Thursday, June 30, 2011

Luke's Oyster Bar | Chop House, Gemmill Lane

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House
Travis Masiero, formerly of a few places has done it again apparently. This time round, it's a cleanly furbished oyster bar and grill joint (20 Gemmill Lane, tel : + 65 6221 4468) off one end of Club Street that serves seafood that are as I read, imported from Maine. Apparently, the oysters and the lobsters are the much talked about things that one could order around here.

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, green goblinGreen Goblin

Clean tasting refreshing drink that I thought served well as a palate cleanser. I think there was cucumber in it though I do not remember what else went to make the drink. Enjoyable.

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, corn breadhouse made corn bread

These corn bread came with whipped butter on the side and a sprinkle of what looked to be paprika. Cutting to the kernel of it (lol!), the flavours of the corn were robust. Definitely one of the better ones if not the best in town.

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, tuna tartaretuna tartare

Excellent tuna tartare was served at Luke's. The clean flavours of the chopped tuna went along nicely with a fragrant soy based dressing with a hint of citrus and chives. This was a western version of negitoro on toast if you would. It almost felt like eating sashimi here. This was definitely worth coming back for.

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, fried oyster po boysfried oyster po boys

Their oyster po boys were served bite sized. The crispy battered oysters were of a smaller variety and were nicely fried. I couldn't however taste much of them as a lot of the flavours came from the delicious coleslaw dressing. I have no idea what it was made with.

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, oyster pan roastMFK Fisher's oyster pan roast, sea urchin toast, smoked paprika and bottarga

Luke's oyster pan roast was in short, a smokey cream based oyster soup. Albeit one that is expertly done where the cream was rich and not excessively so while harbouring a more than subtle hint of the fat oysters swimming in there. I had a little difficulty identifying the smoked paprika and bottarga there, but what the heck. I wished there were more oysters and for as hard as I tried, I couldn't derive any of the uni-ness from the toast. In fact, the toast contained a pungent flavour I normally associate with blue cheese. In short, I enjoyed it.

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, clam chowderLuke's clam chowder, sage butter and little neck clams

The other shellfish soup was a little more peppery and filled quite generously with the little neck clams. Again, easily one of the better clam chowders I've had.

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, tenderloin au poivreboned in tenderloin au poivre, mustard cognac jus

A very expertly done, medium rare tenderloin with a pepper corn crust cradled in a plateful of savoury sauce that was the mustard cognac jus. Enjoyed every bit of it down to the bone.

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, lobster mac and cheeselobster mac and cheese

The creamy portions of the mac and cheese reminded me of the soups we had earlier. Robust, thin in consistency and not cloying. This one also inherited more than a little hint of the natural sweetness of lobster.

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, banana coconut crumblebanana and coconut crumble, avocado ice cream

Luke's banana and coconut crumble was deceptively light despite of appearances. One could possibly imagine the taste and texture formed by sweet and semi melted bananas along with bits of shredded coconut, warm flaky pastry and crumbles. Nothing very surprising here in terms of flavours, just an enjoyable pastry well done. Didn't think too much of the avocado ice cream though.

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, key lime piekey lime pie

This was possibly the first time I had enjoyed meringue. The ones from the key lime pie were soft and definitely not excessively sweet. The key lime custard was robust and packed with lime zest which created a nice bitter after note. The crushed cracker base (assuming that it was that) tasted oat-y-ier rather than buttery. I thought this was quite nicely done here.

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House
I'm very tempted to drop by again really soon, but the prices here are pretty steep.

mystery diner "A"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Indian food from Tanjong Pagar Railway

The crowd and queues at the stalls were mad on a weekend, but we persisted and managed to get us some freshly baked chapati with keema and fried Indian rojak. Because they were freshly made and still piping hot, the chapati pieces were airy and light. All of the lightness pretty much went away with the oil drenched keema and with the assorted "deep fried from a trough" items from the Indian rojak. Both made for a greasy lunch. I wouldn't say that these were the best I've had around, but I couldn't complain neither.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Singapore Food Trail, Singapore Flyer

The original intention was to come down here (Level 1, Singapore Flyer, 30 Raffles Avenue) to check out the promotion Guinness had with a couple of the hawker stalls. In the end, we ordered a spread from the various stalls down at the Food Trail. What did I like about the food here? 

The compact poh piah was pretty decent if a little expensive ($2 a roll). Oyster omelette was competently done and I wouldn't mind eating those here again for sure. The satay bee hoon was a little different from the usual in both the flavour and viscosity of the satay sauce. The consistency felt like a watered down version of the sauce, but had an interesting seafood aroma. Portions for the smallest option was dismal. 

