Saturday, July 31, 2010

Back to Si Bon at Amara Sanctuary Resort

Shiitake Kushiage

Here was a shiitake mushroom from Si Bon. It was good (as was a separate ball of fried cream cheese with tomato paste on top), but for some reason, tonight's meal as a whole wasn't anywhere near as exciting as our first time here. Perhaps it was because a couple of the items came pre-soaked in ponzu sauce this time, thus defeating the point of that wonderful batter.

Well, this ten course kushikatsu meal was cheaper tonight at S$96 (US$70)...although that excluded the Japanese melon, which was an extra S$20 (US$15). It also looks like they've added a sushi bar, which we did not bother trying. Either way, the batter here is still so delicately fine and paper-thin that it's really unbeatable.

Cassia at Capella Singapore on Sentosa Island

Amouse Bouche

Cantonese food wouldn't have been my first choice for lunch today, but in hindsight, I'm glad that we came here (1 The Knolls, 6591-5045). The place was very elegantly upscale, and fortunately the food was good enough to match, including some tasty Kurobuta pork ribs and a selection of dim sum that was better than a number of online comments have suggested. Indeed, the place reminded me a bit of Lung King Heen in Hong Kong. I'll have to remember to keep this place in mind whenever Chinese fine dining is required for a business meeting.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Osia, Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore

Ceviche Platter

Joël Robuchon's restaurants haven't opened up at Resorts World yet, so we weren't quite sure of where to eat out here tonight. But as we tried to figure out the layout of this place, we came across this restaurant run by an Australian celebrity chef (8 Sentosa Gateway, 6577-6560). The menu looked good, and they even had counter seating...looked like my kind of place.

The meal started off spectacularly, especially with an order of their fantastic flat bread, which was made to order and accompanied by a cute little toothpaste-like tube of "spiced garbanzo," or effectively hummus (I liked it so much that I nearly wanted to just squeeze it directly into my mouth if social graces hadn't held me back). My grilled barramundi was also delicious, with a wonderful grilled aroma, all while staying moist and tender.

But we weren't big fans of the duck, nor were we huge on the lemon parfait that we grabbed for dessert, bringing what was initially a very encouraging meal to a bittersweet end. Well, those aside, this was still a worthwhile meal - I'd come back here just for the bread alone (and just as with the Sands, one does not need to pay the casino fee to come here). I wonder if they'd let me just sit at the counter eating nothing but multiple orders of that bread.

Ramen Culture, Icon Village, Singapore

Mini Shio Ramen and Dry Gyoza

Another ramen shop has opened up in Singapore, this time at Icon Village in Tanjong Pagar (12 Gopeng Street #01-82). Based on the name alone, I wasn't getting my hopes up. But never judge a book by its cover, right?

Well, the good thing is that the broth in my mini shio ramen was better than I was expecting. But my jaw just dropped when they brought out the gyoza, which was drenched in chili oil and covered in scallions, with nary a scorch mark on the skin to be seen.

These things were clearly boiled rather than grilled, and the pre-dressing that they did made it more like Chinese red oil wontons. I don't know if that was the intention, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Japanese Momo and a Donut Peach

Momo and Donut Peach

Time for another fruit update. The one on the left was a Japanese one at a whopping S$7.50 (US$5.50). It was a bit of a letdown. Sure, its white flesh was juicy yet firm, but the taste was a bit too delicate for me. The one on the right was a much cheaper donut peach. The unique thing about that is not so much the taste, but just the flat shape itself, which also made it easy (and kinda fun) to eat.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jalan Tua Kong Lau Lim Mee Pok, Singapore

Dry Mee Pok

This was an unplanned visit (Tah Fah Food Corner on Jalan Tua Kong at Figaro Street), but in retrospect, it looks like this area has been the scene of some kind of mee pok feud. We went to this one called the Art of Mee Pok, which had a pretty long wait, but whose noodles and taste were definitely much better than some random food court stall. Next time I'll need to remember to ask for more noodles though; these portions were way too small.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Keisuke's Surprisingly Aromatic Shoyu Ramen

Shoyu Ramen

I swear - I'm not trying to evangelize these guys. I was merely getting a quick lunch today when I noticed what a fantastic garlic oil fragrance the shoyu ramen was emanating here. I normally wouldn't have even considered ordering it given how enamored I've been with his ebi and kani ramen instead (plus, chicken-based broth never really sounded that exciting in the first place). But I should have realized that a man of his caliber could do wonders with almost anything...he even scorched the meat a little for some extra aroma. Sure, it was a tad salty, but that didn't really matter when it was this good. This is easily one of my favorite places in town.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Goma Tare Seiro from Shimbashi Soba



For some reason, I never noticed this dish on Shimbashi Soba's menu until today...and it was only because I noticed some kind of "sesame soba" featured in one of their specials. When I looked deeper into the menu, I realized that they had it as a dedicated dish, so I grabbed it immediately given my love of sesame.

