Monday, August 27, 2007

Phan Viet Deli, Robinson Road

Pho Bo Special Beef Feast Combination

This is a new Vietnamese shop (112 Robinson Road #01-03, 9828-4608) that opened just a few doors down from Simply Sandwich and Munch. I grabbed their set lunch which featured piping hot pho in a decently sized bowl as well as some crispy deep fried appetizers.

Oddly though, the usual spread of bean sprouts and basil for the pho came in the most pathetic little cup I'd ever seen, amounting to no more than 15 sprouts (yes, there were so few that I could count them), most of them only half-size. There was no lime given, and the brisket was rather thick and tough. Most importantly, the broth was mildly sweet, which was enough to convince me to head just a bit further up the street next time a pho craving hits. Well, at least it's good to know that there is an alternative here.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Teochew Porridge from Lim Joo Hin

Teochew Porridge

Here's an updated photo of my Teochew porridge selection from Lim Joo Hin Eating House (715 Havelock Road). It's great that these guys are open late, as I needed some of that greasy pork (and salty brown beans) in my belly.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Prime Society, Dempsey Road

The Prime Society Inauguration Kit

Wow - I didn't even know that there were so many restaurants sitting back here! The only things that came to mind with Dempsey Road before were Samy's Curry plus some wine bar in the back that I'd never been to. That, and wooden furniture stores, which was actually what I came out here this afternoon for, only to discover a huge number of restaurants all lined up, most of them moderately upscale (and even an outlet of Harry's and Margarita's). The one that really caught my eye though was The Prime Society (10 Dempsey Road #01-20, 6474-7427), which ran with the tagline, "Dedicated to the Upper Cut." A steakhouse? Cool...I'm going in!

It was a surprisingly posh place, but they also dangerously flirted with being unnecesarily gimmicky, as evidenced by envelopes sitting on each placemat labeled "Inauguration Kit" (they contained silverware). Actually, I would have been fine with that and the mildly amusing placemats describing the various cuts of meat, but they also went a tad too far with verbiage like "Dear Esteemed Guests, by Decree of the Prime Society..." and "Districtus Commandments: Thou Shalt Not Consume Inferior Cuts..." and so on (they have a big long list of "commandments" at their website). Well, even if it were borderline tacky, I suppose that it did work. The interior decor was pretty darned nice, not to mention very fitting for the locale and cuisine.

Anyway, I grabbed the ribeye, which generally turned out favorably, despite being shockingly thin and mangled in appearance (I suppose that did allow them to serve it more quickly though). While certainly not Morton's, the meat was tender and tasty enough (it didn't even need that optional blue cheese butter on top). The piping hot fries were crispy yet light, and almost done to perfection.

Ribeye Steak

Oddly though, the center of the grilled tomato was cold, suggesting that perhaps it had just come out of refrigeration (?). And the steak was a bit overpriced at S$36 (US$24) for such a small portion. But by and large it was better than I thought it would be, so much that I wouldn't have any qualms about returning. I just have to remember to order more food next time (that was the bigger cut of steak that I got today too!).

Yakinuku Beef Bowl from Yoshinoya Singapore

Yakiniku Beef Bowl

Yoshinoya Singapore appears to be adding more of these beef bowl variations, this one being a yakiniku beef bowl. It encouragingly came out with a big sesame oil aroma. But perhaps not surprisingly, it ended up being on the sweet side, thus really being bulgogi, to be specific. In fact, it seemed like nothing more than their original beef bowl but dressed in that sweet sauce and with a few garnishes added. Oh well. I'll stick to the original instead.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Nyonya Bistro, VivoCity Food Republic

Deep Fried Nyonya Chang

No, I didn't mean to go on a deep-fried streak tonight. Those little hum chim beng things were not that filling, so I stopped by this other place that just so also happened to be serving some kind of a deep fried goodie (VivoCity Level 3, Stall 4). In this case, it was one of those Chinese leaf-wrapped sticky rice ball things (bak chang, is it?) with meat inside.

It turned out to be less greasy than I thought it would be, and the frying created a crunchy outside (a bit akin to yaki onigiri). Unfortunately, I wasn't a big fan of the stuffing inside as it was a bit sweet. The sambal sauce on the side didn't quite save it for me either, even if it was blazingly spicy.

I suppose that Peranakan food is still taking some time for me to get accustomed to. In principle this was a great idea though, and if the stuffing were just a little less sweet, then I'd be back again for another.

