Saturday, April 30, 2005

Teri’s Charcoal Teriyaki

205 Upper Thomson Road
Singapore 574345
Tel: 62562008

This eatery has been around for a few years although I cannot quite remember when it first opened. It has however gone through a management change and the Japanese man (whom might have been the original Teri) isn’t behind the grill anymore. The menu has not changed much but the teriyaki chicken salad did look slightly different today.

Nosh: Choice of meats and seafood that you can have charcoal grilled, sushi, sashimi, bentos and the usual stuff. I had a bento today, which was reasonably priced and it had tempura, sushi, sashimi, zaru soba and a miso soup. The sushi however almost seemed warm which was bordering on gross because it gives you the impression that the sushi was sitting there for a long time while they prepared everything. The sashimi however was better, nothing tasted stale, but I think leaving the fish in the fridge for a longer period of time would have been definitely a better choice. So the bento set might be a little iffy is they contain sushi or sashimi. However, that being said, I highly recommend the teriyaki chicken salad. If you ever come here, you MUST order this. The teriyaki sauce is lovely with the wonderful bed of vegetables that the grilled chicken sits on. If you have to share, share, but if this is the only item you order, you might want to consider jealously guarding it for yourself.

Pay: S$10 for the salad which is a meal by itself, or their sets start at S$12-S$20.50, if you do order a-la-carte, budget about S$20-S$25 a person for a variety of charcoal grilled delights.

Raves: The salad is really wonderful and reasonably priced Japanese food.

Room for improvement: Warm raw fish for sushi is just not right.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The World's 50 Best Restaurants.

Restaurant magazine listed 50 best restaurants in their April 2005 issue. The tragic news is that I have been to none. The semi-good news is that I can claim to be a restaurant voyeur - I am a proud owner of the cookbooks, The French Laundry by Thomas Keller and Tetsuya by Tetsuya Wakuda. In addition to that, other members of my culinary circle have dined in a number of these restaurants and so I shall get them to pen down their thoughts and their experiences in these restaurants and so we can ALL partake in this activity of restaurant voyeurism.

After scrolling down the list, you should also take a look at vinography who does a wonderful and better job with this list and has his own gripes against the list. The comments and the on-going debate they have on the restaurants and how a number are over-rated is also an interesting read if you are a little like me and have some sort of love affair with restaurants.

On a nationalistic note, since Hakkasan made it to the list and is probably one of the most impressive Chinese restaurants in London which serves their dim sum with finesse (as one of my food sources told me), I’m proud to announce that Chef Tong Chee Hwee who heads the kitchen in Hakkasan was talent spotted from Summer Pavilion in Singapore by Mr. Alan Yau who was recently in town for our World Gourmet Summit (which I MUST and WILL participate in next year). Hence perhaps our Chinese restaurants here can give the list a good run for its money.

Top 50 Restaurants in the World
1. Fat Duck, Bray Best in World/Best in Europe
2. El Bulli, Spain Chef's Choice
3. French Laundry, Yountville Best in America
4. Tetsuya's, Sydney Best in Australasia
5. Gordon RamsayRoyal Hospital Road, London
6. Pierre Gagnaire, Paris
7. Per Se, New York Highest New Entrant
8. Tom Aikens, London
9. Jean Georges, New York
10. St John, London
11. Michel Bras, Laguiole, France
12. Louis XV, Monaco
13. Chez Panisse, California Highest Climber
14. Charlie Trotter, Chicago
15. Gramercy Tavern, New York
16. Guy Savoy, Paris
17. Alain Ducasse, Paris
18. Sketch (Gallery) London
19. The Waterside Inn, Bray
20. Nobu, London
21. Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain
22. El Raco de can Fabes, Spain
23. Checcino dal 1887, Rome Italy
24. Le Meurice, Paris
25. L'Hotel de Ville, Crissier, Switzerland
26. Arpege, Paris
27. The Connaught, London
28. Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Oxford
29. Le Cinq, Paris
30. Hakkasan, London
31. Cal Pep, Barcelona Outstanding Value
32. Masa, New York
33. Flower Drum, Melbourne
34. WD50, New York
35. Le Quartier Francais, South Africa Best in Africa/Mid East
36. Spice Market, New York 37. Auberge d'Ill, Illhauseern-Alsace
38. Manresa, California, USA
39. Dieter Muller, Germany
40. Trois Gros, Roanne, France
41. The Wolseley, London
42. Rockpool, Sydney
43. Yauatcha, London
44. The Ivy, London
45. Gambero Rosso, Italy
46. The Cliff, Barbados
47. Le Gavroche, London
48. Enoteca Pinchiorri, Florence, Italy Editors Choice
49. Felix, Hong Kong Best in Asia
50. La Tupina, Bordeaux

