Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Back in Banana Leaf Apolo

It's been quite a while since we've last visited Banana Leaf (56 Race Course Road, tel : +65 6293 8682). A lot of people come here for their curry fish head. We didn't get that today.

We had fried fish roe instead. While the dish on the menu simply called it fish roe, there's actually fish milt in it as well. This stuff is pretty good.

A decent gobi 65 can be gotten here, tasty with the mint chutney on the side. If you're wondering still, these are cauliflower florets battered in a spiced gram flour and deep fried.

Their masala mutton was nutty and spicy. Actually, it was more spicy than I had thought.

To accompany the naan and rice, a rich and creamy paneer makhani - or butter paneer. Cubed cottage cheese in a spiced creamy tomato gravy. This rendition from Banana Leaf was pretty good. 

The only thing that was disappointing this time round was their peshwari naan. The menu described powdered almond and cashew nut spread. Didn't quite look like what I had in mind. The flavours that came through were strangely just garlic and butter though we were pretty sure this was not their garlic naan. But now we know we're never getting this again.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

More from La Tapería

We're back. Here's a bunch of other stuff which we haven't had before. Before the food, a rant. The tables for two at La Tapería were rather small. But the plates that they used tends not to be. The setup of the restaurant is optimized for as much seating as they can comfortably squeeze and honestly, it wasn't very comfortable when the room was packed.

La Tapería, white asparagus

There was white asparagus on the menu so we took advantage of the season for more of them, wrapped in prosciutto di Parma and soft boiled egg. 

La Tapería, octopus

Some Galician styled octopus. Not the most tender we've had and the potato slices were pathetically thin. But otherwise, it was quite tasty. The quality of the olive oil they used was good. Won't order again though.

La Tapería, frog legs

We had frog legs with broad beans. These amphibian legs were chopped up and served sizzling. The main flavour we were getting was heat from whatever spice and garlic - that tasted rather Asian. Not to mention also a little bland coming from a Les Amis restaurant.

La Tapería, welsh lamb rack

This was their Welsh lamb rack - the other lamb dish they had on menu. Grilled rather than confit and was also quite good in its own way if I had to compare with the other. There was enough char on the meat for it to be respectable and little to muddle up the natural flavours. Grilled vegetables with fried potatoes on the side were nicely done and not just an afterthought.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hong Seng Curry Rice (鴻森咖喱飯), Redhill Food Centre

Hong Seng Curry Rice (鴻森咖喱飯), Redhill Food Centre

Man, this sure was a satisfying plate. While I enjoy Hainanese styled curry rice, I wouldn't say that I'm a big fan of the most of them because I'm generally not a starchy sauce person. A number of these stalls have starchy looking curry/gravy concoctions.

What worked for me here was the absence of those gloopiness. This plate of curry rice from Hong Seng (#01-74 Redhill Food Centre, 85 Redhill Lane) featured tender stewed chap chye (braised cabbage), savoury chai poh (preserved radish) omelette, strips of meaty braised pork belly and salty (enjoyably so if I might add) minced pork balls. All heaped over rice that's drenched in their mildly spicy curry and braising sauce from the meats. Comfort food as local as it gets.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dinnering at The Lokal

The Lokal

I just realized that the last time I was here was almost three years back. In retrospect, we were glad that we came for dinner because we liked the food.

The Lokal, chicken liver parfait

What did we like? Pretty much everything we ordered this time. Starting with their creamy chicken parfait with lots of bread to go around and caramelised onions to pair with. There's even house cured pickles.

The Lokal, fried pork belly

This was just called fried pork belly on the menu. There's also blue cheese, obviously some radicchio, quinoa, some delicious beetroots and prunes. While it might not be apparent from appearances, the pork belly was pretty tender underneath that crisp skin. Like the chicken parfait, portions were hearty and the food was delicious. Much bold flavours going on for this plate.

The Lokal, cauliflower three ways

Here's cauliflowers three ways - fried, pickled and pureed. Tossed with watercress, ricotta and skinned almonds. Can you imagine that? Skinned almonds. All whipped up with some nice olive oil. Tasty.

The Lokal, lamb chops

The only main we picked up was their lamb chops which came with some spicy couscous, pomegranate and yoghurt. Served on a Staub, no less. Each rib was small, tender and grilled to a nice medium doneness.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Octopus pizza and tagliatelle alla bolognese from 2it & drink

2it & drink, octopus pizza

My first octopus pizza. One with olives and potatoes and a little bit of parsley. I don't understand potatoes on pizza but I can't say that this wasn't tasty. Double negatives! O_o Would have been great if there were more of the octopus though.

2it & drink, tagliatelle alla bolognese

Alla bolognese is something I generally avoid for reasons that I'm not going into in this post. This particular one from 2it & drink was actually kinda nice. I liked that the ragu was actually beefy rather than too tart from too much tomato concentrate. In all probability, I'm never getting anything close to my grail for ragu in this country but I honestly don't mind having another plate of this.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Butcher's Kitchen, Suntec City

I have mixed feelings about this place (#02-472 Suntec City Mall, 3 Temasek Boulevard, tel : +65 9616 0111). But let's start with a positive note. I liked their Hawaiian pizza. It had thinly sliced fresh pineapples rather than the usual little chunks of the canned variety and the ham that they used was of a much better quality than most if not all the other Hawaiian pizzas. The crust was thin and light, not Neapolitan styled, but had sufficient crisp and I enjoyed it.

