Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Baden-Baden Restaurant

C says:

Thanks to the absolutely enticing photo of Baden’s pork knuckle on Travelling Hungryboy’s blog, our cravings for the pork knuckle at this German pub in Holland Village were reignited. We used to come here for the pork knuckle and sausages pretty often, but since we’ve discovered new places to eat, we’ve had to cut back on repeat visits to our old-favourites because there simply just isn’t enough time. So much to eat, so little time...

We tried coming here on Friday night but it was packed and we were turned away. So we made a reservation for Saturday night, and requested a table indoors.

On Saturday when we got there, we realised that they had set aside our table outdoors instead, because they were having a Halloween party indoors. Now, if we had been informed of the Halloween party on Friday and that we had to sit outside, I would’ve been okay with that. I was just a tad annoyed that when they took our reservation, they still happily asked us if we wanted our table inside or outside. If indoors wasn’t going to be available, then why offer in the first place?!

That dampened my mood slightly, but I felt a bit better when the food came. We ordered the mussels with cheese and garlic in white wine sauce, which was definitely heavy on the wine, but the mussels were slightly overcooked and rubbery. The huge pork knuckle arrived and as always, I carved off the crispy crackling before it had a chance to get soggy in the light yet flavourful gravy. The crackling is delicious, and it took quite a lot of will power for me not to finish all of it.

The pork was tender, but somehow I think the standard has dropped since the days that we used to have it regularly. Back then, the meat was meltingly tender and you didn’t even need a knife for it to just fall off the bone. On Saturday, while it definitely wasn’t dry or tough, it still required some considerable carving to get the meat out, and the meat wasn’t as juicy and flavourful as before.

Still, I don’t think I’ll go anywhere else in Singapore whenever I have pork knuckle cravings. We tried the one at Stammtisch near Sixth Avenue once, a long time ago, and weren’t at all impressed. The meat was hard and dry, and the crackling was no where near Baden’s.

Of course, no pork knuckle meal is complete without a beer of some sort, and A and I always have the same thing here – a Radler, which is an incredibly wussy drink; a high-end version of shandy. It’s their German beer with lemonade and it’s wonderfully thirst-quenching and a perfect accompaniment to all the meat.

Happy Oktoberfest, all!

A says:

Good pork knuckle. Mussels weren’t bad, but I think I’ll go for the deep fried cheese next time. This place is known for its sausages too so you might want to give those a try.

Other than that, the place is pretty cramped and the service is average. It’s still the best affordable place to get decent Deutsch-y food though.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Penny Black

C says:

In my opinion, if you want a classic English fry-up, there’s no better place in Singapore than Penny Black Pub along Boat Quay. Situated at the start of Boat Quay closest to the UOB towers, this place is an old school (or should I say, olde…) English pub serving ales, pub grub and a whole lot more. The place is usually packed on weekday evenings after work, being a popular watering hole for expats working in Raffles Place. On Friday evenings don’t even expect to get a table after about 6 pm.

Not many realise that besides the old Victorian charm, the beers and the bar bites, Penny Black serves really good food too. The fry-up, known as the English Breakfast Grill, is quite simply the most authentic and most unpretentious all-day breakfast I’ve had here in Singapore. The cholesterol-laden plate consists of a fried egg, 2 sausages, 4 slices of bacon, 2 slices of fried bread, a grilled tomato, sautéed button mushrooms and baked beans. Not a single poncy item in sight – no wilted spinach, rocket, poached egg or fancy breads to distract you from the simple yet decadent feast before you. The sausages deserve special mention. They’re proper sausages – not frankfurters or even German bratwursts. They’re just sausages that you would imagine getting from any supermarket in England and are just right – meaty and not over-seasoned. I asked them where they bought them from, but alas they get them from England. No wonder they’re so authentic.

Another dish that I regularly order here, when I don’t feel like clogging my arteries, is their Tandoori Chicken with mint yoghurt sauce served with butter rice. It may seem a little strange to have tandoori chicken in an English pub but trust me – this is also one of the best tandoori chickens I’ve had. Instead of dry stringy chicken pieces which seem to be the unfortunate hallmark of most tandoori chicken, here the chicken is served in bite-sized thigh meat portions. It’s tender, juicy and still tastes incredibly authentic. The burnt, charred bits are lovely, and the butter rice and mint yoghurt complement it perfectly.

