Monday, May 31, 2010

A Hamburg rosti from Shokudo

This was surprisingly not bad. I've never really given much though to this Marché styled, pseudo Japanese food market (252 North Bridge Road, #B1-44E Raffles City Shopping Centre, tel : +65 6837 3793) but in the midst of it all, there was actually something simple that appealed to facets of my craving. It could have been the buttery yet crispy rosti which was tasty or the nicely salted and grilled beef patty strapped with the grill aroma and bits of fragrant onion in them. Was definitely not the best of beef patties, but I wasn't expecting anything remarkable in the first place. I guess it did the job for a quick fix. 

What tasted strange was the sour cream on the side which had a texture like beaten cream from eggs instead of the usual kind.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Entre-nous Creperie, Seah Street

Entre-nous Creperie, Seah Street

This was a Brittany based crepe place (27 Seah Street, #01-01, tel : +65 6333 4671) that I've been wanting to check out for a while. It probably wasn't so much of a coincidence that watching Bourdain in Brittany recently also helped ignite my interest in them. My previous experience with French crepes educated me that I probably shouldn't be visiting one of them if I'm seriously hungry. Even though they weren't exorbitantly expensive, the weren't filling either and it could get pretty expensive adding up.

Entre-nous Creperie, galettela belle, -ile -en mei

Entre-nous Creperie, galettei'ile aux moines

We started off with a couple of the cheesy (yes!) galettes. One that was curiously named i'ile aux moines which means 'island with the monks'? It definitely moved with the right notes in me as there was a pretty generous layer of creamy Roquefort on the insides exuding an aroma of the blue cheese. Perhaps the metaphorical monks being referred to here are the bits of walnuts that added textural character. The other galette was filled with a pungent (and nicely so) and creamy goat cheese drizzled with honey had me sold as well.

Entre-nous Creperie, crepeentre nous (salted caramel butter)

Entre-nous Creperie, crepelemon and sugar

The crepes weren't too bad. Not that I'm any authority of these pancakes but I'd give them a small thumbs up for their flavours. The salted caramel was a robust buttery sweet and savoury piece while the lemon with sugar crepe came with freshly squeezed lemon juice that added a refreshing tart to the bits of sweetness from the sugar. Will definitely consider coming back again someday.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Chikuwa Tei, Mohd Sultan Road

Rising from the ashes of the old Wasabi Tei is Chikuwa Tei (9 Mohamed Sultan Road, #01-01, tel : +65 6738 9395).

Clearly, this place would be of interest to the people who once clamored to the drab 16 seater that once graced Far East Plaza. This new location by the former chef looked almost nothing like before and it seems that quite a bit has changed.

For one there was a larger menu now in the restaurant and there were actually a few wait staff manning the current premise which is much more spacious than before. The place even accepts reservations these days it seems. Changes as they were, did not come totally and some remnants of the old trademark of the now smiley chef could still be seen. Hell, even the cuts of the raw fish looked like before and their ankimo still looked like the maimed chunk of discolored wet clay.

After a few orders, one could also say that the quality of the food did not change but however, portions have become a little less generous and prices have gone up. Certainly, some of the dishes which I've never had the chance to order still came in rather large portions. Noticeably the hearty and comforting oyaku don which came a in a large steaming bowl of rice laden with the sweetish egg, chicken and onion over the top and a very nicely grilled squid which wasn't shabby at all. There were even the seasonal sawagani (small deep fried river crabs) which were lightly salted and nicely crispy and crabby in flavors.

Still, I think I would have preferred the old and regularly overlooked stall back in the day where one could not call up for a seat and had to queue 45 minutes in line waiting for the moment when either the chef of the wife would give the signal that we could enter and be seated. The slightly frantic but subdued shuffling of 16 pairs of feet into the restaurant where customers would quietly eye each other across the U shaped table as they got quickly to the seats and ordered quickly and then proceeded for the next wait over the preparation of the food.

What I had missed about that experience was a sort of anticipation of the unknown coming from the once dreaded service with a scowl.





oyaku don set

chirashi set

cod hot pot set

grilled squid

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hup Choon Seafood, Binjai Park

I was brought here once by a friend previously to this stall (1 Binjai Park, tel : +65 6468 4081) sequestered along a Y junction a little off the main Bt Timah road. I had thought that the food here was a rather good representation of local cookery (cze char) coupled with very affordable prices. The food was not different or fancy in any sense, there were the dishes commonly seen in such stalls and were rather well executed.