This was where the good feelings about the place kinda diffused. The restaurant presented themselves to be a specialist for meats. The various cuts that they were offering had their origins listed on the menu and it did look to be a proper grill joint. But we were given butter knives to work with the meat. Their rack of lamb, decent quality by the way, was doused in a brown sauce. I'm sure it's not just me but I would think that a meat and grill specialist would treat their produce with a little more respect by having the sauce on the side. Even Aston's knows better.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Chicken rice and Hokkien hae mee from Chatterbox

Chatterbox, chicken rice

I've finally tried the much talked about chicken rice from Chatterbox. I think the taste was okay. Okay as in passable quality and flavour but not outstanding kind of okay. Chicken came in pretty generous portions for something that's single serving. It'll be my first and last time because I expect much more out of $27 than just decent. 

Chatterbox, chicken

We tried their Hokkien hae mee. I'm going to call it not bad at all. The plate of noodles was slightly saucy, properly stir fried without any sogginess and we're seeing lots of ingredients in there. There're scallops and huge prawns which one will never find in the hawker renditions as well. The chilli that they provide on the side was pretty good. This costs as much as the chicken rice if anyone's wondering so while I kinda liked this, I don't think I'll be having them with any regularity.

Chatterbox, hokkien hae mee

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Pancake Boss, Bugis Cube

Pancake Boss, martabak

The portions that Pancake Boss (#04-15 Bugis Cube Mall, 470 North Bridge Road) makes for their martabak were unexpectedly large. Fillings were much more generous than the one from JTown Cafe but something was off from the way the prepared these. The chocolate rice and cheese shreds barely melted even though this was freshly made on order. I need to go back to JTown again to be sure which is the better.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Venue by Sebastian, Shenton Way

The name of the restaurant refers to Sebastian Ng, former chef of the defunct Ember. Venue (#01-02 Tower 1 Downtown Gallery, tel : +65 69049688) is his current place - a venue (yeah) that's more casual and ambiently clinical. The menu has diversified/restructured compared to the more traditional setup at Ember and I suppose I could say that it's also more aligned to what people like from the perspective of portions.

That's the breaded lamb cutlet with romesco and some balsamic. I found the lamb flavours a little weak. I'm getting some of them from the fat and not so from the meat. Otherwise this would've been quite tasty. No excessive grease from the frying and no complicated flavours contending with one another.

The Jerusalem artichoke soup was good. Creamy and sweet. Also nicely paired with the crispy duck bits that also served as the salty counter to the sweetness of the soup. Good for returns.

We had these things called lamb riblets which are kinda like satay. Flavour is very Middle Eastern and the meat was very tender. As non-descriptive as it may be, I'm going to say that it's nice. 

Great angel hair pasta with shaven bottarga and mentaiko. Those eggs provide a salty/savoury/umami accent against the main flavour profile from the sorrel pesto. The noodles aren't green themselves but seem to be well coated in the pesto - which tastes quite like shiso. Tangy and refreshing. I'd eat this again.

For those of you who have been to Ember, might recall that they're pretty well known for their pan seared Chilean seabass with truffle yuzu butter sauce. The good news obviously at this point is they've brought that into the menu at Venue. The dish of firm and flaky seabass was as delicious as I remembered it.

The mushrooms with toast were supposed to come earlier. Due to an order misinterpretation, they came after the seabass which was incidentally a good thing since we now have bread to mop the yuzu butter sauce clean from the plate. These mushrooms were chopped up, doused with truffle oil. No idea what kind of mushrooms were used.

Here's grilled octopus on a bed of pureed bean and some burnt butter with capers. I'm running out of adjective so it's nice. The tentacles had a bit of bite which I thought was a good thing even though I too enjoy the very tender renditions.

Burnt cabbage with shaven Parmigiano Reggiano and chive oil. Our token greens/fibre for the meal.

And finally the dessert which is called apple "pie". It's more like caramelized apple in some crispy pastry. Filo maybe? With crumbles and an eggy tasting rum and raisin ice cream. The latter was quite good. Could definitely get that rum and alcohol flavour. As a whole, I liked this.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hitsumabushi to hotaru ika from Man Man

Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant, hitsumabushi hotaru ika

Spring has arrived in Japan and the firefly squids are finding their ways into the nets of fishermen and eventually into the market or a restaurant. Man Man has whipped up a seasonal bowl of hitsumabushi with the hotaru ika. I tasted some shiso there with the squids.

Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant, hitsumabushi hotaru ika

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Satay babat and nasi ayam sambal at Geylang Serai Market

Geylang Corner Food Stall, satay

That's a mix of tripe (babat) and chicken satay up there from Geylang Corner Food Stall. Those tripe skewers were tender and tasty. 

