Thursday, November 20, 2014

&Sons

C says:

We had a thoroughly enjoyable, and surprisingly reasonable, meal at &Sons at China Square Central. Owned by Il Lido’s Beppe de Vito, it serves small plates of Italian food, which as everyone knows is right up our alley. Their portion sizes are perfect for sampling a fairly wide selection of their menu – we shared 6 dishes (2 of them were pastas) and were satisfyingly full without being stuffed.


Grilled Smoked Caciocavallo with avocado


Caciocavallo is a smoked, fairly firm cheese – a bit like haloumi. It was pan-fried so it had a nice crisp browned crust, and was served with a simple salad and chopped avocadoes.

Spaghetti sea urchin carbonara


Excellent; the sauce was briny, savoury and had perfect consistency, just coating the al dente spaghetti. If this is any indication, then their lunch-only bucantini carbonara with guanciale must be stellar.

Tagliolini with crab and nduja


Also good, but not as addictive as the carbonara. Nduja is a spicy pork sausage tasting similar to chorizo, so the sauce was basically a creamy crabmeat tomato sauce with a hint of smoked paprika. The interesting snow on top of the dish was a malt extract, which doesn’t taste like much but adds a richness to the sauce.

Lamb tenderloins with cannellini beans


The tenderloins were cooked a perfect medium rare, but I found them a little too aggressively spiced. The cannellini beans, on the other hand, were perfectly seasoned.

Crab and sundried tomato crostone


This was A’s pick, and while I didn't dislike it, it definitely wasn’t something I’d personally order. The bread for the crostone was good, but otherwise I found the crab topping fairly ordinary and predictable.

Calamari with nduja


This was amazing. The calamari will simply grilled so it was charred and smokey but still succulent and tender. The nduja was in the form of a dip, which wasn’t even really necessary because the calamari was so sweet and flavourful on its own.

The dishes we ordered ranged from $9 to $19, which I thought was very good value given the quality and quantity. I imagine that it can get pretty crowded on weeknights after work, but it’s a nice, calm vibe on Saturday night and a new go-to for us.

A says:

Great value. The pastas and calamari are definitely worth ordering. And the service is excellent. 

&Sons
20 Cross Street
#01-19 China Square Central
Lunch: Mon to Fri, 12 noon to 2.30 pm
Dinner: Mon to Sat, 6.30 pm – 10.30 pm
Closed Sundays


Sunday, November 02, 2014

Wild Rocket omakase

C says:

The newly renovated and re-opened Wild Rocket now has an omakase counter, where you can enjoy a tasting menu of Chef Wilin’s creations, explained to you by Chef himself. You have to specify that you want the omakase menu when you call to reserve, though.

The omakase we recently had was quite an eye-opener. Prior to this, while we enjoyed the food at Wild Rocket, it didn't make a huge impact and we weren’t raving about it both during and after the meal. The meal we had, though, was really quite outstanding.

(Sorry, no photos of first 2 dishes, because they accidentally got deleted...)

First course: scallop carpaccio with konbu and truffle oil. Meant to be reminiscent of chwee kueh. Best dish of the night, in my opinion. Sweet scallops, umami konbu and just the right hint of truffle.

Second course: Thai pomelo salad with frozen coconut milk dressing. Bright, refreshing and with a hint of heat.


Third course: Crab cake on a bed of salted egg yolk paste. Chef’s take on a zi char favourite – salted egg yolk crab.


Fourth course: Grouper with a broth of spring onion and ginger. Again, this is meant to be a riff on that classic zi char dish – sliced fish with ginger and spring onions. Very impressive how the textures are so different but the flavours immediately remind you of the dish that inspired it.


Fifth course: “Singapore fried noodles”. Anyone who’s ordered this dubious-sounding dish in foreign Chinese restaurants will completely understand why Chef is on a quest to change everyone’s impression of this dish; from the lurid yellow, curry powder-flavoured noodle dish can be found nowhere in Singapore, to a dish that represents all the delicious noodles that are truly Singaporean. This will be a constantly evolving noodle dish, and the current version is a take on fried prawn noodles, with pasta, king prawns and a rich prawn stock.


Sixth course: Beef short rib rendang. A really good version of beef rendang with super flavourful short ribs.


Dessert 1: Palate cleanser in the form of pineapple sorbet with soy powder and chill padi – a nod to how the older generation used to eat pineapples with a dip of soy sauce, sugar and chilli padi.


