Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jones the Grocer, Mandarin Gallery

Geez, this was so disappointing. 

I've generally been someone who's more into what I eat rather than the service that I get unless there was something I thought would be mention worthy. I had waited for about 20 minutes after getting the orders done before I realised that they might have not processed those orders. With the bulk of the kitchen doing preparation for food that didn't look like breakfast, I inquired and I saw a chit re-printed and sent to the kitchen. The person who had taken the order did not bother to explain. 

It took another staff with sufficient initiative to come over and apologized over the screw up and tell us that the kitchen was trying to get our food done with the greatest alacrity. Another 20 minutes crawled by before a server sauntered into the dining area, dropped toast off the plates onto the floor and then made a U turn back into the kitchen again.

The bacon felt soggy and the poached eggs were simply deflated. The latter was probably sloshed over onto the plates resulting in the vinegared water being soaked by the mushrooms making them sour as well. It was a wet and sour breakfast.

It seemed that latte art was not their forte as well. Not that I could see any heart put into it. Pun fully intended. If you like your coffee, I would suggest Oriole instead. They do a much more robust and fragrant piccolo latte. I feel money can be much better spent elsewhere for breakfast where it costs less and tastes better. On my way out, I sampled a piece of blue cheese over at the cheese shelves. It was the best thing I tasted from Jones the Grocer today.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Beer from a paper cup at the Hokkaido Fair

Yes, that cup on the right was all that I spent money on in this Hokkaido Fair at Isetan. After a few years of visiting them, things seem to have gotten old for me. A cold refreshing Sapporo was all I needed today from the heat.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Curry chicken at Jass Cafe

This is a little place tucked in the corner of the 3rd floor of Fusionopolis and we found out that they were serving curry chicken from some guy that was distributing copies of their menu. For $4.50, one gets a bowl of curry chicken with rice which did the job of filling up and awakening the z monster afterward. The curry looked on the surface to be pretty good, but upon tucking it, was discovered to be one that was a little thin, as opposed to the thicker and richer variety that I was hoping for.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mexican Taco Bar, Kopitiam @ Plaza by the Park

This sure was disappointing. I've been hearing about this Mexican Taco Bar which was originally from Changi Business Park run by a Angeles Herrero who was formerly the executive chef for the American Embassy in Mexico. This outlet (Plaza By The Park, 51 Bras Basah Rd) is apparently a branch out from the original. 

Food was prepared as you ordered them. What I didn't quite trust was the metal trough things beside the pan which contained the meats that looked like they had been left there for quite a while. I couldn't help but think of the overly marinated stir fried beef from the Korean stalls in food courts. 

The only difference between the tortas and the tacos were that the former had refried beans spread over the bread when it was toasted. I'm not sure if it would have made much of a difference since they could hardly be discerned from the spiciness of the limp looking sauteed jalapenos & onion along with the chipotle sauce. The latter tasted like a spicy thousand island dressing. The Mexican fries were merely frozen crinkle cuts that had some spicy chilli powder sprinkled over. Beside being freshly prepared, nothing tasted exactly fresh. I'm not too sure what to make out of this but I'm never coming back.

Monday, January 25, 2010

More from dandelions...

Tampopo, negitoro don
This was an unplanned visit to Tampopo. We were walking by and glancing at the picture menus at the entrance of the restaurant and suddenly, we found ourselves seated and preparing to make our orders.

Was pleasantly surprised by the freshness of the minced fatty tuna of their negitoro don. Not that I've had a lot of them prior to this. The meat looked like it had been hand chopped to order just before it was served. It was still a little chilled and very fresh tasting on top of the warm rice.

Tampopo, wafu steak
This be their wafu steak. Looked and tasted much better than what was depicted on the menu. Meat was quite fatty but a little chewy in some pieces. The natural flavour of the beef was robust. This one is good for returns.

Tampopo, liver chives bean sprouts
This plate of stir fried liver, chives and bean sprouts was so good with rice.

