Monday, July 31, 2017

Bistro Du Vin, Zion Road

Bistro Du Vin, Zion Road

Les Amis’ restaurants have generally been a good bet. Granted that we haven’t been to all of them so only the ones we’ve had are spoken for. We’ve had a couple of good meals at Bistro Du Vin at Shaw. It’s been a very long while since. This was a first visit to this particular branch (56 Zion Rd, tel : +65 6836 6313).

Bistro Du Vin, bread

I recall past experiences with the bread in most French bistro places as something to keep your mouth busy with butter and nothing much to forward to. Those things probably only excel at being mops for sauces. The bread here was warm and crisp. Much better than the teeth wrecking hard shelled baguettes that I’m used to associating them with.

Bistro Du Vin, foie gras terrine

Delicious creamy foie gras terrine with figs from the specials on their board. Am happy eating them with their baguette once we ran out of toast. That green sliver on the side is pickled chilli which actually works with the rich foie.

Bistro Du Vin, sardine tart

We got ourselves a sardine tart. Brittany sardines, the menu said. Sardin-y in a good way the fish should be. That came with a tasty tomato base which I unexpectedly enjoyed and a nice buttery pastry.

Bistro Du Vin, lobster risotto

The memorable thing about their lobster risotto was the lobster and those beetroot & baby carrots. Those beetroot tasted like those French beetroots that Le Bistrot Du Sommelier serves when they're in season. Lobster was sweet and quite liberally salted. But I didn't quite like the stock for the rice. While crustacean-y like it should, there was something in it that I didn't quite take to. Avoid in future.

Bistro Du Vin, sea bream

Pan seared sea bream was really good. Tender firm flesh underneath crisp skin. Even the ratatouille was enjoyable, not too tart.

Bistro Du Vin, Zion Road

Sunday, July 30, 2017

No life at Machida Shoten

Here's a post without life at Machida Shoten. Apparently, it doesn't have to be all about life. The lack of it tastes pretty good too.

To celebrate no life, we eat mentaiko. Mentaiko with rice and butter!

After folding the mentaiko and butter into the rice, add a little of their fragrant black pepper. For a little more awesome-ness, a splash of shoyu.  

These guys do have very nicely done fried rice. I think it's good enough to give Din Tai Fung next door a run for their money.

Not forgetting those shrimp gyozas.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Even more food from Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家)

I've decided to compile this from a few visits. If anyone was wondering, I am not affiliated with the establishment nor do I have any stakes in them. 

Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家), la zi ji (辣子鸡)
La zi ji is a dish of Szechuan origins. It's basically deep fried chicken stir fried with dried chilli and some other stuff. Chicken was nicely fried without being excessively greasy. The heat from the dried chilli slowly built up but I have the impression that it is localized for a palate that might not be used to a great deal of spiciness. YMMV. In any case, this was quite tasty.

Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家), kailan
Pretty decent stir fried kailan they do here.

Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家), mapo tofu rice (麻婆豆腐饭)
That's mapo tofu rice. The mapo sauce had a distinct flavour of fermented beans - which was a good thing. The heat was moderate and I liked the aroma. It's a however a totally different thing from Chen's which was a little spicier and had a much stronger hit from the Szechuan peppercorns. Still, this was leagues better than the local variety which is honestly not very good in my view.

Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家), black pepper beef fried rice (黑椒鸡肉炒饭)
That's black pepper beef fried rice. I had the idea that it was beef with a sweetish black pepper sauce but it was really just black pepper in a fried rice with minced beef. It wasn't bad - in fact, it was a better fry than what the majority of the cze char stalls can muster these days. I thought it needed a little more salt or fish sauce. Not much flavour coming from the beef too. 

Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家), sweet and sour pork rice (咕老肉饭)
One of the dishes these guys do differently from what we're used to here is sweet and sour pork. The pork comes in slices rather than chunks. The slices are also pretty thin so the texture of the meat is mostly crisp from the batter with a bit of chew. I can't say that these were not nice.

Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家), 尖椒肉丝
We ordered this a couple of times. This first time had the bottom of the plate pooling with the sauce and oil. The second time didn't have any of that at all. In any case, this was stir fried strips of green chilli and pork. Very tasty. The chillis were wilted enough to be tender and without the rawness. Again, it's a dish where the heat builds up. But nothing to tear over.

Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家), pickled vegetables pig intestines rice (酸菜肥肠饭)
This was described as sour veg pig gut rice on the menu. Which of course refers to pickled/salted lettuce and pig intestines. The use of pig gut as a description of the intestines in Chinese restaurants always amuses me. Yum.  

Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家), sweet and sour fish rice (糖醋鱼饭)
Pretty decent sweet and sour fish rice here. The portions of the fish appear to be much more generous than those from our local stalls. There're also less aromatics/vegetable fillers.

And yet even more....updated 1/8/2017

Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家), hua juan / guo tie (花卷/锅贴)
That's a hua juan on the left, a steamed bun that's normally twisted in appearance. The Chinese variety comes with scallions while the local variety usually doesn't. It was a little hard for a steamed bun and less sweet than I thought. Those guo tie are fine but don't expect them to be in the leagues of Jin Hua.

Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家), stir fried black fungus pork rice (木耳炒肉饭)
This was stir fried pork and black fungus - came with pretty generous portions of black fungus. The sauce was light tasting. I'm not sure what it was but the flavour was rather generic. In retrospect, this would be something I wouldn't mind eating if I'm looking for something lightweight.

Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家), dan dan mian (担担面)
Here's the most diluted looking dan dian mian I've come across that's at 小辣. I had initially thought little of it but after a few mouthfuls, it kinda grew on me. The broth was light, savoury and had flavours from the chilli oil and a bit of peppercorn. Kinda reminded me of a thinner counterpart to their mapo tofu and I wouldn't be surprised if this was their generic "Szechuan spice" base for a bunch of their dishes. Not what I had in mind for dan dan mian but it wasn't half bad. I suppose I'm just used to those with either a thicker broth or a nuttier gravy.

Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家), sliced fish with black bean sauce rice (豉汁鱼片饭)
This was sliced fish with black bean sauce. Not exactly the black bean sauce I had in mind because it didn't look anywhere black. There wasn't much of those fermented black beans to be found and the flavours were kinda thin. In contrast with their sweet and sour fish rice, this had much less fish. Now I know I shouldn't be getting any of their dishes with black bean sauce in the future.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Chilled tomato soba with fried eggplant from Yomoda Soba

Yomoda Soba, tomato eggplant soba

That's the current tomato soba from Yomoda Soba. Unlike the previous version which uses regular sized sliced tomatoes, the current bowl features skinned cherry tomatoes infused with the flavour of yuzu. Cool huh? That and tomato puree in their smoky dashi along with fried eggplants. Totally refreshing.

From what we had heard from one of the staff, their chicken tempura has been reduced to the skinny fried chicken today because people had been complaining about their overly greasy tempura batter. I don't remember the batter being that greasy but what we had today doesn't really qualify as tempura anymore. They weren't even that bad in the first place.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Revisiting Nanjing Impressions (南京大牌檔)

Nanjing Impressions (南京大牌檔), Plaza Singapura

Here's back in Nanjing Impressions because we kinda liked what we had the last time round.

Nanjing Impressions (南京大牌檔), Madam Chiang's Nutritious Beauty Porridge

That's the beauty porridge which we had previously. It was the first thing that arrived just like the last time.

Nanjing Impressions (南京大牌檔), shredded duck fried noodles

We ordered their shredded duck fried noodles. This was pretty good. The noodles were full of bite, sweet and smoky at the same time. I must admit that there was more than a slight reminder of char kuey teow. Albeit one that's much less greasy.

Nanjing Impressions (南京大牌檔), tofu shrimp sauce

The menu has this as tofu in shrimp sauce. It wasn't any particular shrimp sauce that most people from this part of the world would be familiar with. There was something offal-ish/liver-y about it with a sweetness just on the edge, possibly from the shrimp roe. Personally, the flavour was quite a new experience for me.

Nanjing Impressions (南京大牌檔), baby rooster stew fried sesame buns

One of the items that intrigued me was their baby rooster stew with fried sesame buns. It tasted just like regular chicken. Those fried sesame buns weren't as fragrant as I had imagined them to be.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lunch at Crackerjack

We came to Crackerjack for....well, lunch. With their brunch menu that is.

Ordered their bone broth after hearing about it and seeing pictures of it. Not impressed. The broth was too sweet for my liking and I was expecting something savoury.

Their brunch/breakfast plate was ordinary. The cauliflowers were nice. Bacon was dry. Sausage was boring. Scrambled eggs unexceptional. That slice of sourdough was just that, saved by the salted butter.

What I liked was their bourbon mashbill grits. Now bourbon mash bill are a bunch of grains that are cooked and then fermented to make bourbon. I'm assuming that this dish of grits uses those grains. The server however mentioned that there is bourbon in the grits. We tasted none of that mentioned bourbon. 

