Wednesday, November 29, 2006
A and I are off on our annual holiday (finally!) later today, and we decided to start the festivities early by having a nice lunch. After being turned away at Au Petit Salut because they were full and we didn’t make a reservation (it’s a Wednesday, for crying out loud!), we made our way to Oso instead.
We’ve been to Oso twice before – once for a friend’s birthday party, and again for dinner, and have been impressed both times. It’s slightly more upmarket and fine-dining then I would usually prefer in an Italian joint, but at least the waiters are still very friendly despite the posh surroundings.
On Mondays to Fridays, they have a 3-course set lunch for $28, which is what A had. He started with a terrine of parma ham with baby spinach salad, followed by a grilled chicken breast with sautéed zucchini, and finally the dessert was a chocolate and banana pudding served with vanilla ice cream.
Whenever I come here, I can’t resist having the chicken liver pate appetizer, and today was no exception. With only 3 choices per course for the set, I was inadvertently drawn to the regular menu, and ended up having the pate and a pasta. The pate is one of the best I’ve ever had – incredibly smooth, creamy and luxuriously rich, and served with crostini and cherry tomatoes.
The home-made ravioli was filled with beef, in a cheese fondue sauce with mushrooms. This was very good but very rich; the cheese sauce had distinct flavours of gorgonzola which added a nice depth of flavour. Good thing the portion was fairly small, otherwise it would have been a struggle to finish it.
In short, the $28 set lunch is definitely very good value for money, as long as you don’t get side tracked by the very tempting options in the regular a la carte menu.
Oso has also opened Oso Privato, which is a two-storey shophouse opposite the main restaurant, and which is where we celebrated A’s friend’s birthday last year. It allows you to host private functions, and provides a customized menu. The Oso Bar is on the ground floor for guests to mingle, and the second level is the spacious and opulently decorated main dining room.
Recently, they’ve added yet another aspect to their repertoire – Oso Living, which is a home catering extension of the restaurant. We haven’t tried this yet, but if the food is up to the restaurant’s standards, then it can’t go wrong.
Anyway, this is the last you’ll hear from atetoomuch for a while. We’re off to the wilds of Scandinavia for two weeks; we’ll check in again when we get back!
Very good value! While the portions of the $28 Set Lunch are small, they taste damn good. Plus, the cake I had for dessert ended up filling me up.
The presentation is great and service is also impeccable. The waiters are friendly and knowledgeable and not snotty. The owner likes to chat with his customers but knows just how much people like to talk (we, of course, don’t like having to make small talk so we just said hello) and politely left us alone. He gets along very well with a few of my friends though so feel free to start a conversation if you’re that sort.
While a full meal may be a bit expensive, this place is so good that it’s well worth treating yourself once in a long while.
Note to self: Cappuccino not bad but not fantastic. Try latte next time and see which is better.
27 Tanjong Pagar Road
Lunch: 12 – 2.30 pm (Mon to Fri)
Dinner: 6.30 to 10.30 pm daily
Monday, November 27, 2006
My friend Y held a birthday party for her daughter B on Sunday afternoon (Happy 3rd Birthday, B!), and catered some tea time treats from Delifrance.
The photos only show maybe 5% of the spread that we had. Y went the whole hog and ordered practically everything on their party platter list. Besides the canapés (smoked salmon, egg, tuna, crab and chicken mayonnaise) and pastries (pain au chocolat and danishes) in the pictures, there were sweet and savoury mini croissants, madeleines, mini éclairs, and little bite sized cakes and tarts. Everything was delicious – the mini éclairs, in coffee and chocolate flavours, were particularly addictive. The mini ham and cheese croissant was good too, as were the canapés. Overall, it was much better than expected, given the unfortunate image of Delifrance nowadays.
Delifrance has certainly come a long way from its humble beginnings, and I’m not sure that I like where it’s going. I still remember when it first opened – it tried to recreate the ambience of a typical Parisian street café, down to retaining the French names of everything on their menu, and providing French newspapers and magazines (at least at their outlet at the now defunct Peranakan Place) for browsing.
Now, perhaps out of necessity, Delifrance has had to change its image and menu somewhat, to much more localized fare. While that is acceptable and probably inevitable in order to move with the times, I really do take offence at the new names for some of their items. I would have preferred it if they had simply reinvented their menu to include local fare. Instead, they’ve come up with bastardized creations and, even worse, they’ve STILL tried to retain some French in the names of the dishes. Honestly, Le Spicy Crab Spaghetti and Curry Au Poulet really doesn’t do it for me. If they had just stuck to purely English names, they would have retained a lot more credibility, in my opinion.
Still, I’m just ranting, perhaps unfairly given how surprisingly good the food was on Sunday. There’s still some life to Delifrance yet.
