Sunday, August 30, 2009

Small Potatoes Make The Steak Look Bigger : Year Three

Wow, it's been three years and counting still!

This has become something of an unexpected commitment and I really had no idea how long I could continue. Still I have to say that I've longer running interests so I shouldn't be too surprised that it's been going on for as long as it has been.

More interesting things to come, hopefully.

Like Tony Stark messing with Peter Parker's suit.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mayim, Northpoint

This turned out to be a case of hits and misses for me. I remember Mayim (930 Yishun Ave 2, #02-01/05 Northpoint Shopping Centre, tel : 65 6758 3168) back from the time I had them last at West Mall. Recalled that I've actually eaten there a few times and enjoyed the food quite a bit. I've even taken out yu shen during one or two of the Chinese New Years then. So I was definitely interested when I found out that they have a new and only other outlet at Northpoint.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

District 10, Windstedt Road

This was an unexpected trip down to Luca's new bistro (10 Windstedt Road, #01-17, tel: 65 6738 4788) beside the nice neighbourhood of apartments at Monk's Hill. Really serene location at night despite being located not too far away from the bright and noise filled Newton Food Centre. I remember having read about District 10 some weeks back but it didn't really register then. I was also hoping upon reaching the place that perhaps, it would be a little different from the regular bistro. I suppose it was just in the end, another bistro. The food wasn't too bad but nothing was special. It was a nice spot to hang out though.

Started off with some creamy green pea soup with roasted ham and mint. I had in mind cubes of roasted ham in the soup but it turned out to be a couple of strips of bacon and there wasn't the slightest hint of mint in the soup. In the end, what I had was just a mashed pea soup. Viscous but not really creamy. Wasn't too bad. Just not what I had in mind. There was some calamari which were decent but nothing really much to write about unless you've never had calamari before and had absolutely no idea what they tasted or looked like. I decided on the rigatoni with wagyu meatballs for a couple of reasons. There wasn't really much else on the menu that I found interesting and I wanted to prove myself that these meatballs would taste exactly like regular meatballs. True to my guess, it did taste like regular meatballs. Mixed with little bits of herbs which I felt would have been better without. Tossed in a lightly tart-ish tomato based sauce. I was also disappointed that they forgot the shaven Parmesan on the top but didn't feel like asking for them. Maybe it was a little too much to expect for these guys to be a little more like Bontá. Like I said, a really pleasant place to chill, but not terribly exciting in the department of food.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pumpkin ramen from Menya Shinchan

This seemed to be relatively new on the menu at Menya Shinchan and because it was a pumpkin soup base, I just had to give it a go. With an extra order of egg. The creamy pumpkin and pork bone broth was mildly sweet (from the pumpkin likely) yet savoury in taste which was something I found pleasant. Broth didn't have much viscosity but there was a milky quality to it. I'm guessing this was seasonal. Maybe? This trip was also another reminder of what I like about this place. The smoky tasting egg and soft charshu slices. All excellent with the generous portions of crunchy bean sprouts and scallion toppings. I hope this item is going to be here to stay.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Zambuca, Pan Pacific Hotel

I never got to visit Zambuca (#03-00, Pan Pacific Singapore, 7 Raffles Boulevard, tel : +65 6337 8086) back in the time Angelo Sanelli and Dennis Sim were around to run the show. Those two chefs have since moved on to Mietta's, We came one evening not knowing what to expect. One of my friends absolutely detested this restaurant and no one I personally know have actually visited it since the old chefs have moved on.

