Sunday, May 28, 2006

Valentino’s (A Pizza Month Special Report)

C says:

Nothing beats Valentino’s for good old-fashioned Italian food. Quick background on the history of the place (as we know it): our first experience with chef Valentino Valtulina was when he was at Ristorante Roma, at Royal Ville. It renamed itself Casa Roma and the standard deteriorated somewhat. One day, A’s cousin L introduced us to Cantina at Greenleaf Road, and we discovered that Valentino had moved there. Not long after that, we heard that due to some shareholding disputes (Cantina was opened with a Singaporean partner, who allegedly stole Valentino’s recipes then promptly tried to get rid of him), Valentino opened his namesake restaurant last year, deep inside the residential area of Rifle Range Road.

Valentino’s is pretty much a family-run joint – his parents, brother and sister all help out in the restaurant, and his sister even makes all the desserts daily. I think this place has the best traditional Italian food in Singapore – completely unpretentious, just really good Italian food that you could imagine being served in a family-run restaurant in Italy.

Because it’s still pizza month (May is coming to an end, thank goodness…), we had to have a pizza when we came here on Saturday night. A decided on the Pizza Alberto, which has beef tenderloin and Tabasco sauce. For someone who claims to like “simple food for simple folk, yo”, I’m surprised that this pizza is A’s favourite one here. While the beef is very tender and the Tabasco sauce an interesting addition, there are other pizzas I’d rather have here, most notably the Pizza Bismark, which we’ve tried previously. The Bismark is a simple pizza with bacon and 2 eggs sunny side up, and the egg is set but still slightly soft in the center. If you’re a bacon and egg fan, you have to try the Bismark.

Another killer dish here is the Lobster Pasta. Two small lobsters are halved and served, still in their shells with heads and all, with linguine in a creamy tomato sauce that has an incredibly full flavour of lobster and lobster roe. It’s almost like condensed lobster bisque. This is one of the best pastas I’ve ever had, because it doesn’t try to add too many ingredients to complicate matters, and just relies on the strength of the lobster flavour. It can get a little gelak though, so I’d recommend 2 people sharing this and a pizza.

This place has specials every night, but we forgot to ask what the specials were tonight and just proceeded to order. While I have no regrets with the mains, we ordered a meat antipasto starter which was good, if a little boring. We overheard the waiter telling another table the starter specials, one of which was cheese wrapped with parma ham and fried. Bummer, we should’ve ordered that.

We shared a tiramisu for dessert – made by Valentino’s sister. This was really good, and A was in heaven because this tiramisu, which was low on alcohol and high on marscapone cheese, suited him perfectly.

The place was full by about 8.30, so if you’re thinking of coming on a weekend, I’d seriously recommend that you make a reservation if you don’t want to be disappointed. Oh, one more thing – there was a sign on the door saying they’re closed for their annual vacation from 5th to 26th June (or thereabouts). So do call ahead to find out if they’re open.

A says:

Best non-alcoholic Tiramisu I’ve had, EVER!. Food is always excellent. Used to have iffy service but now that Valentino has his whole family here and more staff (including parking valets), it’s all good.

They serve their pizzas on a cool wooden lazy susan so it’s easy to reach the pieces and it’s just plain fun to spin. I would have chosen this as the best pizza place until I developed a taste for cleaner, simpler pizzas. As it is though, this place is still great and like a terminator, “I’ll be back” for the tiramisu.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Buko Nero

C says:

We did our May pilgrimage to Buko Nero on Friday night. This time, I ordered the full set menu, while A changed the main course to one of the specials. The set for the night consisted of:

Rocket & Parmesan Salad with Pink Peppercorn Dressing
Cream of Cauliflower with Sea Scallops
Strawberry and Lime Sorbet
Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage and Mushroom Ragu
Baked Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese

The amuse bouche for the evening was the best that I’ve ever had at Buko Nero – crostini with a slice of seared rare steak, topped with a green apple salsa. Both A and I had the same reaction to this dish: pop the whole thing into your mouth, and the first experience is the crunch as you bite down onto the crostini. Then you get the tart sweetness of the green apple, and you’re like “mmm…”. And then, as you chew even more, the full flavour of the beef hits you, and the interplay of all three as you’re finishing the mouthful is mindblowing. A and I kept making yummy noises and sighs as we kept getting more and more of the taste of the beef as we kept chewing. It definitely wasn’t tenderloin, because it was way more flavourful. Maybe ribeye or sirloin? Or perhaps it was US beef.

