Sunday, May 31, 2009

Restoran Hen Hwa

Johor Bahru, Restoran Hen Hwa, lou shi fun
Johor Bahru, Restoran Hen HwaHey, this was really tasty food there and inexpensive to boot from a shop house eatery of the old world charm where one could still find themselves seated on plastic chairs and foldable tables on the road aside parked cars. I didn't really take note of the address unfortunately, but its somewhere in the vicinity of Taman Sentosa, Johor Bahru. I was told that the food that they serve are quite similar to what you can find in kuey chap. So what we had was essentially a sampler of just a few of the items that was suppose to be quite popular here as we already started off with a healthy dose of some street side grilled/steamboat skewers (lok-lok). It definitely helped some that their bowls of kuey teow kia (thin rice noodles) were actually light and clear tasting in that mildly herbal broth with crunchy bean sprouts and a helping of spring onions with fried shallots.
Johor Bahru, Restoran Hen Hwa, fried pipa duck
The deep fried pipa duck and fish stood out pretty well being greasy but not excessively so. The fish was fried in a manner that almost everything on the exterior was chew-ably crispy and the only remnant of it after one was through with them was the bone at the centre and nothing else. With a home made chilli sauce and squeezed lime on the side. They're definitely one of those things that could be grouped under beer food. I can definitely revisit this place.
Johor Bahru, Restoran Hen Hwa, fish

Friday, May 22, 2009

Saraceno Ristorante

Pretty new place at Tanjong Pagar (83 Duxton Road, Berjaya Hotel Singapore, tel : 6438-9638) that was opened about 3 months or so ago with a Czech chef that has done a stint in Italy and was also formerly under Gordon Ramsey. I don't know if the latter situation made any difference but the food was not bad. In a way that it wasn't overly complicated and that the individual wasn't overwhelmed by the sum of its part if you catch my drift. Much cooking transforms a dish into a form where the original ingredients are often lost in translation (lol!) but it didn't look like it was that way here.

There was a generously portion Parma ham with juicy pieces of porcini on bruschetta to start. The truffle oil added a very nice accent to the rockets and mushrooms with neither of the flavours overpowering one another. In fact, what was really nice about it was that every ingredient could be distinctly tasted.

The pan roasted tenderloin featured also porcini and truffle oil. I'm wondering if it was the same batch of mushrooms that was done with the starter. Again, it was another item where both fungal aromas were in harmony even with the red wine reduction. The beef was a medium-rare, nicely browned on the outside and a juicy red on the interior. No complains except for the size. We enjoyed the grilled calf liver and hoped that they were here to stay as a permanent item on the menu. Done medium with a very nice char grill on a bed of exquisitely soft gnocchi.

Loved the freshly made baked apples on puff pastry. They appeared unassuming. Turned out awesome served hot with a good measure of drizzled caramel. Even though the base of the pastry was soggy, it was saved by how buttery it tasted. Almost like bread pudding. I liked the pineapple raviolis as well which seemed to be their signature dessert. Those were basically thinly sliced frozen pineapples folded across a lime sorbet. Along with chopped bits of strawberries in balsamic vinegar. Found them refreshingly sour for an interesting change.

Prosciutto di Parma con Bruschetta ai Porcini e scaglie di grana
Parma ham with Porcini on toasted bread, parmesan shavings and truffle oil

how does black pearls of vinegar in olive oil sound?

bread basket

amuse bouche (steak tartare)

Filetto di Manzo con Porcini e salsa al vino rosso
Fillet of Beef tenderloin with Porcini, Potatoe purée and red wine sauce

Fegato di Vitello alla griglia con gnocchi, burro, salvia e cipolle croccanti
Grilled Calves liver with gnocchi, butter and sage, crispy onions aged balsamic vinegar

Torta di mele
Peeled apples slowly baked on puff pastry

Ravioli di Ananas

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


It's thick because it's padded with the girth of two slices of tomatoes, onions and lettuce. But otherwise, the patty wasn't that big of a deal. Sure it was bigger than the usual of the fast food variety, but I didn't think it was that impressive of a difference. This Thickburger from CJ purports the use of Angus beef which I really can't tell. I mean, is it suppose to even taste different at all? The marketing tag say that some like it long and most would prefer it thick. I like mine less wet. Would have been better if the buns weren't soaked and disintegrating with all that mayo and ketchup.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Teck Fu Bak Kut Teh, Sembawang Hill Food Centre

I was brought to try this BKT stall down at Thomson (Sembawang Hill Food Centre, 590 Upper Thomson Road, #01-24) which was described to be not bad. True enough, it wasn't too bad. There was still a bone or two which I could pick on like the broth being less peppery than the norm and that they could've been much more generous with the soft boiled cloves of garlic. Those things aside, this was decent. There was just enough fat in the meat for me and that meat didn't come across as dry or hard. It actually slid off the bone quite easily which I liked. Portions were unfortunately quite small. Still, there was a nice braised tau kee (dried bean curd sheets) in that dark sauce that scored points with me. I wouldn't mind eating here again but probably not make that extra effort to go out of the way.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

