Saturday, October 30, 2010


C says:

After hearing that the Bugis Junction branch attracted snaking queues when it first opened, we were expecting more of a crowd this morning at the Tanglin Mall branch. When we got there slightly before 12, it was almost empty – we were the third table. It filled up later on, presumably after the various kiddie enrichment activities in the Mall ended for the morning.

Their specialty is grilled chicken with peri-peri sauce. You can choose varying heats – Lemon & Herb, Mild, Hot and Extra Hot. Since this is essentially a fast food chain, I assumed their thresholds were pretty low, so I went with the Extra Hot on my grilled ¼ chicken thigh.

The chicken was awesome – one of the most tender pieces of chicken I’ve ever had. The meat pretty much just fell from the bone, but not in a slow-cooked stew kind of way either. The chicken had a good chargrilled flavour, and was enhanced by the peri-peri sauce. The Extra Hot had quite a kick to it, but not in an unbearable way.

I didn’t order sides with my chicken because I wanted to try one of the starters – the Chicken Livers with Portuguese Roll. The roll turned out to be just a mini baguette of sorts. The livers were delicious as well – perfectly cooked and still creamy inside.

A doesn’t like navigating chicken bones, so he went with a really boring chicken kebab. To give them credit, they managed to cooked the chicken breast pretty well – it was quite tender. Still, it was a far cry from my chicken thigh, and since the meat came of the bone so easily, A is convinced to order the grilled chicken instead next time.

A says:

The ¼ chicken of C’s was fantastic. My kebab, not so much. The service wasn’t exactly stellar either. But I guess we’ll be back to a Nando’s at some point. Maybe the Bugis branch if it’s not too crowded.

163 Tanglin Road
#01-14/15, Tanglin Mall
Tel: 6338-6555
Open daily: 10 am to 10 pm

Friday, October 29, 2010


C says:

My colleague recommended this place to me, and specifically the thick slices of salmon sashimi and the chawanmushi. When I did a bit of prior research on it, I realised that it used to be called Wasabi-Tei, and was located at Far East Plaza. It was a tiny little joint that didn’t accept reservations, and had a scary, bordering on Soup Nazi-esque chef/owner.

When they moved to Mohamed Sultan Road, they renamed themselves Chikuwa-Tei, and got themselves a bigger space and could accept bookings. We called at 7.45 and just managed to snag a table at 8 pm.

I ordered the chirashi sushi and A had a sushi and udon set. His was ok, but paled in comparison to the chirashi. My colleague was right – they’re very generous with their slices of fish, and everything in the bowl was good. In particular, what shone were the salmon, which was sliced very thick and was rich and creamy, the swordfish, and surprisingly the tamago as well. The rice was also well cooked and nicely vinegared.

The photo doesn’t do it justice, but the chawanmushi here is probably the best I’ve ever had. The egg almost seems secondary, because it’s so chockfull of ingredients. Loads of enoki and shimeji mushrooms, chunks of chicken, cubes of incredibly fresh prawns, and even some konnyaku at the bottom to mimic sharks fin. The dashi stock is also very delicately balanced, and the egg perfectly smooth. At $5 per bowl, this is heaven. I may just have 2 of these as my meal next time.

Service was also very good – polite and very quick. We were in and out in half an hour. Another good place for an after work dinner, assuming we manage to get a reservation.

A says:

Awesome. Great food. Great service. Definitely a new regular for us.

9 Mohamed Sultan Road
Tel: 6738-9395
Open daily: 11.30 am to 3 pm; 6 pm to 10 pm

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Little Spanish Place

C says:

This little hole-in-the-wall neighbourhood joint reminds me of the first Don Quijote at Lorong Kilat – a small, understated place that seats just about 30 or so. I was quite encouraged by the fact that it’s owned by a Spanish lady, since I figured it had to be pretty authentic. Because it seats so few, it was surprisingly hard to get a table here. Last minute reservations on a Friday and Saturday proved unsuccessful, and we only managed to get a table on the day itself for the less popular Sunday night

They have an interesting split in the menu, between tapas and raciones, the latter being slightly bigger portions for sharing, in between tapas and main courses. Because we wanted to try their house special paella, we were quite restrained in our tapas order.

