Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Otowa, Orchard Plaza

Otowa, Orchard Plaza

This was one hole in the wall joint where one dines from the fires of a yakitori god. Hahaha....ok, dramatics aside, Otowa (150 Orchard Road, #03-16 Orchard Plaza, tel : +65 6733 5989) wasn't a full fledged kushiyaki in my opinion since most of the things that went into the grill were just chicken and chicken parts. But man, those were really good.

Otowa, Orchard Plaza

The place was pretty small. 12 seats they have and it's all at the counter, which was good since one can see the kitchen at work. A kitchen which just consisted of a Japanese yakitori master and a dish washing lady. Most of the items on grill came in shio or tare options.

Otowa, tororo

We were served some otoshi of chilled grated yam and greens in a dashi.

Otowa, pig stomach

Amongst the starters they offered, was a julienned pig stomach with a sweet and spicy chilli sauce. Enjoyed this but portions were really puny.

Otowa, yakitori

Because we were pretty much sitting near the grill station, we could observe all the fire kissed food at work. These sticks of chicken with leeks were very well done. There was what we felt to be a well balanced char aroma that encapsulated the pieces of tender juicy chicken. I kid you not and I repeat, tender juicy chicken. The leeks were also aromatized from the charcoal grill and were filled with their natural sweetness. We had seconds.

Otowa, reba

Chicken livers were very good too. The texture was creamy and the shio option allowed the livery flavour to shine.

Otowa, tsukune

The tsukune were something that came recommended and seemed also to be well received. It had a nice crusty surface that revealed juicy and fatty minced meat which had a likeable gritty texture that generally meant that cartilage might have been involved. We had seconds

Otowa, hatsu

If you had been wasting enough time on this site to detect my eating patterns, hatsus are another favourite of mine. These tasty morsels were nicely salted, tender yet chewy at the same time. A little more char would have been nice but I'm not complaining.

Otowa, kawa

At the point of being worked on in the flames, the kawa was creating a small fog of smoke at the grill when the oils were dripping into the coals. Afterwards, they came up crispy on the edges and lightly chewy in the middles. Redolent in the chicken-y flavours. And some fatty chicken-y oils if I might add.

Otowa, kawa

A kawa-iiee close up. Lol.

Otowa, foie gras

They had foie gras too. It was quite nice, and had a well engineered crust. I totally understand that it sounds weird to use such word to describe the crusty charred exterior of fatty duck liver but the crust looked and even tasted so well made that it felt fabricated.

But it is apparently not what I consider to be a forte in this joint. This was a little too well cooked and Kazu still takes the lead with Sansui's unusually uncharred rendition as a very close runner up.

Otowa, tebasaki

Following that was their tebasaki. Tasty little wings with crispy skins. These wings were a little small.

Otowa, eringi

We ordered grilled eringi mushrooms as well. I liked them too.

Otowa, porridge

We ended with a Korean styled porridge which was a spicy broth of rice with egg drop and bits of sliced mushroom. This was pretty comforting.

Otowa, quail eggs

The porridge was suppose to be the last item, but as we were getting the bill we realised that they hadn't served us the grilled quail eggs yet. Both the bill and the eggs came together. The latter came with a spicy miso paste and the former, without. 

I had been thinking that these might have been dried out from the grill, but my respect goes out to the master that creates grill marked eggs that actually had creamy textured yolk!

Otowa, Orchard Plaza
score cup at Otowa

To answer your question D, no...... this will not be the Kazu killer. This joint is primarily a chicken specialist and they do chickens really well. Kazu has the advantage of a much wider variety of options. But, it's another option that we have for good quality yakitori.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Paris Baguette, Wisma Atria

Paris Baguette, Wisma Atria

We stumbled upon this place (435 Orchard Road, #02-48/53 Wisma Atria, tel : +65 6836 2010) a couple of weeks back after not having stepped into the mall for ages and made a mental note to come back early on another day after seeing the crowd.

Trust the Koreans to be the ones that have set up a French styled bakery/cafe that got me interested. From what I had heard from a friend who had been to Korea, this place is as common as how often one encounters McDonald's here. Which is to say that there's one outlet in every couple of blocks and not surprisingly, they're less expensive over there.

