Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I'm always on the hunt for good kway chap. This is one dish you either love or go "eeew!" at. Porky offal and innards are not everyone's instant favourite. It's a lot of work for the vendor too, cleaning those bits. This stall at Old Airport Road has some of the cleanest-looking small intestines I've seen. I don't usually like small intestines but this is probably the only way I'll eat it. Some people prefer it with the fatty white bits (what *are* those anyway?) clogging the insides of these intestines. Sorry, not for me.
The stall is pretty non-descript and is easily missed. They sell nothing but kway chap and its accompanying side dishes (braised peanuts, preserved vegetables, etc). In general, they do a passable rendition of kway chap. It's one I don't mind coming back to, since it did not give me an upset stomach, unlike the famous To-Ricos at the same hawker centre.
YI FA KWAY CHAP
51 Old Airport Road #01-70
Old Airport Road Food Centre
Monday, January 28, 2008
If you like your char kway teow somewhat sweet and garlicky, this might something to try. Located at a corner coffee shop at the junction of Joo Chiat Road and East Coast Road (facing Katong Mall) is this old stall called Yong Huat that's apparently been around since 1949.
Their fried Hokkien mee seems very popular here - we saw plates after plates of it flying out of the kitchen. But to me, it's rather bland, so I don't understand why people love it. Oh well, to each his own. At least there's lots of fried pork lard cubes on the side! Slurp!
They also serve other dishes like prawn mee, fishball noodles but I've not tried those. The couple (man takes and serves orders, lady handles the wok) in charge here work really fast, so you don't have to wait long even though there's a lot of customers. Don't expect ambiance at this budget eatery - just dine al fresco on the sidewalk and watch the people go by.
YONG HUAT at D'ORANGE
125/127 East Coast Road
(opposite Katong Mall)
Friday, January 25, 2008
We finally visited Baraonda last night and I am glad for it. Yes, this is the eatery that the original Al Forno guys have set up at the East Coast Parkway, oddly at a golf driving range and sharing premises with a Chinese seafood restaurant. Originally a casual eatery called Artzpizza (which now seems to be their pizza delivery branch), Baraonda is a full-fledged restaurant with over 100 items on its menu.
We did not have too good an experience with the Artzpizza delivery some time back (the pizzas had some strange smell), so we were crossing fingers hoping for a better experience here. We took a salamino pizza (S$18.50).
And oh what a difference dining in makes! I am wowed. This is the best pizza I've had in ages. Firstly, pizza is best eaten piping hot out of the wood-fired oven. Secondly, the taste is wonderfully assembled from a light tomato base, generous cheese and pepperoni salami atop a great thin crust. We polished it off in record speed.
Also good but less spectacular are their pastas. We tried the aglio olio e peperoncino (S$12.50) - a dish that is so simple and yet not easy to master. Well, the spaghetti is done right, al dente. Interesting taste from bits of burnt garlic and dried chili - not sure if it's really chili padi (bird's eye) as it wasn't spicy at all.
On the whole, it was still a bit bland and a tad heavy on the olive oil (the squeamish may want to look away from the grease puddle that remains on the plate). Ah sigh, we're still seeking the peppery hot peperoncino experience we had in, of all places, Kyoto.
The spaghetti alle vongole (S$25) came in a huge portion. Loads of clams, minced garlic and parsley with a light hint of white wine. The robust flavour will have you licking the clam shells. By the time we were done, we were too full for dessert.
It's quite lovely dining here, with the cool sea breeze and beach resort-like ambiance. The whole place with the driving range has a stuck-in-the-'70s feel about it, which gives it some character.
Baraonda also seems to have scaled down its prices a little since opening. Service on the whole is fairly decent and they serve plain water here (unlike many joints that force you to purchase a drink). But kick back with a cool beer and enjoy that pizza. After that you can literally walk to the beach if you wish.
