extras as it was merely a small dollop for all that pork belly. How does that even work out? The monster burger wasn't close to anywhere as impressive as the name might have implied. It's a basic bar burgers topped with some ham, cheese, sautéed mushrooms and an egg. There was definitely too much fillers in the patty which I didn't like. For the price of $18.50, one would definitely start to make comparisons. Squid was just passable. I definitely expected more char from being grilled instead of being limp, however the "kick in the face" spicy sambal paste and sweet sauce did help. Seriously, watch out for the sambal.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

One Ring to rule them all!!

Apparently, there is also the ring version from the same place!

I couldn't resist...

How to make heads turn...

...truly, not for the faint of heart.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"Never trust a skinny cook"... quipped in good humoured jest by the enterprising and loquacious Clement Ronald Ng, chef and owner of Eden Cafe (54 Club Street, S069431, tel : 6536 1181). It's been quite some time since I've last had his desserts which was back at Helio. Having made aware that he had made a batch of creme brulee with ostrich eggs, I decided to drop by for dinner.

Food at Eden is unsophisticated. Most of the dishes here are of simple design and leans towards being light in flavor. Like the mushroom black pasta. In most cases, black pasta brings forth imageries of squid ink black. Down at this place, the pasta (fettucine) is made in house with toasted black sesame which results in an interestingly textured grey-ish noodle speckled with black bits. Despite the use of toasted black sesame, I found the taste to be quite bland. The pasta is tossed with some fresh sliced button mushrooms and flavored with merely some bits of olives, capers and some sparing sprinkle of powdered parmesan cheese. I honestly think that this dish would be bettered by the use of shaven parmesan. Being a beef kind of guy, I tend to be more discerning when it comes to the associated meat. The brown sauce beef which is of a ribeye cut was a decently medium rare done piece of beef, but definitely wasn't what I would look for in a steak. A marinated beef stew was likewise subdued in flavor, but it being piping hot turned out to be quite the trick for a rainy evening. There was an earl grey milk coffee which was subtly accented by the fragrance of the tea. I personally found the coffee a tad mellow. It's usually thick and milky, or just strong black for me. But let's get to the desserts instead. It's really what I came here for.

Clement has managed to obtain an ostrich egg and has used it to make a small batch of creme brulee. Almost ethereally light and still creamily smooth, this crème brulee doesn't have as eggy a custard as the regular ones. And yes, the flavor of the custard comes from vanilla beans. The sweetness of the custard as explained is from corn extract. Oh, there is usually never added sugar for the desserts. It's all either natural sugars from the ingredients, or already available in them. So I guess in some strange irony, this would be the one naturally sweetened dessert with added sugar for the crispy glazed top.

The other attraction arrived in the form of the hibiscus cheese filo which Clement exclaims has put him up on his minutes of fame on a couple of occasion on television. Back in Helio, I devoured the predecessor which was a strawberry cheese filo. The dessert has apparently transcended from fruit to flower based and it's so good it puts a smile on your face. The fillings of the buttery tasting layered filo pastry are basically a mix of beaten mascarpone cheese and hibiscus. This is something that one has to eat to understand.

The molten chocolate cake here doesn't come hot. In fact it was barely lukewarm, but the cake comes in the form akin to the other molten chocolate cakes. It's soft and lava like. The chocolate wasn't excessively sweet as some which was a good thing for me. However the flavor could have been more robust. As with the previous rendition which was actually a white cake instead of a brown one, these are topped with rum marinated apricots.

These are yoghurt parfaits. I hope I got the name right and I don't remember seeing them on the menu. They tasted like the ice cream yoghurt filled with bits of blueberry and raisins and topped with a dollop of strawberry jam. 

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A beef kebab sandwich from Sultan Kebab

Just a quick one on the beef kebab sandwich ($7.50) from Sultan Kebab (1 Sophia Road, #01-15 Peace Centre, tel : 6338 8750). They're are often sold out pretty quickly and by a late lunchtime, most of that huge skewer in the vertical spit is gone. Managed to snag one today. Encased in a freshly toasted roll, this was beefy flavoured comfort food. The prices seemed to have risen by a little. I only wished that the portions were larger since I still felt like eating after that.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Jade of India, Race Course Road

Brought to us all by the same management that did the vegetarian restaurant Raj down at Syed Alwi (which I happened to have dinner at just the day before by the purest coincidence), Jade of India (172 Race Course Road, #01-01/05 Soho@Farrer, tel : 6341 7656) was the one of several "chindian" restaurants that have been making appearances in the recent years.

boondhi raita

murg gajab ka tikka

gobi manchurian

mutton naan

kashmiri naan

butter marsala paneer

prawn malai curry

saffron & pistachio kulfi


Samar, Bali Lane

I had tried looking up this place sometime late last year when I visited Alaturka and saw that the older premise at Kandahar Street had closed. Stuck upon the doors, was a crude paper sign which read that they have moved to somewhere in the east side. So I was actually taking a stroll down to Cafe Le Caire and was surprised to come across the current location for Samar (17 Bali Lane, tel : 6398 0530). We decided to give these guys a try instead and pend Cafe Le Caire for another time.

I don't know how long has the establishment been located at the current premise in Bali Lane, but the feeling I got was that they hadn't been here for too long. They seemed to be out of several of the items on the menu and the place was quiet. Which made it a sanctum to escape the bustle of being at the outskirts of the city. In fact, in the second storey of the restaurant was a rug strewn area with low coffee tables that one had to enter without footwear. With a couple of shishar smoking customers around and the covered up windows, it looked like some sort of a Middle Eastern opium den. The place had such a getaway feel that we lingered around for more than a couple of hours, rooted to the peacefully atmospheric......albeit slightly musty smelling sanctuary.

