Monday, January 30, 2017

Ananda Bhavan, Syed Alwi Road

Ananda Bhavan, pav bhaji

Apparently, Ananda Bhavan (95 Syed Alwi Road, tel : +65 6398 0837) which was set up in 1924 is the first Indian restaurant in the country. Wow, I never knew that till today. Too bad my first experience at their restaurant near Tekka market wasn't so memorable. But hey - this visit turned out to be an enjoyable re-acquaintence.

Ananda Bhavan, vegetable briyani

Their pav bhaji was delicious. Amazing flavours of mashed vegetables with the crunch and that bit of sharpness from the chopped onions along with a breath of zing from the squeeze of lime. Those pav were nicely buttered and that definitely helped. Vegetable briyani was likewise hearty and flavoursome, especially so with the refreshing raita or their rich kourma. Notable mentions also goes to the savoury aloo masala and the Chennai cabbage which for the first time, I've noticed having flavours of mustard. The little container in the middle was the dessert of the meal and that was actually pulut hitam. Pleasant and unexpected surprise there. As one can imagine, a good riot of flavours from the platter. And a meal to send one into a post lunch coma. Hah!

Ananda Bhavan, masala tea

We were initially apprehensive of their pale looking masala tea, but it turned out to be quite nice. Not excessively sweet, milky and enough of the masala registered. Will be back again.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tandoori chicken sandwich from Sarnies

Sarnies, tandoori chicken sandwich

Possibly the weakest offering from Sarnies (136 Telok Ayer Street) compared to the other mainstays that I've had. The chicken was a cold dry chopped up meat marinated with tikka spices. While I didn't expect that it would come from a tandoor, they could have really upped the game by putting it on the grill or do a pan fry for that char which would have done wonders for the flavour. The meat was barely better than the one at Subway. I'll stick to their chicken schnitzel the next time if I want a chicken sandwich here. And no more tandoori anything from any place I know doesn't have a tandoor.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

O Banh Mi, Tiong Bahru Plaza

Here be banhminions! I couldn't find out much about O Banh Mi (#02-113, Tiong Bahru Plaza, 302 Tiong Bahru Road, tel : +65 9764 2108) but the fact that they were brought in by a Pegasus Group which till this day, only runs this joint which also happens to be the first and only shop. I'm guessing that they must come from somewhere to have been brought in.

Anyways, it's mostly Vietnamese street food here. At least of the variety that the rest of the world is familiar with.

O Banh Mi, summer rolls gỏi cuốn

We had gỏi cuốn - summer rolls. They were kinda nice actually but I was hoping for a bit more mint.

O Banh Mi, phở gầu bò viên

Their phở gầu bò viên was surprisingly enjoyable. That light beefy broth was the savoury kind I preferred so this bowl trumps the recent other one at Pho99. There were tender thinly sliced briskets and those bò viên didn't taste like the regular factory made ones. And yes, no raw bean sprouts. I'd eat this again.

O Banh Mi, bún gà nướng chả giò, grilled chicken bún with fried spring rolls

And there was bún gà nướng chả giò - grilled chicken bún with fried spring rolls. Nicely done and basic. I'd eat this again.

O Banh Mi, fried chicken skins

The surprising find was deep fried chicken skins. These were awesome. Crispy with a little bit of chew and deliciously salty. These could be one of the more memorable fried chicken skins I've had in recent times.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Cottage Delight's Fiery Furnace

Found these under the "reduced to clear" tags at the Market Place in Raffles City. I bought a bottle out of curiosity. If anyone's wondering, it's beer. A hoppy amber hued English beer that left a prickly heat on the back of the throat. After a second session, I realized that I kinda enjoyed this new sensation. The brew was better drinking than our local brand and at the reduced to clear prices, quite a deal considering how much it would cost if one were to get a bottle of lesser known import or "craft beer" from a watering hole.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

IndoChili, Tanjong Pagar Centre

We popped by this Indonesian restaurant (#B1-03, Tanjong Pagar Centre, 7 Wallich Street, tel : +65 6386 6427) after having seen the other branch numerous times during transit along Zion Road. We were hoping that it would be another good find after having had some good experiences recently with Indonesian food.

We skipped the nasi kuning for the putih so we could understand their flavours more with less distractions.

Quite the sucker for perkerdel we were. These potato patties were nicely fried and peppery. But between Cumi Bali and Sari Ratu, this didn't come up tops.

