Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Novus

The only previous time I ate at Novus, which was at my friends' (A & G's) wedding, I was suitably impressed, and hence when there was a chance of having lunch at Novus, I jumped at the opportunity. Little did I know that the ambience was so delightful! As you can see from these photos, the interior was decorated beautifully with coloured walls, high ceilings with mirrors, flowers, warm lighting, and the like. It was very old European in execution - reminscient of the Versailles palais (somewhat) or the Schonbrunn Palace - and definitely not kitsch - very nicely done I must say. 












It was a pity, however, that they did not have their set lunch, which would have saved us a lot of money. Instead we ordered ala-carte - which meant that we could try their foie gras! And what good foie gras it was! Perfectly seared, crisp on the outside and smooth on the inside, with a lovely charred flavour giving way to a rich velvety interior with just enough taste of liver, and paired with some caramelised fruit-like things. Great dish and almost as good as the foie gras at Eleven Madison Park. Only grouse was that there was not much to go around but I guess good things comes in small packages. (8.25/10)












I had the duck confit paired with some roasted potatoes and mushrooms and sprigs of rosemary. The skin was crisp and underneath the requisite layer of fat was present - which made for enjoyable (but sinful) eating. The addition of rosemary went well with the duck, cutting through the latter's richness and muskiness with hints of spice. Overall a competent duck confit (7.5/10).


















My friend had a steak which came with herbed butter. She enjoyed it and I tried a bit and it was pretty good. Probably not going to rate it here since I wouldn't be getting the full picture, but yes. 


























Anyway, here's wishing you a very merry Christmas and may you be blessed by the Lord as you celebrate His birth and the wonder of it all.

(Another shot of the wonderful interior).










Thursday, December 20, 2012

Meii Sushi

Meii Sushi has moved from their old hideout at the corner of Tanjong Pagar Plaza into a little corner of the second story of International Plaza - not much of a difference. The menu remained the same - however. We placed our orders for the Chirashi Don which came out looking like what you see in the photo. In other words, not very good - the pieces of fish were tasty enough especially the large prawn, and the salmon was just cut hence rendering it fresh - but the rice was not vinegary enough and the fish in general was just ... okay. I've had better. (6.5/10)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Strangers @ Work - Raffles Place


Another coffee joint has joined the party at Raffles Place - the owners of Strangers' Reunion have set up a shop in the CBD (more particularly in the Arcade) aiming to serve good coffee to the masses at work - hence the name "Strangers @ Work".


Head down and grab some good coffee! Yes I went there today (opening day) and it was good as usual. Of a similar standard to their usual shop at Kampong Bahru road.

The place also sells Greek-style yoghurt.





Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ramen Bari-Uma, Tanglin Shopping Centre

Yet another ramen joint has sprung up in Singapore - Ramen Bari-Uma, located at the basement of Tanglin Shopping Centre (NOT Tanglin Mall), replacing the Bombay Woodlands restaurant. Apparently it's a chain of ramen joints from Hiroshima.

The Travelling Hungryboy gave this place a very good review, stating that it has fast propelled into his top 3 ramen places in Singapore, along with Menya Mushashi and Tonkotsu King. Well, since I loved the latter two, I had to try this place out for myself.













I visited at circa 9.30pm on a Sunday night and boy was it empty - the only other diners were 4 Japanese. I ordered the Ajitama ramen (their specialty) to see what the fuss was about. 























My ramen soon came - and boy it was good! The broth was reminscent of Menya Musashi's - thick, savoury, full of umami, not too salty, and with a bit of that smoky flavour, although not as smoky as Menya's. Good, although I have to say I prefer Tonkotsu King's soup, which is a bit more complex. The pork on the other hand was better than Tonkotsu King's - it was charred nicely and had that char-grilled flavour. 