But this was tasty. A slightly cheesy kind of tasty. Those brown stuff on the top are crumbs of chicken scratchings.

The other mention worthy was an overpriced drink that they call coconut horchata. The menu says coconut water, lime zest, brown rice and cinnamon. We had one sans ice which I think is the only way this should be had. Ice would have watered down this concoction far too much and the flavours while very pleasant isn't something that holds up to dilution.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pura Brasa, Tanjong Pagar Centre

Pura Brasa, Tanjong Pagar Centre

We've noticed the renovation boards up at Pura Brasa (#01-16 Tanjong Pagar Centre, 5 Wallich Street, tel : +65 6386 9678) weeks back while wondering what kind of new Spanish place it would be. So today we found out. I came here with relatively low expectations. There was no reason to expect them to be special or different from what we already have.

By the way, the restaurant serves Estrella Damm on tap. It's the regular version and not the Inedit brew created by Ferran Adrià of El Bulli. I found the Inedit to be a much smoother drink.

While I have mentioned keeping expectations low, I entitled myself to certain pre-conceived notions. I was thinking that the patatas bravas might have been deep fried, a little smaller and crustier; made with mealy potatoes rather than waxy ones. Just like those patatas we had at Tapas Club or La Tapería. This was not to be. These were okay. Wouldn't order them again though.

Pura Brasa, jamon iberico

The menu mentioned unbeatable quality at unbeatable prices for their jamón Ibérico. While I can't say much about unbeatable prices, I'm pretty sure it doesn't quite come across as unbeatable quality. The pictures on the menu looked much better than the ones that they served. One could possibly construe those pictures as....misleading?

While we're getting the flavour from the jamón, it wasn't so impressive. Guess that's why there's no proud declaration of pedigree on that menu. The accompanying pan con tomate was pretty nice though.

I'll not be coming back here for jamón Ibérico.

Pura Brasa, vegetable timbale goat's cheese

We ordered a vegetable timbale with goat's cheese. The cheese appeared in the form of a thin crumble spread on too much vegetables. We requested for more cheese and the restaurant obliged. Still not getting enough punch from those extras. The vegetables were not bad but nothing to write home about. Guess what am I not ordering next if I come back? 

Pura Brasa, octopus

Fortunately, they did a pretty tasty octopus. The meat was tender and there was a good amount of salt flakes to get the flavours going. However, I do feel that a bit more char for the crust and aroma would have improved it. A healthy drizzle of good quality EVOO would have made a better finish. Otherwise, I quite enjoyed this. The potato that came with it had a nice smoky flavour and bits of what I thought to be pork.

Pura Brasa, black angus sirloin

That's a Black Angus sirloin. Don't judge me for ordering that here. It's okay. Edible stuff. They got medium rare at medium, but these guys are a Josper Grill braggart and not a steakhouse so I let it slide. From the thinness of the cut, the meat wasn't impressive looking. Again, it's nothing like how it appeared on the menu. Another reminder is served at this point to not order again.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Machida Shoten, Japan Food Town @ Wisma Atria

I've been wanting to try Machida Shoten (#04-40, Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road, tel : +65 6262 3214) for quite a while. Let's just leave it at the lines being discouraging for most of the times we were there. We happened by this time and saw that there were still some empty seats.

The noodles in this shop are of the thicker variety. Something akin to the Chinese yellow noodles. I picked the hard option for doneness. Anything lesser would have been a little too soft for me.

We had a shio bowl. Not just any shio bowl but their rendition which comes with a small pat of butter and some black garlic oil. The broth was creamy and flavourful to the point that I thought it would have passed off as tonkotsu easily. But then again, shio is just a flavouring while the base of the broth was probably made with pork in the first place.

Machida Shoten is known for their Yokohama styled shoyu tonkotsu bowl. Also known as ie-kei styled ramen pioneered by a ramen-ya from the said city back in the 70s. From what I gather, it's a "style" of its own these days. Right down to the three sheets of seaweed. A first for me for sure. We had one to try and found the shoyu flavour rather pleasant. Between this and the shio bowl, the latter had packed a bit more flavour. Didn't see that coming. 

They had Iberico pork on the menu. These were surprisingly large ribs marinated in some sort of sweet soy sauce. A significant portion of those ribs we had gotten today were fat as well. Meat was reasonably tender and quite easily taken off the bone.

