Saturday, May 31, 2014

Canton-i, City Square, Johor Bahru

Johor Bahru, Canton-i, roast meats

The main reason why we dropped by Canton-i (Lot J1-22 & J2-31, Johor Bahru City Square, 106 & 108, Jalan Wong Ah Fook) was for their char siew. In retrospect, that honey marinated and caramelized strip of barbecued pork with wobbly soft fat married with bitter accent of burnt ends was probably the only thing that we would ever be coming back for. Very good stuff.

We did order some dim sum which I hadn't bothered with photos. Most of them were unexpectedly mediocre for Hong Kong styled food. Their har gao was sad and their fish maw low in quality. Special mention goes to the noodles with prawn roe which was nothing like the original ones. I'm not sure what's the deal with the squares of sliced carrots and canned mushrooms that was thrown in with that gloopy sauce. It was honestly, a lousy knock off of a simple noodle dish and I know where to find better.

Johor Bahru, Canton-i, prawn roe noodles

Thursday, May 29, 2014

More of that ban mian from Toa Payoh Central...

This would be the "Chinese tagliatelle" option for noodles. So to speak. I'm more favourably disposed towards ee mee which was more toasty over this noodle which was slightly floury tasting. I'm not saying that I dislike this bowl, I just prefer the other much more. The ingredients as usual, are generous and good.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, Robinsons Orchard

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, bloody mary

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, crab cake

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, crab cake

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, travis burger lobster roll

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, travis burger lobster roll

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, lobster roll

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House, stout shake chocolate chip cookies

I've been waiting for the opening of this new outfit of Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House (#03-02, Robinsons Orchard, 260 Orchard Road, tel : +65 6733 4813) for a while and it's finally happened.

Honestly, I'm as impressed with this place as the original one down at Gemmill Lane. Even after the anticipation.

The Bloody Mary was one of the better ones I recall having while the starter of their crab cakes were delicious and packed with flavours of both the crab and the spices. Now, those were indeed a balance of flavours. 

I could go on about the nicely salted bits of lobster wedged in the heavily buttered and toasted rolls. Or the crusty & crisp on the outside beef patty with perfect (I'm entitled to this word) dusky pink medium doneness from their burger which seemed better than I last remember them. This one, is ahead of the little beast at Morton's on the flavour and is, I daresay again, one of the best few burgers one can get in this country. I recommend them without the additional kurobuta bacon because I think that the bacon does absolutely nothing making it any better.

And yes, I'm not forgetting that subtle stout shake that came with chocolate chip filled soft baked cookies.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Gyoza-ya, Robinsons Orchard

Gyoza-ya, Robinsons Orchard

This was the newest shop (#B1-02 Robinsons Orchard, 260 Orchard Road, tel : +65 6737 5581) set up by the home grown Akashi Group. Of course they do gyoza. And what kind of gyoza? Apparently ones with ingredients imported from Japan, machine filled and crimped upon order so everything is freshly made.

Their gyozas were actually pretty good. The exterior of the dumpling was crisp; fillings were tender, juicy and it was all sufficiently flavoured. We tried the yaki ebi, yaki buta and even a sui buta ones. What was was mediocre was the fried rice. Nowhere close to the standards of some of the good ones that can be found in town. Enjoyed that bean sprout dish with minced meat. The tori nankotsu which was salty and crunchy.

With prices at Akashi going visibly northwards, I guess Gyoza-ya looks to be bucking some of that trend. Some. Let's hope it lasts at least for those gyozas. To footnote, I actually found the entire experience at the Gyoza King much more satisfying and less costly. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Fiery Mala Burger from McD

Recently, McD has had some sort of spicy challenge publicity going on and this Fiery Mala Burger was revealed to be the spiciest of four that was part of the challenge. I'm pretty sure that this was actually the spiciest burger that McD has ever made and the heat was kind of respectable. Of course, one shouldn't really be expecting the fragrance of real mala spices in their marinate. Still, but it still provided a kick tempered with some aioli like sauce over the top. I didn't expect that I would actually enjoy it.

On the other hand, it's shamefully expensive for a sandwich with a small piece of chicken and some shreds of lettuce.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles 2014

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles

Here's a bowl of reaffirmation for this year from Tai Hwa (#01-12, Tai Hwa Eating House, 466 Crawford Lane, tel : +65 6292 7477). There's definitely a good reason why this place is better than the others. And it's good to know that the noodles are still savoury-licious with a vinegary punch.

