Monday, December 05, 2016

Hot Butter Ball and Porchetta from Park Bench Deli

Park Bench Deli has got a couple of festive specials going on till the month's end. No prizes for guessing which festival those are for but the point is, both were pretty good.

There's a Hot Butter Ball which is basically sous vide turkey in truffled chicken jus and cranberry jam in rye. The gravy soaked meat was tender between the soft slices of rye which allowed us to inhale in short order. I tasted rosemary, not truffle though.

The other item was the Porchetta which featured pork belly in ciabatta with some good crisp from the crackling going on. I think there was supposed to be some garlic aioli and caramelized onions but we were only getting the pork and the arugula. Which was enjoyable the same.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Angeleno, Gemmill Lane

I had been following the development of Angeleno (20 Gemmill Lane, tel : +65 6221 6986) with some interest because it was something that was done in partnership with Luke’s. Angeleno’s chef, a David Almany had previously been running the show at Osteria Mozza at MBS. This current gig was described as an upscaled red sauce American Italian joint.

It had only been that - just a cursory interest in how things would progress with Angeleno until I came across a writeup in the local Michelin guide describing "Red wine-stained homemade lumache is luxuriously coated with a duck ragout made with milk-soaked duck liver, chopped duck hearts and meticulously deboned duck legs…”. I was thus sold.

While it may be that the restaurant is branding itself as a red sauce joint, there doesn't seem to be much red sauce around except for their meatballs and a convenient signature veal parmigiana. The place looks and smells like Travis Masiero's. The high prices, the style of the menu, that quality of service and even down to the location. The restaurant is even where Luke's used to be in Gemmill Lane before shifting sideways to their current premise next door. The layout has also not changed as Angeleno.

But credit where it's due, David Almany has gotten his handle on the rest.

This was complimentary. Ricotta, olive oil and bread. This was surely the equivalent to Luke's corn bread. Ok, enough of Luke's I promise. No more mentions of them.

We were informed that all pasta is made in house. We skipped the traditional starters and started with pastas. I guess that would also mean that we didn't really skip the starters after all.

That's the celery root cappellacci. It's done with some fried sage and browned butter and mushrooms. The stuffings were slightly sweet with a hint of flavour from celery. Very nice. No qualms eating this again.

The red pasta above was the lumache that sucked me into this restaurant. And wow, this was really nice too. The flavours from the duck ragu were pretty robust but not overwhelming so. I think hearty, homely and umami are suitable adjectives here. Would be glad to eat it again.

We had their double cut iberico pork chops. This was fatty and rich and possibly one of the better iberico pork I've had that I could recall. The apple salsa on the side rocks.

Brussels sprouts on the side for some obligatory fibre and greens. This was pretty good. Loads of flavour going on from the balsamic glaze, crispy fried rosemary leaves and the currents.

We haven't been paying attention to tiramisu for a long time in the arrogance belief that we make the best that we've had. Which is not far from the truth at all. We've refined it over the years and most places actually don't make as good. With so many Italian restaurants here, one would think it'd be easy to find a good one. One would be surprised at how lowly the standards are around here. But - this one from Angeleno kicks ass. The cream yellowed, the cake (doesn't look like sponge fingers) thoroughly soaked through while the flavour and the alcohol reels you in. The menu says best tiramisu in town. I like this enough not to dispute it.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Naughty Nuri's, Capitol Piazza

There was some buzz when Naughty Nuri's (#01-84 Capitol Piazza, 11 Stamford Rd, tel : +65 6384 7966) opened up because they originate from Ubud in Bali and are supposed to be some kind of big deal over there. While I haven't been to that one, I've looked at some pictures of it online and it makes our local shop look like plastic. But what do I know right? This place is what it is and the location being where it is doesn't come without some sanitization.

The food was enjoyable though. The ribs that they're famous for had fat laced meat that slid off the bone with ease and yet, bordered by pretty respectable burnt ends of sugary crisp. We liked pretty much everything we had tried off their orang dua platter. Ayam bakar was properly grilled and sweet; cumi bakar could have benefitted with a bit more char; crispy pig ears had a very nice seasoning that worked with the garlicky toum-like sauce. Those thin pencil asparagus topped with what seemed to be the same sambal terasi as the squids was pretty good eating with just plain rice. 

Perhaps the grilled corn was a little boring. The satay looked nothing like the meaty looking ones on the menu because the actual ones were kinda tiny. 

