Nadaman – Epitome of Value and Affordability

24 06 2010

My hectic university life in SMU is about to commence so before my social life totally ceases to exist, I will be taking a short holiday to Adelaide and Sydney from 25th June(Fri)-5th July(Mon). No thx to my grp of non-foodie friends whom I’m travelling with, who look upon excessive spending on food with disdain, the main agenda for this trip will sadly not be on the food, though I do have a list of places I have heard about and am eager to try. For Adelaide, they are Chocolate Bean, Cafe O’Connell, Spats, Nandos(yes the same one that opened at Bugis Junction), Stacks(pancakes ftw!). For Sydney, Pancakes on the Rocks, Tetsuya’s(though the 200AUD pricetag attached to their 11-course degustation seems a little lot out of reach), Hurricane(for their ribs @ Darling Harbour) and finally Jones the Grocer(the original flagship stall!). As such, I will be taking a short hiatus but I will be back to post on Australia trip Yumyums asap!

Now back to the local food scene! Whenever someone enquires about the best Japanese restaurant in Singapore, the names Tatsuya, Nadaman, Keyaki & Aoki always seems to pop up. Dinners there are certainly no humble affair, where bills typically balloon into the range of hundreds per pax at least. These high barriers of entry proves to be the main obstacle for a student such as myself, though ironically I spent like 120 bucks on 1-for-1 booze at Mambo last week, leaving my debit card behind in an intoxicated stupor in the process…and there goes my fine Jap dinner rawr!

I for one am an opportunist, a cash-strapped one at that. So when the chance arrived for an affordable lunch at one of the “Big 4”, I readily lunged at the offer. Yes, I had made another booking for Shangri-la’s 39th Anniversary Promotion(The one with 39% off total bill for reservations made online for 39% of the restaurant’s seating capacity).  

10 lessons of Jap class taught me just enough to recognise the words “Nadaman” on their napkins. It’s small touches like this I find that adds up to a sublime dining experience.

A page on the menu I found interesting…

The 7-Course Mini Kaiseki is priced affordably at $45++. My friend M used to mix these terms up so fyi, Kaiseki means multi-course or set meal while Omakase means leaving the meal and all of it’s courses to the discretion of the chef.

My first course was the Chilled Corn Moose which looks somewhat like Tofu, though much denser and solid. It’s mildly sweet and the corn is blended in so well that I could have well mistaken it for a Soy Moose instead. A side of Chilled Spinach & Beansprouts in Dashi Stock was typical of a Jap appetizer, light and refreshing.

Afterwhich came the Clear Soup with Fishcake & Vegetables. The clear soup had a savoury umami taste about it and I really enjoyed the fishcake which was a whole lot more tasty than your singapore coffeeshop ones.

The third course was Salmon and Aji Sashimi.

The Simmered Vegetables with Meatballs came as the 4th course. I didn’t think much of the vegetables but the 2 meatballs reminded me a bit of Xiaolongbao fillings. 

From Top left clockwise - Corn Moose & Spinach in Dashi Stock, Clear Soup with Fishcake, Simmered Vegetables with Meatballs, Salmon & Aji Sashimi

The number of courses depicted seems a bit off since I have 8 pictures in a 7-course Kaiseki and it’s weird that steamed Pumpkin rice & Miso Soup should even be considered as individual courses anyway.

That said, the simple Grilled Saba Fish was nice though portion size might be considered a bit petite for a main. Nothing spectacular, the Saba fish at Marina Square Food Court though slightly oilier, would have given Nadaman’s a good fight. Ok why am I comparing a food court stall to Nadaman? That’s just plain mean…and oh I found some jellyfish strips hiding beneath the pickles! A pleasant surprise indeed.

To be frank, I couldn’t really taste much of the Pumpkin rice over the salted Saba Fish. And why is there a Miso Soup when there was already soup just now? I reckon it’s to wash down the salt from the Saba Fish if required.

A moose to signal the start and end of the meal, musing by the chef perhaps? The Red Bean Moose with Coconut Sauce brought with it a sweet end to the mini Kaiseki.

From Top left Clockwise - Pumpkin Rice, Grilled Saba Fish with Pickles, Red Bean Moose, Miso Soup

Fancy some Teppanyaki instead? Try the Teppanyaki Mini Course($45++).

First 2 courses of Corn Moose and Clear Soup was congruent to what I had for the Mini Kaiseki. For the Sashimi, it wasn’t an exact replica from the mini kaiseki as the chef replaced the Salmon with Tuna.  