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles, Crawford Lane

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Morton's USDA Prime burger again

Morton's, usda prime burger

Here's a trip back to Morton's bar for their burgers. Yes, it's been a very long while since the last and it seemed that they're doing a consistent job with their burgers. That consistency unfortunately extended to the not so great service at the bar as well. Here's a heads up, those burgers going for $16 instead of the usual price for this month from 7 pm. 

I think they overcooked mine today, but still the quality of the meat was good enough that it was all forgivably so. I just wished that the grind for the meat was more coarse.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The little corner at Paragon with green stuff...

PS Cafe, veggie green pasta

That's what the menu calls the Veggie Greens pasta. It's actually a primavera if you would. And this is one of my favourite things to order down at PS Cafe at Paragon. I ate it once, remembered it and came back for more of it. It's basically pasta with asparagus, artichoke, French beans, broad beans, broccoli, capers and olive oil with spaghetti flavoured with shaven Parmesan cheese and a bit of heat from chilli flakes. Quite a medley. The sum of flavours, so to speak, are fairly clean with enough measures of savoury to make the plate delicious and the chilli flakes add just that bit of dimension. The textures of the vegetables and the al dente pasta was ...... one can exercise imagination. I don't want to abuse the word 'amazing'.

And it seems that this particular pasta can only be found at the branch at Paragon.

PS Cafe, key lime pie

And of course, the green key lime pie from the very same place. It hasn't really changed in appearance, but the filling seem to have a different texture from previously. Those green filling now felt a little more gelatinous and smooth compared to a more rustic texture back in the past. The taste was otherwise, the same.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Ban mian from Toa Payoh Central

ban mian, Toa Payoh Central

Remember me mentioning about ban mian from the same coffeeshop (J99 Eating House, 186 Toa Payoh Central) as Fu Xiang Chicken Rice? Well, this was it.

I have generally never been a fan of ban mian. In fact, I've never really eaten much of them until the past few years when I realised that there were options without soup. I never understood trying to eat noodles in a floury tasting and scalding hot soup flavoured with ikan bilis under the sweltering heat.

This bowl was exceptional. Half the bowl was pretty much the ingredients that came with the noodles. Namely, the chunky bits of minced pork, thick slices of fish, boiled cabbage and not forgetting, ikan bilis together with the option of ee mee. Dry of course. For $4, this bowl had more than double the ingredients, quality ones, that can generally be found in a bowl of ban mian elsewhere.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ise Ebi lobster tonkotsu ramen from Keisuke's Tonkotsu King Four Seasons

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons, bean sprouts

Keisuke Takeda's fourth ramen shop (158 Rochor Rd, tel : +65 6333 5740) is doing publicity today (Mother's Day if you didn't realise). 500 bowls of Ise ebi lobster tonkotsu ramen on the go for $8.50. 

As per usual for myself (and probably countless others), we start off munching on the spicy bean sprouts after being seated and waiting for orders that we never really made to arrive. There was nothing to order since they served only one type of ramen today. 

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons, ise ebi ramen

Actually, I was pretty impressed with the broth. The flavour from the crustacean was well developed. It was almost a bisque....minus the cognac and butter. And a very enjoyable one at that. If I had to complain, I wished the noodles were a little harder. But hey, I got a molten yolk from my ajitama. It's a good sign.

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons, ise ebi ramen broth

I hesitated for a while after finishing up the noodles.

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons, ise ebi ramen broth rice

In the end, it was 'what the heck!'.

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons, ise ebi ramen broth rice

And I got myself a very enjoyable bowl of lobster porridge.

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons, winter bowl

I got the winter bowl for today.

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons, Rochor Road

And on their walls facing me, was the winter soldier?

Dim sum set lunch from Red House Seafood Restaurant

This was actually a pretty good deal for lunch. I hadn't even heard of Red House Seafood (68 Prinsep Street, tel : +65 6336 6080) until the recent couple of years.  The good quality of the seafood certainly spoke for itself even though that spicy seafood plate. Their dim sum was also better than I had anticipated. Notably the well done were the light chewy skins of the crystal dumplings with the delicious mixed mushroom fillings and the spinach with scallops that were stuffed in the green dumpling. Even the humble siew mai was light, spot on with the flavours and tasty. Unexpectedly as well, I certainly didn't see myself spooning up mouthfuls of the starchy gravy from their oyster hor fun

Speaking of which, it's a real broth that's been thickened with corn starch in that hor fun gravy. Not the junk that one regularly finds elsewhere. The durian mochi was edible. I think I wouldn't mind at all coming back for a go at their dim sum.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ippudo without ramen

Ippudo's forte has always been ramen. It still is. This other outlet at Mohammad Sultan (207 River Valley Road, #01-55/56 UE Square, tel : +65 6887 5315) previously branded with a 'Tao' has become another Ippudo SG which actually serves up some izakaya-ish plates at dinner. 

