Monday, March 30, 2009


C says:

Our excursion to CityVibe wasn’t entirely fruitless though. Posh Nosh chick wrote about Fromage in last week’s Urban so we decided to kill two birds with one stone and check that out as well.

Fromage is just a kiosk on the ground floor, with just a few counter seats. Given that the seats are within close proximity of the deep fryers though, I’d recommend getting the food to go if you don’t want to end up smelling like oil.

The food is quite suited to take-out anyway. They have pizzas and baked pastas, but what got Posh Nosh raving was the deep fried cheese. Beside the usual mozzarella sticks, they have deep fried Edam wedges, Camembert wedges, and delicious little morsels of deep fried mac and cheese.

We tried all three (passed on the predictable mozzarella), and my favourite is the Camembert, with the mac and cheese a close second. I like Camembert anyway, and to have it hot, oozy and crispy is just heaven. The mac and cheese was pretty interesting too, though not so much cheesy as creamy. It was tongue-searingly hot but mighty addictive, and though each bite scorched my mouth, I couldn’t stop eating them. The Edam was a bit of a letdown because the cheese wasn’t very ripe so it just ended up tasting a bit plasticky.

What I liked was the fact that they got their oil temperature right, so the food wasn’t very greasy at all. They also have churros with chocolate sauce but we were way too full. I’m already dreaming of the Camembert so you can bet we’ll be going again in the not too distant future. The mall doesn't have a car park though, so it’s a bit of a bitch trying to find parking at Clementi.

A says:

Not exactly cheap by kiosk standards but definitely worth a try. We’ll be back. Maybe we’ll even take the train cause evening traffic and parking in Clementi is very frustrating.

#01-K4, CityVibe
3151 Commonwealth Avenue West
Opening hours:
10 am to 10 pm (weekdays)
10 am to 11 pm (weekends

Uncle Sam’s Claypots

C says:

I read in the papers recently that Uncle Sam’s, stalwart of the Robinson Road lunchtime scene for years, has finally opened a second branch at CityVibe, the new mini-mall that sits on the site of the previous Clementi cinema and McDonald’s. I was psyched to have this place as a dinner option, because the branch in Robinson Road only opens for lunch.

Unfortunately, for some reason this didn't have the oomph that the Robinson Road branch does. It somehow lacked the smoky flavour of the original. I would have attributed it to the fact that the claypot was just a serving vessel, but for the fact that there WAS a layer of burnt rice stuck to the bottom. So if the rice had in fact been cooked in the claypot, then what’s the difference? I have no idea; I just know that it didn't have that greasy shiok-ness that I remember from the original.

A tried the claypot Ipoh hor fun, which wasn’t bad but certainly wasn’t memorable. I guess I won’t be coming back here any time soon. I’ll stick to having the Robinson Road one at lunchtime.

A says:

I don’t like claypot. C made me go.

In the unlikely event that we return, I will have multiple desserts of bobo chacha, tau suan and pulut hitam.

Uncle Sam’s Claypots
#02-11/12 CityVibe
3151 Commonwealth Avenue West
Tel: 6778-3088
Open daily: 11 am to 10 pm

Friday, March 27, 2009

Casa Verde: Update

C says:

Casa Verde no longer has their set dinners that offer various permutations of Antipasti, Primi, Secondi and Dolci. Instead, they have a regular a la carte menu with prices averaging $15 for starters, $20 for pastas, $26 for mains and $10 for desserts. Do the math, and you’ll notice that a full meal of A, P, S and D costs a whole lot more now than the previous price of $58. To be fair though, portion sizes have increased and a full 4-course meal is likely to leave you stuffed.

They’ve also streamlined their crostini menu, which is a tad disappointing. Previously they had 2 crostini platters – hot and cold – with 3 types of crostini in each platter. Now they’ve combined them to just one platter of 3 types, a mixture of hot and cold. Given that the crostinis were my favourite part of the meal the last time we came, I’m a bit upset at their decision to merge them. The offerings are now a bit boring – tomato and basil (which was the best one), roast beef, and porcini mushroom with parmesan.

It’s not all bad though, because I think the standard of the food itself may actually have improved. The Vitello Tonnato that A ordered is one of the best versions of this dish that I’ve had. Most places slice the veal so thinly that you taste nothing but the tuna sauce, but here the veal slices were thicker and more substantial, so you actually got a good balance of veal and tuna flavours in each mouthful.

The Risotto with Sea Scallops and Bell Peppers that I had is also worth mentioning. The bell peppers actually gave colour and flavour to the risotto rather than featuring as an ingredient. There was a generous amount of scallops, and the flavour of the sauce was quite complex, tasting almost like a prawn or lobster bisque.