The food in this place revolved around the usual styled grilled meats, Arabic flat breads, dips and various caffeine and milk based beverages. They were out of saffron and couscous for today which was a bummer. So we ended up getting a serving of the hummus and a grilled meat platter which I had originally thought to be a large serving meant for two. It turned out that it was probably just good for one hungry person. The hummus had more lemon juice than most but was otherwise quite the norm. It came with freshly made bread which were pretty good. What we liked was the lamb from the meat platter which was tender that when we tried to pick a rib up, the meat promptly slid off the bone. There was also a small potato which seemed to be infused with spices before it got baked resulting in a dull shade of orange-y brown rather than the usual yellow. I'll could come back for the lamb someday.

I was quite taken in with their honey milk drinks. Since they were out of saffron, we grabbed the almond and rose flavoured ones. The former was honey and milk blended with almond. It was a sweet milk which was lightly accented with almond flavour and many sediments at the bottom of the drink. I don't know how these guys did their rose milk, but it didn't look or taste much like bandung. The milk was actually snow white and the rose flavour was much more aromatic.

Service was slow but very polite. These people apparently take their time to prepare the food, but it did feel worthwhile assuming you were in not hurry to eat and leave.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Char shio, shio ba, arh heng peng

I came across Tuck Kee Roasted Meat (#08-17, Golden Mile Food Centre, 4679 Beach Road) stall by chance when I was in the vicinity. This combination of meats is a particular favourite. So there's the roast duck, char siew and roast pork. I'll go with it's not bad. I'd come back again. What I thought distinguished them was the plum flavoured sauce which was more appetizing compared regular brown ones. The char siew was tender and a bit sweeter than I'm used to. No excessive fat under the skin of the roasted duck breast for this one.

Of shrimps and durian

I was looking at the options for a very late breakfast and made an interesting find of a durian chee cheong fan (rice rolls) down at Beach Road in the Golden Mile Food Centre (#01-86). I've read about them sometime back in the past before and it was some store that was mentioned down in Geylang. The chee cheong fans from the store are all made as you order them, so there aren't any pre-fabricated ones lying dry in some heating mediums waiting to be bought. I thought this durian rendition was pretty good with a rather generous filling of durian puree. It wasn't the most fragrant of durian flesh that I've had, but it was decent. It would have been great if the ground peanuts had been more fragrant rather then tasting flat and lacking of any toasted aroma. On the other hand, the shrimp fillings of the second one which I've gotten weren't anything special at all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Portuguese Egg Tarts from Lisboa Bakery

This was a place that I probably wouldn't have visited if not for a fact that a co-worker lives nearby. Lisboa (Blk 642 Bukit Batok Central, #01-150, tel: 6563 5423) is a bakery selling Portuguese-styled confectionery so naturally, egg tarts come to mind.

PET aka Portuguese Egg Tarts

I was given a box of these by said co-worker during tea break one day. The crusts look weak, dry and maybe a bit unappealing while the surface of the egg custard didn't not look as charred. Although their looks were not appealing, I decided to give them a try because the strong egg aroma coming from the tarts weakened my willpower to refuse them.

Did not regret as they tasted quite good. The crusts were not too oily and were crispy at some parts. The egg custard were soft and fragrant, making me want to pop another tart in my mouth after I finished the first. I was hoping that the surface was more charred and the tarts were warm. This was my afternoon salvation nonetheless.

Egg tarts anyone?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Milk tea pudding from Tampopo Deli

I picked this one up from Tampopo Deli (#B1-16, Liang Court Shopping Centre, 177 River Valley Road, tel : 6338 7386) thinking that it might taste of milk tea. I was wrong. The little container of milk turned out to be just as it was. A little container of milk. There wasn't any enchantment in them to magically unlock any hidden flavour in the pudding. Nada.

More breakfasting at Simply Bread

Simply Bread, sandwich
Simply Bread, sandwichFunny how firsts can be quickly succeeded by seconds and before you realise it, the third arrives. Then it becomes what we term as a habit. It was just about a week back that I was mentioning about the rarity of myself doing breakfast and what do you know? I'm up for another one again. Actually enjoying this and am looking forward to another the next weekend. By the way, that was quite an expensive sandwich that you see up there. It costed more than $20. If you haven't yet penetrated the disguise, it's the roast beef sandwich from Simply Bread with 2 sunny side ups, 2 strips of bacon and aged cheddar slices. I was overcharged by about $4.50 already for the sandwich before the add ons and those eggs actually costed $6! To add on, Simply Bread simply didn't have a contactable email address from their website and their staff are apparently unaware at all of any feedback avenue for the company.

Simply Bread, sandwich
The sandwich was verifiably, great. Why wouldn't it be considering that it got stuffed with a generous portion of roast beef topped with eggs dripping with runny yolk/sliced cheddar/bacon and then slathered across with whole grain mustard. Almost unhinged my jaw getting a good large bite. Will be hard pressed to find a better sandwich. For now. Was expensive though The cost did leave a a little bitter aftertaste.

Simply Bread, sausage breakfast

Simply Bread, bacon scrambled eggs rollThe sausage brunch platter which was a varietal of the ham steak version that I had previously. Was pretty good as well. I didn't expect these meaty sausages to be packed so taut in their snappy cases. The first couple of bites were literally bursting with juices. The style of the eggs on the side can be chosen. In the case of omelette, there is also the option for fillings as well. I picked mushroom. There were also rolls with bacon and scrambled eggs which they have over at the counter.  Weren't as good since they was pre-made and left sitting for a while. They never heated those before serving.