Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Mini Miyazaki Buffet at Triple Three

Here's some looks from the Mini Miyazaki Buffet held at Triple Three (Level 5, Mandarin Orchard Singapore, 333 Orchard Road, tel : +65 6831 6271). The highlight of the buffet was the availability of A4 graded wagyu from the Miyazaki prefecture. Yes, good quality wagyu on buffet that is prepared slow roasted, aburi-ed a la minute on sushi, shabu-ed or teppanyaki. The teppanyaki station which generally had the longest queue was our favourite. My guess is that most of the people must have found it to be the best treatment of all the options that they had for the meat.

Personally, I felt that there was definitely room for improvement in the skill and care that was required to deal with such a delicate premium cut of meat. But I'm not complaining. What they're charging for the buffet was a steal.

Those aburi wagyu sushi could have benefited with a bit more char and certainly some salt. 

That's a new platter of that thinly sliced wagyu for the shabu station. Each portion of the meat is painstakingly prepared with accompanying vegetables by the attending station chef that portions each handout to the queue. 

As a result, one doesn't actually get it hot from the pot to the mouth or at a specific doneness as preferred. This was the lightest tasting option for the wagyu that literally dissolved in the mouth. And it was lighter than the tofu.

The honey baked ham station looked forlorn, so we gave it a little love. The ham was awesome. It's been a rather long while since I've had such good ham. The meat was warm and tender, fats were soft with the smoky saltiness in tandem with the sweet from the permeated honey. Very good stuff which looked to be under appreciated by the throngs of diners at the wagyu station.

The cuts of wagyu at the teppanyaki station were so well marbled with fats that it stopped hearts simply by being present.

This chef along with the one manning the shabu station had the heaviest work cut out for them since the queues never subsided unless the beef ran out.

This we agreed was the best treatment for the wagyu here. There was nothing but pepper and salt to flavor and aromatized the caramelized meat.

The slow roast wagyu on the other hand, lacked identity in the department of flavors. It was crowded at the station at the start. And only then. 

While we could taste that it was a good beef, that slow roast seemed to have robbed the meat of the distinctive flavor that most of us recognized of the wagyu.

Somehow, people forgot that there was a pasta station that did pasta with shaven black truffle. I didn't.

Miso cod was competently done. The fish was oily and rich, paired off with the char and sweet miso.

This foie gras chawanmushi didn't quite turn out the way I imagined. While it was a deliciously savory  chawanmushi, there was no flavor of foie gras at all.

Oyster station saw that the shellfish were shucked on request. These oysters were impressively fresh tasting, briny but lacked the usual pull on the buffet crowd due to the wagyu stations. 

At this point, I needed some fruit to cut the richness. Cherry tomatoes did the trick.

The Indian food also received little attention. So it was just unfortunate for the people that repeatedly queued for the wagyu that they didn't realise that there was a rather awesome and smoky butter chicken to be had along with some nicely done paneer mutter masala. The nondescript looking prata was surprising light and delicious at the same time.

And then some fruit, cheese and bread. There was a cheese crusted bread filled with seeds that was actually pretty good. Good to the point that even when we were rather stuffed, I was still popping piece after piece into my mouth. It's another one of those items along with numerous others which were a good showcase of the quality of food at Triple Three.

Most of the desserts were unexciting for me unfortunately. The only items that were good enough that I got past a sample licking were their yuzu cheese cake, yuzu sorbet and sliced nectarines from the fruit station.

Small Potatoes Make The Steak Look Bigger : Year Seven

Seven years of talking about what I eat. And the adventures go on!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Laksania, JEM

Laksania, dry laksa

Laksania (#03-09 JEM, 50 Jurong Gateway Road, tel : +65 6734 8908) is apparently the business part of a social venture that engages marginalized people and helps get them into the workforce. The theme of the food is obviously centralized on laksa along with various renditions of the dish that are either regionally based or simply a fusion of their own.

This was a laksa goreng I got at lunch. It didn't quite look like what was featured on pictures in the menu/media. The flavors were admittedly pretty decent but I gripe over how little ingredients they had added for how much they were charging for a plate of this. The tau pok was minimal and one could certainly also count on one hand the measly strips of fishcake which were present. The prawns were also not de-veined and didn't taste fresh.