Hum Jin Pang, Maxwell Food Centre

Hum Jin Pang

Before tonight, I had no idea what this hum chim beng stuff was. But I had heard that this was some kind of fry-up-your-stuff place, which sounded rather interesting. So I stopped by Maxwell Food Centre tonight (Stall 28), expecting something like Foo Kee with a wide selection of random stuff to deep fry. Instead, I found a very spartan setup with only some dough (in a sweet or salty option) and a wok with hot oil in it. Well, it was seven pieces for S$1 (US$0.70), so I gave it a shot.

I couldn't quite figure out the process here since some guy in front of me seemed to help himself to frying stuff in the wok, but eventually I got my share. Since I usually don't like sweet food (nor red bean paste), I only got one of the sweet variety just to give it a try. This was much better than I thought it would be, as it wasn't too annoyingly sweet (nor loaded with red bean paste). But it did have some sesame on it and a mildly warm temperature that kinda made it like a local version of Krispy Kreme. OK, that worked for me.

And how about the salty ones? They tasted like, well, fried dough. While I didn't think that this was anything to go nuts over, I didn't mind it either as the spices and grease did remind me a bit of Taiwanese fried chicken (especially since it came in a brown paper bag that allowed me to walk down the street and eat at the same time). Anyone wanna start selling these as movie theater nibbles or stadium concessions?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wakashachiya Curry Udon, Singapore

Age-nasu Curry Udon

I read about this place over the weekend, but I can't remember which publication it was (presumably the Straits Times?). Tonight, I was passing by The Central on my way home, so I stopped by to check it out. Located next door to Marutama Ramen, these guys (6 Eu Tong Sen Street #03-92, 6534-9984) specialized in kare udon.

So that's exactly what I ordered, with the added option of some age-nasu on top. The thought of a curry-based broth never really struck home with me before, so I wasn't expecting much. But this turned out to be better than I thought it would be. The most striking part was the quality of the ingredients, ranging from the rich-tasting eggplant to the firm noodles and even the slices of leek inside. The curry, while looking like a pale gooey mess in the photo, was actually decently spicy (for a Japanese curry, anyway).

Well, again, it was the quality of the ingredients that I liked, and that will be the thing to bring me back. I also want to try the hitsu-mabushi, which was some kind of a unagi don-like thing from Nagoya that one is supposed to split into four parts to make stuff like an ochazuke-derivant of it. Sounds interesting.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Singapore Long John Silver's "Skin On"

Classic Skin-On Fish Meal 2 with Clam Chowder (the skin is on the other side of the fish, in case you are wondering)

I never really ate at Long John Silver's in the US (there were never really any near me when I grew up on the West Coast), but I never really liked the ones in Singapore either. This was not only since I found the batter to be unattractively rock hard, but also since they didn't provide any vinegar.

So it was interesting when I saw the fine print of their recent "skin-on" promotion over here; these "authentic British fish & chips [with] skin-on for fuller flavour" were "served with tantalizing vinegary LJS fish & chip sauce." Was that code for malt vinegar? It was. Yayy!! Oddly, my server didn't even give it to me at first, and even when I asked for it, she gave me a funny look and asked, "You want the sauce??"

Well, despite the long overdue presence of vinegar, this wasn't anything that I'd go back for. The batter was still just as rock-hard, and the clam chowder was nearly at room temperature. I couldn't really taste the difference of the "skin-on" fish either, although it's not like I eat at Long John Silver's enough to make a comparison to the usual. Oh well!

Five Star Hainanese Chicken Rice

Kampong Chicken Rice

These guys are a few doors down from Boon Tong Kee on River Valley (417 River Valley Road, 6235-6760, with other locations including Serangoon Garden Way and East Coast Road). They seem to differentiate themselves from their (perhaps) better-known neighbor with the tagline, "the one & only original Kampong Chicken Rice," which I believe means that they don't use ranch-raised chickens.

To be honest, I had a bit of trouble telling the difference between that and mass-produced chicken though. Not surprisingly, the meat was a bit tougher, but I really couldn't tell if there were much of a difference in taste, especially since that mildly sweet sauce that they doused all over it really just overpowered whatever taste there was in the meat to begin with.

