22.11.11

Pariaman Warong Nasi

Sunil and Subhas first introduced this nasi padang stalwart to me when I was still doing my pupillage. It's one of their all-time favourite spots for nasi padang, and really, the snaking lunchtime queue speaks volumes of its popularity. However, having recently revisited it, I really don't see the fuss with this particular nasi padang eatery. Of all the many nasi padang restaurants littered along Kandahar Street, Pariaman is my least favourite. The variety of dishes is limited, dishes tend towards the delicate, and for all the rave reviews this place gets, their food is quite underwhelming. Mind you, I'm not saying that the food's bad. I'm just saying that the food just doesn't tickle my fancy. In my opinion, Rumah Makan Minang, Sabar Menanti and Hjh Maimunah serve up much better food. Of course, as I've said before, Minang is still the best for nasi padang.

Unless you can't take spice and prefer your nasi padang very mild. You'll do well eating at Pariaman then. Their food is a lot milder than what I'm used to at the other eateries. Even Ernie, who usually breaks into a sweat eating just Nonya-style chicken curry, barely sniffled eating at Pariaman.

That said, I do have to say one thing though, this place is really quite dirt-cheap. An entire meal consisting 6 dishes for 3 persons cost barely $30. Another thing to note is to hit the eatery early, like before noon, because they sell out real fast.


Despite the chilli seeds and fiery appearance of this dish, the Fried Batang Fish with Sambal was surprisingly mild. The sambal was more tangy than spicy, but it lent itself well to the clear salty taste of the fried fish. The Fiance detected a hint of fishiness, but I didn't.


The Omelette is a must-try here. It's cooked upon order, so you won't see it over the ordering counter. This was fluffy and choc-a-bloc with mildly peppery green chillis and sweet caramelized onions.


The Sayur Lodeh, was unexpectedly mild, Pariaman does a very mild and watery version of what we're typically used to, with only long beans, a couple of sliced carrots and firm beancurd as the central ingredients. Not my cup of tea and strictly for people who can't take spicy food.


The Beef Rendang was good though, moist, fork-tender full-bodied meat that was thoroughly braised and packed with flavour, spicy, nutty and robust.


The Curry Chicken was also one of the more typical Padang dishes, the gravy was creamy, rich and loaded with enough heat and spice, while the chicken was juicy and well-marinated. 


The Fried Long Beans with Beancurd was quite an unusual dish, crunchy diced long beans were paired with beancurd cubes, flavourful ikan bilis and a light peppery sambal for an addictive nibbler.




Pariaman Warong Nasi
738 North Bridge Road
Kampong Glam Conservation Area
Tel: 6292 5958
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 7.30am to 3.30pm, closed Sundays

20.11.11

NYDC, Holland Village

We passed on dessert at Michelangelo's because we were all hot, sweaty and bothered, being given a table at the outdoor terrace.But, we still wanted dessert, and so, we walked across to NYDC at Holland Village for a sweet treat in comfortable air-conditioned surroundings. Or so we thought. The air-conditioning at NYDC was obviously wonky that day, and it was later confirmed by the staff, so we still ended up hot and bothered. Ah well, that's Murphy's Law isn't it?

We got a couple of desserts to share amongst ourselves so we could spread the consequential guilt around.

The Pick Me Up ($7.20), which is really just a creative name for what we know as tiramisu, is a layered creation of mascarpone,  Kahlua-soaked lady's fingers drenched with espresso and chocolate. This is loaded with cocoa powder, which contains caffeine, so I guess it does "pick you up". NYDC's version wasn't as moist or as fluffy as we'd like, the liberal dusting of cocoa powder, the lack of "soaking" of the lady's fingers, and the shortfall of mascarpone made this disappointingly dry.


We got our favourite, That Boney Cake ($11.80 9.80), which, on the other hand, was a hit as usual. A huge slice of rich chocolatey Elmer Fudge cake was served warm with creamy macadamia nut ice-cream and an additional scoop ($3) of double chocolate chip ice-cream. Indulgent, decadent and so yummy.


Greedy us were hit with a case of the munchies and so we ordered a portion of the Brooklyn Wings ($8.80), deep fried drumlets and wings brushed with a paprika-spiked orange cajun dip. This was nice, chicken was well-marinated and juicy and the dip was delectably piquant, peppery and sweet.



