Sunday, December 7, 2008

Search for the best coffee

Singapore has a DEARTH of good coffee. seriously, this is coffee desert. Forget starbucks or coffee bean, those serve really yucky stuff that has no aroma whatsoever and is probably better for their coffee-styled dessert drinks with lots of mocha, caramel, whatever on it, which means it's really sweet and all that. i have yet to try a nice COFFEE that really tastes wonderfully of coffee. the best coffee i had was the one at Monmouth coffee in London (u can search for the london posts at the side) as that was so flavourful, aromatic, rich, and just beautiful, even though it was just a long black.

So on I go to a search of Good Coffee, using blogs to help me. So far, they have told me that the best is probably Highlander Coffee, and maybe Cafe Beviamo; some have suggested scrumptious cafe at Turf City is pretty good, while others have said peaberry and pretzel at sunset way has good coffee. so off I go.

Actually, the really ultimate BEST coffee I have tried is found in Cova, located in Paragon, that esteemed coffee chain from Milan. But it costs a whipping $7-8 bucks for a normal latte. So well I don't really count that because i can't go to paragon all the time (parking, ERP, etc) and pay so much for that, while i have to look pretty good to be sitting in that chic place.

Having mentioned that, I haven't actually reviewed Cova so i might as well do it now.

Cova is a really ATAS (high-class) place. founded in 1821 in Milan, it doesn't pretend to be anything but the most opulent, decadent, tea parlour serving excellent espresso, high tea, cakes, sandwiches, and the like, while even branching out into mains. the first time i went with K, K had the most yummy Panini he has ever tasted in Singapore - he said it himself - and I tried it, and it was so fresh, and full of flavourful ingredients, and even the bread was well done. great sandwich.

The COFFEE is absolutely OUT of this world. Wonderful. Very rich espresso, very fragrant aroma and a balanced taste with no bitter or sour aftertaste. Great. (9/10). If only it weren't so expensive.

Highlander Coffee comes next; located at Neil Road, it touts the perfect espresso, using only quality beans that they roast and grind themselves at their premises, and having knowledgeable barristas to turn those beans into quality coffee. I quite like this place; it is laid back without being pretentious and most importantly not too exorbitant; a coffee only costs $4 bucks compared to SB and CBNTL. mm.
the coffee was not too bad; very fragrant and aromatic (as all good coffee should be). quite a balanced taste, not too overpowering and strong; milky. (latte). (8/10).
i think i like my coffee a bit stronger, though.

Next up is Peaberry and Pretzel. Apparently they use peaberry coffee, which are beans that only have 1 pod rather than two. the coffee here was not too bad. the latte had a strong aroma and a "warmth". however, it wasn't very dark. maybe i prefer a darker roast. oh well. (7/10).

On the right is the Peaberry + Pretzel cuppa.

A few weeks ago, went to Scrumptious Cafe at Turf City. this was quite cheap, about 5 bucks for two shots. Good stuff. very aromatic and fragrant, as all coffee can be. went down pretty fast, though. (7.5/10).

Jones the Grocer was next. In fact, I visited this place twice, one day after another, because I was really impressed by this. Located at Dempsey, this place usually sells all sorts of groceries. but their coffee apparently is freshly roasted in Sydney and shipped back to SGP and served, and the quality and the freshness of the roasted beans really showed. The first time i had the iced latte and even through the straw, the aroma just wafted through, it was so intoxicating. and the taste was spot on - relatively dark roast, slightly bitter, not overpoweringly so, with lots of coffee flavour. good stuff.
i had the Hot latte the next day. This was just as good; still very aromatic, smells of freshly extracted espresso; relatively dark and slightly bitter as well.
Overall: 8.5/10

Having said that though, I have recently come across another great coffee. This one is even better. It's Cafe Beviamo, located at Tanglin Mall. The Cafe Latte i had had this wonderful roasty "roasted coffee" aroma, of dark caramel and intense flavour, of a very deep dark roast....almost chocolately in its dark finish. Great great stuff. There's no point putting a photo since it was a takeaway but this really takes the cake. (9.5/10). I could drink this all day long. Perfect cup. I think i'll drop by tomorrow.

Jo's 21st - Pierside!

Celebrated our good friend Jo's birthday (from L sch) at Pierside Kitchen, located at One Fullerton - by the sea - and apparently its run by the same group as Marmalade Pantry, aka the Marmalade group. The place had very very high ceilings and was done almost white, marmalade pantry style.

We started off with guess what, an Amuse Bouche. When they serve Amuse Bouches you already know that the meal is going to be super expensive. In fact, i can't really recall a place where I've eaten an amuse bouche. u see, this blog tends to focus on the - cheap, whereas in other blogs you might find that almost everything is at sage, or st pierre, or tatsuya's. although i wont go so far to only eat at hawker centres.
balance, it's all about balance.

so yeah the amuse bouche was actually very good. it was tofu with some thai-styled dressing of lemongrass, lime, sugar, to really whet the appetite for what was to come.

JQ ordered half a dozen oysters, and I was to have just one (i paid for one). But seriously these were really pretty darned good. Very fresh (apparently fresh that day), juicy, full of the salty tastes of the sea, and quite 'sweet' as well. nothing fishy. i like. and they were small. i think small oysters are much better. ($3 each, 9/10 - seriously you can't rate oysters)

And for the mains I had their Wagyu Burger ($38), not on their menu, it was a chef's special. it came, a large plate, with heaps of crisp golden fries which were done to perfection, each of them salty, crispy and slightly potatoey inside. The wagyu burger had a very delicate flavour, almost feminine-like, while the buns that the burger was on was also superbly done, each smothered with a nice butter. great, but i think the one at brown sugar still trumps this. hah. (7.5/10) - it's too ex, unfortunately.

