Sunday, July 31, 2011

Green Pumpkin Japanese Bakery Café, Nex

This place (23 Serangoon Central, #B1-K1 nex, tel : +65 6634 7990) was the cafe of the bakery of the same namesake, both of which were operating in a Japanese concept food hub down at Nex. It looked like one of those places that we would normally have walked past and not spared a second glance. As things would have it, everywhere else had snaking queues and this was the only one that did not.

We ordered an onion and bacon quiche to share while waiting for the food. It was warm, buttery and egg-y at the same time and even though it looked like it might have come from a pastry factory van, it didn't taste too bad at all.

They had a niku nanban soba on menu which was a lot better than we had imagined. The soba that was used here apparently is freshly made from one of the peer concept stalls. It was all in a light yet smoky dashi broth filled with mushrooms, shabu styled beef slices and even a poached egg that had molten yolk.

We had an order of their tagliatelle bolognese which turned out to be a lot better than I had imagined. The difference from a traditional rendition and this was a large dollop of ricotta cheese on top of the pasta. Which made very little difference if you had attempted to toss them into the rest of the pasta since it would melt away into a puddle of very little flavors. Having the ricotta on bolognese was interesting but probably not the best of ideas. There wasn't enough of the cheese to go around.

What I did really like was the sauce which didn't taste like it came from a jar with the usual atrocious herby aroma. This tasted home made and quite hearty at it.

Pork bone seafood tsukemen from Menya Shinchan

What kept me coming back to Menya Shinchan were the different types of broth for their ramen which I haven't tried in entirety. This was my first tsukemen. Reminded me of a very thick fish soup with bits of braised charshu. Possibly with bonito. While I couldn't quite place my finger to what about it that was tonkotsu, it certainly carried enough elements of that to remind me so. On the other hand, I probably might not have identified the pork bone base in a blind taste test.

The thick noodles were firm and chewy but weren't chilled. Did the job of a quick dinner that also didn't make me perspire overly in the evening humidity. I did finish up most of that soup as well.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Roadside durian stall at Balestier

I have seldom if ever talked about durians and this is probably the first time I've gotten them on photos. I do enjoy eating certain strains of the fruit. If that's a correct term for describing their variety. These above are mao shan wang which we've purchased off a roadside stall along Balestier Road, located just in front a temple. In truth, I do not know how can they be identified beyond the bittersweet flavored and thick custard like flesh with a certain shade of yellow. For a fruit that I've eaten countless times in my life, I usually have the tendency to usually forget how filling those rich and creamy meat can be.

Edit : I've just found out that the stall is known as Combat Durian (249 Balestier Road, Goh Chor Tua Pek Kong Temple). They even have a Facebook page!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Crisp airy kosong and cheesy pisang prata

This might not look like much on picture, but they were pretty good prata there from Al Ameen. What I liked about their kosong was their lightly crisp and airy texture and that the pan fried prata wasn't soaked in excessive oil. The other slice lying just below was filled with chewy mozzarella cheese and melted bananas. It's not an overly unusual combination these days, but damn it was good. No powdered instant curry was used here as well.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Whence came this strawberry shortcake?

This was, as one could term it - baked by loving hands. Freshly home baked chiffon dressed in light buttery cream with strawberries and nicely chilled in the fridge. Very little of them survived the first evening.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Da Luca Italian Restaurant, Goldhill Plaza

The spores of Italian cuisine have again spread. Located not far away from Matsuo Sushi is a relatively new restaurant, Da Luca Italian Restaurant (1 Goldhill Plaza, #01-19/21 Goldhill Plaza, tel : +65 6258 4846), at Goldhill Plaza. Little frills but serves hearty food. The type that I would prefer. The chef Luca, as I have heard was previously from Garibaldi and Gunther's. As a matter of coincidence, as we walked into the restaurant, we recognized the wait staff whom we've seen back in both Garibaldi and Gattopardo. Small world it is then.

Their bread served came in the form of thick sticks of olive foccacia. Crusty, porous and pretty good for soaking up dips which we dutifully did from the stewed tripe.