Back to the Guinness items, those were simply disappointing. The hokkien mee contained the barest trace of malty flavour and tasted like it was doused with some sweet sauce instead. The regular savoury rendition would have no doubt tasted much better. So I guess the noodles were largely saved by a very nice chilli sauce which broke the cloying monotony. The tiny flat tasting and limp textured Guinness squids (from Boon Tat BBQ Seafood) were pathetic in portions and taste for what it cost. It could have been uplifted with a bit more char. Note to myself to avoid this stall in the future. Even their frozen bbq stingrays were little to write home about.

satay bee hoon

Guinness Hokkien mee

oyster omelette

bbq stingray

poh piah

Guinness fried squid

Friday, June 24, 2011

An eggy lunch at Colbar

ox liver and egg sandwich

Any doctor worth their salt would probably comment that this was an ill advised lunch. But I don't eat like this every day so I think it's going to be fine. I hope. There's enough cholesterol to raise some alarms and enough carbs to induce stupor in the afternoon. 

Health concerns aside, the ox liver sandwich was quite good. The thinly sliced pan fried livers were well browned, appropriately salted and had enough texture for a bit of bite. Adding a fried egg into the the sandwich just made it richer in more ways than one. Knowing that it'll probably be insufficient, there was an order of egg curry which was quite good as well. Nutty, savoury and moderately spicy to be paired up with plain white rice. Quite worth the stupor if I might add.

egg curry

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Nasi padang from Tanjong Pagar Railway

Here's a satisfying plate of nasi padang from a stall beside the one that sells chapati down at Tanjong Pagar Railway. This was good stuff with the generous portions of tasty braised squid, a side of cooked cauliflowers and their pan fried omelette that was loaded with onions and green chilli. Not such an easy thing to put into context how comforting all the spice, rice and dishes was for a straight forward midday meal without frills.

On a side note, the chapati seller beside the stall reminded me of our Flying Dutchman. This train station seems to be crawling with people after the news of the closure. I hadn't imagined it to be so crowded in its last days.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A South Indian rice meal from Komala's

Komala's, south indian rice mealLink

I had not expected the deep rooted heartiness found in Komala Vilas but in retrospect, this South Indian rice meal was not bad at all. Satiated my craving for Indian food. It was probably the combination of the best sauce in the world, the savoury sambar, tender spicy vegetables, hot steaming rice (that accidentally steamed the crisp out of the papadum) and yoghurt that did the trick. The relatively fast service meant that this was viable for me as a quick fix without having to travel too far out of my usual routes.

What caught my interest today was the little stalk of what appeared to be dried chilli that tasted pretty salty. Any idea what were those things?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Jackson Plan, Duxton Hill

This was a new British styled gastrobar (40 Duxton Hill, tel : +65 6866 1988) located but a few units from L'Entrecote. The intriguing name which this establishment has came from a plan which was done to engineer district distribution in this country back in 1822. Shortly after the arrival of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. Then in recent years, an Italian man Beppe De Vito, who had brought us Il Lido and Forlino decided that it was probably a good idea to turn the name of that into one of a restaurant/watering hole.

How the reconciliation had happened, I did not know.

Westons organic cider

The bar features a bunch of ciders that I knew next to nothing about. I decided on a bottle of Westons organic cider by virtue of name and then decided that it wasn't really what I had been looking forward in a cider. However, their very helpful wait staff did follow up with a recommendation of the vintage cider of the same brand. That was pretty good stuff with what I felt was a better balance of body, apple citrus and of course, more alcohol. We had seconds.

Potted smoked mackerel, rye toast

The smoked mackerel was unexpectedly good. It didn't look like much and I was expecting bits of things I would recognize as fish instead of an oatmeal paste. The aroma of the smoked fish was appetizing and we enjoyed it sufficiently on its own that the lemon was left untouched. But the story of the lemon doesn't end here.

Cured ox tongue, celeriac & caper coleslaw

I had little idea of what to expect for the ox tongue and didn't imagine it to be soft with a velvet like texture on the surface. Much like thick wet cardboard. Lol. Jokes aside, the flavour was a little subdued for my liking for ox tongue. But if you had recalled the lemon that was left behind earlier...a squeeze of it along with a sprinkle of salt did quite a bit to spruce things up.

Scallops, black pudding, smoked cheese

The scallops and blood pudding were enjoyable. Almost everything came across as slightly sweet. The pudding tasted very much like sweet corn with a meaty afternote. The light tasting mashed potatoes were creamy and addictive. What was described as smoked cheese was actually aburied (torched). I'm not even sure if it was just cheese as it was a too fluffy and creamy.

Beef shin, bone marrow, potato cakes

This was probably the least exciting of what we had. The beef shin was tender, but much too lean for my preferences. The bone was a little small with not much marrow to speak of. I think it would be fair to mention that the French guys nearby do a much better job with that. All those capers did nothing to help either.

Real chips

Thick cut fried potatoes. One can even taste the natural sweetness from the tubers. Enjoyed it.

