Saturday, November 21, 2009

Oosh at Dempsey Has New Restaurant

Oosh at Dempsey has a new restaurant upstairs of its bar, launched just last month. It serves
Modern European cuisine created by new Head Chef Zulkarnaini Dahlan who has undergone training by Michelin-starred Chefs Eric Guilbert from La Tour d'Argent, Paris and Gilles Marx from Taillevent, Paris for 7 years.

Keropokma, Momo, HungryCow and I had the pleasure of dining there at the invitation of Executive Director Sharon Goh and her colleague Indri who were the most wonderful hosts. It was my first visit to Oosh and was stunned by the vast and lush outdoor zones. The restaurant is air-conditioned, with dark wood and dramatic lighting. The food, as we found out, was pretty good.

Seared Frog Legs
The "Seared Frog Legs" came highly recommended. Frog legs aren't something I would ordinarily order but this dish blew me away. For the first time, I had no guilt eating them. They were so delicious! The well-seasoned crispy exterior gave way to sweetly tender and juicy flesh.

Grilled Portobello Salad
We also loved the Grilled Portobello Salad, with tangy balsamic vinegar dressing. Love the caramelised onions and sliced radishes.

Foie Gras Ballotine with Prune Compote
The Foie Gras Ballotine is like a terrine. I liked it on its own best, without any bread. A tiny sprinkle of salt helped the fatty flavours sing. And after you let the foie gras melt on your tongue, take some of the prune compote - the savoury and sweet mingle beautifully.

Mushroom Soup
I also enjoyed the mushroom soup. The other soup was Vegetable Consomme (not pictured), a clear and homely concoction.

Bread rolls with homemade garlic butter
The bread rolls come with homemade herbed garlic butter (unsalted, it seems). Fans of garlic will love the intense garlic hit.

Tenderloin Rossini: Grilled Tenderloin topped with Seared Foie Gras served with Celery Puree and Bordelaise sauce with Sliced Truffle
Tenderloin Rossini: Grilled Tenderloin topped with Seared Foie Gras served with Celery Puree and Bordelaise sauce with Sliced Truffle. Grilled meat with foie gras and truffle? Luxurious to say the least. We all waxed lyrical about meat. There was a distinct hint of truffle oil as well in this.

Grilled Salmon with Pommes Sarlandaise, Apple Compote and Dill Cream Sauce
Grilled Norwegian Salmon with Pommes Sarlandaise, Apple Compote and Dill Cream Sauce. They did an excellent job with the salmon which remained soft and juicy despite being grilled. They probably poached it lightly first. Clever.

Duck Confit
The Duck Confit is pretty decent, although I prefer a crispier skin (I'm a crispy skin fiend!). The potatoes with browned onions make a good side.

Pacific Dory: Pan-Fried Herbs and Chilli marinated Pacific Dory with Sauted Vegetables and Tomato Butter Sauce
Pacific Dory: Pan-Fried Herbs and Chilli marinated Pacific Dory with Sauted Vegetables and Tomato Butter Sauce. A fairly decent dish, with the unusual chili and tomato flavours, but the other dishes just outshone this one.

Lamb Navarin that's been gently stewed for 36 hours!
Their Lamb Navarin is a stew that's been gently cooked for 36 hours at 60 degrees C. The result - truly tender lamb. Comes with a mound of fragrant al dente rice (a nod to the chef's Indonesian background). But the tomato-based seasoning didn't work as much for me, as I'm not too fond of tomatoes.

Tagliatelle with Fresh Tiger Prawns, sauteed with garlic, chillies and anchovies, topped with Parmigiano cheese shavings
Tagliatelle with Fresh Tiger Prawns, sauteed with garlic, chillies and anchovies, topped with Parmigiano cheese shavings. This sounded good but my tastebuds were probably overwhelmed by the time I tried it, so it was a tad bland for me.

Lemongrass Panna Cotta
We tried quite a few of their desserts too. This one won favour round the table - Lemongrass Panna Cotta with drizzles of fresh Rock Melon Puree and Raspberry Coulis served with Japanese Black Sesame Ice Cream.

Strawberry Souffle
Strawberry Souffle. Light and fluffy, with coarse sugar grains for texture. I should like to try the Grand Marnier version next time I visit.

