Sunday, January 31, 2010

Home's Favourite Garlic Cookies

Garlic Cookies

These cookies have nothing to do with the Korean garlic restaurant from last night. But when one sees a sign at a shopping center touting "garlic cookies," one can't help but be intrigued.

It turned out that these were from a local shop selling a bunch of treats before the Lunar New Year holidays. In that sense, these were kinda like kueh bangkit, except with roasted garlic inside. That explains why it was hard to eat only one.

...at least, for me. This wasn't exactly a big hit at a friend's barbeque tonight. The garlic taste was admittedly stronger than I thought it would be at first, but somehow I still liked these mildly crunchy things enough to eat most of that top layer of cookies in the tin.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Korea's Mad for Garlic in Singapore

Suicide Rice

When we first saw the menu for this place a month or two ago (3 Temasek Boulevard #01-039, 6333-1507), it didn't really get us too excited. Indeed, we nearly forgot about it until reading about it in a few writeups recently. And since I needed to come down to Suntec City Mall tonight anyway, I figured that I'd give it a try, if anything just for the novelty of eating at a faux-Italian garlic-centered chain restaurant from Korea.

I grabbed two dishes with the most outrageous names: the Dracula Killer and the Suicide Rice. The former was basically like the Stinking Rose's bagna calda, except that the garlic sat in an escargot dish. The latter was basically spicy fried rice with both garlic sauteed into the rice as well as garlic chips to top it off. It was tasty, even if it wasn't as spicy as the three chili pepper icon on the menu made it out to be.

Normally I'm not huge on dishes where excessive amounts of garlic overpower the taste of the food itself. But this was a garlic-themed restaurant after all, and I liked it more than I thought I would. Granted, I still prefer the more balanced taste of Ninniku-ya in Japan, but I'll probably come in to try the other stuff if I'm in the neighborhood again.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Wuhan Steamboat City, The Central

Single Serving Hot Pot

That was bizarre...and completely unplanned. I was passing through the Central tonight when I noticed that a new restaurant had opened up at the top, and a mainland Chinese one at that (6 Eu Tong Sen Street #04-05, 6493-6916). It looked pretty plasticky from the outside, but a couple of the spicy noodle dishes on the menu seemed fitting after a number of post-work beers tonight, and I was drawn in.

Little did I know that they weren't actually serving anything on the menu. It was only after I sat down that I realized there was no choice but to order the hot pot, so out came a little single serving pot for me. And they kept bringing me all sorts of little cooked dishes that I didn't order; it was only after a few rounds of trying to send those back did I realize that this was all a buffet. I guess that's why they had that conveyor belt system too.

Well, taste-wise it just kinda blurred together with any other hot pot place...at least, one that emphasizes quantity over quality (I kinda liked how the broth wasn't salty though - it made it easier to control one's sodium intake through the dipping sauces instead). I won't exactly come running back here, although I am still kinda curious about those noodles that I saw on the menu. Apparently those are only available at their other branch at Chinatown Point.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Durian Lingers, Bukit Timah Road

D24 Durian

That was unexpected. We were originally stopping by the Royal Ville strip mall to get some pasta as a quick afternoon snack when we noticed that a durian shop had plopped right in the middle of it all (833 Bukit Timah Road #01-08). In this neighborhood, it was clearly meant to be more upscale than on the seedy streets of Geylang...with the air conditioning and clean seating area being testament to that. Interesting concept.

But it was still a durian shop at the end of the day, which meant a bucket near your feet for waste, exposed florescent tubes overhead, and cheapo boxes of Kleenex and water. It's not like I would really expect much more than that when eating this stuff (and I have to admit that the fruit's custardy taste is growing on me). But I do wonder how the residents and neighboring restaurants feel about the smell emanating from here.

Menemen from Anatolia Turkish Restaurant

Menemen

That was surprisingly satisfying. I wasn't intending to get Turkish food again, but when I was poking around yesterday for lahmacun, I found out that these guys opened at 8 AM. So I hopped on down to Far East Plaza this morning in hopes of grabbing some menemen to kick start the day (yes, I regret not having gotten this in Turkey itself and do find it a bit odd that I'm trying this in Singapore instead).