As noble the idea behind this venture is, I certainly felt that they could do better with the food. Rental aside, their margins must be really fat.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ma Maison, Bugis +

Ma Maison, gyu katsu

We stumbled upon this branch of Ma Maison (#01-12, Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street, tel : +65 6884 4471) not realising that there was one here. Later it dawned upon me that this was the Aloha Ma Maison that I heard about some months back that came with a Hawaiian theme. How did I figure that out? The decor couldn't have been more obvious with those surfboards and tiki carvings. I'm not sure if the Hawaiian food options have been removed, but this turned out to be serving the same stuff apart from the acai berry pancakes. But there was a seasonal menu card that drew us in.

Ma Maison, cuttlefish ink curry katsu rice

Firstly the gyu katsu which is the second of sorts that's been around here as I know it. This one by Ma Maison did better by the virtue of having a thicker cut compared to the one at Tampopo. So you could actually taste that it was beef even though they hadn't been using wagyu. The other thing was cuttlefish ink curry with a regular but respectable rosu katsu which to their credit, managed a Japanese curry that did taste of the ink. Their grape tart was pretty good. Those grapes don't taste processed. I wonder how they perform those surgical precision slices.

Ma Maison, grape tart

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Boon Tong Kee, Boon Keng

  Boon Tong Kee, chicken rice

Boon Tong Kee has been around for well over three decades and is possibly the most famous name for branded chicken rice chains in this country. Their rise to fame back in the day in Chinatown came from making chicken rice which is by the way still pretty decent these days; in the recent decade, it's also a bunch of other tze char options from their menu. Very much the way Pow Sing is.

This is the branch that most people refer to as being in Boon Keng (Blk 34 Whampoa West #01-93, tel : + 65 6299 9880). The outlet with decor that could have been a blast from the past and the service crew hasn't been overrun by foreigners.

Boon Tong Kee, chicken

I was about to comment that the boiled/poached chicken that they serve was just passable. After a bit more thought, it was actually not bad. I've had worse in many other places. Places that survive by the virtue of them being the only shop in the locale and people didn't really have another other choice. In Boon Tong Kee, the residents in the vicinity have that choice and I'm sure they chose here because they did like the smooth and tender chook sitting in the soy and sesame concoction. The rice was grainy, not excessively greasy and rather light. But I seem to recall better flavours coming from them back in the past. I'm not a fan of their chilli sauce.

Boon Tong Kee, kailan

This kailan stir fried with minced garlic was the obligatory green of the day. It was ok, I'm not particularly a big fan, but I don't dislike it neither. It was really just okay.

Boon Tong Kee, crispy tofu

I liked their crispy skinned tofu. They have somehow managed a crispy skin, lightly salted that is separate from the silken steaming tofu that is on the inside.

Boon Tong Kee, claypot pig liver

Stir fried pig liver in claypot was good. The doneness of the livers were perfect. 

Boon Tong Kee, shrimp toast

We ordered their deep fried shrimp toast out of curiosity as they cost $16 for four pieces and that was the minimal quantity per order that one could make. It was actually rather good in spite of some minor apprehension. There was a lot of real shrimp that was pressed into what tasted like shrimp paste. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Beef Nikumashi Ramen from Buta God

Buta God, Beef Nikumashi Ramen

Ramen Champion (201 Victoria Street, Bugis+ #04-10, tel : +65 6238 1011) has concluded the results of their second year and it seemed that Ikkousha has won for the second consecutive round. Three stalls were rotated out for newer competitors. Buta God, with their young chef Mamoru Kanaya is one of the new entrants.

What Buta God brought to the table in their bowl of noodles was notably different from the rest. 

The pork component featured thinly sliced marinated pork belly rather than charshu and their eggs were poached rather than hard boiled. On top of that Buta God simmers a tonkotsu based soup with some sort of sukiyaki blend; I'm detecting the trinity of shoyu, mirin and sugar. The result was a broth that was rather sweet, reminding me more than a little of Yoshinoya.

