16.4.14

Guan Kee Kway Chap

We went a-hunting after Kang told us about this kway chap stall in Toa Payoh. "Best kway chap ever", he'd said. Luckily, we'd been cautioned to go at an off-peak time, so while there was a queue already lined up at 11am, it was a manageably short one, with just 4 customers ahead of us.

We ordered the 2-person portion at $7, with a mix of Braised Egg, Pork Belly, Tau Kwa, Tau Kee and Small Intestines (that's the extent of my affair with innards), which were about the cleanest tasting innards I'd ever had. These were squeaky clean, with a delightfully chewy texture. The pork belly was scrumptious too, fatty and meltingly moist, while the eggs and beancurd were pretty decent.

The Kway Teow was silky smooth but I'd have preferred them thinner. The broth, though, I loved. It was rich in depth of flavour but nuanced. Not too heavy on the herbs or heaty star anise. A shoutout must be given to the awesome chilli sauce, potent and punchy, with a lively piquancy.

A surprising gem of a find, the Hubs took to the Pig's Trotters ($5) like a piglet to a fresh mudpool. These had nary a taste of feet, a glorious fall-off-the-bone softness, and been thoroughly marinated in a robust dark sauce for a full-on flavour.

The stall facade for reference.


Guan Kee Kway Chap
210 Toa Payoh Lor 8
#01-24
Tel: 9739 6960
Open Mondays to Wednesdays & Fridays from 11am to 8pm
Saturdays from 10am to 8pm
Sundays from 9am to 8pm
Closed on Thursdays

14.4.14

&Made by Bruno Menard

We may have discovered what may possibly be the best burger joint (it's definitely our favourite!) in the whole of Singapore. Yes, yes, we may have been a little slow on the uptake, but better late than never, I say!

&Made, a casual, burger-centric bistro at Pacific Plaza, made a big splash when it first launched by the 3-Michelin starred Tokyo-based French chef Bruno Menard. Yes, that's same chef behind one of my favourite lunch joints, La Cantine, as well. The Hubs had tried to takeaway their burgers then but was deterred by the snaking queue. But fast forward to a couple of years later: the long lines have receded, the maniac crowd has dissipated, resulting in a much more tranquil dining experience. (see what a little patience will do?)

While there's a smattering of chef-designed burgers for the undecided, the Craft-It-Yourself ones are the best for finicky eaters like us, where you get to customise your preferred meats, sauces, cheeses and accessories into your burgers.

For red-meat loyalists like the Hubs, I recommend starting with the full-bodied Dry Aged Beef ($15) patty. The thick, hunky dory slab of coarsely textured, perfectly medium-grilled patty was dripping with luscious juices, so it was fortuitous that the pillowy Broiche were on hand as sponges. Black Truffle Mayonnaise ($1.50) lent an intoxicating aroma, a blanket of melted Comte ($1.50) provided a pungent saltiness, while crisp Bacon ($1), a Fried Egg ($1), Portobello ($4) and Caramelized Onions ($1.60), along with fresh onions, tomatoes and dill pickles, completed the towering ensemble. The Hubs had to flatten the imposing creation just so to fit it all in his mouth.

I prefer my pork, and the decadent Pork-based patty ($17) here is enhanced by sinful chorizo and bacon. I loaded mine with Bacon ($1), a Fried Egg ($1) and Portobello ($4), coated Mozzarella ($1.50) and burnished it with Black Truffle Mayonnaise ($1.50) to hold the artery-clogging behemoth all together. 

The crisp Truffle Fries ($9) came alive with a light dusting of cayenne pepper. Good even after we'd dabao-ed half of this home.


&Made
9 Scotts Road
Pacific Plaza #01-04
Tel: 6690 7566
Open Sundays to Thursdays from 10am to 10pm
Fridays to Saturdays from 10am to 10.30pm
Website: andmade.sg

11.4.14

Chiew Kee Noodle House

And we're onto part II of our soya sauce chicken food recce at Chiew Kee Noodle House. The brightly lit shop was bustling when we arrived for lunch on a Saturday, and we quickly noted that this was more crowded than Chew Kee.

Having tried both stalls, I think I know what draws fans to Chiew Kee; their rendition of soya sauce chicken is a little more generic and familiar, not unlike its counterparts in most competent hawker centre noodle stalls.

