Tuesday, November 22, 2011


C says:

8 years!! Our anniversary is upon us again, as is our annual pilgrimage to Ember. The set dinner menu ($85 for 4 courses) again looked pretty enticing, and this year I had the brainwave to ask if I could have my standard Chilean seabass as my main course instead of the options on set menu. They said it wouldn’t be a problem but that there may be a surcharge. When we got the bill it was a pleasant surprise to see that they didn’t add any extra in the end.

For starters I had the grilled bamboo clam with black bean sauce; A had the prosciutto with figs. A’s was good in a predictable way, though frankly I’ve been spoiled by Spanish jamon, so for me, prosciutto will always be an inferior cousin. My bamboo clams were awesome – there was a nice smoky flavour and the shellfish wasn’t overcooked. I don’t think the black bean sauce really contributed much to the dish though; it was good enough without it.

A had the lobster with a lobster beurre blanc dipping sauce, and I ordered the foie gras with maitake mushrooms, poached egg and truffle salt (c’mon, how me is that dish!). The beurre blanc in A’s dish packed some serious flavour, but overall mine was way better. It was everything that you would expect a dish with those ingredients to taste like. Delicious.

A’s main was a beef tenderloin with a red wine reduction sauce and a variety of mushrooms. And for myself, what would our anniversary dinner be without Ember’s signature Chilean seabass with bacon and mushroom ragout? This was as outstanding as ever. A’s steak was good in a predictable way. The meat was refined and tender, but because it wasn’t a grilled hunk of meat, it lacked the beefy flavour of a (good) steakhouse steak.

I just realised we had the exact same desserts as last year – the banana tart and the caramelised pear tart. This time, A kept the original ice cream as it was a lavender and ginger ice cream, not a straight up lavender. It’s a bit floral on its own, but actually does work with the banana tart.

We always say we need to come back to Ember more often, but almost a year has flown by without us realising it. Still, never too soon to make resolutions for the coming year.

A says:

Always reliable. Always good. Although this time, C’s choice of dishes were all better than mine. Hmmpf!

Restaurant Ember
50 Keong Saik Road
Tel: 6347-1928
Mon to Fri: Lunch 11.30 am – 2 pm; Dinner 6.30 pm – 10 pm
Sat: Dinner only
Closed Sunday


C says:

A and I had a (not so) leisurely breakfast at Sarnie’s this morning (I was on leave but he had to work; for a change, damnit) – a relatively new sandwich shop that opened up along Telok Ayer Street.

We came here primarily for the bacon and egg sandwich, which did not disappoint. The portion is huge for $7.50, and was piled high with crispy bacon and fried egg. My only criticism is that if you're not careful, you could seriously injure the roof of your mouth with the hard toasted edges.

A ordered the salmon bagel, which was also very good – very generous portions of smoked salmon for $7.90. The combination of smoked salmon, cream cheese and red onion was very balanced, and the bagel itself was good too.

Given the standard of their breakfast offerings, I’m sure their lunchtime salads and sandwiches will be good too. A says there’s usually quite a long line, so best to come either early or late.

A says:

One of the best sandwich joints in Singapore. And coffee is pretty good too. Awesome!

136 Telok Ayer Street
Tel: 6224-6091
Mon to Fri: 7.30 am – 5 pm

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Asian Kitchen LuGangXiaoZhen

C says:

This branch of The Asian Kitchen at ION Orchard specialises in Taiwanese delicacies, particularly street food specialities. (I assume that’s what the name refers to, but my Mandarin abilities are sorely limited.) Since there wasn’t any queue at all, we decided to give them a try.

There were surprisingly quite a number of things on the menu that called to me, but we clearly couldn’t order all of them today. They sell limited portions of their famous roast pork every day, and since it was available we had to have it. We ordered their original “guitar duck” as well, and a stir fried tung hoon.

I was a bit disappointed with the duck, mainly because this was just like regular roast duck, and somehow from the description on the menu I expected this to be more like a crispy duck instead. Still, as far as roast duck goes, it was quite good – tender and not dry.

