The Pump Room, Great World City

We went out for dinner with two of my favourite guys in the world, Ernie and Cho. These guys really are like the older brothers I've never had. They've been through all the worst parts of my life. I love that although most of my best friends are guys, The BF has absolutely no problem with my friendship with anyone of them. In fact, he gets on fabulously with all of them, and they, in turn, love him too. Mostly because we really trust each other. I think it's due to the fact that we're so open with one another and we share the same values.

We decided to go to The Pump Room for dinner because the boys love their beers. The only bad thing about this location is that it's way too warm. We always end up perspiring through our dinner. The management really should do something about the air-conditioning, if there is any at all.

We were just in time before the Happy Hour ended, so we managed to get the 1-for-1 Pump Room Lager ($12.50), which had a pretty golden hue. This was light, crisp and clean. Very refreshing.

Ernie wanted soup, so he got the Chef's Soup of the Day, the Cream of Tomato ($7). I'm not usually a fan of tomato soup, but this was piquant and creamy.

We got the mains to share. First up was the Fisherman's Basket ($26), consisting of battered prawns, dory fish and scallops. We switched the chips with mashed potatoes. Somehow, all the boys are on some kind of reduced-carbs diet. I loved the succulent and sweet scallops.

We also got the Grilled Cod ($28), served on a bed of garlic mashed potato and sauteed spinach, topped off with an oven-dried tomato and drizzled with an olive tapenade sauce. This is probably the best main dish on the menu. The oily fish is perfectly complemented by the wilted spinach and fragrant garlic mash.

We also got the Portobello Burger ($14), a plump juicy portobello mushroom with cheese is battered and fried, resembling a burger patty. Add a fluffy sesame seed bun, onion confit, fresh lettuce and a pesto mayonnaise and you get a delectable vegetarian burger option. Who doesn't love this combination of portobello and cheese.

On the server's recommendation, we also got the Peri Peri Spring Chicken ($16). served with rosemary roasted potatoes and french beans. The chicken was moist, but we weren't huge fans of the peri peri seasoning. Loved the aromatic rosemary-infused potatoes though.

We also got extra sides, Assorted Fresh Vegetables ($8), a variety of yellow and green zucchini, baby french beans, broccoli and carrots tossed in butter and sea salt. It never hurts to eat more veggies.

The BF didn't feel like chocolate tonight, so he got the Pavlova ($10). a classic Australian dessert of meringue topped with a selection of berries and passion fruit curd. The meringue had a sweetened crispy crust but soft and fluffy on the inside. This was light and refreshing.

Of course we had to get the must-try Self-Saucing Chocolate Pudding ($10). This really is the ultimate decadent dessert. Ernie, ever the chocolate fan, lapped this up happily, despite professing to have a full stomach.

The Pump Room
1 Kim Seng Promenade
Great World City
Tel: 6338 0138
Website: www.pumproomasia.com/gwc/index.html
Open from Sundays to Thursdays from 10am to 1am, and Fridays to Saturdays and Public Holidays from 10am to 2am.
Meal times from 11am to 10pm and bar bites to closing hours


Nan Hua Chang Seafood Restaurant

We've been wanting to try out this steamboat place ever since we tried the one at Nan Hwa Chong, which incidentally, is diagonally across the road. Both serve pretty much the same stuff (namely fish steamboat and cze char) and they also seem equally popular with the local crowd, so we wanted to know which one was better. Plus, I'd just recovered from fever, so something soupy and light would be great for easing back into eating proper food after days of plain porridge.

Nan Hua Chang occupies 2 shop spaces on the first floor of an HDB block, and the bonus is that it is partially air-conditioned, which is always a plus when eating steamboat. No unglamourous sweating and/or pit-stains here!

Today, we got the Red Snapper Fish Steamboat ($30). After we noticed almost every table ordering the same extra, we requested a serving of Enoki Mushrooms ($3). I found that the soup stock is just as lovely and sweet as the one at Nan Hwa Chong and couldn't decide which one was better. The BF had a different opinion though, he preferred this version, which he felt was more delicate and lighter.

