Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fukuichi Japanese Dining

C says:

TripleOne Somerset is becoming somewhat of an interesting dining destination, and I’m not referring to American chain restaurant Applebee’s. There are a few Imperial Treasure incarnations – a bakery, a steamboat restaurant and a Hong Kong cafe, new Spanish restaurant Bilbao, and Fukuichi, my colleague L’s favourite Japanese restaurant.

We were here on a Sunday and Bilbao was closed, so we tried Fukuichi. It’s a partnership between a Japanese chain and a Singapore fishery, and they take pride in flash freezing their fish on board the vessel for maximum freshness.

We tried the highly recommended kani tofu, which was cold tofu made with lots of crab meat, and topped with a savoury pitan (century egg) sauce. The abundance of crab meat was a pleasant surprise, and the dish was very refreshing. Even a non-pitan connoisseur like A had to admit that this was very good.

The unagi tofu that A ordered was a much bigger portion than expected, and also very good. It was like an unagi sandwich, and the tofu was soft and silky. I found the kani tofu more memorable though.

We ordered one bento to share – grilled cod with a mentaiko mayo sauce. This was quite rich and on hindsight, not the smartest thing to order at a place that prides itself on fresh fish. The mentaiko sauce all but masked the flavour of the cod. Plus the cod still had some bones, which is somewhat of a minus point in my book.

I don’t know why we didn’t order any sashimi, but anyway our one tribute to the restaurant’s specialty of fresh fish was the grilled tuna collar. This was right up my alley – the fish was fresh, perfectly cooked and sufficiently seasoned so the flavour of the fish was enhanced.

We’ll be back, but maybe not before we’ve tried some of the other joints at TripleOne. When we do come back, note to selves: try more fresh fish.

A says:

Great. TripleOne seems like a decent alternative destination in Orchard. Big plus for having a good car park. Not like the idiotic ones at OC or 313.

Fukuichi Japanese Dining
111 Somerset Road
#02-11/12 TripleOne Somerset
Tel: 6271-5586 / 6472-8269
Open daily: 11.30 am to 3 pm; 5.30 pm to midnight

Friday, February 25, 2011

DB Bistro Moderne

C says:

It was apparently Daniel Boulud’s DB Burger, available at his casual outpost DB Bistro, that started the trend for high-end gourmet burgers. We didn’t make it to DB Bistro in some of his overseas outlets, so when they opened here at the Sands, we dragged our fellow burger connoisseurs W and M to check it out.

All four of us are in agreement that the best burger (in Singapore, anyway) is the one at Morton’s Bar. The patty is beefy and juicy yet doesn’t fall apart, and for M and A, one of their criteria is the option to add blue cheese. While I love blue cheese, I personally prefer my burgers more old school, with Cheddar or Swiss and bacon.

Anyway, the famous DB burger ($35) consists of a sirloin patty, with a centre of braised shortrib and a chunk of foie gras, on a soft parmesan bun. The burger arrives considerately cut in half, with a side of French fries. We ordered it medium rare, and while the burger definitely packs a serious beefy flavour punch, it was a bit dense and therefore a tad dry. I didn’t get that oomph that I get whenever I first sink my teeth into the Morton’s burger. Still a very good burger and the flavour is undeniable, but I think I just expected a bit more kick.

The other items were pretty good. To start with, they gave us gougeres, which are choux pastry flavoured with cheese and topped with more cheese when it’s baked. These were unbelievably light and fluffy, and very addictive.

We shared the spicy salmon tartare, and the assiette lyonnaise – a platter of charcuterie. The salmon tartare was pretty good, but again I personally prefer the tuna tartare at Spruce. The assiette lyonnaise had a good selection of different cured meats and terrines, some of which I think are made in-house, and they were all quite good.

We also ordered an appetiser portion of the gnocchi to try; or rather, we all tried a piece and A had the rest. The gnocchi was nice and light, but I’ve decided that I'm really not a fan of gnocchi generally.

For variety, A ordered the Piggy burger – a sirloin patty topped with pulled pork and pickled jalapeno. The DB burger was definitely better; the Piggy one was definitely more novel in terms of flavours, but what can I say, I’m a burger purist.

W decided to order one of their main courses instead – the seared tuna, after ascertaining that their seared tuna could be done rare. There’s nothing worse than overcooked tuna. They cooked the tuna very well, just lightly seared and a lovely rosy red in the centre. This was quite a light dish, so I think in future, one DB burger and one seared tuna would be a good combination for two people.

I’d heard that their warm madeleines were a must-try, so we had an order of those, and a profiteroles to share. I must say the madeleines were really light, and subtly fragranced with orange. I would’ve appreciated them more if I hadn’t been super stuffed by then. Likewise with the profiteroles, which were filled with a coffee ice cream.

Dinner was good, and I think we’ll be back since the Sands is an easy walk from work on a Friday night after work.

