Thursday, June 21, 2007

Asian Kitchen @ Vivocity

I don't know why I came to The Asian Kitchen ((Vivocity, #B2-29) today. The food here isn't great at all.
My previous unmemorable experience should have kept me away.

The zha jiang mian (SGD8.80) I had was below average - clumpy sticky noodles, boring meat sauce, a sprinkling of tofu cubes and julienned cucumber.

We shared chilled tofu (SGD6.70), it's a slab of silken tofu, topped with chicken floss, dark soya sauce and some fried shallots. My mom used to do this for a quick meal, and come on, SGD6.70 for something which requires zero effort to prepare is exorbitant and criminal. We also shared some steamed xiao long bao (SGD5.70 for 4), and these were not too fresh, and mediocre at best.

I walked over to Beard Papa for dessert. Cream coronet (SGD1.80), oooh this was good! Chilled custard in a crispy flakey shell. Yum. My friend said that this was full of transfats and carcinogens. When butter is cooked at a high temperature, it creates transfats. Is that true? I thought transfats are found in palm oil and cheap oil, i.e. those cheap khong guan biscuits? Anyway, I just loovve this. Wish I had more than 2.
Choose the coronets, not the puffs. I find that the coronets give the best ratio of custard vs pastry. Sometimes the puff just doesn't contain enough custard, resulting in an unsatisfying dessert.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Lao You Ji @ 245 Outram Road

This place is an air-conditioned coffee shop that serves live seafood, tze char and steamboat.

Many places around this area have the same business model, but I like this place because the food is fantastic and fresh, the service is cheerful and polite, and the place is clean and air-conditioned. I don't think my criteria is very stringent. But, if a place meets only 2 out of the 3 factors mentioned above, it has to compensate by being outstanding in the other 2 areas. What about places with only 1 out of 3? That is a failing grade, and therefore the restaurant shall not be considered worthy.

Steamed frogs' legs in chicken essence (SGD18 for a small serving). Hmmm, only 1 bottle of essence, but this was very tasty nonetheless. It was slightly less tender than the Sin Huat version, but the gravy was somehow sweeter because there was the addition of some ginger and I think, some Chinese rice wine.

Steamed Large Bamboo Clams with garlic (SGD 10 each). This clam is much bigger than the other species of bamboo clams commonly served at seafood restaurants (those typically cost SGD8.80 elsewhere but only SGD8 here). These were great, chewy and tender, like very good squid. The addition of some mung bean vermicelli (tung hoon) on the top was a little unique, but it was good, as it soaked up the flavoursome clam juices, and was delicious.

Steamed Fish head with Sticky Red Sauce (SGD14). I am not sure what this sauce really is, but it tasted very savoury and fragrant with garlic. There was also some vinegar I think. It reminded me of that dish of braised lamb ribs which I had in a mainland Chinese restaurant.

So, this was yet another affordable and yummy meal.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Part 2

airport lounge food!

On the way back to Singapore, I ended up at the business lounge. There was an interesting array of food, and I chose the guo cuon (spring rolls), made with rice sheets. The one on top contained prawn, a spring of spring onion, rice vermicelli, and lots of bean sprouts and basil. It tasted... very green. Even the fish sauce couldn't spice it up enough for me. The other one contained grilled beef, which is much better, but was a little too chewy for my liking.

Ho Chih Minh City, Vietnam

I was in Ho Chi Minh City for a very short sojourn.

As almost all my meals were catered (and very good meals they were too!), I didn't have a chance to wander and try the street foods that my friend D (of Dancing Blue Seal) recommended.

I managed to take in some sights... visited Ben Thanh Market and bought some snacks home for the family (passionfruit at SGD1 per kg, and roasted lotus seeds at SGD1.80 per kg).

At the corner of Ben Thanh Market, my friends and I ended up having afternoon tea at Pho 2000, the beef pho place where Bill Clinton famously had a meal.

