Tuesday, April 25, 2006


C says:

Quite coincidentally, we went to Uberburger for dinner the very day the Sunday papers did a feature on their $101 wagyu beef and foie gras burger. We must be trendsetters, cos A planned this dinner with his friends, as well as the venue, a week ago. Heh. And in case you’re wondering, nobody was insane enough to have the 101 burger.

Our friend S had told us that she tried the regular sirloin burger there, and was of the view that the ‘colossal’ one would be better because it had a larger patty (250g vs 200g for the regular) and would probably be juicier as a result. A and I decided to share the colossal one, which comes with a big bucket of fries. We also shared a starter of Swiss cheese and tomatoes on toasted ciabatta, and a side order of brown mushrooms sautéed with black pepper.

Taking each item in turn – the ciabatta was great. The bread was toasted with some fragrant charred bits, and the swiss emmenthal cheese and tomato combination is always a classic. It was simple yet tasty, and I’m now inspired to recreate this at home, although I’m sure there was more to it, like some garlic or other type of dressing, to make it taste as yummy as it did.

The mushrooms were okay; nothing spectacular, they tasted pretty much as you would expect mushrooms sautéed with black pepper to taste.

I liked the fries, they were extremely addictive. They came piping hot, and even though each bite threatened to burn my lips and mouth, I couldn’t stop chowing down nonetheless. They were quite thickly cut, crispy on the outside, and incredibly light and fluffy on the inside. They were only very lightly salted, and weren’t oily at all.

The burger was tasty, but nothing mind-blowing. The patty seemed more medium than medium rare which we ordered, and wasn’t as juicy as I expected it to be. I think the problem with their beef patties in general is that they over-compress them. I read somewhere that to make a good juicy burger, you shouldn’t manhandle the minced meat, and should only press it to the extent necessary to shape it loosely into patties. I couldn’t fault the taste of the beef though – because the patty was made from chopped sirloin, it was very flavourful and you could tell that it wasn’t made from throwaway cuts of meat.

Based on the reactions that A’s friends had to their orders though, it appears that no one will be giving rave reviews about the place any time soon. In fact, they had even more lacklustre reactions to their food than we did. One of them, who perhaps unwisely ordered the steak tartare, was downright revolted with what he was served.

Will we go back again? Probably, but a $29 colossal burger isn’t worth it for just 50g more meat than a $16 regular sirloin burger. Of course, an order of fries is a must.

A says:

What’s up with the stupid menus? It tries to keep hip, but just turns out damn hard to read. Bloody designers trying to be funny. Can’t even tell what the price is!

Overall, the service wasn’t as bad or snotty as I thought it might be, but then again, it wasn’t as packed as I expected. I wouldn’t be too sure about going back. Their thick milkshake (I had the loaded chocolate flavour) wasn’t very thick or very loaded. The best taste actually came from the cheese/tomato toast. I like-a me bread!

Monday, April 24, 2006

La Petite Cuisine

C says:

Serene Centre seems to be the breeding ground for new and interesting eateries. First Island Creamery, which has recently moved from its humble corner shop to a full-fledged café within Serene Centre. And now, taking over Island Creamery’s old premises is La Petite Cuisine. The main restaurant, La Cuisine, is at Cluny Court next door (the building with Da Paolo, Awfully Chocolate and the new Cold Storage), but they wisely decided to have a presence in Serene Centre. Apart from simple soups and buns, the food is cooked at the Cluny Court branch and carried over (covered, of course) by servers to Serene Centre.

I wasn’t expecting much, even though A had gone a couple of weeks ago and had raved about the escargot croissant. Today the croissant wasn’t on the menu, so we had carrot soup, I had chicken with morel mushroom sauce and pasta, and A had a sirloin steak with gratin potatoes.

At just $8 a dish (the soup was an additional $1.50), I would encourage everyone to try it at least once if you’re in the vicinity. The food was great. The chicken breast was amazingly tender, and the morel mushroom sauce had an incredibly intense flavour. Even the pasta was good, even though it was just salted and served with grated parmesan cheese. A’s sirloin steak was surprisingly good as well. I didn’t have high hopes for the medium rare, mainly because most places in Singapore tend to serve medium rare as medium. However this place proved me wrong, and the steak even survived the journey from Cluny Court, arriving a perfect medium rare.