But definitely a good enough experience to come back. Now I'm curious about how the original one in Ubud is like.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Putien, Kitchener Road

Earlier back in the middle of the year, the Michelin Guide for Singapore announced its very first results for whom they had bequeathed their stars. With no disparagement intended, Putien wasn't a place I had thought would make the list. We've eaten at their restaurant in Marina Square and City Square Mall. This was our first visit to the flagship branch (127 Kitchener Road, tel : +65 6295 6358). The one with the star.

This visit happened to coincide with the First Harvest Seaweed Festival which serves the first batch of harvested seaweed for the year from Wheat Island in Fujian. They apparently grow in nutrient rich and pollution free water. The first harvest refers to the limited window ideal for the seaweed harvest where the quality is supposed to be the best.

And how do I know these things? How the hell does anyone know anything these days? It starts with a 'G' and ends with an 'oogle', that's how. 

The pre-food snacks have always been fried seaweed at Putien. Together with toasted peanuts, was pretty good munching.

We had an order of century eggs. Their style. Fried with vinegar and sugar which provides that tart/sour dimension which is normally provided by pickled ginger. If I had to pick an option on how century eggs alone are to be had, the best way to eat them would be with vinegar and sugar.

Putien's braised intestines are good. They have a light chew across a taut nine layers and the flavour is almost like sausages. The braising liquid is awesome with rice/noodles and such.

Here's seaweed with dried baby shrimps. The seaweed is tossed in vinegar, a little chilled and eats well alone or with any of their starch dishes.

That's a pan fried omelette loaded with seaweed in case anyone was wondering. Something that's not part of their regular menu. This also happened to be the one of those items that looked better in the real thing than in the picture on the menu. That picture looked like it was matted hair on a scalp off someone's head. This tasted pretty good by the way.

Here's claypot rice with seaweed. The rice was cooked in a broth of seaweed and dried oysters. The dominant flavour actually came from the dried oysters that were used in the cooking. Pretty good tasting rice I would say.

Stewed seaweed - seaweed that's boiled in chicken broth with bits of pork belly and cubes of yam. 

And even more seaweed in oyster soup. This was served with vinegar on the side which honestly, took off some of the monotony of the flavours. At this point of time, we were all pretty seaweeded. This meal would also mark the most seaweed I've ever eaten in one seating.

We ordered the braised luffa because the menu described it as something slow cooked with with generous portions of dried scallop. While we liked the luffa, the portions of the dried scallops were anything but generous.

The second starch of the meal was their fried Heng Hwa bee hoon. It's only now that I actually noticed that their bee hoon were finer than general factory made ones. In spite of appearances, they are actually quite flavourful. Good enough to eat on its own.

I've never thought that Putien is great with desserts. They still aren't. This loquat with herbal jelly wasn't too bad. Wasn't the traditional herbal jelly I was thinking of because it tasted citrusy, but I'd eat this again. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Revisiting Bar-Roque Grill

We didn't think so much of Bar-Roque the last time we ate here, but that had been quite a long while ago and I had forgotten that I had meant not to come back. But back we came, lured by the prospect of their Beef Wellington.

We tried one of their rum infusions. This was known as Sing, something with pineapple, red chilli and vanilla. The chilli existed as an aromatic with none of the heat. I suppose it would have been much much more interesting if there was something prickly in it.

We had a tarte flambée with snails and bacon. This was quite nice. Cheesy, salty and a nice flavour coming from the pesto.

The other cold starter was their quail terrine en croute with black trumpet mushrooms, foie gras and raisins. Not bad.

We had mixed fillings on their Beef Wellington. The doneness of the meat was quite spot on and the buttery crust was good. But there wasn't any mushroom duxelle - there was a paste on the tenderloin in the crust which tasted like meat. The foie gras was a pan fried one on top of the pastry rather than in it. Though those mushrooms bits that came with the spinach was amazingly fragrant. I couldn't say that I didn't like this because I did in some ways - but this liking didn't feel definitive somehow.

We were lured by an off menu special. Lamb saddle - how could we have resisted? In retrospect, this wasn't one of the more enjoyable ones we've had in the vicinity. There was quite a bit of garlic flavour in the meat (along with rosemary and something else) and I supposed we just like lamb to mostly taste like lamb without too much detraction from the natural flavours. I'm pretty sure we've had better.