NYDC
30 Lorong Mambong
Holland Village
Tel: 6469 2998
Open Sundays to Thursdays from 11.30am to 11pm
Fridays, Saturdays and eve of PH from 11.30am to 12midnight
Website: www.nydc.com.sg

15.11.11

Shiraishi

Shiraishi is one of those places that towkays and bankers with fat expense accounts love to dine at. Every meal here is unfailingly impressive, with the quintessential Japanese hospitality of their wait staff upping the ante of the dining experience. Shiraishi is, to those in the know, renown for its extremely refined and elegant Japanese cuisine. And, for a fine-dining restaurant, this is a surprisingly "unstuffy" place. The restaurant may be understated and fly below the radar, especially in light of the celebrity restaurant bigwigs that have sprouted up in the IRs, but this old-timer can certainly hold its own. The restaurant consistently serve up the most exquisite flavours by rotating its menu regularly and focusing on the seasonal's best.

We had dinner here one night to celebrate Beeps birthday, she wanted Japanese food and this is one of my favourite places for special occasions. We got a table at the counter, which I love, because you usually get entertained by the chefs. Plus, you invariably get a lesson on Japanese dining from the chefs. Apparently, all of the pretty flowers and greens on your plate are meant to be eaten and not placed on the plate just for decorative purposes. You just need to know how to eat those seemingly inedible stuff.

We got the Sushi Kaiseki Set ($170) which has 8 courses that features the best of what Autumn has to offer.

The Amuse Bouche of the day was a dollop of chilled smooth potato mash with carrots and cucumber, very creamy and refreshing, a great start to a fantastically memorable meal.


The first course was a trio of Appetizers. My favourite was the chilled Sesame Tofu block in the middle, floating in a puddle of shoyu and with a dab of freshly grated wasabi for a piquant heat.


The pickled fried fish was also served chilled, this was savoury but nicely refreshing. The fish was so soft that it could be eaten whole, bones and all. 


The Steamed Baby Yam (at the back) and Gingko on a stick (in the foreground) were my favourite starters. The gingko nuts were so soft they practically melted in the mouth, their mild nuttiness enhanced simply with a sprinkling of salt. The yam, meant to be picked up with the fingers and squeezed out from the leafy shell, was creamy, smooth and delicate. Such simple uncomplicated flavours.


The Sashimi was, as expected, exquisite and unbelievably fresh. Thickly sliced, these were generous pieces of fish. I particularly loved the melt-in-the-mouth fatty otoro. The shiso leaf, with its anti-bacterial properties is used to wash down any remnants of bacteria, if there were any, off the raw fish. The stalk of mint flowers, hand-smashed and then dipped into the soy for flavour, lent a fresh accent to the fish. The lime, meant to drizzle over the sweet prawn, white fish and scallops, helped "cure" the seafood.


If I had to choose, the Steamed Dish would be my favourite. Shimeiji mushrooms, luxurious freshly shredded hairy crab, baby lady's fingers were set atop a chunk of radish and then steamed to fragrant perfection. Yuzu zest provided a citrusy zing to the savoury dish.


The Grilled Dish of soy-glazed seabream fillet, with shitake mushroom, was next. We learnt that the white part of the pink pickled ginger stalk can be eaten. Any stingy pungency was removed by the pickling process. There was also a fried dish of tempura moriawase before this but I promptly gobbled it up so there was no picture!


The assorted Sushi was the last substantive course.Soft perfectly formed rectangular rice, a dollop of freshly grated wasabi and a sliver of incredibly fresh sashimi made for a recipe of wonderfully clean flavours.


The Clam Soup, despite its deceptively clear appearance, was amazingly rich in depth and unami flavour.


A slice of Japanese Mush Melon was served for Dessert. This was so sweet we all thought it was artificially sweetened. It's THAT amazingly sweet. This was a very nice way to finish off the wonderful meal. Great company. Great food. This really is the life, isn't it?



Shiraishi 
7 Raffles Avenue
#03-01
Ritz Carlton Millenia
Tel: 6338 3788
Open daily from 12noon to 2pm for lunch and 6pm to 10pm for dinner
Website: www.shiraishi.sg

13.11.11

Asia Square Food Garden

With the Marina Bay area being developed into the next prime business district, there have been a slew of new food options. Asia Square Tower, a new-ish office building with retail and F&B outlets, has just launched a novel-concept food court. Instead of the usual food court stalls, they've managed to convince big-ish-name restaurants to set up stall fronts here. The loft-like food court, located on the second floor, boasts an airy, roof-garden feel, and notable names like Imperial Treasure Windows on HK, western franchises like Canadian burger chain Triple O's and Astons Specialties, Asian favourites like Toastbox and Manna Korea, and for those looking to eat light and healthy, Fresh+ Salads and The Soup Spoon.

Because of its proximity to the office, I'll definitely be back in this food court. 

