Friday, September 26, 2008

15 Cents Yong Tau Foo!

I was watching the presidential debate between Barrack Obama and John McCain for a bit. One pushed for a cut-back on spending while the other wanted to reform spending. With the recent turmoil and uncertainty in the US financial sector, which will have an impact on global markets, it is no wonder some Singaporeans are tightening their belts.

Thankfully, tightening of belts does not mean giving up eating altogether, though the reverse is almost always true. A stall in Bedok South sells Yong Tau Foo at 15 cents a piece! With inflation and blah blah blah, it's amazing to find such prices.

Cheap but sucky food should be avoided. Fortunately, the Yong Tau Foo here is rather decent. The spread includes many favourites such as tofu stuffed with fish paste, cuttlefish, fishball, stuffed ladies finger, fried yam, fried wanton, fried brinjal, kang kong, fishcake etc. The items are relatively fresh and you won't get them pea-sized despite the 15-cents tag. The soup is robustly savoury with the goodness of soy beans and anchovies. But don't gulp down the whole bowl, it could leave you thirsty. MSG I (won't be surprised) hope not.

Seven items plus noodles = $1.50
Per piece = 15 cents (minimum $1.50)
Rice = 30 cents
Noodles = 40 cents
Laksa gravy = 50 cents

$1.50 Per Bowl Yong Tau Foo
Blk 16 Bedok South Market & Food Centre

Chew On This: Cos it doesn't get any lower than 15 cents!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Younger Petit Salut

Good (food) memories are often difficult to replicate especially with inconsistent cooking. That is why I am thankful for places like Au Petit Salut. Even after shifting to Dempsey, its food and service has retained their standards. While the flagship restaurant is at Dempsey, a bistro has opened in its previous place.

And I am glad to report that Bistro Petit Salut, like its full-fledged restaurant brother, has good food. At the bistro, the popular 3-course set lunch costs $25 and the menu states that there is strictly no sharing. Hey, I don't think a 1.5-course set lunch is very enticing. But I would order a set for each person and gladly share the food around. More fun that way too.

Moving on to lunch!

Warm bread was served freeflow, which is always a good thing as I tend to be hungry each time I visit the Petit Saluts. Besides, delicious sauces need to be mopped up badly.

One of my favourite starters here is the 1/2 Dozen Baked Escargots with Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic Butter. To be honest, it's not so much the escargot but the . I LIKE the garlic butter which coats the palate with an incredible slick fragrance and salty-savouriness. The cherry tomato comes in to add a burst of acidity, preparing the palate for the next round of garlic butter.

Pop one escargot with the melted garlic butter onto a piece of bread and you'll be thankful you didn't snub the bread.

The other starter we tried was the Seared Baby Bay Scallops with Cocktail Potatoes, Shallot Vinaigrette. The baby scallops were really small but tender and maybe hence the name. Certainly a dish with very light and clean flavours.

For mains, the Provencal-styled Slow Braised Pork Ribs in Tomato and White Wine, Gratinated in Mixed Herbs offered meltingly tender meat in a rich and hearty tomato and herb sauce. A great dip for french fries!

My usual choice of main course here is the Seared Onglet Beef with French Fries "Cafe de Paris". With the exterior just slightly charred and with a medium-rare pink inside, it's difficult to hate it. For me, I just love it. The meat can be relatively tough but the sweet beefy flavour keeps me loving it.

Finally, desserts- a sweet ending to some people and THE main course for others. The Homemade Baked Cheesecake with a Scoop of Sorbet arrived at the table promptly. The cheesecake was ordinary and I was more happy with the sorbet which was refreshing.

The other dessert that we ordered is the Mixed Tropical Fruit Crumble Infused with Vanilla Beans. Hot crumble is always nice especially when spiced or flavoured with vanilla. This one had quite a distinct pineapple taste in its tropical fruit filling. The small pile of chopped fruits at the side was flavoured with mint which I thought didn't go very well with the crumble.

Oh well, lucky I don't live on desserts. Give me cow. Give me cow.

Coffee/tea rounded up the leisurely lunch. Yes, leisurely lunches like this is definitely one of life's small pleasures.

Bistro Petit Salut
44 Jln Merah Saga
Tel: 6474 9788
Opens: 11.30am-14.30pm
Closed: Sundays

Chew On This: Citibank card holders enjoy a 4-course set dinner at $48!

Monday, September 15, 2008

4 + 3 = 2+ 2 + 2

Not that the numbers don't add up but that 4 guys and 3 girls had 2 pastas, 2 pizzas and 2 desserts. To celebrate Tricia's birthday, a few of us headed to Da Paolo Pizza Bar for a light lunch.

Even with a bit of cream, lunch remained light thanks to the tangy tomato that balanced it out. The Cannelloni Della Casa ($17) was a pasta dish with bechamel, tomato and chicken. It tasted a little flat and the pasta could do with a bit more bite.

On the other hand (and plate), the Lasagna Alla Bolognese ($18) had a rich beefy flavour. Melted cheese, bits of beef and a tomato sauce between sheets of pasta is definitely a good thing.

