Friday, January 30, 2015

Fill-a-Pita revisited

I realised that Fill-a-Pita falls under the tripartite of labels that I don't make use of individually very often. Which are for the mediterranean, middle eastern and vegetarian food. It could be argued that there is probably not much in those combination of options here that have gotten my interest. So I guess that a this revisit symbolises a new hope for a class of cuisine that doesn't get very much attention in spite of their big flavours.

So today, we came back to try their light citrusy hummus and chomped on a pita filled with those delicious spice fava beans and tahini. Lots of red cabbage for the crunch to marry with the aromatic spices that really kept the texture from becoming mushy and boring and there was also a special on the board - koshari rice. A Friday special it seemed. Rice, macaroni, lentils and fried onion with a spicy tomato sauce. Textures of grains and starch with heat. I'm not familiar with them, but the bags of flavour from those humble ingredients screamed street food. Awesomely delicious.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Arnold's Fried Chicken, Yishun Golden Village

Arnold's Fried Chicken, Yishun Golden Village

Man, these were still as good as I remember them. Crisp seasoned skin on the surface and tender meat underneath. They (51 Yishun Central 1, #01-04) even have their own fried chicken rice these days. Before anyone knocks them off, the rice was actually pretty good. There was a balance of aromas from both garlic and ginger infused into them and I surprised myself by inhaling till the last grain even though I have an aversion to ginger.  

Arnold's Fried Chicken, fried chicken rice

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant, Whampoa West

Great food coming from this old school Teochew restaurant (#01-27, 34 Whampoa West, tel : +65 6297 7789). There were quite a number of dishes that sounded appealing tand we simply couldn't try them all in a single seating, including the usual favourites that most people can't steer away from. 

Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant, cold crabs

These cold crabs were very good. Chilled, firm and sweet flesh underneath the soft shell along with the rich crab liver.

Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant, cold crabs

Don't they remind of a scene from Aliens?

Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant, pork aspic

Chilled pork aspic which is one of the favourites that I had mentioned. These jellied odds and ends of pork were served on a bed of ice cubes. Tasted pretty decent, but I thought the flavour came through better if they were slightly less chilled. They were also not as spiced up as the ones from Ban Heng.

Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant, oyster omelette

That's the oyster omelette.

Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant, oyster omelette

And the fat juicy oysters underneath.

Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant, sambal crayfish

Liang Kee is apparently known for their sambal crayfish. I haven't had good Chinese sambal in quite a while and these here were pretty tasty. One of those gravies that would make one consume copious amounts of rice. And to top it off, the crayfish were plump and fresh. Easily stripped off their shell.

Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant, cai por hor fun

The starch was their hor fun stir fried with cai por. This was quite good too. If you are into wok hei, this has plenty of it.

Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant, orh nee

Dessert was even more starch. Orh nee (yam paste) with pumpkin and ginko nuts. Not bad.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fill-a-Pita, Shenton Way

This was good. I'm going just say it up front that I enjoyed everything we've tried so far here from Fill-a-Pita (#01-02 Shenton House, 3 Shenton Way, tel : +65 9835 1446) on the first visit. From the heavyweight falafel filled pitas, mouth watering spiced fava beans with tahini to the salty halloumi cheese (also in pita). I had actually stumbled upon their existence by chance through Hungry Ang Mo. Total happenstance and long live Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Here's also a thumbs up to the very affable Mark Ruffalo-esque proprietor of the shop.

I'm not so familiar with some of these stuff here, but the falafel tasted more bean-y rather than chick pea-y here. Very delicious and hefty stuff that sticks. And having halloumi cheese my friends, are the closest thing that one can get to eating bacon without actually eating meat. That came with their invigoratingly spicy house made sauce which was right up my alley. It's just too bad for me that I'm almost never near this locale.

And yes, we got a couple of sweet dates for desserts at the end too.

hello, me!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Burger Up, Yishun Golden Village

Burger Up's a rather new shop (51 Yishun Central 1, #01-03 Yishun Ten Complex) that took over the space that Wendy's left behind. That was certainly good riddance. If I had to describe what this current joint was, I guess it'll be local fast food? With an electronic ordering kiosk that allows a modicum of customisation for your meal that prints out an order chit for payment & collection and subsequently notifies you when your order is ready by flashing the chit number on the display screens around the restaurant. 

Here's their beef patty and rice meal. Mine came with puny coleslaw (with diced canned pineapples) and a hot chocolate (tasted like Swiss Miss). The meat was basically a well done (technically) and un-fancy disc of dry-ish fast food quality ground beef patty that had a nice chew - some gristles. It actually tasted beefy in its un-fancy kind of way. Rice was a ubiquitous butter garlic flavour.

This doesn't pretend to do more beyond a basic grab, eat and go plate of food. And it actually tasted better than Wendy's.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Masa Steak & Hamburg, Robertson Walk

Masa Steak & Hamburg, Robertson Walk

Been wanting to visit Masa (#01-03, Robertson Walk, 11 Unity Street, tel : +65 68362529) for a long time. The restaurant serves mainly wagyu, so eating here is - generally for people who are willing to shell out big dollars for prized quality meat. Me? I was mainly drawn in because they also do hambaagu, or Japanese hamburg. A noticeably less expensive proposition which was also made with wagyu beef.

