Friday, March 30, 2007

Tom Ton

C says:

We planned to try the new ramen place at Central on Friday night, after reading rave reviews and S strongly recommending it. But A had to work late, and by the time we got to Central it was almost 9, and the ramen place, while still open, had sold out all their ramen for the night.

We ended up at Tom Ton instead, which is a restaurant that specialises in black pig tonkatsu. In fact, it’s a branch of the black pig restaurant that shares premises with Tampopo at Meidi-Ya. No ramen, black pig or otherwise, here though. More than half the menu is dedicated to various versions of katsu, all served with rice.

While I’ve always wanted to try the Black Pig Shabu Shabu, somehow I wasn’t in the mood for it tonight. Maybe because it was late and I was hungry, but somehow I wasn’t looking forward to a dish that would be better appreciated if we had more time to kill – to slowly dunk and swish each slice of pork to ensure that it was perfectly cooked. Instead, what I needed was an immediate comfort food fix so we settled on two starters – black pig spare ribs and a simmered tofu with belly pork, and shared a main of tonkatsu with egg served with rice.

The black pig spare ribs were a bit of a misnomer, because all the pieces we had didn’t had a single bone in them. The pork was really good – fatty and tender and succulent, and the sauce was slightly like Thai sweet chilli sauce. The tofu was plainer, but the belly pork slices were melt-in-the-mouth tender. The sauce that accompanied the tofu was very light and delicate but very addictive. We ended up using the serving spoon to drink up all the soup – very uncouth.

I quite liked the main course but A wasn’t too fond of it. It was actually just what I needed – comfort food that I could just shovel into my mouth. The pork was good, the egg was nice and runny, and the rice was a tad soft but in this case, it worked really well with the dish.

Next time, we’ll try to come earlier and I hope I’ll be in the mood for the shabu shabu. It did look very good and after having the belly pork slices with the tofu, I realise that’s probably the best way to showcase the flavour and texture of black pig.

A says:

Although I like the atmosphere and good service, the lack of variety on the menu means this won’t really be tops on my list unless I’m specifically looking for good pork done Japanese style.

Tom Ton
The Central
6 Eu Tong Sen Street
Tel: 6327-7887
Opening hours: 11.30 am to 11 pm (last order 10.15 pm)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Curry Chicken from King George, Adam Food Centre

C says:

I think I officially consumed four times the number of calories I burned… We went to Adam Food Centre for dinner after our gym workout, and after salivating longingly at bowls of King George’s curry chicken being doled out, I decided to order that instead of my usual healthy and much lower in calories fish soup.

The good thing was that the chicken was all drumstick and thigh portions, and the gravy was the Chinese/Hainanese style curry, i.e. flavourful but quite thin and drinkable (not like thick Indian curry gravies). Unfortunately, that was all that was positive. The chicken was quite tough and chewy; I’m not sure whether it was the quality of the chicken, or whether it was overcooked. Maybe a combination of both. And the gravy, while of a good consistency, was a tad too sweet and I tasted some dominant tomato sauce flavours which I didn’t like very much.

I don’t regret trying it (though the number of calories is another story…), because at least now I won’t be hankering for it every time we go to Adam. Looks like unless we have any other cravings, we’ll stick to the sliced fish soup and fried rice at King George from now on.

A says:

The curry was nothing special. Best dish there is still the regular fried rice (not the beef one). At least the dessert stall was open so I did get to have my tau suan fix. RAWK!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus

C says:

My brother treated us to dinner at Stuart Anderson’s Black Angus Steakhouse at One Fullerton on Sunday night (Happy birthday, bro!). There are two outlets in Singapore – at One Fullerton and Orchard Parade Hotel. Having been to both, I think the food as well as the ambience is nicer at One Fullerton. It’s brighter and more spacious; the Orchard Parade Hotel one is a little dark and dingy.

From Sundays to Thursdays, there’s actually a Couple Set Menu that’s pretty good value. For S$48+++ (not sure how many pluses) per couple, each person can choose between – Starter: Garden Salad or Soup, Main: 5 to 7 ounce Prime Rib or 5 to 7 ounce Baked Cod, and Dessert: ice cream, or a small wedge of their famous chocolate fudge cake.

A and I would have ordered the set, if not for the fact that we’d been dreaming of a huge hunk of prime rib all day (and most of the day before too), so we ordered a 12 ounce (3/4 pound) prime rib to share, and had two Wild West Onion starters between our family of 12 (including 2 kids).

The Wild West Onion is a huge white onion that’s cut almost all the way through, dipped into a flavoured batter and deep fried, so that it looks almost like a rose. It’s served with a thousand island-esque dipping sauce, and I must say this thing is addictive. We were all hungry and it was the first thing to arrive, so we all ended up eating way more of this than we ought to. It’s important to check that the onion is properly cooked all the way through. Sometimes it’s not fried long enough, and the bottom half of the onion is barely cooked and packs quite a punch, but when properly done it’s soft and sweet. My brother always checks it when it first arrives, and sends it back to be re-fried if it’s too raw.

After having the Baked Potato soup, we were already half full when the prime rib arrived. Still, that didn’t deter us and except for the rather frightening chunk of fat at one corner, we still finished the whole steak….and had some of the baby back pork ribs that my grandmother couldn’t finish as well. While the steak was nice and sweet, to me it lacked the oomph of a seared or grilled steak. I think I need the charred caramelised flavour; a slow roasted prime rib, while probably the best way to showcase the flavour of beef, just doesn’t have that requisite hit of flavour. The garlic mashed potatoes were amazing, though.