From Top Left Clockwise - Corn Moose and Spinach in Dashi Stock, Clear Soup with Fishcake, Salad, Tuna & Aji Sashimi

For Teppanyaki main, you get a choice of Pan Fried Codfish with Butter Sauce or Pan Fried Salmon with Butter Sauce or Pan Fried Chicken with Teriyaki Sauce or Pan Fried Beef with Apple Sauce. Mum chose the later and unlike my Saba, this was what I could call a main! The tender beef was cut into bit sized pieces which I could just keep popping into my mouth all day. The Fried Rice was sadly forgettable.

From Top Clockwise - Pan Fried Beef with Apple Sauce, Red Bean Moose, Fried Rice

Between the 2 sets, I preferred mum’s Teppanyaki Mini Course for the Beef Main.

And with the 39% discount, the bill came to a mere $38.20 per person! For the variety and standard, not to mention complementary parking, this meal truly epitomizes the principles of value and affordability.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

NADAMAN

22 ORANGE GROVE ROAD, SHANGRI-LA HOTEL

TEL: +65 6213 4571





Modesto’s @ Vivocity – $48 Nett Set Dinner for 2

22 06 2010

Whenever I eat out, I have this general policy: The restaurant and it’s food must either be freaking awesome(regardless of price), or else I would rather head down to some food court or coffeeshop in an attempt to budget(I can’t believe how my economic rice managed to spiral to $7.70 at Wisma’s Food Court last Wednesday…) for my next freaking awesome meal.

That’s probably the reason why I haven’t patronised Modesto’s yet. I have heard that it’s good, but is it good enough? I guessed a $48 Nett Set Dinner for 2 pax wouldn’t hurt…much

The Modesto’s @ Vivo is very family friendly. Nothing too fancy bout the decor and with the construction of Resorts World almost complete, I can imagine the view at night would be great, with the lightings over at Sentosa and all.

Here at Modesto’s, instead of the customary complementary Bread Basket that Singaporeans love so much, they ask instead if you would like Garlic Bread($6++) to start off the meal. I didn’t ask but if there was a choice of complementary bread basket over this Garlic Bread, I would surely have taken it. The 3 pieces of Garlic Bread were drenched in oil, soggy and chewy, to the extent that it was hard to tear…using my teeth. I would rather have bought 4 Breadtalk buns and settled my dinner with $6 there and then.

Garlic Bread($6++)

For the $48 Nett Set dinner, you get a choice of 1 Appetizer, 2 Mains & 1 Dessert. It sounds inadequate but trust me, the portions are so ginormous here S and myself wouldn’t have finished this even without the Garlic Bread(thank you very much for wasting stomach space).

I would have preferred the Caeser Salad but since S doesn’t care for my concerns of her getting colon cancer, piles or constipation in the near future, we had the Mushroom Soup instead. Anyway, I figured Mushrooms ain’t that bad, it contains Chitin which acts as roughage in our digestive tracts in place of the Cellulose found in Plants. Science facts aside, I unexpectedly really loved this Mushroom Soup, which was divided for us into 2 bowls! S found it a tad salty but I thought it was perfect and with all the different types of mushrooms blended together, makes for a pleasant earthly starter.

Mushroom Soup

The Chicken Sausage Pizza was next up! Modesto’s prides itself on making traditional Italian Wood-fired Pizzas and it’s thin crusted pizzas have earned my respect. I love how the crust was not made soggy with the tomato base and cheese but on the other hand, I’m not really a fan of sausages on my pizza. S forgot there was actually another main coming up because this pizza was so amazingly huge for 2 people to share.

Chicken Sausage Pizza

I’m a boring person. This is probably my 3rd Linguine Vongole this month but at least, this makes me somewhat of an expert on it now right? Not to bad I thought, some irritating sand particles here and there and with slightly too much salt and oil, that’s about all the feedback I can garner.

Linguine Vongole

An Italian Classic; The Tiramisu. The Mascarpone was more cream than cheese but with Tiramisu, I have learnt that there is no best 1 in the world. Only the 1 most preferred by the individual. So, while I would say I liked this Tiramisu, it’s not my most preferred.

Tiramisu

While I hate shopping centres for their lack of restaurant choices, mainly because the same restaurants chains end up sprouting in every shopping centre, I would definitely consider Modesto’s again for their simple fuss-free Italian fare.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

MODESTO’S (VIVOCITY)

1 HARBOURFRONT WALK, #01-166/167 VIVOCITY

TEL: +65 6376 9808





Tetsu Japanese Restaurant

21 06 2010

 An operator of 11 food courts in Singapore, and 5 others overseas, it came as a surprise when I found out that Tetsu is actually a venture by Food Juction to diversify it’s business into the restaurant scene. I’m glad I only found this out after the meal, since I would probably have formed some premature conclusions (about dining in a Japanese restaurant run by a foodcourt).  