We also had differing opinions of the fish. I prefer this red snapper, which is softer than grouper. The BF preferred the more firm-fleshed grouper. 

The rest of the ingredients were the same though, cabbage, fried pieces of yam and seaweed.

We also got a meat dish, the Hotplate Venison ($12). The venison tasted a little gamey, which I didn't like. Otherwise, the garlic and spring onion oyster sauce gravy was fabulous.

Nan Hua Chang Seafood Restaurant
Blk 462 Crawford Lane
Tel: 6296 4533
Open daily from 5pm to 12 midnight


Imperial Treasure Nan Bei Restaurant, Suntec City

You know how it is when you are sick, you just don't want to eat anything at all, and the smell or sight of any food makes you want to cry (because it makes you nauseous)? Yup, I was feeling feverish so my appetite was obviously crap.

The BF insisted that I put something in my tummy though (don't you just lurve it when there's someone in your life whose job description includes having to take care of you?). So, after much wrangling, I agreed to have something light and soupy. So I got the Beancurd Thick Soup with Seafood ($7). This was appropriately delicate and light.

We also got Baby Bok Choy with Braised Mushrooms ($14), lightly blanched vegetables blanketed in a velvety oyster sauce and richly braised Chinese black mushrooms.

The BF wanted something more substantive and he got the Ee-fu Noodles ($10.50). The chef was more generous with the seasonings today, the braised noodles somehow seemed richer in flavour

He also got the Wantons in Hot Chili Sauce ($4.20), silky pork and chives wantons in a sea of piquant vinegar and chili oil sauce.

7 June 2010

A quick update: Please note that they've closed this outlet down. The only available Nan Bei restaurants are at Takashimaya and Tampines

Imperial Treasure Nan Bei Restaurant
3 Temasek Boulevard
Suntec City #B1-011
Tel: 6339 3118
Open daily from 10am to 11pm


Coffee Club, Raffles City Shopping Centre

We stepped in for a light bite after running errands at Raffles City.

We got the Alfredo ($10.80), shell pasta slathered in a white wine cream sauce, loaded with silvers of ham and mushrooms, topped with mozarella cheese and baked till bubbling hot. This was divinely creamy and luscious.

Of course we had to get the Country Pie ($10.50), a must-try on the menu. This was comfort food at its best, indulgent mash potatoes with marinated chicken chunks, mushrooms and root veggies with melted golden mozarella cheese on top.

I also got the Creamy Mushroom Soup ($6), this was earthy and wholesome. The only gripe I had was that it was too tiny a portion for 6 whole bucks.

The BF needed caffeine to fight off the zzz monster, so he got a Latte ($5.50), a perfect shot for an extra energy booster.

Coffee Club
252 North Bridge Road #03-30
Raffles City Shopping Centre
Tel: 6336 8208
Open daily from 10am to 10pm
Website: www.coffeeclubworld.com


Nan Hwa Chong Fish-Head Steamboat Corner

I'm not a fan of fish-head steamboats, being a fan of chicken-stock based ones. But I'd always seen this unassuming coffeeshop packing in the crowds everytime I ran past it. So, we figured we'd give it a try. Surely that much of a crowd can't be too far off the good food radar.

It was fairly full capacity when we popped in for dinner on a Monday night, which heralded the quality of the dinner. Although the restaurant is completely non-airconditioned, the location was surprisingly breezy. You know how it is with steamboats, you inevitably end up perspiring after drinking copious amounts of hot soup. But we needn't have worried, there was never a no-wind moment throughout our dinner. In fact, it was so cooling that we hardly perspired through dinner.

We got the Grouper Fish-Head Steamboat ($35). This came generously served with pieces of cabbage, yam cubes, fried sole fish for flavour and seaweed for that umami quality. The fish was fresh and sweet, and firm but flaky. The piece de resistance was the soup. Oh the soup. It was delicate as only fish-based soups go, full-bodied resulting from hours of simmering fish bones and root vegetables, and incredibly sweet. We happily lapped up the soup. Then we asked for multiple refills while slurping up the addictively delectable soup.

