Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Innovative Sial

Even as local government agencies run campaigns to cajole civil servants to be innovative, our hawkers need no such push. In the face of the onslaught by cappucinos and lattes, our hawkers hold their own.

From Al Azhari, opposite Beauty World:

chendol with atap chee?!

milo godzilla (milo topped with whipped cream and milo powder)

horlicks dinosaur (horlicks topped with horlicks powder)


They Have Uncle Sam, We Have...

Uncle Samy has been serving banana leaf style Indian food from a canteen in the CSC Club at Dempsey since god knows when. The club is now defunct, and Samy's premises are apparently scheduled for a long overdue renovation. We usually go to the Samy's outlet at Food Loft, the food court at Marina Square, but craving an Indian food fix one Sunday, we thought we'd check out the old place before it disappeared.

Set amidst the still lush foliage, Samy's at Dempsey is a step back in time, from the black and white tiled floor to the fans spinning lazily overhead, to the days when the sahibs ruled the island. That perhaps is the reason why there was a steady stream of customers the night that we were there. God knows it can't have been the food.

briyani with tandoori chicken, papadam and fish cutlet

palak paneer (spinach with cheese)

chicken tikka (baked chicken)

sotong hitam (squid in black sauce)

mutton curry

Perhaps we should have ordered the signature dish, curry fish head, but we didn't feel like something so major. Suffice it to say, we were not impressed. Even the fish cutlet which is one of our favourites at Marina Square was disappointingly bland. What a pity...


That Time of Year

And so it begins, the feasting on mooncakes. Personally I prefer the traditional lotus paste quadruple yolk pastries but HM is a big fan of newfangled snowskin creations like Raffles Hotel's mini snowskin mooncakes with champagne truffles and ganache, and the Raffles cognac truffle equivalent.


Saturday Morning

It is a rare moment indeed when we are both free on a Saturday morning and HM feels inclined to toddle downstairs for a spot of brekkie. So Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf ain't exactly gourmet but it's a good spot to chill at and the breakfast sets aren't half bad.

Brek O'Day (scrambled eggs, sausages, salad and foccacia)

scrambled eggs and salmon on bagel


Saturday, August 25, 2007

Welcome to the Family

Oogie (left) and H.Owl (right)

Ok we indulged and got two new office pets...


See, Deli!

9.00 p.m. on a Friday night and there are maybe 50, 60 women in the Cedele outlet at Wheelock Place. At any one time, there are a maximum of 5 men, not counting the waitstaff. So what's it with women and Cedele? We think it's the way it markets itself - the healthier than thou image. Let's face it, what's not to like about a place that makes you feel less guilty about stuffing your face?

from the bread bar

From the transfat-free yet delicious bread...

boston clam chowder

to the yummy nutritious-sounding soups...

grilled white fish with pesto and penne aglio olio

to the lighter main options...

orange macadamia cheesecake

that leave us feeling virtuous enough to allow for dessert, Cedele knows how to push the right buttons. We've been fans ever since it introduced quinoa into its salads and into our diets. It could still do better (the fish could be fresher!) but it still beats its nearest competitors, TCC and Coffee Club, by a mile, for serving real food.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

A National Symbol?

Of course, KFC is hardly Singaporean, but every National Day, we do a NDP party. We watch the parade on tele and eat KFC - red and white, get it? This year, in honour of PM Lee's National Day Rally, we had a second bout of the artery-clogging stuff.

four pieces of chicken, popcorn chicken, mashed potato, coleslaw and the latest, oatmeal fish fillet

A word of warning: beware the fish. It's mushy and strangely sweet, although the oatmeal is nicely crunchy.


Elvis is in the House

I guess it had to happen sooner or later. The village with two Crystal Jade Restaurants has acquired a Marmalade Pantry. Sadly, it's located where Cafe Rosso used to be. That's a pity because the latter served excellent food, albeit at luxe prices and with poor service. Still one hopes it hasn't died for good, merely moved elsewhere.