It’s amazing how Tetsu has managed to secure dining awards both in 2009 and 2010, given that it was only initiatied in 2008. Starting out as a specialist in Kushi-tempura & Kushi-katsu(kushi means on a stick), it has since expanded it’s menu in 2009 to include items such as sukiyaki, curries, yakimono, sashimi, sushi, udon, u name it they have it!

The Matsu Set($32++) comes with Assorted Sushi & Sashimi with Mini Udon. The Aji(Spanish Mackerel), Salmon and Squid Sashimi were all fresh but the Tuna came across as unskillfully cut and slightly dry. Assorted Sushi included Tobiko(Flying Fish Roe), Anago I think instead of the usual Unagi(Salt Water Eel instead of Fresh water ones), Squid, Tuna, Aji and Salmon. I also really liked the Udon here which I find light and very refreshing. I did enjoy the side order of their Chawanmushi($5++) too which was oh so soft and silky!

HH had the Tori Katsu Udon($18.80++). Though I’d still prefer Tonkichi for my occasional Katsu fix, the Katsu here was still very decent, crisp but with the deep-fry oil conspicuously absent. This is definitely value for money too!

Is this my new favourite haunt for mid-end Japanese food? Fickle me thinks so…

Bon Appeit!

 

 

TETSU

163 TANGLIN ROAD, #03-18 TANGLIN MALL

TEL: +65 6836 3112





Shang Palace – Missing an Imperial Chef

19 06 2010

Following last year’s successful 38th anniversary promotion, Shangri La has decided to do a follow up promotion for their 39th anniversary this year! So all online bookings made for The Line(For Buffet), Nadaman(Japanese), The Rose Veranda(High Tea) and Shang Palace(Chinese) will be offered with a 39% discount off the total bill(for reservations made up to 39 days in advance for 39% of each restaurant’s seating capacity). Cool Beans!  

   

It’s a 5 star hotel with 5 star restaurants, or is that just too presumptious of me? I haven’t heard much of Shang Palace, unlike more reputable Chinese Restaurants such as Wah Lock, Hai Tian Lou, Royal China etc but I thought it should be fine, it’s Shangri La after all!    

The interior decor is pretty sheek, especially with the numerous private rooms that can sit up to 18 people for some…I counted.    

    

I shall categorize the dim sum accordingly, the “average” and the “bad”. I couldn’t find any dim sum that deserved to be grouped under “Good”.    

The Average    

 The Roast Pork was crispy indeed but with a strong gamey smell which irked me and it’s damnnnnnnn salty.     

Crispy Roast Pork($12++)

 

 It tastes and feels like a carrot cake from a neighbourhood hawker stall actually, lacking the contrast of crispy exterior from soft mushy interior.    

Pan-Fried Turnip Cake($4.50++)

 

 One of the better items today, I’m just such a fan of scallops… 

Steam Siew Mai with Conpoy($4.80++)

 

 More Scallops…mmmhhh…     

Steamed Seaweed Scallop Dumpling($6.80++)

 

Passable Har Kows.     

Steamed Har Kow($4.80++)

 

 There was less soup than I would like and it lacked the umami component that we all love so much in an awesome XLB. The meat fillings were also too starchy!   

Steamed Xiao Long Baos($4.80++)

 

It’s a more colourful looking and allegedly healthier Har Kow!   

Steamed Spinach Prawn Dumpling($4.80++)

    

Now for the BAD!    

 It’s not foul but just that I have eaten so many better ones around, this one comes across as below average as the prawns fillings aren’t very springy.     

Crisp-Fried Beancurd Skin Roll, Prawn($4.50++)

 

 You don’t even have to go there to try it. From the picture, you can probably already tell that the rice roll layers are too thick and chewy.     

Steamed Rice Rolls($4.80++)

 

We had the Century Egg as well as the Fish Congee and it wasn’t impressive. I gave up halfway and it was only a half-bowl since it was shared.     

Congee(Choice of Century Egg, Fish, Seafood, Pork or Chicken @ $10++)

 

 Didn’t like it. Too bland…    

Steamed Assorted Mushroom Crystal Dumpling($4.50++)

 
That is one badass thick opaque dumpling skin if I ever saw one. It reminds me more of a thick skinned hakka Soon Kueh lol.   

