Monday, December 11, 2017

Mrs Pho, Beach Road

I've been wanting to come down to this place (349 Beach Road, tel : +65 6292 0018) for quite a while now but due to the location, it's always been out of sight and out of mind for us. We'd happen by once in a while and then exclaim that we pho-got about this little shop *insert cringe*. But today's finally happened and I'm glad we made it.

We liked what we had. Like their packed goi cuon which were fatter and one up from the ones at O Banh Mi...

...and also the goi du du. A crunchy and tangy papaya salad not unlike som tam with some sliced boiled pork and shrimp with tasty bits of fried shallots and basil.

A pleasant find was their banh canh cua. Rat tail noodles it appeared with shrimp, minced bits of crab and what tasted like pork balls with something. Not sure what's that something. This bowl tasted like a Vietnamese rendition of our local prawn noodles with a crustacean sweet broth.

Pho bo tai was pretty good too. I thought the broth was a good balance between the beefy savoury and sweetness and what I especially enjoyed was that the cinnamon that was pretty pronounced.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Khin Kee Handmade Fishball Kway Teow, Havelock Road

My attention was initially was drawn to this stall (#01-06 Havelock Road Cooked Food Centre, 22A Havelock Road) because of the queue I've noticed in the various times I've been to the 38 Curry Rice stall. Yeah, they're just next to each other. And that it mentioned handmade fish balls so I thought it would be worth a try.

How was it? It's not bad. Their mee pok was pretty generic. I couldn't say that their chilli or their vinegar that they used on the noodles were anything out of the ordinary either. But their fried fish cakes were delicious. Reminded me of those from River South Prawn Noodles. Fishballs were indeed the hand made variety. That's quite the rarity these days. Those were not bad as well but it's not Li Xin.

Friday, December 08, 2017

hans im glück, Orchard Road

I had wanted to say that this German burger grill restaurant (362 Orchard Road) from Munich appeared out of nowhere but that wasn't entirely true. Their premise between the Thai Embassy and International Building had been boarded up for quite a while so now we've finally found out what had been quietly setting up. A burger restaurant with a bunch of trees!

Had a geissbock. One of their beef burgers with feta cheese, fig jam and bacon. From what I could gather, the meat's Australian beef at 20/80. All these between sourdough buns.

I got the tangy saltiness from the feta and sweetness from the fig jam. Bacon was present but not the in your face kind of obvious. I suppose the combination of flavours just meant that the beefiness from the patty wasn't as pronounced as something like Omakase Burger. Not to mention that the burger tasted pretty clean with the lack of grease. I don't think these were meant to be like the American styled burgers in the first place.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Ah Mah Traditional Homemade Egg Sponge Cake

It hasn't escaped me how woefully thick the marketing of this particular branding was. The over borrowed 'grandma', the use of the word 'traditional', a needless reference to a 'home' that doesn't exist and one could wonder, how many sponge cakes aren't made with eggs? Stripped of all the meaningless words, it's simply just 'cake'.

I usually don't queue for these things and assuming that I'm interested, will wait for the maddening crowd to die down before bothering. But we stumbled upon a relatively short queue today and decided to try.

It's not bad fresh off the oven. I was expecting this cheese flavoured version to be a little cheesier but oh well. I wouldn't mind if I didn't have to queue for them.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Inle Myanmar Restaurant, Peninsular Plaza

This is a rare venture for me if you've noticed. I haven't had so much experience nor opportunity with Burmese food with the exception of those cooked by a friend and an experience with some fried rodent from a helper once. The latter is another story for another space and time. We've seen Inle (#B1-07A Peninsula Plaza, 111 North Bridge Rd, tel : +65 6333 5438) for ages and have never thought to try. Until today.

Guess what?  It's not too bad. I could pick on little things like preferring a stronger flavour and more ingredients for the lephet rice but I still liked it enough to finish it happily along with the pickled tea soup with coriander that had been boiled to death. True story. Maybe a bit more fish sauce for delicious saltiness would be nice.

Quite liked their ohn no khao swe (spelling varies and it's a Burmese curry chicken noodle for simplicity) too. The broth has a richness that bears some similarity with our local laksa or the Thai khao soi. Somewhat lemak, a little tangy and more sliced red onions would have made it better. This was different from the home made one I had before though so I guess there are variations to how they're cooked.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Trying more stuff from Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐)

Never had these green skinned steamed vegetable dumplings before. Those were pretty tasty. Chopped greens, diced mushrooms and little bits of tau kwa. Savoury. I'd happily order these again. After so many years, I'm still pretty impressed by how Din Tai Fung has managed to keep the standards of their food consistent throughout their numerous outlets. We had a plate of their shredded pork fried rice, which was pretty much the same as their shrimp or pork chop plates except that it has shredded pork. The rice tasted eggy, well fried and pretty much like all the times we've had them at any of their outlets.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Urban Bites, Telok Ayer Street

The general wisdom is that if a restaurant has been around for some time, it's probably good or at least decent. But that's not always true isn't it? This was Urban Bites (161 Telok Ayer Street). Lebanese they styled themselves. And style it was, over substance.