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Lunch Express Yaki Soba

I had some leftover miso paste lying around in the fridge and since my fridge is simply bursting at its seams, I was looking for a way to finish using it so I could free up a few more precious inches in that fridge of mine. So I invited someone over for lunch, somehow that’s more of an incentive for me to cook. Since I just finished reading my Wagamama book, this is probably semi-wagamama inspired but with a twist of my personality and favourite flavours.

Serves 2:

200g soba noodles
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red chili, trimmed, deseeded and finely sliced
2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger root
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
4 shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1cm slices
clump of enoki mushrooms, about the size of your fist, broken up
1 large cloud ear/ black fungus
2 chicken breast thinly sliced
2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
3 tablespoons of miso paste mixed with ½ tablespoon of sake
toasted sesame seeds


Cook the noodles in a large pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until just tender. Drain refresh under cold running water and mix in miso paste.

Heat a wok over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until completely hot and almost smoking and add the vegetable oil. Add the sliced red chili and grated granger and stir fry for 15-20 seconds, then add the chicken and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Add in cloud ear, and mushrooms, stir fry for another minute and add in noodles and stir fry for another 1-2 minutes till everything looks well mixed. Season to taste.

Plate up, sprinkle with loads of toasted sesame seeds and spring onions, serve and EAT!

The great thing about this dish is that we probably managed to put everything together in about 20 minutes inclusive of cooking time! Other than that, in case you are wondering why i have a cluster of soba related recipes, I LOVE SOBA, and i think everyone should too.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Fisherman Wharf – Just Fish and Chips

27 New Bridge Road
Tel: 65326468

I missed the old harry ramsden fish and chips stall that we used to have in the east which has closed down about 5 years ago. I’m not even a big fish and chips fan, but once in a while, it is great to get some in your belly – simply, deep fried goodness. I mean after a while, all the real healthy food tends to taste bland, so you indulge a little and swear to start dieting tomorrow again. Anyhow, the malt vinegar is what really does it for me, I think it’s the malt vinegar that draws me to the fish and chips more than anything, and this shop has got its priorities right, on every table there is a bottle of ketchup, chili sauce and malt vinegar.

The not so posh nosh: Fish and chips, and chicken bites. Other than that, you might only be able to get a soft drink (soda), beer or water here. The process here is simple you have to make 3 decisions. Firstly you have to choose what fish you want in the batter – Monkfish, dory, snowfish, cod, saithe loin or sole. Following which, you’ll have to decide if you want chips or French fries. Lastly, you’ll need to decide on what extra sauces you want besides the basics they provide on the table and you have curry mayo, honey mayo or tartare. I like mine unadulterated, and I still haven’t picked up the Dutch habit of having frites with mayo and so I had mine with ketchup and the wonderful malt vinegar.

Pay: Cream Dory starts S$6.50 and I think the most expensive is the monkfish or cod which goes up to S$16.50.

Raves: Fish and chips, fish and chips, fish and chips.

What I didn’t like: The hot afternoon sun, you’ll have to sweat it out here, the lack of air conditioning means that if you are here for lunch in a suit, well, good luck.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Wagamama and the cookbook

Wagamama in Amsterdam
max euweplein 10
1017 mb amsterdam
Tel: (31) 20 528 7778

I’ve dined at Wagamama when I lived in Amsterdam and I’m rather relieved that that fast food fad of sorts has not made it to Singapore. The food isn’t bad; it is just that I thought it was ridiculous to be paying 10-12 euros for what I was eating. I already think our noodle bars here which charge about S$10-S$12 is bordering on terrible, and since my last visit to one about 3 years ago, I have avoided it.

When I had dinner at Wagamama in Amsterdam, somehow there was something comforting about it, something a tad close to home, but not quite, it was just a halfway point and when the bill came, it seemed completely off the point.

