Sunday, June 29, 2008

Diablo3 has been announced!
Wooohooo! Diablo 3 has been announced! Long overdue, yessssss! I am so going to get this, even if I have to buy a new PC to play it! The gameplay trailer and graphics are TEH AWSUMS! Hubby is not so enthusiastic - "What? More of 'I can't carry anymore!' (referring to the character's voice alert on inadequate inventory space) and mindless slashing?"

Hahaha. But hey, don't knock it. Hack-and-slash can be very therapeutic. Not too sure about the new witch doctor character class. Seems like a Necromancer gone tribal with disease spells instead of curses. Still, the game looks like it's off to a great start. And knowing Blizzard, the game will pwn them all when it comes out!
Jones the Grocer at Dempsey Hill
I must be the last person or foodie to explore Dempsey Hill. I have my reasons. Apart from the hefty S$30+ return cab costs, the other deterrent is the steady stream of stories of how the eateries there are merely expensive hangouts for the well-heeled. But hubby had a chance to experience Jones the Grocer one day via work, and he liked it enough to bring the family there.

We came for lunch at noon. Only to find they serve breakfast til 3pm, so we did not get to try the open-faced wagyu sandwich we were aiming for. Still, breakfast looked good. We sat ourselves down in the indoor tuckshop amidst the eclectic clientele. Though it was quite crowded and bustling, the tall roof ceilings gave the place spatial respite.

Toasted bagel with smoked salmon, rocket, watercress and avocado
I'm glad I can't resist smoked salmon. This was quite delicious. The Woodbridge smoked salmon - so smooth, so meltingly soft and light - is probably one of the most delicate I've had. The greens provided crunch and a peppery aftertaste. Incredibly, the toasted bagel was soft and easy to chew. I could even feed Nadine some (but Jolie will have to wait). My only grouse was that the avocado was not fresh - it had turned a messy goop of brown. Haven't these guys heard of lemon juice? On hindsight, I should have sent it back to the kitchen instead of pretending it was vegetarian foie gras. Sometimes I need to be more fussy! Quality control ought to be better at S$13.50.

Jones English Breakfast - slice of sourdough, butter, smoked bacon, two pork sausages, sauteed mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and a whole lotta scrambled egg
Hubby had the Jones English Breakfast (S$20). It comes with a most sunny, crusty slice of sourdough bread, butter, delicious curls of smoked bacon, two pork sausages, sauteed mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and a whole lotta scrambled egg. The works, literally. My, the eggs were so lush and satiny, it must have been scrambled with heavy cream instead of milk!

Killer iced mocha
Mmmh. The iced mocha with devilish swirls of chocolate at the bottom and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top is to die for. Not overly sweet but rich nonetheless. S$6.50 well spent.

The trademark walk-in cheese room
Ah, the artisanal cheeses in their temperature and humidity controlled walk-in room. I did not dare go in. My credit card would take a severe beating if I did. Jones has some fairly interesting premium products in the deli, charcuterie and butchery. It really makes Cold Storage look like Shen Shiong, the discount supermarket. There were so many things we wanted to take home but in the end, we decided the breakfast alone was enough of a treat.

JONES THE GROCER
Blk 9 #01–12
Dempsey Road
Tel: 6476-1512
Open daily: 9.30am to 11.00pm (up to 6pm on Mondays)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

TasteSpotting-Revived
Hmmm...indeed, after a few days of saying "be right back, just undergoing change of hands" on a post-it message, Tastespotting indeed has quietly come back. So now how? We still have Foodgawker going strong. Will audiences and contributors be split? Or will they duplicate themselves at both sites (and perhaps others)?
Your dream chefs are Jamie, Nigella and Bourdain!
Who did you want most as your personal chef? Jamie Oliver! OK, he's popular but I was surprised that he streaked so far ahead in the poll. You folks really like him, don't you? In second place is Nigella, deliciously with 35 per cent of all votes. She gets my vote too, although I reckon I'll increase my weight by 35 per cent as well if she really did cook for me (how do her kids stay so thin??).

