Sunday, July 31, 2016

Senso 2016

Moscato - wherever I want, whenever I want......

It's been almost a decade since the last time at Senso (21 Club Street, tel : +65 6224 3534). Time certainly flies. And right under our noses it did.

Their bread basket seemed to have shrunk a little from what I can recall. But these folks still do a better bread basket than most. Except for maybe Oso.

Tonight's amuse bouche was a lightweight blue cheese and crostini.

There was green pea soup with ricotta and black summer truffles from the truffle menu. The creamy was nice in a green pea-y sort of way. Little chunks of the ricotta cheese gave richness and the black truffle aroma was a nice addition.

We had burrata with prosciutto San Daniele and grape tomatoes. That's a half portion already split up.

From their summer menu, Amalfi lemon risotto with prawns and Tropea onion coulis. The rice had a lemon fragrance and was cheesy at the same time. Prawns had a nice bite to them and those red onion coulis tasted like fruity dollops of jam. I liked this.

From the truffle menu, veal medallion with truffle mascarpone, artichokes and more shaven black summer truffle. I would describe this as silence inducing good.

The meat from the veal was tender and lightweight. Paired nicely with some fruity sauce they described as Senso puree and whatever one could mop off the plate with.

And we ended with a very satisfying affogato. I think we have been missing out much from here.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Starring Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

This would be my first visit to Tai Hwa after they have gotten their Michelin Star just nine days ago followed by choruses of divisive opinions on that outcome. As much as I would tell myself that this is likely my favourite ba chor mee stall in the whole of the island from the first time I had it nine years ago, the truth is that I do not come eat here as much as I would like. Or even with any regularity. Once a year sounds about right. Why? The two hit combo of being located where they are and that I really dislike queueing would be a good start. And there’s a whole lot of other things to eat out there. Singapore. But that’s just my excuse. 

Still, the memory of the flavour latches on for theirs, as attenuated as it may be, that I eventually return. Albeit with very low frequency.

This is my first time trying their mee sua. So I've pretty much had all the noodle types from them. I don't dislike it, but just don't feel that it's as satisfying as the other noodle types that they have. I'm after all a mee pok man. Lol. Pun not intended. My sequence of preference would be mee pok, mee kia, kuey teow and mee sua. The other first time event in this visit was the wait time. Previously it averaged 30 minutes. The queue today was about five times longer at 2 hours 20 minutes. The longest I've ever queued in my life for food. I'm resigned to say that I will not be coming back if the wait time does not go back to the previous duration. Damn you Michelin.

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

So is it worth a Michelin Star? I don’t know. I liked them before the luminance and getting starred doesn’t do much to sway much of my opinion of them even amongst mutters of lowered standards. While getting starred does raise an eyebrow, the guide is far from being the holy grail of opinions in the ocean of subjectivity. That guide is mortal. Or a conglomerate of mortals. Subjected to preferences, personal idiosyncrasies, the strictures of life (yes that’s very general, but that’s the point) and failings of mortality. One needs not treat it like a bible. It’s just a guide. And for us locals, a whole lot of us know better what’s good anyway.

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, Crawford Lane

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Chatterbox, Mandarin Orchard

Chatterbox, Mandarin Orchard

So here's Chatterbox (Level 5, 333 Orchard, tel : +65 6831 6288), the place described as the home of the legendary Mandarin chicken rice. I just realized that they've been in operation since 1971! And look at those wide eyed chickens spacing out in the presence of their slaughtered kin. 

Chatterbox, lobster laksa

We had lobster laksa. Man, this was actually pretty good. The luscious gravy was rich and fragrant with the aroma of hae bi. Rather refined without excessive oil, a light heat from the spices and there was quite a few chunk of lobster meat. It's about ten times the price of a regular bowl of laksa though. Rice noodles were a little soft and the tau pok from Ah Heng Curry Chicken was more delicious and tender than the ones in this bowl - but what the heck. I think we may just have found our replacement for the crayfish rendition that Island Cafe used to do quite well.

Chatterbox, abalone kolo mee

There was a limited time abalone kolo mee on a limited time menu so we had a bowl of it. Noodles were wiry and with bite. Nicely done if I might say and we expected no less. Those portions were probably about twice of what one usually gets from the regular kolo mee stalls. We were kinda hoping for something outstanding from the minced meat sauce since it barely costed less than the lobster laksa. The chilli vinegar on the side added a zesty zing to the noodles. Wantons that came in the accompanying bowl of soup was big, fat and had coriander! Soup tasted like a weaker version of the kind found in Hong Kong styled wanton noodles.