Hup Choon Eating House, sweet sour pork

Sweet and sour pork was fried before being stir fried in the sauce. This left the pieces of meat with an outer layer coated with the sweet and sour sauce and yet was still a little crisp. This was one of the dishes I had the first time I was here and it's one of the better done ones I've had around.

Hup Choon Eating House, prawn paste chicken

The prawn paste mid wings were also well fried without excessive grease in the battered skin. Unfortunately, the flavour of the prawn paste could have done with a little more strength. What I personally liked about this was that the meat was quite easily removed from the bones without the use of fingers.

Hup Choon Eating House, oyster omelette

Oyster omelette was pretty decent with a good portion of the smallish fat oysters scattered into the fried egg. Again, I enjoyed this because it wasn't overly oily and the eggs were not fried to death.

Hup Choon Eating House, butter squid

These butter squids didn't taste very buttery at all and were in fact, just battered squid that were again, nicely fried with a crispy exterior and a hint of garlic and chilli.

Hup Choon Eating House, kang kong

Suitably greasy and spicy, the sambal kang kong was both crunchy and flavourful. I've had some pretty bad soggy greens from this dish on various occasions in the past and this was definitely not one of those knock offs.

Hup Choon Eating House, spinach mushrooms

Another obligatory vegetable dish of stir fried abalone mushrooms and spinach.

Hup Choon Eating House, rice

For a table of six with a round of drinks and rice, the bill came up to a mere $58. Very little for me to complain here. If not for the fact that this was a little out of the way, I could see my us coming down with some regularity.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Go! Go! Curry!, ION Orchard

Another chain restaurant that hails from the Shinjuku district of Tokyo which has been brought in by the En Group. Go Go Curry (2 Orchard Turn, #B4-54 ION Orchard, tel : +65 6509 4555) is one of several tonkatsu places that defines itself with their special blend of Japanese curry which is quite the different thing from the usual. For one, it was barely even spicy.

The rich tasting gooey stew like sauce (the curry) had a thicker consistency than regular Japanese curries. The flavors were both sweeter and also perhaps meatier? There wasn't any option for the choice of cuts for the pork katsus, which along with the chicken versions, featured a thinner breaded crust which I kind of liked. The lean meat was still a little juicy on the insides while the cheese options as an addition paid for topping wasn't as appealing as I was hoping for. The gravy could have been much warmer to facilitate the melting of those strips of mozzarella.

Still I thought it was a decent option for curried (or gravied) katsu rice to be had in town and until I've had my take with more from Ginza Bairin, I couldn't really say which one is the better.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hup Lee Fried Bee Hoon, Chong Pang

Hup Lee Fried Bee Hoon, Chong Pang

Here's a couple of servings from Hup Lee fried bee hoon stall at Chong Pang (Blk 101, Yishun Ave 5, Swee Sian Yuan Eating House, #01-03). What I liked about this stall was the fact that the add ons on the side are not steeped in excessive amount of grease and for most of the them, taste freshly fried with that light crisp. Not soggy. Usually. Their eggs were also not over fried to the point that there's a chewy border of idontknowwhattocallthem. Hup Lee also makes a better ngoh heong for a non specialist place where one could taste the bits of water chestnut in them. 

Debatable as to whether they're the king of their hill, but the queue and crowd definitely speaks for itself.

Hup Lee Fried Bee Hoon, Chong Pang

Monday, May 24, 2010

Italiannies, TripleOne Somerset

I first encountered Italiannies (111 Somerset Road, #01-02 TripleOne Somerset, tel : +65 6736 4211) a few years back in Kuala Lumpur at The Curve. Little had I expected that a few years later today, they would be setting up shop here. In spite of what they claim, this was strictly American Italian styled food. Portions were hearty and surprisingly for me, there were certain items on the menu that agreed. Still, this place was a family restaurant chain of sorts. One should keep expectations moderated here.

This spinach and artichoke formaggio was quite hefty for a starter. The dish was a dip with bits of artichokes, mushroom and spinach in a creamy cheesy sauce. It didn't taste bad at all. I suppose it was a wee bit heavy on the grease. It was rich, salty and I thought it was a little too much cream and salt for a single serving.