Unless the last time, desserts weren’t great tonight. A’s tiramisu wasn’t as good as Perla’s, and my chocolate and hazelnut cake was ok but nothing special. I’m not sure that I’m totally in favour of their menu restructuring, but there were enough highlights tonight to convince me that this place may still be an option. Only if we happen to be in the vicinity though, because there are definitely other places that I’d rather go to if I had a pasta craving.

A says:

Crostinis good. Veal slices in tuna paste excellent. Crab pasta disappointing (everyone said it tasted like high class mee pok which, depending on your tastes, may or may not be a good thing). Risotto very good. Tiramisu very average.

On a whole, I think the pizzas here are the best thing on the menu. So while I wouldn’t recommend coming here for a proper Italian dinner, it’s great if you want to chill out with some pizzas.

Casa Verde
1 Cluny Road
Singapore Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre
Tel: 6467-7326

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Amoy Street Boon Kee Prawn Noodles

C says:

After our thwarted attempt a few Saturdays ago, I came here for lunch on Tuesday with Y and S. We got here at 12.15 and queued for a good 25 minutes but it was worth it.

The photo totally doesn’t do it justice (it was a rainy day and lighting was bad). It was the best bowl of prawn noodles I’ve had in years, specially since Wah Kee stopped serving liver with their noodles.

You can order all sorts of permutations involving prawns, pork ribs, small intestines and liver. Naturally I had a $5 bowl with the works, and man, was it satisfying. The soup stock was thick, rich and flavourful, the pork ribs super tender, and the liver was fresh and runny. With optional chilli padi and lard, this really is the perfect bowl of prawn noodles for me.

Since I came here on a work day at lunchtime, A wasn’t with me but anyway prawn noodles are really not his thing. So S and Y will take his place in a special guest post :)

S says:

Seeing the line that had formed in front of the stall even at 12.15, I had high expectations. The soup did not disappoint. It was thick as C said and really rich even though it did not have that red colour I like. I am not a fan of exotic ingredients so I had the $4 bowl with just prawns and pork ribs (no organs, thank you). This was fantastic and made for a very satisfying lunch.

I must admit that the greedy part of me was a little upset at first as the $5 bowls with the liver and stomach (or whatever else exotic parts of the pig C and Y were having) came in a huge basin whereas the $4 bowl was tiny in comparison. After standing in line (albeit gossiping) for 25 mins (felt like 40 mins), I felt I should have done myself justice with a basin of that soup. However the $4 bowl was more than sufficient. If you are a guy with a large appetite, make sure you go for the $5 bowl.

Glad I found another fun place to eat at lunchtime. Thanks C and Y for taking me there!

Y says:

I’m just so relieved that S and C liked the food because it is not often that I recommend eating places (especially to foodies like C and S) AND on top of that, make my 2 atas friends take the public bus (first time in YEARS for S) there with me as well!

I had the soup version the last time I came here with a colleague. While we were queuing up (it was definitely more than 25 mins lah), we spotted some people having the dry version, which was topped with a generous dose of tomato ketchup. That made me feel nostalgic so I decided to try the dry version this time. It was good, but slightly disappointing because I think there was too little ketchup but more chilli in the sauce, so it was more spicy than ketchupy. What’s good when you order the dry version though, is that the uncle gives you a big bowl of “pure” soup to go with it – shiok!

I ordered the $5 bowl because I wanted the liver and according to the Chinese signs in front of the stall which showed the various permutations you can order, you only get liver if you order the $5 bowl ($4 = prawn + pork rib + intestines, $5 = prawn + pork rib + intestines + liver). It was huge and I had to struggle to finish all of it (C seemed to have no problem with hers though heheh) [C says: Oi!]. Next time I shall try to see if the Uncle will entertain an order of a $4 bowl with the intestines (not stomach lah, S!) being swapped for liver instead.

Amoy Street Boon Kee Prawn Noodles
7 Keppel Road
PSA Tanjong Pagar Complex
Mon to Fri: 8 am to 2 pm

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Kuishin Bo

C says:

What is it with atetoomuch and bad buffets this weekend?!

A’s friend KH suggested Kuishin Bo at Great World City for dinner tonight. We were told that it’s a member of the En chain, so we assumed that it would be similar to En’s fabulous shabu shabu buffet. Little did we know that (a) it’s part of the Kuriya group, not the En group, and (b) it was a generic Japanese buffet, with a wide range of offerings but lacklustre versions thereof.

On weekends the price is an astounding $43.90++ for dinner, which came up to about $50 per person! This was a huge rip off – there’s no way what we ate was remotely worth $50.

I need to go to En soon – I need to have a good quality yet good value buffet to restore my faith that you can have buffets without skimping on the quality of your offerings.

A says:

The sushi and sashimi aren’t bad by mass production standards. And there’s soft serve ice cream and a decent chocolate mousse for dessert. Having said that, this is in no way worth $50 unless you really, really eat like a kilo of sashimi. Not recommended.

