Friday, November 23, 2007

Pasticceria da Valentino

C says:

We got this heavenly-looking cake for a friend’s Thanksgiving party from Valentino’s pastry store, which is adjacent to the restaurant proper. This is the Chantilly al Cioccolato Bianco – the Chantilly and White Chocolate cake that we had at the restaurant for dessert, but this is the cake in all its whole glory.

I think this is a perfect party cake – I don’t think there’s any element of it that can be disliked. It’s not too rich the way some dense chocolate cakes can be; it’s not overly sweet; the sponge is light so it doesn’t weigh you down after dinner; and the cream is chantilly cream, not buttercream. It even comes in a really cute pink cake box, which is a nice change from bog-standard white boxes.

At $45 per kg, this certainly isn’t the cheapest cake around, but if you think about all the ingredients, effort and most of all, the end result, it’s certainly a much better deal than those Awfully Chocolate cakes, which are $40 per kg but are allegedly made by a neighbourhood bakery in Malaysia, and apparently sell for half that price in JB. I’d rather pay for good ingredients and skill than branding.

A says:

It’s okay, but no where near as good as their tiramisu.

Pasticceria da Valentino
7 Jalan Bingka
Tel: 6462-2760

Thursday, November 22, 2007


C says:

Once again, I can’t believe how time flies. It’s our fourth anniversary today - another year of wedded bliss for me, another year of pain and suffering for A…

As per tradition, we celebrated with dinner at Ember. You can read about the place in detail in our previous post; we’ll just dive in now with a lowdown on what we had tonight. There’ve been a number of revisions to the menu since last year, but mostly to the appetizer section. The desserts were more or less the same as before, so we decided to order more appetizers to share, and only order dessert if we had room to spare.

For our starters, we decided to be adventurous, and passed on our usual fried oysters in favour of the new items on the menu. We had the seared scallops wrapped with parma ham, the spinach salad with bacon and gorgonzola, and the angel hair pasta with sakura ebi and lobster oil.

You couldn’t really taste the parma ham on the scallops – they just added a bit more saltiness and depth of flavour. I must say I didn’t expect the dish to have quite as much salad as it did; I just expected a few scallops on a bare plate, not the mountain of greens in the centre. The citrusy salad dressing was nice, though.

We ordered this because we thought we’d have some greens, not realizing that the scallops already came with more than enough. As a result, we felt a bit cheated that we unintentionally were so damn healthy in our appetizer choices. Still, as spinach salads go, this was pretty good – well-balanced dressing, and the gorgonzola, an unexpected ingredient in spinach salads, added a nice touch.

Because it was the least healthy, this was also the best appetizer of the night. The sakura ebi – Japanese for baby prawns – were crispy yet not so hard that they poked the roof of your mouth. The flavours were light and delicate, but if I were to nitpick, I’d say the one at Iggy’s is still better.

So far, we were slightly let down by the appetizers, but the mains somewhat saved the day. A had the roasted rack of lamb with szechuan eggplant and gratin potatoes. The eggplant was good but slightly out of place, because the sauce was very strong and threatened to overpower the lamb. The lamb itself was incredibly tender though, and when eaten with the eggplant (in sparing portions), it was a good pairing.

We almost didn’t order the Chilean seabass this time, but I thought we had to have SOME element of tradition, so I ordered it and I’m really glad I did. This was the highlight of the meal for me. Everything about it was just right – the fish was done perfectly, the bacon and mushrooms added just enough but not too much flavour, and the sauce was indescribable. As long as it’s still on the menu, I think this looks set to be our anniversary dish. Random bit of trivia: the real name of this fish is the Patagonian Toothfish. It’s been renamed “Chilean seabass” to make it more palatable for diners.

We still had some room for dessert because portions aren’t huge here. On the menu, they have a banana tart with lavender ice cream, but A wasn’t too keen on the lavender so we asked them to change it to vanilla. They nicely obliged, and as a result dessert was perfect.

Last year we told ourselves to come more often, but the year simply flew by and we never got a chance to. Only time will tell whether the next time we write about this is on our fifth anniversary.

A says:

I was really impressed by the selection of appetizers even though the taste fell just short of great. I liked the spinach salad but it could have done with a bit more dressing. The scallops were excellent but predictable. And the mini shrimps really aren’t my thing.

As for mains, it’s a good thing the portions are small and C and I shared and swapped. Because the flavours are so strong, you tend to get a bit of an overdose if you have a full portion.

