Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The king of kings this year

It's been quite a while since we've last bought durians and I believe we're currently in the midst of the season for this year. This was a whole wang zhong wang (皇中皇) that we've gotten and it turned out a lot better than the one we purchased from Balestier last year. One that lived up to its reputation of bittersweet creamy richness. The prices of these things are still hefty and from the look of things, will remain so.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

More food from Keria Japanese Restaurant

Here's an unplanned dinner down at Keria Japanese Restaurant.

Today's otoshi was stewed konbu with pork and beans.

We skipped the customary mentai cabbage and swapped it for the mentai okura. This turned out to be a chilled dish. For some reasons, I had the idea that those okra were stir fried when we were ordering it.

Gyutan was still on the menu. But today's tongue was stewed instead of pan fried like the last time. It was a little sweet and I thought they would be better flavoured grilled or pan fried. But the gobo and carrots in the stew were really good.

Pork steak was delicious. Today's pork was much more nicely browned compared to the first time we had it. The composition of the wasabi butter or what was supposed to be the wasabi butter has changed though. I don't think I tasted any wasabi and they were no longer green.

We ordered chanpuru, something which we had never ordered here before. This was really good, especially when had with rice. There was chunky little strips bacon in the stir fry which flavoured the sprouts and gourd.

Corn tempura was on the menu. It must have been some effort slicing wedges of kernels off those corns to batter and fry.

Stuffed as we were, we made room for uni pasta. Apart from those slivers of creamy sweet sea urchin on top of the noodles, more uni had already been folded into the the spaghetti infusing the strands with their creamy sweetness. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Sumo Bar Happy, Waterloo Street

Sumo Bar Happy is by the people behind Tanuki Raw and a bunch of other places that I've never visited. What intrigued me about this outpost was its setup as a casual ramen and sake bar - doing beef based ramen and no less.

Beef based ramen are quite the rarity here if you didn't already know. Apart from the one off beef bone broth bowl from Tampopo ages ago and the gyutan negishio bowl from Sandaime Bunji, they're about as oftenly seen as the nine tailed fox.

There's beef gyoza on the menu. Crispy skin and a shade of beet root red which they have described as capsicum wrappers stuffed with US Prime short rib mince. I could tell that it wasn't pork but I'm not getting a definite beefiness. Pretty looking gyozas though.

We ordered sashimi. These guys aren't exactly the specialist for that and from the nature of this particular shop, I wouldn't expect any real focus be put into sashimi as part of their menu. It's not bad if one were to overlook the small slices and poor knife work though. 

What I liked was their Kinsanji Miso with barley that was served on the sticks of cucumbers. Those were really nice and sweet.

That's a pretty mini loco moco don which featured their house made Nagano pork luncheon meat with a small slab of pan fried foie gras and a fried quail's egg. Pretty small, pretty cholesterol laden, pretty heart clogging and pretty good. That luncheon meat was a lot meatier in texture than the regular canned variety. Probably more akin to a meat loaf. It's actually kinda nice. I liked those sweet marinated mushrooms they put in the donburi too.

Impressive looking was the bone in short rib ramen. The rib that came with the bowl was pretty huge. The meat was chopstick tender. So tender that it fell off the bone on the way to the table.

No real need for the fork and knife which the staff thought might come in handy since one could simply pick the meat off the rib with a chopstick. I thought it was quite good.

The noodles were those thin variety that I liked. But they were not exactly harigane after we were done with the rib to work on them. I'm pretty sure this has got to be one of the heaviest bowl of noodles I've had.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Cheek By Jowl, Boon Tat Street

Cheek By Jowl (21 Boon Tat Street, tel : +65 6221 1911) is yet another establishment under Loh Lik Peng's Unlisted Collection. The restaurant which is helmed by a Rishi Naleendra doing modern/progressive Australian food opened last Feburary. This year, they were awarded their first Michelin star.

