Monday, August 29, 2011

Mooncakes 2011

C says:

Yes, it’s mooncake season yet again. After last year’s slightly disappointing showing, I decided to forego Szechuan Court’s snowskin assortment, in favour of a few new kids on the block.

Since almost everything that the Paradise Group puts out generally doesn’t disappoint, I decided to try their snowskin mooncakes this year. They have a duo that features both types of truffle – of the chocolate and the fungi variety. The white one has a white chocolate truffle scented with white truffle, and the black one has a dark chocolate truffle with black truffle. Both were paired with white lotus paste and gold-dusted snowskin.

These were very interesting, though definitely an acquired taste. Whilst truffle paired with something sweet is not unheard of (think truffle honey), it’s still slightly disconcerting to have a faint musky truffle aroma lingering in the background of a familiar taste of mooncake.

The mooncake quality itself was excellent. The lotus paste was very refined, and the snowskin was really thin and soft (they dried out pretty quickly though, so eat them fast!).

Majestic Restaurant has some interesting flavours this year as well. They have a snowskin with kopi luwak (civet cat coffee) lotus paste, and a fresh milk snow skin with yuan yang (a mixture of coffee and tea) lotus paste. We opted for the latter.

The yuan yang flavour of the lotus paste was quite authentic, and it all but masked the usual lotus paste flavour. However, because there wasn’t any truffle in the center, I found it a bit too dense and heavy. What I like about the chocolate-centred snowskin mooncakes is that it’s really just a chocolate masquerading as a mooncake. The lotus paste complements it by adding a new dimension, but ultimately it’s still a chocolate.

My usual Raffles Hotel baked Mother of Pearl mooncakes are on the way, as are Jewels Artisan Chocolate’s salt caramel truffle snowskins, so I really better do double time at the gym for the next few weeks.

Mooncake season is until 12 September, so better hurry if you still want to catch any of this year's offerings.

A says

I’m not a fan of mooncakes at all. If anything, I’ll have a few of the snowskin variety. Please see C’s review if you want an opinion on this.

C says:

Isn’t that pretty much the case for everything that we review...?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pique Nique

C says:

Brunch at Pique Nique today has inspired us to come up with a new label for our posts - Disappointing. Not quite as harsh as Not Recommended, Disappointing is, well, exactly that - when you go with a certain level of expectation, and what you get is a completely meh experience.

We got there pretty early on Sunday, around 11.30, expecting it to get crowded later with the brunch crowd rush. We needn't have worried. There were at most 3 tables when we arrived, and it didn't really fill up over the course of our stay.

We'd seen the menu on Facebook and it had a lot of potential, but at the same time we've also heard less than positive things about both their food and their service. Still, we went with a pretty open mind.

Since Pique Nique is the creation of Chef Pang of Canele fame, I had high hopes for their salted caramel here. I ordered the buttermilk pancakes with salted caramel and whipped butter (there's the option of either whipped butter or whipped cream).

The salted caramel was good; there just wasn't enough of it. The pancakes were too thick, so the bits without the caramel were pretty bland. And I have no idea where the butter was.

A had the Hot Iron waffles with caramelised banana, chocolate fudge and vanilla bean ice cream. This was where things really started going downhill. The ice cream was rock hard, and after tasting it, it was suspiciously more like peanut butter than vanilla bean. We flailed wildly for the attention of a server, and when one finally came our way, after hearing what we had to say, she had the nerve to tell us to give her a minute, and proceeded to take another table's order!!

I was getting seriously annoyed, so I flagged down another guy who was nice enough to check with the kitchen, and got a fresh one made for us.

The waffle itself was good, but again the ice cream was too hard, the banana and chocolate fudge seemed to be perfunctory add-ons, and once again, the whipped butter was no where to be found.

We also shared the Breakfast Dog, which came with chopped tomatoes, relish, bacon and a fried egg. I was slightly disappointed to see that the egg was just unceremoniously plonked on top. The hot dog bun was nice and light, but other than that, it was quite ordinary.