Anyhow, I must be a little twisted since I recently acquired the Wagamama cookbook. Despite the fact I haven’t highly of the restaurant and my brother has concurred with me about it when he dined at the Wagamama in London. Ok. I admit, I must seem like a real hypocrite since I have made faces at the restaurant, but I can justify it on a few levels, firstly, I got it at a bargain, I bought it at secondhand, I’m a food book junkie, I wanted to read about their food philosophy and why it was a success and it brings back some memories about Amsterdam. However, if and when I do buy a Wagamama tee-shirt online, I will then concede, that I am either very crazy or twisted and a victim of fads.

This is my first recipe from the book:

Ginger Chili Mushrooms with soba noodles, spring onions and coriander

Serves 2

250g soba noodles (but I think 200 is enough)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red chili, trimmed, deseeded and finely sliced
2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger root
4 oyster mushrooms, put into 1cm slices
3 shiitake mushrooms, cut into 1cm slices
clump of enoki mushrooms, about the size of your fist, broken up
handful of roughly chopped choi sum
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
generous handful of beansprouts
1 pint miso soup
4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
2 springs of coriander


Cook the noodles in a large pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until just tender. Drain refresh under cold running water and divide between 2 bowls. Heat a wok over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until completely hot and almost smoking and add the vegetable oil. Add the sliced red chili and grated granger and stiry fry for 15-20 seconds, then add the mushrooms and the choi sum. Season with salt and sugar, and stiry fry for 2-3 minutes.

Put the beansprouts on the top of the noodles, spoon over the mushrooms, then ladle over the hot miso soup. Scatter with spring onion slices and coriander.

* I left out the bean sprouts simply because I really can’t eat it raw, it tastes like grass to me.

Ok. I admit, it wasn’t bad, it was actually pretty good, although I don’t really understand why they use so little broth, if I made this again I would serve it with double the amount of broth. This is thus my new stand about Wagamama. Wagamama the food cookbook is alright, Wagamama the restaurant is not.

Corduroy and Finch

779 Bukit Timah Road
Tel: 64638083

After reading about this new deli-café that was written about in the Sunday Times (24 April 2005, L27), we decided that this was going to be our spot for our family lunch. So I guess this is my follow up review.

Nosh: Bistro/Café food, choice of eggs, pastries for breakfast, soups, salads, sandwiches. They do have interesting sounding things like a Mediterranean platter which is basically a selection of their anti pasti available and this comes in servings for one, two or four. Other than that they have 2 burger choices – tuna or beef, I had the tuna burger which came with a salad and a wasabi mousse like aioli (they have a fancier name for it that escapes me at the moment), tenderloin, linguine with bacon and herbs, a Bavaria pot, and the Hungarian goulash is suppose to be a good/popular dish which was sold out.

We had the Mediterranean platter to share and to nibble and when they said it was for one, it is really for one, you get a piece of everything and a few slices on the bread on the side. Most of the morsels were wonderful and it’s a great way to enjoy lunch if you like things in small portions. My tuna burger left me disappointed, it was ok. The salad that they served on the side had these sprinkling of young bean sprouts, which would have been nice, but after a while I felt that there were too many in my salad and the rawness was making me sick. We also had an order of smoke chicken salad, which they smoke on site and upon order came wonderfully presented as well, but we agreed that there were too many sprouts in our salad. The Bavarian pot which consist trio of sausages with sauerkraut and the linguine that rounded up our orders were ok. The pasta was over cooked, completely limp and beyond al-dente, and the Bavarian pot was visually pleasing but its flavours weren’t a real punch, in fact, we think we know where the sausages are from. So what can I say, for the prices, the visual effects are good, but the food lacks real punch that I think I might only be back here to have a coffee, muffin or cakes.

Pay: S$40-S$50 per person for a three-course meal. (figure taken from thesundaytimes)

Raves: The décor is wonderful. I really like it and the bistro-deli allows you to go shopping in the deli while waiting for your food or if you want to ignore your dining companion. The ambience is between a yuppie and chi-chi, either way I like it.

Room for Improvement: Taste to match its beautiful appearance.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

IMBB #14 – Celebrate Ooorange!

This is exciting! My first IMBB event. Yay! I think food is a basic sustenance, but I think food is taken to another level when it is shared with people. So many thanks to our gracious host - the ladygoat! This is my splash of orange.

