Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Poulèt vous?

I was initially skeptical about this French themed roast chicken joint / rotisserie (#01-175/176/177, VivoCity, 1 HarbourFront Walk, tel : +65 6376 9087) as it was opened by the people that ran Thai Express. I didn't like Thai Express. And the bunch of other chain restaurants that the group manages. In retrospect, I can see why the place draws such a crowd and that people talk about it. The chicken was pretty decent and I did like some of the stuff we had. Which left me wondering if the quality of the food was consistent across the board for each outlet or did we just get lucky here at VivoCity......

We could also see that what they're trying to do, was to simplify the food setup to let the ingredients shine along with some well managed cooking processes in the kitchen.

Poulet, mushroom soup

Mushroom soup was creamy, smooth and not lacking in flavour. This was actually better than I had imagined so I guess that's a good thing.

Poulet, salad de paris

I thought that a name like salad de Paris was tacky. Overlooking that, it was a pretty good one. There was the piquant from the olives, fruity sweet and tart from the dried cranberries, fragrant nuttiness from the generous sprinkle of pine nuts along with the chopped up greens that lent a great deal of texture, tossed up very well with olive oil and apricot jam. I was thinking, if the food sucked, I could come back just for this. I swear.

Poulet, chicken

The claim to fame for Poulèt was obviously their slow roasted chicken. It's pretty good. The meat was tender, moist and apart from their brine marination, had no other flavouring. And then the sauce. This cranberry one tasted like it had roux with the dominant flavour being cinnamon. Which was not what I had expected since I had imagined a fruity cranberry jam/compote thing. But I suppose if it had been the latter, it'll mess itself up with the smear of mustard that they had also provided.

Poulet, chicken

The regular sauce option was some sort of mushroom cream which tasted like a less mushroom-y rendition of their soup. It was still rich from the cream and made you feel like you've had enough when you're done with the chicken.

Poulet, mash potato

Mash was good. Smooth, velvety machine blended good. It was however not the buttery type.

Poulet, apple tart

Dessert was caramelised apple in puffy tart. It was okay.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A lunch at Le Bistrot du Sommelier

Le Bistrot du Sommelier

Another delicious meal from Le Bistrot du Sommelier. There were some mackerel rillettes, fragrant and freshly steamed artichokes from Brittany in season that were served with a tangy onion salsa, some very fresh tasting tenderloin tartare where the quality of the meat spoke for itself in the midst of the spices that was mixed in them and a very delicious hanger cut onglet with an intense beefiness that was amazing with the sweet shallot confit with soft garlic cloves. I had that onglet back in Au Petit Salut ages ago and this one seemed to be bigger and better. All those juices from the meat and confit got soaked up in the fries making them extra tasty.

Dessert was a recommendation from their wait staff, a frangipane tart with smooth pistachio cream, toasted pistachio and luscious raspberries which was pretty awesome.

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, mackerel rillette

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, artichoke

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, onglet

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, steak tartare

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, frangipane tart pistachio raspberries

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Cheeseburger from Ootoya

No, this is not a an actual cheese burger but a Cheeseburger. Basically it's a hamburg with melted cheese and some pesto, served in a piping hot tomato broth with vegetables. How did that fare? Well, I think it was pretty edible but, don't think they make the tastiest of hamburg patties. Intrinsic flavors of the beef was a tad muted and there is definitely better around. The tomato broth was unexpectedly enjoyable for me. This dish is definitely very good cold weather food. If only it ever got cold here. Would I eat this again?  Sure, but I'll probably want to run through some of the other items on their menu before. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Riverside Indonesian BBQ, Food Opera @ ION Orchard

Here's a grilled chicken and squid set from the Riverside Indonesian BBQ at Ion's Food Opera (ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn #B4-03/04). It seems that their outlets/franchises hasn't changed very much over the years, consistency not withstanding. Which is actually a good thing. Apart from the price hikes. I'm pretty sure that the coconut laden gravy that they had used back in the old days at Riverside Point was tastier, but that being said, the existing concoction that they do are still delicious over the moist rice. I guess a huge draw for the queues would also be because of that sweet dark sauce that they use to baste the chickens over the grill. And that not so spicy sambal with onions and ikan bilis which comes in handy when the gravy runs out. Speaking of which, are they serving coconut rice these days or was I mistaken?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Kola Seafood, Sin Ming Drive

No, this wasn't ephiphanic and I'll try to cut down on the verbosity.