Surprisingly, the ribs are actually better than the prime rib here, even though it’s a steakhouse rather than a rib joint. The ribs are meltingly tender, with the meat practically falling off the bone, and the barbeque sauce just the right tanginess. Way better than Tony Romas, I say.

Even though we were about to explode, we just had to have the Big Mountain Chocolate Fudge Cake. One main motivation not to get the Couple Set, is that the cake in the set doesn’t come with ice cream – crucial in your enjoyment of the dessert. The a la carte cake comes with a massive scoop of vanilla ice cream and a dish of fudge, which surprisingly doesn’t go with the dessert as well as I expected. The fudge was a tad too sweet, and the cake with the ice cream is delicious enough that you don’t need the added fudge. The cake is moist yet light, and chocolate-y without being overpowering. We finished every last morsel.

We’re now quite gung ho about the onion, ribs and chocolate cake – we’ve got our order all planned for our next visit.

A says:

This meal totally changed my impression of the place. The prime rib has always been not bad, but I’ve been let down by the steaks. Now that I know the ribs are good (way better than Tony Roma’s or Dan Ryan’s), I can order those. According to those at our table the cod was very good too; although I find ordering fish at a steak house just a bit strange.

Very large main course portions (and most come with soup or salad). In fact, that might be a bad thing since that means not being able to order starters. And if I had to choose, I’d definitely skip the starters in favour of the cake. It rawked!

Note to self: Coffee is strong but not really good. Skip it.

Black Angus – One Fullerton
1 Fullerton Road, #01-02/03 one fullerton
Tel: 6220-1191
Monday to Thursday: 11.30 am to 3 pm; 6 pm to 11 pm
Friday: 11.30 am to 3 pm; 5 pm to 1 am
Saturday: 6 pm to 1 am
Sunday: 11.30 am to 11 pm

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Straits Café, Rendezvous Hotel

C says:

Twice in one day! We had breakfast here because it was the only place that was open in the vicinity at 10 am (we had to catch an 11 am ‘300’ at The Cathay). Later we had supper here after P’s performance because it was the only place we could think of that was still open, and that wasn’t a noisy bar.

The food here, while nothing stellar, is still very passable for hotel café food. At brunch I had a huge bowl of porridge and A had an omelette. The breakfast menu is quite limited, but after breakfast when the rest of the menu is available, it’s much better. At supper, I had the wanton noodle soup and A had a grilled banana and ice cream dish, both of which were pretty tasty. The wantons in the soup was surprisingly flavourful and generous with prawns, and the char siew was very tender. The grilled banana in the dessert was delightfully charred, and came with a separate dish of caramel for you to pour on according to your own taste.

The others had a variety of dishes, and one of the more outstanding-looking ones was the Nasi Goreng Istimewa, complete with a fried egg, chicken wing and satay. No wonder it had the exploding chef’s hat icon next to it…

The service here also deserves some mention. When we got there at 10.15 pm, the maitre d’ said they were closing at 11, and seemed a little reluctant to admit a table of 8 at that hour. We pleaded and said we’d be done by 11, and he agreed to take us in. Food was prompt (probably cos the kitchen was thinking “Idiots! We could be going home now!” and rushed to prepare our meals) and I don’t think quality was compromised. And in the end they didn’t chase us out at 11 sharp, but allowed us to hang around till about 11.15 pm.

A says:

This place is okay. I’d say the stuff labelled with the exploding chef’s hat (meaning award-winning) is definitely worth trying. The portions are fairly generous. In fact anything that comes in a bowl is huge.

Overall, this place is a good choice if you’re in the area, but it’s not something I’d go out of my way for.

Straits Café
Rendezvous Hotel
9 Bras Basah Road
Open daily, 7 am to 11 pm

Wo. (aka Wild Oats)

C says:

Wo., or Wild Oats, is the latest offering from Wilin Low, the chef-owner of Wild Rocket restaurant. It’s located in the colonial mansion next door to Wild Rocket’s Hangout Hotel – it’s the formerly haunted-looking building that you could see from the 7th floor rooftop garden of Hangout Hotel. Rather than a proper restaurant, which would deflect business away from Wild Rocket, this is cleverly a chill-out watering hole serving drinks and finger food, that’s intended to complement Wild Rocket. Since Wo. opens from 6 pm till late, you could either have drinks then head to Wild Rocket for dinner, or alternatively have dinner then while away the rest of the night at Wo.

We had drinks and some nibbles there on Saturday evening, because we had an 8 pm performance by The Analog Girl at the National Museum to attend. It was still quite hot when we got there, so being the heat-averse people that we are, we shunned the chi-chi outdoor seating and headed right for air-conditioned comfort. The indoor bar area has comfy armchairs and barstools, and the outdoor seating area boasts a wooden platform and rattan chairs. I would imagine that the outdoor area would be lovely at sunset or on a clear night. But as long as the sun is out, give me my air-con!

The finger food menu is slightly limited but that’s to be expected since it’s a bar rather than a restaurant. We ordered the chicken wings and one of the Hot Bitches (that’s what they call their hot dogs here) – the Sassy, since A is a sucker for anything with sun-dried tomatoes.

The wings were a slight letdown. The description made them sound utterly delicious, but when they arrived, I found the batter too thick, and without any parmesan flavour. The menu may say you have to choose between the chicken rice chilli sauce and the gorgonzola cheese sauce, but you can ask for half-and-half so you get four wings with each. Random bit of information: the sauces are named after the two sous chefs at Wild Rocket.

