Thursday, May 29, 2008

Bombay Woodlands Restaurant, Tanglin Shopping Centre

This quiet little restaurant (19 Tanglin Road, #B1-12 Tanglin Shopping Centre, tel: 6836 6961) at the basement of Tanglin Shopping Centre turned out to be pretty promising. In spite the fairly small selection on the menu and prices being a little high because they're located in town, I'm not adversed to coming back.

I enjoyed the paneer chat which was essentially paneer pakora (cottage cheese fried in chick pea batter) tossed with chopped onions, tomatoes along with a blanket of sev. The chaat was then mixed with the yoghurt mint gravy and some chutney. The pakora retained some chewiness. Better than the ones at Mustard.

There was a rava idli which I thought was pretty good as well. Especially awesome with the piping hot sambar and coconut chutney. We were intrigued by a rice dish named bisi bella bath. Turned out to be a pretty tasty porridge that was flavoured like sambar. Hot and just the thing for a rainy afternoon. I also like the papads here. Thin, crispy and greasy.

Unfortunately, the masala tea wasn't up to scratch. But I would come back just for the food.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Komala's Restaurant, Serangoon Road

Woah, this place (330-332 Serangoon Road, tel: 6299 4464) felt like a fast food restaurant with air conditioning that can barely be felt. Indian vegetarian fast food restaurant to be precise. One makes an order from the counter, pays the cashier and gets a chit which is subsequently used to collect the order at another service counter. I've walked past their outlets on various occasions before but this was the first time I'm actually eating here. We ordered a masala dosai meal and a North Indian rice meal.

The dosai didn't taste that freshly made. It wasn't crispy at the edges and not warm. Idli on the side was a little saltier than I had expected. The vadai was dense but soft and I thought it pretty good. The accompanying chutneys weren't too bad.

Their North India rice meal wasn't as good as the one at Komala Vilas. It came with some chewy naan and a gulab jamun which was milky tasting and quite good. I normally avoid them because of their excessive sweetness. There was curried cauliflower, some raita and a paneer butter masala which wasn't as great. Another weird thing. There were croutons in the rice. Where did those come from??

All in all, despite the fast food appearance it wasn't bad. But I know there must be better options in the vicinity.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sri Kamala Vilas Restaurant, Buffalo Road

This was a good recommendation by a friend. Though I'm often around the vicinity of Little India these recent times, I haven't heard of or seen Sri Kamala Vilas (Blk 662 Buffalo Road, #01-16, tel: 6291 1164) until today. But I guess with the little corners around the blocks, many locations are easily overlooked. This was Indian Muslim coffee shop at the foot of the housing block just beside Tekka Market.

Their briyani was pretty damn good. The portions of their fragrant rice was huge and the meats were tender for both the chicken and the mutton variety. In fact, I thought the mutton was exceptionally good. Tender pieces of flavourful sheep drenched in a compelling nutty curry. This pairing was definitely lethal. I noticed that the chicken briyani had the meat plopped on top of the mountain of rice while the mutton was served in a separate dish. The only disappointment was the masala tea which was overwhelming with the taste star anise. The brew tasted rather diluted as well. I'm definitely coming back again someday to try something else.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Of hot vanilla, smoked egg and star anise...

rou cuo fan
In spite of having visited Lai Lai a few times, I've never noticed that they have rou cuo fan (minced meat with rice) because I've always been caught up with their beef noodles and lu rou fan. That and those delicious braised pig intestines which I haven't been able to find better elsewhere. Yet. Compariing with the lu rou fan, this one didn't work out as well for me because of the star anise flavour. Not saying that it wasn't good but I would preferred it if the spice didn't taste as strong. If I'm ever getting this rice bowl again, Peng Lai Ge would be the better option.