Cold Soup of Carrot and Saffron with Beancurd


1 large onion, finely chopped
1 small leek, finely chopped
6 medium sized carrots, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1.25 liters chicken stock
1 pinch saffron threads
2 teaspoons soy sauce
125ml soy milk
1 tablespoon beancurd
1 tablespoon soy milk
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives


Sweat the onion, leek, carrot and celery in a small pan over low heat without any oil. Add the stock, saffron and soy sauce, and cook until the vegetables are tender.

Purée the mixture, then add any leftover stock to achieve the desired consistency. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Cool, add the 125 soy milk, and check for seasoning again.

Purée the beacurd or push through a very fine sieve. Mix with the tablespoon of soy milk. Place a little of the beancurd mixture in the center of the soup, top with chives.

Recipe taken from: Tetsuya by Tetsuya Wakuda

Looking at the finished product, it reminds me of my stay in Amsterdam and how the Dutch supporters were out in their orange array in the streets on the day they were going to play Scotland for a place in Euro 2004. Well, celebrate life, celebrate orange!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Akvavit – Smorgasbord on the lunch menu

27 New Bridge Road
Tel: 65326468

Scandinavian food is what they serve, here, but from the mini Danish flags and the visit Denmark posters they have on their walls, it might have a Danish slant, but really, I don’t see the difference between Danish or Swedish food unless someone is going to educate me on the nuances, so I shall safely categorise it as - Scandinavian. They only serve sandwiches and the good old herring and salmon, but if you are looking for a nice bowl of hot soup, this really isn’t the place. Lunch here reminds me of Europe and sandwich and cold cuts lunches that I miss on occasion and try to recreate with my almost daily cheese sandwiches.

Shooting Star

Nosh: We shared everything so we could taste almost everything that we wanted, but servings are small so you can probably enough to cover your table and you’ll be able to finish it if you had a party of 4.

To start off, we had the herring done three ways – spicy, tomato and traditional, half and half which is salmon done two ways – Smoked Baltic Sea Salmon and Salmon gravad lax marinated. Following which, we had a selection of 3 sandwiches, but really they aren’t sandwiches in the way you will conceive them, but rather they are open sandwiches. From the selection of about 10-12, we had the shooting star, which is a mixture of cold seafood, port roast which is a house speciality and of course, the good old ‘Frikadeller’ meatball which is a classic.

Pay: Open-face sandwiches are S$9-S$17, Dinner Entrées average about S$25.

Rave: Nice and quiet spot for you have a Smorgasbord of sorts.

Room for Improvement: The open kitchen concept allowed me to observe that they plated our food and left it there sitting and waiting for something to happen. I can’t believe how long they took to prepare our food considering we were the only table.

* The Swedish word "smörgåsbord" comes from smörgås = sandwich and bord = table. "Smörgås" (sandwich) in turn comes from smör = (literally smear, ointment) butter and gås = (literally goose) pieces of butter formed on top of cream when churning butter.

Smorgasbord is an anglification of the Swedish word Smörgåsbord. It is a buffet style table in a restaurant, or a holiday feast at home, prepared with many small dishes. For a fixed amount of money, you are allowed to eat as many of these as you wish.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Nara Japanese Restaurant

167 Thomson Road, Goldhill Centre
Singapore 307619
Tel: 62566568

Joining the company of two other Japanese restaurants in the same area, I think Nara would be able to hold its own.

Nosh: Pretty value for money bento sets, I had a S$25 sushi bento set which had a selection of sushi, California roll and kappa maki, tempura, charwamushi, a small serving of vegetables, miso soup, cha soba, and a choice between stir-fired beef and teriyaki chicken. In addition to that, they will serve you a complimentary appetizer and fruits at the end of the meal (or maybe they come with the bento). Anyhow, there is more than enough to eat, that I thought I was going to pop as I nibbled on my fruit finale. The sushi bento is probably good if you can’t decide what you want to eat, I was alternating from square to square, so that I could have different flavours in my mouth which was probably what kept me eating till the last bite.

The food is good, the fish is fresh, it looked fresh, didn’t smell funky and didn’t taste funky, so it was good. In addition to that, the grilled cod fish that I pinched off someone else’s plate was wonderfully done, not overcooked and the sweet sauce that it was grilled with made it a tasty delight. All in all I would say, it’s a pretty good place, and you’ll be surprised when you realize how small the kitchen as you walk out of the main door.

Pay: Bento sets (only for lunch) are between S$15 – S$35, set dinner is S$50 +++, a-la carte would set you back about S$35-S$40 a person.

