Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Swiss or German? Whack la!

Tired from shopping or just need a satisfying perk-me-up? I know coffee comes to mind but who can resist sausages?!

Not me. And I found myself snacking on these sausages from Swiss German Sausage Bar over at Takashimaya basement. The Sausage Platter Set Meal ($13) comes with Pork Bockworst, French Garlic Chicken, Muncher Weisswurst with Mashed Potato, Sauerkraut and Soft Drink plus either a Salad of the Day, Soup or Dessert.

The Soup (Clam chowder) that visit was really average. So I shall just skip to the sausages.

These beauties had a slightly oily coat on their taut skins that snapped firmly upon each bite. Before I sound like some sicko in Hostel or Saw... I am talking about sausages! The herbs within the sausages could actually be tasted and none were excessively salty. A pity that the sides of mashed potato and sauerkraut were rather stingy portion-wise.

Swiss German Sausage Bar
Ngee Ann City
(outside Cold Storage)

Chew On This: If you need something more substantial, you might wanna consider the pasta place opposite them. It's under the same management and you can order and sit at either.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Sweet Potato Specialist

Before the Chinese New Year ends, I thought it would be apt to have a post with an orange theme- the colour, not the fruit, that is.

The only sweet potato snack specialist in Singapore that I know, The Sweet Potato Place, kindly sent this hungry cow some vouchers to sample their offerings. Although the food items were provided at no charge, there were no strings attached and thehungrycow is not inclined to do any publicity for them in exchange. But after tasting their food, I think I ought to share my experience about their delicious sweet potatoes and to also provide some form of feedback to the stall.

The Mashed Sweet Potato ($2) brought to mind the popular Teochew dessert, Orh Nee (yam paste). Soft, warm and sweet, it had a coarser, slightly drier texture which was a refreshing change to the usually smooth (read oily) Orh Nee. The coconut milk on top gave it added richness in the mouth.

For a healthier alternative to French fries, try the Sweet Potato Fries ($2). Healthier because sweet potato is nutritionally more enriched than potato. But being deep-fried, it probably has the same side-effects (making people grow side-ways). The batter was a bit too thick for my liking but otherwise, it was yummy! Another interesting take on the normal fries.

Sweet Potato Rolls ($2) look like the the usual springrolls but with a sweet potato filling inside. Eat them quick when the golden skin is still crisp as it turns a bit stodgy after a while.

The filling inside seems to be purely mashed sweet potato. It would be interesting to see what a small pat of butter and some paprika or cinammon would do in the filling.

For those who prefer to slurp up their carbos, The Sweet Potato Place also offers a range of milkshakes- Sweet Potato Milkshakes of course. Opting for the original flavour ($3), the sweet potato taste was unmistakable but seemed to clash with the milk. I didn't quite take to this although some of my friends seemed to enjoy it. Maybe smoothies would work better for me.

Lastly, the main star of the stall would have to be the Roasted Sweet Potato ($1.25/100g). I was told the tubers are all imported from Taiwan before being slowly roasted in ceramic ovens here. The roasted sweet potatoes were moist, sweet and had a lovely aroma. A pity that there wasn't any of that smokey hint that one gets from charcoal-barbequed sweet potatoes. Perhaps smoking them with woodchips would result in an added flavour/aroma dimension.

Do what I did and pop the sweet potatoes into the oven for a more intense sweetness and caramelisation. Delicious!

The Sweet Potato Place (other branch in Lau Pa Sat)
Suntec City Mall
Tel: 6235 7303
Delivery: 6742 1212

Chew On This: Sweet potatoes are a rich source of nutrients, providing complex carbohydrates, vitamins A, Bs, C and E, beta carotene, iron, calcium and dietary fibre! And they contain zero fat and no cholesterol. In addition, because of its low glycemic index, it keeps one satiated for a longer time. Sweet potatoes- what a powerhouse food!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Fragrant Pasta

Before there was Pasta de Waraku, there was Pasta Cafe. For many years it has occupied a corner in the basement of Ngee Ann City Shopping Centre, more commonly known as Takashimaya. And for that many years, it evaded me.

What used to be dim and countryside-cottage-cozy has now been refurbished to spot a modern, trendy look with an air of casualness.

It was somehow because of trying to sell my stuff at Lime Flea Market that I found myself and Jenny here for lunch on Saturday. Hungry, we promptly sent in our orders.

We shared a Soup of the Day (S.O.D. in the menu) which was Minestrone. At $3, it was one of the more satisfying soups around. I loved its tomatoey richness and the chockfull of soft vegetables lurking beneath was a delight.

Jenny (Q.O.B in the League) ordered the Scallop Cream Pasta ($15.90). I took a mouthful of the pasta and found it too soft for my liking. The cream sauce was also flat with not much of a taste. On the other hand, they were rather generous with the scallops.