The stewed tripe was done in a tomato cheese sauce and Parmesan. The sauce was both light and creamy while the tripe was tender and chewy. It was a little less tart than the one at La Braceria and less cheesy than those from Pietrasanta. We enjoyed the warm heartiness of it and will want to come back for this.

I probably shouldn't be making comparison of the stracci here with the one at Oso since they are of different sauces. As much as I would like to decide that the latter is the better, I enjoyed this flavourful rendition as much. And also as much as I think that I generally avoid tomato base stuff, I liked every bit of the sauce. Wouldn't mind eating this again for sure.

Da Luca's soft spinach gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce was....dang, I'm out of adjectives for the day. Hearty it is then. No complains about the creamy Gorgonzola sauce which had the prerequisite pungent aroma of the cheese wafting from the moment the pasta was plated. Tempered by the sweet balsamic drizzle. Couldn't get enough of them.

Dessert was a tiramisu. We just wanted to try it for comparison's sake. Not with those served in other restaurants but with those that we've made ourselves at home.

The restaurant served a sugar dusted pastry, chiacchiere at the end that came with a zabaglione and chocolate dip. I have to be honest and say that it wasn't spectacular, but it was definitely a nice gesture. I think every table got one of these. Here's the part where I say that I'm definitely coming back again for re-visits.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Blanco Court Prawn Mee, Beach Road

Blanco Court Prawn Mee, Beach Road

We've walked by this place on several occasions, so this time round we stopped over to try the prawn noodles. Here's a look at both the soup and dry options for the 3 in 1 noodle from Blanco Court Prawn Mee (243 Beach Road, #01-01 tel : +65 6396 8464). 

What made the 3 in 1 option was basically the addition of boiled pork ribs and pig tails in the bowl of noodles. There were also some pig skin in there as well. The dry version was pretty decent and one could pack a lot of heat into the noodles by simply adding chilli powder and thinly sliced chilli padi. The noodles already come dressed in chilli sauce. However, I think I enjoyed the soup version more. The crustacean sweetness (along with lard and fried shallots too!) was robust in the broth and seemed much more so than another similar stall down at East Coast Road. I hate to think about how much MSG I might have ingested if there truly was any involved at all but damn the soup was good. And there was refilling available for that soup as well. The chor bee hoon was firm, pig skin springy and the porky tasting pig tails were pretty much like a tiny version of oxtail. Definitely good for returns.

Blanco Court Prawn Mee, Beach Road

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Union Farm Eating House

I had recently seen this place (435A Clementi Road) on a local food television program and it got me all curious about them. In spite of various heads up from friends telling me that the place was way overrated and not worth the time, curiosity prevailed. The last time I had eaten here could have been two decades back and I certainly didn't have very much memories of the food here. Union Farm had once, decades ago, been an actual chicken farm that ventured into the business of selling their chicken cooked. Throughout the years, it had converted into an actual food establishment selling kampong styled food.

Here was an order of their 15 piece paper wrapped chicken. The seasoning on the meat was sweetish with a hint of ginger. If I had to put some figures into this, about a good 60% of the plate were skin, bones and paper. Chicken pieces were stuck to the paper wrappings. The above mentioned food program said that one way of eating these paper wrapped chicken was to open them over a plate of their noodle so that the juices from the meat trapped within the paper wrappings could just dribble in added flavour. 

The chicken was pretty dry apart from some grease. Nothing dripped. There was very little meat in there and for what it cost, wasn't cheap at all. We certainly didn't adopt the looks of bliss like they portrayed on tv.

Our obligatory greens came in the from of kailan with oyster sauce. The serving was literally a plate of boiled kailan with a dollop of oyster sauce on the side. It didn't taste bad, but it just wasn't how I had expected it.

Previously, I had been griping over $34 noodles. This time round, my gripes are over $3 noodles. Boiled, unseasoned and garnished with a few stalks of vegetables, it certainly didn't look to me like it should cost that much. The portions weren't even close to being substantial.