Surprisingly, both A and I preferred the chicken rice chilli sauce. The slightly sour tang and garlicky twist complemented the deep fried wings much better than the gorgonzola sauce, which tended to be a little one-dimensional and flat.

The hot dog came with some poppadums, probably an effort to continue with some fusion elements. As far as hot dogs go, it was a pretty good version, albeit a little poncey. I would have much preferred the one with English mustard and caramelized onions, but oh well, A’s tastes aren’t as simple as he thinks…

We can’t come here without having drinks, so I had the Lambrini, which is a pear cider and A had a Hill Slide – essentially an alcoholic milkshake made with Cointreau, Crème de Cacao and chocolate sauce. The Lambrini tasted pretty much like champagne/sparkling white wine, but A’s Hill Slide was delicious. I think next time I’ll have one of their cocktails instead. Apparently if you dine at Wild Rocket, you’ll get one-for-one drinks vouchers, valid for some house pours, beer and house wines.

A says:

My tastes are indeed simple. I had my usual meal of a hot dog and milkshake. It just so happened that the hot dog had sun-dried tomato salsa instead of chilli and the milkshake had alcohol.

Anyway, the place is cool and laid back. I like the artsy village feel as you wander the grounds. The staff there are also really friendly and helpful. This is definitely a place I’d recommend.

Wild Oats Bar by the Park
11 Upper Wilkie Road
Tel: 6336-5413
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 6 pm to midnight

Wild Rocket
Hangout Hotel
10A Upper Wilkie Road
Tel: 6339-9448
Tuesday to Saturday: 12 noon to 3 pm (lunch), 6.30 pm to 11 pm (dinner)
Sunday: 11.30 am to 3 pm (brunch), 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm (dinner)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bluespoon Frozen Gourmet & Snack Bar

C says:

Bluespoon started out as a tiny little stall in the Holland Village Market, but its limited opening hours and unfortunate location meant that it wasn’t really able to reach out to its target clientele – busy yuppies looking for quick and easy frozen food for either weekday dinners or fuss-free parties. After a brief stint in the Market, it opened a café adjacent to Ghim Moh market, a fairly high class wet market that should hopefully lead to better foot traffic of its target clientele.

Bluespoon sells manageable portions of frozen gourmet food, everything from New England clam chowder and rack of lamb, mini éclairs and profiteroles, to local favourites like ayam buah keluak and satay. They even sell ready-made rempah for cooking the buah keluak, as well as the raw nuts and even just the flesh. Note: this is probably good for the younger generation looking to experiment with traditional food. I bought some of the buah keluak flesh for my grandmother, but she said that it was (a) expensive and (b) not as good as the ones that she could buy from either Ghim Moh market or Tekka market.

We popped by for a light dinner on Saturday night. A had the beef Shepherd’s Pie, and I had the Buah Keluak chicken.

The pie far exceeded our expectations. First bite was pretty ordinary, but then it really grew on us. I guess it wasn’t spectacular because after all, it IS just a Shepherd’s Pie, but as far as Shepherd’s Pie goes, this was a good version.

The buah keluak fared less well, but perhaps I’m biased. The gravy was pretty thick, not thin and watery; it just tasted more like assam chicken than buah keluak – a trait that is all too common in restaurant-prepared buah keluak. I’m just too used to the one that my grandmother makes, and so far only Baba King has managed to come fairly close to hers.

I wouldn’t have the buah keluak again, but maybe if we happen to be in the vicinity, I might have the pie or some other snack like their waffles or pancakes. I wonder if they’re going to survive here, though. Business was pretty quiet on a Saturday night, and we didn’t see many people coming in to buy frozen stuff either. The location, while much better than the Holland Village market stall, still isn’t the greatest, since the Ghim Moh market food centre has so many famous local food stalls. Still, I guess once they make their presence known, people may start coming here to stock up on microwaveable meals for the week. They sure beat TV dinners, anyway.

A says:

I think the pies are great. They also have Milo Dinosaur which makes for a good drink-cum-dessert. I think next time I’ll try one of the roasted dishes which are supposed to be good. Other than that, I don’t see anything else as worth it. We went with my friends M & J, who had some chicken chop and Belgian waffles. M said the waffles sucked and J’s chicken (which was really a small breaded cutlet) didn’t look too appetising. It came with pretty decent fries though.

Bluespoon Frozen Gourmet & Snack Bar
Block 21, Ghim Moh Road
Tel: 6455-6455
Opening hours: Tuesdays to Sundays — 10am to 10pm. Closed on Monday.

Swirl Gelateria

C says:

After another very satisfying brunch at Choupinette on Saturday, we popped by Swirl, a new gelato store at Crown Centre along Bukit Timah Road (near Coronation Plaza, next to King’s Arcade). The store, which opened early this year, is right next to Renaldo’s, and is apparently the first place in Singapore to offer cold stone gelato-mixing.

You can either have your gelato neat, i.e. without any accompaniments and ‘swirling’, or you have it swirled with a number of toppings including kitkat, chocolate wafers, various types of nuts, dried fruit and nutella. Essentially, a stone slab is stored in the freezer at the counter. You select your preferred flavour and toppings, and the server will place the gelato on the stone slab, add the toppings in the centre, and fold the toppings into the gelato using two palette knives.

