Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Anyone who knows A and me will know our obsession with Krispy Kremes, and we’ve waxed lyrical about them before, so this is just a short post to let fans in the region know that they’ve opened two stores in Hong Kong. I went to the Causeway Bay one and was lucky enough to watch a batch of their Original Glazed being made. Nothing quite compares to taking a bite out of an Original Glazed when it’s hot off the line. Bliss.
Krispy Kreme RAWKS!!! Mad props to C for bringing da goods back yo!
Causeway Bay store
67-73 Lee Garden Road
51 Elgin Street
Monday, January 29, 2007
We try to make it a point to only write about places that both A and I have been to together, so that we can each give our own take, but I went to Hong Kong and Macau for the weekend on a department offsite, and had such amazing food that I couldn’t not spread the word. So, in a rare departure from atetoomuch’s norm, here’s a quick review of some of the great food that I had in Hong Kong and Macau.
Fernando’s is apparently an institution in Macau. It’s an unassuming little shack, but that’s what I like about it. It sets out to serve good food, and doesn’t bother with other distractions like its décor, which is homely and basic, and the reassuringly rowdy ambience, which comes from the crowds that pack every table in the house.
It serves traditional Portuguese food, and the dishes that we had that night were the restaurant’s specialties. We started out with some home made bread, soft and light inside and crusty on the outside, and an incredibly fresh salad of tomatoes, lettuce, white onions and the most amazing vinaigrette. Note: apparently the restaurant sells the olive oil to customers who want to recreate some of their dishes at home. I wisely decided to leave the cooking to the experts, and chose not to buy any.
We were bombarded with plates and plates of seafood next – clams, claypot crab with a gravy that I wished I could just slurp up every drop, fried prawns and pan fried fresh sardines. I loved the flavour of the sardines, and the olive oil and white wine vinegar that they served with the fish did a good job in cutting through the somewhat rich flavour of the fish. It was a bit too bony for me though, and even though the bones were tiny and were probably meant to be eaten, I found it quite hard to maneuver my way around the gazillion little bones.
The meat was next, and my main grouse was that we didn’t know what was on the menu – the food just kept coming. I wish I’d known beforehand so that I could pace myself, because I would have gladly foregone a couple of the seafood dishes in order to have more of the fabulous meats. The African chicken was quite tasty, but the two pork dishes were the highlight of the meal for me – the suckling pig, with its crispy skin and tender meat, and the salted pork ribs which were incredibly flavourful.
This was an extremely enjoyable meal, and I’m pretty sure it’s not just because of the many glasses of the delicious sangria that I had throughout dinner. I’m definitely bringing A here if and when I next visit Macau. Maybe I’ll just skip everything and go directly to the meats…
After our offsite in Macau, Y, L and I had a day and a half to explore Hong Kong and we didn’t even manage to make a dent in the list of eating places that we were recommended.
We did make it to Yung Kee for dinner, one of the most famous restaurants in Hong Kong for various types of roasted birds. Apparently visitors buy entire roasted geese home for their families. We tried the famous roast goose, roast pigeon, and the Hong Kong gailan.
The goose was tasty but a tad dry, I thought. It had less fat that I expected, and perhaps that’s why it was a little tough. Surprisingly the pigeon turned out a lot better. The skin was crispy, the meat was really tender and juicy and didn’t have any unpleasant gamey smell, and there was a distinct flavour of Chinese wine. The gailan was sautéed simply with garlic, and was wonderfully tender, sweet and crunchy. A far cry from the gailan that you get at home.
The next morning, we went to the only dim sum place that was open for breakfast. We were surprised that most places only opened at 10.30 or 11 am, since dim sum seems to be quite a breakfast food. The place we went to was apparently a restaurant opened by the Wing Wah mooncake chain, and was a surprisingly good find.
The menu was all in Chinese, but we (or rather, Y and L) did a pretty good job trying to decipher the menu, and managed to order most of what we wanted. The pan fried carrot cake was the best thing we had, and the steamed pork ribs were pretty good too.
There are so many other places that I want to try in Hong Kong – the dim sum joint that apparently sells the best char siew pau in the shape of pineapples, and the legendary wanton noodles. I’ve kept the food maps that my friends have so nicely prepared for me, for my inevitable trip back in the near (I hope) future.
