Monday, April 30, 2007

Old Airport Road Food Centre

C says:

Damn Yummy King! I was watching an old episode on Asian Food Channel (the wonders of Smart TV) featuring fried hokkien mee, and I started to get serious cravings for it. One of the stalls featured was the famous Nam Sing at the Old Airport Road Food Centre, considered by many to be one of the best fried hokkien mees in Singapore. A and I were on leave on Monday and had a few errands to run in the vicinity, so we checked it out.

The Old Airport Road Food Centre is currently undergoing renovations, so some of the stalls have moved to the temporary site next door. They’ll be at the temporary site until about July this year. As a result, quite a few stalls may be using this period to take a break, but luckily for me, Nam Sing is still in business.

This fried hokkien mee isn’t very oily at all. In fact, it relies heavily on its soup stock for flavour, because there isn’t even any pork lard or belly pork to give it extra taste. Just a good balance of thick yellow noodles and laksa beehoon, some squid and a few prawns, and good control of the fire. There’s a good wok hei flavour to the noodles, and the stock is out of this world – rich, full-bodied and fragrant. This place also doesn’t serve sambal with the noodles either, claiming that it affects the taste of the dish. Instead, they provide you with cut red chillies if you want some heat.

This food centre also has two famous wonton mee stalls – Cho Kee and Hua Kee. We found Cho Kee (the one with the digitised signboard flashing your queue number) right next to Nam Sing in the temporary market so we decided to try it out. It was pretty tasty, and the wontons were really good – meaty and smooth, but the soup was tasteless. Still, this is another Yummy King recommendation – taxi drivers’ pick for best wonton mee, according to the certificate proudly displayed at the front of the stall.

If you have other favourites at the market, then I’d recommend waiting until the renovations are done, because it seems that a number of stalls have opted not to move. Best to wait until everyone has moved back in July.

A says:

The place is a mess. I’ll wait till the hawker centre proper reopens before heading back.

Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee
Permanent address: Block 51, Old Airport Road Food Centre #01-115J
Closed on an ad-hoc basis

Cho Kee Noodles
Permanent address: Block 51 Old Airport Road Hawker Centre #01-113D
Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (not sure about this)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Roti Prata House

C says:

We’re both clearly recovering from our bouts of illness, because we’re starting to crave unhealthy foods again. We headed over to The Roti Prata House at Thomon because we haven’t had prata in ages, and A felt like having their crispy kosong pratas.

We ordered a few crispy pratas, A had a plaster (a kosong with an egg ‘plastered’ on top), and we shared a mutton curry and a fried chicken. The mutton curry was a tad on the salty side, but the meat was very soft and tender. The fried chicken was delicious – the batter was really fragrant and the chicken was juicy and not overdone. As for the pratas, while the famous crispy one is very crisp and flaky, I find the dough a bit too sweet, such that it tastes almost like a dessert and tends to affect the taste of the savoury curry somewhat. Also, I think I prefer my pratas to have a bit of chewiness and bite to them.

Still, the place is newly renovated and very clean and bright. Staff are very friendly and professional, and it’s open 24 hours. I would come here over the Jalan Kayu one any day - the 45 minute wait there just isn’t worth it.

A says:

This was always my favourite prata place from back when there was only this one, the one at Fong Seng (NUS) and Jalan Kayu. Even though Jalan Kayu has better gravy and the Fong Seng one was closer by, this place still had the best prata (and you didn’t have to put up with irritating NUS hostelites).

The crispy prata isn’t as good anymore because it’s way more oily. The plaster is better than I remember though. My new thing is to have the teh-cino. It’s perfect if you like your teh very sweet and milky.

So after many years, I’d still rate this as my favourite. Too bad the parking still sucks.

The Roti Prata House
246M & 246K, Upper Thomson Road
Tel: 6459-5260
Open 24 hours

Friday, April 27, 2007

Zion Riverside Hawker Centre

C says:

I meant it when I said that comfort food is on the menu. On Friday night we had another of A’s comfort foods of his youth – kway chap. Being as picky as he is, kway chap is one of the last things that I expected A to like, but he grew up eating it so embedded in his consciousness. Our likes and dislikes are clearly strongly influenced by what we’re exposed to in our childhood. A was brought up on hot dogs, burgers and pizza, and the occasional porridge and kway chap, whereas Asian food dominated my diet.

We happened to see this stall in an episode of Coffee Talk and Hawker Woks, with Kym Ng, a Teochew Ah Nia if there ever was one. She recommended the food of her people, and one of her favourite stalls is Boon Tong Kee Kway Chap Braised Duck, Stall No. 24. I’m not a big kway chap connoisseur, and when I do eat it, I go for the braised duck and small intestine, whereas A likes tau pok and the large intestine. I must say the ‘kway’ here is very good – very fine and smooth, and the chilli is a good balance of spicy and tart.

