Sunday, February 28, 2010

Valentinos (The full update)

Valentino's my favourite Italian restaurant for pasta. Perhaps I'm biased, but I can't find better Lobster Pasta with Pink Sauce. It's a small family run establishment tucked away in the sleepy Jalan Bingka, along the row of charming shop houses. Making a weekend dinner reservation here is a pain - I once tried in vain for weeks to get a dinner reservation. According to them, if you want a guaranteed reservation, call 1 month in advance. You won't get one if you try to book the day itself. If all else fails, they do takeaways ;) The restaurant bread was crispy and warm, and came with this unusual and tasty dip. Unlike the usual plain extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar dip, Valentino's chef made a special dip with Italian parsley, grounded anchovies, white vinegar and olive oil. The end result was a greenish dip, which had ground parsley, the mild salty briney taste of anchovies and the acidic undertone of the vinegar. Our whole bread basket was polished off in no time.
Burrata ($32++)
This is a very interesting cheese, made from buffalo mozzarella. The outer part is shaped like a moneybag, and the top is twirled into a tight knot, and there is oozy, creamy cheese filling inside. Taste wise, both inside and outside have exact same taste, just that the texture is different. Outer part tastes like normal fresh mozzarella, but inside is more watery (think it's cos there's cream added?) and curdled (but in a nice way).
From Wiki: The name "burrata" means "buttered" in Italian. When making Burrata, the still-hot cheese is formed into a pouch, which is then filled with scraps of leftover mozzarella and topped off with fresh cream (panna) before closing. The finished Burrata is traditionally wrapped in the leaves of asphodel, tied to form a little brioche-like topknot, and moistened with a little whey. The asphodel leaves should still be green when the cheese is served, to indicate the cheese’s freshness. More recently the cheese is often sold in a plastic bag or container
Oozing out its creamy goodness after being divided by our waitress. The tomatoes which come with this dish are Sicilian baby tomatoes, and they were extremely red (unlike the orange ones we get locally!) and bursting with sweetness. There was not a hint of the usual tart tomato taste, and each tomato was full of flavour.
It's pretty costly, but I suppose it's hard to import these fresh cheeses, and sharing one portion of this amongst 4 people is quite filling.
Beef Cappaccio ($25.90++) - of course I didn't eat this dish but it's my sister's favourite dish. Semi-cooked fine slices of beef, covered with cherry tomatoes and cheese, drizzled with truffle oil. Smells great!
They didn't have my favourite starter, the tuna cappaccio with pork loin that day I went, but you can click the link to see how it looks like in my post from very very very long ago.
My favourite Lobster Linguine with Pink Sauce
Their sauce has a nice depth and taste, thanks to the delicious lobster, and has tomato blended with cream (more cream than tomato). The al dente linguine is coated with the robust sauce, and each bite has a fantastic sweetness, creaminess and slight tanginess from the tomato. This is so far, my favourite pasta dish, followed closely by Iggy's sakura ebi cappellini.
The lobster is live, and prices vary. The day I went, the split a large lobster into 2 pasta portions, and it was $42.50++ per portions. To avoid disappointment, please call up in advance for the lobster pasta - I was extremely fortunate that they had the lobster pasta the day I went because I didn't reserve.
Their meat special that day was Lamb Shank ($42++)
I didn't find it particularly spectacular, and $42 is really expensive for lamb shank. I thought the lamb would be like the braised lamb I had previously (very very long ago) but it wasn't. The tomato sauce was chunky and robust, but the lamb was a bit too tough.
Coniglio (Braised Rabbit) ($42++)
I've been wanting to try Gunther's Chocolate rabbit for a really long time, just that I haven't had the opportunity to go down. Since Valentinos had rabbit, we decided to try it. The meat a cross between chicken and pork, and doesn't have a gamey smell or taste. It was pretty dry and the sauce was pretty weird. I'll stick to my lobster linguine with pink sauce anytime!Being a family business, Valentino's sister, Perla, has her own pastry shop next to the restaurant. The desserts are all made by her and the signature dessert is the Chantilly Al Cioccolato Bianco (White Chocolate and Cream cake) ($8.80++)
Layers of Chantilly cream alternating with soft vanilla sponge, topped with a generous sprinkling of white milk chocolate shavings.
Personally I don't quite like cream, so this cake isn't really a must have for me, but it's my mum's favourite dessert here.
Torta Valentino ($8.80++)
Dark chocolate sponge covered with dark chocolate ganache and chocolate cream with rum soaked raisins. Since we shared the dessert, I didn't get any of the rum soaked raisins. It's a pretty heavy cake to have after a heavy dinner.
Amaretto Sbrisolona ($8.80++)
Chocolate with Almond Custard with crumbled almond cookies was pretty dry and sweet. Guess I'll appreciate desserts more if I wasn't so full!
Chocolate Salami
One of their 'must try' desserts, dark and milk chocolate and cookies rolled into a salami shape.
We took away their Eggless Caramel Mousse Cake ($10.90) and I must say that it really wow-ed me. There's a smooth glossy layer of caramel on top, and alternating layers of chocolate cream, sponge cake and caramel mousse. All on top of a crunchy chocolate base. It's incredibly delicious and I'll be sure to order this the next time I'm back.
Though it's not as atas as other Italian restaurants in town, and has more of a homely feel than an expensive restaurant feel to it (especially since the dishes are expensive), their pastas are fantastic and their food is on par with other Italian restaurants. Though I think I'll be sticking to my pasta instead of trying their meats. Their lumberjack pasta (comes with bacon, tomato and cream) is a leathal combination of crispy smokey bacon bits in their killer cromato sauce, and I'm wanting to try their squidink crabmeat linguine.
I'm still craving for more lobster linguine!