I’ve always thought Delifrance was very blah and swore off them years ago so this spread was a real surprise. Everything I tried was not bad at all. In fact, it was probably better than the catered food I had from Purple Sage the other day (cause it was easier to eat and didn’t have fancy schmancy ingredients). When W&M went to the actual Delifrance outlet, the food they ordered looked passable as well. I even ended up finishing their dessert (waste not, want not).
While it’s still not some a place I’d actually go to eat, if I had no other viable choices, I wouldn’t complain at all. And as catering goes, I’d wholly recommend it.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Brown Sugar opened very recently – 10th November 2006 – and when we went there on Saturday night with A’s friends, it was already packed. Word of mouth must be quite a powerful thing, since it’s only been around for two weeks, and its location is far from prominent. It’s in the Stardus Clubhouse, which is an NTUC, Downtown East-type recreational club. It’s very incongruous having a chic bistro in a place like this, but actually I can’t complain about the location. There’s free parking within the Clubhouse itself, so no problems trying to find a parallel lot along River Valley or Mohammed Sultan.
The executive chef and owner is a guy called Yuan Oeij, who prior to opening Brown Sugar, had been running a successful private catering business called “Chef For Hire”. He has temporarily stopped Chef For Hire while he establishes Brown Sugar, but apparently it will be up and running again in 2007.
The café/bistro section can seat about 25, and next to it is a private dining room for another 20. It was full on Saturday and as a result, the food took quite a long time – 3 courses took us almost 2 hours. Still, they’re a very new establishment and I attribute this to early teething problems. There’s definitely a lot of potential here – food was good and service was polite and attentive. Only the long wait and artic aircon temperatures marred an otherwise very pleasant experience.
Portions aren’t big, so A and I had 3 full courses each. For starters, A had the Cappuccino of Porcini Mushroom, and I had the Lobster Bisque with Prawn Ravioli.
The lobster bisque could have been served a bit hotter. It was lukewarm when it arrived, maybe because the kitchen can’t cope with the demand and it may have been sitting in the kitchen waiting for a waiter to bring it out. It tasted great though – the lobster flavour was really intense, and the prawn ravioli added a nice touch with some texture.
My main course was one of the daily specials – a rack of lamb with rosemary potatoes in a port and raisin sauce.
I asked for the doneness to be medium, but it was slightly more cooked than I would’ve preferred. It wasn’t pink any more, and felt more like a medium well. Still, it was very tender and overall the dish was very tasty.
A had the boneless chicken and baby spinach roulade with puttanesca spaghetti and salad.
The presentation was interesting and not what I expected at all.
I think A’s main was better than mine. The chicken was thigh meat and very very tender, not overly seasoned, and the spaghetti was yummy as well. I was afraid that the sauce would be overpowered with olives, but luckily only a few olives featured and the tangy tomato sauce was really good.
For dessert, I had the tarte tatin (surprise surprise, I seem to be addicted to these lately) with pears, and honey and fig ice cream. This was ok but not spectacular; the pastry was a little too hard and flaky, and didn’t have that light buttery taste that is the hallmark of a good puff pastry. Still, the pear, pastry and ice cream combination was really good and we still polished off every morsel.
A had the vanilla panna cotta with blueberry sauce, which was a very odd choice since I expected him to order the chocolate fondant cake. The spoonful of panna cotta that I tried was alright, but A said it grew on him the more he had.
All in all, it was definitely better than expected. We’ll give the place a month or two to sort themselves out, before heading back again for good food in a nice laidback atmosphere.
Decent food. I was a bit under-whelmed by the starters and desserts, but pleasantly surprised by the mains. The salmon and ribeye sandwich looked good so I’ll go for one of those the next time. In fact, I think maybe I’ll talk C into skipping starters and desserts so we can share three mains. Each is within the S$15-30 range so it won’t break the bank too.
Service is pretty decent and the location means easy parking. Will definitely be back and it’s worth considering as an alternative to our usual haunts.
Note to self: Latte very average. Try the cappuccino next time.
277 River Valley Road
(enter via Institution Hill)
Lunch 12 pm to 2.30 pm
Dinner 6.30 pm to 11 pm
Saturday, November 25, 2006
On Friday night, we met my old friend D and her husband (also D) for dinner at Café Swiss, on the second floor of Raffles City/Swissotel. I’m not sure how new this place is, but I don’t recall seeing it whenever we’re at Raffles City. The Café’s entrance from Raffles City is right next to Warehouse on Level 2.
