Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cafe Gavroche

Tried Cafe Gavroche on Julie's recommendation - it's a very prettily decorated French cafe at Tras street - with a very nice skylight in the middle. Makes you feel as if you're not in Singapore. 
Smoked salmon eggs benedict ($25)
Prices were a bit steep for the amount of food, though I must say that it was very well executed - perfectly poached eggs, thick Hollandaise sauce and lots of salmon. It could do with a bit more Hollandaise sauce. The potatoes were pretty impressive - nicely seasoned with crispy edges.
I must have gone to Cafe Gavroche when the chef was having a bad day, cos I seem to be the only one who wasn't impressed by the Croque Madame. Every online review has raved about the Croque Madame, and it even made it to the 50 things to eat before you die in Singapore list -.-
Unimpressive Croque Madame ($18)
Gyurere cheese and ham I can taste, but where was the bechamel sauce? No doubt the two thick slices of white bread was cottony soft and fluffy, the egg nicely cooked and still runny, but it was very dry. I might consider revisiting but it's such a pain to get to Tras street especially on weekdays.
Fromage Blanc with Apricot Compote ($8)
I first tried Fromage Blanc at Frensh (which is now closed - used to be my fave store to go for tartines).
Its a simple French dessert, made from fresh cheese and usually a fruit jam. It's pretty similar to greek yogurt, very thick, creamy and slightly sourish (but less so than yogurt). I really liked this dessert, but my other dining companions thought that it was very underwhelming.
The dessert of the day was creme brulee ($11) comes in a nice shallow dish, so that there's more surface area for the burnt sugar.
Very smooth and luscious. Tastes as good as Au Petit Salut's.

The whole time I'm thinking of Kitchenette (not sure if they've raised the prices cos I haven't been there for eons, but I'll be re-visiting them in the first week of Nov!). It's a nice cafe especially if you work in the CBD area, but it's a bit out of the way for me, and the parking here is really a pain. 

Cafe Gavroche
69 Tras Street, Singapore 079005
Tel 62254869

Monday, October 28, 2013

Little Diner

I've finally tried Little Diner after what seems like ten thousand years - I pass it on a daily basis, and it's near my house but somehow I take eons to try the places near me. The row of shops along Bukit Timah Road next to Sixth avenue have changed quite a few times, probably due to the sky high rent? But Little Diner looks like it's here to stay.

I had to try the Red Velvet Pancakes, after seeing it on my Instagram feed - looked so interesting and unique. However, out of all the food we got, this was the most mehhh dish. Sounds better on paper. Perhaps it's cos I couldn't get over the fact that the colour was bright red and I kept thinking it looked like play dough? Of course, it tastes like pancakes (a bit flat, even flatter than Macdonald's pancakes) and it came with a generous scoop of ricotta cheese (which I thought was ice cream initially! serves me right for not reading the menu properly).
The brioche was a bit too soggy for my liking, and there wasn't enough nutella (but I'm a massive nutella fan so I might be biased), and the crusted cereal sides didn't add very much texture, perhaps cos the cereal bits were too tiny.
The fried banana was ok - but nothing very spectacular. If I had this alone I might not come back for a return visit.
The truffle fries are rave worthy - I'm not a great lover of french fries, but these were mind blowing. I think I must have scoffed down at least half the portion (while my dining companions made friendly conversation). I like my fries slightly soggy, so these are the ultimate best fries for me. And it's infused with garlic (can still smell them on my fingers - I would suggest that you be civilized and use a fork unlike me or not you'll have the garlicky smell). The fries still have the skin on, with a splash of truffle oil and a sprinkle of cheese. Beats PS cafe's dainty truffle fries by a mile. But I'm biased.
The mac and cheese version 2.0 was also worthy of the calories it packs. Crunchy baked top with al dente macaroni, and lots of cream and cheese, some mushrooms and a mild hint of truffle oil.
I haven't tried the normal mac and cheese, but why settle for anything less?
The Krusty Krab benedict was pretty good - the crab cakes were packed full of the sweet flakey crab bits, and the outside golden and crispy - totally worthy of all the oils and trans fats. Egg was well poached, and brioche nicely toasted. (The crab cakes are hidden under the bacon).