Coffee Melt - yields to your spoon to reveal a melting centre served with Kahlua Creme Anglaise
Probably my favourite - Coffee Melt - it's like a chocolate fondant, except with super thick coffee lava. Served with Kahlua Creme Anglaise and vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Cake
Chocolate Gateaux, which was more like a dense chocolate bar. Tangy mango jelly and caramel swirls complement the rich dessert.

Brillat-Savarin Single Cheese Serving with Walnuts, Seedless Grapes and Crackers
Oh the Brillat Savarin. This uber-creamy soft cheese is so heavenly it had me joking that I need to change the name of my blog. One of those "close your eyes and go 'Mmmmm!'" sensations. But it's nice only if you like cheese and can stand stinky cheese. Keropokman and Momo did not touch this.

Thank you once again, Sharon and Indri, for a great dinner. I'm certainly coming back with friends and family. They have very affordable menus for lunch (3-course for S$24), and dinner (3-course S$45; 4-course S$45). If you'd like to splurge, the S$80 gastronomy menu gives you five courses of their best offerings.

22 Dempsey Road
Tel: 6475-0002
Dinner 7pm - 11pm

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Whampoa Keng - Makansutra Dinner Nov '09

The Nov 2009 Makansutra forum dinner was held at Whampoa Food Street (Keng) Fish Head Steamboat Eating House aka WFSKFHSEH (aka whattaf-ingmouthful!). Easier known as Whampoa Keng for short. The food is decent, down-to-earth and without pretensions. They seemed to have some trouble handling our big crowd of over 70 diners, but it was a good meal.

"Hae Cho" or Dep-fried Prawn Roll
We started with some really good "Hae Cho" or deep-fried prawn roll. I like that the filling was peppery and had coarsely chopped ingredients rather than a pulverised paste. The beancurd skin is fried to a roaring crisp - always a bonus in my books!

Fish slice charcoal steamboat
Charcoal steamboat is the signature dish here. I'm not a fan of steamboat but I have to concede the soup stock is indeed delicious. I had at least three bowls of the soup! However, folks at a neighbouring table felt that their Rangoon Road branch served a better version.

Whampoa Keng's signature fish steamboat
We had the sliced fish version, which came with lots of ingredients - thick chunks of "batang" fish, vegetables, fried yam slices, seaweed and and large pieces of "ti por" (dried fish - see the dark piece in left photo). It's a small pity that the fish was not the freshest catch but the stock made everything tasty.

Fish lip with broccoli and mushroom
Fish lip with broccoli and mushroom - I was intrigued by the name. I was picturing tiny slivers of aqua-puckers. Then the dish arrived. These large, chewy, gelatinous yellow slabs are the lips of some fish? I'd be afraid to see the rest of the fish! Certainly is unusual but not my favourite thing. I'd go for fish maw instead any day.

Salted Egg Prawns
Salted Egg Prawns - these were incredibly rich in colour and taste. Thick, crusty batter coated with sandy salted egg yolk. There was a distinct taste of curry powder too, complemented by the finely shredded kaffir lime leaves.

Yam Basket with prawns
Yam Basket with Prawns - this gorgeous photo is taken by a long lost friend of mine who came for the dinner. We have not seen each other for 10 years! Wow, he's better at using my camera than I am! Look at the composition and nice depth of field he managed to get! I'm reminded that I have much, much more to learn.

Oh the yam basket is fantastic, by the way. And I mean the yam ring itself - it didn't really need the filling, it was good enough to eat on its own. I feel like taking a bite out of this photo...I love yam rings.

Prawn paste chicken
Prawn paste chicken - one of the better ones I've had. Everything deep-fried here seems to be super deep-fried. It's all so supercrispy!

Black pepper pork chop
Black pepper pork chop - by this time, we were all quite full. Well, we drank a lot of soup earlier! I did feel that the seasoning in this dish was "too busy" - too many flavour elements muddying the taste.

Khong bak pau
The "Kong Bak Pau" or Braised pork belly slices with steamed buns (in the background). The pork was fabulous, but the buns were still semi-hard. I think they were rushing the dishes (it was getting late) and were not able to steam the buns properly for such a large number of guests. But the pork slices were really well-executed.

Hotplate Venison
Hotplate Venison - very tenderized and robustly seasoned, this goes best with rice. Yup, there's always lots of meat in the lineup for these dinners! Sorry I did not get a good photo of this dish. But it was very popular, gone in a flash.

