Monday, May 25, 2009

Peranakan Inn

Haiz! I'm salivating and getting hungry at freaking 12.04am cos I'm looking at the photo above! It's the sambal kangkong with cuttlefish (I can't remember the price, but I think it's around $6?) which is super yummy! The kangkong is fresh and crunchy, the cuttle fish is springy, and the sambal sauce is absolutely delicious. I've never been so blown over by sambal kangkong before I ate this dish. Perhaps I shouldn't rave too much or not everyone will have super high standards and tell me 'cheay this isn't the best sambal kangkong around'... The sauce is slightly wet, and looks a bit blackish, but it's a perfect balance between the dried prawn, saltiness and sweetness. The ayam buah keluak ($6.50, comes with 3 nuts) comes right off the stove in a clay pot, and is extremely aromatic. Although the sauce looks red and firey hot, it's not that spicy - pretty manageable by my very low-chilli-tolerance standard. Compared to Charlie's Peranakan, the sauce base is more robust. Also, it's more similar to the kind that my family eats (at Peranakan restaurants, since I'm v sadly not peranakan) - Charlie's Peranakan ayam buah keluak has a thicker, blacker sauce, while Peranakin Inn's one looks more like curry.
Babi Kepiting - Minced pork balls in clear soup with sliced bamboo shoots. This isn't one of my favourite dishes, but the pork balls were very soft and tasty, and didn't have any porcine smell. The soup was flavoured with deep fried shallots, parsley and spring onions.I like the skinny otah here - although it looks rather pale and sickly, it's bursting with flavour and since it's a skinny otah, the middle isn't a bit soggy (I don't really like fat otahs cos the middle is usually a bit soggier than the outside). I don't know why the leaves were so wet - I didn't want to find out if it's oil or whatnot. If I'm not mistaken, it's $2.50 per piece. I think I can easily eat 5 pieces cos it's so delicious and not very spicy!
Ngoh Hiang ($4.50)- minced meat with water chest nuts, shredded carrots, wrapped in beancurd skin and deep fried. This was served with the yellow sweet sauce (I prefer yellow sweet sauce compared to the black one). The skin outside is nice and crispy.
The place is very old-school, and I think they probably haven't renovated for very long. But just as long as this keeps the prices down, I'm fine with it! :) Just that this place looks very dingy and dim (but it's clean! - cleanliness is very important!) - even though there are lots of lights on the ceiling, the place still looks so dim. The entrance is also very inconspicuous - I would have very easily walked right past it without knowing that there's a hidden gem inside. The service is pretty fast - my friends were all very amused at the indian waiter who was very efficiently serving the rice and food, and he also announced the names of every dish that he served. Iced water here is self service, which is great cos I invariably end up drinking alot of water even if the food is mildly spicy.

Overall, I think that I prefer the food here than at Charlie's - though if Peranakin Inn were full, I'll just go over to Charlie's. The difference isn't that big, just that I really like the sambal kangkong here (even though I haven't tried sambal kangkong at Charlie's). But if I were to bring people to eat at a Peranakan restaurant, I'll probably bring them to Charlie's cos the ambience is much nicer -you're not wedged up against the next table, and have to squeeze through tiny gaps to get out from your seat. I think I must go back soon to try more dishes!

Do call and make a reservation if you're going to Peranakan Inn, especially during weekends - it was so insanely crowded on the Saturday evening I went, that there were so many people crammed into the restaurant, and a more people waiting to get in. And don't be like me - make sure you call after 6pm - for some unfathomable reason, the lady refuses to take any reservations till the restaurant opens o_O
Peranakan Inn and Lounge
210 East Coast Road
Tel: 6440 6195
Opening Hours: Daily 11am - 3pm, 6pm - 10pm

Alright, as you can probably tell, I'm going thorugh a Peranakan food phase now - crap I'm going on holiday soon and I forsee myself suffering from withdrawel symptoms...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Just a note - some raving mad person has no better brains but to book Valentinos for 830pm on a Sunday evening, when other people going for the dinner have to get up early and not sleep like a pig on Monday morning - and that's despite being told prior to that, that 830pm is too late for dinner.

And two Sundays before that, I had to cancel 3 out of 3 of my reservations for a particularly busy weekend dinner (Gabialti, Firestation Gastrobar as well as Valentino - which I was first put on the waiting list, but then got a reservation for 730pm), because he flatly refused to call and book any restaurants for dinner, and then quietly went to book Da Paolo.

