Monday, June 30, 2008

The Lord of Terror returns!

[fanboy mode]ZOMG!! Blizzard is releasing Diablo 3!!! [/fanboy mode]

I was thrillingly and unexpectedly usurped by this piece of news, strangely, on Camemberu's blog. Seriously, I haven't been so excited in a while. Having been entrenched deep in the predecessors, I admit to being a huge fan of the game and have wasted countless hours into the ungodly hours of the night button mashing my mouse to death and risking permanent injury to my wrists for it. This is something to look forward to apart from eating, lol! Oh, for those of you initiated Diablolites, remember the theme song at Tristram? It's gotten loads sexier.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Comically Lovecraftian

One of the curious sights that I was greeted with as I walked into this Hokkaido Fair at Isetan was a half man, half scallop in the midst of the bustling crowd promoting the dried and seasoned scallops that was one of the signature items of the fair. After numerous attendance, the boil of enthusiasm has somewhat simmered down for me. The offerings have somewhat become quite expected and very little is new. There's still a thing that they have against photography during the fair itself but "scallopman" obliged for a couple of shots.

Here's more of some of the stuff/loot I managed this time round.

Hotate pachi balls which had whole small scallops in them. These are better made than the usual ones that you find in outside. They're actually creamier and I find that scallions is a much tastier topping compared to bonito flakes.

A Hokkaido curry bun. Just as you may surmise, it's a breaded bun filled with curry.

There you go.

I forgot what these are called, but they're like Japanese pancakes and this one has a creamy custard filling in it. It's actually pretty good when you eat them hot.

As usual, some economically priced otoro from the sushi section. They tend to be better when there are Japanese fairs about. The usual ones that come up normally don't deserve to be called otoro.

These are sliced katsuo. I don't remember having had them before and the taste was a little fishy.

Ikura and sake sushis. As with the otoro, the salmon and their eggs seems better during the fairs.

This egg was from the croquette store. I got one of them because they reminded me of scotch eggs and true enough, the wrappings surrounding the egg were minced meat. They're so very tasty...

My favourite squido rice.

These otaru sweet potato are regular Japanese sweet potatoes that have been halved. The insides are scraped out to be mashed with custard leaving the the skin with some of the flesh behind like a shell. The shell is then filled with some custard and then topped over with the sweet potato and custard mixture. After that, baked. They're supposed to be eaten chilled and if you know of Japanese sweet potatoes, it's nothing surprising in terms of taste. They're quite good.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bishan 504 Boneless Chicken Rice

I had heard that this chicken rice shop wasn't too bad.

In retrospect, they were a bit pricey and it wasn't impressive to boot. Rice was quite bland, lacking in chicken oil and garlic. The chilli sauce was decently spicy (this was sadly the best item of it all) and was put into good use because of the rice. Their roast chicken lacked that "roasted fragrance". Chicken skin felt limp and was it felt like eating brown steamed chicken. 

Was surprised that bean sprouts came cold instead of hot which made me assume that it has been blanched before and left for serving rather then cooked upon order. There was a generous smothering of pepper on the said bean sprouts but no much flavour from the pepper. Brings to question the quality of their ingredients.

Needless to say, I won't be returning.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Menya Shinchan Japanese Noodle Restaurant, Robertson Quay

I've noticed this place (30 Robertson Quay, #01-05 Riverside View, tel: 6732 0114) for quite a while already. I've never really paid it much attention beyond noticing as it's wedged at the back, behind Ryoriya Sangokushi and out of sight often meant out of mind. Until the mentioning by a couple of friends, I probably wouldn't have recalled this ramen place with a name that reminded me of Crayon Shinchan. Lol.

Names aside, the shop created quite an impression due to an incident that I will not mention. Suffice it is to say that the owner belonged to the type who took pride in his food. Which kinda goes along with what is explained of the history of this place that is set up by a Japanese guy living here who likes ramen.

This was something that one probably doesn't see often in our ramen shops called mazesoba. It's essentially a bowl of dry (non soup based) ramen heaped with fried shallots, some toasted and crispy noodle bits, crunchy pieces of cabbages, bean sprouts, shredded pork and sliced pork. Interestingly, there was a also a dollop of mayo and a slice of cheese. I tried this because it didn't look like any other ramen. The presence of cheese helped in that decision too even though it was just of the regular sliced variety. As it turned out, this is pretty damn tasty. There was a nuttish and mildly spicy gravy at the bottom.

The noodle that was used was much thicker than usual and there was an option to choose between soft and hard noodles which was determined by how long the noodles were cooked. This, I really appreciate since I felt that most ramen were too soft. The thicker noodles here were quite firm and I thought it wasn't bad at all. The yolk of those eggs that you see are amazingly soft in spite of their non runny appearances. The sliced pork? Very tender indeed.

There were a couple of options for the strength of the ramen broth here. The choice between rich or thin flavour. The base of the broth included seafood, shio, shoyu and miso. The seafood broth as they explained had sardines in the soup base but I thought it tasted like dried anchovy (ikan bilis). 