Well, it still tasted good when paired with the ground ginger, and the rice was fluffy. And I kinda liked some of the non-chicken rice things that they had on the menu, such as some ground pork-covered tofu thing. Perhaps more importantly, I liked it better than Boon Tong Kee...the River Valley outlet, anyway. I'm normally not one to pick on ambience, but that place is just too weird for me with its pyramid-shaped rice, green paper-wrapped utensils, and Ferrero Rocher appetizer (they give it to you at the beginning of the meal!). It's almost as if they were trying so hard to impress that they accidentally took the exit into Tacky-land.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Chameleon (Sorakyu), Robertson Walk

Mentaiko Potato

One wouldn't have thought this (Robertson Walk #01-17, 6238-7827) to be a Japanese place when glancing at the multi-colored signboard and name. But upon closer inspection, one finds that this place is also called Sorakyu, specializing in shochu, and having quite an extensive menu of izakaya-fare.

Most of our usual favorites worked out pretty well. Sure, there were some small oddities like the potato mentaiko being based on sliced rather than mashed potatoes (and the yaki onigiri being completely naked without even a pinch of salt or soy sauce in it), but it all went down the same. I'll easily come back again (gotta love the fragrant chili oil and cheese in the maguro rayu-ae...mmm). It just gets a bit pricey when each little dish and drink adds up.

The Marmalade Pantry...in Holland Village

The Ultimate Beef Burger

Whoa - The Marmalade Pantry has opened a new shop in Holland Village (170 Lorong Liput, 6469-8016), next door to Aburiya, of all places. And the best part about it was there that were no ridiculous lines (today, anyway...we found out that it was only their fourth day of operation).

I grabbed their so-called Ultimate Beef Burger, which interestingly featured char-grilled cherry tomatoes and a huge Eddie Murphy Wonder Bread patty (and yes, the juice from the tomatoes did squirt out into a bit of a mess on the plate). It was a bit more upscale than my idea of a great (read: simple) burger, but I suppose that it did the job.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mo Far Kor, sans Guy on Front

Mo Far Kor

Here is a different bottle of that mo far kor stuff, but unfortunately still without that elusive guy on the front. And this one was much saltier (i.e., less candy-like) than that other one that I got. Still, having a smaller container allowed it easy to finish the entire thing in just a couple minutes.

Mixing an Egg into my Chelo Kebab

Chelo Kebab Soltani with Egg

I love Persian food, so I try to head to places like Banoo as much as I can. And I always ask for raw onions to go with my koobideh (it's just not the same without it). But apparently there was another ingredient that I was missing out on: an egg. "An egg?," I asked. Yup - I was told that after mixing the butter into the rice, one then mixes a raw egg yolk in too. Cool! This I had to try.

While it did add a mild degree of soothingness to it all, I think I actually prefer to have my rice without it. Why? The egg tended to mask the taste of the butter, one of the best parts of eating the rice (evil grin). Still, that was good to try, and definitely wasn't anything that I minded. Perhaps it'd be healthier if I used the egg yolk *instead* of the butter.

Separately, Banoo is providing a huge cup of some kind of chutney-like thing on the side by default now. I say chutney-like because its minty and mildly sour taste was reminiscient of Indian chutneys. But this one also had a heavy dose of chili peppers mixed in (perhaps to appeal to local palates?), and actually worked really well. Normally I'd prefer to stick to my raw onions, but this is a good substitute if I don't want to go home with Dragon Breath.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mo Far Kor (what did you call me?)

Mo Far Kor

This sh*t is awesome. While they may not look like much physically, these thin strips of dried papaya coated in sugar are tangy little pieces of fun. I guess that they are kinda like the local version of SweeTarts, although of course based on real fruit, and somehow with a bit of salt (not in a distracting way though).

This stuff used to be sold in a funky container featuring some dude on the front, but I haven't been able to find any of those anymore (did they go away?). At least it still has the amusing name. These were so addictive that I cleared half of the bottle before I had to force myself to stop.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Vindaloo from Muthu's Curry

Vindaloo

Here's a serving of vindaloo from Muthu's Curry. I couldn't quite make heads or tails of this one though. Yes, it was spicy, but for some reason, it just wasn't as emotionally satisfying as others that I can recall. Perhaps it was the fact that I didn't have any beer in my belly beforehand (sound like White Castle?). Either that, or my perception of vindaloo has just been so corrupted by the English interpretation of it that I wouldn't even like the real thing.