We shared a plate of carrot cake, which wasn’t too bad but not particularly outstanding. At least it was a very generous portion for only $3.

A says:

Highly recommended by TV celebrities and myself.

Fyi: there are two Zion Road hawker centres. This is the one nearer the Nasi Padang place.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Marutama Ramen

C says:

We’ve both been ill over the past few days (A got it from the army and passed it to me, hmph), so we’ve been having major comfort food cravings. On Thursday we went to Marutama Ramen again; I’ve been hankering for it ever since our last time here. I had the same thing as before – the standard chicken broth with char siew and a stewed egg. It was just as good as I remembered, if not better. The broth was even richer than before, and the stewed egg was insanely good. The soya sauce had penetrated into the very centre of the egg, and the yolk was perfectly gooey. A had the traditional ramen with added seaweed, and the bowl arrived pretty much covered with green.

We tried something new tonight as well – a side order of Yaki Char Siew, which is grilled char siew. This was absolutely fabulous, and a new thing for us to crave. Imagine the already meltingly tender char siew in their ramen, cut slightly thicker, and grilled to impart a charred smoky flavour. A squeeze of lemon juice to cut through the richness, and you’re in heaven.

I must say though that the noodles here are a little thin, since Japanese ramen is usually thicker and more substantial. But I guess since the chicken broth is lighter than the thicker pork bone-based broth that’s served at most other ramen joints, thinner noodles are used so that they don’t overpower the lightness of the broth.

A says:

Everything here is top notch since they have a Jap guy making sure the food is up to standard. I hope the standard stays just as high when he goes back.

Marutama Ramen
6 Eu Tong Sen Street
#03-90/91 The Central
Tel: 6534-8090
Opening hours: 11 am - 10 pm (last order 9.30 pm)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Renaldo’s (Crown Centre)

C says:

Since the first time we wrote about this place, we’ve been back quite a number of times for their burger, and we’ve reached the conclusion that as far as cheap, ‘low-end’ burgers go, this is probably one of the best we’ve had in Singapore.

We’re raving about it because we’ve had it two weekends in a row now – last Sunday, right before A went to the army, and again tonight. A’s a bit sick (again), and whenever he’s ill he tends to crave comfort food. Last night it was Teochew porridge, the food of his childhood, and today it’s a no-frills burger, the food of his slightly more recent past – university in the US.

Everything is just right with this burger. The cheese is melted into the patty, not dumped on top as an afterthought. The bacon isn’t too crisp that it crumbles when bitten. The lettuce is cut into strips, rather than one entire piece that makes the burger hard to hold. The patty is juicy, full of scrumptious fatty bits and well seasoned.

Given that it’s an Australian café, the coffee here is pretty good too. They serve a half decent flat white, and the cappuccino is really quite good. If you decide to come here for the burger, you can always kill two birds with one stone and drop by Swirl Gelateria since it’s just next door. The service staff are very friendly, and it’s a nice quiet place to chill out - a much-needed break from the people-spotting hustle and bustle of Island Creamery. I had an Earl Grey ice cream the other day from here, which was an interesting and very refreshing flavour.

A says:

I hardly call it a no-frills since we order the burger with the works. The guy calls it the whopper when calling out the order to the not bad looking cook/waitress. And I don’t recall having any burger with egg while I was in America.

Anyway, since I’m sick, this really is comfort food for me. Ahhh…

Renaldo’s Apple Strudel & Pastries
557 Bukit Timah Road
#01-12/13 Crown Centre
Tel: 6464-5055
Opening hours: 10 am – 8.30 pm (Fri and Sat, closed at 9.30 pm)

Tai Hwa Bak Chor Mee

C says:

Unlike the last time we were here, where I only had to wait in line for 15 minutes, today we were here much later, at 11 am, and I finally experienced the long wait first-hand - 45 long minutes. I stupidly forgot to bring a book to occupy myself whilst standing in line. Where was A, you might ask? Sitting at the table playing Sudoku on his handphone. While I would have liked for him to stand in line instead, his ineptitude with the Chinese language means that not only would he not be able to order what I wanted (more chilli, more vinegar), but he could quite possibly end up with meatball or dumpling soup instead.

The bak chor mee here is really something else. I won’t wait 45 minutes every weekend, but it’s worth it every now and again (every 3 to 6 months, perhaps). The noodles have a really good bite to them, and the liver slices are perfectly cooked. I saw them prepare it as I was waiting – the liver is sliced really thinly, and a big pile is simply dunked into the hot soup, and removed.