920 East Coast Parkway
(Inside Parkland Golf Driving Range)
Mon to Fri: 4pm - 11pm
Sat, Sun & Public Holidays: 11am - 11pm
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The CaffeBar is this little open concept cafe tucked in one far end of Parkway Parade. It's quiet and cosy, with sofas and reading material. However, its less than prominent location also makes it very easy to overlook or forget. We were quite surprised to find they served breakfast even when there's not much of a crowd in the mall at those hours. Hubby is always yearning for a nice western breakfast joint but sadly, this was not to be the place.
Their bread (both the toast and croissant) was stale and cold. The eggs were very plain and tasted alike. The bacon resembled plastic. But the grilled sausage saved the day! Very delicious, complete with snappy casing.
Service here is generally quite all right, and the quietness of the place is a nice respite from the maddening shopping crowd. They do better food for lunch and dinner.
80 Marine Parade Road
#01-34D Parkway Parade
Tel: 6345 4345
Monday, January 21, 2008
I still had quite a few KK Hospital visits to clear this month but I'm glad most of these are over. In the course of 2.5 years, I've become more familiar with the Kopitiam food court there than I'd like. Yes, I have tried every single stall there! Most of them left me "once bitten, twice shy". But the nasi padang is not too shabby. Nice rendang (most times). Crunchy peanuts and ikan bilis. Delicious achar. Good sambal as well. But go early as their best morsels run out fast.
I also like the ban mian or handmade noodle stall. The stock is flavourful enough and the noodles are done just right - not soggy even in hot soup. I tend to prefer ee-mee (Poh Chai noodles) but their other noodles are not bad too. A most simple but warm and comforting meal.
The Indian-Muslim stall has gone downhill a bit though. Perhaps a change of chefs or management? They used to have Indian rojak that was not bad. I preferred their peanutty sauce to that of Saji's at Waterloo Street. Recently the rojak seems to have disappeared and the briyani now sucks. Fortunately, their mee goreng still kicks ass but I won't hold out hopes that it will stay that way.
Incidentally, all the food stalls here are rated a sparkling "A" for cleanliness (well, they are in a hospital after all). We often joke that the cleaner the eatery is, the less tasty the food will be. But no matter how bad the food at the Kopitiam is, it's stilll better than what's being served upstairs in the wards.
100 Bukit Timah Road
KK Women's and Children's Hospital
Friday, January 18, 2008
These are the fellas I wanted to check out. Yella Fellas at the revamped Bugis Junction food basement. Thick luscious chips (with skin on!) freshly cut and fried only upon order. The fries are indeed good. In fact, they are fantastic on their own, without any sauces or condiments. The mark of a good fry!
I've always liked the concept of a stall selling nothing but fries. So far the ones I've seen are a kiosk in New York selling Belgian fries in a cone, and another in Shibuya, Tokyo selling fries with all kinds of sauces and shaker seasoning (I love shaking fries around in a paper bag, coating them with flavouring, don't you? But the McDonald ones suck!).
I'm glad to see Yella Fellas but the stall still needs some serious work before it looks inviting enough. You don't see enough product clearly, there's no enticing smell of fries to lure people closer and the food samples are cold, soggy and cut too small. I think they need stronger marketing if they want to survive.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Minori Dining and Sake Bar has been open at UE Square for a while now. The former owners of Hanabi set up Minori with a similar a la carte buffet concept for Japanese food. There have been a flurry of mixed reviews despite a positive press article. So I did not come here with high expectations, only curiosity as to how the place actually fares.
I had heard it can get really crowded but it was empty when I arrived today at lunchtime with my friend. As such, we didn't encounter any service problems or slowness that seemed to plague the restaurant in its earlier days. However, it did fill up considerably still past 12.30pm but service did not suffer too much. The waitresses (some seem to be from Myanmar) were quite patient and even took the effort to recommend popular dishes when we seemed stumped by the wide menu choices.