Eccles cake, rum and raisin ice cream

I had never heard of an Eccles cake until today. It is apparently a sort of fruit danish with sugar sprinkled over the top. It might have been great if it were freshly made instead of chewy and cold. The scoop of ice cream which was in all likelihood 50% raisins could have done with more rum. I didn't feel that dessert was much to get excited over.

Would I come back? Certainly.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Saboten, Parco Marina Bay

I am telling myself that it is very likely that I have stumbled upon a new favorite tonkatsu joint down at Saboten (9 Raffles Boulevard, #P3-01 Parco Marina Bay, Millenia Walk, tel: +65 6333 3432). In this place I have found myself porky goodness encased in a crisp breaded shell with no excessive grease. While at that, it was also true that there have been other places which I had thought, provided compelling offerings. And there was also the fact that this restaurant belongs to a chain that has more than 500 outlets worldwide.

The leaner katu rosu from the set came bolstered with nice strip of fat on the side while the hire nuggets from their katsudon (which scored with molten yolk!) were expectedly tender and juicy. The former set also came with a tasty prawn cake/fritter which was made of chunks of the said crustacean chopped up, fused together and encased in a similar breaded shell. I hear that these prawn cakes will only be available until the end of July.

Each order comes with a free flow of rice, shredded cabbage and miso soup. The ponzu sauce and their exceptionally fragrant creamy sesame dressing on the side were responsible for more servings of these than I care to admit and the latter was nothing short of spectacular over a bowl of steaming hot rice. Who needs tonkatsu sauce here?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Salta, Icon Village

I've been wanting to come down to Salta (12 Gopeng Street, #01-56/57 ICON Village, tel : +65 6225 8443) for quite a while. This place is relatively (still) new to the scene for steaks in this country and what was essentially different about them was that they are an Argentinian steakhouse. Argentinian meat with their styles of cooking (coal fueled flames, no less!) being the key of the offerings.
Just to get things off my chest, I didn't enjoy much of their Corazon de Cuadril, which was a cut described as heart of rump. It was probably the delicious thin slices of well salted hump from churrascaria that have gotten me confused and thinking that this might have been similar. The grainy textured lean meat was less than flavourful beyond the seasoning of salt and was a little too tough to be enjoyable. They might have been better thinly sliced from spits rather than in the form of the thick chunk of meat where the insides were just....boring and tough. The rest of what I had, I liked. Pretty much.
Started off with a small selection in a bread basket. These served today were warm and that made them enjoyable.
What made the bread better were the little pots of dips that we had used for almost everything else that was served. My favorite of the three provided was definitely the spicy chimichurri. I was told that there was coriander inside, but I tasted none of it so it was all good. These dips they had tasted like they weren't made too long ago. The salsa and anchovy dips were pretty good as well and they actually taste quite good with butter on the bread. This Provoleta was a dish of melted Provolone cheese spiced with oregano and pink pepper. And to the point, it was awesome. The accompanied spices added to the flavours but did little to detract from the original milky and salty taste of the chewy cheese which was bolstered with the char aroma from the browned bits at the edges. I liked this so much that I would probably come back just to eat it again. We had a salchicha as well. It was a nicely grilled and juicy sausage there but the fillings were far from coarse and felt like it was processed by a machine rather than hand. I did enjoy the flavour but it was texture that was found lacking here. I couldn't say the ribeye was anywhere close to awesomeness, but I think it was a good enough job for the meat to be enjoyable. Then again, I must have meant that from the source of the meat rather than the execution because there was really nothing I could have been faulting from the grill. The flavour from the fat wasn't distributed well as I was hoping for. Wouldn't avoid ordering this again a next time though. Damn my habitual usage of double negatives. The mushroom and potato puree on the side tasted slightly sweet. Every potato that arrived on the table tonight tasted like sweet potatoes. That was unexpected.  Except for the sweet potato fries which we had deliberately ordered. The one with mushrooms was addictively tasty. It wasn't actually puree as most of us would have understood it. More like mashed. For all the food that we've already had, we managed to polish off the entire dish. The fries however became a tad too greasy and cloying at the end.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Dinner at Old Hong Kong Kitchen

Feel like I'm on the fence about food here. On one hand, it was respectable cooking. I did enjoy the Peking duck even though it wasn't one of the more memorable I've had. Tofu was competently done and the ee fu noodles made from the leftover meat from the duck were more fragrant than I had expected. The garlicky broth from the poached vegetables was not bad tasting too.

LinkIn that same breath, the uninspiring durian paste prawns that lacked oomph in both flavour and aroma was disappointing. 
I don't see myself be looking forward to coming back for dinner. Maybe for dim sum.

Peking duck rolls

deep fried prawns with durian paste

braised tofu with wild mushrooms and scallops

poached spinach with 3 eggs

braised ee fu noodles with shredded duck

sesame seed crusted deep fried black sesame paste pancakes