Once it’s all nicely blended, it’s scooped in a bowl and topped with a wafer. A decided to be an all-time bore and had a neat vanilla gelato. Geez… I wanted to see the swirling in action, so I had the rum and raisin, with kitkat and wafer cone toppings. The vanilla was, well, vanilla. I have mixed reactions to my rum and raisin – the ice cream per se was great; very strong rum taste and not too sweet or rich. The problem was the raisins. They were hard and a bit chewy, either because they had been frozen, or maybe they should have soaked them in some hot water to plump them up a little first (a little Martha Stewart tip). The toppings were interesting but I’ll probably just have it neat next time.

If you’re unsure about which flavours go with which toppings, Swirl has a few house special recommendations on their menu, like Chocolate Craze – dark chocolate gelato with chocolate bars, cookies and chocolate fudge and Going Nuts – hazelnut gelato with peanuts, almonds and pistachios. All their gelato is made on the premises daily, using only milk and not cream, so it’s less rich than full-fat ice cream. They have some interesting flavours like Pineapple and Grapefruit Sorbet, and Ginger Pear Sorbet. Apparently new flavours are continually created, so that customers can try something different each time they visit.

We didn’t get a chance to try some of their other concoctions, like their jell-o shots with gelato, and the pulut hitam (black glutinous rice) with coconut gelato. This place looks quite promising; I hope in time it can take some business away from the ice cream monopoly that is Island Creamery down the road.

Random bit of trivia: traditional ice-cream is made with eggs and cream, whereas Italian gelato uses milk instead of cream, so gelato contains between 2-8% fat, depending on the flavouring ingredients, and ice-cream can be anything between 16% and 30% fat. Sherbets are made with milk, fruit juice and sugar, while sorbets contain no dairy at all.

A says:

I think the staff there were probably the owners and were super friendly and helpful (as can be expected from a new place wanting to build a customer base). Compared to the noisy and hectic after-school atmosphere in Island Creamery, Swirl has a nice relaxed feel, but that’s probably just because it was virtually empty.

Although now that I think about it, direct comparisons to Island aren’t fair since one is rich ice cream, the other is smooth gelato. I think a better comparison would be Venezia at Guthrie House. This would be how I’d rate the contenders.

Parking – Venezia wins for the much better parking.
Service – Swirl wins for now because they don’t seem jaded by the cruel dog-eat-dog world of ice cream.
Seating & Ambience – Swirl wins because you can always find a seat and you can talk without distraction.
Variety – Even match-up because what Swirl lacks in number of flavours is made up for by the number of interesting toppings.
Taste – Venezia wins in what’s probably the most important category.

So overall, unless you’re already around Crown Centre (to have a greasy burger at Renaldo’s) or you’re specifically looking for a quiet place to have ice cream and hang out, I wouldn’t recommend this place.

Swirl Gelateria
#01-04/05 Crown Centre
557 Bukit Timah Road
Tel: 6464-6180
Open daily, 11 am to 11 pm

Friday, March 16, 2007

Manhill Restaurant

C says:

We had dinner here with C and A (that’s Cousin C) on Friday night. (Most of the photos in this post are courtesy of Cousin C.) We always try as far as possible to come to Manhill with a group of people, so that we get a chance to order more dishes.

This place is famous for a number of dishes, two of which we had tonight. The claypot nao nam (braised beef brisket) was wonderful; I don’t usually get a chance to have this when A and I come here alone, because A will have just a few bites of this. The beef is slowly braised till tender and has absorbed all the flavours of the gravy, and the five-spice gravy is thick and almost sticky from the beef brisket and tendon. The gravy with the rice is heavenly; if weight weren’t an issue I could probably eat the whole portion on my own with copious amounts of rice.

The other renowned dish is the paper wrapped chicken. The chicken is marinated with Chinese wine, and is still really tender and juicy – quite rare for this dish. They use chicken thigh pieces, boneless at that, which makes it way better than the paper wrapped chicken at Union Farm, in my opinion. Unlike at Union Farm, the chicken here isn’t dried out, there are no bones or odd pieces, and the paper comes off the chicken easily, with hardly any bits left stuck to the paper.

We had the sambal kangkong which was pretty good too, and we tried a new dish tonight, recommended by C and A – the steamed apple soup with pork ribs. This was quite interesting – it was a typical Cantonese-style double boiled soup, with the apple wedges boiled till they were really soft. I expected a fruity-tasting soup, but you hardly tasted the apple; it mainly added sweetness to the soup rather than any distinct apple flavour.

Again, I’ve forgotten how good the food is here. I realise it’s really close to work, so it’s actually quite convenient for us to pop by after work.

Note: Manhill’s sister restaurant, Hillman, used to be at Cantonment Road, but has since moved to Kitchener Road.

A says:

The chicken was much better than I remember. Very juicy. Service was pretty good since it wasn’t too crowded and there’s plenty of space to park in the public car park at the back. Actually I think this place would be best for small family dinners.

Manhill Restaurant
99 Pasir Panjang Road
Tel: 6474-6835
Open daily, Lunch: 11.45 am to 2.15 pm; Dinner: 5.45 pm to 10.15 pm

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Ka-Soh Restaurant

C says:

Ka-Soh, the sister restaurant of Swee Kee Fish Head Restaurant at Amoy Street (not to be confused with the legendary and now defunct Swee Kee chicken rice), has certainly had bad luck with its locales. It’s moved so many times that I don’t think people realise where they are anymore. Brief history:

- used to be at Lock Road, in Gillman Village. Near HandleBar.
- moved to Dover Road, where the ex-Warren Golf Club used to be.
- moved again to Queensway, to the Queens Townclub
- currently at the Singapore Medical Alumni Centre at Outram

The restaurant started out in the 1960s as a roadside stall, owned by a Mr Tang Swee Kee. After business picked up, he engaged the help of two ladies – an elderly lady and her daughter-in-law. The elder woman always called the younger one “ka-soh” (daughter in law), and eventually the name caught on amongst the customers, hence giving the restaurant its name.