A says:

Excellent, but is it worth the price? Maybe not. I say give it a try once and decide for yourself.

Oh, and the tables are a tad small if you’re thinking of sharing dishes. It was a struggle to fit all the dishes for our table of four.

Maybe that’s why the service was over-attentive. They kept trying to clear our dishes before we were even done. Not exactly ideal.

DB Bistro Moderne
B1, Marina Bay Sands
Tel: 6688-8525
Monday to Friday:
Lunch: 12pm - 2.30pm
Dinner : 5:30pm - 10.30pm
Saturday and Sunday:
Brunch : 11am - 3pm
Dinner : 5:30pm - 10.30pm

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wala Wala Cafe Bar

C says:

We came here purely to try their chicken wings, which consistently take top (or close to top) billing in chicken wing lists. My vote for best chicken wings is actually the ones at the Ikea restaurant. My criteria? Just fried, not battered, not overly spiced and ideally slightly Asian-inspired with any combination of soy, honey and ginger, and while it has to be crispy, it can’t be over-fried. Must be perfectly cooked and juicy, and any place that offers just drumlets, without the actual wing portion, fails right off the bat.

Big plus point here is that they separate the drumlets from the wings for you. So no fumbling with searingly hot wings, burning your fingers in the process, as you race to divide them all up so that you can sit down and properly enjoy them.

Unfortunately, they haven’t bumped Ikea off the top of my wing list just yet. They ticked most of the boxes, but unfortunately they were overcooked – too dry and hard, and not juicy at all. Quite a letdown since I was expecting to be blown away.

The calamari wasn’t too bad but it had to be eaten piping hot. After a while when it cooled down it got really rubbery.

On hindsight, not the smartest thing to order all 3 deep fried dishes. We had the deep fried pork bites with a honey mustard dip. The dip was quite strange, and the pork was also overcooked.

I really did expect a lot more of the place, but in the end the food was just mediocre. I recently had lunch at Penny Black and the bar bites there are far superior.

A says:

Average food. But big thumbs up for the service and vibe. It would be a regular if we drank more.

Wala Wala Cafe Bar
31 Lorong Mambong
Tel: 6462-4288

Saturday, February 19, 2011


C says:

A friend of mine has been recommending Pietrasanta for ages, but we’ve always put off coming here because for one, we weren’t altogether impressed with our first visit (granted it was years ago), and also we were waiting to move back to the West to start (re)discovering the joints in the area. L and M had a Journey to the West on Saturday, so what better reason to give Pietrasanta a long awaited revisit.

First off, they’re doing exceedingly well. Even with pretty large premises (they have a courtyard that isn’t visible from the outside, they still have 2 seatings for the weekend – 6.30 and 8.15. And even though I called more than 2 weeks in advance, we had to settle for an outdoor table because they were booked for an event indoors. Luckily the courtyard was quite pleasant and it was a cool evening.

The meal was off to a good start with a bread basket, a bottle of good extra virgin olive oil, and a pomodoro dip that, while not as good as the one at Osia, was still pretty damn tasty.

As with most Italian joints these days, they have off-menu specials that included a burrata, hooray. It was a no-brainer to have that as a shared starter, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it came with cherry tomatoes, salad as well as slices of parma ham. The burrata itself was wonderfully creamy inside, but I still think it could’ve been properly seasoned to enhance its flavour.

We shared a four cheese pizza as a starter as well, and this was a bit of a disappointment. Besides the tiny areas which had blue cheese (which were awesome but so few and far between), the rest of the pizza was quite bland and almost plasticky.

A ordered the pasta special – a squid ink pasta with a tomato and crab meat sauce. This brings to mind the one at Valentino, and we ordered it for comparison’s sake. I guess it was no surprise that Valentino’s came out tops. The one were was good, but not quite as rich or flavourful.

I ordered the dish that my friend has been recommending for ages – the home-made tagliatelle with sausage and truffle cream. In my opinion, this made up for any disappointments of the evening, and is the one dish that will make me return. The pasta was smooth and silky and paper thin, and the cream sauce was just rich enough not to be overly creamy or cloying. The flavours of the sausage and truffle went very well together, and I think this is going to be one of those dishes that I can’t not order whenever we come back. Yes, it can be a bit much for one person, but perfect to share.

Desserts weren’t really worth a mention, but L and M did say that their house red was one of the better house wines that they’ve had. Service was good, albeit a bit slow on the kitchen side, and it had a nice, laid-back vibe. They’ve certainly improved since our first visit, and the menu revamped somewhat. This would be another viable close-to-home option, but for the fact that reservations seem essential on weekends.

A says:

We came around the time it first opened and found it so-so. Suffice to say this place has made substantial improvements in food and service.