Anthony Bourdain comes in third, with almost a quarter of votes. I like Bourdain but I've rarely seen him cook (and nothing in the Les Halles cookbook really appeals to me, apart from the fries). But him in my kitchen? Yes, please!

What's interesting is that local celebrity chef Sam Leong has won far more votes than Thomas Keller, Joël Robuchon and Ferran Adrià! Even Chef Wan got votes - I put him in for a lark - but well, he's quite an entertaining character. I think my maid will be tickled pink to have him around!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Basket of spring roll goodies
Madam Saigon has been at Liang Seah Street for quite a few years but it's only now that I've ever stepped in. Ah, I wish I discovered them earlier. It's a simple place with unpretentious food.

We began with a platter of mixed spring rolls (about S$18) - fresh prawn rice paper rolls, fried spring rolls and prawn net rolls. All very good, served with two dips - a fish sauce based one with sliced chili, and a mildly spicy fermented bean sauce (think "taucheo"). I could just eat platters of this and be happy!

Green papaya salad
Hubby thinks Vietnamese is like a pale cousin of Thai cuisine. I quite disagree, although this salad makes me understand why he would think so. It's similar to the Thai version, but tastes like they didn't add the usual fiery, tangy dressing.

Special beef noodle soup
Of course, the true test of a Vietnamese restaurant is always its "pho", or beef noodles in soup. Madam Saigon has various combinations -the Special Beef Noodle Soup (about S$8) comes with beef meatballs, flank and brisket.

The staff very thoughtfully replenished my plate of sprouts, mint and basil because hubby nearly finished munching on them before my soup arrived.

The broth is fairly robust and sweet, but did not impress me that much (but don't mind me, I'm just forever ruined by a most delicious pho in San Francisco). However, to my surprise, hubby (who normally hates soupy stuff) actually proclaimed preference for this pho over his own dish of fried noodles. Now that is a feat, getting hubby to like any soup at all!

Fried beef kway teow
Here's hubby's fried beef kway teow, which I initially disdained as more Chinese than Vietnamese. But I ended up preferring this to my soup. Nicely caramelised rice noodles, topped with sweetly savoury pieces of beef. It's not quite Chinese beef horfun, as the flavours are a little bit more complex (more like teriyaki with onion).

I love Vietnamese food for its light, clean, healthy but delicious flavours. But the general consensus is that authentic Vietnamese in Singapore is hard to find, even though more restaurants have sprouted up in recent years. I can't tell how authentic Madam Saigon is, given that I've never been to Vietnam per se. They don't serve pork or lard, so that's already one modification (they are not halal-certified though). But I did enjoy my meal. I also like that this is a casual but cosy joint. Service was quite good, with observant wait staff noting your needs and topping up iced water regularly. Portions here are not large but the food is generally decent. Most mains are less than S$10. The whole meal for two came up to a reasonable S$48 after taxes and service charge. I'd come back again to try other stuff.

MADAM SAIGON
30 Liang Seah Street
Tel: 6333-9798
Open daily 11.30am - 3pm (lunch); 6-11pm (dinner)
Sundays & public holidays: noon-4pm (lunch); 5.30pm - 11pm (dinner)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pretty good for S$2.50!
Not too far from Ah Chuan's oyster omelette is the generic sounding Toa Payoh Fried Kway Teow. They don't seem to sell much else. We tried a small serving, just S$2.50, and weren't expecting much. But it proved to be a good call. Not the most good-looking but reasonably tasty and satisfying. You can't stop at one mouthful. Best thing is - no queues or long waiting time required. I say that's a winner.

TOA PAYOH FRIED KWAY TEOW
Blk 22 Toa Payoh Lor 7
Stall #01-51

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ah Chuan Fried Oyster Omelette
Ah Chuan's Oyster Omelette. Finally. Third time's the charm, as they say. Been here two times earlier and it was closed. My own fault for not properly checking the opening hours/days. I am glad I finally got to try this Makansutra Legend. Because it means I no longer need to come here again. Ever. It is simply not worth travelling all the distance for.

