Monday, August 31, 2015

Small Potatoes Make The Steak Look Bigger : Year Nine

It has been nine years already. Nine years of perspectives in gastronomical proportions. Did I imagine myself to be doing this for so long? No I did not. I didn't see very far ahead then when I started this blog and I still cannot see far ahead today after each year to a Nazgul. No, there're no auguries cast from chicken entrails or swirling tea leaves to be read of what comes ahead.

How long have you been hanging around?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Nasi lemak at Yishun 645

Pak Mandor Nasi Lemak, Yishun

Yes, this was exactly the same coffee shop as the recent one with duck noodles. Pretty decently cooked nasi lemak if not one at the top of the game. I guess the rice was savoury enough. I'll pass on those over fried skinny chicken wings the next time for something else. This was another satisfying breakfast.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cicheti, Kandahar Street

People give their restaurants different names for different reasons and mostly, it's for association. But what struck me about Cicheti (52 Kandahar Street, tel : +65 6292 5012) was how inappropriate the choice was. Not that it was offensive or anything. It's akin to calling your restaurant tapas or dim sum when you actually don't quite serve those. If you didn't now, cicchetti are little plates of snacks that are served in Venetian bars; little plates of snacks very similar to tapas or dim sum.

But I suppose after all these years, I'm past names. It is today a mere handle for reference. Any meaning behind them is no longer of much significant or even at all, lost in hubbub.

They have burrata on menu that came with prosciutto di Parma, grilled bread and fruit. The cheese was expectedly milky and light and the ham was quite moreish. Those grilled peaches, or were they nectarines, were a little more tart than sweet. But I thought the plate was enjoyable altogether. I would have liked more bread and fruit and less rockets.

This was their quattro formaggi pizza - a semi blistered chewy crust topped with fior di latte, ricotta, Gorgonzola and maybe Grana Padano. What elevated it was the honey you could request for on the side. Memories. Definitely worked salt from cheese and EVOO. Good for returns.

We tried their pappardelle al ragu because their rendition of the ragu used lamb shoulder. The meat was minced rather than shredded as we had imagined and didn't taste very much of the lamb. The rest sauce was quite ordinary. Not a candle to the awesome one I've had in Rome though hoping never hurt anyone. But - the homemade pappardelle was amazing. The springy textures of the eggy pasta was possibly the the best I've had so far.

And then, a cold smoked cheese cake to end. The smoked cheese was quite pleasant and the buttery crumbles were delicious, but the cake was otherwise not so impressive that we'll ever come back for seconds. Those shards of caramel tuile were quite nice initially, but the sweetness got to me after a while and they tend to get stuck on teeth.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Home made French toast porn

Yeap. Egg soaked wholemeal pan fried in butter, stuffed with cheese and Nutella. Dusted with a little cinnamon sugar. Hand crafted with love, or so the verbiage goes these days.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ah Hoe Mee Pok, Clementi West

Ah Hoe Mee Pok, Clementi West

I've been wanting to come down to Ah Hoe Mee Pok (Blk 710 Clementi West Street 2) after reading about them earlier this year. Why so? The chef owner is a Naoji Kuribara, Japanese native doing local mee pok. Here's to adding of strata to authenticity and another story of another finance guy turned food stall owner.

How was it? I liked it. The flavour profile from the mix of sauces/oils was more balanced than most local rendition; which also meant that there was nothing very strong tasting. There was just a very mild heat humming at the edges and even the vinegar harmonised rather than dominated. That crayfish tasted fresh with flesh easily stripped off the shell while the abalone slices was surprisingly tasty. The ingredients were generally of good quality. And that large bowl of soup on the side - that soup tasted of crayfish and had almost as much lard as the bowl of noodles did. 

If I had to critique, I would have preferred a bit more bite to the mee pok. I just like a little more chew. But it was still a pretty tasty bowl the same.

Ah Hoe Mee Pok, Clementi West

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Lawry's cut with bone in

Lawry's, bone in prime rib buttered peas

So here's a Lawry's Cut of their bone in prime rib. Also a first time trying their buttered peas. Wow, they're sweet.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cure, Keong Saik Road

After spending three and a half years at Esquina heading the kitchen, Andrew Walsh has ventured out with his new restaurant Cure (21 Keong Saik Road, tel  : +65 6221 2189). If one were to observe things objectively, the progression seemed to have been from small plates to even smaller plates.

I thought the food from Andrew Walsh had evolved become more complicated. There were traditional pairings in the design of the menu, but those had been elevated into another form. To a point whereby each dish sometimes becomes more of an abstracted experience and we were guessing at what we were eating since the description from the menu doesn't tell very much. I wouldn't advise anyone to come here if they were famished, but if you had the time, it's an exploration if you're a fan of the chef. 