Oh well, I guess some people have personality problems.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Charlie's Peranakan

Ayam Buah Keluak ($12)
This is my must-have dish whenever I visit a Peranakan restaurant. I like ordering this dish when I'm with my family, since none of them eat the buah keluak nuts, so I can have it all to myself! Especially since most restaurnants give about 4 nuts per portion of curry. This ayam buah keluak is pretty different from the ones that I've eaten so far, because the buah keluak forms the sauce, instead of the normal curry gravy. The tarry black sauce (which is an acquired taste) tastes best when eaten with steaming white rice, and as I'm writing this, I'm salivating. The Ayam Buah Keluak comes with 5 nuts, stuffed with minced pork. I'm definitely going back soon to get more of this! Maybe I'll takeaway a portion home too, to make my journey more worthwhile :)
Chap Chye ($6)
This isn't one of my more favourite dishes, so I don't think I will be commenting on it. I somehow have this misconception that it's always cooked with fatty pork. I think when I was younger I ate some chap chye which had so much fatty pork, and the vegetables in Chap Chye cooked till they acquire the same colour as the fatty pork. My friends, however, liked this so it was eaten up quite quickly.
I can't remember the name of this curry, but I think it's the Penang Gulai fish ($12). The curry is incredibly tasty, not very spicy, and the eggplants are cooked perfectly.
Sotong Hitam ($8 nett)
Squid cried in squid ink - I don't particularly like squid, but I found this dish pretty good. The squid was not overly chewy and pretty tender.
Ngoh Hiang ($10 nett)
Huge portion of ngoh hiang - probably one of the biggest ngoh hiang I've eaten. I thought it tasted quite alright, especially when it's eaten with the sweet sauce, but my friends didn't like it - just as well - I get to eat more :P The ngoh hiang is quite crumbly cos it's so huge, and the skin isn't very crispy, but I quite liked the meat and prawn stuffing.
I really like Charlie's Peranakan cos the food isn't spicy. So I can taste the full flavour of the spices since my tongue isn't numb and thobbing and having allydonia. If it was nearer, and I don't have to trudge through the AYE/ECP jam, I'll definitely have this somewhere on the top of my dining list.
Although the restaurant charges 50 cents for water, I don't feel as cheated as I do when I'm charged for water at other restaurants, since Charlie's Peranakan doesn't have additional service charge or GST. Prices in the menu are nett, so you won't exceed your budget. Not too sure if they charge for the achar starter tho!

Charlie's Peranakan
205 East Coast Road
Tel: 6344 8824

After dinner, we went to play mj. And look at the st benard (I don't know how to spell its name) and Chocolate the shar pei.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Da Paolo La Terrazza

This post is nearly a month late! So I shall faster blog about it before I leave, since I'm pretty sure my photos will dissappear to the recesses of my computer and I'll never find it again. Mixed Grilled Vegetables ($20++)
An assortment of eggplant, zucchini, mushroom, tomatoes, green apple and cheese.
Look at the picture carefully - there's something that shouldn't be there. I've forgotten what kind of cheese it is, but then it went pretty well with the smokey taste of the grilled vegetables. Risotto Padovada ($30++)
It comes with morsels of duck braised with the risotto, and is topped with 2 pieces of foie gras.
I liked how the risotto was done - cooked but then not soggy. The sauce was very rich, meaty and creamy. As you can see, I have a piece of terribly charred foie gras - I think that they shouldn't have even served it, but when I showed it to the waiter, he was very apologetic, and immediately said that he'll get me a new piece. Perhaps it was because they had a power short-circuit not once, but three times the whole time we were there - so maybe my unfortunate foie gras was sitting in the pan happily roasting in the dark.
My whole family (except me ) eats and loves their beef.

The pasta of the day ($28++) which had crayfish (or was it lobster??), scallops and tomatoes, cooked in a white wine sauce. It was very tasty, and had the sweetness of the shellfishes. Also, there were many pieces of scallops and lobster/crayfish. The pasta was done al dente - delicious!
Tiramisu ($10++).
No Italian meal will be complete without Tiramisu. This tiramisu had a nice splash of alcohol, and the mascarpone cheese layer was cold, sweet and creamy. Also, it's a good sized portion for $10.
The Panna Cotta ($9++) came with a thick puddle of chocolate sauce on top and when I ate it, I though that it was orange chocolate cos there was a distinct sourish/citrus-y taste. Retrospectively, I think it's Valrhona Chocolate, cos it's pretty acidic and also has a sourish aftertaste. Well, I'm not sure what kind of chocolat it was, but my siblings were very happy that I wasn't eating my portion of the dessert since they could have more of it. I was slightly late for dinner, and found that my dad and my sister had ordered an $8++ of atas (mineral) water. The waiter had asked them if they wanted still or sparkling. Even though most
of the other tables had tap water. Can't stand restaurants who ask if you want still or sparkling!
And because it was Da Paolo, I was quite dissappointed to find that they had left the lable on my grilled apple, and to be served charred foie gras. Oh well, I think I had higher expectations cos it was Da Paolo.