Ristorante Da Valentino
11 Jalan Bingka (off Rifle Range Road)
Tel: 6462 0555
Closed on Mondays

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Salad Stop

Found out about this place from Travelling Hungryboy's blog, so I decided to give it a try one weekend. I've been trying to find a replacement for my lovely Fren(s)h which closed down its vivocity stall, and moved to somewhere in Tanjong Pagar (or somewhere with mad office lunch crowds, expensive carpark and ERP zone). Go Geisha (vegeterian) - $8.50 (+7% GST, No service charge)

The Go Geisha was a Japanese inspired salad, with tofu, soba noodles, edamame beans tossed with red & white cabbage, carrots, snow pea, cucumber, coriander, and served with a salty tangy Japanese Miso Dressing. The salad dressings are freshly made in-house.

I liked how they were very generous with the sesame seeds, which gave the salad an extra aromatic savoury taste. The salad leaves and beans were crispy and crunchy. The soba noodles make the salad more filling, and makes a satisfying meal. Iron “Wo”- Man – $11.00 (Add Chicken or Turkey + $2)
I liked this salad more than the Go Geisha, because it was slightly sweeter, owing to the Raspberry Vinaigrette used for the dressing. Lots of baby spinach leaves, raisins, sliced almonds, cubes of feta cheese and roasted pumpkin. I liked how the salty feta cheese crumbled into the dressing, making the salad taste mildly creamy. Each bite of the baby spinach was interspersed with sweetness from the raisins and roasted pumpkin, and saltiness from the feta cheese.

Other interesting salad combinations they've got:

Cheaper than a Facial – $8.50 (Add Roast Beef + $2.50)
Mixed Greens, Mango, Tomato, Cucumber, Carrot, Vermicelli, Mint, Thai Lemongrass Dressing

Omega 3 Baby! - $10.50
Rocket, Mixed Greens, Smoked Salmon, Asparagus, Tomato, Fresh Beetroot, Red Onion, Sunflower Seeds, Balsamic Vinaigrette

Jai Ho! - $10.50
Mixed Greens, Boiled Potato, Capsicum, Cucumber, Chickpeas, Cherry Tomato, Tandoori Chicken, Coriander, Indian Spiced Yogurt Dressing

They've even got a Chili Crab style salad, which comes with a chili crab dressing and crab sticks.

On Fridays, it's TGIF for ladies, where you get a free coffee or tea with any salad ordered.
Portions here are very generous and around $10 will get you a heaped bowl of salad. Counter staff are also very friendly knowledgable and efficient.

I've just visited their website. Should have chosen the create your own salad! Cos you can choose unlimited free toppings from Free (unlimited!) Toppings from over 35 choices including the following : Vermicelli Noodles Brown Rice Fusilli Pasta Soba Noodles
Cucumber Carrot Onion Green Peas Kidney Beans Chickpeas Sweet Corn Celery Tomato Edamame Roasted Pumpkin French Beans Capsicum Mushroom Snow Peas Broccoli Fresh Beetroot Diced Green Apples Red Grapes Mango Pomelo Jalapeño Black Olive Firm Tofu Boiled Egg Boiled Potato Croutons Black & Yellow Raisins Peanut Sesame Seeds Sunflower Seeds

I suppose you can get as many vegetables as you want, just as long as it fits into your salad bowl :P

I'm quite happy to see lots of salad bars popping up, especiallya round the CBD area, since quite alot of people see salads as either appetisers or rabbit food to avoid. For $10, airconditioned comfort, as well as a generous bowl of salad (especially since baby spinach and some other mixed salad leaves aren't that cheap, even from supermarkets), I think it's really worth the money. And you won't get post-prandial stupor too! They really should open more of these in schools, especially NUS which is in dire need of better food stalls.