Steamed Teochew Dumplings($4.50++)

 

 I was really disappointed by the dry, almost tasteless Char Siew Paos. It’s worse than coffeeshop or even 7-11 ones.    

Steam Pork Paos($4.50++)

 

I’d prefer if they just stick to the normal Sze Chuan Sauce. 

Steamed Black Pepper Chicken Feet($4.50++)

 

The combination of Black Bean + Salt used was overkill. More tea PLZ!  

Steamed Pork Rib, Black Bean & Taro($4.50++)

Bah. For me this was a real bad dim sum session and I wouldn’t come back even with a discount. Service was fine but really…the food’s not worth the stomach room.  

Bon Appetit!

  

 

SHANG PALACE

22 ORANGE GROVE ROAD, SHANGRI-LA HOTEL 

TEL: +65 6213 4473





Table 66 – Sous Vide Love

14 06 2010

Love is patient, love is kind.

Love is not jealous, it does not brag and it is not proud.

Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not become angry easily.

Love does not remember the wrongs done against it.

Love is not happy with evil, but happy with truth.

Love bears all things, belives all things,

hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. 

Love is Table 66.

 

Helming Table 66 is Chef Vincent, the former executive chef of Desire @ The Scarlet Hotel. Having heard great things about Desire but haven’t had the opportunity to try it out, I was expectant that this would turn out to be a nice prelude to a meal there. On the other hand, given the raving reviews from the online foodie community, the tables might have turned with Table 66 giving Desire a run for their money. 

I like what is quoted from their website, “An Epicurean Experience without the Extravagence”. I’m so glad that Table 66 doesn’t disguise itself as just another fine dining outlet but choosing instead to focus on serving up delectable yumyums without the hefty pricetag.

Set lunches start from an affordable $22++ for a 2-course and $26++ for a 3-course. An additional $3++ is charged should one opt for a meat dish instead of a pasta as the main.  

One of the best complementary breads I have had, this Onion bread came straight out of the oven still piping hot and crisp with a wafting discernable oniony frangrance. If something free tasted so good, I knew that I was in for a treat for items that I was actually paying for.

The actual meal started off with a stellar Sous Vide Egg & Asparagus with Hollandaise & Parmesan Biscuit. From what I have read online, Sous Vide involves cooking foods(primarily meats) under low temperatures of around 60 degrees celsius in a vacuum pack to ensure that the juices remain sealed within the meat, leaving the meat tender. I loved the Sous Vide egg. The whites were semi-solid and yolk runny, somewhat like a quarter boiled egg except that the whites were more evenly cooked. My ravings for egg stops here because what really entralled me was the appetizingly creamy Hollandaise. Without a doubt, best Hollandaise ever! The Asparagus was a nice pairing for the runny egg but I felt that the Parmesan Biscuit was there more for decorative purposes.

I couldn’t get the hang of the overly tangy and acidic Spicy Lemon Dressing in my Salmon Sashimi & Avacado Salad. Definitely sticking to the Sous Vide Egg next time!

A deceptively simple dish was the Salmon Fillet. While it looks ordinary, I was deeply impressed by the mastery of heat control which resulted in a thicker than normal crisp browning surface without any hint of overcooking. Lesson learnt, do not judge a fish by it’s colour. Is that a Portobello mushroom I spy lurking at a corner? 

Chef Vincent has made a Sous Vide fan out of me. His rendition of the Sous Vide Lamb Shank on Garlic Pomme Puree & in its own Jus was my most incredible brush with Lamb Shank. I kid you not when I say that my knife cut through the meat as though it was butter. Void of any gamey taste, and with the fats and meat still left wholely intact by extended periods of cooking under low temperatures, scrumptious! And did I mention the to-die-for buttery Pomme Puree aka Potato Mash on the side? This was truly heaven on a plate.

Dessert of the Day happened to be Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream. It turned out more like a brownie but who’s complaining? And see the yummy specks of vanilla beans? A boost to my already sky-rocketing endorphin and serotonin levels.

Though not as good as the Chocolate cake, I would still have polished off this enticing Cheesecake with Berry Compote any other day but as fate might have it, portions in Table 66 are so absolutely generous that I was stuffed to the brim. I hate wasting food, and isn’t there an old chinese saying that if you waste food, your future girlfriend will have many pimples?

I’m glad that my virgin acquaintance with Sous Vide came from Table 66. I’m sure it sets a high enough benchmark to compare Sous Vide cooking from other restaurants in the future.

That said, I had a blast and plans for a Table 66 Part II is definitely in the works!

Bon Appetit!