Praia de Hac Sa
No.9 Coloane, Macau
Yung Kee Restaurant
32-40 Wellington Street
Central, Hong Kong
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Just like Maxwell Food Centre, this isn’t a place that you should go to on a Monday, because some of the stalls, like the Seafood BBQ and the dessert stalls, are closed, and the opening hours of some other stalls are quite erratic. When we went two Mondays ago with Y and J, King George Delights was open, but they went again yesterday and it was closed. And to make things worse, the prawn noodles that Y tried to order had no pork ribs, probably a consequence of the general rule that fish and meat purveyors tend to close on Mondays after a bustling weekend. Anyway moral is – if you have to go to Adam on a Monday, be prepared to be disappointed if some of your favourite stalls are closed.
We went for dinner on Tuesday, and after being unlucky twice with the tau suan from the dessert stall, third time was thankfully a charm for A. The bowl was piled high with you char kuay – very generous for just $1 – and the tau suan was really smooth and not at all starchy. It wasn’t too sweet either. Very good, considering that I’m not a big tau suan fan myself.
We usually come here after running and have the seafood barbeque (sambal stingray and kangkong), which is really quite delicious, but lately we’ve been feeling that it more than negates our hard work at the gym. Y introduced me to the sliced fish soup at King George Delights recently, and since then I must say I’m hooked (oh dear, in no way was that meant to be a pun). Besides feeling really healthy because its sliced fish slices and tofu in a clear soup (hopefully as low fat as hawker food can go), it’s actually really delicious to boot. For $4, they’re extremely generous with their ingredients – you get substantial slices of very fresh batang fish (mackerel), some cubes of tofu and a fair amount of vegetables. The fish is generously sliced, and is remarkably fresh and springy.
The soup is the clear sort, not the milky type that I usually prefer. This adds to the whole healthy feel of the dish though, and the soup here clearly doesn’t suffer from the lack of the milk element. It’s very flavourful, and you can tell it’s not through salt or MSG. It’s the real thing – a proper good fish stock. The soup is a little tangy and sour because of the addition of tomatoes, tamarind (assam/sour plum) and julienned (heh) Szechuan vegetables. This is now my favourite dish at Adam.
King George does a mean fried rice as well. A had this on Tuesday night because too much roti john and nasi lemak isn’t the best for cholesterol levels. The fried rice, which came topped with an egg, had a good wok hei aroma, and the little bits of fried silverfish added some serious flavour shots as well.
I’m glad we’ve found some stuff to eat at Adam that’s remotely healthy, since almost everything else there will pretty much add 5 times the number of calories we burned during our workout before dinner there. Thanks to Y & J for introducing King George, and for ensuring that we stick to our diet, heh.
I’ve been coming here for years and until recently, only liked the teh tarik and seafood barbeque. Here’s a quick rundown of good stuff there:
King George – First time I tried it and I liked the added oomph with the salty silverfish.
Adam Seafood BBQ – Still one of the best in Singapore although the size of the stingrays has shrunk over the years (damn over-fishing, pollution, global warming, etc…)
Number 1 Nasi Lemak (Stall No.2) – Supposedly where the Sultan of Brunei gets his Nasi Lemak when he’s in town. It’s not bad, but definitely not worth the wait from the long queues that usually form there.
Sup Tulang – See previous review.
Taj Mahal – One of the better teh halia stores among the many there.
Fruit Juice Stalls – The feud between the two fruit juice stalls has toned down from the days when they used to hurl insults at each other in front of you. I find the one with the loud woman has some interesting stuff (like the mysterious “House Special”) and are generally friendlier. Ordered from the constantly depressed looking guy the last time and was surprised by how nice and sweet his juice was. (Yes I realize how gay that last line sounds!)
Dessert Stall – Very good. For iced cheng teng and especially the tau suan. Will try their ice kachang there soon.
Monday, January 22, 2007
This place, occupying where Pasta Fresca used to be in Shaw House (Isetan Scotts), was quite an unexpected discovery. We were shopping at Isetan on Monday night, and had originally planned to have dinner at NYDC in Wheelock Place, but we got lazy and were loathe to even walk the short distance to get there. (Yes, yes, we’re willing to run 2.4 km but can’t walk the length of the underpass…)
As we were trying to think of a place to go in Isetan, Dome suddenly caught our eye. The menu looked fairly interesting, so we decided to give it a try.