And it pretty much tasted like it looked, with a goma tare dipping sauce on the side. Without the usual tsuyu, I wasn't quite sure what to do with the sobayu that arrived at the end, but either way, the noodles hit the spot (as did the kaiso salad in the background).

Monday, July 19, 2010

Singapore Taco Bar Epilogue: Casa Latina

Carnitas

I take back what I said about not being able to find good Mexican food in Singapore. Thanks to a very timely tip this afternoon, I came down to this place (42 Waterloo Street, 6884-6929) for a quick plate of carnitas. And to my surprise, it was spot-on. The pork was crispy, the corn tortillas were warm, and most importantly, the pico de gallo was fresh...something that has been frustratingly rare around here. Now, I definitely still prefer a casual taco bar over a proper restaurant like this, but if the other food on the menu is as good what I had tonight (despite the availabliity of fajitas and burritos), then I can save a trip home by just coming here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Singapore Taco Bars: A Shootout

A couple of years ago, I gave up on trying to find good Mexican food in Singapore. There were some places that were nearly bearable, but being spoiled by food from back home, I figured it'd be better to just wait until my next run there. Still, a number of taco bars have been popping up around here lately, so I've been giving them a try in the hopes of finding something worthwhile.

Tacos al Pastor and Quesadilla From Señor Taco

The first one I went to was Señor Taco at Clarke Quay Block 3D #01-12. Encouragingly, they used small corn tortillas and even had tacos al pastor rotating away on a spit. I wasn't too happy with the pineapple garnish they used, but it was easy to ignore that when doused with their chipotle sauce and a squeeze of lime, and in the end, it was a lot better than I thought it would be. It might come in handy after a night of heavy drinking out at Clarke Quay, which I'm sure was this shop's intention anyway.

Lengua and Carnitas Tacos from Spruce Taqueria

Then I heard that Spruce, an American restaurant that I'm rather fond of, opened up a taquería little further up the street. This one was much more impressive, with the availability of lengua as well as radish wedges being very good signs. Loaded up with tons of guacamole, they reminded me a bit more of Torchy's Tacos rather than a more minimalist Mexican version. Either way, they were good enough to easily be the best I've had out here so far, even if something about those smooth corn tortillas disturbed me.

Beef Tacos from the Mexican Taco Bar in Singapore

And finally, there was the 24 hour Mexican Taco Bar, occupying a stall at the Kopitiam food court of Plaza by the Park on Bras Basah Road. On paper, this one seemed like it had the most potential, with the website bragging about a Mexican chef with CIA credentials that spent time with the Mexican embassy and even Cafe Iguana down at Riverside Point. But I was totally let down. The flour tortillas alone should have been a big enough clue, but to make it worse, they topped these with sour cream, a huge pet peeve of mine. Ugh.

My verdict? Spruce Taquería by a long margin. And yes, it's good enough that I'd go there proactively without having to wait for a trip back home. The only drawback was that they are only open weekdays from 12-3 PM, which not only means going back to the office with heavy dragon breath, but also eliminating the possibility of going there for a post-drinking snack.

House Foods America's Tofu Steak

House Foods Tofu Steak on a George Foreman Grill

That was nasty. I bought this at the market near the Japanese tofu section. And while this was technically from a Japanese company, it was from the American arm, and was clearly being marketed toward the carnivorous grilling culture of it. It sounded pretty gross, but I bought one just out of sheer curiosity.

It was surprisingly firm in texture - so much that one pretty much had to use a knife to cut it. I suppose that's what they needed to do if someone were really going to throw it on a grill like they illustrated in the picture. And yes, that is a George Foreman grill in the background (snicker, snicker), but the char grilled marks actually came with the tofu in the package.

Perhaps most prominently, it had close to no taste - and was nothing like the rich and creamy soybean flavor of a proper piece of tofu. It's no wonder why tofu has such a bad reputation in the US - I wouldn't want to eat this either. The thought of someone pouring A1 Steak Sauce on this is even more horrifying.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Santi, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Fish

Ever since I found out that a Catalan restaurant was going to be opening at the new Marina Bay Sands in Singapore (10 Bayfront Avenue Level 2, 6688-8501), I've been salivating. Indeed, I even came down here on their first week of operations some time ago, hoping to casually stop by the tapas bar rather than doing anything too formal. But they were only running the dining room for the time being, so tonight we came by for a proper meal.