My Genovese ($12.90) consisted of spaghetti tossed in basil, olive oil and accompanied by potato cubes and French beans. While the pasta was similarly too over-cooked for my preferrence, the rest of this dish simply shone. The basil and olive oil combination was aromatic and superbly fragrant. Small blocks of starchy potatoes contrasted nicely with the crunchy French beans while the small cubes of tomato added a bit of acid. Delicious.

I had a relatively simple pasta lunch with zero meat (and everybody go WHAT?? How can???). Even I was surprised.

To end off the meal, we shared the Strawberry Shortcake ($2.62). It was light and just slightly sweet with the bit of tartness of the strawberries balancing out the cream. No guilty feelings after eating this light and yummy cake. In fact it reminded me of another strawberry shortcake here.

The food here at Pasta Cafe isn't exactly what I would term cheap. But as with most things, cheap is relative. The Minestrone and Strawberry Shortcake certainly were worth it! As for the mains, I have heard that Pasta de Waraku offers decent pastas at more competive prices. I haven't been there so no comments. That I'll leave for another meal, for another time.

PS: Perhaps it would be good to inform the wait staff of your choice of pasta and to request to have it less-cooked.

Pasta Cafe
Ngee Ann City Shopping Centre
Tel: 6734 1638
Opens: 11am - 10pm daily with last orders at 9.30pm

Chew On This: Sign up for the Pokka Food Gourmet Card and get a 10% discount here and not to mention a 20% discount on visits in your birthday month!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year!

Thehungrycow wishes all a Happy Chinese New Year!! I don't bother about what they say about the year of the rat. In Christ, I know everything is going to work out perfect.

Tuck into steamboat, chomp on Bak Kwa, love letters, pineapple tarts and have fun peeling mandarin oranges!

May you and your loved ones have abundance and be in good health! Huat ah!!!(Prosper!!!)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Spicy, Numbing & Oh-So-Comforting Mala

With Chinese New Year just round the corner, steamboats will be a constant feature. And sometimes there is nothing like a pot of mala to spice the good ol' steamboat up.

After coming in 3rd place in the Amazing Grace last Decemember, Holy Communion Beta was rewarded with a $300 voucher from The Chinese Feast. And loving the mala here, I was more than happy with this bonus. Sunday lunch was about $19.90++ per person.

Mala is essentially a potent brew of many, many spices. Sze Chuan peppercorns give it a numbing sensation. The version in Taiwan differs from that in Chong Qing. And it was in Taiwan many, many years ago that I first tasted and fell in love with mala. That love in the family soon blossomed to our own mala restuarant in Prinsep and later to food courts in Scotts and Clifford. But I digress.

The appetiser of orange noodles was delicious. Slightly chilled with hints of sesame oil and a springy texture, it made for good eating.

Being an ala carte buffet, there was a wide array of dishes to order for the steamboat. Beef, chicken, pork, fish, prawns, wanton, liver, beancurd, yam, lotus roots, fish glue (essentially fish paste) etc etc. Both meat and veggie lovers would like the assorted variety.

Four sauces were offered to dip your food in. I would recommend mixing the sesame oil and sesame-peanut paste (both at the bottom of above pic). You can tell I'm a sesame oil freak already. It addes a nice savoury dimension to the cooked items from the mala pot. Besides, it calms the tongue a bit from all that spiciness too.

But for more chilli-dousing, order the free-flow of Iced Ba Bao Cha (Eight Treasure Tea) at $4 per person. Iced cold with a lightly herbal and pleasant bitterness, this is great for a hot day or a hot (in the spicy sense) pot.

For those who prefer their teas hot, the Ba Bao Cha can also be served hot. Hot water straight from a long-spout kettle into the cup makes an interesting talking point...and photo.

As a complimentary side, each person was served one Guo Tie (potsticker)...

One Xiao Long Bao (small meat dumpling)...one Fried Mantou (Chinese bun) which I forgot to take a photo of...

And one each of the Nian Gao (glutinous cake) and Water Chestnut Jelly. Out of these four items, I particularly like the Water Chestnut Jelly (in the background of above pic). It was cooling, had small bits of crunchy water chestnuts and just subtly sweet. Perfect way to end the fiery meal.

I still think The Chinese Feasts' mala is one of the best around in Singapore in terms of taste, ambience/comfort and value (for lunch). I so miss Just Numbling Hot.

The Chinese Feasts- Chong Qing Hot Pot @ Suntec
Suntec City Mall Fountain Terrace
Tel: 6337 6921/6337 3921
Opens: 12 – 3pm (lunch)
: 6 – 11pm (dinner)

Last Orders : 2pm (lunch)
: 10pm (dinner)

Closed: Lunch of Chinese New Year's Eve & First day of Chinese New Year

Chew On This: Some people may get the runs after eating mala. This is not an hygiene issue but rather the spices and herbs that go into the soup. Detox anyone?