Da Paolo La Terrazza
Blk 44 #01-56 Jalan Merah Saga
Holland Village
Singapore 278116
Tel 64761332

Double Bay Restaurant

Double Bay's manager screwed up our seating. We called in on the Friday morning itself, and were told that we could only get a table for 3 at 8.30pm.

We arrived early for our dinner - at 750pm, cos we were tired of shopping and wanted to try our luck. We were told that our table wasn't ready, but we could sit outisde on one of their high tables in the meantime. After about 15min, the manager came to our table and asked if we had specified any preference for seating (they have both indoors and al fresco seats). My friend who made the reservation said that she was not asked, but our preference was for indoor seating. The manager then continued on to say that "since you didn't specify what kind of seating you want, we only have outdoor tables for you".

Firstly, this is the problem with her staff who took the call.
More importanly, she was implying that it was our fault that we couldn't get indoor seating because we didnt' specify where we wanted to seat, when it was really the restaurant's fault.
She didn't even bother to apologise, and instead tried to shift the blame.

When 830 came, we asked another waitress if our table was ready - a resonable request since we had made a booking for 830pm. She pointed to an empty 2 seater table inside, which was beside another 2seater table occupied by a Caucasian couple and said that the empty table was ours, and we had to wait for the Caucasian couple to finish eating.

I then asked why was the couple not informed that they would have to give up the their table by 830, since the table was reserved for us. All other restaurants would inform you what time you had to vacate the table, if they are expecting customers with reservation. She then said that they had informed the couple, but since they were still eating, there was nothing that the restaurant could do about it. She then suggested that I speak with her manager.

Of course, the manager herself never turned up - but we were finally ushered to the empty 6 seater table (which was empty since we arrived) without any apology or explaination.
Kurobuta Pork Belly ($12) wth apple sauce.
The pork belly was pretty good - tastes like Chinese Roast pork, just that it had apple sauce.
For the fish and chips, a miserable portion as pictured above ranges from $21 to $26, depending on the type of fish you pick. Between the three of us, we tried the Snapper ($21.90++), Grouper aka Barred Cod ($24.90++) and the Chilean Seabass ($26.90++). You get to choose the type of batter - we all choose beer battered.
Obviously, you're supposed to fill yourself with lots of carbo cos there's a tonne of thick cut fries on the plate. They should just rename the dish Chips and Fish, since there's so much more chips and a meager portion of fish.

We actually wanted to share 2 desserts amongst the three of us, but then being the greedy people we were, we were unable to decide which two desserts to pick (cos all of them are 'Australian' desserts, or had the word 'Australian' in them, so we felt compelled to try all).
We came to the unanimous conclusion that the pavalova (I think it was about $12, all the desserts were around the same price) was the best tasting of the lot. Refreshingly tangy berry sorbet, fresh cut berries embedded over a smooth and creamy lemon curd, on top of a palm sized pavalova. The pavalova was crispy on the outside, and it crumbled into a chewy sticky mess when eaten with the lemon curd and sorbet.
The 'Australian' apple pie was so-so - the tart was made from shortcrust pastry which was really quite thick, and the apples and sauce reminded me of the applepie from Macdonalds. Not very inspiring - it was served with normal vanilla flavoured ice cream.
The 'Australian' Sticky Date Pudding was a dissappointment. Marmalade Pantry's sticky date pudding ia a million times better. This just tasted like kueh, and had the texture of kueh, and had hardly any dates inside. If this was my first sticky date pudding, I'd have refused to try anymore cos it was so tasteless and unspiring and completely not sticky at all.
My unbiased recommendation for the food (food only, not service): Come here for the Pavalova - the rest aren't worth eating. If you're craving for Fish and Chips, go to either Fisherios at the Takashimaya Basement Food Court (less than 10 bucks can get you a great Beer Battered Fish and Chips - though I haven't been there recently so I'm not sure of the standard now, but I shall go and try soon) or Fish and Co!

Double Bay Restaurant
252 North Bridge Road
#01-22A Raffles City Shopping Centre
Tel: 6334 6530
(Facing Raffles Hotel, right next to the main road, so unless you want all the pollution and dirt to get into your food, call early and specify that you want a table INSIDE, cos their incompetent staff will not ask you).