The Filipino waitress was a little blur though, and somehow A’s order was initially mixed up and he got a duck a l’orange instead. But the guy who brought the food over was very professional and exchanged the dish immediately and without question. Now I feel like going back to try the duck a l’orange.

A says:

Restaurant standard meals in a laidback café setting. Like Choupinette but even more relaxed. The only foreign server there that night was super blur though (the guys running over with the food are infinitely more professional and competent).

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Lavender Wan Ton Mee

C says:

A and I went to Jalan Besar today, our final stop in our toilet bowl hunt. After an hour or so of traversing up and down the street (from numbers 391 to 131 and back again) and popping into almost every store that sold loos, we finally had a well deserved lunch at the S21 Lavender Food Square. According to A, the wan ton mee here is famous and sure enough, it was the only stall with a super-long queue.

I decided to wait in line to see what the fuss was about. The queue didn’t seem that long, but just my luck, the stupid tai-tai in front of me decided to ta pao ten packets. TEN! Must have been for some mahjong session or something… Anyway, after waiting for over 15 minutes in line, I thought “Damn, it had better be worth the wait”.

Sure enough, it was. I’m not even a big wan ton mee fan, but from the very first taste you can see why it’s as popular as it is. The noodles were perfectly springy, not soggy at all. The wan tons were tasty, the char siew was lean and tender, but what sets it apart from other wan tan mees is the additional stock that is ladled over the noodles right before serving. It’s not that oily or salty, just adds incredible flavour and prevents the noodles from turning into a clump. Now I half wish we hadn’t bought our toilet bowls today so that we have another excuse to head over to Jalan Besar…

A says:

The place is famous enough as it is so I don’t need to say anything. It’s funny how you can’t miss it because it’s the only stall with a queue barrier.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

West Coast Satay

C says:

Between Malay and Chinese satay, I’ll take Chinese satay any day. Chinese satay is characterised by the pork satay that traditionally comes with alternating layers of lean meat and slices of pure fat. Unhealthy, I know, but there’s nothing like the taste of pork fat that’s been slightly charred over the satay grill. Mmmm…

A and I used to traipse all the way to Chomp Chomp at Serangoon Gardens for the Chinese satay there, but eventually the nightmarish parking situation and the increasingly scrawny sticks of satay kept us from going back.

We chanced upon the stall at the West Coast hawker centre (the one opposite Ginza Plaza) quite by accident. We were aimlessly wandering around there one day with M and J and noticed the stall. We ordered a few sticks of each meat – pork, chicken and mutton – and I was hooked from first bite. It had all the elements of good satay, in my opinion: tender chunks of meat (none of that minced meat for me), not-too-overpowering seasoning, and perfectly cooked so that the meat is still juicy. In fact, I think it’s improved since we first discovered it. Previously, only the pork was good, and the mutton was sometimes tough and the chicken slightly tasteless. However, the standard has definitely gone up, and now all 3 are consistently delicious.

We’ve ordered raw satay from here before, for barbeques, and it was well received on both occasions. I managed to snag the guy’s (I think he’s Mr Lim) handphone number so that in future, I can just call to order large quantities for barbeques or parties. If anyone wants his number, or wants to know where exactly they can find the stall, just let us know!

A says:

What I like is the friendly guy. I wouldn’t say the satay is fantastic. It’s very good for sure but a tad on the oily side. Actually, maybe that’s what makes it better than the dried out stuff you find elsewhere. But then I don’t really taste the satay meat anyway, and just use it as a tool to scoop up gravy. I could actually just eat the gravy with bread.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Aburiya revisited

C says:

Our fish month (March) was finally over, so we decided to indulge our Aburiya cravings with M & S on Friday night. It was supremely satisfying as usual, although S and I felt rather ill at yoga the next morning, after all the fatty meats that we consumed.

I won’t bore anyone by repeating my comments on the stuff that we’ve already tasted and about which we’ve posted; I’ll just write about new stuff that we tried.

Learning from our previous ‘mistakes’, we decided to order the pork belly with a simple Tare (soy sauce) marinade instead of the overpowering miso. This was much better – the flavour of the pork really came through, and the charred fatty bits were simply divine. We ordered the beef tongue as well, which we grilled for slightly longer than the regular meats. This wasn’t at all chewy and was better than expected, but I might pass on this in future because (a) A doesn’t do tongue (heh), and (b) I still prefer the normal meats.

