Sunday, October 31, 2010

Our Food Story, Chinatown Point

Wasn't much of a story to be told here (Chinatown Point, Block 133 New Bridge Road, #01-01A) in this little restaurant attached to the Korean grocery joint down in Chinatown Point. The food might have been home styled but it left us little interest in returning. Let's see - their spicy tuna jigae was made from shredded canned tuna instead of pieces of the fish.

Couldn't find much redemption from that small portioned kimchi fried rice which packed the barest of flavour of kimchi. It looked like it was microwaved with some sliced cheese. Not that I was expecting a dizzying spread out of the banchan but they were quite forgettable and there wasn't any refills to speak of. I've had much better kimchi from Koufu at Toa Payoh Central.

So there you go, my food story.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Specials from Da Mario

Well, these didn't exactly look that special, but they were picked from the Specials section of their menu. Basically, a starter of scamoza cheese wrapped in some prosciutto crudo di Parma with a sprinkle of pepper and some rockets followed by egg tagliatelle with Porcini and shaven black truffles in a light cream sauce.

The choice of starter turned out to be the most satisfying for me since I had pretty much had a Warrior's diet for the day and the onrush of the salt from the milky curd cheese and ham was exactly what my body was craving for. The chewy cheese weren't the smoked variety and were probably just lightly pan fried with very little browning. Still things came together very nicely with the nutty ham for a great savory finish.

So, what did I think of the pasta? It was timely cooked, still had the hint of egg even though it was doused in the cream sauce loaded with various fungi. I did think that the flavors tonight could have been one of those good instances of a well balanced robustness, redolent of mushrooms instead of being excessive at that. It lingered with my burps even after a bottle of wine and a pint. Overall, was an enjoyable choice for my late impromptu dinner.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pu Tien Restaurant, Marina Square

I had been wanting to give this place (6 Raffles Boulevard, #02-205 Marina Square, tel : +65 6336 4068) a try for the longest time now. Now that I have, I ended up with pretty mixed feelings about the restaurant. I did honestly find the food enjoyable in spite of the small portions for each serving. The wait staff like troopers, put up with an admirable plasticity to the incessant queries from the maddening queue on the statuses of the tables. What threw off a possibly good impression for a start was that we still had to wait for over half an hour despite having made reservations already.

If I were to be asked what I had liked about the food, I guess it would be pretty much everything was enjoyable except for the desserts. The sweet and sour pork was decently done and their signature fried bee hoon was probably a little bit overrated in my opinion. Still liked it though. Their sweet chilled seaweed and springy textured braised pig intestines (that looked like it was stuffed with more intestines) flavored in some Chinese wine more than made up it. Not to mention too, a very plate of fresh tasting fried Chinese mustard and their interesting rendition of what tasted like a stir fried sweet and sour century egg.

A pity about that pumpkin cream which was really drowned out by the coconut flavors and sweet potatoes that were suspiciously soft to the point that I didn't quite enjoy them. It didn't quite help that the ginger tea that was served along with them was more sugary than gingery. Didn't enjoy the lukewarm fried potato balls that was a tad greasy and floury tasting with the fillings neither.

And oh yeah, I did say that the bee hoon was overrated. I didn't say it was bad. Au contraire.


Putien styled century egg

braised stuffed pig intestines

sweet and sour pork with lychee

stir fried Chinese mustard

fried "Hing Wa" bee hoon

pumpkin cream with ice cream

Japanese sweet potato

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Javier's Rotisserie & Salad Bar, Orchard Cineleisure

Javier's Rotisserie & Salad Bar, beef

This place (8 Grange Road, Cathay Cineleisure Orchard, #B1-03/04/05/K4 S239695) sure kindles me the memories of Ponderosa back in the day when they still graced these shores and I was but a mere kid. A lot of that kindling probably came from the layout of their salad bar and the selections they had. Not to mention that Javier's Rotisserie is run by the people from our local chain of pretty respectable steakhouses, Aston's, whose owner was formerly from Ponderosa. I wouldn't dispute that these were also the guys that lengthened the yardstick for the general masses on the quality of grilled beef on this island in the recent years since they've established themselves.

Javier's Rotisserie & Salad Bar, salad
Mnemonic embers and the current history of plated bovine aside, the food was pretty decent. To simply put, one chooses a meat of choice and helps themselves over a spread of warm and cold salads. Rotisserie and salad bar. I found the beef nicely done, enjoyable as what I could reasonably expect from such a joint. Although I did think it might have benefited from being served a little warmer than it was. Don't even think about getting that antiquated Kenny Roger's into comparison for their roasted birds. The latter's only salvation these days are the corn bread and their mac & cheese.