I’m really glad we did, because this turned out to be a pretty good meal. I had one of the Chef’s Specials – the Spicy Crayfish Pasta with Crabmeat Sauce. The spiciness in the sauce certainly creeps up on you unexpectedly. I showered black pepper on it because it looked and tasted a little lackluster at first bite, but after 2 or 3 mouthfuls the heat does catch up with you. Still, for $14.90 you get 3 crayfish halves AND crab meat in the sauce, so even though the sauce was quite a generic tomato-based one, I really can’t complain. I also saw quite a number of other dishes that I wouldn’t mind trying (the Chili Con Carne Tortilla springs to mind), so I’m sure we’ll be back here again in the future.
A had the smoked salmon tortilla, which came with a side salad and some potato chips (crisps, not fries). The chips were accompanied by a pico de gallo sauce, which tasted pretty much like a smoother and zestier salsa, and was a very interesting and tasty dip for the chips. I kept imagining that there was alcohol in the sauce, but I think it was just the presence of the lime juice, which made me think about tequila or a margarita. The tortilla itself was nice and crispy and was surprisingly non-messy to eat because the edges were nicely sealed so no filling tumbled out.
We also shared a chicken and mushroom bruschetta, which could actually have been the best dish of the night. Slices of baguette were topped with roast chicken slices, a pesto spread, sliced button mushrooms and melted mozzarella cheese. All the flavours went together surprisingly well, and the chicken was still tender and juicy.
The only downer was my Chai Vanilla Latte – it was quite insipid and frankly, it tasted like the chai that I can make at home with my Lipton chai tea bags. A’s ice blended coffee was right up his alley, though.
Actually, I found the Dome while waiting for C to finish shopping. And I was equally as enticed by the menu as the 5% off for Isetan card members. It turns out they have other credit card promotions (which we are willing to sell-out and name only if they offer to sponsor us – a la some more prominent food bloggers).
While I expected my Espreski – espresso, milk, gelato and ice lightly blended and served in a milkshake glass – to be good (it RAWKED), the standard of the food wasn’t bad either. And the selection had lots of stuff I’d eat. Considering what a picky eater I am, that’s a pretty good thing.
The service was friendly but because we got a trainee server, a bit inefficient. Full marks for her efforts though. The food also took quite long to be prepared, especially since the place was only 1/10 full.
If not for the wait, this place would be ideal for a coffee and quick bite in the Lido area. Right now, it’ll be an even fight between this, BigO and NYDC. Still, I’ll probably be back here for the Espreski at least.
#04-00 Shaw House
Friday, January 19, 2007
This is one of our fall-back options when we need a place to go that opens late. K & J introduced us to this teochew muay stall back when they were living in the area. It offers quite a wide variety of porridge-conducive dishes, and I’m not sure what time it closes but it always seems to be open.
We had a late night on Friday, plus A was having a sore throat (again) so we decided to go for something simple. A suggested teochew muay, probably a subconscious craving for the food of his people…
We always end up ordering pretty much the same few dishes – the minced pork, giam chye, chai poh omelette, brinjal, and some sort of braised meat for the sauce. On Friday it was duck and belly pork.
The food here is pretty good, and definitely a good choice for a late dinner or supper. If some of the dishes are slightly bland, the chili dipping sauce mixed with some tau cheo delivers just enough of a sourish kick to spice everything up.
Good food but the place isn’t the most clean. The guy served my porridge with his thumb in it, the really good hot barley drink is left in an open pot in the corner, and the killer – I saw a big rat run into the kitchen/dish washing area.
That’s pretty much going to put me off going back for quite a while. Still, if hygiene isn’t a concern for you, I’d recommend this place for good old teochew muay. (btw, I’m hereby laying claim to the name of a Thai porridge stall called Muay Thai)
Lim Joo Hin Eating House
715 Havelock Road
Sunday, January 14, 2007
The rain on Sunday forced us indoors for lunch, so we headed over to the new Velocity @ Novena Square (yes that’s how it’s spelt) to check it out.
Since A was still on a hot dog high from Superdog, he was immediately drawn to this joint, which seems to be a franchise of Deliwheels; it even serves New Zealand Natural Ice Cream! Besides hot dogs, they also have pasta, meatballs and a few other main courses on their menu.
To say that they’re new and probably still have teething problems is an understatement. The Filipino waitress was incredibly blur, and even though A ordered a hot dog, he ended up getting only the sausage, because apparently to have a proper hot dog, you have to order Sausage and Bun. Sheesh….