There're a couple of other things that we've picked which I've never tried before. One was a smoked egg which to my surprise, arrived chilled. I thought it was quite delicious despite it not being very smoky tasting at all. Pretty sure what contributed to my positive reaction to it was the runny yolk. The other item was a foamy warm vanilla milk which I thought was a little too sweet. Could have been pretty good if it was served hotter and a lot less sweet.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sofra, Shaw Towers

Sofra (100 Beach Road, #02-42 Shaw Towers, tel: 6291 1433) turned out to be a little disappointing. The food portions were pretty small, didn't taste that good and their service was irritatingly slow. For a restaurant that has been around for years, I was expecting something that justified their existence.

One of the peeves I had with Sofra was that bread wasn't topped up and was separately chargeable. It also had to be ordered separately even if one had gotten their mezze.

There was a oddly named dish, sultan kebap which was some sort of grilled lamb with a potato and cheese gratin on the sides. The dish looked like it had been baked in an oven. The mashed potato underneath the melted mozzarella cheese tasted very earthy. It was otherwise pretty much like how it looked. The chef platter which was a mixed grill plate of meats that tasted pretty ordinary as well. The sad thing was, I thought that the bread from the platter was actually the best tasting item. Everything felt rather uninspired and I don't think I'm returning. There're better mixed kebabs elsewhere.

Komala Vilas, Serangoon Road

Komala Vilas, thali
Wow to the food here! It's been a long time since I've eaten at Komala Vilas (76/78 Serangoon Road, S 217981, tel: 6293 6980). The last time was a vague recollection of dosai and tea in metal cups probably 13 years back. Since then, I've passed by this shop on numerous occasions on my way to Chellas haven't walked in until now.

This pretty famous Indian restaurant which has been around before 1950 whips up volumes of South Indian vegetarian food like rice based meals, snacks like dosai, chapati, battura, idlis and vadai for the consistently large crowd that come in daily. The thali (South Indian rice meal) which came with soft, fluffy and steaming rice was mouth watering good. I thought that the rice (which comes with an array of condiments) was so good, you could eat it on its own. But you don't because there's a bunch of other accompaniment like thairu (yoghurt), spicy pickles or the huge bucket of sambar which the servers walk around with. Rice meals here are all you can eat . One can always request for more rice and vegetables.

There was also a Bombay Thali (also known as the vegetarian briyani on the menu) which was served on a steel tray. That came with saffron infused rice and an additional piece of chapati. I'm not familiar with all the names of the vegetable sides here but they were all tasty.

Komala Vilas, Bombay thali

Thursday, May 22, 2008

El Sheikh Restaurant, Pahang Street

I've noticed this place (18 Pahang Street, tel: 6296 9116) from quite a long while back. We happened to be roaming around the vicinity, came upon the restaurant and decided to check them out. The place sold itself as Lebanese, but it was also a little bit of generic western as well? Like penne arrabiata or crinkle cut fries in the menu? But then again, I haven't been to Lebanon, so what do I know?

The food were a few hits and misses. But I guess there were more hits than misses. Service however, was very spotty with very disinterested looking waitresses who didn't even know what's in the menu.

We started off with a couple of warm appetizers which was a hummus with lamb and chicken liver with mollasses.

I was quite taken in by the lamb and hummus. The creamy chick pea puree was enjoyable despite the lack of lemon and garlic. There were some toasted cashews and pistachios scattered sparingly on it, but those didn't taste freshly toasted. Also, I found it a little strange that the flat bread came wrapped in plastic instead of being freshly made. The chicken livers were also pretty good. Good like I wouldn't mind eating them again. There was something in them that made them tangy.

That's the 1/2 kilogram mixed kebab platter which the waitress insisted, consists of only lamb. But the truth was that we got a couple of chicken and lamb shish kebabs, a couple of lamb chops, and chunks of grilled chicken and beef. They were okay. The accompanying spiced rice was pretty good though.

What caught my interest was, this place actually serves a whole lamb/goat for $400. Hmmmm....goat party!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I know a secret down in uncle Tom's Palette......

Some of you might recognize where the title of this entry comes from. If you didn't, nevermind. It's really not important. Lol.