We also got the Braised Beancurd ($8), this was wonderfully aromatic and lip-smackingly yummy. Chock full of sliced carrots, broccoli, silky egg beancurd, Chinese black mushrooms, champignons, straw mushrooms, sliced pork and black fungus, this was great for ladling over steaming hot white rice.

Nan Hwa Chong Fish-Head Steamboat Corner
No. 814 North Bridge Road
Tel: 6297 9319
Open daily from 5pm to 11pm


Sari Indo Authentic Indonesian Cuisine

We met Pops and my brother for dinner one evening. I don't live with them so I try to see them for dinner every once a while to catch up.

The BF and I don't follow any kind of schedule for mealtimes, so we sometimes end up eating lunches at 4pm or dinners at 9.30pm. But because it's Pops, we had to have dinner at 6pm, so we went to the gym early today and got out early to make it in time for dinner.

We were a little dismayed to find that the restaurant is completely open-air, but thankfully, it was a breezy and cool day so we didn't have to sweat through dinner.

Pops had raved enthusiastically about the Beef Rendang ($3) at Sari Indo so of course we had to get it. He was right, this was meltingly tender and wonderfully smoky.

We got the chicken version, the Ayam Rendang ($4), this was heady and just as robustly flavoured. I loved that the breast meat was incredibly moist and juicy.

We also got the Ayam Gulai ($4), curry chicken simmered in decadent coconut milk. This was very commendable.

We got the Sayur Lodeh ($1.50), standard fare but with the surprising addition of a piece of sweet corn. That was a nice touch.

The only disappointment was the Baby Kailan ($1.50), the sauce was too gooey and starchy. I would have expected kailan to be an easy peasy dish to cook.

We also got the Perkedel ($0.80 for each), fried potato cutlets. This was nicely crisp on the outside but moist on the inside.

For dessert, we got the Chendol ($2.50), this was suitably refreshing and sweet. I love the smoky sweetness of gula melaka.

Update 20 Feb 2011: This restaurant has closed down. In its place, Stevo's Salads 'n' Such, an Australian eatery, has opened.

Sari Indo Authentic Indonesian Cuisine
215 Upper Thomson Road
Tel: 6554 4756
Open daily from 10am to 10pm, closed every alternate Wednesdays


Da Paolo Il Ristorante, Club Street

L.A. Lunch this month was at Da Paolo along Club Street. This is one of my favourite restaurants to go to for unpretentious, uncomplicated and honest Italian food.

Due to a bumper crop of pupils and trainees this year, it was a huge group of us that went for lunch this month. So, we got the entire second floor of the small but quaint space all to ourselves. This allowed for a lot of gregarious laughter and uninterrupted boisterous chatter, without dirty looks from other diners trying to enjoy a quiet meal.  

We started off with the ubiquitous Calamari Fritti ($22), deep fried squid with home made tartar sauce. The batter was light and crisp and the tartar sauce had a nuanced sweetness. The only letdown was the slightly rubbery squid, which would have benefited from a shorter bath in the deep fryer. 

The star antipasti was the Portobello al Forno ($24), oven baked portobello mushroom with taleggio and baby spinach. Friends will know that I love love lurve mushrooms. The distinctive earthiness of the portobello was complemented by slightly wilted bittersweet spinach. We got second helpings of this.

The Insalata Caprese ($16) was an Italian mainstay salad of fresh buffalo mozzarella, sweet juicy tomatoes and mesclun greens drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and garnished with sweet basil strips.

The Insalata di Spinaci con Prosciutto Crudo e Melone ($20) was another commendable classic salad of premium Italian parma ham, refreshingly sweet rock melon and baby spinach.

The Carpaccio di Manzo ($24) was a wonderful marriage of paper-thin raw beef tenderloin, bitter rucola and salty shaved parmesan. It was hilarious when we had to "forcefully" feed this to one of my colleagues who thought that this was the grossest thing he'd ever seen.

The Insalata con Salmone Affumicato (starter only available on the set lunch menu) was a salad of wild rocket with mixed greens, smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes and drizzled with vinaigrette.

