Saturday, October 31, 2015

Balaji Bhawan, Syed Alwi Road

Balaji Bhawan, dal batti churma thali

We came to Balaji Bhawan (103 Syed Alwi Road, tel : +65 63417797) because there was something that I had been reading about that they have on the menu. Namely the dal batti churma thali which was what I was interested in trying. So I’ll just be talking mostly on that and omitting other points of interest. Like the restaurant being a little dim and dingy and also that service was slow and reluctant. Air conditioning needs upgrade as well.

Back to the dal batti churma thali - well, it’s apparently a food item representative of Rajasthan in India. A thali (platter of dishes often with rice or bread) that contains dal batti churma. Which comprises of the dal, batti and churma. The dal which is the commonly known lentil stew, the batti which is a hard wheat roll/ball eaten with the dal and the churma which is also made of wheat and cooked with ghee and sugar (or jaggery as well) to make up the dessert. This thali here was also served with curried potatoes, vegetable korma, dah/dhalraita, some spiced basmati rice, a couple of poori, a papadum and also gulab jamun.

Balaji Bhawan, batti & churma

The two doughy lumps were the batti and the one on the right was the churma. The former was a dense, dry and chewy bread which could be eaten with any of the dips or curries while the latter had the texture of a lump of wet ball of crumbly sand that tasted buttery and sweet. All in all, I had thought that the entire thali was quite enjoyable. Until the sweets. Both the churma and the gulab jamun were a sugar overload for me.

Balaji Bhawan, pudina parotha

Their pudina parotha was also quite nice. Could taste the mint in the bread.

Balaji Bhawan, raj kachori

While waiting for the main orders, we passed the time with a raj kachori as dinner was only served from 7pm and there was chaat available. This was like a giant puri done up like the yoghurt version with peas and potatoes stuffed in the crispy shell. But this chaat looked sloppily made with insufficient lashings of chutney. Looked nothing like the regular chaat of any sort which would generally appear more messy and with more toppings. This looked quite sad.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Hong Boon famous Thai styled herbal duck noodle, Maxwell FC

I'm not an expert on Thai duck noodles so I don't know what exactly about these ones that make them Thai styled. The proprietor sounded local, looked a little frustrated, a little young and a shade too green for what he was doing. The stall (Stall 48, Maxwell Food Centre, 1 Kadayanallur Street) looked relatively new so if these guys were famous from elsewhere, I haven't heard about them before.

So was it good?  The mee kia according to the guy running the shop was imported from Thailand. I'm not sure if that meant anything in particular, but the noodles had pretty nice texture and the tender duck was infused with the herbal aroma from their braising sauce. What I thought could have been improved on was that the flavours for the noodles. It tasted bland and I'm not sure if the intention was so that we could eat them with the chilli sauce which you could help yourself to. One little saucer of it along with a few sprinkles of that dried chilli powder made for a lip searing experience. This was pretty much what saved the bowl.

The soup was....well, balanced for a lack of a better description. Flavours were pleasant and not overly strong. But it was also rather oily. Certainly not how I remembered these duck noodle broth. I wonder if it has occurred to the proprietors that trying to explain the slow service by claiming to be new to this industry is simply shooting oneself in the foot - or both feet, when you're trying to pretend that you're famous?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Some Asian rice dishes from Ikea's cafeteria

Ikea nasi lemak

So we have some familiarly Asian rice items on the menu at Ikea (this is the one at Alexandra Rd). A pretty decent nasi lemak which I had no complains over. For just $4 with all things considered, it was cheaper than most food court. Yes, that came with one of their chicken wings, an otah, a hard boiled egg as well as a very thick slice of cucumber. Big and thick. Sambal was kinda unique, never had one like that and while it bore some similarities with the generic sweet and spicy variety, it wasn’t the same thing.

We first discovered their lotus leaf glutinous rice a couple of years ago during the CNY period where it was on a limited run at the Tampines outlet. I wonder if these were outsourced from some factory. Anyways, we kinda liked it because the rice was soft and moist and there were ingredients like ginkgo nuts, lup cheong, chicken, salted egg yolk and mushroom. Not that it was unusual, but it’s cheaper than what one will be paying for from a restaurant

Ikea lotus leaf glutinous rice

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Re-savouring Saveur Art

Just a quick update with this re-visit to Saveur Art.

