Thursday, May 31, 2007
Yeah, we did it again. Menotti for desserts, despite that heavy meal at Seah Street Deli earlier. This time round, three different things. The Affrogata Hazelnut, which is espresso poured over hazelnut ice cream and various nuts, very delicious combination. This was the best of the three.
We also had the Tiramisu, which I was OK with but hubby didn't like. Multi-layered light mascarpone cheese cake soaked with coffee and heavily dusted with cocoa. Not too sweet but not too memorable either.
The Baba' was an "accidental" order. I was merely pointing out to hubby how he would absolutely love the Jamaican rum in that sponge puff and the server dutifully assumed I wanted it. Well, at least hubby really did enjoy it. The custard and fruit went well with the rum.
Has anyone else noticed that Menotti seems to be mostly filled with women?
This has got to be the Holy Grail of all burgers in Singapore. Seah Street Deli's Texas Burger (S$21.75) offering a giganormous 12-ounce (nearly 350 grams!) beef patty with hickory BBQ sauce, smoked bacon, sauteed peppers and onions, melted cheese, pickles and veg (lettuce, tomato). Comes with a choice of side dish - the fries are good. It's a *huge* portion, easily shareable between two people. But size isn't everything about this burger - the taste as well is superlative...oh my, it's almost like eating steak! I'd be very sad the day we have to reduce cattle-farming to battle global warming.
We also shared a Reuben sandwich (S$17.95), again a generous serving of American style beef pastrami, sauerkraut, wholegrain mustard and melted Swiss cheese on grilled rye bread. I chose wedges for my side. Nice and crispy on the outside, meltingly good on the inside. The Reuben was also good but after I'd had a bite of the Texas burger, I quite easily forgot about it.
Service was fast, friendly and impeccable, even though the place was packed at lunchtime today. The iced tea is free-flow (you can ask for syrup to be served separately).
Seah Street Deli styles itself after New York delicatessens (complete with jukebox) but it's always looked a little dark for me. Perhaps it's the black and white tiles, dark chairs and whatnot. This joint is a little pricey for the size of my wallet but that burger is worth every cent. I am definitely coming back, cholesterol quotas be damned.
Seah Street Deli
Raffles Hotel #01-22
1 Beach Road
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I never believed this Marine Parade Food Centre stall was really famous (despite its "Famous Kallang Leisure Park Fish Head Noodle" claim). But apparently it got featured on TV. I noted quite warily that it has also branched out into doing ramen and other noodles. Spreading itself a little thin or was there a truly skilled cook behind the counter? Only one way to find out.
I went for some fried fish noodle soup with thick beehoon. It came in a large ramen-style bowl in mock lacquer (red and black melamine). My first whiff of the soup gave me a frown. It smelt like boiled rice or beehoon water. And didn't look far from it. Pale, sickly and wan. I dredged up the submerged lettuce and tossed in some red sliced chili to add some colour. The taste? OK, slightly better than it looked, and it grows on you slowly but it's still very light. Sort of the food you'd want when you're feeling under the weather (think bland porridge). Pity they gave such a measly portion of the fried ikan bilis. I really needed more. The fish too was not very tasty, either not very fresh or well-fried. Oh well, I won't need to try this in future anymore.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
When I first heard about it, I could not fathom how the public library could allow roti prata to be served within its premises. Coffee, fine. Sandwiches, fine. But prata? I imagined oily and curry-drenched fingers staining the books and magazines. I had to go see this. Turns out, this little cafe nestled (and mostly sealed up by glass) within the Jurong West community library does serve various types of prata to visitors (and it was packed too, at lunchtime on a weekday).
I tried the prata kosong, prata with egg & onion and prata with banana. I have to say it's not the best I've had (a bit too floury and soft) but the curry is decent and saves the meal. You are to eat with fork and spoon, so that takes care of the oily fingers, I guess (oh, but the best way to enjoy prata is still with fingers!).
They also serve kaya toast and limited sandwiches. I think they're trying to mimic Yakun's style (superthin slices of bread toasted til crisp) but the generic kaya and all-too-thin slice of butter fail to impress. What I've noticed are popular are the really large cups of hot tea and coffee.
I've never had high expectations of cafes/eateries within libraries but I suppose this place is fine for a quick bite if you don't intend to wander far from the premises. And dangit, why is a Jurong West library so much better than the Marine Parade one!?
What on earth am I (an East-Coast dweller) doing in the boondocks of Jurong West? Well, just for the fun of it. I visited an old pal's favourite haunts for food - Bak Kut Teh (pork rib soup) and Chicken Porridge at said hawker centre.
We were there a bit too early at 11.45am for the bak kut teh and were told it'd be half an hour before the pork ribs would be ready. So we attacked the chicken porridge first.
Two bowls of hot porridge (each with a raw egg) with a plate of moist steamed chicken (all S$10) arrived fairly quickly. Not as thick as congee but more substantial than Teochew porridge. Fairly light-tasting, so I added the soy-sesame dressing from the plate of chicken to the porridge (yeah, I like my stuff really savoury!).