Da Paolo has only two soups on its menu (for this branch anyway), the first is the soup of the day, and the second is the Minestrone ($10), an Italian vegetable soup. This winter soup was a generous serving of root veggies which was so delicate and comforting. This was lighter than other versions I've tried, but I like my soups light anyway.

The Cream of Mushroom ($12) was the soup of the day. This was quite a disappointment. The soup, although robust and full of mushroomy goodness, was too thin and watery. A dollop of thick cream or less water would have been great.

Onto the mains. Some of us decided to eat communally instead of having a dish all to ourselves, so we get to try everything! That's the thing about my colleagues, they love eating and sharing as much as I do, and they actually trust my taste in food. They are also wonderfully supportive of my food blogger habit of taking pictures. Most of the time, they are actually the ones that remind me to take the pictures before tucking into their grub. Where do you find amazing colleagues like them?

We started off with the Tagliaetelle al Granchio ($26), homemade egg pasta ribbons with crabmeat, tomatoes, cream and vodka. I love the tartness of the tomato and the soothing sweetness of the cream.

The Tagliolini Verdi alla Paolo ($25) was a fragrant and delicious spinach pasta with ham, mushrooms, cream and gratin with parmesan. Yummy.

The Fettuccine ai Funghi Porcini ($25), flat ribbons of egg pasta with porcini, cream and herbs, was a heady concoction of aromatic porcini mushrooms. Loved the generous serving of porcini.

The Linguine alla Vongole ($24) with fresh clams, garlic, chili and white wine was marred by the sandy clams. Otherwise, the combination of garlic, chili and white wine sauce was divinely delicious.

The Risotto ai Funghi ($27) was a rustic, creamy starch with the earthy, woodsy scent of a variety of mushrooms. This was good, definitely commendable, but wasn't the best I've tried.

Someone commented that the risotto looked like regurgitated crap, and I have to agree. It's really quite impossible for risotto to ever look appetizing, but trust me, the divine taste more than makes up for it. As the saying goes, don't knock it till you've tried it.

Tagliolini con Codine di Aragosta ($27), egg pasta with crayfish, cherry tomatoes and white wine.

Cartoccio ai Frutti di Mare ($25), spaghetti with tomatoes and seafood wrapped in parchment paper and baked. This was a hit, mostly because the seafood was incredibly fresh and succulent.

The non-parchment paper, non-baked version of the above was the Spaghetti ai Frutti di Mare ($24 on the set menu which comes served with a choice of a starter, main, dessert of the day and coffee or tea).

Tagliolini con Gamberetti e Spinaci ($24 on the set menu), egg pasta with crunchy sweet prawns and spinach, sauteed in a rich prawn broth.

Linguine con Salmone e Asparagi ($24 on the set menu), satisfyingly rich tomato cream based pasta with salmon and asparagus.

Tagliatelle alla Bolognese ($24 on set menu) was a flavourful tomatoes and beef ragout flat ribbon pasta.

Fettuccini con Prosciutto e Funghi ($24 on set menu), creamy pasta with premium ham and mushrooms.

The meat eaters preferred the mains from the ala carte menu, the Ossobuco con Purea di Patate ($32), braised veal shank served with creamy mashed potatoes. This was decent but not spectacular.

Our colleague from Shanghai, also another meat-lover, got the Tagliata di Manzo alla Griglia ($34), a grilled sirloin steak served with rocket leaves and shaved parmesan.

 Moving onto the desserts, the dessert of the day was a Raspberry Cheesecake.

Torta al Ciocolato ($12), Varlhona chocolate cake with vanilla ice-cream. This was really pretty but didn't live up to its looks. It was quite ordinary.

Crespelle alla Crema ($12), caramelized thin pancakes with vanilla pastry cream and vanilla ice cream. This was commendable.

Da Paolo Il Ristorante
80 Club Street
Tel: 6224 7081
Open from Mondays to Saturdays for lunch from 11.30am to 2.30pm, and dinner from 6.30pm to 10.30pm
Website: www.dapaolo.com.sg
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