What pushed the comfort buttons for me from this bakery included stuff like a sweet bacon roll stuffed with chopped boiled eggs, a wrap containing a fatty sausage cushioned by a bolognese-esque minced beef and mustard, pricey and ridiculously addictive charred cheese sticks and even a bulgogi sandwich that featured a sweet braised meat piled inside a bed of textures consisting of fresh vegetables in a soft and heavy milk bun. And then, BLTs with walnut cream cheese and sweet relish, a smokey aburi-ed seafood chowder in a super chewy bread bowl and even a brunch plate of sliced chorizos and scrambled eggs on brioche.

I haven't even begun on their snackingly delicious calzones yet.

Paris Baguette, bread bowl

Paris Baguette, sandwiches

Paris Baguette, eggs

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A breakfast of pig's organ porridge and char kuey teow at the end of Woodlands

That'll be pig's organ porridge with an egg from #02-46 to richen things and yes, this would be located at the same end of Woodlands food centre as the last time I had the seafood soup. Let's see....there's home made meatballs, lean pork, small intestines, sliced livers sloshed into a gruel that's flavored by spring onions, fried shallots and as much soy sauce and pepper as one fancies. What's missing to make this perfect was probably pigs blood (one can dream) and pig's stomach.

Below from stall 38A was a less sweet than usual char kuey teow. I think it was due to less sweet sauce being used which resulted in a rather tasty and more savory rendtion. I liked that the bean sprouts were cooked and crunchy for the texture. Not too bad here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Yakitori Uma, Orchard Plaza

I make this out to be both a kushiyaki and kushikatsu joint right at the backlanes just beside Cuppage. Albeit one with a relatively small selection on the menu. Having been spoilt by Kazu (a respoiling session is in order!) in the years past, I had inevitably benchmarked the food against them; and others too as well. To which the bar hadn't quite been met. In both variety and quality.

That does not mean that the food was mediocre, what I felt was that it just didn't quite go the distance for me in terms of satisfaction. And this is probably just an opinion formed from a single visit and having more of the grilled items and not so much of the fried ones.

I had expected a fuller smokey aroma from the grill rather than the relatively flat accent that this place had. Certainly also was looking forward to larger portions per stick of their tasty and nicely peppered gyutan than what they're serving.


pork belly & leeks, kawa and beef tripe

octopus, ginko nuts

cow liver
chicken & leeks, chicken gizzard

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Sushi Bar, Far East Plaza

This place in honesty, looks to be still trying to find its own feet. The Sushi Bar (14 Scotts Road, #03-89 Far East Plaza) is essentially what seems to be a one man show behind a space optimized counter. I had discounted the wait staff as manpower since she looked confused a third of the time, milled around and served food to the wrong tables and somehow thought it was a normal thing to relay a customer inquiry to the chef if they served curry fish head. In a little joint called The Sushi Bar that has only about 4 tables. Seriously.

I think the food is pretty decent for what they charged. One shouldn't come here expecting expensive types and cuts from higher end Japanese restaurants. I have a gripe with the uni and would have loved for it to have been a better experience where the creamy was creamier and where the aroma, I had hoped to be more ethereal. These guys need to portion more rice into their food. Wouldn't do at all for any of those premium don that does not fill. And no miso soup too.

Did I mention that their scallop carpaccio mentaiyaki was pretty mouth watering in a smokey manner if a little measly in portions. This place is not yet at the level of the once vaunted Wasabi Tei for that frills free value edition of decent Japanese food. But I sense an earnesty that might get them there.

hotate mentaiyaki

ikura & uni don

premium chirashi

deep fried amaebi head

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Soya sauce chicken from Sum's Kitchen

Sum's Kitchen, soya sauce chicken

This kampong chicken from Sum's Kitchen (3 Jalan Legundi, tel : +65 6757 2118) was certainly toe to toe with the Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken stall in Chinatown for in terms of flavour. The meat was tender, both the sweet and savoury elements of the soya sauce seeped through the skin. But it seems that it's only available here during the Lunar New Year.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Feast of Saint Valentine at Artichoke

Well, it was a feast of sorts for two. And I certainly didn't expect an incidental sign in the form of cracks in a glass from any saint. V. It's kinda like seeing Jesus' face on a potato isn't it? Lol. I jest.