Ippudo, nitamago ikura

The nitamago ikura wasn't quite like how I imagined it. And that's largely because the quality of the ikura was questionable. The textures of the roe was off, didn't quite burst in the mouth and the flavors were flat.

Ippudo, kuromame cream cheese

I liked their kuromame cream cheese. I'm not sure if that's just cream cheese in there with the black beans. There was a little sweetness that could've been honey and perhaps, there's mascarpone. For the quantity of the cheese they gave, I think a little more crackers would be nice.

Ippudo, beef tataki

Then there's beef tataki. Which was actually pretty okay-ish if tiny in portions. The flavours weren't amazing, but the ponzu dip helped. The strip on the side was some kind of spicy yuzu paste.

Ippudo, crabs

Little tasty crabs frits they do too. This was pretty good, freshly fried.

Ippudo, tori hatsu

We ordered some tori hatsu. Of course it's not as good as the King. But - pairing the chicken hearts up with onions was actually quite a good idea.

Ippudo, gyutan

The gyutan was actually not bad at all. I'd order this again if I revisit.

Ippudo, corn

Crispy corn which was actually quite tasty as well. There was sufficient crisp from the light batter, the corn was still a little juicy and everything had that light smokiness from....paprika I think.

Ippudo, scallops ikura

The scallops here were unfortunately mediocre. It's obviously frozen from the texture alone and the char markings looked wrong. And to further bring them down, it was topped with their substandard ikura.

Ippudo, sanshouku gohan

I liked their sanshouku gohan. It's pickled nozawana greens, mentaiko and shredded egg over warm rice.

Ippudo, cake

And some sliced brown sugar chiffon rolls to finish off. 

The ikura bugged me quite a bit. I'm pretty sure that if they had simply used good or even just decent quality ones, it would have upped the experience by another notch. And that would have been an easy thing to do since it's also an ingredient that needs zero preparation or skill. The scallops were the other main disappointment and the beef tataki.....well, has room for improvement.

It's probably just me, but they should also get the word 'tapas' off their menu. Why bother with a coattail that no one will ever associate you with anyway? It just seems to be an unnecessary dilution of an identity.

Monday, May 05, 2014

More Good Year

Good Year Local Hainanese Chicken Rice Ball, Toa Payoh

We came back too Good Year based on the recommendation to try the regular chicken rice. You know what? I liked this too. The regular rice actually tastes the same as the rice ball so in effect, there's only the textual difference. And it was definitely good enough to eat naked which isn't a problem since I don't really think much of their chilli sauce. The portions of the chook were indeed generous.

Personally so far, I think they're just good for their chicken rice. Nothing much could be said of their sides of greens or the just passable braised pork skin. 

Good Year Local Hainanese Chicken Rice Ball, Toa Payoh

Sunday, May 04, 2014

More tales from the French river horse

Hippopotamus, blue cheese burger

I was initially bemoaning about how Hippopotamus had started to lose the identity it has created here by selectively trimming the menu. Trimmed what I felt were some of the good stuff I meant. They've taken off the old XL ribeye which they sold for a song (not exactly, but....). The burger with foie gras is also off and there's totally no foie gras at all on menu. Fast forward to today, the blue cheese sauce on the side is not longer available too. That was a travesty! :P Along with a couple of sides options that I liked like the beans. Basically, the menu was really starting to look very generic and the place could've been Sizzler's for all I knew. 

But we happened to be here and order we did some items that we hadn't had before. Their blue cheese burger turned out satisfying beyond expectations even though it was a little small. Though the patty was little overcooked from what I normally prefer, they had the decency not to load junk into the meat. What obviously worked for me with the burger was the generous amount of blue cheese that they used. 

There's a new item which was basically fried bacon with poached eggs and a beefy red wine sauce. That's really good as well. Steak tartare was surprisingly, quite edible. Our only gripe was that the beef wasn't quite as well chopped up as we would like resulting in stringy bits of connective tissue. The spicy sauce that they used for the tartare was unexpectedly heady. Tasted like Thousand Island, rum and Tabasco.

Hippopotamus, steak tartare