Tuesday, July 31, 2007
And this is not just cereal prawn but butter cereal prawns! Extra fragrant, yummy and still crisp, despite being a takeaway. I ate even the skins and tails (not the heads though, although I peeled the tasty batter off them). And I love the crispy bits with curry leaves and sliced chili padi. Whoever invented cereal prawns, I am greatly indebted. It's one of my favourite dishes that I never get sick of, although when I first heard about it many years ago, I avoided it because the concept sounded terrible - cereal with prawns? Oh my, who would have thought it could be so delicious?
MAGGIE THAI & CHINESE
1 Liang Seah Place
#01-01/02 Liang Seah Street
p.s. The other dishes at this place may not be so good - I didn't add photos of the bland fried rice and fried horfun.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Parkway Parade once produced a booklet promoting over 40 food-related shops within its premises. However, there really isn't much that's really good there. For cheap eats, the basement food court is still better than Banquet up on the 3rd floor. The Nasi Padang stall is reasonably OK, although the stuff it offers seems more Chinese than real nasi padang. See prawn paste chicken and long beans and omelette in picture above.
They have quite a variety of dishes. I remember the rendang is not bad too.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
A few people on the Makansutra forum recommended this place at Siglap - Stewhaus International (next to Sushi Jiro). It's a really cosy and family-friendly joint, everyone there brought their kids.
We tried the Hungarian Ghoulash (S$14.80) which came in a little black iron pot kept warm and bubbling by a temporary fire (dang my pregnancy amnesia, I forget what that's called). Hubby liked the flavourful tomato-ey stew but not the beef. He thought they were too fatty; I thought they tasted like gelatin.
The NZ Sirloin Steak (S$14.50) was not too bad. You get a choice of carbs (pasta, bread, mash, rice, etc) and sauce/seasoning (we chose herb butter).
We had ours medium well. Nicely charred on the outside, tender on the inside. Oh the mash is incredibly soft (almost like foam!) but a bit bland.
Oh we also had the mushroom soup (S$3.80) as a starter. Thick, creamy with lots of tiny mushroom bits but nothing spectacular. Needed a dash of salt to tone down the tinge of sourness. Yes, this place tends to be use salt sparingly in its dishes. That could be good for those with hypertension but some of the food may come across a little bland - Well, better bland than overly salty. You can easily correct bland. We overheard a lady at another table complaining that her food was not salty enough, and her hubby beckoned her to the salt shaker.
All in all, not a bad place to come for a family dinner or lunch (set lunches go for S$9.80). Reasonably affordable too, none of the mains are over $20 and there is no GST or cess (just the 10% service charge).
695B East Coast Road
Open 11am - 11pm Tues-Sun
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Hey I didn't know this Qi Ji chain is the one that the famous popiah stall at Sim Lim Square belongs to. Previous experiences with Qi Ji were not that impressive, especially the Bugis Village branch. So I did not have too much expectations for the Shaw Tower one, although someone mentioned it was better. Fortunately, it was! Much more flavourful, moist and satisfying.
Hubby liked their chee cheong fun (rice rolls with sweet sauce and sesame seeds). I thought it tasted rather processed or mass-produced though. Slightly oversteamed (too soft) for my liking.
They also have nasi lemak, mee siam and other dishes. This Qi Ji shop is popular with office workers at lunchtime. I managed to spill some sambal sauce onto some office lady's pristine white cuff. Oops! I couldn't apologise enough but I don't think it helped. :P
QI JI POPIAH
#01-01 Shaw Tower 100 Beach Road
Thursday, July 26, 2007
This was a stall I'd been meaning to check out when I was in the mood for fish soup. Today I came over and saw snaking long queues for it at lunchtime. I came back later at 2pm and still had to queue but fortunately, they were quick with the orders.
Now, what was it that made people queue up? I think it was mainly the price - where can you get anything with fish for S$2.50 nowadays? It was a decent bowl, enough to fill you up but not exactly top quality stuff. The soup tasted a little bland for me but there's always soy sauce and sliced chili padi (bird's eye chili) to jazz things up a bit. How I wish the my favourite Blanco Court Fried Fish Soup would come over to Marine Parade! I'd gladly pay S$4 anytime for a bowl of that!
