Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tong Ah Seafood Restaurant, Keong Siak Road

Some Tofu Thing

This place (36 Keong Saik Road, 6223-5083) has apparently been here for ages. I'm not necessarily a huge fan of cze cha though, so I wasn't expecting much, but I did leave with a better-than-expected impression.

I'm not even sure of the names of all the items that we got, but I sure did like this very refreshing soup, which had a savory yet rich white color and was filled with mushrooms, some greens, and slices of fish and pork. The prawn paste chicken was delightfully boneless, although suspiciously *too* tender. The hor fun noodles worked for me too, even if I usually don't like gravy on my food. The only things that I wasn't as big on were those that were a bit on the sweeter side: some tofu thing plus a pork rib dish mixed with bitter gourd.

Well, I'm still not a huge cze cha person, so I won't be running back here. But it was good to see what all the fuss was about. Besides, it was better than I thought it would be, and the low prices never hurt anyone either.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sho-U, The Central

Kinoko Batayaki

The Central has been operating in a bit of a half-open, half-under construction mode for a while. And it had been a while since I was last there, so I was hoping to go there tonight to find that maybe some new places had opened up since then. To my dismay, there wasn't really anything too interesting. The basement was a bore, Marutama had a huge line, and even that Manhattan Fish Co had a line out front (not that I wanted to go there). So I figured that I'd try one restaurant on the third floor (The Central #03-85, 6534-8066) that I felt a bit bad for, as it was tucked away from the action and had some strange cavernous entry way that prevented a direct view of the dining room from outside. Well, some ameyaki steak thing on the menu seemed kind of appealing at the time.

There was a bit of a cold feeling inside...not of the temperature, but the decor. Granted, it was supposed to be an acclaimed interior designer's work that I'm sure would look nice in a fancy studio or something. But the white room that I was in (as opposed to the black or red rooms available) felt dull, rather than the warm feeling I would want while feeding. Indeed, it gave me a burning desire to don one of those white jumpsuits from The Island. Or go prepare for a medical examination or something.

Ameyaki Bifu SutekiBut enough about the fluff. How was the food? The kinoko batayaki sounded interesting: dip your wild mushrooms into a butter and sake base sitting on a burner. While the butter did give it a nice rich aroma, it was a bit too sweet for my taste. And what about the steak? There's no doubting that the food was of high quality, and they did a good job of preparation too. But it was just too contemporary for me. Even the kinoko tsukemen featured a broth's consistency that was thicker than I would have wanted.

Will I return? Probably not. Again, they did a great job of procuring quality ingredients, and arguably the dishes were innovative. But this sort of modern Japanese just didn't suit my more traditional tastes. It was expensive too, which was all the more reason to be disappointed that they didn't take American Express.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Greek Food from Philia near Kampong Glam

MoussakaI don't know Greek food that well; I think that most of my experience with it is contained to boxes of pre-made baklava from Costco and a bunch of mass-produced gyros from random "Greek Festivals" in the US. So I really don't have much of a valid reference point with which to compare this five-month-old place (27 Bali Lane, 6299-3267) to.

But in general, I was impressed with the skills of the kitchen. It was clear from items like the moussaka eggplant casserole and kotopoulo chicken rolls just how careful they were in preparing and timing everything. While the food was a bit too mild for me to get overly excited about in the end, it certainly wasn't bad by any means, and I really respected the effort that they gave. So why was this place completely empty tonight?

Perhaps its self-billing as a "Charismatic Restaurant with Special Greek Cuisine" was one of the problems. It was almost as if it were trying to be one of those cult-following places (like Azhang) where maybe the Greek food was meant to be only one part of the experience. And with Italian pasta on the menu too, it was suffering from a bit of an identity crisis. Even from a physical perspective, it didn't look like a restaurant. It looked like a bar/lounge before you realized that the dining room was upstairs, away from view. So to quick passers-by, it didn't even seem like it was serving food.