Dessert 2: Matcha sugee cake with coconut ice cream

It was a thoroughly enjoyable meal. I’m not sure how often they update the omakase menu, but when we do go back it’ll definitely be for another omakase.

A says:

Food is better than ever. Definitely a place to take guests for inventive Singaporean cuisine.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Izy

C says:

A group of 5 of us had dinner at Izy, a new(ish) izakaya-concept bar and restaurant along Club Street. They do sharing plates, but portions are still on the small side, so between us we managed to sample most of their menu.

I have to say that I expected it to be more style than substance, but was happily proven wrong. Staff were very friendly, and more importantly the food was very good. I don't think anything was bad; it was just a question of what impressed us more.

First off, remember to ask about their specials. A couple of dishes weren't on the menu but we ran into A's friend there, who raved about a couple of off-menu items. The sesame tofu with uni and ikura was very tasty - a silken tofu pudding with just a hint of sesame, and a dollop each of fresh uni and ikura. Both the uni and ikura were already strongly flavoured, so I appreciated how they were quite restrained with everything else.


The foie is another special - foie gras marinated in sake for 3 day is then charcoal grilled, so the flavours are sweet yet smokey. The sake added a very nice dimension to an otherwise straightforward yakitori foie dish.


Two seemingly unassuming dishes on the menu turned out to be some of the best we had all night. First was the smoked potato salad, which again was so simple but so tasty - a creamy and smokey cross between potato salad and mashed potato, with a smokey hit. The other was their salad, that featured fresh vegetables tossed in a sesame dressing. The vegetables were super fresh, and again the dressing wasn't overpowering.


That's not to say that the food is always simple and bland. Their pork and ginger rolls had slices of pork wrapped around young ginger. The ginger flavour was almost too strong, but it stopped just shy of being overpowering. The fried chicken with balsamic soy glaze was also quite a flavour bomb, with battered chicken quite heavily spiced and drizzled with a sticky glaze.


In comparison, some of the other dishes like the trout carpaccio, pork skewers and stewed eggplant were, while certainly not bad in any way, just less memorable than some of the other dishes.


The carbs were tasty too - we tried the wagyu beef don with shaved black truffles, and the lobster porridge. A preferred the beef don and I preferred the lobster porridge, mainly because I thought the latter was a lot less predictable. Both were great way to end the meal.


Even their desserts are interesting. We tried the mangosteen almond pudding, and a coffee and chocolate mousse. I enjoyed the pudding, but objectively I think the mousse was better.

Another place that definitely begs a revisit.

A says:

Surprisingly, it's the simple dishes that really stand out here. Is it the best for the price? I'm not sure, but it's definitely worth a try.

Izy
27 Club Street
Tel: 6220-3327
Mon - Sat: 12 noon - 2.30 pm; 5 pm - 1 am
Closed Sundays

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Grain

C says:

Grain currently only delivers at lunchtime around the Marina Bay area, so this post may not be relevant to everyone, but I wanted to do a quick write-up about how good both their food and customer service are. Every weekday they offer 2 items, and to keep the suspense, they only announce the options when orders open at 10.45 am. Ingredients are listed in minute detail, as are nutritional information on calories, fat, carbs and protein.

You place your order either online or via telephone, and you can get your food in as little as 10 minutes. If you opt for a later delivery, say between 12.30 – 12.45, they will call you almost on the dot, and you meet the driver at the pick-up point.

How it works seems simple. Because they only have 2 choices a day, they only need to prepare those 2 options. By the time the email goes out indicating that orders are open, their drivers would already be in the Marina Bay area with stock of both choices, waiting for orders to roll in.

What they may lack in daily choice is more than made up for by their stellar customer service. They are always on time, never mess up an order, and are always there with a smile and a kind word. That personal touch almost makes it feel like a friend is delivering a home cooked meal to you. After lunch, they gather feedback on the meal, and dishes that get good reviews are brought back more often.

I’ve had very few misses, but some of the more notable hits have been:


 Hickory Smoked Chicken with Orange Couscous


Assam Chicken with Black Rice and Goji Berry Cabbage


Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Chimichurri Quinoa Salad

They cook their chicken especially well – it’s almost always nice and charred on the outside, yet still quite moist and tender. At $10.95 per dish (delivery is free for orders over $8), this is way more attractive than getting a soul-less salad for $10+.

