Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Renovated Lounge at Changi T2

Sushi at Changi T2's new SATS Premier Lounge

Whoa - looks like the SATS lounge at Changi Airport's Terminal 2 has undergone a renovation. The food spread is a lot bigger now, and tonight they even featured chicken rice of all things. I grabbed some sushi and cold udon - none of which was anything to get excited about taste-wise but nonetheless a refreshing thing to see available. I guess with all of the new lounges that went up over in T3, they had to take this one up a notch too.

Saizeriya, Liang Court, Singapore

Tarako Supa

This wasn't meant to be a streak of Liang Court places. But this place was right across the way from Trung Nguyen, claiming to be one of the most popular Italian chains in Japan, so I was curious enough to come by today (177 River Valley Road #02-22, 6337-8948).

Now, this was really a Japanese family restaurant looking a bit like Denny's with its plastic booths, so don't come expecting a proper Italian place. But in line with that, I made sure to order one of those quintessential Japanese pasta dishes: supagetti tarako, which worked for me with its firm noodles and mildly spicy roe. Unfortunately not everything was so rosy: a separate ham spaghetti dish was such a bore that it reminded me of stuff that one cooked back in college.

I'll come back though. They had a lot of other things on the menu that I'm curious about, including the meat doria, which is apparently some kind of cheese-covered rice thing from Yokohama. And the prices were pretty darned cheap here, with pasta dishes at around S$7 (US$5) each. Besides, I kinda liked that house-branded Thousand Island dressing that they covered their side salads with.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Shark Jelly at Teochew Cuisine Restaurant

Teochew Shark Jelly

Here's something I'd never tried before: a cold platter of shark jelly from the Teochew Cuisine Restaurant. As best as I could make out, this was basically bits of shark meat sitting in a mildly sweet gelatin. It sounded and looked weird, but I didn't mind it that much. In fact, this platter also came with slices of some kind of pork jelly too, which was kinda like headcheese except you got a vinegary ginger dip to go with it. Is this kind of stuff common in Teochew cuisine?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Trung Nguyen Has Opened in Singapore

Iced Legendee Coffee with Milk

No, I'm not a coffee drinker. But when I noticed that a Trung Nguyen outlet opened up at Liang Court, I had to come by (177 River Valley Road #02-34, 6837-3314), especially if they had weasel coffee available. I was surprised that they didn't present you with those little Vietnamese percolators, but I suppose that pre-mixing it behind the counter into these glasses was fitting when the seating area was decked out in comfy velvety seats.

I only found out later that their weasel coffee - called Legendee rather than ca phe chon - was processed in a lab rather than by an actual weasel. Well, I've only had it once before, so I really wouldn't know what a proper brew is supposed to taste like, but the flavor was very deep...with almost a cigar-like finish to it. At nearly S$11 (US$7.50) a glass, it's good that I can't take much caffeine or else this would become a rather expensive addiction.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Donut Factory, Singapore

From front: Spicy Cheese, Dark Choccocino, and Glazed Donuts

When this place first opened at Raffles City Shopping Centre (250 North Bridge Road #B1-61), the line was so ridiculously long that I immediately walked away. Now - almost two years later - the hype finally died down such that we were able to get a doughnut without waiting. Of course, the big burning question on my mind was whether this was so good that it was worth waiting hours for. We grabbed a few quick ones, ranging from a simple glazed donut to a peculiar spicy cheese one, to find out.

The first thing that struck me upon biting into one was that it was very similar to local bread, which is more soft and airy than its Western counterpart. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing as its lightness carried less guilt with it, but I guess I'm more accustomed to heavier doughnuts. I suppose that I could understand why people were waiting hours for this stuff before, especially in the absence of Krispy Kreme. But I'll probably stick to doughnuts from back home.

Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant, Singapore

Clockwise from top: Fresh Pork Filling Steamed Bun, King Size Crab Roe Steamed Soup Bun, and Dried Scallop with Shredded Egg Soup

Remember that Bourdain episode where he drank soup through a straw out of a steamed bun in Shanghai? That restaurant has popped up at Singapore's Bugis Junction (200 Victoria Street, #02-53, 6835-7577), and of course featured that awkward-looking straw thing - more properly known as the King Size Crab Roe Steamed Soup Bun. The crab roe's overtones were very pronounced, creating a light yet savory broth that actually wasn't too hot when slurped through that straw.

We also got a number of other items, ranging from the requisite xiao long bao to a few other soups and even some steamed buns stuffed with vegetables. They all fared fine, but as with most Shanghainese food, they were very light in taste - so light that it wasn't enough for me to want to come back...especially since they don't take American Express. Sure, I'll eat here again if I happen to be in the vicinity, but that doesn't happen very often.