Their web site was sorely in need of an update. I couldn't find out what the current menu as email inquiries were a one way affair. The first glance at the menu didn't really look that interesting. The server seemed to have the idea that their gnocchi and quail salad was actually pasta. Didn't appear encouraging. 
amuse bouche

Amuse bouche was something made with a blender. Tasted very much like gazpacho. There was tomato and olive oil in it. Light on the palate and also refreshing in a cold way. If you're wondering what's the stirrer like object resting on the rim of the glass, it's a single stalk of chive which I almost used as a straw.

warm gnocchi and quail salad

This was hands down one of the most enjoyable salad I've had. Not that I was big on salads in the first place. This was well tossed with olive oil and moderated amount of vinegar. There was something moreish and savoury in the dressing I couldn't identify. Loved those salted bits of morels and slightly crisp pan fried gnocchi. Quail tasted like chicken. I would come back for this again.

tomato and goat cheese tart

We got the tart with goat cheese. Light tartness from the tomato balanced the rich creaminess from the goat cheese. Would have liked more balsamic vinegar than those artistic drizzles but not complaining here. Very tasty warm tart. I wished that something like this was more readily available. I mean, I shouldn't have to come to a restaurant just to eat a tomato and goat cheese tart.

porcini risotto

Adequately flavoured with porcini but wasn't punchy enough with that. It was however quite cheesy as well and that made it up for me. Liked it.

tenderloin with red wine reduction & foie gras sauce

Zambuca did a nicely grilled hunk of medium rare tenderloin. Not as puny as the one from Valentino's. The foie gras in the red wine reduction didn't quite play itself out as I expected. When I read that fat liver is included into a sauce, I would want to taste that fat liver. Not much of those flavour. Those onion things on the side were however an amazing mix of sweet and tartness.

apple tartine

The obvious comparison that came to mind for this was the apple tartine from Saraceno. I can't tell which is the better dessert. I liked them both in their own ways. This one (apart from the carefully carved fruit) has apples which were baked and retained more then the other. Also the crust tasted less heavy. Both are what I consider something worth trying if one visits.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Barossa, Esplanade Mall

Wow, this prime rib from a watering hole (8 Raffles Avenue,Esplanade Mall,#01-11, tel : 6534 5188) was really not bad. It was in fact a much better deal in the department of both price and taste than the cote de beouf down at Absinthe which tasted quite flat by comparison. In fact it was one of those that made me feel quite agreeable to coming back again for another shot at it.

What made this prime rib a hit for me was that it wasn't overly thick, nicely charred without being overly so and was well flavored with a well measure of coarse grained salt over the top that was just sufficient to flavor the meat with savory goodness. Steak comes with an option of two sides. We picked the cream spinach and an option called apricots & walnuts. The latter turned out to be a chilled rocket salad with apricots, walnuts and goat cheese. Yes, nice crumbly goat's cheese so I would definitely recommend the latter over the creamed spinach which didn't quite match up to what I had imagined (think Lawry's). They had a roasted pumpkin soup with apple and almonds which unfortunately didn't taste like it was roasted to any degree, was totally absent of any apple whatsoever and used cheap sliced almonds that one could buy off the shelves. Avoid that soup. Waste of money.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Morton's USDA Prime Burger

Morton's, usda prime burger

I was initially a little skeptical about how good a burger this might be at $30 even though it was Morton's, but I'd have to admit in retrospect that I was pretty impressed by their hefty 12 oz patty oozing with deep red juices from each bite. That being said, these guys have inched my expectations of a good burger up by at least a couple of notches. That much I can give them credit for. The options were simple here. A choice of doneness for the fine minced patty and one of three cheeses (blue, Cheddar or Swiss) to top it with. Everything else comes with it including a couple of strips of grilled bacon and sautéed onions. What didn't feel as hearty about it was that it lacked the coarse textures which made the meat feel a little refined. 

It seems that they're charging $5 less if you do your orders after 8p.m. so that's something to look out for if you're in the vicinity having dinner later than usual and willing to shell out some bucks for a man sized burger. Bar service is surprisingly poor in comparison with the restaurants. I thought I had detected one of those professional aversion skills that many service staff acquire in the course of their work.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A packed away nasi padang lunch

It is sometimes a chore going for lunch in the building at my current workplace. Occasionally, when the sun is not as blistering, I venture out a little further into a grimy food centre amidst some JTC blocks and get some nasi padang which costs less and actually tastes pretty good. Here's a pack of that with curried mutton, a hard boiled egg and some salty fried squids. I did not register the name of the stall since I never really looked, but good food finds a way. There couldn't have been a more blatant invitation for the Z monster to rake its claws across your back in the mid day.