Dessert wasn’t bad but I’d rather have the Normandy Apple Pie at Café de Amigo.

While the service here is really fantastic, I think that for food, this place has an excellent selection that is very good, but not really great.

And I think why we don’t go back so often is that we decided that for the price, Buko Nero is way more worth it.

Restaurant Ember
50 Keong Saik Road
Tel: 6347-1928
Monday to Friday: Lunch 11.30 am – 2 pm, Dinner 6.30 pm – 10 pm
Saturday: Dinner only
Closed Sunday

Monday, November 19, 2007

Zhou’s Kitchen

C says:

Taking over what used to be Paddy Fields Thai Restaurant at the Copperdome building outside Anchorpoint, this new offering from the Tung Lok Group boasts home-style Chinese food in a casual dining setting. “Zhou” is the Chinese surname of Andrew Tjioe, the owner of the Tung Lok Group, and apparently the new eatery serves simple Chinese fare that his family used to cook and eat at home.

I like the stripped-down look and feel of this place – a welcome departure from the increasingly posh and ID-ed interiors of other Tung Lok restaurants. The inside of the restaurant still resembles a quaint little colonial bungalow, so a few tables are tucked away in each ‘room’, resulting in a very cosy, homely atmosphere.

The menu has a wide range of dishes, from one-dish items like congee, noodles, hor fun and fried rice, to sharing-type dishes that are a cross between zi cha and restaurant fare. They have dim sum but only for lunch and high tea. I could eat practically everything on the menu, and surprisingly A wasn’t too far behind. Apart from the fresh fish and seafood options, and the Deep Fried Coriander Balls (who the HELL will order those?!), most of the menu suited his tastes, which is certainly saying a lot. They even have his two favourite Chinese dishes – Sweet and Sour Pork, and Lemon Chicken!

Any place that serves a big basket of keropok as an ‘appetiser’ is a winner in my book. Forget achar or peanuts, keropok is the way to go. This one was fish keropok – very light and addictive, and made even more so by the accompanying chilli dip.

The steamed pork neck with eggplant and preserved vegetables (mui choy) blended all the ingredients together very well. The fatty meat from the pork neck and the eggplant are both quite rich, but because the whole dish was steamed, the lightness of the gravy offset the heavier textures of the ingredients.

Coffee pork ribs are quite common in zi cha restaurants nowadays, but I’ve never had them with such a distinctive coffee aroma before. Normally they’re just pai guat wong masquerading as coffee pork ribs, but this time I got a whiff of the coffee the moment the dish arrived. The sauce had a definite coffee flavour, but it wasn’t bitter or overbearing, just slightly sweet, sticky and fragrant. The pork was also incredibly tender.

The Village Rice, which is something like claypot rice but served in porcelain, is very good value. The bowl looks pretty small, but it’s amazing how much rice they pack into it. A $6 bowl yielded about 5 rice bowl portions. Flavour-wise, it’s a little bland on its own because it doesn’t have the charred flavour of actual claypot rice, but the light and delicate flavour goes very well with the rest of the dishes.

We tried their red bean pancake for dessert, which was very light and crispy and not at all oily. Still, something was missing, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. It somehow didn’t have the oomph of old-school red bean pancake. Maybe it’s trying to be too healthy, because in addition to the lack of oil, it wasn’t all that sweet either.

The service was excellent. We were there pretty late – around 9 pm, and their last order is at 10. We felt really bad being the last ones there from about 9.30, but not once were we made to feel uncomfortable or rushed, and we were even told to take our time.

This isn’t the most accessible of places, but I hope word gets round and they build up a good customer base. I guess once Anchorpoint’s facelift is complete, they’ll have a more steady stream of customers. This is one of the most pleasant Tung Lok restaurants I’ve been to, and I’m definitely coming back for more.

A says:

Not bad but I think it’s really overpriced. Portions are tiny.

Zhou’s Kitchen
The Copperdome, Anchorpoint
368 Alexandra Road
Tel: 6473-1123
Open: 11.30am to 3pm, 6 to 10.30pm.
Weekends and public holidays: high tea from 2.30 to 5pm

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Not Liu San again!

C says:

Yes! Finally! Success!! We made a point to come here at lunchtime today, and I finally was able to try the elusive oyster mee sua.