The odd location further compounded the problem. Tucked away in a small one-way street (don't try parking there...try the Golden Landmark Hotel instead), it was hard to notice, and I only discovered it because I was randomly walking by there on my way to Nadezhda from the bus stop the other day. Well, even if I wasn't that aroused by the mild taste of the food, the quality of it suggested to me that the kitchen had the potential to crank out a few winners (and they were very friendly from a service perspective too). Maybe I'll try the souvlaki next time.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Bak Kut Teh from Founder (again)

Bak Kut Teh

Here's an updated photo of Founder's bak kut teh. There wasn't anything different. In fact, I already ate dinner tonight at the office (a disappointingly dry set of sandwiches from Simply Sandwich, BTW...those guys seriously seem to keep forgetting to spread mayo on the bread there or something). But on my way home, I felt like I needed something light to wash everything down. And the thought of bak kut teh suddenly entered my head as I passed by Old Havelock Road.

As Murphy's Law would have it though, Ya Hua, which was on the way home, was closed on Mondays (that's the second time I've done that, so I hope to remember next time by writing it here). Thus, I had the cab driver divert all the way up to Balestier Road instead, where Founder was still booming with business. The light but peppery broth with some thin noodles, tofu skins, and chili peppers was exactly what the doctor ordered after a long day of work. Ahhh...relief.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pav Baji...from a can

Mother's Recipe Pav Bhaji plus some random hamburger buns and an onion

Here's that can of pav baji from Mustafa that was discussed the other day. It was actually pretty good (and spicier than I was expecting)...almost to the point where I really couldn't distinguish it too much from the real deal.

Now, I'd still rather go out for this stuff, considering the effort that it took to prepare all of it (and these locally produced hamburger buns that I used were frustratingly fused together...I probably could have bought the hot dog buns instead). But it was better than I thought it would be, and was another item to add to my collection of interesting things to find in a can. Too bad that I didn't really like the canned ful medames that I bought with this though.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Streeters, Keong Saik Road

PaellaStreeters is a little Spanish place peculiarly tucked away near Chinatown (35 Keong Saik Road, 6221-1997) that has been mentioned in a couple of comments before. We came here tonight to check out some of their tapas, starting with the gambas al ajillo. It came out with four shockingly oversized prawns sitting on a bed of lettuce rather than the tiny shrimp sitting in a little pool of oil that I was expecting, but surprisingly, it tasted better than it looked.

And that was pretty much the same story with the rest of the items here, such as the paella, which featured mildly boring sausages but still had enough crispy rice at the bottom for me to like it. I was baffled; as much as I was compelled to take issue with the way the food was done, I really couldn't complain, because I actually did like the taste in the end. But, alas, it still didn't give me enough inspiration to want to come rushing back. I'm glad that I tried it though, so thanks for the reminder!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Nadezhda Russian Restaurant, Arab Street

Beef Stroganoff

I haven't had Russian food since Kalinka Malinka shut down (and no, Shashlik does not count!). But I had heard about this place (140 Arab Street, 6396-3445), and wanted to come by for a while. And fortunately for me, they were open until 11 PM, which was needed considering the late run at the office I had tonight.

Okroshka MyasnayaNow, I don't really know Russian food that well. And that was evident when I randomly ordered a cold beef soup called okroshka. It looked great when it arrived, but when I took a sip, I wondered to myself, "Why does this taste like flat beer??" (college flashbacks!) Only when I tried to find out more about this stuff did I realize that it was based on something called kvass, which is kinda like beer but with very little alcohol. I have to admit that it wasn't one of my favorites, especially considering all the dill weed in there too. It must be an acquired taste or something.

I did get a plate of beef stroganoff though, and I liked it better. It came on a bed of buckwheat, which was new to me, and was done nicely enough for me to shovel it down my throat very quickly. The blinchiki beef pancakes, which came out piping hot, went well with the sour cream on the side, as did the tiny little pelmeni dumplings.