Clams in olive oil, white wine, garlic, parsley and something that made it spicy. Generous amount of decent tasting clams which were made much better by the delicious broth. It wasn't amazingly good, but it was unexpectedly very tasty.

The Napoli Bianco was a non tomato based meat lovers pizza that didn't exactly have the thinnest thin crust out there. The pie was loaded with ground sausage, salami and bits of chicken. The weight of all that protein and fat simply folded the crust as each slice was lifted off. All that salty meatiness with cheese had me sold.

Grape Shake. Surprisingly very refreshing and clean tasting. We were told it was made with nothing but ice and blended grape. With skin. Definitely one of the better fruit slushies I've ever had. Not to be missed if you want a thirst quencher or make believe that you could actually be scouring off all the richness from your arteries.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ippudo Singapore, Mandarin Gallery


It was the most fortunate thing that I arrived here before the queue started snaking out from the entrance at Ippudo (333A Orchard Road, #04-02/03/04 Mandarin Gallery, tel : +65 6235 2797). A few moments later, and I would have been on of those standing in line wondering why are the seated people taking so long just to finish a bowl of ramen. One of the main reasons that prompted me to try them out were that it was recommended by some friends and that Ippudo does Hakata styled ramen which was the type of tonkotsu (pork bone based) broth with straight noodles which I liked. I must admit that the owner, being dubbed Ramen King did intrigue me a little. Still I told myself to set realistic expectations of what I'd be getting.

To start off with a couple of broad strokes, the option of the hard ramen was certainly appreciated and the shoyu flavors in the egg were barely perceptible. The latter was certainly unexpectedly so since Marutama did their egg so much better.

Ippudo, shiromaru

The shiromaru with egg bowl was basically the straightforward tonkotsu based ramen with no frills. Interestingly, the soup had a depth of porkiness which is often not very noticeable and despite being so, it was not overly heavy. The sliced pork that was used also came with a stronger flavor of pork than the pork belly that was included in the akamaru bowl.

Ippudo, akamaru

The akamaru ramen had a more interesting broth in terms of the blend of flavour. It definitely had more dimensions coming with the faint taste from the blackened garlic oil and that dollop of miso. The diced onions that came with each spoonful of broth added to that effect and it turned out to be quite balanced without any of the flavors being overwhelming. That also seemed to reduce the porkiness of the broth which the shiromaru had.

Couldn't find anything to really fault the thin slices of soy infused pork belly slices in this ramen except for the fact that they were a little small.

Ippudo, pork buns

Interesting pork buns with delectable meat. The meat was in really small portion.

I suppose I liked Ippudo but the queue as it seemed to be still, would probably keep me away. I could always drop by places like Tampopo or Ichibantei for a quick fix of tonkotsu ramen instead. Those guys are pretty decent too.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Monster Green from RedDot

Here occured the unlikely event that I headed back to RedDot Brewhouse and I managed a glass of their spirulina infused Monster Green brew for the sake of curiosity. I couldn't say that I could taste anything out of the ordinary and all the green did make me anticipate a seaweed flavor of sorts, but it was all very ordinary instead.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

An onion and ghee thosai from Sri Kamala Vilas

The thosai today at Sri Kamala Vilas was much more enjoyable than the previous time that I was here. It must have been because the crispy skins were soaked with the cheesy and buttery tasting ghee .The strips of chopped onions in the fillings tasted crunchy, fresh and sweet. Today, I noticed that there were actually pieces of radish in with the sambar as well.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Hometown Kitchen (家鄉小廚)?

家鄉小廚, People's Park Complex

What got my attention from 家鄉小廚 at People's Park Complex (#01-67/68 People's Park Complex, 1 Park Road) was the queue that was snaking out for what was claimed to be freshly steamed Shan Dong baos (山东包) - which were essentially steamed buns with meat and/or vegetable fillings or not. It took me passing by a couple of times before I gave in to curiosity and decided to give it two gos.

