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.