The verdict? It was worth a try, but it didn’t quite live up to expectations. Instead of a clear broth, which is how I’m used to eating my mee sua soups, the soup was slightly thick and starchy. It was full of flavour though, and very generous with the ingredients – lots of oysters, bean sprouts and shredded chicken. I’m glad I managed to try it, but I don’t think I’ll have it again.

A also tried something new today – he had their version of Zha Jiang noodles, which is a bean paste-based sauce. While the zha jiang mian in most commercial noodle houses are almost all just plain sauce with noodles, the version here is again very good value for money. Lots of vegetables, cubes of taukwa and substantial portions of minced pork.

Looks like everything here ranges from not bad to very good. I’ve yet to be disappointed with anything here.

A says:

Good food. Good service.

Liu San
No. 1 Jalan Anak Bukit
#01-09 Bukit Timah Plaza
Tel: 6463-1833
Closed Mon and Tues. Wed to Sun – 11 am to 8.30 pm (or thereabouts)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pasta Brava

C says:

We made our way here again on Friday night, managing to get a fairly last minute booking. They looked quite deserted when we arrived at 7.30, but by 8 the place was full. We just had to be boring again, and ordered the very yummy stracci with scallops and prawns that we had the last time, only this time we shared it as a starter. It was as good as I remember, and now that I’ve had it twice, I think my yearning for it is (temporarily) satiated, and I won’t need to order it again on our next visit.

Continuing my campaign to order less predictable dishes, I opted for the grilled seafood platter today as my main. It consists of sea bream, squid, prawns and crayfish, all grilled and topped with a garlic and pesto dressing. This turned out to be an excellent choice. The seafood was grilled to perfection – charred and smoky yet tender and sweet; surprisingly, the sea bream fillet was the best of the lot.

A had a rather interesting main, which was described as “Thinly sliced sirloin served with rocket and parmesan”, but turned out to be almost like a warm steak salad. The sirloin was tender yet flavourful, but because of the almost starter-like nature of the dish, it was slightly unsatisfying as a main.

For dessert, we had the panna cotta again, and tried the Chocolate Seduction, which was a dense chocolate cake served with cream. I much preferred the panna cotta; the cake was pretty heavy, and it may have been better served with vanilla ice cream. The cream that it came with tasted almost like melted butter – very rich and rather sinful after a while.

On hindsight, we really should have read our own previous review before coming here again, because we did say that with the portion sizes here, and the wide array of interesting mains, one can easily have 2 main courses here, and maybe skip dessert. Note to selves: remember this next time!

A says:

What she said. Also, I really like the service here.

Pasta Brava
11 Craig Road
Tanjong Pagar
Tel: 6227-7550
Lunch: 12 noon - 2.30pm
Dinner: 6.30pm - 10.30pm
Closed on Sunday

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

La Pizzaiola

C says:

This tiny little pizza bar is opening by a Singapore lady and her Italian chef husband. Apparently she was so moved by her unforgettable experiences in authentic pizzerias in Italy, that she was inspired to bring it to the masses in Singapore.

The sell pizzas by the slice, just like Da Paolo Gastronomia - cheaper at $4 a slice but also smaller in size. We shared a slice of the Quattro Formaggio, and a 12 inch Pancetta. While the regular 12 inch pizzas cost $13.90, the Pancetta is considered a gourmet pizza, so it costs $18.90.

Generally I’m not all that impressed. The pizza base wasn’t the thickest I’ve had, but it was hard and chewy, and the tomato sauce was just too sour, and it ended up overpowering the taste of the other toppings. The Pancetta was also quite a rip-off, because I hardly tasted any bacon; it was mainly onions and shitake mushrooms.

Personally, I wouldn’t have this again, but A didn’t mind it that much, and I guess it’s a fairly convenient place to swing by after our gym visits to pick up some takeout pizza. I’m just loath to waste my post-running calories eating sub-standard pizza.

A says:

A bit of a let down as I expected it to be quite good. It turned out to be quite average and I definitely think the gourmet pizzas are not worth it. Verdict: okay for a quick and simple single slice of pizza on the way home but not worth making a special trip out for it.

La Pizzaiola
43 Holland Drive
#01-63 (next to POSB)
Tel: 6779-5502
Open 10 am to 10 pm, closed Tuesdays

Monday, November 12, 2007

Juiced Rawbar

C says:

I’ve come to the conclusion that eating healthily comes with a price. While you can get plates of char kway teow, carrot cake and chicken rice for just $2, healthier choices like sandwiches, soups and salads will set you back at least $7 to $10. Notwithstanding the cost, to a certain extent it’s quite heartening to see long queues forming at such joints, because it shows that people are making conscious decisions to eat healthy.

