Thursday, August 31, 2017

Small Potatoes Make The Steak Look Bigger : Year Eleven

It's been 11 years since I signed up with Blogger for Small Potatoes. Stranger things have happened. Pretty sure that in a year's time I'll be sitting down writing another post about another annual milestone, figuratively scratching my head over what to say to sound clever. But you're all still here and will still be reading this. Right? 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Revisiting Nirai Kanai

Nirai Kanai

The last time we were here (#B1-01 Liang Court, 177 River Valley Road, tel : +65 6339 4811) was quite a long while back. I remember being unimpressed then and compared them to the defunct Mimigar. Fast forward to today, Nirai Kanai remains the only Okinawan restaurant left in our sunny little island.

Nirai Kanai, chicken liver

We had marinated chicken liver. This was super marinated. The sweet soy permeated every bit of the offal. It was unexpectedly chilled though. And also because it was thoroughly cooked through, it was a little hard, a little chewy and powdery. Probably good for slow eating with drinks.

Nirai Kanai, onigiri

Their onigiri was quite nice. Made with rice cooked in some broth that tasted like it might have mushrooms and other vegetables. There were small chunks of meat (I actually failed at this point to identify if those were pork or chicken) and bits of hijiki in them. And some pickles for zest. A viable substitute I say, for a bowl rice.

Nirai Kanai, pork beef katsu

Minced pork and beef katsu. Not bad. It's the hearty sort of fried panko-ed meat patty that's meant to be filling, tasty and not impress your pants off.

Nirai Kanai, hiyashi soba

There was hiyashi soba. Chilled noodles with sesame dressing.

Nirai Kanai, hiyashi soba

The sesame dressing was outstanding paired with the chewy noodles. Perky and nutty if you know what I mean. Came loaded with vegetables and sliced pork belly. This bowl is awesome for our weather. Only gripe? The pork's kinda tough.

Nirai Kanai, tori momo shioyaki

And finally some tori momo shioyaki. Grilled chicken thigh with salt on skewers. Flavoured with little blobs of yuzu pepper. Tasty but too much yuzu pepper which made the chicken really salty.

Nirai Kanai, calamansi grapefruit beer

To wash down the food, we had calamansi and pink grapefruit beer!

This was a much better round of eating than the last time. Would consider coming back.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Fujiyama Dragon Curry, Orchid Hotel

This shop which originates from Hiroshima has taken over the premise of a sole Korean shop down at Orchid Hotel (#01-03 Orchid Hotel, 1 Tras Link, tel : +65 6444 9260). The Japanese have won. Haha!

There's a spicy option for each order of their curry rice. This was it. Didn't look like it would bite. As much as I remember Japanese curry not being so spicy (that is probably not so true these days), this had the barest of heat. The curry was little savoury and a little sweet, filled with minced pork and topped an onsen tamago. In the end, the chilli powder helped a little. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Cotechino with lentils and a puttanesca. For Pete's sake!

This will likely be the last time we're eating at Pete's Place for a quite a while. Perhaps for the next 20 years or so. The quality is pretty mediocre; considering how much they're charging I think it's pretty overpriced. With tasteless olive oil and table pepper, I'm surprised it's survived this long. Even their fried calamari was astonishingly bad with a batter that was already soggy when it hit the table.

The cotechino dish we ordered was served barely lukewarm after a long wait. Unless those lentils were cooked to order, which I'm sure they're not, this dish takes 5 minutes to assemble. Tops. Stingy with the mostarda they were. La Strada has a much better rendition for lunch.

Well, maybe their spaghetti alla puttanesca was okay. It's spicy and salty and everyone has a rendition. Something that's pretty damned hard to screw up, no?

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Panko, Arab Street

Yet another venture from the Unlisted Collections (33 Arab Street, tel : +65 6291 3323) group. This one named after the breadcrumbs used on all the kushikatsu that the establishment makes. I suppose one could say that the place was aptly named.

asparagus, garlic mayo
The food was competent; just so with properly fried katsu that have ingredients of decent quality. Everything was served piping hot.

That being said, I also didn't think that the food was outstanding as a whole. 

baby corn
While it was affordable compared to a place like Han, the fried skewers also felt less impressive. I suppose we do get what we pay for.

anago, nitsume
Well, sometimes we get what we pay for. Sometimes, the skewers just feel a little too small.

Brussels sprouts, tomato sauce
A few of the sticks we ordered were noteworthy.

Hokkaido scallop, uni, dashi foam
The scallop with uni and dashi foam was delicious. A no brainer combination that was executed well.