I picked the beef option because they seem to do limited runs of 20 bowls a day. As expected, it was like a ramen version of a gyudon. That was pretty much the only difference between this and their regular pork based bowl. As much as I generally dislike Yoshinoya, those guys actually struck a better savoury balance with the flavour and their sliced beef were also thinner than this one. I guess a buta god was simply not so good with gyu. I managed to finish my broth so I guess it wasn't terrible. But something about the sweetness makes me think that they're going to have a difficult time against the current reigning champion.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Shin Kushiya, VivoCity

I've been spoilt by Kazu, so most kushiyaki to me are trying to get there. Except for one or two others (or perhaps three) that are noticeably above the crowd, the rest are well...... trying. Shin Kushiya (#02-120, Vivocity, 1 Harbourfront Walk, tel : +65 6275 8766) has been around for quite a while and I've never had to chance to drop by until recently. I've been told that while they aren't they best there is, they're better than the most. I personally think having multiple branches brings the questions of quality and consistency into the equation, but I'll not dwell on that here.

Since there's pictures, I'll try to summarise. I will strongly recommend against the calamari and lamb persillade. The former is 60% batter, greasy and belongs to somewhere at the top of the list of worst deep fried calamari I've eaten. The latter is just overwhelmed by the mustard and frankly, for what they were charging, I expect better quality and quantity of meat.

The rest are decent. Their foie gras seemed to be dusted with a super thin crumbly skin which gave another dimension to the texture of something that generally just liquifies in your mouth. Don't mind having their grills again, but doesn't exactly make me hanker for their food. I think I could attribute that partially to their quality of char aroma which wasn't really quite up there.

The uni/roe/truffle oil pasta was a pretty nicely done plate of noodles. I can only gripe about how little uni one gets for the money they are charging. Pretty expensive I must say.

Their mochi desserts are actually pretty nice.


fried calamari 

foie gras 



quail eggs, mentaiko sake, pork belly

 lamb persillade

chicken filet with mentaiko 

pasta with uni, a couple of roes and truffle oil

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hougang 6 Miles Muah Chee, Toa Payoh

These black sesame muah chee were pretty good (480 Toa Payoh Lor 6, HDB Hub B1-01, Stall 21). It was definitely more aromatic than the regular variety due to black sesame that's been added into the chewy dough and I noticed that each piece that was pulled off was glazed individually with shallot oil before being coated in the sugared peanut powder which also had crushed black sesame seeds in them. I wonder why do they have 6 Miles in their name. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Yi Jia South Village Seafood Restaurant, Toa Payoh

Yi Jia South Village Seafood Restaurant, fried rice

Heard about this tze char from a friend and decided to check out the scene from their outlet up north (#01-298, 21 Toa Payoh Lorong 7, tel : +65 6250 6537). Most of the plates of food from what we had observed from the neighbouring orders looked good. But I think we made a few mistakes ordering as newbies here.

Yi Jia South Village Seafood Restaurant, sweet potato leaves

Their stir fried sweet potato leaves with garlic, ginger and fermented bean curd was pretty good. Really appreciated the fact that the leaves were not fibrous.

Yi Jia South Village Seafood Restaurant, kang kong

Stir fried kang kong with garlic was competently done as well. There was enough savouriness and the vegetable had the prerequisite crunch to denote freshness.

Yi Jia South Village Seafood Restaurant, honeydew prawn ball

This was when things started becoming a little "off the main path". These deep fried prawn balls in Thousand Island sauce were a little too single dimensionally sweet. So that meant that you probably wouldn't want to eat more than a couple before all that cloy gets to you. Oddly, their Thousand Island sauce actually tasted like greasy Sugus. Don't know what that is? Go Wiki it. 

Yi Jia South Village Seafood Restaurant, fried chicken strawberry sauce

Funky dish number two was deep fried chicken with strawberry sauce. This and the previous item were in the orders because they sounded interesting and were also signature dishes by Yi Jia. It turned out that these experimental pairings didn't work together well. At all. There was too little balancing tart from the strawberry of their creamy/milky sauce. Couldn't even pretend it was lemon chicken and the cloy manifested again after a couple of pieces. To top that off, the quality of the meat was really mediocre. This was mistake order number two.

