Friday, May 31, 2013

Shami Banana Leaf Delights, Sembawang Road

Shami (349 Sembawang Rd, tel : +65 6754 3898) is a local Indian eatery of a little fame up in the northern parts of this country that made a mean fiery red chicken masala with a spicy nutty paste. They used to be just a stall in the food court at Northpoint with a history for long queues. The food in recent times has become somewhat inconsistent. The same might be said for their queues. Not too long back, they set up shop along Sembawang somewhere across the road from Khatib Camp.

The quality of the food I was told, is better here these days compared to the stall in the food court. Well, I'm not too sure about that. If this is an up in quality, does that mean that the one from the food court stall has truly fallen?

fish cutlet 

These balls of minced fish and potato were quite tasty. As much as I'm avoiding comparison here, Samy's uglier looking ones were much better than these.

butter chicken 

No complains about the butter chicken, but this will never beat Jaggi's.

Chennai cabbage?

 beans and beans


Orders of rice came with two choices of vegetables. The rice didn't seem to be as good as I remember them. Those vegetables were apparently nothing much to write home about neither.

mutton masala 

Kashmiri and cheese naan 

Naans were rather small serving, lack fluff and run of the mill. I suppose they're not so good with making these.

 deep fried fish roe

We loved those freshly fried fish roe. So much that after dinner, we did a portion for take away as after dinner snacks! Sadly, these seem to come by uncommonly these days.

gobi manchurian

These stir fried cauliflowers were not the most memorable.

the washdown

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Trattoria Gallo d' Oro, Central Mall

It was a quiet Wednesday evening down at Trattoria Gallo D' Oro (Blk 7 Magazine Road, #01-03 Central Mall, tel : +65 6438 8131) within the compounds of Central Mall. Luca of Bontá, perched on a chair near the entrance was in conversation, half watching any guest that might have appeared with his hawkish Stellan Skarsgård-like gaze.

Right till the point when the head chef Carlo Marengoni stood up and warm smiles broke out with 'hello's off the lips. They had probably meant 'benvenuto' as well. I hoped.

The website of the restaurant mentioned northern Italian home style food. Not sure what was northern Italian about it but home style hit the mark. If you're still reading at this point, the portions of the food before the first plates were quite generous.

Trattoria Gallo d' Oro, vitello tonnato or sliced pork loin with tuna mayo
sliced pork loin with tuna mayo

This was basically vitello tonnato. Except that pork was used instead of veal and underneath, a salad. The sauce was rich and smooth, but remember, must share. Easily feeds three.

Trattoria Gallo d' Oro, misto fritto
a misto fritto of sardines and calamari

We opted to leave out the prawns from their fried seafood plate so that we could have more of the calamari and sardines, the latter which was something they were known for. The fish was fresh tasting, had a crispy batter nicely salted and was in simple terms - very delicious. The best part of the fry was the lack of excessive grease. I need to eat this again.

Trattoria Gallo d' Oro, pappardelle with goose liver
pappardelle with goose liver

Off menu was a goose liver pasta. We swapped the fettucine for pappardelle. Creamy and balanced off with spinach, it was served hot and a lot lighter than it looked. Good stuff.

Trattoria Gallo d' Oro, sliced beef tenderloin
sliced beef tenderloin sauteed with rosemary and spinach

I don't think beef is their forte here. Perhaps, I'm prejudiced with the treatment of bovine protein matter. And bias when it comes to the application of rosemary. I like my meat beefy and this was oiled with too much other flavours. It was in truth, a decently done up piece of meat, but I think this might be the last time I'm ordering sliced steaks that doesn't come with a Gorgonzola sauce in Italian restaurants.

Trattoria Gallo d' Oro, panna cotta
strawberry panna cotta with cream pudding?

We pushed for a dessert in spite of being rather stuffed at this point. Strawberry panna cotta? It was a regular panna cotta with a sliced strawberry and sauce. What got me was the spice that I tasted in the pudding. I think it might have been aniseed or liquorice; faint and just enough presence to be tasted without being overbearing. I liked it. I just couldn't tell what it was.

mystery diner "A"

Monday, May 27, 2013

Tsuru-Koshi Udon, IMM

Another udon specialist joint (2 Jurong East Street 21, #01-19 IMM). I like their kamatama udon which really trumps the one at Tamoya with a single ingredient. The one secret ingredient that the French use for their cooking. Butter. Uncomplicated and delicious.

Atsu atsu tan tan udon is not too bad as well with that moderated hit of spice and minced meat, but I'll skip the tempura the next time.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A durian Guinness milkshake from Udders

As odd as this combination sounded, it actually worked. This was a combination of Guinness and the mao shan wang ice cream from Udders. The bitter accents and creaminess from the durian got along with that of the stout. The taste was unusual for sure but it worked. I enjoyed it.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A run in with white asparagus at Marché

Seems that the white asparagus season is upon us again. Marché has the asparagus offerings in almost all their stalls. Even a cream of white asparagus soup in their normally unchanging soup stand. It was actually pretty good with sliced pieces of the shoot. The flavors were rich from the cream and quite full of the sweet asparagus in spite of a very mundane look. A little Paremesan cheese and some spring onions were all that was needed to complete the bowl.