First pizza to arrive at the table was the Pizza Gorgonzolla E Cipolle Caramellate ($20). The 9-inch pizza spotted a nice thin crust and was topped with gorgonzola, mozzarella, caramelized onions and fresh baby spinach. I didn't quite fancy the combination of flavours. The gorgonzola was weak while the caramelized onions gave a bitter-ish burnt aftertaste that lingered. I'll prefer a simple Magherita with just tomatoes, cheese and basil, thank you.

Thankfully the Pizza Rucola, Prosciutto E Scaglie Di Parmagiano ($22) was much, much better. There was a good amount of tangy tomato paste which married the savoury parma ham, sharp rocket leaves and flavourful parmesan. Yum.

The desserts we tried were also a bit of a hit and miss. The Crostata Al Limone ($10), a lemon meringue tart, had an overly citric lemon curd. I didn't take to the meringue too which was like soft and fluffy sweetened egg white beaten to a foam. Its blow-torched surface did little to save it.

The Tiramisu ($10) was decent enough. Booze-soaked sponge fingers with luscious mascarpone sat below a crust of chocolate shavings.

It was a rare day to be able to celebrate two friends' birthdays (one each for lunch and dinner), attend a champagne tasting at Whitebait & Kale and play an hour or so of pool. Now it's back to work. Sigh.

Happy Birthday Tricia!

Da Paolo Pizza Bar
44, Jalan Merah Saga,
#01-46, Chip Bee Gardens (Holland Village)
Tel: 6479 6059

Chew On This: Check out the strip of white and brown cow hide that covers the ceiling and a wall! I'm intimidated.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Steak Lovers Association September Dinner

It was a cool, gloomy evening. The rain pattered down as if trying to deter hungry folks from the meeting place. It was in vain as the stomach is a very strong organ with a very strong will.

The occasion was the 3rd SLA (Steak Lovers Association) Dinner at The French Stall. The SLA was just started a few months ago and a causal group of steak-lovers aimed to meat once a month for steak. While the SLA sounds like some government organisation, embassy staff aside, it was not. But it does seem to give the impression of serious cow-hunting, beef-chewing folks. After this dinner, I suspect the SLA is just an excuse to meet up for a steak meal. Doesn't matter so much if it's a tenderloin or ribeye, wet-aged or dry-aged. It's all about simple enjoyment. And I'm enjoying it.

Going for the Executive Sirloin Set ($25.80), the meal started with a French Onion Soup. Ah yes... Cool evening, warm soup. Certainly made good sense. The melted mozzarella cheese on the slices of baguette floating atop the soup was a nice touch though I would have preferred a more robust-tasting soup.

The sirloin was nicely done, with grill marks, to my requested medium-rare but was relatively sinewy and thus needed more chewing. The flavour of the beef was mild. Maybe that's why they served it with a sauce. Speaking of which, the black pepper sauce was quite different here. It had a more creamy feel to it than the pungent spicy versions elsewhere. Do request for your sauce to be served separately so you can actually taste the beef first.

On the side of the steak was an utterly delicious serving of sauteed potato slices. Rosemary and butter maketh THE potato. Amen.

For dessert, the Special Dark Chocolate Cake was brought to the table. It was soft, moist and had a texture of a spongecake-souffle combination. A light dessert to end the meal but I can't help it....more chocolate please!

Thanks Thomas for putting together this dinner (and for the above group photo) and it was great to meet you guys! Till the next one then and hopefully there will be no corkage so we can BYO wines. I knew something was dearly missing.

If you like steaks, do join us for the next one in October!

The French Stall
544 Serangoon Road
Tel: 6299 3544
Opens: 3pm-10pm (Tuesdays to Sundays)
Closed: Mondays

Chew On It: Spend an average of $40 per person and you'll get to enjoy a 1 hr body massage from only $35 nett. This offer is from My Tulip, a massage shop opposite The French Stall. Pretty creative leveraging, if you ask me.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Japanese Pasta & Pizza

Having (two) classes on Saturdays sucks. But it gave the MinorE folks a chance to meet up and of course have dinner afterwards.

So Sandy, Shah, Tricia and myself (Dindson joined later with a friend *winks*) ended up at Shokudo.

Bright and cheery- both the place and us, we placed our orders and waited eagerly hungrily.

First to arrive was the Hokkaido-Style Curry Mashed Potato Cheese Pizza ($10.80). It smelt like heaven to a group of hungry souls. Tonnes of melted cheese tangled with warm mashed potato and seasoned with Japanese curry on a slightly doughy base, it was delicious!

The other starter we shared was the Tori Isobe Age ($5.80) or otherwise deep-fried chicken pieces with seaweed. It proved to be more gimmicky and seemed like those frozen stuff out from a bag.

Moving on to the pastas, Sandy's Salmon Avocado Carbonara ($8.80) looked interesting. I had a small bite and found it (the pasta) voluptous. In fact, too voluptous. Everything was too heavy and rich for me.