The salad was pretty good for its simplicity. The cauliflower soup was excellent – not too rich, the cauliflower taste was dominant though not overpowering, and there was a very generous helping of scallops inside. Delicious. The sorbet was, well, sorbet… which is never really my cup of tea.

My rigatoni main course was pretty good, but I think this is probably the last time I don’t switch the main course. It was a well-executed pasta dish but nothing close to the standard of the specials that Chef Oscar whips up. The tomato sauce base had some grated parmesan cheese which made it less sour, and the spicy sausages were really good – bursts of spicy, fatty flavour whenever you bite into each piece.

A switched the set dinner pasta to the pasta special of the day - Squid Ink Pasta with vongole and sea scallops, in an aglio olio-based sauce. This, like the tagliatelle we had on our last visit, was wonderful. The pasta again tasted wonderfully home-made, and the sauce had the benefit of the clams to give it an incredibly strong flavour.

The cake was interesting – it was a strong coffee-flavoured cheesecake, and the cheesecake base had a nice gingery flavour to it. It came with caramel sauce and dusted with icing sugar. Washed down with a latte (me) and a cappuccino (A), it was a perfect ending to another great dinner here.

And whoopee, we managed to secure a reservation for 21st June! Can’t wait!

A says:

Wah rau! The beef starter thingy was (as EMF would say) UNBELIEVABLE! Highlight of the night! I could probably eat a whole tray of those things.

Although the mains didn’t blow me away as much as usual, the rest of the meal was outstanding as always.

Note to self: The latte here is way better than the cappuccino. Order that next time.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Sup Tulang at Adam Road Hawker Centre

C says:

A has certainly come a long way since we got married. Back then, it was inconceivable that he would even consider eating something as exotic as Sup Tulang. But after 2 and a half years of marriage and intensive training on my part (heh), he is slowly but surely getting more adventurous food-wise.

After reading a recent post in another food blog, we decided to try Sup Tulang, albeit at Adam Road rather than at Golden Mile Food Centre which was recommended in the blog. I can’t believe that I’ve never tried Tulang before. Me, someone who eats innards on a regular basis and even used to eat brain! (in the good ol’ days when my grandmother used to make it. She now says she doesn’t buy it because we’re all too health conscious, sigh)

I’m sure everyone who reads this blog knows what Tulang is, so I won’t bother going into a lengthy explanation. It’s basically large pieces of mutton bone, with some meat still on it, and the highlight and whole point of the dish is the wobbly bone marrow. The bones are cooked in an extremely red sauce that’s mostly sweet and tomato-ey. I think the standard way to eat this is with pieces of bread to mop up the sauce, but A and I had ordered stingray and rice so we didn’t want any more carbs.

The dish arrived piled high and STEAMING. We probably had to wait 5 minutes before being able to pick up the first bone comfortably. The meat was surprisingly tender, and there was also a surprisingly substantial amount of meat left on the bone. A lot more than expected, considering that the marrow is the main part of the dish.

It was a good thing we had read the food blog, because it explained the best way to get the marrow out of the bones – carefully shake the bone until the marrow is dislodged and slides out, looking like an extremely gross worm or slug. Sometimes only half the marrow comes out that way, in which case you need to insert the handle of your spoon into the hollow, wiggle it around a little, and that should help the rest of the marrow to slide out after another good shake or two.

The marrow was utterly heavenly. Rich, creamy, buttery. Almost like molten fat. Even A didn’t recoil, and had almost the same number of bones as I did. This dish gets gelak after a while because it’s so rich, so it’s definitely not something you can have very often. Once in 2 or 3 months, I would say.

It was REALLY messy though, and of all the days to forget to refill my supply of tissue paper… We had one measly piece to share between the two of us, but luckily I had a full pack of wet tissues. I think this dish is probably THE worst first date dish ever. It was definitely an experience, and a good one at that, and one that I’ll have again in the foreseeable future.

A says:

The other food blog was Travelling Hungryboy’s. Props where props is due, yo!

While I much prefer the seafood BBQ stingray we also had, I must admit that the Tulang was perfectly edible (aside from its messiness). It’s now almost 24 hours later and my fingers still show faint red stains from eating like a barbarian. “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!”