Mix Seed Sourdough / Bacon Butter / Fermented Cabbage

The bacon butter was very good. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be had with the fermented cabbage, but the latter tasted like kiam chye (salted/preserved mustard greens) from Teochew porridge stalls.

 chicken liver mousse/crispy chicken skin/crispy kale/sweet corn croquette

This wasn't listed on the menu as part of the dinner. While there wasn't so much of differing texture going on apart from the bits of chicken skin and fried kale, I really liked the mousse. Their corn croquette - which was essentially a fried skin covering molten flavourful cream of corn was very well done.

Cured Salmon / Cucumber / Almond Soup / Vanilla Snow

This pairing was very nicely done in the chilled almond soup too. There was more going on, much more than what the menu described, but the salmon did work with the almond. I would love for this to be available separately and in larger portions than teacup sized, but unfortunately, nothing can be ordered in Cure. 

Foie Gras & Duck Bun / Plum Jam / Pickled Endive

The menu calls it duck bun. The server called those duck buns donuts. It tasted like fried bread. Without sugar. I supposed it worked as a vehicle for the pan fried foie gras and the other thing on the plate which the menu also didn't mention which the server did. Duck and duck liver terrine with foie gras powder. I think the powder might have been unnecessary. It contributed nothing to texture or flavour if you had it with the terrine. This looked like being fancy for the sake of it.

Iberico Pork Loin / Smoked Mussel / Cauliflower / Juniper Caramel

The pickled cauliflowers were good. The fried/dried crispy stuff was also cauliflower. Those brown blobs were also introduced as cauliflower puree, but we know there's a whole bunch of other flavours going on which were good, but didn't taste like cauliflower. I think the pairing of flavours worked well with the pork loin, especially those grapes.

John Stones Irish Sirloin & Beef Tartare / Burnt Onion / Oyster Mayonnaise

This reminded me of the beef and oyster dish from Esquina. Strangely, there was a lot of oyster flavour on those leaves. The steak tartare which was made with the oyster mayo didn't taste as much of oysters than the blobs of oyster mayo which didn't taste as much of oysters as those leaves.

Yoghurt / Curry Granola / Mint Granita

Those granola had a similar flavour to papadums/papads/muruku. Which was actually quite natural with the passionfruit yoghurt and the mint granita. I thought this represented Indian spiced breads with mint chutney quite nicely with a different range of textures.

Irish Moss / Chocolate / Pistachio / Connemara Whisky Jelly

The dark parts are chocolate tuile. The lighter brown parts are chocolate something else which I don't remember. The pistachio came from the gelato which for some reasons tasted like it had truffle in it. Those Irish Moss were slightly gelatinous and tasted of basil. Flavour worked together if you mixed everything up to eat, but not so interesting as individual ingredients.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Ginza Tendon Itsuki, Tanjong Pagar Road

Ginza Tendon Itsuki, Tanjong Pagar Road

I suppose it's no longer news that Tendon Ginza Itsuki (101 Tanjong Pagar Road, tel : +65 6221 6678) is the relatively new tendon (tempura donburi, not the connective tissue) specialist shop that is a collaboration between the Keisuke Takeda and Itsuki Sushi in Ginza, Tokyo. A vaunted and pricey sushi-ya from Japan and a ramen/gyoza entrepreneur a tendon specialist maketh? Beats me too.

But I was curious and we came to try. It's not bad. Even though the tempura was fried on order, the light batter had lost some of the crisp by the time it was ready to eat. I'm not sure if that constituted good tempura batter but the fried food was worth the visit at least. The prawns were fresh, the chicken was tender and the vegetables had a nice crunch. What probably sealed the deal for many would be the tempura tamago with molten yolk and no less.

I wouldn't mind coming back at all if they improved on the ventilation. Be prepared to walk away smelling of the grease. And one should remember not to compare this with Tenshin. As much as the Keisuke Group would term this joint a tempura donburi specialist, this was not of the same standards.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The tom yam seafood pasta from 49 Seats

We had previously seen quite a number of people ordering the tom yam pasta from 49 Seats (#08-08 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Rd) at the Kreta Ayer outlet and made a mental note to give it a try. As it turned out, the pasta was pretty enjoyable. Though there was nice balance of heat and sour from the tom yam cream sauce. It wasn't as heavy as we had initially thought. I can see why this was appealing. Don't expect too much out of the seafood though.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sushi Jin (仁), Farrer Park Station Road

Sushi Jin, Farrer Park Station Road

No, we did not have sushi at Sushi Jin (1 Farrer Park Station Road, Owen Link, #01-11/12, tel : +65 6443 3378). I think we would have wanted to. Or at least try their chirashi, but we decided to go red meat for this lunch.