Of course Marmalade Pantry isn't exactly cheap either. We had a grilled pesto chicken wrap with roasted butternut pumpkin (very tasty), a bowl of sweet pepper and tomato soup (excellent stuff - I wonder what stock they use), a specialty tea, a latte and took three cupcakes away to the tune of $53 in total. Yummy but pricey.

two Elvis (chocolate banana with peanut butter topping), for ES and me, and one Limonata, for HM


Friday, August 10, 2007

Gurney Drive Singapore Style

Princess Terrace at Copthorne King's is where we go to when we want some authentic Penang food. Us, and seemingly the entire community of Penang-ites in Singapore, and understandably so. The variety is good, representing the range of Penang hawker favourites and more, the food is delicious and the price per head is a reasonable $33+++ (at the time of this visit, for Citibank card holders, there was more good news: for every three guests, a fourth dined free.)

clockwise, from left: otah otah (fish cake); penang char kuay teow (fried flat rice hoodles); nasi lemak (rice with coconut milk); nasi ulam (rice with herbs and spices) plus a dollop of sambal belacan (chilli and dried shrimp paste)

"ark thui" mee sua (duck leg rice vermicelli)

penang laksa

freshly made popiah (spring rolls)

kueh pie tee (spring rolls in cup form)

penang hae mee (prawn noodles)

apom (pancakes) with banana sauce

nonya kueh

tau huey with gula melaka (soy bean curd with palm sugar)

teh tarik ("pulled" tea)

There was lots more, but the stomach's capacity is finite. Alas...

For more of my thoughts on Princess Terrace, check this out.


A Chance Find

It was HM who spotted this little fella in the canal next to Great World City.

little heron


Monday, August 06, 2007

Sweets for the Sweet

Is there such a thing as too much of a good thing, especially when it comes to desserts? As someone who prefers savoury food myself, I would have said "yes" straightaway, but, to be fair, I decided to defer to those with a sweeter tooth. The experiment was a visit to Macaron, the dessert restaurant, for "hi-tea" (such an travesty of spelling *shudder*).

High tea is served from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. For $28.00+++ or about $33 nett, one gets to choose a total of 13 bite-sized items from four mini-menus ("3 items from Savouries A, 2 items from Savouries B..."). HM and I decided to split the menu evenly between the two of us, so that we could sample everything. There were a couple of items such as the almond scones with smoked chicken ham and canele which were not available. This did not bother us too much; it just meant we could squeeze in more rose macarons, hehe. Other than the few exceptions, we had it all covered.

clockwise, from top left corner: brioche burger with roasted chicken and fig compote; smoked salmon profiterole with dill cream cheese; tomato and mushroom tartlet; filo cup with crab salad; rare roasted beef with horseradish dressing on "levain" toast

clockwise, from top left corner: toasted brioche with foie gras terrine; brioche burger with roasted chicken and fig compote; club honey baked ham; herb focaccia with tomato mozarella; croque madame

clockwise, from top left corner: rose macaron; chocolate macaron; pear danish; l'amour ice cream (rose flavoured); salty caramel macaron; banana passionfruit sorbet; chocolate ice cream; another rose macaron

clockwise, from top left corner: le royale; eclair feullitine; citrus madeleine; praline profiterole; rose macaron, lemon meringue tart; gateaux chocholat; in the centre, earl grey creme brulee
What we really liked:
  • the brioche burger with roasted chicken and fig compote - HM has an inordinate liking for them figs... but it was scrumptious indeed
  • the croque madame - hey hey atas junk food
  • the toasted brioche with foie gras pate - the pate was infused with some liquer and was very light
  • the l'amour ice cream
  • the banana passionfruit sorbet - a surprisingly successful combination of flavours
  • the salty caramel macaron - reminiscent of taffy (incidentally, we had great sea salt and caramel ice cream at Azabu Hokkaido ice cream, but I digress...)
  • rose macaron, rose macaron, rose macaron - we love these, but MM found the rose flavour rather strong
  • the filo cup with crab salad - ok, I'm the lone voice on this; HM and MM both pooh-poohed this.)
What didn't work for us:
  • the earl grey creme brulee - this version was way better than Brown Sugar's, and yet we had our doubts. It tasted quite like teh tarik, a flavour we do like. So why was it so impossible to finish a saucer-ful?
  • le royale and gateuax chocolat - too chocolate-y, would you believe it? And that was the opinion of the sweet lovers, gasp...