I've been down to Tom's Palette (100 Beach Road, #01-25 Shaw Leisure Gallery, tel: 6296 5239) two evenings in a row to check out their ice cream which turned out to be pretty good. There's a bunch of interesting flavors like lavender and tangy basil which reminds me of shampoo and cheap tomato pasta sauce. Lol. But honestly, some of the flavors are pretty good. I managed to try a couple of their creations like horlicks and hazelnut (separate flavors) which turned out for both to be pretty awesome in terms of their respective flavors. What that means is that the taste is pretty robust. There was also a chocolate stout and apple pie on the second visit. The former was an average chocolate with a hint of stout. Duh! The latter was a creamy one with bits of soft apple bolstered with crumbles. I wouldn't go as far as to label them orgasmic. Not even close, but they were pretty good. In fact, these guys could be just a notch ahead of Island Creamery.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

From Tetsuya, with compliments....

I bought this jar of truffle salsa ($28) some time back from Culina and had fiddled with making food with them a couple of times. The salsa turned out to be pretty versatile and a tasty condiment. For someone who doesn't know much about cooking that is. It simply just works. Lol.

The first attempt at using Tetsuya's Truffle Salsa was the flavouring for pasta. One of the weekend lunches I made at home with ham steak and Gordon Ramsay's scrambled egg recipe, sans the chives. You can check out the link to see how the eggs were done. Not going to talk about them here. The cooked pasta was simply tossed with a couple of generous tea spoonfuls of the truffle salsa along with butter. That was all. Because there was just butter to grease the noodles, most of the taste will come from the salsa itself. That meant, mostly truffle flavour. Safe and easy to make. Take it from a person who doesn't do real cooking. If I can, so can you.

Pizza is one of those stuff that I do at home especially when the sun is particularly discouraging at my attempts to go outdoors. As some of you might already know, I like using Dr Oetker's and have been experimenting with a bunch of add ons with their frozen pizza ranging from seven cheeses to strawberries and ham.

I've decided to add the truffle salsa and see what I could come up with. Since this was by me for me, I was much more generous with the truffle than any other pizza shop out there. I got one of Dr Oetker's mozzarella ones and scraped some of the salsa over the top. After that, some grated parmesan and more mozzarella and an egg. And then, into the oven it went. I kinda like how it turned out. This was definitely much more heady with truffle flavour than any other pizza that I've had outside.

Ruby Poh Piah, Whampoa Food Centre

I had read that the poh piah from this stall (#01-53, Whampoa Drive Blk 90). That they were generous with the ingredients used for their stuffings. Tried it, I didn't think much of it at all. Found them pretty unexceptional. There wasn't any garlic. Beside the boiled turnip, the portions of the rest of the fillings were measly. I'm sure I can easily find elsewhere that makes better. Made one wonder if the reason for it being around for so long is only because it is the only poh piah stall in this food centre.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

When Angels!

"It is said that a man should be wary of weeping angels, for wherever their teardrops fall, men drown."

Descent of Angels, Mitchel Scanlon

I await. Even though it's probably a very long wait.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Unagi bento lunch set from Matsuo

Because of the recent craving for unagi, I had made it a point to visit Matsuo Sushi for lunch at least once on a Tuesday, because their daily $15 lunch on that day features a unagi bento. I must have had excessive dreams of fatty oily eel in my head because the eel didn't quite turn out as fatty as I hoped it to be, but then again, I might have been rather unrealistic imagining them. It was however a better unagi than the deluxe hitsumabushi at Wakashachiya. I detect a slightly more fatty texture beneath the grilled skin of the eel. Does anyone know which place serves good unagi?

There was a little portion of sake (salmon) sashimi for the lunch set which turned out to be pretty good. The sliced salmon was oily that it left globules of their oil on the shoyu dip. And today's miso soup featured a prawn's head!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Porta Porta, Stanley Street

Porta Porta
This sure took a long time. I've been caught up with wizards and snipers and centuries old alchemist being chased by the original 007 of Her Majesty's service that this entry was neglected. But I digress. Dinner at Porta Porta was a "sea catch" set ($40.50) and a couple of pasta and rice from the a la carte menu.