Salad Stop
6 Raffles Boulevard,
Marina Square #02-06
Singapore 039594

Salad Stop's salad has just inspired me to make my own salad. Will be posting more about my salad making soon (when I'm sian and taking a break in between studying...)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

EAT - Laksa

Laksa with additional $1 cockles

Sometimes when a rare laksa craving hits, I go down to EAT at Railmall to get a nice big bowl of laksa. It's around $4.50 (or is it $5 now?) for a bowl of laksa, but then again, it's open 24h so I really don't mind paying a premium for my laksa. They also add a piece of crispy deep fried stuffed (with fish paste) tau kee, which soakes up the goodness of the laksa broth. The cockles are juicy, clean (no gritty sand) and pretty fresh, though it'll be better if they were bigger and juicier.

The noodles are smooth and translucent, and the laksa broth is spicy (but not overly so), with pounded hae bee (dried prawns) for flavour. It's not as creamy as the katong laksa, but quite flavourful still. Top the whole thing off with aromatic laksa leaves - makes a real satisfying supper.

I still prefer Katong Laksa cos the soup is really creamy and fragrant, but convenience is tops for me.

Eat also sells other noodle dishes such as bak chor mee as well as fish ball noodles. Bak chor mee seems quite popluar but I have yet to try it.

436 Upper Bukit Timah Road
The Rail Mall
Tel: +65 6462 3034
Daily 24h
(There's another branch at Ion basement)

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Happy Chinese New Year! It's the year of the Tiger, and I'm pretty sure Singapore birth rates will be plunging again!
True to my school's tradition, I've spent the last 3 or 4 Chinese New Years slaving away studying (and trying to collect ang paos in between). At least this is (hopefully!) going to end soon! And I'll be able to spend my next cny slaving away over something else and not getting any sleep! Since it's Chinese new year soon, I shall blog on a more Chinese-related post, and since I haven't really got any, these delicious kuehs from Galicier should suffice :) Ondeh ondeh is one of my more favourite snacks. The best part of the ondeh ondeh is the little globule of gula melaka floating in the middle of the molten gula melaka. Good ondeh-ondehs should always burst with a smokey sweet spurt of golden brown gula melaka. Not only does it have molten gula melaka, Galicier's gula melaka filling is exceptionally fragrant, as they also add roasted sesame seeds to the gula melaka, which makes their ondeh ondeh a level up against other ondeh ondehs I've tried. The skin is soft and chewy, and Galicier's ondeh ondeh smells of freshly cooked sweet potato. I think that these are the perfect ondeh ondehs, just that the shredded coconut is a bit on the dry side. Other than that, it's one of my more favourite snacks. Each piece is sold at 60 cents.Mountain of ondeh-ondeh coated with shredded coconut, waiting to be bought.
Ahh I'm getting very hungry thinking about ondeh ondeh now, even though I've just eaten my reunion dinner (like all reunion dinners at restaurant, it wasn't very good and cost a bomb).
Their steamed cupcakes are also really nice. This one is kaya filled cupcakes. They have other flavours such as yam (purple), red bean and coconut. The cupcake itself is light and airy, and pretty sweet and has the nice freshly steamed smell. It could do with a bit more kaya filling, and the kaya used for these cupcakes isn't of a very good quality.
However, Glacier's kaya (coconut, egg and pandan jam) which is sold by the jar is extremely delicious. It's thick, chunky and very fragrant. Goes extremely well with toasted bread. I should really go back and get another jar soon...
The old school bakery - not many of them left now but they sell oh so delicious kuehs and other little confectionaries. I'm so going to go back next week!
Galicier Confectionery
Blk 55 Tiong Bahru Road
Opening Hours: 10am to 9pm

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Yuan Yuan Claypot Rice - ABC Brickworks