 

 

TABLE 66

66 TRAS STREET

TEL: +65 6225 6690





Tampopo vs Marutama – A Tale of 2 Ramen Heavyweights

12 06 2010

When 2 men ride a horse, one has to ride behind, or so I’m told. Comparing ramens isn’t as easy as it sounds and for the ramen discerning connoisseur, attempting to compare the different styles of ramen is tantamount to comparing a Hainan Chicken Rice with Ayam Pangang.

From a superficial level, Tampopo seems to have gained the upper hand to Marutama, with the former winning a number of dining awards prominently displayed at the shopfront.  Unlike traditional ramen-yas serving mainly ramen and dumplings, I was deeply surprised at how Tampopo is still able to sustain their high ramen standards despite the extensiveness of the menu with the variety ranging from ramen, katsus and sashimi etc.

Marutama exudes the vibes of a more traditional ramen-ya. Dimly lit, small, cosy with only a limited number of tables and predominently Japanese clientele(so i’m guessing it must be pretty good and authentic as well).  

Tampopo serves 2 distinctive types of ramen; Kyushu(aka Hakata) and Hokkaido. What’s the difference you might ask? Kyushu ramen is thin and hard and paired with a thick tonkotsu(pork bone) soup base. Hokkaido Ramen on the other hand utilises thick and chewy noodles(this curlier ramen makes it more effective in soaking up the soup compared to the thin kyushu ramen) paired with a pork and chicken soup base.

I had the Black Pig Shabu Ramen($13.80++) – It’s a Kyushu-style ramen. They were having a special promo(compulsary for black pig shabu ramen) where they gave double servings of black pig shabu and charged me $15.80++ instead I think. Just mildly spicy, I’d say the ramen stock here is good as it gets with delightful slices of black pig shabu(think sliced pork u get in congee but whole lot more imba). This ramen doesn’t come with tamago($1.80++) so I ordered one as a side and it’s really one of the best around too with it’s creamy lava yolk!

The Original Kyushu ramen($13.30++) is more value for money than the Black Pig Shabu Ramen since it already comes with a tamago, a dollop of mentaiko(Pollock roe) and a huge ass piece of Chashu. K commented it’s the best ramen he had eaten in his life and undoubtly so(since he hasn’t tried Santouka or Marutama yet)!

Marutama serves a Tokyo-style ramen which uses a chicken-based stock instead of the usual pork bone one. The Marutama Ramen($12++) topped with scallions and seaweed had noodles which were slightly curlier than it’s Kyushu-styled counterparts and very much resembled Maggi Mee. The stock was very savoury with strong umami flavours, and hints of MSG because I became rather thirsty afterwards. The Chashu was good, with the fats as soft as butter, much better than the one I had at Baikohken recently. I couldn’t stop myself from finishing the broth, which is a first for me.

Something else worth ordering would be the Gyoza($5++). 6 pieces of Gyoza drenched in vinegar and chili oil is a great way to start off the meal on a high note.

I know it’s a cliche but I can’t say for sure which is better as both have their merits. Entrenched at the pinnacle of ramen excellence in Singapore, for now can I just have both? 

 Bon Appetit!

 

 

TAMPOPO(LIANG COURT)

177 RIVER VALLEY ROAD, #01-23/24 LIANG COURT

TEL: +65 6338 3186

 

MARUTAMA RAMEN(LIANG COURT)

177 RIVER VALLEY ROAD, #02-01/02 LIANG COURT

TEL: +65 6837 2480





Bistro @ Changi

9 06 2010

Its a Saturday evening. The malls are packed. Parking space in town is scarce. I have/want/need a life and that means not staying home. So many criteria, so little choices…

Why is my idiot not so situationally aware fren T(the guy in blue) invading the picture?

In an uhloo corner of Singapore, where nightfall brings forth a more colourful and vibrant crowd(probably many pinkdot.sg members who support “the freedom to love”. i’m no love hater yo, just an apathetic bystander), there lies a humble bistro overlooking the shores of Changi Beach.

It’s a chillax place. The view is good and the crowd isn’t overwhelming but lively enough to people watch.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, most Singaporeans(myself included) are fervent supporters of free PUB water. Hence, I was left slightly offended when I found out that tap water wasn’t served here. At first I thought that perhaps they are trying to market themselves as a classy bistro, but these thoughts quickly dissipated once I realised that instead of San Pallegrino or Acqua Panna, bottled water comes in the form of Polar($1++ per bottle). Lolz! Common sense tells me that their aim isn’t to earn the $1, and this is just another marketing gimmick to irritate people enough to buy overpriced wine instead. We too were almost tricked coerced persuaded to getting a bottle but luckily we asked for samples of their house red and whites first and decided against it thereafter.

