Clinton St Baking Company

The famed New York brunch institution Clinton St Baking Co opened to great fanfare on our sunny shores. Queues were legendary and purportedly snaked along Purvis Street. Fast-forward a year later, and the queues have dissipated; the restaurant barely reaching full capacity even on a busy weekend afternoon. I finally got around to trying it, and understood why the crowd left. The brunch eggs were uneven, clunky and depressingly lackluster. Disappointing, in view of how deservedly beloved its New York mothership is.

Perhaps the only worthwhile dish, the buttermilked fried Chicken & Waffles ($21) was faultless. The chicken tenders were luscious, seasoned with a honeyed tobasco marinade for a subtle heat. The waffles were beautifully thick, done Belgian style with oodles of buttermilk, crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside, with a maple butter sauce for drizzling over

The Southern Breakfast ($18), comprising a couple of eggs fried sunny side up, crunchy strips of sugar-cured bacon for a sweet-salty element, was marred by insipid cheese grits.

The Spanish Scramble ($19) was a medley of a whopping 3 eggs studded with chorizo, tomatoes, caramelised onions and finished off with a puddle of melty Monterey jack cheese, accompanied by hashbrowns and sourdough toast. The scramble would have passed muster but for the onions, which sweetness was overwhelmingly jarring.

Clinton St Baking Company
31 Purvis Street
Tel: 6684 4845
Open daily from 8am to 10pm
Website: clintonstreetbaking.sg


Jaggi's Northern Indian Cuisine

There are 2 places in Singapore that I'd recommend my out-of-town friends to visit; Little India and Arab Street/Kampong Glam. These heritage constituencies are little pockets of old Singapore that have resisted gentrification and retained their unique charm, so they stand out from the other cookie-cutter aspects of our legoland of a metropolis. It helps that the food in these ethnic enclaves are fantastic. You can't walk 100 meters without hitting up a must-try restaurant.

Most will know the Race Course Road stretch of Little India as a "golden mile" of sorts for culinary treasures. Here's where the flagships of the famed Banana Leaf Apollo, Gayatri, and Muthu's Curry restaurants are based. While the aforementioned "big-three" mostly specialise in South Indian cuisine, there are a few which do Northern fare pretty well. Like Jaggi's Northern Indian Cuisine, a casual canteen-style, self-serviced joint that's propagated with Indians, both of the local and foreign ilk, so you know it's authentic.

Turnover at the popular eatery is high, so it's easy to get a table, even during peak dining hours and if dining in a large group. The food at Jaggi's is hearty, but still elegant. Best of all, prices are kept cheap; this gut-busting dinner for 2, with drinks, cost just over 30 buckaroos. 

The Chicken Tikka Masala ($7.20) was fiery and bold, with succulent chunks of boneless chicken drenched in a thick tomato-spiked curry.

Butter Chicken ($7.20), a favourite of the Hubs ever since his British university days, was creamy and rich.

The Chicken Tikka ($6.50) was flavourful, having been steeped thoroughly in tandoori spices, and aromatic with the smoky char of the oven. That said, it was a teensy weensy bit on the dry side.

The Tandoori Fish ($6) was beautifully balanced and lusciously moist, and the lime wedge helped cut through its slight fishy accents.

A must-try, the Gobi Masala ($2.50) was nuanced, the melange of spices highlighting the delicate sweetness of the cauliflower.

The Naans here were excellent, and freshly made upon order. The Garlic Naan ($1.80) and Plain Naan ($1.50) had a lovely crisp on the outer layer, with an underlying thick chewy texture.

Jaggi's Northern Indian Cuisine
37 Chander Road
Tel: 6296 6141
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 11.30am to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner;
Sundays from 10.30am to 10.30pm
Website: www.jaggis.com.sg


Gunther's Modern French Cuisine

I haven't been to Gunther's in forever, often skipping the revered French restaurant in favour of its Italian sister Garibaldi. Truth be told, I'm a little biased towards Italian cuisine, even if the carb-centric cuisine wrecks whatever diet plans I'm attempting off-kilter. Oh well, life is best lived dolce vita, eh?

Anyway, the homecoming (of sorts) to Gunther's is going down as one of 2016's best meals. Every element, from the food to the ambience and service, was smashing. I'd venture that Gunther's remains the best French restaurant in all of Singapore. Dinner was exquisitely stellar, with food that was rich in soul and flawlessly executed, albeit marred by the barest of hiccups which I was happy to overlook.

Also, I don't know what they feed their service staff but it's incredible how Gunther's and Garibaldi both provide first-class service that's unparalleled. I'd term it "indiscriminate graciousness", where the ordinary joe off the street gets the same warm attention as an affluent tycoon regular. In fact, service is so consistently outstanding that they deserve whatever extra tips on top of the standard service fee built into the bill. I mean, other fine-dining restaurants have great service too, but I do notice the discriminate and cool professionalism displayed by some of the service staff.