Masa Steak & Hamburg, gyutoro don

Masa Steak & Hamburg, hamburg egg

Masa Steak & Hamburg, hamburg egg

Masa Steak & Hamburg, hamburg egg

We supplemented our 200g hamburgs with their gyutoro don which featured hand chopped beef with an egg yolk over Japanese rice. That was really good by the way. To the meat of the matter (pun intended), the quality of the beef was irrefutable. To be tried to be understood.

The hamburgs were quite good. A shell of nicely brown sear encapsulating a juicy interior. Their meat was packed dense, wasn't crumbly when cut and yet still arrived tender at their medium doneness. The mince was quite fine, somewhat like how Morton's does for their Prime burgers. So don't expect the chew that comes with gristles because they don't do the meat that way here. While it wasn't exactly my preferred composite for the mince, I liked it enough that I wouldn't mind having them again.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

inItaly re-visited

Popped by on a quiet Sunday for lunch at inItaly. Every time I pass by the restaurant, I recall their rose flavoured soufflé. But unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be on the menu anymore.

We started off with their carpaccio which was quite good. Thinly sliced Angus tenderloin flavoured with a light mustard dressing that didn't overwhelm the meat at all; topped with thin shavings of truffled cheese. And all that with sprigs of rocket underneath. If I had to gripe, it would be that I wished there was more of the carpaccio.

Coming as a follow up pleasant surprise, their pan seared foie gras was delicious as well. Again, I'd love for the cut of the liver to be a little bigger. But the sweet and sour pumpkin sauce was a very delicious and creamy foil to the richness of the liver along with the candied fruit. What impressed me was that the pumpkin flavours stood out still. I'd eat this again easily.

Another unexpected mention worthy was their sautéed broccolini. Sautéed with garlic, anchovies and a bit of chilli. Again, the sauce was drool worthy. We had additional bread just to mop up after the crunchy greens. By the way, this came from the il contorno

That's gnocchi with Parmigiano cream and balsamic syrup. It's made in house, tender without too much chew and the sauce was - well, a light and creamy Parmigiano flavouring accented with the reduced vinegar. And then some pepper. 

This was risoni, not rice. We ordered this out of curiosity because the menu said lobster and gold with squid ink. The pasta pretty much provided a smoother finish to each of the grains then regular rice does - all steeped in the squid ink flavour. Lobster was a little dry, but still with the natural sweetness of the meat. If you don't already know by now, gold flakes doesn't have any taste, but it contributed (in cost as well) to the aesthetics.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Seng Kee Mushroom Minced Pork Noodle, Serangoon Gardens Food Centre

Seng Kee Mushroom Minced Pork Noodle, fish maw soup
the fish moar! maw soup

Seng Kee Mushroom Minced Pork Noodle, ba chor mee
the BCM


Seng Kee Mushroom Minced Pork Noodle

I first tried Seng Kee (#4 Serangoon Gardens Food Centre, 49A Serangoon Garden Way) years ago back when they were operating at Changi Road. They don't taste as impressive these days as compared to the first times I had them. Maybe I've realised that I'm not so big on that brown sauce that seems to be their thing with their minced meat noodles. With enough of their sliced chilli, it was still relatively tasty enough to inhale with ease though.

What made queueing at their stall worth the while was actually the superb fish maw soup. Like what I remembered of their soup; dense, cloudy, and flavourful. Laden with minced pork, slice pork, pork liver, fish maw, seaweed and he kiao (fish dumpling). With a generous splash of light soy sauce, it's a tough bowl to beat. I'd queue for that again. But probably not their minced meat noodles.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A chocolate & salami sandwich

chocolate & salami sandwich

chocolate & salami sandwich

chocolate & salami sandwich

chocolate & salami sandwich

This was a sandwich of circumstance if you would because I had these at home and it occurred to me that these two could work. It didn't taste strange, in fact, I kinda liked it. Like that peanut butter and pickle sandwich previously.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Coocci Contemporary Japanese has shifted

The stall has shifted to the ground floor of one of the shophouses surrounding the food centre that they were located in previously. The kitchen space had gotten bigger and there were definitely more people running the show, but the wait for the food and the sorting of the payment were still at a snail's pace.

Well, the menu has gotten much bigger. They're doing drinks/shakes now and there's some ice blended black sesame and banana drink that's pretty decent. The menu options had expanded to include lamb and beef. Unfortunately for me, their ribeye was pretty poor quality stuff even though it didn't look that way. They got the medium rare at medium well, meat was riddled with sinews and for a ribeye - it didn't have much of that beefy flavour I was looking forward to. Thankfully the smoked chicken still tasted good.