Tampopo, cheese chiffon cake
That's a light cheese chiffon cake. Ventured off from the usual scoop cake we usually get. The name would lead one to believe that this was a light cheesecake of sorts but there was no cheese in the cake nor the cream. There was grated Parmesan cheese at the top though. A little dry but was actually not too bad.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Satsuma Shochu Dining Bar, Gallery Hotel

The very first time I was introduced to Satsuma (1 Nanson Road, #01-10 / #02-10, The Gallery Hotel, tel : +65 6235 3565) some years back, I was with a friend who was into the finer appreciation of alcohol and we spent some hours in their shochu bar drinking with me trying to figure out the subtleties of the various potato and sugar based drink. I had guessed that most of those finer qualities of the distilled drink were lost to me, but I did notice that there was a dining room on the second floor which I would be interesting in coming back to because it was an izakaya styled place. A few years later today, I've finally visited. Yes, I sure took my time about it.

In retrospect, I've to say that I like this place. Service was polite and not pushy when it came to recommendations and there were definitely wait staff that knew the menu. The overall impression with an inevitable comparison to Kazu Sumiyaki was that, Satsuma was in possession of more finesse while the former was the smoky and laid back joint that was a closer fit to the depiction of a traditional Japanese izakaya place. Not that any of them were traditionally cheap as both locations met their respective price points rather competitively. Note that Kazu does have a more extensive menu as well.

chicken liver sashimi

chilled pork belly salad of sorts

We started off with some nicely chilled chicken liver sashimi and what was described as pork belly in special sauce. To digress onto the point of special sauces, it's a personal peeve of mine to see them. Who knows that "special" ingredients go into them? And with this particular one tasting very nutty, I would guess that it's another sesame based blend which was actually not bad in a very appetizing manner. It was all good with the varied textures of shredded crunchy vegetables and the chew of the pork belly strips.

This is the first time I'm trying those chicken liver sashimi and I was really wondering how they would be raw. The taste was unexpectedly for me, very much like the cooked one. Albeit, being raw did come with less of that livery taste and that the texture was smoother than fish.

beef wrapped golden mushroom

some call this oysters in pig blanket

grilled chicken skins

quail eggs in sliced pork

grilled ox tongue

grilled chicken hearts

scallops, prawns, bacon and foie gras...all on sticks

grilled shishamo

Heading into the kushiyaki, it was definitely some nicely grilled stuff that was churned from the kitchen. Noteably, the juicy oysters wrapped in thinly sliced pork, greasy yet crispy chicken skins, nicely cooked quail eggs which didn't have overly dried yolk wrapped in more thin sliced pork, chewy ox tongues and nicely salted chicken heart, foie gras and egg filled shishamo.

mentaiko supageti

I haven't had real success with making my own mentaiko pasta and this one, in it's roe-ful goodness was definitely much better than my own. It was noticeably less spicy but was also creamier than the one down at Ma Maison which was additionally flavored by bacon and onions. Simpler in flavors, but one could taste more of the roe. The chilli powder condiments that's provided on every table does help quite a bit if you're looking to up the notch in spiciness.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

One up for the Tunisian at the Wild Honey!

Wild Honey, Mandarin Gallery
Wild Honey, Mandarin GalleryThis is Wild Honey (333A Orchard Road, #03-02 Mandarin Gallery, tel : +65 6235 3900), a relatively new all day breakfast place at the newly refurbished/renovated Mandarin Gallery which looked quite promising for a return. If not for this place, then for the new Japanese restaurant Suju just around the corner. I'm was having a bit of fun trying out my new Canon Ixus 100 IS. Sure beats the hell out of trying to take photos in a dimly lit restaurants with a camera phone, making me almost regret not getting a digicam earlier. But I guess it's never too late to start.

a jam filled donut

This lucky donut found a home in our stomach. Greed and excitement had gotten ahead of us at the counter so we picked it up while placing orders.

a dead jam filled donut

In the end, it was a regular greasy jam filled donut which was a little cold and getting a little stiff on the outside. It was a better jam than the usual jello substance that one can commonly find but it wasn't spectacular taste wise. Sure as hell won't be falling for it the next time.