I cannot in good conscience recommend this place to anyone.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Gattopardo revisited

For a few moments, I was contemplating the abstinence of superfluous narratives because I was trying to decide on something and my thoughts are somewhat disjointed. One may question what's the link between the two. But I have just proven that I have failed right here at that. With honorable discredits. Oxymoron.

There I did it again.

Still I shall try.

There is no simple way that I can come to terms with this, but there were some things that I liked and definitely some that I didn't about the food at Gattopardo. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of what I liked most about the food tonight. Their grilled calamari which I have three words for. Awesome, awesome and awesome. Really.

Sweet Red Onion from Calabria with Light Saffron Ragusano Cheese Fondue

I liked the sweet onion pudding. The texture was so souffle light and creamy at the same time. Taste was sweet and wasn't overwhelmed by the Ragusano cheese.

Homemade Squid Ink Spaghetti with King Crab and Cognac Sauce

Unimpressive portions. No bloody idea what the Cognac sauce was suppose to be or tasted like. Tasted light tomato and flavors of the crab. And a savory something else that didn't remind me the slightest of Cognac. Crab meat possessed natural sweetness, meat was a little difficult to remove from the shells for some segments. Noodles were ordinary.

Angel Hair Pasta with Grey Mullet “Bottarga” Roe and Sea Urchin

I think I know bottarga and I didn't think I tasted it much. Pasta was more than a little bland. Not the uni I was thinking of neither. In fact, it tasted rather fishy, was a little stiff and little like my good memories of sea urchin. Very disappointed with this $34 bowl of noodles.

White Garlic Focaccia with Smoked Mozzarella, Italian Sausage, Onion and Potatoes

Pretty good there, but couldn't help linking my thoughts of it with northern Chinese pancakes.

Toasted Almond Panna cotta with Bitter Chocolate Mousse and Pear Confit

This was an unusual panna cotta. If I had to describe it, it would probably be almond agar agar. Pear confit was lightly tart and sweet coupling nicely with the creamy caramel sauce daubed over them.

Crispy Espresso-infused Wafer Filled with Sweet Ricotta Cheese

Not too bad there, but I ate a little more than half this and still couldn't identify what in the world is that red sauce. Enjoyed the creamy ricotta fillings. Most outstanding item in there, were the toasted and chopped pistachios. Fragrant especially when masticated. Pistachio gelato was good too.

Signature Mascarpone & Espresso Tiramisu Cake with Sicilian Bitter Cocoa

Ordinary, not lousy.

So how did I do?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Joo Siah Bak Koot Teh, Jurong East

This ba kut teh here trumped the one at Founder . If not for the location, I can see myself becoming a semi regular at Joo Siah (Blk 347 Jurong East Ave 1, #01-220, Yuehua Market & Hawker Centre). 

Can't quite put a finger to what exactly about Joo Siah that made me decide with certainty that I preferred them. Perhaps it was a clearer and sharper broth that had bits of white peppercorn at the base and those morsels of tender rib meat that one could easily suck off the bone. That and a combination of those and the excellent braised pork trotters in dark soy sauce. And I really do mean excellent. The medley of textures from the soft meat, fat and skin were slurp inducing and I found a homely aspect to the taste of their dark soy sauce. Tasted very much like how my grandmother used to make them. 

The preserved vegetables were pretty pedestrian. They had unfortunately ran out of tau kee for the day and I hear that the prime ribs are usually sold out by the afternoon. I guess it's good enough reasons for an excuse to revisit.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

De Yun Bak Kut Teh, Yishun

Even though this wasn't anything mind blowing, this stall had pretty good stuff going on there (Blk 417, Yishun Ave 11). For one, they were cooking a variety of stuff including boiled pig stomach and steamed fish. The bak kut teh was peppery and not shabby at all. I liked that the cai buay came with thinly sliced bits of chilli padi which added a bit of heat to the salty chopped bits of vegetables. The meat from the rib was nice and fatty even though it wasn't quite of the "fall off the bone tender" variety.

Definitely more than good enough for a quick fix there with variety to boot at this remote corner of Yishun. Like braised pork trotters in dark soy sauce!