Monday, March 29, 2010

The Republic of Steak

I have been busy with quite a bit of lab work in these recent months and it is dinners with close friends that I fondly look forward to. Such moments of bliss are a gastronomic respite from stress. Indeed, food does more than just filling the stomach.

Another impromptu dinner with some League members (including apparently non-beef-eaters) brought us to Republic of Steak.

While the name might suggest politics, I suggest going there to check out their steaks.

On offer was the Waygu Steak ($29.90 promo price). Though on the thin side at 200g, it was sweet and juicy with the evident streaks of fats. Nothing really fancy but really decent for its price.

Personally, I much prefer the down-er-to-earth Cowboy Sirloin ($15.90). The thicker cut had a better bite. While being lean means it requires a bit more chewing, I like the beefier taste that it offered.

A choice of two side dishes accompanied each main course (very much like the Aston's chain of steak restaurants). The garlic spaghetti was infused with a potent garlic flavour while the baked potato was baked potato.

Desserts were great valued-for-money.

The Molten Chocolate Lava Cake ($4.90) was probably the best-valued one that I have ever had! Despite the price, it tasted heavenly of good dark chocolate and rum. Pity about the very average vanilla ice cream.

The Brownie with Ice Cream ($4.90) was a tad dry and while palatable, it paled against the lava cake.

The Tiramisu ($4.90) was luscious, creamy and with flavours of coffee and liqueur. Very good for its price too.

Overall, the food was generally good and service, though slow (I think they are short-handed), was earnest and personal. For a place that is barely a few weeks old, it is commendable.

Vino that night was Terranova Muscatel ($32 from thehungrycow!) and Terranova Cabernet Sauvignon-Shiraz 2005 ($35 from thehungrycow!). The Muscatel was interesting with a bouquet of green, unripe papayas and ice cream soda. The Cab-Shiraz was full-bodied with marked tannins that would go nicely with robust meats and stews.

Republic of Steak
Victoria Hotel
89 Victoria Street
Tel: 6720 8103

Chew On This: Republic of Steak is helmed by a few of Aston's ex-employees. Imitation is the best form of flattery, no?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Business Sense Over Porridge

As with many enjoyable dinners with close friends, it was simply random and impromptu. A few SMSes was all it took to meet for dinner a few hours later.

After Fish Bee Hoon Soup and Fish San Lao Hor Fun at a branch of the famous Holland Village stall, we adjourned (yes, we should heed the Government's call for higher productivity and hence check out a few places in one go) to the famous porride place.

There we discussed the Art of Kopitiam Entrepreneurship.

1) An auntie came over to peddle packets of tissue. When we politely refused her offer of 4 packets for $1, she countered with 2 packets for 50 cents. We bought. Flexibility and quick-thinking to entice customers are essential in sales.

2) A (random) thought came across my mind to suggest that Hushie sell the 2 packets for $1. Opportunity-spotting & business proposition.

3) But how could she sell at a much higher price than the market? A quick study of the tissue aunties resulted. Competitor analysis.

4) To fight off the elderly aunties, she could charm her way through by the not-so-random timing of a spaghetti strap slipping off her right shoulder. This is competitive advantage!

Thank you, class. Now back to the porridge.

The Pork Porridge ($3.60) was tasty and nicely rounded off with the flavours of soy sauce and fried shallots. I like that the porridge liquid was sticky with rice grains that were really soft but not till the point of totally disintergration. Piggy goodies in the porridge included minced pork ball, sliced pork, intestine and liver. My favourite was the minced pork ball- tender and the ball of minced morsels break up upon gentle chewing.

You Tiao (60cents) was added to the order in hope of dunking crispy dough fritters into the hot gooey porridge. But the You Tiao was neither warm nor crispy. Alas.

What I would opt for is to add an egg the next time. I bet stirring an egg into the porridge would make this already tasty porridge richer and tastier.

Tiong Shian Claypot Frog Porridge
265 New Bridge Road
Tel: 6222 3911

Chew On This: I hear the fried intestines and raw fish salad are a hit here! Need a revisit after IPPT. Argh.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Modern-ish Muthu's

Muthu's Curry is one of the stalwarts in the Indian restaurant scene here in Singapore. When it comes to Fish Head Curry and Race Course Road, there are only that few establishments that have endured the test of time.

But with the changing times, Muthu's Curry has launched a new, casual chic concept featuring authentic North and South Indian flavours. I was curious at what this actually meant and hence was happy to accept their invitation to a lunch tasting.