It occupies quite a large area, and was sadly quite empty on a Friday night, particularly when the Raffles City basement establishments were packed to the gills. It’s a restaurant/bistro serving fairly authentic Swiss and other European specialities, like fondue and raclette. The menu had quite a varied range of items, catering to differing tastes as well as budgets. There’s a proper dining menu, as well as simpler and more reasonable bistro fare. There were a number of fondues available as well, including a Fondue Bourguignonne, which is a beef fondue where bite-sized cubes of beef are cooked in a mixture of cooking oil and butter, then eaten with a variety of dipping sauces. We didn’t have this fondue this time but it certainly looks interesting, and A and I will definitely head back here at some point to try it out.
Instead, we started with half a dozen garlic snails, then I had the Swiss burger, with emmental cheese and mushrooms, and A had a veal dish with mushrooms in a morel cream sauce, served with rosti potatoes. The burger was quite tender and not dry, just maybe slightly lacking in flavour/salt. A’s veal dish was heavy on the butter and cream but very delicious as a result. The food was much better than I expected, given that the restaurant wasn’t well patronized. I think it’s probably just unfortunate lack of awareness, or perhaps a misconception that because it’s a hotel restaurant, it’s overpriced. Prices were actually quite reasonable – my burger was $18 and A’s veal was in the $20 region. Ok, the Fondue Bourguignonne is supposed to be $45 per person, but I guess it’s not something you find very often in Singapore.
For dessert, I had a Toblerone Cheesecake, and D&D had the Toblerone Chocolate Mousse. The mousse was pretty good, whereas my cheesecake was way way too rich, sweet and cheesy. Just basically too gelak.
Still, this place was quite a pleasantly surprising find, and it’s definitely a place to consider when you’re in Raffles City. It’s certainly better than some of the joints in the basement, like Out of the Pan.
The food, while still a bit pricy, was surprisingly very good. Service was outstanding too. Definitely worth a visit to try some European fare.
Level 2, Swissôtel The Stamford
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Even though we’ve been eating so much and in so many places, one of our favourite restaurants is still Ember. We like the fact that it doesn’t try to be overly hip or excessively fine-dining. Staff are still very polite and friendly, and the atmosphere isn’t at all poncy. We’ve started to make it somewhat of a tradition to go there on our wedding anniversary (if you consider starting last year a tradition), so we happily went back on Wednesday to celebrate our 3rd anniversary. Time certainly flies – the last time we were there was on our anniversary last year!
Ember is a fusion restaurant located along Keong Saik Road, adjoining Hotel 1929. It’s run by a husband and wife team – Chef Sebastian Ng and his wife Sabrina. Since it opened a few years back, Ember has consistently been drawing in crowds; on Wednesday night it was almost full. It looks set to be a stayer in Singapore’s restaurant scene. I certainly hope so, because we need to come back here every anniversary!
The menu has changed and expanded somewhat over the past year. They’ve added an entire heading of “Foie Gras”, as well as quite a few new dishes, so it was quite a dilemma deciding whether to try some of the interesting-sounding new items, or go with our tried-and-tested old favourites.
In the end, we ended up with a combination of both. A’s starter was the half dozen deep fried oysters with an equal number of dipping sauces. Let’s see if I can remember all of them – Japanese mayonnaise, wasabi mayonnaise, tomato chutney, lemongrass and sweet chilli, soy and sesame, and peanut. *bow*
This is one of our favourite dishes, and it didn’t disappoint. The oysters were breaded and deep fried, with an amazing crispy crust and a still-creamy centre. Out of the dipping sauces, although all of them were yummy, my favourite was the Asian-inspired soy and sesame. A preferred the tomato chutney one, which wasn’t as sour as I expected it to be. In fact it had a slightly Indian twist to it.
My appetizer was a Maine lobster ravioli with lobster tempura in a beurre blanc sauce.
While the ravioli may have lacked the oomph of Chef Oscar’s at Buko Nero, it was still very good especially with the sauce. The tempura was also delightfully light and crispy.
The rest of the meal didn’t disappoint either. One of the dishes that at least one of us will always order here is the Chilean Seabass with Bacon and Mushroom Ragout in a truffle-butter sauce. In fact, we both almost ordered it this time but decided that that would be supremely boring. A ordered it, and I had the chargrilled US Angus beef ribeye served with gratin potatoes and fava beans.
The fish was awesome as usual. The fish was perfectly cooked, the heavier seasoning of the bacon and mushroom complemented the more delicate fish, and the sauce was just heavenly. I actually found this better than my steak which, while it was a very flavourful and perfectly medium rare steak, was still just a grilled steak. A felt differently – he found the fish a bit too gelak and thought the beef was better.