And rounded off with such a nice cake from Rive Gauche. NIce. thankyou.

the burger wasn't that big, but there was so much greens. actually i like rocket, so can't complain.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ice Cream Gallery

Photos: Jeremy (my eating partner) looking gleefully; the outlet at valley point;
On the right: Strawberry cheesecake, Rum and Raisin ice cream

Ice Cream Gallery is probably one of my favourite Ice-Cream shops right now, along with Tom's Palette. Their ice cream is very flavourful and has a nice rich creamy consistency, and makes for yummy eating.
They have two branches - the main branch is at Valley Point, Cold Storage, along River Valley Road opposite the Esso petrol kiosk, where the Jervois Road turning is. The other branch is for the easties at Eastwood Centre, located off Bedok Road.
They are famous for their local flavours - one of my friends is such a regular of their 'soursop' that the auntie always knows what she wants everytime she goes there. But yeah at valley point I really do adore their 'Gula-Melaka with Red Bean'. It is so fragrant with the taste of good gula melaka interspersed with red-bean, it really tastes like Chendol in ice-cream form. Nice. Their durian ice-cream, made with D24 icecream, is superb as well, very rich and fragrant and full of bittersweet durian.

The last time I went I had this super good flavour, Strawberry Cheesecake. Swirls of decadent tangy strawberry and the "biscuity" layers of cheesecake, flavoured with a bit of salty caramel (I think) which lifted the whole palate, and the entire thing was very very deliciously yummy. Creamy too.

And if I can recall, the Rum and Raisin here beats all places flat. Very smooth, with the flavours blending together well, the raisins soaked in nice rum. probably the best rum and raisin in singapore. (don't even think about udders).

Rating: 8.5/10

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Beo Crescent Curry Rice

Beo Crescent serves this amazing Curry Rice with No Name - at a coffee shop in this humble HDB estate. Long queue - with lots of white-collared workers in the mix - for lunch one fine weekday, at about 12pm. I ordered the usual stuff that you order when eating Hainanese Curry Rice, namely Hainanese Pork Chops, cabbage, curry chicken - and I am happy to report that all the dishes really passed muster!
The Hainanese Pork Chops were very good - very crispy, tasty, and full of crisp batter (admittedly not that much meat); the cabbage was really really good, very tasty and comforting home-styled cooking - it just was so flavourful and went so well with the curry - and the chicken was alright - and all this was sloshed, along with thick flavourful curry onto plain white rice, everything just ended up in a messyyy gruel-like mess. But it was really so good.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blanco Court Kway Chap

Mamma Mia! Blanco Court Kway Chap is really quite awesome! and the thing is, it's so near my place. hehs.
apparently they are the brother in laws of the garden street kway chap people. and were formerly from blanco court as well - probably spin off from the original shop or something. but no matter - the food was very good. the innards were stewed very well, relatively tender - while retaining their porky aroma - and the kway was very smooth. I especially liked the black herbal soup that the kway came in, it was very herbal and full-bodied and robust - very good - compared to the others where it just seems to be soy sauce and water. i could literally slurp down the kway just with the soup alone. it was great.


not sure how this would fare compare with guan kee (toa payoh though). whch is awesome too.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Come Daily Fried Hokkien Mee

Went for dinner today with Jerry, and we went to this HKM place (hokkien mee) that J has always been talking about - it's called 'come daily fried hokkien mee', located at Blk 127 Lor 1 Toa Payoh. Heard alot of reviews about it - how it's excellent, and stuff - and alot of celebrities have patronised the stall before - heck, even an ang moh has eaten it - so i had to see how good it was.

It wasn't bad - it was the wet type, the type where the noodles are soaked in gravy - instead of having the gravy fried into the noodles , which is called the 'dry type' - (this is J's classification) - it was very good, the gravy was very flavourful and savoury of prawns, and the noodles were well fried, soaked in the gooey gravy - overall very tasty. nice stuff.

However, it was a bit oily - i felt a bit Jelak after that. But go try


Economic Mixed Vegetables Rice

I have so many posts to update - it's impossible to begin. But one place you ABSOLUTELY have to try is this Teochew Porridge stall in Ang Mo Kio, Blk 341, #01-13, Teck Ghee Market. The stall simply says 'Economic mixed vegetable rice', and judging from the queue, you'd know how popular it is. The first time I went, the whole food centre (and this is a proper food centre, not just a coffee shop) was eating bowls and bowls of that Teochew porridge with a myriad of dishes. And the queue, I counted, was about 13 persons long. that's how long i waited. Patiently, For my food.

A foodie must wait.

And so the food came; I was alone, and I ordered the Braised Duck, Sotong, Tau-Hu, and their Cabbage; and I must tell you, all were very good! The porridge was just the right consistency, very smooth, a bit "milky", still firm to the bite but soft enough, and with very clean flavours - no broken grains, all that;

The dishes were all good:
The duck was, in my humble opinion, better than alot of braised duck stalls even - it was very robust, flavourful, musky - went very well with the porridge. (Note, I went to the stall again today, it wasn't that good - a bit tough this time, but I have to give it the benefit of the doubt).
The Cabbage was outstanding - very savoury, clean flavours - a bit sweet as well - very tasty. great.
Tauhu was lovely - just the right texture, smothered in a savoury-sweet bean sauce that tasted really like my grandma's cooking. In fact all the dishes tasted like my grandma's cooking, typical traditional Teochew way - just the way it was done before.