A lot of people went for the fish porridge (the fish slices were served separately topped with some crunchy-looking crackers).
Finally the bak kut teh (S$3.90) arrived. It's the clear type (Teochew style?) and with 5-6 generous pieces of ribs in one bowl. We were literally the first served. Unfortunately, that also meant the pork ribs did not have the benefit of stewing in the hot soup for a few more hours, so the meat did come a bit chewy (go at 5pm and it should be be falling off the bone). The part I really enjoyed was the soup. It was incredibly peppery and I could have just eaten that and the rice drizzled with the dark soy sauce and chili padi.
Da Po Bak Kut Teh (#01-45): open daily noon to 10pm
Soh Kee Cooked Food (#01-44): 9am-7pm; closed Mondays; open only half-day Sunday
Sunday, May 27, 2007
I love the breads at Werner's Oven. Bought a farmer's (very multi-)grain loaf and a laugen brezel (soft chewy pretzel - love those coarse salt crystals). Also brought home some sweet pastries - cherry streusal, butterkuchen and sour-sweet cherry muffin.
OK, 'new' as in 'new for me'. I haven't been to Thai Express in such a *long* time. These 'new' dishes probably have been on the menu for quite a while. Anyway, the Black Pepper Soft Shell Crab Tanghoon (S$12.90) piqued my interest. I've been hankering for some black pepper crab but just too lazy to go eat it.
Turns out it's more like black pepper tanghoon topped with a couple of deep-fried soft shell crabs. They gave me a large meaty female crab with roe - ah, such a pity, as crab roe is wasted on me. I don't like it at all, it reminds me of uni (sea urchin roe) a little. I spent a lot of time dissecting the crab and scraping the roe away (oh are those screams from rabid roe-lovers I hear?). The dish kept a piping hot temperature for a long time (not sure if it's the function of the double pot). The tanghoon was potently flavoured but watch out for those huge thick slices of ginger and garlic.
We also took the Kailan with Shrimp Paste (really sambal belachan). The taste was superhero strong and over-powering! Not necessarily in a bad way, but extra sweet, salty, spicy and all flavours augmented. Bits of dried shrimp added savoury bite. Really need lots of plain rice with this. Hubby lapped this all up.
Thai Express's quality can vary from outlet to outlet, and even within the same outlet from time to time (as chefs move on, I guess). The Siglap branch today served a watered down version of their regular tom yum goong and even the som tum was not quite the same. I think I'm going to cook tom yum and som tum more regularly at home.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
A casual diner with a name that made me do a double take. The Garden Slug? Cute. With a mascot that just makes you smile. And hey, walking distance from where I live! It's in a quiet locale, at Bright Centre (Lorong L), just off Telok Kurau Road. I looked at the menu on its website, a review by Paolo, and decided to try it out.
It's not too difficult to find, just look for the banner on the corner of the street if you're lost. A cheery, pleasant, cafe-like venue with bright colours, a lounge sofa, free Internet access and shelves of not just magazines but books for you to enjoy (I hear you can even borrow these to take home!).
Service was prompt, welcoming and friendly. This joint seems to be started by three young entrepreneurs. I always like supporting new ventures like these. Just like Avis, they seem to try harder. So how was their food?
We ordered Bangers and Mash, The Steak and a Rustic Bolognese to share. Yeah, yeah, I was hungry. The Bangers (two herby Polish sausages) and Mash (S$10.90) came really swiftly and looked promising. The skin was grilled nicely and had a good bite but the centre of the sausages still felt a little cold, so we asked them to cook it a bit more thoroughly. It came back with extra gravy. Anyway, the sausages were tasty without being overpowering (herbs detectable but not too strong). Very generous with the mash.
The pasta dish (S$9.50) did not look like what was presented on the menu. It was again, a very generous portion but sadly, a little underwhelming. There was a certain unidentifiable herb sweetness that didn't go well with the rest of the dish. And the carrots had a sour tinge, like they had been boiled with a dash of vinegar. Spaghetti also less al dente than we would have preferred. Maybe I should have chosen the Gooey version with loads of mozzarella.
Now the Steak (S$16.90) came sizzling hot. Mmmmh, this was good. Hubby and I both agreed that this regular steak was nicer than Aston's wagyu version. The tomato-onion-risotto side was quite delicious. It cut through the greasiness of the steak and refreshed the palate. The mash was the same one as the bangers dish. Hubby liked it. It was very soft but yet had chunks of potato that lent some bite. I liked the bits of potato skin that came with it.
We had to have ours done medium well since my pregnancy outlaws raw-ish meat. But I was quite happy with what they did. Charred well on the outside but still juicy and tender on the inside. Seriously, it was so tender, I could cut it with my spoon! In fact, they didn't even give us any steak knives...just an ordinary dinner knife for one of us.
