Monday, July 31, 2006


789 Bukit Timah Road.
Tel: 6466-7762

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Beef carpaccio

Previously from La Braceria, Chef La Mura Dominico has brought along his old menu to his new venture. Grilled meats still take up a sizable portion of the menu, along side offerings of pastas, pizzas, antipasti and dolce, and his delicious signatures offerings have stayed on the menu.

I realised that I am a creature of habit and comfort, and have unconsciously ordered almost the same dishes as what we had at La Braceria. The appetizers of baked scarmoza with a delicious mushroom sauce, tripe, beef carpaccio and sautéed clams in white wine were well put together and tasted close to what we had when we first tasted the chef’s cooking. Electing to go with the grill dishes of lamb chops and grilled homemade sausages, since after all they did build the kitchen to feature the char-grilling moves of the chef, they did not disappoint. With no thick or rich sauce to accompany the grilled meats, they were simple, straightforward and satisfying.

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Baked scarmoza with delicious mushroom sauce

Only sampling one dish of baked orecchiette with eggplant and homemade sausages from the pasta section, it echoed the same feeling of homely hearty food that the grilled dishes evoked.

Although not as charming or cosy as La Braceria in terms of ambience, but bring good company or wine and chances are if you liked the food there, you will like it here.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Papi by Colleoni and Chiarini
5 Mohamed Sultan Road
Tel: 6732 6269

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This is the second restaurant “attempt” by Colleoni and Chiarini, the dynamic duo behind Oso (which means try in Italian). Located along the stretch of newly opened eateries—Azhang, What’s the meaning behind PaPi? In my opinion, I think it represents what their menu is about, Pastas and Pizzas, hence Papi. I stress again, this is my own speculation, I could be horribly wrong.

The menu is very similar to Spizza, where perhaps the two might have had a hand in developing in their stint at Senso, the main difference is that there is a larger pasta selection. My lunch here was more like a quickie-in-and-out-event, which started out well with “Vitello tomato” classic roasted thinly sliced veal served with tuna fish and caper sauce, but disappointed with their pasta plates of “Frutti di mare” linguine with seafood in white wine sauce, “Papi” Tagliolini with shrimp in A.O.P (their acronym for Aglio Olio Peperoncino) with lemon skin, “Nero di Seppia” Tagliatelle with fresh squid ink sauce, that were really decent at best. Thankfully, we finished off with a redeeming crisp wood-fire “Infuriata”, Pizza with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, peperocino and spicy salami.

My call on this place is, come here for a pizza fix but skip the pasta section.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Orange Orange Obsession

A friend once told me, the orange is like the earth. Like the earth, which is composed by 3 elements—crust, mantle and core—the orange also has 3 distinct portions: the zest, the white pith and the juicy centre.

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The juicy centre is what I like best. Best when eaten raw, either cut into wedges and stretched before eating or simply halved and gorged out with a metal spoon. Nothing beats nature’s clever design of cramping thousands of tiny sacs that squirt flavour when bitten into. The other thing I love is juicing oranges. I find the process of rolling then to break the sacs, halving and then squeezing them for juice is not only therapeutic with a drinkable end product that is gratifying and refreshing.

Other than its core, I’ve re-discovered and learnt to appreciate another aspect of the orange, its zest. Although I’ve mindlessly followed recipes, which have called for orange zest to be added into stews and baked goods, I guess I never really did stop to consider the real oomph that gives to the foods it is added to… until last week. Inspired by a Homemade Spaghetti with Lobster, Basil and Orange Oil dish that I had in Union Square Café, where the orange oil played a primary role in lifting the dish and giving it subtle citrus accent, I started off my orange-obsession weekend by infusing orange oil. Once I started zesting, the scent of the natural orange oil was addictive, I could not stop! I started looking for other ways that I could transform orange peels that I normally trash after extracted their juicy pulp. After an afternoon of zesting, cooking random orange zest recipes, cleaning out my fridge of my leftovers, I'm quite chuffed that I managed to put together a rather pretentious Union Square Café wannabe home-cooked lunch dish what I now call my Double-Orange Capellini with Prawns and that took me nearly 2 hours to complete.

Double-Orange Angel Hair with Prawns
Serves 2

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1 Tbsp Olive oil
1-2 cloves Garlic, peeled and chopped
½ tin of whole Roma tomatoes, crush tomatoes
6 Prawns, shelled and minced
150 g Angel hair
5 Basil leaves, chiffonade
Orange oil (recipe follows)
Orange zest confit (recipe follows)

1. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and sauté garlic until fragrant. Add crushed tomatoes and 50 ml water, then simmer, uncovered for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Cook angel hair until al dente, then drain and save some of the boiling liquid.
3. Heat a frying-pan with butter, sauté prawns, and then add sauce to heat through. Remove from heat, add pasta and basil, then toss and mix well.
4. Drizzle with orange oil and garnish with orange zest.

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Orange oil
Makes about 250 ml or 1 cup

250 ml Olive oil
Zest of 1 orange
¼ tsp black peppercorns
Pinch of salt

1. Combine all ingredients in a small heavy-bottom pot and bring to a simmer on medium heat.
2. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
3. Set aside to cool completely, then use as required.