This would be a definite option for us if parking there wasn’t such a problem. It’s virtually impossible to get a space in front. And parking round back is a bit confusing. Maybe we’ll try for the first sitting next time.

5B Portsdown Road
Tel: 6479-9521
Mon to Sat: 11.45 am to 2.30 pm; 6 pm to 10.30 pm
Sunday: 11.45 am to 10.30 pm
Closed Tuesdays

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sticky Rice

C says:

The new Clementi Mall is still very much a work-in-progress. Currently only the basement shops, and some limited shops on Level 1, are open for business. Most of the shops that have opened are the eateries, as well as a new Fairprice Finest supermarket, which was our reason for coming here today.

Most of the eateries that are currently open are pretty generic – Subway, Long John Silvers, BK, Toast Box, etc. Which is why Sticky Rice stood out as being one of the few non-chain eateries there. That, and the fact that they’d just opened and had grand opening floral stands outside…

Sticky Rice is a Thai bistro, serving fairly traditional interpretations of popular Thai dishes. A had the pad thai, which took a while to find on the menu because it was descriptively named as Fried Rice Noodles with Seafood or something like that, and I had the tom yam noodle soup.

Service was very good – the manager asked if we needed any help, so we asked if we could change (a) the seafood in the pad thai to chicken, and (b) the noodles in the tom yam from rice vermicelli to glass noodles. He agreed to both without hesitation, which is a big plus point for me. I hate places which are overly rigid where this is concerned, even when I indicate that I’m prepared to pay any top-up (Old Town springs to mind).

A’s pad thai was ok, but somehow the balance of sweet/salty/sour flavours just seemed a bit off. Certain mouthfuls felt too sweet, some felt too tart.

I quite enjoyed my tom yam noodles, which I think were better than the pad thai. Quite generous with the seafood, and not overly sweet.

Unfortunately, we ordered a red ruby for dessert and this was extraordinarily bad. Granted, our benchmark is the one at A-roy Thai, but this was way below average. The rubies were pretty tasteless, there was too much ice, and instead of coconut milk they used evaporated or something. And very little of it. Resulting in a bland, icy, tasteless disaster.

Definitely not a destination place, but until something interesting opens up in Clementi Mall, this is probably the least generic of the lot.

A says:

Great service from the head staff, but the rest were a bit blur. The food’s decent, but some flavours overwhelm others. Also, the red rubies and thai iced tea are disappointing.

Still, this is probably going to be our default choice in Clementi Mall.

Sticky Rice
#B1-08/09, The Clementi Mall

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Pizza from Donna Carmela

C says:

We’ve finally tried the pizza at Donna Carmela, our new neighbourhood joint. It was after a workout so we just shared one 12 inch – the Capricciosa, which consists of ham, mushroom, artichokes and black olives.

This was a very good pizza. Crust was a good thickness, nice and crispy, and very generous with the toppings. Better than the pasta that we had (or I had, anyway), and a very viable alternative for us when we run out of ideas or are too lazy to go out.

A says:

Excellent. Not as good as Valentino’s, and some pizzas seem to be on the pricey side, but definitely on the favourites list so far.

Serenity Spanish Bar & Restaurant

C says:

Each time we’ve been to Vivo on a Friday/weekend, Serenity has been full and we weren’t really inclined to wait when we didn’t know what the standard was. Today was a weekday lunch, so they were pretty empty and we decided to give it a try.

We wanted a simple light meal, so we ordered a selection of tapas. Well, it turned out to be pretty light, but certainly not simple or cheap. Their portions are pretty small for the price.

We tried 2 breads – their signature loaf with aioli, and a flatbread with anchovies, peppers and cheese. They were both so-so, and nothing like the one from Osia we had just the day before. The aioli in particular was disappointing. It tasted like a mild garlic scented mayonnaise, rather than the thick yellow spread that aioli is supposed to be.

They were out of the long beans and jamon that I wanted, so we had the asparagus wrapped in bacon, which was alright. The beef with onions was ok too, some slices being more tender than others.

The only thing that was really worth a mention was the octopus with smoked paprika and potatoes, which was prepared quite well – nice and tender.

In fact, my general impression of everything we had was that it was just average. Nothing outstanding, but not exactly bad either. Passable, but not the cheapest. I’d rather go to Don Quijote.

A says:

I went with very low expectations so I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t that bad, but not exactly stellar for the price you pay.

Would I go back? Maybe. But it definitely wouldn’t be the first thing I’d think of at Vivo.

Serenity Spanish Bar & Restaurant
#01-98/99 VivoCity
Tel: 6376-8185
Sun to Thurs: 11 am to 11 pm
Fri to Sat: 11 am to 12 midnight

Monday, February 07, 2011


C says:

An early contender for Best of 2011! It was purely by chance that we came here, since I’d never heard of Australian chef Scott Webster so this new “celebrity restaurant” at Resorts World has never been on my radar. But we were here for the Valentino Retrospective exhibition and thought we’d make the most of our outing by trying something interesting for lunch.