One of the better Calamaris($10.90++) I have had the pleasure of eating with a sinful tartar dip.

There was a little screw up with the ordering with the fault resting entirely on me. I had ordered 5 mains instead of 4 for our group of 4 and was slightly disappointed the staff didn’t catch on my negligence.

I didn’t like the Sambal Fish($13.90++). The Dory used wasn’t very fresh and the sambal was too spicy. We could get better ones off any hawker centre bbq stall.

I didn’t like the Salmon Fettucine($13.90++) either. The cream base was bland and watered down, possibly a result of T’s request for less salt and oil. The pasta turned out soggy and overcooked.

The best ala carte main tonight was the Hickory Chicken Chop($11.90++). The chicken was well marinated and grilled to perfection. If you thought Aston’s was good, wait till you try this. It’s the best Chicken Chop I have had!

I had the Daily Special which was a 3-course set($22++) which included Pumpkin Soup, Grilled Chicken Breast & Lamb Rack served with Potato Skin as main and Apple Crumble as dessert.

The Pumpkin Soup was decent but not shout worthy.

The only commendable aspect about my main was the portion and variety. The Grilled Chicken Breast paled in comparison to the Hickory Chicken Chop, the Lamb Rack tough and rubbery and the Potato Skin forgettable.

I didn’t expect too much from the Apple Crumble. At the very least, it fared better than a Macdonald’s Apple Pie though that isn’t really saying a lot, is it?

Though the food didn’t blow me away, it was reasonably priced especially without the 10% service charge. Parking is free after 5pm which only adds on to the allure of simply chilling out on a seafront bistro, watching a live soccer match while downing a chilled beer and looking out for any colourful characters roaming the vicinity. 

Bon Appetit!

 

 

BISTRO @ CHANGI

260 NICOLL DRIVE, CHANGI BEACH CARPARK 1

TEL: +65 6546 5229





Chalk – Warm Sticky Date for a Double Date

9 06 2010

“Old School at Mount Sophia is one of the few places left in Singapore that exuberates an enchanting and undemanding atmosphere, out of the hustle and bustle of the city. It is a treasure trove and you never know when you might stumble across an arts exhibit or movie screening here. Chalk Restaurant does well too to blend into this serene setting and at the same time, promises patrons a gastronomic dining experience.

First thing that struck me was the chic ambience. Not overly posh but with the feel of a mid-upper range restaurant. Lightings were dim which contributed to the relaxed and tranquil nature of the eatery. The kitchen has an open concept which allows patrons to marvel at the mastery of the chefs. There is also an extensive wine selection here with all the wine placed at a nice rustic corner of the restaurant for patrons to pick their poison. Only downside I noticed was that noise levels can get a bit on the high side.” -excerpts from my past review of Chalk on Hungrygowhere.

One of my favourite restaurants, Chalk is relatively hidden from the masses(mainly due to it’s inaccessability by public transport and the deterring 136 step climp up the “Stairway to Heaven” to Mount Sophia’s Old School for non-drivers, definitely not for the faint-hearted). I was here this time on a double date, with my vertically-challenged ex-canoeist CCA mate and fellow soon to be SMU freshie Justin and his lovely also equally vertically-challenged gf Elsia, and Chalk provides the atmostphere for such a meetup. It’s not posh enough to rouse one’s insecurity but elegant and cosy enough for a nice dinner among friends and loved ones.

Rawrrrr! I was in a foul mood because I left my Panasonic Lumix LX3 at home which I normally use. I find it compact and light enough compared to DSLRs yet still functional for basic food photography. Anyway, I had to make do with S’s ancient vintage compact camera instead so I apologize for the poorly taken pics to come. At least it’s better than my 3.2Megapixel Camera Phone so let’s be THANKFUL!

Pizzas clearly aren’t the forte here. We had the 4-cheese pizza($20++) which I felt lacked depth and came across to me as being very one-dimensional in taste. Probably no one will understand my rantings so I will put this way. There are 3 types of pizzas; The great, the average and the scum of the earth. The one here was just a thin-crusted average.

 

While I don’t want to believe it, I’m forced to come to terms that Chalk’s Duck Confit with Sweet Potato Mash($30++) is just not good as it used to. Or maybe because I have just found better elsewhere. Actually, it’s probably both. Chalk’s rendition is dry for the most part, too salty for my tastebuds(though the mash does provide some relief) and the portion was also undeceptively shrivelled and rather petite. That said, I have heard great things about Saint Pierre’s Duck Confit available in their weekday set lunch and I’m eyeing that as a potentially sustainable alternative for all Duck Confit enthusiasts!

