Wednesday, September 26, 2007

KTY et al just Gone Fishing


Philosophies can some times lead to the setting up of a cafe. Strange thing to say you might think. But it was so in this case of Gone Fishing- a small cafe with character.

Located in the sleepy neighbourhood of Hillview, Gone Fishing is the brainchild of husband and wife, Kenny and Mei Chin. They left the corporate world for a family-centred lifestyle.

This cafe exudes different vibes. It's friendly staff and laidback atmosphere offers warmth and comfort. Yet at the same time, it is peaceful enough for one to enjoy a good book/magazine, or just be with oneself. Time for work, time for bath, time for meals (If there's really such a thing.), time for sleep, time for friends, time for celebrations, time for loved ones, time for hobbies, time for pet, time for blah blah blah.

Hardly any time for self. Such is the plight of most of us especially in a fast-paced society. What happened to 'stop and smell the flowers'? Don't let NParks' efforts go down the lokang man.

On this visit, it was time for friends. After Colbar, KTY et al dropped by Gone Fishing for a drink.


My order of Ultimate Cooler ($5.80) was according to the menu 'a refreshing fruit based cooler with a kick!' This blended drink had a burst of flavours from tropical fruits, with pineapple and peach being more dominant. The interesting factor as that this drink had a slight salty aftertaste. It did well in sips but if gulped down in copious amounts, the salty tang was rather overdone. Still, it was a good thirst quencher with a refreshing, icy touch.

Gone Fishing
15 Chu Lin Road
Tel: 6762 9901
Opens: Wednesdays to Sundays, from 11.30am - 11.30pm
Closed: Mondays & Tuesdays (except for talks/special events)

Chew on This: Come on the last Thursday of every month to catch Farid perform his magic tricks from 8 to 10pm.


This jolly chap goes around mingling and performing tricks from table to table. Really entertaining! He magically reproduced a ball in my hand into two balls! Check out Trillusion Magic for details and to contact them for enquiries.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

KTY et al Heads to Colbar

I shall now start on what I would term the 'KTY series'- named after one of my poly lecturers whom I'm comfortable enough to call a friend. KTY is a very 'place person'. One who is interested in architecture, buildings and places, especially those that are of the past and even better if spiked with nostalgia. Unique, quiet places maketh this man.

On my side on the fence, I'm more of a 'food person' but I do like what the KTY series have done. Bringing me to food places, many of which are inaccessible to me without a car, and immersing me in the 'feeling of those old days'. It feels almost like some cultural cum educational trip! Pretty cool.

So far, for each trip, we have been to more than one place. But for the purpose of this blog (and to not overload me!), I'll post up on individual places. So note that not all of the places revolve around the 'unique, old building' theme.

For the first part of the KTY series, KTY et al headed to Colbar in Wessex Estate. This is another one of those places that I've heard about but have not visited. Upon reaching Colbar, I then realised that I had actually walked passed it before, when Marcus brought us to near-by Temasek Club, without even knowing!

Surrounded by trees and greenery, with hardly the presence of people walking around, this felt so unlike typical Singapore. Throw in the fact that there's no air-con and that feeling grows stronger.


Check out the electrical switches here! The last time I saw these were back in the old St. Andrew's Junior School at Woodsville, some 15 years ago.


The tiled flooring is characteristic of the 80s. The simple, sturdy wooden chairs and tables gave me the feeling that they have been in an old classroom. The wooden wall boards, window glass panels and the faded photographs that hang so proudly on the walls all added that charming touch of yesteryear. This sense of nostalgia, a la Anton Ego's first bite into the ratatouille in the movie of the same name, was magic.

Dinner that evening was Hainanese-styled Western food. Apparently when Singapore was still under British rule, many of the British had chefs that were Hainanese. Through this, the Hainanese chefs learnt British recipes and incorporated in their own touch, hence creating what is now locally known as 'Western food'. To be more politically correct, it's Hainanese-styled Western food.


KTY ordered the Ox Liver with Peas & Chips($10). I'm no big fan of liver but I decided to try a small bit. The one here had a nice beefy taste but the 'sandy' texture of liver that I dread hit me towards the end. Strange though that I am fond of Chinese-styled liver soup.


Hushie had the Pork Cutlet with Mushrooms & Chips ($9). The tender pork cutlets were fried to a glorious golden brown.


My Pork Chops with Mushrooms & Chips ($11) were a little tough. But I like the chips here which are deep-fried fat wedges of potatoes. Slightly soggy and hot, I could have eaten plates of these with the tasty generic sauce that they seemed to use for everything. Talk about the sauce, I can't exactly put a finger on what constitutes it but it's a bit like a milder version of Hainanese curry rice gravy that comprises curry and lor (stewed gravy).