The amuse bouche was a tempura-ed langoustine with a dollop of truffle sprinkled aioli and fresh chives. The sweetness of the shellfish was complemented by the creamy and intoxicating aioli. This was the first of many "wows" that night. 

An off-menu special, the Roasted Hokkaido Scallops ($78) was plump and juicy, layered copiously with lashings of Australian winter black truffles, a quail's egg done sunny side up, strips of onion confit, and drizzled with a tart balsamic. Fantastic stuff.

A signature and must-try when at Gunther's, the Cold Angel Hair Pasta ($60), crowned with decadent pearls of oscietra caviar and dotted with truffle nubbins and chives, was insanely good. The aromatic bracing flavours was contrasted against the refreshing chill of the noodles.

The Roasted Carabinero Gambas ($55), simply seasoned with salt and pepper, highlighted its intense sweetness. This was sided by a mound of tomato risotto which was spiked with chili Monte Poro.

Another seasonal special fresh off the plane, was the Grilled Brittany Dover Sole ($150) served with seasonal vegetables and draped in a Hollandaise sauce. This may have been a little pricey but it tasted even better than it looked, and it was already gorgeous like a Monet. Also note that this was a half portion, as the kitchen thoughtfully split the hunky dory up for the Hubs and I.

The full monty, before splitsville and deboning. If I had to state a gripe, it'll be in respect of the deboning. It was, to say to least, disconcerting to still find 5 little bones embedded within the flatfish.

We also nibbled on French cheese throughout the dinner, and the Comte ($20) aged 36-months, boasted beautiful notes of buttery nuttiness. Also, not pictured here was an assortment of nuts and dried fruits, walnuts, macadamias, cashews, almonds, apricots as accoutrements.

The gut-busting dinner rounded off with a sweet flourish of complimentary petit fours, and even if we were ridiculously full, we inhaled these perfect little babies like ravenous depraved diners. 

Gunthers Modern French Cuisine
36 Purvis Street
#01-03 Talib Centre
Tel: 6338 8955
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 12noon to 3pm; 6.30pm to 10.30pm
Closed on Sundays
Website: www.gunthers.com.sg


Adam Road Food Centre

Adam Road Food Centre may be famous for its delicious nasi lemak peddlers, but the humble little hawker center has a bunch of other stalls worthy of a visit.

Warong Pak Sapari

The Mee Soto ($3.50) is one of the very best on the island, with a clear broth rich, heady and spicy all at once. Studded with shredded chicken chunks and beansprouts, this is a must-try. A tip is to drizzle that black sauce-chilli blend and swirl it in for an added kick. Apparently, their mee rebus is quite legendary as well, but alas, they'd sold out for the day when we popped by for dinner.


Adam's Indian Rojak

We don't eat Indian rojak very often, but Adam's Indian Rojak ($3 minimum order) sure is tempting. Items are thickly coated with a flour batter and deep-fried to perfection. A robust punchy sauce, redolent of nuts and sugar, lends a lively tone to the fried mains. A must-order is the tempe, which boasts beautifully nutty overtones.


Ibrahim Mee Stall

My pick of the mamak stalls here at Adam Road, the Nasi Goreng Ikan Bilis at Ibrahim Mee Stall ($4) is imbued with the char of a hot wok, every rice grain smoky and flavoursome. This was tasty on its own even without the ketchup strewn all over.

I prefer my noodles, and got the Bee Hoon Goreng Ikan Bilis ($4), which was similarly fragrant and delicious.



Redhill Market

Bear with me while I rant a little...

So I've noticed this phenomenon while dining at hawker centres: that only a minority of our people clear their tables after eating, and/or return their dirty dishes to the return-tray shelves. Oftentimes, it's only the Hubs and I, an anomaly in a hawker centre swarming with oafish louts, who leave our tables as clean as it was before we sat down.

We're baffled; why don't people clear up after themselves? The older generation, it's understandably forgiveable, but the younger set?! Especially those of my generation and younger (I'm referring to the millenials here). Don't the schools already impose a return-tray policy in the canteens???? Eating and then just walking off without clearing your table is such an atrociously lazy, uncultured and ungracious habit! I mean, do you not help clean up at home? (and if you say you've a maid, or worse still, mother, to do all that, I'm gonna want to tump you on the head a little)

There's a school of thought that "if we start clearing our plates, then what will the cleaners have to do? They'll be out of a job". Oh puh-lease. There's already a dearth of able-bodied persons willing to pick up the tedious mantle of a hawker center cleaner. We don't have enough people to do that, so we import foreign labour to do so. And if you think that you, the end user, aren't paying for such cleaning services, think again. In one way of another, direct or indirect, the salaries of these cleaners are borne by you. Do you think that paying for the cleaners aren't built into the cost overheads of these hawkers? The more you clean up after yourself, the less the need for cleaners, whose cost make the overheads these hawkers will have to bear, and so with lower overheads, the hawkers have more disposable income to either up the quality/quantity of food, be more inclined to continue operations, and/or resist inflation of their prices. Any way you see it, it's a good thing to clear your damn plates.