In many ways, a cze char joint like Kola Seafood (36 Sin Ming Drive) epitomizes a true face of local food. The stuff that you eat pretty often. It's not always all good or bad about what they serve. It's often a range in between. There are always degrees. A place where we experience the good, the bad and the ugly in the lock, stock and barrel of local dining. Where one may not be so incentivised to wax lyrical like what mainstream media loves doing, glaze over the eye in an explosive orgasm of flavors and c....ompliment the chef for a job well done.

It is a place run by locals, visited by locals and will probably not be visited by anyone but mostly locals by virtue of location. As of this point, this location is not yet even registered in OpenRice.

Okay, to their signature fried rice. It contained what many people like about a wok stir fried rice over a burning flame. Some thing that can be translated into the wok's breath or as many locals (or oldies) will call it wok hei. Or simply carbon. Quite a bit of it there but that's generally where most of the good ended. As with many signature items, it's an unimaginative mash up of bits that they threw in. Too damned greasy if I you asked me. Greasy fried rice are also pretty much everywhere, agree?

This was sliced fish with hor fun and bean sprouts. It's pretty okay if you don't compare. The fish slices were decent and for a small portion, it was actually pretty large.

The obligatory greens came in the form of stir fried nai bai with garlic and some crispy silverfish. It was pretty much what it looked like.

This was the most interesting item we ordered. Crayfish tails in salted egg yolk sauce. What I liked about this was that the crayfish were de-shelled. What I didn't like about it was that I've had frozen crayfish purchased in bulk and cooked at home that had better texture. Maybe they need to sear this more. Or drop the coating of flour on the meat.

I would credit the gravy for being pretty good. It was spiked with a hit of chilli padi, some curry leaves and black pepper. I guess a bit more generosity with the salted egg would have made it rip roaring good and a larger threat to the cholesterol we're trying to keep lowered. In fact, I thought this was probably better than Uncle Leong. It's a pity that the crayfish meat was mediocre.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Spizzico Ristorante Italiano, UE Square

Spizzico (81A Clemenceau Ave, #01-13 UE Square, tel : +65 6333 6174) is yet another one of those locations that I've passed by dozens of times and have never popped in, in spite of the curiosity. So it happened this time round with a last minute reservation on a Friday night and we managed to get a table.

The restaurant is rather cosy, reminds me of the defunct Al Forno Trattoria and Da Luca. The owner seemed to be a rather affable chap making his rounds constantly checking on needs.

These are rockets and mascarpone cheese rolled up in Parma ham. Pretty good, I liked that there were two levels of sweetness; one from the mascarpone and the other form the reduced balsamic glaze which worked with the saltiness from the ham.

Scarmoza cheese was delicious too with a tangy mushroom sauce and truffle oil. Actually, the charred and chewy cheese was the best part of it.

Spizzico's squid ink risotto was good. Rich and luxuriant with squid ink flavors good that is - has scallops still juiced up in their natural sweetness, a generous amount of squid and a couple of crunchy prawns. Good for returns.

And then a tenderloin with Gorgonzola sauce. The cut of the meat was thick and hefty, medium rare below the surface approaching almost rare in the middle. The steak could definitely have benefited with more generosity with their sauce for a piece of meat that size. Like what they do at Valentino. There's got to be enough to go around.

Tiramisu is a little dry. I like a bit more moisture.