Colbar is popular among the expatriate community, with some even bringing their dogs. Personally, I find the food that I've tasted here to be really average but the whole 'old-school' feeling of this place adds to the flavour. Definitely worth coming to grab a casual bite, relive the past and hang out in one of the few really rustic, laid-back places left in the concrete jungles of Singapore.


Colbar
9A Whitchurch Road
Wessex Estate
Tel: 6779 4859
Opens: 11am-10pm
Closed on Mondays

Chew On This: Colbar was originally located not far away from its present site but had to be torn down due to redevelopment plans. But thank God for the protesters who petitioned and eventually, Colbar was rebuilt on its current premises using the materials from the old building. So it's practically moving the entire Colbar from the old premise to the current one, brick by brick. So it seems that complaining does work!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

West-Side Lemak (Halal)

One should eat from more than one stall at a hawker centre. This I firmly believe in. So besides the prawn noodles, I queued up and tried the other famous stall here in Adam Road Food Centre- Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak.


$4 got me a Full House- a plate of nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk), sambal chilli, fried chicken wing, otak (grilled spicy fish paste in banana leaves), ikan bilis (anchovies), a fried egg and slices of cucumber. The rice used here is basmati rice, which had a soft, fluffy texture. This was my first time eating nasi lemak made with basmati rice. Interesting. But I think I still prefer my basmati rice in briyanni.

There was just a subtle taste of the coconut milk in the rice. So people looking for a strong blast of coconut milk, would probably find this one lacking in flavour. A pity though that the subtle flavour was killed by the sambal which was way too sweet for my liking.

Luckily, my taste buds found joy in the chicken wing which was deliciously-moist inside, well-marinated and had a crispy exterior to boot. A sure winner. Give me a Full House of these Chicken Wings man. Finger-licking good no?


Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak
Adam Road Food Centre
Stall 2
2 Adam Road
Opens: 6.30am to 10pm
Tel: 9843 4509 (Mr Hassan)

Chew On This: This nasi lemak is literally fit for kings. Apparently, the Sultans of Johore and Brunei like this nasi lemak enough to have their butlers packed it back to their residences.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

To the West for Prawn Mee

Mention Prawn Mee (noodles) to anyone in Singapore and one of the more well-known stalls that roll of the tongue is Noodle Cheng Adam Road Prawn Noodle. So I have to admit that I went down with rather high expectations of prawn glory...


Only to have been thrown back to earth.

I ordered the dry version of Prawn Mee ($4 for small) which came with a few halves of de-shelled prawns, sliced lean pork and a few wisps of kang kong. The prawns were miserable and far from prawn glory. Perhaps I had ordered the wrong choice. But I did enjoy the tasty slices of lean pork and even though the kang kong was just a few strands, I enjoyed its crunch. Few stalls add kang kong now and even fewer are generous with it.

I can't help but comment on the sauce that came with the dry noodles. It's just too sweet with plenty of ketchup. The same can also be said of the accompanying bowl of soup sans the ketchup. It seemed diluted and the over-powering sweetness of rock sugar just didn't do it for me.

I have to say that on the whole, while this isn't shockingly-good for me, it was decent enough for a normal bowl of prawn mee. I'll gladly remain in the east for now.


Noo Cheng Adam Road Prawn Noodle
Adam Road Food Centre
Stall 27
2 Adam Road
Opens: 9.15am to 4pm
6.30pm to 2am

Chew On This: It's been rumoured that this stall serves Crab Mee, with one whole crab, at night though I can't confirm this. Anyone?

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Miss Clarity


It seems that the images of stick girls and bright multi-coloured theme have attracted many. And so have the affordably-priced fare.


I opted to make my pasta a set meal by adding $3. This means that I get to pick a soup/salad, a drink and a dessert of the day. The salad was pretty normal. Mainly composed of iceberg lettuce and shredded carrots, I like the few sprigs of watercress that added a bit more flavour. Dressing was Thousand Island, not exactly my favourite but that's just my preference.


For the drink, I had iced barley. They claimed that it was homemade and after the first sip, I wholeheartedly agree. With just the right sweetness and without the gooey sludge that sometimes end up at the bottom after long periods of boiling, the barley here was simple and good. Yes, there are bad barleys out there.


This pasta really enticed me on the menu and so when it arrived, I was equally excited. Oxtail and Squid in Black Ink ($14.90) sounds good ya? The linguine could be a little firmer but the mix of oxtail, squid and black ink was delicious. The oxtail had been braised till soft and tender while the squid was done right without being overly-chewy or squishy. There wasn't much of the squid ink though and I couldn't taste it either.


On this visit, the dessert of the day was mango sorbet. This, for me, was a bit of a disappointment as I found it lacking in flavour. But at $3 for the addition of a salad, an iced barley and a mango sorbet, I don't think I should expect too much. It's already valued-for-money.