I asked for duo la jiao, duo chu (more chilli, more vinegar) for mine, and wow, it really packed a punch. There seemed to be a marked difference between the colour of A’s regular noodles, and my jazzed-up one. I must admit that it got a tad overkill at the end, but still very shiok. I don’t regret asking for more of the chilli and vinegar, because A’s looked a little insipid in comparison, and in my opinion, what makes a good bak chor mee is two-fold – the texture of the noodles, and the chilli paste. Tai Hwa comes up tops in both.

A says:

I offered to stand in line until we neared the front and then swap places but C didn’t accept so I can’t be blamed. C says: That’s only because I didn’t have my book with me, so there wasn’t any difference stoning in line or at the table.

Personally, I wouldn’t wait in line considering the Happy Chef Western Food (the next stall) is very good.

Just goes to show the difference in preference between C and myself. I ain’t no fan of that Chinese shit.

Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
Block 466 Crawford Lane
(Behind ICA Building)
Tel: 6292-7477
Opening hours: 9.30 am to 9 pm (Closed 1st and 3rd Monday of the month)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Jia Xiang Sarawak Kuching Kolo Mee

C says:

We’ve been a bit quiet this past week, because A had to go back to the army. It was only a one-week stint, so he’s out and we’re raring to go again. We went to VivoCity on Saturday, and A wanted to have his usual Superdog fix again. I, on the other hand, really wasn’t in the mood for a hot dog, so as ridiculous as this sounds, we had lunch separately – A at Superdog, and me at Jia Xiang right opposite.

As its name suggests, this place only serves kolo mee. No Sarawak laksa here. There are a couple of variations of kolo mee - a standard one with char siew, wanton and prawns for $5.90, and a deluxe one with added abalone for $8.90. Our friends M&M recommended the deluxe one with gusto, so I decided to try it.

First off, I was a little surprised that the base noodle is the same no matter which version you order – the prawn and abalone are served in a separate bowl of soup. I thought this was a slight cop-out, because I somehow assumed that the abalone would be incorporated into the noodles, giving the dish added flavour.

The noodles themselves were pretty good, with a firm and springy texture. It was much saltier, oilier and therefore stronger in flavour than the one at Jurong and now Raffles Place, but to me, that’s precisely why I didn’t enjoy it as much. The Jurong/RP one is more subtle and tastes cleaner, and that’s what I like about it. A’s views differ though.

All in all, this really wasn’t too bad. I realise that one reason for my opinion is that my very first taste of kolo mee was the Jurong one, so perhaps I’ve formed a mistaken impression that that’s how it ought to taste, when the Jia Xiang one could possibly be the more authentic of the two. Nevertheless, the clean, uncomplicated flavour of the Jurong/RP still wins me over, and until I get a chance to taste authentic kolo mee (in Kuching, no less), I think I’ll maintain my position.

A says:

I actually prefer this one since it’s more flavourful. It’s all a matter of personal taste, but with this one being much more expensive, I think I’d go for the one in Jurong/Raffles Place.

Jia Xiang Sarawak Kuching Kolo Mee
(outlets islandwide)
#B2-38, VivoCity
Tel: 6272-0000

Saturday, April 14, 2007

KR-50 Contemporary Restaurant & Bar

C says:

My cousin P recommended this place, saying that the owners are the folks behind Gourmet Cellar at River Valley. Indeed, this place does seem to be another whiner’s haven, what with the shelf of wines on display and a dedicated wine and drinks list. However, the bright orange chairs, colourful pendant lamps and customers’ comments scribbled on the walls make this place a less intimidating version of, say, Friends at Jelita.

The name KR-50 is a rather unimaginative tribute to the address of the place – 50 Kent Ridge Crescent. It’s situated in the NUS University Cultural Centre, and sharing the premises is its sister joint, Nicole’s Deli & Bistro. Actually, the comprehensive drinks list is courtesy of Nicole’s, and the menu offers some bar bites like chicken wings and spicy chorizo sausages as well.

KR-50 itself offers a modern European menu with an emphasis on creative vegetarian and seafood dishes. But not to worry, it’s not all chickpeas and lentils; there are more than enough menu choices for carnivores like us.

To start with, A and I shared a Neptune Salad, consisting of seared prawns, scallops and fish on a bed of warm baby spinach, with a lime-mango salsa and topped with tobiko (flying fish roe). Luckily the mango wasn’t overpowering so A had no problems with this dish. The seafood was very fresh – the prawns were downright crunchy – and cooked just right. This was right up my alley but a little too seafoody for A.