KALLANG SLICED FISH SOUP
#01-134 Marine Parade Central Food Centre
Right next to the Katong Sliced Fish Soup was the Katong Chicken Curry Puff, which apparently has been in business for a very long time - 30 years? It's a very non-descript looking stall, easily missed, right at the end of the inner row facing the wet market.
When I tried to break open the curry puff, I found the crust surprisingly hard. Oh goody, I hoped it was a solid crunchy crust! But once it was open, it was more buttery than hard. The insides were very moist and the potato cubes really mushy and soft. The curry is very much Chinese-style in terms of taste (i.e. not bold). I would have preferred it more spicy, personally. Not a lot of chicken in it (I encountered maybe two slivers) and certainly no boiled egg pieces in mine. Yes to a nostalgic-tasting curry puff but for S$1 each, I would have liked to see better ingredients inside than just curried potato.
KATONG CHICKEN CURRY PUFF
#01-132 Marine Parade Central Food Centre
Monday, July 23, 2007
My baby girl Nadine is one year old today! She was born on her daddy's birthday, so both of them get to celebrate today (of course, no guessing whose birthday overshadows the other)! It's been a wonderful first year and her presence has filled the house with tremendous love and laughter.
The whole family went out for lunch today, before her afternoon class - yes, Monday is a schoolday for her, birthday or not! Nadine has Down Syndrome, so she attends EIPIC (early intervention program) at Rainbow Centre twice a week this semester. Most of it is quite fun and she is progressing well. She's even developing a pincer grip already (significant fine motor skill milestone, normally happens at age 2 for kids like her)! So proud of her! *beaming*
We wish more parents-to-be could be better informed about their choices when faced with the possibility of having a Down Syndrome baby - hospitals aren't very helpful, they just assume abortion is the way to go (one couple who also kept their baby, told us how the medical staff initiated the paperwork without even asking them first!). Sure, the journey is not easy but there are great resources, programs and support groups (even in Singapore!). And these kids will be the sweetest, most loving and sincere human beings you will ever know.
But I digress. Back to food...
We nearly went to check out Weiner Kaffeehaus but did a last minute detour to Lei Garden at CHIJMES, where we know we'll always get pretty good food. They had a set lunch for four (S$58) which suited us fine - a soup, dim sum, a fish dish, a meat dish, seasonal veges, and carbo of choice (fried rice or ee-fu noodles). True to Cantonese tradition, it started with a double-boiled soup. Rich and opaque, it tasted quite unusual to me. We later found out (from ingredients at the bottom) that the soup was of pork ribs and salted vegetables. I wondered what else went into it. Hubby who normally HATES soup, drank three bowls!
The preset dim sum combination given was siew mai (hubby's favourite!) and pan-fried prawn roll in beancurd skin (my favourite!). Both OK, although I thought the siew mai looked a bit small (cos I just had enormous ones at Hua Ting).
We all loved the cod crowned by garlic bits fried just right. It also came with a nice sauce. Nadine ate quite a bit of the fish (the insides of two pieces) and she normally doesn't like cod!
Also nicely executed, the sweet and sour pork dish was crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Sauce not too sweet or cloying.
A very generous portion of Chinese spinach which we weren't able to finish. Teeny weeny bit bitter, as is normal of this vegetable.
This is the first time I've tried fried rice that had bits of preserved lettuce in it - this added a really nice crunch to the dish. Just that and egg, spring onion, garlic and seasoning. So simple and yet so delicious.
Although I saw that the menu included some "boiled Hawaiian papaya with snow fungus", the waitress clarified that dessert was not included in the set menu. No matter, we asked for some chilled mango sago with pomelo. Pleasant, refreshing and not too sweet.
All in all, this was a good value meal! Service generally up to expectations and place is relatively child-friendly. And like in many other places, Nadine has got total strangers smiling, waving and cooing over her here too.
