333 Bak Kut Teh

We wanted to go to Founder's Bak Kut Teh along Balestier Road for dinner, but there was a horrendous queue in front of the small shop. Friends will know that I loathe queues, so the BF and I went to another bak kut teh stall further along Balestier Road to have pork rib soup instead.

The last time I ate here was after clubbing one night with friends (the shop is open 24/7) and I distinctively remember that the bak kut teh here was not bad.

We ordered the Pork Ribs Soup ($5). The pork ribs weren't as tender as I'd like, (they were about as tender as the ones at Ng Ah Sio). The soup was good though, peppery without being overwhelming. And they were fairly generous with the portions, considering the price. The ones you get at the more famous bak kut teh joints would cost twice for half the portions (about $3.50 to $4.00 for a long rib).

I also ordered a Mushroom Soup ($5), which was just sliced champignon mushrooms out of a can and into the bowl, with some garland chrysanthemum (tung oh) and the bak kut teh soup.

I liked their Braised Beancurd Skin ($4), the braising sauce added just the right amount of saltiness to the soft and slippery beancurd skin.

I didn't take to the cold and mushy Fried Dough Fritters ($3) though. They were very limp, probably a result of standing in the open for quite some time. We didn't finish this.

333 Bak Kut Teh
325 Balestier Road
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week
Tel: 9089 6622


SICC Bukit Poolside Cafe

This was one of our pre-workout meals. I generally try not to eat if I'm planning to do cardio (because you'll throw up on the treadmill), but when I'm doing weight-training at the gym, I will eat a light snack. Otherwise I won't have the energy to lift the weights.You know, it's a myth that you shouldn't do weights because you'll bulk up. Those are all lies, I tell you. If you want the tone in your body (like Beyonce, do you ever see her thighs jiggle when she dances? No. Her body is seriously toned to perfection.), then you should use light weights and load up on good protein (steamed fish, poached chicken, stuff like that).

The Ham and Cheese Sandwich ($4.20) is one healthy, protein-rich and light snack, perfect for lifting weights thereafter. This was pretty good, bread was toasted just right, and the ham and cheese filling was substantial and balanced. Just don't eat the chips on the side.

SICC Bukit Poolside Cafe
Singapore Island Country Club, Bukit location
240 Sime RoadTel: 6461 7433
Open Mondays to Thursdays from 8am to 8pm; Fridays to Sundays from 8am to 9pm


La Strada

From Mondays to Thursdays, La Strada has an irresistible 1-for-1 pizza takeaway promotion. A pizza typically costs about 25 bucks so you're getting 2 pizzas for about 25 bucks. It's really a no-brainer. The BF and I have been wanting to try this out since I found out about the offer, so after running errands one evening, we decided to head to La Strada to takeaway their pizzas.

We got the Prosciutto di Parma e Rucola ($26), with mozzarella, tomato, parma ham, rucola and shaved parmigiano. La Strada will pack the toppings separately in a plastic container so the rucola and parma ham remain cool and crisp. This was divine. I love how the slightly bitter rucola balanced out the saltiness of the parma ham. And boy, were they generous with the parma ham, look at those gorgeous ribbons of cured meats!

The Prosciutto cotto di Funghi ($24) with Italian gammon ham and a trio of mushrooms (oyster, porcini and button varieties) was classically simple but very yummy as well. Mushrooms were fresh and the shaved premium ham was salty and good.

I'll definitely be back.

Update 18 July 2012: La Strada has closed its shutters. 

La Strada
1 Scotts Road
#02-11 Shaw Centre
Tel: 6737 2555
Email: lastrada@lesamis.com.sg
Website: www.lesamis.com.sg


Noodle Place Restaurant

This was one of the last Saturday lunch dates with Ernie before he re-locates to Hongkong for work. With globalisation, I'm losing all my friends to lucrative overseas postings.

We originally wanted to go to Sanur at Centrepoint but it was closed. It seems all the branches of this Indonesian restaurant have slowly closed down. The other branch in Takashimaya has also closed down.

So we went to Noodle Place Restaurant in the basement food street instead. I hear that the new chef hails from the world-renowned Mak's Noodle in Hongkong. (Chef Chui Chuen Lai used to be the executive chef at the Anthony Bordain-reviewed restaurant)

Ernie ordered the Shrimp Wanton Noodle ($8), which was commendable. The noodles were al dente, and the silky wantons were fresh and crunchy. The only gripe I had was that the portion was a little tiny for the price compared to its counterparts. Crystal Jade and Imperial Treasure serve larger portions of the same dish at lower prices.