A and I were actually planning on going to Queensway at some point, and didn’t even know they moved until my sister-in-law, who works at adjacent SGH, told me about it. After she and my brother gave it a test run at lunch one day, they approved the food and suggested bringing the rest of the family there for dinner. A couldn’t join us because he had to work, so his review is limited to the House Special Pork Chop that I ordered to go for him.

Ka-Soh has a few signature dishes, like the fish head/sliced fish bee hoon soup, and the prawn paste chicken (har cheong gai). Naturally we ordered those, and had a couple of vegetable, tofu and egg dishes as well.

The sliced fish bee hoon soup was as good as I remember, if not better. The soup was really sweet and milky, and you could tell that it wasn’t just from evaporated milk, but rather from hours of cooking. They were extremely generous with the fish, almost to the point where I’d rather have more noodles and soup than fish! Not sure if this is because they’re still trying to get customers to return to their new location, and whether they’ll start reducing the amounts once they’ve reeled us in… The fish was really fresh and sliced thinly, compared to the more loutish chunks that they serve at the XO Fish Noodle place.

The great thing about this place is that they give you lots of chilli padi, which is a must-have in my book when eating any fish bee hoon soup. And… the icing on the cake is the dish of lard that you can ask for. Non-lard fans should probably turn away, but for those who enjoy it, here’s heaven in a saucer:

Just a few tiny cubes are enough (yes, I know I’m not getting any younger) to bring the dish to a whole new level. The oil adds a bit of richness to the soup, and every so often you get an unexpected crunch. Mmmm…

The other dishes were really good too, except maybe the sambal kangkong which was lacking in sambal and hence a little bland and flat. Everything else was delicious; even my 4 year old nephew D loudly proclaimed that the food was “GORGEOUS!” Heh.

I had a couple of bites of A’s pork chop when I got home as well, and it was again even better than when we last had it – the meat was sufficiently fat so it was tender and juicy. I really hope they’re not moving again any time in the near future.

A says:

Pork chop still tops. Fatty bits are so sinful that if I were having it at the restaurant instead of takeaway, I think it would be better to soak them in the fish soup first.

Also, I would recommend eating there. They’re obviously not used to packing food cause the sauce I had was spilt in transit.

Ka-Soh Restaurant
Alumni Medical Centre
2 College Road
Tel: 6473-6686

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Sarawak Noodles: Update

C says:

To those of you out there who work in the Raffles Place area, and like Kolo Mee or Sarawak laksa (yes you, S…), good news! There’s a stall in the newly refurbished May Sin food court, below Golden Shoe food centre, that sells these two dishes. Incidentally, it’s a branch of the one at Jurong East, so just click here for a review.

I ordered the laksa to take-away, and was worried that the bee hoon would absorb all the gravy by the time I got back to work (as bee hoon is wont to do). Imagine my pleasant surprise when they packed the noodles and the gravy separately! I wholly approve! Most of the customers were ordering the Kolo Mee though, definitely the more popular of the two.

I think the Kolo Mee here is better than the slightly too salty one at the popular but slightly overrated Jia Xiang chain, so if you’re in the area, do try and support! Try the Sarawak laksa too; I think more Singaporeans need to discover this dish.

A says:

I am a Singaporean (said with not much pride) and I approve of this dish.

Naxos: Update

C says:

Just thought I’d mention that when we walked by China Square Central the other night, it seems as though Naxos has closed down! Well, either that or they’re renovating but honestly, considering their less than stellar business, I’m almost certain it’s the former.

Since my last experience here was a less than positive one, I’m not feeling very much regret at this recent turn of events.

A says:

I shall miss the bread.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Cha Kuan

C says:

Again, another place that I’ve been to with friends, but never with A until Tuesday night. This was one of the first joints to open in the new Market Street Car Park, and after a slightly slow start, they’ve been doing pretty good lunchtime business ever since. Dinner’s a little quiet but it’s to be expected, I guess. It’s managed by The Asian Kitchen, who also runs Teahouse at Raffles City.

We ordered the Reunion Omelette (essentially a foo yong hai with prawns and lup cheong – Chinese sausage), the Moonlight Hor Fun and the Teahouse Crispy Duck (wonder of wonders, I do believe A is getting over his duck phobia).

When you order the Moonlight Hor Fun, the waiter will tell you, that it comes with raw egg, and whether that’s ok, or if you want the egg cooked instead. Each time I’ve been here before, I’ve been with someone who doesn’t do raw egg, so I’ve only ever had the cooked egg version. This time since it was just both of us, we decided to try the original version. I guess this doesn’t happen very often, because the waiter sounded quite incredulous, and asked us about 3 times to confirm that we wanted the raw egg.

As you can see from the photo, the raw egg pretty much gives the dish its rather unique name. The egg yolk is, I guess, supposed to be a full moon amidst the dark ‘sky’ of hor fun. A bit corny but quite interesting, I must say. You’re meant to stir the raw egg into the hot hor fun, and after having tried both versions, the original raw egg one is much better – the raw egg makes the hor fun really moist and smooth. I swear that portions at dinner time are more generous than at lunch. They’re probably trying to get rid of stock at the end of the day.

