Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lau Huang Hakka Niang Tau Fu

Yong Tau Foo

It took me a few seconds to figure out how to order at this stall (861 North Bridge Road #01-108). A crowd of people was hovering at a distance from the racks of yong tau foo, so I figured that they were probably waiting for their order. I thus cut my way through and picked out my items, even if I was a bit disappointed at how whimpy the remaining piece of eggplant was.

It was only after I had submitted my selection did I realize why people were standing around: the stall owner restocked his racks soon afterwards, and with some beautiful looking fried tofu and eggplant. The crowd stormed in and started filling their bowls. I should have waited; those purple chunks of eggplant looked a heck of a lot better than the measly scraps I picked up.

There was a very old newspaper story tacked onto their stall that argued that this was the only stall that came close to Ampang yong tau foo in KL. I guess I can see why with the thick cuts of better-than-average fried goods and the fact that the sauce was on the side. But I still prefer Xiu Ji, which to me is much more unique.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hot Pot from Xian De Lai in Singapore

Hot Pot Buffet

I don't know if this is the chain from Shanghai of the same name, but we came here because we noticed those ornate pots last time we were up at nex (23 Serangoon Central #B1-05, 6634-4630). Now, my expectations were very low since I figured that it was still a low-quality hot pot buffet shoved into a pretty vase, but I ended up liking it a lot more than I thought I would, mainly because of the broth, be it the white pork bone based one pictured here or a spicy Sichuan version that they had.

Granted, the quality of the ingredients was still nothing to get excited about, and they messed up our order a couple of times too. But we had fun with a spicy chicken that they provided, not to mention a fried version that featured a Xinjiang-like cumin dip. Fortunately, I was able to get my mixture of sauces right too. We're willing to come back, although we'll probably skip the pricey buffet next time and just get the set meal instead.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kashmir Restaurant in Little India

Gushtaba

I've never had Kashmiri food before...not knowingly, at least. So I was excited at the idea of coming here for lunch (52 Race Course Road, 6293-6003), especially since I was told that it was heavily meat-based. I thus figured that it would be a lot of kebabs, but instead, I found that it was usually covered in a curry, like that gushtaba above, a couple of tender meatballs sitting in a velvety yogurt that went well with rice. Likewise, the dum aloo kashmiri and keema kofta sat in their own gravies, the latter of which was a bit excessive in spices for me but still worthwhile.

My favorite was actually one that didn't have any curry: the kabargah, or lamb ribs that were fried to provide a crispy delicate outside and yet were extra tender and rich due to the fact that they boiled them in milk before that. And I certainly couldn't complain about the chili cheese naan, which was delightful as it was kind of like eating nachos but in flatbread. I've gotta admit that if I'm back on Race Course Road, I'll probably still go over to Mustard instead. But if they're closed, then I'd have no gripes coming here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Haji M. Abdul Rajak Stall's Kambing Soup

Kambing Soup

One local dish that I absolutely love is kambing soup. But somehow, I don't actually eat it that often, perhaps because I'm usually not at the right stalls. So when we were in Geylang this afternoon, I made my way to the other side of the MRT line to give this guy a try (17 Upper Boon Keng Road #01-03), especially since he was allegedly so highly rated.

Now, it's been so long since I've been to the Adam Road guy that my memory may be fading, but I seem to recall his soup being more peppery. All the same, I liked this guy's solid chunks of meat much better, at least, compared to what I could remember from the Adam Road guy. Either way, this was just the light snack that I needed before dinner.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pakistan's Bar-B-Q Tonight in Singapore

Seekh Kebab

I'd been told good things about this Pakistani kebab chain some time ago. So we came down here now that they finally opened their Singapore outlet (3 Roberts Lane #01-01, 6299-5210), and unfortunately I think my expectations were built up too much. Sure, the chicken was tender, the seekh kebabs were spicy, and the presence of hummus and eggplant were a nice surprise. But Usman across the street was much more unique to me.