We got the Soya Sauce Chicken Noodle ($3.50), with yellow egg noodles instead of kway teow noodles at Chew Kee. These noodles, quickly showered in a hot bath, were delightfully springy. The sauce is a little more oily, a little less robust, and placed a little more focus on light soy instead of its dark sweet-ish sister, resulting in a slightly more savoury taste. As a matter of preference, we preferred the more unique taste of Chew Kee. The chicken here at Chiew Kee, though, we didn't like; it was a little less flavoursome and not as juicy as the one at Chew Kee.

The ever-popular Dumpling Soup ($5), had less depth but was more tasty in a very MSG way. Also, it had more dumplings, about 9 or 10 of them fat crunchy babies, and these had bits of diced Chinese black mushrooms, which was the tipping point for me.  


Chiew Kee Noodle House
32 Upper Cross Street
Tel: 6221 3531
Open daily from 8am to 7pm; Closed alternate Wednesdays

10.4.14

Chew Kee Eating House

Families are complicated. Take the great big rivalry between soya sauce chicken noodle heavyweights Chew Kee and Chiew Kee. Both were borne from a single soya sauce chicken stall which was operated by a pair of siblings, but somehow, they fell out, with the former helmed by the older sister which stayed put at the same location, and the latter being the offshoot spawned by the younger brother situated barely a hundred meters away.

Each have their ardent fans, proclaiming one to be king over the other. We went down last weekend, to recce both stalls' take on soya sauce chicken, so we know which one to dabao in future. 

Chew Kee's Soya Sauce Chicken Kway Teow ($3.50) got both our votes. The inky black sauce here is more unique, with a robust depth that's punctuated by faint herbal accents. The chicken here, we thought, is also more succulent and intensely marinated.

The popular Dumpling Soup ($5), that you'd find on almost every table, boasts a very homebrewed taste, minimal MSG enhancement, and 6 plump pork dumplings that possessed a lovely chestnutty crunch. While we both picked Chew Kee's broth, we differed on the dumplings; the Hubs preferred these while I found Chiew Kee's dumplings tastier.

Stay tuned, the Chiew Kee post is coming right up!


Chew Kee Eating House
8 Upper Cross Street
Tel: 6222 0507
Open daily from 8am to 6.30pm (Closed alternate Fridays and Public Holidays)

9.4.14

Mikuni

Mikuni got on my radar after I attended Savour 2014. I'd enjoyed their truffle kampachi immensely, which left me hankering for more.

For weeks now, we've tried and failed to get reservations at this Japanese restaurant. Strangely enough, we managed to secure reservations at the last-minute for a weekend dinner. Even stranger was how empty the restaurant was when Addie and I arrived for dinner last Saturday. Methinks it's because the restaurant occasionally hosts large groups, which sometimes results in the full capacity.

We got seats at the sushi counter; it's my favourite seating as it allows for maximum interaction with the chefs. Also, I was hoping for a glimpse of their executive chef hottie. The Korean-born Chef Moon didn't serve us personally but his fleeting appearances were sufficient eye-candy entertainment for the night (ahem, I'm a married woman now, so I've a "see-little-bit-good-enough-and-no-touch" policy).

There are 2 kaiseki menus here to choose from, the more wallet-friendly 6-course Spring Dinner Course ($158) and the more extravagant 7-course Mikuni Grand Tasting Tour ($220). We couldn't decide between the 2, and got both. We figured we'd pick off each others' menus and sample everything! Chef Moon's modernisation of traditional Japanese cuisine, and his creative fusion of the west and east made for fare that was unique and novel. Both kaiseki menus were excellent, but the standouts were the beef courses.

Despite the inordinately long wait for our kaiseki, I'd still give the service here a thumbs-up. Observant and attentive, the chefs and serving staff displayed a humble warmth that was very welcoming and grounded. I never once felt like I was in a uppity fine-dining restaurant.

The starter Otoushi Course, with a creamy Hokkaido sea urchin with airy cauliflower foam, was paired with a refreshingly chilled Hokkaido botan ebi bisque with tenshi sauce.

The Sashimi Course, featuring the best of the seasonal tokusen sashimi of tuna, yellowtail and seabream, all fresh and thickly sliced, were superb.

Next up was the Grilled Course of melt-in-your-mouth miso marinated butterfish fillet, sided by a leaf-wrapped steamed chewy yomugi mochi, pickled pink ginger flower, roasted Japanese yam, and a netted crisp of fried silver fish.

The Deep-Fried Course, a smelt fish karaage with bunches of grilled salmon roe and asparagus, were accompanied by a delectable truffle miso mayo dip and green tea salt upping the flavour palette.

The highlight of the Spring Dinner Menu, the Beef Course, comprised 4 unbelievably tender miso braised kagoshima beef short ribs, cut with pearl onions and a drop of wasabi. Grilled organic green beans and carrots from yamanashi lent a constrasting crunch.