You must try.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tom's Palette Again + Frutta La Viva (Ultimate Ice-cream post)

Went down to Tom's Palette again to taste their delectable ice-creams. In fact, I went two times last week (Saturday, Monday (yesterday)) to savour morsels of icy heaven - creamy, delectable morsels of ice-cream. As usual Eunice and Chronos (the owners/makers of the ice cream) gave me a warm welcome (I've graduated to becoming a 'regular') and asked what I would like - the first time on Saturday I had my usual 'Chocolate' + 'Salted Caramel Cheesecake' which are my ultimate 2 flavours every time I'm there - If you haven't already noticed, those flavours really take the cake out of all the flavours in Singapore , where ice-cream is concerned. The Chocolate was very rich and creamy and chocolatey, with the right notes of bitterness and sweet from the dark chocolate used in the ice-cream. It is very dark and very unctuous - go try. I told my friend C to try it and she was like - wow - now i shoudl have listened to you (she got another flavour instead) - one dip in my cup and she was sold. Chocolate from Tom's Palette: 9/10

The salty caramel cheesecake was also exceptional - just the right amount of saltiness to lift the flavours of the cheesecake (with just enough cheese) and balanced by a slight hint of caramel to round off the flavours. Lovely. Rich, salty, sweet, creamy, all at the same time. Amazing. 9/10

On Monday, I tried Eunice's "special" flavour, which is a Strawberry Sorbet. One mouthful and I was hooked, even J my skeptical ice-cream friend said it was probably the best he has ever tried. It was so so fruity, with a very 'strong' strawberry taste, and just tart enough so that it is refreshing and not too cloying - very very light and fruity. Apparently balsamic vinegar is added for flavour - i couldn't tell. Ultimately it is one special scoop of ice cream. Apparently she's not going to make anymore of this so plese go down and try if they still have it - because it is too epxensvie to make. Haha. this was really a 9.5/10

Today I made my way to Frutta La Viva which is a gelato shop located at Upp Bukit Timah - Lorong Kilat. It had garnered 6 chopsticks (the highest rating) in Makansutra, so I went in with high expectations. The lady was very nice and very motherly and explained to us that they just recently shifted here, since I told her that I always wanted to visit them since they were in Novena. They said that yeah alot of people cannot find the place since they are on the 4th floor there but now there's only one shop so can't go wrong - hurhur. She was really very nice and helpful, and allowed us to try all the flavours. So here is the rundown:

Bocio - chocolate + hazelnut - not bad
Chocolate+hazelnut (diferent from above) - very good* had a very nice rich chocolate flavour to it.
Hazelnut - very nice, roasted rich hazelnut and fragrantly nutty.
Mango - this was a revelation, very fruity with real mango taste, obviously made with fresh mango fruit.
Lychee - also one of their best flavours, very rich and sweet and fragrant and not too cloying. - full of fruit.
Rum and Raisin - wasn't too impressed.
Strawberry - very nice, alot of fruit.
Durian - very very very good - almost like eating the fruit itself - alot of fruit is used, bitter, sweet, and full of durian flavour, D24 (if I'm not wrong) - very rich and creamy. lovely. and it's the right durian flavour, not some that comes from lower quality fruit.

Anyway I had the lychee + durian, while J got the chocolatehazelnut and the strawberry. We left the place very happy people. Amazing gelato, probably the best in Singapore. Save your calories for Frutta La Viva, forget about Venezia! (oops).
Frutta La Viva: 9/10

Monday, November 3, 2008

Siang Hee Restaurant

Today I visited this Cze Char which apparently sells Fusion dishes - I got the link from ieat's blog and so went there looking for some good grub- it weas recently listed in Makanstura too. The place was in this dingy coffee shop with old ah-peks eating economy rice/ bee hoon from brown paper - very surreal, almost like in the 80s, perhaps. But this cze char stall apparently sells fusion dishes, aka innovative ones.

So we ordered the Prawns in Pumpkin Sauce, Marmite pork ribs, and a tofu to go along with it. The tofu came first - nothing spectacular, just good old tofu in sauce with a bit of spinach underneath - the innovative element. However, the deep-fried tempura prawns in pumpkin sauce was a revelation - juicy succulent prawns were deep-fried in batter and covered in this pumpkin sauce that had a really sweet "pumpkin" taste that came from mashed pumpkins similar to pumpkin soup, it was rich, sweet, and had the "starchy" aftertaste that characterises a pumpkin (okay this is probably a bad description). Yeah, it was good that just adding that to the rice made it a treat to eat.
The marmite pork ribs were not bad - the marmite taste was very subtle though - perhpas it is good that way. nice and savoury.

Ultimately a good place to go to.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The battle of Lor Mee =)

While i was in SCDF, HQ, there used to be a wonderful noodles stall selling great Lor Mee on tuesdays - rich starchy gravy filled with lots of piquant vinegar, and alot alot of minced garlic which gives you wonderfully fiery dragon breath afterwards. So Lor Mee was something I'd always enjoy eating, and basically it's just thick yellow noodles in a starchy savoury gravy (Lor) and topped with fried bits, ngoh hiang, pork, even an egg, sometimes even shark meat. Thus the true test of a Lor Mee is the LOR - good Lor Mee should have great Lor that is fragrant and smooth and savoury.

Xin Mei Xiang Lor Mee
This is located in Old Airport Road - and it was not bad. Topped with shark meat and other garnishes. Quite fragrant. Not that mind-blowing though. (7/10)

Bukit Purmei Lor Mee
Located at Block 109, Bt Purmei Road. Super long queue sia, i almost died (of hunger). It has a really nice flavoured lor made with pork and some seafood, if I'm nto wrong, and sipping it slowly, one enjoys the fragrant taste of the Lor with a hint of sour and a hint of salty. Very rich. The toppings were nice, fried crisp bits. The queue is realy long, though. (7.5/10)

Yuan Chun Lor Mee
Amoy street; Has probably the best Lor I have found so far - very fragrant and tasty and savoury, just perfect with a dash of black vinegar (make it a generous dash), alot of minced ginger, pepper, and red cut chilli - absolutely brilliant. The ingredients are not so good (just normal) but the noodles and beansprouts in the Lor was just good enough for me. Great. (8/10)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tatsuya's, Park Hotel

Blimey, this was probably the best Japanese food I've tasted, probably in my entire life. Now that's saying something; If I can recall, I've been to some expensive places, yes, but this one really takes the cake. It would not be an overstatement to say that Tatsuya's Japanese cuisine is absolutely superb it nears perfection.