While I’m not one for overpriced sandwiches (unlike A the bread freak), I don’t mind a good salad every now and again. Sadly, most of the salads that are available at soup and sandwich bards are pretty sucky. They try too hard to create different salads, adding weird herbs and spices into the mix and in the dressing. Which is why Juiced Rawbar, at the basement of Republic Plaza, is such a welcome breath of fresh air.

The main draw of Juiced’s salads is the freshness. Every salad is only prepared and tossed upon order. They have a seemingly neverending supply of large salad mixing bowls, and for each order, you get a basic lettuce mix (NOT Iceberg), and you can choose any 6 ingredients out of a wide array of over 20, including corn, broccoli, sprouts, pasta, potatoes and beans. You then choose your preferred dressing, and again you have quite a variety to select from, like vinaigrette, lemon & mustard, or honey & soy. The ingredients are really fresh, and the dressings are a perfect balance of flavours.

If, like me, you get stressed at having to choose and make decisions, you can opt for one of their pre-designed salads instead (these are still made fresh upon order). They have about six, including a Nicoise, Greek, and my favourite – Shanghai, with carrot, corn, mushroom, sugar peas, brown rice and egg. It’s dressed with a default honey/soy and sweet chilli dressing (I prefer it with just the honey/soy), and being an inherent carnivore, I also add chicken for an additional $2.

A had the smoked salmon wrap, which was again loaded with fresh veggies. In my opinion, their wraps here are just ordinary compared to their salads.

The queue here at lunchtime is pretty insane, and it’s highly advisable to come by noon to avoid waiting ages.

A says:

The salads are definitely worth it considering how HUGE they are. Wraps, not so much. Thanks to the smoothie I had, I’m pretty happy.

Juiced Rawbar
9 Raffles Place
#B1-08 Republic Plaza
Tel: 6535-3230
Mon-Fri: 8am - 8pm
Sat: 9am - 2pm
(Closed on Sundays & PH)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice

C says:

We’d almost given this place up as a lost cause, because it seemed as though every time we tried to come, it was closed. We tried our luck today, because we figured they would probably be open on a Sunday. They were, and it turns out that coincidentally, we always came on a Tuesday, because they close on alternate Tuesdays.

Provided they’re open, this is a good place for a simple meal. It only cost us $12 for everything that we ordered – pork chop, cabbage, eggplant, omelette, taupok and two plates of rice. What sets this place apart from other curry rice joints is the unique blend of gravy that they ladle over the rice. Instead of just curry or soya sauce or a mixture of both, they use about 5 to 6 different sauces to create quite an addictive combination. You could probably just have the rice on its own, if carbs weren’t the devil.

The selection isn’t as extensive or varied as the curry rice joint at Bukit Merah, but that place doesn’t open at night so it’s not really a viable option for us. They’ve got a few things that I’d like to try the next time we’re here, particularly an almost neon orange char siew that looks almost fluorescent.

A says:

It’s okay but I think since they cleaned up the place, the standard of food has dropped a bit. It’s good but definitely not as good as my usual Maxwell place. The guy doing the serving was amazingly friendly and articulate though. No worries about not knowing how to order in English anymore here.

Tian Tian Hainanese Curry Rice
Block 116 Bukit Merah View
Tel: 9821-0200
Opening hours: 8 am to 9.30 pm (Closed alternate Tuesdays)

Old Airport Road Food Centre

C says:

The Old Airport Road Food Centre finally re-opened around July this year, after months of much-needed renovations. We made our way on Sunday to check it out, and I must say I’m quite impressed with the facelift. The stalls are largely in the same position, with a few additions and departures, but it’s much cleaner, airier and brighter.

It’s no less packed though. I had my Nam Sing Hokkien Mee again, but somehow it didn’t seem as shiok as the last time I had it at the temporary site.

A had his trusty Western BBQ, known for its trademark garlicky sauce. I still have no idea what exactly goes into this, besides loads of garlic, the tomato sauce from canned baked beans, and Worcestershire sauce. Make sure you check out the photos at the stall, because not all of the dishes come with the sauce.