Fried Tang Hoon
The final carb. Fried Tang Hoon that's surprisingly not oily! It was delicately flavoured, so it probably is meant as a base for other dishes. I like that they gave lots of shredded fresh vegetables, which nearly makes this a salad! There are also bits of the "ti por" that add a burst of flavour here and there.

Fresh Fruit Platter
Fresh Fruit Platter to cleanse the palate. After a heavy meal, this is the best dessert.

All in all, a wonderful meal, with more than a few dishes competently done. I'm filing this place as worth coming back to.

Main Outlet: 556 Balestier Road, Singapore 329872
Branch: 116/118 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218394
Tel: 9769-4451
Both open daily
Mon-Fri: 11am-3pm, 5pm-11pm
Sat-Sun & PH: 11am-11pm

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chocolate Trouble and Cherry Love

Choc rum cherry cupcakes
I'm a Google-holic. Despite having some really nice cookbooks, I still trawl the Internet and use obscure recipes from totally unknown sources. Some of these have turned out fine, but I got a few duds recently. Like my attempt at chocolate rum & cherry cupcakes. These came out moist and soft out of the oven but became mysteriously dry when cool.

But you learn from errors. I found a valuable tip from Rose Levy Beranbaum's blog - When you use hot water to dissolve the cocoa powder, then let it sit to cool, some of the water evaporates. You can lose as much as two ounces! Wow, who'd have thought!

A reader helped solve this mystery which has bugged Rose for 18 years! She couldn't figure out why others could not get the same results from her recipe. She wraps all items not going to be used immediately, especially chocolate and water.

Dissolving cocoa powder in hot water was the first step in the recipe I followed - and of course it sat there for quite some time while I prepared the rest of the batter. And the recipe had only half the liquid called for in my cookbooks.

Ah. Baking - too many moving parts! I'm going to stick to my cookbooks for the rest of my learning curve.

Yummiest maraschino cherries!
However, the one saving grace was S&W's maraschino cherries. These are beautifully sweet with very little of the horrid medicinal cough syrup taste that you get with some versions. I can't tell you how much I used to detest maraschino cherries before this. These were awesome and have made me a convert. I wish I put a whole lot more of these cherries on the cupcakes. Now I can't wait to buy a new bottle! (This one was kindly given by S&W along with a host of other goodies).

Choc rum cherry cupcakes
Oh I also tested my new toy external flash unit on these cupcakes. First time taking indoor shots without having to worry about lighting! No need to bring items close to window for sunlight! Oh my, this almost feels like cheating! How I ever survived without a flash unit, I can't imagine. But I'm still learning how to use it (it's got a lot of complicated features), so bear with me.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

ABC Restaurant - 24 Hour Prata and Briyani

Banana Honey Prata
A former colleague of mine (thanks, Adrian!) told me of a wondrous banana honey prata at an "ABC" coffeeshop in Joo Chiat. That was easily 5 years ago. I finally had the chance to try it - and oh my, I'm slapping myself for not coming earlier. Gooey sweet nectar and semi-caramelized bananas are so good together with crisp prata! Eat it while it's hot though, cos that's when it's best. Never mind if you're halfway through your other dishes when it arrives. Just eat the prata first!

Nasi Briyani Ayam
Their nasi briyani is not bad either. Good fluffy basmati rice with decent curry/gravy. You will mop up the whole thing in no time.

Mee Goreng
Mee goreng (fried noodles) here is a sloppily thrown together dish. No high scores here on taste, but the dish has surprisingly good "wok hei"!

Help yourself to nasi lemak
There are packs of nasi lemak on the table you can help yourself to without waiting. In a way, it's a nice touch of hospitality, but don't ask me how long they've been sitting there.

This is the shop - it used to have a signboard!
This is the shop - it's at the junction of Joo Chiat Road and Duku Road, pretty close to the Joo Chiat Community Centre. There used to be a signboard, but that's gone now for some reason.

Business is brisk for this casual joint. Seating can be a little cramped but the patrons don't seem to mind. They just kick back and enjoy the food with some teh tarik or masala (chai) tea.

365 Joo Chiat Road
Singapore 427610
Tel: 6346-8549
Open daily 24 hours
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