Sunday, July 26, 2015

Wanton - Seng's Noodle Bar

C says:

This place exudes such a hipster vibe that we were all prepared to dislike it... Until we tasted the food. And now we can't wait to go back. 

At dinner time, it becomes a higher end noodle bar, where you order the plain noodles (Nudles), and order separate proteins and other accompaniments. 


I could honestly just keep going back for the Nudles alone. The noodles were perfectly springy, and even though they looked plain, they packed serious flavour. I reckon it was a combination of shallot oil and lard. Absolutely delicious. 



We ordered one each of the char siew and roast pork. The char siew was really tender and sweet. The roast pork had some of the best cracking we've had in a while, but the non-fatty part of the meat was a bit dry and tough. 


Even their baby gailan was tasty. It was topped with their "gangster sauce" - a mix of oyster sauce and mushrooms and probably more of that tasty lard. Even A enjoyed this. And he normally doesn't like gailan.



Their eggs were a bit ordinary in comparison with everything else. One was an ordinary ramen egg topped with chili sauce, and the other was a scotch egg of sorts which pretty tasty. 

They have free flow lard (whee!), as well as a simple soup. But the Nudles are really the main thing worth going back for. 

A says:

The best noodles I've had. Everything else is average. The roast pork skin was amazing but the pork itself was dry. He char siew was good but nothing to shout about. The eggs were interesting but not super special. So yeah. Go for the noodles. 



Saturday, July 18, 2015

Lollapalooza

C says:

Lollapalooza is Lolla's sister restaurant, serving a constantly changing menu that's designed for sharing. It's best experienced with a group of 4, I think. Enough for each person to have just enough of each dish.


Helps if you're adventurous too, since some of their dishes include sautéed lamb hearts, and a whole veal tongue.

The lamb hearts were so good that we actually ordered a second portion. They were perfectly cooked and still medium rare, so still tender and juicy. 


I liked how they served the veal tongue unapologetically straight up, no slicing or disguising. The outer skin is meant to be discarded, but the meaty inner portion was very tasty; almost like a corned beef brisket. 


The sweetbreads fared a little less well. They were a bit overcooked and therefore a bit dry.



We had 2 perfunctory vegetable dishes - grilled Jap corn with bottargo di muggine, and artichokes with anchovy purée. I quite enjoyed the artichokes, but overall they both felt like fillers. 


The burrata with honeycomb and peaches was really good. Valentino's burrata is still oozier and creamier, but this was still really tasty with the peach and honey.


A roasted quail looked quite boring on the outside, but was stuffed with foie gras and mushrooms, and tasted heavenly. 


 
The charred tuna collar and grilled Iberico secreto rounded off what I thought was a very satisfying first time visit to Lollapalooza. I like the fact that the menu regularly changes, based on what's available. Keeps it interesting, and makes us want to go back for more. 

A says:

Not exactly cheap. but service and food are very good. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Portico's SG50 menu

C says:

For the months of July and August, Portico is offering a local-inspired 5-course menu for $50, to celebrate SG50. It's great value for the quality of the food, and I'm now convinced that our first trip to Portico (where nothing blew me away except for the chicken wings) wasn't a proper representation of what the restaurant could offer. 


First course consists of 2 snacks - chili crab on brioche, and bak kut teh terrine. The former was predictably good. The latter was a bit subtle. The first bite was overwhelmed by the chilli. On the second bite, I could taste the salted vegetable and herbal bak kut teh more.


Next was a very interesting rendition of rojak. The vegetables were compressed and infused with ginger flower and kaffir lime. You're supposed to cut it open and mix it yourself, in the stone bowl with grilled tofu puffs, cuttlefish and beansprouts. The sauce is in the form of a hae kor (shrimp paste) espuma. Despite all the fancy techniques, it still tasted like a really good rojak. Well done. 


Next course was my favourite - a play on wanton noodle soup. It was a smoked pork tortellini topped with fried garlic, in a pork bone broth with konjac noodles. The tortellini filing had hints of bak kwa, and the pork bone broth was amazingly flavourful. 


What's a local menu without laksa, and their version is a sambal 3-grain risotto (barley, orzo and quinoa) with laksa pesto, tiger prawn and coconut foam. Again, a very good rendition of laksa, full of big hits of flavour.


Dessert was a Tehramisu - obviously a tiramisu infused with milk tea. The mascarpone could have been a bit richer and creamier, but this was a nice, refreshing way to end the meal.

I was very impressed, and for $50 this really is quite a steal. Highly recommended. If the food had been this good when we first went there, we'd have been back a lot sooner.  

A says:

Interesting.

Some dishes were great; overall, not bad. Worth a try for the relatively cheap price. 

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Sorrel

C says:

We tried Sorrel a few weeks ago, and the fact that I've put off writing about it till now is an indication of how we felt about it. Yes, it was quite good, but nothing to shout or rave about.

