Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shuang Yuan, Liang Seah Street


This was another Taiwanese themed place (1 Liang Seah Street, #01-05/06, tel : +65 6336 9338) that was relatively new in the vicinity so we decided to check them out. As the food turned out, things came quite unexpected. For one, the supposed lu rou fan didn't quite look like how we expected. In fact, it came quite generously filled with thin sliced meat and looked pretty much like a yakiniku don rather than braised pork rice with gravy. The accompanying portions of gravy was a little too little to boot, causing the bowl of regular rice (not the short grain variety) to be a little grainy to swallow with ease.

We ordered up a bowl of their shuang yuan noodles, which basically contained the renditions of cooked pork. I guess it was just an ordinary bowl of noodles with little to speak of in terms of the flavors of the sauces or the textures of the noodles which were really unspectacular. What was unexpectedly good were the very porky tasting meatballs which were made in house. The textures were chewy in a good way and the flavors were really quite porkalicious. It must have been the redemption at this place.


On the sides, their breaded fried oysters were dry and really couldn't stand up to the recent ones that I've had at Ootoya even. The stewed eggs came with overcooked yolk which really made them very ordinary.


I suppose if I had to decide to come back, those large pork balls would probably be the only reason.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Nasrin Restaurant, Baghdad Street

This place (12 Baghdad Street, tel : +65 6295 1280) looked to be one of numerous Middle Eastern (Persian for this specifically) themed joints that catered more to people who were into smoking shisha rather than eating food. Evidenced by the number of hookahs that were laying around and the people that were smoking them. But I was told that there was a kebab koobideh on their menu and it's been quite a while since the defunct Banoo or even Persepolis. True enough, there was a menu that offered a small selection of various grilled meats with rice along with finger food and assorted drinks. As per my initial impression, this was indeed a place that people lingered over smokes as I found my way up to the carpet draped second storey; where there were even more people smoking shisha.

What I didn't expect of the kebab koobideh was that it tasted very much like mystery meat. That was not to say that it wasn't tasty, but I was hoping for the flavour of lamb that should have been in it. The lightly buttered basmati rice was fragrant and quite delicious while the grilled chilli on the side brought a welcomed kick to the food. The suspiciously smooth and creamy hummus tasted more lemony than I was expecting.

In retrospect though, this place was quite pleasant to chill over apple tea, especially by their window under the rain.



Saturday, February 20, 2010

More items from Tampopo again!

I found myself back at Tampopo again. I credit the draw back to the place to their seasonal menu which features things items on rotation. I'm a sucker for it.

Tampopo, wagyukatsu
I was pretty excited after having discovered that they actually had a wagyu ribeye katsu on the katsu section of their menu a few weeks back and had been trying to return to try it. It was out of supplies for a while and this week, they've managed to gettheir meat back again. Despite being a little wary, I was still bent on trying them out. My only recollection of deep fried beef was from a country fried steak from Seah Street Deli quite a few years back. 

The katsu was sadly unexciting. Flavour from the batter contented with the thin slice of beef inside resulting in a very lacklustre flavour from the meat. While it did arrive pink and filled with rendered fat from the marbling, the flavour of wagyu were almost imperceptible, dashing my hopes of a good discovery.

Stick to the wafu steak I shall.

Tampopo, anago tendon
Another item from their specials menu was an anago tem-don - which was a tempura donburi that featured a generous piece of fried congo eel. It was actually quite decent if not spectacular. Didn't give me the same kind of satisfaction from the anago don from Kaiho Sushi. There was a deep fried mushroom, sweet potato and pumpkin in the bowl as well.

Tampopo, kurobuta spare rib ramen
Craving ramen, I inquired about their black pig spare rib ramen. It happened to be made with my favourite tonkotsu broth and the Hakata styled noodles. Tasted to me like a sort of Chinese inspired creation as the braised spare rib was much like a sweeter version of the dark soy sauce braised pork that my grandmother cooks every new year. There was even a few stalks of vegetables on the side that helped deepen the impression. The meat was well cooked, firm yet fell off the bone with ease. Interestingly, a good pairing with that smidgeon of mustard. The noodles were as expected, firm in the milky savoury pork bone broth that for some odd reasons, seemed to intermittently exude a very faint aroma of yuzu.

Tampopo, negitoro don
And for dessert, we passed on the usual orders of cream cakes for their delicious negitoro don. Another item in danger of getting into the regular order option.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Annalakshmi, Chinatown Point

It had taken me quite a while to come to Annalakshmi (133 New Bridge Road, #B1-02, Chinatown Point, tel : 65-6339 9993) since the time it was recommended to me. I'm pretty glad that I made the trip today. This Indian vegetarian restaurant operates on the basis of eat what you want and pay as you wish for the food that you have had. Hence the cost of eating here lies on one's conscience and generosity. Apparently, the restaurant which is served by volunteer workers belongs to the culinary arts section of the Temple of Fine Arts.

Annalakshmi, dahi vada
We had an order of their dahi vada which were the Indian lentil donuts in yoghurt. I was curious about them, having never eaten vadai in this manner. The vadai which featured a little slice of green chilli and a sprinkle of paprika turned out a little smaller than I had expected, but was both comforting and appetizing at the same time.