I liked this thing so much that I wolfed it up in seconds. The piping hot egg was complimented by the tangy taste of the tomato and a little bite from the chili peppers, all to be mopped up by some toasty hot (and fragrantly sesame-adorned) pide bread. I never really realized it until I read about it online, but it really is a bit like getting huevos rancheros from back home.

Yes, I'll definitely come back for breakfast again, although it turned out Anatolia wasn't really open 8 AM like their website said. When I got there at 9:30, they were still setting up and wouldn't be ready for another hour. They only obliged when I told them that all I wanted was menemen. I'm not sure if they'll do the same next time, so it might be safer to go a bit later in the morning.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cappadocia Cafe Restaurant, Robertson Walk

Musakka

Was it just me, or was anyone else salivating during this week's episode of No Reservations when they were wolfing down that lahmacun? What particularly irked me was the fact that I was in Istanbul last month and didn't even spend enough time there to try this stuff. So I made my way down to Cappadocia today (11 Unity Street #01-12, 6732-2411) in hopes that I could get something half-decently close here in Singapore.

Lahmacun

Well, I don't really have a basis for comparison, but I liked it. This savory paper thin thing was refreshing and satisfying. For some reason they didn't provide lemon or parsley like Bourdain got in Turkey (and this round thing was cut it up into slices like a pizza rather than being a single oval-shaped item to be rolled up), but it still worked for me. The musakka up at the top also satiated my baked eggplant cravings from the other day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Daikokuya Ramen Dining, Singapore

Kogashi Miso Ramen

Whoa - another ramen shop has opened in Singapore, this time at Paragon (290 Orchard Road #B1-47, 6737-5416), and today was only their fifth day open. What was perhaps even more surprising was the fact that they had kogashi ramen listed on their menu. Hmm...if Ippudo Singapore didn't feature it yet, could these guys create something that was at least decently close to Gogyo? I hoped that they could, but something inside me told me not to get my hopes up.

My gut was right. This was a far cry from Gogyo's magically aromatic bowl of "drinking yakiniku" and all of its carbon-scorched goodness, but instead was more like Menya Shinchan where a bit of roasted garlic oil was merely drizzled on top. We were naturally pretty bummed as a result (nor did we really care for the thick noodles in the Sapporo ramen either).

Well, if they didn't bill it as kogashi ramen, then I probably would have liked the rich broth on its own. And frankly, a number of other items on the menu looked worth a try next time we're at Paragon. But if we come back, then it probably won't be in an effort to get the kogashi ramen again. (Folks in SoCal: this shop appears to be unrelated to the Daikokuya in Little Tokyo.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Salad Shop, UOB Plaza, Singapore

My Salad

When I first saw the comments suggesting this place, I thought it was a typo, mistakenly referring to the new Raffles Place outlet of Salad Stop! at the bottom of OUB Centre. It was only by sheer luck that I happened to be walking by UOB Plaza instead and noticed that there really was a place called The Salad Shop (80 Raffles Place #01-20, 6536-3686). Talk about confusing names!

Well, this place was a lot better than I thought it would be. They had a good selection of ingredients (mmm...grilled eggplant!), offered smoothies that Mescluns didn't have, and moved quickly enough that the wait was easily bearable. I still prefer Mescluns given some of the more specialized ingredients that I like, but if I'm caught in the middle of the busy lunch hour, I'll probably come here instead in order to avoid Mescluns' crowds.

Still, I'm not completely won over by the form-based system here. There's an odd clumping of people at the head of the line, trying to find hard surfaces on which to tick off checkboxes on those paper forms before handing them in. (I'd much rather select ingredients visually anyway.) Either way, the process kept moving, and the selection was wide enough that I could pretty much create the taste I wanted, so I'll be coming back. Thanks for the tip!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Reading: The World's Worst Travel Gear

It's not often that I'll reference other stories, but this one was so amusing that I can't help but share it. Props to the @NoReservations feed on Twitter for pointing this one out, as well as of course ultimately Spot Cool Stuff for the content.

Nakajima Suisan Sushi...in Singapore?

Nakajima Suisan Sushi Set

I noticed something at Meidi-ya today - in the sushi coolers, they had a section of products that appeared to have been sourced from Nakajima Suisan, a business from Shizuoka. Did they have a Singapore-based team supplying supermarkets around here?