Service here is very efficient and friendly, I'll definitely be back! Big mistake on my part not to try it earlier. Grab 3-4 friends so that you can get a good sampling of their dishes.

Little Diner
789 Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 269763
Tel 64664088

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Blu Kouzina

This is a repeat visit to Blu Kouzina - the last time I went was nearly 2 years back. It's perpetually crowded whenever I pass by, but cos there were so many other restaurants to try, I didn't go back for a long long time. The food below was shared amongst 4 people - portions are just right for sharing and that way, we could sample a greater variety of foods. 
Talagani ($17.80) - Sheep milk cheese from Messinia topped with blu sauce
This cheese is very similar to haloumi cheese, with quite a firm texture, and it was rather salty.
I really like the pita bread with dips - they have a special dipping platter sampler - which consists of 3 dips, but cos I wanted more tzatziki, we decided to go with 2 full sized dips.
Tzatziki ($13.80)
Yogurt mixed with cucumber, EVOO and flavoured with garlic. Very refreshing and creamy, a bit like the Indian raita that we have locally. Goes really well with the pita bread.

Taramosalata ($14.80) Cod roe dip
This was way too salty for me. It had a slightly fishy taste which I found quite disagreeable.
Grilled pita bread

Saganaki with Figs ($17.80++) - Kefalotiri psito with fig sauce
Hard sheep cheese with sweet figs. This was very similar to our first dish - I'd suggest just going with one of the cheese dishes. Choose this one if you prefer something a bit sweeter.
Imam Baildi ($17.80) - Whole eggplant filled with tomato based sauce
I really liked this dish cos I'm partial to eggplant. Tender braised eggplant stuffed with a chunky tomato and onion sauce. Very tasty and satisfying.

Paidakia stin Sxara ($29.80) - 3 grilled lamb chops with patates tiganites and vegetable of the day
The lamb chops were tender, pink and juicy. It was so nice that we were gnawing on the bone.

Xtapodi Sxaras ($29.80) - Grilled octopus with lemon and EVOO
I much preferred this octopus to Moosehead's cos it doesn't taste as burnt and carcinogenic, and yet has a nice soft chewy texture.
Apple with cinnamon and greek thyme honey ($8.80)
Tasted like something that I could have easily replicated at home - just that the honey was special - more floral and fragrant. 
Bougatsa ($13.80) - semolina cream filling
This was like filo pastry filled with this light and airy cream - much less oily and heavy going as compared to baklava.

Other than the unpronounceable names, which we got around by pointing at the menu like barbarians, and having the server peer over, and the boisterous table beside us, whereby we had to raise our voices to communicate with each other, the dining experience was really good and I'd definitely go back for a repeat visit.

Blu Kouzina
893 Bukit Timah Road Singaproe 589615
Tel 68750872
Tues- Sundays 6-10pm

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Le Cafe - Soya bean tarts

It's easy to overlook and forget the old school dessert stores amongst the flurry and hype of the newer bakeries opening.

Le Cafe is one of my favourite old school bakeries - the golfball pineapple tarts here are very famous (but not something that I like cos it's too buttery and crumbly), and their old school butter cream cakes. But my favourite desert from Le Cafe has to be their soya bean tarts.

The mixed flavours box has 2 plain tarts, one with longan, boiled peanuts, red bean, gingko nuts with white fungus, egg white and herbal jelly. I like the last 3 tarts, and the plain ones the best. The tarts aren't small either, and it's filled with lots of the delicious fresh tasting soya bean filling.

It sells like hotcakes so to avoid disappointment, do give them a ring before going down. A box of 8 mixed flavour bean curd tarts only costs $9, which is extremely affordable, considering that cupcakes these days can cost $3-4 per pop.

Some of my other favourite old school bakeries is the Rich and Good cake shop at Kandahar Street, as well as Love confectionary at Alexandra village.

Le Cafe Singapore
Elias Building
264 Middle Road Singapore 188990
Tel 63372417

Monday, October 14, 2013

Moosehead Kitchen and Bar

Had a super carcinogenic dinner at Moosehead - ended late after a super exhausting day at work (fortunately it's a rarity) and had to rush like a mad woman all the way to Raffles Place which is my most disliked region in Singapore cos it's in the CBD + multitudes of one way streets + lousy parking. Plus my google maps took the opportunity to mislead me into rushing AWAY from my destination on foot for a good 5 min.