There was beef satay with a nice sweet and smoky marinade. Liked the flavours but the meat was a little tough.

I thought the sambal for their ayam goreng cabe hijau needed a bit more punch. Not complaining though since it was actually pretty good with the rice. We've had better ayam goreng. The accompanying tempe and tauhu on the side were actually pretty good.

This was called cah kangkung. The name sounded similar to how stir fried kangkong would be called in Hokkien. The dish was essentially sambal kangkong as most of us would know it. Passable in terms of flavour but I really disliked the fact that it was full of stems.

The menu described their ikan bakar kecup as grilled but it was probably deep fried then grilled. Was really gunning for just a decent grilled fish actually. Had assumed that the dominant flavour to be the kecap manis rather than the chilli paste. Wouldn't order this again.

I can't say that I disliked the place, but I don't think we'd be in any hurry at all to come back again. The prices were a little high and at the end of it all, both Cumi Bali and Sari Ratu were much more satisfying eats.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Nalan Restaurant, Capitol Piazza

Nalan Restaurant, north indian thali

This was yet another Indian vegetarian restaurant - one that seemed a little under the radar at the basement of Capitol Piazza (#B2-54 Capitol Piazza, 13 Stamford Road, tel : +65 6336 6404). But the food certainly packed a punch. The briyani that came with their North Indian thali (it didn't come in a steel tray though) above was kickass flavoursome and addictive with the savoury spices. Larger portions would have been nice; though these folks acceded to our request for more dhal.

The other item worth returning for was their paneer fried rice. As enjoyable if not more than the one from Komala's. I'm impressed. Badam milk is nice here. Will come back again.

Nalan Restaurant, paneer fried rice

Monday, January 23, 2017

No Menu by Osvaldo Forlino, Boon Tat Street

No Menu by Osvaldo Forlino, Boon Tat Street

We had eaten at both Osvaldo and Forlino. The latter preceding the former. I guess No Menu (21 / 23 Boon Tat Street, tel : +65 6224 0091) is the natural progression after Osvaldo shuttered for whatever reasons. It's clear that family wants to do something down to earth for their food. From my personal observation, rustic and pricey. Rustic like Porta Porta, pricey like Valentino's

The theme behind the name of the restaurant is a dégustation styled experience in which a multi course meal of smaller portions is served. We went a la carte for this first visit.

No Menu by Osvaldo Forlino, focaccia

Their bread was an in house focaccia. Damn this was nice. The wait staff was eager to bring seconds and thirds when we finished.

No Menu by Osvaldo Forlino, nduja

One of the reasons why the focaccia was going down fast and easy was what they call their spicy sausage from Calabria. In other words, nduja - a spreadable salumi made with pork parts and red pepper among other things. The other reason was their fruity EVO. 

No Menu by Osvaldo Forlino, vitello tonnato

We had vitello tonnato. Another item that made a good vehicle out of their foccacia.

No Menu by Osvaldo Forlino, fiori di zucca

The other starter was fiori di zucca - flower of zucchini stuffed with ricotta cheese. These ones were huge and wasn't what we were expecting. It was also the most expensive zucchini flower we've had. Two of them costing almost as much as what Valentino's charges for their grilled octopus tentacle.

No Menu by Osvaldo Forlino, fiori di zucca

The skin was fried to a nice crisp and on the inside, instead of a creamy texture, the ricotta was like hot milk. 

No Menu by Osvaldo Forlino, cacio e pepe squid ink risotto

Pasta was cacio e pepe and squid ink. It was assumptious of them to split the plates for us and assumed that there was sharing going on. Not that there wasn't. But it would be appropriate for them to ask before doing so. While it would be considered thoughtfulness and a show of initiative if asked for, we didn't.

Not to digress further from the food, the cacio e pepe was disappointing. Not enough Pecorino nor pepper to live to its name and shame on that coming from Osvaldo Forlino. The squid in risotto on the other hand was really good. The menu mentioned there was lardo in it. While I couldn't specifically pick that out from the flavours, this could possibly be the tastiest dish of it's kind I've had. 

No Menu by Osvaldo Forlino, tiramisu

Dessert was tiramisu. Competent and brought back memories of the first time I had them years ago. But otherwise, not exactly outstanding or worth what they were charging.