For our mains, because I couldn’t decide which to order, we ordered the seared rib-eye and the crabmeat linguine to share. The linguine was served with a creamy tomato sauce and was surprisingly peppery, which suited me fine. I’m not sure that I could have finished a whole plate on my own, though. Good thing we shared.

The rib-eye seemed to be a popular choice, because most of the other tables were having it as well. It comes with a creamy gorgonzola sauce, but I asked for it to be served on the side. As far as rib-eyes go, this wasn’t too bad, but damn L’Angelus for setting the standard for all rib-eyes to follow! Now I can’t have a rib-eye steak anywhere without comparing it to the stellar one there, and more often than not, most places will fall short. KR-50’s rib-eye was a little overdone for the medium rare that I requested, and the meat wasn’t as fine or sweet. Still, it wasn’t too bad when dunked into the gorgonzola sauce, which was watered down slightly so it wasn’t too salty or in-your-face.

Portions weren’t massive so we managed to fit in a dessert each. A had the tiramisu, which based on the scribblings on the wall was a much lauded dessert, and I had the apple crumble that P recommended. A said the tiramisu wasn’t as good as the one at Valentino’s, and I have to agree that it lacked that certain oomph (which has nothing to do with the amount of alcohol). This one tasted like you could have made it yourself, and lacked that rich smoothness of the one made by Valentino’s sister Pirla, which is in a whole different league.

The crumble was served with a flute of apple jell-o, which were like serious flavour shots of apple juice. I’m not sure if they were meant to be eaten with the crumble, but to me they were each better off separate. The crumble itself was good – I like the addition of the grated coconut that was sprinkled on top, so that when baked it was golden brown and added a distinctive flavour.

A minor downside to the evening was when we were settling the bill. I was fully aware of an HSBC promotion because I had received the flyer just a few days ago; the same promotion was also published in when I searched for directions to the place. However, when I asked if there were any credit card promotions, the supervisor said there weren’t any. Now, I usually take the restaurant’s word for it, because I’m really not all that hard up for discounts, nor do I feel ‘cheated’ out of a good deal. However, given that I’d seen the HSBC promotion from two different sources, I had to bring it up. The supervisor looked surprised and said he wasn’t aware of anything, and implied that the promotion happened a while ago. I had to persist, saying I just received it in the mail, before he admitted that perhaps the promotional literature had been sent out to the public before the bank had a chance to inform the restaurant owners themselves. He said that “having been in the restaurant line” for many years, this was not unheard of. Anyway, he said he’d check with the bank on Monday, and gave us a 10% discount anyway (the promotion was for a 10% discount plus a $10 voucher), but I just wish it hadn’t been such an arduous process to get there.

A says:

Packing for reservists so quick post from me:
Food – Starters seem very good. Mains – not so much. Tiramisu not as good as C’s when she gets it right.
Service – Outstanding until it came to the bill part. But it wasn’t that crowded and I think it might be a problem if it is.
Location – It’s an interesting place. No problem with parking since car park is usually empty. That’s if you can find the car park (since it’s in the University Cultural Centre, but the signs only direct you to the Music Conservatory car park). C says: Look for signs to Car Park 3. Inside the car park, the signs on the wall will direct you to the Cultural Centre.
Overall – Might be okay for a quiet, semi-romantic dinner or a small gathering and you want to try someplace different, but I wouldn’t go for a regular dinner.

KR-50 Contemporary Restaurant & Bar
Nicole’s deli & bistro
50 Kent Ridge Crescent
University Cultural Centre
(next to Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music)
Tel: 6778-9878
Open Monday to Saturday
11.30 am – 2.30 pm (lunch)
4.30 pm – 10.30 pm (drinks and bar bites)
6 pm – 10.30 pm (dinner)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Romanee’s Kitchen

C says:

Another Lao Pa Sat discovery. Y introduced this place to me when we had lunch one day, and I was pretty impressed with the quality of the food, and also genuinely bemused that a proper air-conditioned Chinese restaurant can actually exist within Lao Pa Sat. Situated at one corner of Lao Pa Sat, diagonally opposite the soon-to-be-built posh One Shenton development, it’s quite incongruous with the rest of the stalls as well as the satay vendors that pop up in the evenings right next door.

My first impression of the place was that it was a lower-end My Choice - it also tries to introduce wine pairings into Chinese cuisine, and there are even wine books on the shelves and a wine fridge in the corner. I guess that’s no surprise, given that the owner, Ms Romanee Lee, used to be a wine retailer, and has devised a wine-pairing menu for some of the dishes. When we were there for dinner on Friday, there was a table of about ten who were making their way through about eight bottles of wine.