To start, we had the potato omelette, which is apparently the national dish of Spain. The menu confusingly said that it’s traditionally served cold, but they can warm it on request. However ours arrived warm by default. A took the first bite and after a moment, said “chai tao kueh”. I thought he was joking, but when I tried it, I had to agree. The flavour and texture was very surprisingly like chai tao kueh. Good but not what I was expecting.

The two seafood dishes fared better, especially the snails, which were sautéed with jamon, chorizo and white wine. The snails didn’t taste overly “gamey”, and the combination of jamon and white wine was a winner. The squid cooked in its own ink was another unexpected dish – I expected the squid being sautéed in a squid ink gravy of sorts, but instead the squid ink had been incorporated into a batter, and this was just a version of deep fried calamari.

The paella takes about 20 minutes to cook – the house paella has everything and the kitchen sink thrown in. Prawns, mussels, calamari, chicken and chorizo, with saffron rice. The rice was very flavourful, infused with all the flavours of the ingredients, but I would’ve liked the rice to be a little more moist. The charred bits were good, but I don’t think it was worth the wait. Plus, with so many interesting tapas and raciones to try, the smallest paella still fills us up way too much, so unless we come in a larger group, I doubt we’ll be ordering this again.

Because A isn’t a big paella fan, he left me to hoover up the paella while he saved room for dessert. We went with the Fried Milk, which was actually more like little morsels of deep fried custard. It was lighter than expected and a good end to the meal.

I’d put this place more or less on par with Don Quijote – it’s not the long awaited Spanish restaurant that we’ve been waiting for, but it’s ok for an occasional fix.

A says:

Fantastic service. The food’s mostly good, but not exactly spectacular. We’ll probably be back just because there are so few Spanish places. Oh, and to try the churros.

My Little Spanish Place
619 Bukit Timah Road
Tel: 6463-2810
Lunch: Sat & Sun 12 noon to 4 pm
Dinner: Tues to Sun 6.30 pm to midnight

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Paradise Dynasty

C says:

Yet another dining option at ION. This is the Paradise Group’s foray into xiao long bao and la mian, and we ventured here on Sunday night to check it out. We managed to get a table immediately, which was surprising for a Sunday night.

The entrance is quite small, so I was under the impression that it was a smallish joint, but the corridor goes pretty far in, past the vast glass-walled kitchen, till you reach a rather large and impressive dining room.

They serve innovative xiao long bao that are infused with various flavours, though do note that they are all pork-based. If it’s your first time, it’s probably a good idea to order the sampling platter that has one of each. We ordered one platter each, and sampled each different one simultaneously. The dumplings are quite garishly coloured, which can be a little disconcerting, but it makes for a pretty platter and an easy way to distinguish each variety.

White – Traditional
Yellow – Cheese
Orange – Crab roe
Green – Ginseng
Pink – Szechuan (spicy)
Black – Truffle
Grey – Garlic
Beige – Foie Gras

When we return we’ll probably order selected ones. I’ll pass on the Ginseng – the flavour was too strong for my liking, and the spiciness of the Szechuan didn’t quite suit a xiao long bao. Cheese was interesting, but I’m not sure that I can handle more than a couple before getting a bit sick of it. And I’m ambivalent about the Truffle, mainly because the truffle flavour wasn’t pronounced enough.

The Garlic was pretty good, but strong so definitely not the most social of choices. Traditional was good, and I really liked the Crab Roe, which was very flavourful, and the Foie Gras, which had just enough foie gras to give it some flavour and a lot of depth and body.