One of the chief reasons Singaporeans love a Japanese a la carte buffet is the unlimited orders of sashimi. At Minori, you get a choice of salmon, tuna, yellowtail, snapper, black king fish, octopus and cuttlefish. However, I think sashimi at Ikoi's is sliced much more generously, and tastes better too.
I will go through the rest of the food just very briefly. We ate a lot of dishes - really easy to do so as the portions served are very small. The potato salad was creamy but light-tasting, served on an interesting raised glass platter.
The California maki was messy but tasted passable. We had a repeat portion of this.
Handrolls here are not spectacular. Mainly because the dried seaweed sheets they used had a musty odour. Probably an inferior quality or type of seaweed used. And it wasn't crisp nor easy to bite through.
Minori also differs from Hanabi in that it offers grilled skewered items, mostly of chicken parts. The "buta to garlic" is probably the only pork item there, fatty pork belly cubes strongly laced with garlic. The tebasaki (chicken wings) strangely butterflied here, tasted a bit too plain. Kawa (chicken skin) was not crisp enough.
The tsukune (minced chicken meat balls) were huge. They and the yakitori tasted alike. Just all right. Lacked serious punch.
This is the SMALLEST ever tempura moriawase set I have ever seen. Two prawns and three thin slices of vegetable. I guess it's a small eater's single portion only. Average tasting, and the batter could be lighter.
This was a pleasant surprise. Sweet creamy pumpkin mash greets you as you bite through the crisp breaded exterior. It can be really hot though, so beware.
Plain looking but intensely garlicky beansprouts from the teppanyaki section. Not bad.
Refreshing kyuri (Japanese cucumber) in this appetiser but I didn't care much for the miso bean paste - a bit too close to "taucheo" (Chinese bean paste) for my liking.
Sushi isn't their forte, I guess. Or maybe I just really don't like that dried seaweed that they use. It made me long for the good quality, crisp seaweed that Sushi Kikuzawa uses.
Two bites and this one dish is gone. Cold tofu in soy sauce topped with bonito flakes and scallions.
Everything here is in tasting portions. Which is nice too, it lets you try more dishes from across the menu. The saba shioyaki is all right but your mind is on the next item already.
This was quite nice, a sweet fruity salad with a tart, soy-sesame dressing. The peach is of the canned variety, of course.
There are two kinds of chawanmushi here, the kabocha (pumpkin) one just has the addition of a layer of pumpkin puree on top. The mixture is a really surprising attack of flavours on your palate - both sweet and savoury combining to jolt your senses. The egg custard is quite smooth. and has lots of nameko mushrooms at the bottom. Yum.
This was one of the unexpected highlights. I thought they did their tori karaage really well. There is no oilyness on the surface and the meat inside is tender and juicy. Nicely seasoned.
I have seen people rave about this here. It's like a richer-flavoured version of Yoshinoya's beef. The soft beef slices taste almost buttery. We got served a really large portion too.
The salmon teppan special dish was too salty and sweet for me. Very strong hint of mirin (sweet rice wine) in the soy mixture.
Understandably, they aren't the most generous with their sashimi servings. Don't expect the best of fish slicing skills here either. Some of the sashimi were still sinewy. But for the price, I don't think anyone will complain.
This is very similar to the tori karaage, just that it involves the breastbone cartilage. I just love cartilage. Is that really odd? I remember even my Japanese friend looking at me strange when I ordered this at Nanbantei in Tokyo some years back.
Minori serves free-flow green tea and water as part of the buffet. Alcoholic drinks and desserts (mostly ice cream) are available separately. If you don't want the buffet, you can opt for their set meals.
In summary, Minori's food is fairly competent across the board but is still very average. Much like a jack-of-all-trades but master of none. The variety is undoubtedly better than at most joints, but many of the dishes involve same ingredients done differently (as sushi, maki, handroll etc). Personally, in terms of all-you-can-eat places, I'd rather head to Ikoi or Sushi Kikuzawa for a more fulfilling experience.