Pho bo dac biet (230,000 VND, roughly SGD2.30). The soft and smooth kway teow (sorry, pho) was slurpilicious. This pho bo contained beef slices, chewy tendon, brisket (beef with some fat and some hard muscly bits) and beef balls sliced in half. Much better than anything I've ever had in Singapore. The broth was so sweet and flavoursome, infused with beefy and herby aroma.

Cha Gio / Prawn Spring Rolls (roughly SGD2.80). 2 whole prawns in each roll, with some other things like vermicelli and vegetables. This was crispy and well-fried. I was too full to eat more than 1 piece though.

The can of coke we had was relatively more expensive, at SGD1.80 each.

So the 3 of us had a very decent meal for SGD4 each.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Equinox @ Swissotel the Stamford

Equinox is on the 60th storey of Swissotel, so it is the best place to be if you want to admire the lovely skyline view of Singapore. I was here with DS, and I am so glad I did. I'm all excited for DS, she is embarking on a new stage in her life and there are just so many things to do.

The lunch buffet is SGD48+++ per person, and is pretty worth it, since they have a great selection of good quality stuff, including pan-seared foie gras.

My starter selection.

My main event - foie gras on a crisp biscotti and topped with some chutney. Lovely. Let's see. I must have had at least 2 more plates of this.

The chilled seafood. There was also chilled crab, which I skipped since I have been eating waayy too much crab in the past few days (read: crab beehoon and crab claypot).
I had some mains, but they are not usually my favourite part of the buffet. Then dessert, which all looked and tasted divine.

Digital Photo Frame

I really really like this!
DH got it for me, it's a digital photoframe which plays my favourite photos on a repeated slideshow and also plays music and videos too.
It's so cool! Love it!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Drinks and Dinner @ Raffles Place

(Author's Note: Mr L, who is really a simple unassuming person, has emailed to say that he is worried that the words italicised below would cause readers to think that he was boasting. I would like to assure everyone that Mr L was not boasting in any way. The fact that he is concerned about this speaks volumes about his modesty.)

Met up with an ex-colleague for celebratory drinks and dinner (Congrats on the big CA win, Mr L!). He was understandably still chuffed from his victory and as he described each clever strategy and manouvre, I felt a little bereft at having foregone this past life. A slight sense of nostalgia had already crept up on me as I walked the streets of Raffles Place. And now, as Mr L relived his moment of glory, I couldn't help but recall those days when I was on a perpetual treadmill of papers and submissions and research. Each appearance in Court was exciting and ever so satisfying (Now, I get my kicks from Godiva chocolate, haha).

We went to Superfamous, a cafe and bar outside OCBC building, my choice. Happy Hour prices from 5 pm to 9 pm where martinis and champagne cocktails were going for SGD1o instead of the usual SGD15-SGD18.

I started with a lychee martini and Mr L had a starfruit martini (made with blended starfruit). Later we each had a champagne cocktail.

If you get here early enough (between 5-7 pm), they serve complimentary mini wagyu burgers (usually SGD5 each) with each drink that you order. We arrived slightly past 7 pm and were too late to take advantage of this promotion.

I tried to charm my way into getting a free burger. The first waiter said he couldn't because they've already refused other tables. POUT. This waiter is an idiot. I will try again. And this time, the waiter checked with the manager and... SUCCESS! Free burgers! Ooh, they were piping hot, toasty buns with tender and fatty patties with onions too. Delicious. More so cos they were FREE. Even more so cos I managed to get something despite the difficult circumstances.


This new Thai place was not too bad, and very cheap. It's on Circular Road, which is just behind Boat Quay.

Pad Thai for SGD5.90. It was quite a generous portion, and quite spicy. Not a bad choice for a post drinking binge.

Seafood Tom Yum soup (SGD4.90). Enough for 2 full bowls, I recommend that you share this. Spicy and tangy.

Pandan chicken (SGD3.90). 4 pieces of crispy greasy chicken. Not fantastic, but pretty good value for money.

We didn't have room for dessert.