We entered in, and was warmly greeted by the friendly but inobtrusive wait staff with the usual Japanese greetings; ushered promptly to our seats, and, immediately, we were asked what beverages we would like to have. "Green tea", we chimed, so it was - and it was served almost immediately after that. The menus came , which were really pretty, we were there for the lunch bento sets which were really 'affordable' (if $30 can be called affordable) compared to the $80 plus that you pay for the ala-carte. I had the Chirashi set (Barachirashi), while J had the Sashimi set and YJ had the Unagi + Sashimi set.

My Barachirashi set was a thing of beauty; Generous fish of the highest quality sliced over really tasty sushi rice. Mm. The fish were so numerous it literally covered the entire "box" of rice. And the great thing about Barachirashi is that the fish is finely chopped - and I feel raw fish should be enjoyed in small chunks - that way it really melts in your mouth and you can savour all the oils and the wonderful oommphy-delicately-fishy tastes of the fish and the fish oils while you chew.

The maguro I had was really nice - very fresh - and smooth; The Hamachi (Yellowtail) was not bad - quite tasty and undoubtedly fresh; The Salmon was a revelation, it was also very fresh and had the heady oily taste of fish oils and melt in your mouth texture combined with a taste that makes you go 'ooooommpphhhhh' im in heaven that kinda thing - when you bite into the fish and slowly chew on it to release the fish oils and the flavours start from the front and go to the back (it's a very bad explanation) - but really the fish here was really very very good, especially the salmon; The Salmon belly (if i think it was salmon belly) was also just as good as the salmon; The highlight was the Mekaji (Swordfish); it was really excellent. It was so tasty and flavourful, every bite was heavenly, and it was not too hard but it had a nice "crunch" about it.

And added to the wonderful fish was the nice Sushi rice - that was flavourful on its own; and cubed tamago which was done very well. The chawanmushi was also good - very good texture, smooth, and made with good stock, the old-fashioned way; there was even yuzu zest sprinkled on it. (I would have preferred it without). And the salad as appetizer was great as well, with a lovely sesame dressing that threatened to steal the show from the fish.

Ultimately a very value-for-money set, considering that fish at Tatsuya's is of the highest quality in Singapore. I'm so glad that I had rthe opportunity (thank God) to come and visit this place today with my lovely friends J and YJ so yeah. Go visit it. Go for the lunch sets, you woulnd't be disappointed.

See the photos!

(Barachirashi set: 9.5/10)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Matsuo vs Wasabi Tei

These are the two value-for-money Japanese set lunches that give you chirashi for below $20. Wasabi Tei's is $20 without GST/extras, while Matsuo's is $15, which comes out to about $17 all-inclusive. So how did they fare?

[I love to do comparative postings - it gives people the ability to make choices and comparisons between places, and it also includes reviews - so its's the best of both worlds.]

Anyway, I would really love comments. I'm not sure how many people read this blog anyway - probably only my friends - or those really bored - but please leave comments! and advertise! I eat alot. and travel to find food alot. So you can ensure that there are good reviews. And I guess I'm quite objective too, hopefully.

Anyway, Wasabi Tei is a small quaint 12-seater eatery on the 4th floor of Far East Plaza, and apparently there's always a long queue for lunch, and you must order all your food at one go - if you order second helpings after the first order it's an additioanl 20% charge. Well, I guess they must enforc ethis because there's really no seating space.

And moreover the chef is a really grumpy old man with a beard and looks like he came out of a kungfu movie. Haha. Well i guess it seems like he probably did, coz he didnt say a single word all the time we were there.

Anyway, I ordered a chirashi don which costs $20, and it was really super generous. It came with three fat slices of tuna, three fat slices of salmon, three fat slices of swordfish, salmon roe, 2 hotate (scallops, fat they were), on rice, with miso and the usual fruit, plus an amuse bouche of sorts. See the photo.

Well what I cannot fault was the generosity of the food - the fish slices were really fat, so it was really value for money. However, while the tuna was alright, and the swordfish great, I felt the salmon extermely bland; there wasn't that sashimi delicate lovely aftertaste that you get from eating nice salmon sashimi, more like something you will get if you just order salmon from the fishmonger. Means while there is the overall salmony fish taste, it did not have that delicate aftertaste one associates with salmon. The swordfish, however , was immaculate, very tasty, fresh, crunchy; very enjoyable. Full of flavour. The salmon roe was so-so. What was good, however, was really the amuse bouche of clams and jellyfish which really whet the appetite.
Chirashi don: (7/10)

Matsuo, on the other hand, is in Goldhill Plaza, near United Square; They serve chirashi don sets with chawan mushi every monday and friday for just $15. And it's a steal. It comes packed with goodies like fresh shrimp, the usual salmon, tuna, tamago, even eel, and some hamachi. While the fish was not as generous as Wasabi Tei, I felt the fish was more flavourful and fresher at Matsuo. Smaller pieces, but better tasting. The salmon actually tasted like salmon. heck, even sushi-tei salmon tasted better than Wasabi Tei. Hmm. Wonder what all this is about. Maybe it was a bad day. anyway what was nice was the chawan mushi because it had alot of wonderful ingredients inside, such as shrimp, mushrooms, etc. There was even a shrimp in the miso soup, haha.
Chirashi don (8/10)
The chawanmushi (8.5/10)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Local Delectable Ice-cream shops - Read, Homemade!