I suspect that part of the problem was the fact that we opted for the buffet when we should have ordered a la carte. Indeed, the pictures of the kebabs cooking over a fire and laid out on plates looked pretty darned good. I didn't really know what was good to order either (some of that fish on the menu looked interesting), so next time I'm going to have to make sure that I come armed with the right knowledge.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tampopo Grand, Ngee Ann City

Salmon Negitoro Don

We were up on the third floor of Takashimaya tonight when it dawned on me then that Tampopo had opened a new outlet up (391 Orchard Road #04-28, 6735-2959) on the former grounds of Chikuyotei. We just needed a quick and easy meal, and Tampopo seemed to fit the bill.

Or so we thought. It was only when we sat down and opened the menu did we realize that this wasn't Tampopo. It was Tampopo Grand, which basically meant an upscale and much pricier version, going so far as to serve things like kaiseki. It wasn't what we wanted, but we stuck around as we were still able to find a couple of reasonably priced items hiding in the menu, like this S$15 (US$12.50) salmon negitoro don (it was on the list of specials - not to be confused with the more expensive tuna-based one on the regular menu).

The good thing was that this was delicious. The fish was fresh, fatty, and tender, while the freshly grated and salted (!) wasabi made this thing even more interesting. But this place was clearly meant to be a borderline fine dining establishment instead, serving up multiple courses at a very leisurely pace, thus taking up much more time and money than we had wanted. We should have just gone downstairs to the basement where the cheaper Tampopo sat instead.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dinner in a Bag on United Again

Dinner in a bag

Oh man, I should have remembered that United was giving out those lame meals in a bag on this leg. Actually, this wasn't as bad as it looked. I actually rather enjoyed the cheese sandwich, chips, and cookie. But what's up with those tiny blankets that they are using now? Sure, they must reduce weight, but they were so small that I had to break open three packs in order to get any decent use out of them.

Butao Ramen, Hong Kong

Green King Ramen

Last time we were up in HK, we arrived here just as these guys sold out of their last bowl, so I made sure to come here today (11-12 Wo On Lane, Flat C, 2530-0600). See, this little hole in the wall has been drawing some very long lines, in part because the chef only sells 200 bowls a day. They are tonkotsu-based with four "color" variants: the normal yellow, a spicy red, a black one that I have yet to try, and the one I got today, the green one, which featured basil olive oil and cheese.

Combine that with the garlic inside, and it basically made it like a pesto, which seemed a bit out of place, but it worked, even if I wasn't a huge fan of the skinny noodles and peculiarly thin slice of chashu. These testosterone-fueled bowls are definitely not shy on flavor, especially when accentuated by some of those pickled toppings that they leave at each table. You can tone down the elements a bit using the paper order form, but I pretty much went for the real deal, which probably obliterated my sodium allowance for the next few days. Next time, I want to give the black one a try.

Hakka Ye Ye, Hong Kong

Emperor's Chicken

Hey that was pretty good. My local colleagues decided to come to this Hakka place for lunch today (63 Wyndham Street 2/F, 2537-7030). They had never been here either, but it was apparently rather highly rated, and I could see why. I enjoyed pretty much everything we got here, be it their signature stuffed tofu soup with soybeans, some kind of meatball-like things but made out of daikon, as well as that very yellow chicken above. The interesting thing about that chicken was that it was nearly all fat, which made it uniquely tasty, albeit with a very heavy poultry flavor that might be a turnoff for some. But it worked for me.

Stretching Out in UA Econ Class

Econ Class Breakfast Bag

Here was breakfast in United Economy this morning. It was nothing exciting, but at least the flight was empty enough where nearly everyone got an entire row to themselves to stretch out. It was almost as comfortable as business class...except without laptop power and with these unattractive meals in plastic bags of course. It's not like that really mattered on a short run to HK anyway.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tomi Sushi, PARCO Marina Bay, Singapore

Salmon Don

I've been wanting to come to this place for a very long time, but never stepped foot inside until today (9 Raffles Boulevard #3F-04, 6333-4633). See, this sushi shop from Niigata was one of the original vendors at the Itadakimasu area of PARCO Marina Bay. But serving proper quality sushi also meant some pretty high prices that I wasn't ever really in the mood for paying. Today, however, I noticed that their lunch menu had some stuff that was much more reasonable, such as this salmon-don for only S$15 (US$12).