At 930 pm, there were many taxis trawling Circular Road, but all refused to stop as they were clearly cruising for on-call fees (if you call to book, it earns them an extra 3 dollars).

Fine. So I stop this silver premier cabby and say, I will pay you the on-call fee if you take me. I thought, saves me the time to call, and he gets the full fee rather than to share it with the taxi company.

BUT, this unscrupulous cabby insisted on being paid an extra SGD5.20, being the fee for advance booking of more than 30 mins. His greed knows no boundaries! I am appalled at his audacity.

I didn't want to argue. I asked for a receipt.

He wrote one out... and left out his taxi licence plate number.


Bedok Chwee Kuey @ Bedok Interchange

This is my favourite chwee kuey stall. Not in Tiong Bahru. Here in good ol' Bedok.

4 pieces of luscious smooth silky steamed rice cakes, topped with crunchy, fragrant preserved vegetable bits (minced finely and cooked with sesame seeds) for only SGD1. Yes, SGD 1!

With a cup of ice-cold unsweetened soya bean milk (also SGD1!), I had a filling and yummy breakfast this morning.

Sometimes, the best things in life can be had for just SGD1.

Hakka Beef Balls Kway Teow Soup

These are Hakka beef balls bought from a famous shop along Joo Chiat road that my parents frequent.

These balls are really good, bouncy and chewy with a meaty bite. Not like those mushy food court, factory-made ones.

The soup that they use has a little bit of MSG, so DM made her own soup lovingly and painstakingly boiled from big ikan bilis and other goodies.

Sweet and flavourful and filled with love.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Waraku Japanese Restaurant @ East Coast Park

Waraku first opened at East Coast Park some years back, and it was one of the first restaurants to introduce steamboat in a paper pot (How does the paper pot keep from burning up, pray tell?).

Since then, it has opened a few branches (Marina Square, East Coast Road etc).

We came here over the weekend because it was unbearably hot and I wanted to have some zaru soba or cold ramen.

Well, we really loved it. The food was great, and very affordably priced. The best thing is, they were so baby-friendly and had such fantastic service. There was a 10 minute wait for a table, as they were full at about 830 pm. And while we (and some others) waited, they came out and served us plastic cups of iced lemon tea, iced green tea, beer and water. Now, that's great service to me. Kudos to them. And it says a lot when there are some places (cough, bakerzin, cough) which charge for tap water.

DH ordered this mentaiko yaki (SGD8). It's grilled codfish roe. But on the menu, it was described as a rather unappetising "burnt fish roe". It was quite interesting. Chewy, smoky exterior with a salty interior of roe.

DH's order of unagi nabe (eel hotpot) (SGD 12.80). It was served with a raw egg that you cracked into the pot. Baby loved the soft slightly boiled egg, and wanted more, but DH had gobbled most of it up.

My waraku cold soba (SGD14.80), served with dipping sauce, and a plethora of ingredients - egg, beeancurd, crabmeat, seaweed, fishcake, crispy sprinkles.


And I really meant it when I said that they were baby-friendly. The nice lady supervisor gave Baby a pack of cheese biscuits, a toy piggy bank in the shape of a post box, and a noisy gun. She also gave him a Spiderman mask, which I returned since he doesn't really play with masks right now.

DH loved the gun. He used it to shoot me whenever I dissed him throughout the dinner (Me: "You're a terrible father for eating up all the egg.... " DH: "Bang Bang!"). Which made the waitress laugh. DH said it took all his self-restraint not to shoot her too.

Roland Restaurant @ East Coast

Roland is a restaurant whose prices and decor are still set in the 1980s. Red fabric covered chairs, middle-aged aunties who serve you with nary a smile, classic dishes like veg in crispy yam basket and desserts like Orh nee (sweet yam paste).

Coffee pork ribs (SGD12.80 per serving). It was thick and meaty, a carnivorous neanderthal's delight (read: DH's favourite). The gravy was sweet and sticky with a hint of bitter coffee. One of the best pork ribs I've ever eaten.