Sushi Jin, truffle seafood chawanmushi

We started with their truffle seafood chawanmushi. It's an a la carte item separately ordered out of their lunch sets. This was very good, I could see that they tried to justify the cost with the ingredients which were of good quality and very safe but pleasing flavours of contemporary Japanese.

Sushi Jin, wagyu foie gras don

There was a wagyu foie gras don. At $39 we didn't expect top grade beef, but I don't think it was worth what we paid. We had no idea what cut of meat it was, but it was a rather small piece and since the menu did state that it was wagyu, we had expectations. Honestly, I couldn't tell this from any other decent quality beef. Even at the medium rare, we weren't getting the melt in your mouth thing. The foie gras was nicely done, so that was the salvation of this bowl. The rice was a little too little and that was such a pity since their sweet sauce was actually good with the rice.

Sushi Jin, wagyu don

Their wagyu don came with an onsen tamago. Same beef (pun definitely intended) as the previous donburi and the tamago was the real icing. This bowl had the same flavour profile as the truffle seafood chawanmushi because there was truffle soy sauce. In fairness, there were little we could have been unhappy about. In the same vein of fairness as well, we also thought it wasn't really impressive for $35. For less than half of what it cost here, we felt just slightly less better with the short rib and less fancy rendition at Tanuki Raw.  

Sushi Jin, lamb black garlic

I was really curious about their lamb with black garlic sauce but this was when things went downhill. The meat was quite overcooked to the point that it was probably medium well. While the meat wasn't tough, it wasn't quite ideally tender. And I totally didn't like the black garlic sauce which tasted like a viscous sweet teriyaki that had overtones of ginger. 

The odd thing was, there came from the chef the usual excuse about using the sauce as a foil for the lamb-y flavour which some people may dislike to justify the outcome of this dish without us even asking - and frankly, it was a tired one. Why the hell else would I order lamb if I didn't enjoy the flavours of the meat? I mean, why in the world would anyone even? It was way more enjoyable getting grilled lamb chops from Marché. You can quote me on that.

Sushi Jin, knives

This is where I drop names. I know Sushi Jin is by Les Amis. We've previously had nothing but good experiences in our very limited visits to Les Amis' restaurants. I understand that this wasn't a high end gig and it wouldn't be fair to compare against an outfit like Aoki. With all things duly considered, this lunch was only marginally less expensive and that at a location with a much cheaper rental. Aoki gave us desserts while this one gave us chocolate ice cream that tasted like Wall's. And we had the fortune to watch the new guy in front of us screw up a tuna maki.

Pity cuz I wanted to like this place.

Sushi Jin, Farrer Park Station Road

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The mirin saba set and a bowl of oden from Nakajima Suisan

Nakajima Suisan, mirin saba teishoku

Nakajima Suisan, mirin saba

Nakajima Suisan, oden

I rather liked this fish. It was a little sweet and didn't have much bones. Even though almost every neighbouring table had a saba shioyaki which looked a lot bigger and much more moist. I was just wondering if there was any reason why this mirin glazed fish was smaller.

Their oden was pedestrian. Not that it was bad nor were we having great expectations, but there was nothing in particular I would look forward to so I guess it's a first and a last.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Diamond Jim Brady now with bone in

Lawry's, diamond jim brady bone in

After 12 long years, USDA beef with bone in is finally back at our shores! Here's the bone in prime rib from Lawry's. Needless to say, we enjoyed it as we usually did. Today's cut of the rib felt much heftier than I had expected. Just as I was wondering if the Diamond Jim-bo had shrunk, this bone in slab proved me wrong. I wasn't referring to the additional weight or volume from that bone, it felt like there was a lot more meat as well. But, I'm not complaining. Just thinking aloud - why is the creamed spinach sometimes on the side and sometimes on a separate dish?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Meatless at Artichoke

Artichoke, watermelon weizen

Artichoke, lotus root
lotus root - honey roasted, marmite, pistachio dukka, siracha yoghurt

Artichoke, babaganoush
babaganoush - smoked eggplant, sesame, yoghurt, pomegranate molasses teriyaki

Artichoke, bread

Artichoke, fried brussels sprouts
fried brussels sprouts - almonds, pomegranate, cabbage, mint, labneh ranch

Artichoke, falafel
falafel lettuce cups - big mac sauce, butterhead cups, tomato ezme, jalapenos, grated haloumi

The food at Artichoke has always been complex. Boldly going where none has gone before at least in the local context. Adventurous yet grounded without pretension. It's face has varied textures - of crunch, crisp, chewiness, gelatinous, gooey, creamy and possibly more married with heat, spice, sweetness, savoriness, smokiness, sour and probably others that I cannot recall. Each different dish a qualification of different combination of the mentioned adjectives. Very often, more than a handful of those at each at time. This was a dinner with no meat items. I'll just save the individual descriptions and let the pictures talk.