They cook most of the dishes in their oven, so there's a really nice bbq/smoked smell to them.
However, the many charred bits added up and by the end of the meal, I felt like swearing off any more BBQs. Don't get me wrong - you'll love it if you like the burnt bits from the bbq meats but I'm scared of the carcinogens.
Bacon wrapped chargrilled dates, roast garlic aioli and pine nuts ($8)
The bacon dates and pine nuts - streaky back bacon wrapped around a soft date - the saltiness and oil from the streaky bacon combined by the pulpy sweet date - super delicious (but then again, makes me feel like re-creating this dish at home. The garlic aioli wasn't very prominent. You can see that there's only one date I took a photo of - cos I was late.
Chargrilled asparagus, leeks, garlic miso drssing ($12)
The asparagus was nicely cooked - charrgrilled, smoky and and yet crispy but I thought the dressing tasted very Chinese.
Tomatoes, charred spring onion, hand shaved bonito ($14)
The tomatoes were blanched, super sweet that they tasted like grapes, and on the whole I really liked this dish cos it was very lightly seasoned and flavoured.
Charcoal roasted eggplant dip, kalamata olives, capers, thyme($12)
I really like eggplant so I quite liked this dish. It was a bit on the salty side, especially with the olives. I liked their crusty restaurant bread, but would have preferred the bread to be lest burnt.
Smashed eggs, smoked porcini, black summer truffle ($16)
I was a bit dissappointed by this dish - cos it sounded so interesting. The porcini was really nice - meaty and juicy - perhaps it was cos we were all trying to take a photo of the dish the egg got overcooked? I have no idea but I won't be getting this the nex ttime. Can't really taste the truffle either.
Grilled sea bass, anchovy butter, roast eggplant caviar ($26)
Not a bad dish, but it was a bit too salty - the seabass skin was crispy, the anchovy butter added this umami taste to th lightly seasoned seabass, and th eeggplant caviar (I have no idea why it's called eggplant caviar) reminded us of the eggplant dip dish.
Grilled octopus, roast baby potatoes, red pepper $32)
The octopus was lovely - creamy texture with this interesting pepper sauce. One of my friends now aspires to catch and octopus and sell all the eight legs to make money...
Wagyu shoulder, charred kai-lan, mushroom and onion jam ($28 for 160 grams)
The dessert was really delicious - it was a anise roasted pineapple, coconut yoghurt and meringue ($12)
you can give me a whole bowl of this (not that it is very big) anytime and I'll eat the whole thing up.
It comes in this clay pot and you have to break the meringue into little pieces and stir it in. The pineapple was lovely - caramelized and marinated with anise, but the portion was tiny! (The pineapple is that brown thing at 6o'clock in the photo)

It's not that I didn't enjoy dinner, just that it's not the type of food that I like - I prefer cleaner tasting, lightly seasoned food (like Japanese food or the Naked Finn).

We ajourned to Once Upon a Milkshake after for some delicious milkshakes - because the bar we wanted to go to had no more seats, and dessert can never go wrong.  The strawberry is still my fave and I'm glad to say that it hasn't changed since it opened (like when we were still in uni? which is a good 8 years ago!)

Moosehead Kitchen and Bar
110 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore
Tel 66368055
Mon- Sat, closed Sunday

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sushi Kuu

Had the omakase at Sushi Kuu for a Saturday dinner recently. It's located in Palais Renaissance so it's a little bit out of the way from the main Orchard shopping belt.  
Onsen Tamago - essentially a half boiled egg sitting in a tasty broth, with a little piece of very fresh uni
Starters - including Japanese Pickles, Edamame and pickled ginger
Super fresh and juicy oyster with grated radish and ponzu sauce.
Prettily presented sashimi - there's big prawn, scallops, some shellfish, huge thick slices of otoro etc etc. Looks just like a garden.
Grilled tuna collar - cos I don't eat beef
Got the prawn heads deep fried - super delicious and satisfying with a just a light sprinkle of sea salt.
The grilled alternative to the tempura - grilled yellow tail - and quite a large portion too
Snowcrab leg tempura and vegetable tempura.
Sushi - the lettuce leaf has salmon with some sesame sauce wrapped inside, and more otoro!
Dobin mushi - tea pot soup
Clear, light tasting soup with mushrooms, gingko nut, prawn and fish
Desserts - we tried all their 3 desserts - the matcha mousse was rich and creamy, with a very strong matcha taste.
Almond pudding with plum wine jelly - the lightest dessert
Pannacotta - very smooth and creamy