On S’s suggestion, we also tried 2 soups – a Kimchi Chage and a Beef Karubi soup. According to S, the former is typically Korean and she said that it was pretty authentic. I’ve never tried the dish at all before, and I was pleasantly surprised (since I’m not usually a kimchi fan). It had a nice balance of spicy and sour and it provided a welcome change from all the grilled meats. The Beef Karubi soup fared a little less well, because it was slightly bland in comparison. A liked it, though.

Another surprisingly good dish was the spinach salad with bacon. This was wonderfully light and fresh, and again provided a welcome respite from the meat overdose. We couldn’t figure out what the dressing was, but it was slightly tart and lemony. There were fried garlic chips in it as well, which provided some awesome flavour.

The great thing about Aburiya is that, even though we sat indoors, we didn’t reek of smoke/bbq at the end of the meal. In fact, even with all the grilling, the restaurant wasn’t smoky or smelly at all. There were no visible airvents above the tables, so the only explanation for this must be that they have a kick-ass ventilation system that somehow sucks the smoke and odours from beneath the grill itself.

I guess our Aburiya cravings have been satisfied for another couple of months.

A says:

I prefer the HV branch over the Quayside one. It’s usually less packed and I somehow feel less stressed. S said the place had a Korean vibe as well but I wouldn’t know so I’ll leave her to comment on that if she feels like it.

Whatever the case is, the place RAWKS!

On a side note, we went to the Häagen-Dazs at HV after and although the service was much improved from last time, I think the place is still seriously overpriced.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Tuna experiment

C says:

After our February meat month, A and I decided to try and detox a little by trying to have more fish instead. This led to some comparison shopping to find good fresh tuna to make tuna sashimi/carpaccio. I didn’t do a particularly comprehensive experiment, and left out places like Isetan supermarket and Cold Storage at Takashimaya, because their prices were ridiculously higher than even the Japanese speciality supermarkets. At Isetan it was $99 per kg, and it was going for $118 per kg at Taka.

(I made the same dish with all of them so I could judge them on a level playing field – marinated the fish with soy sauce for a couple of hours, then seared it on a hot pan so the inside remained rare.)

The two fish markets I went to were: Sakuraya Fish Market and Kuriya Fish Market. Sakuraya is at Ginza Plaza, and they recently also opened another branch at Parkway Parade (another grudging notch in the East side’s belt…). The tuna is $80 per kg here, and the quality wasn’t too bad. The fish tended to flake a little though, even before cooking, and the grain wasn’t very fine (if you can call it ‘grain’, like you do with meat).

The tuna at Kuriya Fish Market, at Great World City, was far superior. Already at first glance it was a deep red, and after cooking it was much finer and sweeter. It was so flavourful that the carpaccio tasted almost like a rare steak. Not that expensive either, in comparison with Sakuraya - $88 per kg.

Surprisingly, Carrefour at Plaza Sing sells raw tuna fillets as well, at a fraction of the price - $39.90 per kg. Of course, you get what you pay for, and at that price it’s definitely not sashimi quality. It can be eaten raw, but it flakes a great deal so getting it to maintain its shape after slicing it is quite a problem. But if you want to prepare a seared tuna steak rather than sashimi/carpaccio, the Carrefour one is more than adequate.

A says:

The tuna we got at Kuriya was even better than the one they served at the restaurant. I’m singing the praises for Kuriya and I’m singing them in tuna! *groan*

Btw, C forgot to add that you can forget about getting good fillets from the market.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


C says:

Oh dear… this post may upset our friends who recommended the place to us, but I guess we have to be honest. Moonfish is an Italian restaurant in Millenia Walk (although it will be moving to Marina Square in the middle of May), that branched off from its sister restaurant, the better-known Spageddies.

Moonfish tries to differentiate itself from Spageddies by offering more Mediterranean-inspired seafood dishes, but unfortunately it falls short of achieving that goal, and ends up just being ‘Spageddies… now with seafood!’. I guess it didn’t help that the online menu sounded tantalisingly promising, and set our expectations unattainably high for a pseudo-Italian chain restaurant.

The Moonfish escargot, which was described in the menu as ‘snails stuffed in mushroom caps, wood-oven baked in herb garlic butter topped with parmesan cheese’ and which was one of the main dishes that we wanted to try, was disappointingly out of stock that day. So instead, we ordered the Seafood Platter, which was exactly like the Spageddies ones (surprise, surprise), and a Caesar salad, which frankly tasted like the obligatory salad that Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf serves with their sandwiches.