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bollywood Veggies - Poison Ivy Bistro

Since we were suspended from class, we decided to spend our time doing stuff that we don't usually do, such as driving to the very ulu Neo Tiew road to look at a vegetable farm (and for me, to eat).

The bistro was pretty packed for such an ulu place - 80% of the tables were filled (we went on a Friday for lunch). Service was pretty efficient - our food came really quickly, and the staff knew their menu well, and were very friendly.
The drinks are home made. Fig tea is made by boiling figs (from a tree in the farm) with sugar cane. It was served icy cold and was very refreshing. The lemongrass drink was very delicious - usually I can't resist drinking lemongrass tea when I see it, but the fig tea sounded more interesting (since I've already learnt how to boil my own lemongrass tea).
4 angled beans stir fried with garlic, lady fingers with sambal and fish curry.
We also ordered sweet potato leaves with sambal. I think that it would have been better if we had ordered all the vegetables with garlic, cos they're so fresh and the sambal was very spicy. The portion size is not bad - $4 for something that about 2-3 people can share. (I was looking up hungrygowhere, and the grilled eggplant with fresh flowers looks really lovely! Pity they didn't have it when I was there).

The fish curry was a hot favourite and it was polished off very quickly. We ended up ordering another bowl of it cos everyone wanted to have more of it, despite being happily full.

There's a choice of either white ($1) or brown ($1.50) rice. Being healthy, we chose brown rice.
Chicken Drumlets with Sweet Chilli Sauce ($8 for 8 drumlets). This was rather unhealthy but we decided that we wanted to have more meat (such carnivores we are). The drumlets were suprisingly nice - the batter was crispy and very tasty.
Warriors Chicken Curry ($8). We ordered a big portion of this cos fish and dedrick had this before and said it was v good. The curry is rather spicy (for me) and very tasty. Actually, everything here was extremely tasty, not too oily, not over-salted.
Chicken Stew ($4 or was it $6? can't remember). This is a pretty big serving for $4. Tender cubes of chicken cooked with carrots and potatoes in a slightly sweet gravy.
Banana Curry ($4) - this was the most interesting dish of the day. The banana doesn't taste anything like the normal ripe bananas that you eat, instead it reminds me more of yam (ie. no taste). The curry is very robust - I can imagine it goes extremely well with prata.
3-in-1 Dessert Platter ($7.50)
This is fantastic for greedy people for me who want to eat a bit of everything.
The kueh kosui (brown one infront) is probaly the best kueh kosui I've ever tasted - bursting with gulamelaka taste and it's very soft and wobbly. It comes with a generous heap of fresh grated coconut. Delicious!
Kueh Bingka was a favourite amongst my friends - it's served hot, lightly browned outside, very moist and chewy inside.
The banana bread is served warm, and there's chunks of banana inside the bread. It's not too sweet either.
Of course, the 7 of us won't be satisfied with the small 3-in-1 desesrt platter, so we ordered their daily dessert specials which was chocolate banana cake and banana muffin ($4.50 each). I didn't quite like the chocolate banana cake, cos I thought that the chocolate taste completely masked all the banana flavour, but everyone else said that the chocolate cake was better than the banana muffin. Chocolate and banana is always a winning combination.The banana muffin had a slight caramel aftertaste and the outsides were browned and crispy. It was very moist inside. This was my favourite dessert.

What I liked about the service here was that they give a fairly good recommendation of how much to order, and whether to take the small ($4) or large ($8) portions. We ended up having more of the small portions, cos we wanted to sample more of the menu.

I can't wait to go back to try all the other dishes - on hungrygowhere, other people have eaten banana stalk curry, grilled eggplant with fresh flowers, jackfruit cake etcetc
My spoils from Bollywood Veggies - a full banana cake ($10), which I have been slowly eating over the past few days. Theres none of it left already. The banana cake has chunks of banana inaide, and is not too sweet.
After the satisfying lunch, we decided to take a look around the farm (and had a tour by Ivy herself, even though it was a scorching hot afternoon:)
From Top, left to right:
Banana trees (lots of different species)
Nonni fruit
Fig Tree, where the fig for the fig tea served in Poison Ivy Bistro comes from.
Breadfruit - eat lots of this to run as fast as Usain Bolt
Frog statues
Eggplant -it can be grown in pots!
Beware of dogs - she has 2 black great danes :D
I think it's so nice to retire on a farm (though I won't do it cos I don't want to have frogs and toads in close proximity of me).