It's getting harder to find places which serve clapot rice, probably because its terious and no one really wants to slave over a hot stove. So I went to try the claypot at ABC Brickworks after reading about it in the weekend Business Times (love the CEO Hawker guide section!). The claypot stall was doing a roaring business. The claypot rice goes for $10 or $15, meant for 2-3 people. I got their mixed claypot, which has everything. There's one with chicken only, and another with minced meat and salted fish (I think), but I decided to try the mixed one so that I'll get the best of both worlds. The claypot rice is cooked from scratch over a high flame (not so sure if it's charcoal tho), unlike some of the newer stalls which 'cheat' by pre-cooking the rice. Tender morsels of chicken, fatty pieces of chinese sausage, a few fragments of dried fish and a serving of vegetables (which is cooked separately) are placed on top of the rice. Dark soya sauce and some aromatic sesame oil is drizzled over the top, and the huge pot is brought to your table. Since it's cooked from scratch, the wait is about 20min or more.
After furious stirring, to mix the ingredients well. The chicken meat is very tender, and there were little bursts of extreme saltinesses from the preserved salted fish. They could do with a bit more veggies - just a little clump of veggies in the huge claypot.
Some people enjoy eating the crispy rice stuck to the base of the claypot, but I don't particularly liked that burnt taste.
Stacks of claypots.

Yuan Yuan Claypot Rice
6 Jalan Bukit Merah
#01-38 ABC Brickworks Food Centre
Tel: +65 6276 5259

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Taste Paradise

Another one of my super outdated posts - too busy to blog :/
Went to Taste Paradise for New Year's Day lunch (better late than never even though it's so outdated!) Taste paradise at Ion had three seatings for lunch, which was quite annoying because we were in the second seating, and the first seating ended at least 20min late. Just as well that their third seating wasn't full or I'd have been really annoyed having to rush through such a delicious lunch.Combination of Pan-seared Foie Gras, Wasabi Mayonnaise Prawn and slice of Peking duck with condiments ($18++ per portion)
The foie gras was very delicious, crispy on the outside, and oozingly soft on the inside. Didn't particularly like the sauce it came with though.
Wasabi Mayo prawn was huge, fresh and juicy, and wasabi taste wasn't too overwhelming. Not a big fan of Pecking duck so no comments for that.Combination of Laksa-infused Prawn, Mini Kurobuta Pork Burger in Chinese Style and Cheesy Bacon Roll ($18++)From Left: Laksa Infused Prawn served on top of a slice of watermelon
I really liked the Mini Kurobuta pork burger. The burger bun was a small deep fried mantou and a little pork patty. I didn't quite like the bacon roll because it had a spongy texture.

Broccoli with Crab Roe and Crab Meat
The vegetable dish was one of the best dishes we had for lunch. The broccoli was just cooked, so it wasn't soggy and waterlogged, but still retained its dark green colour, and had a firm bite. The sauce was not too salty, but incredibly flavourful, with the sweetness of the crab meat and creaminess of the roe. If I'm not wrong, it was about $20 or $24 for the dish, which is pretty pricey, but then again, it's so well executed.

Seafood Noodles (with egg white, can't remember the name again...)
Not too sure what the name of these noodles were, but they were also very very tasty and it even got a thumbs up from my grandmother enjoyed this dish the best (she's rather fussy about her food usually!). The noodles weren't soggy, yet infused with the rich seafood broth.Taste Paradise's famous Custard Buns
I didn't particularly like the custard buns because they didn't have flowing custard (like how some of the reviews said). The custard was a congealed lumpy bright yellow paste, and it wasn't piping hot. We didn't leave it sitting around for a long time either :(
Char siew Pau ($3.80 for 3)
Not bad but not spectacular
Really can't remember the name of this dish. It's either some truffle thing or has the word 'crystal' in the name. I really liked the dumpling skin because it was very thin, translucent and chewy, and the diced vegetables inside was lightly cooked.
Xiao Long Pau
Somehow, when the waitress served this, she said that it was the 'normal' xiao long pau. Since we ordered both the normal xiao long pau as well as the xiao long pau with foie gras, I didn't try this, but in the end, they said that this was the foie gras xiao long pau and not the normal one. It was quite messy that day because they were booked full, but I did think that they could have made an attempt to state the dishes clearly when they served it, since we ordered both types of xiao long paus.
Chee Cheong Fun with Prawn
Pretty average... perhaps I was getting full already...
Deep Fried Beancurd roll with Prawn and Mango.
This was pretty nice, with prawn bits and sweet pulpy mango encased in beancurd skin. Only gripe was that each roll was so runty and small that they were gone in a bite :)
Dainty egg tarts with nice flaky puff pastry skin.
Siew Mai
Lots of prawn used for this siew mai, unlike other places where proportion of minced pork is much more than the portion of prawn used.
Har Kau ($4.80++ for 4)
Prawns very fresh, skin nice and thin.
Desserts! Mango pomelo sago and avocado cream with walnut ice cream. Pretty average again...