Steamed Home-made Tofu with Spinach and Gingko Nuts (SGD8.80). We order tofu whenever we eat out with Baby so that he gets to try some of our food too. This tofu was excellent. Soft and wobbly and smooth. Tastes definitely home-made.
Braised Seafood Claypot (SGD18.80 for each individual serving). This contained deer tendon, a slice of abalone, fish maw, scallop, mushroom and broccoli. It was rich and savoury and really good.
Now, this is what we really came here for. Crab Bee Hoon, soupy version (SGD35). This creamy milky broth is like the fish head bee hoon one gets, but it is much sweeter and more flavourful because of the whole crab that it is cooked in. Ginger slices and spring onions help to make this a warm, comforting meal. Slurpiliciously good.

And again, a very affordable meal.


I love Baby.

I was kinda tearing last night over an insignificant incident (geez, what is wrong with me, I am so teary these days).

And Baby climbs onto my lap, wipes away my tears, hugs me... and then he rested his head on my shoulders and patted me.

He is such an adorable child.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sin Huat Eating House @ Geylang Lor 35

I used to come to Sin Huat Eating House (Geylang Lor 35) with late my father in law for braised duck and turtle soup (which are both really good!). I didn't realise this dingy coffeeshop housed the famous crab bee hoon place as well.

I have resisted coming here despite reading rave reviews about the delectable crab bee hoon because I have also heard horror stories about the eccentric chef who has no menus (or fixed prices), who makes you wait, and who does not serve you if you order from the braised duck or turtle soup guys. Is it merely urban legend?

But Anthony Bourdain has been here! Every foodblogger worth his salt has been here!

So despite my misgivings, I ventured here with trepidation and am pleased to report that the chef was not as rude as I imagined he would be. He was a little bossy when he recommended food that we should order, which ended up with us having a little too much food. That is alright, as the food was really very good.

After a short wait of about 15 minutes (fortunately, the place was not crowded - there were about 6-7 tables of people with only 1 other table waiting for their food when I arrived on a weekday).

First up, fresh scallops in black bean and garlic sauce (SGD 25). These are live scallops, served on their shells, and were much sweeter than the frozen scallops you normally eat at other restaurants. The black bean and garlic sauce was fragrant and robust, and a little overpowering, but nonetheless very tasty. SGD25 for 10 live scallops is pretty good value for money, I would say.

Crunchy Stir-Fried Vegetables with garlic (SGD6). Crisp and cooked just right. It was not too salty either, so that was a good thing.

This was another dish, apart from the celebrated crab bee hoon, that was present on almost every table - Steamed Frog Legs in Brand's Chicken Essence (SGD26 for 2 frogs). It was tasty and the frogs tasted like very sweet and tender chicken. This dish came with a wax burner underneath to keep it steaming hot until the very last bite.

Finally, the piece de resistance. Crab Bee Hoon (SGD 56). A whole steamed crab (full of roe and sweet crabby flesh) tossed in sticky, slippery, garlicky, fragrant bee hoon. It was simply the best. It was like very very well-fried Hokkien mee, but sweeter than you can imagine, because of the crab.

Here's a close-up at this unbelievably, unctiously umami plate of goodness. Roe, meat, chili, garlic-infused bee hoon, each bite was divine.

As there was no menu, and I didn't dare to ask the chef how much the dishes cost ( I heard that he hates that!). I was so worried that we would get ripped off on this meal. However, I think SGD113 for such a great seafood meal is indeed worth it.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Au Jardin Les Amis

For a quiet, unintrusive lunch with a lovely view, I would recommend that you come to Au Jardin Les Amis in the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Housed in a charming black and white colonial bungalow, Au Jardin Les Amis offers a cool respite in the middle of a concrete jungle.

Au Jardin only serves lunch on Fridays and Sundays (dinner is served everyday), so I would suggest that you make a reservation. The set lunch was SGD45 for 4 courses, with at least 2 options for each course.