*okay, rant's over*

(thank you for reading)

So, we frequent Redhill Market quite a fair bit. It's a 15-minute drive from town, and being one of the oldest estates in Singapore, is teeming with good food. It may seem a morning breakfast-only spot, in light of its mature hinterland, but the stalls therein take turns opening, so a different set of stalls open in the afternoons and last through the night, while the famous porridge and fried chicken wing & economic noodle (yes, that very same one made ridiculously famous by PM Lee's visit) ones manage the daytime shift.

Fu Cheng Teochew Fishball Minced Meat Noodle

There are a couple of fishball noodle stalls, 2 of which are located directly opposite the other. So which one's better? My pick is Fu Cheng, for its more traditional flavours. 

A standard order is laden simply with fishballs, sliced fishcake and the obligatory minced pork ($3). The fishballs aren't the most outstanding, but the noodles are beautifully done, slicked with a punchy lively chilli-ed sauce.


Ringo Handmade Fishball Noodles

Ringo ($3) has better fishballs, but the noodles are doused with vinegar, which is jarring for fishball noodles. I like vinegar enlivening my bak chor mee, but it's just plain weird with my fishball noodles. 


Chong Pang Chicken Wing

Not the best chicken wings ($1.40 per pc) around (the Bedok Fengshan ones are the best), as these were lacking in heft and meat, but better than the subsequent one. 


Man Tian Xiang

The Chicken Wings ($1.20 per pc) here puny, dry, and insipid. Give this a hard pass.


Fu Ming Cooked Food

Their Carrot Cake ($3) may look innocuous, but holy crap was this glorious. It was wonderfully charred, with crispy bits dotting the soft nubbins of radish flour cake. A must-try here, and one of the best things about Redhill Market.


Hock Shun Traditional Home Made Curry

They specialise in one thing - curry, Chinese style, and it always sports a neverending queue. For good reason; the chicken curry ($4.50) served bubbling in a pre-heated claypot, is totally worth the 15-minute queue. Ask for the yellow tumeric rice, which is off the menu, but its fragrant coconutty undertones marry the robust creaminess of the curry brilliantly.


Green Sky Dessert

This stall is so hip, its sound systems blares out such hard techno you'd think you were in a club. The queues are long and windy, which isn't worth it, as the Cheng Tng ($1.60) was a little too saccharine though.


Mei Le Yuan

You're probably better off at the less crowded dessert stall, it's less flashy, and the Cheng Tng ($1.60) is a little more balanced.


Redhill Market
85 Redhill Lane


Joo Chiat Teochew Porridge (fka Teck Porridge)

(quick aside: pardono for the radio silence. I was out recuperating from a torn ligament, and then away travelling Down Under.)

I love Teochew porridge. It's just so damn difficult to find a good one. Oftentimes, the dishes are less than sparkling fresh, having been left out in the cold for hours on end. But then, there's Teck Porridge, a recent discovery of ours but apparently a stalwart in the Teochew porridge scene. Once a fixture of the Joo Chiat enclave, they uprooted to a hawker stall in the popular Old Airport Road Food Centre, before moving back East again, several blocks away from their original haunt, along East Coast Road. It's been quite the frenzied movement in just a short span of 2 years, and to draw its loyal-but-bewildered fans back, Teck Porridge has rebranded as "Joo Chiat Teochew Porridge".

Whatever its name, this is the best Teochew porridge place ever. The food here is impossibly fresh, with most dishes cooked to order, save for the braised items. Teochew porridge may have been born as peasant food, but Joo Chiat Teochew Porridge elevates it to an exquisite artform.

The Stewed Trotters, blanketed by salted vegetables, was fall-off-the-bone tender, robust but well-balanced, and given an uplifting crunch by the greens. One of the best renditions ever.

Salted Eggs, a comforting and classic accoutrement to plain white porridge.

The Braised Duck was smashing as well, luscious and sumptuous with nary a whiff of game.

The Braised Beancurd Skin was soft and chewy, with the braise steeped right through.

The Braised Peanuts were addictively delicious, rich but nuanced. Another must-try.

The Braised Cabbage was sweet and delicate, with carrots lending a beautiful crunch. Simplicity at its finest.

The stall facade. Right in front is an assortment of fresh seafood on ice, ready for the picking and cooked any way you like. I would suggest steaming it Teochew style, to highlight its unbelievable freshness.

Joo Chiat Teochew Porridge
394 East Coast Road
Tel: 9880 7932
Open Thursdays to Tuesdays from 10am to 10pm

Update March 2017: It's moved AGAIN to:
65 Frankel Ave
Tel: 9897 4477
Open Thursdays to Tuesdays from 11am to 9.30pm; Closed on Wednesdays
Facebook Website
Related Posts with Thumbnails