Scallop was wrapped in seaweed and retained moisture. Probably the first of the kushikatsu that left an impression after the shishamo which I also enjoyed.

Their Japanese sweet potato was disappointingly dry and lacking of the sweetness that one would expect from them.

foie gras, saikyo miso, blueberry sauce
Certain ingredients like the foie gras simply sold themselves. Panko's rendition with the blueberry sauce thingy was nice, smaller portion than what Kazu serves grilled and costed more each stick. #justsaying

ika, ink sauce
There were also things sounded nice on the menu but felt underwhelming when they arrived. Like the squid with ink sauce. Not really getting much from that ink sauce; these flat parts of squid are also not the best parts for deep frying.

chicken stuffed shitake, truffle
The other memorable skewer which I enjoyed apart from the shishamo, scallops and foie gras was their shitake mushroom stuffed with chicken with shaven truffle.

While not much could be tasted from those shaven truffles, the meaty mushroom cap and chicken formed an umami and juicy combination that was pretty kickass tasty.

the score cup
That's about how much we ate.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A mini tiffin from Saravanaa Bhavan at Westgate

Saravanaa Bhavan, mini tiffin

This is from the Saravanaa Bhavan outpost at the Westgate food court (Stall 15 in Food Republic, #B1-25, 3 Gateway Drive). The menu was of course much smaller than the one from the restaurant. Apart from a few of their "thali" it's pretty much just the snack items. But I happily picked up a mini tiffin from them that came with a made to order masala dosa.

How was that? Not bad at all. I finished the meal satisfied. The pongal had a nice ghee aroma, mini idlys were tasty in those sambar and definitely no complains on the chutneys. Enjoyed the kesari sweet too. I don't know if I'm over thinking it but the standards of dosa from the shops at Little India seemed better. Not that this was bad. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Frogs, lamb, mushrooms and mirabelle plums at Le Bistrot du Sommelier

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, Armenian Street

As we traipse into the end of summer, fall approaches. And winter is coming. For the menu at Le Bistrot du Sommelier that is.

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, frog legs

Cosying up in the cast iron casserole with some salad are their meaty frog legs - sautéed with garlic, onions and parsley. These aren't seasonal. I remember seeing them all the time on the menu. They're pretty good.

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, lamb leg

Spring and by extension, summer, brings lambs to the slaughter. Here's their oven roasted Welsh lamb leg. Not so much fat, so not so much of the lamb-y flavours to savour as well. Still quite delicious with its jus and sweet root vegetables.

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, girolle

The summertime specials include sautéed wild girolle mushrooms. Or also commonly known in these parts as chanterelle. Meaty and mushroomy, these were priced dearly. But good they were.

Le Bistrot du Sommelier, mirabelle plum souffle

Summer is also a chance for their mirabelle plum soufflé. This soufflé was nicely done. Light and airy they were with the hot cooked fruit settled at the bottom. The stuff that the ice cream was sitting on was pain perdu; tasted like some sort of dense bread pudding.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Gyu Nami, Amoy Street Food Centre

Gyu Nami, Amoy Street Food Centre

Woah, this seems to be a relatively new stall (#02-126 Amoy Street Food Centre, 7 Maxwell Road) just a couple of units away from Taste Affair, run by a bunch of young gentlemen. The only item on the menu was their wagyu roast beef donburi which goes for $10. 

While the bowl isn't cheap by hawker centre standards, I could see how this represents a good value by the ingredients they provide and the care they took to prepare each bowl. One of the guys was carefully folding and stacking the thin slices of beef onto each bowl of rice that came out. The donburi then gets topped by a molten yolked egg and doled with some of their home made yoghurt sauce.

I enjoyed it. Don't think wagyu. Think moist and tender slices of medium done beef. Not a fatty section but I'm tasting some kind of soy marinate to make up for the flavour. Can't figure out what's in the yoghurt sauce though. Egg yolk made an awesome dip for the slices of beef. There's some kind of tare that they ladle over the rice. I thought that sweetness wasn't necessary but I'm not complaining.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Lentil soup, blue cheese sauce steak and more from Huber's

Huber's Bistro, grevensteiner

Here's another trip down to the butcher. Which meant another stopover at their bistro.

Huber's Bistro, lentil soup

Lentil soup's pretty good. Flavoured with bits of sausages.

Huber's Bistro, steak blue cheese sauce
Huber's Bistro, steak blue cheese sauce

That's an Australian Angus fillet served with what they describe as German blue cheese sauce. I never asked what was that German blue cheese but I thought this tasted a little different from what had in mind because it was slightly sweet rather than just salty. In retrospect, I didn't mind it at all. I was happy with the steak. In fact, I mean to return and have another go someday and also perhaps ask them what cheese it was that they used for the sauce.