Overall a very good Ramen joint in Singapore - top 3 for tonkotsu. (8/10)







Friday, December 14, 2012

Artistry @ Jln Pinang

It seems like so many independent coffee shops are now sprouting up all over the island like mushrooms, when just five years ago you'd be hard-pressed to find any. Then Papa Palheta / Oriole came, and soon the island was replete with cafes. How cool is that. But wow my dream has always been to set up a cafe, but now there are already so many! But I guess, the more the merrier...Okay enough of my musings - today's review is on a relatively new space called Artistry, located at Jalan Pinang, which is just next to Arab Street. (It's also near the jamming studio, for those in the know (BeatMerchants)). The space is airy and well lit (I apologise for the bad photography) and serves as an art space as well, to display works of local art. There's also space for live music performances - and as you can see, there we have a musician restringing his guitar.

Terence of Liberty once posted on his Facebook that the brandy cake here was so good, so I came down wanting to try it. 

Add caption
However, I was successfully distracted by the Lemon Poppy cake that looked ever so appetizing, and was in fact, according to the waiter, the best-seller in the cafe. Hence, I went with it - and, wow, no regrets. Pretty good - tangy, with good texture from the poppy seeds. Moist enough, as well, and not too light (I hate cakes that are too light actually). This was good. Plus it came with some delicious lemon curd which was not too sweet and with just the right texture. (8/10)

The coffee comes from the abovementioned Liberty Coffee - consumed as a Gilbratar, there were notes of chocolate, full-bodied and easy to drink. The usual Liberty-style blend (8/10). The usual. 





Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Teppei Revisited (Again)

Taking into consideration the number of times I've been to Teppei Japanese Restaurant at Orchid Hotel, it would be an almost impossible task if I had to blog about every single one of my eating excursions at Teppei. Hence, I only blog when the food is truly remarkable - as was the case last Tuesday when I went down to Teppei with J for omakase.


We started off with their usual salad-style dish - the salad here was with lotus roots. It was nice and crunchy. Next up came squid with squid eggs (above) - the squid well tasted like squid, while the roe was delicate with an interesting texture.



Things got more interesting with Fugu Sashimi - having never eaten Fugu the poisonous fish before, I guess I was excited to try it - if it didn't kill me, of course. Thankfully I'm still alive. Marinated in some light ponzu / soy dressing, the fugu had a slightly springy texture and delicate flesh.

The sashimi course soon came and left me impressed - Chef Teppei must have been feeling in a generous mood, for the course included 1 toro, 1 scallop, swordfish, etc. The toro was buttery heaven of course, as always; what really stood out was the scallop which was fresh plump and sweet. 






















Next up, we had pork knuckle in some vinegary dressing of sorts. Rather interesting and the bones were great to gnaw on, with some crispy areas which packed in a punch. 


We moved on to some Chawanmushi with cheese (pictured below) which featured exquisitely smooth egg curd and a hint of cheese.






















Some fried items came - fried monkfish and puffer fish. Both were alright. 







There was some tempura okra with whale sperm "shirako" inside - it's an interesting experience eating 'shirako', since it's got that umami, but is a little fishy as well, and yet the texture is a bit like eating into a gingko nut. I wonder if that's the right description, although. 

Next up was a Wagyu beef fried teriyaki style. This was very good, as always - tender beef, well seasoned and fried. Very tasty.
We had clam soup after that, with some Japanese yam. This was alright, though I much preferred Teppei's other incarnations of clam soup. The previous one which he served with yuzu was simply amazing.

I remembered pointing to the uni which I spied on Chef Teppei's work station and mentioning to him that I would like to have some. Chef Teppei duly obliged by making us a nice big uni sushi each during the last course (told you he was in a generous mood?) where one could choose sashimi rice, fried rice, fried udon.... As you can see in the photo above, that was just lovely uni - floral and full of umami. The ikura on rice, as well as the barachirashi on rice, were equally good. Can't fault the freshness of the ingredients nor the execution.

Overall a meal at Teppei is always good fun and always delicious, and furthermore it does not bust a hole in the wallet as compared to other places which serve a similar standard of food. The Omakase above is SGD50++ per head which is a steal considering the amount of food.