Alas, as the long-suffering husband of a foodie, I guess I’ll be continuously subjected to eating weird shit.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sushi Tei

C says:

I must say that Sushi Tei’s standard has improved tremendously since we last tried it a couple of years ago. Back then, the menu was uninspired and way overpriced for the selection and quality of the food.

However, on Saturday afternoon, we were at Raffles City and since the basement food area was undergoing massive renovations, we ended up going to the Sushi Tei branch on the third floor.

Maybe it’s just the Raffles City branch, which is apparently new, but it was far better than expected. We had a niku (beef) udon soup, and a selection of sushi like soft shell crab maki. These are slightly above average. We also tried a pan-fried salmon dish with mushrooms in cream sauce. It was a lot less rich than expected, and frankly it didn’t taste quite as good as it looked.

In case you’re wondering why I’m raving about the place given my comments so far, that’s because I’ve saved the best for last. We tried something from their special ‘Spring’ menu, the Aburi Sushi Platter – a selection of broiled sushi, which you can also order a la carte. The combination platter gives you 1 piece of each, whereas if you order a la carte, you get 2 pieces per serving. The items available are scallop, sea bream, salmon belly, yellowtail, swordfish and fatty tuna belly. Instead of being completely raw, the fish is grilled such that the inside is raw and the outside is nicely seared with a hint of charred smokiness. While all the items are delicious, those that particularly stood out were the scallop and the yellowtail.

Alas, since this is part of the Spring menu, it may not be available much longer, as the waitress told us that the Spring menu will only be around till end May. However, all is not lost – apparently feedback from customers and management has been quite positive for the Aburi Sushi, so they may consider including it as a permanent item on their menu.

I’m not taking any chances, though. If all goes well and if our schedule permits, A and I plan to go one more time before the end of May to have another go at the Aburi Sushi.

A says:

C seems to be deluded. It was a hostess (not a waitress) we spoke to and she never said anything about positive feedback from other customers. She said she’d feedback our comments to the management and they might consider adding it to the regular menu.

Overall, I’d still probably go to Ichibon Boshi, but Sushi Tei has really done a good job improving their menu (even though for some reason, a lot of the noodles were out of stock).

And is it just me or does the place look like it’s trying to copy the higher-class Crystal Jade restaurants?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Naxos (A Pizza Month Special Report – “kinda”)

A says:

We’ve always come to this place for its tapas, but I overheard the owner saying to another customer that his pizzas were great because he’s from the most famous pizza region in Italy. So for pizza month, we decided to share one of the pizzas here and have less tapas.

The guy wasn’t lying, man. If you like really thin crust pizza, this place rocks! We had the Naxos pizza (ham, mushroom and a bit of cream) and it was simple, yet addictive. I could even eat just the crust because it tasted like they added extra butter.

I’m not sure whether I prefer this or Peperoni now. Will do a ranking at the end of pizza month.

C says:

I’m not sure why A is so enamoured with the pizza here. Yeah, it was pretty good in a simple way, and it did taste quite nice and buttery. But to me it was like, “Where’s the cheese?” I’m used to having strings of mozzarella oozing out from that first bite of a hot pizza, but there was none to be found here. In fact, it seemed to be thin crust, toppings, then a mixture of butter and grated parmesan sprinkled on top and baked. Sure, it resulted in a less rich pizza but honestly, I’ll take Rocky’s any day.

The tapas here still blows me away though. The seared tuna with guacamole, which we can’t help but order every time we go, was once again superb.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Rocky’s (A Pizza Month Special Report)

C says:

This has become somewhat of a tradition for A and I. Every time a Survivor finale rolls around, we always order Rocky’s pizza delivery. It started when the finale used to be telecast from 7 to 9 pm, and the Results/Reunion show was at 9.30 after a half hour break for the news, which meant absolutely NO time for dinner. Nowadays, with ‘live’ satellite feed we end up taping the 1 pm telecast, which theoretically means we can watch it any time, but we now associate Rocky’s with the Survivor finale, so we still continue to have it for old times’ sake.