Thankfully, their royal pot which was their take on a sort of traditional Chinese frutti di mare made the cut. Am pretty sure I would like to come back judging from the crowd and what we spied coming out from the kitchen. Hey, no fake crab sticks in the fried rice here! We'll stick to more conventional items from the menu the next time.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Keng Seng Abalone Noodle House, Upper Thomson Road

Keng Seng Abalone Noodle House, Upper Thomson Road

This was the much less crowded looking of the two ba chor mee neighbours (246A Upper Thomson Road). The other being Meng's Kitchen that offered a much more satisfying looking (prettier?) bowl of noodles which drew much more crowd. The operative word here is look.

Keng Seng's differentiates themselves by adding a slice of abalone into their noodles. It's $3.50, noticeably cheaper than the above mentioned neighbour and doesn't include the sliced pig liver nor shrimp that the picture in front of the stall depicts. But I thought it was done decently and I liked the texture of the noodles here better. The sparing amount of deep fried lard hidden in the noodles were crispy and fragrant. What really got to me though, was the accompanying no-nonsense bowl of soup that came with the noodles. My not so Spidey senses told that it was definitely pig stomach soup. A peppery one at that and it was good. Good that I asked for refills.

Now that I'm encouraged, I'm likely to come back another time for their more expensive bowl that features crayfish.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Burnt Ends, Teck Lim Road

Burnt Ends, Teck Lim Road

I've been hearing about the mentions of Burnt Ends (20 Teck Lim Road, tel : +65 6224 3933) quite a bit as a result of it being a new establishment that's a joint venture by Loh Lik Peng and Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre. This particular one is helmed by a bearded Australian David Pynt running the counter-seating open grill kitchen with a custom built brick kiln serving up elegantly plated offerings straight from their fires. And others. With such a pedigree and theme, how could I not be suckered in? 

Burnt Ends, sea urchin & cauliflower
sea urchin & cauliflower

First impressions was sea urchin, slivers on cauliflower puree. This was on the whole, nice, but the flavour of the uni was quite lost. As strange as this might sound, the cauliflower puree had actually overwhelmed the sea urchin.

Burnt Ends, salmon skin & roe
salmon skin and roe

Following was crispy salmon skin slathered with oyster emulsion and dusted with some seaweed powder and ikura. This was textures and subtle shifts of layers of flavour rather well done. It didn't escape us that these looked like crispy flattened oyster shells.

Burnt Ends, smoked quail eggs & truffle salt
smoked quail eggs & truffle

We made the mistake of ordering the smoked quail eggs with truffle which came in the form of truffle salt. None of the truffle flavour from the salt came through so I guess it was a waste of $5 against the regular smoked eggs which was actually quite nice if predictably so. The molten yolk scored here.

Burnt Ends, warmed oysters
warmed oysters

We didn't know what to expect of the warmed oysters, but these were damn good. As aptly named, the oysters were merely warmed and not cooked. Couldn't quite catch what the server had mentioned about the liquids that was in them, but I thought I had heard rice wine vinegar. The oysters themselves were large, fat and juicy. Good for returns.

Burnt Ends, duck hearts, endive & aioli
duck hearts, endive & aioli

Then, very nicely grilled and sliced duck hearts. What was it that I liked? I think it struck a good balance of achieving a moderated char aroma from the grill without drying out, leaving the insides a shade of medium doneness. The accompanying endives which were caramelised were mindblowingly sweet and fragrant. The medley of sweet and savory flavors was finished off with their smooth aioli.

Burnt Ends, fennel, orange & burrata
fennel, orange & burrata

Here were some lightly softened fennel with charred ends that were richened by some creamy burrata and enlivened with what appears to be oils from oranges. Appreciated the fennel fronds.

Burnt Ends, onglet, burnt onion & walnut
onglet, burnt onion & walnut

Onglet a.k.a. skirt was nicely shaded medium rare. I think this was even better done than the one from Skirt. Having bits of bone marrow certainly greased things up for the grainy textured meat. As much as I liked this, I'm certain that I could have gone without the burnt onion and red wine sauce. It wasn't bad for that matter, it's just me.

Burnt Ends, pineapple, rum & vanilla
pineapple, rum & vanilla

Burnt Ends, banana & caramel
banana & caramel

Desserts were okay. I guess they were done to the theme of ovens and grills. Not entirely impressed with the banana as I was expecting some of the tart flavours akin to goreng pisang. But I am not adversed toward coming back for the rest of grills.