Hot almond cream
I think I'd definitely want to return to Taste Paradise again, and not for their dim sum but for their dishes. The dishes I've tried so far were pretty spectacular, and I'd definitely want to try out the other dishes in their menu. On the average, their dim sum is so-so, nothing to rave about, and its slightly pricier than other places.
Taste Paradise
2 Orchard Turn
#04-07 ION Orchard
Tel: +65 6509 9660

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tori Tama - One Fullerton

Tori Tama is a new Japanese restaurant at One Fullerton serving everything chicken. From chicken skewers, chicken rice bowls as well as funny parts of the chicken (like pericardial sac?? It's described as meat surrounding the heart in the menu, so the only think I can think of is the pericardial sac) as well as chicken sashimi! Fish sashimi is still ok for me, but thinking about chickne sashimi makes me feel a bit apprehensive about all the funny parasites and bugs one can acquire! (Not that it's unhygenic but I think there's more bugs in pork and chicken than in fish).
Our starter was chilled stewed daikon (radish) in a light dashi stock. Very simple and clean tasting, and the daikon didn't have any trace of bitterness. They charged $3++ for this in our final bill.
Caesar Salad ($12++) which came topped with deep fried crispy chicken skin which had an addictive crunch but was pretty greasy when it got cold. It's like eating lard but instead of pork it's chicken. Maybe not as shiok for people who are fans of lard. Loved the half boiled egg which was chilled. The salad dressing is delicious, with hints of salty briney anchovies and a bit of parmesan cheese. The leaves aren't really romaine lettuce - not sure what kind of lettuce they used, but it was refreshingly cool and crunchy.
Tori Tama Don ($12++) looked deceivingly small, but I was pretty full by the end of it. Not sure if it was because my caesar salad was sinking in, or because it was really bigger than it looked. 2 perfectly chargrilled chicken (minus the skewers) which had a mild smoky taste, marinated minced chicken (sweetish) as well as another half boiled egg. Their eggs are really nice!
I shall aim to try the Oyako don the next time, since Wong Ah Yoke wrote that it was nice in his review article for the Sunday Life! (Fortunately for us, the restaurant wasn't booked full cos everytime WAY writes about a restaurant, it's becomes incredibly hard to get a reservation!)
Grilled Chicken Balls ($3)
Was feeling unadventurous so decided not to try the cartilage, chicken neck, chicken tail, chicken bone, chicken tendon, chicken gizzard, chicken kidney, chicken heart or pericardial sac (which I shall maybe try next time) and ordered 'safer' more boring stuff.
Nicely grilled, juicy minced chicken balls. I think there's some bits of cartilage or tendon inside, cos there are some crunchy bits.
Grilled Chicken Breast with Cheese ($4.50++ per stick)
I quite liked this. The last time my friend came she said the insides were raw, and they said it was purposely done that way because they use sashimi grade chicken. Mine had a little patch of slightly pink raw chicken inside, which tasted just like how undercooked chicken does. They've grilled this really nicely - I really don't like chicken breast but this one is one the juciest chicken breast I've eaten, and the cheese is really tasty. Maybe I shall attempt to try the grilled cheese which comes on a stick. Looked really interesting and the table next to me was having it...At the end of your meal, I can imagine that it'll be brilliant to move over to the breezy al fresco bar side, Tsuki bar which overlooks the reservoir. Even though they have the chefs grilling the sticks of chicken in the middle of the restaurant, the restaurant doesn't have that smokey smell, and you don't have to worry about reeking of bbq by the end of your meal. It's pretty cramped though, couldn't help but overhear the conversation my neighbouring tables were having.
Another thing is that their dessert menu is rather limited - I think they only had ice creams. Could do with more Japanese desserts especially milk pudding! or soya milk pudding (my fave Japanese desserts).

Service wise, they're pretty slow and it took forever for them to refill our tea (complimentary), get the bill etc etc. Not a bad place to come to, just that if you're having the chicken don by itself, it's not really worth it because of the $3 starter. Which will bring the bowl of chicken don to just under a whopping $18 nett ($12+$3+Taxes) if you just have that alone...

Tori Tama Yakitori & Tsuki-bar
One Fullerton Road #01-05
Tel: 6423 1555
Other restaurants which have grilled Japanese stuff that I quite like : Nanbantei and Ichigo