We always order the same thing – a 12 inch pizza with 5 toppings of our choice: beef, sausage (this is minced Italian sausage meat, not cheapo sliced frankfurters), egg, mushrooms and garlic. Rocky’s is definitely the only ‘chain’ pizza joint in Singapore that’s still worth having. Don’t even bother with Pizza Hut or, God forbid, Canadian 241…

We had it on Monday night, for the Survivor Exile Island finale. I must say that once in a while, it’s nice having old fashioned pizzas, rather than the currently hip ultra-thin crust gourmet pizzas. Even though the pizza wasn’t piping hot after having travelled from the restaurant at Rail Mall to our place, it was still delicious. Even though old fashioned pizzas have thicker crusts, we found that a great way to polish off the crusts is to dip them in some hot sauce that we got from Sunset Bar & Grill. Lovely!

Not sure that I can wait for the next Survivor finale for our next Rocky’s fix… maybe we’ll have it again for the Amazing Race finale on Thursday, heh.

A says:

C seems to have taken to rambling so I shall as well…

I was having Rocky’s way back in the day when it still had (4) branches around the island. Living a mere 5-minute bike ride away from the outlet at Faber Gardens, I’d often come back from secondary school, call up for a Meat Lovers pizza and cycle over to collect it.

Ah, life was simpler then…

But, I digress.

Rocky’s only has one outlet now so it hardly qualifies as a chain. That said, I think it’s easily the best amongst the “lower-end” pizza places. My simple ketchup and cheese sandwiches taste better than the crap that the rest try to pass off as pizza. Nothing like the chains in America that actually offer decent cheap pizzas.

Ah… I remember surviving on Papa John’s and Pizza Hut back in college. Living a mere 5-minute drive away from each, I’d often call for a pizza from school and swing by to pick it up on the way home, thus eliminating the need to tip (let’s not forget I was a poor college student then).

Ah, life was simpler then…

But, I digress.

As pizzas in Singapore go, Rocky’s is by no means the cheapest or the best. But for a simple, hearty pizza with generous toppings and friendly, old school service (dine-in or delivery), it’s certainly worth your while.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Pizza da Donato

C says:

Deceived. Deceived!!! We went to Pizza da Donato’s main restaurant along Bukit Timah Road on Sunday night, hoping to try their gourmet pizzas after we had a promising preview at their Al Taglio branch on Saturday afternoon.

Alas, ever since they opened the Al Taglio branch, they’ve stopped serving pizzas at the main restaurant. When we saw that there were no pizzas on the menu, we thought that there was a separate pizza menu, but the waiter explained that this place is now primarily a more fine-dining place with an emphasis on good wines and proper pairing of food and wine. So take note, even though the place is still called ‘Pizza… da Donato’ on the signboard, if you want Donato’s pizzas, the only place to get them now is at Al Taglio. In addition to the per slice pizzas we had the other day, Al Taglio also serves a selection of the pizzas that Donato used to serve.

A and I shared a good eggplant parmigiana starter. It was pretty traditional: the eggplant was nice and soft and the tomato and cheese sauce was well balanced and not too sour. A had the pappardelle with pork rib ragu, and I had the roast suckling pig, which was a special of the day. We ended up switching because we preferred each other’s. I thought the pappardelle was quite well done – the pork ribs came on the bone but were so tender that they fell off the bone with minimum effort. The ragu sauce was rich and meaty, and yet didn’t overpower the pappardelle. The suckling pig wasn’t what I expected; I thought it would be a couple of slices of roast pork with crispy skin. Instead, what arrived seemed more like a stew, with two unidentifiable pieces of pork on the bone. The pork was pretty tender and very sweet, but I felt that it was too heavily seasoned with rosemary, such that it overpowered pretty much any other flavour.

We were too full, probably from the pasta, to have dessert. A had a latte which was pretty good, though. While the food here isn’t bad, I probably won’t come back. If I wanted good Italian food and pasta, I’ll just go to Valentinos. Next on our list – to go back to Al Taglio to try the elusive ‘gourmet’ pizzas.

A says:

How can it be called Pizza da Donato if they don’t have bloody pizza!

Food was okay but nothing fantastic. To be fair, the waiter did say that they are more of a wine bar now. Probably caters more to the ang mohs who like to sit, eat and drink in the faux garden outside. It may have been smarter to sit outside because it was bloody hot inside.