The next two pastas I did not try so here's visual commentary. :)

Shah's Soft Shell Crab Tempura ($8.80).

Tricia's Pork Curry Pasta ($8.80).

This was my order of Omelette Pasta in Wafu Tomato Sauce ($7.80). The sauce was tangy and the most comforting part was the tasty, soft scrambled eggs that topped the pasta. I wish for more of those bacon bits though.

There's something about Japanese-style pastas and pizzas that's alluring and it certainly is a pairing that works. I wonder if Nona will take to this.

CityLink Mall
Tel: 6341 9542

Chew On This: Shokudo offers a student special, so flash that student card!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Sunday Dim Sum

After church yesterday, to get away from the maddening COMEX crowd, we decided to head to Shaw Tower for lunch. The place? Ah Yat Seafood.

It was my second visit. The first was a Mother's Day seafood lunch with my grandparents that was dismal due to bad recommendations by a lady Captain and below average food. I didn't feel that it was justifiable to invest time and efforts to blog about it.

Praise the Lord for their dim sum! It was much better.

A dim sum favourite, Har Gao ("Ah Yat" Steamed Shrimp Dumpling on the menu) went for $3.80 for a bamboo basket of four dumplings. The skin wasn't too thick nor thin till it broke easily. It was supple and slightly chewy, encasing a fresh mix of lightly-marinated chopped prawns. Really surprisingly good.

The other dim sum staple, Siew Mai (Steamed Fish Roe "Siew Mai" on the menu) ($3.80 for 4 pieces), was also delicious. The ones here contained more prawns and thus were more 'seafoody' than porky.

For those who like something sweet, the Steamed Pumpkin Dumpling with Custard ($3.20 for 3 pieces) would be ideal. I found the skin to be a tad thick and gummy for my liking but overall, it was still interesting with it's sweet custard feeling filling.

A popular choice in most dim sum places by now, the XO Pan-Fried Carrot Cake ($6) was also available here. With an 'XO' in its name, I had expected more oomph. More XO sauce and a longer time in the pan please.

A big favourite of mine to have when eating dim sum is chicken legs which are elevated to the more sophisticated-sounding Phoenix Claws. Don't think Harry Potter. The Steamed Chicken Claw with Homemade Sauce ($3.20) was decent but otherwise nothing to shout about.

It's partner in crime, Steamed Pork Ribs with Black Bean Sauce, was tender but could do with more black beans. Ahh...the appetite that black beans can invoke!

For a bit of starch, we ordered a serving of Steamed Glutinous Rice with Lotus Leaf ($3.80 for 3 pieces). The sticky grains with corn kernels, salted egg yolk and a bit of meat was delicious with a slight fragrance from the lotus leaf. Marketing people are right....It's all about packaging!!

Sick of seeing the word 'steamed' yet? No fear as dim sum has its share of fried goodies. The Deep-Fried Beancurd Roll with Seaweed ($3.80 for 3 pieces) was a fine example. A crisp skin with succulent prawn (I think) filling gave a very fresh taste.

My Sis had to have this. A fan of Steamed Ricesheet Roll with "You Tiao" ($4.50), she declared it was good. And good it was. Ultra crunchy deep-fried dough fritters wrapped with smooth steamed ricesheet roll and placed in a pool of salty-savoury light sauce, it made the table silent for a while. A moment of quiet savouring.

Another calorific dish, the Deep-fried Scallop in Yam Paste ($3.80 for 3 pieces) had barely-there scallops but was no less yummy.

For a little more starch (yes, I like my carbos), we ordered the Braised Ee Fu Noodle with Mushrooms ($12). It was tasty but unfortunately the noodles were insufficiently braised, rendering them a little hard. !@#$%

As snacks, the Deep-Fried Silver Fish ($4.80) was delicious. It came with two dips too- sweet sauce and sesame paste.

Although being in a seafood restaurant, we could have skipped the seafood that day but Dad seemed to have a craving...for shellfish. And soon the Big Head Mussel ($12.60 for 700g) stir-fried with small chilli appeared at the table. I didn't exactly take to this dish though it was fresh but the rest of the family seemed to have really enjoyed it. Give me beef man. :p

Because the Peking Duck ($38) had a promotion and because we are true-blooded Singaporeans and because we couldn't let the duck die in vain, we went ahead to try it. The skin wasn't crisp and the wait staff had sliced off too much fat with the skin. Disappointing. But at least the duck meat was flavourful albeit fatty.

I like the freshness of the dim sum here. Comfortably refined but nothing too stuffy. Btw, recommendations and service can make or break a meal. Approach David, the Supervisor, for a good meal.

And yes. Something tells me it's time for mooncakes.

Ah Yat Seafood
Shaw Leisure Gallery (Shaw Tower)
Tel: 6299 3773

Chew On This: Enjoy a 50% discount on dim sum and live seafood on weekdays and 30% off on weekends. The prices above do not reflect the discounts. Do call to enquire more.