Friday, January 09, 2015

A recent couple of fried rice

That above was a bacon fried rice from Han's. Their technique of the stir frying as well as the ingredient that colours the rice differs in comparison to the egg coated variety which is generally regarded as superior. But this bacon fried rice did taste more satisfying that the last one that I had at Aberdeen fishball noodle shop which was of egg coated variety.  Yes, I just couldn't resist the comparison since we don't get so much bacon fried rice around. Maybe it's the smokier and crispier bacon.

This one below is from Cafe de Hong Kong. An often overlooked place with gem. That fried rice is signature of theirs and the ingredients include tobiko. This stuff is pretty darned tasty. The excellent dispersion of the roe guaranteed that every mouthful was filled with the bursty fish roe. For something that's traditionally well coated with grease, it sure felt light and got inhaled easily. Those brown stuff over the top were are dried scallops. 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

A couple of pies from Pies & Coffee

This chain opened up a few years back selling…..well, not to be Captain Obvious - pies & coffee mostly. Their bakes look like stuff that’s pre-made from a central kitchen and delivered to each of their shops. So don’t expect that "artisanal bakes hand crafted in house by our pastry smiths" crap. 

Here's their duck confit and laksa seafood pie - the latter is of the shepherd variety with a mashed potato top. Honestly, I wouldn't be able to tell it was a duck confit or just pulled duck filling with the former. There was a generous portion of meat, but it was meat that lacked much flavour and salt to be confit duck. I had expected something salt cured and cooked in its own fat to taste a lot better. Wasn't very moist too.

I kinda liked their laksa pie. Those flavours in there were very basic where one could tell it was laksa, but didn't quite have any nuances beyond. I'm guessing that the flavour profile was chosen to be internationally safe rather than adjusted to local preferences. The heat was very mild and there wasn't any aroma of laksa leaves to be found. Seafood tasted like frozen stuff so there isn't so much going on for flavours or textures. Certainly not an impressive representation of those flavours. Still, I kinda liked it.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Masala chai latte from The Providore

The Providore, masala chai latte

These guys certainly know a thing or two about their hot beverages. I'm almost certain that this is probably the best rendition of masala tea in this stretch of town. A smooth & creamy concoction aromatized by the warmth of their blend of spices (predominantly cinnamon) that was surprisingly bold.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

A kouign amann from Tiong Bahru Bakery

Tiong Bahru Bakery, kouign amann

We had this in the mid afternoon which probably meant that the pastry had been sitting at the display for a while throughout the day already. I was actually a little surprised that I quite liked it. I was thinking that it could have been pretty good thing if only we have had that kouign amann fresh out off the baking tray, but with none of the actual baking done in-house, there would never be such a thing as fresh pastries from the oven. 

The last of the crisp was still clinging on for this one. The buttery caramel flavours were largely what held it together and I’d have to admit that stripping this apart by its banded layers and dipping it into coffee was still a pretty good thing going on.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Wong Kee Noodle, Depot Lane

This shop (Blk 118 Depot Lane) was an interesting find off the web that represents a break from the mindless monotony of local wanton noodles. The last of which in turn represents a facet of what is very wrong with the hawker identity today with most of the current stall owners doing what has been done for a long while without evolution. A sure sign of laziness or a lack of will simmering under a veneer of risk adversity (there are exceptions). Most of them run of the mill wanton noodles aren't even that great tasting 

Perfect cosmic alignment for the enactment of the Darwinian law.

But I digress, Wong Kee serves very decent wanton noodles. Coupled with the very good location, natural selection would not be harsh on them. In fact, the quality of their wanton are easily a few notches above the local garden variety - bearing more resemblance to those found in Hong Kong in size, filled with gristly minced pork. Not necessarily the best I've had, but the best should never be the enemy of the good. Their char siew was the variety that was more savoury than sweet and had what I considered to be sufficient prerequisite burnt ends to make a good char siew. At least mine had. 


Their mee pok had a good firmness. What differentiated their noodle offerings were the spinach and tomato variety. The latter (those red ones) was served with their house made tomato sauce which I was sure I had tasted oregano in them.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Jin Zhan Ji (金斩鸡), Kovan Food Centre

Jin Zhan Ji (金斩鸡), Kovan Food Centre

If I had to describe this chicken rice stall (Blk 209 Hougang St 21, #01-19) to myself, I probably would not have found much appeal to it. But as it turned out, I rather enjoyed their chicken rice. Their rice was a little dry and greasy and was actually pretty well flavoured by both the chicken stock and garlic that it wouldn’t even need the chilli. That being said, all that chook grease essence is definitely going to linger for some hours after as one would discover when the round trip completes.

Jin Zhan Ji (金斩鸡), chicken livers

Their overcooked livers were unfortunately little to write home about. The boiled chicken was however rather tender; if not having the firmest of flesh with skin that looked a little bumpy too. It reminded me more than a little of that rather well known stall down in Yishun Central. While it's neither horrific nor exactly my style, I'm not complaining. If you're into a lime-y chilli sauce, this place makes a decent rendition. 

Jin Zhan Ji (金斩鸡), chicken rice