Being rather unadventurous, the dishes we ordered at dinner were mainly repeats of what I had at lunch with W and Y. We ordered the deep fried eggplant with chicken floss, the deep fried pork chop with salt and pepper, and the sautéed string beans with minced pork and chilli.

The eggplant was very interesting, and certainly the first time I’ve had eggplant prepared this way. The eggplant was cut into batons, like French fries, coated with a spiced salt and deep fried, so that the outside was crispy and the inside was soft. It was then topped with lots of chicken floss, and fried chilli and spring onions. The eggplant really did taste like French fries too; I thought this was a very good appetiser dish.

The deep fried pork chop with salt and pepper was loaded with deep fried garlic chips. In fact, the garlic should at least have been mentioned in the name of the dish, because there was a lot more garlic than there was salt and pepper. The pork itself was quite tender, but while the garlic chips certainly packed a punch, I think they overdid it a little bit. After a while the garlic kept getting stuck in our teeth, and it became way too much of a good thing.

The beans with minced pork were pretty good – the beans were tender and crisp, and the sauce was very conducive to steaming white rice.

A quick mention of a few of the other dishes I had at lunch the other day – the squid with salted egg fell short of the one from My Choice, but the beef brisket in claypot was awesome. I actually think it was better than the one at Manhill, because the sauce was delightfully sticky, the meat and tendon pieces were stewed until they were meltingly soft, and there were nice pieces of radish in there as well. Unfortunately I’m still working on A liking beef brisket, so we couldn’t order this dish on Friday. Otherwise, hot white rice and the beef brisket and I’m a happy girl.

Apparently this place does a good stewed beef rib, as well as crab bee hoon. I’m not sure when I’ll ever get to try these, but I’ll keep them in mind anyway.

I would have given this place an unconditional rave review, if not for the fact that I was inordinately thirsty when I got home on Friday. I’m not sure if it was the garlic overload, the salt from the eggplant and pork chop, or whether they use MSG, but I had to glug loads of water all night, which was quite uncharacteristic of camel-like me. Still, that aside I am still impressed with this place and would like to go back one day to try some of the other dishes. Oh yes, and the beef brisket again.

A says:

The eggplant fries dish was really interesting but a bit inconsistent. Some fries would be salty on their own, but some were flavourless and needed the pork floss to give them a good kick.

With decent food, very good service and a nice air-con environment, I’d rate this place as worth considering if you’re in the area, but definitely not worth going out of your way to try.

Romanee’s Kitchen
18 Raffles Quay
Lau Pa Sat Festival Market, Unit 38
Tel: 6222-5138
Daily: 11.30 am to 3 pm (Lunch); 6 pm to 11 pm (Dinner)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bao Luo Wan Xiang Hong Kong Dim Sum

C says:

Generally, notwithstanding that the Raffles Places/Shenton Way area houses so many people who work late, you’re actually hard pressed to find many decent eateries that are still open after about 10 pm. Even in Lao Pa Sat, the only food that seems to be available at that hour is satay and seafood barbeque.

Now, thanks to this year-old 24-hour eatery, late birds have access to dim sum at all hours. Bao Luo Wang Xiang in Mandarin is loosely translated as all-encompassing, or many varieties, which is certainly true of this place. (There’s also a play on the word ‘xiang’ meaning fragrant, but atetoomuch’s collective Chinese language abilities don’t extend to Mandarin puns.) It occupies an entire street within Lao Pa Sat (Street 8, the one facing Hong Leong Building), and consists of mini stalls each selling different types of dim sum – the standard steamed items, porridge, roast meats, fried items, puffs and pastries and even popiah.

I’ve been here for lunch a couple of times and it was packed. The century egg and minced pork porridge was very good, and a steal at $2.50, and the roast duck there is one of the best I’ve had in Singapore, seriously. It was juicy and tender and not at all chewy or tough. I guess it’s not surprising, since BLWX’s two head chefs have a combined experience of almost fifty years in the dim sum industry.

A had to work late (again) on Tuesday, so after chilling out in the gym I met him for a late dinner here at 10 pm. Some of the mini stalls were closed, but the steamed, fried and popiah sections were still open. The popiah is made fresh when you order, and the steamed items are only popped into the steamer after you order. You can also see quite an army of workers in the kitchens hard at work preparing more dim sum, so you’re at least assured that the food is pretty fresh. Apparently this kitchen is a central one for some of the other Kopitiam dim sum stalls, so they’re working into the night not just for this outlet but other stores island-wide.

We didn’t feel like anything too heavy or oily, so we ordered a popiah, char siew chee cheong fun, siew mai and a lotus leaf rice. For hawker centre dim sum, and late at night at that, the standard was really quite good. The popiah wasn't as good as the Queenstown one, but the lotus leaf rice was particularly good – the rice was really soft and the filling of minced meat and salted egg yolk was very tasty. Cheap too – our entire meal cost just $8.90.