Their sambouski wasn't too bad. Minced lamb and onions in a puff. The stuffings were tasty, moist and piping hot. It was a promising start.

This stuff was called hummus with meat. Sliced lamb tenderloin at medium rare doneness. It looked pretty darned good. A nice looking char with pink in the centre. But - the meat had little flavour. I could tell that it's red meat but I would absolutely have had no idea that was lamb. That's a sin there. The hummus was too sour. Too much lemon, too little olive oil and garlic and it was mashed into puree without much texture. Not even grainy. Glad was I this wasn't my first hummus experience or I would have thought little of them. 

Halloumi cheese needed more time on the grill. It arrived barely lukewarm. So it's either under done or service is an uncontrolled mess in the restaurant.

Wasn't getting much squeakiness from them cheese. I can sense the shifting of priorities in the food because their online menu which hasn't been updated doesn't mention toast but the current printed menu does. I'm pretty sure the were thinking bruschetta when they decided to add "toast" in to the cheese. That toast was hard. Not freshly toasted at all.

These chicken livers were tender and properly cooked. But at this point, everything was pretty much tart or sour. The balsamic vinegar from the Halloumi cheese before, their hummus with too much lemon and now pomegranate molasses on the liver that was more tart than sweet. But look - there's even a slice of lemon that might you might want to squeeze onto those livers. Or perhaps they were just for decoration.

I'm sensing that a lot of what's being done is copying of ideas without any understanding of what's being done. The chicken livers doesn't need more lemon.

That's sea bass. Baked according to the menu. Looks pan fried to me. The fish was nice. But it was destroyed by the tahini and hummus which took out the crisp from the skin and drowned out all the natural flavours by being hummus-y and tahini-y. I didn't think these combined well. So it was sour and a little spicy and a little nutty. Waste of a nice piece of fish if you asked me.

This was what they called arabica affogato. Very obviously, these guys know little to nothing about making/serving affogato. It wasn't very difficult to deduce that they had just wanted to do one and impress people. 

Generally fucking stupid to be serving them in a martini glass which was already filled with an oversize scoop of ice cream. Not much room to pour the Turkish coffee which was suppose to have cardamom flavour but didn't. How the hell does one eat this shit? The Turkish coffee wasn't even as flavourful as espresso. That and we could only pour a little before the glass was about to overflow and we had to eat ice cream to free space before we could pour a little more of coffee. We left more than half of this untouched.

Muhalabiah was nice. But then again it's not something that's easy to screw up. We were too sugared up at this point to even bother with those namoura that came with them.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Casa Tartufo, Erskine Road

Seven years ago, we saw Casa Tartufo open up at Forum Galleria. We were skeptical because of the name but still curious. For a long time. What was it that they said about having being bitten once before? But the menu looked proper. We made a mental notes to return. For a long time.

Seven years later today, we visited for the first time. Man, it just all went by didn't it? All those years. They're now at The Scarlet Singapore - or the place formerly known as Scarlet Hotel (33 Erskine Road). 

Bread gratis was well appreciated. Some nicely greased rosemary (and olive maybe) focaccia and some other sliced bread. We (read as I) had seconds. Save some for their scrambled eggs.

So the scallops. A la plancha styled. Nicely seared that it had a light char aroma and the insides were barely cooked. I thought that was nicely done. Sitting on some light Parmigiano and truffle fondue.

This be the dish known as uovo on the menu. Nicest truffled eggs we've ever had. Shaven winter black truffle on top and more in those scrambled eggs. This alone would be worth a return trip.

The restaurant's risotto casa is made with truffle and sea urchin. The uni flavour was subtle. Could detect them in occasional mouthfuls and for the other times, it was an after taste. Savoury rice dish that was also nicely done.

We had Iberico pork collar in masala sauce. Seared to a medium doneess. The server said there was cherry in the sauce but we couldn't taste it. But the pork was good.

Because the food had been good, we made it to their gelato. Pistachio and truffle (how could we not have?). Both seemed to be salted lightly, very creamy and well flavoured.

We left the dinner pretty pleased thinking about when's the next excuse to come back. 

Friday, December 01, 2017

Fishball Story, Yishun Park Hawker Centre

We were at Yishun Park Hawker Centre (51 Yishun Avenue 11) looking for food and I came across Fishball Story. I recalled reading good things about them before and apparently they had received the Bib Gourmand. Man it sure was disappointing. Their mee pok was run of the mill, totally unexceptional and came with chilli sauce that had neither much heat nor flavour. Didn't get very much flavour from their fishballs as well so I was definitely unimpressed. These guys are way behind Li Xin where I would rather spend my money on.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Another meal at Luka

I couldn't decide if I liked Luka from the first visit so we came back again to try some more of their food. For some reasons I had decided not to write them off just yet.