What did appeal to me was the salad bar though it wasn't quite that feeling that I had as a child, standing, spoilt for choice and wondering what was good. They even had that coleslaw which tasted exactly like the ones I liked at Aston's.

Javier's Rotisserie & Salad Bar, salad

It was a little quiet down on a Saturday afternoon. I sure hope that business picks up for them so that they can stay around.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gaia Korean Restaurant, Suntec City

This place (3 Temasek Boulevard, #03-10/12 Suntec City Mall, tel : +65 6339 3313) wasn't too bad. There were actually some real Koreans amongst their service staff and among their customers as well. Perhaps a healthy sign. Their Gaia kotsal featured nicely marbled short rib and we had intentionally selected them for their lack of marinade.

The kimchee jigae initially appeared to be disappointing as it totally lacked the sour punch I was looking for to go with the spiciness. It even tasted slightly thin until at some point when it had cooled down that the broth got a little more viscous and the flavours suddenly became pretty intense. Definitely something I could come back for. Not so impressive was the dogani tang which was described as ox bone soup which contained beef tendons instead. The milky hued broth was actually pretty bland (and not very beefy) without the additional salt and pepper. I should just stick to spicy Korean food.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dim sum @ East Ocean

I don't think I'm much of a fan of the dim sum at East Ocean in comparison to say Crystal Jade Golden Palace or Imperial Treasure. That's not to say that the food that they do here is mediocre. Most of the items we had didn't quite push the right buttons. The char siew pau could have had a fluffier skin. Their pan fried radish cake didn't have a crispy skin was definitely not as creamy inside as we would have liked. Also had much better century egg porridge than the ones here.

On the bright side, their sizeable duo shrimp-ed har gao were not bad. Liked their rich tasting salted yolk custard bun. Thumbs up for the water chestnut dessert as well. I don't eat those very often, but this were pretty good with chunks of water chestnuts along with large flakes of egg in there. There were some amusing animal shaped dim sum items that I didn't get to order. Some of the portions of food here were just too big for two and real estate is always too limited

East Ocean dim sumprawn ball crusted with sliced almonds

East Ocean dim sumfried minced meat on lotus root slices

East Ocean dim sumcentury egg porridge

East Ocean dim sumsiew mai

East Ocean dim sumchar siew pao

East Ocean dim sumchilled pig fallopian tube

East Ocean dim sumhar gao

East Ocean dim sumpan fried radish cake

East Ocean dim sumsalted yolk custard bun

East Ocean dim sumwater chestnut with egg dessert

Saturday, October 16, 2010

East Ocean Teochew Restaurant, Shaw Centre

Have been wanting to take a look at this place (1 Scotts Road, #02-18 Shaw Centre, tel : +65 6235 9088) for the longest time now, but it seemed that this restaurant was one of those places that became out of mind when out of sight. This visit actually happened because we were in the vicinity and were actually making our way past Shaw Centre when we saw it and decided that it was time to give them a try.

East Ocean charges a small sum for a package of amenities that the restaurant provides. It includes as I remember some Chinese tea served in little Chinese tea cups, wet paper napkins, pickles that you get when the table is laid and even condiments. So if you should opt out of any of those items because you felt that it wasn't necessary to pay for them, you don't get them all.

We started off with an order of fried cuttlefish tentacles which was really, the largest assed ones which I've ever eaten. Figuratively of course. For appetizers, they came in pretty large portions as well. Fortunately, these cuttlefish tentacles were pretty good with a nice crispy flavored batter which weren't overly greasy. I had a little unfounded fear that all that batter might have upset the rest of my appetite for dinner, but it didn't turn out that way after all.

There seemed to be some seasonal hairy crab promotion that they were having so we decided to try their hairy crab roe and meat xiao long bao for the heck of it. Turns out that these larger than usual dumplings were pretty good. Even though they were slightly less "juicy" than the regular variety, the larger size and the yellowish roe stained juices in it with crabby flavors made up for it.

We picked out the pork ribs in strawberry sauce because it sounded interesting. Fortunately, it didn't taste quite the same as the ribs I had in Wan Hao some years back. The flavors of the fruit in the sauce was noticeable, but was unfortunately contested by the marinate in the meat of the ribs. To be fair, this wasn't a gimmicky dish. It just didn't quite balance out in the flavors unless one ate them with the strawberry slices they used for decoration.