A says:

When we went on Saturday morning, you could immediately tell the difference between locals and expats. All the ang mohs were sitting in the al fresco area, and the only two occupied tables inside were filled by locals.

Anyway, the two dishes that we had were really good. Very surprising considering it’s a pub. The staff were friendly and helpful, even with C’s sausage question. It’s well worth a visit for a relaxing weekend brunch.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Carl’s Jr

C says:

Just when I thought that I’d be having lots more Carl’s Jr after moving office to One Raffles Quay, the Robinson Road outlet closed down shortly before I moved office to make way for Harry’s @ Raffles Quay. Talk about sucky timing.

Thankfully, Carl’s Jr is one of the many many MANY stores that have opened or are opening at the new Vivo City. Random aside: it’s quite fun to play ‘Guess what brand isn’t at Vivo City”. A and I decided to brave the throngs of people on Hari Raya Puasa and visited Vivo City. Lots of the food outlets aren’t open yet but Carl’s Jr is, and compared to Crystal Jade and the food courts, it was relatively empty so we went for it.

For anyone who hasn’t yet been to Carl’s Jr, do note that it isn’t in the same league as Macs or Burger King, both in terms of quality and price. A burger alone will set you back between $6 and $9, and add another $4 or so to that if you want a combo meal with a drink and fries. The burgers are much bigger though, and the burger patties are far superior – meaty and juicy and, dare I say, better than the dry patties at Uberburger.

I used to like the Guacamole and Bacon burger, but it’s ridiculously messy to eat, with guacamole oozing and dripping everywhere, and can also get a little gelak because of the richness of the guacamole. My latest favourite is the Portobello Mushroom burger, a fairly recent addition to their menu. Think of this as a much better and much higher-end version of the BK Mushroom Swiss. The Carl’s one has either one or two patties, tomato, lettuce, onion, cheese, a delicious mushroom sauce and sliced portobello mushrooms. Delicious! A had their latest burger, a sort-of limited edition “Try Now” promotion called the Pastrami burger, with thinly sliced pastrami slices on top of the beef patty, so it’s essentially two different types of meat. I’ll leave him to tell you about it.

I actually think that the Robinson Road branch served slightly better and juicier burgers but oh well, it’s a moot point now that it’s closed down. Still, as burgers go Carl’s is still pretty good. Just don’t expect fast food prices. Oh, and the servers at the Vivo City branch certainly left a lot to be desired. No “Hi” or “Welcome to Carl’s Jr”, just sullen faces waiting for us to place our order. Quite different from almost all the other stores at Vivo City who are so eager to please because they’ve just opened.

A says:

C’s said everything. Good burgers. Not cheap. Not consistent. Worth a try. Definitely a must for burger lovers.

Also, the pastrami in the Pastrami Burger (Hurry, limited time only!) did overpower the beef patty but I’m not complaining. Almost like having a Reuben.

Note to self: try the cookies and cream shake next time.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pepper Lunch

C says:

We’ve eaten at the Shaw Centre branch many times but somehow haven’t written about it until now. It’s a ‘fast food’ steak restaurant from Japan, with an innovative way of serving their food on patented hot plates that apparently heat up quickly to 260 degrees Celcius. Meat like steak, hamburger, chicken and salmon is placed on the plate together with some bean sprouts and carrots and a dollop of herb butter. The hot plate is brought sizzling to your table, and you have to literally work against the clock to spread the butter on the meat, flip it to sear the other side, then place it on top of the vegetables to stop it cooking any further on the hot plate. It’s quite a panicky job for someone like me, who would rather eat under- than over-cooked meat, but it’s pretty fun all the same.

Another signature dish is the Beef Pepper Rice. Again it’s served on the hot plate, with a mound of rice surrounded by some sliced beef. You’re supposed to stir up the rice because there’s butter buried inside the rice. When the rice is stirred up and nicely starting to brown on the hot plate, you add a few splashes each of their house sauces – a garlic soy and a honey brown sauce – and stir it all up further. Then you just pick up your spoon and savour the ultimate comfort food. Slowly though, that hot plate really does retain its heat and a burnt mouth is hardly comforting…

Pepper Lunch has added a new ice cream to their menu – a rich creamy soft-serve vanilla topped with a dark caramel sauce. This is really quite divine; the ice cream is decadently smooth and creamy, and the sauce is sweet but not cloyingly so. Perfect way to top off the meal.