I'm starting to gain acceptance of the fact that Luka does is their rendition of Italian food. No it wasn't a simple matter of Italian food done by Japanese nor was it Italian food with Japanese influences. Take the crab arancini for example. It's more like a cream croquette than a real arancini. Crispy shell with creamy crabby flavours. Not much rice. So little that it cannot be regarded as an actual arancini as such. Flavour's not bad though.

We ordered their pizza Americano. Supposedly house made sausages were involved but those sausages that came with the pizza didn't look very house made. Great quality mozzarella, a not too tart base of tomato sauce on a chewy crust and interestingly - it tasted pretty good with all those fries. I noticed that a bunch of their pizzas were simply their Magherita with additional toppings. This one included. Notice the basil.

Their agnolotti is apparently a signature dish. Little dumplings filled with minced veal. It wasn't bad but it's not going to end up in my list of favourites. More cheese for would be great. 

Didn't like their tiramisu. There was a slick quality to their mascarpone layer like maybe it had just that tiny bit of gelatine in the mixture that lost it an airy texture. Couldn't taste any alcohol in it so that's a sin right there. My opinion is that it's overpriced for what it was, Luka's version or not.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Re-revisiting Restaurant Manchurian (满族全羊铺)

Here's back to the only Chinese lamb specialist that we know of right along the touristy grease perfumed Chinatown Food Street.

We spied mala lamb tongue on the menu which we didn't notice before in our previous visits. The mala spices were rather subdued. There's an aroma but not so much heat. Most of the sliced tongue was tender and delicious while some parts had bits of cartilage in them. Totally delicious with those toasted peanuts. Portions were kinda large for two though. 

One of the reasons for coming back was for their barbecued lamb skewers. These seemed to have gotten chunkier though and appeared to be much more like our local satay with pieces of meat and chunks of fat between some of the meat. I've never had Chinese yang rou chuan like these. Definitely felt different compared to the first time we had them here.

Another one of the reasons for this visit was to get those skewered tendon. I'm still not sure why/how these are tendons. They also appear to be chunkier than the last time we encountered them. Some parts were a little dry and hard. Definitely tastier previously. Something/someone must have changed along the way.

This was one occasion where being adventurous didn't really pay off. We had some of their barbecued lamb kidneys. The livery offal flavour was intense and the spices couldn't help mask that intensity. Not getting these again for sure.

And of course some vegetables in a feeble attempt to balance our meal that was meat heavy. This wok of stir fried cabbage tasted not much like the last time too. Pretty sure it wasn't the same standards as the cook from our previous visits. I sure hope that things haven't headed for a downturn permanently.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

More mazeudon-ing at Tamoya Udon

Tamoya has come up with a bunch of differently flavoured mazeudon. Presumably, it's a follow up to the reception of their mixing udon. From what we could see from the neighbouring tables, these seemed to be equally well liked. Their oooh mami udon was especially umami (insert groan). Much more so than their other bowls which were already umami in general. Enhanced much by the ebiko (or what that tobiko), bonito flakes and dried sakuri ebi.

They also have a pesto bowl - with pesto that was oddly made with some coriander. Coriander normally drives me away but this particular pesto was....balanced. The flavour from the herb wasn't overwhelming like how it normally is and after a while, I even enjoyed it. Strange but true.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A truffle mushroom beef burger from Foodsmith

These guys are the western food stall in the food court at Liang Court (177 River Valley Road). Their burger was surprisingly very edible stuff featuring a coarse ground beef patty that wasn't marinated to death and looked like it had been smashed onto the grill. For some reasons, the words "Bizzaro version of Omakase Burger" formed in my head.

Toasted buns, meat with some proper sear and fried mushrooms. Totally unheard of in local western food previously. While it wasn't the most beefily flavourful of patties, these guys aren't charging very high prices neither. I think they would go a long way if they would just swap out those pale looking lettuces for something more green.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Truffle mille feuille katsu and katsuo tataki from Tonkatsu by Ma Maison

In spite of being adulterated in these past years, truffle flavours still sell so now and then, I stumble into a pothole for one of them things. Tonkatsu by Ma Maison has their a mille feuille katsu stuffed with truffle. It's one of those end of the year seasonal items that came with truffle salt and what they described as truffle chips. That's those black flakes on top which were kinda chewy. More like truffle jerky if you asked me. But the mille feuille katsu was ultimately still tender and tasty. 

I liked their katsuo tataki though. Sure it wasn't tataki as one would conventionally expect, but the mouthfeel was good from the chunkiness while the torching gave a slightly smoky aroma. Great pairing for munching with those chopped negi and shoyu.