Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lunching at Mayim

This was certainly one of those satisfying lunches. I've realised that I haven't really talked about the food here in Mayim in my previous mention of the place. Certainly, it wasn't because of the food being forgettable. There's definitely stuff here which I liked and some which didn't impress me much.

The roast meat noodle selection here were some of the items which I thought were worth returning for. It's probably more of the roast meat for me than the noodles which were unfortunately not springy and firm enough to further raise my eyelid. Especially not after having had some pretty awesome ones out of the country and a surprising good rendition at Canton-i. Today, we landed our selves some tasty roasted duck and a fattier than expected roast pork belly. The fat from the pork didn't quite disintegrate as I am normally hoping for, but it was still agreeably soft, coupled with a nicely crispy crackling.

This would be a stir fried spinach with pork belly, lup cheong and bits of bacon. Pretty meaty for a vegetable dish if you asked me and that's always a reason why I like ordering this. The greens make me feel less guilty of the grease which also incidentally, flavors the vegetables very nicely.

Very nicely done steaming har gow with chunky pieces of shrimp in them. Definitely a benchmark item for dim sum places. This was in leagues better than the ones at Red Star and part of the reasons for ordering them was so that I could exorcise the residual phantoms of the ones left in my memory.

Slightly misshapened they might be, but these are one of the better siew mais to be had around. Their crude shape holds together chunky pieces of shrimp, bits of pork and cubes of mushroom, all of which are individually identifiable in their own flavors. Nice stuff.

These creamily textured radish cake with a nicely browned crisp on the outside are always a weakness of mine. Excellent carbo fix if you're looking for something tastier than regular rice.

The dim sum variety at Mayim is admittedly quite limited, but they've scored a few hits with me to ensure re-visits.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Small Potatoes Make The Steak Look Bigger : Year Four

Geez....it's been so long huh?

Quite a lot has changed since the time when I was procrastinating with the creation of my account with Blogger. That certainly didn't feel so far back. In several blinks of the eye, this milestone marker post is telling me that I've been doing this for 4 years and counting. My camera/old mobile phone counter tells me that it's been a fun ride of several thousands of photos. So much has happened in between the spaces of these past few years which have made me almost stop. So many changes have occurred. I've never really talked about them, but I guess it doesn't really matter since this site is still up.

How many people are still reading this?

Red Star Restaurant, Chin Swee Road

Red Star Restaurant, Chin Swee Road

I've been asked by some friends to give this place (Blk 54 Chin Swee Road #07-23, tel : +65 6532 5266) a try on numerous occasions and I've never gotten the chance to come down until today after shopping for glass jars. 

It was more than just a little disappointing considering that they're treated as an iconic institution that are supposed to be the place to go for old school dim sum. It didn't help at the end of the meal when I realised that it actually costs less to eat a Crystal Jade Golden Palace where the food was much more refined and tasted a lot better. This aged stained place might have been a sight for nostalgia with their decor of a bygone era and trolleys of dim sum in steamed bamboo baskets which are carted around that one had to rush for. I'm definitely not convinced of returning. Not when the best food we had I could pick was just a plate of stir fried vegetables, a bowl century egg porridge and egg tarts.

Red Star Restaurant, dim sum Red Star Restaurant, dim sum Red Star Restaurant, dim sum Red Star Restaurant, dim sum Red Star Restaurant, dim sum

These har gao deserved mention because it tasted very little of prawns and the fillings were a floury lump that left a chalky feel on the tongue. As a main stay of dim sum, it was very disappointing.

Red Star Restaurant, dim sum Red Star Restaurant, dim sum

Honorary mentions also had to be made for the ubiquitous char siew bao which had dark and dry-ish minced pork fillings. Like they were unique to this restaurant. Didn't think they were tasty. Even the generic factory made ones in coffee shops tasted better.

Red Star Restaurant, dim sum

I'm normally one for pan fried radish cakes but these were far from the creamy ones I was imagining.