The bright colours and cute design of the cafe may seem girly (and it is) but Miss Clarity does a good job of providing a cheerful place with relatively decent food at pocket-friendly prices. The splashes of pink, green, yellow and blue add a dose of colour-therapy to uplift tired, grumpy moods. No pills required, thank you.


Miss Clarity Cafe
5 Purvis Street (other branches at Upper Thomson and Tanjong Katong)
#01-04
Tel: 6339 4803
Opens: Mondays to Saturdays 11am - 11pm
Public Holidays 11am - 11pm
Closed on Sundays
*Reservations recommended

Chew On This: The cafe is named after the neice of the owner. Now I wonder what about those images of stick girls...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Food Blogger's Annual Dinner 2007 @ le papillon


Blogging is never easy. It takes time, effort and discipline. Food blogging, or flogging, is even less easier. But we press on, holding the urge to eat before taking the photos to share our food experiences with all out there. The numbers of floggers have been increasing too. Last year, a group of 16 floggers met up at Sage for the Food Blogger's Annual Dinner. This year, a total of 31 of us made the event. And I'm happy to be one of them.


The Food Blogger's Annual Dinner 2007 was held at Le Papillon in the Red Dot Museum. The whole building is painted in an arresting red but I'm thankful the interior of the restaurant wasn't. It had a clean, modern feel with plain-coloured walls and large glass windows. The beautiful motifs on selected walls added charm while dangling bulbs of light on one side of the restaurant gave off a warm glow. Not to mention, the bulbs became almost hazardous as a few people decided to gain enlightenment.


I was excited to meet many new people but regretted not being able to speak to everyone due to the large numbers. Now, I can finally put more faces to the blogs I read. And also discover new food blogs. A pity Chubby Hubby was overseas.

Dinner started with warm bread rolls and whipped swirls of butter. Both the multigrain and the white rolls were nicely soft and weren't too dense. This rolls were like God-sent especially for cleaning plates.


A spoon with the Chef's signature Feta and Pesto on Watermelon served as amuse bouche. The taste from this was a really good mix of flavours- creamy, salty feta cheese, herby, savoury pesto and juicy sweet watermelon. Big flavours for such a small cube.


Then came the cold appetiser of Hokkaido Scallop Carpaccio and Barracuda Fish Mousse with Miso Cream. I found the thinly-sliced scallop a tad fishy but nothing too repulsive in the 'unfresh' sense. The mousse with miso cream tasted light and a welcome crunch from the French bean imparted subtle sweetness.


Soup that night was Jasmine Tea Perfumed Duck Consomme made with Fiji Water Foie Gras Tortellini. The first spoonful of this consomme jolted my taste buds. There was a slight floral nuance followed by duck essence but the taste on the whole was very clean. This could be due to the use of Fiji Water.


The people over at Fiji Water were very generous and kind to sponsor the night's water as well as provide a bottle each in every goodie bag.


For the hot appetiser, we had Escargot with Herb-Garlic Butter Crust on Button Mushroom Gratinee Parsley Oil and Arugula Salad. This was delicious with the appetite-whetting herb-garlic butter proving too good to waste as a few people started mopping up the liquid with the bread rolls. More about mopping later. I like the fact that the fresh button mushroom wasn't cooked till mushy and soft. It held its own, with a firm texture and an earthy taste.


Due to dietary preference, the Chef specially prepared Grilled Avocado with Goat's Cheese and Nuts for Mia instead of the escargot. This piece was courtesy of Mia. I'm not a fan of avocado but this one here was warm, creamy and had a nice salty touch from the cheese. It tasted pretty good from a non-avocado fan's point of view.


This pasta blew me away. Another of Chef Anderson's signatures, the Rigatoni Pasta Tossed in Crustacean Oil, Tiger Prawn, Shaved Bottarga and Parmesan Cheese was easily my favourite dish of the dinner. The solo Tiger prawn was succulent and paired well with the sharp Parmesan and baby spinach. The single shaving of Bottarga, a cured fish roe (thanks to Wikipedia), imparted soft savoury notes.


The firm Rigatoni tubes that held delicious crustacean oil in their hollows drove me mad... because there's only five of them! The crustacean oil was truly yummy. I had to get another two bread rolls to clean the plate.


Looks like my mopping skills aren't too bad. This shot seemed to have fascinated the manager as well as those at my table. Too delicious lah.


While I was still licking any remaining crustacean oil from my lips, the Char-Grilled King George Whiting Fillet with Toasted Mustard Seeds and Saffron-Tomato Sauce made its appearance at the table. The colours of this dish looked really cheery. Unfortunately, I didn't quite take to this dish. The delicate fillet was soft but seemed lacking in flavour or perhaps my crustacean-oil-primed taste buds have yet to return from heaven. The tomato was too tart for my liking and similarly, I couldn't taste any mustard influence on the fish. Could the crustacean oil be the King George whiting's curse?