Porta Porta, bread tapanade
Porta Porta, bruschettaPorta Porta at Stanley Street (5 Stanley Street, tel : 6222 7461) turned out to be a slightly different experience than the one at Upper Changi. Mostly because I thought the food was a notch up at the Changi location. This was obvious especially for their still excellent prawn cream penne and their fish soup. But in spite of being lesser in flavour, the food was still enjoyable. Definitely room for improvement with the doneness of the pasta but I'm not complaining.

In spite of the differences, food here was generally good. Almost everything was bursting with flavour. From the fragrant aromas of garlic and tangy vinegar in the tomato bruchetta (this was really awesome by the way) to the richly flavoured fish bruchetta to the olive tapanade for the bread and the gravies that were used......every edible item with sauce sang.

Porta Porta, prawn cream penne
Porta Porta, seafood risotto
The seafood risotto wasn't bad, but became one dimensional after a while.

The sea catch set I had mentioned earlier consisted of a fish (or baby squid) soup, bruchetta, squid ink ravioli with crab meat (or a vongole pasta), a calamari & prawn secondi followed by desserts. The ravioli was properly done and like everything else, flavoursome with the sauce. The tissue thin batter for the fried seafood wasn't as thin as the ones from the Changi outlet. Still, for anyone who's been to Tenshin and think that those tempura masters do the lightest and thinnest batter around - you haven't had the calamari here yet.

Porta Porta, squid ink ravioliPorta Porta, fritto misto
There was quite a lot of espresso flavour in their tiramisu. The rest wasn't much to write home about. We're pretty sure we'll be back again for their pasta.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Breakfast from Leo's Espresso Bar

There seems to be quite a few coffee places popping up lately. Leo's Espresso Bar was one (Leo's Espresso Bar, 1 Raffles Place. B1-03D, OUB Centre, tel : 6533 6853) of those. I heard that these guys did brisk business. Unfortunately, I like my coffee fragrant and strong and the ones here didn't quite make that cut. Even with an extra shot, their cappuccino didn't pack the oomph that I was looking for. But for a nice shop that places house/dance music early morning serving breakfast and coffee at $8, this wasn't too expensive. Still, I would have preferred the bacon to be more browned instead of limp. Their minuscular kitchen area didn't look like it could handle anything more complex than what I've had and waiting time looked to be a bitch if it got crowded. I happened to have wandered in the vicinity of Boon Tat Street and Amoy Street recently and saw another outlet there at Telok Ayer too.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Chocolate chilli anchovy pasta from Eden Cafe

Previously, this item used to be a lunch menu option. I see that it has now made the main menu and probably will be there until it gets swapped out for the next rotation (meaning no one likes this much) or stay there as a permanent repertoire of Eden Cafe's Menu. This wasn't bad at all considering the combination of flavours that was in this dish. There's saltiness from anchovies, sour from the olives, spicy from the chilli and of course, the chocolate which wasn't really sweet. The taste from the chocolate was pretty subtle. It could be detected but wasn't close to overwhelming anything. 

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice, Balestier Road

Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice, Balestier Road
Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice, Balestier RoadTalk about bragging rights, Loy Kee (342 Balestier Road, S329774, tel : 62521115) actually has a store that says 'best'. That's a claim to fame that's hard to make considering that there're countless chicken rice shops out there and quite a number of them are pretty good. To be fair, I agreed that the greasy rice from their shop was a notch above many. The grains were was quite soft coupled with the eminent aroma of chicken and garlic. It's good enough to be eaten without the chilli but that being said, the tangy spicy chilli was also enjoyable as well.

The key difference with the roasted chicken from Loy Kee with multitudes of others was that the chicken here were actually roasted. Lol. The usual roasted chicken are actually fried.

Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice, Balestier RoadLoy Kee Best Chicken Rice, Balestier RoadLoy Kee Best Chicken Rice, Balestier RoadLoy Kee Best Chicken Rice, Balestier Road
On the whole, it was quite decent, but the portions a little small for what they charged. I don't think I'll go out of the way just to eat these. There is also a better value for money option in the vicinity.