To conclude, Macaron is definitely for the sweet of tooth. I hear the dinner menu is just as sweet; all the dishes have a dessert element. According to ES, the one time she had dinner there with friends, they ended up hankering for prata. My sentiments exactly. Still, for those who enjoy hip minimalist decor and pretty plates, it's worth a visit, if only for the novelty. Oh, and the rose macarons...

P.S. MM, look here for photos of your food. A little underlit, I'm afraid.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Super Super

For fans of Japanese snacks, check out Yamakawa Super in the basement of The Central. Look what we found...

our haul

Clockwise from top left corner, two bottles of Coke Zero; purple coloured Mcvitie's digestives; Kit Kat Milk White; Kit Kat Cacao 61; Kit Kat Matcha Milk; Kit Kat Brandy and Orange; White Wine and Muscat Tea



Seah Street Deli ain't what it used to be, but hey, at least you know what to expect.

footlong hotdog with relish and sauerkraut

new york cheese cake


Whose House Is It Anyway?

Even before fusion food became trendy, the Japanese were putting a unique spin on everything. Anyone who has tried Japanese curry will attest to that. Of course, the Hainanese in Singapore have done much the same thing, with Hainanese pork chop and Hainanese-Singaporean borscht. Still, I think the Japanese are masters at the hyperreal, right down to the decor.

Ma Maison at Central is a good example of this. Styled like a traditional British inn, this self-proclaimed (in kanji or Chinese characters over the front entrance) Japanese-style Western food restaurant was intentionally twee*, from the furniture, to the crockery, to the use of "room keys" to number the tables.

* and, amazingly, without any sense of irony!

medieval torture implements?

We were there as part of HM's ongoing quest for the perfect burger. From experience, we have learnt that the Japanese who treat their food oh so seriously are more than likely to use good quality beef in their hamburgers. Sadly, Cafe Rosso in Holland Village which had our vote for best Japanese burger in Singapore closed down recently. And HM had unearthed a good review of Ma Maison's burgers on one of the local food blogs. Perhaps we would find a replacement for Cafe Rosso.

Here's what we ordered:

escargot (snails in butter)

large hamburger with brown sauce

beef stroganoff with omu (omelette) rice

In the end, we enjoyed the food and the experience much in the same way as we enjoy going to Sloane Court, Shashlik or any of the Hainanese Western food eateries, with more than a touch of amusement, a guilty pleasure really. Not that the food wasn't good - it was certainly good enough, but in a junk food sort of way. The beef stroganoff was a big hit. HM couldn't get enough of it, especially the omu rice (which she usually does not like) with the sauce. The hamburger though did not quite meet her stringent conditions. I quite liked the dish myself but she thought it was a tad mushy, preferring a little more bite to her burger patties. The much-vaunted brown sauce (brewed for 28 days, according to the menu) was also a little too salty for her liking. Still, it was the totality of the experience, more than any specific "ingredient" that made it a good night out.

P.S. The bill came up to $52 inclusive of all taxes.


A Crystal Clear Choice

People like to remind me how lucky I am to live where I have the choice of two Crystal Jade outlets, a almost but not quite 24-hour Crystal Jade Kitchen and a La Mian Xiao Long Bao. I have to agree. It is quite a godsend, especially when we are craving the comforts of home aka the homecooked goodness of Mum's cooking. Like the other night when, inexplicably, we felt the urge for good ol' fashioned chicken soup, so down we went to our friendly neighbourhood La Mian Xiao Long Bao restaurant.

Once we got down there though, we allowed ourselves to be tempted by the special menu and ordered:

ko shui ji la mian (la mian with century egg, poached chicken and japanese cucumber in chilli oil)

pan fried xiao long bao (pork dumplings)

The ko shui ji la mian was tasty but a little too spicy for HM (she admits though that spicy is not really her thing...) And the egg beneath the xiao long bao was too eggy for her (egg is also not her thing...) I liked both well enough.

xiao long bao

We had to have more xiao long bao, since, in our opinion, Crystal Jade's are probably the best in Singapore. I don't care what the Din Tai Fung fans say, but really, the pei (skin?) of the DTF ones are way too thick. There's nothing like nibbling a little hole in the Crystal Jade xiao long bao and slurping down the pork stock first, mmm...

Of course we couldn't forget the reason why we came:

double boiled chicken soup

Ahh, just what we needed.