I got the Fresh Prawn Congee ($9.50), which was delectable and comforting. The porridge was smooth and delicate, the prawns were fresh, sweet and crunchy, and the addition of the Chinese black mushroom was a unexpected treat.

We also ordered a Braised Mixed Vegetables with Beancurd in Earthen Pot ($11), which was also tiny for its price. Otherwise, the dish was flavoursome and homestyle.

I really liked that they serve Chinese tea in big teacups, not those tiny little finished-in-2-sips kind of cups.

Noodle Place Restaurant
176 Orchard Road
#01-53/56 The Centrepoint
Tel: 6733 3171
Open daily from 10am to 10pm
Website: www.pfs.com.sg/restaurants/noodle_place/


Nan Hwa Chong Fish-Head Steamboat Corner

I was craving something light and soupy so we went to Nan Hwa Chong for some fish steamboat.

We ordered a plate of Sauteed Nai Bai with Garlic ($8), which was crunchy, sweet and light.

We came here for the fish steamboat, and we ordered the Red Snapper Fish Steamboat ($28), with cabbage, seaweed, yams and dried sole fish for extra flavour. We also got a side of Enoki Mushrooms ($3) and extra Fried Yams ($3). This was the first time I tried the fried yam (it's usually the BF who eats it all) and it is delicious! It's like an Asian version of french fries, dunked into the clear sweet soup.

A light and healthy meal to end the day.

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


The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, City Square Mall

The BF was craving a sweet treat, so we headed to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at City Square Mall to get some of their cakes. After 5pm, the prices of their cakes are slashed by 50% with any drink purchase.

We got the Chocolate of a Thousand Leaves Cake ($5.90 usual price), which was decadent and indulgent. Light chocolate sponge is layered with fresh hazelnut chocolate cream. The best part, the chocolate wasn't too sweet and it didn't give me a headache.

Coffee Bean does really good cheesecakes that are very affordable. I used to buy their cheesecakes everyday when I was on my cheesecake craze. The Cappuccino Cheesecake ($5.90 usual price) was a nice balance of aromatic coffee flavours with cheesy overtones.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
180 Kitchener Road
#B1-04 City Square Mall
Tel: 6509 6202
Open daily from 8am to 10pm
Website: www.coffeebean.com.sg


Mooi Chin Place

Mooi Chin used to be frequented by many judges and prominent lawyers because of its proximity to the courts when it was located in the more centralised Funan Centre. That was during its heydays in the 60s and 70s. Since moving to its current location along Victoria Street, this old-school Hainanese establishment has somewhat become a shadow of its former self. I've never seen more than 2 or 3 tables occupied at the restaurant whenever I eat there.

The food generally alright and rather authentic, but a little pricey for the quality and portion. The decor of the restaurant is decidedly dated, but the ambience is fairly peaceful and quiet. You pretty much get the restaurant to yourself when you dine there.

Our favourite dish here is the Fried Fish Maw with Seafood ($16). The fish maw, abalone, squid and prawns are always fresh and the oyster sauce gravy is absolutely slurpilicious. I could eat this alone with a bowl of steaming hot white rice.

The other dish I usually like to order when I eat at cze char places is the Beancurd with Crab Meat ($16). However, today's version was a letdown due to the use of frozen crabmeat. I've said this before, shellfish should never be frozen. Even if the shellfish is flash-frozen immediately after it's caught, there will invariably be a distinctively fishy smell and taste.

Mooi Chin Place
390 Victoria Street
Village Hotel (formerly known as Golden Landmark Hotel)
Level 3
Tel: 6392 1600
Open daily from 11am to 10.30pm


Maxwell Food Centre

The BF has been raving about the Hainanese curry rice at Maxwell Food Centre, so one day when the weather was cooler, we popped by for a visit.

Maxwell is well known for being one of the more notable hawker centres around, with fairly famous stalls such as Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice and Zhen Zhen Porridge. Although this open-air hawker centre is frequented by many tourists, all fanning themselves with their maps of Singapore while tucking into local cuisine, you still pay local hawker centre prices. There isn't the Newton hawker centre "tourist prices" phenomenon here.