In addition to the one at Shaw Centre (in the basement, next to Mosburger and the Isetan Supermarket), there’s also a branch in Takashimaya, and two Pepper Lunch Express outlets, at Dhoby Exchange and Hougang Mall.

A says:

Interesting place. Food’s pretty good but not cheap. What surprised me was that the hamburger actually tasted better than then cut steak.

For a soft serve, the ice cream wasn’t to my taste. Way too thick. Just like regular ice cream. I much prefer the light, fluffy stuff from Ichibantei.

And while it’s styled like a fast food joint, don’t expect the food to come fast when it’s crowded. With a full house, our dishes took over 15mins to arrive. Also, you’re definitely going to smell a bit barbequey after. My advice is to go only if you’re going directly home after.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Lao Beijing

C says:

This is a Tung Lok restaurant, so it’s clearly of a certain standard already. Food-wise, there wasn’t anything to complain of. We had the Dan Dan Mian, the Xiao Long Bao, and something that was described in the menu as ‘crispy boneless chicken served with egg pancake and cucumber’.

With a description like that, I expected a chicken version of peking duck, so imagine our surprise when it arrived, with mini man tou instead, and no cucumber in sight. We thought we read the menu wrongly, so we checked it again but the description was clear as day. We couldn’t take it and decided to ask the waitress about it. She nonchalantly said, oh the description in the menu is wrong. !!!!!

We asked if they had any egg pancake (knowing full well they did because another table was having them with another dish), and she said yes. And STILL didn’t make any attempt at offering to give us the dish that we had actually ordered. In the end we had to demand that she take back the man tou, and give us some egg pancakes and cucumbers.

In the end, the food was pretty good but the service really did it in for me.

A says:

Most of the staff seemed to know what they were doing except the woman we got. I may give it a second chance, but most likely not. There are better places to get the same thing.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Gluttons Bay @ Esplanade

C says:

This is a great place for good hawker food under one (metaphorical) roof, haha. This is Makansutra guru KF Seetoh’s project of trying to recreate the Gluttons’ Square food haven that was set up in the Orchard Road car park a year or two ago. It’s located along the Esplanade promenade, facing Marina Bay.

There are about 12 stalls all in a row, featuring some pretty famous hawkers including Thye Hong Fried Hokkien Mee, which consistently draws insane queues at its outlet in Food Republic at Wisma Atria. It’s not very much better here; it was the one stall that had the longest queue. Although I quite like their hokkien mee, I decided to try the other stalls instead.

We shared the Hup Kee Or Luak, Huat Huat BBQ chicken wings and carrot cake, and 10 sticks of satay from Alhambra Padang satay. The satay was so-so, but we didn’t get their special gravy of black sauce with chilli padi; we only got the usual peanut sauce. I wouldn’t mind ordering it again just to try the different sauce. The or luak was pretty good, as far as or luak goes, but it got pretty gelak after a while and left me with nasty-smelling burps the rest of the night.

Definite repeat orders next time are the carrot cake and the chicken wings. The wings are perfectly barbequed yet not dried out, and with a squeeze of lime and dipped into the special chilli sauce, they’re as good as it gets. Definitely on par with the Newton and Chomp Chomp chicken wings. The same stall also sells carrot cake, and while it didn’t look very promising, it was surprisingly very good. It was quite well fried, and there was lots of chai poh to give it lots of flavour. Most importantly, the carrot cake pieces were still firm, unlike the ‘famous’ Clementi carrot cake which I’m not too keen on because the carrot cake pieces are all mushy and broken up.

Some of the other stalls look promising too, like the BBQ seafood and chicken rice. This definitely has Friday night dinner potential; if we get there early enough I might try my luck at the Thye Hong hokkien mee.

A says:

Atmosphere was very nice since we went on a cool night and it wasn’t too hazy. And it’s a good thing we went early (around 7.30pm) when there were still plenty of tables available. Halfway through our meal, the place started to get packed with people vulturing for tables and long queues forming at the more popular stalls.

Surprising thing for me was how curt – almost to the point of being rude – a few of the hawkers were, especially to blur tourists. Maybe you can blame the tourist for holding up the queues with questions like, “What’s in the satay?” But being a touristy kind of area, you’d expect the stall holders to give some consideration for visitors.