We ordered one of their specialty la mians – the signature la mian with sliced pork in pork bone soup. This was very good. The noodles were much thinner and more delicate than usual la mian. The broth was sweet yet it didn’t have the excessive oiliness of a similar tonkotsu ramen broth. The pork slices were wafer-thin and tender, and there was even a half-cooked egg. Do note that they put chopped coriander together with the spring onions, which we only belatedly discovered, so if you’re not a fan of coriander, do remember to ask them to hold it. We definitely will next time.

We’d heard some warnings about the spiciness of their Szechuan-style offerings, so instead of ordering a second spicy Szechuan la mian, we decided to ease into it by trying their poached chicken in Szechuan sauce (kou shui ji) instead. This wasn’t very spicy but it did have quite a kick to it, so I’m not sure that I can handle an entire bowl of spicy la mian. Especially when the signature pork bone one is so wonderfully delicate and refreshing.

This is definitely worth a visit, but skip dessert. We ordered the egg white soufflé balls with red bean and banana, which took 20 minutes to arrive and weren’t that great.

A says:

Except for the spicy Szechuan and ginsengy Ginseng, I’d gladly have any of the xiao long baos again. Even the cheese one, which I think some might find strange.

We’ll definitely add this to our list of places to eat at in Ion. Prices are very reasonable with most la mian dishes priced at around $10.

Service is a bit iffy though. I found the waiters would travel in clusters and there’d always be too many or none around. Having said that, when you do get their attention, they are very helpful and eager to please.

The only disappointment of the meal was dessert. I had high hopes for the soufflé balls with red bean and banana, but it took forever to arrive, and there wasn’t enough filling.

So for next time, we’ll order more xiao long baos and skip dessert.

Paradise Dynasty
2 Orchard Turn
#04-12A ION Orchard
Tel: 6509-9118
Mon – Fri: 11 am to 10 pm (last order 9.30 pm)
Sat, Sun & PH: 10 am to 10 pm (last order 9.30 pm)

Saturday, October 09, 2010


C says:

Oh Valentino, how we’ve missed you... We came here with L and M (their first time!) for dinner tonight and had another awesome meal. It’s food like this that sometimes makes me wonder why we bother trying new places for a “Best of [year]”, when such amazing food can be found in old favourites like Valentino and Ember. The meal would’ve been perfect if they’d had stock of burrata and lobster for the signature lobster pasta, but then again, maybe that would’ve been too much of a good thing.

Kudos to Alberto for making all the specials sound so yummy – we ended up sharing 3 of them to start with. Firstly we had fresh figs with parma ham. This was a leap of faith on our part, because I’ve never really been a fan of figs, and I don’t remember trying any raw fresh ones before. This has converted me – the figs were really sweet, and went very well with the parma ham. Kinda like an alternative to the more predictable melon and ham combination. It also helped that the figs were drizzled with a balsamic syrup.

Alas there was no burrata, so we had the braided mozzarella instead, served simply with olive oil, cherry tomatoes and a salad. As always, this was fabulous, and testament to how the best produce rarely needs any intervention.

The dish that left all of us lost for words was the grilled octopus leg. I think this could well be the best octopus I’ve ever had. It was so incredibly tender, grilled with just the right amount of salt, and tasted really sweet. This is how fresh seafood is supposed to taste.

Because there was no lobster pasta tonight, we managed to try some other items. A had the ravioli of the day – stuffed with beef and served in a butter and sage sauce. This was a surprisingly light dish, well-executed and with very clean flavours.

My main course rocked. I had yet another special – the pan fried fish served with risotto. Again, this was so simple, yet all parts of it were prepared so well. The fish was crisp, fresh and well seasoned. The risotto wasn’t too heavy, but was flavourful and most importantly, had the proper oozy texture.

Valentino’s – still our favourite Italian restaurant. Best dishes there are usually the specials, cos those are made with the freshest produce, but they don’t come particularly cheap. I still think it’s worth it for an amazing yet unpretentious meal.

A says:

One of the best meals I’ve had all year. Awesome!!!

