Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bikinis from Park Bench Deli

Park Bench Deli, bikinis

The edible kind of bikini after the small Spanish sandwich. This came with jamon, a couple of cheeses and mayo maybe. It was hot, soft, salty and cheesy. Works with beer, for breakfast or both together.

And while at it, one last dip of their Hot Butter Ball before it goes away.

Park Bench Deli, hot butter ball

Tomi Sushi, Millenia Walk

This was my first time at Tomi Sushi (#02-12/13 Millenia Walk, 9 Raffles Blvd, tel : +65 6238 1123). I've seen them around for a while but had for some reasons felt that they're a little expensive. Every now and then they have a maguro fair where the tuna items goes at discounted prices. We took advantage of it to see if the food was good. It probably matters to some that these aren't hon maguro. Just yellowfin tuna.

Some aburi mentaiko to start. Spicy, salty and excellent with drinks.

Apparently ankimo is in season so we had to have some. I always find it difficult to resist these creamy and delicious foie gras of the sea harvested from an ugly-demon-fish-with-a-bioluminescent-bait. :P

What interested me was their maguro zanmai. It featured the almost all the usual suspects of tekka maki and the pairs of akami, chutoro and otoro nigiri. Their otoro was sublime and I guess the rest were okay. Actually I was disappointed with the chutoro because obviously they don't provide very good cuts which some places do. Also, I'm not so sure these shari had the right ratio of vinegar to rice.

This platter would have cost more than half a hundred dollars if not for the maguro fair and honestly, the portions were kinda tiny.

JPassport holders get to redeem a free pair of aburi toro nigiri for every meal sets ordered. These were pretty good.

There was chi ayu tempura on the seasonal menu so we ordered some. The bittersweet fish was crisp and delicious.

We also had maitake tempura. I've recently just learnt that these mushrooms are also known as Hen of the Woods.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Paik's Coffee, Tiong Bahru Plaza

Paik's Coffee, salad bun

We've seen this coffee section just on the side - back when we visited Paik's Bibim and we've had their espresso before. Granted it looked like a rather run of the mill kind of place that sold various types of iced coffee drinks and didn't look nor smell like it did serious coffee. We stopped by one day for some more of the espresso and tried their salad bun.  Which was mushier than I had expected. Not that it tasted bad. It tasted like the generic Japanese kind but I suppose a dryer potato salad would have made quite a bit of difference. Before I forget, this place sells pretty good espresso. That's a double up there bound to perk pretty much anyone up.

Fish & Chicks, Cineleisure Orchard

We didn't like this salted yolk fish and chips at all. It was a waste of time, money and stomach space kind of bad. The fish was mushy and that sauce (and fries too) was forgettable.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Trying more stuff at Tsukada Nojo

We managed to return to Tsukada Nojo at another one of those times when there wasn't a line out at the front. The restaurant was still pretty filled up though. And yes, this was exactly the same place as the last time in Chinatown Point.

Tsukada Nojo, nikumaki onigiri

This time, we tried the nikumaki onigiri with cheese. That was basically a rice ball wrapped in pork belly and topped with some torched cheese. This stuff was pretty delicious. One could just wrap the leaf of lettuce around the rice ball to eat.

Tsukada Nojo, tori nanban

We also tried the regular tori nanban after having had the spicy one the last time round. The difference was that this wasn't spicy. That was me being Captain Obvious.

Tsukada Nojo, beauty noodles

The noodle option this time round was what was described as 'beauty noodles'. I don't know what that was exactly or if it was green tea or spinach that coloured it.

Tsukada Nojo, green broth hot pot

Tasted the same as the egg noodles the last time round. Some of the green colour seemed to have bleached into the broth though we didn't detect any change or addition of flavour.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Nasi lemak from Toast Box

Toast Box, nasi lemak

I'm afraid I'm about to do the inevitable comparison again with a recent eat for this nasi lemak from Toast Box (#01-110 Tiong Bahru Plaza, 302 Tiong Bahru Road). I thought this wasn't too bad at all. What could have been improved was a little more salt for the flavouring in the rice but it was otherwise, personally, a more satisfying eat than The Coconut Club. Well, it's a bit more satisfying. This one had nasi lemak sambal which wasn't too shabby but possibly because of the savouriness, the other sambal which is normally reserved for their laksa works with this rice nicely. They could also work on toasting their peanuts.