Anyway, the satay was good, but not the best I’ve had. Peanut sauce was interesting, but I much prefer the chunky peanut kind I get from my usual place at West Coast. Teh Tarik rawked though. Nice portion, plenty of foam, sweet but not too sweet. The rest was good, but once again, I’m not really into that Asian thang.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Poor atetoomuch was recently locked by Blogger for a week, for allegedly having some characteristics of a spam blog. Go figure... Anyway, we're finally back, but that means we had to post last week's entries all at once.

We'll hopefully be back with a vengeance now.

Mille Crepes

C says:

I read about Mille Crepes in an edition of Urban, so I decided to order it as Y’s birthday cake on Saturday. It’s from Classic Cakes at Clementi Arcade, just 2 stores down from The Daily Scoop. It comprises about 20 crepes, with layers of kirsch and vanilla- flavoured cream in between. The cream is authentically dotted with flecks of vanilla seeds, and the top is caramelised, a la crème brulee.

It’s incredibly easy to slice, and isn’t as heavy as I expected it to be. The cream tasted wonderful, and the top layer is heaven. But to me, the crepes in the centre seemed a little pale and undercooked. I’m glad we tried it though, it was definitely something different and in smallish amounts, it’s very enjoyable.

A says:

I like it. Definitely worth a try if you’re bored of normal cakes.

Holland Drive XO Fish Bee Hoon

C says:

If you can overlook the brusque demeanour of the towkay here, and as M says, his tendency to quote arbitrary prices when you are asking to ta-bao, this is a really good zi char place. A and I come here once in a while after running; our last trip here was last Tuesday (not after a run though, the haze has put an end to our outdoor running for the time being).

We used to always order the same 2 dishes – the XO fish meat soup (without bee hoon), and the sliced fish hor fun with taugeh. Mixing the strong XO soup with the hor fun makes both dishes taste even better. Lately, we’ve discovered a couple of other dishes there too – their baby kailan fried with garlic has an incredible ‘wok hei’ aroma, and the pai guat wong is delicious too.

Besides the fish soup and hor fun, two of their other specialities are the har cheong gai (prawn paste chicken) and the ngoh hiang. In fact, S and M brought these to our place for a pot luck party on Saturday night for Y’s birthday (Happy Birthday Y!). A doesn’t like both dishes so we never order them, so this was a great chance for me to have some.

My cousin L has mentioned another good dish she’s had here, which she claims is like a fatty pork version of nau nam (beef brisket), but in true L fashion, she has no idea what the dish is called. Still, I’m on a quest to discover what it is eventually.

A says:

Very nice place. Not exorbitant prices. Well worth a visit. Preferably with 4-8 people so you can try all the different dishes. I’ll stick to my usual range though.

Krispy Kremes (Original Glazed)

C says:

I really have good friends. Even though the last time we were near a Krispy Kreme store was when we were in Sydney 2 years ago, some of my friends know of our all-consuming passion for them, and whenever they’re in the Sydney airport they’ll buy some for us. A while back, S actually asked her mom to get half a dozen for us, and on Saturday, my friend L messaged me, telling me she’d just returned from Sydney and bought a dozen for us. I’m truly touched that she went through the trouble for us, since all I told her was that she had to try them for herself, not to actually cart them home for us.

Anyway, we’ve had half a dozen over the last 2 days, and there are another half dozen sitting in our fridge. Every so often, one of my friends will say “You’re crazy, they’re not THAT good. They’re just donuts. All donuts are the same.” whenever we rhapsodise about them. And sometimes, especially after a particularly long drought, I almost start to believe them. Then, I have another taste of them and I realise why we’re so obsessed. All donuts are not created equal. They’re unlike any donuts I’ve ever had – when you bite into them (even better when they’re hot off the production line), the glazed top cracks a little, and you get a mouthful of the lightest, airiest bread ever. I call them fairy cakes, heh.

By the way, when I talk about Krispy Kremes, I just mean the Original Glazed because the other varieties don’t share that same lightness and texture. They’re good, but they taste more like normal donuts.

Anyway, this post is partly about the wonders of Krispy Kremes, but also a shout-out about how grateful I am to have such great friends.

A says:

Krispy Kremes rock! They rock so hard! My first experience was when I drove an hour around LA looking for the few stores they had back in ’98 or ’99. I wanted to try some just based on hearsay (and Shaquille O’Neal’s solid endorsement that he ate a dozen at a time). I was with my brother who kept complaining about it not being worth it just for donuts. After he had one on the way back to our motel, he agreed it was worth it.

