Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hangoga, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore


I wasn't planning to come here (10 Bayfront Avenue #B1-01B, 6688-7385). I actually came by to check out the Indian place next door, but when I walked by this place I smelled fatty beef being grilled on a flame. I inexplicably couldn't pull myself away, and somehow found myself sitting at a table waiting for food.

I ended up with this bulgogi, which they brought out on a little hot plate rather than using the proper grill underneath. And it was delicious: thin slices of beef marinated ever so sweetly without being annoying, all resting on slivers of onion that caramelized at the bottom. I gobbled it up in seconds. Too bad the banchan provided was so skimpy though.

Interestingly, these guys appear related to Kraze Burgers - although they are on complete opposite sides of the shopping mall. And the aforementioned aroma that drew me in here? Yep, it stuck to my clothes too. I saw a sign that said that they offered to spray you with some deodorizer after leaving, but I didn't get it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

White Belly Fish for Lunar New Year

White Belly Fish

I have no idea what the English name of this is, but directly translated from Chinese, it is called "white belly fish," and it is specifically eaten for the Lunar New Year holidays. I was told that no one really eats it any other time of the year, and that the price skyrockets just before the holidays, in part because it's the spawning season now and the fish should be filled with roe.

In that sense, it was similar to that fish we got the other day, although this meat was much cleaner-tasting, presumably because it was a saltwater fish instead. Ours was done two ways: one sauteed with garlic and leek, while this one above was fried to the point where the meat was almost jerky-like, but in a good way.

Yes, those are two skeletons sitting underneath the uneaten fish in the center; I liked it enough that I ate three of them in one go. Granted, there really wasn't much meat in these things. In that sense, it was a bit like eating Chesapeake blue crabs: a lot of effort for not that much meat, but the point was more of a savory nibble to be washed down with some suds rather than a proper meal.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Shabu Shabu from Yoshinoya Singapore

Yoshinoya Singapore's Shabu Shabu

It looks like a few Yoshinoya locations are now offering this so-called shabu shabu meal in Singapore. Considering that all of the ingredients arrived pre-cooked in the pot, this wasn't really "shabu shabu," but rather just a generic nabe - and not necessarily anything that I'd go back for either. Well, one can't exactly expect much from a fast food chain that only charges about S$7 (US$5.50) for it. But next time I'm sticking to what they do best: the basic gyudon.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Anyone Want Some Poon Choi?

Poon Choi

Yes, the juvenile inside me couldn't help but snicker a bit at this unfortunate transliteration. But all joking aside, this was the first time that such a dish has been brought to my attention. I'm sure that I've had something pretty similar before at a Chinese banquet or something, but this was the first time that I had heard this referred to by name.

What is it? If I understand it correctly, this is a simmered dish that is popular in Hong Kong for special occasions like the aforementioned banquets or - in this case - for the Lunar New Year holidays. And while there are a lot of dishes served like this, this one in particular is supposed to be layered up with all sorts of fancy stuff like abalone and shark's fin.

This version tonight had none of the latter, but it did have duck feet at the bottom (or were they chicken feet?). I'm usually one that avoids that upon seeing it at dim sum, but I ate two or three of them tonight, largely for the sake of being polite. But I have to admit that I kinda liked them in the end; it was basically like eating chicken skin, albeit with a bunch of little bones that weren't as frustrating to navigate as I had thought. I couldn't help but wonder how great that skin might taste when grilled on a fire or even deep fried.

Da Lian Teochew Noodles, Balestier Road

Teochew Fishball Noodles

After reading about these guys online a few weeks ago, we made a note to ourselves to come down here for breakfast one of these days. And today, we finally did. Located at the Kai Juan Coffeeshop (395 Balestier Road) across from Boon Tong Kee, it sat next to a larger bak kut teh stall, which most of the customers seemed to be patronizing, seeing how there was no line in front of the noodle man. Our jaws just dropped then when we were told after placing our noodle orders that they wouldn't be ready for at least 30 minutes.

We went ahead and waited for it anyway, picking up a little steamed fish from the bak kut teh stall in the meantime. The fish's meat wasn't anything special - in fact, it tasted a little muddy. But then I unsuspectingly ate a white jelly-like organ near its stomach, which I think was its roe sack or something. It turned out to be very rich and creamy, which was probably why most people were getting these fish too. Sure, it was a little bitter, but nothing that those pickled veggies that they threw on top couldn't fix.