The fries came separately, a bit later, and I must say they're very good fries. Very crisp outside but really light and fluffy inside. Unfortunately, the ketchup that they served didn’t seem to taste like Heinz. 'Nuf said.

So, will we go back? Not likely, but I won't really go so far as to damn it Not Recommended. Hence, Disappointing.

A says:

The menu looked right up my alley, but from what we ordered, only the fries and the waffle itself were good. And by that, I really mean just the waffle. The toppings were very blah and the ice cream was hard. I prefer the one at Canteen.

Service-wise, the local Chinese girl was super bad. Lousy attitude and blatantly refused to help us twice. The nice Filipino guy was so much more helpful.

Overall though, I can see why this place was so empty on a Sunday morning. Disappointing.

Pique Nique
#B1-01/02 Takashimaya
Ngee Ann City Tower A
391A Orchard Road
Tel: 6238-6705
Open daily: 10 am to 9.30 pm

Saturday, August 27, 2011

AteTooMuch is on Facebook

C says:

A reader suggested we put up a page on Facebook. So we did. Visit to Like our page and get updates. Or just click the Like button on the right.

A says:

Thanks to the 25 pioneer peeps who liked our page and got us our url. Now I need a PM and dev team to get all the other functionality working. Haha.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Berrylite Frozen Yogurt

C says:

My friend S has opened a new yogurt place at Novena and has offered this promotion to our readers. Just flash this flyer off your smartphone (or print it out and present it) to enjoy the 20% discount on your yogurt.

At any given time, they have Original and 3 other flavours, which are constantly changing. When we went a while back, they had an awesome Chocolate Mint, but that sold out pretty fast. Currently there's Carrot Cake, Luscious Lemon and Strawberry.

A says:

atetoomuch has sold out! Now I’m waiting to start rolling in the dough. Or in this case, yogurt.

Berrylite Frozen Yogurt
Novena Velocity Mall

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hippopotamus: An update

C says:

We finally went back to Hippopotamus to try their steaks, this time with A’s folks. We thought we’d do a taste test, so we ordered the Prime Rib for 2-3 persons from the “Premium Meat” section, and the Ribsteak on the bone, from the regular section of the menu.

OMG, it was SOO bad that I’ve now concluded that probably the only thing worth having here is actually the Tartare Grill that I had the last time. Both steaks were full of sinew and fat, and were tough, tasteless, underseasoned and poorly cooked.

We ordered the dessert sampler, which came with tasting portions of a Floating Island, chocolate crepe, crème brulee, fruit salad and a mango sorbet. The Floating Island and chocolate crepe were passable, I didn’t try the crème brulee, and the fruit salad and mango sorbet were both afterthoughts.

To say this was disappointing is a huge understatement; I can’t remember when I’ve been this angry at such poor food.

A says:

Good service. Bad food. The only thing I can recommend here is the seared steak tartare.

Hippopotamus Restaurant Grill
6 Raffles Boulevard
Marina Square
Tel: 6338-5352
Open daily: 11 am to 10 pm

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Yumeya Japanese Restaurant

C says:

We actually wanted to have a fairly simple dinner at Chikuwa-Tei tonight, but when we called to make a reservation in the evening, they only had a table for us after 8.30 pm. Not wanting to wait, we decided to try Yumeya, another Japanese joint just down the road that came recommended by one of A’s friends.

Unlike Chikuwa-Tei, where their standout items are clearly their chawanmushi and their sashimi (particularly the salmon sashimi), I’m not sure that Yumeya has any specialties. We tried to order a fairly wide range, just to see if any particular category jumped out at us.

We tried their sautéed mixed mushrooms, which were a mix of shitake, enoki and shimeji mushrooms. They came in a buttery white wine sauce which was good, but they were a bit too heavy handed with the garlic, which overpowered the flavour of the mushrooms.

The grilled chicken wings were quite good, but the Asparagus Butter Yaki (asparagus grilled in butter) wasn’t what I expected. I thought it would be a clean tasting dish, with asparagus just grilled with some butter brushed on top. It turned out to be almost a stir fry, with onions and some garlicky minced meat topping that again just overwhelmed the asparagus.