Speaking of which, we noticed on our way out that their next door neighbor (just before reaching Gayatri) specialized in Goan food. So we probably should have headed there to get what would allegedly be the real deal. Well, maybe next time.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Let's Clap, Rail Mall

Would you like a little bit of cod with that cilantro?

I presume that this place's odd name was a play on "Let's Crab," seeing that it was serving local seafood. Anyway, this was just a random selection from up at Rail Mall (396 Upper Bukit Timah Road, 6468-4453). They're definitely not shy with cilantro, which is a good thing in my books. There was nothing to complain about, and I suppose that I wouldn't resist if we happened to be in the neighborhood again. Just give me more of that cilantro.

Bangkok Jam, Great World City

Goong Chae Nam Jim

This stylishly decorated place (1 Kim Seng Promenade #02-26, 6732-4523) looked half-promising from its doorway and menu. I was particularly intrigued by the goong chae nam jim, so we went on in. Described as a "Japanese inspired sashimi of tiger prawns in sour and spicy nam jim dressing," this dish sounded like something we had in Krabi a number of years back. While the greyish color of the raw shrimp wasn't exactly the beautifully translucent property of amaebi sushi, it was still pretty tasty. Then again, I suppose that if you use that magical Thai combination of lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, and chili peppers, anything will taste good.

Kao soi was also available here. I was a bit surprised to find that they used flat mee pok-like noodles in it, but I suppose that it still worked, especially with the standard issue garnishes assisting. Still, this wasn't quite the rendition that I was hoping for. I never thought that I would say this, but I would rather go to Nooch for kao soi instead.

While this place wasn't as promising as I thought it would be, at least it was much cheaper than that Patara place. And I'd still head back to check out that peculiar-sounding Thai burger if it happens to be convenient that day. Interestingly, they also had a "warm spinach salad with crispy bacon" and "Mum's recipe of Philadelphia cheese cake" on the menu...both classic Thai dishes, eh?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Kebab Station, Parkway Parade

Lamb Kebab Roll

After running a couple of rather tiring errands at Parkway Parade, we needed a breather and stopped at this kiosk outside (80 Marine Parade #01-K11, with another location opposite the McDonald's on the ECP, 9697-8227). Given my frustration with finding post-drinking kebabs in Singapore, I was eager to see if this place could produce anything decent. (Actually, I don't even know if these guys are open late or not, but at least it adds to the few kebab shops around.)

It was good to see them with two big rotating spits, as well as them making the bread to order. And the two sauces that they squeezed into this thing did help facilitate the ingestion process. But in the end, this was a bit too small and spartan for my liking...I guess I still yearn for livelier ones like those commonly sold in Europe.

Yong Kee Famous Fish Ball Noodle

Fishball Mee Pok

Not completely full from those baozi, we grabbed a bowl of fishball noodle from this other stall (6 Jalan Bukit Merah #01-121). It looked disappointingly dull when the thing first arrived, and it even featured one of those annoyingly useless leaves of lettuce as a garnish. But never judge a book by its cover, right?

Right. This thing actually turned out to be pretty darned good. Giving it a stir from the bottom unveiled all of the chili sauce and bits of fried pork lard hiding at the bottom. Perhaps more importantly, the noodles here were nearly perfect, being firm and full of character. We liked it so much that we went back for a second bowl.

Actually, there was a bit of vinegar in this thing too, so it's pretty clear why I liked it: it's got the same vinegar, fried pork lard, and mee pok noodles that I love about Tai Wah's bak chor mee. Mmm...

Bao Zai, ABC Brickworks Market & Food Centre

The missing ones on the right went right into our bellies

We were told that this Chinese baozi shop was one of the best places at this hawker center (6 Jalan Bukit Merah #01-135), and it wasn't hard to find given the long line this morning. Fortunately, the wait was rather entertaining as we watched the three-man operation roll the dough, add the meat stuffing, and then steam away in a huge stackable contraption. They had quite a few varieties available, including tiny little chashu bao, sweet red bean paste-filled ones, and even some shumai on the side. It looked promising indeed.

The basic meat (pork?)-based bun didn't necessarily strike me as anything special, but we had better luck with the chashu bao, whose mildly sweet stuffing gave much more of a rich flavorful kick. The piping hot dough was refreshing, and the tiny racquetball-sized buns were nicely bite-sized too.