Ristorante da Valentino
11 Jalan Bingka (off Rifle Range Road)
Tel: 6462-0555
Tuesday to Sunday: 12 pm to 2.30 pm, 6 pm to 10.30 pm

Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh

C says:

I’m extremely confused... This place is consistently voted as Singapore’s best bak kut teh, trumping both Ya Hua and Founder, but after finally trying it today, I’m having a lot of trouble figuring out why. In my opinion, this doesn’t even come close to Ya Hua, let alone Founder which tops my list.

We ended up here for an early lunch on Saturday quite by accident; we were actually trying to find a furniture store in Macpherson, got lost and decided to try looking for the “famous Rangoon Road bak kut teh”.

We ordered our usual – the ‘long’ pork ribs, the giam chye and you tiao, as well as bowl of pig’s liver. When the ribs arrived, they looked promising in a dark broth. I took a sip – it was slightly peppery and quite thick, but at the same time it lacked, I dunno, depth and body. Never mind, I thought. Maybe, like at Ya Hua, the ribs are the highlight.

To my surprise, the ribs were really tough and chewy. This is surprising, because one of the reasons we order the pork ribs rather than the chopped up spare ribs, is that they come a premium because of their tenderness. You usually can’t go wrong when you order the long pork ribs, but here they were dry and didn’t even fall off the bone.

Needless to say, I was puzzled. “Am I missing something?”, I thought. I even ordered a bowl of the spare ribs, thinking that maybe those are the ones that are famous, not the pork ribs. Wrong; they were even drier and harder.

The liver didn’t fare much better. The slices were so thin that they were overcooked by the time they arrived, and ended up being chewy and tasteless.

Someone help me out. I’m really not being biased; I came here with an open mind, expecting this to blow me away if it was rated above Ya Hua and Founder. After tasting it, I really can’t see how, in any sort of taste test, anyone could put this above those two joints. To me, based on what I had today, it’s not even in the running.

A says:

Service is super efficient. But bak kut teh wise, I much prefer Founder.

Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh
208 Rangoon Road
Hong Building
Tel: 6291-4537
7 am to 3 pm (Closed Mondays)

Friday, October 01, 2010

Double Bay Restaurant

C says:

How disappointing. We came here with high hopes, having been inspired by the fresh seafood at Gattopardo. Unfortunately the food was completely not up to par, and I ended up just wanting to get out of there as quickly as possible. I’ll keep this short, because I’m just too uninspired and unmotivated to write too much about it.

We started with the Kurobuta pork belly with caramelised apple sauce. The pork was quite tender, and very fatty, but the skin/crackling was a complete let down. It was only barely crispy, with some portions just downright chewy. The applesauce was ok – tasted like the filling in McD’s apple pie. (True enough, it surfaced again later in the apple crumble)

They have gourmet fish and chips which you can customise to your liking – choose the fish, ranging from cod, to Chilean seabass, to salmon, and a few other choices in between. Then you can select between beer batter and breaded. A decided on the barramundi with beer batter, which was okay – quite delicate and tasty but I wouldn’t say it was a mind-blowing fish and chips. The takeout one from Greenwood is just as good.

I had the grilled seafood platter, which was a complete let down. Firstly I expected a lot more for the price ($30+), but more than that, the quality was quite suspect. Everything tasted quite blah, certainly not the freshest that I would have expected from a seafood restaurant. And to top it off, the grilled prawn was mushy and barely edible; probably not fresh so I avoided it for fear of food poisoning.

Their pies don’t look too bad, and their apple pie was a pretty decent dessert. It was a bit amusing that the filling was the same as the starter, but other than that this was fine.

Overall though, this was a really lacklustre meal, and just a disappointment because I expected so much more.

A says:

Yeah, good but not great. I’d stick with the fish & chips or maybe try what looked like GIGANTIC pies at the next table.

Double Bay Restaurant
252 North Bridge Road
#01-22A Raffles City Shopping Centre
Tel: 6334-6530
Mon to Fri: 11.30 am to 11.30 pm
Sat – Sun: 11.30 am to 1 am