Still Trying to Figure Out Kung Fu Tea

Kung Fu Tea

No matter how many times I read up on it beforehand, I know that I keep messing up the procedure on this thing. This was of course Kung Fu Tea, a complex Teochew process of creating a proper brew. We're not talking about a simple Lipton tea bag here...this ritual involves all sorts of nuances like pouring hot water over the little cups, intentionally overflowing the miniature teapot to get rid of the bubbles, and even sniffing the leaves at the end for extra aroma. I kept fumbling along, unsure of how much of the loose leaf tea to use, not knowing how strong to make it nor when to drain it, and scalding my fingers on the hot cups in the process.

Well, even if I messed it up, these concentrated little doses did provide a welcome palate cleansing against a bowl of pork-based bak kut teh. I probably just need to watch a master do it in person rather than just reading about the procedure. Note to self: go easy on the tea next time. Clearing a few of these little kettles on my own this morning injected so much tea into my caffeine-sensitive system that my heart is ready to jump out of my ribcage right now (why won't my leg stop shaking??).

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Natto and Blue Cheese on Baguette

Natto Buru Chizu

This was on the list of specials this month at Ichigo: natto mixed with blue cheese that you spread on toasted slices of baguette. Talk about combining two of forms of fermentation into one for some extra stank! Fortunately, I do eat natto, so I ingested this easily. But natto detractors can stay away as it definitely tasted more of natto than of blue cheese.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Moomba Tuckshop, Battery Road

Ham & Swiss Emmenthal Cheese Sandwich

Cool. I'd known about the Moomba for ages but never bothered to go in as I figured that its chi-chi Australian fare would be too fancy for my taste. But when I heard that they had opened a small sandwich shop at the Bank of China building (4 Battery Road #B1-01, 6536-5235), I rushed on over to check it out, especially since neighboring Post Express Deli had shut down.

I liked it. My ham and cheese sandwich tasted like it looked: a bit stingy on the portions but consisting of enough quality ingredients for me to consider this to be one of the better sandwich shops around Singapore (and no, that's not moldy bread by the way - it was tinted green with spinach). Like most places here though, they toast your sandwich by default, so next time I'll have to remember to tell them not to do so...and maybe get a big salad on the side while I'm at it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hyang-to-gol Korean Restaurant, Singapore

Wooseol-Gooi

This Korean place at the Amara Hotel has been around for quite a while (165 Tanjong Pagar Road Level 2, 6220-7160), but I never quite got around to coming here until a few of us came here for lunch today. I wasn't expecting much but instead was satisfied enough that I decided to come back here again for dinner, breaking away from the lunch specials and going for a full Korean BBQ.

We got our usual favorites, all of which fared fine...and the fact that they provided the sesame oil with salt concoction here scored bonus points with me. It was a bit pricey, but the service was also lightning fast. With such a broad selection of meat available here, I'll have no qualms about coming back.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Osaka's Botejyu at Singapore's Liang Court

Pork Okonomiyaki

It looks like Botejyu from Osaka has finally opened at Liang Court (177 River Valley Road #02-32, 6338-8557). And interestingly, they were trying to promote the use of the nickname "okos" in place of okonomiyaki. It was not a DIY setup, which meant not only a long wait for orders to come from the central kitchen, but also that there were no tableside buckets of dark sauce nor mayo bottles to squeeze on yourself. Fortunately, my food still turned out to be the tasty grease bomb that it should have been, but don't come here if you're in a rush as it took nearly 30 minutes for my food to arrive on this busy evening.

Chwee Kueh and Michael Jackson

Chwee Kueh

Here's an updated photo of the chwee kueh from Jian Bo Shui Kueh, which is now at stall #02-05 in the new Tiong Bahru market. I can't believe how cheap this stuff was - a big order of ten of these things ran only S$2.50 (US$1.70). There's a lot of oil oozing out of the stuff though.

From front: Michael Jackson and Grass JellyOh - and here was that amusingly-named "Michael Jackson" drink, otherwise known as hei bai: literally "black white." It was basically a mix of white soy bean milk with strands of a black gelatin called grass jelly. It tasted fine - it was just a mildly sweet and milky drink. But one can't help but chuckle a bit at the name of this thing; I'd probably order another one on the basis of the name alone.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fishball Noodle - The Dry Version

Fishball Noodle - Dry Mee Pok

Here's a bowl of fishball noodle, but the dry version. I think I'll stick to my usual soup version next time though. Not that there was anything wrong with this per se, but the mee pok noodles that I requested just conjured up thoughts (and hence comparisons) to Tai Wah's bak chor mee, to which this light-tasting bowl could not compare. I'll stick to the soup bee hoon version from these guys.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Congee from Yoshinoya Singapore

Congee Set

This was the congee set from Yoshinoya Singapore's tea time menu. While I know better than to deviate from the basic beef bowl at any Yoshinoya outside of Japan, I figured that this still consisted of the same basic rice and beef components, except that it was sludgier. I was wrong; this was pretty bland and nasty. I don't know why - maybe the gruel covered up the fragrance of the shop's beef or something, but next time I'll go back to the normal bowl with discrete grains of rice.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Refocusing Myself on a Big Mac

Big Mac and Fries

Oh I needed this. It was nothing more than a standard-issue Big Mac, but after having been slightly traumatized by that Chicken Majaraja Mac in India earlier this week, I needed to remind myself of how good the beef, cheese, and minced onions of a normal Big Mac tasted. When did they remove the Quarter Pounder from the McDonald's Singapore menu though?

