Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Fried Carrot Cake and Popiah

Does this look good? White version carrot cake (really more radish cake) with crispy egg and lots of spring onions. I love crispy egg! Unfortunately, it didn't taste as good as it looked. Very bland and unsatisfying. Missing lots of seasoning and the most criticial ingredient - preserved radish "chye poh"! Even the S$4 upsized portion didn't see any generosity in this department.

Popiah, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

This stall at the revamped Tiong Bahru Food Centre also sells popiah. I can't say it was tasty either. The turnips tasted really earthy and "rustic" - as though not well-washed or something. Pretty pricey too for S$1.50 a roll (well, it had bits of shrimp in it).

I won't name the stall but if you really must know, you can take a peek at its shopfront here.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chicken Winglets from TSC

Chicken Winglets - TSC Style, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Mmmh, just had to blog this. Chicken wings from Tong Shui Cafe (again, yeah, sorry, I know a lot of people don't like this joint). Fried piping hot with crispy skin! You can have it four ways - BBQ sauce, etc, this is the regular or Tong Shui signature style. Never mind the bed of mayo and tomato sauce it sat on. The chicken was fine on its own.

We had to have more thick toast. The honey and butter version was golden brown and delicious, with the honey forming a shallow well in the centre of the cut toast. They were even more generous this time with the D24 durian puree too.

Platter of peanuts, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Interestingly, they gave us a huge plate of peanuts this time the minute we sat down - I'm not sure if it's an afternoon/teatime only thing (it was around 3pm). Forgot to take the receipt, so not sure if they charged us for this. Probably did. Those wet towels are added to the bill too, by the way.

I wish I didn't have a cold...I would have loved to have that whole jar of cold honey lemon - I tried a sip, so refreshing! Well, I had my warm Pu Erh chinese tea with rosebuds (S$2.88 for whole pitcher), which actually was a good call. It cleansed all the oilyness away (from the chicken wings and sinful toast).

1 Liang Seah Street #05-01
Open daily, noon to 6am


Monday, November 26, 2007

Lai Lai Family Restaurant

Lai Lai Signature Beef Noodles, originally uploaded by Camemberu.
Taiwanese treats abound at Lai Lai Family Restaurant on Liang Seah Street. This simple, cosy joint seems to be helmed by a young lady with a melodious (Taiwanese maybe?) accent. She was a good host, proactively coming out to welcome potential customers.

We tried quite a few dishes here today. The signature beef noodles (S$6.80 for small portion) came in a rich, savoury, hot broth. You are given some minced salted vegetables to put on top but I don't think they lent much flavour. I liked the beef but the wheat noodles were a bit too starchy for me. I think I would have taken well to the soup if it had been SPICY!

Braised pork trotters, originally uploaded by Camemberu.
We also took the braised pork trotters lunchtime special (S$7.20) which comes with a bowl of steamed Calrose rice and a side dish (fried tofu). The pork trotters are normally S$7.90 per bowl on their own. I liked this dish. The gravy was lightly perfumed with wuxiang (five spices), not too overpowering. The pork was tender and sweet. Just a bit too fatty. Only grouse is that the pork skin itself had some leftover pig hair on certain corners.

This dish my friend had - apparently not too exciting. The shredded chicken was bland, so it didn't add much flavour to the rice. But it went well with gravy from the pork trotters!

What's REALLY good here is the salt-and-pepper chicken (S$3.90), fried with basil leaves. Amazing how the simplest of seasoning can do wonders! If I come back here, this is what I would definitely eat again. In fact, this dish makes me want to go back again. Hahaha.

I'm not sure how to translate this "cong jua bing" (S$5.90) but it's a prata-like pancake with egg and spring onions. We had the upgraded version with cheese and pork floss (S$6.90). Slightly on the bland side but not too bad if you bite into parts with pork floss. Nice pickled vegetables.