OK, sure, there was certainly something tasty in the flavouring. Problem is, it wasn't evenly distributed.

My request for "extra crispy" met with a puzzled "Har!?" and resulted in more charred omelette pieces. Oysters were fresh, yes, but not very large, and few and far in between. Overall portion is also rather small for S$4. But even so, I had difficulty finishing it. OK, OK, I did just eat a lot of rojak too, so I wasn't too hungry to start with. It was very satiating though. I had to wait about a week before posting this. Felt too queasy just looking back at the photos.

At Blk 22 Toa Payoh Lorong 7
Maybe I have lost my fervour for this grease-bomb. Oyster omelette doesn't seem to be such a treat these days. My system doth protest the liver-fattening aftermath. But hey, there's still Ah Hock at Whampoa to check out.

AH CHUAN FRIED OYSTER OMELETTE
Blk 22 Toa Payoh Lorong 7
Stall #01-25
Open 3pm - 9pm (no, don't go there for lunch)
Closed Tuesdays

Monday, June 23, 2008

Soon Heng Rojak
Many people know of Soon Heng rojak at the basement of Toa Payoh hub and willingly queue for it. It's famous for its good prawn paste, which the stall uncle claims is imported from Penang, and the extra crispy "you tiao" (Chinese crullers/fried dough sticks). It's even got "jiu he" (cured cuttlefish), although personally, I have never fully understood or appreciated the presence of this ingredient in rojak, so it's not really a bonus for me.

As I happened to be in Toa Payoh last week, I decided to see just how good it really is. Yes, I was initially skeptical, afraid of the Curse of Overhype that strikes so many famous stalls. But having tasted it, I do have to say it's not too bad. Good quality, fresh ingredients and they are very generous with the peanuts and prawn paste.

Look at the avalanche of crushed peanuts! Once you dig past the dry and powdery peanuts, you will find a salad of beautifully balanced flavours. Savoury, tangy, sweet and spicy.

At Toa Payoh hub basement foodcourt
We happily thought there was no queue. But the "take a number" system merely disperses all the people waiting onto nearby benches. Well, at least you get to sit down while you wait. Even on a weekday afternoon, I had 20 queue numbers ahead of mine but the uncle works fast (about one minute per order). Do take note that on Sundays and public holidays, you won't need to take a number. Why? They aren't open. I can't imagine the amount of business they must be missing!

SOON HENG ROJAK
480 Toa Payoh Central
HDB Hub #B1-23 (Gourmet Paradise food court)
Open Mon - Fri 11am - 8pm
Sat 11am - 4pm
Closed Sundays & public holidays

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I love umeshu, and never knew it was so easy to make. Check out Blue Lotus' lovingly detailed post on how to make your own umeshu, using a supermarket kit. Wonder if Meidi-ya stocks ao-ume in Singapore. Hmm...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lychee Jazz and Strawberry Soy'tisfaction
Continuation from yesterday's TCC's post. This coffee chain has a wide variety of drinks, not just caffeinated ones. The Lychee Jazz (S$5.80) is a clear, fizzy concoction of sweet lychee and mint. Quite nice. Strawberry Soy'tisfaction (S$7.00) is this month's special - a strawberry ice cream plus soy milk freeze. Not too sweet but tasted more strongly of soy than strawberry.

Nutella and coffee make delicious partners!
The Nutello (S$5.40). Object above looks bigger than real life size. But small as it is, it's a potent mixture. Thick, unadulterated Nutella with coffee, topped with foamy milk and espresso powder. The waitress told us to stir it well. Yummy. Hazelnut always pairs well with coffee. Dang, I need to stock some Nutella at home!

