Sunday, March 29, 2015

Revisiting Esquina

Esquina, Jiak Chuan Road

So......we came back. For another shot at Esquina. For some reasons.

Esquina, sangria
modern and classic sangria

This modern and classic take on sangria basically piled foamed sangria on top of the drink. Gimmicky I suppose since texture didn't really do very much. While I prefer not to complain at this point, I've had better sangria.

Esquina, bread
warm thyme & onion bread, smoked bone marrow butter

The food started off pretty darned good. Like their light and flaky onion bread. My only gripe, I had absolutely no idea why it was bone marrow butter described on the menu. It tasted like regular butter, smoked nicely for sure, but bone marrow? Did I miss something or did they?

Esquina, beetroot
beetroot pickled, whipped burrata, truffle honey, walnut crumble, raspberries

This was good too. Served in small enough portions for birds but good nonetheless. What didn't materialize was the truffle honey. I'm pretty sure it was truffle oil that was whipped into the burrata. No honey there. Esqui-nada. But the play of textures and flavours were very nicely done.

Esquina, cauliflower
roasted cauliflower, Serrano ham and cheese (Manchego)

Their roasted cauliflower appeared a lot less complicated than the beetroot but this was seriously good stuff. A light crunch from the vegetable, smokiness from both the ham and the vegetable and saltiness from the Manchego cheese. We scraped the plate clean.

Esquina, sea urchin crab bisque
sea urchin and crab bisque, sea grapes and smoked herring roe

We were looking forward to this but the dish was a little disappointing. The name on the menu should have been reduced to sea urchin and crab bisque. Why? The smoked herring roe came in such puny portions that it did nothing. Certainly didn't see any umi budou in there. Esqui-nada. This tiny uni shell was filled with chunks of sweet crab meat though. Apparently, the uni element was blended into the crab bisque so I could taste nothing of them.

Esquina, mackerel
barbequed mackerel, squid ink rice cracker, wasabi buttermilk, burnt cucumber & kale

Couldn't say I was very impressed with the barbequed mackerel. Couldn't tell which was the wasabi buttermilk neither since that green smudge tasted like a coriander and pureed avocado and the white smudge didn't taste like it has wasabi. This was a Japanese influenced grilled saba dish?

Esquina, wagyu oysters
wagyu beef rump, fried oyster, oyster mayonnaise, dashi jelly

This was quite nice. What wasn't described was the heat from the crisp batter on the oyster which was rather good. The little onion layer in the middle contained a sauce. We tasted yuzu and maybe heavy cream. Very delicious sauce that could work well with almost anything. Oyster mayo was very nicely done too - if you like oysters. What didn't quite shine in flavour was the dashi jelly. It just didn't quite scream dashi.

Esquina, basil sorbet strawberries
basil sorbet, strawberries, sweet tomato, yuzu yogurt, black pepper meringue

Not the slightest hint of black pepper in the meringue. Which is the painted on layer in the bowl/plate in case you are wondering. One has to scrape them off with the spoon. The single element that rocked on its own was the sweetish basil sorbet. The flavour of the basil was.....invigoratingly fresh.

Esquina, dessert
Manchego cheese custard, black olive, brioche crumbs, apricot jam

This was a take on crackers, cheese and fruit jam. The brioche crumbs lent texture to the custard which was nice. Liked the custard. It was more savoury than sweet as a dessert but it worked.

Clearly, it was mixed feelings and stronger ones than from the previous visit. If anyone were to ask me if Esquina was any good, I wouldn't be able to come up with a straightforward answer.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

BBQ Station, Tan Quee Lan Street







Hmmm, I think like this place (21 Tan Quee Lan St., #01-03). Their appetising liang ban cai was freshly made, deliciously spicy from the chilli and also perkily sour. There were boiled pork and cabbage dumplings on the other end were tasty too. What I had mixed feelings over were actually the grills. Some of the meat were good while others were really spiced up unidentifiable chunks of protein matter.

What worked for us obviously was that this was bbq without the hard work. All we had to do was order and the food arrived in pretty short order after. And with all the heat, grease and spices from the food, the only drinks that one should bother with are the hot Chinese tea (pretty nice stuff) and beer.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Re-savouring Saveur

Saveur, pasta

Saveur, foie gras

Saveur, chicken roulade

Saveur, duck confit

This Far East Plaza location for Saveur sure was convenient. The chances of them becoming out of mind from out of sight is so much lessened. Which was why I didn't wait 6 years just to revisit.

