Sunday, June 26, 2011

Grill Fish Nagato, PARCO Marina Bay

Tsubodai Teishoku

Every time we come up to the Itadakimasu food area at PARCO Marina Bay, we usually skip right past these guys. This is in part because our intention was usually to go one of the other restaurants, but also because the menu here featured set meals that really didn't look very inspiring. Yet for some reason we decided to stop here today (9 Raffles Boulevard #P3-05, 6336-6272), and I'm glad that we did.

I grabbed a tsubodai special, whose meat was firm yet fatty, making it delicious when its skin was flame grilled to a crispy texture. A taste of their gindara teriyaki worked for me too. And pairing the fish with everything else on this tray made it not that much different from the teishoku available at Ootoya, which is where I usually go for grilled fish but get stopped by those huge lines.

Now I know that we can just come here for an affordable and healthy meal instead, even if I don't get the luxury of having unlimited rice like I do there. I'm definitely looking forward to trying all of the other fish they had on their menu (indeed, it looks like this place is run by the Nakajima Suisan people).

Thick Unmelted Butter in Kaya Toast

Kaya Toast

Check out that slab of butter sitting in this kaya toast from Toast Box this morning. Actually, it was a bit misleading. The butter didn't lay across the entire piece of bread...it was really only a longitudinal slice in the center (not like that made it any healthier). Anyway, this was just your everyday kaya toast, but I just found that thick cut of unmelted butter interesting.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Finally Found the Mo Far Kor Man

Mo Far Kor

For many years now, I've been unsuccessful at finding that old school bottle of mo far kor with that man's picture on it. Today, while randomly walking by a provision shop called Kiat Ann (804 Hougang Central #01-132), I found a full array in stock. It looks like it's from Malaysia, and was less punchy than the other one that I usually get at 7-Eleven. But it was cool to have finally found the man either way.

Punggol Noodles, Kovan City, Singapore

Punggol Noodles

We came up here for a bowl of bak chor mee (210 Hougang Street 21 at Kopitiam stall #01-04). After all, it was the only other stall in Makansutra aside from Tai Wah that has received a full three chopstick set rating. It was cool how this guy had a sinful metal bucket full of lard for you to scoop onto your bowl, as well as an array of condiments. But I definitely like Tai Wah better, as Tai Wah knows just the right amount of vinegar to use, and further accentuates the bowl with those stanky dried fish pieces that they don't have here.

Meatball Soup

The better thing about this stall was the meatballs, which were frickin' awesome. See, the way they seasoned the meatballs was very similar to Tai Wah's, but Tai Wah's texture is firm and seemingly manufactured, whereas this guy's was delicate and chunky...basically handmade. I liked them so much that I went back for seconds and even thirds. Maybe next time I'll tell him to shorten the cooking time on the noodles to give it the firmer bite that I prefer. After all, the taste of the noodles themselves was better than most others.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mos Burger's Premium Wagyu Burger

Premium Wagyu Burger

I've tried very hard to like Mos Burger. Or for that matter, I've tried very hard to like Japanese burgers, but for some reason I've never liked the ones that I've tried. So when I saw this new wagyu burger available at Mos Burger now, I was hopeful that it could finally change my opinion.

I was wrong. Sure, the patty was tender beyond belief (almost tofu-like), but it had none of that rich fatty taste that one is supposed to get with wagyu (or at least, if there were, then it got covered up by that onion sauce they put on it). Granted, this was only S$6 (US$5), so it's not like one could expect full-on Japanese beef. But I won't be getting this again.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Malay Curry on SQ Economy Class

Malay Curry

That was delicious. I don't know if there was a proper name to this, but the menu just described it as a "Malay curry." They loaded this thing up with cumin seeds, which was a nice surprise, and it was so tasty that I mopped up the remaining curry with the bread roll too. I just hope that I can find a restaurant or hawker stall that makes it like SQ does.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sam Kim Traditional Kimchi Cuisine, Seoul

Pork and Soju

Mmm...that was tasty. I usually associate beef with Korean BBQ, but our colleagues took us here tonight (558-8788) for pork instead, which is not only significantly cheaper, but also of course nice and fatty for extra flavor. This was also my first time seeing kimchi put on the grill, which I absolutely loved, as it not only gave it some of that barbecue taste, but also made it kinda crispy in the process. We washed this all down with copious amounts of soju of course...perhaps a bit too much.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hanmiri Royal Cuisine, Seoul, Korea

Some kind of Korean pumpkin soup

The team in our local office took us here for dinner tonight (968-4 Daechi-dong, 556-8688), figuring that Korean royal cuisine isn't something that we had exposure to. I asked if it were like Japanese kaiseki, which my colleagues flatly denied, but to me, the concept is pretty much the same: present pretty little bits of food, mostly cold, over multiple courses, which in our case tonight had to have been over 20, leaving us completely stuffed.

It was interesting. One thing called gujeolpan was basically a tray with an assortment of ingredients and little wrappers the size of raquetballs so that you could make your own little mini burrito of sorts. Other dishes included a little beef here, a little pancake there, and perhaps the most interesting for me: some kind of wild sesame seed soup whose savory taste reminded me a bit more of roasted hoji cha tea than sesame.