The dessert menu has also expanded considerably, much to my delight. Previously, besides the typical warm chocolate cake which is on practically every restaurant’s dessert menu, the dessert choices here were fairly limited. They had interesting but slightly oddball dessert combinations like banana tart with lavender ice cream, basil crepes and green tea/sesame crème brulees, and the one time we tried the warm chocolate cake, we were slightly disappointed. Thankfully they’ve introduced some safer options, like a regular vanilla crème brulee, and the two desserts that we ordered – the valrhona chocolate mousse with crispy banana, and the apple tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream. With A’s womanly tastes, no prizes for guessing who had which dessert.
Chocolate and banana is a foolproof combination, so the chocolate mousse was pretty good. The tarte tatin needed 30 minutes cooking time, and it was HUGE, but I’m not sure if it was worth the wait. The pastry was nice but there were too many apple chunks for my liking.
All in all, though, another very satisfying meal at Ember, which proved that even after a year, the standard hasn’t dropped and they are still consistently serving up really good food.
Food is generally guaranteed to be good or interesting or both. Oysters went down well but I had oyster taste in my mouth long after (which reminded me why I usually don’t do oysters anymore). First half of the fish is magnificent. Then 2nd half gets too much. Must be too rich for simple folk like me. I think I might go for the meat and potatoes next time.
The improved dessert selection now offers me too many choices. I’d usually go for the gooey chocolate pudding with ice cream, except my darling wife C makes a better one. Probably one of the reasons I’ve put up with three long years of pain and suffering with her.
If there’s anything I could complain about, it’s how bloody hard it is to find parking in the area. Luckily, we’ve found a place not too far away that I’m not going to reveal. HA! We’ve had bad service there only once (when they were jam-packed), but most of the time, the service is amongst the best I’ve had in SG.
50 Keong Saik Road
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
We finally made it back here to have the good stuff that we had on our first trip here – the Majestic starter trio, the rib eye and the lamb with carrot cake. We’ve written about these dishes extensively in our earlier post, so we won’t say much more here, besides putting up some photos and making even more yummy noises about the food.
I couldn’t resist and had to have the trio of pan fried foie gras with peking duck and a deep fried wasabi prawn again. I can take or leave the prawn, even though it was pretty good, but the foie gras with duck was perfection. Big difference in quality between the foie gras here, and the one we had at White Dog Café. The foie gras was perfectly done, with a really crisp outer layer yet a rich creamy inside.
Instead of sharing, we each had one order of the rib eye with sesame sauce, and the grilled rack of lamb with carrot cake. The portions, especially the rib eye, were a lot bigger than we remembered from last time. Maybe it’s also because last time, A and I shared a portion each of both dishes. It was such satisfaction having our own servings this time. The beef was really thin but very tender, and although I’m not a kimchi fan, it surprisingly was very well-paired with the kimchi on the side, adding a slightly sour edge to the very rich taste of the beef.
The lamb and carrot cake was divine as usual. Meltingly tender lamb, and wonderful carrot cake that I wish they were more generous with. I could eat an entire plate of the carrot cake on its own. It was super soft, not starchy, and had abundant amounts of dried shrimp.
Although we only had 3 dishes each, I guess each dish was a lot more filling than we expected, and we didn’t have space for the red bean pancake, or any dessert for that matter. I’m glad we went back again, because this time it was a lot more satisfying and value-for-money than the astronomical price tag the last time, and allowed us to more fully appreciate the really good food here.
This time, I definitely ate too much. No wonder the waitress stared at me as I ordered three mains. So despite the prices (high, but not astronomical), it was pretty worth it for a rare treat.
All in all, this is another place I’d frequent if money was flying out my ass. Not too often though, as they seem to specialize more in seafood and I’d go strictly for the beef, lamb and the dessert.
31-37 Bukit Pasoh Road
Monday, November 20, 2006
We were at VivoCity again on Sunday, and after doing our shopping before the teeming masses arrived, we settled down for lunch at White Dog Café. The menu looked interesting and the décor was bright and cheery, but even at 1 pm it was deserted – we were the second table there – so it was with some apprehension that we decided to go in.
We were pleasantly surprised, and I still don’t know why it isn’t more crowded. The nearby restaurants like Sushi Tei had queues for tables, when there was ample seating here. I guess it looks unfamiliar and therefore a little intimidating.
We weren’t terribly hungry, so A had the Triple Mushroom Soup and a Turkey Sandwich, and I had the Foie Gras Burger and a side of Sauteed Mushrooms.
The mushroom soup was pretty generic but quite good all the same. Definitely wasn’t canned, because it was a proper mushroom puree chockfull of mushroom bits. At just $6, it’s definitely good quality at very good value. The accompanying garlic bread was good but tasted as though it had been soaked in butter – a bit too greasy for me.