The roast pork was heavenly. The crackling was thick but pretty crispy, but what pleasantly surprised me was how remarkably tender and juicy the meat was. Pork belly has a tendency to be quite tough if it’s not cooked properly, but here it was almost melt-in-the-mouth tender, yet not overly fatty.

The tung hoon was another surprise. Fried with minced pork and diced mushrooms, this was very tasty without being greasy, which this dish has a tendency to do.

While this place probably won’t be our first or second choice when we’re in ION, now that we’ve discovered what it has to offer, it’s definitely another viable alternative when our default favourites are too packed.

A says:

We always avoided this place as it looked a bit blah. But I was happy to be proven wrong as the food here is not bad at all (except for the watery bubble tea). Like C says, not our first choice at ION, but a definite worthy option.

The Asian Kitchen LuGangXiaoZhen
#B3-22 ION Orchard
Tel: 6509-1128
Open daily: 11.30 am – 9.30 pm

District 10

C says:

District 10 is now at UE Square, having moved from Windstedt Road in Newton a few months ago. It's actually part of the Bonta group; I'm not sure if it's always been, or whether a change also prompted its move.

It was pretty empty when we were there; probably a combination of it being Sunday night, and a rainy one to boot. Service was good, partially because we saw a familiar face who later identified himself as a waiter from another restaurant we used to visit. Quite impressive that he actually recognised us.

We shared 3 starters and a main of steak frites. On hindsight, our starter choices weren't the most properly thought out - way too carbo-loaded.

The chicken liver pate with garlic bread ($14) was so-so. The pate was pre-made in individual ramekins and arrived straight from the fridge. It was a bit hard at first and the layer of fat on top was slightly off-putting, even for me. The taste wasn't too bad, but the garlic bread could be better. It was over-toasted and hard, and was barely garlicky.

I was highly anticipating the parmesan and foie gras croquettes ($16) - can you blame me with a description like that? - but was quite disappointed with the outcome. I expected the cheese and foie to be integrated into the croquettes, a bit like those we had in Spain, but instead there was just a tiny cube of foie in the centre of a rather large croquette, and I think the parmesan cheese only made its appearance in the form of the sauce.

We ordered the ribeye, which was from Argentinian beef. At $29 for 200g this was fairly reasonable, but unfortunately the meat was tough, not particularly flavourful and wasn't very well seasoned. At these prices the steaks at Pepper Steakhouse are way better. The steak fries were good, but ketchup wasn’t Heinz...

The best dish of the night was the Black Angus mini burgers ($18 for three mini burgers). I was impressed that they asked for our preferred doneness, even for a mini burger. The patty was juicy and beefy, and there was a generous amount of cheddar cheese on top. This needs to be eaten hot though - it was awesome when it first arrived, but got a bit dry once it sat around for a while.

Besides the burger, everything else was a bit lacklustre; not sure if it was down to poor choices on our part. Even if we did go back, I’m not sure what else we’d order because we already covered all the dishes that called out to us.

A says:

Service was good. Ambience was nice. Food was good but not really great. The big surprise were the excellent fries that came with the steak frite. And while the starters/light bites may seem expensive at almost $20, the portions are big so it’s pretty worth it. I’d probably recommend this place for a drink with friends complimented by decent food.

District 10
81 Clemenceau Avenue
#01-15/16/17 UE Square
Tel: 6738-4788
Open daily: 11.30 am to 3 pm; 6 pm to 11 pm
(Open all day Sunday)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Triple O’s

C says:

We got off work earlier today, so we made it to Triple O's at Asia Square before they could close early again. To be honest we're not familiar with this Canadian chain at all, so we just ordered what appealed to us and hoped for the best.

We ordered one combo meal, and the other burger just a la carte. A had the orignal Triple O burger, which comes with lettuce, tomato and special sauce, and I had the mushroom burger.

The burgers here are around Carl's Jr's price point - about $11 for the burger and $15 for a combo meal. It's definitely better than Macs and BK, but I think Carl's Jr actually makes better, more satisfying burgers. Triple O's are good but the patty, albeit quite flavourful and tasty, is a bit thin and hence dries out a bit.