More from Wasabi Tei

Safe it is to say for me that Wasabi Tei is not the place for me to have sushi. A little can be said of their generous and thick, but formless sashimi slices and I would admit to having enjoyed the salmon quite a bit. Otherwise it's really not what I'm looking for. Might have been a bad fish day today, but I don't think it's a valid excuse. The nigiri was simply not satisfaying and for something that is considered to be a form of art, this was really far too abstract. Lol. Just like Picasso without the brush. And fingers. The mekajiki and maguro that was really sinewy today. There was also ankimo on the menu, something that normally gets my attention and this one was a little different from what I've had before. Tasted a lot like pâté. Really a lot like pâté than any fish liver. Hmmm.....stick to the cooked food I will.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

An okonomiyaki from Japanese Gourmet Town

Here's a mochi and cheese okonomiyaki from the Botejyu counterpart of the three in one themed Japanese food place at Vivocity. I wonder if the mayo designs at the top will ever evolve like latte art. Lol. Seriously, this stuff is quite good in the conforting sense, so I'm going to try more of them to see if they're as tasty or is it just this particular one. The addition of mochi in the batter made them taste a little like chinese radish cake and surprisingly for me, the sauces at the top weren't as overwhelming as I thought it might have been. Another unexpected thing were that the bits of chopped cabbage inside actually tasted naturally sweet.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Hakata Nihon Ryori, Mohd Sultan Road

I think this was one of those places (33, Mohd Sultan Road #01-03, S23897, tel : 6836 1039) that has been around. One of the many that I've seen or passed by but never gotten myself to step in. Until now. That was after a tip off about the Kyushu styled food that they serve and a chance for me to try their tonkotsu ramen. The ramen was edible though not one of the better rendition we've tried. A word of advice - don't pick the seats at the bar. The counter radiates heat from the refrigeration unit and it could get uncomfortably warm after a while.

I was intrigued by the uni to ama ebi don, but the uni was disappointing. It wasn't much chilled and a little too stiff as well. Flavour of the sea urchin didn't quite get through. In short, it was a failed uni test for me. The sweet ama ebi was fortunately decent but wasn't good enough enough to save the donburi.

Here's their tonkotsu ramen. Liked these straight Hakata style noodles. The sliced chashu were small and were not the type that would dissolve your mouth. Actually, those charshu tasted like sliced pork in lor mee. At $10, it was also one of the cheaper bowls around.

I like them potato no mentai yakis. Basically sliced potatoes with a layer of mentaiko mayo and grilled (or baked?). We were told that they took a while to prepare and that we might have to wait a little but it was actually served before the other items. This wasn't just a flavouring if you're wondering. The potato slices were covered with enough mentaiko that you could discern the fish roe.

All in all, the food wasn't too bad despite the poor show of the uni. There was quite a variety on menu that I can see myself coming back.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Wasabi Tei : cooked food edition

Dare I say that the unagi don from Wasabi Tei was actually not bad in spite of the charred appearances. I thought that I detected a little bit of that greasy fattiness underneath the grilled skin of the eel. Not much can really be to the quality of eels locally, but I guess there are some places that do serve a pretty decent non-Japanese import of those fishes and this was one; in generous portions and a warm bowl of sticky rice to boot.

The unagi nigiris did surprise me a little since I wasn't expecting them to be so large. As expected though, they weren't much to look at, but the sizes were nothing one can complain about. The rice at the bottom barely held the weight of the grilled eels on top.

I generally don't hold much hopes for gyudons since I've never really had any that was really worth remembering apart from the savoury rendition at Yoshinoya which was surprisingly quite addictive. Pity that they're just another chain that takes no pride in what they serve by charging quite a bit and delivering pathetic portions. Wasabi Tei's rendition was nothing short of comfort food with sliced beef. Well blended were the flavours of the thinly sliced strips of sautéed onions and bits of garlic that worked really well with their salty sauce and greasy thin slices of cow on top of the warm rice. Again, it's form over finesse in generous quantities. Did I mention that they have a mushroomy tasting chawanmushi that's loaded with Shimeiji mushrooms too?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Ichibantei, Robertson Quay

Ichibantei, tan tan mian

I think I'm becoming a fan of tan tan mian. This was a hiyashi tan tan mian from Ichibantei (60 Robertson Quay, #01-04 The Quayside, tel : 6733 3923) and it is probably making itself into the top of my list for cold ramen with its robust savoury sweet and spicy sesame gravy and springy noodles. Not that there were any others in that list apart from the cold ramen at Noodle House Ken which was as good if not better in its own refreshing way. The generous toppings of ground meat added to the textural chewiness. There was also a pretty decent tonkotsu ramen in the house that came with the usual milky pork bone broth, tender sliced chashu and egg. Sadly, the order of oyster kakis was disappointing. They were shrivelled and dry as compared to fat and juicy. I've passed by this place on countless occasions and only sometimes wondering if there was anything good about them. If not for today, that cycle would probably have continued.

Ichibantei, tonkotsu ramen