Wild Honey, goat cheese tartgoat cheese tart

In that moment of greed at the counter, we reached out for the cheese tart which the staff mentioned, would be heated up before serving. Strangely, it looked exactly the same when it arrived. The creamy cheese which did disservice to the normally pungent goat cheese didn't even look like it was going to melt. The capsicum in the tart was pretty good but there was an occasional taste of lemongrass which was a little baffling. Not the better goat cheese tart around for sure.

Wild Honey, sweet morning"Sweet Morning"

Sounded great on menu. Looked pretty good as well.

still sweet at this point......

The disappointment was that the egg on the thick French toasts looked like they had been brushed on rather than soaked in which I would have preferred. This made the toast very bread-y and not eggy at all. There was an odd flavour in the fillings of sliced mango. Thought it could have been great if it was served a little hotter. The saving grace of this plate came from the generous vanilla mascarpone (which didn't taste the least of vanilla) and maple syrup. Definitely not considering this again the next time.

Wild Honey, tunisian"Tunisian"

This was straight up awesome. An excellent wake up breakfast pan or even a post drinking chow. The idea behind this plate wasn't sophisticated but it did an excellent job being both greasy (in a good way) and spicy. Now I'm not sure if that spicy flavour came from the paprika or the oil that had oozed from the slices of chorizos beneath the egg and tomato stew. I'm definitely looking forward to eating this again. Having those freshly toasted thick sliced bread to soak up the grease and yolk was an excellent choice for the filler as well.

Wild Honey, macchiato"who would have known" macchiato

The well done foam from the macchiato took me by surprise. It was top notch and full bodied, floating above a decently done espresso. Now I wonder if that consistency would be subjected to consistency in this place...

Nature's Remedy indeed

This cinnamon, honey and vanilla brew did strangely possess a sharp flavour which reminded me of ginger in a good way. And also marsala tea. I'm not to sure how to go about with this but it was a comforting drink and the Nature's Remedy did sound very apt.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Back in Miharu...

So I'm finally back to Miharu (1 Nanson Road, #01-11 The Gallery Hotel, tel : +65 6733 8464) on a revisit. I recall them having donburis on the menu and that I've a couple of colleagues that were interested in having some Japanese ramen. I've to say that this turned out to be a good recommendation of my part, seeing the glaze in the eyes of my Filipino colleague as he claimed their koumi tsukemen to be the best ramen he'd ever tasted.

This takana and mayo pork rice bowl did hit the spot for dinner, mixing savoury sweet with the textures of both meatiness and crunchiness from the pickled vegetables over warm rice. With only one other similar item in comparison from Baikohken, I've got to say that this was a pretty good rice bowl in its own ways as well. Miharu's braised pork did come with dissolve in your mouth fat and if I might say so, comparable with any of the good ones that I've tried. What I didn't quite like was the sweetish starchy gravy that had a hint of ginger.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stewhaus, Cactus Road

I remember seeing this place at Siglap some years back and it seems they're relocated (6 Cactus Road, Seletar Gardens, tel : +65 65557845) to the sleepy neighbourhood at Seletar Gardens. My guess is that in spite of a spread in the menu, they're better known for stews or at least are suppose to be good at them. So I ordered myself a Guinness lamb stew which actually came with a shot of Guinness. 

Can't say that it was impressive to any extent. There were definitely flavours going on, especially when freshly doused with that stout and the pieces of lamb within were tender as well. However the pieces of potatoes and green vegetables looked worn and limp and I'm guessing that they've been boiled to death. The lamb strangely didn't look overcooked. Sides of the mashed potatoes was at best ordinary. The stew felt medieval. I've tasted better.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Brunch @ Epicurious

Been hearing about the breakfast items at Epicurious (60 Robertson Quay, #01-02 The Quayside, tel : +65 6734 7720) for quite a while and here came the opportunity for a brunch pig out on a late Saturday morning and wishing that I could afford more mornings like these.

So what was it all about? Decently fluffy pancakes, a larger than expected Full Monty plate that included three eggs (yeah!), streaky bacon, buttered and toasted bread, token side of canned beans, some pretty good sauteed mushrooms, pan fried tomatoes and a few meaty but bland sausages in a morning fry up along with juice and coffee. There was a pretty decent breakfast burrito filled with scrambled eggs and bits of chorizo and cheese that did hit the morning spot. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a good hearty breakfast as a doctor might recommend.