I've always liked the food at Imperial Treasure, so I was delighted to find that they've got a stall serving cha chan teng cuisine here.


With the North-East monsoon season upon us, a piping hot bowl of soupy Wanton Noodles ($8) was just the fix to comfort your insides on a cold wet day. Springy egg noodles, bouncy fresh wantons floating in a densely flavoured, albeit MSG-laced, prawn broth was all it took to warm out tummies.


The Soya Chicken and Roasted Duck Rice ($9.50) with moist flavourful meats and a drizzling of delicate soya sauce over plain white rice, was simple, fast and substantial. 


The Wanton Soup ($8) was standard fare of Imperial Treasure, 6 good-sized wantons in silky soft skin.


I loved the decadently indulgent Roasted Pork ($7). Crisp skin, a nice sliver of fat and salty meat.


The Barbecued Pork ($7) was done well, sliced thickly, tender and sweetish, with a generous helping of watery soya sauce slathered over it.





Imperial Treasure Windows of Hong Kong 
#02-03/04/05


Asia Square Food Garden
8 Marina View
Asia Square Tower 1
Level 2
Open weekdays from 9am to 9pm

11.11.11

Aerin's

Aerin's is like a peaceful tranquil oasis in the middle of the very bustling and noisy Raffles City Shopping Centre food basement.  A place for a nice quiet meal that's also reasonably priced. This is a rare find, especially since Aerins' got an open atrium concept. It's funny that I've dined at Raffles City countless times and yet, never bothered to step into this long-time food tenant of the mall. The food basement has definitely gone through major changes, but Aerin's is one of the pioneers amongst the restaurant outlets here. Having eaten here recently, I was very impressed with the standard of the Australian cuisine. I'll definitely be back to sample the other items on their fairly extensive menu.

The Surf & Turf ($28) with fall-off-the-bone-tender beef short ribs that were braised to a sticky sweet and savoury goodness was paired with a salmon fillet that's fresh, seared well on the outside but still moist on the inside and well-salted. The sides of sauteed mushrooms and ratatouille were also commendable, the tomato based vegetable stew was particularly delicious.


The Prawns Risotto ($17) is possibly one of the most value-for-money versions around. You'll think that at such a pricetag, it was gonna suck. But nooooooo, the arborio rice was creamy and full-flavoured (I think full cream and cheese was used to finish this off...bye bye diet!), with lemon zest and splashes of juice providing lifting notes. The bay prawns were plentiful and sweet, while the baby asparagus contrasted well with the softer textures of the dish.



Aerin's
252 North Bridge Road
#B1-11/12
Raffles City Shopping Centre
Tel: 6337 2231
Open daily from 11am to 10pm
Website: www.aerins.com.sg

10.11.11

Siang Hee Restaurant

Siang Hee is our current go-to spot for cheapo but deliciously satisfying meals. We have at least half our meals here. What's not to like? Easy-on-the-wallet prices (which, with today's alarming inflation rates, is such a rare find), check. Yummy, honest-to-goodness food that isn't loaded with MSG or salt, check. Value-for-money proportions, check. Central convenient location at Zion Road (until after Chinese New Year 2012, that is. They're moving to Commonwealth Food Centre then), check.

The Hotplate Beancurd ($8) arrived with the loosely scrambled egg sizzling on the griddle is one of the best versions around. I hate it when a supposedly hotplate dish is served on a cast-iron plate that isn't pre-heated, what's the point then of serving it on a "hotplate" or calling it a "hotplate" dish? This was very good, and we loved pricking the half-done unbroken egg yolk and smearing it over the rest of the ingredients. Good flavours and textures in the dish, with crunchy sugar snap peas, juicy mushrooms, bouncy mince and diced prawns and silky wobbly egg beancurd.


The piece de resistance in the Spinach with Mushroom ($8) has gotta be the luscious and thick tasty brown gravy slathered over the soft greens and juicy braised mushrooms.

The Claypot Chicken with Salted Fish ($8) managed to not be too salty, even without pairing it with plain white rice. You can still taste the accents of the salted fish though, but it was more like a guest-star than a recurring actor on a TV series. A whiff and that was it. The wing part of the chicken was used, succulent but a little bony. This was kept nuanced with lots of ginger, onions and fresh spring onions.


The Crispy Shrimp Dough ($8) really wasn't quite what I expected. Very flaky and airy, the crust was a mix of beancurd skin and flour, with hints of chilli and spring onions for extra oomph. Shrimp was pounded and made into a lightly chewy fishcake-like filling and sandwiched between the layers of pastry.