Alas, A’s office is moving soon, so opportunities to come here for a late dinner will be drastically reduced. Still, it’s nice to know that the option is always available.

A says:

I usually just have bao but I remember the bao dough here being not so good. The chee cheong fun here is very good though. And the sweet chilli sauce has converted me into a siew mai eater. Definitely one of the top food choices in Lau Pa Sat.

Bao Luo Wan Xiang
18 Raffles Quay
Lau Pa Sat Festival Market, Street 8
Open 24 hours

Sunday, April 08, 2007


C says:

Valentino’s is doing amazingly well. We finally managed to have dinner there on Sunday night, after two failed attempts at calling on the day itself for dinner on the same night. As it is, we called on Thursday afternoon for dinner on Thursday night and all we managed to get was an 8.30 pm slot on Sunday. Apart from the resulting inconvenience in terms of getting a reservation, I’m really happy that they’re doing so well, after Chef Valtulina’s unfortunate ventures in the past. (Click here for a short history on Valentino’s history)

After bypassing the Lobster Pasta the last time we were in here in favour of a pizza, and drooling at the plates of Lobster Pasta that subsequently emerged from the kitchen, I’ve been dreaming about it ever since. After seven long months, I finally got it out of my system and satisfied my craving. It did come with a price though – the $27 ‘Lobster Pasta with Pink Sauce’ that’s currently on the menu isn’t available anymore. Instead, depending on season and availability, you can order the dish with live lobster. Luckily for me, there was live lobster on Sunday; unluckily for my wallet, the dish with a 400 gram lobster cost $72 (maybe they just accidentally reversed the numbers, haha).

When I asked why the other lobster pasta wasn’t available any longer, they explained that some customers complained about the baby lobsters (crayfish?) that they used, and wanted proper lobsters instead. (Hmph! Damn you, whoever you are!) Anyway, for those of you out there who have a craving for this dish but there are no lobsters available, they apparently can do the dish with king prawns instead, but the flavour of the dish will of course be compromised somewhat.

Which brings me to… wow, I didn’t think this dish could get any better, but it clearly can, thanks to the live lobster. While the lobster itself was meaty, sweet and had some creamy roe, the linguine with the pink sauce was the best part of the dish. I guess they go hand in hand, though. The sauce was so fabulous precisely because of the lobster. It was rich, and packed such an intense flavour hit that even A, who’s not normally a crustacean fan, was duly impressed.

Actually, considering the size of the lobster and how huge the portion was, $72 isn’t all that bad. I’m not generally a lobster fan, but if I were to eat lobster, then this is the only way to have it, in my opinion. It’s certainly cheaper and a million times more pleasurable than the lobster noodles we had at Majestic Restaurant. Still, a $72 plate of pasta is an indulgence and not something I’ll order all the time. The next time we’re here, maybe I’ll see how it tastes with king prawns instead. Or I may give their squid ink linguine a try.

A decided to have a pizza again – the Alberto, which has beef tenderloin and Tabasco sauce. They weren’t particularly generous with the beef, but the slices that were on the pizza were very tender and flavourful. Still, this paled in comparison to the lobster pasta. Then again, anything would…

We deliberately skipped starters so that we’d have room for dessert. A had his favourite tiramisu again, while I checked out the dessert trolley. Most of the offerings were fruit and custard-based tarts which seemed too filling, so I opted for the Profiteroles, which comes in a manageable portion of two puffs. These were lighter and much yummier than I remember, and a perfect way to cap an already awesome meal.

I know we haven’t been to every single Italian joint in Singapore, but I still maintain that this is the best place for Italian food. The slightly far-flung location gives it a nice rustic, chill-out atmosphere, and it’s as traditional as it gets, what with Valentino’s entire family running the place. It’s probably as close to a typical Italian family restaurant as you’re going to get right here in Singapore. I love how the vibe is completely unpretentious and non-fine dining, and everyone is really friendly to all customers, be they expats, whiners, or simple folk like us.

A says:

I don’t usually like lobster but this pasta rawked. I mean it seriously RAWKED!!!

I think this (plus the consistently good pizza and tiramisu) makes Valentino’s my new favourite restaurant. Even beating Buko Nero. *gasp*

Ristorante da Valentino
11 Jalan Bingka (off Rifle Range Road)
Tel: 6462-0555
Tuesday to Sunday: 12 pm to 2.30 pm, 6 pm to 10.30 pm

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Ka-Soh Restaurant

C says:

I brought A here for dinner on Saturday, after he missed a family dinner here because of work. We had the sliced fish bee hoon again, the house special pork rib and the egg fuyong, which were all delicious. Here’s a photo of the house special pork rib in all its glory (since the last time I had it was as take-out for A):

We tried a side dish as well, from the Japanese menu. It was simply labelled Century Egg Tofu, but that’s too simplistic a description, because it’s actually tofu with crab stick inside, chopped century egg pieces on top, and drizzled with a sauce made from century egg yolk. The dish was cold, and quite a refreshing way to start the meal.