Not that this was that much cheaper given all considerations.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

More from Sari Ratu

Sari Ratu, curry tendon

We were so taken in previously by the curried beef tendon from Sari Ratu that we came back for more of them. And more of other items as well.

Sari Ratu, begedil telur dadar

Other items like their begedil/pergedel (eggwashed and deep fried potato patties) and telor dadar (omelette).

Sari Ratu, sambal goreng

They do a very nice chunky sambal goreng too. The cubes of bean curd and tempeh were much larger than what I'm used to seeing in most Malay cooked food stalls.

Sari Ratu,

And tender sweet brinjals.

Sari Ratu, sambal merah cabe ijo

These are their sambal hijau/merah. Green and red chilli....well, salsa would be a rather accurate word to describe them rather than sauce. The red chilli had an amazing depth of smokiness and much less heat than I had imagined while the green chilli was a little more tangy. Both were great with the brinjal, begedil and white rice. They charged a dollar fifty for it and it's worth every cent.

Sari Ratu, teh botol

So other than the starfruit juice, we finished up with some tel botol. I've seen these bottled tea around before but never had them for some reasons. Today's a first time. These tea are unexpectedly smoky tasting.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Eat Chicken Rice, Koufu @ Cineleisure Orchard

Eat Chicken Rice, Koufu @ Cineleisure Orchard

At $8.90, I couldn't resist trying the truffle chicken rice from Eat Chicken Rice (Koufu Food Court, B1-01 Cineleisure Orchard, 8 Grange Road) and finding out for myself what it was all about. Even though I had some idea how it would probably taste like. I suppose I was spot on about the truffle that they used which was of the jarred variety and that the chicken while tender would not be slurp off the bone tender since these are the smaller non-GM-mutants - which most of us aren't so used to having. The chilli was lime-y, garlick-y and a little ginger-y at the same time while packing a respectable heat. Soup on the side was also kinda nice.

So what did this all mean? I felt there were too much flavours going on for the truffle chicken rice. Wanting to taste the truffle meant no chilli and the chilli was actually kinda nice, so something got plain wasted there. I didn't think it made much sense to have the soy/sesame sauce ladled over the plate that contained the rice since things would definitely get wet and mushy. Also I've had $4 chicken rice, good chicken rice by the way, in town that felt like it had more meat that was more satisfying so I'm not driven by much at all to pay $8.90 unless something was truly compelling.

So what did that all mean again? I'm not sure. I might not mind giving them another go if I'm there, but I don't think they would be worth any special trips down to the basement of Cineleisure.

Singapore Blond Ale by Archipelago Brewery

I haven't had anything from Archipelago Brewery for a long time. Not that I could specifically recall in the last decade anyway. Their business model have obviously expanded over the years and their brews are distributed throughout a number of watering holes and restaurants. So I came across a tacky poster promoting their Singapore Blond Ale featuring calamansi and pandan leaves. Really?

Not so for me. Maybe the finesse that people are trying to incorporate into craft beers don't always work for me. I'm reading sweet grain, sweet malt, pine, spices, yeast, coriander spice and mango sweet. Reading from somewhere else that is. I think that's all bull. Personally it's bitter yeasty and sour. A more genteel Tiger perhaps. 

Not quite getting the pandan and nothing on the calamansi unless the sour is all they managed from the fruit. If there had been enough ingredients for them to be put into marketing, the flavours need to be obvious or otherwise it's deemed a failure in my books. This is a beer - any subtleties are lost beyond the first couple of sips. And to me, many of these pretentious craft brews are but swill with attached psychosis.

Well, first and last glass with the local blond I'm sure.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Buttermilk fried chicken plate and country breakfast from Clinton Street Baking Co.

Clinton Street Baking Co., buttermilk fried chicken

These Southern styled buttermilk fried chicken from Clinton Street Baking Company were pretty good. While these things aren't exactly commonplace in this part of the world and I have little frame of reference, I could judge them by the nicely flavoured crisp on the exterior, the lack of excessive residual grease and the tender meat that was on the bird. Just good fried chicken if a little expensive. That corn bread with jalapeño was nice.