Fortunately, one of the three fixed-price menus available was composed of a number of small plates, thus effectively making it a bit of a tapas tasting, albeit while being seated with linens and surrounded by wait staff and a sommelier. We loved everything that they brought out, my favorite of which was a foie gras dish whose star for me wasn't the liver itself, but rather the humble chickpeas underneath - they were so delicious that I seriously couldn't stop my face from smiling after that. Other highlights included some very strong Andalucian olive oil to go with a huge range of bread, as well as a wine-cured cheese that José Andrés was showing off on one of his Made in Spain episodes just the other day.

This definitely didn't come cheap though. The menus - excluding drinks - went well into multiple century marks per person, thus relegating this only to special occassions. Still, I'm looking forward to seeing their tapas bar finally open next week. Surely it won't be cheap either, but the food quality was so good here that it may at least be partially worth the pain on the wallet. And just to clarify, locals and PRs don't need to pay the casino fee to get here - one can simply go in from the shopping mall and thus bypass the casino.

A Random Bowl of Chicken Porridge

Chicken Porridge

Here was a bowl of chicken porridge from a random hawker stall. It was probably more properly described as porridge topped with some leftover scraps of chicken, but it did the same job once mixed up.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Some Kind of Yellow Oranges from Japan

Japanese Yellow Oranges

I picked this up in the Japanese fruit section of the supermarket. They looked like lemons from a distance, but upon closer inspection, they were shaped like oranges...and were also labeled as such. I bought a pack just to see what yellow oranges would taste like.

Well, there's probably not much to say aside from the fact that they tasted like sweet oranges (very mild ones, anyway). And to my surprise, they were the thick-skinned peelable kind...with seeds. Interestingly, they also had some little mikan-like yellow ones on sale too. But there wasn't really anything so exciting about these that I'd run right back for them.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Getting A Real Whiff of Petai Beans

Petai Beans

When I first ate some of those local petai beans earlier this week, they didn't seem as bad as my colleagues made it out to be. Only today when I happened to be at a supermarket did I get a whiff of how smelly they really were.

Oh man, these were horrible! They didn't have anywhere near the range as durian, but they were very strong once I brought them closer to my nose. My head instinctively jerked backwards while expletives left my mouth.

In retrospect, I guess I did taste some of that in the cooked version, but I thought it was because of a salty Chinese fermented bean paste or something. Well, now I finally know how this stuff got its stinky name.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Japanese Hanbagu from Ma Maison

Large Hanbaagu

This was the hanbagu from Ma Maison. That brown sauce was much tangier than I expecting, but it went well with the crumbly tender meat and onion mixture underneath. I wonder how that new hanbagu shop at the bottom of Liang Court tastes.

Upper Crust at OUB Centre, Singapore

My Sandwich Creation

A new sandwich shop has opened in the city (1 Raffles Place #B1-02C, 6536-3138). It was a bit like Simply Sandwich meets The Salad Shop given the bakery origins of the former and the paper order form system employed by the latter. But they clearly still needed more time to get accustomed to such a process, as it was painfully frustrating to watch them try to decipher their own form and figure out how to build each sandwich. Fortunately, my selection of ingredients turned out to be delicious enough to make up for it, instantly making this one of my preferred sandwich destinations around here. I just have to remember to bring a bit of patience, which isn't easy to do during a busy lunch hour.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Kani Ramen at Keisuke Tokyo, Singapore

Kani Ramen

Whoa - Keisuke Tokyo at PARCO Marina Bay is now offering a limited quantity kani ramen special. I didn't even know about it at first since I was planning to get my usual ebi ramen, but fortunately the server flipped open the menu just as I was opening my mouth to give her my order, and right there was a sheet promoting it. I quickly told her that I had changed my mind and wanted this instead.

I'm glad I did. The noodles were flat and linguine-like, and cooked to just the right degree of firmness. But perhaps more noticable was the soup, which was so thick that it was more like a gravy instead. I couldn't quite pinpoint the crab taste (it tasted like a thicker version of the prawn head broth), but it didn't matter; I enjoyed it so much that I slurped it all the way to the bottom, especially when mixed with a touch of that freshly grated raw ginger on the side.

Now, if I had to choose between this and the ebi ramen, I'd still go for the latter just because of its aroma and thin consomme-like broth. But this was savory enough that my mouth still waters just by thinking of it. More importantly, I'm glad to see an expansion of the menu...this guy really knows how to do it right. As long as he's expanding to different types of shellfish, I wonder what kind of magic he might be able to do with clams for an asari ramen of sorts.