The duck wasn’t too bad either, but A said that it was too ‘ducky’ for him. I swear that if the same duck was served at either Café de Amigo or L’Angelus, he would have felt differently. Anyway, bottom line is, I probably wouldn’t specially travel just to eat here, but it’s a pretty convenient place for us since it’s right where we park the car.

A says:

The food is not bad. The service is very good. The prices are too high. I think it’s just a place to go if I want something quick, mid-ranged Chinese food on the way home.

146 Market Street
Market Street Carpark
Tel: 6438-3510
Monday to Saturday: 11 am to 9 pm
Closed Sunday

Sunday, March 11, 2007

611 Tau Sar Piah

C says:

Quick one – for those of you who, like me, are fans of Balestier tau sar piahs, but find it way too inconvenient to drive all the way to Balestier and hunt for non-existent parking, only to walk away with just 6 or 8 tau sar piahs, this should be a godsend. One of the stalls along Balestier, 611 Tau Sar Piah, has opened a branch in the basement of VivoCity!

I’m really pleased. This means I can get my tau sar piah fix every time A feels a Superdog craving coming on. Ok, I’m nowhere near as obsessed about tau sar piahs as I am about, say Krispy Kremes, but these do make quite a nice little snack. And before you say that all tau sar piahs are the same, I assure you that they’re not. In fact, I’m only a fan of the Balestier sort – the kind that are filled with red bean or lotus paste, and are both flaky and a little crispy and buttery. In contrast, all other sorts including pre-packed ones from Malaysia and even the so-called renowned ones from Tan Hock Seng are dry and crumbly and seem to use green bean paste rather than real tau sar.

Anyway, with a spanking new website/blog, 611 Tau Sar Piah looks poised to re-introduce tau sar piahs to the new generation. Will they succeed, given that it’s quite an old-school snack? I hope so; I think the proper Balestier ones are quite underrated, and I’d like to see a revival of sorts before the last few stores die a natural death.

A says:

C writes an awful lot for a quick post!

Anyway, I like the tau sar piah. Although, when I had them for breakfast the next day, I couldn’t really tell the difference between the sweet and salty versions. They really should be eaten on the day they’re made I guess.

611 Tau Sar Piah
VivoCity Basement 2
Tel: 6376-8611
Opening hours: 10am-10pm (or until they sell out earlier)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Botak Jones

C says:

The power of the press… We brought D to the Clementi Botak Jones on Saturday night, and it was absolutely packed, even though we tried to beat the crowds a little by going before 7. Almost all the tables in the coffee shop were occupied (we managed to snag the second last one), and the queue to place your order was at best 5 people and at worst about 20 people all night long. A far cry from how it was when we last came here in September last year. I have no doubt that this is (no) thanks to the Sunday Lifestyle article a couple of months back, which featured places that serve cheap and good food, mainly steaks. Oh well, I guess I should be happy for the establishments, but growl… wish it wouldn’t have an adverse impact on me in the process…

It was D’s first visit to any Botak Jones, and I certainly hope she enjoyed her first time. I’m pleased to report that the long queues and massive crowds didn’t affect the quality of the food; it was still just as good as we remembered. We had the chilli, the chicken wings, and A and I shared a You-Crazy-What, triple patty burger.

I think we’ve found a good ordering combination here. Sharing the triple, and a side order or two, is perfect. If I haven’t mentioned before, the burger comes naked, so I’d recommended adding something, just to break up the monotony of all that beef. We had cheese, and D had the sautéed garlic mushrooms. Those work on a single burger, but I would imagine it could get really messy on a triple.

On the menu, it mentioned that Botak Jones is apparently opening yet another branch soon, somewhere in Toa Payoh (I think). Somehow though, I doubt that it’ll ease the congestion of the joints in the West.

A says:

I could say, “The service never fails to impress me and the hamburger was good.”

Or I could say, “Wah lau, the servers actually come up to see how you like the food, like in a real restaurant like that. The hamburger also damn shiok.”

Block 325 Clementi Ave 5
(Kopitiam) #01- 129
Tel: 6774-1225
Tuesday to Sunday: 12 noon to 10 pm
Closed on Monday

Friday, March 09, 2007


C says:

My friend G has been recommending L’Angelus for ages now, but somehow I’ve always felt quite intimidated by the idea of a French restaurant along Club Street that French expats go to have a taste of home. Still, we finally were brave enough to make our way there for dinner on Friday. We made a reservation because we’re kiasu, but when we got there we were glad that we did. Every table was either taken or reserved.

I like the ambience of the place. Yes, there are a fair number of tables with rather chi-chi clientele, but the décor is quite old-school and charming, with postcards and prints lining the walls. The vibe it gives off is sort of higher-end bistro, but not poncy fine-dining.

We shared a French Onion soup to start, which came topped with a huge crouton. The soup was sweet and rich, and had a slight fruity flavour that neither of us could indentify. Next up were the mains. I ordered the Magret de Canard (duck breast) with honey and raspberry sauce, because I’m on a duck breast kick at the moment. The duck was done medium rare, and was really succulent and tender. There wasn’t any gamey whiff of duck, and the sweetish sauce was a perfect accompaniment.

The serving size for the duck was slightly smaller than most of the dishes at this place (which are massive) – it came with about 6 or 7 thin slices of duck and a Provencale Tomato, half a tomato baked with a topping of seasoned breadcrumbs. The portion is just the right size if you want to try a starter, main and a dessert.

