Friday, July 31, 2009


C says:

Just our luck that we never managed to try Michaelangelo’s before Chef Angelo Sanelli left to open his own restaurant, Mietta’s. Citibank has an ongoing promotion at Michaelangelo’s till February 2010, where their $80 4-course set dinner is one-for-one. We decided to take advantage of the offer before trying out Mietta’s.

Just like it was with Don Quijote, I think limited buffets and one-for-one deals are not the best showcase for a restaurant. Corners are inevitably trimmed and as a result, you don’t get a true representation of what the restaurant can offer. The set menu was in no way worth $80, so I’m sure they’ve factored in the one-for-one deal when designing the menu.

The first course was a deconstructed smoked salmon Caesar salad – instead of croutons, the salad was on a crispy slice of melba toast. This was pretty well executed, with the best part being the crispy bacon.

The pasta course was an aglio olio spaghetti with prawns and cherry tomatoes. This was very ordinary, and certainly not what I would expect from Michaelangelo’s. I would say it was more like the standard of Spageddies or any generic pasta restaurant. The prawns were pretty fresh though.

We had a choice of two mains – a pan fried chicken breast fillet, and pork ribs. We thought we’d try one each, but the waitress convinced us that the pork was very good so we both ordered the pork. Big mistake. The main course really wasn’t great, so we had two of them to finish. The pork was pretty tough, and it was accompanied with lentils that were unduly sweet and therefore a rather odd and not particular pleasant flavour combination.

Thank goodness we ended the meal on a high note, though. Dessert was panna cotta with berries and this was one of the richest, creamiest panna cottas I’ve had. This was very welcome after the disaster of a main course.

Apologies for the lack of photos. The lighting was completely not conducive to photography. Also, for a Friday night the restaurant was eerily empty. Indoors there were only 2 tables of 2 (ourselves included), and outside there must have been no more than five tables of 2 to 4 people. I guess it’s not just us – the standard has probably dropped since Chef Angelo left. Either that or his followers just left with him. Well, based on the standard of tonight’s meal, I don’t think we’ll be back. Yes it may have been a one-for-one promo, but at a total price of just under $100 for the two of us, there are many other places I’d rather patronise.

A says:

The service was excellent and the setting is definitely interesting. I had high hopes following the excellent re-interpretation of a smoked salmon Caesar salad. It was followed by a passable pasta dish and a very blah meat course. I was ready to leave disappointed when the meal concluded with the best panna cotta I’ve ever had.

So I’m left confused as to whether I’d recommend it. I guess I’d consider it only if there’s a good promotion on and I can’t get a table at Pasta Brava, Valentino’s or Da Paolo’s.

Blk 44 Jalan Merah Saga
#01-60 Chip Bee Gardens
Tel: 6475-9069
Lunch:Monday to Fridays & Sundays, 11:30am – 3pm
Dinner:Monday to Sunday, 6pm – 11pm

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bergs Burgers

C says:

We had high hopes for Bergs, a fairly new burger joint in Far East Square, but were sorely disappointed. The restaurant looks pretty enticing, with an open kitchen and the menu scrawled on chalkboard walls, and the website promotes itself as an authentic Australian burger joint, but it really didn't deliver.

The menu sounds enticing enough, with regular beef burgers, a lamb burger, a number of chicken burgers, a fish burger and even a couple of vegetarian options (tofu and falafel). Each burger comes in Small and Berg sizes, with fries sold separately. I went for a regular beef burger (the Berg) with brie, and A chose the Kiwi Stud – the lamb burger.

The Berg comes with red onion, lettuce, tomato, aioli and ‘Bergs sauce’. When you order the Berg with cheese, you can choose between brie, edam and swiss cheese. The best part of the burger was the brie – they were very generous with the cheese and it added a really nice flavour to the burger. Other than that, there isn’t much to recommend. The patty was ordinary, and the bun was not only untoasted, but it was cold, which was slightly disconcerting when paired with a hot patty. My main complaint is that the combination of flavours just didn’t go. The aioli was pungent and garlicky, while the Bergs sauce was undefineable but predominantly sweet. When combined, it just tasted downright weird.

A’s Kiwi Stud didn't fare much better. The ingredients were the same, just no cheese and a heavily spiced lamb patty instead of beef. The patty tasted like a kebab, and again with the aioli and Bergs sauce, which again led to quite a taste confusion.

On to other aspects of the place. They must have the worst ventilation system ever, because the place absolutely reeks of frying burgers. Indoor seating is pretty much out of the question, and even sitting outside, we weren’t spared the oily pong. And even though this is a proper restaurant, not fast food, the burgers come unceremoniously wrapped in plain paper then dumped in a brown paper bag.

If I’m going to spend $28 on a meal (the burgers averaged $10 each and we ordered a side of fries and a drink), I’d rather have the sandwiches at Da Paolo Gastronomia.

A says:

It’s okay only. Not really blown away by either of the burgers I tried. And the wait is seriously long, even considering they were nearly empty at the time we went.

Would I recommend it? Only if you couldn’t leave the area and were desperate for a burger.