Chatterbox, tau suan

This was a $9 tau suan. Very decent, but also very expensive for tau suan. I suppose the only thing that they did that was an extra effort was making sure that the dough fritters were nicely crisp.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sabar, Japan Food Town @ Wisma Atria

There has been some buzz lately regarding the newly opened Japan Food Town at Wisma Atria that features 16 Japanese eateries. The event has no doubt revitalized Wisma as a still relevant destination in a food obsessed country with a non abating appetite for Japanese food. And since this was a new opening, every shop was crowded.

Sabar (#04-50 Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road, tel : +65 262 3453) is a shop from Osaka. They didn't have as much of a queue as the others when we were there. Which was a stroke of good fortune since they were one of those that I wanted to try. A self professed mackerel bar that brings in the fish from the Aomori Prefecture along the North Pacific coast of Japan. The atmosphere was oddly subdued for a new and crowded shop. No hearty hails of "Irasshaimase!". No music being piped in the shop as well. Place looked understaffed and the menu looked like it only had lunch teishokus going on.

There's Kirin on the tap at Sabar.

We ordered a half portion of their saba shioyaki since these guys specialized in the fish which appeared to be flying off their grills in a non stop manner. The half portion came without the spine - which was a good thing I guess. Less bones to work with. The meat was moist and delicious while the skin was a good crisp. I wonder what happened to the other half.

This came off their sushi teishoku. Their teishoku portion was simply an additional bowl of senbei-jiru (rice cracker soup), a cube of cold tofu and a bit of pickled cabbage. These mackerel sushi didn't taste like the usual sabazushi - there didn't seem to be much of vinegar in the fish. Two of the pieces were aburi-ed and another two which had ginger were roasted. If I didn't recall wrongly, they were toro saba. I rather liked these.

There was higawari teishoku as well. A daily special. Today's special was a non marinated saba donburi. There appeared to be a marinated version (with shoyu I think) on the lunch menu so I guess that made this one higawari. Anyway, I'm also guessing that that's toro saba slices there since the meat was fatty tasting and filled with flavour from the fish. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bistro Du Le Pin, Orchard Plaza

Bistro Du Le Pin, Orchard Plaza

I was wondering if you people knew of those 'hole in the wall' kind of shops. The ones which many people write about but do not appear to understand the term 'hole in the wall' and yet still desperately attempt to use that description so that they can appear to be trendy and informed? Bistro Du Le Pin (#02-25 Orchard Plaza, 150 Orchard Road,  tel : +65 6734 5530) is one of those shops. Like Otowa.

Small plates fuelled with sodium, alcohol to help with said sodium and a friendly Japanese helm cooking in a tiny spot of a kitchen with no open flame.

Bistro Du Le Pin, potato salad

That's potato salad with a dollop of mentaiko cream. It tasted like how it looked and it's hard to go wrong with this combination.

Bistro Du Le Pin, black cod truffle

We had black cod, pan roasted with some vegetable which I couldn't identify. The shaven black truffles added a little aroma and no taste but the green stuff on the side was a puree/pesto made with shiso - that was delicious in a refreshing way. So the fish was pretty tasty but pricey for the portions. 

Bistro Du Le Pin, scallops uni ikura

There's pan fried scallops with uni and uni cream sauce. And then there's ikura as well. The shellfish was tender and the buttery sauce made me want to lick the plate clean.

Bistro Du Le Pin, beef tenderloin

Tenderloin was on the menu. Came with pan roasted potatoes and a rosemary scented blue cheese sauce made upon order. How awesome is that coming from a bar? The burnt parts of the sauce was so good.

Bistro Du Le Pin, lamb

This was baby lamb - cubed and pan fried with a garlicky black pepper sauce. That green stuff on top is nori. Not so much lamb flavour coming from the meat. I think it was just enough to know that it's lamb but that's all good with the seaweed and salty black pepper sauce. This is stuff that makes people consume copious amounts of steamed white rice.

Bistro Du Le Pin, gyutan

And for desserts gyu tan with a delicious negi sauce and lemon.