India Epilogue: Packaged Dal Bukhara

Dal Bukhara

Sweet. I had heard for ages that Bukhara sold its famous daal in a can in India, but I was never able to find it. With the help of one of our clients, I finally got some at a random market last night...and it turned out that was actually in these easy-to-reheat packets instead. It tasted just like the real thing with its silky smooth creamy spiciness...and I didn't even put that little cube of ghee in the middle. Note to self: I spotted some at the airport this morning too, so just pick up a couple of packets on the way out next time.

An Indian Breakfast on SQ Business Class

Local vegetable stew with neer dosa, vadai and sambhar

Ugh. Normally I love in-flight Indian meals, but this one was didn't stand up too well in the on-board heaters and ended up being a bit stiff and overdone. This was also on a plane fitted with of the old school non-VOD seats - I hope these get replaced soon.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Barbeque Nation, India

Kebabs

The name of this nationwide chain may not sound very Indian. Nor does its tagline of "The World on a Grill" lend much belief in the idea that this is local. But in between the Korean BBQ-like pit in the middle of each table and the mini churrasco-like skewers were an assortment of smoky aromatic Indian kebabs, all of which kept coming out until you lowered this little flag on your table to signal to stop. Cool.

And therein lay the problem. I liked the kebabs so much that we kept them coming, only to realize later that these were only starters! I was nearly full when the attention then switched to the main courses laid out in a buffet spread. Well, I wasn't really in the mood for too much curry and rice anyway, so it was good to have loaded up on the kebabs instead. But I'll pace myself a bit better next time.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Checking Out McDonald's India

Chicken Maharaja Mac

Going to global fast food chains while on the road is not a typical thing for me. But in India, McDonald's was a destination. Why? Well, they don't serve beef, and I wanted to see what McDonald's would be like as a result.

Just as I had heard, the menu was divided into a green menu that featured vegetarian items and a red menu that featured fish and chicken. Nope, there was no Big Mac nor Quarter Pounder, but there was a Chicken Maharaja Mac, which was effectively a Big Mac but featured a couple of minced chicken patties. I can only assume that the pinkish hue of the meat came from the spices used, but this just didn't do it for me.

So I then veered toward the vegetarian menu, opting for what was amusingly named the Veg Surprise. It was a surprise all right - surprisingly small. It was pretty much the vegetarian equivalent of the basic hamburger at McDonald's (i.e., the cheap one that goes into Happy Meals). Taste-wise, I was hoping that perhaps it would have the explosive bang of wada pav, but instead this was dry and lifeless. Well, at least I satiated my curiosity about McDonald's India. I won't be going back though, especially when there is so much street food around instead.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Veda Restaurant, New Delhi

Spinach Hara Kebab - I thinkThe photo here may seem very puzzling given that it looks like just a few scraps of leftover salad on a plate. But these little things brought so much joy to my mouth that I had to take a photo, even if the restaurant was so dimly lit that it made the shot look horrible.

See, this wasn't a salad. These were leaves of spinach individually fried into crunchy leaves and topped with yogurt and tamarind to effectively make this a chaat of sorts. This was one of the signature dishes of Veda (H 27, Outer Circle, Connaught Circus, 41513535), a North Indian place whose chef was behind a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York.

Other items that we got were pleasantly satisfying too, including some little deep fried fish filets as well as crispy thin slivers of seasoned ladyfingers, among others. Granted, the daal still couldn't beat Bukhara's, but this place was good enough that I'd easily come back again.

Monday, November 03, 2008

An Indian Meal on the New SQ Business Class

Lucknowi kofta curry, diwani handi, corn kadhi and tomato pulao

Cool. After having flown on planes with the old SQ seats last month, I finally got one of the 777-300ER's that had been outfitted with the new seats this time. So I took advantage of this opportunity to burn 50,000 miles on a one-way upgrade into the new business class...yes, the one where the seat was so wide that it looked like you could almost fit two people into it.

Only today did I realize why it was so wide: length-wise you couldn't really extend your legs into a flat position by pointing forward. Instead, you had to sit diagonally, which effectively made this a herringbone layout except that it didn't feel as claustrophobic as Air Canada's Executive First Suite. But since you could orient yourself toward the front of the plane when sitting up straight, you didn't have to take off and land in a sideways position. It was the best of both worlds, I suppose. (This may sound rather silly, but the lavatories were also finally the way a bathroom should be, with a deep sink, automatic faucets, and pedal-operated wastebins.)

And how about the food? Tonight's main course featured a creation from Sanjeev Kapoor, who is apparently a celebrity chef from Mumbai. Normally I don't like paneer, but this was tasty enough that I gobbled it up with ease. It still suffered from the same problem that I have with Indian food in economy class though: not enough rice!