Well, I couldn't really taste the difference. It was packaged store-bought sushi after all, and it was obvious when eating it that it also had been sitting around after being made earlier that morning. I'm pretty much only eating this in an effort to try to purge my system of that nasty Burger King from last night anyway.

Friday, January 15, 2010

BK's Cheesy Spicy Bacon TenderCrisp

Cheesy Spicy Bacon TenderCrisp

Yes, I know I shouldn't be eating this kind of crap, but after a number of post-work beers today, my stomach was craving something blatantly unhealthy. And conveniently enough, Burger King was right around the corner. If it's any consolation, I've been eating salads non-stop for more than a week, so I don't feel totally guilty.

Besides, I've been thinking about this thing forever...ever since they'd been running those huge ads at bus stops with the big deep fried chili pepper. Even after realizing that they were actually selling a chicken sandwich rather than a deep fried chili pepper, I was still kinda curious about what this spicy crispy thing tasted like.

It ended up being pretty much what I expected: salty, greasy, spicy...and not exactly doing my cholesterol any good. But true to its name, it was both tender and crisp. Yes, physically I feel pretty lousy now. But my curiosity has been satiated, so now I'll never have to eat this again. (I still wonder what those Angry Whoppers taste like though.)

Mescluns, Circular Road, Singapore

My Salad

Despite all of the salad bars that have popped up lately, most of them never really put a smile on my face...until now. This place at 64 Circular Road (6221-8141, with another location at CityLink Mall) is now my favorite salad bar in Singapore. Thanks for the tip!

What made everything work was the ingredients that the others didn't have, whether it was avocado, sesame oil, or portobello mushrooms. It had all the right elements to allow me to create the taste I wanted, whereas at most of the other places, I had to struggle to get it right...and only barely at that.

But there is one huge deficiency here: they lack the wonderful assembly-line efficency of Juiced Rawbars, making it terribly painful to come here during the busy lunch hour. Well, that just means that I'll have to come during the off-peak periods then.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Japanese Mikan Mandarin Oranges

Unshu Mikan

Clearly it's mandarin orange season now, judging by the heaps of them on sale at supermarkets these days. And being spoiled by Japanese fruit lately, I won't settle for less than the unshu mikan variety, which are perfect in every way: they are juicy, seedless, and easy to peel. And these little things pack a tangy punch, unlike that sweet canned stuff.

More importantly, these are light years ahead of that tasteless and oftentimes dried out version that one usually gets during Lunar New Year. If people gave out oranges of this quality instead, I'd be fighting to keep them all for myself rather than giving them away. I love these things!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Tiger Beer...on Ice

Tiger beer on ice

In most parts of the world, pouring beer over ice is completely unacceptable. But here in the blazing equatorial heat of Southeast Asia, it's fairly common. And I've grown to like it over the years. Doesn't it water down the beer, you might ask? Sure, but in the case of the local Tiger beer, that's a good thing.

See, I never really liked the taste of Tiger. But pour it over some ice, and it thins out the nastiness a bit...not to mention keeping it cool and refreshing when you're sweating on a plastic stool at a humid outdoor hawker center. It's a heck of a lot cheaper than drinking at a bar here too.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Curry Chicken from Killiney Kopitiam

Curry Chicken

Killiney Kopitiam normally conjures up thoughts of Singaporean breakfasts. But it turns out that these guys also do meals too, like this local curry chicken. Not as spicy yet richer than an Indian curry, this local curry is loaded up with so much coconut milk that my cholesterol level got completely obliterated by it. But it's hard not to mop the stuff up with bread and rice. My arteries will never forgive me.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Madam Saigon, Millenia Walk, Singapore

Sliced Beef and Brisket Noodle

I've been pretty bummed ever since Pho 24 left Singapore. But I noticed the other day that another Vietnamese place has taken over its old location (9 Raffles Boulevard #01-26, 6338-3831). With alcohol still sitting in my belly from last night, a piping hot bowl of phở was exactly what was needed to purge the system, so we popped on down here today.

I was a bit worried when we arrived, as the menu hardly contained any Vietnamese. I basically had to use the English description and work backwards to make sure that was really the dish I intended to order. But the phở did fine in the end with its clean broth and fresh garnish providing just what the doctor ordered (I want to come down here again to try their "Vietnamese pancake," which I presume refers to bánh xèo). I wish that Pho 24 were still around though.