MINORI DINING AND SAKE BAR
(full buffet menu available online but prices not updated)
81 Clemenceau Avenue #03-15/16 UE Square
Open: 11.30am to 2.30pm, 6 to 10.30pm
Dinner $33++ (price raised)
Monday, January 14, 2008
It's supposed to be good for you but I really couldn't eat more of it after some time. For some reason, the catered confinement dishes eventually wound up tasting the same (or my tongue just went on strike) and I can see they don't do their produce marketing daily. So I quit! Oh heck, today is the end of my confinement period anyway (if you go by 28 days, hehe, not the full 40 days). Baby is already four weeks old!
And now for some REAL food!!!
Sunday, January 13, 2008
OMG! Jolie has the dreaded double crown, two swirl patterns on her head. Asians believe this signifies a particularly naughty brat. I didn't check Jolie's head earlier because I so *rarely* see these on anyone! Now I'm almost fainting because my firstborn Nadine (of regular single crown signifying placid nature) is already so incredibly naughty...I can't imagine Jolie being worse!
We wanted Nadine's sibling to be someone she can learn from - it's said the best gift you can give a child with Down Syndrome is a sibling - they pick up skills and speech much faster that way. I'm hoping the Asian belief about the double crown is inaccurate, or else it will be triple hell when Nadine starts copying more naughty behaviour from her sister!
Interestingly, Westerners believe the double crown signifies a traveler (ah, will Jolie be like the other Sagittarians I know who are all free-spirited wanderers?). Hairdressers believe the double crown is a styling nightmare - hair tends to stand straight up and is difficult to comb or part neatly. So it's either long locks or the buzz cut. Do you know anyone else who has the double crown?
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Sometimes I like to indulge in some greasy chow for breakfast. The plain fried beehoon/noodles/kway teow with accompaniments like fried egg, luncheon meat, ngoh hiang, fish cake, fish fillet, etc. can be found everywhere but really good ones are rare. I like the ones that are garlicky, cooked in good stock (not just laced with soy) and with nicely blanched beansprouts. This dish is normally not something one would search far and wide for, unlike good char kway teow or bak chor mee. But I wouldn't mind finding out more good places.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Back to budget food! Chicken rice is the nation's favourite, and there are no less than five stalls at Marine Parade Central (not counting the numerous Muslim stalls that serve Malay-style chicken rice too). I haven't tried any of them until recently. We picked Lee Heng to start with. Hey, not too bad. Good rice, grains separate (no clumping!) and flavourful. Meat is decent (it really is just the base for the chili sauce and soy sauce, which are also good here).
What is pleasantly surprising here is the complimentary bowl of soup - this so often tastes like dishwater at other places but here it is wonderfully tinged with Chinese herbal notes. If you order a two person portion of chicken rice, they give you a large bowl where you can actually see the herbs used (red dates, etc).
Always with an abundant window display, Lee Heng also serves roast meats, char siew and wantan (dumplings). They start quite early in the morning (yes, we had this for breakfast!). So far, both hubby and I think the chicken rice is competently done. I wonder if how the other stalls fare against it...
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
I've been sprucing up the labels on the right, now that the blog has reached well over 200 eateries. Now you can see them by nearest MRT or the area/district they're in (heck, even I want to see the distribution of places so far). Anyway, the three main changes:
# Cuisine (more prominently distinguished from the rest using # rather than *)
+ Country (moved upfront)
- Singapore district/zone (new addition)
Hope this makes it easier to search for what you want. If you're looking for something even more specific (e.g. a certain address/food item/shop name), try using the Google search on this blog. Any other feedback is most welcome!
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Confinement food! Yeah, and I'm getting it delivered too, so I don't have to prepare it myself. Food really does matter when your system is recuperating from tasks as massive as baby-building. Specially chosen food accented with old ginger, sesame oil and occasionally cooking wine. Complemented by lots of herbal soups. While not the most appetising, this stuff really does fortify you. When I wasn't eating this, I actually felt cold and weak. Still, I will occasionally eat out for a change (and hopefully have something to blog about!).