The amuse bouche was an interesting medley of tastes and textures. The top was a creamy foam and the bottom was caramelised onions. It was a great start, and I eagerly anticipated the next course.

My starter of mushroom with black truffles and cheese shavings was sublime. The mushroom was earthy, meaty, fragrant, and paired really well with the aged cheese.

We all had the main of wagyu beef - braised wagyu cheek and seared wagyu beef. Served with crisp potato patty and grilled baby corn, it was just right. Every mouthful was a delightful burst of flavour and texture, sending me into pure transcendental bliss. I have to add that we also had a bottle of very fine French wine (circa 1992) with this so you can just imagine how this meal was elevated from sublime to unbelievable.
My dessert of chocolate mousse, served in a martini glass was a multi layered affair with creamy white chocolate foam on top, sprinkled with chocolate flakes, and thick dark chocolate at the bottom.

The pear millefeuille that KP had looked and tasted great too.

My usual chamomile tea, with the petit fours that they serve.

I love caneles.

I would give this place extra points for great service - it is polite, discreet, always obliging (honey for my tea, extra caneles for my sweet tooth).

Shin Kushiya @ Vivocity

Shin Kushiya (#02-120, Vivocity) has had some mixed reviews I think, but all my visits here have been good.

The food is good, arrives quickly and the waitstaff is courteous. The prices aren't exactly kind on the wallet though. This meal, including sake, cost SGD180 for 2.

We started with a seasonal speciality - sashimi of a a sharp-beaked fish. The fish was smooth and firm to the bite, like a cross between squid and fish.

Kushiyaki refers to grilled skewers of food, usually eaten with sake or beer. It's meant to be street-side food, and therefore affordable for the man in the street. In Singapore however, it appears to have taken on a very upmarket and expensive slant.

We started withb a few skewers recommended by the waiter: (from left) swordfish, gyu karubi (a marbled cut of beef) and shisamo (fish with roe). All were delicious.

DH and I each had a skewer of salmon belly, which was served with spring onion and ponzu (vinegar) which cut through the oiliness of the fish. This was an interesting way of serving salmon belly, and I think it worked well.

This is grilled salmon fishhead, very fleshy, glutinous and substantial (SGD11.80).

This was FANTASTIC. DH and I had 2 skewers each of this grilled foie gras with caramelised apple (SGD8.80 each). The exterior of the foie gras was very crispy, with a meltingly wobbly and decadently creamy interior. It was well complemented by the tart green apple slices.

Mozzerella cheese wrapped in beef skewers. These were good, but make sure you eat them hot when they arrive. If you wait too long (like I did), the cheese hardens and gets stringy.

This order of nankotsu (chicken soft bone or cartilage) (SGD2.80 each) puzzled me a little. It costs more than say, chicken balls and about the same as the mushroom and pork skewers, so I thought it was something exotic. But, this is just pieces of bone! And, it tasted like bone. Do the Japanese really eat this?

Enoki mushrooms wrapped with belly pork skewers were great too. They were juicy and fragrant.
I like this little pot. It lets me count the number of skewers I have consumed. 22 skewers at the end of this meal... which is nowhere near my personal best.

Editor's Note: This post has been published at AsiaOne WIne and Dine:

Dragon Bird's Nest @ Vivocity

Ah Ma has been cooking bird's nest in the house for a relative who has been unwell. So every Sunday, there'd be the aroma of bird's nest wafting through the kitchen... but... of course I don't get to eat any.

Then when DS innocently informs me that, DBiL's family cooks bird's nest soup almost weekly, and as a frequent guest, she has been consuming bucketloads of bird's nest... I decided that I really had to satisfy this bird's nest craving.

Dragon Bird's Nest @ Vivocity #01- serves different types of bird's nest soup for between SGD5.80 to SGD23.80. This one costs SGD5.80 and came in a delicate heartshaped porcelain cup. One can't expect a lot of bird's nest for this price, but what little there was, was very good. Sweet and refreshing, with firm strands of bird's nest.

One can also buy the bird's nest in pre-packaged bottles of 6.