The scallop grilled with mayonnaise arrived with quite a fanfare of flames, but I’m not sure that the dish lived up to its presentation. It was as good as you would expect from scallops drenched in mayonnaise and grilled, but it just met those expectations and didn’t really offer more.

One of their more oft-reviewed dishes is the beef tataki, which again was decent but not outstanding. Rare slices of beef in a black pepper sauce, this was something that could be quite easily done at home, perhaps without the black pepper sauce which I don’t much care for anyway.

We figured we should also try some of their raw fish items, but these really didn’t come cheap. We ended up with the mixed sushi, which wasn’t too bad, but I reckon we could get just as good sushi at Itacho.

Finally (yes, we overordered again...), A’s choice (it figures) was a really weird rice with ume (sour plum) and green tea. I don’t think he expected it to be some sort of porridge. I wouldn’t order this again, though the sour plum did provide a refreshing change to the fairly heavily seasoned other dishes.

Prices aren’t low here, and the food, though perfectly passable, isn’t distinctive enough in my opinion to warrant spending that much, not when with a bit of advance planning, a simpler but much more satisfying meal can be had at Chikuwa-Tei.

A says:

Unlike C, I really liked the food here. The service is excellent as well. But I have to agree with C that comparatively speaking, I’d rather go to the slightly cheaper and more casual Chikuwa-Tei.

Yumeya Japanese Restaurant
33 Mohamed Sultan Road
Tel: 6887-0282
Mon–Fri: 12 noon – 2.30 pm, 6 pm – 12 midnight
Sat & Sun: 6 pm – 2 am

Jimmy Monkey Cafe & Bar

C says:

We read about this newly-opened cafe in IS magazine, and since it’s located at one-north residences, it made for a convenient brunch venue after our morning gym session at the nearby Fitness First. Coincidentally, it also owned and run by an old classmate of mine and her husband, a Melbournian who was keen to recreate a true blue Ozzie cafe experience.

Their coffees are compliments of a Slayer espresso machine, apparently Singapore’s first. A ordered the flat white, and I went for the Cortado. The coffee was quite strong and aromatic, yet not particularly astringent or bitter – the mark of a good coffee, I guess. Next time I’ll go for a flat white or latte though. I think my coffee palate isn’t quite ready for the potency of the Cortado.

I toyed with a few options and decided on the classic fry up, which on hindsight perhaps was too safe a choice. I liked the bacon and the sausage, but I found the sage mushrooms a bit of an afterthought. I’ll go with my other option next time – the vegemite and cheese toast soldiers with a soft-boiled egg.

A had the tartine with goat’s cheese, smoked duck and honey. The honey was surprisingly drizzled on the accompanying mesclun salad rather than on the open-faced sandwich; I would have preferred the latter, but overall it made for a pretty good combination.

They don’t take reservations for groups smaller than 5, which could pose a problem because it was surprisingly full at about 1 pm on National Day. Still, it’s quite close to home/the gym for us, so I’m pretty sure we’ll be back for a weekend brunch.

A says:

Excellent coffee. Decent food. Nice atmosphere. Easy parking at the condo. (Just tell the guard you’re there for the cafe, although unlike most condos, you have to pay for parking – keeps out the riff-raff I guess.) I wouldn’t say it’s fantastic, but it’s definitely made the list as a casual weekend option near our place.

Jimmy Monkey Cafe & Bar
9 one-north gateway
#01-51 one-north residences
Tel: 6777-8470
Sun to Thurs: 8.30 am to 8.30 pm
Fri & Sat: 8.30 am to late
Closed Mondays

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Imperial Treasure Steamboat Restaurant

C says:

Steamboat is not exactly typical atetoomuch fare, mainly because A doesn’t quite like it, or rather doesn’t fancy cooking his own food. Still, I had some vouchers that I needed to use, and was pretty impressed with the food when I came here with the girls a few weeks back. So I dragged a slightly apprehensive A here on Saturday for lunch.

We had the pork bone soup, and quite a meat overload – short rib beef, kurobuta pork belly, beef tongue and luncheon meat. We also ordered some assorted mushrooms and spinach, just to be remotely healthy.