Fried beancurd side dish, originally uploaded by Camemberu.
This is just your regular tofu, cut and fried. Served with a brown sweetish dipping sauce which reeked strongly of raw garlic. Nothing particularly outstanding, just a side dish that came with the lunch set.

Mango konnyaku freeze, originally uploaded by Camemberu.
They have quite a variety of drinks here too, mainly cold ones. This mango konnyaku freeze (S$3.80) is quite delightful. It remained cold and slushy while we finished our food. The konnyaku jelly added a chewy dimension, making this like a dessert. Oh the joy of brain freeze!

Liang Seah Street has become quite the food alley. Lai Lai is a casual dining joint, decorated with minimal fuss in white. Service generally is not too bad. Seems they don't add GST to the bill but there is a 10% service charge.

20 Liang Seah Street
Tel: 6837-1556/7
Open daily 11.30am til 3am!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Yong Hup delivers local snacks!

Yong Hup local snacks, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Are you a junk food junkie? What kind of snacks do you like? Me, all kinds. Two weeks ago, I revisited the website of local snack manufacturer Yong Hup which has been taking orders online and making deliveries islandwide for a few years now. Free delivery for orders of S$10 (each pack is S$2).

I took a chance, to see how well they would fare. So, late one Friday night, I keyed in my order, not expecting much. Wow, the very next day, I got calls from them confirming my order and that very Saturday afternoon, they delivered to my doorstep! That's literally fulfilment in less than 24 hours! I'm impressed! Some of the packs felt warm and freshly sealed too!

You may have tasted some of their snacks (used to be available at Watson's). Here's a quick review of each.

Fish crackers - huge pack, but if you eat too much at one sitting, your tongue may go numb a little
Indonesian prawn crackers - nice, tasty
Surimi crackers - interesting, tastes a bit like crabmeat
Vegetable chips - light-tasting but a certain spiciness builds up as you eat

Prawn sticks - yuck, some sticks are tough and chewy, tastes more like fish too
Curry tapioca - delicious, although I've had better
Fish balls/sticks - dense and crunchy
Fine murukku - oh, addictive!
Chili tapioca - not bad, loaded with spicy sambal, peanuts and anchovies
Star murukku - not so nice, rather bland

And no, I didn't eat ALL of them at one go!


Friday, November 23, 2007

Penang Fried Kway Teow at Killiney Kopitiam

Penang Fried Kway Teow, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

I realise I have never tried Killiney Kopitiam's grub (apart from their kaya toast just once or twice). An outlet has sprung up at Marine Parade Central and their picture of Penang fried kway teow looked good (yes, I so often get sucked in that way).

OK, I will have to qualify that I can still barely taste food properly (with my nose blocked). But I did detect some fragrant aroma coming as the waiter served this rather pleasing-looking dish. My limited tastebud senses told me it's fairly spicy, savoury and garlicky with a touch of sweet (but giant pieces of the taste puzzle were still missing). Did not see pork lard bits but there were lots of egg, crabmeat, fishcake, beansprouts and three prawns.

For S$3.50, this was fairly good value, considering you're dining in air-con comfort and not fighting with the crowds for seats (as you'd be at the hawker centre or Parkway's foodcourts). Click on the menu here to see other offerings and prices. They also feature daily specials that change.

KILLINEY KOPITIAM (lots of outlets islandwide)
82 Marine Parade Central - along the row where Sam's Pets & Aquarium is (sorry, didn't take down the unit number, thought I could get it online but their website is dead)


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Alton Brown and Good Eats!

Wasn't able to post anything yesterday. Finally came crashing down, defeated by a virulent rhinovirus (common cold) bug I probably picked up from my stay in the hospital (Land of the Superbugs!)...grr. Cough, sore throat, runny nose. Now I can't taste or smell my food.