But in the end, I couldn't get as excited about these as I did at Kalinka Malinka. Then again, I really don't know Russian food very well, and I don't think I've developed a taste for Russian food either (not being a big fan of beets doesn't exactly help that). Even if I didn't get that inspired by my selections tonight, I was really impressed with the meticulous workmanship in the food here, which suggested to me that there must be something lurking on the menu that I'd really like. Perhaps one of these days I'll be able to do a better job of picking something more appealing to me.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

En Japanese Dining Bar, UE Square

Kawaebi

The last time I was here (207 River Valley Road #01-57 facing Mohamed Sultan, 6735-2212) was years and years ago. While that experience was generally memorable (particularly for the kawaebi), admittedly I haven't been back since, probably since I'm not a particularly huge lover of Okinawan food. But we were in the neighborhood tonight, so we stopped on by for some refueling.

We grabbed a number of items, such as the nasu kamo, a special of the day that featured - yes - eggplant and duck slices that paired well together. Another really favorable item tonight was the gyutan shioyaki, which was not done to the point of sporting the scorch marks that I usually like, but it was so thinly sliced and tender that it was still really, really enjoyable (I suppose the dose of sesame oil overtones helped). And of course we got the kawaebi, which was still one of the better ones that I've had around town with extra small yet very fresh (and tender) river shrimp with a side of salt for dipping.

SukugarasuAnd so what of some of the typical Okinawan items? Admittedly I was in neither a pork nor champuru type of mood, so we grabbed the sukugarasu instead, whose light tofu was of course refreshing, even if those tiny little fish were very, very salty. Anyway, yes, this place fared well and was definitely getting very crowded when we left. I'm still not that big of a fan of Okinawan food, so I don't envision myself running back here again right away. But I certainly wouldn't complain if I were dragged here.

Sagar Ratna, Singapore

Pav Baji

We stopped by Little India today for a quick afternoon snack and randomly found ourselves at this place (103 Syed Alwi Road, 6341-7797) across from Mustafa and just a few doors down from Ananda Bhavan. They actually had quite a bit on the menu, including Indian Chinese food as well as a big buffet spread. But we were here for one thing: chaat, so we grabbed our usual favorites.

Pani PuriIt worked for me. The pani puri featured some of the thinnest shells I'd ever had, and were still just as tasty. What I enjoyed even more was the pav baji; with its tangy mixture and fresh garnishes, this thing got inhaled quickly. I'm getting better at using my hands properly too (although I need to figure out how to get this curry smell out of my fingers afterwards...I think rubbing them with fresh lemons might work, right?).

This place is apparently a big chain in India (the tagline here was "Delhi's No. 1 Vegetarian Paradise"), although admittedly I haven't completely settled on my Little India favorite yet, as I like nearly all of them. And yes, I know that I've been on a bit of an Indian food streak lately, but this stuff is just so darned good that I can't stop. I'll break out of it soon though...I just sometimes get into these habitual grooves from time to time.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ananda Bhavan, sans Chaat

Bhatura

Crap! Just when we were getting excited at the thought of being able to get refreshing delights such as pani puri and papdi chaat late at night thanks to Ananda Bhavan's 24 hour business period, we got denied. As it turned out, these guys shut down their chaat counter at 11:30 PM (we got there at 11:35), and none was to be had. We thus had to fall back on the normal menu, upon which we grabbed a couple bhatura.

And while the bhatura was certainly piping hot and tasty with its sliced onions and such, we still felt shortchanged without being able to get any chaat. And as a result, I no longer get as excited about this place being open 24 hours anymore. Is there anywhere else where one can find chaat late at night?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sumi Yakitori, The Centrepoint

Clockwise from upper right: kawa, asupara maki, shishito, buta, negima, nasu, and shiitake

I must have walked past this place (176 Orchard Road #B2-101, 6836-0912) at least two or three times last month when it was still under construction. It had a bit of an odd fish bowl design with shoppers peering in at you from above, not to mention a strange view of the lovely basement parking structure from inside. But they were building grills into most of the tables here, so I was glad to see a sign outside Centrepoint today that signaled that they had finally opened (about three weeks ago, as it turns out). I wasn't quite sure how DIY yakitori would work, but I definitely wanted to find out.