Annalakshmi, bhaji
These bhaji, or deep fried vegetable fritters in dram flour tasted pretty much like how they looked. Slightly greasy, these were savoury snacks from an assortment of eggplant, capsicum and onions with the benefit of the accompanied chutneys on the side.

Annalakshmi, butter paneer masala
The butter paneer masala had a gravy that was a little thinner than I had imagined. It was however still good, being fairly rich and yet not overly tart from the tomato base. I'm inclined to compare them with those creamy and smoky ones from Jaggi's which was probably not a good idea since nowhere else I know does them like that. Couldn't help but notice that there weren't much cottage cheese in a single order though.

Annalakshmi, jeera pulao
Our heads were turned from the aroma of their jeera pulao (cumin spiced rice) as it was being brought to our table. The rice was flavoursome and light, though a little oily. Their aroma made people from a neighbouring table turn their heads as well and subsequently, said neighbouring table made an order of the same.

Annalakshmi, gobi manchurian
These gobi manchurian were particularly noteworthy. The sauce used on the deep fried cauliflowers tasted like a combination of Chinese sweet and sour sauce and kung bao gravy. The fried vegetables had a slightly chewy crisp battered surface which wasn't soggy. Chopped garlic, spring onions and onions added crunch and their aromas to the dish.

Annalakshmi, rasmalai
The first dessert which we tried was a rasmalai that was thankfully not overly sweet. We got the usual flat disc of paneer textured like wet cardboard and in a milky sauce flavoured with spices and bits of pistachio. Very nicely milky and light sweet.

Annalakshmi, gulab jamun
Feeling good what we've just had, we got a little adventurous and ordered a gulab jamun which I normally steer away from. It turned out to be a pretty good call as the gulab jamun were served warm. After separating the milk balls from the syrup, it was actually manageable sweetness.

All the food were washed down with orders of their cold sweet lassi and a masala chai. Tea had a pronounced flavour from cloves but wasn't overwhelming. I thought that it was enjoyable enough.

Definitely a place to come back to again.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ailyn

Just one of the rare off topic posts that come in once in a while. I've never really been into what I term as idol tv and I don't usually watch much television in the first place. But I have caught myself catching snippets of certain segments of American Idol and X Factor on YouTube and occasionally television. Mostly through referral of friends. Those budding stars like raw diamonds are sometimes impressive right from the start. Some simply don't shine. I came across Ailyn from her videos while scouring YouTube for some nostalgic music and found out that she used to be a contestant that hadn't quite made it to the end for the Spanish version of X Factor back in 2007. This is her doing Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper from that program.


Fast forward to today - this is her after her successful entrance into the Norwegian band Sirenia in 2008.....and wow!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Bistro Burger...

Brewerkz, bistro burger

Here's an updated look of the Bistro Burger from Brewerkz. Nothing much of this blue cheese burger has changed except that this was a much better picture than the one previously. In the recent years though, the prices have gone up by a few dollars so for what it costs today, it's actually no longer as affordable as before. Speaking of which, if one were to consider the excellent sides of bacon & sautéed mushrooms that came with the Morton's Prime Burger and its heftier and better quality patty, this one probably costed more! Still, the one laudable thing about this Bistro Burger was that it did come with a generous amount of blue cheese, rivalled only by Morton in portions.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Oysters at Ootoya

Ootoya, fried oysters

Perhaps, it had been the initial excitement of having discovered that seasonal Hiroshima oysters were available on the menu at Ootoya that we came down with eager anticipation to try them. These levels of excitement are usually no good because I tend to get disappointed. Which was really what happened here. We left the place feeling not so satisfied with what they had served. For one, the fried oysters wasn't really as juicy or creamy as I had expected and perhaps, being seasonal had made me expect much more out of them. Even the nicely breaded shell didn't save them from the fact that they were lacklustre.
  Ootoya, oyster rice

Likewise with their steamed oyster rice which was a tad shrivelled looking in comparison with the fat succulent shellfish which had imagined. Freshness was probably not the question at hand here since they did taste pretty okay. They just appeared visually disappointing and while at that, had the textures of how they looked like. The flavour of the oysters did not so much permeate the rice as they had claimed and in fact, the hijiki seaweed out more pronounced.
 

What salvaged the dinner was the charcoal grilled pork rice bowl and a chicken karaage with stewed root vegetables served on the side of the oyster set. The former was certainly a consolation with a nice char grill flavour, but had too little rice to go along with. I guess I'll be back to just one option for fried oysters for the time being. This episode has certainly developed me a craving.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Cafe de Hong Kong, Balestier Road

The name Cafe de Hong Kong (586 Balestier Road, #01-01 Eastpac Building, tel : +65 6255 3865) seemed something of a misnomer as I had the impression that it was just one of the numerous Hong Kong cafe places. A friend who had eaten there on a couple of occasions before made mention of the place to me and shed some light on what I had been missing about that place. Apparently, it was not just another one of the char chan teng. This particular restaurant had a spread of offerings on menu that was much larger. Dinner plans were then drawn.