Raves: I love the interior deco, it simple but very elegant layout with clean lines and a nice water element, and the soothing music that you might not notice gives this place a nice cozy but elegant feel.

Room for improvement: The timing for their dishes was a little off, since my bento only arrived when my eating partners were already halfway through theirs.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


12 Chun Tin Road
Tel: 64687433

Nosh: French food in the far west end of Singapore. The menu as I was informed by the waiter changes every 3 months and their head chef Jeremy Choo makes an annual pilgrimage to the motherland of gastronomy France to make sure he is in tune with the flavours, the seasons, his supplies and what nots to ensure that he maintains the quality standard in his restaurant. I was feeling rather full for lunch and seeing how I have a relative short attention span, I elected to go with two small appetizers rather than a main course that I would struggle to finish. However, my roving fork did its rounds and tasted everything else that was on everyone’s plate, so I could hand in a well rounded report.

So, starting with me, I had the crayfish frilled and served on a bed of rockmelon with a coulis of fennel and red peppers, following which, I had the foie gras served on rhubarb basked in wild honey and verjus flambé in red wine vinaigrette sauce infused with pink peppercorns, other things I tasted were the garden salad, the pork ribs appetizer and the set dinner. The set dinner wasn’t too bad, it had a vegetable gratin, followed by a soup, and you had a choice between wagyu beef cheeks or a fish (we elected for the wagyu beef) and then it finishes off with a dessert and coffee. I can’t remember what the dessert was called but I remember it had passionfruit ice cream and other things, but the elements didn’t quite work together and so, that left me a little wanting. My courses however were wonderful. The crayfish was wonderful and the sweetness from the rockmelon brought out the taste of the crayfish a little more. The foie gras on the other hand was a little too sweet, the balance was a little missing, I think there needed to be more sourness or tartness or something, because it just tasted too sweet, however, the serving of liver was wonderfully large as I found myself almost struggle to finish it.

The food is generally good. However, it feels a tad too expensive. I won’t mind paying a little more for fantastic food, but there was a lacking in a WOW factor is I had to pay that much and drive to the west for a meal like that.

Pay: S$58 +++ for set dinner, S$40-70+++ and up for 3 courses.

Raves: The service was wonderful, thoughtful and they had wonderful knowledge of what they were serving and they even suggested having the pork ribs with Tabasco sauce which was a brilliant suggestion, because it balanced the sweet glaze. In addition to that, they will remind you to put a parking coupon for your car because the car park attendants are apparently very vigilant in the area. And to top it odd, they also have a rather impressive wine list.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Comfort grub – homemade black gold

This recipe is taken from Kylie Kwong’s, “Kylie Kwong – recipies and stories” and in this book she calls it red-cooked pork hock, but in my house we just call it “Tau-You Bak", which translated into dark sauce meat. This is probably one of my favourite home cooked foods. I was really excited when I knew we were going to have it for dinner from the whiff of the aromas that were floating about the house in the mid morning. It’s great, my mother loves it and so I grew up eating it and I guess I’ve grown to love it too. Although I guess if you have never had it, it must look strange, and weird that a bowl with such black looking contents can be so tasty, but trust me, the hours of stewing makes the meat chucks so gentle and tender that you might be inclined to agree with me that they can be likened to little edible nuggets of black gold.

Serves 4-6

1 large fresh pork hock – approximately 1kg

2 liters cold water
1 cup shao hsing wine
1 cup dark soy
1/3 cup ligh soy
2/3 cup yellow rock sugar
6 cloves of garlic
10 ginger shards
3 green shallot stems, cut in half crossways
4 medium ‘braised dried Chinese mushrooms’
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 whole star anise
1 small piece cassia bark or 2 cinnamon quills
1 medium piece dried orange peel


Bring a large pot of water to the boil and simmer pork hock for 10 minutes. Rinse port under cold water and drain.

Place all stock ingredients into a 5-litre pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes to allow flavours to infuse. Place pork in the stock, cover and bring to the boil. Simmer for 3 hours or until pork hock is soft, gelatinous and almost falling off the bone. During the cooking time you may need to add extra boiling water, to ensure the port is completely submerged at all times so that it cooks evenly.

The pork can be served hot with steamed greens and some of its stock ladled over.