Saveur's pasta, chorizo, grilled prawn, chopped kombu, chilli oil

The pasta starter here is different from the one at Saveur. This one had diced prawns and chorizo while the other has chicken. Both had very nicely timed noodles with a firm bite which I liked.

spiced pumpkin velouté, chive cream

A sweet spiced pumpkin soup. I couldn't tell that it was chive cream. Even if it was regular cream, it was a little too little to make much of a difference.

egg confit, truffled potato mousseline, macadamia nuts, brown butter

I remembered liking this a lot from the last visit. I still like it a lot. The bits of macadamia nuts were aromatic and had a very good crunch which really worked with the egg and potato mousse.

roasted stuffed quail

This was definitely my favourite plate from the dinner. Quail was roasted medium well-ish and was stuffed with foie gras. On the side, more of that grilled foie and some mushrooms.

sauteed forest mushrooms

As it says, mushrooms.

grilled pork belly, provençal artichoke barigoule

I remembered that the pork belly wasn't bad at all, but there was a little too much fat on some of the pieces and I'm now at a loss for how to further describe it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hong Kong Wanton Noodle, Plaza Singapura

The Taste of Japan Group from Hong Kong which is responsible for Itacho Sushi has opened up a very straightforwardly named wanton noodle shop called Hong Kong Wanton Noodle (68 Orchard Road, Plaza Singapura #B2-25, tel : +65 6694 0923). One does not simply walk into Mordor mistaken their offerings for anything else. Not with such a name.

Honestly, it's not too bad. The noodles were wiry and had some bite. It's much better than most of what is passed of as Hong Kong styled wanton noodles here. While it will never be the same as the genuine article, good enough is good enough and what was the very thing they said about not letting perfect become the enemy of the good? Especially when you have no better option on hand? We've had Noodle Place and Mak's opened up here as well. I suppose we do have an appetite for this particular brand of wanton mee

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Usman Restaurant, Serangoon Road

Usman Restaurant, Serangoon Road

I heard about this place (238 Serangoon Road, tel : +65 6296 8949) some time back but never got a chance to drop by until today. While the address just stated Serangoon Road, a more accurate description of the location would be corner of the junction of Serangoon Road and Desker Road. Food seems to be Pakistani/Indian.

Usman Restaurant, palak paneer

Their palak paneer tasted freshly made. You could taste quite a bit of the spinach from the puree which I suppose also meant that there wasn't too much of any other things (whatever those may be) added as part of the flavouring. The paneer had a rather rustic texture.

Usman Restaurant, keema

The keema on the other hand tasted a little burnt. It was smoky like what keema should not normally be. Some of the peas were charred, so I guess it was really burnt at some point.

Usman Restaurant, seekh kebab

Those seekh kebab that they had were made upon order, so it's as fresh as it could get. What I liked about it was that it wasn't infused with excessive herbs so that we could taste the meat.

Usman Restaurant, naan

The naan was also a little burnt. One's garlic and the other sesame and both were pretty decent if one would look past the char. The bread reminded me of an overdone Neapolitan pizza crust.

Usman Restaurant, Serangoon Road

The only drink we had was their lime juice. It's not bad

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sapporo Ramen Miharu, Millenia Walk

Sapporo Ramen Miharu, shiretoko tori dashi shio

Sapporo Ramen Miharu, shiso gyoza

Sapporo Ramen Miharu, Noukou gyokai dashi

It's been quite a long while since I've had ramen at Sapporo Ramen Miharu (Millenia Walk #01-06, 9 Raffles Boulevard, tel: +65 6733 8464). I guess it's mostly because I've never really been so big on Sapporo styled ramen and about the only time I recall being quite impressed by those miso based bowls was Gantetsu - previously at Ramen Champion.

So here's a revisit with their Shiretoko tori dashi shio (top) and a Noukou gyokai dashi (bottom) bowl with a trusty sidekick of shisho gyoza. The former bowl had a lightweight chicken shio broth which tasted like it was good for someone with a cold. That came with quail eggs. Interesting to try but I probably will not order again. The latter was a seafood infused thick broth which was really delicious. Not unique in any sense, but a robust dependable smoky bonito flavour. Those gyoza on the side had bits of shisho leaves in  the stuffings - quite a dimension of flavour from the regular ones. We rather liked it.