A had the Spaghetti Vongole, which I’ll leave him to tell you about because I didn’t taste it. My main was the Lobster & Chicken, which I thought was severely misrepresented in the menu: ‘lobster and chicken with butter cream sauce’, yet the sauce turned out to be a lot more tomato and a lot less butter cream. The lobster was pretty fresh though, so that was good. The chicken was again uninspired – a hunk of not particularly tender chicken was coated in a salty batter and deep fried. The accompanying aglio olio pasta was again typically Spageddies and so laden with garlic that any other flavours were simply overwhelmed.

I shouldn’t be too harsh though, because if you’re looking for a fairly reasonable place to have ‘localised’ Italian food, and are sick of Spageddies, this is a pretty acceptable alternative. It’s just not up to par with an authentic Italian restaurant, but I guess I shouldn’t even be comparing them.

Anyway, the evening wasn’t all disappointing, because there’s a store called Candy Empire, also at Millenia, which stocks sweets, chocolates, chips and other snacks from all over the world but primarily from Australia. A whole range of Arnott’s Tim Tams, mini Cheezels that are particular to Australia, Burger Rings (what a blast from the past!)… the list goes on and man, was I in heaven! I’m not sure if Moonfish warrants a return visit, but Candy Empire definitely does.

A says:

Food blah. Service blah. Ambience blah. Total waste of time.

Deli Wheels & New Zealand Natural

C says:

Calling all people working in the Raffles Place area – if you like hot dogs then do support this place. It’s at the basement of Clifford Centre, and it has recently sublet a small section of the restaurant to New Zealand Natural Ice Cream. You can kill two birds with one visit – hot dogs and ice cream. A perfect combination!

Deli Wheels has pork, chicken and veal sausages to choose from, and within those you can get a variety of different flavoured pork and chicken ones. I’m partial towards pork sausages myself, cos I figure if you’re gonna have fundamentally unhealthy food, might as well go the whole hog (no pun intended). A few of the pork choices are – Cheesy, English Brats, Beer Brats (slightly bitter aftertaste), German Brats and Italian. My favourite is the English Brats – it’s classic fat pork sausage with minimal herbs and seasonings. The German Brats isn’t too bad either but it’s a bit softer than the English and lacks the chewiness and bite of the English.

The best thing about this place, and what differentiates it from other hot dog joints, is the condiments counter. You’re served the hot dog naked on a bun, and you get to slather on any and all the toppings you want. And the toppings are proper toppings, not just the perfunctory ketchup and mustard. Here, you have a choice between ketchup, BBQ sauce, honey mustard, curry mustard, wasabi mustard, regular mustard and chilli sauce for the wet toppings, and relish, sauerkraut, chopped onions, jalapeno peppers, capsicums and fried shallots for the dry toppings. The correct order of your ingredients should be – bun, sausage, wet topping, then dry topping.

They have recently diversified and now, in addition to hot dogs they also serve rosti with their sausages, as well as ham and cheese crepes and roast chicken thigh. I haven’t tried the crepe nor the chicken, but I had the rosti on Friday night with a German Brats. It was definitely less messy than the hot dog, but as far as rosti goes, it’s no where near Marche’s standard. I’ll probably stick to their hot dogs from now on.

A says:

Hot dogs and milkshakes – RAWK! Although the hot dogs are a bit too fancy bratwurstsy (not cheapsy wienery) for us simple folk, you can’t beat the toppings and condiments area.

But why doesn’t the New Zealand Natural there serve the Xtreme Shake? Makes no sense that they don’t since they already have a blender and offer normal shakes. Why not just have the nuts and honey as well?

Still, it’s hot dogs and milkshakes. RAWK!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Kuriya Japanese Restaurant

C says:

We had lunch at the Shaw Centre outlet on Saturday to celebrate W’s birthday (Happy Birthday, W!). The food is definitely on the pricey side, and some of the items weren’t as good as I expected, but there were more hits than misses and overall it was enjoyable.