Hello everyone.
I Haven't blogged in a while, and the foodie in me is singing loudly. In fact, I usually eat pretty well, but it's just that blogging is really not that enjoyable sometimes, especially the 'typing'. I guess I could describe lavishly to you all the wonderful sensations of food and all that, particularly my use of the words 'robust and flavourful', but sigh, writing it down is much more of a chore particularly since my typing is rather...error-prone, as you could already tell.

Anyway, I'm here to introduce to you some of my favourite Ice-cream shops. In hot sunny Singapore ice-cream is a perfect pairing; It is REFRESHING, COLD, YUMMY, SWEET, and gives u a sugar high and cools you down. Having read so many food blogs about these home-made ice cream shops popping around Singapore, I decided to go down to these places to check things out.

First stop:
Udders is an Ice-cream parlour located at Goldhill, next to United Square. It has alot of flavours, and new flavours are constantly in the works. They have a board where flavours are scribbled down and you write down what new flavours you want, or vote on the existing flavours - so that they can create new flavours for you. Anyway, there are three ranges of flavours, Classic, Premium and Connoisseur, each with increasing price tags (Classic to Connoisseur in increasing order). The flavours for Classic range from stuff like vanilla bean, vanilla-almond-marzipan, etc, while Premium flavours include Rum and Raisin, D24, Cempadek, and Connoisseur Flavours include 'Mao Shan Wang' etc.

I've tried alot of the flavours, and the consensus is that they generally tend to be rather creamy and milky (that's the impression I get). Some of the flavours need working on - read, not strong enough. (but maybe I'm too spoilt by Tom's Palette - read on).

Mao-Shan-Wang was indeed very duriany, it had a strong pungent durian flavour - D24 was less strong (bittersweet); the good flavours were the Tiramisu - which featured alot of coffee liqueur, a nice Chocolate with Triple Sec which ended up like Orange-chocolate, with the orange adding nice tart notes to the rich chocolate, and probably the best was the Rum'n'Raisin: there was so much rum, and the raisins infused with so much liqueur, that it was really potent and yummy. Absolutely brilliant.

On the picture you can see: Tiramisu + Rum and Raisin.

Score: (7.5/10)
Some flavours need work;
The rum and raisin is a (9/10).

Truth be told, Haato is better for its ambience. The cafe at Ridgewood features immaculate furniture, a very relaxed ambience, board games to play, and colourful pastel-shaded walls overlooking a swimming pool. What's there not to like?
But I admit i'm really not that fond of the ice-cream. It's a bit too milky, too creamy, the taste not robust/full-bodied enough. The green tea ice cream was not bad - it had the requisite matcha taste of tea leaves, etc; the milk ice cream is not bad, very creamy and has this japanese milk flavour of subtle sweetness; However, the chocolate and chocolate banana leaves much to be desired since the flavours were very muted.
When you are at Haato, go for their waffles; it is very good; Stick to their asian flavours for maximum impact. The milk is very good.
Ice cream: 6.5/10
Ambience: 8/10

Daily scoop is located in Clementi Arcade, Sunset Way. The place is lively, full of buzz, and with friendly staff in a setting of pastel light blue walls and cheerful murals. It is a lovely friendly homely atmosphere perfect for a tea-time tete-a-tete. The ice cream is "created" in a open pan machine just in the middle of the store so everyone can take a look at how they make it. It is quite intriguing, the stirring and whisking and the moulding that comes to making ice-cream.

They have alot of flavours, alot of them very uniquely Daily Scoop. The Pure Chocolate is super addictive, very rich, dark, bitter enough and sweet; The Bailey's is not too bad; Coconut is also pretty good, and so is the Durian - with alot of rich sweet pulp; one of their specialties is the Lychee Martini which is really almost a lychee sorbet, very sweet (lychee) with only a hint of Martini.
Ice cream: 8/10
Ambience: 8/10

The Ice-Queen is located at Golden Mile Food Centre and it's just a corner stall opposite the Ah-Balling stall on the first floor (the higher floor). It serves only a few flavours (6, last count). Don't bother about the "western" flavours, the Caramel, Chocolate, etc. The flavours are rather weak because perhaps they do not use top quality chocolate. But the Asian flavours are superb. The Black Sesame is really really good, very nutty, heaty, oily, and done very well (8.5/10); the Durian is also very rich and good (8/10); Green Tea also good.
Ice cream: 7/10
Ambience: huh what ambience.

Lastly, we come to Tom's Palette; As expected, I have saved the best for last. This is one hole-in-the-wall ice cream shop located in Shaw Leisure Gallery (off Beach Road), which serves the most fantastically delicious ice cream available anywhere. Moreover, the two owners (Eunice and Chronos) are really really friendly and nice and affable, wearing smiles on their faces every moment of their lives and being really friendly, genuine, and warm - you can talk to them about anything, and they often tell you what new flavours they might be doing for the future. And they allow you to try all the flavours - and often zealously offer them to you for you to try.

But all of that would be of no use if the ice cream was bad - but fortunately, it is superbly delicious. Each of their flavours possess such depth of flavour, such finesse, such robust tastes - kudos to them for developing such rich flavours. The Chocolate Stout is great - ri
ch chocolate balanced by a hint of bitterness from the stout (7.5/10); The Chocolate here is the de-facto standard for chocolate, made with dark chocolate, rich, bitter, sweet, robust, and very very luscious and exquisite - top quality chocolate used here, no shortcuts (9.5/10); The Butter Pecan is just as fantastic - they roast the Pecans themselves and it is partnered by fragrant rich butter ice cream (8.5/10); Granny's favourite is also really quite brilliant, made with cookie dough and other things (i forget) (8/10); I really love their Salty Caramel Cheesecake, that is a brilliant piece of flavour art, really exquisite and brilliant. Salty caramel with just a hint of "saltiness" - but makes it so palatable - is paired with a creamy cheesecake where the cheese is oh so rich-and-creamy. Lovely. (9.5/10).