I would highly recommend checking them out (www.grain.com.sg) if you work in the Raffles Place/Marina Bay. I hope they eventually expand their operations to include dinner service too.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Seriously Ice Cream

C says:

Seriously Ice Cream is our new go-to place if we want a light ice cream snack. Their ice creams are made without preservatives so the texture is a lot lighter and less dense than regular ice cream, but that’s also what makes it so light and refreshing.

They also do interesting flavour combinations, and they even have a mystery flavour every weekend. If you can guess every element of the mystery flavour, you get a free scoop of ice cream. It may sound easy enough, but with flavours like olive oil lemon oregano, or mango cardamom cheese curds, we haven’t gotten it right so far.


Our mainstay flavour is the amazing Lychee Rose, and we’ve also tried their blue cheese waffle with a miso gula Melaka ice cream. The waffle was a bit light on the blue cheese but you can always tell them to amp up the blue cheese when you order. The owners are really friendly and extremely accommodating.

A says:

Great flavours. Lychee Rose is must-try.

Seriously Ice Cream
Block 4 Everton Park
#01-44
Tel: 9621 6889
Closed Tuesdays


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Immanuel French Kitchen

C says:

Chef Immanuel Tee, who used to be head chef at Keystone Restaurant in the CBD, has opened a very different (and dare I say, much more welcoming) dining concept - a pared-down French hawker stall within a "high-end" coffee shop in the Alexandra Village cluster. Located within the Salut coffee shop and sharing space with other similar concepts like Two Wings, Mien by the Travelling C.O.W and SeaSalt, Immanuel French Kitchen may have a small menu but every item on it is executed perfectly.


We almost never order chicken main courses at restaurants (besides fried chicken and chicken wings in every shape or form), since they're usually the most predictable item on the menu, and it's pretty easy to do a decent chicken dish at home. The Sous Vide Chicken Breast here, however, is possibly the tastiest, most tender version of a chicken breast dish I've had in a very long time. Because of the sous vide preparation, the chicken is ridiculously tender and moist, but there's still lots of flavour from the sear right before serving. The rigatoni gratin that's served alongside is also pretty tasty - I just wish there was more of it.


The Pork Belly with onsen tamago and potato foam was also very good. The pork belly was slow braised, almost kong bak-like, and the light potato foam sauce was addictive. Given the choice, I'd still go for the chicken though, since I'm not a huge fan of super soft, slow braised pork belly.


The duck rillettes starter was tasty, but to me it was slightly underseasoned. It needed a tiny sprinkling of salt to bring out all the flavours.

Main courses are no more than $15, which is a great deal given how good the food is. It's only been open for slightly more than a month, but Chef Immanuel seems to have garnered a small following there already (including A and his colleagues). Yes, it may not be the most accessible location, but for good food at great value, this is definitely worth a (re)visit.

A says:

Great food for a great price. Restaurant quality food. If only parking wasn't so hard. Given it's close to our home, we'll definitely be back for more.

Immanuel French Kitchen
Block 119, Bukit Merah Lane 1
#01-40, Salut coffee shop
Tel: 9297-3285
Tues - Sun: 12 noon to 10 pm daily
Closed Mondays

Sunday, July 13, 2014

On The Table

C says:

On The Table recently opened along Pasir Panjang Road, a few doors down from Fatboys. Staffed mainly by youngsters, it serves simple but pretty well executed fare in a comfortable setting, at quite reasonable prices.



I didn't have high expectations for their spicy honey wings (though I had to order them anyway), and was very pleasantly surprised. Only the mid-joint was used (yay), it wasn't overly battered, it was tender and juicy, and the paprika spice with honey drizzled on top made for a surprisingly good combination.


For our mains, we had a crab linguine and duck confit. The duck was tasty but perhaps a bit on the tough side. The accompanying mash was good (W, yours is better though), and the orange sauce again complemented the duck well.

The linguine was simple but again, well prepared, with a good balance of flavours.


They have a good selection of home-made ice creams, which we had with a waffle. The salted caramel ice cream was more of a burnt caramel, but pretty good anyway. A was a bit disappointed with the waffle - it was too old school for his liking.

The flat white we ordered was surprisingly strong and full bodied. Service was good, albeit a tad slow in churning out the waffle. Overall, I'm glad there's finally a decent coffee joint near home.

A says:

Great coffee. Unexpectedly good food. The only letdown was the very ordinary waffle and ice cream. But if you live around the area, this is highly recommended.

On The Table
118 Pasir Panjang Road
Tues - Fri: 8 am - 10 pm
Sat & Sun: 10 am - 10 pm
Closed Mondays