I guess TCC does try to be innovative with its food and drinks. So do the other chains, but with varying success. Coffee Club. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Who else is there? Even the names are so similar. Which one do you like best?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Seafood aglio olio
Coffee chains are so ubiquitous and accessible. Yet I find no appeal in their cookie-cutter mass presence, which seem to hint of mediocrity. So, this is a rare visit for me to TCC (The Coffee Connoiseur). Their food menu seems to be mainly Western but with the odd Japanese and Korean influences. Casual fusion - could be a blast, could be a bomb.

I stuck to a safe choice, the seafood aglio olio (S$16.80), and was pleasantly rewarded with something pretty good. Super-garlicky with a spicy kick, that's the way I like aglio olio. Decently fresh scallops and prawns, but these seem to have been panfried separately, so they had no garlic or spicy tones, only that of salt and pepper. It's also a bit pricey for the portion served.

Spicy chic
My friend snacked on the "Spicy Chic" (S$9.90) - battered and fried pieces of chicken with a lime mayo dip. Served with a healthy salad on the side. The batter is really crispy and crumbly, the kind that shatters into a thousand pieces as you bite into it. It's not that spicy, despite its name. The chicken is surprisingly very moist but needed more salt (well, you can help yourself to the salt/pepper/chili and tomato sauce generously provided at every table).

The drinks menu is more extensive - we chose three - I'll cover those tomorrow. I do like the boutiques' decor (red plush seats get me every time). Service is generally decent and they provide iced water, topped up regularly. TCC also seems more peaceful and quiet compared to the other chains (but this could be branch/location dependent). Hmm, I don't mind coming back again.

TCC (THE COFFEE CONNOISEUR)
3 Temasek Boulevard
#01-025/27 Suntec City Mall
Tel: 6339-3297
(and many other outlets islandwide)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cold cheng tng with unusual ingredients
Cheng tng is such a common Chinese dessert and yet most of the versions sold are quite nondescript. I was pleasantly surprised to find unusual ingredients in this little bowl. Slices of dried persimmon, candied winter melon strips, honeyed sweet potato and the bonus of ginkgo nuts. Also, oddly, green beans. Oh I also really appreciated the fact that those large tapioca pearls were still "al dente", and not overcooked, soft, mushy balls of flour.

Stall 41 - Hot and Cold Cheng Tng
Stall no. 41
East Coast Lagoon Food Centre/East Coast Park Village
1220 East Coast Parkway

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Barbeque Pork and Wantan Noodles
Hmmmmmm.....

Barbeque Pork and Wantan Noodles
Hmmm....

Do you think this plate of wantan noodles is worth S$4? Well, here's my summary:

The good: Noodles still with bite, and the sauce was all right. Tasty sambal chili.
The bad: Probably my bad luck today but the char siew was in thin, dry slices, nothing like the richly glazed, deeply caramelized fatty strips hung on display. The wantans were dried out dumplings.
The ugly: styrofoam plate! So environmentally salah (wrong)!

Stall 45 - Hwa Kee Barbeque Pork Noodle
So this is the famous Hwa Kee. I vaguely remember trying them once before the big renovation in 2003. Enjoyed them better then. Fortunately, I didn't have to queue much for it this time (past 3pm on a Sunday). Guess that's already off-peak hours or their popularity has waned.

HWA KEE BARBEQUE PORK NOODLES
Stall no. 45
East Coast Lagoon Food Centre/East Coast Park Village
1220 East Coast Parkway

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Foodgawker - homage to Tastespotting
I've been waiting for this! Someone has taken up the baton, to carry on where Tastespotting left off. Hurrah! Foodgawker.com. Yeah, sure, it looks more blockish and blunt (a Wordpress template!), with a name that isn't as punchy and elegant, but the photos, oh, the photos, are as glorious as ever! Kudos to Sunday Nite Dinner, a blogger that I like too, for putting up and managing the site. Now spread the word - Foodgawker.com. Thanks very much to a reader who highlighted this.
A penny for your baby thoughts

Has time flown? Jolie has reached the half-year mark! I think I will bake her a giant muffin, cos that's what she is! Of course, I get to eat the cake. Hehe.