Orange zest confit

1 orange
100 ml water
30 g sugar

1. Peel orange zest using a potato peeler and julienne.
2. Place orange zest in a colander. Pour boiling water over to blanch and then run under cold water. Repeat process 3 times.
3. Bring water and sugar to the boil, reduce heat to a dimmer, add zest and simmer for 20 minutes. Store until ready to use.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Second Thoughts About Iggy’s

I’m back at Iggy’s. It has been almost a year since I last dined here. My first dinner here was a little disappointing. All the hype around the restaurant’s opening did not do too much to help it. The media set out great expectations and it did not live up to it for me. So here I am, back again. The main reason that has drawn me back is because of the news it has made again—named 4th best restaurant in Asia—there might be something that they are doing right that I missed out on my first visit.

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The food was inspiring. A, a totally non-foodie friend of mine, who absolutely eats to live and eats faster than anyone I know, had dinner at Iggy’s the week before and raved about the sakura ebi cappellini with konbu and scampi oil. And for A to rave about food, that is really something. I ordered it and empathised. The first bite of the cappellini is a burst of heady prawn flavour and once your tongue has digested that, it then reaches to you on another level as a comfort food as it has characteristics of a cholesterol-ridden bowl of prawn noodles. My lunch date, fellow foodie hinata, had the squid ink risotto with grilled octopus, which was equally delicious with well charred octopus that was not too chewy, and risotto, well its one of those foods that when cooked al dente always makes me smile.

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Following we had the signature Iggy’s burger, which generous patty was pink and barely cooked to preserve the natural juices was indulgent and the accompaniment of potatoes that danced around with duck fat and rosemary just before they hit the plate were so simple but gratifying.

To finish off, I went with the predictable molten chocolate cake, which was well executed with an oozy centre, quality chocolate and soft and warm sponge casing, while hinata had the banana tart.

The verdict? My $45+++ Lunch was rather awesome and I would definitely go back, but I’m not sure if I would dine there for the $75+++ five-course lunch or the $150+++ dinner.

The Regent Hotel, Level 3
Tel: 6732-2234


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Crab Shack

Crab Shack
227 Upper Thomson Road
(Opposite McDonalds)
Tel: 9451-9040

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By day this place is a dark and undistinguished coffee shop that sells economic rice but come sunset, it magically transforms into a brightly-lit bustling family-run crab shack.
Serving up fresh crab delicacies, this hole-in-the-wall unit is unpretentious and is solely focused on what they know best, crabs, more specifically, fresh flower crabs.

Lining the walls of the upper “deck” are photos of their family excursions to their supplier’s kelong, where they source their sweet fresh crabs. And when it comes to seafood, nothing beats freshness, it is either fresh or it should be cast away.

If you are a purist when it comes to crabs, you will be delighted to know that they serve it in KFC menu style—2 piece, 3 piece or 8 piece value meal—where you choose the number of crabs you wish to consume accompanied by your choice side of fries, corn or baked beans. Other items of the menu include crabbed baked rice, which is deliciously stuffed with fresh crabmeat and the crab spaghetti, which tasted like an interesting rendition of an aglio olio made with garlic and sun-dried tomatoes.

My verdict on this place is that it is an absolute keeper. Very affordable for a crab binge or gorge since an 8 piece value meal would only set you back $21.95 and their crab baked rice is worth coming back for.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Azhang: The Restaurant That Isn’t a Restaurant

6 Mohamed Sultan Road
Singapore 238956
Tel: 6836-3436

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Roasted Corn Salad

The Zhangs, Patrick and Eva, behind this anti-restaurant restaurant the former head the kitchen and the latter plays the gracious host. Together they run a paradoxical place that tries not to be a restaurant. I would say coming here is really like visiting that aunt that never stops feeding you or that foodie friend that is always ready to experiment and to put together a dinner party.

Although there is a standard regular menu which feature food items such as roasted corn salad, seafood platters, lamb kebabs, steak and such, Patrick would always welcome special requests (or demands) or a culinary challenge, just call in advance to give some notice of your planned arrival. Of late, Patrick cooked a chocolate themed dinner, where the luscious ingredient was featured in every dish in the 3 course meal that he cooked up. In addition to that, there extraordinary dining dates that are termed as social nights, where a special menu will be planned and reservations have to be made to secure a spot. These feasting dates have eclectic themes ranging local comfort food such as Nasi Lemak to the strange such as a Christmas dinner, turkey and the whole shebang, in the middle of the year. Simply put, do not be confined to the menu, the repertoire of dishes that have been and can be served here is really up to you.

If you do walk in without a special request, the menu will still suffice. We made a special request for a pumpkin dip with crudités, but other than that, we ordered the corn salad and Azhang mixed platter with an extra serving of prawns. The pumpkin dip was appetising and slightly spicy with curry undertones and the corn salad was a bright and fresh with a bite from the raw garlic that peppered the salad. As our conversation continued to flow freely through dinner, we were all silenced by the huge platters that arrived. Piled on the bed of long-grained pilaf were generous servings lamb kebabs, grilled salmon and squid, chicken and these XXL sized prawns served with a homemade belachan. I was a little divided about the belachan, it was fiery hot, which was freely plastered unto the food by some, but I personally preferred the food in its natural state and my mouth not on fire. Unmasked by any form of sauce, what astonished me was how not one item was overcooked or chewy, but cooked which a high level of delicateness that teased out its natural flavours. Unpretentious and utterly scrumptious and all at an affordable price too.

Good food aside, the service is friendly and personable. Eva, who is always full of smiles, runs the floor and prepares the dessert and although Patrick is the slave to the stove, you would frequently spot him on the floor chatting to his guests. Together, the two run the place like a home rather than a restaurant. Dine here, get to know them and make this place your own regular haunt; they will be more than welcome you back when you return.

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