I've read somewhere online that each the dishes that the chef sends out "has to be precise"; that precision "a discipline picked up from his one year stint in Tetsuya's". For the first time in a long time, reality wavered and the meaning of 'precise' was suddenly not so precise anymore.

olives and gougeres
I think these are amuse bouche. Olives and gougeres/cheesy puffs with what they called 14 month Compton cheese. I assumed that the cheese has been aged for that period. It's been then processed into a mousse of sorts. Both were delicious by the way.

oyster smoked tomato
The first of the orders that arrived were their Coffin Bay oysters with smoked tomato. The smoked tomato element was shavings of smoked tomato sorbet that's piled onto the oyster. The flavour in reality was less exotic as it might have sounded because it was very much like barbecue sauce minus the sweetness. In shaven ice temperature and texture. I liked this.

raw beef salad | dry aged wagyu | maple | horseradish | brussels sprouts
I enjoyed their raw beef salad to a certain extent. A bit more salt would be nice. I thought it tasted like a dryer beef tartare with textures and aromas of toasted/burnt Brussels sprouts. 

That also meant that we were getting nada from the maple. I personally couldn't taste any horseradish and dry aged wagyu.....really? If I had to grade this dish, I'd fail it for failing to deliver on the flavours based on what the menu described. 

roasted quail | chestnut | mushroom | mint
The other first course item we had was the roasted quail. This was very nice. The chestnut came in the form of mousse and a topping of ceps powder. The bird was of a medium doneness and very tender. 

The only other things on the plate were very umami mushrooms and mint leaves draped over with thinly sliced pickled apple. The combination of flavours from these were extraordinary.

barramundi | wakami | pickled onion | broccoli
Barramundi was very nice and rather small portions. Fish was tender and firm with crispy skin. The wakami was in mousse form on the side. I presumed it was meant to be eaten with the fish rather than the other stuff but the flavours were all pretty good together as well.

lamb rump | smoked eggplant | globe artichoke | caper berries
The lamb rump was seared with a hard crust of spiced rubbed exterior. Tasted Middle Eastern-ish to me. Smoked eggplant wasn't so smoky and those fried artichoke.....not sure how that comes together thematically with the rest of the plate. 

hasselback potatoes | chives | sour cream
Because the portions of the food wasn't very substantial, some carbs were in order. Potatoes with whipped sour cream.

coconut | laksa leaf ice cream | pomelo | green chilli
I'm not sure how to describe the feeling I had for this dessert. I like the peanuts and the pomelo. Didn't think much of the coconut semifreddo. Chilli sauce was a nice touch. I thought the laksa leaf ice cream was a little too milky but I applaud the laksa leave flavours. I will never order this again if I return.

burnt pear | hay panna cotta | pear sorbet | salted caramel
This was the better dessert as much less exciting it sounded over the first. The hay smoked (or was it smoked hay) panna cotta had a tea like flavour which I thought was calming through the creaminess. The clean flavour from the pear sorbet was also much appreciated.

There's much less precision going on in the kitchen than credit is given to them for. From our seating "vantage point", I suppose we had a view of how the kitchen actually worked. Plating for example is also a "fall where it may" attitude rather than a full disciplined process. Noticed different levels of care with varying portions across different kitchen staff working on the same item. Some dude was even scratching his head just before handling food with his bare hands. Something that I would have preferred not to see.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Senso 2017

The last time we were here in Senso (21 Club Street) was about a year back. It was the summer truffle season then and hence it is the same summer truffle season now.

I don't know much about wines but the Moscato that Senso pours is pretty nice stuff.

We had salmon tartare with pan seared scallops topped with Avruga caviar. It was a light and delicious starter. By the way, I just found out that Avruga caviar is really just a caviar substitute and doesn't actually contain any roe.

That's the foie gras and truffle panna cotta with figs and Parmesan crisps from the truffle menu. If anyone was wondering, it's not soft and wobbly like one would generally expect of panna cotta. This one was dense, rich and buttery just like a foie gras terrine - luxed up with a little bit of aroma from the shaven black truffle and countered by a some slices of fig and droplets of balsamic vinegar. There was enough of the foie for us to make good use of their bread basket.

Also from the truffle menu, a creamy bucattini with mushrooms and shaven black truffles. I liked the bite and texture from the bucattini but the rest of the dish didn't leave much of an impression. Perhaps that truffle cream was a little too rich that it desensitized the palate from anything subtler that might have been enjoyable.