Their intention with the cooking was baffling. They told us that the kitchen was overloaded by the full house tonight, and that it would be quicker if we cooked the food ourselves, which we happily agreed to (wasn't that the point of building those grills into the tables to begin with?). But what was weird was that these grills were sunk into the tables rather than being raised above it, the former of which would be more suitable for yakiniku, as opposed to yakitori where you need to have the ends of the skewers sticking out away from the flame. Indeed, by placing these skewers down into the grill, it made the skewers so hot that I scalded my fingers several times. They give you tongs for use with the grill, but the problem was that the heat was retained in the skewers when you tried to hold the skewer with your hands to eat the food.

More importantly though, we quickly realized that yakitori was something that you really needed a pro to do it for you. As much as I b*tch-whine about Korean BBQ places that don't let you DIY, yakitori is something that requires a professional's experience to be able to get things like the kawa crispy enough to be pleasurable yet not so crispy that it is burned. Us amateurs also had trouble with the chicken skin sticking to the grill and completely falling apart into a mess. Perhaps there is a reason why yakitori chefs are in short supply.

Not surprisingly, they were still undergoing some teething issues in these early days too, although I didn't expect it to be so bad. They had tons of wait staff around, but they kept delivering other people's food to our table (and our food to others). On numerous occasions did we see groups of the staff huddled around in a circle, as if they were trying to solve a problem. Tables were left uncleared and dishes piled up. And while it was understandable that they hadn't setup their Amex card processing yet, they didn't have enough small change to give me when I fell back on cash.

Well, I'm sure that they'll overcome some of these initial growing pains over time. And to their credit, the quality of the ingredients was generally pretty good (although a bowl of their somen was lifeless, without enough broth, and oddly came with a cheap metal spoon like one would find at a hawker center). Next time I'm looking for yakitori, I'm going to Kazu or Kushigin across the street instead. They may cost twice as much, but the experience here just wasn't very fun (our table also suffered from a nasty drip from the air conditioning above, thus forcing us to move our food out of the way of it). I would try their "Express" counterpart for casual pre-cooked takeaway on the other side though; I'm sure that it would be much better than that Tori-Q stuff.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Chella's Vegetarian Corner, Serangoon Road

Cheese Pav Baji

Wow - I'm really having trouble breaking free of this Indian food streak; I just can't stop thinking of chaat. Well, to satiate the cravings today, I told the cab driver to take me to Little India and stop randomly, where I figured that I would just walk into one of the first places that I saw. That strategy brought me here (70 Serangoon Road, 6297-6297), another surprisingly well-lit fast-food type of place, but with a more dedicated dining area upstairs.

They had a number of interesting items on the menu, ranging from the so-called "Special Jain Pav Baji" (what is that?) and even a Hershey's Chocolate Dosa. But the thing that caught my eye was the Cheese Pav Baji, which was basically pav baji but with some shredded cheese on top. With its light fluffy bread and spicy aroma, this thing went down in the blink of an eye.

Pani PuriAnd yes, I know I overdo it on the pani puri, but I just love this stuff, and this one fared fine too. I'd definitely like to come back and try more. Interestingly, they even had some kind of sizzling platters here. It didn't seem very Indian to me, but it sure smelled good.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Ananda Bhavan Vegetarian Restaurant

From left: Pau Baji and Pani Puri

Still going through withdrawals from all of that great food last week, I couldn't help but want to come down to Little India today to grab a quick bite. And before I knew it, I found myself across from Mustafa, where I'd always spotted these guys (95 Syed Alwi Road, 6297-9522) but had never gone in. Today I gave it a shot.

Surprisingly, this was a brightly lit fast food place with fixed tables and a numbering system to tell you when to pickup your food at the counter. I grabbed some pau baji and pani puri, both of which fared much better than I thought they would, and indeed, gave Raj down the street some competition in my mind. I especially liked the cilantro loaded up in the pani puri.