These guys also under tremendous order load, grill up one of the nicer budget steaks in town. The only problem with their rib eye usually is the quality of the meat which lacks the beautiful marbling of fat that is found in the more expensive steak places. Otherwise, we almost always get a medium rare spot on and sauces are always on the side.

From the pizza counter, one with white asparagus, egg and Black Forest ham. The sweet crunchy pieces of asparagus were paired nicely with the light salt from the cheese and ham. This topping profile was designed to allow the flavors of the white asparagus to shine.

Unfortunately, they didn't have white asparagus for desserts or we would have swiped one too......

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Menya Musashi, Raffles City

Menya Musashi, black thunder

This (252 North Bridge Road, #01-16 Raffles City Shopping Centre, tel : +65 6336 6500) was another one of numerous ramen-ya that has been making headlines in the past year that I haven't yet had a chance to visit until today. A ramen-ya that originates from the Shinjuku ward in Tokyo. This shop came with a odd story where the shop was named after a certain samurai with a double sword style. Much like a certain Drizzt Do'Urden I guess. Maybe not. I'll explain below.

So here's their black thunder and a Tokyo Akiba curry ramen.

The former was advertised in a poster with a large head of the oni on the back of what seemed to be a potent bowl of spicy ramen. An oni that perhaps Miyamoto Musashi was not skilled enough to defeat in the breath of his mortal existence and now permanently torments his spirit by appearing in bowls of his ramen. Lol! It wasn't as potent as it had looked. If I could break it down, I'm guessing that it's the regular tonkotsu broth that they have in the shop plus a little alchemy with what makes their reds and blacks and a small sprinkle of sliced chilli padi. Am I close? Not such a challenge for us locals. I've had more potent ba chor mee. Not delicious enough to have again too. 

Drizzt would have kicked oni butt. Easily. If not, there's always help from Wulfgar and Aegis-fang.

The latter was probably a little more interesting. I'm thinking the regular broth with Japanese curry. The regular broth being salty takes the sweetness off the curry - resulting in a broth that was still both savoury and flavoured with the curry. Nice portions of those shabu thin slices of pork in there and a half boiled egg to up the ante.

The noodles here are a class of their own aren't they? Needs more bite to gain my nod of approval. 

Menya Musashi, curry ramen

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

MexOut, Far East Square

Here's a rice bowl (mess tin actually) and some corn tortilla tacos from MexOut. I'm not sure how American Mexican this place (39 Peking St. #01-01, tel : +65 9770 7441) really is, but I actually quite like the food here. Those chopped up carne asada simply works on the tacos and I liked the heat from their salsa picanto. It's just too bad they were out of lamb today (already on a Wednesday afternoon?!). I'm not sure when's the next time I'll be able to come back. Food like these needs to be a little cheaper too.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Long Phung Vietnamese Restaurant, Joo Chiat Road

Long Phung Vietnamese Restaurant, Joo Chiat Road

Delicious Vietnamese food to be found here (159 Joo Chiat Road, tel : +65 9105 8519).

Long Phung, goi cuon

We had the obligatory goi cuon which was......rustic. The rice paper skin was a little soggy and chewy.

Long Phung, oc nhay

The serving of oc nhay or boiled conch was sweet and fresh tasting. Tasty with and without the accompanying dip of fish sauce, pepper, salt and tamarind with sliced bits of chilli.

Long Phung, mango salad

Following the snails was a perky green mango salad with strips of pork belly and shrimp flavoured with basil. The tangy notes from the shredded mango was appetizing. I liked this.

Long Phung, bo tai chanh

And then a bo tai chanh - described as an underdone beef salad. This was basically beef that was cooked to medium doneness enlivened by lemon and some sugar. A little salt would have upped the flavour game but I'm not sure how these are usually had.

Long Phung, bun thit nuong cha gio

My main bowl of a bun thit nuong cha gio. Rice noodles with grilled pork and a fried spring roll. Doused with the fish sauce and lime with peanuts, the rice noodles ended up a lot lighter and much tastier than it appeared. The only thing I didn't take to were the raw bean sprouts.

Long Phung, rice noodles

I forgot what this was called, but it's rice noodles in a light savoury broth that was loaded with ingredients like sliced pork, pork offal and shrimp. Tasty this was.

Long Phung, milk egg soad

And to finish in the sweltering humidity of our merciless sun, a milk and egg soda.