By the way, that watermelon beer didn't taste like it had watermelon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Braised duck noodles at Yishun 645

Braised duck noodles at Yishun 645

Came across this place (Blk 645 Yishun St. 61) by chance a week ago and have returned once since. I guess I was pleasantly surprised since I'm usually not much into braised duck noodles - especially ones with the regular yellow noodles. These noodles didn't have the lingering taste of alkali. Coupled with some braised fallopian tubes and egg, it made a satisfying breakfast.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Maguro Donya Miura Misakikou Sushi & Dining, Suntec City

Maguro Donya Miura Misakikou Sushi & Dining

The name of this restaurant (#03-314, Suntec City North Wing, 3 Temasek Boulevard, tel : +65 66845054) was certainly more than a mouthful. Sixteen syllables is no laughing matter. I've read that they're apparently a collaboration in part done between Maguro Donya and ANA; the latter forms the part of the partnership that supports the flying in of fresh whole hon maguro - or blue fin tuna. So yes, they are a tuna specialist restaurant and that was pretty much what piqued my interest. 

Maguro Donya Miura Misakikou Sushi & Dining, teishoku
Maguro Donya Miura Misakikou Sushi & Dining, kama yakimono

That's their Hon Maguro Megumi Trio, a teishoku set which featured akami, chutoro and kama yakimono. The latter of which was described as cheek, but is actually the collar of the fish. Their maguro was of good quality. The grilled collar had all the moisture and oils sealed in by the crisp browned surface. The grey meat was my favourite part. I'd come back just for this alone.

Maguro Donya Miura Misakikou Sushi & Dining, hon maguro otoro teishoku
Maguro Donya Miura Misakikou Sushi & Dining, hon maguro otoro don

And since we were already here, we ordered their hon maguro otoro don. Which was sublime like how fatty otoro can be, bolstered with lightly vinegared rice. 

While it was really quite affordable for blue fin tuna at lunch prices, I couldn't say that it was cheap or anywhere close to cheap. In fact, one could lunch at a nice Japanese restaurant for the amount you would be paying. Albeit with no bluefin tuna involved.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Vegetarian couscous and falafel from Ikea's cafeteria

Ikea, vegetarian couscous falafel

We hadn't seen this on the menu before and decided to see if they were any good. Actually, I kinda liked the couscous. While those falafel (it's more like a spiced potato vegetable ball than one that's made of chickpea) weren't exactly the type that I liked, I'm pretty sure I might eat this again the next time I need to get food here considering that there really isn't so much to choose from at Ikea.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Pizza Fabbrica without pizza

As much as the name may lead one to think otherwise, there is much more to Pizza Fabbrica than just their pizza. I would even venture as far as to say that they're competent with their pastas to the point that they would give many a number of other similar restaurants a good run for the money as well. But I shouldn't get ahead of myself.

Pizza Fabbrica, parma ham mango salad

This was a Parma ham and mango salad. It would have been perfect for me if it was only just the ham, the mango and some shaven Parmigiano Reggiano. Those were all that were good. But there were also rockets and olives and bitter bits of radicchio. Unnecessary distractions.

The mangos were so fragrant that if one attempted to wrap the ham around to eat a slice, most of the taste of the ham would be lost. Such was the quality of the fruit, ironically unbalancing the seemingly mild flavours of the prosciutto.

Pizza Fabbrica, garganelli chocolate lamb ragout smoked ricotta

Rather impressed with their garganelli with a chocolate lamb ragout and smoked ricotta. The sauce was rather well balanced. Nothing quite overpowered the other and though I wished for a little more punch from the lamb. I liked it. The smoked ricotta on top was just icing for the pasta. I'd gladly eat this again

Pizza Fabbrica, fregola seafood

We don't often do pasta with frutti di mare very often because it's very often tomato based which I'm not a big fan of in general. This fregola with seafood, shaven zucchini and bottarga wasn't one of those. The tasty seafood broth was well absorbed into the pasta, shrimp was de-veined and succulent, squids hiding at the bottom was tender yet with bite and there was even a solitary scallop waiting to find a home. And yes, that's a scampi there. With sweet tender white meat that I scraped out with my fork.

If I had to gripe, it'd be how little bottarga there was.

Pizza Fabbrica, beef filet marzolino cheese truffle bacon

This was off the current specials. Which described a bacon wrapped beef filet stuffed with Marzolino cheese topped with shaven truffle. The plating could have impressed a Master Chef finalist. And it tasted pretty much like how it looked. Quite good I would say.

Pizza Fabbrica, saffron panna cotta

Dessert was a saffron panna cotta with a sauce call Sambuca Red Berries. I assumed that it was Sambuca in a berry sauce/compote. The aniseed flavour was ever so mild and complimentary that we didn't mind. Pudding was wobbly and creamy. Enjoyed it.

Will definitely be back.