It would be worth noting that the coffee here isn't as robust as I would have liked though.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Putu piring...

Haig Road putu piring
It's been a long while since I've had these. The taste rekindled memories of childhood when my parents used to buy them from this stall at Haig Road. The only thing that I could detect that has changed with these airy steamed flour cakes was that the flour shells today are rather skimpy, making the size of the putu piring smaller than I remembered them. Fortunately, the molten fillings of gula melaka (palm sugar) inside were still plentiful. This however made them difficult to pick up by hand since they simply fell apart from the weight of the fillings. Not that eating the freshly steamed ones by hands are a good idea in the first place.

Very tasty with those slightly chilled shredded coconut that came with each packet.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Arnold's Fried Chicken, City Plaza

Arnold's Fried Chicken, City Plaza

The sealed in juices in the fried chicken thigh seeped out onto the plates as I peeled strips of cooked meat from it. I'm usually not really big on fried chicken, but these ones from Arnold's, (810 Geylang Road, #02-99/101, City Plaza, tel : +65 6746 2372) - I be liking them. 

It's definitely because of the fresher tasting chickens which they claimed to be from the farm rather than the freezer. Not forgetting the thin and spicy crispy batter and their chilled and chopped coleslaw which could improve on the portions. Not surprisingly these put the monopoly by old man Sanders to shame. The gripe I have with this joint is that we're "forced" to pay extras for choice parts. If not, you'll probably end up with mostly the less meaty cuts that everyone else seems to avoid asking for.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shin Yeh Restaurant, Liang Court Shopping Centre

Woah, this was some pretty expensive Taiwanese porridge down at Shin Yeh (177 River Valley Road, Liang Court Shopping Center, #02-19, tel : +65 6338 7337). The restaurant which originated from Taipei was set up and opened here in collaboration with the Tung Lok Group. 

This was so far, the most I've ever paid for Taiwanese porridge. Apart from the complimentary pickled zucchini and muah chee that was presented right at the end, the rest of the food along with three bowls of sweet potato porridge totalled almost $80. That being said, it was mostly delicious. From the sauce soaked tender braised intestines that still had bite to the also tender braise pork belly which had quivery layers of fat that dissolved in your mouth. The steamed minced meat was savoury and accented with a borderline sweetness from the sauce while the roasted mullet slices were both salty and smoky at the same time, reminding me of strangely - a less crumbly Parmesan cheese. A definite run for all those Italian restaurants working with measly bottarga crumbles. 

All in all, Shin Yeh did a respectable rendition of the pork based dishes and scored with the mullet roe which was something we would never find in other Taiwanese porridge establishments locally.

pickles pickles

braised pig intestines

braised pork belly with bamboo shoots

steamed minced pork with salted yolk

roasted mullet roe and cuttlefish with turnip and leek

muah chee

The of two pieces of muah chee they gave with the bill were quite good. Must have been a combination of warm gooey rice dough rolled with fragrant and finely ground peanuts with sugar that did the trick. Moreish even after we were all so stuffed from all the food.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Komala's Deli @ Northpoint

Komala's Deli, dosai
The crave for Indian food continues as I endured the insufferable weekend crowd of the grease ventilated basement food court of a Sunday afternoon at Northpoint. This was definitely not going to be the laid back and quiet lunch I would have preferred to have where I can lounge over my caffeine laced beverage of choice. Here, one loitered in hopes of catching a recently emptied table, get your food, eat up and then leave.

As with the other of their outlets, Komala's Deli here does a brisk business which translates to a good turnover for their cooked meals for their kitchen. This in turn meant that there will be a good chance of getting orders that were freshly made. We did end up with some freshly made idlys and vadai, dosai of a variety of fillings made to order and of course the not so great chutneys that they have. Those did the trick and were filling as well. Not beyond consideration the next time I feel like having something vegetarian.

Komala's Deli, vadai idly