I’m really on a roll with the Chinese food. A’s being good to me… maybe he wants something…

A says:

Good food. Good service. No problems with parking. If only it was a bit closer.


C says:

Note to self: Don’t have any other main course here besides the fabulous Eggs Benedict, because it’ll all just pale in comparison. After seeing someone having a burger the last time we were here, I decided to give it a try today, while A had his usual Eggs Royal.

Big mistake, and I’m not sure what happened. The burger we saw last time was pink in the centre, almost bloody and it looked really juicy, but today mine was dry and positively well-done. Quite disappointing, really. Even the fries, which we had with lashings of mayo and were really quite good, weren’t enough to salvage it.

Well, at least now I know better.

A says:

Eggs Royal RAWKS!

607 Bukit Timah Road
Tel: 6466-0613
Tuesday – Friday: 9 am to 8 pm
Saturday: 8 am – 8pm
Sunday: 8 am – 6 pm
Closed on Monday

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Ice Cream Gallery

C says:

One of the reasons we decided on My Choice was because we also wanted to try The Ice Cream Gallery at Valley Point. It sells home-made ice cream with some radical flavours, so we decided to park here, have dinner at My Choice, then check this place out.

They make their own ice cream on-site, and one of their signature flavours is the D24 Durian, which unfortunately is quite apparent the minute you walk into the store. The smell of durian is like cigarettes, I swear. It just gets everywhere.

Anyway, they didn’t have the teh halia flavour that day, but they had Gula Melaka and Red Bean which tasted pretty good based on the sample I tried. I ended up with the Rum and Raisin – the ice cream itself was mediocre but the raisins were really plump and juicy and very much drunken. If only they could pair the ice cream at Swirl with the raisins here… A had the chocolate milkshake – a steal at only $3.50 – which tasted pretty good to me.

I won’t go all the way to Valley Point for the ice cream here, but if we ever feel like My Choice again, or maybe trying the Italian restaurant there (La Forketta), then we may stop by for some ice cream after.

A says:

A good choc milkshake for $3.50 is a pretty good deal. It’s too far off my beaten path to make it worth coming back just for that though. I think the draw of this place is the durian ice cream (ewww!) so if you dig that, then I guess this place is worth a visit.

The Ice Cream Gallery
491 River Valley Road
#01-20 Valley Point
Tel: 6235-0870

20 Eastwood Road
#01-13 Eastwood Centre
Tel: 6246-2926

My Choice Chinese Cuisine

C says:

My Choice isn’t a new restaurant – it’s been around for quite a few years. While I cant remember the exact background, I think this place was opened by an ex-chef or owner of Crystal Jade, who decided to introduce wine to Chinese cuisine. The menu at first glance looks like a typical Crystal Jade menu, but on closer inspection, it’s obvious that the dishes are more creative and innovative. What stands out are the various headings that recommend wine pairings for the food, like “Dishes for Red Wine”. Not being whiners (the term A coined, of which he’s so proud), these mean nothing to us but we did see other tables enjoying wines with their food. The restaurant doesn’t impose any corkage either, encouraging you to BYO if you want.

The dishes were are fairly small, so we had four dishes in all and were pleasantly full, Te menu has changed since we were last here, so some favourites weren’t available anymore. Tonight we had the pan fried lamb cubes with sliced garlic, beef cubes with mixed mushrooms, deep fried squid with salted egg yolk and stewed mee pok with meat, eggplant and chilli sauce.

The beef was much more tender than the lamb, but the sliced garlic in the lamb dish packed more of a punch. When we were last here, they had the beef cubes with the sliced garlic, so I’m a little upset that they’ve gotten rid of that dish – it had the best of both worlds. Maybe I’ll ask them to do a special order next time, since they clearly do have both beef cubes and the garlic in the kitchen…

The squid was excellent as usual. It consists of battered and deep fried squid slices, which are then tossed in a mixture of salted egg yolk and melted butter, so that they’re coated with the rich creamy sauce. It’s absolutely heavenly and a must-have whenever I come here.

Finally, we had the mee pok; interesting to have this in a restaurant since mee pok is very much a hawker dish. The noodles were very springy – perfectly al dente – but the dish could’ve been a little spicier. Also, they’ve gotten rid of the ee-fu noodles with mapo tofu that they did so well here. Quite disappointing.