I wouldn't say that I wouldn't revisit because I likely would. I remembered liking their tsukemen dip and their rice bowl. Their noodles had the springy chew that I like and I'm thinking also that shoyu broth agrees with me. I just don't know when again.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A nasi goreng ayam from Dahlia Cafe

Dahlia Cafe, nasi goreng ayam

We found Dahlia Cafe in Golden Landmark (#02-21/22 Golden Landmark Shopping Complex, 390 Victoria St) near the entrance/exit facing the Arab Street quarter teeming with people during lunch. So here's their nasi goreng ayam - fried rice with fried chicken. It was pretty decent, but I found flavour lacking in the nasi goreng. That aside, the tray was very recognisable comfort food and that ayam goreng tasted freshly fried and crispy. Enjoyed it. Don't pass on their belachan sauce which you can help yourself to. I think I should resist the impulse at this point to compare this fried chicken with the one from Mat Noh & Rose which I feel is better.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fill-a-Pita, China Square

If you're wondering, this shop (3 Pickering Street, China Square Central, #01-29 Nankin Row) is the very same Fill-a-Pita that was previously located at Shenton Way. It seems that they've just relocated last week and if you get there early enough, one can actually get seats with air conditioning - which was certainly an improvement over the old location. But this current shop doesn't come equipped with a fryer/grill so their current falafels are baked and halloumi cheese is off the menu. #sad


The food's still pretty much the same though. Those baked falafel were equally as delicious as the old ones and today, we tried a recommendation from them which was their fava bean pita with labna. Delicious stuff - but our labna sunk to the bottom of the pita instead of being spread out evenly. Not a problem really. I certainly hope they find a way to get the halloumi back on the menu though.

labna right at the bottom.....

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A slightly improved sandwich experience at Sacha & Sons

Remember that I had a theory on how the pastrami at Sacha & Sons didn't quite work out for me. Well, thanks to an affirmation that went in line with that theory, we decided to get their regular deli sandwich instead of the Reuben. So the meat doesn't go into the oven. Indeed the pastrami was more moist then those in the Reuben, but it still dried out pretty quickly. I liked this option better even though I still couldn't say that I'm a fan.

The roast beef with chopped liver on the other hand was quite enjoyable. The beef was tender, beefier tasting than the spiced up pastrami and had chopped liver to boot. I thought a little bit more salt would have been great. If I should ever return, perhaps I'll try getting sandwiches on rye that is not toasted. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Vegetarian - that's an old Indian word meaning 'lousy hunter'

Komala Vilas, badam milk rose milk

The title of this post which I found on the Internet was a quote made in a different context from the contents of this post, but I thought it was amusing. So here's us back at Komala Vilas for more delicious vegetarianism.  Those brightly coloured drinks above are badam (almond) milk and rose milk if anyone was wondering. The chilled milk was smooth, fairly rich and sweet in a non-cloying manner. Just what we needed from the sweltering humidity. But they don't seem to be so big on the actual flavours.

Komala Vilas, vegetarian briyani

That's the vegetarian briyani, something which I remember mentioning previously as a Bombay thali. I'm pretty sure the old menu must have made that reference because I would not have made that up myself. These days, I'm much more acquainted with what are the items on the side. Anti-clockwise from the right - dhal, raita, vegetable kourma, some long beans stir fried with desiccated coconut and spices, a folded chapati and a payasam beside the rice for sweets. This could have easily fed two.

Komala Vilas, chapati meal

This was the chapati meal. Unleavened flat bread served with a mixture of vegetable sides and also a payasam. Never actually noticed of how people eat this but pretty much everything on the banana leaf can be shovelled with the chapati into the mouth and it would taste good. The flavours for the vegetarian items were as usual outstanding and these guys have been in business for a long time with a relentless crowd for a very good reason.

Komala Vilas, masala chai

And of course, some hot masala chai to finish.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Islamic Restaurant, North Bridge Road

Islamic Restaurant, mutton beryani

I took notice of this shop (745 North Bridge Road, tel : +65 6298 7563) a long while ago after I happened by and have been wanting to visit. That never happened until today. So here's a look at their briyani. Their mutton beryani as they called it to be precise. The spices in the rice were aromatic but lightweight and their mutton seemed to be served in two different portions. One boned in meat and the other shredded. Served with crunchy cucumber achar on the side and no papadums.