Overall, I really liked the whole Bollywood Veggies experience - I am going to drag my mother back so that I can eat more fish curry and perhaps try the eggplant and jackfruit cake!

Please note that they only accept cash - and the nearest ATM is non-existent unless you drive back to civilization (as fish found out on her 1st trip there :P)

Poison Ivy (inside Bollywood Veggies farm)
100 Neo Tiew Road
Tel: 6898 5001

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Journey to the far East: Tampines 1 - Yamazaki Bakery

We were very hungry so the moment we got into Tampines 1, we headed to the basement to grab some food from Yamazaki Bakery. It's run by the same company as Sun Moulin Iseatan Orchard (I think), so there was some bread which had Sun Moulin packaging.
We tried the belgian waffles - Chocolate and Peanut ($1-something each). The waffles were too cakey for my liking, and I thought the chocolate coating was to stingy. Not that I like that kind of chocolate anyway. The peanut wasn't much better - just a sprinkling of peanuts on top of the waffle. They were pretty dry too.
I decided to try some of the bread - the cheese thing right infront is pretty nice - crusty bread with at least 2 different kinds of cheese. It's delicious if you microwave/toast it in the oven before eating.
Partially shown on the right is the cheese naan, which is skinny and too crispy to be a naan. I didn't particularly like it.
On the left is the ham and egg bun - the ham used is the super inferior but extremely tasty kind of ham, which has a nice pinkish hue to it. The egg is pretty dry.
Right at the back is the ham and cheese bun, which was okay.
Lots of bead - lucky the que wasn't so long when I went - I hate queueing up for things.

Yamazaki Bakery
Tampines 1

This concludes my trip to tampines1!
I don't think I'll be going back anytime soon.

Journey to the far East: Tampines 1 Manpuku Japanese Gourmet Town

The reason why I travelled all the way to the far east was because of this tart. After reading about it in the Posh Nosh section of Urban, I had to go and try it for myself. Since I have been swin(e)dled of my electives (quote from Annalisa), and having lots of time on my hands and nothing better to do, I decided to go and see what all the fuss about Tampines 1 was about. I decided to try the Handmade Udon and Tempura set ($10.80++) from the Toku Toku udon stall inside Manpuku, simply cos it was handmade and I saw their cooker with special noodle ladles.The udon was pretty good - but I'm no udon expert. It's firm and chewy, but I thought it would have been much better if it was colder. My supposedly cold udon was pretty near room temperature.

The tempura was passable - the tempura ended up looking very jaundiced, probably cos of the oil they were cooking it in. I got a piece of prawn (not bad, not that fresh but still passable), huge piece of eggplant, mushroom and pumpkin.

Pretty expensive for the stuff you're getting.

And finally,the tart that made me crawl across half the island to eat...

Perhaps it's cos the woman from Urban raved so much about this tart, I had quite high expectations. I thought that strawberry and chocolate will always be a winning combination, but not so for this tart. There's way too much whipped cream insdie, which I don't eat. It really looks like a piece of art when it's in the display, but taste wise, it's nothing fantastic, especially if you're paying $8++ for a tart that's 50% whipped cream. The chocolate mousse was quite creamy and not too sweet, tart base nice and thin, but just that there was so little strawberries (cos it was mostly cream). They were having a promo - a cup of tea for $1 with any fruit tart. Of course, since Manpuku doesn't serve water (since it's essentially a foodcourt), I happily got my cup of tea. I chose the one inside the pink box (it's green tea with rose I think). You can get as many free refills as you want.
Sadly, the tart fell way short of my expectations. Perhaps the other tarts like honeydew, blueberry, mango and grapefruit would have tasted better, but for the moment, I'm not going to part with any more $8++ for cream.

Verdict? The tarts look waaaay better than they taste. At least for the strawberry chocolate one!

Overall, I don't think that it's worth it for me to trudge all the Tampines 1, unless I'm insanely bored with myself, need to charge my car battery or have a super long holiday.

The reviews on hungrygowhere are terrible! I suppose for these kind of gimmicky food court and pseudo0-restaurant things, I've lowered my standards and expectations. This will be an 'approaching expectations'.

And look at the horrendously huge hoard of people queueing to get into Manpuku o_O It was a weekday somemore! Lucky we decided to have an early dinner. I suppose if you live so far north and so far east, it's find to go to Manpuku, but for the other half of people living on the other side of the island, don't bother trudging over you wont find spectacular food at Manpuku.

Manpuku Japanese Gourmet Town
10 Tampines Central 1
Tel: 6789 6810