All of this was closed off with a course of carbs as well as some dessert. And to think that I was pretty much already full by the time we finished the first few varieties of salad. Anyway, just as with kaiseki, I can respect the history behind this stuff and am glad that we came here to try it, but it's nothing that I'm going to get cravings for.

Some Kind of Korean Dumpling Soup

Korean Dumpling Soup

This was just a quick lunch that we grabbed at a random shop in the mall before heading into the office here in Seoul today. I have no idea what the name of this thing was (is it manduguk?), but I basically wanted something that wasn't the usual bright red color, seeing that I'd probably get plenty of kimchi and such later on anyway. So I got this dumpling soup, which didn't really look that interesting, but it was light and did the job, even if chewing through those sliced rice cake things was a bit of a chore.

My Attempt at a Korean Breakfast

My Attempt at a Korean Breakfast

I have no idea what a Korean breakfast is supposed to be like. But at the hotel's breakfast spread this morning, I tried to pick out what seemed to be the most Korean-looking things available, including porridge, some kind of beef stew, soup noodles, and a big plate of banchan. Only after I looked it up later did I realize that I had gotten pretty close, as Korean breakfasts pretty much consist of the same stuff as other meals but are just a bit lighter. I liked the savory porridge and rich soup the best.

My First Flight on Asiana Airlines

Poached Grouper Served with Garlic and Chili Sauce

I've never flown Asiana before. Judging by the name alone, it was not something that one would think was a Korean carrier. But it has apparently won tons of awards, and since I needed to head to Seoul tonight, I'd figured that it'd be good to give them a try. Being a lovely redeye flight too, I made sure to submit an upgrade request using miles so that I could get at least a few hours of rest on board.

Yes, it was better than most airlines. The service was attentive, and even on a five hour flight, they featured flat seats, albeit of the slanted kind like the old SQ SpaceBeds. I didn't care much for the food though; I ordered this fish in chili and garlic, thinking that it would be a Korean meal, but it was just sweet and sour sauce...admittedly not being that much different from that meal on SQ the other day.

Separately, this was also my first time departing from Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, which seemed great at first being all new and with its super fast 15 minute train ride from the city. But navigating the airport was frustrating with its multiple levels and rampways. Signs were everywhere pointing to airline lounges and yet I still walked back and forth before figuring out where Asiana's contracted lounge (peculiarly called the Louis' Tavern CIP Lounge) was. And when I finally got there, it was pathetically small and cramped. Thank God for the Star Alliance, as I popped over to the peaceful TG lounge instead where I could get a proper shower before boarding.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

They Make Larb in Chicken Form?

Larb Gai

Our office graciously ordered in some food just as I was getting ready to head out to the airport tonight. I thus made sure to eat some of it; I needed dinner soon anyway. Most of the meal was pretty good, especially since they provided lots of fresh veggies and herbs. And it's not like this chicken larb was bad either, but it sure didn't compare to the one from lunch today. This was not only because this one featured lean chicken rather than tasty bits of pork, but also since there wasn't really any rice powder in this one.

A Kickass Plate of Larb Moo

Larb Moo

Here was part of our lunch today, which we found in some random back alley in Bangkok. Most of what we got was delicious, but the standout by far was this plate of larb moo, which was not only super spicy but was given a full helping of that ground rice powder stuff for extra texture. We liked it so much that we just had to get another plate.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Street Food in Bangkok, Thailand

Pad Thai

Here were just a couple of quick bites that we randomly got off the streets after dropping our bags at the hotel tonight. They were all very straightforward, although it's been so long since I've been in Bangkok that I really missed this kind of cheap convenient grub in the city.

Som Tam

Yeah, this som tam was spicy. We also got some fatty pork on a skewer that went great with those bunches of fresh basil they left on each table, as well as some spicy noodle soup that delighted me when I reached the bottom to find little bits of crispy pork rinds. I was also able to find an interesting lemongrass drink from a nearby convenience store. Thailand rocks.

Another SQ Economy Class Meal

Braised Fish with Rice

If this looks kinda familiar, that's because I just had it a few days ago on the way to Manila. The good thing was that I liked it better this time, eating the fish in seconds. But there wasn't enough sauce to go around so I ended up burying a little butter in the remaining rice, Persian style.

As an aside, there's still one thing that I never quite understood about SQ: why do their economy class lavatories dispense facial tissues rather than proper paper towels to dry one's hands? Kleenex sucks since you end up having to waste a lot more sheets that end up sticking to your fingers anyway. I can only assume that paper towels have created problems with clogged toilets in the past?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Philippines Epilogue: Muhlach Ensaymada

Muhlach Ensaymada

A client told me that I should pick up a box of these "Filipino doughnuts" at the airport across from the shoe shine. He probably shouldn't have called them doughnuts though, since my expectations got built up into thinking that they were something sinful like Krispy Kreme. Instead, these weren't much more than just a mass-produced dinner roll with some mild cheese on top.