Because I've just recently had the one at Yakader, I'll want to make comparisons. The rice here was was fully basmati and definitely wasn't as moist or flavoured as the one from Yakader. In fact, the mutton was a lot more moist and tender at Yakader as well. As much as things sounded in favour for Yakader, I personally found this one at Islamic Restaurant enjoyable in a different manner. One can see that their styles/recipes are different. I wanted to say that this tasted more Middle Eastern, but I do not know if that was true.

Islamic Restaurant, ice ginger milk

And to wash down all that spice, rice and mutton - some iced ginger milk. There was even a little heat from the ginger that they used.

Islamic Restaurant, North Bridge Road

I read that Islamic Restaurant have been around for quite a while. A while like for almost a century kind of while. Another one of those which I hadn't taken note of until recent years. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Soup pasta with clams and mushroom from Saizeriya

Saizeriya, soup pasta clams mushrooms

It's been quite a while since I've last had spaghetti in soup. I actually liked this one from Saizeriya (#02-22, Liang Court, 177 River Valley Road, tel : +65 6337 9001) better than I thought I would. Sure those clams aren't the best ones to be had, but for $5.90, it was generous portions and decent tasting plate of soup noodles for a restaurant in town. And this was almost as comforting as chicken soup. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Yakader, Tekka Food Centre

Yakader, Tekka Food Centre

This plate of local dum briyani from Yakader (665 Buffalo Road, Tekka Market #01-259) was as messy looking as it was tasty for lunch today. Their rice seemed to be a mixture of the regular short grained variety and basmati. Moist and steeped with all the goodness of meat juices and spices that were infused that they were good enough to eat on its own, punctuated by the occasional fragrance of deep fried shallots or a sweet raisin. None of that sambar was even necessary so I just drank it up after the rice. Need I mention that the mutton was fall off the bone tender as well? I guess I haven't explored this food centre as much as I would have liked.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Kailash Parbat, Syed Alwi Road

Kailash Parbat, apple mint juice

This (93 Syed Alwi Road, tel : + 65 6291 5545) vegetarian restaurant located just across the road from Mustafa was another chain from India that has established a number of outpost. This one was a short walk from Murugan Idli Shop. From what I could gather, they've been around for quite a while and are present in New York and London as well. They also seemed to be famous for their chaats.

Kailash Parbat, dahi puri

I like dahi puri. That's puri shells filled mostly with sweetened yoghurt amongst other things. Other things like taramind chutney, some spicy green chutney, a generous sprinkle of crushed sev and coriander. This one didn't have coriander of course. A party in the mouth snack with sweet, sour and spiciness paired with crispy and creamy textures.

Kailash Parbat, masala cheese marvel

Those balls are masala cheese marvel. From what the menu described, they're made of spiced cheese and paneer which are deep fried. Strangely, they reminded me of the fish cutlets from Shami which were made of potato and fish.

Kailash Parbat, kaju mutter tikki

Another tasty starter we tried was their kaju mutter tikki. These were deep fried patties made of potato, green peas and cashew.

Kailash Parbat, palak spinach rice

There was an awesome serving of basmati rice cooked with palak (spinach). As green as it looked, it tasted rather buttery as well so I guess there must have been quite a lot of ghee involved. I'd eat this again in a heartbeat.

Kailash Parbat, bhatura

More carbs in the form of their bhatura. These ones had cheese in them and the texture of the flour was a little thicker than those I've had previously. The flavour reminded me of Chinese dough fritters and rocked with the sliced onions on the side and....

Kailash Parbat, chana masala

...were accompanied curried chick peas. These delicious spicy chick peas were tender and not hard like some.

Kailash Parbat, paneer butter masala

This was their paneer butter masala. Which was for the most part, an equivalent of the cottage cheese version of butter chicken.

Kailash Parbat,

And black lentil dhal with kidney beans. This was really rich and heart clogging buttery. 

Kailash Parbat,

With all the rich gravies, we needed naan to mop them all up.

Kailash Parbat, malai rabri

Even though we were almost bursting the seams after the chai and lassi, we somehow didn't pass on the malai rabri. A dessert of thickened milk with sugar, cardamom and bits of pistachio. Cool, sweet and creamy dessert.

One must understand (and accept) that while these may be vegetarian, the richness is not going to be doing your heart any favours. But we walked away from this meal adorn with smiles so that's a good thing. And I'm definitely coming back.