This ended up being a good find. And what made it even better was a sign outside that indicated that they were now open 24 hours, which will definitely come in handy one of these days (hey - you can pair it with a late night Mustafa run!). They apparently have several other locations around Singapore too, although I don't know if they will be open all night.

Monday, May 07, 2007

My Best-Of Lists: Year Two

It has now been two whole years since I started this blog. As such, here is a refreshed version of my Top 10 favorite places in Singapore, in generally decending order:

1. La Braceria*
2. Raj Prime Vegetarian Restaurant
3. Morton's
4. Xiao Ping Steam Pot
5. Kazu
6. Ohsumi
7. Noodle House Ken
8. Tai Wah Pork Noodle
9. Banoo*
10. The Tent*

While most of these held their positions this year, there were some changes (*), including La Braceria, an absolutely wonderful place that soared into the top spot. Also added to the list were Banoo and The Tent, two spots that admittedly still leave some things to be desired when I compare them to other Persian and Mongolian BBQ places that I've had outside of Singapore. But I just can't live without having these two genres of food from time to time, and these are the best renditions that I've been able to find locally, thus becoming frequently attended spots of mine.

Departing the list most notably was Aburiya, despite holding the top spot last year. Why such a tremendous tumble? On a visit to the Holland Village location about a month ago, I found that they had changed many of their side items (such as the tamago suppu) to be so excessively salty that I literally vomited my entire meal out on the way home. They said that they had changed the preparation methods a good number of months back, but that made some of these things so salty that it was literally inedible. Hopefully this was just a one-off instance, but I've been so scarred by that incident that I am not very motivated to go back and prove myself wrong.

Two other places have been removed from the list, such as Chuan, which was reincarnated in Geylang but unfortunately not in a good way. I've also dropped La Braceria's neighbor Cantina from the list due to some consistency issues I've encountered recently. The "Whispering Man's" Xiao Ping Steam Pot nearly got replaced by Jin Huang, but fortunately it was able to cling to its spot due to Jin Huang's recent demise.

I'm also throwing out one quick honorable mention here: L'Angelus. I'm holding off on any inclusion in the list since I have yet to go back to this place again to reverify what I had found. Add to that the fact that I usually don't like French food, so I'm not quite sure if I was just disillusioned that day or not. But then again, maybe the reason why I don't like French food is simply because I've only had mediocre versions of it before, and this might very well be the place that would change my mind.

Finally, here's a list of my Top 6 favorite places in the world to hit up for food:

1. Tokyo
2. Los Angeles
3. Saigon*
4. Spain
5. Morocco
6. Thailand
The list is generally unchanged from last year, although I expanded it to six slots instead of five with the addition of Saigon into the third spot (*). As pointed out before, these places are the ones that strike the most of an emotional chord with me. Given the heavy withdrawals that I experienced after I returned from Saigon, it was clear that it deserved a spot in my list. Too bad I couldn't say the same about the Southern Vietnamese city of Can Tho though.

Qiu Lian Ban Mee, 504 Bishan Street

Ban Mee

This was my first time having ban mian, which is some kind of a handmade noodle that apparently was quite the rage a long time ago. I did kinda like the doughy noodles and the hearty broth with the egg buried in it, but admittedly in the end, I didn't find enough in it to really get me super excited.

Then again, I'm told that these guys (stall 11 at 504 Bishan Street, but they seem to have other locations), who were one of the original proponents of this stuff, have changed their methods a bit since then, and that perhaps there are some others that I might find better.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Chai Chee's Pork Chop Noodles, Singapore

Pork Chop Noodle

Here's the pork chop noodle from Chai Chee Noodle Village. I liked this better than their bak chor mee, even if the noodles were a tad on the soft side and the pork a tad on the thin side. It all went down very quickly in the end, although the small portions did require me to go hunting down more food.