The sautéed mushrooms with garlic were again nothing spectacular – very buttery and garlicky slices of shitake and button mushrooms, but again, at just $4 for a very generous helping and including some mesclun salad, I’m not about to complain.
I was a bit worried at my choice of the Foie Gras burger (it’s part of the Appetizers, not a main) in a joint like this, but decided to try my luck. I’m glad I did, this was the highlight of the meal for me. It was very well plated, with some interesting uses of ingredients. The burger bun was actually a deep fried Chinese man tou, and it was topped with some enoki mushrooms, and a generous slice of pan fried foie gras. It was served with some rocket salad and a balsamic glaze. However, I didn’t like the raspberry coulis that also accompanied it. It was too sweet and overpowering, and I ended up avoiding it so that every mouthful didn’t just taste like raspberry. Other than that, the bun was deliciously crisp, and the foie gras, though probably just duck liver, was crispy outside and creamy inside. It may have been an appetizer but it was more than enough for me as a main.
The one downside to this place is that they don’t serve ice water, but oh well, it’s a small complaint in an otherwise fairly impressive place given the prices. Maybe next time when I’m hungrier I’ll try their wagyu burger. It only costs $28 so let’s see how good it is.
This place is really one of those half laidback café, half fancy restaurant places like PS. I’d quite like it except it doesn’t have the ambience, and the staff seemed over-trained but under-practised – as in they know what they’re supposed to do, but because the place is so new, they aren’t quite used to things yet.
Food-wise though, it’s pretty good. While the prices aren’t low, the portion sizes make it very worth it. A note of caution though, the appetizers are big enough to qualify as small mains so I wouldn’t order both.
Oh, and the biggest drawback about the place – no free iced water! Very bad for a heavy H2O person like me. The flat white also not good. Maybe I’ll go for a smoothie or a shake the next time.
White Dog Cafe
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Besides chicken wings in any shape, form or flavour, another food that I have a weakness for is soya sauce chicken. I think my obsession goes way back to when I used to visit K in London when we were in uni, and she brought me to have the yao gai fan at Young Cheng.
Ever since then, I find it hard to resist ordering it whenever I can at Crystal Jade-esque, dim sum restaurants. To me, the mark of a good soya sauce chicken is that it has to be just that slightest bit undercooked, to ensure that the meat is at its most tender and juicy. Even amongst the Crystal Jade restaurants, some have better soya sauce chicken than others. The one at Holland Village is a tad dry and scrawny. Plaza Singapore has a fairly decent one, as does where I got Saturday’s lunch and dinner from – C-Jade Express at the basement of Wisma Atria.
For only $10, you can get an entire chicken, but do note that this is for takeaway orders only (don’t worry, they chop it up nicely for you). Given that C-Jade Express is Crystal Jade’s fast food outlet, I was very surprised at the quality of the soya chicken here. It’s perfectly cooked (to me) and very moist and tender. It comes with the soya sauce, some spring onion oil and chili oil. I bought one for lunch, and it was way too much for A and I to finish for one meal, so we had the rest for dinner as well.
Quite cheap and good, even for someone who doesn’t normally eat this kind of chicken. Recommended for tar POW!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Friday was certainly a foodie day for us. We headed off to Sunset Bar & Grill for dinner, just the two of us, because we had a craving for their wings again, as well as their mini burgers.
Most of the dishes we ordered were old-time favourites that we always order – the calamari, level 3 buffalo wings and the brownie. The calamari was slightly tough on this occasion, but the wings were great, albeit particularly spicy this time around, and the brownie was superb – extra fudgy and chocolatey.
A dish that we’ve recently discovered here is their mini burgers. One order comes with 4 cute little mini burgers, with just a beef patty and a ring of sautéed white onion that’s really sweet and juicy. The tiny patties may not be as juicy as regular-sized ones, but they certainly don’t lack any flavour. They’ve very simple and nothing like Iggy’s wagyu burger, but when you’re just in the mood for a no-frills burger, these adorable ones really hit the spot.
I have only a minor complaint about this place, which is that the service isn’t spectacular, but I guess in some perverse way, that’s all part of the quirky charm of this place.
There is one guy that provides good service (besides Jerry and his wife of course), and he tends to stick out like a sore thumb. The Sunset experience should generally involve:
1. An adventure finding the ulu place.
2. Expecting long waits, bad service and good food.
3. Hoping for a cool, breezy night and maybe a plane landing/take-off.
4. Extensive debate about what to order from among the many good items they have so you’ll still have room for the brownie and ice cream.
Sunset Grill & Pub
Republic of Singapore Flying Club
Seletar Airbase, East Camp
Open Mon to Sun (Closed on Tues) at 4 pm, last order at 9.30 pm
We went to Iggy’s for lunch again on Friday. We had pretty similar dishes to those we had the last time we came, but we were armed with a camera this time so you can get a better idea of how the food looked.