We were informed that the roast chicken had to be pre-ordered and I thought that it was quite unusual for such a common dish need that. It was ok. To me, if felt like a competently done roast chicken with thin crispy skin that was devoid of fat. Pretty enjoyable but not exceptional. There was an accompanying sauce that was made with fermented beancurd. Didn't really do anything to enhance the flavour of the tender bird. In fact, it robbed the chicken of it's aromas.


One of the highlights of the dinner which also require pre-order was their lup mei fan. These were waxed meats cooked in claypot rice and are usually seen during the Chinese New Year festive seasons. I don't know if one could get them in any other times of the year since I haven't had these very often. The waxed meats were apparently prepared by a chef from Hong Kong who had flown over to do them for this season. The lup cheong, liver lup cheong, pork belly and duck were pretty good. Greasy in a nice way, paired with the beady grains of claypot cooked rice that was pretty well done. Exceptionally tasty eaten with the very good chilli which they had provided.


What caught my eye from the menu was their braised crocodile paw. Not something that one gets to see often in restaurants here. This was essentially a stewed dish of a whole crocodile paw with strips of pork belly and some vegetables. I am guessing that some effort had been made for the cooking process which ended up with a rich tasting broth that was slick with collagen that our lips remained sticky after they were wiped clean by paper napkins. The meat tasted so much like chicken that I would not be able to tell if I had to identify it. The skin was soft and textured like sea cucumber. I was pretty impressed by the flavour.


Their French toast was an ad hoc decision after we were told that it was good. For the record, this was probably the best Chinese French toast that I've had. Despite the greasy appearances, the fried exterior was crispy and the bread was light to the point that I could simply stick a butter knife going right through smoothly without a fork. The rest of what made it good was accomplished by the drizzle of honey, butter and the fillings of the creamy peanut butter in the middle of the bread. 

This was one of the dinners that had turned out much better than I had anticipated. Would look forward to returning again some time to try something else. Thanks Alice, for the arrangements and introduction.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Lechon @ the Youth Park

Mang Kiko's Lechon

I think we might have over greased ourselves by a bit this time from all the roasted pork belly at the Mang Kiko's Lechon stall down at the Kopitiam at the Youth Park (121 Somerset Road, National Youth Park, tel : +65 9646 6444). It all started with an order of a half kg of pork belly while we were waiting for a friend to arrive and we had jokingly said that it was just the appetizer to start. After the arrival of the friend, we picked up another half kilograms of the same and another whole roasted chicken with rice to go along. At the end of it, I couldn't help but feel that my arteries were clogged. I had actually been wondering about the amounts of cholesterol and carcinogen I've ingested for tonight. At the same time, we were lamenting about how the only beer that was available at this place was just canned Tigers.

Mang Kiko's Lechon

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Commonweath Cresent Fei Zai Eatery, Holland Village Food Centre


Here's a massive bowl of ba chor mee from this stall (#01-14, Holland Village Food Centre) which I had for lunch. Even though I had requested for the large bowl of noodles, the portions was still unexpectedly big and loaded with meatballs, fish cake, mushrooms, minced meat and liver. In fact, there was so much liver in it that I actually couldn't finish them all. Imagine a ramen bowl size almost filled to the brim. The taste was unfortunately nothing beyond ordinary and the noodles which were a little too well cooked were a far cry from the standards of Tai Hwa. The wad of mee pok was so large that there were some strands of them still clumped together. The rendition from this stall also does not seem to include vinegar which I had to request for separately. Still, it made a cheap ($4) and filling lunch.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Affordable prime ribs...

Hog's Breath prime rib
A heads up if you do not know already that Hog's Breath is having a promotion of sorts for Mondays where the prime ribs are going for a one for one deal. That in short means that two persons can snag themselves a 300g slab of All Natural prime rib (sans the unnecessary toppings) at a nett cost of approximately $20 a person which I honestly think is a pretty good deal. This kinda puts things at the prices that Aston's is selling their steaks for.

Speaking of prime rib, I guess after all these years, Hog's been a fairly reliable place to fall back to for relatively inexpensive prime rib. It's quite unfortunate that the cheapest option that I know of is usually not available to myself, but this place is second best. A change that I've noted though was the increased options of sauces on the side which they now charge a dollar for (free previously). The brown sauce is no longer listed on the menu, but was available at no charge when requested for.

And I am not affiliated with them in anyway, so don't even ask.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Mentaiko katsudon set from Tampopo

Tampopo, mentaiko katsu set

This was a tonkatsu that featured mentaiko stuffings within the cutlet. As good as the idea might have sounded, the execution fell short in the department of flavour. That was not to say that this wasn't a piece of enjoyable tonkatsu. I thought that the flavour from the roe was insufficiently pronounced. Truth was that there was more of that leek/onion aroma while the mentaiko wasbarely discernible. Even though it looked like there was quite a bit of them between the layers of sliced pork. That being said, this layered tonkatsu was pretty tasty. The meat was more tender than the usual hire katsu.

Tampopo, mentaiko katsu