But! I can still watch and hear food quite well. I thought I'd share one of my favourite TV shows - Alton Brown's "Good Eats"! A quirky, fast-paced that combines pop culture, comedy and cooking with unusual facts about even the most common of ingredients. You also learn the science and history behind these, the best cooking tools (often creative, cheaper and multi-purpose) and then simple steps on how to prepare familiar favourites. All done in a very entertaining package. Thanks to user LikeTheHat, seven out of eleven seasons are available on Youtube.

Above episode debunks deep-frying as unhealthy, and shows us how to do it properly. Second half of episode below. Mmmh, fish and chips...

Oh incidentally, this is blog post no.200! Another milestone! Hurrah! We've come quite a way since May!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

New diet drinks in Cold Storage!

Woohoo! Slowly but surely, we are seeing more sugar-free drinks on the shelves of supermarkets in Singapore! The renovated and expanded Cold Storage at Parkway Parade now features Diet A&W Cream Soda, 7-Up Free and Diet Dr Pepper! Sure, some of you will still prefer the natural sweetness of sugar but for diabetics and the calorie-conscious, sugar-free varieties are heavensent! Now if they would only just bring back Coke Vanilla Light!


Monday, November 19, 2007

Bedok S$2 Eats: Chai Chee Minced Meat Noodles

In this day and age of increasing prices (especially that of flour and chicken skyrocketing of late), I was quite surprised to find that there are still S$2 cheap eats to be had. And in just one day, I found three in Bedok alone. But how do they fare?

First one up is Chai Chee Minced Meat Noodles. S$2 gets you a bowl of noodles with two wantans, one meatball, lots of minced pork and spring onions in a robustly flavoured soup.

Apparently local actress Patricia Mok grew up loving these (featured in Coffee Talks, Hawker Woks). The TV episode showed irresistibly springy, al dente noodles. What I got were quite a bit softer (some young boy was doing the cooking). On the whole, the dish was OK but it wasn't mind-blowing. What was surprisingly good though were the wantans - a tinge of salted fish or something in the mix added an intense burst of flavour. It called to mind the flavourful wantans I'd tasted as a kid near my grandmother's place in KL.

Interestingly, they only serve "bak chor mee" in soup. I hear if you ask for the dry version, you may get ticked off by the lady (I didn't try my luck). Overall, it's a decent meal but I still felt like something else after eating. Maybe I should have gone for the S$3 version. And next time, I'll ask for firmer noodles. Note that they only open until lunchtime.

Blk 216, Bedok North St 1 #01-58
Bedok Central Market and Food Centre
Opening hours: 7am – 2pm


Bedok S$2 Eats: Hon Ni Kitchen Nasi Lemak

At the same hawker centre as the Chai Chee Minced Meat Noodles is this nasi lemak stall with a long, snaking queue. No way I'm gonna join that, I said to myself. But curiosity got the better of me, and I vaguely remembered an old news article about it. Besides, the nasi lemak looked rather tempting on the plates of those eating around the stall.

My S$2 takeaway here got me a lot more protein than the bak chor mee. You can choose three items including one chicken wing (in fact, if you don't choose the chicken wing, they charge you even less). The otah is really soft and smooth - I could not tell it was chicken and not fish. The rice was a light version of what REAL nasi lemak rice ought to be. The stall owner only uses coconut milk sparingly, for a healthier dish (but hey all the other deep-fried stuff doesn't look that healthy). The sambal chili - the other critical aspect of nasi lemak - is all right, a bit on the sweetish side. On the whole, probably a good value meal, but it's best to eat this dish there piping hot, and not do a takeaway like I did.

Block 216 Bedok North Street 1, #01-76
Open: 7.30am to 1.30pm, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays


Bedok S$2 Eats: Roasted Delights at NTUC Foodfare

Aren't you always skeptical of S$2 chicken rice? I just think measley slivers of flavourless chicken on badly done rice. But something told me to give this stall a chance. Perhaps the lush, glistening and abundant display of roasted goods at the stall window. I came here looking at the roast pork and realised the chicken rice is only S$2. Hmm, I could try that with an addition of roast pork (and hopefully at least one of the two will turn out OK).

