Tuesday, April 16, 2013


C says:

Tamoya opened a couple of months ago in Liang Court – the first overseas outlet of a Japanese udon chain from Sanuki. In addition to offering hand-made udon, they also offer a variety of tempura.
The place is actually pseudo-fast food style – you place your order, and either the udon is prepared and served immediately, or you take a number, pay first and it’s served to you once it’s ready. My sliced pork udon soup was ready on the spot, but A’s Kama-tama udon – hot udon served with raw egg, to which you add a hot soy-based broth – took a while. I was a bit puzzled, since I assumed that would actually have entailed the least amount of cooking…
You can opt for either Kake or Bukkake style for your soup udon. Kake is a lighter, clear broth, whereas Bukkake is a heavier, soy-based broth.

Almost everything is self service, from the disposable cutlery to the various udon condiments like the spring onions, wakame and tempura batter bits. The tempura batter did make the broth slightly oilier, but overall I really liked the pork udon. The broth was tasty, the pork was tender and slightly sweet, which played nicely against the savoury broth, and the noodles had a great chewy texture.

A’s Kama-tama was slightly underwhelming when it first arrived, even after pouring in the Bukkake broth. After adding quite a lot of the condiments though, the final concoction turned out pretty good. Still, I’ll stick to my classic soup udon.
From their tempura section, we picked a shitake mushroom and an eggplant one. These are not fried to order – they are placed under heat lamps along the counter, you pick the skewers you want and pay together with the rest of your meal. This doesn’t come with the traditional tempura dipping sauce, and there was a bit of confusion when I asked the servers about it. In the end they just dished out a portion of the Bukkake broth for me to use as a dip. These were ok but I may pass next time.
If you opt for the regular sized udon, portions are quite small and perfect for a light meal, or if you’re like us, a snack before we made our way downstairs to Ryoshi Sushi for a few plates of sushi as our second meal…

A says:
The regular portion of udon is cheap but tiny. Which is good if you want a lot of tempura (which is pretty good) or go somewhere else for a second meal.

117 River Valley Road
#01-32 Liang Court
Tel: 6377-0301
Open daily: 11 am to 10 pm

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tanuki again

C says:

We went to Tanuki again with A’s friends, this time not for Happy Hour so no $1 oysters. Instead, we took the opportunity to sample more of their menu and found a few more gems, as well as a few duds.

Tanuki’s version of spam nigiri sushi is, in my opinion, better than the one at Maison Ikkoku, simply because of the spam/rice ratio. This may not be for everyone, but I love spam, so I heartily approve.
Interestingly, while the spam in the sushi was good, it was the least successful component in the Trio of Fries, which comprises truffle fries, lotus chips and spam fries. The truffles fries were pretty good, as were the wafer-thin lotus chips, but the spam had been cut into tiny matchstick-sized slivers so they were dry and hard; not how I like my spam fries.

The fish tacos were surprisingly good. Granted, I’m not a big taco/Mexican food fan, but these were really nice and light, and the combination of the crispy fried fish, avocado and jalapenos was perfect.

Again, the Tanuki rolls were decent but not outstanding. We had the Rockstar – seared salmon, cheese and mentaiko, and the ASC – asparagus with salmon and cheese. I preferred the ASC as the asparagus provided a nice crunch.

The Steak Tartare Don was a downright disappointment. It looked really good, with the quail’s egg yolk in the centre, and the tartare hand-diced rather than minced into a goopy mess, but it had absolutely no flavour at all. The tartare was un (not even under) seasoned, and the meat itself simply had no beefy flavour whatsoever.
The $1 oysters are still one of the best things on the menu, and given that non-Happy Hour oysters are $62 per dozen (granted, they’re allegedly a different quality from the Happy Hour oysters), I can't bring myself to come here any other time.

A says:

Avoid the bland beef dishes. Stick with the seafood dishes and you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Crostini Bar

C says:

Crostini Bar along Haji Lane seems to have a few dining concepts under one roof. Upstairs is Bar Stories, primarily a watering hole, and food is served downstairs. True to their name, their main focus is crostinis of all kinds, but few are aware that they also have a carte blanche menu, where you are served 5 or 8 courses of what the chef wants to prepare that day.
We made a reservation for dinner, and went with the intention of trying the carte blanche. When we arrived, after confirming that we were there for dinner, we were curiously still ushered upstairs. We sat at a tiny table for possibly 10 to 15 minutes, while waiters walked past us without paying any attention to us at all.