We also tried the fresh chee cheong fun, from a stall with a lady making your chee cheong fun fresh upon order. You can chose between char siew, prawn, chicken or scallop. We tried the char siew one – it was very good; the roll was super thin and smooth, and not floury at all.

Disappointingly, the Chinese satay stall that we wanted to try (Chuan Kee) wasn’t open yet. I think it’s solely an evening stall. We may venture here one evening to try it, but it’s a daunting prospect because I would imagine it’ll be even more chaotic than at lunchtime.

A says:

Definitely one of the best hawker centres in Singapore. Plenty of stuff for me to eat, and parking is not that bad with the multistory car park.

Western BBQ

Chee Cheong Fun stall

Friday, November 09, 2007

Liu San again

C says:

We came here for a quick dinner on Friday night. I wanted to try the Oyster Mee Sua but once again it was sold out (I’m going to keep coming here until I get to have it). I tried the Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup instead, which was nothing like what I expected. I thought it would be a fairly light broth with slices of beef, much like a pho, but instead it was a robust, slight herby broth with generous chunks of tender beef shin.

A had the Braised Beef Rice again, only this time we remembered to ask them to hold the coriander. This made the dish absolutely perfect. I could seriously get addicted to this stuff, if I weren’t on a quest to try the damn Oyster Mee Sua.

We also ordered the not very helpfully described ‘Pork Belly with Sauce’ as a side dish, which turned out to be wafer-thin slices of chilled pork belly, drizzled with a tart sesame oil-infused dressing. This was really good – a much better side dish than the slightly overpowering drunken chicken.

I really do like this place – nothing here has disappointed so far. Now, if I could just get my hands on the Oyster Mee Sua…

A says:

I like the good food in nice small-ish portions. Means I have space for a chocolate milkshake at Wishbone after.

Liu San
No. 1 Jalan Anak Bukit
#01-09 Bukit Timah Plaza
Tel: 6463-1833
Closed Mon and Tues.
Wed to Sun – 11 am to 8.30 pm (or thereabouts)

Lard Bee Hoon

C says:

My colleagues M and L were shocked that I’d never heard of this institution – the artery-clogging breakfast bee hoon from a stall in The Arcade. Instead of the dry brown economy bee hoon that’s quite common, this pale bee hoon looks anaemic but tastes anything but. It’s fried with lard, fatty canned Maling stewed pork, and topped with more crunchy bits of lard. Heaven… A few strips of bok choy are added, lest one labels this dish unhealthy…

I was sold from the first mouthful. Trying to restrict myself to having it only once every few months is going to be a challenge.

A says:

The good: the noodles are nice enough to eat on their own. The bad: I prefer generic fried beehoon with luncheon meat and lots and lots of sambal chilli.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Victor’s Kitchen

C says:

It seems that more and more people have discovered Victor’s – it was full at lunchtime on Deepavali (both the area outside the main shop and the other unit that he’s taken over a few stores away), and we had to shamelessly hover for about 5 minutes in order to get a table.

We tried a few new items today – the chicken and Chinese sausage glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf, and the fried man tou. The glutinous rice is one of their signature dishes; while very soft and fragrant, it’s too much for one person, given that A isn’t a lor mai gai fan, so I wont be ordering it again unless I have more people to share it with.

The fried man tou is a new dish – so new that it isn’t on the menu yet. You have to write it down separately, so practice writing “Zha Man Tou” in Chinese if you want to order it. Or, like me, just grab the waitress and ask her to write it for you. An order comes with 4 man tous, and a dipping sauce of condensed milk – deep fried bread with sweetened condensed milk, yum. Breakfast of champions… Strangely, though I love man tou and I love condensed milk, I wasn’t as enamoured with this dish as I expected to be. It was good, but I think I’d rather order something else next time, like the tried and tested King Prawn Har Kow.

A says:

Strangely, I didn’t dig the man tou too much. The chee cheong fan RAWKS though.

Victor’s Kitchen
Sunshine Plaza, #01-21
91 Bencoolen Street
Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-9pm
Closed Monday

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Les Bouchons

C says:

The last time we were here, we shared the massive cote de boeuf so on Wednesday night, we decided to try their steaks, in order to compare them to those at The Steakhouse.

Well, it’s not a direct comparison because although A ordered the fillet here as well, I ordered the rib-eye whereas at The Steakhouse I’d ordered the New York strip. Since the rib-eye is by nature a more tneder cut than the strip steak (sirloin), my steak here was better than the one I had at The Steakhouse, mainly because the rib-eye had the perfect combination of flavour and tenderness.