Wow, I was rewarded with this generous and delicious platter. The rice was fragrant and fluffy. The ginger-chili sauce and sambal chili were both good. Roast pork came with crunchy, crackling skin (ooh, I like!) and the chicken was decent (I soaked it with extra aromatic sesame-soy dressing, which they let you help yourself to). Even on its own, the S$2 chicken rice would have stood up well. Thumbs up!

NTUC FoodFare coffeeshop
Blk 204 Bedok North St
(next to the Bedok Bus/MRT Interchange)


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lemme Outta Da Hospital!

Ascetic 1800-calorie diet!, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

I had to sign my own hospital discharge form today, "against medical advice" - they wanted to keep me there longer but honestly, it was pointless idling in the ward when my tests seem OK. The doctors were a bit overly cautious, especially new ones that had never seen my file before (documenting all my high-risk factors). But really, all I needed was some medication to help control my pregnancy induced hypertension.

Anyway, glad to be home! I am not doing a feature on hospital food - most of us would rather not be reminded of cardboard cuisine, I think. Most of it I could only eat when imagining myself as an ascetic monk or nun, for whom this would be a veritable feast! But one plus point is - I have a renewed sense of appreciation for all foods previously thought mundane. Flavours previously taken for granted now come flooding back!


Friday, November 16, 2007

First blogpost via iPod touch

Well, well, let's see how smoothly this works. I'm blogging from KK Hospital on my iPod touch. Yeah not quite the most glam of hotspots but no choice. Have been admitted today for emergency observation. Hope baby doesn't need to come out early!

P.S. Sigh, there goes my plan for pigging out this weekend!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tauhu Sumbat

Army of stuffed tofu soldiers, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Tauhu sumbat - pockets of fried tofu stuffed with vegetables - makes a nutritious snack or meal. You get both protein and vegetables in one serving. Extra tasty when drenched with a spicy peanut sauce. It's quite similar to tauhu goreng in terms of ingredients, but tauhu sumbat can be finger food! Well, almost. It does get a bit messy and gooey, as you can see. Both are easy to make at home. I'm still tweaking the sauce recipe - I think there are two types - one a black, chili-laden watery sauce, and the other a thick, peanutty gravy.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Peter at Jago Close - Char Kway Teow

Char kway teow, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

This half-stall at Jago Close has built up a reputation for good char kway teow. It's not bad and I'd eat it more than once but it's not exactly something I'd travel across half the island for.

The first mouthful is very nice but somehow the subsequent ones can taste a bit bland, like the tastebuds have been numbed - sometimes I wonder if the allergens in seafood can have that effect on tongues. I've had similar encounters with Hokkien mee too.

If you'd like extra ingredients (e.g. cockles), you can add S$1. I've not tried the carrot cake - or maybe I have and forgotten. Anyway, Peter only opens in the evenings, 5.00pm to 11.30pm (good for supper!). He's been in business since 1969 but I guess he only takes orders now and leaves the heavy-duty frying work to his younger protege.

Fu Sen Eating House
228 East Coast Road
Open 5:00pm to 11:30pm; Closed Tuesdays


Monday, November 12, 2007

Indian rojak at Jago Close

Indian rojak - fritters of various kinds topped with chopped onions, cucumber and green chillies. This is from a small humble corner stall in a narrow coffee shop at Jago Close (near East Coast Road). Their fried potato is nicely seasoned, unlike the bland types elsewhere.

There is a certain fruity or fragrant sweetness to the dipping sauce - perhaps pineapple? I can't tell. I'm just thankful it isn't dominated by sweet potato mash, like it is at Saji's and Geylang Serai's. But other than that, this is quite an ordinary but satisfying Indian rojak.

I have only ever tried Indian rojak from this stall. Next time I should try some of its other stuff like prata, mee goreng or briyani.