Finally, I couldn’t take it any more and flagged someone down, asking if we could order and what the carte blanche menu was like that day. He suggested that we didn't take the carte blanche because the wait could be long if the kitchen was busy. After disappearing for another 5 minutes, they finally took our order, then gave us a table downstairs.
That unfortunately set the tone for the rest of the meal. I wasn’t particularly happy that we were“forced” to order the crostinis, and we were seated next to the main door that people kept opening and not closing behind them.

As far as the food went, nothing was particularly outstanding. The grilled steak crostini was probably the best of the crostinis, and the slow cooked egg, a non-crostini item, gave some hints that the carte blanche definitely has potential.

The fairly lackluster meal was saved by the dessert, as well as the lychee martini that I ordered. Dessert was an espresso and chocolate mousse with bits of chocolate soil, which was surprisingly good. Both the coffee and the chocolate were perfectly balanced. The cocktail was also excellent, which I guess is to be expected given the bar upstairs.
I’m definitely still curious about the carte blanche menu, but given how inconvenient parking is in the area, I don’t foresee us coming back to try it any time soon.

A says:

Meh... I guess it's a good option if you're in the area and don't want the usual arab/indian/muslim food you'll find there.

Crostini Bar
55 Haji Lane
Tel: 6298-0838
Mon – Fri: 4 pm – 11 pm
Sat & Sun: 4 pm – 1.30 am

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

C says:

This is ordinarily out of our usual price range for non-special occasions, but L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon has recently started serving lunch on Sundays, at relatively reasonable prices - $49 for 3 courses (limited selection of dishes), $68 for a 4-course (choose any appetizer, fish course, meat course and dessert) and $87 for a 5-course (same as 4-course but with the addition of a soup).

None of the soups were particularly enticing, so we both went with the fish and meat menu. The amuse bouche was a foie gras custard with truffle and parmesan foam - a winning combination of flavours and pretty tasty.

For the first course we both opted for the pig head terrine with slow cooked egg and olives. The gelatinous bits of the meat from the pig's head were wrapped inside a casing made from pig skin then fried. It was a very rich dish because of the sticky, gelatinous texture of the meat combined with the skin (which still had singed bits of hair on it), so the small portion was about all I could handle. The olives helped cut through the richness though.

A had a bacalao polenta with jamon, and I had the prawns with kaffir lime leaf. The prawns were pretty ordinary compared to the awesome bacalao, which was flavourful enough on its own, and went to a whole other level when paired with the umami-packed slices of jamon.

Most of the meat dishes were quite ordinary - roast chicken, or thinly sliced beef on rocket salad. I decided to top up my set for the roasted quail dish - the leg was really tender, and the breast perfectly cooked and stuffed with foie gras.

A went with the spaghetti carbonara, which he regretted to some extent because of how pedestrian he thought it was, but it was a damn good plate of carbonara. The dish was infused with flavours of bacon fat, and the sauce was just bacon fat and egg, no cream, so it was silky and smooth without being too rich.

We were each served a little dish of the legendary Robuchon mashed potatoes, but even though I requested at the start that ours weren't dumbed down (I'd heard that they may veer away from the 50-50 ratio in Singapore to cater to a reduced appetite for butter-rich food), I doubt they prepared a separate batch for us. I haven't been to any of the other Robuchons so I can't vouch for whether the one we had was the full-on version or not - it was very good, but I didn't get an overwhelming sense of butteriness from it.

A had the profiteroles for dessert, and I had a chocolate and salt caramel mousse with diced mango. The profiteroles were quite ordinary compared to the relative complexity of the mousse. Hidden within the mousse were bits of popping candy, which added an unexpectedly playful note.

We were one of the first customers at noon, and service was excellent when lunch started out. As it got more crowded, the waitstaff were getting quite stretched, and while the kitchen got the orders out in perfect time, they were generally let down by the speed of the service staff. Our desserts, which were prepped in a separate kitchen, took ages to arrive, not to mention the bill, and again the credit card slip for payment. I would have given this place top marks if not for the almost half hour wait (in total) from desserts till we finally paid the bill.

A says:

The food is fantastic but the question is whether it is worth paying astronomical prices for. In terms of the Sunday set lunch (which isn't cheap until you compare it to the regular menu prices) then the answer is yes, it's worth it. Other than that, I probably won't empty my wallet for it.

The service started great, but once the restuarant filled up with fellow cheapskates, the standard dropped tremendously. Our original server switched to another station and service was almost non-existent from our mains onwards. Maybe it's a different story if you go at dinner and pay the big bucks.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
Resorts World Sentosa
Tel: 6577-7888
Dinner: Daily, 6 pm – 10.30 pm
Lunch: Sunday, 12 noon -  2 pm

Sunday, April 07, 2013


C says:

Brinj is somewhat of an off the beaten track place. Old school foodies would know the chef/owner from his previous venture, Azhang at Mohammed Sultan Road. I'd heard of but never been to Azhang back in its day; I found out about Brinj only recently from a friend, as well as a couple of recent articles.