* In our house, we usually add in hard boiled eggs, sea cucumber and mushrooms in the dish as well.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Menotti - serving up all day breakfast

252 North Bridge Road #01-17
Raffles City Shopping Centre
Singapore 179103
Tel: 63339366

Chicken salad with Gorgonzola Dressing

By association, I expected good things from this relatively new swanky café by the garibaldi group in raffles city. The last time I went to garibaldi the restaurant I walked out of the restaurant smiling and vowing to go back again. Unfortunately, I haven’t been back YET, but I shall and instead, I decided to go to the more affordable Menotti – the original Italian café.

This was my third time back to the café, on the first occasion I had brunch there with a group of wonderful girls, but silly me forgot to stick the memory card inside the camera and hence, I had some nice tucker and a cappuccino but no pictures. The second time I was there was when I was around the area and someone wanted some dessert and so we popped in for some sweetness, this time, third time lucky with the camera, I had dinner there with friends and sat at the same spot I did the first time, but this time, the sun had set and had the stars as company instead.

I guess if I could go back three times the food can’t be bad and I think it will be on my list of places that I might frequently visit.

Nosh: Italian fanfare – Sandwiches, pre-made for you to go and also a selection that can be freshly made. Salads, they have the classic mozzarella with tomatoes and olive oil, others with octopus, arugala and parmesan, but I usually have the chicken salad with a gorgonzola sauce. A small but rather tempting selection of pastas and soups are also available. The wonderful coffee concoctions are interesting as well and if that doesn’t suit your fancy, there are plenty of desserts for you to amuse yourself with – tiramisu, pannacotta, bittersweet chocolate tartlet, gelatos and gelato creations such as tartufo and others would leave you spoilt for choice. If sweets aren’t you thing, the good news is that they have ALL DAY BREAKFAST! Egg benedicts are available all day.

For my dinner, I had the chicken salad which was wonderful and light but it had substantially less dressing today than my previous visit. To round off my dinner, I had an Affogato – espresso with vanilla ice cream, which was a good way to get a caffeine fix, but I also now realize that, espresso after 7pm isn’t a good idea, because I am feeling really wide awake at this moment in time.

The last time I was there for brunch I had the egg Menotti – poached eggs on a ciabatta with crabmeat, spinach, tomatoes and a lemon sabayon. It sounds wonderful but it was a little too much for me, I could only eat half and I struggled to put another bite in my mouth because it just sat too heavily in my stomach.

Pay: About S$25-S$30 for a main course and dessert, sandwiches are S$6-S$12, desserts are generally below S$10, and I think they have a set dinner for about S$30.
Raves: I love sitting at my alfresco brunch and dinner spot along the walls of raffles city, it is a great place to people watch! Great spot for brunch and with a book and a cuppa.

Room for improvement: Can I get some service please! It doesn’t mean I’m sitting outside I should get substandard service. We almost thought the glass wall that separated the inside from the outside was one of those one way windows since the waiters seemed to be ignoring us.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Tai-Tai Toast

Toast (a cafe by marmalade pantry)
#02-11 Ngee Ann City
391 Orchard Road
Singapore 238872
Tel: 67338489

Avocado Caesar

After our all-girls lunch at this cotton candy pink place, I have concluded that this is a girls place and so if you are here to do some serious gossiping and do not want to be distracted by any male eye candy, this might be the place. You get a tai-tai-ish ambience with the light food that it serves, portions are small, which are enough for small eaters and weight-watchers, but if you famished, you might find yourself spending quite a bit here.

Nosh: Soups, sandwiches and salad. I’ve tried the marsala chicken wrap which I highly recommend. Rolled in with the marsala spiced chicken, you’ll find pieces of mango, mint and a nice spread of mayonnaise which ties it in nicely. I had the avocado caesar wrap today which has avocado, romaine lettuce, parmesan and caesar dressing, it worked together pretty well, the salty parmesan was nicely balanced with the creamy texture of the avocado, but my romaine looked suspiciously limp.

There is quite a wide range of choices, when you walk in, you’ll probably spend about 5 minutes cracking your neck upwards and studying the menu. They have interesting sandwiches such as the tuna sambal, sardine istimewa and the conventional grilled vegetables, BLT, smoked salmon with cream cheese and egg and cress. They also have about 6 salads for you to choose from, roast pumpkin, new potato, mixed greens, Moroccan chicken and chicken Caesar, and if you can’t decide, you can have a mix.