Here's a look at some of the stuff that they do. The duck confit which I had mentioned previously, the foie gras stuffed chicken roulade in that creamy Parmesan sauce on basmati rice and their pan roasted foie gras. Delicious and affordably so. This time round, I didn't get the picture of their mushroom soup which was actually rather nice too.

What really had me here was the pasta with sakura ebi and chives. I can understand why people talk about it and honestly, it was one of the more memorable plate of noodles I've had in some time. The texture was good and the savoury intensity was just great. I look forward to coming back for that again.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A kaya & salami sandwich

kaya & salami sandwich

kaya & salami sandwich

kaya & salami sandwich

kaya & salami sandwich

The last time was Nutella, so this time round I had a jar of kaya from Wang which I decided to use since it wasn't all that different with the sweet/salty thing. I guess this worked too. But I did feel that this kaya from Wang isn't very fragrant and the texture was a little too smooth. I'll try other brands the next time.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A slice of Black Forest cake from Stuttgart Blackforest Boutique S-Café

Stuttgart Blackforest Boutique S-Café, black forest cake

Well, that name (41 Middle Rd, tel : +65 6336 8675) was a mouthful. But the cake was actually rather enjoyable. I had been hoping that each of those slices were freshly cut from the whole, but from the speed and frills that they had put in, it was apparently not. Still, it was probably one of the better Black Forest gateau (considering that we have a dearth of it) around with Kirsch soaked cherries, not blueberry jam. If I had to gripe, it'll be the caramel crust at the base that felt un-needfully sweet after a while.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lollapalooza, Keong Saik Road

Save the cheerleader?

This new open-kitchen restaurant (1A Keong Saik Road, tel  : +65 6221 3538) was brought to the world by the people from Lolla. It's kinda obvious while not being so. The vibes from the food felt like a mix between Burnt Ends, Lolla and Wolf sans the counter seats.

Was it important that I mentioned open kitchen? Well, the smell does linger. Anyway, these guys are going the "season" route for ingredients so the menu is expected to change on a daily basis for a small part.

The first to arrive unexpectedly was their wagyu (Gunma Prefecture, A4) ribeye cap. The meat was a marriage of flavours from rare melting fat and the Malliard's reaction. Yes, basically what one would reasonably expect from such meat. We loved it. Of course I would have liked more of it.

The other dish which came up pretty quickly was their lamb shoulder and oyster stew. It's my first time with this combination of surf and turf and there's nothing that doesn't work. Truth be told, I was initially wondering how does oysters work out with lamb as well. It's a lamb stew with an injection of brine from the fat oysters. That's it. Not bad as it was still tasty, but it was not mind blowing either. 

Here's roasted black figs wrapped in bacon. The figs were stuffed with merguez; which I just found out is an African based spicy sausage of lamb or beef. This one's lamb. There's a tangy element to all the fat and sugars which is the sauce.

To kill the suspense of those who cannot recognize the rune like piece of organic matter, it's veal tongue. Corned veal tongue from them to be precise. My first time possibly, having so much tongue in a seating.

That's a slice of Perl Las which is a blue cheese made from the Caws Cenarth dairy in Carmarthenshire. The name means 'blue pearl'. The texture was creamy and the pungence was fairly robust without being overpowering. What made this platter of grape and cheese different was that the grapes were oven roasted. Meaning that the fruit was hot and that heat accentuates flavour and sugars. Which leads things into a different flavour game versus the regular cool citrus of grapes with cheese. We liked it.

This was lemon semolina cake with rosemary ice cream. The cake, was soaked in come citrus, which didn't quite taste like just lemons. But the citrus was vibrant, not overly sour and very very good with the hot crumbly cake and rosemary ice cream. I hope this becomes a regular item.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Potato Head Folk, Keong Saik Road

Much has already been said about Potato Head Folk (36 Keong Saik Road, tel : +65 6327 1939) so I'll save myself the parroting. If anything, these guys certainly knew how to market their presence sufficiently. Frankly, I was quite disappointed with the food.

I wanted to like their burgers which in my opinion were rather well constructed. My beef with their beef was their T.O.M. sauce, whatever that means. Quite liberally applied, it contested in flavours with their actually decent patty, cooked properly at medium rare. Maybe it was just me, but I certainly didn't like so much contention. I didn't even finish up.

Their naughty fries were passably decent. I'm not sure what went into that spice Bearnaise, but it didn't taste like Bearnaise. It was a little cheesy and packed a little heat. Actually quite tasty. But those fried shallots they used were those that came from plastic packets. Essentially almost flavourless. For the kind of prices this places charges, it'd not be unreasonable to expect freshly fried shallots. Really.