Fu Sen Eating House
228 East Coast Road (junction with Jago Close)


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Swiss Backerei at Frankel Avenue

UPDATE April 2009: I went back to revisit, and they no longer have the croissant with the set. The rosti, sadly, was even more burnt. Breads still good though.

Rosti with bratwurst, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Ah, I wish I discovered this place earlier. Finally a nice breakfast joint! Swiss Backerei is a casual little bakery cum cafe along Frankel Avenue with some awesome breads and grub. It's a small but cosy place. There are just 4-5 tables inside and two outside, so dine-in seating is limited.

The rosti with bratwurst (S$14.90 for set meal) is a greasy platter but oh-so-delicious. The grated potato is well-seasoned and fried real crisp. I like my stuff a little bit burnt, so this was just right for me. The sausage was yummy with that coveted snap of the casing.

They have croques (sandwiches topped with Gruyere cheese and grilled) with different fillings. I chose the mushroom one (S$11.90 for set meal, S$9.90 a la carte) and it was another decadent indulgence. Lots of pan-fried mushrooms on good bread smothered with melted cheese on top.

The two meals above were sets, which mean they come with a croissant (butter or wholemeal) plus coffee or tea. The croissants were just heavenly - fragrant, soft, fluffy and crisp. The homemade strawberry jam (with thick cuts of fruit in them) had a tinge of orange or lemon in it that lifted it beyond the realm of ordinary jams.

Service too, was warm and wonderful. A sweet elderly waitress gave Nadine some animal-shaped cookies, which she enjoyed. Swiss Backerei also has a deli counter with meats and sausages. As for the baked goods section, there's lots of enticing stuff to choose from. The six-grain bread with cheese (S$5.20) is a treat for the tastebuds. Light yet addictive, good enough to eat on its own. Seriously, this place beats the Swiss Bake chain anytime for better food and more authentic eats!

97 Frankel Avenue
Open daily 7.30am to 7.30pm
Tel: 6441-8766


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sabar Menanti at Jalan Kandahar

Sabar Menanti is a name synonymous with nasi padang in Singapore. Although it means "patiently waiting" in Malay, you often don't have to wait long for your meal. Just point to what you want in the glass display of over 40 dishes and it is delivered very soon to your table.

The ikan bakar (charcoal grilled fish) is a signature dish here. However, I'm not a fan of the type of fish they normally use - ikan kembong (Chubb mackerel), I think. And while it looked good, today's fish tasted extraordinarily fishy (of the unfresh variety). "Hanyir" as Malays would call it! All the spices, raw shallots and chillies could not mask that stink. But the black sauce was great on rice.

Sambal prawn, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Now this was excellent. Prawns fried in a spicy sambal sauce. Only tricky part is removing the shells, some of which get melded to the flesh. I simply just ate them together. More calcium and more sambal too!

Beef rendang (dry beef curry), originally uploaded by Camemberu.

Beef or mutton rendang is another must-have dish when you are here. Rich, complex, spicy and almost smoky-flavoured. Good thing we got some tender meat today, even though it was lean. I've heard sometimes the meat served can be tough.

Another winner here - sayur lodeh that actually has some crunch and bite to its vegetables still! So much better than the varieties that cook the cabbage, long beans and carrots to a pulpy death. The curry is watery but still lemak (rich) and tasty.

Some side dishes that little Nadine could enjoy. Bergedil (meat and potato cutlets/croquettes) that were firm and savoury. Thick omelette pieces spiced with chili and onions. Oh, she enjoyed the lime juice there too.

Sabar Menanti is located in a quaintly decorated, yellow two-storey shophouse along Kandahar Street. You can dine al fresco or inside.

If you look further down towards North Bridge Road, you will see a Sabar Menanti II outlet at the junction. This is an offshoot/sister outlet, complete with de rigeur blood feud story. I've dined there too and it's also outstanding, if not better.

50 Kandahar Street
Tel: 6396-6919


It's Dars - Dars it?

It's Dars - Dars it?, originally uploaded by Camemberu.