Food here tasted authentic Vietnamese and importantly, delicious without being expensive. Would like to come back again.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Yang Gui Fei (羊贵妃), Smith Street

The play of words involved in the name of this shop should bring a smirk or a chuckle at least. Yang Gui Fei (18 Smith Street, tel : +65 6100 0629) does food from the city of Xi'an, a northern region of China that is the home of a large Chinese Muslim population; and I hear too, famed for the discovery of the thousands of buried terracotta soldiers that served standing as sentinels to the soul of the first emperor of China.  The latter point not withstanding, it means there will be lamb! Was it anything like the real McCoy? I can't say because I don't know. But the food was pretty good.

Chilled tofu with with diced century eggs and soy sauce. The equally chilled bits of century eggs had developed an interesting texture akin to cooked mushrooms.

These pickled string beans were an excellent wake up for the taste buds. Boldly sour and packed some heat in the midst of their crunchy textures.

The gui fei deep fried lamb ribs were a signature from this shop. Basically deep fried lamb ribs in a savory cumin (amongst other spices) batter. Cholesterol bomb? Sure. Delicious? Sure as well. Batter was tasty and crispy, wrapped around fatty lamb meat on the bone.

All that grease also meant that it doesn't take very much before you'll want to stop.

yang rou pao mo was a very nicely done broth, made with broken bits of flatbread that will soak up all the flavor and slices of lamb. The broth was really nice. I meant, it was close to ramen grade broth kind of nice. Like a sort of lamb rendition of tonkotsu. Someone start making that already!

And some sour plum or haw juice to cut through all that grease. Who's kidding whom?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Emerald Green Tonkotsu option from Ramen Bar Suzuki

Ramen Bar Suzuki, emerald green tokotsu

I guess I came back here much faster than I expected. I ordered their Emerald Green which was a powdered Parmesan cheese and basil flavour of their tonkotsu ramen.

In spite of the sodium bomb that it was, I liked it.  Pity that they don't entertain requests for additional cheese. The cheese added a dimension to the broth which was countered by a light touch of basil that skimmered on the surface. Their 'harigane' option for the noodles was not much harder than the previous visit.

Liked it enough to finish up.

Ramen Bar Suzuki

Monday, May 06, 2013

A tokusen toroniku shoyu ramen with Iberico pork cheek from Ramen Santouka

Ramen Santouka, tokusen toroniku

It's been quite a long while since my last foray to Ramen Santouka (21 Cuppage Road, Cuppage Terrace, tel : +65 6235 1059) and it seems that they've upgraded their pork cheek ramen, using Iberico pork. While those slices of grilled pork cheeks were still tender and salty and ready to break apart in the mouth, I cannot in honesty tell the difference between this Iberico cut and the one that I had previously. The noodles were exactly as I remember them....not exactly my cup of tea for texture, but I would maintain that this shoyu broth is still my preferred one from this joint. With so many ramen-ya these days, I guess these guys aren't the force to be reckoned with anymore.

Now that I've tried it, time to move on again.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Triple Black Ramen from Tampopo

Tampopo, triple black ramen

Steadily and surely, Tampopo unleashes more of their seasonal or limited run items onto the world. It has become difficult for me to revisit the stuff from the regular menu that I like.

I ordered this Triple Black Ramen because it looked badass. Like Darth Vader badass that's obsidian and reflects the abyss back to the approach.

It's triple black because of black broth, black noodles and black pig. The broth as I could gather, was a light vegetable and pork broth with squid ink. It came with noodles that were shaped like none of the variety that they're currently serving on the menu. Its a little like tagliatelle.

What wasn't so obvious was within the inky broth, were fat laced minced pork and scattered bits of fish roe that provided abundant bursty texture (as fish roe does) and more chew to the textural medley. The orange stuff was a scallop with a really large coral and hidden just behind the shredded lettuce was an ajitama. Bleached white colour in contrast. Molten yolked and no less.

Tampopo, triple black ramen

Friday, May 03, 2013

Ramen Bar Suzuki, Circular Road

Ramen Bar Suzuki, tonkotsu ramen

Here's a bowl of basic tonkotsu ramen Ramen Bar Suzuki (61 Circular Road, #01-01) with 'hard' noodles and 'strong' flavoured broth sans the red pickled ginger. The customizable options for each bowl was of greater granularity than what I've encountered before. One can choose items to omit on top of the usual slew of add ons, strength of flavour and oil. On hindsight, I should have opted for 'harder' since 'hard' just fell right in the middle spectrum of options. Would prefer more bite.

While it was an decent bowl of ramen, I didn't think the broth was interesting enough that'll make me crave for it soon. Though flavourful, it had lacked a certain creamy depth which I preferred. It didn't make me want to finish up after the noodles. The charshu was thinly sliced and tender, but was otherwise ordinary. What was interesting were the "flavours" available for tonkotsu ramen which including squid ink, sakura ebi and even a cheese & basil rendition. There were free flow hard boiled eggs and steamed rice for dinner, but those eggs were difficult to peel. Half the whites were lost, stuck to the shells. Or maybe I just suck at peeling eggs.