Clinton Street Baking Co., country breakfast

Unfortunately, their country breakfast was disappointing. Their biscuits were shockingly dull - tasted like something that was mass produced. I had honestly expected better biscuits than the kind at PopeyesMeat Smith sure whipped the ass of this one. My over easy eggs hadn't the yolks I wanted!

Clinton Street Baking Co.,

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Christmas dinner at Keisuke Tokyo

This was the first time we had noticed Keisuke Tokyo do something like a Christmas special. A 3 course dinner which I had initially mistaken the main course for a stew when it was actually a ramen. A ramen that possibly brings  Takeda-san back to the days of doing French food.

Starter was rice with shoyu marinated egg yolk and black truffle that was shaven at the table. While those truffles lent their aroma, I personally felt the star of this was the marinated yolk which brought the richness and the salt to the dish. I'd eat this again easily.

This was the bouillabaisse ramen that was the second highlight. A thick lobster flavoured ramen broth, much thicker than their previous ise ebi tonkotsu from their Four Seasons outlet, with seafood imported from Niigata. Lobster, pan fried sea bream and abalone. The thick broth was rich and robust with flavour as opposed to the accompanying seafood which were more delicate tasting. There was even some garlicky mashed potatoes at the bottom and little bits of charred bacon in the broth.

Dessert was a Shine Muscat blancmange with mint. This was quite sweet and we were glad for the small portions.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Hot oyster tamago toji soba from Yomoda Soba

Yomoda Soba, oyster tamago toji soba

This was an especially satisfying bowl of soba from Yomoda Soba. I think it might have been done as part of the Christmas specials for Japan Food Town. Little oysters in egg and soba in a lightly sweet broth that is also flavoured by the shell fish. Just add negi and a bit of sansho and that broth springs into life in another dimension. An oyster soup for the soul if you would. I wonder if this will stay on as part of the regular menu.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Due Italian at Ramen Gallery Takumen

Ramen Gallery Takumen, Due Italian

I had read about Due Italian some years ago on a blog that featured food in Tokyo so I was kinda surprised that the shop’s ramen turned up as an offering in Ramen Gallery Takumen. I’ve previously mentioned my thoughts on how I felt about how these guys operated, but I was curious enough about Due Italian and decided to see if it was any good.

The guy who started Due Italian is a Kazuo Ishizuka who had been honing his skills with Italian cuisine for more than a couple of decades before going into ramen. What his shop is apparently known for is his fromage ramen which features his blend of cheeses and the inclusion of sliced prosciutto with the bowl. And from what’s mentioned, the shop has been the Bib Gourmand winner for Michelin Tokyo 2015, 2016 and 2017.

So here’s a bowl of their special fromage ramen. The special as it is the practice in ramen-yas, refers to the bowl with the works. For this case, the slice of prosciutto di Parma draped over the rim of the bowl and an ajitama. The broth is chicken based shio. For a start, one gets the melted cheese over the noodles as you eat. After a while when the cheese fully melts, the shio broth becomes milky and cheesy tasting. And kinda salty right at the end.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wanton Seng's Noodle Bar, Amoy Street

Wanton Seng's Noodle Bar, Amoy Street

I've been wanting to try this (52 Amoy Street, tel : +65 6221 1336) for a while. A noodle bar that's doing things with our local wanton mee. This bowl was named twosome - to describe the roast pork belly and the char siew that came with the wanton noodles. Char siew that seemed to be made from exactly the same pork belly cuts as the roasted pork belly. Hmmm....

I liked it. This would be one of those successful elevation updates of our local food which did not destroy what it had traditionally represented. It tasted like a nicely done bowl of wanton mee. The roast pork was tasty with crisp crackling and I think I liked the char siew a little better. Wantons were pretty decent if a little tiny. Those egg noodles were probably the best part. They had a nice bite tossed with lard and fried shallots and whatever soy/sesame sauce they were using. Too bad their "shiok" chilli sauce wasn't much to go with. I wouldn't mind trying them again for dinner.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2it & drink, Valley Point

2it & drink (#01-01 Valley Point, 491 River Valley Road, tel : +65 6737 3001) - I couldn't understand the thought processes that came out with that name but it's a casual dining joint by Otto Ristorante. While I haven't been to Otto myself, I've heard things about them and I supposed that by virtue of that association, these guys shouldn't be too bad.