The place has more minuses (impossible parking & uncomfortable room temperature) than pluses (good service), so if you want to have good Italian and are willing to make an effort, go to Valentino’s instead.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


C says:

Tao’s Modern Pacific Cuisine has certainly come a long way since it first opened back in 2003. When A and I stumbled upon it back then, we were one of the few tables in the place. Since then, it’s been steadily growing in popularity, and for good reason. For a fixed price of $24.80 (for dinner), you get a 7 course meal, with at least 4 choices each for the salad, soup, main course and dessert.

The service here has always been impeccable – the wait staff have always been personable without being too in-your-face, and we’ve never had to wait excessively long between courses. On Saturday night, I called them at about 7.30 to make a reservation, only to be told that I could just turn up and walk in. When we got there, the place was packed and there was a line of about 8 people, so naturally I was infuriated. I strode to the front of the queue, to the annoyance of the people waiting in line but TOUGH. I expressed my displeasure to one of the waiters, who apologised and immediately set up a table for us. I was marginally appeased but was still considering writing a harsh comment in their feedback form, when suddenly our food came at a remarkable pace and all the wait staff were desperately trying to placate us. I guess they were afraid that I would lodge a complaint with their manager or something, so they tried their hardest to make our dinner as pleasant as possible. I must say they did a good job.

Anyway, enough drama and on to the food. As a first course, everyone gets a bacon and cheese gratin with thick slices of buttered toast for dipping. Second course is salad – you get a choice of about 4. I had the seasonal cocktail, which was prawn with a mashed potato salad. A had the Italian caprese salad, which was a low-end version of insalata caprese – mozzarella and tomato salad. Next up is a great grilled mushroom dish drizzled with teriyaki sauce. After that is the soup course – again there’s a choice of 4, but we both always have the cream of mushroom. The soup is surprisingly good; it certainly rivals the mushroom soups in higher-end restaurants, and it doesn’t skimp on the mushrooms, as there are lots of chopped-up bits of mushroom inside.

Main course is next, and thankfully the portions are fairly small as you’re getting pretty full by now. There are a mind-boggling eight choices for the main course. The specialities are the slow-cooked baby back ribs and the lamb cutlet. A always has the lamb cutlet, and I used to have the roasted cod but they’ve recently taken that off the menu. On Saturday night I had the herb crusted sole fillet, which was also very good.

For dessert, there are about 5 to choose from, but in my opinion don’t even bother looking at the rest, and just go for the crème brulee. It ROCKS. Of course, A has no taste and always orders the green tea ice cream… To wash it all down, you get a final course of a hot or cold drink, ranging from the usual coffee or tea, to Tao’s speciality ice fruit teas. The grape and mallow tea is my personal favourite.

I definitely recommend this place for a very pleasant and satisfying meal. Word of warning: (1) don’t go if you’re in an indecisive mood because the sheer array choices will do you in, and (2) no matter what anyone tells you, insist on making a reservation…

A says:

It seems that I’m not the only one scared of being abused by C.

I always thought it was some fancy schmancy place until we actually tried it and found it to be pretty laid back. Waiters are friendly and actually know their stuff.

I have to disagree with C on her comment on the array of choices as since you have to order the set, it’s pretty simple. Easier than wondering if you should have salad or a soup or a dessert etc… You just get a bit of everything in smaller portions so you just choose what you like from each group.

Anyway, the variety doesn’t mean much to me since I usually always have the same thing:

1. Starter – Bacon & Cheese Gratin – My favourite!
2. Salad – Italian caprese salad – Passable. Since they took the potato salad off the menu, I’ve not had a decent salad.
3. Grilled Mushrooms – Available at dinner only – 2nd King!
4. Soup – Cream of Mushroom – Nice and thick!
5. Main Entrée – Marinated Lamb Cutlet – Pretty good. If you’re not sure, ask the waiters. They give pretty good recommendations.
6. Dessert – Green Tea Ice Cream – After chocolate milkshakes, I’ve got a soft spot for these.
7. Beverage – Ice Summer Peach Tea – Always interesting. They give you a small pot and a fork to spear the chunks of fruit.

All in all, it’s pretty good value for money. Definitely worth a visit for simple fusion fare. But here’s a tip, unless you’re into Xinyao (those earnest local Mandarin songwriters/performers), don’t sit outside. They have performances there almost every night and it’s hard to have a proper conversation with the noise.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Pizza Al Taglio (A Pizza Month Special Report)

A says:

We’ve been meaning to try Pizza da Donato for a long time and heard that they opened a small take out/hole in the wall place at Sixth Ave that sells regular pizza by slices (rectangular).