The last complimentary course was a small cup of slurpy Somen Noodles in a delicate bonito broth.

The Dessert Course was a balanced traditional Japanese red bean paste monaka with green tea ice-cream. But I really caught my fancy was the digestif sweet potato cider that smelled like liquid potato chips!

And we're onto the more pricey Mikuni Grand Tasting Tour where the appetizer Otoushi Course, a duo of Kyoto pumpkin accented chawanmushi lavishly topped with caviar, was coupled by a grilled kumamoto oyster laced with Hokkaido uni and shiso ponzu.

The Sashimi Course for the Grand Tasting Tour was more decadent than the one for the Spring Dinner Menu, with fat melty slices of toro (yums), yellowtail,

And Hirame beautifully garnished with monk fish liver and edible flowers.

The Grilled Course was made up of a grilled seabass nodoguru shioyaki seasoned simply with salt, Japanese yam with red miso, chestnuts, sweet potato, myoga

The Tempura Course reminded me of those kinder bueno chocolates, where you pop open the beancurd skin shell to reveal the surprise goodies of tenshi prawn, Hokkaido uni, and shiso stuffings, sitting in a pool of creamy pumpkin gravy and topped with grilled salmon roe and seaweed straw.

The Beef Course was a sumptuous fillet of Kagoshima wagyu brushed with hoba miso yaki, supported by porcini mushrooms, carrots and leek.

The Noodles Course, with green tea soba noodles dunked in hot bonito broth and tagged with a few slices of slow cooked duck breast was comforting, especially in the cool chill of the restaurant.

The Dessert Course, was a melange of ice-cream, sorbet and fruits, encompassing Japanese traditional anmitsu, black beans, vanilla ice-cream, fruits espuma, and gula Melaka.

We also ordered a couple of nibbles from the ala carte menu,  and first up was the Truffle Kampachi ($30), the reason for our dining at Mikuni in the first place, and this didn't disappoint. The confluence of the savoury soy, piquant yuzu, aromatic truffle and sweet yellowtail was pure orgasmic heaven. Without a doubt a must-order here.

The Edamame ($15), served steaming hot and seasoned with Amami island sea salt, was instrumental in quelling my hunger pangs while waiting for Addie to arrive (an hour later because she'd mistakenly thought our reservation was fixed at 7.30pm instead of 6.30pm!).

Complimentary Prawn Crackers, paper-thin and sprinkled with a fragrant herb medley, made for very addictive snackers. 

A trio of complimentary pickles, comprising radish (very common in Korean banchan), attractively pink jellyfish that was ultra crunchy and a stack of sesame-d ginseng root which got my pick of the lot.


Mikuni
80 Bras Basah Road
Fairmont Singapore Level 3
Tel: 6431 6156
Open daily for lunches from 12noon to 2.30pm; dinners from 6.30pm to 10.30pm

8.4.14

Nara Thai

Nara Thai, the famed Bangkok-based restaurant chain, landed on our sunny shores with much fanfare. The casual eatery (think an upmarket, more frilly Thai Express) serves up an extensive array of Thai street food in comfortably lush digs. In fact, with over 100 items on their menu, you're bound to order something that tickles your fancy.

Food-wise, Nara Thai is one of the fairer upper-mid-priced casual Thai establishments around. Not the best, but certainly one that makes for a pretty satisfying meal that's easy on the wallet. 

The Tord Mun Kung ($13.90), deep fried shrimp cakes, were succulent and juicy to the bite, with a crispy breadcrumbed coat of gold. They were excellent au naturel, leaving the honeyed dip quite dispensable. An absolute must-try here.

The Kao Tang Na Tang ($9.90), crunchy rice cracker discs sided by a chunky pork and prawn coconut dip, were excellent as well.


The Massaman Gai ($14.90), a heady peanut-based curry with chicken and potatoes, was wonderful ladled over steaming white rice.

The Moo Phad Kra Pao ($13.90), stir-fried pork with chilli and hot basil, packed a real punch, but would have been a knockout if it was more saucey. This was far from dry, but we'd prefer a wetter version.

The Phad See Eiw Gai ($12.90), a mass of slippery flat rice noodles stir-fried in sweet soy with tender chicken was balanced out by the earthy mushrooms and crunchy greens. Not a lot of wok hei, but more than passable.



Nara Thai
2 Orchard Turn
ION Orchard B3-21
Tel: 6
Open daily from 11.30am to 10pm
Website: www.narathai.com.sg

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