What we thought was pretty good were their shrimp gyozas. They contain only chunky pieces of shrimp. No pork or any vegetables. I thought they were pretty good. Will come back for them again. I very much prefer these over those at Keisuke's Gyoza King or Gyoza-Ya.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Tiong Bahru Bakery, Raffles City

Tiong Bahru Bakery, ham baguette

We're generally not big on this place (#B1-11 Raffles City, 252 North Bridge Road) even though we've stopped by a couple of times for bites and coffee. Maybe it's because that I don't eat here much that I didn't realize that I should be asking them to heat up my baguette when I ordered one. I didn't so they didn't. I just thought that it might have been good practice for them to ask if we would like it so. 

Anyways it was cold and quite hard. There was barely enough butter so I had to ask for extras. This doesn't have anything on the one that Cafe Gavroche serves. Kinda sad that I can actually make comparisons where they have actually underperformed for something so simple that it doesn't even requires much skills to assemble. By the way, that matcha almond croissant doesn't seem to have any green tea taste at all. I got suckered into trying after seeing phrases like 'a delightful invention overflowing with mouthwatering matcha goodness' floating about. 

Tiong Bahru Bakery, matcha almond croissant

Friday, July 21, 2017

Ryo Sushi, Orchid Hotel

Ryo Sushi, Orchid Hotel

There are few things about the almost year old Ryo Sushi (#01-06 Orchid Hotel, 1 Tras Link, tel : +65 6443 3463). The chef is named Roy, an anagram of Ryo. Hahaha. There are only omakase sets for dinner and the restaurant terms itself as a sushi diner. I have no idea what a sushi diner is.

Here be their $98 sushi omakase.

Ryo Sushi, edamame

Zensai was some warm edamame with salt.

Ryo Sushi, hijiki

And some soy marinated hijiki.

Ryo Sushi, onsen tamago ikura

Then came the truffled onsen tamago with ikura. The first of courses with ikura.

While I understand that these not so freakishly small wooden spoons are in line with the aesthetics of the restaurant, they are not the best tools for eating the egg.

Ryo Sushi, Orchid Hotel

Sliced fishes are laid out before the assembling of the sushi.

Ryo Sushi, tai

The first piece was tai with a squeeze of lime and a brush of shoyu.

Ryo Sushi, ika black salt

Followed by ika with some black salt. They refused to elaborate on what that black salt was and we left it at that.

Ryo Sushi, shima aji shoyu yuzu pepper

Next we shima aji with a brush of shoyu and some yuzu pepper.

Ryo Sushi, kanpachi shoyu

Then kanpachi with just shoyu.

Ryo Sushi, aburi nanban ebi

Aburi nanban ebi. Sweet and delicious paired with a nice char aroma from the torching.

Ryo Sushi, aburi hotate

Aburi hotate with salt and a squeeze of lime. Another sweet and delicious that's also paired with the char aroma.

Ryo Sushi, kinmedai

Aburi kinmedai. Yummy.

Ryo Sushi, ishigaki gai

This was a sliced up Ishigaki gai. Something seasonal. The clams were restless before they were shucked and were still in their final death throes, squirming slightly when I was taking the photo. The flesh was a little crunchy and sweet.

Ryo Sushi, akami shoyu yuzu

Akami marinated with shoyu and a light sprinkle of yuzu zest. It's a little different from the simply shoyu marinated or non marinated tuna that we usually get in our nigiri.

Ryo Sushi, otoro shoyu

Then otoro, again with a brush of shoyu. This was sublime when the fat from the tuna belly melted.

Ryo Sushi, ikura gunkan

The first of two gunkans we received in the course was ikura. Also the second of the ikura item that they served.

Ryo Sushi, uni gunkan

The second was uni. This was very nice.

Ryo Sushi, kani temaki

Then a kani temaki. I couldn't identify what was mixed in the minced crab meat. I had originally thought it to be kani miso, but it didn't taste like those and the restaurant refused to comment on what it was.

Ryo Sushi, uni ikura don

The finale/highlight of the sushi omakase was a mini uni rice don. Uni that was crushed and mixed with the rice along topped with a few slivers of sea urchin, more ikura and some freshly grated wasabi. Very nice.

Ryo Sushi, soup

It all ended with a light clear soup.

Ryo Sushi, Orchid Hotel

I thought that there wasn't a dispute to the quality of their fishes but I could also see how they could price themselves like this and still make money. Frills are minimal and the fish were carefully portioned.