The only bad thing is the waiting list - The waiting list for Teppei is apparently 2-3 weeks, but there are often empty seats if you're dining alone at around 9-10pm (they open until 12am, no worries). 

Omakase at Teppei is a luxury that's fast becoming a necessity. Thankfully it's not that costly to remain only a once-in-a-while luxury. Highly recommended! 







Sunday, December 2, 2012

Omakase Burger, Turf City

Omakase Burger is the latest burger craze in food-mad Singapore, and I first heard of it from a few friends who visited and exclaimed to me that it's the best burger in Singapore. Best burger in singapore? Really? Didn't know - had to go pay it a visit just to see what the fuss is about. And soon I saw the newspaper review and I realised that it's opened by a former ex-JC classmate of mine, Mr Cheng, who quit his banker job to start this Omakase Burger thing. 

mr cheng and his dad
the decor
Hence, i popped down, said hi to him (I hadn't seen him in a while), and asked quite a few questions, as to what his inspiration is, why did he start selling burgers, etc? Kinda an exclusive interview, if you'd like, albeit that I think 8 days already ran a similar story. Never mind. Well the story goes that he was always patronizing NYC and loved the burgers there, particularly from Shake Shack. (Read my review of Shake shack here). And he came back to SG and realised that there wasn't any place that could satisfy his burger cravings. So he decided to make some burgers himself, invested in a professional meat grinder, and experimented with various combinations of beef. Apparently he used an Excel spreadsheet and used various meats from various countries and from various cuts, from all parts of the beef and from many places. And he finally settled upon a combination which he felt was the best - and well, what he does is that he grinds the meat daily - he gets various beef cuts from various suppliers and grinds them in the shop every morning, and apparently only he knows the 'special combination'. It's kind of like how Pat LaFrieda makes a proprietary beef blend for Shake shack - no one else knows the special combination, and apparently many people have asked Pat LaFrieda what goes into the shake shack burger, but of course, these are intellectual property ie trade secrets, and of course you don't reveal these things to people. So Pat LaFrieda has a special blend for Shake Shack, and a special blend for someone else i.e. Minetta Tavern, and so on - but okay that's besides the point - the point is that, the combination of beef is important because it is the blend of various cuts from the cow that gives the beef in the burger it's own unique taste, which is unique to the restaurant. 

So well, I was keen to find out more about what went into the burger, so I probed further - and he really knows his stuff. Apparently, the short ribs gives alot of flavour, but you can't put them into a burger, because the meat flakes easily and doesn't combine together well because the meat proteins don't "latch" together in a patty - i..e if you were to have a pure short rib burger, it would disintegrate. And I'm sure he's done his research for various parts - I asked him what it would be like to have an Onglet beef burger - and he said it would taste amazing, but it's not suitable for industrial-use, which i guess it's true since there's only one onglet in every cow! And he said that he basically sourced for every good thing for each component of his burger - so he's got the best american bacon, best mushrooms, and so on. I guess the test is in the tasting eh, so here I went to try it out...

First up was the drinks - the homemade lemonade was pretty good, very refreshing. It featured some pulpy strands of lemon which were rather delicious - not too sour and not too sweet either.

The double-cheeseburger came, and wow that was rather good. Very juicy patty, almost too much juice that kinda flooded the entire bun (which was nice - rather soft), but with a good beefy flavour that came through nicely - nicely charred with a good beefy juice to it. The cheese added some umami savouriness to it. Only thing I wasn't a fan of was the lettuce - seems a bit too plebian for such a nice burger. The original Shake Shack burger used very fresh, crisp lettuce - not iceberg - and perhaps I should suggest to Mr Cheng to do the same. Hmm.....Overall though, a very good burger. (8/10).  
I ordered the sweet potato fries which were nice, a tad of sweet and very crispy.  (7/10)