Red Star Restaurant, dim sum Red Star Restaurant, dim sum

I was hoping to find some salvation in the department of desserts. Their black sesame paste was so starchy that even when it was relatively warm, it had already formed a skin at the surface. The black sesame flavour was weak and it was a little too sweet for me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Marché, 313 @ Somerset

These pictures were taken over a few visits at Marché. I was a little surprised that the variety of their offerings have increased by a little and the standards of the food was noticeably better than what I remember them for. Blue cheese and strawberry crepe with enough of that moldy pungent milk curd to put a smile on my face....who would've thought?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ximending, VivoCity

Naming a restaurant that serves Taiwanese food called Ximending (1 HarbourFront Walk, #01-51A VivoCity, tel : +65 6376 8018) is akin to having a restaurant in another country called Orchard Road because it serves Singaporean food. Heh! 

It seems that the entrants of Taiwanese cuisine here are making their play upmarket as well. Most of what was served here came in large portions meant for sharing. What bugged me was that they charged for every bowl of sweet potato porridge (they tasted pretty good but still...) that was ordered. 

The fried oysters were pretty mediocre. Tasted exactly like something that could be bought from the local pasar malam. No way I'm ever paying the prices here again. Waste of money.

We got the cue to order their chai poh (preserved radish) omelette after seeing them on another table. They were quite tasty albeit a little more greasy than I normally prefer. The nicely browned omelette was loaded with the bits of preserved radish. Looked like a thick pancake and was quite substantial.

Their Taiwanese styled fried kang kong wasn't so much an obligatory dish of greens. We wanted to have some crunchy stir fried vegetables. This plate was stir fried in fermented bean curd sauce. Turned out to be the more memorable dish among the few we tried. Something that I would look forward to if I we came back. Regarding that braised pork belly with mustard greens some of you might been wondering; it tasted pretty much like the way it looked. Quivery, tender cuts of meat layered with soft fat that fell apart when you popped them into the mouth.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Do I spy ankimo on my chirashizushi?

Here's a look at a revisit at Chikuwa Tei. The food here has pretty much kept to the standards of how it was remembered from the last visit and the one thing that was different was that they've started serving their little appetizer dish again to all the patrons. It wasn't the old hijiki seaweed stuff today though, but a stewed soft root vegetables and minced chicken with the same broth as before.

There was an unexpected piece of ankimo for the chirashi which also featured rather surprisingly fatty cuts of all the fishes and some sinewy toro. And a little score off the unajyu having a mixture of regular grained rice and the Japanese variety. The texture of the rice mixture was downright noticeable from the start. I wonder if that's cost savings down there.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Good Chance Popiah Eating House, Silat Avenue

Good Chance Popiah

I remember having had poh piah that you had to roll yourself ages ago but can't for my life remember when or where it was. Recently, I had a poh piah craving and it lead me to this old shop (Blk 149 Silat Ave, #01-58, tel : +65 6271 0698) which is a family business being run by the third generation. There was definitely an air of old school about the place from the decor to the food presentation - or lack of. 

The main stay of the business which was poh piah is served deconstructed. Portions are determined according to estimated number of people eating them. What they offered were just the basic ingredients for the spring rolls. Extras like shrimp or lup cheong were add ons that you had to pay extra for. It wasn't really cheap poh piah here.

Good Chance Popiah

This was my first attempt at constructing the spring roll as I can recall. Without prior experience, I made them as I remembered from how they were prepared stalls when I bought them. It's actually easy peasy.

Good Chance Popiah

And this turned out to be a successful wrap. Shovel in too much fillings and the tends to skin break apart as they are rolled up, so don't. The stewed vegetables tasted quite different from the regular spring rolls outside and the chilli paste here was tongue prickingly awesome.

Good Chance Popiah

These hay cho (prawn ball fritters) were also a signature from the restaurant. Tasted not bad as they were freshly fried.

Good Chance Popiah

Their otah awesome item number two. While I couldn't identify the ingredients, I thought they had just the right combination of flavours and noticeable bits of fish meat. What made these steamed otahs good as well, was that they were actually spicy.

Good Chance Popiah

The yam fish head soup tasted unexpectedly bland. There were bits of yam which were boiled to the point where they were starting to disintegrate. I'm not sure what to make of this dish. Maybe the idea here was for it to be a light tasting soup.