OK, maybe that is a bit harsh...the soft and mildly sweet roll reminded me a bit of King's Hawaiian bread, or even Hokkaido's Pullman milk bread, the latter of which is something that I've been surprisingly fond of. But I don't think I'll go out of my way to get this box again. And no, there were no holes in the middle of these.

Friday, June 10, 2011

SQ's Meal on the Return Flight

The flight attendants called this chili prawn with rice

Here was the meal on the return flight tonight. The shrimp were a bit disappointing and I didn't bother finishing the rice (is it just me, or is this the first time I've seen them use that silver tray?), but at least that single chili pod helped it go down. And I liked that unexpectedly rich mango sago dessert at the top. Note to self: the SQ lounge at MNL airport is rather cramped, although the age of that entire terminal is really showing too.

Gerry's Grill in the Philippines

Chichabits

No, those chili peppers didn't come with the chicharon bits. We ate the chili peppers with their famous inihaw na pusit grilled squid instead. But this just looked a bit more interesting, especially since it was my first time eating warmed up chicharon with a vinegar dip...and at a chain restaurant, of all places.

We also got some sisig, which I liked better here than last night as this was even crispier, and still just as sinfully greasy and salty (it's a good thing that I had a cholesterol test done *before* I arrived here). It was only when I looked it up online did I realize that these guys have since opened up branches back in California too.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Fely J's Kitchen, Makati City, Philippines

Sizzling Sisig

The last time I was in the Philippines, there was one dish that I wanted to try but never got around to eating: sisig. Tonight, my client wanted to take me here (Greenbelt 5 Level 2, Ayala Center, 728-8878) for some local food, so of course we ordered the sisig.

It was delicious. These little bits of pig skin and fat shaved off of the head were tasty little morsels that went perfectly with a cold beer, especially with some of those spicy little chili peppers to give this salty greasy lime-accentuated hot-plate-scorched concoction some further kick. Awesome.

It's too bad that I couldn't say the same about the fresh lumpia we got though. It was limp, mushy, and honestly kinda nasty. At least the tokwa't baboy deep fried tofu and pig parts fell somewhere in the middle with its onion, chili, and vinegar dressing.

The Asian Meal on SQ

Braised fish with hot bean sauce, sauteed vegetables, and rice

As usual, SQ offered a choice of a Western versus Asian meal in economy class today, and normally I opt for the former. But for some reason, the fish with hot bean sauce and rice sounded pretty good, so I asked for one of those instead. It turned out to be the opposite of what I was expecting. I thought it would be lightly stir fried with those salty Chinese black beans, but instead it was battered and in a brown sauce. I ate the fish but didn't bother with the rest.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

An Indian Mango Shootout

From left: Benishan and Totapuri Mangoes

It's time for another mango shootout. This time, we grabbed a benishan on the left and a totapuri on the right, both as part of an Indian mango selection available at Cold Storage right now. I definitely liked the totapuri better. It was punchy, and in this case, a touch of sourness also made it pleasantly tangy. The benishan, on the other hand, was just plain boring to me. It was only when I looked it up just now did I realize that a benishan was just a banganapalli, which I didn't like last time either.

Sichuan Baijia Sweet Potato Noodles

Sichuan Baijia Instant Sweet Potato Noodles

We thought that we had scored a pretty cool find when we spotted these things from Chengdu on the bottom shelf of the instant noodle section at Carrefour. Or rather, when we *smelled* these things on the shelf at Carrefour. Granted, it said something about the quality of the packaging, but the aroma of spices that we associate so much with Sichuan food was emanating from these packages, and we just had to try it.

It was a letdown. We were hoping that it'd be something like our usual Sichuan street noodles, but seasoning was uninspiring, and we almost felt a bit sick after eating it. Well, the Beef Hot Pot flavor was probably one of the better ones in this family pack, as it was loaded with tongue-numbing peppercorns. But I don't want to know what was really in those flavor packets, as surely all of that MSG can't be healthy.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Burmese Shan Tofu from Cedele

Burmese Shan Tofu

I don't know Burmese food at all. So when I noticed some kind of a tofu salad on the menu at Cedele, I assumed that it would be something like the cold Japanese rendition that I'm used to getting. I was thus a bit surprised when this thing came out featuring deep fried tofu that was still warm, and with a pile of garlic chips in the middle.

I have no idea if this is really how it's done in Burmese cuisine, but guess I liked it. After all, I'm a fan of cilantro, garlic, shallots, vinegar, and tofu on their own. But there was so much garlic in this thing that by the time I finished all of the tofu, I was literally scooping spoonfuls of the remaining garlic chips into my mouth. Fortunately, my colleagues and clients will be spared from the aftermath given that I took the day off.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

An S$82 (US$66) Plate of Noodles

Crispy Noodles with Lobster

Yup, you read that correctly. Mezza9 at the Hyatt Singapore was charging S$82 (US$66) for this plate of noodles. It looks like your everyday plate of noodles, but the reason for the high price was because it featured lobster, and we had a rare opportunity to try it tonight. Sure, the lobster was tasty and the noodles were nice and crispy, but I don't know if I'd pay that kind of money for it. Our curiosity was satiated at least.