In contrast, A’s main was HUGE. He ordered the Entrecote Rib Eye Steak, and chose the blue cheese sauce (you can choose between blue cheese and black pepper sauce). The steak was massive, and done to a perfect medium rare, just as we ordered. The meat was exquisitely tender and sweet, expected in a tenderloin but quite surprising for a ribeye. The meat was seasoned with just salt and pepper, which really allowed the amazing flavours of the steak to come through. The sauce was served on the side, perfect for someone like me who doesn’t like her meat drowned in sauce. The blue cheese sauce was quite good, albeit a little salty, but it tended to mask the flavour of the really good steak so after a few bites, I just had the steak on its own. This is seriously one of the best steaks ever, and certainly way better than the Morton’s Rib Eye.

Each table is also served with a dish of Gratin Dauphinois Potatoes – thinly sliced potatoes with butter, cream and cheese and baked till the top is golden brown and crispy. A heart attack waiting to happen, but delicious all the same.

We shared a tarte tatin with cinnamon ice cream for dessert, which looked huge but was surprisingly quite light, and went down quite easily. I still prefer the apple tart at Café de Amigo, though.

All in all, mad props (har har) to G for plugging this place. The steak was heaven, although it is a tad large for one person. Next time we may share two starters and the Entrecote. Can’t wait.

A says:

I expected something really poncy from the location but it’s actually not too bad. You can tell the waiters are a bit chi-chi though by the way they look and behave, but most of them are quite nice. The service was very fast and efficient when we got there because it was pretty empty. I guess the clientele comes much later because every table was reserved and the placed was packed by the time we left around 9pm. The waiters looked quite harassed by then, and it took quite a long time for them to bring us our bill, and to process our card.

The food is really good and the streak is probably one of the best I’ve had in Singapore. The prices may seem high at first, but once you see the substantial portions and quality, it’s actually very worth it. The Mon - Thurs set dinner especially, for $44++. I think the next time we go back it’ll be on an indulgent weekday so I can try the fish dishes in the set and C can have her steak.

Although I’m also wondering if we should go with some whiners so we don’t look out of place. We were definitely the only non-drinking table around. (Note to self: Cappuccino super strong. Drink already cannot sleep!)

85 Club Street
Tel: 6225-6897
Lunch: Monday to Friday, 12 to 2 pm
Dinner: Monday to Saturday, 7 pm till late
Closed Sunday

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Maxwell Food Centre (Lunch time)

C says:

We’ve been here twice at dinner time, but on Thursday we finally got a chance to come here during the day, to try the stalls that are usually closed by dinner time. On our agenda today was: Tian Tian Chicken Rice, the beef brisket noodle at Guangdong Wanton Mee and the Fuzhou Oyster Cake. With the exception of the noodle, the other two items were sampled and highly praised by Anthony Bourdain, who tried them on one of his visits here.

Tian Tian Chicken Rice has one of the longest queues in the food centre. We were there just before 12, and already I had to stand in line for about 15 to 20 minutes, partly because some people in the queue order up to 20 packets thus holding up the queue considerably. My evil glares at them went unnoticed…

I was afraid that the chicken rice would be overrated, and my first bite of just the chicken alone seemed to give me that impression. But the rice, the chili sauce and the sauce that they douse the chicken with elevate the whole dish to another level. The rice is fragrant, not oily, and just the right texture, and the sauce is almost like a rich, chicken juice reduction of sorts. Finally, the chili sauce just brings everything together – it’s quite spicy, and what sets it apart from other chicken rice chili is that they use lime juice instead of vinegar.

The beef brisket noodle probably isn’t a particularly famous stall, but I’d read about this place that uses lam yu (fermented bean curd) to make the beef brisket so I wanted to give it a try. This was pretty good, definitely more interesting and fuller-flavoured than generic beef brisket noodles, and the texture of the noodles was nice and springy too.

Needless to say, we were quite full after all that (even though we only shared one plate of chicken rice), but I still wanted to try the Fuzhou Oyster Cake so we bought 2 and had them for tea. You can order the $1.50 or the $2 one, the difference being the amount of oyster they use. I decided to have the one with less oyster, so that I could taste all the other ingredients as well. Essentially, it’s a pancake of sorts, made by putting some batter in a ladle, sprinkling some coriander, minced pork, prawn and oyster, covering it with more batter and deep frying it.

I must say the coriander was a slight low point, but most of the coriander stench… er, I mean flavour… had been cooked out so it wasn’t that bad. This was a surprisingly tasty snack – crispy on the outside, almost creamy inside, and all the flavours from the oyster, pork and prawn permeating into the batter.

While everything was good, only the chicken rice probably warrants a repeat visit and even so, I don’t think it’s worth battling the crowds and the queues. Maybe we’ll either come here on a weekend to see if the queue is any shorter, or alternatively have the chicken rice at the Margaret Drive food centre, which is almost as good.

Random: nothing can beat the Swee Kee chicken rice of old, the one that used to be in the 2-storey shophouse along Middle Road. I used to stare mesmerized at the shop window, watching the man expertly carve up the plump juicy chickens. My family used to have lunch here almost every weekend, and between us we pretty much polished off the entire bottle of chili sauce that they provided at each table. Those were the days…

A says:

Chicken rice was good but I think I’d still go for a Scissors rice just according to personal preference. Or maybe I’d just have a couple of goreng pisang (the famous one formerly at Somerset).