So we went to check it out at lunch and they’ve got a bunch of slices laid out and reheated when you order. We decided to share three slices (blue cheese, smoked salmon and mushroom).

As quick pick up pizzas go, the food is pretty good and definitely worthwhile. While Pizza Al Taglio does have a better selection, I personally prefer the pizza from Da Paolo Gastronomica. They’re smaller but cheaper, and they somehow taste finer.

I’d still like to try the proper “gourmet” pizzas at Pizza da Donato though. Al Taglio is good enough to leave me wanting more.

C says:

Out of the three pizzas we shared, the blue cheese one was the best – it was the most different and therefore the most interesting. A is right, the take-out pizzas from Da Paolo’s Gastronomica gourmet store is still more refined – I think the difference is in the tomato puree. The tomato puree on the Gastronomica pizzas somehow tastes more seasoned (yet not overpoweringly so). Kinda hard to explain, but it just seems as though more effort and fresher ingredients go into the Gastronomica pizzas.

Still, the Al Taglio ones were very good for fast food-style pizzas. In fact, I think they were actually better than the ‘posh’ pizzas that we had at Da Paolo’s Pizza Bar.

We’re definitely going to try the main Donato outlet soon. I just hope the pizzas there live up to our expectations.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Da Paolo Pizza Bar (A Pizza Month Special Report)

A says:

I had really high expectations for this place considering how good the ready made slices at the Gastronomica a few doors down are.

Sadly, I was pretty disappointed. Mostly because of personal preference though, because while I like my pizzas really, really thin, this place had a more regular pizza crust.

Ingredients and selection were interesting and well put together, but I think the flavour didn’t come out strong enough because of their proportions with the dough. It could also be our choice of pizzas: the Pollo – chicken, avocado & pink peppercorn – and the Fiorentina – tomato, mozzarella, spinach, salami & egg – that didn’t really have a strong flavour (except for pink peppercorn).

If we go back, maybe we’ll try the salmon one. Don’t think it’ll be anytime soon since the place is usually full. It’s lucky we went early on a Friday afternoon because it was packed by the time we left.

C says:

Ditto. I expected the pizzas to taste a lot more, I dunno, authentic than they did. While they definitely weren’t bad at all, they somehow lacked the oomph of other gourmet pizza joints, like Valentino, Peperoni or Sistina. I guess it’s also because, as A said, we came with pretty high hopes for the place since it’s always packed to the brim whenever we pass by.

We had a side order of deep fried meatballs with tomato sauce, which came topped with alfalfa sprouts. This tasted like a good bolognaise sauce, but what slightly annoyed me was that they assumed that we both wanted an order EACH. I only realised when we got the bill, but I figured it was too petty to make a big deal of it. Still, I think that if they weren’t sure whether we wanted to share one order or have one each, they could simply have just asked.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Spizza (A Pizza Month Special Report)

A says:

Hot on the heels of Beef and Fish months, I’m making this Pizza month!

First up, we decided to fulfil my pizza craving with a visit to Spizza at HarbourFront. I like this Spizza outlet just because it seems less stuffy then the others. Where the others tend to have marginally snotty wait staff and patrons, this one is relatively laid back. The service does suffer a bit for it though, and you can expect a bit of blurness here and there.

Food quality is about the same at all its branches/franchises and the starters range from passable to pleasantly surprising, like the Nerone C & I shared (Roasted veal loin, topped with tuna sauce).

Although they bill themselves as offering pizzas from A to Z, Spizza only has 22 main course pizzas, with each pizza’s name starting with a different letter of the alphabet, and all named after Italian women. On this visit, we had the Barbara (Tomato, Mozzarella, Hot Italian minced Pork, Shallots & Olives) and the Katarina (Tomato, Mozzarella, Beef Carpaccio, Rucola and Shaved Parmesan). The ingredients and range are different enough to make visits interesting, and they certainly are delicious enough, but they don’t really give me a distinct impression other than the novelty of having a pizza with a funny name.

Overall, the food isn’t bad and I’m sure we’ll be back. On our next visit, we’re supposed to have the Quinta (Tomato, Mozzarella, Egg and Black truffle sauce) which my cousin L swears by.