The second time I came, I decided to try the Deluxe Cheeseburger - which came with onions and mushrooms - and I dare say I enjoyed this more than the regular one since I really love onions with my beef and definitely anything with mushrooms is something i'd definitely fancy. Good good. (8.5/10)
The truffle fries were great too - superb. I'm suggesting to him to add maybe sprigs of rosemary into the mix ala Spotted Pig which may be a good idea. Let's see what he says, haha. Anyway the truffle fries as they stand is a (8/10)






Monday, November 26, 2012

Hui Ji Fish Ball Noodles

This place (Hui Ji Fish Ball Noodle . Yong Tau Foo) serves one of my favourite meepok tars in Singapore,  and was recommended to me by the most famous food blogger in Singapore, Leslie Tay of ieatishootipost. Too bad it only opens until 2pm every day, so I can only come on a weekend (Saturday morning) to have my meepok tar fix.
But what a good meepok tar it is! Absolutely scrumptious. The chilli has the nice savouriness about it that comes from using good hae-bi, and the balance of the chilli, the sweetness, with a bit of sour, and with the hae-bi, was just perfect. And loads of crispy hae bi at the bottom for extra flavour and crunch. The meepok was also done perfectly textured -  al dente, not overcooked. I would say the noodles alone deserve (8.5/10), since you really cannot find alot of good meepok nowadays.
The yong tau foo soup that accompanied it was good as well - quite a savoury stock with a good natural sweetness about it, although it's not as flavourful as say the ones from Tanjong Pagar Food Centre and you can't choose your own ingredients. However it was competent: (7.5/10) I also loved the homemade fish balls. It was so good that I came back the next week - see the two photos for the difference between last week and this week. 
My appetite has been sorely whet just thinking of this mee pok tar. Too bad today's only Monday!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Laurent Bernard Chocolatiers, Robertson Quay

Enough of the NYC posts for now - as mentioned, I have to intersperse it with some Singapore reviews. I realise no one actually reads my NYC posts! 

Anyway, it's quite amazing that I haven't even reviewed this place before - actually there are many places which I have eaten at and have not yet reviewed, because my usual practice is to store these photos and taste memories in my KIV account to review later - but as you know, I never get there. As I scroll through my picture list I am amazed at the number of places that fall into that category. Laurent Bernard is just one of the places which fall into that category. 
I honestly believed that I had blogged about this place already but it appears, after scrolling through my archives, that that isn't the case!

Anyway Laurent Bernard is probably my favourite place in town to have a chocolate dessert - their chocolate desserts are probably the best in Singapore. 
This time, I ordered the chocolate souffle - and the waiting time is 30 minutes, mind you - but boy was it worth it. A nice light top which manages to keep its shape, push the fork in and it breaks delicately to reveal a soft supple texture underneath. A delicious taste too - full of chocolate (duh), not too sweet and not too bitter but very chocolatey. Perfect especially paired with the vanilla sauce which was replete with vanilla bean. The raspberry sorbet accompanying the souffle was delightful as well and helped to cleanse the palate from the heavy chocolate. (8.5/10)
My friend had the "Pure" which was made of ganache and mousse - this was really decadent - just a rich creamy mouthfeel and lots of chocolate. Just so sinful but so good. Perhaps 8/10. The chocolate truffle cake was nice as well - this one was with a chocolate sponge (8/10).

I realised that they've changed the shape of the chocolate tart - it used to be a slice of cake, now it's a round whole. Oh well, I'll have to come back to try that some time. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jean Georges, NYC

Man I have to say this was probably the most awesome dining experience I had in NYC, and the funny thing was that I dined alone - maybe that contributed to the awesomeness because I do enjoy my alone time pretty much (but I also enjoy your company, moi friends, of course!). But seriously, lunching alone at Jean Georges (JG for short) was nothing short of an awesome experience, having a close personal time with Jesus, sharing and talking with Him, and having a good meal along to boot.
JG is located at Columbus Circle, next to Central Park, at the Trump International Hotel and Tower. It's actually a stone's throw from Per Se, the other fine dining place which I went to (Eleven Madison Park was the last fine dining place I went to but I'll review that another time). 