A fairer comparison would be A’s fillet, and here the result differs. While also done to a perfect medium rare, and well seasoned and chargrilled, somehow the fillet at The Steakhouse had an inexplicable extra oomph. I don’t know whether it was the quality/flavour of the meat itself, or the seasoning, or the fire, but it had just a slight edge over the one at Les Bouchons.

Les Bouchons is still a friendlier, less intimidating place to done, and the free-flow fries (try saying that fast ten times) are extremely addictive. It’s a good place for a quick meat fix, but if we want to seriously satisfy a steak craving, I think The Steakhouse is the place to do it.

A says:

While I think The Steakhouse has better steaks, I’d rather come here because of the casual atmosphere, unpretentious staff and sizeable portions.

Les Bouchons
7 Ann Siang Road
Tel: 6423-0737
Lunch: Monday to Friday 12 to 2 pm
Dinner: Monday to Saturday 7 –
10 pm

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Langues de Chat (Cat’s Tongues)

C says:

Just a quick post to say that I made cat’s tongues (or for you Francais people out there, langues de chat) over the weekend. My fourth attempt in three weeks – cat’s tongues are supposed to be light, airy, and melt-in-the mouth, and my first two attempts yielded butter cookies rather than cat’s tongues, but after some recipe tweaking and method honing, I think they’re on their way to being proper cat’s tongues now.

I have to say that I think using good butter does make a difference, especially in recipes where the flavour of the butter is really apparent, like these. I wouldn’t bother for recipes where you can’t really taste the butter, like maybe coffee or chocolate cakes/cookies, but using President French butter, as opposed to my usual el cheapo butter from Phoon Huat, did affect the outcome positively. (No, I’m not sponsored by President butter. I wish...) The cookies turned out buttery yet not oily-tasting. It’s double the price of the el cheapo butter, but depending on what you’re making I think it’s worth it.

A says:

I actually prefer the taste of C’s failed attempts (if you just consider them cookies and not cat’s tongues). They’re bloody addictive though, and not helping my attempts to lose weight.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Din Tai Fung

C says:

I can’t believe we haven’t posted about Din Tai Fung. Some may beg to differ, but I do think that the xiao long baos here are one of the best in Singapore. The bao skins here are thin, yet not so fragile that they break once you pick them up, unlike the Crystal Jade ones which are really thick and floury. Of course, we haven’t tried some of the hole-in-the-wall xiao long bao places that are supposed to be divine, but as far as commercial chains go, this is my top choice.

They have some interesting xiao long bao varieties here, the best one being their crabmeat and pork ones. The crabmeat makes the filling incredibly sweet and flavourful, and no doubt enhances the flavour of the soup too. Random bit of trivia – do you know how a xiao long bao’s trademark soupy filling is made? They chill the soup till it hardens to a gelatine, then they put a small piece of the gelatine stock while they’re forming each bao. When it steams, the gelatine then heats up and turns into the soup that defines a xiao long bao (and burns your mouth when you bite into it).

We actually came here to try the Limited Edition Chilli Crab Xiao Long Bao, that we saw advertised a while back. Alas, Limited Edition means exactly that – it was clearly a very short promotion, because it’s no longer available. This ought to teach us not to procrastinate, especially for one-off specials.

We’ve always thought that the la mian here isn’t as good as the xiao long baos, but maybe it’s improved, because the pork rib la mian that we had today was great. The noodles were springy, the soup was clear yet rich and sweet, and the fried pork chop was very tender. Random rant: our table was next to a couple who were finishing up just as we sat down. When they paid up and left, we glanced over and to our absolute horror, the girl had barely touched her food. She too had ordered the pork chop la mian; at first I thought she just ate the pork and left the carbs, but she had taken out all the pork and just left it on her side plate uneaten! I mean, I’ve seen people not finish their food, but this takes the cake. With the amount that was left, she must have had 3 mouthfuls tops. I’m not being preachy – I don’t pull the “people are starving in Africa” thing very much, but honestly this was appalling.

But I digress. We’ve recently discovered, thanks to my bro and SIL, that the fried rice here is actually very good. Really eggy and fragrant, with sufficient wok hei. We had the fried rice with shredded pork – very good.

Almost all of their outlets are pretty packed at mealtimes, and they don’t accept reservations, but unless you’re in a big group, the wait is pretty short because of the high turnover. Then again, we were at the Paragon outlet before 12, so I can imagine it gets quite insane later on.