No, it didn't fill me up, but this was just a post-breakfast snack to hold me over until lunch anyway. The biggest surprise? When I finally got to the miso soup at the end, I found four big prawn heads sitting inside, which in my head was some symbolic consolation for Keisuke's decision to drop their wonderfully aromatic ebi ramen just two doors down. Anyway, the more important lesson here was that when a restaurant is too expensive, it makes sense to see if they have a cheaper lunch option available. It worked here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Pizzeria L'Operetta, Icon Village, Singapore

Margherita Pizza

When I heard that some Japanese guy had opened an Italian restaurant here that featured some Neapolitan certified pizza, I was curious, but never made it down to his Boat Quay restaurant. Then when I had noticed that a more casual pizza-focused offshoot had opened at Icon Village in Tanjong Pagar (12 Gopeng Street #01-78, 6222-9487), I finally made my way down there, and I'm glad that I did.

Now, with that kind of an oven, the big thing of course was the crust. It was memorably chewy with a soft center, making it very traditional compared to say, that wonderful crust from Pizzeria Mozza. But for me, the star of this thing was the toppings - and specifically the tomato sauce, which was so fresh and bursting with olive oil that I was just delighted. They offered a small pasta menu too, and similarly the taste of the tomatoes was the highlight of the spaghetti bolognese.

These guys are running a 1-for-1 pizza special from 2-5:30 on weekdays, which means that I may very well be making my way down here for either a very late (but big) lunch or a very early dinner before heading back to the office. And yes, they are super fast too...apparently part of their certification requires them to bake the pizza for only 90 seconds. That works for me!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Sapporo's Gantetsu at Ramen Champion

Butter and Corn Ramen

There was only one stall that I didn't try last time I was at Ramen Champion, and that was Gantetsu. So I figured that I'd give it a shot tonight. It was fine: the noodles were firm, the miso was savory, and that knob of butter helped give it a smooth finish. But I'm still not that big of a fan of Sapporo ramen. Well, that's certainly not going to stop me from going to Ramen Champion over and over again, especially with shops like Tetsu and Iroha there.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Mini Satay on the Aeroline Return

Dinner on Aeroline

Dinner on Aeroline tonight consisted of this tray featuring little midget-sized satay. They provided peanut sauce but no onions nor cucumbers. SQ definitely has them beat on this one. BTW, does anyone know of any other KL bus services that offer power outlets and go from city center to city center? These Aeroline buses really are getting pretty beatup and I'm open to trying another provider next time.

Foong Foong Restoran, Ampang, KL

Ampang Yong Tau Foo

One of the things that I never really understood was Ampang yong tau foo...or at least, the way they served it in Singapore with that unappealingly goopy sauce. So I suggested to my KL colleagues that we go to Ampang for lunch today to get it straight from the source, and they graciously took me to this old school place (621A Main Road, Ampang), which, along with its two next door competitors, apparently invented this stuff...and hence the name Ampang yong tau foo.

It definitely was different. There wasn't any of that goopy sauce; it was just a little bit of a thin dark broth instead, sans soybeans. It wasn't the Singapore food court version with a spread of ingredients laid out either. Instead, you ordered without seeing the items and they served it to you family style (no, it wasn't prix fixe either). And the brown and chili sauce condiments were discreetly placed in squeeze bottles for you to put into small dipping saucers rather than completely covering your single serving bowl.