#01-24 Chijmes, 30 Victoria Street
11.30am - 3.00pm (lunch)
6.00pm - 11.00pm (dinner)
Sunday, July 22, 2007
After all the greasy stuff this week, I was craving something light and fresh. Nothing more refreshing than a spot of sashimi! And Sushi Tei was having some promo on, featuring otoro too! I caved in for a small platter of salmon, maguro (tuna) and otoro (tuna belly). The slices were large and chunky. But for S$18, the fish was not of top quality, of course. The salmon and maguro were most ordinary.
I'm not an otoro expert but I still wasn't too impressed. Yes, the otoro had the requisite buttery melt-in-your-mouth texture with a sweet ocean taste. But it was still a weee bit powdery, and edges of it easily bruised, which is not great. But for S$18 for the whole platter, I wasn't expecting much (most places already charge a minimum of S$20 for two pieces of otoro sushi). The otoro sashimi a la carte goes for S$20 for five pieces.
Now this I really enjoyed. Thick, moist slabs of premium unagi paired with tamago on sushi rice (the huge topping completely overshadows the rice -you can hardly see it). Very tasty! But also very pricey at S$6 a plate! Well, still better than the anaemic and dry-looking slices of unagi on sushi on cheaper plates.
I had casually thought this to be aburi shake (half-broiled salmon) with some odd seasoning on top. But the burst of flavour told me - oh this is salmon with mentaiko (cod roe eggs)! Another yummy concoction but yet again pricey. S$5! Oh well. Better one plate of good stuff than two plates of mediocre stuff.
I love soft-shell crab, seaweed and tobiko. So this combination is irresistible to me. This was so-so, decently done but not spectacular.
I don't really like conveyor belt chains but Sushi Tei is probably one of the better ones locally. Still, if you aren't careful, a meal here can often add up to an expensive bill. You can probably easily go for a nicer set lunch at Sushi Yoshida or Tatsuya.
Seven outlets across Singapore
(click here for details and phone numbers)
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Does this look like an alien lifepod containing the spawn of unknown beings about to hatch?
Arggh! It's open! It's alive! No, wait, it's not. It's just a "QQ High Iron rice ball". The purple beady stuff is black glutinous rice. The filling includes tandoori chicken (looks like it's gotten imprints from the black sesame seeds), crispy yellow bean bits, meat floss, dried shrimp and whatnot. The rice had a "QQ" (al dente?) crunchy chew to it (despite being eaten only after a five-hour delay) and the fillings came together well, flavourwise. But I can imagine hubby not liking it at all.
QQ Rice Ball is a tiny shop at Square 2 Novena offering what's been dubbed the "Asian" Subway - rice-based 'sandwich' or ball encasing fillings of your choice. Looks like a Taiwanese import (official website is in Chinese).
Here's how you order your rice ball and I am reminded of this Buddhist saying, "Where there is choice, there is suffering!" - how true that rings here! Pick from six types of rice (S$3.20-$3.90) and five out of 46 fillings (meats, seafood, vegetables) to go with it. Oh my, what to choose? Will this ingredient go with that? What will a combination of rendang mutton, shrimp paste, sliced burdock, stewed pot egg, pickled cabbage and turkey bacon taste like?? I guess the mystery and how things can go right/wrong is all part of the fun. Fortunately, there are also a few recommended combos if you can't make up your mind.
Later on I realised why the QQ ball tasted so good - ants swarmed my empty plate in less than an hour - the rice must have had a lot of sugar in it.
Well, interesting concept but I still prefer Japanese rice balls - onigiri! Now if only someone will come and set up a proper onigiri shop in Singapore!
QQ RICE BALL
10 Sinaran Drive
#01-06 Square 2 @ Novena
Catering & general enquiries - call 9788-7947
A new outlet is slated to open at #B2-34 Plaza Singapura in August 2007.
Friday, July 20, 2007
I first found this on Yongfook's Open Source Food (OSF) page on Just Eggs (he's got some fabulous recipes!). It's deliciously easy! The trick is in using low heat when cooking the eggs. Here's a quick summary of the method:
1. Crack three eggs into saucepan with a knob of butter (makes eggs velvety). Don't beat or season the eggs prior to this, as the eggs will start to break down and turn watery.