The other truffle menu item we thought was worth trying was the potato ball. Just kidding...... that's quail stuffed with spinach and morels. It did look like a potato ball though. Stuffing was very nice and the quail was very small. 

Even though the menu mentions the Senso truffle puree and black truffle jus, there was just too little of those truffle flavours going around. A surprisingly poor showcase of ingredient based cooking by Senso here. But I did enjoy the quail.

It all ended with an affogato. Just like last year.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Luke's 2017

We're back!

The pepper and salt flakes have changed for their Bloody Mary. This time round, they were much smaller. Why?! But I'm glad the drink itself hasn't changed.

Been having their burger since the "Garage burger" days back in Wine Garage. It's changed a little from that rendition to the Travis burger of today. Through the years, I've liked it enough to resist adding their kurobuta bacon. For the first time ever, I'm having it with bacon. Not bad.

This time round, I also had it in medium rare instead of the usual medium. It's just a little bloodier looking and also dripping with a bit more juices.

There's grilled fish for on the lunch menu now. This was actually pretty damned good. Not to mention expensive like they normally are. The house tartar sauce has dill and something that tasted like shreds of coconut. Wow! That kale salad still makes me go 'Mmmmm.....'

Blueberry pie for dessert. That peach and yoghurt sorbet didn't make it better since the pie itself was quite nice. It also oddly tasted somewhat like apple pie. But the crust was light and buttery.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mala xiang guo from Tian Fu Ren Jia (天府人家)

I've never had much experience with mala xiang guo with the exception of a pretty unpleasant one once in town years ago. I thought this one was pretty tasty. These guys don't have the variety that many of the mala xiang guo shops in town have but it's definitely works for me as a convenient quick fix. The middling heat (中辣) was manageable, possibly turned down a notch or two to suit the locals. I like the combination of savoury heat, salt and spices. There's few options for meat, some bean curd products, vegetables and mushrooms. I can see us coming back.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Scaled by Ah Hua Kelong at Bar Stories

Ah Hua Kelong is a local fish farm. They've a couple of cooked food restaurants showcasing the seafood they work with and Scaled (55 Haji Lane, tel : +65 98300117) is something new these guys are trying out with styles and flavours that are a little more borderless and progressive. The last part is relative though. 

If anyone's wondering why the picture up there looks like a bar, it is because they're sharing their premise with Bar Stories.

The menu is a literal handful of small plates and big plates. From what they're described, everything is still pretty experimental. The above is smoked seabass pate. The texture reminded me more of rillette than pate. It's smoky as the name implied but the portions were a little tiny to go around those toasties. Those pickled cucumbers that came with them were more sweet than sour and I found them quite addictive.

There's prawn with seaweed butter. Too little butter in my opinion because I couldn't taste any of it. Their house pickled konbu's quite nice. Prawns were a little skinny and somewhat lacking in sweetness for such small prawns. 

The only big plate item we tried was their confit seabass with hummus, caramelized onions and lemon dill vinaigrette. The pairing of hummus and seabass was quite unusual but I couldn't say that I didn't enjoy it. Textures were mostly soft and creamy with crunchy bits from....I dunno, cookie crumbs? More dill would be nice. Onions tasted like raisins. I liked this.

There was a complementary bowl clams in sake going around. The broth was pretty tasty but nothing that's not already out there.

Bar Stories make their drinks based on the flavour profiles that one requests for. I'm sure they have some formulaic templates for common requests but there's nothing on the menu. They drinks are made according to how you think you want them, how well you can articulate that and how the bar guy interprets. I got some yuzu stuff with torched rosemary.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Mixing udon at Tamoya Udon

Tamoya Udon at Liang Court has something call Mixing Udon. It's much like a mazesoba - or a mazeudon if you would. A collection of dry ingredients to be mixed with the noodles. Spicy minced chicken, chopped onions, scallions, dried nori, a bit of bonito and an egg. Here I've topped mine with additional konbu and bits of tempura batter.

Toss, add crushed sesame seeds and eat. I thought those onions provided a welcomed sharpness to the flavours. If anyone got reminded of those Nagoya styled mazesoba from Kajiken, this was pretty similar in taste.