The atmosphere was really casual. Reminded me of iO Italian Osteria because of both their naming styles and the setup. It was so casual that the decorum of sequence was totally ignored when we informed them that they food can come as soon as they are ready. We were served our starters just before dessert. :p 

2it & drink, pizza bianca

We had a pizza bianca special from the board for the Chrismas season. Mozzarella, goat's cheese, porcini and speck. The speck brought a nice smoky aroma to the pizza. For something that was made on order and had to go into the oven for a little while, this was surprisingly the first thing that hit our table. Not complaining, just an observation.

2it & drink, pappardelle con salciccia

That's a pappardelle con salciccia from their menu. We requested for blue cheese to be added. Plus a healthy sprinkle of black pepper it made their regular tomato ragu more mellow and rich.

2it & drink, bruschetta

The bruschetta arrived last. Next to last. It's something I normally don't do because I don't have much good experiences with, but these ones had chopped octopus in the tomatoes. And whole olives. Not bad.

2it & drink, tiramisu

Because we had a very positive episode with tiramisu recently, we decided to give this one here a go. It's not bad, however the mascarpone cream to sponge finger ratio was wide.  There was a lot more of the mascarpone than the cake, but it was cake well soaked through. If only the flavour from the alcohol hit harder.

More Cameliciousness

I bought the chocolate flavour this time round. Not surprisingly, it tasted like any of the other chocolate milk out there. It's probably the most regular tasting out of the other ones which I've tried and my favourite is still the saffron one.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Nadai Fujisoba Ni-Hachi, 100AM

This was a new soba shop (#03-14 100AM, 100 Tras Street, tel : +65 6443 8827) that's part of the Itadakimasu cluster along with Numazu Uogashizushi located just beside Keisuke Tori King - which seemed to have become part of that group without having actually moved.

Besides soba and mazesoba, there's tempura to be had. Of which the tori tempura was actually pretty good. Thick, chunky yet tender pieces of freshly fried chicken. We tried a couple of their mazesoba. There was the kamo bowl featured tough pieces of duck (#disappointing) and duck meatball. The yuzu accents were welcomed and altogether, the soba was rather pleasant once the onsen tamago was mixed it but was otherwise in my opinion not as delicious as the mentai bowl. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Coconut Club, Ann Siang Hill

The Coconut Club, nasi lemak

These folks (6 Ann Siang Hill, tel : +65 6635 2999) have gotten by with word of mouth and social media that they've gathered themselves quite a crowd over the weekend. It certainly helped from the curiosity angle that the place is out of reach of many and the opening hours are short. The main stay is nasi lemak - an elevated version with possibly better ingredients along with careful treatment of those ingredients in the cooking that takes this traditional rice plate beyond where it's been before. At least that was likely to be the intention.

Unfortunately, this doesn't quite cut it for me. There was coconut fragrance in the rice for sure. But - it's not rich enough, not satisfying enough. I could name a couple of places where we've had better. The basmati rice rendition from the defunct Island Cafe beats this hands down and hell, it was more enjoyable even at Nasi Lemak Kukus. So while there's a story to be told about the founders spending a couple of years finding their fresh coconut milk from their perfect hybrid of the fruit and a fair share of R&D on the recipe, the outcome was that their rice was just passable. 

Sambal's not too bad, had some shrimpy flavour. While the chicken was good frying done, the tumeric was overwhelming. Otak-otak was not bad too - looked a little like those from Muar but doesn't quite taste like one. Would I come back? Maybe just to try the cendol

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fusion mee pok from Ah Hoe Mee Pok

Ah Hoe Mee Pok, fusion mee pok

Here's a bowl of fusion mee pok from Ah Hoe Mee Pok. The fusion element in this bowl stems from the Japanese styled charshu which they included on top of sliced boiled pork, minced pork, pork meat balls, deep fried lard and some abalone. Altogether making this a very porky bowl of mee pok. Similar but not the same with our local bowl. I couldn't help but compare this to the recent ba chor mee from Capitol Bak Chor Mee which cost a dollar less but didn't have half the ingredients that this one did and wasn't quite as hearty. I am aware of the differences in rental of both stalls, but they are what they are.