The combo comes with fries and a soft drink, but for $3 more you can switch to their poutine and signature milk shake. Poutine is Canada's version of chilli cheese fries, consisting of fries topped with cheese and meat gravy. This was good but as expected, became a bit stodgy towards the end.

A had the chocolate milkshake. He wasn't expecting much cos it looked pretty thick in the cup, but it was surprisingly drinkable.

Generally, I found the food good but not great. It certainly won't become my go-to place if I want a good cheap burger, but if we have a burger craving while we're in the vicinity, this will be a convenient place to satisfy it.

A says:

Awesome milkshake. Everything else was pretty good, but definitely not worth the $11 price tag. My advice is to go round to Jewel Coffee to eat, then come here for a milkshake for dessert.

Triple O’s
Asia Square Food Garden
2nd floor, Tower 1
Tel: 6636-0002

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

C says:

I guess atetoomuch is finally going places, if a reader deems our reviews worthy enough to pass off as his/her own. We recently discovered that substantial extracts of a huge number of our posts have appeared as someone else’s reviews. The similarities, down to certain turns of phrase that I think are quite “me”, are too close to attribute to coincidence.

Yes we’re annoyed; wouldn’t you be, if you discovered that the words that you worked (fairly) hard on were passed off as someone else’s? But at the same time I’m also amused. While some of the extracts are blatant copies, others simply don’t make sense.

Hmpf! Maybe he/she should try to copy this post too!

A says:

omgwtfbbq. No one copied what I wrote. I wonder why?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Jewel Coffee

C says:

We planned to try Triple O tonight, the first Singapore outpost of a Vancouver burger chain. They've opened at Asia Square Food Garden, the upscale food court in the new Asia Square office building in Shenton Way.

Their official opening hours are till 9 pm, but when we got there at 8 on a Friday evening, they were inexplicably closed. They said they closed early cos there were no customers. ?! Shouldn't you at least hold out a bit later, especially on a Friday night? Black mark against them, even before we actually dine there.

Anyway, we decided to go to Jewel Coffee instead. We'd had their breakfast and coffee but not their all-day offerings.

A had their Ribeye Hero, a ciabatta sandwich with slices of ribeye steak, mushrooms and cheese. I'm not a huge fan of sandwiches but this was toasted so it was hot, the bread was soft so it didn't chafe the roof of my mouth, and the meat was really tender.

I went with the Mushroom Medley linguine, which indeed had a medley of mushrooms - a very generous amount of buttons, shitakes, shimejis and oyster mushrooms. It was served on a bed of baby spinach that became slightly wilted from the heat of the pasta, which helped to move it from salad territory.

The sauce was a simple aglio olio, but because there was a liberal sprinkling of shaved parmesan on top, it melted and merged into the sauce as well. The result was a delightfully moreish, earthy dish that wasn't overpowered by garlic. Very good.

Because my pasta was vegetarian (you can opt for additional chicken breast for $4), we had to have some sort of side and it was a toss-up between the chicken wings and the pork cubes. We eventually decided on the less predictable pork.

The cubes are deep fried pieces of pork collar, marinated in a powerful blend of 14 spices. It was decidedly Asian, and I detected either har cheong paste or lam yu. It comes with kicap manis, a sweet dark soya sauce, which had a subtle underlying heat from being infused with chillies.

I must have burnt my mouth a few times because these arrived piping hot, but man, they were good. I'm not usually one for sauces with my meat but the kicap manis paired with the meat amazingly. Perhaps my only criticism is that the pieces were a bit too big - something more bite-sized would've been easier to eat, and they could maybe have been cooked a little less.

Service was excellent too, though maybe because they were the owners so they probably had a vested interest. I dare say we probably had a better meal here, than if we had gone to Triple O.

A says:

The steak sandwich is a bit on the expensive side but great. The mushroom pasta is awesome for just $10.90. The coffee is very distinctive. And the service is great. Rock!

Jewel Coffee
1 Shenton Way
#01-17, One Shenton
Tel: 6636-9452
Mon to Fri: 7 am – 9 pm
Sat: 8 am – 5 pm