These steamed buns came in three configurations of meat and vegetables, just vegetables and those that do not come with fillings. Apparently, the queues that form outside the stall are mostly for the ones with fillings and each freshly steamed batch lasts only for minutes before they're sold out. The taste of these buns weren't too bad at all with generous minced meat fillings dripping with juices. The skin however wasn't of the light fluffy variety that I was hoping for. What further interested me to this place was the sides of dishes which one could order to eat alongside the steam buns. Notably tasty were the lightly salted and very crunchy long beans, spicy and springy dried bean curd skin and interestingly, marinated pig ears that had a mix of both meaty and crunchy texture from the cartilage.

家鄉小廚, People's Park Complexpork tripe, beef tripe and long beans

家鄉小廚, People's Park Complexpork tripe, pig ears and strips of dried bean curd skin (tau kee)

家鄉小廚, People's Park Complex家鄉小廚, People's Park Complexinnards of the pork and onion bun

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Saint Pierre, Central Mall

Saint Pierre
This degustation dinner at St Pierre (3 Magazine Road, #01-01 Central Mall, tel : +65 6438 0887) had been a voyage of so many flavours that I'm at a loss on how to start describing. From the Parma ham and Parmesan crusted bread sticks, sun dried tomato crisps to the breaded sticks of fried sardines to be dipped in aioli, to the peach coloured droplets of full bodied salmon mousse or the salted French butter, every item was prepared with considerable care for flavours. And those were just amuse bouche.

To be fair, not everything was bogglingly good. There were things that probably would have made one go "it wasn't too bad" or "I'm not sure I'm too impressed with this". Still, the after dinner satisfaction spoke some about my impression with the food quality and the service.

Saint Pierre, bread
Saint Pierre, lobster cannellonibasil scented cannelloni of lobster & scallop mousse with tarragon cream and confit of new carrot

Saint Pierre, briochebrioche

Saint Pierre, foie grasclassic pan-fried foie gras with caramelised green apples and old port sauce

I've heard quite a bit about St. Pierre and their foie gras. This might not have been their best representation as it wasn't as quivery as I would have liked for an ideal doneness. The flavours were intense and aromatic and I thought it was a pity that they were slightly overcooked.

Saint Pierre, foie gras terrinearmagnac marinated foie gras terrine with homemade brioche, shallot marmalade and Japanese cress salad

The foie gras terrine here was probably the best that I've had so far. There was a depth of creaminess in the texture that I've never encountered for any other similar terrines and the Armagnac marination of the liver enhanced gave the liver a pleasant depth. 

Saint Pierre, eggssoft poached egg with zita pasta, green asparagus, iberico ham and matsutake mushroom duxelle

This one definitely one of my favourites for the night because of the simplicity of the individual flavour of the component and also in spite of the fact that the poached egg had a totally solid yolk. The asparagus was poached with a nice crunch and paired off very well with the aromatic and salty Iberico ham; basically the two stars of the plate for me.

Saint Pierre, risottorisotto of momotaro tomato confit, chorizo & sea urchin with baby squid tempura and parmesan emulsion

Did not expect the taste of the risotto reminded me of glutinous rice dumplings. Didn't expect also for the chorizos to taste like lup cheong. Based on the ingredients that were listed for the risotto, I had no idea how things turned up that way. There wasn't any baby squid tempura in there.

Saint Pierre, fishbutter roasted john dory with late season truffle puree, baby leeks, ratte potatoes and champagne emulsion

This was good stuff. But I was quite sure that the truffle puree had more than a little bit to do with that.

Saint Pierre, breadmore bread with olive tapenade

Saint Pierre, lambroasted lamb rack with smoked eggplant, asian spiced courgette, macadamia nut and stuffed baby zucchini

Properly done roast lambs where it retained enough the natural flavour of the meat. I believe in the natural flavour from lamb or otherwise, there wouldn't be a point to eating them at all. This rendition from St. Pierre was pink and superb. For all I've said, the best praise I suppose would be that I would order them again.

Saint Pierre, beef short rib72-hour braised beef short rib with garlic puree, roasted onions, spring vegetable and lime scented sugar

Probably the best beef rib I've come across. Not that I've eaten a lot of them. The inside of the braised ribs was the vibrant shade of pink of medium rare. The texture of the meat was tender. Everything else about it sort of became secondary.

Saint Pierre, pre dessertpre dessert

Saint Pierre, dessertlemon parfait with lemon cream, rosemary crumble, yoghurt sorbet and lemon cress

Saint Pierre, petit fourspetit fours