Fortunately, Justin has a penchant for a nice beef stew and ordered it, causing any disappointments I have had till now to fade into obscurity. The Beef Stew with Red Wine Sauce($28++) was absolutely stellar! I couldn’t ask for more; The beef was tender, it’s flavours robust and though the velvety mash was slightly bland on it’s own, dipping it in red wine sauce really works wonders.

My first love, an old flame. Drifted apart yet with latent feelings that have ceased to diminish. Of course, I have gotten in and out of relationships since but at the back of your mind, she had always been the benchmark to beat. I have always been on the lookout for someone similar in tastes, character and background but I have not found anyone as genuinely warm and uncloyingly sweet. A year’s past before I saw her again. Pent up emotions gushed forth like the escaping crude from BP’s oil well off the gulf of Mexico and I unleashed a smile that extended from ear to ear. My mouth met hers and a tear slid down my cheeks, with the thankful realisation; I was lost but now am found…The Sticky Date Pudding with Ginger Ice-Cream($13++). We requested to change the ice-cream to vanilla and it ended up being a bit too sweet to me compared to the ginger ice cream. It’s a match made in heaven, sweet and utter bliss.

I had high hopes for the Passionfruit Souffle with Vanilla Anglaise($13++). After all, we waited 25 minutes after our mains while it was being freshly baked in the oven. Refreshing and light, it had all the attributes of a well-executed souffle. Everyone liked it but me though(passionfruit really isn’t my thing). Beauty does indeed lie in the eyes of the Beholder. 

Amid some minor disappointments, I’m left with 2 lingering thoughts.

1) If my school ever had Chalk Restaurant in it, I wouldn’t have ponned school so often.

2) Sticky Date Pudding

Bon Appetit!

 

 

CHALK RESTUARANT

11 MOUNT SOPHIA #01-03

TEL: +65 6883 2120





Pontini II – An Incentive for Mambo Jambo

5 06 2010

A bit sooner than I expected but didn’t I say that I will definitely be back? The staff seemed a bit friendlier this time around. I think they might have recognised me from my last visit since it’s not an everyday occurance  that someone so CHARMING & HANDSOME just strolls in for dinner without any entourage or paparazzi in tow haha.

I didn’t make the same mistake as last time though. The trick question of Still or Sparkling? The correct answer for the typical kiasu budget-consious Singaporeans is TAP! Ok, I shouldn’t showcase Singaporeans in such a negative light…later they complain. Why would anyone want San Pellegrino($12++) when we have free PUB water, which has fluoride added into it(not by choice, just like the casino and cpf) by our caring government to strengthen our teeth? And no, Singaporeans aren’t cheap, we just love supporting the local utility statutory board in a strong united showing of patriotism…

On my last visit, I was deeply disappointed by the starters at Pontini. So, ZK and myself decided to skip the starters and got an additional main instead. I reckon this was more economical too, especially for poor soon to be freshies like ourselves! Smart right? And since sharing is caring, we requested that our pastas be split into 2 plates so that we could 同甘共苦 should the food be damn awesome or damn crappy.  

The Linguine Vongole($22++) was first to arrive. I know it’s overused, but it doesn’t change the fact that the pasta was done al dente. The clams were fresh and I just love the fresh bittersweet taste of clam juice over pasta.

The Squid Inked Tagliolini with Scallops($25++) was even more amazing than the Vongole. The tomato base was addictive and complemented  the slurpilicious oodles of inked infused Tagliolini well. I kind of regret not ordering this at Pontini earlier, it’s one of the best squid ink pastas around!

Akin to seeing a lover return from a long overseas stint, the Beef Tenderloin with Foie Gras & Grilled Vegetables($38++) was much anticipated and didn’t disappoint. Though not very marbled, the tenderloin was still tender with a lightly seared surface. The Foie Gras was as huge as I remembered, devouring it left me squeaming in pure ecstasy. SHIOK!

The Creme Brulee($16++) here was the best rendition I have had so far! The chilled custard was smooth with a consistency and texture that caught my fancy. The contrasting layer of hard caramel wasn’t overly burnt as well. Love it!

Parfait means Perfect in french but the Vanilla & Strawberry Ice Cream with Honey Nogat Parfait($16++) wasn’t so. The ice-cream tasted like a cheap supermarket one and the bland nogat wasn’t very appetizing either.