Good Chance Popiah

To complete with a carb, we ordered a portion of their traditional dark Hokkien mee. To indulging in a little euphemism, I'd say that it tasted great with a generous slosh of vinegar. The original flavour weren't the least robust. Most of it came from the bits of garlic. Didn't hold a candle to the lard laden and much darker renditions that I've tried in Kuala Lumpur.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Kusabi, The Central

This (6 Eu Tong Sen Street, #01-68/69 The Central @ Clarke Quay,tel : +65 6225 9415) place is a relatively new outlet of yet, another ramen-ya, which are springing up all over town. Kusabi as I read hails from the Fukushima prefecture and apparently, what makes their ramen special is the use of bonito powder for their broth base and the flour for their noodles are apparently also infused with bonito and sardines.

I couldn't say that their uobushi tonkotsu broth bowl of ramen was anything impressive by any standards. The moderated smoky aroma from the bonito turned out to be the dominant flavor and while was actually pretty tasty, took out any traces of the tonkotsu base in the broth. The noodles were thicker than the regular Sapporo variety and much as I tried, couldn't detect any real differences in terms of taste from normal noodles apart from texture. The porky charshu was dismally stiff and the egg was far from what I was hoping for in terms of doneness. Both of which were also lacking in the flavors of shoyu that I was expecting. That was something that Marutama does noticeably much better.

Despite being so, I wouldn't discount this place as of yet since they do have tsukemen on menu and those Nikumaki rice balls that they have look pretty good.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bedrock Bar & Grill, Pan Pacific Serviced Suites

Hmmm, this was definitely a place (96 Somerset Road, #01-05 Pan Pacific Serviced Suites, tel : +65 6238 0054) that I wouldn't mind returning to. The service was unexpectedly very professional in a way where by it was almost personal, yet not intrusive. I'm hoping that that wouldn't be a one off thing, but in any event, the food was also part of the reason why I would look forward to returning. With a streamlined menu that had a focus, I somehow have a feeling that this was one of the restaurants that got their priorities right.

They had a flat bread that was freshly baked just before serving. This was one point up for starters which also featured some (baked?) garlic that was aromatic and soft in a creamy way that the cloves could be spread like soft butter.This was one of those things that I had to be wary about in a good way since it made one stuff themselves way too much before the other food was served. These guys even offered refills for them which I couldn't refuse.

We had their applewood smoked tomato soup for starters which was probably one of the best if not the best representative of tomato soups I've had. The consistency was creamy without having actual cream and I thought that it struck a good balance of being smoky and tart without being overly so. What I liked about it too, was that it wasn't a heavy soup for a starter.

We couldn't pass up the roasted bone marrow on toast and it arrived just like I imagined it. What won us over was that it was heart clogging rich, gooey and hot..... robustly flavored on top of well buttered toast sticks. I've always held the sensation of having roasted marrow akin to eating foie gras.

The focus of Bedrock Bar and Grill apart from their whiskeys are of course, their steaks. We landed ourselves a 300g dry aged striploin and a 400g Australian ribeye. The place was a little dark and my hands were definitely not the surest with a camera, so the pictures here didn't quite do justice to how they really looked. But to make things short, they arrived at a very nicely done medium rare, firm yet juicy with beefy flavors. And hey, it's much easier on the wallet than Morton's is.

I sometimes get confused between hunger and gluttony, so I didn't know which of it made us decide to top the order up with a side of their mac and cheese which the server recommended to be something we had to try. Mostly, we were sold because he mentioned the use of blue cheese. The blue cheese that was used was unfortunately a tad weak, but the pleasant surprise was that the server had actually anticipated that and offered extras of that blue cheese sauce that they used. The cream at the bottom of the dish was rich, but not heavy at all. The crusty Parmesan over the top was definitely icing for the macaroni and did I forget to mention, that it was "perfumed" as such things are often described, by truffle oil.

The steaks were actually also accompanied by a selection of house made sauces, none of which was put to good use by us except for the pinot noir which made a pretty good dip for the accompanying bread. That was definitely not to say that the sauces were bad, but we were definitely coming here because we enjoyed beef for the natural meat flavors and the irony of robust sauces is that they defeat that purpose. We did managed to sample through the flavors and found the bearnaise to be pretty good, if strangely different from any other bearnaise sauces that we've had. The chilli oil was a little too Asian for steaks.

The dessert was unfortunately, not impressive. This was supposed to be a red velvet cake and the pieces of beetroot in the otherwise ordinary cake coated in cream cheese made them taste a little strange to me. It was a little letdown here considering that the rest of the dinner brought smiles to our faces. Still, I'm not about to deduct any points over here just for that. I'm sure they have something else that can redeem this for us.