So, if you are in the area, please come to Tom's Palette. You wouldn't regret it.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tampopo, Ramen Santouka

Recently I have been visiting places that sell the same things, such as Ramen - this is down to two main reasons:
(a) I have been going to alot of places, so to put them under different blog headings would be too messy and also the whole blog will just have too many entries!
(b) Blogging the two stalls together will give one a better idea of the differences in taste, etc, and comparison which makes for more informed choices.

Well, no prizes for guessing that this blog post is about Ramen. Ramen is really Japanese mee-kia (though more springy) in a broth, which varies from place to place - in Kyushu it's the famous tonkatsu ramen which is pork bones crushed and boiled for days to get this milky white broth which is so intense and flavourful; in Sapporo there is the miso ramen, etc. So good stock is always a must.

Thus there are two "Ramen" champs of Singapore - there are others of course such as Miharu at Gallery Hotel, etc -- but these two are the most highly rated for giving the ultimate Ramen experience, if you know what i mean.

So on a wintery Sunday night Jeremy and I trouped down to Central to have a taste of Ramen Santouka, the famous Hokkaido chain of Ramen restaurants who had won many awards before. It is an unpretentious place, just a row of tables/chairs with a wonderful view overlooking the river looking onto Clarke Quay, with the kitchen at one end and the entrance at the other.

The specialty, I heard, was the Toroniku Tonkotsu Ramen, which is literally Pork Cheek with Tonkotsu (Pork Bones) Ramen. The Pork Cheek came separately in a plate, these lovely deliciously delicate things, while the ramen came in a bowl with the Tonkotsu broth, complete with all the condiments. One could either eat the Pork Cheek on its own, or dip it into the soup and eat with the Ramen. Either way you ate it though, the Pork Cheek was extremely flavourful and porky, with fat that really just melts in your mouth and bursting with intense pork flavour. My friend describes it as "melt in your ******* orifice good". The flavour of the Toroniku was not "smelly" in the sense of your average Pork from the market, but had a delicate husky flavour to it that was really very intense once you bit into it - it's something you have to taste for yourself - to savour pork heaven, pork heaven. The Tokontsu broth was really good too - i had the Shio, which was extremely flavourful, very rich and thick and full of porky goodness - there's this unami rush that makes the soup so addictive, mm. Wow. Just dip the pork cheek into the ramen and you'll have a good meal.
Awesome: (9.5/10)

Today though for the famous FOS lunch we went to this place at Liang Court called Tampopo which is famous for its Black Pig Pork Cutlet Tonkatsu, aka fried pork cutlet, as well as their ramen. Apparently their Black Pig Shabu Ramen was noted in Lifestyle for being one of the top 10 Ramens in Singapore. So I just had to order it. Die die must try? Let me try.

It came speckled with lots of chilli flakes with some cabbage and thin slices (shabu) of black pig in the broth. The broth was really quite spectacular, very rich, thick, robust and spectacularly flavourful, white and milky and thick which can only be a result of long hours of boiling those pork bones. The noodles were a bit firmer as compared to Santouka's which was much curlier , more like instant noodles in that sense. The pork did have alot of flavour even though it was cut so thin. However, comparing this to the Toroniku Tonkotsu Ramen, the pork cheeks wins hands down - not only was there alot more of it, but the taste and the sublime melt-in-your-mouth texture wins hands down - it was more intense and more porky - but then you're comparing apples and oranges. The black pig shabu ramen was still pretty good on its own. (8.5/10)

The salmon sashimi was fresh - good. (7/10)

We ended off with dessert. I had the Scoopz cake, which was simply sponge cake with cream and fruit. The sponge was really just sponge, very light, while the nice part was that even the cream was light so it didn't feel heavy or jelak. It would have been nice to have a bit more flavour in the sponge and cream coz it felt that I was just eating creamy milk, but yes it was a nice light meal indeed. Went very well with the peach embedded in the cake. (7.5/10)

More photos soon because my phone is a bit wonky today.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fish Soup! + More Amoy Street

Fish Soup is really healthy living.
There are two famous stalls in Amoy Street - Piao Ji Fish Porridge and Han Kee. So I have tried both and both are really good, in their own way.
Piao Ji features soup that is quite heavily flavoured, with garlic bits, fried pork lard (if i'm not wrong) and with garlic etc. with mackerel slices that were very fresh in the soup. The nice part of the meal was the taucheo in the chilli. Added a nice taste.