Exercised the hard noodle option and the al dente like texture was very agreeable with me. I spied a large bowl of their signature sinjiro ramen sitting in the front of another diner. Something tells me I'll be back to try some of that.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Scones on parade

These were some parmesan/cheddar cheese scones in their virgin incarnations. That meant that they've been baked for the first time by 2 bumbling chef wannabes. It turned out pretty good for a first attempt. In fact, I like them much better than the one that I tried at Sun Moulin which while was more of a traditional scone in terms of texture and hardness, lacked the cheese flavour. The benefit of making them oneself is that you can definitely tailor the ingredients to your preferences.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hmmmm....yum yum!

Hog's Breath prime rib
What else hasn't been said by me?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Xing Wang Hong Kong Cafe, Anchorpoint

In general, I'm not big on Hong Kong cafes. Not big on their type of food. Not big with the perceived lack of effort in their food preparation. Not big on what they offer. There are a whole lot of them around making them feel like clones of each other. I've eaten couple of times and haven't thought much of the food. Most of them cannot even do a decent luncheon meat and egg noodle. 

This place (370 Alexandra Road, #01-07/08 Anchorpoint, tel: 6474 4498) came by recommendation of a friend who mentioned a good French toast. Needless to say, I was initially rather skeptical about French toasts in such a place, but it turned out to be a good call after all.

French toast arrived with a generous amount of honey drizzled over. This was actually coated with a visible layer of egg. It definitely tasted eggy and request for extra butter and honey was met with a generous response. The staff was also polite to the point that I almost felt that it was a strange thing. I'm picking up good vibes here and I'm encouraged to re-visit.

One of the pleasant surprises here was also the pork rib bee hoon which was again, much better than what I thought I could be getting. I'm not sure if the ribs were of the canned variety, but it was soft and slid off the bone with ease. Not to mention that the bee hoon was flavourful and moist.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Weekend roast at Molly Malone's

Well, it seems that Molly Malone's does a weekend roast which rotates between beef, lamb, chicken and pork for $25 with accompanying soup. It turned out to be a little disappointing for the portions and the taste wasn't too impressive neither. I didn't think very much at all of the thinly sliced roast in pepper sauce and it has got one of the saddest looking (and tasting) Yorkshire pudding I've ever come across. Looking quite shriveled. Here's a first and a last time for that matter. Stick to the regular items from the menu. They're much better.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Another lunch at Paulaners...

This pork loin stuff from the a la carte menu at Paulaners Bräuhaus (9 Raffles Boulevard, #01-01 Millenia Walk, tel: 6883 2572) was pretty good. Well, it was just a tasty piece of salted pork loin on the bone, but in medium well doneness.  Must have helped in preserving the juices in the meat. I'm not too sure why is there a frankfurter in there though. I guess with all the salt in the cooking, the sauerkraut helped take some edge off. The starter of the boiled asparagus and air dried ham on rosti turned out to be pretty tasty as well, especially with the thick creamy mushroom sauce. That sauce was magic!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Riverside Indonesian grilled squid rice

Here's a grilled squid rice from the Riverside Indonesian BBQ store at the Kopitiam at Plaza Singapura. I've some mixed feelings about it. It was on one hand pretty darn good with the mouth watering sweet dark sauce and the coconut ladened curry sauce on the soft steaming rice. It tastes just like the chicken curry served at the restaurant down at Riverside Point. What I didn't like was that the squid had been so hastily grilled that there was barely any char fragrance. The squids done at the mentioned restaurant were grilled to much better standards. And that curry was only a little ladleful.

So I can't decide if this was a good thing or not, but I guess I wouldn't mind having it again and I'll be sure to ask for an extra ladleful of the curry if I do.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Shish Mahal, Albert Court

Beside the ill fated attempt at findg Gorkha Grill some months back (does it even exist anymore anyone?), Shish Mahal (180 Albert Street, #01-20 Albert Court, tel: 6837 3480) was our second foray into Nepalese food. To be more precise, this place does both Indian and Nepalese. We weren't too impressed with the chicken momo which was in many ways like Chinese xiao long bao.

We had an order of the garlic prawns which weren't sure was Indian or Nepalese. The prawns were quite crunchy and de-shelled (yay!). Their starchy sauce was unremarkable and the garlic flavour fell short of what I expected from garlic prawns. Definitely had a much better rendition at Mango Tree.

There wasn't much to comment about their tandoori chicken (which was quite tender), the boti kebab (some chewy lamb heavily marinated in a tandoori paste that left nothing of the meat's original flavour) or the chewy cheese naan. I don't think we'll be coming back though.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Mini sliders from Barracks

This was my second visit to Barracks (8D Dempsey Road, #01-01 to 06 Tanglin Village, tel: 6475 7787 / 6479 9212) and I have returned (mostly) for their sliders ($22). During the previous visit, I had a foie gras ravioli soup which turned out quite disappointing with a single wanton like ravioli that didn't taste like it had any foie gras inside. But that's not what this was about; it's the sliders that took centrestage for this time. These tiny burgers were delicious. Small, thick and hearty patties with a choice of toppings along with the sides of truffle oiled fries and sugared sweet potato nibbles.