The amuse bouche was the same as the last time – a pumpkin puree and sesame tofu, which leads me to wonder if it was just coincidence, or is it a standard lunch starter?
For our first course, I had the linguini with truffle salsa cooked in a chicken jus. This was delicious – they clearly didn’t skimp on the truffle salsa, and there was an added parmesan flavour to the thick sauce that added a nice complement to the truffle.
A had the tuna carpaccio with rocket, truffle mayonnaise and shaved parmesan. This was well presented but was a little lacking in flavour. The rocket and the thickly sliced parmesan somewhat overwhelmed the delicate flavour of the tuna.
Of course, we couldn’t not have the Iggy’s wagyu burger again, so we both ordered this as our main. I deliberated trying something new, but A was definitely ordering the burger so I knew I would regret any alternative choice when I saw him chowing down on it. I’m glad we were boring, because this was as awesome as I remembered it. Here are a couple of photos (including a bitten one to show how juicy the patty is) that still don’t do it full justice.
Finally, dessert. A had the molten chocolate cake again (I swear he has female taste buds), but I decided to try something new. I had the mango tarte tatin with grated coconut, served with young coconut sorbet. This was surprisingly good – again, like the last time, the tart’s pastry was flaky perfection, and the mango didn’t overwhelm. In fact, it was so subtle that A managed to have a bite or two (he who thinks mango is second only to durian in vileness…). The young coconut sorbet was extremely interesting. It really tasted like an intense flavour-packed version of the juice from a fresh coconut. Incredibly authentic and wonderfully refreshing.
Once again, another extremely pleasant experience at Iggy’s. The waiters were really friendly and didn’t have that air of taking themselves too seriously, and most importantly made us feel welcome and at home.
The food ROCKS! Best burger ever! The rest of the stuff is pretty good too. Makes me wonder how good the $75 Wagyu Steak set is. If I was printing money, I’d eat here every day.
Anyway, the service was excellent, even though they could tell we were simple folk out to treat ourselves. They even put us in the private room so we wouldn’t scare the usual chi-chi crowd at the counter. (C says: Dude, that’s not true! The waiter said the counter was already full when we arrived. We don’t look that hillbilly…)
Note to self: Cappuccino RAWKS! Worth the $8 price tag to cap the meal.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
This is a really good traditional Japanese restaurant tucked away on the second floor of Ginza Plaza. The menu isn’t particularly extensive, and ordering the food a la carte will probably set you back quite a fair bit, but if you order the set meals, you’ll get really good quality Jap food and eat until you explode.
We’ve been here before, but had it again on Monday by accident because our attempt to have West Coast satay was thwarted due to the West Coast market being closed for a few days for spring cleaning.
At Sakuraya I had a set consisting of: cucumber and seaweed salad, mini zaru soba, three huge pieces of tempura fish, two pieces of tempura green peppers, miso soup, huge slices of 3 different kinds of sashimi, grilled teriyaki cod, a bowl of rice, and a jelly dessert. $36 isn’t the cheapest of set meals, but 2 people could easily share this.
Unfortunately we didn’t know how huge it’d be, so A had his own zaru soba and sushi platter. The sushi looked like it could’ve come from a restaurant in Japan –generous slices of fish on disproportionately small cubes of rice. Apart from their very sizeable portions, the quality of food is also very good. Each individual item of my set was delicious in its own right.
As a bonus, they serve you a Japanese version of an amuse bouche, compliments of the chef. On Monday night they gave us a few pieces of mussels baked with some unidentifiable but very yummy condiment.
The few times we’ve been here, I’ve always left satisfied. Food is good (since the fish market is right next door) and service is super. It’s a bit expensive, but when you consider how filling it actually is, it’s actually good value for money. Definitely worth trying out.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Quick one on Choupinette, since we’ve written about it before. We had Sunday brunch there and it was absolutely packed, but the head waiter was very nice and took my name down, and told the other waitresses that once a table freed up, they were to clear it immediately and not give it to anybody. We barely waited 2 minutes before we managed to get a table.
I had the Eggs Benedict, and A had the Eggs Royal – the only difference between the two being mine had ham, and his had smoked salmon. Each serving had 2 eggs, each one looking like this:
We also ordered a small loaf of their Fougasse bread, to mop up the remaining hollandaise sauce and egg yolk. The bread is one of the best I’ve had – it’s light and airy, and absolutely delicious with just a dab of salted butter.
Some people have complained that this place is too poncy and expatriate, but I beg to differ. Service has always been good and no one has treated me any differently than they treat the many ang mohs that frequent the place.