A Blood Orange Sorbet was then served to cleanse the palate. This sorbet was wonderfully sweet and fragrant and had an almost syrupy edge to it.


For mains (yes, like after six courses), we were served a Slow-Cooked Oxtail in Feuille de Brik Parcel with Truffle Butter and Jus Gras. This looked really interesting.


The thin parcel contained super tender oxtail which broke up into fibres upon tearing the parcel with my fork and knife. My only gripe was that the parcel was a little too oily. While I wasn't impressed with the truffle butter, I certainly was with the jus gras. It was a powerfully flavoursome sauce.


At the end of the meal, the Passion Fruit Symphony, a dessert of Souffle, Creme Brulee and Macaroon provided a sweet (and sour) touch. Passion fruit was the main ingredient and flavour of all three items. I like the creme brulee even as the custard was more like wobbly tofu in texture. The tartness of the passion fruit countered any sugary sweetness.

The macaroon was a small cube of sponge cake sandwiched between two macaroon shells. I overheard someone urging another to pop the whole thing in his mouth. Out of curiosity, I did the same. I was surprised that the normally very sweet macaroon shells were tamed by the sponge cake which packed a sourish tang.

As for the souffle, it was served in the hollowed-out shell of the passion fruit. Pleasantly light and airy, I hardly felt it enter my stomach. Overall, desserts were nothing really to shout about. I have to admit that their small servings were a good move. Not because the desserts were bad but rather they would have been boring as they tasted relatively similar. Only their texture differentiated each one.


After desserts, tea was served. Everyone had a choice of tea to pick from a wooden box containing an assortment. Tea was sponsored by Premier. I chose the Marsala Chai and drank it without sugar. Primarily a black tea, it was rich and had slightly spicy notes.


For wines, I had an Australian GSM, German Riesling Kabinett and Australian Tokay thanks to Zhi, June and Ivan respectively. This was my first brush with Tokay (pictured above). It was rich, had a honeyed bouquet and tasted intensely of raisins.


Towards the end, the Chef in Shining Armour, Chef Anderson, brought out and introduced his kitchen team to much applause. I have to hand it to them. It's certainly no joke having to toil in the kitchen over an eight-course dinner for 31 people. The fact that the people are food bloggers and that it was the Food Blogger's Annual Dinner would have only added more stress. So here's a big thank you to Chef Anderson and his kitchen team for the fantastic food. Not forgetting the Maitre'd and his wait staff for their generally good service too. And on the topic of service, I personally find that the service here could be more polished and attentive. Such a place deserves it.


Besides the food and company, the lucky draw also added an element of fun and excitement. Thanks to our very generous and kind sponsors, prizes included a Les Amis dining voucher, a Mario Batali cast iron pot and a saute pan, $200 Cathay Photo vouchers, a Spyder (not those eight-legged creatures but the monitor calibrating gadget), cooking class vouchers, cook books, 2 a.m. dessert bar vouchers, a 10-inch err knife from Razorsharp among others.

I was secretly hoping for the Les Amis voucher which later went to Leslie, the Mario Batali cast iron pot which went to Ivan, the saute pan which went to Mia while the Razorsharp knife which went to Cheryl. But I still feel equally blessed to have won a pair of cooking class vouchers (sponsored by www.yum.sg) at the upcoming Singapore Sun Festival. I'm excited about this as it'll be my first formal cooking class. I do cook but it's been from helping out in the kitchen from young as well as inspirations from eating out, watching cooking shows, recipes and basically learning from experience. I'll sure to be blogging more about the cooking class to be held at the Corriander Leaf after attending it next month.

Finally, a big thank you to June for all the hard work and planning that went into organise this dinner. Fantastic job!! I can't wait for next year's.

After dinner, I managed to catch Ratatouille with Ivan, Daphne, Colin and Yixiao at Orchard Cineleisure. But not before a round of hot yuanyang, iced holicks, iced milk tea, iced milo and iced yuanyang at Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe to pass time. Although it was my first time meeting Daphne, Yixiao and Colin, we chatted away comfortably and the one hour plus flew by really quickly. Foodie chemistry was certainly in the air. As for the show, it was pretty entertaining even at 1.30am!


Le Papillon
28 Maxwell Road
#01-02 Red Dot Traffic Building
Tel: 6327 4177
Opens: 12 to 2.30pm (Mondays to Fridays)
6.30 to 10.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays)
Closed on Sundays

Chew On This: Le Papillon is French for 'the butterfly'. And I sincerely wish that Le Papillon will take off to greater heights. So please drop by and check out this cool place.