I had an English bratwurst with pasta, which was really nothing special. The sausage was a little porky, and the pasta was, well, a generic tomato-based pasta that was completely uninspired. I had to add jalapeno peppers and tons of parmesan cheese from the condiments station for the pasta to taste remotely passable. The latte I ordered wasn’t too bad, though.
Another no-no for me was their choice of piped music. They were showing the Christina Aguilera tour on the flat-screen TV in the café, and whilst I have nothing against Christina, a live show is one of the worst choices for piped music because there’s nothing like deafening screams and cheers while I’m trying to have a peaceful lunch to set my teeth on edge.
Still, since A likes hot dogs, New Zealand Natural, AND Velocity, I guess we’ll be giving this place another chance once they sort themselves out a bit.
Maybe it’s because the place is new, but I get the impression they don’t know what they’re doing there. The hot dog is decent but if we do go back (since there’s not a lot of good food places there), it’ll be for the ice cream drinks made with New Zealand Natural. Oooo… ice cream… shakes… mochachillo… ooo…
#02-78/79, Velocity @ Novena Square
Saturday, January 13, 2007
I’m sure everyone is aware of the Rochor tau huey (beancurd) dispute. It was the subject of two lengthy Sunday Lifestyle articles last year, with each family member giving their side of the story. The details of the family dispute baffle me; all I know is that the stall on the right (if you’re facing the two stalls) is the Rochor Original Beancurd, and the one on the left is the so-called underdog, used to be Beancurd City (and is apparently now yet another stall run by yet another sibling. Trying to figure out the latest instalment in the family drama is enough to do your head in, and frankly, I don’t care who’s right or wrong, as long as I can get good tau huey.
Since the articles came out, we’ve been supporting the stall formerly known as (TSFKA) Beancurd City, mainly because the queues are shorter. On Saturday night, we decided to do a taste test once and for all, and ta bao-ed a tub of each home. Each tub is $1. First up was a simple comparison on volume. The photo below depicts the position of the stalls – on the left is TSFKA Beancurd City, and the right is the original Rochor. Look at the difference in amount!
A taste test followed (we tried them hot, about 20 minutes after buying them). TSFKA Beancurd City tau huey was silky smooth and fine; Rochor’s was just slightly less so, but still very fine compared to other generic stalls. Rochor’s sugar syrup was much sweeter compared to TSFKA Beancurd City one. It was much more apparent when you have a spoonful of the Rochor one, then a spoonful of TSFKA Beancurd City one. TSFKA Beancurd City one is tasteless in comparison. However, if you eat them separately, I prefer TSFKA Beancurd City because it’s lighter on the sugar, and therefore much more refreshing. The Rochor one gets a bit too sweet and cloying after a while.
Conclusion? For me, TSFKA Beancurd City wins. They’re really polite as well. A will beg to differ, though.
Taste-wise, I think I prefer Rochor tau huey just cause I have a sweet tooth. But seeing as how they’re both good anyway, I think the deciding factor for me would be availability of seating (if I was eating there) or whichever had the shortest queue.
We read about this place on Asiaone Wine and Dine; a review by the author of another food blog, ieatishootipost. It was described as a ‘coffeeshop fine dining experience’so, intrigued, we headed down on Saturday evening for dinner.
This place was apparently opened by a young chef who wants to make fine dining available to the masses, at everyday prices. As a result, the focus is clearly the food – don’t expect any ambience whatsoever; even though I expected a very simple, no frills joint, I was still surprised when I realized that we would be eating on the pavement itself, outside Fortune Centre along Middle Road, facing the Nayang Academy of Fine Arts. Little tables are set up on the sidewalk, complete with umbrellas and tealights, making for a cosy albeit very surreal experience. People walking by (and there were many, since Middle Road is quite the thoroughfare) can peer at what you’re having, which was probably a good thing for the restaurant, because they got quite a few drop-in visitors who were intrigued by what we were eating.
We shared a dish of sautéed mixed mushrooms (shitake and white button). Instead of just sliced mushrooms stir fried together with some butter and garlic, check out the presentation:
Not only did they look good, but they were very tasty as well. Not overcooked, nor overly seasoned or garlicky. The centre tablespoon held a balsmamic and olive oil dipping sauce.