Bistro Du Le Pin, Orchard Plaza

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The recent tragedy at the Golden Arches

So here's a look at the recent what seems to me to be a disaster from McD. Their salted egg yolk burger. This item has been plagued by not so positive feedback about the quality and the quantity of the said sauce and I'm hearing that they're using the powdered variety from a known distributor which uses chicken egg - not duck eggs as salted eggs are usually made from.

Salted egg yolk sauce has been around in some form or another for a while. I gather that quite a lot of people here like it and have their opinion of it. And one doesn't expect to fly by without some form of criticism if it's not done at least decently. I expected that the local McD should be well aware of that. I have no idea if the guy in charge of this was incompetent or simply couldn't care less - but take my word for it, this is nothing like the real deal. For what they charged, I expected something that tasted like the real deal even if it wasn't the real deal.

I requested for more of that salted egg yolk sauce. This stuff is actually more like a paste. And possibly because of the initial backlash feedback, they probably have already started increasing the quantity of the sauce in the regular distribution. So that kinda compounded to the point where the entire chicken was buried in that pasty stuff.

Which would not have been so much of a problem had it tasted good like how salted yolk sauces should. This actually tasted pretty milky and a little sweet. The salted element of the salted egg yolk sauce was virtually non existent and it along the way, wiped out any that might have existed in the fried chicken with its flavour. Imagine a poorly done liu sha bao. This is one step below. 

So while it was too measly, people made noise. Now that they've upped the amount, I'm making noise. So it is damned if they do and damned if they don't. Capitalism doesn't hand out awards for trying.

I was kinda hoping that their grilled chicken salad would save them and wipe the taste off the burger. For grilled chicken, it was a little sad. The skin wasn't particularly crisp like grilled chicken should be. In fact, it was soggy. The marinate was sweet and I didn't like it. Here's a first and a last time. 

The current burger gimmick comes with the option to get twister fries with what they called a salt and pepper crab mix. A shaker twister fries item. I get the salt and the pepper, but none of that crab. I didn't expect any crab in the first place so I guess I wasn't surprised. I recommend that one eats this sans that powder. It tasted like a MSG bomb.

Yeah, they are having some spicy nuggets to go with the current setup as well. It was indeed a little spicy but I didn't quite enjoy that additional flavour that came with the spiciness. I couldn't make out what it was and the skin of the nugget was thicker than usual. I wouldn't recommend it.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Saravanaa Bhavan, Syed Alwi Road

I've been wanting to try the food at Saravanaa Bhavan (84 Syed Alwi Road) for quite a while so this visit was made possible from a reminder when a co worker recommended it. The name is part of an international chain that has its roots in Chennai. As humble as this shop looked, it was part of an intercontinental presence.

Saravanaa Bhavan, mini idli

Those on top are mini idli in a pot of sambar. If I recall, the dish was called 14 idli because there are fourteen of those little steamed rice cakes. The sambar in this place was pretty kickass so this dish was a no brainer good kind of thing.  

Saravanaa Bhavan, north indian thali

That's a North Indian thali. Pretty good, but doesn't quite beat the one from Komala Vilas in quantity value there. Clockwise from the top right - vegetarian briyani, some long bean korma, a raita that unfortunately contained ginger, dhal and the ball at the top was a sweet made with rice. In the middle, naans and papadum and oddly - gobi 65. I'm certainly not complaining about the cauliflowers though.

Saravanaa Bhavan, vegetable soup

This was a little bowl of soup that came with the thali. Some vegetable soup of the day with long beans and it was actually pretty good.

Saravanaa Bhavan, masala milk

This was not soup. Those green stuff floating on top were not long beans neither. It's supposed to be their masala milk if they had gotten their order right and those green stuff were bits of pistachio. But I'm pretty sure this was a badam milk instead and it was really sweet. Certainly not the masala milk as I had been expecting.