Brinj is almost hidden along Cheong Chin Nam Road, amidst zi char and prata places. Its nondescript entrance and "pre-order first" policy almost guarantees no walk-ins; indeed when we were there with L and M, we were one of only two tables the entire night.

When I called to make the reservation, I was encouraged to pre-order our dishes. They're famous for their whole roast suckling pig and their roast duck, both of which have to be ordered at least 2 days in advance. They were too much for our party of 4, so I ended up pre-ordering their corn salad, BBQ lamb ribs, grilled squid and their Baba Noodles. When we got there, we added a grilled salmon belly as well.

The food here doesn't really fall into any category - I would actually classify it as food from someone's home kitchen. The corn salad featured smokey grilled corn with onions and romaine with a tart, garlicky dressing. The smokey corn was great but everything else was something you could replicate at home.

The lamb ribs didn't have much meat on them, but they were delicious - really flavourful, tender and slighty fatty. I could have had a whole second portion of these.

Both their grilled salmon belly and grilled squid are served with rice pilaf. I love the char that they managed to get on the seafood, yet the squid was perfectly tender and the salmon was rare in the middle. My one criticism is that the salmon still had some bones, and likewise the squid head still had some suspiciously crunchy bits left inside.

Their other specialty that has to be pre-ordered is their Baba Noodles - their version of hokkien mee fried with bacon and duck fat. With that description, I expected a rather rich dish, but thanks to the vegetables and almost raw beansprouts, this tasted a lot brighter and cleaner than I expected.

We shared a pecan pie and a tiramisu for dessert, which were nothing to shout about.

I must say, I expected to be blown away, but I wasn't. It wasn't disappointing, and prices are very reasonable ($40 per person for what we had), but almost everything we had tasted like good home cooking. Maybe their roast pig and roast duck would have been more impressive, if we can gather a group of a least 8 who are as keen as we are to give it another go.

A says:

The food is above average quality and served family style (to be shared). And for what we paid, it was great value for money. The fact that you have to pre-order most of the good dishes is a drawback though. And while the server we had was trying very hard to please, she just wasn't well trained. Overall, I'd say go only if you want a casual family/friend dining place.

15 Cheong Chin Nam Road
Tel: 9469-9093
Tues to Sun: 6 pm - 11 pm

Monday, April 01, 2013

Bistro Soori

C says:

Bistro Soori at Teck Lim Road is part of the Alila Villas lifestyle concept. They do a pretty good Sunday brunch set - $39.90 for 3 courses. The only downside is that drinks aren't part of the package, so a flute of Cava is $15, and a cup of coffee (Nespresso, to boot), is $7. I like that they have a very comprehensive selection of dishes; in fact, everything on the a la carte menu is available for selection as part of the brunch set.

My starter was a spinach salad with confit portobello mushrooms and mozzarella balls. The mushrooms were good, but I think a leaf with a bit more flavour, like rocket, may have worked better.

A had the creamy polenta with sauteed mushrooms and toast. This was much better than mine - the polenta had a ton of flavour, and worked very well spread on toast with the mushrooms.

I had the jumbo lump crab eggs benedict - poached eggs on English muffins with chunks of lump crab meat and hollandaise sauce. I really enjoyed this interesting take on a typical ham or salmon eggs ben, and the portion of 2 eggs was pretty substantial.

Much less substantial but just as tasty was A's cured salmon with cream cheese and latkes (potato pancakes). At least, I think it was tasty because he went in the zone and I didn't get to try any of it besides the chopped up 'deconstructed' egg.

Compared to the selection for the starter and main course, the dessert selection was quite skimpy in comparison. A had the brownie with ice cream, and I had the trio of yogurt mousse with pink guava, mango and strawberry. Surprisingly, the guava was the best of the lot.

I found it surprisingly empty notwithstanding the pretty decent prices and quality, compared to the crowds at the Tiong Bahru brunch hotspots where you don't even get a 3 course meal. Apart from the open kitchen causing a slightly smelly environment, Bistro Soori is a nice, quiet place to have a chill Sunday brunch.

A says:

Very, very good. And the sets are relatively affordable.

Bistro Soori
2 Teck Lim Road
Tel: 6438-3802
Mon to Fri: 11.30 am - 2.30 pm; 6.30 pm - 10 pm
Sat: 6.30 pm - 10 pm
Sun (brunch): 11 am - 3 pm