Friday, March 20, 2009


C says:

My aunt gave us a dining voucher at Persimmon as an ang pow for Chinese New Year. My brother tried it before I had a chance to and highly recommended it, so on that basis I suggested it to L when she wanted ideas for her team dinner. Her feedback was lukewarm, so we decided to use up our voucher and try it for ourselves on Friday night.

Argh. My sincere apologies to L. This is the last time I recommend a place without atetoomuch’s stamp of approval first. Granted, it’s pretty good value, but the quality... well, let’s just say you get what you pay for.

Persimmon is located at The Link Hotel at Tiong Bahru, and is a division of Epicurious. They serve modern Singaporean food (think a lower end version of Wild Rocket), and until recently were a typical casual bistro. However, they’ve recently responded to the recession by offering a value-for-money a la carte buffet instead. Prices range from $20 for weekday lunches, to $30 for weekend dinners. Considering that those prices are nett, and you can order unlimited servings of all starters and pastas (main courses are limited to one dish per person), it’s definitely a very good deal.

Be warned though – this buffet is an Atkins diet nightmare, because you end up having loads of pasta and not much else. Even though the portions are tasting portion sized, A and I shared about 6 plates and were ready to explode by the end of the night. The pastas themselves are food court standard, nothing to complain about but nothing great either. The highlights were the chilli crab fusilli, the pork belly fusilli (which was both sweet and savoury) and the mushroom and miso spaghetti. What downright sucked was the vongole – A said the clams had been on a South Beach diet, and they hadn’t cooked off the alcohol in the white wine sauce either.

Amongst the starters, the only thing that stood out was the mini pork and beef burgers. The patty tasted just like an old fashioned Ramly burger, with a hint of curry powder. The rest of the starters paled in comparison.

A ordered the ribeye with satay sauce as his main, and I had the braised pork rib soto. A’s was heaps better than mine. The beef itself was pretty nicely done, albeit a rather small portion. My soto, on the other hand, was hot in some places and lukewarm in others. Definitely dished out from a pre-made pot and not heated through properly.

Overall, I can’t say that we won’t recommend it, cos I can imagine that this will appeal to some diners. Try it if you’re up for a value-for-money carb fest, and if you’re more inclined towards quantity rather than quality.

A says:

Don’t expect to be wowed by the standard of the food. It ranges from tasteless to just above average.

My worst dish was the vongole. All I got were clam shells with almost no meat in them.

Best dish is probably the mini-burger. This is closely followed by the steak (although my impression of the steak may have been tainted by my expectations being lowered substantially by the time we reached the main course).

The ambience and service aren’t exactly stellar either.

On a more positive note, you do get pretty good value for money if you’re a big eater looking for just a bit of variety.

#01-07 The Link Hotel
50 Tiong Bahru Road
Tel: 6227-2271

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Home-made pizza

C says:

I have a Pizza Express Napoli pizza machine on loan from my aunt, so in anticipation of a pizza-making party at our humble abode in a couple of weeks to celebrate W’s birthday, I decided to give it, and some home-made pizza dough, a trial run.

I got the pizza dough recipe from the Pizza Express Napoli website, but I think I’ll try Martha Stewart’s next to see if it’s any better. I made 2 pizzas for dinner tonight – one with chargrilled artichokes out of a bottle, olives, sliced Portobello mushrooms and blue cheese, and another with shaved ham and sundried tomatoes. As you can see, the sundried tomatoes that I sprinkled on top of the cheese turned to charcoal.

The machine looks like a round barbeque grill, and consists of a pizza stone on the bottom and a heating element on top. It’s pretty easy to use – just plug in, preheat and you’re good to go. The challenge is to roll out the pizza dough thin enough that it’s crispy, but not too thin that it tears. And to get it in a perfect circle – mine were more, shall I say, artistically-shaped. It also took a bit of practice figuring out how to transfer the pizza, laden with all the toppings, onto the stone.

The pizzas didn’t turn out too bad, taste-wise. The stone inevitably gets dirty, which is apparently to be expected because it just means the stone is being well-seasoned, and you’re not supposed to clean it with anything except a damp cloth. I do feel a bit bad returning it to my aunt in this state though.

I’m planning another trial run next week, because I need to find a way to pre-make the dough or par-cook the pizzas otherwise I’ll be in the kitchen all night during W’s party. Maybe I’ll experiment rolling out the dough during the day, then storing it between sheets of baking paper for use later on.

Can I just say that after all my efforts in preparing a pizza meal for A, all he did was bitch about how I didn’t also make tiramisu for him for dessert. Hmph...

A says:

Toppings rocked. My only complaint is that the crust doesn’t get good and crusty.