I had the zaru soba, which started out pretty good; in addition to the wasabi and spring onions, they also added sesame seeds to the zaru soba dipping sauce which added a very interesting flavour and texture to the dish. I’ve had quail’s egg but never sesame seeds in my zaru soba sauce. However, for some strange reason the sauce didn’t retain its flavour. About 2/3 through the noodles, the sauce lost all its flavour and it ended up tasting like it had been heavily diluted.

The rest of the food fared much better, though. The sashimi platter we all shared was quite a spread of assorted sashimis, with very generous slices of fish. In addition to the usual tuna, salmon and hamachi, there were octopus, squid and prawn sashimis too, all of which were nice and fresh. We ordered a grilled squid which was also delicious.

The highlight of the meal was the Kani Nabe (kani - crab; nabe - hot pot). Yes, say it loud and clear, it’s perfectly legitimate. This was a crab hotpot, which huge pieces of crab legs, Chinese cabbage, golden mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms and tofu. The soup stock was really sweet yet not overpowering, probably due to the crab. The crab legs were surprisingly sweet and meaty and the flesh was quite easy to get to, once we threw propriety to the wind and got down and dirty with our fingers. The crab came with a Ponzu sauce, which was a slightly tart version of soy sauce with a hint of lemon and vinegar, which complemented the sweetness of the crab meat perfectly.

I didn’t try some of the stuff that the others ordered, so I can’t comment on them (hint hint, the rest of you… heh).

A says:

Very good service. Pretty good food. Overall, it’s not bad, but there are plenty of other Jap places ahead of it on my list.

Buko Nero

C says:

After waiting a whole month from the date we made our reservation, on Friday night we finally made our way to Buko Nero, a little hole-in-the-wall (literally – that’s apparently what the name means in Italian) restaurant along Tanjong Pagar Road. This was our third time there, and as always, we ordered the set menu but changed the main course to an item from the specials of the day.

After making a conscious effort not to have a second helping of the delicious breads, the complimentary amuse bouche arrived - today’s was tofu and tomato crostini. At first I thought the sauce was balsamic vinegar, but it was actually distinctly Asian; tasted a little like dark soya sauce mixed with sesame oil and ginger. Interesting and very nice.

Next up was the starter, which was beef carpaccio with lemon dressing and parmesan cheese, and topped with some alfalfa sprouts. The lemon dressing was refreshing without being overly sour and tart, but I think the parmesan cheese, though generously sliced, slightly overpowered the taste of the beef, so that essentially we just tasted parmesan and lemon.

The soup course was a seafood and spring onion bisque. This was yummy – the soup was incredibly flavourful and chock-full of seafood, and the tomato-based bisque wasn’t too sour. A and I slurped up every drop.

A tropical fruit granita came next, to cleanse our palate before the main course. Surprisingly, the only flavour that I could discern was guava; I couldn’t figure out what other tropical fruits went into it. This was nice and refreshing, but we did have to wait a while before it arrived, which I found rather surprising given that it’s the only non-cooked course. Maybe the granita needed some time to get frozen…

Main course came next – I had the beef tenderloin wrapped with bacon and topped with foie gras cubes, and A had the home-made tagliatelle with scallops in an aglio olio sauce. Mine first: mmmmmmm… The medium rare I ordered was perfectly done, and the bacon infused an amazing flavour into the already juicy and sweet tenderloin. The foie gras cubes added an interesting and luxurious touch to an already delicious dish. I had a couple of mouthfuls of A’s pasta, which was so simple yet so tasty. The delicate sauce relied on the scallops to provide its flavour, but what really blew me away was the home-made tagliatelle. Pasta-wise, it was the best I’ve ever had – it was cooked to a perfect al dente, and it was the first time I’ve had a pasta dish where I didn’t consider the pasta to be just an inconsequential carb.

Dessert was milk chocolate cake with caramel coulis. This tasted better than it looked. It looked like an ordinary slice of chocolate-flavoured butter cake, but it was moist, surprisingly chocolatey, and topped with mini maltesers and a kick-ass caramel sauce.

Alas, when we tried to make our next reservation, they were already fully booked for the month of April. I’ll have to call them sometime in April in the hopes of securing a spot for May. Wish me luck!

A says:

Without doubt, one of our favorite restaurants. Food almost always rocks. It’s like fine dining without being too serious (or expensive). The place is run by a husband and wife team so be prepared for service to get a bit slow when it’s busy. Maybe if we were the chatty sort that makes friends with proprietors, we’d be able to get preferred reservation places.