Huber's Bistro, pastrami sandwich

We ordered a pastrami sandwich off the menu. Apparently what they have isn't quite like the American deli styled version. There's a lot less pastrami with meat that was not as spiced up served in a dense grainy ciabatta with some truffle mayo and caramelized onions. There's a fried egg and what appeared to be obligatory pieces of lettuce. It didn't taste bad, it was not what I was looking for.

Monday, August 21, 2017

More hon maguro-ing at Kuro Maguro

Kuro Maguro, Guoco Tower

Back in Kuro Maguro for a quiet weekend lunch. It seems that the menu has expanded from the last time we were here.

Kuro Maguro, zuke meshi

There's a zuke meshi which features their hon maguro akami marinated in shoyu and sesame oil over vinegared rice. That aroma and flavour from the sesame oil on those tuna slices were delicious. I could definitely come back for this.

Kuro Maguro, chutoro aburi meshi

We had a chutoro aburi meshi that came with a truffle shoyu sauce. Also on vinegared rice. That aburi could have been better done for a more robust char aroma. Still the quality of the fatty bluefin belly was apparent. While truffled stuff has been overdone in recent years, this truffled shoyu worked. 

Kuro Maguro

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Stir fried pork with cumin from Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家)

Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家), stir fried pork with cumin (孜然猪肉)
The menu has this item for chicken and beef but they were willing to do a pork version of the stir fry which was pretty good. There's a nice cumin flavour on the meat while the green chillis added a bit of heat and aroma. Liked those softened onions too. It's such a pity that there's no lamb on the menu.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Tonkotsu Pink from Tonkotsu Ikkyu from Ramen Champion

Tonkotsu Ikkyu, tonkotsu pink

Ramen Champion has a new outlet at Clark Quay Central (#03-97/98, 6 Eu Tong Sen St) which operates a little differently from their other premises. There are actually wait staff around that take orders and deliver the food to you instead of having to wait on the buzzer to collect your own. However, this seemed to have inadvertently taken away the options that the ramen-ya ask of order preferences. At least I wasn't asked when I ordered. But then again, maybe they've decided that they're not letting you choose the strength of your broth, how much oil you want and the doneness of your noodles. Not that most of them get my preferred harigane right anyway.

Tonkotsu Ikkyu, tonkotsu pink

So here's a refreshing dusky pink bowl of Tonkotsu Pink from Ikkyu's shop. I've had their green bowl a couple of years back. The most obvious difference apart from the colours was that the broth today had less viscosity. That tonkotsu broth - infused with blueberry and beetroot was light yet creamy. There's no berry or grassy beetroot flavour. It was just a tiny bit sweeter. I actually didn't mind that at all. And there's happiness to be found in the bowl if you finish your broth. Double happiness.

Ramen Champion, Tonkotsu Ikkyu

Friday, August 18, 2017

Joyden Canton, Shaw House

Joyden Canton (#04-00 Isetan Scotts, 350 Orchard Road, tel : +65 6908 3833) is part of the Joyden Concepts group, a local group which manages a few Chinese/Cantonese restaurants which bear the Joyden name. I've heard of them for a while but this would be my first visit to any of their restaurants.

These guys serve a lor mee with quail eggs. It's part of a bunch of local inspired dishes that they're doing for a limited time. The menu states that it serves 4 but if one were to order nothing else, it barely feeds two. Pretty decent rendition that got better once the vinegar and chilli paste are kicked in. My gripes include the portions and the misleading pictures on the menu which suckered us into ordering it.

This picture.

Along with the lor mee threading the local flavours is a Chinese carrot cake stir fried in rojak sauce. Not bad.

To fulfil the obligatory greens quota, we had some braised luffa with egg white and conpoy. Actually, I didn't order this just out of any obligation for having vegetables in the meal. I like these.

If I remember correctly the name of this dish was something along the lines of twiced baked egg gratin with you tiao. The fried crullers are embedded in baked eggs which was filled with vermicelli, jellyfish and some stuff which reminded me of Khong Guan lemon cream biscuits.  

What kicked ass was their "Hak Gam" (黑金) olive fried rice. I hear that those olives that they used are imported from China. The generous application of dark soya sauce and pork floss made the flavours while the minced pork and prawns that were in them barely registered. But this was very delicious. I would come back for this.

That's grilled slow-braised ribs with an aged mandarin peel sauce. There's a very good flavour from the mandarin peel in the sauce. The meat was unexpectedly lean but still fork tender. I'd eat this again.