I love Jolie's soft parts. From the gentle rolls of fat on her limbs to those pinchworthy cheeks. Baby smooth and warm, they feel so delicate. Touching them just melts all your cares away.

When I last took her for immunisation jabs, some nurse could not resist whisking her away into another room to show colleagues and to play with her.

Today is a milestone because she can start on some solids - she has already been eagerly eyeing food that we eat and trying to snatch some. It's so funny seeing her attack a slice of bread, gnawing in futility (no teeth yet). This girl is so ready to eat! Haha, future glutton like me!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Black fried carrot cake
This was nice. I quite enjoyed it although my preference is for white carrot cake. Tasty fried carrot cake needs a lot of garlic and chye poh (preserved turnip). And the steamed radish cake pieces should have the scent of radish. Some places just give you stuff made mostly from rice flour, which makes it almost inedible.

Popiah
The popiah (S$1.80 each, S$3.50 for two) is a bit on the pricey side but is really fat and huge. Tastewise all right, but nothing to shout about. Forgot to ask them to omit the garlic. I don't like the stale, often factory-minced garlic that most popiah stalls use. Not only do they taste foul, they also give you the most stubborn dragon breath.

Stall 40 - Lagoon Carrot Cake
Look for the faded signboard.

LAGOON CARROT CAKE
Stall no. 40
East Coast Lagoon Food Centre/East Coast Park Village
1220 East Coast Parkway

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Santa Fe Salad
Hubby loves Tony Roma's for comfort food. This time we opted for some healthy greens. True to American style, the salads here can be humongous! The Santa Fe salad (S$16.90) is a carnival busload of crisp lettuce topped with fresh tomatoes, warm grilled chicken, confetti of bacon, cheddar and raw carrot streamers. That huge taco shell is more of a display item, I think. It tasted a little stale.

Calamari
We were given a free appetiser because we filled out a customer survey online for a previous visit. For a change, we chose the calamari (S$12-ish) instead of the onion loaf that we usually go for. Hmm. I've never had calamari with batter that's this rough and rock hard! Interesting zesty BBQ dip too, instead of the usual mayo-type dip.

Star-studded sampler of ribs
But of course, the biggest reason to come here. Still the best ribs in town! The star-studded sampler (S$33.90) gives you tasting portions of the four flavours that they carry - Original Baby Backs, Carolina Honeys™, Tony Roma’s Red Hots™ and Southern Smokey Beef Ribs. You didn't think we'd come here and not have meat, did you?

TONY ROMA'S SINGAPORE
3 Temasek Boulevard
#B1-007 Suntec City Mall
Tel: 6337-9055
or
442 Orchard Road #01-04/05
Orchard Hotel Shopping Arcade
Tel: 6738-8600
Both open 11.30am to 11.00pm (Last Order: 10.30pm)
Hugs
Fathers. Quietly playing their central role in the family, frequently looked to for strength and support. And yet oftentimes under-appreciated. The stern patriarch of yesteryear may be gone but some dads still like to appear stoic. Yet others are effusive and emotionally transparent. But make no mistake - all of them want to be loved. They are human, after all.

To all dads reading, a very happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

first poll - recipes vs reviews
It's quite clear. Half voted for more eatery reviews. The other half are split between more recipes and equal mix of both. So I guess I shall continue with mostly reviews and the occasional recipe or two.

Meanwhile, I'm starting a new poll - which celebrity chef would you like as your personal cook? Pick your favourite three!

Friday, June 13, 2008

I can't believe I'm blogging about Sakae or that I even went there. There is a reason Sakae's first syllable sounds exactly like "SUCK!". But this is their specialist Teppanyaki foray and I was curious after seeing some reviews. I visited the Bugis Junction outlet earlier in the week, before my MIL's heart episode, ironically with a friend working in SGH, where MIL would be warded.