I have honest admiration for what Bjorn Shen and his team are doing at Artichoke and so far, none of the visits have been disappointing. This goes for tonight as well for what I consider to be a very good value to quantity and quality ratio of what they were serving for dinner. I have only some words and the trusty iPhone 4S to tell the story.

chickpea & sesame hummus
pink beetroot tzatziki w pistachio dukka
flat bread @ Cobram Estate olive oil

grilled haloumi cheese w Moorish tomato salad

Basturma cured yellowfin tuna, pomelo, chilli

grilled Angus ribeye w local exotic mushrooms

seared scallops, fried cauliflower & yoghurt

forgotten grain salad

assorted baklava, cookies and ice cream/sorbet

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, Gardens by the Bay

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, Gardens by the Bay

Been hearing numerous mentions of this restaurant (18 Marina Gardens Drive, #01-10 Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, tel : +65 6604 6604) and their signature coffee crab that was suppose to be at present juncture, unique. The owner as I read was a chef who had previously cut his teeth under some fairly prestigious roles like the once executive chef at the vaunted Hai Tien Lo at Pan Pacific, Majestic Restaurant and Jade at Fullerton Hotel.

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, cucumber grapes

One of the starters we had was pickled cucumber and grapes in Kyoto dressing. The latter I'm guessing was a citrus, soy and sesame based dressing. Rather refreshing.

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, deep fried lychees

What was unexpectedly tasty were the deep fried lychees that were stuffed with lobster, crab and mushroom. Of which the presence of the former two came in the form of flavours and not textures. One can only stuff so much into lychees after all. The batter was surprisingly light despite appearance and there was a taste almost felt like curry in them. Pretty good for deep fried things that I often do not fancy.

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, seafood fried rice

Not so impressed by the seafood fried rice with tobiko. The rice was grainy, well fried and supplemented with multitudes of textures from the grains, bits of scallops & shrimp, meat floss of sorts and even rice crispies. It was just a pity that everything was bland.

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, sweet sour pork strawberries guava green apples

I had been expecting nothing less than decent and at least a minimal of fruity flavours for the sweet and sour pork with strawberries, guava and green apples. My expectations were met squarely.

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, asparaguses mushrooms

Asparaguses and mushrooms stir fried with garlic were just that.

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, kopi crab
Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, kopi crab

The kopi sauce tasted like Garrett's caramel popcorn. Albeit a much more full bodied version and had  a more pronounced bittersweet aroma that was actually quite addictive. This meant that we were licking the sauce off the shells before getting to the meat because there wasn't any other way to get to the sauce unlike chilli crab. The crab itself wasn't so impressive. Meat was stuck to the shell and any natural sweetness from the crustacean was overwhelmed by their really robust kopi sauce.

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, mee sua baby abalones

Mee sua with baby abalones were quite nice. That being said, the mee sua didn't come with a rich abalone or shellfish flavour. I'm not sure if it should be. It just tasted like a very nicely done mee sua. While it said portions for 3-4 on the menu, I am pretty sure one hungry person could have finished it.

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, mochi nian gao

These cream filled mochi were really lousy. The cream had barely any flavour and the same could be said for the bits of strawberries in them. I could hardly identify those bits as strawberries. The stir fried nian gao tasted pretty good from the aroma brought about from the coating of dessicated coconut and sesame seeds. But it also tasted more like kueh ko swee than nian gao.

Couldn't say that the double boiled Chinese pear dessert was memorable either because I'm actually having difficulty thinking of what to say about it. Nothing registered.

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, double boiled chinese pear dessert
Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, salted egg custard buns

Salted egg custard buns were just so so. In the recent years, these buns have become wildly popular. Mostly places that do dim sum have started offering them because they're generally well liked. The ones made here were sadly, not the better ones around. I'm thinking that dessert is not a forte here.