Bergs Burgers
137 Amoy Street
#01-01 Far East Square
Tel: 6438-6505
Mon – Sat: 10 am to 10 pm

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thai Central

C says:

Our austerity drive seems to be bringing us to the Upper Bukit Timah area with alarming frequency. Tonight we decided to try Thai Central, which is just across the road from Old Town. Being our first time here, we made a point to only order dishes that said “chef’s recommendation”.

To start with, we shared the Thai stuffed chicken wings. Interestingly, they have a separate Thai chicken wings on the menu, without the “chef’s recommendation”. Maybe next time we’ll try those. The stuffed wings were pretty ok – then again, how wrong can they go? The stuffing had a hint of kaffir lime leaves which was an interesting twist.

Just like instant noodles at cha chan tengs, we tend to test new Thai places with their pad thai and tom yam noodle soup dishes. A had the pad thai, I had a seafood tom yam soup with glass noodles (tung hoon). The pad thai fared better than the tom yam – it was pretty well fried, and the sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavours were all very well balanced.

My tom yam soup was quite sour, but refreshingly so. My issue with it was the absolute lack of ingredients. There was a huge clump of tung hoon, but just a handful of ingredients – 2 small prawns, a few measly slices of fish, a couple of tiny pieces of squid and a few straw mushrooms.

Still, prices are fairly decent and the service is excellent. We’ll have to come back and try their curries before coming to a firm conclusion.

A says:

Very good service. Decent quality food. Proof that when you go into a place with low expectations, they’ll generally impress you.

Thai Central
16 Chun Tin Road
Tel: 6469-4862
Daily: 11.30 am to 10.30 pm

Monday, July 20, 2009

More from Old Town White Coffee

C says:

We came back here again tonight to have the other items that we were meaning to try – the Ipoh Hor Fun, and the Curry Mee (soup).

The Ipoh Hor Fun was quite a surprise. Expecting the usual dry version that we’re so used to, we were quite taken aback when a bowl of soupy noodles arrived. Only after we clarified that our order was correct, did I suddenly remember P telling me ages ago that the hor fun here was very different from what we get here.

After the initial shock, I actually grew to like this a lot. The soup is slightly thicker and richer than normal clear fishball noodle-type soup. The flavour is subtle and clean, yet not bland. Perfect for when I’m feeling virtuous and can’t bring myself to order the unhealthier options.

The default noodle for the Curry Mee is the thick yellow noodle but I’ve never been a fan cos it’s very starchy and heavy. I tried to get them to change it to Nissin noodles (since they have a Nissin soup noodle on the menu), but I guess Nissin noodles cost more, because they said we can change to bee hoon or kuay teow, but not Nissin. I switched to bee hoon, and it was pretty good. The gravy was rich, and didn't taste of peanuts like a lot of curry noodles gravies.

On cousin L’s recommendation, I decided to try the iced Gao. Wow… I think the regular iced coffee is quite enough for me. The Gao packs a serious punch, and just a tad too potent for my liking. Alas, even though we were there quite early tonight, the caffeine still got the better of me. So, no more Gaos for me, at least not at dinner time.

A says:

It’s not really my kind of Ipoh Hor Fun but it’s not bad. I’ll probably stick to the rendang rice. At least this place has more options for me. Will stick with the regular iced coffee though.

Old Town White Coffee
9, Yuk Tong Avenue
Tel: 6467-4404
Mon – Thurs: 9 am to 10.30 pm
Fri: 9 am to midnight
Saturday/Eve of PH: 8 am to midnight
Sunday/PH: 8 am to 10.30 pm

Monday, July 13, 2009

Old Town White Coffee

C says:

We’re slowly realising that Upper Bukit Timah has lots of little eateries just waiting to be discovered. Old Town White Coffee, a Malaysian cafe chain, is located at the corner of Chun Tin Road and Yuk Tong Avenue (near the Cheong Chin Nam Road stretch), in a unit with surprisingly high ceilings, giving a nice impression of spaciousness.

They’re known for their white coffee, which in Ipoh apparently refers to coffee that has been roasted with margarine and possibly some sugar as well, resulting in slightly caramel undertones. For fear of being kept awake, I steered clear of the coffee but A ordered an iced white coffee. He ordered the regular strength one and already it was thick, strong and not overly sweet; I can’t imagine how much more potent the Enriched White Coffee (Gao) would be.

I tried one of their new dishes, the Dry Curry Mee, but it was a little too similar to Mee Rebus for my liking. The sauce was a bit too thick, and the use of yellow noodles didn’t help. Next time I’ll try their Ipoh hor fun, which is supposed to be their speciality anyway.

A ordered the Nasi Lemak Rendang Chicken, which was quite a large portion and was pretty good. The nasi lemak sambal was just the kind I like – spicy and not too sweet, and the rendang chicken didn’t skimp on flavour either.

They have some outdoor seating so this is another viable post-gym option when we’re in smelly workout clothes. The noodle portions are quite small so it should be just nice for post-running. Still, I’d like to come here in the day so that I can have a full cup of coffee on my own without risking a sleepless night.

A says:

This area is the Siglap of the West. And with less horrible parking problems!