Once again, for the most part, we were the only locals there. Like C said, the service and the food were still great though, which is probably why it’s so packed. And they’re nice to everyone, even the local middle-aged couple that C kept complaining about (mainly how they had no taste and weren’t poncy like her).
The woman used five packs of sugar in her latte!! FIVE!! A and I only used half a pack each! And when her breakfast of sausages and eggs arrived with a nice crusty bread roll (bearing in mind this is a bakery/patisserie known for their breads and pastries), she seemed offended and actually demanded, in a rather affected manner, “I don’t want any of this fancy bread. Don’t you have normal slices of white bread?”
Good grief, woman. If all you wanted was sunny side up eggs, sausages and toasted Sunshine white bread, go to Denny’s…
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Located along Purvis Street, this place, with its cheerful bright pink décor, immediately catches your eye. A sees it all the time when he walks by the area, and we’ve read some pretty good reviews about it as well, so we decided to check it out on Saturday.
We were the only table when we got there at about 11.30 am. The walls are bright pink with funky cartoon decals, which leads me to wonder who the regular clientele is. It would appear to be a student hangout, but what schools are there in the area? SMU maybe?
Anyway the food is passable, and very reasonable. Don’t expect fine dining for the amount you pay, though. I think it very much depends on what you order. A had the Garlic Crusted Dory:
This was labeled ‘Clarity’s Choice’ on the menu, for good reason. The fish was wonderfully fresh and the garlic breadcrumb crust was nice and crispy. Very good value at only $8.
The Pork Roulade that I wanted to order was sold out, so I ended up ordering the Lamb with Provence Crust, which was lamb chops crusted with provence herbs. This was a disappointment. The lamb was incredibly tough and chewy, and the tomato sauce that accompanied it was far too sour.
For $3 more, you can have a set meal with a soup, drink and dessert. The dessert was either mango pudding (A recoiled in horror) or a bread and butter pudding that was surprisingly good. All in all, there were some hits and misses, but generally this place is a nice cheerful place to have a meal if you’re in the vicinity.
Was a bit concerned that we were the only ones there, but I think it was because it was early on a Saturday. The staff are very friendly and handled all the orders well, even though I don’t think they’re English speaking.
The menu had some interesting items like escargot, but I stuck to the safer options like Clarity’s Choices (marked by her picture on the menu).
If you work in the area, this place is well worth a visit for lunch. I probably will.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Back to Buko Nero again on Friday night after a break for their vacation. Unfortunately Tracey very apologetically told us that we couldn’t take photos of the food, because she realised some people had been marketing photos, together with the restaurant, for a profit without the restaurant’s consent.
Anyway the menu was:
Amuse Bouche: Beef ravioli with tomato and basil sauce
Rock Melon and Rucola Salad with Citrus dressing
Chickpea and Crabmeat Soup
Orange, Peach and Coriander (?!!) Sherbet
A’s main: Beef tenderloin with chanterelle mushrooms and parsley sauce
C’s main: Rucola tagliatelle with braised duck ragu
Milk chocolate cake with coconut and Gula Melaka coulis
Again, the amuse bouche was more or less like the one we had on our last visit. Interestingly, we noticed that different tables had different amuse bouches. The tables of two had the some one that we did, whereas larger tables had something else that, from my eavesdropping, sounded like it had egg white and capers.
Salad and soup were as you would imagine them. A definite miss this time was the sherbet. I mean, coriander?! This is purely personal I guess, because coriander (cilantro to Americans) really isn’t my cup of tea. I’m trying my best to acquire a taste for it, but until then, that sherbet was definitely not something I’d have again. The coriander scented the entire sherbet to the exclusion of the other flavours, especially the peach, but I would imagine that someone who liked coriander would find it quite a delight because it was very fragrant. Just not for me.
The main course and dessert fared much better. The rucola tagliatelle was home-made, and was green because it was flavoured with rocket leaves. It was tossed together with more rocket, and an amazing braised duck ragu. The duck was tender and flavourful, and came with an incredible sauce that still didn’t overpower the pasta. Wonderful.
Dessert was really sweet but amazing all the same. The cake was moist, and had a hint of coconut, and the gula melaka coulis was like a pumped-up caramel that gave a nice Asian twist to the cake.
December looks to be hit and miss, because they’re closed for quite a number of private functions. We’ll try our best to have one more visit before 2006 draws to a close.