Han Kee features soup that is very light, with just fried garlic bits inside for flavour; It's just a very cheng fish soup that isn't robust at all, very light and teochew-style. But the star is the fish; the mackarel is very nicely sliced, very thick slices, and all very fresh with alot of flavour and very clean-smelling/tasting fresh fish. Nice. (8/10)

A tale of two Char Kway Teows

I have had the pleasure of two really good Char Kway Teows. One was very very good, almost brilliant; the other was just sublime. And they are none other than 18 Zion Fried Kway Teow (located at Zion Road) and Hill Street CKT (Bedok South), and the 18 Zion CKT is apparently the disciple of Hill Street CKT.
I went down to Zion Road the other day and the plate of CKT was really colourful-looking and it looked really good. The CKT was garnished with chives, lap cheong, etc and it was fried really really well, very robust and savoury and filled with the wok hei flavour of a good CKT - literally it was just full of the 'heat' of a good wok, while the kway teow was smooth, the sauce of the right balance, and the ingredients generous; the lap cheong added a nice touch....This is really the way CKT should be man. (8.5/10)

But Hill Street CKT was simply something else altogether. Not that Zion Road was anything bad - it weas really very good - but Hill Street CKT was really something else altogether, altogether sublime. There was enough wok hei, and the mix of lap cheong, chives, beansprouts, cockles, noodles, etc, with the black sauce and sweet sauce, and the beansprouts and chives gave it added crunch whicn contrasted with the noodles. Simply sublime. Yo u should go there and try. Very robust as well and savoury and also full of wok hei. (9/10).
Hill Street CKT
Bedok South Road Block 16

Fried Hokkien Mee Challenge

Fried Hokkien Mee (HKM) is one of the most popular of all local dishes. People who have gone overseas, and came back, inevitably crave HKM. It's just the combination of savoury prawn stock, noodles, sambal chilli, and prawns etc fried with nice savoury wok hei that gives HKM its character. So here are the few that I have sampled, with the winner!

1. Ah Hock Fried Prawn Mee
Thin beehoon was used, and it's the dry type. The uncle has been a legend who had fried HKM for ages already and has just come back from retirement. The HKM here is quite savoury but lacks the oomph factor. (7/10)
Chomp Chomp Food Centre, open till late.

2. Che Jian Fried Hokkien Mee
I've tried this two times; the first time it was really good; it was really wet, fried with thin bee hoon and noodles, and the savoury seafood prawn stock was robustly fried into the noodles so that there weas a nice prawny seafood taste. The second time it was a bit bland. Still good. better than ah hock. (7.5/10)
Chomp Chomp Food Centre, open till late.

3. Hainan HKM
This was really quite good; located at the bottom floor of Golden Mile, this is the dry type, fried till very "pang" and mixed with nice savoury hot sambal and chilli padi. Was a tad oily but very fragrant, there is great wok hei flavour and each noodles was well coated with stock. Nice.

4. Nam Sing Fried Hokkien Mee
The first time I tried it, it was rather bland and tasted really like vegeterian noodles, but the good thing was that it didn't taste heavy at all or leave a heavy flavour after that because they actually use vegetable oil. The second time round though, it was really really marvellously excellent. The noodles/bee hoon was fried in a very light prawn stock which tasted very heavenly, tasty, and savoury and it wasn't heavy at all. Full of wok hei flavour and so slurpable and so tasty. Must try man. (9/10)

5. Wisma Atria Fried HKM, Thye Hong
This is the wet kind. The stock is very flavourful and is infused into the noodles and was a pleasure to slurp up. However, it is inconsistent. (7/10)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

London - Wild Honey + Goldmine

Wild Honey is Arbutus's sister restaurant and it serves also a set lunch for a reasonably cheap 17 pounds for a michelin star restaurant.
So I went there with Colin from the famed "Only slightly pretentious food"to Wild Honey located in Conduit Street in Mayfair. The food was really quite outstanding, not bad, especially for that price.

We started off with a delightful Carrot Veloute, which featured olives, nuts, some salads, etc, covered in a cold carrot veolute which was really refreshing - it had a natural sweetness and really cleansed the palate and was very appetising indeed, especialyl with al the nuts and olives hidden beneath it. (8/10)

My haddock didn't go too wel lthough, it was a bit
fishy, maybe that's the way haddock is; however the risotto as always was well done. i hsouuld have ordered something else instead. colin's rabbit looked good. (7/10)

And we finished with Creme Anglaise with Floating Island again. Haha. same dessert as Arbutus. And amazingly, it tasted the same. woo. i wonder why. (7.5/10)


Here's the last meal in London with my mates at Goldmine in Bayswater, where the chef of Four Seasons had relocated too.

The Duck was less fatty than Goldmine's but no less delicious. Also very tasty and covered in the same slightly-sweet partly-caramelised soy-based sauce, very rich. (8/10)

Paired with some claypot Tofu - which was good if passe. (7/10)

ANd some Fried Rice - was very good, had a bit of that wok-hei and comparable to some in Singapore. (7/10)

All in all a great time in london, thank God and thank all my friends who had to put up with my nonses and bring me around. London is a great city and i'd definitely love to go back. Heh.

London - the Last London Post

Here's the final London Post on London Food!

The food at Paul's is really quite amazing. A homely, buttery, French patisserie, Paul serves delightful French pastries, great coffee, and even some Hot Meals all over London. While admittedly not cheap, the quality of the food really shines.

Had the Chocolate Tart, which was really the most amazing dessert I have had in London. Simple, but the chocolate was rich, divine, and had a nice balance of sweet and bitter and it was dense and rich enough, made with good quality cocoa. And the amazing ganache rested on a crust that had the fragrance of almonds and good butter was used; the crust was a delight to eat.

The Viennese coffee was good; aromatic, and with alot of cream on the top; really quite good. (7.5/10)

BTw i went to Fernandez and Weills a few days later which served the most aromatic coffee ever. It was really robust, strong, rich and everything a good cuppa needs. NO picutres though, i forgot.

And this was precluded by a lovely Four Cheeses Quiche which was also very well-done, made with authentic French ingredients. (7.5/10)

Anyone ever think of bringing Paul into Singapore? It will be such a hit. Who cares about Delifrance? Let's have the real French stuff!