Friday, March 13, 2009


C says:

Next on our weekday value set lunch trail is modern French restaurant Gunther’s at Purvis Street. Their set lunch is the magic number $38 for 3 courses. We were there just after 1 on a Friday and it was surprisingly crowded.

A had the cold pasta with shaved Iberico ham, and I had the mushroom consommé with foie gras ravioli and a slice of seared foie gras. A’s pasta was ok – slight Asian in flavour and the ham had a nice nutty flavour without being too salty. My consommé was much better. It was clear yet bursting with flavour, and the foie gras was a good textural contrast to the clear consommé.

We were a bit indulgent – I saw the Roasted Bone Marrow on Toast on the a la carte menu and had to order it. I love bone marrow in any shape or form, and this dish showcased it at its best. You’re given a tiny spoon to dig out the bone marrow, spread it on the wafer-thin toast and season to your liking with sea salt, pepper and chives. The marrow was rich, creamy and insanely flavourful. This is a heart attack waiting to happen so it’s definitely a once-in-a-LONG-while treat.

There were 3 options for the main course. We nixed the garden pasta, so it was just down to the meat and the fish. The fish was grilled tuna, and the meat was called Gunther’s Creation on the menu. It was meant to be roast chicken but they’d run out, so they served roast Kurobuta pork shoulder instead, and man I’m glad they ran out of the chicken. The pork was fabulous – thinly sliced and grilled, the smoky flavour was quite apparent and the pork, being streaked with fat, was very flavourful.

The fish (which was plated very similarly to the pork, and indeed many of the other dishes that we noticed being served) was quite an enigma. It didn’t taste like fish at all. If you’d given it to me in a blind taste test, I might have said it was very tender chicken breast. The pork was better overall, but the tuna was good because it was such a novel flavour.

Dessert was a rather uninspired crème caramel, but generally no complaints about the food. Service was good but I felt that the main waiter was being just a tad patronising. Maybe it was just his manner – for the most part he was very polite, but I sensed some very subtle hints of condescension, especially when I was raving about the bone marrow and the consommé. This echoes another anecdote that I heard about the place, where the maitre d’ almost fell over trying to wrest a McDonald’s paper bag from S when she walked in carrying one.

A says:

I actually found the service to be excellent and not as snooty as I thought it would be. The food was excellent. It didn’t blow me away but it was very interesting. I’d definitely be willing to go back sometime.

36 Purvis Street
Tel: 6338-8955

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Emerald Garden Thai Food

C says:

Emerald Garden is another stall within the Bar Bar Black Sheep establishment along Cherry Avenue. I can’t believe A voluntarily chose Thai food tonight, over Wishbone and the prospect of a chocolate milkshake! Will wonders never cease…

We had the pork pad thai, the stir fried chicken with basil and chilli and a bowl of steamed rice. I quite liked the pad thai – there was a very good balance of flavours, without any one flavour dominating, and it wasn’t too dry either.

In comparison, the stir fried chicken was a tad boring but I actually preferred it to the pad thai. I’m quite a sucker for a simple stir fry eaten with hot plain rice, so this just struck a chord with me. Also explains how I can crave take-out Chinese food when I’m on holiday (Panda Express in Vegas, for example).

This is by no means our default Thai place – that would probably be A-Roy Thai. But if we’re in the Bukit Timah area and somehow don’t feel like eating anything else in the area, this is a pretty decent option. Now we just need to try the Indian stall at the same joint; it was closed when we were there tonight.

A says:

I’d pay the $10 for the Phad Thai, but I don’t think the chicken is worth $13. A bit expensive but worth considering for a quick Thai around Bukit Timah.

The Fishmonger, Part 3

C says:

We finally tried the Ling fish fillets from The Fishmonger! Well, half of them anyway – the portion we got from J was a hefty 1.2 kg so we split it up into 2 meals.

Because Ling fish is much hardier and more distinctly flavoured than the Orange Roughy, we figured it could hold its own against some stronger flavours so I added some grated cheese to the flour for the crust, and served it with pasta in a tomato and gorgonzola sauce (bottled, courtesy of Marks and Sparks – I’m not that much of a domestic goddess).

I must say I’m less of a fan of these than the Orange Roughy fillets – I think I’ve just been spoilt by how awesome the latter were. Clearly the Ling fish is a much bigger fish than the Orange Roughy, so it simply didn’t have the same delicate, almost melt-in-the-mouth texture and subtle flavour. The Ling fish was much flakier and also had quite a distinct ‘fish’ (note: not fishy) flavour. It was also more challenging for me to cook it because the thicker portions really needed quite a bit of time before they were cooked through.

I would imagine that this would be good for fish and chips, kebabs/satay or even on the grill. Or perhaps cut up into chunks and served in a robust fish stew or chowder. Not quite my cup of tea, so I think we’ll stick to the Orange Roughy.

A says:

What C said.

The Fishmonger
Tel: 6851-6158