When C and I found out they were available in Sydney ’04, we finished almost 3 dozen in the space of a week. I can’t reiterate enough C’s point about the Original Glazed being the outstanding version. It’s probably an acknowledged fact since the box actually only prints two options: Original Glazed or Assorted.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A-Roy Thai

C says:

This calls for a celebration! For the first time, A and I actually voluntarily had Thai food! Usually when we have Thai, it’s because either friends or family choose the dining venue and A has no choice but to agree. But on Saturday we went to Funan to check out cameras, and somehow ended up in this Thai place for lunch. Of course, he still ordered his usual pineapple rice but this was already no small achievement.

The pineapple rice was very good; I ordered a stuffed chicken wing, and a tom yam kuay teow soup. The chicken wing was lovely and juicy, and the crab and pork stuffing was loaded with garlic. I was surprised with the tom yam – I expected the usual red tom yam soup but this was clear. I was slightly dubious that it wouldn’t be spicy enough so I asked for some chilli padi. I needn’t have worried though, because although it looked innocuous, the soup really packed a punch. Between the spiciness of the soup and the additional chilli padi that I added to the seafood, I was almost knocked out by the end of lunch.

This was a surprising and very pleasant discovery. I just hope it can last in Funan, because I don’t expect many Funan patrons to be all that keen on authentic Thai food. Whenever we’re in the area, we’ll definitely come back again.

A says:

The only reason I agreed was because I wasn’t hungry to begin with. Also cause I saw the Makansutra recommendation on the door and figured the place couldn’t screw up a pineapple rice that badly. That being said, the pineapple rice was damn good. And the Thai Iced Coffee RAWKED! Definitely a must have if we ever go back.

The place isn’t cheap though. It’s a proper restaurant and not some Jerk Thai place. They give you a nice appetiser of small prawn crackers and sweet chilli sauce (really spicy). The service is excellent which may be since the place wasn’t crowded. Some of the staff are Thai though, so it may be hard to understand what they’re saying.

As Thai places go, this is one of the best I’ve been to. I’d still rather do Jap or Italian.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Brunch at PS Cafe

C says:

A wanted to visit the Biennale exhibition at Tanglin Camp today, so we decided to try the brunch at PS Café. I tried to call earlier in the week to make a reservation, but the very long voice-recorded message said that for the moment, they don’t accept reservations for weekend brunch, and seating is on a first-come-first-served basis. We expected a long wait, but luckily we must have gone in an in-between breakfast and lunch time of 11 am, because there were quite a few tables available. Within half an hour, the place really filled up and some customers who arrived at 11.30 were turned away or had to wait.

For the first time, A went against his inherent belief that ‘we must try different things’, and we both had the same dish – the Portobello Mushroom Stack. This was 2 poached eggs on Portobello mushrooms, with grilled tomatoes, crispy bacon, wilted spinach and a creamy potato gratin. I must say that when it arrived, it was not what I expected. I expected a towering stack (hence the name) of layers of the various ingredients but instead, everything was placed around each other on the plate. The only things that were stacked on each other were the poached eggs onto the mushrooms.

The poached eggs were very oddly shaped – kinda like a cross section of a cone, if you can imagine it. The whites were also a little too runny for my liking. I guess we’ve been spoiled by the perfect poached eggs that they do at Choupinette. Generally, everything tasted alright but I was far from blown away, and at $22 a plate, I expected either something more, or better. The rest of the menu still looks interesting though. Maybe next time we’ll try the Bacon and Eggs, or the Coconut Waffles with bananas and bacon.

Brunch was saved somewhat by the dessert that we shared – a chocolate fudge ‘Black-out’ cake with hot fudge sauce and vanilla ice cream. This was decadent, and in my opinion, the cake and ice cream would have been sufficient. The fudge added too much richness and chocolatey sweetness, bringing it past the edge of yumminess into the realm of gelak.

This is still a nice place, but to be honest, I think you’re paying for the ambience rather than the food. It’s a nice place to chill on a Sunday morning, but if you’re looking for a good brunch, I’d much rather go to Choupinette. We’re aiming to try some of the other brunch joints in town, so maybe we’ll come up with some sort of list once we’re done.

A says:

I wouldn’t say the cake was really good though. Too chocolaty even for me. Definitely could do with more ice cream.

Considering the high prices ($20+ per dish), I expected it to be the usual high cost/small portions, but some of the dishes the other diners were having were HUGE! I’d definitely like to try at some point. Maybe once I’m out of debt.