I was ushered into a lovely dining hall with high ceilings, and a wonderful view of the park. Even though it's situated on the ground floor, the elegant high windows means that you get a really good view, as you will see from the photos here. There's enough space for everyone such that it didn't get claustrophobic at all, and we could all concentrate on the food. Service was excellent as well, rather unobtrusive. Although I would have to say that I probably thought the service at Per Se and 11 Madison Park probably edged it.
I started off with some bread - sourdough and ciabatta - good but not outstanding. It was rather late so I guess a little food in my belly was very welcome.
Then a trio of amuse bouches came.There was a carrot purée blended with creme fraische which was tangy and refreshing, with flavours of Thai chilli, and sea salt - the flavours of sweet, salty and spicy really went very well together and gave the palate a nice little lift, or kick, if you like. Next up there was some  okra tempura with cilantro, which was rather light. And I saved the best for last - the most amazing sea urchin (uni) with yuzu - the flavours were extremely delicate yet full of flavour, remarkably floral and sweet, highly perfumed and full of umami. The addition of the yuzu really highlighted the floral flavours of the uni. Overall, an excellent trio of amuse Bouche. (8/10, 9/10 for the uni) 
The first course came out next - which was a trio of trout. It was a most outstanding dish - smoked trout with fried trout bits, and trout roe. The trout roe was just soooo delicious, full of umami, a bit like Ikura (salmon roe) but far more delicate and salty. There was an aerated lemon foam as well (as you see in the picture), which went well with the smoked trout which was very refreshing. There was the presence of some dill purée on the side which combined well with the trout. Overall a very refreshing and wonderful appetizer. Delicious. (9.25/10)

The second course didn't want to be outdone, equally impressive - sea scallops with caramelized cauliflower and a raisin-caper sauce. The scallops were sweet and succulent and the sauce was just pure genius -  sweet from the raisins, combined with the natural "grassy" flavours from the capers. It was a very intriguing combination and I remembered trying to guess the components of the sauce - at first I thought olives, mustard...I  just couldn't put my finger onto it until the captain said it was capers! Oh, capers! What a clever idea. The caramelized cauliflowers was a nice touch too. Again, excellent, and another (9.25/10).
My main course was a black bass with a sesame crust accompanied by a sweet and sour jus. The sesame and black pepper crust was extremely fragrant and the sweet and sour jus complemented the fish perfectly well. I don't have to tell you that the fish was perfectly cooked, of course. The sauce had some "bread"-like flavours, a kind of toasted bread-like sweetness (what was it? bread sauce?), and the tomatoes again added some sweetness and tanginess to balance the palate. Another genius dish. Another solid (9.25/10). 
I finished off with the usual petit fours - the chocolates were all delicious especially the blackberry macaron which was a joy to eat.

Overall, an exceptional place especially for the set lunch. The above set me back USD70, which is a steal when you consider the quality of the cooking, the quality of the ingredients used, and the immense creativity of the chefs who came up with the dishes. Absolutely divine dining experience, and definitely a must-visit if you're in the Big Apple. Quality, creative, delicious food at value-for-money prices. That's what I like. This place has 3 michelin stars, and definitely lives up to its immense reputation. 


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Teppei - Omakase

I am starting to believe that Teppei needs an entire "category" for itself, due to the number of times I've been here - probably around 50 times? Lost count already.

I'm glad to report that yesterday's Omakase was even better than the last 2 times! Actually not far better - the standard's maintained - just that yesterday's meal had a few nice treats. 

First up - the sashimi was done very well - the yellowtail was extremely tasty, firm and fresh, and so were the scallops - very sweet - salmon belly was just as good. Tuna was good too. 

I enjoyed the raw oysters which were apparently from Japan - very nice. 

The teriyaki fish was done very well also.