I wouldn't mind coming back again if I'm in the vicinity.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hotate katsu at Saboten

The ebi katsu season had just passed by about a month or so ago and now it's hotate katsu! I suppose it was fine. Just scallops clad in the same breading that they do for their regular tonkatsu. For some reasons, I had been expecting the scallops to be much larger than the ones that they were actually serving. That would have been something. Now that I've tried it, I suppose the next time round wouldn't get me excited. I think their prawn cakes taste better.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ah Heng Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee, Hong Lim Food Centre

Ah Heng Curry Chicken Bee Hoon Mee, Hong Lim Food Centre

I do not remember if I've ever patronized Ah Heng (#02-57/58 Hong Lim Food Centre, 531A Upper Cross St) before so here's a clean slate. Their curry noodles was not bad. The broth was a thin and savoury drinkable stuff with a thin film of chilli oil that gave it a moderate heat. Those chicken slices in the bowl were tender if ordinary and while I'm normally not one for tau pok, these ones were pretty damn good. I can understand why they have their fans but as much as I thought the bowl was a decent eat, I would definitely think twice if I had wait at the back of a long line for it. Maybe I should give the other curry noodle stall below a try.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Menya Takeichi, Suntec City

We watched from a distance as Menya Takeichi (#03-313 Suntec City Mall, 3 Temasek Boulevard, tel : +65 6235 3386) opened up shop and beckoned waving its tori paitan fingers while we were continuously serenaded by Maguro Donya Miura Misakikou Sushi & Dining. It took a while but finally we made our way down. In summary, these folks are from a successful chain of chicken broth ramen empire from Tokyo. Ranked currently at #12 in Supleks

I find truly odd that even Google Japan's search result's first page are pretty much Singapore related links when one searches for Menya Takeichi. It seems like Google felt all that they were before now, was not very relevant.'s their truffle ramen and tori tempura. The noodles were thin, akin to mee sua rather than a thin straight and chewy type like those from Kyushu. I was expecting the latter, but I suppose this one wasn't too bad. The broth was actually pretty tasty, creamy even. Obviously also enhanced by that dollop of truffle paste which added its own aroma. Those chicken tempura were pretty good munching too.

Those bits of truffle left in the bowl swirled their oracles pointing to a chance that I could come back. That was all they said. Not much left of the remnants to tell more of a story.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Fried pig intestines from Xin Dong Fang at Old Airport Road FC

Xin Dong Fang,Old Airport Road

This stall (#01-112, Old Airport Road Food Centre, 51 Old Airport Road) looked like it just sold ba kwa but they do fried snacks like ngoh hiong, hae cho and fried pig intestines! Yes, these were boiled, dipped in a light spiced batter and deep fried briefly for it to form a crisp exterior leaving the insides still tender. This stuff is nice!

Friday, July 08, 2016

Pastrami on rye from Porsena Deli

I said I would come back. It looks like quite a bit has changed with the offerings at Porsena Deli. These guys seem to also be selling pasta which I didn't recall seeing previously. The bread options have been reduced to just rye and the soft white roll (I feel them, I really do) and the "stuff it" option has been taken off the menu. But they were still willing to offer extra meat for $3 (it was $2 previously) so here's their pastrami on rye. 

You know what?  This was pretty good. I enjoyed this more than the ones from Sacha & Sons. The pastrami was more tender, less dry and the bread was also more buttery.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Gyutan negishio ramen from Sandaime Bunji

Sandaime Bunji, gyutan negishio ramen

Yes, we headed back to Sandaime Bunji for lunch again as we were in the vicinity. And because we didn't get any tongue action the last time round, here's a bowl of their gyutan negishio ramen. For a shop that wasn't exactly a ramen-ya, I thought they did a pretty decent bowl. Something warm and comforting even. There was springy noodles for a start, more dimensions going on with the chopped negi with sliced garlic and pepper rather than just pepper in the broth - and the grilled gyutan was just delicious. I liked this better than their black pepper ramen.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Because I sometimes succumb into the seductive embrace of convenience......

McD breakfast wrap

...but seriously speaking, these breakfast wraps from McD weren't as bad as I imagined them to be. Sure it's a little too much sodium for what it was and that there wasn't technically anything in it that the they couldn't grab from their existing breakfast menu to pack into a flatbread.

These were much heartier than their sad breakfast rolls. And somehow, they've packed in all the salt, fat and cheesiness that my body craves for and slipped in crisp & grease from the hash brown, gooiness from the cheese, savoury meatiness from the sausage and then eggs. I'm certainly not saying that these are good for anyone, but I'm certainly thinking that it tasted better than decent. And it's probably the closest thing to a breakfast burrito that anyone's getting in this part of the world.