2. Whisk eggs with spatula in saucepan and keep stirring. Transfer the pot to and from the fire to manage the cooking heat.
3. When eggs are almost set, add a tablespoon of creme fraiche (it cools the mixture and halts cooking process) and season with salt and pepper. Chives and smoked salmon optional.
The result is deliciously soft, creamy and comforting eggs. Great on toast!
Actually for mine, I omitted the fresh cream, and it still tasted great.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Today I came back to my old stomping ground at Raffles Place to meet up with former colleagues. Wow, I've been away from work just little over a year and so much has changed! New buildings, food court facelifts and new shops taking over stale old ones (yay, at least two Delifrance outlets have died!).
Anyway, back to food...I remembered some good briyani at Market Street Food Centre (also known as Golden Shoe carpark food centre). I hoped it was still the same. I wanted to see how it would compare to Hamid's at Geylang Serai. Despite being early (before noon), I still had to queue and wait a while - people were packing takeaways by the half dozen - must still be good.
Most people go for the chicken briyani (a whole drumstick and thigh slapped onto beautiful yellow rice). But I always prefer mutton when it comes to briyani. They also have a nice crispy fried chicken. Oh which one to have? I chose both. Mutton briyani (S$3.50) with a piece of crispy chicken (S$2.50 - ouch, pricey!).
OK, they got the texture right. The rice was fluffy yet firm without being too greasy (I caught Hamid's at a bad day when his rice was soggy). But I have to say the mutton (more like rendang than curry) was not as fall-away tender as Hamid's (which I actually found just a wee bit too soft and mushy that day). And tastewise, although Nur's is stronger and spicier, Hamid's is more fragrant and savoury. Ah, middle ground between both would be just perfect! Hmm, I think I'm expecting too much. Anyway, I do want to go back to Hamid's another day to see if the rice can be better.
Bonus dish! This is what my friend had from the stall which is a branch of the famous Tiong Bahru roasted meat specialist - roast duck and roast pork on rice. Looks good with all that gravy. She said the duck was so-so but the pork lovely, warm and crispy! The skin was delicious. This stall is at the other end of the food centre from Golden Nur's.
#02-02 Market Street Food Centre
50 Market Street
P.S. omigod, the briyani refuses to digest! it's been six hours and it's still sitting in me!
Folks working around Raffles Place will be familiar with this Chinese desserts outlet. This shop used to occupy a tiny half-shop on the second floor of The Arcade (next to Clifford Centre). It's now expanded to a full shop downstairs and business is as brisk as ever. You will have to queue at lunchtime.
They have nice cold and hot desserts alike, all of which are not overly sweet. Oh man, looking at this pic again, I wish I could have some right now. My friend had this. Juicy longans and firm jelly. Very refreshing.
This is a perennial favourite, and Chinese believe it has properties to help keep skin fair, smooth and healthy. S$1.50 gives you a nice little bowl with a generous handful of ginkgo nuts. Unfortunately they seem to have stopped adding boiled quail eggs (you used to be able to choose whether to have those included).
The yam cream has changed too. The old one also didn't have these brown "tadpole jelly" beads and ginkgo nuts, but small, chewy glutinous rice balls filled with yam (if I remember correctly). This one tasted like bubur cha-cha, a Malay dessert with coconut milk normally made with cubes of sweet potato and yam. We all preferred the old version, which was less cloying and more authentic.
Well, there are quite a few choices you can go for - the chilled mango sago is popular, as is the cold snow fungus with red date, and the warm peanut/walnut/sesame creams. Also available is the HK-style steamed egg custard.
#01-06 The Arcade
11 Collyer Quay
Tel: 6222-0067 (forgot to check if this has changed)
Opening hours: 11am to 7pm; weekdays only
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
This is the first time we tried Rite Pizza delivery and we were pleasantly surprised. Huge 14-inch pizzas that looked larger-than-life arrived piping hot (hotter than those that come in Pizza Hut's heated pouch). Loaded with toppings drowning in cheese!
This one above is the super spicy chicken, with spicy chicken, mushrooms, onions, sliced chili and chili sauce - I was at first skeptical of this sweetish chili sauce on pizza but hmm, it was not too bad.