Back to this bowl from Ah Hoe, I maintain what I had previously mentioned about the first time about their noodles. It's a balance of flavours with nothing that was particularly dominant. As much as I enjoy the strength of the chilli and vinegar from our local rendition, the equilibrium wasn't such a bad thing. This shoyu bowl was unexpectedly sweet though. I wonder why's that.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Jumbo prawns simply grilled with olive oil at Les Bouchons

Les Bouchons, prawns

Well, they are really known as jumbo prawns simply grilled with olive oil on the menu at Les Bouchons Rive Gauche, which by the way has shifted to the current premise (#01-02, 60 Robertson Quay, tel : +65 6733 4414) still by the river. This new location seemed much less cosy than the old one at the Tyler Print Institute.

But those prawns were really nice. The fragrance from the char, the moisture in the meat and were pretty easy to shell with fork and knife. Couldn't get any of that olive oil that they were talking about but they're still nicely grilled prawns. In the same note, the fries were rather tiny and their creamed spinach was dry and fibrous tonight.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Grandma Ban Mee (老妈子板面), Amoy Street Food Centre

Grandma Ban Mee (老妈子板面), Amoy Street Food Centre

Maybe because of the name, I had expected the stall (#01-07, Amoy Street Food Centre, 7 Maxwell Road) to be manned by an old lady. As it turns out, a less than middle aged couple were the proprietors. 

I've never been much of a ban mee person. Never understood why people would cumulatively waste so much of their precious lives queueing for it repetitively. Or how they could enjoy something that was served steaming hot in the sweltering heat of our climate. This one is different. It's dry and there's some edgy looking chilli paste in it. Along with shredded wood ear fungus, marinated mushrooms, fried shallots, dried shrimp and dried anchovies. And what looked like a poached egg. This bowl packed a helluva umami punch if you asked me.

The heat from the chilli was "more bass than treble" if you know what I mean. It had a presence from a slow burn, isn't particularly sharp or prickles so much as far as edgy looking chillis go. But it was fragrant and had enough heat to make one sweat. Played nicely with that umami flavours going on from the other ingredients. I picked up some of their sambal belachan to go along  - added a nice tangy zing and more heat. I'm liking this.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cumi Bali, Tanjong Pagar Road

I've walked by this shop a number of times and wondered throughout all those times if they were good. Yes, it's one of those things and we finally dropped by to find out. According to their website, Cumi Bali (66 Tanjong Pagar Road, tel : +65 6220 6619) has been around for 21 years. From when those 21 years came about I don't know but by my deduction, it's probably been a while since that claim was made. 

Don't think these fellas are very much into updates or the internet. The site is still saying things like 'Best viewed on Internet Explorer 8 and above' so I gather that it could have been 6-7 years back since the last time they updated and apparently they don't know that these days Chrome's the boss.

Sayur lodeh (coconut curried vegetables) was quite nice. I think there was quite a bit of shredded coconut sediments in the gravy - the flavours of which were quite dangerously addictive over white rice. Vegetables were stewed till soft.

I've had countless fried potato balls and these ones are possibly the largest and freshest tasting ones I've come across. They're known as perkedel on the menu, which is pretty much the same thing as the local bergedil - the eggwashed deep fried potato patty. These ones tasted like they were made to order; had a faint crisp on the exterior and didn't feel overly greasy for something that had just gone off the deep fryer. Nice.

One of the items that Cumi Bali is known for are their sate madura. As the name implies, it's satay which is done in the style similar to how it is done in the Javanese island of Madura. These are made with chicken. Definitely the largest satays I've had - ever. I'm pretty sure these are the largest satay in the country. Look at how these big ass skewers are relative to the fork! And because these were glazed with plenty of kecap manis, it was sweet, smokey and caramelized with burnt ends. Damn these were good.

There was some chilli belachan was served in a little stone bowl. This thing made the addictive gravy from the sayur lodeh even more addictive.

Cumi Bali is also apparently known for their cumi bali - a namesake dish of barbecued squid with a nutty rempah which tasted like satay gravy. It was also the most expensive item we had for the night. The tentacles of the squid are chopped up and stuffed in the body. While it was relatively tender, I thought more char would have really up the ante on this dish.