C says:

A bit of blurness in the waitstaff is an understatement. First the waitress tells me there’s an HSBC promotion, then 3 minutes later she comes back and tells me it’s only valid for orders over $50. Then, after giving her my card and waiting for what seems like bloody ages, all the while glaring ever more murderously in the general direction of the cash register, another waitress finally notices and finally decides to swipe my card. So I was waiting for almost 10 minutes while my card was happily unnoticed.

But I digress. The pizzas here, while not spectacular, are still pretty good and I like the wide variety and interesting range of ingredients.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Angus House

C says:

After our cousin C’s vehement recommendations, we finally tried the steaks at Angus House in Takashimaya on Sunday night. It’s a Japanese restaurant serving Western food, so most of the food has a slight Asian twist to it, making it rather interesting.

I had the 200g rib-eye steak, and A had the 150g ‘Tournedos’ tenderloin, which was essentially a fillet mignon wrapped with bacon. We ordered the set, which came with a starter, soup, salad and dessert. The starter was a piece of fried fish (A says it was salmon but I think it was more of a white-fleshed fish) on top of a slice of radish, and some crispy crackers, which tasted vaguely like muruku (Indian crackers). Soup was a cream of mushroom, which wasn’t particularly outstanding but still very addictive. The garden salad had a fragrant Japanese dressing with hints of lemon and sesame oil.

My rib-eye steak was served on a hot plate, and because the steak wasn’t very thick, it cooked a little more upon its arrival at the table so it turned the medium rare into a medium. Still, the meat was incredibly soft and tender, yet it had a strong beef flavour. In fact, it was a good combination of the tenderness of a fillet steak, and the taste and flavour of a rib-eye. It was served with herb butter and a very interesting Japanese sauce that had a hint of lime in it, which actually helped to liven the flavour of the meat and made it less gelak.

A’s fillet mignon was more typically ‘Western’, served with a mushroom sauce. It was also very good – very tender and sweet, with very fine texture.

Dessert was a forgettable sponge cake with hazelnut mousse. The highlight of the meal is definitely the steak, but this place is a little pricey so I think we’ll only be going back for special occasions.

A says:

Mad props to C’s cousin for recommending this place. Really damn good meat. I think this is one of the best steaks I’ve had in a while. Everything else is decent, but the steak really RAWKS! Oh, and the funny looking bun is cool too.

Even though the décor is imposing at first (very faux Lawry’s with servers in the maid-esque outfits), the atmosphere is pretty relaxed. It also seems popular with Jap families which made up like half the clientele when we were there.

Another thing I like is that you’re given 3 sizes of each steak to choose from. Perfect for people who don’t like to gorge themselves.

At around $50 to $70 for a set meal (depending on the size of steak), it’s still pretty expensive. Overall, I think it’s definitely a place to consider for a special occasion or when you want to treat yourself to a really good steak.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Hong Lim market

C says:

We went to Hong Lim market on Saturday afternoon, thinking it’ll be considerably less crowded than it is on weekdays with the office crowds. Boy, were we wrong. But I was having a serious craving for good hawker food, so we decided to be patient and wait as long as it took.

Which turned out to be about 20 minutes or so, not that bad in the circumstances. We ordered a $3 plate from the famous Outram Park char kuay teow stall. To me, this is the best char kuay teow in Singapore – it’s deliciously moist without feeling or tasting oily, had loads of garlic, and it’s peppered with lovely morsels of la pork (lard) that add a lovely crunch.

We also tried the Ah Kow Mushroom Minced Pork Mee, which was recently featured on “Our Makan Places: Lost and Found” on Channel 5. $3 yielded a very generous bowl, and the blend of chilli and vinegar was just right. However, my one grouse about it is the noodle consistency – it’s a tad too mushy for my liking. I like my mee pok springy and chewy, with a firm bite to it. Almost al dente, if you can describe mee pok as al dente.

(Lest you think we’re complete pigs, we shared one order of each!)

Washed everything down with a glass of sugar cane juice. An extremely unhealthy lunch that left us with a garlic aftertaste for the rest of the afternoon, but thoroughly satisfying nonetheless.

A says:

I’ve been having lots of Char Kway Teow lately and this one, with its generous servings of cockles, was really worth it for $3. But factor in the long, long, longggg wait and I think I’d rather go for the one at Beach Road/Army Market. Bak Chor Mee was pretty good, but again, not worth the crowds and the wait.