Another item which caught our attention from the seasonal crab menu was their braised noodles with hairy crab roe and meat. It looked frankly, a little disappointing in comparison with that creamy luscious sauce that we saw on the picture of the menu. In truth, this was pretty good stuff in spite of appearances. The sauce was of finely minced crab flesh blended with a rich flavor of the roe. It was also however, pretty small in portions and I wished there was more of it. Even the noodles had a good chewy texture.

We hit the fried rice with goose liver since the regular fried rice costs merely 3 dollars less and it really didn't make much sense ordering that. This wasn't too bad if a little greasy. I'm sure I've had better, but I wouldn't really knock this one off since it was honestly not mediocre, being nicely textured with various bits of chopped vegetables, sausages and goose liver.

This was some sort of red bean kueh that was complimentary. It seems that there would be some complimentary dessert item served around the tables at the end of meals and what you got depended on what they had at the time you were getting it. It appeared to be a regular kueh, but I couldn't taste any traces of coconut and this stuff was very loaded with red beans. It tasted kinda good in small servings actually.

I remember a time as a child doing meals with my parents in Chinese restaurants and we would invariably end up ordering mango puddings for dessert. We used to know which places had puddings with mango cubes in them and which ones didn't or didn't have any flavors in the pudding itself. I haven't been ordering this dessert for quite a long while and this one was okay if not overly impressive. There were real mango cubes in them, but the flavors in the pudding were a tad subdued.

This was hashima in almond and coconut. Pretty good warm dessert which wasn't excessively sweet. We realised that the almond soup within thickened quite a bit after we had scraped the flesh off the insides of the young coconut, becoming more viscous.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Samy's Curry Restaurant, Dempsey Road

Samy's Curry Restaurant, Dempsey Road
It seemed that we had inadvertently picked some of the popular dishes down at Samy's Curry (25A Dempsey Road, Tanglin Village (Dempsey Hill Green), tel : +65 6472 2080) which I was informed, was a sort of institution for South Indian food that's been around for like 5 decades. This, was however my first visit. A reminder for myself -  air conditioning might not be great indoors but al fresco also meant being lanced mercilessly by mosquitoes.

So what was it that I liked here? Their creamy dhal was unexpectedly delicious. Curried potatoes were more fragrant than I had imagined. Both were well done. Along with that tasty fish cutlet which was a mix of minced fish and potatoes if I'm not wrong - fried up in a patty like a begedil.

The rich tasting masala chicken did pack quite a bit of heat but was otherwise unexceptional. Like the tandoori chicken which was rather ordinary. Their signature fish head curry was thicker and spicier than what they served down at Muthu's. I suppose it wasn't too bad.

I wouldn't mind returning to try something else. I did enjoy the wash down of their creamy masala tea which they seemed in a hurry of serving.

Samy's Curry Restaurant, fish head curryfish head curry

Samy's Curry Restaurant, tandoori chickentandoori chicken

Samy's Curry Restaurant, masala chickenmasala chicken

Samy's Curry Restaurant, fish cutletsfish cutlet

Samy's Curry Restaurant, masala teamasala tea

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Beef bone broth ramen from Tampopo

Tampopo, gyukotsu ramen
This was a a beef bone broth ramen that Tampopo (391 Orchard Road, B2-33 Takashimaya Shopping Centre, tel : +65 6235 2318) is currently having on a limited run.

Curiously, the original broth had the inclusion of sesame oil which kinda detracted the mild beefy flavour while the wasabi version didn't have the faintest hint of wasabi. It was instead cleaner tasting because of the lack of sesame oil. I'm not too sure what to make out of this new ramen but I suppose I wouldn't mind having them if they made it to the regular menu. They should probably do away with the sweet and spicy marinate for the slice of overcooked yakiniku which really didn't do much.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chin Mee Chin Confectionary, East Coast Road

Wouldn't say that the coffee here (204 East Coast Road) was exceptional. In fact it was quite ordinary. But the place held a kind of charm created by a time capsule. The kind of charm that included the cacophonous din of vehicle traffic, clinks off the ceramic cups and saucers, raising voices of various Chinese dialects, thunks of metal flask, cool breezy draft from the age stained ceiling fans and the eggy aroma wafting from the back of freshly whisked kaya.

This place was the type of local coffee shop that was common decades back. It's now serving old time regulars and attracting the attention of people like me who didn't remember them much from the time when I was really young. Just coffee and confectionary and a cool shady place from the heat with home made kaya on toasted buns that are baked just right in the back.