We had the 7-course set dinner for $118, which includes a few snacks and an amuse bouche before the courses proper. 


First course was edamame and ikura with creme fraiche. The edamame was nice and fresh, but honestly with good ikura, it was hard for this dish not to be good. 

  
Next up was a seaweed cracker with uni and egg custard. The centre bit with the uni was predictably good, but the rest was quite ordinary. 


Luckily the next two courses were standouts. The langoustine was my personal favourite of the night. The giant langoustine was perfectly cooked, and served in a shrimpy broth with diced shrimp, glass noodles and a hint of laksa leaf. The crowning glory was a deep fried prawn head. 


A's favourite dish was the veal sweetbreads served with bacon-infused chestnuts and a beetroot butter. The sweetbreads were earthy and very well prepared, and the beetroot butter sauce packed a ton of flavour. 


In contrast, the main course of wagyu beef was a bit of a letdown. It was quite boring, and beef wasn't particularly flavourful either. 



After a pre-dessert course of sorbet, we had 2 desserts. The first was a chocolate banana cake with a rum ice cream and caramelised walnuts. 


The second was a rhubarb and meringue dessert that wasn't really up our alley. 

So yes, there were a few really good dishes, but overall the experience wasn't something that I was dying to come home and write about. 

A says:

Very good but not great.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dario Pizza & more

C says:

Finally! Decent thin crust pizza in our 'hood! Actually, more than decent. The first time we tried it to go, it had gotten a bit cold and was a bit soggy and chewy, but on Friday we decided to have it there, and what a difference it made. 


We ordered half Bufala, and half 4 Stagioni. When eaten freshly made, the crust was just the right thickness - crispy and slightly chewy, and the toppings were very fresh and tasty too. Definitely much better than the pizza at 2it&drink, where the toppings felt like they were just tossed on top, rather than being properly integrated into the pizza. 


Their special pasta of the week was an Amatriciana, which we had to try since its not commonly available here. It was quite good, but the pizza was far better.


A was happy with their tiramisu too, which was traditional style, i.e. non alcoholic. Portion was a tad small though. 

Chef Dario is a true blue Italian, so it doesn't get much more authentic than this. There are some pizza flavours that I can't wait to try next (like one with salame, gorgonzola and garlic, yum). I foresee this being quite a regular haunt for us.

FYI: It's located in a corner shophouse just down the road from Fong Seng, at the junction of Clementi Road and Pasir Panjang Road.

A says:

Great neighbourhood pizza. Seating can be a bit of a problem, though. 



Sunday, June 07, 2015

The Hitsuji Club

C says:

Dinner at The Hitsuji Club was surreal. We were seriously the only non-Japanese in the entire restaurant. Everyone was speaking Japanese, and for a brief moment we could almost imagine we were in Hokkaido. 

Yes, Hitsuji Club sells Hokkaido jingiskan - grilled lamb and vegetables on top of a dome-shaped grill. We ordered the premium set, which came with a selection of loin and shoulder meat, lamb chops and a selection of vegetables. 


They even provide cubes of lamb fat to oil the grill. Can't decide if I prefer the loin or the shoulder meat. Both were good. 


The lamb chops were great (look at the layer of fat!), but note to self: get the professionals to help grill them next time. They grilled them perfectly for the couple next door, whereas our first one was a tad overdone.  



Desserts were outstanding so definitely save some space. The ice cream with kinako and brown sugar syrup was good, but the adzuki panna cotta was divine. It tasted like the essence of good Hokkaido milk. Amazing. 

Meat-wise, I think the quality and variety at Gyu Kaku is better, but I love the charm and vibe of this place, and how I can pretend that I'm in Japan for a couple of hours. 

A says:

Surreal. This is exactly like Japan, in that all the patrons are Japanese. 

Best panna cotta ever. 

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Sacha & Sons

C says:

Sacha & Sons at Mandarin Gallery sells New York-style Jewish deli food. Think bagels and lox, corned beef on rye, toast with schmaltz and chicken skin, and latkes.


A is very happy with the Reuben here - pastrami with sauerkraut. For me, I prefer Sacha's roast beef. It's rare, tender and very sweet and flavourful. 


While the usual roast beef sandwich comes with basic add-ons of sliced tomatoes or cheese, you can ask for an off-menu special - roast beef and chopped liver. Oddly, it wasn't as good as the standard roast beef with Swiss cheese. The liver was a bit overpowering, and masked any flavour of the roast beef. 


If you're here in a larger group, you can opt to share their platters too. There's a meat platter and a fish one. Except for a really good smoked trout dip though, I think the meats here are far better than the smoked fish. 

A says:

Finally. One of only two places in Singapore to get a decent Reuben.