If you need a sweet finish to your light lunch, there have a range of cupcakes for you to choose from – cloud nine, limonata, ultimate chocolate and nutella, along with that, they have teacakes, chocolate tarts, cheesecakes, apple and cinnamon pie. Or of course there is coffee, but I usually elect to have one of their flavoured sparkling san pellergrino (usually grapefruit).

Pay: Sandwiches and wraps range between S$6-S$8, salads are S$5, sweets are not about S$5.

Raves: The marsala chicken wrap packs quite a flavour punch, and I love coming here for a light lunch with my girlfriends and a san Pellegrino perk me up. You can also catch up with you magazine reading here.

Room for improvement: The too smallish portions or perhaps they should consider giving a side garden salad to dress up the terribly white sparse plate.

Tai-Tai airkiss meter: 3.5/5

Monday, April 11, 2005

Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Pao

#04-27 Ngee Ann City
391 Orchard Road
Tel: 62381661

I was so hungry that i only took a picture of my half eaten La Mian with minced meat and mushroon sauce.

Crystal Jade has taken Singapore by storm. With its constant expansion and it appearing all over our tiny tiny island, it never ceases to amaze me that despite the many outlets, there is always a queue! Despite my hatred for queues, I like many others will subject myself to taking a queue number from them and then obediently hang around the entrance for the restaurant and would wait patiently for them to holler for my number.

From my own analysis and the valuable critical thinking skills that NUS has been trying to impart to me has left me to conclude this. The restaurant is successful because, firstly it has got its pricing right. It isn’t cheap, but it is affordable Chinese food that you can have especially in Orchard road. Secondly, the food is consistently good, when you walk in the restaurant, you know you are going to get. If you have ordered their xiao long bao before and you return and order the same thing, you are going to get what you had the last time. I know I return because I like the food as a returning customer, I usually go there knowing what I am going to order. Its one of the restaurants that I’ll go to if I can’t think of anywhere new to go to, and I know I won’t be disappointed.

Nosh: La mian and xiao long bao are their regular specalities. But there are tones of other things that you can try on their menu. The double-boiled chicken soup is a fabulous consommé. One of my favourite things that I usually always order when I’m here is their deep fried eel, it is crispy and its got a sweet and tangy sauce coating which are just great morsels to pop into your mouth. If you have to have a sweet ending, the egg white puff dessert is nice. It’s light and has a lovely banana and red bean filling that should ooze out on your first bite. Hmm… writing about this place makes me want to go there for lunch today.

Pay: S$15-S$20 a person, la mian serving is about S$9-S$12, but you should be able to share one so you can order other things to amuse stomach with.

Raves: haven’t been disappointed yet, consistently good!

What I rather forget: The wait outside the restaurant.

Gurkha Palace Restaurant

51 Chander Road
Singapore 219548
Tel: 62924316

This is the first Nepalese restaurant I’ve ever been too and I don’t think it is too different from northern Indian food. I didn’t really taste the difference, they use the same spices and the nuances were not prominent to me. Nonetheless, it was a nice change to look at a foreign menu and the anticipation of trying something new. This little joint had a table of Nepalese next to us which was encouraging knowing that the locals have dined here, and hence giving this place a half-stamp of authenticity.

It is a small place so you have to meander and suck your stomach in as you walk past tables and as you squeeze into your chair. They serve you pappadums first and they were nice enough to refill our basket as we mindlessly chomped away on it while milling over the menu. As we were foreign to the menu, we tried to get some help from the waiter and the waitresses for recommendations who weren’t really forthcoming and hence weren’t as much help.

Kukhura makkhani

Nosh: The menu is split into a Nepalese and a Northern Indian section, today we confined ourselves to the Nepalese section and decided to try the kukhura Makkhani (boneless tandoori chicken cooked with tomatoes, cream and mild spices) this was an interesting alternative to the usual tandoori chicken but it was a little too rich and heavy for me. Nonetheless, I was impressed at how they managed to create such a sauce and yet not compromise on the taste of the tandoori chicken which you can taste through the thick sauce. We also had Gurkhaili Lamb (grilled lamb with Nepalese spices and sautéed in chili sauce) the sauce was a little too spicy and they served us mutton instead. The last two dishes that we had were Tareko maccha (marinated fish in Nepalese herbs and deep fried) and mismas takri (mixed vegetables cooked Nepalese style). The fish was disappointing but the vegetables were nicely done and we mopped up the sauces and curries with a basket a naan.