I like beef and burgers and generally tend to pick on the quality of the patties and the doneness. No measureable yardstick except my gut. I liked these sliders enough that I didn't even think to pick on the well doneness of the meat. Still tasted good. Perhaps, the blue cheese and bacon topping needed a bit of improvement. That blue cheese which was more creamy than pungent. No complains for the subtly accented truffle aioli which kept the beefiness of the patty intact along with a light buttery truffle flavour. Great stuff. I'm definitely coming another time.

Barracks does have a bunch of cakes that one doesn't often see in run of the mill cafes and confectionery. They're however, not always as interesting as they're described. Specifically the zucchini chocolate which really didn't taste like it had shredded zucchini. There was an apple cider and butterscotch cake which wasn't too bad. The hot butterscotch was what made it good and there's really nothing of apple cider in the taste if you're looking for that.

I recommend coming for the sliders and truffled fries.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Waffletown, Balmoral Plaza

Waffletown (#01-02 Balmoral Plaza, 271 Bukit Timah Road, tel : 6836 6536) definitely looked old school as an establishment with barely discernible air conditioning. It reminded me of fast food restaurant from a couple of decades back with a service person at the counter taking orders just a couple of meters from the kitchen crew, yet using a microphone to get the orders processed. The food was well.....ordinary. As greasy fried chickens went. We don't have much doing fried chicken beside KFC and I thought it would be interesting to see what they're about.

There wasn't anything good enough to warrant another visit. The small meat patties from the burger with cold buns taste like the frozen variety made with an unidentifiable meat substance which is something that I don't normally like about burgers. Even McDonalds is better if you're talking about taste. The waffles were rather ordinary as well and they charge for extra maple syrup and butter. Oh well. Now I know.

Creperie des Art, Prinsep Place

I thought the crepes here (44 Prinsep Street, #01-02/02 Prinsep Place, tel: 6333 5330) weren't too bad and would have been better if they weren't so pricey. But of course, I'm no expert on crepes and haven't had any from France, so I wouldn't be able to make comparisons. Actually, the crepe does kinda reminds me of the crispy edges of dosai. It's not the same of course, but I wouldn't say that I cannot draw parallels. Interestingly, there was some French apple cider which they served in a mug instead of the usual glasses. I wonder why is that.

saint caradec

trois vallees

complete du pays

crepe suezette

A starting salad of creamy goat cheese on toast and mesclun was pretty decent, but unexceptional. Of the few crepes that I managed to try on this first visit, the ones that were noteworthy were the galette saint caradec (creamy leeks and scallop) and the trois vallees (Rebl0chon, Rocquefort and goat cheese). The former had creamed leeks that were sweet along with sweetish and savoury scallops while the latter packed a decent punch with the tripartite of pungent cheeses. I didn't really like the crepe suezette which reeked quite strongly of the alcohol and it didn't help much that the pear sorbet tasted very much like the Grand Marnier used for the flambe. Haven't had crepe suezettes apart from the delicious one from Lawry's but this lacked the cream or butter which I was looking forward to.

I probably wouldn't mind try some of the other stuff here, but I thought that a bunch for crepes for a hundred dollars was quite expensive.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Ramen Santouka, The Central

We seem to be getting a number of chain outlets from Japan that are opening up here. Decided to give Ramen Santouka (6 Eu Tong Sen Street, #02-76 The Central, tel: 6224 0668) a check out; decked in a hype dampener. The shop itself turned out a little different from what I had in mind after hearing numerous comments on the place. Apparently, many people have different concepts of what a small place is and most of them have navigation issues to think feel that the unit is cloaked in any level of obscurity. And for those of you out there who're doling out helpful commentaries on the accepted mode of payment, I paid by Mastercard.

This turned out to be pretty good. While I wasn't floored, I thought that it enjoyable enough that there's a good chance that I could be back. What was special about them was the ultra tender pork cheeks from their toro niku ramen. I had in the shio option for the broth. The thin slices of pork cheeks, served separately from the ramen were salty in a good way. There wasn't anything special about the noodles which I felt were a little too soft for my preferences. The rich broth was kinda nice, but sat in heavily after a while. I'll be hard pressed not to order the toro niku again should I re-visit.

This charhan shoyu set (fried rice and shoyu broth ramen) came with less soggy noodles than the toro niku bowl. I found this shoyu broth to be more enjoyable in comparision with the shio which became flat tasting after a while. The soft slices of fatty pork here was in it's own ways, pretty delicious and had an enjoyable smoky aftertaste. The charhan was just what it was. I tend to be favourably disposed towards fried rice so I thought it was pretty decent.

I liked their eggs as well. The komi tamago on the side wasn't too bad despite the fact that I was really hoping for a runny yolk. I guess I can forgive that since it was a just dollar which was half of what I was charged at Ken's which also, didn't have a runny yolk.