P.S. Someone asked about the caterers - there are 2-3 delivering confinement food in Singapore. Mine is from Newbaby although my first choice was for Natal Essentials - just too bad they don't deliver to my area. You can see their full menus online. There is one more, called First Delight (tel: 6348 2528) but their website is down and I have no other details.
You can request for dishes containing kidney and liver to be substituted, if you don't like organ meats. Portions are huge, enough for two to eat, and I get a lot of fish dishes too. While they look pricey, the meals are still much more affordable than hiring a confinement nanny AND shopping for the food/herbs.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Took mother-in-law out for a spot of afternoon tea today. We chose the Rose Veranda, Shangri-La (from my high tea buffet list). It turned out to be a really nice treat.
MIL loves her scones, and this place serves some really good ones. I can imagine languid afternoons spent here, with a book or a good friend, nibbling on treats like these.
Choose from 101 quality blends of teas (yes, you can choose as many as you like), served on Wedgwood crockery. We loved the Bourbon Vanille and Creme de Coco. They even have Lapsang Souchong and Roibosh, as well as mutivitamin sporty infusions. Most of the fruit flavoured black teas are rather subtle but refreshing nonetheless.
If you're not a tea person, don't fret - coffee is also available. The Viennese coffee topped with a generous rosette of whipped cream was heavenly! A robust Continental blend, not acidic at all.
One slight caution about drinking all this liquid (a hot pot of tea serves up four cups) - your tummy can feel a bit sloshy if you drink more than one pot. And I hear the restrooms are located a fair distance away.
The buffet spread may not look like a lot but looks can be deceiving. They use small serving platters crammed quite narrowly together. If you try to take a bite out of everything, I'd reckon you'd still be quite full. Personally I don't mind a smaller spread if they do each dish better. I'd rather have quality over quantity. However, it's still hits and misses here.
The hot Asian mains were fairly good. The Thai green curry chicken was the one of the best dishes in the whole buffet. Interestingly, they served "corn rice" (some fragrant rice steamed with corn kernels, not pictured here) instead of plain white rice
A small side area upfront served Japanese starters. The salmon sashimi and unagi sushi were decent. They also had futomaki and small kappa-maki (cucumber) and oshinko maki (yellow pickle). Lots of pickles to choose from.
You also get a small variety of dim sum, but as in most buffets, these were not spectacular by any means. There's a DIY mee rebus station too that I forgot to try.
I wasn't too impressed with the cold Western stuff though. Only liked the smoked salmon.
Some of the hot Western stuff was all right. Loved the crispy potato skins. MIL loved the chicken pie and quiche. But the ball-shaped salmon cake was a bit too fishy.
There's a lot of salmon in this high tea! One small station was dedicated to serving this baked salmon and spinach in pastry. Served with a pureed mushroom sauce that would put most mushroom soups to shame, tastewise.
The desserts were wonderful. We liked almost everything. If I ever come back, I would focus more on the sweet than the savoury, along with the teas and coffee.
Again, small sized platters but a reasonable variety. Lovely cakes and bread & butter pudding. Yummy scones are in the far left silver container.
You got your fruits, your chocolate fondue, your mini shooters, cookies, truffles and even eclairs.
The difference with this high tea is that you get to relax in a lush, green, quiet environment. You can lie back on comfy sofas as you sip your tea. There aren't hordes of Singaporeans crowding the buffet. And service is impeccable. The lovely cheongsam-clad waitresses are discreet yet observant, swift in anticipating your needs and changing plates. They don't chase you away at closing time either. A classy joint.
The Rose Veranda believes in bringing back the elegant art of afternoon tea (click pic to see their philosophy). It has certainly managed to do so. By the way, the specialty teas served are also available for sale.
Orange Grove Road
High Tea Buffet S$36++ per pax
12pm to 6pm Mondays to Fridays
12pm to 3pm; 3pm to 6pm weekends and public holidays (two seatings)
Call for reservations: 6213-4486