Chicken set main items - scallops, vegetables, tofu steak, grilled chicken cubes
This is their chicken set (S$11.99++) - the teppan-grilled items include chicken, tofu steak, vegetables and scallops on the half-shell. Surprisingly decent. The chicken pieces are well-seared and caramelized on the outside but still moist within. Nadine liked the tofu steak better though.

Garlic rice topped with fried sakura ebi
All sets come with white rice but you can upgrade to garlic fried rice for S$2.50. I love garlic fried rice. It seems like a simple dish but it's so easy to burn garlic and make it bitter. Here, it's all right - there is just that faint hint of bitterness. The sakura ebi topping is a nice touch.

'The
Vegetables are done just right, not overcooked - they still have that slight crunch, which is nice for bean sprouts and pea shoots (dou miao).

Onion cup chawan mushi
My friend got took the beef set (S$12.99++) which comes with chawanmushi, interestingly in a hollowed onion "bowl" or "cup". I didn't try it but it looked really soft, smooth, and was without any bubbles. Nadine loved it, I think she must have whacked half of it.

I tried one piece of the beef - tender but without any wow factor flavourwise. Ya Kwang's beef teriyaki is way better! However, my friend who normally likes chicken, preferred the beef to the chicken in my set.

Scallops on half-shell
My favourite item of all and the reason I chose the chicken set (despite normally preferring beef) - the scallops on half-shell! Garlic is such a wonderful partner for seafood. Just lose yourself in the heady juices evocative of the sea.

Too bad the lunch sets don't include foie gras anywhere. The dinner beef set does, and for S$19.99++ sounds like a good deal. Side orders of the foie gras are available but at S$15.99++ which is more than my entire meal. Gave it a miss.

OK, in conclusion, it's not too bad if you're not fussy and willing to put aside all memories of any teppan you've had in Tokyo or other upmarket joints locally. I did feel very thirsty afterwards though. And also hungry soon after. In fact, I was ravenous by dinnertime.

Sakae Teppanyaki has mushroomed to eight outlets islandwide in less than two years. But I've seen bad reviews too, and I think it might be due to the skill of the chef you get - most look quite young. Which means even within the same outlet, you may not get the same experience. So, it can really be a gamble. But even that is a better bet than their pseudo-sushi joints.

SAKAE TEPPANYAKI
Eight outlets in Singapore and one in Malaysia
Addresses and opening hours here

OMG, I'm crushed! No more daily drools at Tastespotting.com! The site's been taken down due to "legal complications". What a pity! I discovered so many fine food blogs, photos, ideas and recipes there. It embodied so fine a spirit of sharing. Sigh, I only knew it for a scant 3-4 months and yet it's made such an impact - feels like I've known it forever, and now I will feel its absence markedly. Damn whoever complained.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mother-in-law had what we feared might be a heart attack early this morning. Warded in Singapore General Hospital (SGH) for tests and observation. So I didn't bring any camera out today. After visiting her, we went for a quick dinner at nearby Vivocity (hubby refused to eat at the hospital food court). Took a chance on Garuda Padang Cuisine (by Tung Lok) and were pleasantly surprised that it was not bad. Well, Tung Lok Group chief Andrew Tjioe is Indonesian after all.

Despite not intending to blog any meal today, I just have to mention the food because it is pretty good value for restaurant dining. Here's what we had:
* Lovely sayur lodeh (S$5) with chopped young nangka/jackfruit, chayotes (labu siam) and belinjo seeds - items not usually seen here.
* Rendang Daging Sapi (S$7) - robust beef rendang stewed until the flavour has completely penetrated the meat.
* Ayam kampung goreng bumbu - deep-fried kampung chicken with delicious crispy galangal floss (S$4.80 per piece)
* Sambal teri tempe (S$6) - crispy fried tempe sambal with peanuts and whitebait
* Pergedel sapi (S$1.50 each) - this must be the creamiest, smoothest pergedel or begedil I've tasted, almost like yam paste!
* Complimentary chicken curry gravy - so very lemak and tasty!
The food is not spicy hot, but very richly flavoured. All served in a pleasingly chic, elegant environment with white leather seats. And, they provide iced water here. Hurrah.