I definitely liked this a lot better, no doubt also due to the quality at this shop: the eggplant came in a generously-sized chunk and the fried bits were light yet tasty. And there was definitely character at this beatup old place with flies swarming around everywhere. One ordered at the cashier at the front, after which the guy took a karaoke microphone and yelled into a PA system so that the kitchen on the other side of the shop (as well as every Cantonese-speaking diner in the restaurant) knew your order. Cool.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Ice Room, Lot 10 Hutong, Kuala Lumpur

Black Sesame Shaved Ice

I liked this so much last time I was at Lot 10 Hutong Heritage Village that I got this again as a quick afternoon snack today. Its appearance may be puzzling, but it was basically black sesame flavored shaved ice. It was light, fragrant, and exactly what was needed here on such a warm day.

Breakfast off the Streets of Kuala Lumpur

Some Kind of Soup Noodles

This was my breakfast off some random stall around the Jalan Imbi area. I don't even know what it was called, but it was basically just soup noodles with some sort of meat cake things. No, it wasn't particularly anything enjoyable, but at least I got some food in my belly.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Grilled Fish from Jalan Alor in KL

Ikan Something

I don't know if it was because I never really noticed it before, but Jalan Alor is just a huge place for tourists, eh? Well, tourists or not, we needed food, and some grilled fish sounded pretty good. This random stall towards the end of the street near the Ramly Burger stall did this one perfectly too. This little fish didn't have much meat in it, but that didn't matter with its salty crispy greasy skin, allowing me to devour this fish down to its skeleton in minutes. They charged me RM20 (US$6.60) for it, which might have been a bit tourist-inflated, but it was tasty either way.

A Spicy Hot Curry on Aeroline

Hot Curry on Aeroline

Whoa that was actually pretty good, despite how it may appear. This hot meal on Aeroline came with a pleasantly spicy tofu curry that I devoured in seconds...a bit like that SQ curry the other day. I wasn't expecting this given previous meals on Aeroline. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the bus ride itself, which ran into problems about a third of the way into the trip, thus forcing us to wait for another bus to come get us. It's funny since I was incidentally just noticing how much the age of these buses was starting to show. I'm starting to wonder now if we should have just flown...or at least find a newer bus service that still goes from city center to city center.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Ramen Champion, Iluma, Singapore

Ikkousha's Hakata Ajitama Ramen

When we saw advertisements that this ramen stadium was going to open on July 1st, I immediately marked my calendar to be here on the first day, especially since Tetsu was going to be one of the six stalls featured here. No, that's not the Tetsu from Tanglin Mall, but rather Tetsu the tsukemen shop from Tokyo that impressively had a line forming at 4:30 PM last time we were at Shinagawa station. Now we finally got to try it, and we loved it. The broth was so thick that it was almost gravy-like, the noodles were thick and firm, and the chashu was crumbling from all of the fat. Nice one.

Taishoken's Mori Soba

Actually, the none of the photos here show Tetsu's awesome paitan tsukemen. Instead, the first photo at the top was tonkotsu ramen from Hakata's Ikkousha, whose smoky savory broth was right up my alley. Unfortunately, I couldn't say the same about Taishoken's mori soba in the second photo. Sure, they may have invented tsukemen, but that mildly sweet broth was a big turnoff for me. At least I got to close all of it off with a half-bowl of jirokei ramen from Bario below, whose coarse noodles were delightfully chewy and whose broth was nice and rich. The only two stalls we didn't go to were Iroha, whose noodles we've already come to love last time they setup a stall at Isetan (the man himself was behind the counter again tonight, BTW), as well as Gantetsu, mainly because I'm not a huge fan of Sapporo ramen.

Ramen Bario's Half Ramen

Oh, and where was this place, you might ask? Interestingly, it was on the former grounds of Ebisboshi Shotengai (201 Victoria Street #04-08, 6238-1011), the name of which has moved to Great World City by combining Bentendo with Bishamon (although Tsubohachi has stayed here at Iluma). They finally ditched those clumsy pen scanners and moved to a card-based system (yes, they cited Marché by name too). It's good to see after so many mixed results with these Japanese food streets in Singapore that this one actually features really good shops that we'll easily come back for, especially Tetsu.