They have a very good set lunch, which I think (but can’t be sure until we try it for ourselves) is also available on weekends - $28 for 2 courses, and $38 for 3 courses. You can choose between 4 choices for the starter and main, but dessert is fixed.

We read good reviews about their flatbread, so decided to order one 2-course, one 3-course, and share an order of flatbread. We were drawn to two of the flatbread flavours – rosemary and black olive, and roasted garlic and butter – and when we told the waiter about our dilemma, he said we could order it half and half. Perfect!

The flatbread comes with a dip, conveniently packaged in a tube, and it apparently changes all the time. We’d read about the hummus, but today we got tomato and basil, which was fabulous – perfectly balanced, not too sweet nor too tart. The bread was very good, and coupled with the excellent dip, the meal was off to a very good start. If I had to choose, I’d say the rosemary and olive flatbread was just that much better.

Our starter choices were no brainers. A had the salmon tartare with a wasabi ice cream, and I had the polenta-crusted foie gras with a honey sponge cake. Both were excellent, and it was a smart decision crusting the foie gras with the polenta. Getting a nice crust on a seared foie gras can be quite difficult, so lightly breading it so that it had an instant crust was a good idea.

I had the hanging tender steak, and A ordered the Barramundi. Given my sole previous experience with this cut was at Meatworks, I hoped this would be a better gauge of what the cut is like. This was interesting. It was definitely better than the Meatworks one, but it definitely wasn’t fillet tender. It was still kinda chewy, but not in an overcooked or sinewy way. Still, it was cooked well and very flavourful.

A’s fish was very good, and I dare say better than mine. The fish was perfectly cooked and the skin was nice and crispy (why can’t I cook my fish skin like this!). The accompanying mash was also very good.

We shared the dessert, which was their signature dessert anyway – the hot Valrhona chocolate soup with black pepper ice cream. This sounded a bit strange, but actually the pepper was very subtle. The chocolate soup was actually more like a lava cake baked into the ramekin, and while it was a tad too chocolate-y for me, it went well with the ice cream.

We had one waiter who was amazing. Very polite and friendly, suggested the half and half flatbread, and even indulged us when we asked if they sold their dips (alas, they don’t). We’re definitely planning a return visit for dinner.

A says:

Awesome service from our waiter. And the lunch set is an amazing deal. A definite contender for best of 2011.

Too bad it’s at Resorts World which limits how often we’d go. And too bad they probably see their share of irritating tourists. I pity the wait staff there.

Resorts World Sentosa
L2, FestiveWalk
Tel: 6577-6560
Sun-Wed: 12:00pm – 02:30pm, Thurs-Sat: 12:00pm - 03:00pm
Sun-Wed: 6:00pm – 10:00pm, Thurs-Sat: 6:00pm – 10:30pm

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The Japan Diet – here’s to healthy cooking

C says:

Notice that it’s healthy “cooking”, not healthy “eating”. We’re still atetoomuch, so we’re not going to forego our treasured cheeses, rillettes and charcuterie when we go out for dinner on weekends. This is just for weekday dinners after work.

I was inspired after reading The Japan Diet by Naomi Moriyama, who wrote about losing all the weight that she gained as a student in the US, simply by reverting to her mother’s Japanese home cooking. The Japanese diet is rich in fish, tofu and vegetables, all cholesterol and heart-happy ingredients, and low in dairy and red meat, all the bad/saturated fats. In addition, she also suggested serving meals in bento boxes, since the compartments make for instant portion control.

All set to start the year on a healthy note, I bought 2 bento boxes from TOTT, a couple of miso soup bowls from Daiso, and started stocking up on some essential groceries from places like Meidi-Ya, Isetan and Yamakawa Super.

I realise that if I set the rice cooker on timer mode so that it’s done when we get home, I can get dinner ready in under 15 minutes. The beauty of fish is that it takes almost no time to cook – 5 minutes tops, and simple things like a cabbage salad or cold tofu don’t need any cooking at all. The dishes that require stewing, like oyako-don (chicken and scrambled egg) or miso chicken and eggplant, I just prepare on Sunday and microwave it during the week. On non-gym days when we're home a little earlier, I may cook some soba or Jap-style pasta with some simple stir-through sauce.

I can’t believe I used to make full-on pasta dishes, which were such a palaver since I had to wait for the water to boil, then wait for it to cook, then time the sauce so that it was ready when the pasta was. And the best part is that A likes Japanese food, so I don’t even have to force him to eat healthy.

It’s only been a month, so I don’t know if we’ve lost any weight, but for health reasons if nothing else, pan fried fish and steamed rice has got to be a lot better for you than pasta with cream sauce, butter and parmesan cheese, doesn’t it?

A says:

C can cook.