The Mongolian Pork Ribs ($8) was also very unique, it's like their marmite pork, but the pork was coated in flour and then fried instead, and the sauce was distinctively different. It was all at once tangy, mildly spiced and savoury. Definitely a must-try here.



Siang Hee Restaurant
Blk 89 Zion Road #01-137
Tel: 9736 4067
Open daily from 11am to 10.30pm
Closed once every 3 weeks on Tuesdays

9.11.11

Michelangelo's

Michelangelo's is one of the longest-standing Italian restaurants in Singapore. The last time I was there was when I was still in my teens, which is to say, a very long time ago. I remember the food being very elegant and refined, but hearty. While the food is still hearty, I didn't quite think the refinement was maintained as before.

The meal started off badly. I'd made reservations mid-week for 3 persons indoors over the long weekend, but when we arrived, we were told that there was no such reservation. Only after I'd made noise (and a small scene) that they provided us a table (out on the terrace with the humidity, no less, so we were left sweating mid-way through the dinner). They may have served us spittle, and that may have contributed to the less-than-glowing review of the restaurant, but I didn't think I was wrong in insisting that they provide a table for us. Someone on their staff definitely screwed up. And I'm certainly not one to lie my way to get a table without reservations.

In general, the food was very ordinary, standard fare of almost every other Italian establishment in town. Service-wise, with the exception of our waiter not understanding the phrase "hold off the parsley", it was alright. Ambience was romantic, with candles and dim lighting for illumination, but the heat and humidity of the outdoors terrace deterred us from lingering, and ordering dessert. We just wanted to eat and run (not dine and dash, mind you). With such an illustrious history and judging from the number of dining awards garnered by the restaurant, the dining experience was a little underwhelming. 

The Beef Carpaccio ($22) thinly sliced tenderloin of beef topped with arugula and parmesan shavings was supposedly sprinkled with truffle oil, but I couldn't quite taste (or smell) any truffle essence. Truffle oil is very distinctive and a drop alone is enough to accent any dish, so I don't think there was any truffle oil in this. Otherwise, beef was fresh, moist and tender.


The Capesante e Gamberi ($26), a pairing of pan-seared scallops topped with caviar atop a bed of onion confit and garlic tiger prawns perched on sundried tomato pesto and lemon butter is one of my must-orders whenever I spy it on a menu. This was quite good. Scallops were succulent and sweet and prawns were huge and crunchy.


I wanted more prosciutto on the Mozzarella di Bufala con Prosciutto ($24), buffalo mozzarella wrapped in Italian prosciutto on a leafy bed of arugula and drizzled in vintage Italian balsamic vinegar. The ratio of mozzarella to the silky ribbons of prosciutto was lower than I'd liked.


The Penne Sambuca e Gamberi ($26), deshelled tiger prawns and sundried tomatoes were tossed in a tomato cream sauce and then flamed with a shot of Italian sambuca was probably the best main. The sambuca lent a refreshing whiff of mint and sweetness to the rich cream sauce.


The Risotto con Porco e Porcini ($28), Italian arborio rice simmered in porcini and champignon mushrooms with white wine braised pork belly and a hint of truffle oil, didn't impress. I couldn't even smell the truffle oil and the addition of the porkbelly was simply one ingredient too many. The dish suffered from an overcomplication of flavours and textures.


I appreciated the fresh seafood in the Linguine Frutti di Mare ($32) flat pasta tossed in a medley of crayfish, squid, barramundi fillets, scallops, prawns and green-lipped New Zealand mussels in a zesty tomato chilli sauce.




Michelangelo's
Blk 44 Jalan Merah Saga
#01-60 Chip Bee Gardens
Holland Village
Tel: 6475 4319
Open
Website: www.michelangelos.com.sg

6.11.11

Sabai Authentic Fine Thai Cuisine, Ngee Ann City

After a fantastic experience at Sabai along the waterfront, I wanted to see how the original at Ngee Ann City stacked up. It's funny, that I've walked past this strikingly fire-engine red hued restaurant countless times but never ventured in, until I tried the sister branch at Customs House. Maybe it's just that the completely-decked-out-in-red-carpet Thai restaurant just looked incongruent with its concept of Thai fine dining. The decor just didn't come across as appealingly classy or particularly chic. In fact, it just seems more like a garishly gilded and mis-matched living room. Which is weird, because they serve up one of the most refined Thai menus ever. Methinks they just need to overhaul the entire design of the restaurant for a more inviting and elegant feel.

I was there with Lips for our monthly meet-ups on a Thursday evening for dinner, and the restaurant was barely occupied. I suppose that's a good thing (for us, and not the business), we enjoyed the quiet of the restaurant very much.