I’m thrilled that despite having not seen him for over 3 months, ZK and myself managed to have a lovely tete-a-tete dinner with splendid food, unintrusive yet attentive staff. I love dining at Pontini, it gives me an incentive to go for Mambo Jambo @ Zouk next door for post dinner activities which never fails to be a lift my spirits from the monotony of life.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

PONTINI

392 HAVELOCK ROAD, LEVEL 2 GRAND COPTHORNE WATERFRONT HOTEL

TEL: +65 6233 1133





Min Jiang @ 1-North

3 06 2010

After Sunday mass, I suggested that the family eat out at somewhere nice. After all, family bonding time is important and I just love dining out with my parents. They pay, I eat. They chauffuer, I eat. You get the drift? I really hate paying and driving haha…and since I am the youngest in the family, pampering moi is just part and parcel of societal norms. Hence, I suggested somewhere far far away from home which would have been a huge deterrence to drive there myself. So Min Jiang @ One-North it was!

Imo, the eateries at Rochester definitely pack more substance and style compared to Dempsey. Being remote(at least to me coz I stay in the east) is the new cool!

Among the restaurants found in Rochester, sadly Min Jiang is housed the furthest from the carpark and is the most hidden and dilapidated(at least from the front) of the Rochester bungalows now used as restaurant premises but as long as the food is good right? Having patronised Min Jiang @ Goodwood Park Hotel several times before, I had pretty high expectations for the Rochester branch. 

There are 2 levels for indoor air conditioned dining as well as a lovely veranda for al fresco dining.

The menu at the here is not quite as extensive as the one at Goodwood Park(since there isn’t any auntie with a pushcart of fried items) so I was slightly disappointed as some of my favourite items were missing. 

The Pan-fried Carrot Cake($3.80++) was well executed. The exterior was crispy but not overfried such that there was the bitter charred taste of burnt carbs. I would recommend this.

 

Deep Fried Prawn Dumplings($4.80++) were boringly nice. The prawns were fresh and what’s not to love about a mayo dip?

The Baked BBQ Pork Puff aka Char Siew Sou($5.50++) was sub-par. The pastry wasn’t buttery as it was flaky and the char siew fillings were pathetic in both portion and taste(or the lack of it). The addition of pork floss was a nice little touch but I’m still left swooning over Hua Ting’s CSS though, which is one of my favourite so far.

Ubiquitous in every dim sum meal; the Har Kow or Steam Prawn Dumplings($7.50++). The ones here are a little more special, the prawn filling supposedly comes with Lingzhi mushroon and Australian Asparagus, though I didn’t detect any as I gobbled it all down in one mouthful. I would have savoured it a little more had I known it was an atas Har Kow. Nevertheless, the translucent Har Kow skins means the thickness is just about right! If you can close one eye to the heftier pricetag, I think it’s definitely worth a try.

Another dim sum staple, the Steamed Rice Noodle with Char Siew aka Chee Cheong Fan($4.80++) had a smooth silky texture and slid down my throat effortlessly. It’s such a simple dish and yet so many places get it wrong but I’m pleased Min Jiang is not one of them.

Mum’s the expert when it comes to Chicken Feet($4.50++) and since she had no qualms with the ones here served in Sichuan Chili Black Bean Sauce, I assumed it must have been alright, at least to me it was good. I’d love to think of the springy glistening feet as being high in collagen or some other mineral good for complexion and such, but deep inside I know it’s just fats…still we can dream, can’t we?

Mention Xiao Long Bao and most people, myself included, will immediately think of Din Tai Fung but with falling standards, the Steamed XLBs($6++) at Min Jiang easily trumps the former. It’s not the best around and the skin is slightly on dry side, but the soup is flavourful and meat tender and savoury. Slurps…ahhhhh….

There was nothing particularly memorable about the Char Siew Baos($5.50++).

I love scallops! So I’m not being very objective when I say I love the Steamed Fresh Scallop Dumpling($4.80++). My only gripe is that the scallop and prawn fillings are too small!

Congee is such a modest and humble dish. We had Century Egg($6++) as well as a Fish Congee and it went down well with me. Something light to wash down any oil from the fried items.

Overall, I feel that Min Jiang serves above average dim sum that is pleasing to the palate. Although it’s still far from being the best and the types of dim sum served at the Rochester branch is somewhat limited, I do appreciate the serene feeling of dining among the luscious greenery.  

Bon Appetit! 

 

 

MIN JIANG @ ONE-NORTH

5 ROCHESTER PARK

TEL: +65 6774 0122








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