The lamb burger was okay. Nothing that I could complain over, but at this point, I've already formed the impression that their food is not for me. This was one meal that I walked away from unsatisfied.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Paradise Dynasty, Causeway Point

Paradise Dynasty, fried rice

Family meals are sometimes fun. There's more people involved and more food can be ordered. Communal dining is not just a wannabe trendy buzzword from recent years. Many of us have been enjoying it for ages.

Here's some stuff from Paradise Dynasty (1 Woodlands Square, Causeway Point, #05-16/17/18, tel : +65 6894 6322). That's the fried rice above, which was quite competent. The lack of residual oil is one particular benchmark and those up there are in the leagues of Din Tai Fung.

Paradise Dynasty, braised duck tongue

Braised duck tongues. Supposedly in oyster sauce but I tasted a lot more spices going on than just oyster sauce. The meat was tender, chewy and I suppose it's probably not something you would want to order if you are very hungry since it was some effort for small rewards eating this. Otherwise, this was pretty tasty.

Paradise Dynasty, mao shan wang xiao long bao

These are their mao shan wang durian xiao long bao.

Paradise Dynasty, mao shan wang xiao long bao

Truth be told, I'd rather eat the durian. This texture was desiccated for a fruit that is supposed to be creamy and the trademark aromas of the fruit was muted.

These brown stuff floating on the top are called malva nut. I've just learnt that after having had them in cheng tng since I was a kid. Which part of the nut makes these, I don't know yet. The wait staff mentioned that this item wasn't dessert, but it tasted like dessert. Sweet and chilled with bits of diced pear.

Paradise Dynasty, fish chinese wine sauce

Some fish in some Chinese wine sauce. This was soft and flakily delicious from the flavoursome sauce.

Paradise Dynasty, spicy potato strips

These are supposed to be sour and spicy potato strips (酸辣土豆丝). The rendition here is far less sour and spicy than I had expected. The flavours have been diluted for whatever reasons, so we're never ordering these here again.

Paradise Dynasty, steamed bullfrog

This last dish that almost never arrived was steamed bullfrog. There's scallions and chilli and a sauce that reminded me a lot of fermented black bean sauce. That sauce would have been excellent with white rice. I'm impressed. The heat was a slow and steady build up until as we were about to be done, I felt the burn on my lip. The meat from the frog was smooth, fairly tender as frogs go and easily slurped off the bone. Even those on the torso. I'd come back for this again.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Store in a cool, dark, secret place.

A much appreciated gift all the way from London. Thanks Crystal!

I had gotten one of these some time back in Meidi-Ya and they are apparently on very limited runs. Could never find them again since.

Meatsmith, Telok Ayer Street

Meatsmith, telok ayer

I was intrigued by Meatsmith mostly because it's a new venture by Loh Lik Peng. And I must admit that the name did ring of a certain bent to the theme that would interest me. But expectations can be a bitch. While that name wasn't far off what they did, which was American Southern styled bbq and smokes, it wasn't quite what I had in mind for a joint call Meatsmith. I had expected more meat smithing and smithereens.

Meatsmith, chicken liver mousse

But there are certain attributes to the food that one can relate to this venture that seemed uniform to the previous. Refinement over rustic and the occasional trimmings would be a clear indications as part of what they do. Flavours as usual were up to the job. Take this chicken liver mousse with red pepper gelée and smoked salt. The French would just do the pate and trim the fancies. Not to digress, this was quite good. The mousse was rich, creamy and packing with that liver flavours, balanced off by some of the pretty pickled foliage by the side and freshly toasted bread.

Meatsmith, ham hock greens

This was called ham hock greens on the menu. It's a braise of sorts maybe, but I think could have passed off as stir fry. Of chunks of pork and rainbow chard. And something that tasted like mustard greens. Very nice.

Meatsmith, nashville fried chicken sandwich

That's the Nashville fried chicken sandwich. Nice, really nice spicy fried chicken flavouring. Would have liked it to be bigger since this was almost a slider portion. Somehow, the thought that subconsciously came to mind was Sarnies' chicken schnitzel. That had the volume satisfaction that this didn't. And isn't quantity sometimes a form of quality? 

Meatsmith, smoked brisket sandwich

Smoked beef brisket sandwich was not bad tasting too. But I had been thinking slices rather than bits of the brisket between buns.

Meatsmith, apple cinnamon cobbler

Dessert was apple and cinnamon cobbler with smoked vanilla ice cream. I'd come back just for this again.

Meatsmith, telok ayer