I ordered the Basilico roast duck, and A ordered the roast rack of lamb. Both came with the same sides of buttery cubed potatoes, and sautéed poh choy (Chinese spinach). My duck had a dipping sauce of red wine vinegar with black pepper, served in a shot glass, and A’s lamb had some marmalade-type dressing on the side.
I really enjoyed the duck. For just $16.90, I had a very substantial portion consisting of 5 or 6 very large slices. The duck was prepared medium so it wasn’t tough, and surprisingly it didn’t have a very strong duck taste at all. Even A could manage a few bites. It came with a garlic pesto spread, and all 3 flavours of duck, pesto and the vinegar dipping sauce came together perfectly.
A’s lamb was pretty good too. He said one piece was a bit hard, but the other piece was perfect, and the blackened charred bits were heavenly. It was also done medium, and this too was pretty good value at $16.90 as well.
There are currently no desserts on the menu, because they’re still just finding their feet. It has plenty of potential, though, and I’d like to go back some time and see what else the chef can do. There’s currently no service charge or any taxes, but do note that they only accept cash at the moment.
Except for the inconsistent lamb, the food is good and very affordable for the standard that you get. But eating proper food at a roadside with the constant stream of pedestrians is very distracting. Although I’d definitely eat here if I was in the area, I don’t think it’s a place I’d specifically go to just for the food (unless they have something special on). The cappuccino there is pretty good though.
190 Middle Road
#01-07, Fortune Centre
(Outside the building, along Middle Road)
Opening hours: 12pm to 10pm daily; closed on Mondays
This is our new favourite place to grab a quick bite at VivoCity. It’s a simple fast food joint located in basement 2, serving grilled burgers and hot dogs. On Saturday we tried their hotdogs since they’re called Superdog, after all. I had the Superdog – a German bratwurst with bacon, sliced tomatoes, chopped onions and chili. It was an absolute mess to eat but it was delicious. The bratwurst was juicy and not overly seasoned, the bun was nice and soft and the chili was a nice alternative to ketchup. The onions were a little overpowering though; maybe I’ll try to get them to put sauerkraut instead.
A had the bacon ripper, which is a chicken (or beef) frankfurter grilled until the skin ‘rips’, then wrapped with bacon, topped with relish and mustard. I preferred mine; A preferred his.
We shared an order of chili cheese fries too. The chili was pretty good, but it could’ve been a bit meatier because now it just seemed like a sauce. The fries were great though, perfectly crispy and not excessively salted.
Next time we come, I’m trying a burger. They claim to use 100% chuck steak for their patties – no other meat or other dodgy parts, and that they never freeze their patties. If their burgers are as good as their patties, then this may just overtake Carl’s Jr as our fast food burger joint of choice.
This is definitely my new favourite fast food joint. They might not have enough service counters (only one operating when we got there) so the wait might be long. At least the girl taking our order wasn’t bad looking and really knew her hot dogs (heh heh). And the hot dogs are really good and I’m definitely going back to try the burger. The fries are nice but the chili was a bit watery and didn’t have enough beef bits.
Update 22 April 2007: I tried one of the normal Chicken Rippers because i had a discount coupon and it sucked. Will stick with the Bacon Ripper even if i have to pay a little more.
Friday, January 12, 2007
We went back to Tao’s again on Friday night; it’s been more than six months since our last trip here and they’ve made some changes to the menu so we were able to try a few new items.
As always we started with the bacon and cheese gratin, which was delicious but very hot; first mouthful burned the roof of my mouth. The salad was different this time – we had ‘Farm Boy Splendour’, which was grilled chicken with mixed salad and tossed with a vinaigrette dressing and topped with peanuts. The vinaigrette was very tart, just about on the verge of being unbearably so, but it did whet our appetite for the rest of the courses to follow. The grilled mushroom was next, and again we didn’t vary from our tried and tested mushroom soup.
We did get adventurous for the mains, though. There were 2 fish choices – a grilled snapper with Japanese sauce, and a baked Atlantic flounder with cheese. I decided on the snapper because it sounded less heavy, and I was very pleased with it. The fish was done perfectly – just the right flakiness and not overcooked – and the Japanese sauce turned out to be something like teriyaki sauce laced with balsamic vinegar to give it some edge.
A usually orders the lamb cutlet, but today he decided to go with the slow-roasted steak. The sauce was a little too laden with black pepper for his liking, but the steak was done to a perfect medium rare – not an easy feat given its thickness. I was really impressed that a joint like this could get it so right in terms of steak doneness.