Luckily, there wasn't much of a queue when we arrived for lunch one rainy weekend. We ordered the Pork Chops ($1.50 for 1 portion), which was crispy and juicy.

The Minced Pork Ball ($1.20 for 1) was well-marinated, textured and huge.

The Curry Chicken ($1.20 for 1) was nonya-style, fragrant, creamy and spicy.

We also loved the Braised Cabbage ($1.40), simple but flavoursome, not too wilted and still slightly crunchy.

We also ordered a Fried Egg ($0.50) to go with steaming hot White Rice ($0.50), with oodles of luscious curry gravy. So simple yet so yummy.

This is the store front.

Hainanese Curry Rice
Maxwell Food Centre
Unit 68
Open from 11.30am (until the food runs out at about 3pm daily). Closed on Fridays.

The Adventures of The Hungry Bunny!


Spizza Delivery

We were both tired (and feeling lazy, hah) so we decided to order in some pizza from Spizza for dinner. We always get the Combo B, which includes 2 pizzas, a starter, garlic bread and pasta at only $64 nett. There's no delivery charge for the combo deliveries.

We ordered the Franca (usual price $22), with pancetta bacon, porcini mushrooms, tomato and mozzarella. The wonderfully thin-crust pizza was delivered hot and crispy. I love bacon and mushroom pizza, and this is Spizza's deluxe premium version in the form of pancetta and porcini.

The second pizza was the Quinta (usual price $22), with black truffles, egg, tomato and mozzarella. I love the distinctive earthy aroma and full flavour of black truffles.

For the pasta, we got the Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino with Shrimps (usual price $14). Despite the journey, the spaghetti was served hot and al dente, which was quite a feat. This was very good, the garlicky aglio olio sauce packed a punch the addition of chili padi, and the prawns were fresh, sweet and crunchy.

We ordered the Nerone as our choice of a starter (usual price $9), crispy breaded mozzarella served with Arrabbiata sauce. This was chewy, cheesy and absolutely yummy as well.

The Garlic Bread (usual price $4) was classic, simple but delectable as well.

Spizza Delivery
Tel: 6377 7773
Open daily from 12pm to 2pm and 6.30pm to 10.30pm


Uncle Leong Seafood

I still remember the first time I ate at Uncle Leong Seafood. One of my old friends, Ed, a fellow crabs lover, brought me here raving about their creamy crabs. There were only 2 of us and we ordered, inter alia, 2 large crabs. The shop proprietor tried to dissuade us from ordering both crabs because he thought that we wouldn't be able to finish our food.

That's the thing. Because I'm a little petite, I sometimes have trouble convincing wait staff that I can finish whatever I order. We finally convinced him that we could finish everything we ordered.

Later, the shop proprietor came over while we were polishing off the last remnants of the simmering sands crab gravy, and told us to order away in the future because he would never doubt our ability to finish our food. That incident is forever etched in my memory because it showed that the shop proprietor was an honest businessman and I've since had and still have a good impression of the service staff here.

For those who frequent Mellben Seafood diagonally opposite Uncle Leong Seafood (they are both owned by members of the same family), Uncle Leong Seafood is a viable alternative to the long queues and waiting time at Mellben. I've eaten at both restaurants and there is no discernible difference in the food served.

Uncle Leong Seafood is known for their Shimmering Sands Crabs ($30.40), an original concoction of butter cream sauce with chili padi and curry leaves for some heat and sprinkled liberally with toasted oats for extra texture. I love this. It's creamy, spicy and utterly addictive. The sauce perfectly complements the natural sweetness of the crab meat. And I like that there's enough sauce to dunk fried buns into as well.

Uncle Leong Seafood serves very good cze char as well. One of our favourites is the Mapo Tofu ($8), beancurd, prawns, eggs and minced meat in spicy bean sauce. This was sweet, spicy and savoury. Delicious with steaming hot white rice.

We also always order the Chinese Spinach with 3 Types of Eggs ($10), which is absolutely eggalicious. The trio of salted egg, century egg and chicken eggs combine together to make an aromatic gravy to ladle onto white rice.

For carbs, we ordered the Seafood Crispy Noodles ($3.50), which was also very yummy. The gravy was luscious, the seafood was fresh and plentiful and the noodles were nice and crispy.

Update 6 June 2011: Uncle Leong has moved to 6 Tebing Lane, #01-03 Punggol East.