The above is the omakase ($150++) which was very very filling - super stuffed after the dinner and really benefitted from the walk back to my car at Ion. Service is very attentive and good. Dishes very fresh and light.

Perhaps I'll come over and try their lunch sets the next time Aoki is full...

Sushi Kuu
390 Orchard Road
Palais Renaissance #01-07
Tel 67360100

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nox - Dining in the Dark

What happens when your sense of sight is taken away from you? Your other senses are heightened.
So logically when you can't see, your sense of taste, smell and touch improves. So when I found out about Nox, and their interesting concept of dining in pitch darkness, I definitely had to go and check it out.

We picked the absolutely worst time to go there - it was F1 weekend and the roads were super duper jammed, arrived late, and was behind a huge group of 25 people. So of course we had to wait. And of course I was starving (since it was about 730pm by the time we got there).

You'll be asked to keep your valuables in a locker, and then you will be introduced to your waiter for the evening. Our waiter was Rahamat (sp?), who has a super cool DJ-worthy voice.

We were then ushered up a flight of stairs, where it got progressively darker, and through 2 blackout cutrains, to a pitch dark room. Of course, I was super scared that I would trip and fall flat on my face, and then get trodden on by someone else. We were then lead to our table - and seated (must feel around in the dark for your chair), and told where our cutlery was positioned (there's even a coaster for the glass of water). It felt really strange at first, since the whole place is pitch black (except for some red dots, which are CCTVs - incase an accident occurs) so it felt slightly claustrophobic at first.

Rahamat very kindly helped us pour our first glass of water - it's a great feat especially since I cant see - and the subsequent glass of water I poured for myself was about a quarter full only cos I kept thinking it was going to overflow :/ There's no free tap water - perhaps if they gave out free flow tap water, the waiters would have even more work on their hands - having to rush around and top up water.

Pretty soon afterwards, the first dish arrived. It's a three course mordern-European dinner, and each course is made up of 4 small dishes. The 4 dishes are arranged in a cross, and each dish comes in a square bowl for easier eating. I would strongly suggest to not wear a white shirt/dress on that day (spilt the dessert on myself - luckily I had a napkin on my lap or not I'll be sticky).

I won't reveal what the dishes are, cos it'll ruin the experience, but it's 4 different dishes with different textures and taste. It seemed like very little at first, but then the the amount adds up and I was really stuffed after dinner. One tip that I have for the dining experience is to just use either the fork or the spoon to eat, and to hold up the dish nearer to yourself to prevent spills. The chef at Nox is the ex-Private Affairs chef, so the food is pretty good. Though I found that I was hopeless at guessing the dishes (especially the meats).  During the booking, you'll have to tell them what your dietary restrictions are (mine is complicated but it goes along the lines of no beef and no citrus).

I think it's fantastic that the 6 waiters manage to go about serving all the dishes without colliding into each other. I think I would have most probably cause a chain collision and a massive pileup if I was left to walk around by myself. One good thing about keeping the restaurant dark is that the patrons won't get up and wander about by themselves, or bump into the waiters (who may be carrying a few trays at one time).

I won't mind coming back in the future with another group of friends? I think it would be a good experience. Plus the waiters on the 2nd floor are either partially or completely blind - so it's an interesting experience to have the roles reversed - you'll be completely dependent on your waiter to bring you around. Rahamat tells me that he only took one week to learn the layout and the waitering skills! Impressed +++

I think it's a great experience for small groups of friends (perhaps a max of 6?) or a company event (can have a competition to guess what food you eat), plus it's not everyday that you can get such an interesting dining experience.

Btw you can check out the good reviews on Trip Advisor here.

Nox - Dining in the Dark
269 Beach Road
Tel 62980708
Tues to Sunday 6pm to 12mn