There was again a strange herb or seasoning (different from the pasta one) that lent a unique flavour to the steak. We couldn't quite figure out what it was but it was fine. I felt the steak didn't need the brown sauce. That slab was good enough on its own.
For dessert, we shared a strawberry with vanilla gelato (hand-churned) and cream (S$5.50). Very nice end to the meal. The gelato was light and airy, not too sweet at all. Strawberries were sweet with just a hint of tartness.
Hubby had a coffee as well to round off the meal. It was good. Strong and full-bodied. Tasted extra good when taken with a bite of the dessert.
Portions here are huge and fairly value-for-money. I think we had too many dishes (oh greedy me!). I like the quiet, hidden niche atmosphere and think it's great for casual dining. They do delivery and cater for events and functions as well.
55 Lorong L Telok Kurau
#01-59/61 Bright Centre
Want to see denizens of a first world country throng like starving refugees, grabbing slivers of food and drink samples like there was no tomorrow? Come to the Singapore Food Expo where this happens without fail every year!
I like to see new F&B products launched but even I couldn't take the jostling crowd. Actually the photos above are of the more sane areas, where I had some room at all to wield a camera.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
This is from the North Bridge Road branch (opposite Bugis junction, between Liang Seah Street and Middle Road). My second time eating their noodles (first time round was sheer disappointment). Since hubby says he likes them, I gave them another try. In fact, I tried the upsized version S$4 instead of the S$3 previously.
Hmm, a little better. The highlight is really the crispy dumplings, tasty despite being more wantan skin than meat. The char siew is fine too, at least it's not the thin slices of superdry flavourless meat dyed red. The noodles are all right, done to QQ consistency but the sauce is where it falls flat. While the dish looks good, something is sorely missing. It just does not have that umami oomph. If only they used better stock as a base...or whatever it is that goes into really good Malaysia/KL-style wantan noodles.
So, in conclusion...go for the S$4 serving if you're having it at all. But still, don't expect to be completely satisfied.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Today was a real treat! I finally stole away to Sushi Kikuzawa for a nice sushi buffet lunch. Had heard many nice things about this restaurant but never got the opportunity to try it until today. It's a tiny sliver of a place upstairs at International Building. We sat at the counter and were served immediately with edamame starters and warm takenoko wakasani (stewed bamboo shoots). Soon to follow was the plate of sashimi (you only get one portion) - one slice of ika (squid), two slices of shake (salmon), three slices of maguro (tuna) and some whitefish. The salmon was sweet, sweet heaven but the tuna wasn't very well-cut (a bit sinewy in some parts). The whitefish proved somewhat nondescript but was not unpleasant. As for the squid, it's not my favourite but what Kikuzawa served was quite acceptable - not too chewy.
We were swiftly presented with this duo of saba (mackarel) and some fish of white flesh that I forgot. These went down quickly into our hungry tummies. Fresh and not fishy.
I was glad to hear and smell the blowtorch in action again. This time, unagi (river eel) arrived warmed and with a caramelised top - inimitably sublime! It came with awabi (raw abalone). Wow, a sushi buffet that included abalone?? To be honest, I am not a fan of abalone, I don't even like it cooked but I gave it a go. Surprise, surprise...it had none of the tough chewiness of the cooked version. Instead, what greeted me was a more powdery softness and a taste almost akin to fish cake (sorry, this must be sacrilegious to fans of this expensive shellfish). Unfortunately it also carried a strong, fishy after-taste.
By this time, the chef had noticeably slowed down his pace of serving items to us. Still, this next one was a delight. Seared scallop with a dash of lemon (no need for dip, said the chef). Another multi-dimensional treat of savoury and sweet.
We also asked for salmon. Sure, it's a plebian choice but it's just extra tasty here.
My friend still wanted more. We asked for udon and cold tofu. The udon arrived but they forgot our tofu. We decided to end this with another mango pudding.
I think Kikuzawa and staff were glad to finally see us go. But hey, gochisosama deshita! And we will certainly be recommending friends here for excellent value-for-money sushi. While not top-of-the-line quality, the sushi here is infinitely better than any of the conveyor belt chains. I think this is an excellent place for those who want an introduction to the different varieties of sushi (more than 40 available here). My friend, for example, had never ventured beyond salmon sashimi/sushi prior to this (not even maguro/tuna!). I was quite surprised he ate everything here. Bravo!
Prices: S$29 for lunch buffet; S$39 for dinner buffet (Mon-Fri)
Weekends and public holidays, add about S$10 more. They have a membership card promotion: for every six stamps (one buffet = one stamp), you pay only S$10 for the next buffet.
They also have fixed lunch sets and various other meals (unagi, chiraishi, etc). Shochu, beer and sake available to wash all that sushi down, although free-flow green tea is served.
360 Orchard Road
#02-13 International Building
Open: 12noon - 3pm; 6-10pm