We had the Moo Tawd Kratiem ($24.70) tender morsels of pan-fried seasoned pork topped off with aromatic crispy golden garlic and peppercorns for some heat.


The Kai Yad Sai ($18.50), a homestyled omelette stuffed with minced chicken, prawns, tomatoes, onions and carrots was a hit with its amazingly neat and tidy presentation.


But what lay inside was a luscious stuffing of sauteed mince, diced prawns, peas and onions that was both chunky and spicy.


Sabai does one of the better versions of this classic Thai soup, the Dtom Yam Gung ($20.50 per pot) spicy and sour and laden generously with huge tiger prawns and straw mushrooms, and laced with lemongrass, galangal, chilli, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce and lime juice.


The Pat Thai ($19.30) flat rice noodles with yellow beancurd, eggs, shallots, beansprouts, ground peanuts and sweetened tamarind sauce was well-fried, so the noodles were moist without sticking together in a lump.This tends towards the sweet, but a sprinkling of red chilli flakes would lift the flavour of the noodles.


The Tap Tim Grop ($7) is my favourite Thai dessert, refreshingly crunchy water chestnut, coated in a red starchy ball, and then doused in syrup, coconut milk and shaved ice. I liked that this was nuanced and unlike the one at the Customs House, was less saccharine.


The Kao Niew Durian Nahm Gati ($9.50) is really just the Thai version of our durian penget, but with the addition of sticky glutinous rice at the bottom. This was very balanced, creamy but not rich and sweet but not cloying.





Sabai Authentic Fine Thai Cuisine
391B Orchard Road
#04-23 Ngee Ann City
Tel: 6333 8491
Open daily from 11.30am to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 11pm for dinner
Website: www.sabaifinethai.com.sg

4.11.11

Gelare, Vivocity

Surprisingly, The Professor was too full to eat dessert after lunch at HK Kim Gary, and so, Mr J, CC and I had a waffle all to ourselves. Which works out just well for me. Yay, more for us then!

Gelare's waffles are THE PLACE to go to whenever a waffle craving strikes. And you'll do well if the craving hits on a Tuesday, because that's when they have the 1-for-1 waffle promotion. The Australian import does waffles well, they are always fresh out of the oven, fragrant and such a complement to their delish in-house ice-creams.

We had the double chocolate ice-cream paired with the Waffle with Single Scoop Ice-Cream ($10.60). Such a lovely way to round off a good lunch.




Gelare
No 1 Harbourfront Walk
#01-114
Tel: 6376 9664
Open Sundays to Thursdays from 10.30am to 10pm
Fridays, Saturdays and PH from 10.30am to 10.30pm


3.11.11

Hong Kong Kim Gary Restaurant, Vivocity

I bumped into CC, The Professor and Mr J, who were on their way to lunch at Vivocity, and I, of course, shamelessly tagged along. There's only one place at Vivocity that they'll have lunch at, and where else but The Professor's "happy place" - HK Kim Gary. Besides, Mr J had a groupon voucher for a Gelare waffle that he wanted to use, so we were all going to indulge in a bit of dessert after lunch.

I know I'm supposed to refrain from carbs and sweet things and all things sinful, but I do allow myself "cheat meals", so I don't end up going on a binge after the wedding. And so, you will still see carbs and decadent stuff making their appearance on the blog.

Do you ever notice that you get hungry whenever it's rainy? I think it's got something to do with the whole piping hot bowl of savoury that's so comforting during a rainy day.This was my "cheat meal" of the week...and such a treat especially since it was all rainy outside.

Mr J and I had the Set Q ($8.90) comprising a substantial Chinese Mushroom and Shredded Pork Rice. I loved the drizzling of soy seasoning over the rice, tender flavoursome pork, salty braised sliced mushrooms and the corn kernels, even if they were of the canned variety, lent texture and sweetness.


All the set meals were accompanied by a choice of a creamy mushroom soup, or this Borsch Soup, which is really like a thin tomato soup with mixed veggies. This was surprisingly good, although I admittedly didn't have high expectations.


CC had the Set G ($6.90) with a Pork and Vegetable Wanton Soup Noodle main. The handmade noodles were soft, tasty broth wasn't too loaded with MSG and the wantons were plentiful and fresh. 


The Professor had his favourite, the A-Mix Set Meal ($10.90) with chicken steak, pork chop, hotdog, ham and fried sunny side up egg with spaghetti. A hearty meal with cholesterol-laden meats.



Hong Kong Kim Gary Restaurant
1 Harbourfront Walk
Vivocity #02-128
Tel: 6376 8183
Open daily from 10am to 10pm
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