No Menu by Osvaldo Forlino, coffee

No Menu is not cheap. Even though it is what they call themselves and what they try to sell, these guys actually do have a menu. It looked safe, traditional and not very exciting. And also expensive. That should have been impetus for what it is they do to be extraordinary which doesn't quite seem to be the case.

Reminder to self: I don't like the nasally voiced ang moh who picked up the call for reservations. Sounded condescending. The wait staff on the other hand were excellent.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Betterfield, High Street

This was disappointing and a waste of money.

In spite of truffle oil and truffle salt, their ultimate black truffle fries didn't taste very truffle-y. PS Cafe makes better truffle fries with just truffle oil.

The menu called this as their ultimate seafood pasta. As you can see, the standards are pretty low if these were any indication of being ultimate. The seafood that were described included tiger prawns, squid, shredded crab, mussels, and scallops. The two prawns were a little sorry looking, we had maybe three rings of squid, shredded crab that barely registered texture, two mussels and a singular small scallop. While the pasta didn't taste bad, it looked sloppy and the seafood appeared sad. For $35, it was criminal. 

I thought it would be fun to top up some Raclette cheese on the steak - the sorry looking steak which was supposedly Riverine rib eye. Didn't expect the steak to come tagliata styled too. The tastiest thing on the slate was the nutty torched cheese. And why the slate? It rattles every time I try to slice the meat. For $55, I'm putting this place on blacklist. Astons make nicer steaks.

They didn't even bother trimming the meat of the inedible sinews.

In retrospect, we could have gotten ourselves much better food in this part of town for what we paid here. To be taken into consideration as well, one could actually spend less and land a more satisfying mealNote to self : never come back.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Daily Cut, Tanjong Pagar Centre

I've seen this The Daily Cut (#B2-16 Tanjong Pagar Centre, 7 Wallich Street) around but haven't actually tried their food until recently. I guess it would make things easy to just describe them as one of those places like Grain Traders. Albeit one that is a little less expensive, bigger portion for similar prices but less flavoursome. Service comes with a look like I owed them big time. 

I don't mind eating these if I'm in the vicinity but I'll definitely pass on the beef for protein the next time. They obviously didn't care that the meat they chose to put out were tough and sinewy.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Pho99, Amoy Street

Pho99, Amoy Street

This trip to Pho99 (57/58 Amoy St, tel : +65 6410 9600) was triggered by an unexplained bout of craving for some Vietnamese food. The truth is, there isn't much variety for Vietnamese food around as most of the places do the same things. We do have quite a few pho shops. Long Phung is just out of the way for me. I've seen the lunch crowd here at Pho99 so I thought they would be worth a try.

Pho99, nui xào bò

We had an order of their nui xào bò - macaroni with stir fried beef. It was tastier than it looked with all the fried shallots. A part of the appeal came from the fact that it tasted very homely.

Pho99, pho bo

We had pho bo too. Rare beef, sliced briskets and beef balls with smooth rice noodles. It's not bad. I just found the broth to be a little sweet and I was hoping for it to be more savoury. No real complains though.

Pho99, goi cuon cha gio

And we also had some gỏi cuốn and chả giò. Summer rolls and fried spring rolls which were also pretty nicely done. The menu had described the latter to contain pork, prawns, beans, black fungus and yam. I'm surprised that they could stuff so much things in those rolls. I couldn't taste the meat, but I'm sure I got black fungus, yam and carrots. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The sous vide Iberico pork jowl from Chalong

Chalong, sous vide Iberico pork jowl

Here's back to our homegrown Thai/Japanese/French fusion charcoal grilled meat and rice shop featuring Spanish Iberian pork. 18 hours sous-vide Iberico pork jowl to be precise. Wow, this was nice. The tender strips of pork was fat laced and nicely charred. This pork jowl option came with a delicious Thai-ish sauce on the side that packed some heat too. I'm definitely coming back again. Two meat down with the gai left to go or until their dry aged prime rib actually arrives. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Jade coin crodo from Da Paolo Gastronomia

Da Paolo Gastronomia, jade coin crodo

I've just discovered the sugared and custard filled crodo from Da Paolo Gastronomia recently and rather liked them. That's led me to peeking at their crodo display whenever I happen by their shops and we saw this green icing glazed version which they described as jade coin. Heh! Green tea flavour it was, they mentioned. Apparently, Da Paolo isn't very good with working with green tea flavouring because we couldn't get much of that. I'm going to stick to the sugared and custard filled one for the time being.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Two Men Bagel House, Icon Village

I've been hearing about this shop (#01-12 Icon Village Altez, 16 Enggor Street, tel : +65 +65 65094125) on how they have the bagels in town and the great ingredients that's between their sliced bagels. Decided to come back to see if they're good. Honestly, we weren't too impressed. Maybe we had expected too much.