Actually, the line forming at this stall may not have all been due to heavy demand. The lady in the front was doing double-duty in both sales and production, so she had to stop taking orders every few minutes to help the rest of the team assemble the goods, thus holding everyone up. Well, I may not necessarily miss this place, but the chashu bao was enjoyable, and was one of the better ones that I've had.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Annapoorna Restaurant, Syed Alwi Road

Pav Baji

This was just another of the many Indian vegetarian spots across from Mustafa (101 Syed Alwi Road, 6291-4963). I found this one to be a bit dull compared to some of their competitors though. For instance, while the pav baji was mildly spicy, it simply didn't have that fresh kick that I was hoping for (interestingly, they featured nuts in this thing too). Well, this was just meant to be a quick and easy meal, and it was better than waiting in line at the place next door. But I'll probably try hitting up their neighbors next time.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Indian Grill, Tanglin Shopping Centre

Dal, vegetable of the day, and naan

This is the fancy non-vegetarian place that displaced Bombay Woodlands' old spot (19 Tanglin Road #B1-01, 6235-2712). There was quite an extensive menu, but I went straight for the All You Can Eat option for S$35 (US$23), in which they served you various kebabs (including a vegetarian option if you so chose) that all registered fine with me. They also seemed quite proud of their dal, which didn't seem as rich and spicy as Bukhara's masterpiece, but definitely still worked (it reminded me a bit of Flavors of India).

Actually, the thing that probably wow-ed me the most was the naan, something that I initially refused since I'm not a huge fan of bread. But when I took a bite, I found it to be much lighter (and crispy in some of the thinner parts) that I really enjoyed it. The extra-peppery shorba soup produced quite a surprising bit of heat too. Yes, these guys were quite different from Bombay Woodlands (and it was interesting to hear a lot of people coming in tonight asking where Bombay Woodlands went), but I liked it.

Thums UpAnd to close this with another epilogue of local drinks, they did offer an Indian soda called Thums Up here, complete in the original glass bottle. I heard that it had a reputation for tasting like betel nut, but I really couldn't detect anything, as it just tasted like a normal cola.

Charm Bibimbab & Gimbab, Icon Village

Cheese Gimbab

At long last...one of the two Korean shops at Icon Village (12 Gopeng Street #01-26) has finally opened. Actually, they did have a bit of a soft launch last week, when they gave away a limited number of free sets of food (something I didn't even realize until the guy refused my money). But surely enough, word spread quickly, and by the end of the week, the line wrapped practically all the way around the corner. Today, they were back to charging money (albeit giving away tons of coupons), and I was able to go right to the front of the line.

I finally grabbed the thing that I wanted to get last week but did not have the patience to wait in line for: the cheese gimbab, which was pretty much a Korean version of futomaki. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a letdown. When I heard the word "cheese," for some reason, I immediately thought of a tasty cheese browned on a hotplate and shoved inside. So I was a bit bummed when I saw them taking one of those individually wrapped Kraft Singles-like things and rolling it up, as-is. Without jumping to conclusions, I hoped that maybe there were other pieces in here that could save this, be it some rockin' form of kimchi, or maybe even the use of some of that salty heavily sesame oil-drenched Korean seaweed on the outside. But in the end, this was rather mild, and not necessarily anything to really excite me.

Still, it was healthy, and I guess that was their angle from the beginning; they were billed as Korean Traditional Welbing Food ("welbing" being Korean for "well-being"). Indeed, the mild taste kinda reminded me of that Thunder Tea Rice stuff, which I actually rather like. So despite the cheese-letdown today, I'm still coming back to try the beef and tuna options. It's pretty darned cheap with all of those coupons that they are handing out too.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Revisiting Waraku

Asupara Maki

I haven't been back to Waraku ever since that disappointing shabu shabu special that they had a while back. Well, we happened to be in the neighborhood today, so needing a quick cheap meal, we stopped in.

Demigurasu HanbaaguIt was pretty much what I expected; while much better than the last time we were here, it still wasn't anything to go nuts over. Witness the asupara maki, which looked decent at a quick glance, but I wish the bacon were more evenly scorched (interestingly, the asparagus was sliced longitudinally and bundled together). I also ordered demigurasu hanbaagu from their list of specials, which again wasn't anything I'd go nuts over, although admittedly it was delicate enough for me to still inhale pretty quickly.

So it was pretty similar to my first go at this place a couple years ago: not mindblowing enough to go crazy for, but (in many cases) bearable enough to eat. At least it was cheap.