Again, I had the crème brulee for dessert (see if you can spot A in the photo), and the grape mallow tea, and A had the green tea ice cream and summer peach tea.
The staff are clearly quite happy where they are, because some of the guys have been there since we first started going in 2003. They’re really polite without being overly effusive in a TGI Fridays way. Once again, an enormously satisfying meal here.
Great food, excellent service and very reasonable prices considering the variety. I can’t believe that it’s been so long since we’ve been back. Paradiz has also mostly cleaned up (i.e. not the sleazy place from way back) and the parking also really cheap (which explains why the car park is usually full after 9). The confusing thing is, that while it reads your IU when you enter, you stilll have to insert the cash card into the machine when you exit. What's up with that?
1 Selegie Road
B1-19 Paradiz Centre
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Monday, January 08, 2007
Note to self: Monday is generally not a good day to visit Maxwell Food Centre, because all the famous stalls like Tian Tian Chicken Rice and the Ngoh Hiang stalls are closed. Already, Maxwell is much more a daytime place than a dinner place, because many stalls are only open for breakfast and lunch, and are closed by midday or 8 pm at the latest. Add that to the Monday closures, and you’re left with a rather limited selection if you go for dinner on a Monday night.
Still, we found ourselves there on Monday for dinner because A had an appointment in the area. With our limited choices, we ended up settling for the Hoe Kee Porridge (for me) and Big Scissors Curry Rice (for A). The porridge was excellent – I ordered a pork and century egg porridge and added an egg, and for $3.50 I had a huge bowl with lots of ingredients. There was both minced pork and pork slices, and the pork slices were surprisingly soft and tender. The porridge was extremely fine and smooth, and didn’t require the addition of any extra soya sauce to give it taste (just lots of pepper to give it some kick, heh).
The Big Scissors Curry Rice is essentially just pork chop curry rice. I guess they call it Big Scissors because of how the pork chop is cut up? I tried a mouthful of A’s and it wasn’t bad – the curry was quite spicy, so that was good – but I wouldn’t say it was outstanding.
A got there early enough (before 8 pm) to grab some of the Hum Jin Peng before the stall closed. Apparently during the day the queues at this stall are crazy, probably because it’s so cheap (7 hum jin pengs for $1), and people buy $10 worth at a go sometimes. A got there at about 7.45 and there were just 2 people ahead of him in the queue.
The hum jin pengs are really cute; they’re about half the size of regular ones, which is why you can get seven of them for just $1. They’re much lighter and fluffier than most hum jin pengs I’ve tried as well, which tend to be quite dense and heavy. You can choose between 2 flavours as well – a regular one with plain sweet dough that’s slightly salty because of the five spice salt that is apparently in the frying oil, and a sweet one which has red bean paste in the centre, and is dipped in sugar. Both were delicious, and I’m having a hard time deciding which I prefer. I’m leaning slightly towards the sweet one.
I’m definitely planning to come back to Maxwell very soon, to try the famous Tian Tian Chicken Rice, the Ngoh Hiang, and to get some more of the hum jin pengs. I’ll have to get a bunch for my brother too, he’ll love them.
The Big Scissors Curry Rice was not bad for its price – $3.50 for pork chop, omelette and curry veg). I don’t think I’ll be back at this place since the curry was a bit too spicy for my tastes. And I’ve had better at more expensive places at Henderson and Telok Blangah.
There are actually at least three or four curry rice places at Maxwell and different people have recommended different ones. Next time I go, I’ll try the one next to the hum jin peng store.
And speaking of hum jin peng, I had incredible difficulty ordering there cause the woman kept speaking to me in mandarin. It’s like a series of tests, siah. I think they were in this order and I think one of the questions was whether I wanted mixed variety, but I’m really not sure.
Level 1: You want with sesame (seeds on top)?
Level 2: You want with filling (red bean paste)?
Level 3: You want with sugar (light coating)?
Next time, I’ll get C to do the ordering cause I want with sesame and red bean paste and sugar. Sweet.
Btw, if you want to go and can’t be bothered to wait for a car park space, you can park at the basement of the URA building across the street. It’s expensive though. I think we paid like $9 for 3+ hours there once.