Uncle Leong Seafood
Blk 233, #01-1194
Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 (St 22)
Tel: 6554 3453
Open daily from 4pm to 11.30pm
Website: www.uncleleongseafood.com


The Tapas Tree, Clarke Quay

The Tapas Tree is my favourite Spanish restaurant in Singapore. In my view, they serve the best Spanish food around. Back when I was single, my friends (the BF was one of my dinner and clubbing kakis then) and I would have dinner here before clubbing.

Some of my colleagues have never tried Spanish food, and I thought I'd introduce them to the Mediterranean cuisine by organising lunch at The Tapas Tree for our March L.A. Lunch.

Studies have shown that Mediterranean diets are very heart-healthy because of the heavy use of olive oil and garlic, so you get to pig out and feel good about pigging out. Tapas are the Spanish version of Cantonese dim sum. Every dish is served in small tasting portions, so you get to try everything.

We started off with the Chorizo Frito ($11), pan-fried Spanish pork sausage in olive oil. This is the Spanish version of our Chinese lup cheong. Salty and texturised, the olive oil provides some moisture to the typically drier sausage.

The Pollo Salteado en Salsa de Setas ($12.80), sauteed chicken breast with button mushroom in cream sauce was a hit. The addition of red and green peppers ensured that the creamy gravy wasn't too heavy.

The Gambas Salteadas al Ajillo con Guindilla ($14.50), sauteed shrimps with garlic and olive oil and chili was deceptively spicy. The prawns weren't very huge, but they were fresh and sweet.

The Solomillo Salteado con Ajillo ($15), beef tenderloin cubes sauteed in olive oil and garlic was another hit. The moist and tender tenderloin cubes was robust and flavourful.

The Champinones Salteados al Ajillo ($9.50) sauteed mushrooms in olive oil and garlic was another hit. I mean, what's not to like about olive oil and garlic? It's such a simple yet effective cooking method of bringing out the natural flavours of the dish.

The Espinacas Salteadas con Pasas y Pinones con Ajo ($8.50), sauteed spinach with garlic, pine nuts and raisins was our fibre of the meal. I love how the raisins added a subtle sweetness to the slightly metallic taste of spinach (spinach is full of iron, which can cause a slightly metallic taste).

The Tortilla de Espinacas ($10), spinach omelette, was healthy and delicious as well. The omelette was more packed than fluffy.

We also ordered the Croquetas de Pollo ($10) and Croquetas de Queso ($10.50), chicken and cheese croquettes. These fritters were lightly battered and crispy.

The Calamares Frito ($11.50), deep-fried battered squid rings served with allioii were also another hit, crispy, firm and mildly sweet.

The Calamares a la Plancha ($11.50), grilled squid with allioii were also fresh, juicy and cooked just right to the point where they weren't rubbery.

The Cangrejo de concha blanda con Allioii ($14), deep-fried breaded soft-shell crab was one of 2 disappointments, the soft-shell crab wasn't very fresh.

The Vieiras con Salsa de Azafran ($16), baked scallops with saffron was the other disappointment. The scallops were similarly not fresh. The mushrooms and ham were delectable though.

The Cordero con Salsa de Mente ($19.50), grilled lamb racks with brown mint sauce was another winner. The spiced lamb racks were succulent, tender and marinated very well.

Of course we got the Paellas, the classic Spanish rice dish flavoured with saffron and seafood broth. The Paella de Marisco ($38 for small), with squid, mussels, shrimp, fish, vegetables and eggs was lovely. The fragrant rice was moist and richly flavoured and the seafood was plentiful and fresh.

We ordered the Paella de Carne ($36), with chorizo, chicken, ham, beef, pork, vegetables and eggs for the meat-lovers. This was similarly aromatic and delectable.

Some of us still had space in our tummies for dessert. The Churros con Chocolate ($8.50), the classically famous Spanish dessert with homemade chocolate was wonderfully decadent and yummy.

The Flan de Caramelo ($7.50) was a letdown, it wasn't very smooth and it was too heavy in texture.

Update 12 April 2011: The Tapas Tree has had a change of management and is now called "Octapas Spanish Tapas Bar"

The Tapas Tree
Clarke Quay Block D
#01-08, River Valley Road
Tel: 6837 2938
Open from 11.30am to midnight on weekdays and 11.30am to 1am on weekends and public holidays
Website: www.thetapastree.com/
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