As boring as I may have made this sound, I actually quite like what we had here tonight.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Oyster and Crab Restaurant, 100AM

The Oyster and Crab Restaurant

As the name implies, The Oyster and Crab Restaurant (100 Tras Street, #01-08, 100AM, tel : +65 6543 6507) focuses on recipes that make use of oysters and crabs. The food is Japanese and they do stuff like pasta, sushi, sashimi, teppanyaki, tempura and limited kushiyaki. The crabs I hear, are flown in twice a week from Hokkaido. But that wasn't really what we had been eyeing. We were looking forward to being oyster-fied by dinner. So we ordered their oyster set which sounded pretty good on menu.

To fast forward into retrospect, the oyster set simply wasn't oyster-ly enough for me. Portions were a little small. The quality was decent enough that if portions were more generous, I would have been impressed.

The Oyster and Crab Restaurant, oysters

First item up were a couple of oysters. The left, which came nude was from Hiroshima. Large, juicy and laced with brine and some sweetness. The other which if you noticed, was not served on shell came with spicy grated daikon, spring onions and ponzu. Both were pretty tasty in their own ways.

The Oyster and Crab Restaurant, sashimi sushi

Following was a mini plate of sashimi and oyster zushi done two ways. The fried one wasn't so good. I couldn't even tell that it was oyster. The raw oyster gunkan simply tasted like the ponzu-less version of the previous starter with rice and seaweed. I was hoping that the maguro would be good but I guess it was just simply what they could fit into the cost of the set. Likewise for the shake, it should have been belly meat. Not the regular leaner cut. Where's the pride eh? Apparently absent. In this country, that's quite understandable. So nothing much to look forward to folks.

The Oyster and Crab Restaurant, agedashi tofu

Then came an agedashi tofu strapped by seaweed with a fried oyster and a tempura-ed crab leg. This was very nice. The starchy broth was flavoured by a light shoyu and bits of crab meat. This dish turned out comforting. 

The Oyster and Crab Restaurant, onsen tamago uni

This onsen tamago was not part of the set. It was ordered separately and came very late. The tamago was certainly ugly looking. But the molten yolk on the inside with the sweet uni laced with ponzu together was almost orgasmic.

The Oyster and Crab Restaurant, oyster fried rice

And then fried rice. Not enough bits of oyster in them. It was relegated to being very ordinary and could have floored people simply with more oysters and salt. Them oysters are the point to this set and the theme of the restaurant isn't it?  Why such a half fucked effort? 

The Oyster and Crab Restaurant, oyster dobinmushi

Last food item was an oyster dobinmushi.

The Oyster and Crab Restaurant, oyster dobinmushi

There was an oyster in the broth, but no oyster flavours. The lonely oyster was tasty though. Restaurant also needs to be more conscientious about things like serving dried out lime.

The Oyster and Crab Restaurant, melon

Not Yubari King for sure.

It's mixed feelings about the place here. I'm not saying I'm never coming back, I just thought that with some small adjustments, it could have been pretty good value. Not against the idea of giving them another go sometime.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bar-Roque Grill, Amara Hotel

Bar-Roque Grill, Amara Hotel

A confluence of rustic themed modern rotisserie and bar that features a Stéphane Istel - chef, owner and previously from the Daniel Boulud group. Said chef hails from Alsace, a picturesque region of France along the borders of Germany and Switzerland. It would seem that, that heritage is what Bar-Roque (165 Tanjong Pagar #01-00, tel : +65 6444 9672) is here to offer.

Bar-Roque Grill, tarte flambee

They have tarte flambée. It was ok I guess. Pretty much what one can expect of cream cheese, onions and bacon on flatbread.

Bar-Roque Grill, beef carpaccio

Their beef carpaccio was excellent. Flavourful thinly sliced beef that wasn't shy with the salt and nicely flavoured with toasted pine nuts and shaven truffle. It was also however very tiny in portions and for $25. I could have rolled up all that beef into one mouthful.