Hum Jin Peng
Open daily: 1 pm to 8 pm
Hoe Kee Porridge
6.30am to 4am Friday to Sunday, 6.30am to 2.30 am Monday to Thursday
Big Scissors Curry Rice
11am to 10.30pm, closed Saturdays
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Dinner on Saturday was pretty surreal. We went to Jurong to meet A’s folks, thinking that we’d probably just have a light Kolo mee dinner. Instead, we ended up at Café Galilee, the in-house café in the Jurong Regional library (indeed, the in-house café at almost all the national libraries), because A’s folks had some coffee vouchers there.
Whenever we come to the library, the smell from the café is always pretty enticing because it smells like fried chicken wings all the time. Because we had such a late and heavy lunch, I just had a side order of chicken wings which, while passable, were a tad disappointing because they only used the mini drumlet, which is my least favourite part of the wing.
A had the Galilee Special, which is karaage chicken pieces with pasta. The chicken was tender and crispy on the outside, but the spaghetti was really quite bad. I guess one cannot expect al dente pasta in a place like this – the spaghetti was overcooked, but what made it worse was the sauce. It was a really synthetic-tasting tomato sauce, which made the whole thing taste like tinned spaghetti.
However, the coffee here kinda redeemed the place. A had the latte and I had the cappuccino, both of which were a lot better than I expected – sufficiently strong and not dishwater.
It was an interesting experience, but it’s just too weird to hang out for no reason in the library café amidst groups of students, so unless we have a particular purpose I doubt we’ll be Café Galilee regulars.
The chicken wasn’t bad but the spaghetti was very blah. The service was decent but the main course items really aren’t that worth it. The big surprise was the very decent latte for just $2.80. I might actually pick one up the next time we’re at the library. But like C says, actually having a meal there is pretty weird.
I know some people feel that nasi padang is pretty much the same no matter which stall you go to. After all, all it is, is various curry-based and other complementary dishes eaten with rice. How different can it be? Well, I appreciate that there may not be a vast difference, unlike how bad Jap food can really be bad, but at the same time, I think a good nasi padang place does somehow stand out.
The original River Valley Nasi Padang joint is located along Zion Road; park at Great World City opposite and just run across the road (or use the pedestrian crossing about 50 metres away). I’m sure this isn’t the best nasi padang in Singapore, but I have a weakness for their chicken curry, or more specifically, the gravy. It’s rich and thick, but still watery enough to drink up like a soup. The chicken is really soft and tender, and the gravy is all at once salty, sweet, sour and spicy. It reminds me of the curry chicken that I used to have when I was young, when my family used to go to Rendezvous restaurant (where Rendezvous Hotel is now) almost every Sunday for lunch.
We had a late lunch there on Saturday, and ordered the chicken curry, beef rendang, sayur lodeh and a tomato-curry based sotong.
Some people, like K, swear by the sambal belacan that they provide here as well. While it is pretty good, I’ll still stick to asking for an extra bowl of the chicken curry gravy, and drowning everything in it. I lapped up almost every drop. Mmm….
I’d disagree with C because you really can get really bad nasi padang (of the rock hard rendang and tasteless curry water variety). I generally group my nasi padang as really bad, okay or very good.
I can’t decide if this or the Warong Nasi Padang place at North Bridge Road is better. I think this place may have better gravy while Warong has better chicken. But I guess for overall convenience, this place would win (Warong is a chaotic madhouse that closes at 2pm because everything sells out so fast).
River Valley Nasi Padang
54 Zion Road
Opening hours: 9am - 9pm (closed on public holidays and possibly Mondays as well)
Friday, January 05, 2007
Since the last time we wrote about this we’ve been back a couple of times, but only recently have I copped on to the fact that you can ask for chili padi in your black dipping sauce, instead of the lifeless ordinary red chilies that do absolutely nothing for me. Now, with the kick of the chili padi, my experience here is truly complete.
We’ve also changed our ordering profile a little. We used to order a bowl of ribs each, and shared the giam chye, you char kuay and a tau pok. But lately we’ve been appreciating the good quality pork ribs so much that we now order an extra bowl of ribs to share, getting rid of the mediocre tau pok in the process.
Finally, to show you just how much we enjoyed our dinner on Friday, here’s a parting shot – evidence of my superior bone sucking prowess, har har.
She like meat and she shure like the bone!