A says:

Good food. Good service. I like how they give you decent estimates on the waiting time. I think it’s worth queuing for if it takes less then 10 mins. If not, Paragon has many other acceptable alternatives (although you’ll probably have to queue for those as well).

Friday, November 02, 2007

Raffles Creamery

C says:

Yet another new kid on the cold stone slab ice cream block. I think Swirl may have been the first one in Singapore, but for some reason it’s never quite taken off. Instead, places like Ice Cream Chefs and Raffles Creamery, which came later, have gotten way more press.

We’ve never tried Ice Cream Chefs cos it’s in the (gasp) East, but since we parked at Raffles Hotel, we chanced upon Raffles Creamery and decided to give it a try.

Specialising in ice cream mixed teppanyaki-style on a cold marble slab, at $5.90 per scoop with 1 or 2 toppings/mix-ins, this place certainly isn’t the cheapest, but you’re clearly paying a premium for good quality ingredients. I ordered the vanilla bean ice cream, and opted for just roasted macadamia nuts to be mixed in. The ice cream was full of vanilla seeds – an indication that they don’t skimp by using extract or (god forbid) essence. What really got me, though, were the macadamias. They poured in so many whole macadamias that I got one in almost every mouthful. Plus, they were really fresh and crunchy, with none of that slightly stale oil flavour that macadamias sometimes have.

A ordered the KitKat ice cream without any mix-ins. This was a letdown after the vanilla and macadamia. It was just an ordinary chocolate ice cream with some wafers inside. Ok, but nothing special.

I’m definitely coming back for another macadamia fix. Maybe I’ll have the macadamia nut caramel ice cream, and add macadamias. Or maybe that would be overkill.

A says:

It’s not bad. Way more worth it than the $10 milkshakes at Seah Street Deli at least.

Raffles Creamery
Raffles Hotel (opposite Seah Street Deli)
Open daily: 11 am to 10.30 pm

Cafe Swiss

C says:

Goodness, time flies. It seems like just yesterday (ok, maybe not yesterday, but a few months ago) that we first ate at Cafe Swiss, and vowed to come back one day for the beef fondue. It’s actually taken us almost a year to make good our promise. A and I headed there for dinner on Friday night, specifically for the Fondue Bourguignonne – a meat fondue where you cook stuff in hot olive oil. Random comment: This is a great place to come to when everywhere else is packed and you can’t get tables or reservations. On a Friday night, there were maybe 3 tables occupied…

The menu says the minimum order for the Fondue Bourguignonne is 2 persons, and the price is listed as $45. On our last visit, we were told that the price is per person, so we expected it to cost $90. When the food arrived, I was a bit stunned to see how little of it there was – at most 10 cubes of meat, a few asparagus spears, broccoli florets, and no more than 5 pieces each of baby corn, zucchini and carrot. All I was thinking throughout dinner was “$90 for this??!!” Turns out that was just one portion, so I guess $45 is fairly decent then. I don’t understand the menu then – why say minimum 2 persons, when they only served and charged us for one portion? Unless it is $45 for 2 persons? In which case only even numbers of people can order?? I’m confused… my head hurts…

Anyway, first a pot of hot oil arrives, and you're instructed to leave it to heat properly for 3 to 5 minutes. When it’s ready, you skewer your meats and vegetables, and lower them carefully into the hot oil. It emits quite a sizzle, which sounds a bit scary, but it stays within the pot (most of the time). The meat was fillet chunks and was super sweet and tender. Reminded me of the fillet at Aburiya. The fried vegetables were pretty good too, in particular the broccoli, where the tiny little fronds got nice and crispy. You get three dips – thousand island, ranch and mustard; I didn't even bother with the thousand island, but the mustard was pretty good with the meat, and the ranch with the vegetables.

This was certainly an interesting meal, but because of the menu miscommunication with the portions, it barely satiated our hunger. At least it meant that we had more than enough stomach space to have ice cream at Raffles Creamery for dessert.

A says:

Good food. Excellent service. A bit pricey for what you’d get though. At least the $45 was for the full thing. If it was $45/person for what we got, it would be really over-priced. I miss the old Ladyhill Hotel Beef Fondue though.

Also, beef fondue is way too oily to have on a regular basis though.

Café Swiss
Level 2, Swissôtel The Stamford
Tel: 6431-6156