The quality of the meat here is very good, and I found the pork belly to be better than the beef, and at almost a third of the price, definitely much better value. The luncheon meat was good too, but then again I do have a weakness for it.

I also like the huge array of condiments that they present to you at the start, for you to concoct your own preferred blend of dipping sauce.

I adore steamboat, especially the soup after it’s been flavoured by all the ingredients cooking in it. I know it still isn’t A’s cup of tea, but I’m hoping today’s lunch has convinced him that it’s not all that bad, and that we can come back for more.

A says:

The food and service here are excellent. And that’s considering I usually don’t like steamboat. But then you also have to consider that this place is very expensive compared to your regular steamboat joints. So if I have to eat steamboat, this would probably be the place to do it.

Imperial Treasure Steamboat Restaurant
#01-21 to 23, TripleOne Somerset
Tel: 6732-8231
Mon - Sat: 11.30am to 3pm / 6.30pm to 11pm
Sun: 11am to 3pm / 6pm to 11pm

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Jackson Plan

C says:

The somewhat strangely named Duxton restaurant The Jackson Plan is actually named after Phillip Jackson, a surveyor who drew up Singapore’s urban town plans back in the 1800s. The tenuous link between historical urban planning and a modern gastropub is a connection to Singapore’s colonial past.

Despite the rather “hmmm...” name, I had high hopes for this place. After all, it sounded like a good concept – bringing a modern twist to classic gastropub food, and the dishes all sounded very enticing. Unfortunately, like all too many new establishments these days, it was let down by the actual execution of the food.

I’d read about their Mixed Scratchings, which is on their Bar Bites menu rather than their regular menu. Described in the article as a mix of pork crackling, potato peels and chicken skin, I expected a heavenly combination of sinful little crispy treats. Instead, what arrived were huge, badly fried sheets of indeterminate origin. I honestly didn’t know what we were eating. They were oily, and tasted like they’d been fried in less than fresh oil. They were also less than crispy, as if they’d been left in the open for a while.

I had all of 2 bites before throwing in the towel. For me to barely touch a plate of fried food is almost unthinkable, but I knew that if we’d eaten any more, we’d probably have gotten really bad sore throats. This was an epic fail, and set a disappointing tone for the rest of the meal.

They had a few off menu specials, one of which was the Portobello mushroom stuffed with wild mushrooms in a herb crust. The way the waiter talked this up, I was expecting way better. It was okay – you can’t really go wrong with mushrooms paired with more mushrooms and mayonnaise, but it was barely warm when it arrived, again giving the impression that it was all pre-prepared and sitting around.

In fact, that seemed to be a running theme. I tried the pigtails with home made baked beans, since the pigtails were actually slow cooked and shredded to almost like a rillette, shaped into discs and deep fried. This lacked seasoning, there were bone fragments in the patties, and again this was served at room temperature.

The mains fared only slightly better. The scallops, blood sausage and smoked cheese was the one dish I’d read about that made me want to try this place. However, any hopes that the blood sausage would resemble the ones were had in Spain were sorely dashed. The one here wasn’t as rich, and tasted a lot sweeter and more oatmealy. The scallops were ok, and the smoked cheese was more like a cheese sauce that was lightly torched. Best part of the dish was actually the pureed potatoes.

The saltmarsh lamb with champ was decent. The lamb was braised and quite tender, though perhaps lacking in fat, and the champ – Irish mashed potatoes with spring onions – was surprisingly good.

A had the burnt vanilla custard dessert, which was a very rich crème brulee; almost too rich for one person to finish. It also lacked a deep vanilla flavour.

This was an extremely disappointing meal. One redeeming factor is that they have quite a good selection of ciders. If we ever come back, it’ll be just for drinks; certainly not the food.

A says:

This was one of the most disappointing meals I’ve had in awhile. The service was great but everything else tanked badly. Especially the scratchings. OMG they were horrible.

The Jackson Plan
40 Duxton Hill
Tel: 6866-1988
Lunch: Mon-Fri – 11:30 am to 2:30 pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat – 18 pm to 10:30 pm