Anyway, when the noodles finally came out, we liked what we got, mainly because of its dark condiment mixture that gave it a unique character. This was supposedly due to the use of the buah keras nut, which - if I understand it correctly - is different from the similar sounding buah keluak nut. I also liked the fact that he used dried chili seeds rather than a sauce that most other Teochew noodle places would use. I don't know if I would wait 30 minutes for that again, but it was good and certainly unique.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Piao Xiang Ma La Xiang Guo, 313@Somerset

Ma La Xiang Guo

These guys have been up here for a while now (313 Orchard Road #05-01), but I never made any huge effort to come here, largely because my experiences with ma la xiang guo were never very interesting to me. Yet, we were in the neighborhood tonight and decided to give it a try, selecting a few items out of their fridge and telling them to make it extra spicy. They took it in back and threw it all into a hot wok before giving it back to us.

It turned out that it was good that we asked them to do so, as that made it a bit more exciting. To make things even better, they addressed the pet peeve that I have about getting this thing in China: there were no bone fragments accompanying the meat - yay! But alas, I am not going to go out of my way for this again though; I've lost my taste for a lot of this salty greasy stuff. Besides, I don't suppose there is any way in this food court setting for them to turn this into a soup afterwards.

Jungle Beer and Kawaebi from JiBiru

Kawaebi and Jungle Beer Easy English Ale

These guys (313 Orchard Road #01-26, 6732-6884) opened sometime ago, specializing in Japanese beers. But I never had the chance to sit down there until this afternoon, when I needed to park myself somewhere for a few minutes. Most of their selection is bottled, with only Sapporo and a couple of Hitachino varieties on tap. Well, that, and one more name I didn't recognize: Jungle Beer.

Seeing how these guys specialized in Japanese beer, I figured that maybe it was a Japanese brand. When I asked the bartender, he told me that it was English instead. But something didn't sound right, since it seemed like they were merely serving the English Ale version of Jungle Beer rather than Jungle Beer actually being English. And I was right: I subsequently looked it up online and found this to be a local Singaporean brand. Interesting that I had never heard of it until now.

Unfortunately, I didn't like it. It was strangely a bit sour and tangy, which was very off-putting when I was expecting a smooth English ale. I think they used fruit or something like that in it. I thus migrated next to Hitachino's Pale Ale, but I didn't like that one either, again because of how floral it was. Oh well. At least the salty crispy kawaebi made for a nice little nibble.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Trying to Figure Out Kagami Biraki

Kagami Mochi

Meidi-Ya has had a bunch of these kagami mochi things on sale for a while now, in a range of nicely packaged sizes from this small baseball-sized one to gigantic watermelon-sized ones. It wasn't very clear what they were; they looked a bit like seasonal decorations, but it also said that it was made of glutinous rice, and the package had instructions on how to break the seal on the packaging. After reading up a bit more on it, I realized that it was exactly for that dual purpose: it was a seasonal decoration for the Japanese New Year, and to be opened up on January 11th. I thus waited until today to open it up and figure out how to eat it.

It was totally different from what I figured it would be. First off, this thing was rock hard. I mean, given its mochi name, I was expecting a soft gooey thing that oozed right out, but this thing was practically like plastic. And if I read up on the tradition correctly, one couldn't use a knife to cut it since it symbolically represented the cutting of ties. Yet, I couldn't break it apart no matter how hard I pounded on it. I thus capitulated and cut it with a knife, which frankly wasn't that easy either; despite how it looked, it was much stiffer than a hard cheese (and yes, the little daruma head on top really was just a plastic decoration).

Next, I had to figure out how to prepare it. I saw a recipe online that suggested pan frying it with just some simple seasoning. Seemed easy enough. And once heat was applied, it suddenly softened up. But it didn't just soften up; it became stickier than I ever thought it would be, pulling all my scattered pieces into a cement-like clump no matter how hard I tried to keep them separate. I figured that they should have behaved like a Korean ddeokbokki or even those Chinese stir-fried rice cake slices, but these things just held together like glue. In the end, I failed massively; it was nasty and nearly inedible, and I pretty much threw most of it out. One of these days I'm going to have to figure out how this is really done.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mentaiko Cream Udon from Tsuru-Koshi

Mentaiko Cream Udon

Here's a special that Tsuru-Koshi is running through next month. It admittedly didn't look nor sound very enticing when I saw the sign, but it turned out to be delicious, especially since it was rich, piping hot, and topped with a dallop of mentaiko and a dash of white pepper. I gobbled it up in seconds and savored it until the last drop. I was nearly ready to lick the bowl at the end to make sure that I didn't miss out on any of it.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Tendon from Ten Tempura Restaurant

Super Deluxe Tendon

This was the shop that replaced the Central outlet of Kusabi (6 Eu Tong Sen Street #01-68, 6221-2185). I'd prefer to have my pieces served up individually like the way Teppei does, but this tendon set still did the job. Either way, it was definitely light years ahead of that nasty tempura that they serve at Yayoiken.