All in all, this was a very satisfying meal for me. A probably didn’t enjoy it half as much as I did (it is Chinese food, after all), but he agreed to come here so too bad, har har. Anyway I’m going to have to savour the experience, because I don’t think A will agree to coming back here again any time soon.

A says:

It wasn’t crowded like the last time we went, which was good for us but bad for them I guess. The main problem I think is the lack of parking in the area. We parked at Valley Point mall and did the 400m walk only because we wanted to check out the ice cream joint there (more on that later). Although the food and service are good, I wouldn’t go so far as to make the walk.

My Choice Chinese Cuisine
419 River Valley Road
Tel: 6333-8328

Monday, April 02, 2007

Marutama Ramen

C says:

After our thwarted attempt on Friday night to try the much-lauded Marutama Ramen at Central, we were very buay song (unfulfilled), so we promptly went there again at the next convenient opportunity, i.e. Monday night, after first calling them to make sure that they had enough food for us.

Wow… S wasn’t kidding when she said the ramen rocks here. It was really really good, definitely one of, if not the, best ramen I’ve had so far. This is not a one-off Singapore ramen joint, but rather a branch of a pretty established ramen shop in Japan. Unfortunately their website’s in Japanese with no apparent English version, so I can’t provide much more information on their background or history.

Their outlet here isn’t very big – there’s a counter facing the kitchen, and another 7 or 8 tables that can seat four persons each. I expected a rather poncy place but was pleasantly surprised. The décor was very simple and unassuming, and it gave off a very casual, friendly vibe. The menu is extremely simple – there are just two basic ramens and two slightly fancier ones, and you can add toppings like pork belly, char siew, stewed egg, spring onion and seaweed.

The two basic ones are a plain chicken soup, and chicken soup with some added fresh chilli. Both come with standard toppings of one slice of char siew, some spring onion and seaweed. I ordered the plain one and A had the spicy one, for a change, because for some reason I felt like something completely traditional. The plain soup was really good, and in my opinion, better than the spicy one. For some reason it tasted richer and fuller-bodied, and had more of that lip-smacking goodness of a thick, hearty stock. The spicy one was very different, and actually tasted cleaner and less rich. It wasn’t inordinately spicy either, nothing like the killer version at Hell’s Noodles. The noodles were very springy – the mark of a good ramen, to me – and were surprisingly thin, almost like thin egg noodles or mee kia.

But the toppings are what really get to me. The basic ramens cost $12, but I would strongly recommended adding another $4 to get 3 more slices of char siew, and $1 for the stewed egg, because just 1 slice of that heavenly, melt-in-your-mouth char siew just isn’t enough. It’s the best ramen char siew I’ve ever had – it’s so soft and tender that it just falls apart with a nudge of your chopsticks. The stewed egg was also excellent, with its perfectly just-set yolk and deeply embedded flavour. I’m having trouble deciding if the egg here is better or the one at Ken’s. Possibly this one.

A’s pork belly wasn’t half bad as well, but because the meat was cut in bigger portions rather than thin slices, it wasn’t as tender as the char siew. Except for some of the fatty bits, the leaner parts tended to be a little on the tough side.

The other two ramens are ‘house specials’ – one is a prawn-based stock with prawn balls, and another is a stock apparently made from seven different kinds of nuts (?? Almond? Hazelnut? Peanut? Brazil nut? Macadamia? Cashew? Coconut? How many nuts can you name? Heh). The latter is apparently served with some fishballs and a forest of coriander/cilantro/kng chye. Needless to say, there’s no way I’m ever going to try that; if anyone does, do let me know how it is.

We were there at about 7.45 pm on a Monday and got seats fairly easily. Food came remarkably quickly too, but S mentioned that the wait for food was pretty long when she went at lunch last week. Also, by the time we left at around 8.30 pm, a small queue had formed. At least turnover seems to be pretty high, since ramen isn’t exactly something that you can linger over, but rather slurp up quickly (and risk burning your tongue).

Anyway, it looks like I’ll be revising my Ramen report soon, because this could well take the top spot now. I’ll keep you posted!

A says:

The char siew RAWKS! Will try mine with seaweed next time. I’m not as big a fan of the broth as C though. Still too oily for me, even though I think that may be the authentic Japanese style.

What I like are the ambience and how knowledgeable and friendly the staff are. This place isn’t tops on my list, but it’s certainly way up there.

Marutama Ramen
6 Eu Tong Sen Street
#03-90/91 The Central
Tel: 6534-8090
Opening hours: 11 am - 10 pm (last order 9.30 pm)