Two Men Bagel House, cow king

We had their Cow King - something with pastrami and the works. Certainly not the type of pastrami I had imagined though. It's not a bad bagel. Just a little hard, dry and badly constructed because everything just started falling apart as we tried to eat them. We've definitely had better bagels which held up better and weren't dry and hard.

Two Men Bagel House, salted

The Salted which had their house brined briskets was pretty much in the same boat. Those briskets weren't very fatty and tasted like it had been cooked in dark soy sauce - which was pretty much the only flavour in them.

Monday, January 16, 2017

White chocolate nori ice cream from Tom's Palette

Tom's Palette, white chocolate nori ice cream

We haven't been in this area for a while and since we did, it was also a time to get re-acquainted with whatever's current news at Tom's Palette.

So we had this white chocolate nori (seaweed) which was unusual to say the least. There was a little bit of that umami from the seaweed that balanced off the rich sweetness from the white chocolate. Which was a good thing because for without, the white chocolate would have been much too cloying after a few mouthfuls. Interesting flavour with enough seaweed to match the creamy sweetness. I was glad that there was another chocolate sorbet which we used to "cleanse the palate" so to speak before getting back to more of the white chocolate.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Noodle Café, Golden Mile Complex

This hole in the wall (#B1-08 Golden Mile Complex, 5001 Beach Road, tel : +65 3113 2003) joint for Thai boat noodles was a good find at the basement of Golden Mile Complex. While one cannot reasonably expect the same standards that can be gotten in Thailand, Noodle Café's rendition wasn't too shabby. We had some noodles and a couple of sides.

The first thing that reached our table was a bowl of fried lard.

Noodles come in regular portions or small ones. These are the small ones which are good for about two big mouthfuls. The above comes with broth. I could taste coconut in it and the rest was a little too complicated to describe. While the broth was not what I would have hoped for, it was pretty satisfying.

The dry option kicked ass from their chilli paste and ground peanuts. I got the bowl with beef liver. I should come back for the full sized portion of one of these because it was so damned good.

Because the portions of the previous bowls were really small, we moved on to a regular bowl of their tom yum egg noodle. The bowl came with ground peanuts, a handful of boiled bean sprouts, minced pork, a half cooked egg and a wedge of lime. Tasted like it had roasted chilli in it and the heat was respectably sweat inducing, but oddly didn't taste like tom yum at all. The whole tang and lemongrass thing was missing. Still, it stood on its own as a tasty bowl of spicy noodles that'll send tingles up the scalp.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Revisiting Cugini

We remembered liking Cugini and chance whisked us back. Three years sure went by fast.

Things seemed to have changed though. The menu got streamlined so it wasn't so much fun looking through wondering what else to try next. The people felt different and the food seemed to have changed as well. Did management change too?

One of the things we thought was exceptional was their calamari. Today's order didn't quite feel like that exceptional one that we had the first time. I didn't use the wrong verb. I meant feel, not taste. Which is the sum of the experience with the calamari rather than being just about the flavour.

I got duped into getting their  regolare pizza because prawns, Gorgonzola and Italian sausage sounded good. My mind was assuming Gorgonzola piccante but they were using Gorgonzola dolce. The young creamier variety which doesn't pack as much pungence. Couldn't tell that the cheese was in the pizza.

The only real gripe I had was for the crust of the pizza. It was so thin that it tore up as we tried to lift up a slice. So thin that it turned soggy in short order and didn't have the strength to hold even just tomato paste. 

Asked for extra Gorgonzola and it didn't help very much with the blue cheese flavours.

There was a risotto alla Siciliana which had lobster, asparagus and green apples. The flavours were pretty nice. It wasn't as lobster-ly as I had thought but that didn't preclude it from being tasty. I'm pretty sure there was some form of cream or cheese though.

Honestly, there was a let down because of the pizza and the calamari. We had expected those to be their solid performers. While I'm not writing Cugini off for the time being, my impression of them has undoubtedly diminished.