Monday, August 03, 2009

A random nasi lemak breakfast

Here's a grease bomb of a breakfast with the sweet Taiwanese sausage, greasy fried egg with semi liquid yolk and deep fried chicken wings in bed with some hot coconut rice. It was definitely miles away from a healthy breakfast, but one doesn't begrudge the satisfaction that comes after. And to make up for something like this, I skipped lunch at work. Heh.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Lamb chops from Zac Cafe

What struck me about this rack of lamb from Zac Cafe was that each piece extra thick. Not double cut but thicker than most single rib. It was unfortunate that the meat was a little more cooked that I was hoping for. This resulted in them being a little more chewy than I would normally like. I recalled them being tender even when they were well done from a previous visit. It's hard for me to argue against thick hunks of grilled bone in lamb laced with fat. I'm going to try this again another time.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Bistro Du Vin, Shaw Center

Another good one by the Les Amis Group.

Admittedly, these guys are a little pricey (1 Scotts Road, #02-12 Shaw Centre, tel : 6733 7763), but I'm did feel that the price tag was commensurated by quality of food here. I don't pretend to be an expert on what they do, but previous experiences appear to point out qualities where their restaurants tend to outshine others.

Fricassée de Champignons aux morilles et oeuf poché

The mushroom fricassée - couldn't find myself disagreeing with the dish. This one was enjoyable, especially the salty bits of morel paired with the flavour of bacon grease. Liquid yolks rule!

Foie gras de canard des Landes aux pommes et réduction de
vinaigre balsamique

The foie gras came with the balsamic vinegar reduction a little dried out on the sides. It was otherwise familiarly lip smacking with a thin crusty exterior and the quivery insides that one would expect. I did wish that it was served in thicker slices though. There were some poached apples on the sides.

Soupe a l’oignon gratinée au gruyère et croûton

I'll describe their French onion soup as warm and comforting. Broth was filled with soft layers of boiled onion and topped with salty gruyere cheese. Great for a rainy day and something that I can see myself wanting to order again if I come back

cured ham sampler (Sanchez Romero Carvajal Cintos Jotas & Marcos Iberico de Bellota)

I'm not going to wonder about Spanish ham in a French place. These thinly sliced bits of cured meat had a nutty smoky flavour enhanced by the slivers of fat along the edges. Minus the saltiness of Parma ham. With a couple of years of prerequisite ageing, one might understand why they cost so much.

Confit de canard

Don't eat duck confit very often. Then again, I don't eat French food that much. This was quite nice in my opinion. The duck came with a nice crispy skin and tender flavourful meat. A bonus came in a form of a little jug of what I had heard to be a duck based reduction that enhanced the flavours of the meat noticeably to another level of - erm.... duckiness. In a good way.

kurobuta pork cutlet

I've only had a couple of pieces of the pork cutlet and they were very good. Tasted much like a refined version of that kurobuta pork loin from Big D's Grill and possessed too, a very nice smoky aroma from the grill.

steak frites (ribeye)

This was surprisingly awesome. Surprising because I hadn't been expecting a fat laced piece of ribeye that had enough natural flavours in the meat that widened my eye. I was expecting a regular steak and this was definitely better than your average steak. Mileages may indeed vary but I thought this made the stuff down at Aston Prime look like an amateur's job. Unfortunately, it doesn't look very impressive on photo. At $42, it also wasn't exactly wallet friendly as.

Crème brûlée

Nice crispy top and a very eggy custard. I liked this.


I kinda like profiteroles for some reason. Maybe it's because of the soft choux pastry stuffed with ice cream texture. Wasn't anything extraordinary but I liked them the same.

apricot tart

The apricot tart wasn't bad but it was the least interesting amongst the dessert. Did turn out to be how I imagined the taste to be. But at least now I know for sure. Won't be missing it.