Buko Nero has set such a high standard for itself, that anything less than spectacular is a bit disappointing. While the food was once again good, nothing (except for the dessert) blew me away. Maybe I was thrown off by the coriander in the sherbet.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
S had a birthday party at her place on Saturday night (Happy Birthday S!), and got her cousin Michael Han to cater. Michael is a pastry chef at Canele Patisserie, and has his own private home catering set-up as well. I was very impressed with the food – they were all his own creations and were very professionally executed. Here’s the menu for the evening:
One of the best presentations for the starters was the prawn Caesar sandwiches – check them out:
Another creative use of utensils was little lab beakers to contain the chilled cucumber gazpacho. The soup itself wasn’t quite up my alley, but A surprisingly liked it a lot.
Out of the starters, my favourites were the vine cherry tomato and sausage salad, and the braised ham hock with pea puree, which was presented in individual glass bowls.
The main courses were Moroccan chicken wings, a chilli con carne made with wagyu beef, and orriechette with lamb shoulder. The chilli was delicious and the meat, being wagyu beef, was wonderfully tender. I enjoyed the wings most of all (what’s new) – they were well marinated, slightly spicy and meltingly tender, with the meat falling off the bone without even being coaxed.
Finally came dessert. There was individual lemon tarts which were nice albeit a little on the sour side, and of course the highlight which was the birthday cake – a lovely chocolate mousse cake with almond paste and a biscuity layer.
This may be a not-so-subtle plug, but really I was very impressed with dinner as a whole. He even roasted the duck himself for the Asian Roast Duck, rather than taking the easy way out and buying it from Johnson Lock or something. No wonder the duck was exceptionally tender and succulent.
So you can either call the number that’s on the menu, or alternatively let me know and I can ask S to liaise with him, if you’d like to explore the possibility of getting Michael to cater for your own private party.
The food was interesting, even though nothing really stood out (except maybe the chilli con carne with wagyu beef).
Presentation was nice and it’ll probably be good for small parties of 8 to 12 people. Maybe we had too many people there because it became a fight for the food at first and I had stuff in the wrong order.
This guy’s definitely going to be a chef to watch out for in the future though.
Monday, November 06, 2006
After we tried but failed to locate Ken’s the last time, and ended up at Ohsho instead, on Saturday we made a beeline for Orchard Plaza and managed to find it quite easily (it’s facing Starhub building, right next to Ah Meng Café).
This was miles better than Ohsho, in my opinion. I had the stewed boiled egg ramen, which was very similar to what I had at Ohsho – ramen with tender chashu, beansprouts, spring onions and a whole stewed egg in a creamy soup. The noodles were much firmer, the chashu was softer and more tender, the soup was thicker and more flavourful. But what really took the cake was the stewed egg. It was amazing – it tasted as though it had been stewed for hours, yet the egg wasn’t dried out at all. The flavours of the soup had thoroughly been infused into the egg, and the egg yolk was still a little soft and creamy.
I still think Miharu serves slightly better ramen, but it’s definitely more of a production going there and risking not getting a table. Ken’s comes in a close second in my opinion, and I’ll definitely come here for a fairly convenient ramen fix. Probably every time I get a haircut, since my hairdresser is in the Somerset area…
When did cheap ramen get so expensive? It’s $10 to $12 a bowl nowadays. And that’s standard for most of the better ramen joints, even hole-in-the-wall places around Cuppage.
Having said that, this small joint had one of the best ramens I’ve had. If you sit at the counter, you get to watch them make it, and it’s not as simple as I thought.
You don’t get a lot of choices though. 5 kinds of ramen, a few sides and that’s it. Still if you want good, simple ramen, this is the place to go. Simple food for simple folk.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
In our trademark boring fashion, when we went to A-Roy Thai again on Friday night, we had the exact same dishes as we did the last time we were here. But now that we’ve just acquired a new camera, we’ve got some photos of the food. This is the tom yam kuay teow soup.
One of the friendly owners spotted me fishing out the slices of lemongrass which, though I like the fragrance to perfume the soup, it’s too hard to actually eat. She said in future, I can ask them to just smash up a stalk of lemongrass so that I get the flavour, but it’s still easily removable.
We did try something new – the red ruby dessert. We shared one but next time we’re totally going to have one bowl each.
It was delicious – really thick coconut milk, and the actual red rubies were nice and sweet and had a distinct rose syrup aroma, unlike more mass produced red rubies where the red stuff is just starchy and flavourless.
I think my tom yam kuay teow cravings have been duly satiated, so next time we come here, I think I’ll try the claypot tung hoon with prawns. Yum…
I’m really surprised that the place was almost full when we went on the Friday night. With more customers, the service can be slow at times. The older staff are really nice and efficient but the younger ones tend to look confused and overwhelmed.
It appears A-Roy Thai is going to be our place of choice for Thai food now. While I’m still not a fan of Thai food in general, I’m hooked on the iced coffee and red rubies. I wouldn’t recommend it if you can’t take things really sweet or coconutty though.