So we were at SW's house for the next Saturday's cook-in, and this time we really outdid ourselves. LJ bought a few big steaks (i heard the butchers were saying "beautiful", "beautiful" when cutting those steaks) and we simply just marinated them with salt and pepper and pan-fried them over high heat for the required time, namely 2 and a half minutes on each side; but the steaks were cut so thick that the outsides were nicely charred from all the panfrying and the insides were still delicately pink and succulent, still brimming with the juices of a nice beefy steak. And the taste was just sublime, beefy, musky, heavenly, and just oommmpphhherly good; biting your teeth into it oozes juices that just.....okay you get the idea; even two months after that trip i can still remember the taste. wow.
I actually made a shalot confit (with onions) to go with the steak - simply just caramelise onions in a pan and add that as a garnish - and actaully to be truthful the steak didn't need it at all, it was that good by itself, but the shallot confit did add a nice different touch , a sweet touch, to cut some of the richness.

And this was paired with some lovely roasted chicken (it was a Poisson, free-ranged chicken) simply stuffed with rosemary and rubbed with salt and pepper and roasted and it was really very good, very flavourful - all to show that good ingredients go a long way.

I cooked Sauteed Mushrooms - with lots of Butter, and chopped garlic, that went down very nicely and well - musky earthly mushrooms with aromatic pungent garlic make a good combination.

I even cooked a Cream of Brocolli and Mushroom soup from the leftoveres of the brocolli and mushrooms, slowly boiling it for hours; and it turned out realyl nicely. very well. yummy. too bad everyone was full after those heavy meats.

it was a great dinner .
thankt he hosts.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Prawn Noodle Challenge

I still have alot of London Food journeys to upload, a huge backlog; but here maybe it's appropriate to shift the scene to the local food hawker scene. Namely, prawn noodles. Prawn Noodles, being a Hokkien dish, is, in its most basic form, prawns served with noodles in prawn stock, usually with pork, or some pork ribs, added to it. The secret lies in getting a great soup from the prawn stock and the exceptional Prawn Noodles will have great soup, tasty unami soup filled with prawns and all that lovely stock. if not, it would not be worthy to be drunk. The noodles are usually secondary. Great prawns are also a bonus - they should be sweet, not the farmed tiger prawns kind.

So here are the challengers:

1. River South (Hoe Nam) Prawn Noodles
This place was very crowded, but it was really quite good. It wasn't the holy grail i was expecting since everyone gave this place 6 chopsticks and so i thought it must be really super zai but it was only just "very good", not really "wow-inducing" yet. It is the dark Hokkien traditional kind, with the robust taste of pork ribs and prawns simmering in a dark robust prawn stock. I should go back to try it out though. [7.5/10]

2. Adam Road Noo Cheng Prawn Noodles [Adam Road Branch]
Noo Cheng is super inconsistent; some days the soup will be super shiok and some days it will be very bland, barely discernable that i'm drinking prawn noodles soup. Thus it all depends on the day: if you go when it's very crowded, the soup is likely to be better; because they will cook e prawns in the soup so you get better soup, and if they cook more prawns, the soup gets better. and later in the day it tends to be better as well, since there have been all the prawns cooked the day before for the soup.
When the soup is good, it is a [9/10] - it is fully robust, with lots of prawn flavour, and a unami rush.
When the soup is bad, it is only about [6.5/10], yuou probably only taste the MSG.
Oh well.
The dry version is better because the chilli they add to it is really very zingy and flavourful.

3. Adam Road (Noo Cheng) Prawn Noodles - Zion Road Branch [Zion Road, not adam]; This is even better than the Adam Road branch. The soup is very flavourful and will "definitely give you that unami rush" - in the words of ieat; but it is true....the soup was very robust and each mouthful full of prawn flavour and stock (like what you get after you eat steamboat and the soup is left) and gives you the unami rush. Very good. [8.5/10]

4. Wah Kee Cambridge Big Prawn Noodles - Cambridge Road Pek Kio Market.
This is a controversial one. Some people love it, some people don't. My eating partner who swears by adam road doesn't like wah kee at all. But I do. The soup is different; here the soup has that somewhat bitter-sweet bisque taste that is probably from frying the prawn heads and thus the prawn extracts of the head come to the forefront in the taste palette and gives that bisque taste that the other places dont' have. The soup is robust, flavourful, tasty, with the bisque aroma to the forefront, but it also provides depth of flavour and is not too salty like the other places are. Different. The noodles are tossed in a nice savoury chilli sauce which goes with the noodles very well. Very good. [8.5/10]

5. Joo Chiat Prawn Noodles - Joo Chiat Road
Joo Chiat Prawn Noodles is very value for money; the soup is quite robust in itself though probably not as flavbourful as some of the other places; alot of the aroma comes from the onions and shallots that is in it. but it comes with alot of prawns; for 4 bucks there are so many prawns that it just puts noo cheng to shame. however it is too far away for me to go all the way there. a worthy contender if you're in the east. [7/10]

Sunday, August 31, 2008

London Week II - Borough Market, Paul

London Week II took me to borough market again on the corresponding thursday to try out the famous cheese raclette as well as have some more of those ddarn oysters - i had been craving them since the week before when those delightful molluscs enchanted me with its briny sea taste and aroma of the seas.
so i went down; and i decided to pick the big one, at 1.60pounds each; it was a mistake; those larger oysters were in fact more fishy and less fresh than the small ones and had a bit of the 'bad taste' in it, even though the lemon was already used; perhaps they weren't as fresh. so if you go to richard hawkins, please buy the small ones, i think those are better. (6/10)

EDITOR'S NOTE [29/12/2011]: I think 6/10 was a really harsh score to give: see the previous entry "London Food Week II" - where I gave the Richard Hawkins oysters a 9.5/10. Perhaps 6/10 was really too low a score. Never mind.

the cheese raclette was good, but not really much to shout at; i just didn't lke the combination of potatoes and cheese; sorry, not my thing. but i know whyp eople will like it. (7/10)