At the end (the sashimi rice course) the Aji Mackerel (raw) with the chef's own sauce was really tasty - he told me that it's in season now and it looks like that's the case, judging by the taste of the Aji. And of course, negi-toro on rice is always good.




Monday, November 5, 2012

Lolla


Lolla's probably one of the most hyped-up new restaurants to have opened on our shores for a while, one of the places everyone raves about, from our good friend DY in the Business times to other food bloggers to friends posting on facebook, all of whom have descended down upon this latest hot spot in town at Ann Siang. A really chic place, Lolla's centrepiece is the open kitchen where people watch from their counters at the chefs preparing tasty morsels of everything good and wonderful. 

We were greeted by the effusive chef Ming, who happens to be one of our juniors from middle school! What a nice coincidence - my dining companion recognised him as one of his juniors from cca and that really started the night on a good note. 

I must say that service on a whole was great - the waiters appear to genuinely love their jobs and enjoy providing good service, which is a great thing - overall on the whole I think the service industry in Singapore has improved steadily, which is always a good thing.

Since we couldn't decide what to order, Ming took the orders himself, and we ordered, for 2 of us, the Sea-Urchin and Squid ink pudding (one each, since we'd be hard-pressed to be convinced to share), the daily special of Normandy vegetable (i can't quite remember the name - someone's gotta help me) in olive oil and shallots; another seasonal special of clams with some chorizo; the lamb ribs, and a sunny-side up eggs with chorizo and potatoes.

First up , we had the sea urchin and squid ink pudding - and if there's one word to describe this, it would be - decadence. This dish is decadence personified. The squid ink pudding had lots of umami, seafood savoury flavours, with a creamy mouthfeel that coated the mouth very well - and apparently it's made similarly like a creme brulee but with squid ink rather than vanilla. The sea urchin, flown twice a week from Tsujiki, added even more umami flavours and its usual complex floral notes - it was a pairing that surprisingly works, and works like a charm. What's actually very very crucial to the dish was the addition of some chopped chives in olive oil, which cut through the richness of the dish and added much needed texture to the creamy mouthfeel. A solid (9.5/10). 

(PS: I haven't given that many 9/10s this year, but this ranks up there with my meals at Jean Georges and some great dishes at Ember).

From then on, next came up a sunny-side up with chorizo and fried potatoes. This was alright, flavourful food I suppose, good solid dependable cooking. I enjoyed the fried potatoes more than the chorizo, truth be told. (7/10)

Next up were the lamb short ribs, and this was very nicely done, flavoured with some whole grain mustard and some cumin, giving it a Moroccan / Mediterranean touch. They were pretty tasty and made for good gnawing, forks and knives be damned. (8/10)
The clams in a tangy lemon butter-like sauce with hints of pepper with chorizos fared pretty well - clams were fresh and the sauce was quite interesting; I was trying to see what went into it and I figured, butter, lemon, peppers? jalapenoes? there was some heat, of some kind. (8/10)
Some vegetables were in order, and the vegetable that Ming did for us was interesting, - it tasted rather of broccoli, and elevated by the shallots fried in olive oil to perfection. Crisp, brown, not burnt, and just a joy to eat. (7.5/10; 8/10 for the shallots).


For dessert, we had our doughnuts with lemon curd, and this was pretty good. The doughnuts were crispy and doughy, and the lemon curd was well competently done, not too sweet and smooth as well. I'd prefer it more sour but you can't please everyone I guess. (7.5/10) 

Only sad thing is that they didn't have Fever-Tree tonic water which would have been a joy to drink with some of the much-touted gin! But never mind, I'm here at home sipping Hendrick's albeit with Schwepps as opposed to Fever-Tree. Hee hee.

Anyway, Lolla's a great place you should visit, and chef Ming definitely has a solid future ahead of him. It's lovely to see chefs cook with so much passion, and you can tell he knows his stuff. Highly recommended. BTW - no reservations, it's "egaliterian", he says.