Bar-Roque Grill, meat

We decided to take on their sample meat platter for a taste of what Bar-Roque had to offer. From what they had done up, the Australian wagyu and lamb shoulders were excellent. Their pork with inadequately crispy skin fell flat on flavour, was sinewy and had to be rescued by the mustard. Challans ducks had lost everything French about them with a very Asian sauce slathered over. These aren't even close to the best ducks I've had. They did however, do a pretty decent roasted chicken.

Bar-Roque Grill, ravioli

And then, tiny mushroom raviolis which went through some confusion. We had ordered a main sized portion which the server had confirmed upon arrival. It was delicious from the cream sauce backed with fried shallots, but the portions were puny. A three year old would have had no problems finishing them. I mean, come on, those raviolis were barely larger than my thumbnails. Later, a second wait staff informed us it might have been a portion for sides. No one seemed to be sure. 

Bar-Roque Grill, apple pie

Apple pie was really good. I mean, exceptionally good. But at $66 for a whole pie, I don't think I'll buy from them. In fact, I don't think I'll be coming back.

Bar-Roque Grill, Amara Hotel

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Some sort of cheesy egg drop beef broth from Valentino's

I have forgotten what this is called but it seems to be some sort of beef broth - a rather clear one at that, which comes with fluffy egg bits beaten into them. If I didn't recall wrongly, it was one of their more expensive soups. The flavor was oddly, rather cheesy for something that was supposedly beef and egg based. Salty and cheesy. Not that I'm complaining, but expectations between the description, what I see and the taste are a little misaligned here.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Omakase Burger revisited

picture from Omakase Burger, not mine

So, it seems that the flavour of the month here is their foie gras burger. That's the product picture above from their social media by the way.

Omakase Burger, foie gras burger sweet potato fries

As much as I had anticipated the misrepresentation that they did advertising it, the appearances still had me taken aback a little. Foie gras flavour? Sure - the word to describe the strength of that flavours is 'residual'. It was still a pretty well done thing with the juicy & beefy medium done patty that had tongues wagging when they first opened up. It's never going to win any semblance of an award for being a foie gras burger. Not by any stretch.

Now, the Mexican coke that they have. It tasted like the regular thing. Maybe the sweetness wasn't as cloying. Can't really tell.

Omakase Burger, Mexican coke

Foie gras isn't exactly cheap and Omakase Burger also never priced themselves at what could be construed as basic level cheap already in the first place. This creates a predicament. Where a balance between keeping the liver amount "manicured" and maintain what is perceived to be a sweet spot for the price tag or - put enough of the gras that no one should ever doubt it for what it is with at the risk of a cost that will turn people away. What a pickle eh?

Omakase Burger, pickles

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Ootoya in 2013

So, it's been a while since the last time. The menu seems to have changed and so has presentation. They used to cram their teishoku sets into a large tray. Now we get a smaller tray, and a big plate.

This was the first time with their blue fin tuna sashimi. The portions looked petite for what they were charging and the knife work a little amateurish. But the fish was smooth and the flavors were good.

Taking from a page of their shio-koji teishoku selection, there was some beef and pork. Shio-koji as I learnt is koji (a fermented culture of rice and/or soya beans) that is fermented in salt. The result is suppose to provide the same amount of flavor with less than half the actual salt content.

I was initially a little apprehensive of the beef from appearances, but it turned out to be pretty tasty. Fat laced with beefy flavors and uplifted by small bits of burnt ends. The pork belly was likewise really flavorful with delicious grease and soft fats, topped with char aroma.

And then, probably my favorite option of hijiki rice.

Why settle for one dessert when.......

...the second one comes for free! I don't know what's happening here. But we were told it's a one for one deal. The banana parfait remains the top pick for us while the green tea mousse thingy was pretty good as well. The roasted sesame on cream was nice.