Pay: About S$10 a person.

Raves: Inexpensive place for a lunch if you are around the corner.

What I rather forget: my journey to the bathroom where I witnessed the waiter making the lassi next to the toilet entrance.

Monday, April 04, 2005

My weekend as a Pro-bono muffin maker

From center and moving anti-clockwise:

Jelly-Swelly - Vanilla with Strawberry filling
Honey Bunny - Sticky date
Naked Cutie - Good old vanilla
BB - Blueberry
Malt-teaser - chocolate and honey comb
Hula-shakes - Banana and cinnamon

Lam’s Prawn and Crab Noodles

97 Rangoon Road
(not open on Mondays)

Nosh: Wonderful crab noodles that won’t break the bank. They will serve you a whole small mud crab for a single order of special steamed crab mee hoon. Along with that they will serve you a richly flavoured prawn based soup. In the same kopitiam, they have a rojak and popiah stall which isn’t too bad and if you are greedy, it is a nice appetizer for you and your eating people to pick at while waiting for you tasty crab to arrive.

Pay: S$10 per serving of special steamed crab mee hoon.

Raves: I get a whole crab and a wonderful soup!

What I rather forget: The lard pieces that were floating around in my soup. (but you can pick them out.)

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Kitchen Experiements: Pomelo Salad

After my wonderful pomelo salad at Sabai, i was inspired to try making my own at home and this was the recipe i used. It wasn't too bad, it was a little salty so i guess when you are making your own, you have to watch the amount of fish sauce that you use because different brands will have different sodium/salt contents. It wasn't too bad for a first try, but i think i'll need to tweek it a little to get it to taste as good as sabai's. Hmm.. i have good excuse to go there and to be "sabai-ed" again.

Serves 4-6

10 ml vegetable oil
4 shallots, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 large pomelo
1 tbsp roasted peanuts
115g cooked shrimp
115g cooked crab meat

For dressing:
20 ml fish sauce
15 ml palm sugar or light muscovado sugar
30 ml lime juice

For garnish:
2 spring onions thinly sliced
2 fresh chilies thinly sliced
fresh coriander leaves
shredded coconut (optional)


Make the dressing. Mix the fish sauce, sugar and lime in a bowl, whisk well and set aside

Heat the oil in a small frying pan, add the shallows and garlic and cook over a medium heat until they are golden. Remove fro the pan and set aside.

Peel the pomelo and break the flesh into small pieces, taking care to remove any membranes.

Grind the peanuts coarsely and put them in a salad bowl. Add the pomelo flesh, prawns, crab meat and the shallow mixture. Pour over the dressing, toss lightly and sprinkle with the spring onions, chilies, coriander leaves. Add the shredded coconut and serve immediately.

* The Pomelo is a large citrus fruit that looks rather like a grapefruit, although it is not, as is sometimes thought, a hybrid. It is slightly pear-shaped with thick, yellow, dimpled skin and pinkish-yellow flesh that is both sturdier and drier than a grapefruit.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Brewerkz Restaurant and Microbrewery

30 Merchant Road
Singapore 058282
Tel: 64387438

I hardly qualify as an alcoholic but I love the feeling of exhilaration that you get from swallowing the cold, golden, bubbly liquid our hot weather. The feeling was further amplified today as a group of us trotted down to this microbrewery on this Friday afternoon after surviving a month of endless assignments, sleepless nights and fast-approaching deadlines. I love having a beer at the end of a hard day, drinking puts you in a different mood and maybe it is the coldness, maybe it is the bubbles that make me happy, but by association, it puts me in a different mood, or maybe it is just the alcohol at work.

Anyhow, this is a wonderful place to come in the afternoons, you get a wonderful range of beers which are brewed on location and most of them are rather delightful. My favourite is the Kolsch. When I drink it, it brings back memories of the time when I was introduced to this seductive ale at microbrewery that a German friend brought me to in Cologne, Germany. Coming in the afternoons has its wonderful perks, namely their ludicrous lunch happy hour – S$10 a jug, which ends at 3pm and is kicked off with their tea time happy hour – S$15 a jug, which stretches to 6pm. Come with good friends and you should leave really happy after an afternoon of having a drink and glazing at the Singapore river; I did.