Murg Makhani on SQ's Redeye from Delhi

Murg Makhani

Here's the murg makhani chicken from SQ's lovely redeye flight from Delhi. I'm not sure why the starters on these Indian SQ meals have been so bland, but the bean sprout chaat was really quite a bore. Fortunately, the curry was creamy, and I suppose that some of the other items on the side worked out fine. They even served masala tea with this.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

India's Magic Masala Chips from Lay's

India's Magic Masala Chips from Lay's

Hey these were pretty darned good. One of my colleagues was hoarding a bunch of these bags this afternoon to bring home, and for good reason. These had such a great blend of spices and salt that I wolfed down an entire bag in seconds. Sure, it's not exactly the healthiest thing, but since this is really only available here, I'm glad that I grabbed a couple bags. (Anyone have any luck spotting this at Mustafa, by chance?)

Food off the Streets of Jaipur, India

Frying up something good

Here are some streetside scenes from Jaipur, where plenty of folks were selling fruits & vegetables, dry snacks in a bag, and of course, my favorite chaat. Now, with all of the notorious stories about foreigners not being accustomed to food in India, I admittedly was a bit hesitant to dive into this at first. Some guy puking right in front of one of these vendors wasn't exactly a solid endorsement either. But after passing so many chaat guys selling all sorts of goods, I finally came across a pani puri guy with quite a big customer base, and I capitulated to curiosity.

Sweet Puri

It was a bit different. This guy handed over a little metal dish, upon which he made a single pani puri (rather than the half dozen that I'm used to). It turned out to be pretty darned spicy. I liked it so much that I went back for another one, whereupon he recommended a "sweet puri" that was filled with a red liquid and yogurt that fortunately wasn't too sweet after all. Oh, the beauty of street food...it was only 10 Rupees (US$0.25).

Selling Dry Snacks

So did I ever get the "Delhi belly" after all of the food this past week? Fortunately not. Then again, my exposure was minimal, as we were stuck in corporate-sponsored hotel buffets for the past couple of days (one of which, at the Sheraton in Delhi, was pretty darned good though, especially the Western Indian section of the spread). I was pretty happy when I finally got a chance to eat some real streetside chaat, and rolling the dice this time fortunately worked out in my favor.

Friday, May 04, 2007

A Limca Soda from India

LimcaThis was a completely random drink that we got in some small town in Rajasthan. It tasted like it looked: basically a lemon lime flavor. Well, here's another item to throw into the annals of local drinks.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

My First Indian Pan

Making Pan

After eating at Haldiram's, my local colleagues spotted a pan (pronounced PON) stall across the way, and asked me if I wanted to try it. I had no idea what they were talking about, but when I saw this guy wrapping some stuff up in a leaf like Taiwanese betel nut, my curiosity was piqued.

This was much more elaborate than I would have thought: it took him at least five minutes to make one of these things, as it required him to open at least ten different containers of stuff that I had no clue about, and sprinkling or spreading the substance onto the leaf. After all of that, it got wrapped up into a mouthful of a thing that you shoved into your mouth all at once, preferably keeping it to one side so that you could slowly chew and extract out the taste (this one was OK to swallow as there was no betel nut put in). Basically, this was like those sugar coated fennel seeds that are effectively used as breath mints here, but in a much bigger package.

How did it taste? It was tremendously sweet, although my colleagues told me that they intentionally gave me the sweet version as a starter, and that one can get a sour, betel nut, or even a tobacco-infused version if you so wished. After a while, the sweetness gave way to that laundry detergent taste that I sensed the other day, as well as a bit of a mentholatum-like sensation. I wouldn't mind trying out some of those other flavors though if I get a chance.

Haldiram's, New Delhi

Chola Bhatura

This place was fantastic. It was also a nice reality check...it was as if all the Indian food I loved from back in Singapore were new and improved. The shell of the raj kachori was much lighter and more buttery than others that I've had, and the piping hot chola bhatura came with some extra tasty bean curry thing that totally knocked me off my feet, especially when paired with some of those onions and chili peppers. The gulab jamun seemed much "fresher" than others that I've had, if that means anything. And the pao baji that I saw across so many tables here today looked so impressive that I was salivating just by looking at it. This basically just blew everything that I knew out of the water.