I've seen many unusual Japlish phrases but this tagline takes the cake. Morinaga DARS ad on a Singapore bus. It's DARS.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Koo Kee Yong Tau Foo

I haven't had Koo Kee Yong Tau Foo (YTF) in a long while. What I really like is the thin but firm Hakka-style noodles topped with minced pork (or is it chicken these days, seems a bit dry). However, I don't seem to see Koo Kee YTF as often as before. Have they all morphed into the horrible Koo Kee Dumpling and Ramen outlets? Those shops always smell terribly rancid to me, so I've never tried them.

Anyway, the one Koo Kee YTF I do know that still exists (besides the food court stall at Singapore Expo and the original stall in Chinatown) is at Bugis Village, so I popped by to have a look. They seem to have upgraded their pricing and expanded into Japanese cuisine as well, in a bid to capture a wider audience. Unfortunately the food has taken a downturn. The noodles were too soggy for my liking, the YTF tasted bland and overly processed, and the prawn paste chicken a bit too...fishy. They have four types of set meals for S$7.90 - this was one of them. If you just want the noodles and YTF, it's S$6.90 - practically double the price of what they charge in food courts!

159 Rochor Road
Bugis Village


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Gordon Ramsay's stuffed pork loin/belly with crackling skin

I read this recipe in Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Heaven, which also showed a gorgeous picture. My final product is not as pretty but thankfully it tasted quite quite nice. The sage, parsley and lemon zest infused the meat with a lovely light fragrance. The meat stayed moist and there was no offensive porky flavour. The crackling skin was a treat! Managed to find the recipe online, so you guys can have a go at it too. Suckling pig loin not available in my market, so I used pork belly instead.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tong Shui Cafe

I have been conscientiously avoiding the Hong Kong style cafes that have sprung up all over Singapore. Mainly because the "cha charn tang" or Chinese teahouse serving modified Western cuisine simply does not sound appealing to me. However, one day I was enticed by Tong Shui Cafe (some good reviews, delicious website pics and unusual decor).

My friend and I shared an oven-baked rice with chicken wings (S$8.88). He too, had never tried a cha chan tang, not even in Hong Kong. The baked rice came in a bamboo steamer. It had a casual homemade feel and taste about it. The cheese and sauce on top was quite delicious. I wished there was more. The rice is a bit like fried rice, topped with two fried chicken wing drumlets coated with BBQ sauce. Surprisingly the rice didn't taste greasy or overly satiating at all. Yum yum. I would eat this again.

Yes, my FIRST ever HK-style thick toast (S$2.88), believe it or not. My friend's too. The bread is extra soft, just lightly crisped on the outside and fluffy inside. That plus the peanut butter and condensed milk make this a total carbo bomb!

Oh, we had to have this when we saw it on the menu. D24 durian puree on toast (S$3.88)? It was heavenly! I'm sure sugar was added to sweeten it further but the durian fragrance was unmistakable. Another carbo bomb but some things are worth it.

The cha chan tangs are particularly famous for their fragrant milk teas, and some weird concoctions like that awful "yuan yang" coffee and tea mixed together - something I *still* can't get my head around to (yuck yuck). My friend's milk tea with grass jelly (S$3.88) was nice and light though.

I had the 8 Treasures Tea (S$3.88) which came in a tall carafe, with more than enough for two glasses. Extremely refreshing and best of all - it seemed sweetened only by the longans within.

The decor is one way Tong Shui Cafe stands out from the rest of its competition. Bright walls, bold Chinoiserie, dark furniture and French chandeliers. "Tong Shui" means "desserts" in Cantonese but this place serves well more than that, as its menu of over 300 items can attest to. What's even better? Free wi-fi, Chinese movies on cable, football match screenings, and operating hours that run from noon to 6am - good news for night owls seeking a place to chill, eat and chat! I will most certainly be back!

Five outlets across Singapore (I tried the one at Liang Seah Street)
Open daily, noon to 6am

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