Nasi Ayam Sambal, chicken rice

I followed the queue on this for a tray of nasi ayam sambal with ayam lebih. The stall was simply called Nasi Ayam Sambal (#02-129). The sambal, which seemed to be a signature of theirs was a little nutty, sweet, spicy and salty. While it was quite atypical of Malay sambal and stood on its own merit, the flavours were overwhelming on the rice which was already pretty tasty on its own. I thought the fried chicken was passable but also atypical of most ayam goreng, the meatier parts of the bird are a little dry. I'd pick Mat Noh & Rose for nasi ayam over this anytime.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

PS. Cafe, Ann Siang Hill

PS Cafe, Ann Siang Hill

PS Cafe has been around for a number of years now. I remember it used to be just a cafe at Project Shop Blood Brothers. Beside the setup at Dempsey, this (45 Ann Siang Road) is the only other location amongst the branches that one can actually consider to be a sanctuary by virtue of location. I can't say that I'm a fan but occasionally, I end up here. 

PS Cafe, bloody mary

They do Bloody Mary here. This one was made with some lapsang souchong infused whisky and the thing that suckered me into ordering one was the bacon and blue cheese stuffed olive. Yes, just one olive and I couldn't even tell it was blue cheese. Bacon was oddly dry and grease free. No lapsang souchong flavour as far as I could tell. Sometimes these wannabe fancy editions are just that. Wannabes. Yes, I'm measuring this against my yardstick.

PS Cafe, nasi goreng

There's a section for Asian food on the menu. Ordering Asian here is akin to doing so at the old Island Cafe or Chatterbox. The rendition one gets will never be the same as the hawker centre/coffee shop. It will be spruced up. And it will cost easily several times more than the "street value" that many would consider exorbitant. 

This was an oxtail nasi goreng. It's a Malay styled fried rice with a chunk of oxtail. Like I mentioned earlier, one will be hard pressed to find this outside because there is no such dish. There is nasi goreng and there's oxtail whathaveyous. But not as one.

I'll trim further verbosity here. Oxtail was not bad. The nasi goreng was a respectable fried rice and not just an attempt at nasi goreng. What really impressed me what their house made achar. There was enough acidity from the pickling. The flavour was reminiscent of those that my grandma used to make and there's even string beans in them. I've never seen string beans in achar before.

PS Cafe prawn noodles

Their hae mee here was exceptional. The broth had a rich crustacean depth of sweetness. Flavour was impressive and the bee hoon has all that captured in its collective strands. The bowl contains more prawns and thinly sliced pork than the "street rendition" and was honestly much tastier than most of them. There's quail eggs and lots of kang kong. I'd eat this again.

PS Cafe affogato

We had affogato because this was a pleasant hideout and we wanted to avoid going back out into the sweltering heat so soon. The espresso for their affogato was thick, bitter but not so aromatic as coffees go. So it kinda works with the ice cream but doesn't quite work for me as a coffee.

PS Cafe, Ann Siang Hill

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Steamroom with The Pillar and Stones, Orchard Central

The name is definitely unusual. Steamroom with The Pillar and Stones (#03-08 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, tel : +65 6592 0571) is a retail and restaurant business. I can't see any connection between the both of them. We were just here for the food which the restaurant described as borderless. I can understand that. In another time, it would have easily been labelled fusion.

We had a petite looking and pretty tasty steak tartare. Most of the flavour came from the mustard dressing and chives and the truth is, it's not just pretty looking. It's also pretty tasty.

Steak tartare came with sourdough. These were pan fried with olive oil and butter just before they were served. God damn - these were good. The restaurant volunteered seconds for us which we readily agreed as it would have been a disservice to say no.

There's a lobster bisque based fregola that came topped with an onsen egg. The flavour on the pasta was excellent from the bisque and the fact that there was a soft boiled egg for that additional richness, this was really really good. Lots of the crustacean flavour and a little peppery heat along with quite a bit of minced crab meat.

Here's be some gratuitous egg porn. 

That's the coal smoked red snapper. At least the menu says it is. I thought it was pan fried. The fish was very good quality and very nicely done. Skin was crisp and meat was firm. Underneath was broccolini and parsley risotto. The latter was delicious and I tasted generous portions of butter that made it delicious. 

Those artichoke chips and pea blossoms on top were simply overdoing things. Absolutely unnecessary and I couldn't help but smell the blatancy of the attempt to look good - which failed. Those chips didn't even taste good. What the menu mentioned as saffron bisque which I'm guessing is that sauce thing which didn't register any saffron flavours.

The flavours and quality of the base ingredients were exceptional. I think fish, broccolini and risotto would have sufficed.

Some dietary fibres which included heirloom carrots and sweet tasting asparaguses.

The only thing we ordered that we thought they screwed up quite spectacularly was their hot chocolate. That was a little surprising considering that they did pretty well with the food we had ordered. Not so hot and not very chocolate-y. It tasted like cocoa flavoured warm milk with too much milk. Starbucks makes much better hot chocolate. Strange thing was, it came with some sparkling water.