First photoless food blog. Doesn't quite work, does it? lol

I will most certainly be back to take photos to do this place justice. Eyeing the sambal udang petai even though I know rest of family won't touch it!

GARUDA PADANG CUISINE
#B2-28 Vivocity
1 Harborfront Walk
Tel: 6376-9595
(the main outlet is at Cairnhill Place)


MIL is back home after more than 24 hours in a very cramped ward filled with elderly folks. The doctors aren't sure what happened but fortunately she is stable now, albeit feeling feeble and weak. I think they can't do much, due to her age - she's going to be 81 next week!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The decor hasn't changed in ten years!
Izakaya Nijumaru is where many Japanese in Singapore used to flock to for fairly authentic food in a casual setting. Helmed by a Japanese chef and his Singaporean wife, Nijumaru's literally an institution at Cuppage Plaza, having been there for about 10 years. But it seems to have become a little bit more localised these days.

For one thing, there are now English menus available. In the early days, there was no menu at all, only names of dishes in Japanese on handwritten slips lining the wall. The clientele used to be almost entirely Japanese. Previously discreet waitresses now banter loudly in Mandarin, Hokkien and Cantonese, making you wonder if you aren't in Crystal Jade instead (oh, this should give you a clue about the service - more Chinese-style brusque efficiency than polite Japanese hospitality). But decorwise, it hasn't changed - still the same layout, furniture, rice-paper windows and lantern globes. I hoped the food was still as good.

Seaweed Salad
Traditional izakayas are drinking places that offer small dishes to be shared. Here, if you prefer to eat individually or aren't sure what to order, set meals are an easy choice. The menu of a la carte items is extensive but the fare here is generally simple.

You are given a cold, moist oshibori (wet towel) while you wait for your food but there is no otoshi (obligatory chargeable snack, like the Chinese restaurant appetiser pickles). We started with a seaweed salad (S$6) - wakame with tangy ume (plum) infused soy dressing on the side. Certainly gets the saliva glands going!

Tofu steak
I've seen others rave about the tofu steak (S$5) so we gave it a try. It's really just tofu blocks lightly floured and fried in butter. The result is a crinkly salty skin with meltingly soft insides. It's not bad but a bit too "fusion" for me. The oily richness of butter is too heavy for healthy tofu. I think agedashi still works better. Well, Nadine liked it anyway. Looks like she will eat tofu any which way it's done.

Unajyu set
I opted for the Unajyu set (S$20). Two luscious, thick slabs of unagi atop warm, fluffy rice. You can choose sashimi or tempura for your side dish - I took sashimi and it was sweet, fresh and thickly sliced. A salmon mash salad, shiro miso soup, slice of orange and white pickled daikon complete the set. I enjoyed this very much, so did Nadine - she likes her grilled eel, good girl!

Beef teriyaki set
Hubby took the beef teriyaki set (S$15.50). Oddly it's three thin fillets of beef stacked atop each other and cut into bitesize slices. Topped with a garlicky dressing. Reasonably tasty but the meat was a little overdone - too chewy.

Looks like Nadine wants to bring home the Nijumaru light box
Due to good business, Nijumaru has expanded its premises to almost one quarter of the whole floor. I'd come back in a heartbeat to try the other dishes. I remember I had nasu dengaku (miso-grilled eggplant) and gindara (grilled cod) that were quite good many years ago. However, hubby isn't all that impressed with the place and thinks it's not much different from Waraku! Oh well, you can't please them all! See more photos from other blogs here, here and here.

IZAKAYA NIJUMARU
5 Koek Road
#02-10/12 Cuppage Plaza
Tel: 6235-6693 / 6235-4857
 
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