Tian Tian Chicken Rice
Stall 10
11 am to 8 pm, closed Monday

Guangdong Wanton Mee
Stall 99
6.30 am to 3 pm daily

Maxwell Fuzhou Oyster Cake
Stall 5
10 am to 6 pm, closed Sunday

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Abof Restaurant & Tea Lounge

C says:

I remember reading a review about this place on Asiaone in December, right after we came back from Scandinavia, and telling A that we should come here to relive our holiday memories. Somehow, the review gave me the impression that it was a quaint little restaurant with a warm, cosy interior much like a little stone hut, and a ceiling with tiny little lights, almost like sitting under a starry sky.

Reality could not be more different. The restaurant, along the Millenia Walk stretch of restaurants, is very basically decorated and looks like any other generic café, and the ‘starry’ lights are actually just an array of pendant lamps hanging from the ceiling.

The menu was again a surprise. Amidst some traditional Scandinavian dishes like herring, smoked salmon, Swedish meatballs and Scandinavian roast pork, there were some totally unexpected items like tom yam soup, curry chicken and a Japanese style linguine with fish roe and seaweed.

A had the Traditional Scandinavian Soup to start with – a chicken broth with tiny meatballs, little flour dumplings and chopped vegetables. This was nice and warming (the restaurant was pretty cold because it was empty), and reminded us a little of the reindeer soup that we had in Lapland. I had, surprise surprise, the fried chicken wings, which were coated with a thick batter which ensured that the wings retained their heat. They were quite greasy and salty, but strangely addictive at the same time.

For our main course, I had the liver pate open-faced sandwich, which was rye bread with liver pate, crispy bacon and sautéed mushrooms with some salad. This was a bit of a letdown because although the pate was nice and smooth, the rye bread was quite chewy and the bacon was incredibly salty. A’s main course was much better – the Scandinavian roast pork with crackling, served with red wine braised cabbage and roast potatoes. I wish we’d taken photos, because the crackling was certainly something else. It was incredibly puffy and crispy, and the pork was quite tender and juicy too.

I think the roast pork is probably the only dish worth coming back for, but with still a long list of should-try places, I don’t think this place warrants a repeat visit any time soon.

A says:

I was damn scared we’d be the only customers in this place that night but luckily, another couple ventured in as well. The service was definitely excellent, but then with only 2 tables occupied, you’d expect it to be.

I can’t really recommend this place as a Scandinavian themed restaurant because it just really isn’t. And the menu is just too schizo for my liking. If anything, I’d say it’s an interesting sandwich joint and nothing more.

Aböf Restaurant & Tea Lounge
Millenia Walk #01-109
9 Raffles Boulevard
Tel: 6338 7113

Opening hours: 8:30am - 11pm daily, last order at 10pm

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

C's Home-made Chocolate Moose


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Steeple’s Deli

C says:

A found out about Steeple’s Deli after reading about it on Travelling Hungryboy’s blog, but it turns out quite a number of people already know about it – my brother and Cousin C, for a start. But can you blame us for not knowing it existed? It’s tucked away on the 2nd floor of Tanglin Shopping Centre, amidst art galleries and tourist stores selling ethnic gifts, antiques and Chairman Mao paraphernalia. Apparently Steeple’s has been around since 1981, and is quite well-known amongst the well-heeled and the expats living in the area.

It’s a simple, cosy little deli, with an L-shaped counter where you sit facing their kitchen. The staff and cooks, all Chinese, are very friendly and helpful, telling us the daily specials even though they were already stated on the blackboard. The menu, all written on the board, consists of sandwiches, salads, omelettes, fish and chips and burgers. They’re also known for their milkshakes; A had the chocolate peanut butter one, which tasted like a molten Reese’s.

A had the Reuben, which is probably his favourite sandwich ever. This one had slices of pastrami and loads of sauerkraut on a rye bread and topped with melted cheese.

I’ll leave A to tell you how this compares to other Reubens, because the excessive sauerkraut wasn’t quite my thing. I had the teriyaki beef burger. It wasn’t quite what I expected – I expected a regular burger with teriyaki sauce, but instead, the teriyaki flavour had been marinated into the beef patty. The patty was very tender and quite juicy, though a little crumbly. It tasted fairly healthy too, because it wasn’t dripping with oil like most good burgers. The burger came with chips, which were particularly yummy after I’d drizzled some malt vinegar on them, and some pretty good coleslaw.

Cousin C says this place is known for their Fish and Chips, so maybe we’ll try that next time. They also supposed to do good brownies and fudge, but we were too full today. Again, maybe next time, because there most certainly will be a next time.

A says:

This place rocks for its ambience and excellent service. I’d definitely go very often if I lived in the area. But as a destination joint, maybe only once every few months.

The food is very good, but falls just short of great. I think the reason is the clean taste of the food. My palette has been spoilt by so much junk that unless my burgers and sandwiches are dripping in grease or condiments, I don’t really get a big hit (like a fatty heart attack).

The Reuben I had was generously topped with pastrami and sauerkraut but lacked a certain oomph! And I don’t think it was really worth the $12.90. The cheaper burgers and omelettes seem a better deal so I’ll go for one of those next time. That should give me room for a milkshake and a brownie with ice cream.

Steeple’s Deli
#02-25 Tanglin Shopping Centre
Tel: 6737-0701
Monday to Saturday 9.30 am to 7 pm (Last order 6.30pm)

Closed Sundays and Public Holidays