Not much new to add except to say that the amount of meat on most of the big ribs is amazing. In fact, you could just order 3 bowls of ribs and no sides for one person. It’s just like ordering a rack of baby backs at an American chain restaurant, only much cheaper and much tastier. Coming from a potato-eater like me, that’s high praise.
Founder Rou Gu Cha Restaurant
347 Balestier Road
Opening hours: Noon - 2pm, 6pm - 3am, closed on Tuesdays
As evidenced by the Sunday Lifestyle feature a couple of weeks back on the various toast joints that have sprouted up lately, toast fever seems to have well and truly hit Singapore. The jury is still out, however, on whether it’s just a passing fancy, like bubble tea and Rotiboy, or whether it has the staying power to be a lasting feature of Singapore’s breakfast/snack food culture.
Heads or Tails is a chain from Bangkok, offering Thai-style kaya toast which is slightly different from local kaya. Local kaya, offered by the likes of Killiney and Ya Kun, is thicker and richer, with stronger flavours of egg and coconut. In contrast, the kaya from Heads or Tails is more watery, lighter and more refreshing, and is almost painted on rather than spread. There are three flavours - a bright green pandan, an almost lavender-toned yam, and a rich cream vanilla. We went there for a light dinner on Wednesday night and A had just the pandan and the vanilla. I prefer the pandan because it’s quite light, with just the right hint of pandan. I found the vanilla a little too overpowering and slightly synthetic, but that was right up A’s alley. (They allow you to mix and match kayas too, so we just had one slice of toast, with half-and-half of pandan and vanilla.) We had another sweet toast – an old school combination of Ovaltine and condensed milk. This was quite generic and nothing to shout about.
Being a fan of savoury foods myself, my two choices were the otah toast, and the toast with a spread of chili paste and topped with chicken floss. To me, the savoury ones are far better than the sweet ones here. The chili paste with chicken floss is apparently their specialty, because the paste is the same one that they use to make tom yam. It’s a delightful combination of flavours – salty, sweet and spicy, and the chicken floss topping adds yet another dimension of flavour.
Though the chili paste with chicken floss may be their signature, to me the best was the otah toast. Light and crispy, with a nice layer of otah – the good quality kind of otah, not the 40 cents per stick Yishun kind… Apparently they even make the otah themselves on-site, so you know it’s fresh and authentic. Even their kaya is made on-site, not bought in pre-packaged tubs.
In addition to a whole variety of toasts, Heads or Tails has started selling several more substantial Thai dishes, like beef ball noodle soup and green curry chicken. We haven’t tried those yet, but since this place is so near my office and right where we park, we’ll definitely be back to try more.
I’ll leave A to tell you about the great iced tea there.
For those of you working in the area, Heads or Tails does deliveries as well, and they’re also exploring some catering options.
The Thai Iced Tea there RAWKS! Be warned, however, because it’s very, very sweet.
Toast-wise, I actually prefer the Vanilla Kaya but the mix of the two adds a nice variety. The best thing is when you get the sweetness of the kaya followed by the salty butter under it. I think I’ll ask them for just a hint less kaya next time though. They’re so generous with the kaya that the toast is left swimming in it.
Heads Or Tails
01-37 Market Street Car Park
Open: 7.30am to 7.30pm, Mondays to Fridays; 8am to 1pm on Saturdays; closed on Sundays
Monday, January 01, 2007
After finally crossing Tampopo off our ramen list, and not-so-hot on the heels of our Pizza Month Summary, we now bring you our respective lists for Singapore’s Top 5 ramen joints:
1) 1 and 2 were a hard fight, but the quality of the ingredients narrowly pushed Tampopo to the #1 spot
2) Ken’s Noodle House, for the amazing stewed egg and the fact that it’s such an unpretentious hole-in-the wall place.
3) Miharu, with its deliciously springly noodles and just slightly too oily soup. It was edged out of the #2 spot by Ken’s simply because getting a table here is so touch-and-go.
4) Ichibantei, for the kyushu ramen and the ice cream machine.
5) Ohsho, the least impressive of the lot but still fairly decent.
Mine’s in a different order.
1) Ken’s Noodle House – Solid simple food
2) Tampopo – Nice variety with lots of choices
3) Ichibantei – Ramen’s nothing great but I’d go there for my ice cream
4) Ohsho – Not as good as Ken’s but has better selection of sides.
5) Miharu – Flavours just a bit too strong and the oil they use to retain heat is not my thing.