Raj KachoriThis was actually a big chain, well-known for this kind of stuff, as well as for allegedly being "hygenic." It looked like a delicatessen or butcher shop, except that the glass casing held Indian sweets and snacks rather than meat and cheese. And in the central area, there were tables to chow down at, standing room only. I was told that while standing is not common in India, it is common for eating streetside chaat.

Anyway, I'll happily come back here again and again. And in that sense, I'm glad that it's a chain since it will make it easier to go to another one of these places. (BTW, apparently the reason why that pani puri that I got the other day was so boring was because it's a northern thing that should not be ordered in the south, so I was told.)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bukhara, ITC Maurya Sheraton, New Delhi

Murgh Malai Kebab

At long last! After years and years of crying over Bukhara's departure from Singapore, I made sure that the original location (Diplomatic Enclave, Sadar Patel Marg, 2611-2233) was going to be one of my first destinations to hit up in Delhi. Even before we got seated, everything about the place came screaming back to me; they used the same uniforms, tableware, and big wooden menus. The grill was behind a big glass pane, just like the spot they had at the old Clarke Quay, and they also gave those checkered bibs (although these had a little Sheraton logo on them). Yes - I was finally back!

Dal BukharaMore importantly, I got the two items that I came for: the murgh malai kebab and the famous dal bukhara. The former was even more smoky and tasty than I remembered it, while the latter similarly had an even bigger cube of ghee sitting in the middle of it than I could recall, thus creating a very rich yet mildly spicy concoction that was pure heaven (not to mention sleep-inducing in the car ride home!). They also gave a little salad of raw onion slices sprinkled with cumin or something that one was supposed to squeeze lime on top of and then mix with the green chutney.

Not all was perfect though. The papadum that they gave us while waiting at the bar were disappointingly stale, and the service was also a bit inattentive under the weight of the huge crowds here. Clearly their ranking in Restaurant magazine (refreshed for 2007 at number 37, by the way, and still the "Best in Asia") was a huge factor in that. I suppose that also allowed them to command much higher prices than I remembered them being in Singapore, with the murgh malai kebab clocking in at 1095 Rupees (US$26.70) and dal bukhara at 425 Rupees (US$10.40), thus adding up to a pretty hefty triple-digit tab for the two of us after adding in drinks and naan. Still, I'm definitely glad that I came, and certainly do hope that their huge popularity will motivate them to re-open their Singapore location again soon. If not, I'll just have to remember that the Delhi location doesn't take reservations after 8:30 PM, and if I'm forced to wait for a table as a result, then I hope that those papadums at the bar aren't stale again.

Side note: this has unintentionally become my fourth Bill Clinton restaurant.

An Indian Breakfast on Jet Airways

Breakfast on Jet Airways

Here was the Indian selection on this morning's Jet Airways flight to Delhi. I'm not sure what these were called, but they were basically little idli-sized pancakes made from noodles instead. I liked it a lot; it went very well with the tasty curry on the side.

A thin salty yogurt-based drink that was much thinner than lassiI was pretty impressed with Jet Airways too. The cabin crew was very engaging and attentive, and they continuously offered us drinks from start to finish, including a thin salty yogurt-based drink that was much thinner than lassi. Again, I don't know what the name of this drink was, but it reminded me a lot of Persian dough, except it was more salty than sour, and used more cilantro than mint. It was a nice welcome change from the usual orange juice, apple juice, or water selection.

Any gripes? Sure, legroom was very tight in economy class, such that it was hard to even read a magazine at a proper distance, let alone open up a laptop. I heard that Kingfisher Airlines is arguably even better than Jet Airways, so I also hope to try them one of these days, even if Jet came across as surprisingly classy (notice the proper napkin and utensils provided in that food tray). Reminder to self: don't forget that these domestic flights require you to attach a stamped Cabin Baggage tag to your carry-ons, which was something that I was not aware of until I was forced to go back to the security counter later.