So anyway, the food here is very good (although the portions are rather small for the price).

And the coffee is POWER!

Old Town White Coffee
9, Yuk Tong Avenue
Tel: 6467-4404

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

More sandwiches from Da Paolo at The Sail

C says:

I got a chance to try more of Da Paolo’s gourmet sandwiches sooner than I thought. Another late night for A meant that we met up there for a quick dinner after he got off work.

We went for the 2 that I was eyeing previously – the Parma Ham with Emmental, and the Mortadella with Provolone. On hindsight, that may not have been the best pairing because they ended up looking almost identical, and tasting quite similar too.

Parma Ham with Emmental

Mortadella with Provolone

I preferred the mortadella, because the taste of the ham was more pronounced in every bite. In contrast, the bites with the parma ham were good, but they were few and far between and the majority of the sandwich just tasted like tomato and cheese.

Tonight’s sandwiches weren’t as good as the previous one I had, because they toasted them for a bit too long, which made for a very tired jaw by the end of the meal, and injured roofs of our mouths from being poked and scratched by overly crunchy ciabatta. Still, it’s not enough to prevent me from trying the other yummy-sounding flavours; I just have to remind them not to toast them for too long.

A says:

I’m really liking this place. And since I’m currently working, I can still afford to eat here.

Da Paolo Gastronomia
The Sail
#01-15 Tower 2
Telephone: 6224-4148
Open daily 9.30 am to 9.30 pm

Friday, July 03, 2009

July Specials at Don Quijote

C says:

We popped by for dinner on Friday night to sample Don Quijote’s July off-menu specials. This meal reinforced my view that it’s way better to order off the regular a la carte menu (and their specials), than to have the brunch buffet. In fact, the difference in dining experiences is so marked that it was almost like 2 different restaurants. The food at the brunch buffet, whilst perfectly passable, somehow lacked the added flavour and authenticity of the ‘regular’ food.

The July specials that we ordered were the Spanish squid with olive oil and white wine, Madrid broken eggs, and the meat-lover’s paella. The squid was pretty good – tender, and the white wine sauce was well balanced. I’m still searching for a place that serves a good octopus tapas, though.

The Madrid broken eggs was a good concept, but fell a tad short in the execution. The broken eggs are just that – the yolk and white are mixed together but not evenly, and not scrambled either. Chunks of potato and chorizo completed the dish. The dish could have done with less potato and more egg, because it was way too heavy. Also, unless it was deliberate, this was overloaded with garlic, to the point where you barely tasted anything else.

Although we loved the squid ink pasta on our first visit, we decided to try the meat-lover’s paella, consisting of chorizo, chicken and sliced beef. After watching a paella special on TV recently, this was just what I needed to satisfy a latent paella craving. The rice was flavourful, had a lovely smoky flavour especially the charred bits, and it was all meat so no crustacean shells to deal with. A’s not a huge paella fan, so he was a lot less enamoured with this dish. Well, now that I’ve gotten the paella here out of my system, I’ll be fine to go back to having the pasta again next time.

Maybe if they keep having interesting monthly specials, we can make this place a monthly treat. And if you don’t order the phenomenally overpriced Spanish jamons and cheese platters, prices here are actually quite reasonable.

A says:

Parking here is a nightmare. Grrr...

Don Quijote
17 Lorong Kilat #01-09
Tel: 6465-1811
Open Tuesday to Sunday
Lunch: 11.30am to 2.30pm
Dinner: 6.00pm to 10.30pm
Sunday Brunch: 11.30am to 2.30pm

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Da Paolo Gastronomia at The Sail

C says:

The Da Paolo Gastronomia that’s just opened at The Sail offers some items that aren’t available at their other outlets. In addition to the single slices of pizza (which, though quite tasty, can be quite uninspiring after a while) and antipastis and salads sold by weight, the branch at The Sail has a selection of pastas, and quite an enticing array of gourmet sandwiches.

Since we park our car nearby, we stopped by for a quick meal and were quite pleasantly surprised. A ordered the pasta with salmon and creamy tomato sauce. The default pasta is spaghetti, but if you want to change it to any of the other pastas that they have on sale, you just have to top up about $2. A changed it to pappardelle and it turned out really good, though the portion was rather small.

I was spoilt for choice with the sandwich selection, but decided to try an old faithful – roast beef with mozzarella, on toasted ciabatta. As you know I’m not really a sandwich person but this was really good. They were generous with the ingredients, the beef was tender and there was just enough lettuce and ripe juicy tomatoes. Slightly lacking in mozzarella but overall, a good sandwich.

I’m now eyeing some of the other sandwich varieties, like Mortadella and Provolone, Parma ham and Emmental, Italian Sausage with Caramelised Onions, Gorgonzola and Fig Jam, and Black Pepper Sashimi Grade Tuna with Wasabi Mayonnaise. Now the question is – when to go again, and which sandwich to try next?

A says:

Good food and great service for something that’s really just a high-end deli. I’d eat here very often if we weren’t on an austerity drive.

Da Paolo Gastronomia
The Sail
#01-15 Tower 2
Telephone: 6224-4148
Open daily 9.30 am to 9.30 pm