The other pizza we had was the Meat Diva - ground beef, beef pepperoni, turkey bacon, chicken ham and mushrooms all submerged under a generous layer of cheese. What I really liked were the crisp, burnt edges of the crust, all brushed with cheese. The dough is also lighter and thinner than most other home-delivered pizza, so you don't get the sickening heavy feeling in your tummy after eating.
Close up of the Meat Diva pizza, or what a swimming pool covered in baked cheese might look like. Never thought I could have too much cheese on a pizza but this is almost the case. But apparently they use low-fat cheese, so you can feel less guilty eating all this. Must have been low-sodium cheese too, cos it didn't taste salty at all.
The other star was the chicken wings - nicely fried and doused all over with BBQ sauce. Now, I'm not fond of BBQ sauce but I liked this version.
Rite Pizza was formerly known as US Pizza (I remember them a few years ago at Holland Drive. Not sure if that branch is still there). Well, large pizzas are fun but I think I will try the smaller sizes next time - this was enough to feed the family for two days running. Can't wait to try the other flavours, yum. Oh, they gave us a bottle of Pepsi for free too with the order.
11 am to 10 pm daily, last order 9.45 pm
Monday, July 16, 2007
I haven't stepped into Crystal Jade for the longest time. The menus and even the paper placemats have changed (full colour now!). We actually didn't really have a good experience the last time here at the Bishan Junction 8 branch but just wanted some Chinese, and so acquiesced to come here. Pretty cosy atmosphere though, in a dark, maze-like labyrinth with intimate lighting.
While waiting for our food to arrive, a waitress came and offered us these breadcrumbed, or rather crouton-coated sotong (squid balls. These were not on the regular menu, only available occasionally, she said. We were hungry and they looked good. Tasty yes, even if a bit greasy. However, if I had known they cost S$6, I'd have thought twice about getting them.
They also had these "double dish deals" for S$20+ for combos of some new dishes. I was craving some fish maw, so opted for Combo C - which had this braised tofu with fish maw. I wish I could embed here a sound effect for the error buzzer you see on gameshows. Wrong kind of fish maw. Yuck, I hate these. I like the puffy, fried, spongy type, not these. But well, at least baby girl liked the tofu - she (the fussy eater) polished off at least four of those slices.
The other dish in the combo deal was scallops and garlic with vermicelli. It really looked much better in the menu photo. What came to us looked sloppy. Worse - the scallops were overcooked. Hubby didn't like the fishyness either. We should have gone for Combo A (butter and cereal prawns; sweet-and-sour pork with peach). But baby liked the garlic-laced vermicelli - good girl! Like Anthony Bourdain, I don't understand people who don't like garlic (strangely, they exist - my mother-in-law for example).
We had some dim sum too. Siew mai is hubby's favourite (I generally prefer har gow - shrimp dumplings). I trust they were good since they were gone in a jiffy. Didn't get to taste any of this as was too busy feeding the little one mashed tofu.
Can't remember the exact name for this but yeah they turned out quite different (I was expecting something more akin to chee cheong fun - rice rolls). Were too full to eat this, so doggy-bagged them home. Quite plain, oddly both sweet and savoury. Purely a carbo boost.
Now this dish would make a great beer snack...crispy and highly seasoned. However, it might be an MSG bomb cos I had terrible headaches after this (and I'm an MSG aficionado!). Hubby wisely stayed away after one bite (and so did not have said headaches). He likened them to the McDonald's shaker fries. It's also too large a platter - they should serve in smaller portions for cheaper. Sorry, pic shows the dish reconstituted after some wastage and garnishing out of place - baby girl tried to grab some and upset the plate.
Now this was a surprising new item - very good Thai coconut! Not sure if these are also the ones they inject sugar into, but they sure tasted incredible. Cold and refreshing. Hubby had two in the end!
So, as usual, hits and misses with this restaurant chain. Although considered inexpensive, the bill can stack up after a while.
CRYSTAL JADE KITCHEN
9 Bishan Place #B1-07 Junction 8