When asked if I would like a drink, I usually stick to wine iced water. This is one of the best thirst-quenchers and is healthy too. But media tastings are a platform to showcase the venue's offerings. Thus, I asked for their signature drink.

It turned out to be Masala Coke ($3.90). I had my reservations at first. It did sound funky alright. Thankfully, the spices were an interesting play on the common coke. And the salty ending appealed to my savoury tooth.

Pappadum Bruschetta ($5.50) sounds Italian, no? Think of it as bruschetta toppings of chopped tomatoes, onions, green chillies and coriander atop small circular pappadum discs. Champagne would go great with this!

Another good starter to share is Morumoru Vendaikai ($7.90). Slices of okra were coated in a spicy batter (chilli powder & cumin) and deep-fried. Try it with the dips made available- mayo, mango chutney and tamarind sauce. Very good bar snack with beers.

Vegetarians can consider ordering the Aaloo Nazakat ($11.90) as a main. This potato stuffed with pine nuts, paneer, carrots and beans was very dense and with rice accompanying it, this was very heavy. But carbs freak like me would feel at peace. :) Check out the curly pappadum 'twisties'! There wasn't a trace of oil and the cute shapes made eating it fun.

The Tandoori Chicken ($16.90) was very tender and well-marinated with spices and, I believe, yoghurt. Slab on some of the mint yoghurt sauce for an added dimension of flavour.

But the Lamb Rack Ananas ($22.90) stole the limelight with its smokey deliciousness. The bits of fat with slightly charred edges provided much flavour and rendered the lamb tender. Slices of roasted pineapples added a touch of refreshing sweetness against the oil, smoke and spice. This dish was made complete with daal, salad and a chewy naan.

When it came to Masala Mussels ($16.90), I thought the masala gravy, when eaten with the mussels, was a tad too bitter. But the bitterness grew on me after a while. It was akin to the nice "kam kam" bitterness that one gets from bittergourd. Check out the carbs combination again- fluffy rice wrapped in Romali roti.

Then came time for desserts. I braced myself as I was generally not a fan of Indian desserts due to their tendencies to be very, VERY BIG on S U G A R.

But this fear was unfound.

The Masala Chai Flan ($6.90) was like a sticky pudding with flavours of milk, caramel and spices. Sweet it was but not till the point of (my) death.

Beetroot Halwa with Ice Cream ($7.90) was pretty but probably an acquired taste.... which I didn't acquire. The beetroot halwa was earthy and just sweetened enough. The pastry cup, unfortuntately, lacked punch. Maybe beetroot-lovers should give a shout-out on their take of this dish!

A rather unique dessert to me was the Ras Malai ($6.20). Essentially milk dumplings in a saffron sauce with chopped pistachio bits, the Ras Malai had a spongey, curd-like texture.

A hot, milky cup of Masala Chai ($4.50) brought lunch to a close.

To sum up, I get what they meant by their new concept now. While still serving Indian food at heart, the 'package' is given a refreshing twist. The presentation is very modern and there is an emphasis on individual sets. The ideas/inspirations and use of certain ingredients (like rocket leaves!) give the dishes that spark of creativity. Make no mistake. This isn't fusion. It's the Muthu's Flavors.

Thanks to Noelle of Sixth Sense Communications & PR Consultancy, and the folks from Aisvaryam's Fine Foods for the invitation.

The Muthu's Flavors
Tel: 6884 8380
Opens: 11am - 11pm daily

Chew On This:

A tandoor (oven) with charcoal is used here. At 200 degrees Celsius, it would take only about 20 minutes to cook the tandoori chicken!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Will Queue for Hor Fun

After more than two months at the Biopolis, I finally got to check out Ghim Moh market- a popular lunch destination for Biopolis folks.

Lunch was with two girls whom I will refer to as See Tai and Dr Rach. They were raving about a number of stalls, including one hawking hor fun. The alluring smell of wok-fried noodles emanating from the stall instantly caught my attention.

Then I found myself joining the queue of 10. Turning around to see another 8 or so people behind me made me feel better. It helps too that the turn-over rate is pretty quick!

A bite of the Fried Hor Fun with Beef ($4.50) made me upset....that I had not asked for a bigger portion. The hor fun may not look well-fried but don't be mistaken. It was imbued with unmistakable wok hei. The beef slices were tender (tenderised by sodium bicarb?) and had a slight beefy taste while cai xin added a nice vegetable component.

The starchy sauce may get a little heavy after a while but the hor fun (blessed by the breath of the wok) makes it very much palatable.

Hor fun is a humble dish and is plentiful in Singapore but a good one is certainly hard to find. I'm not too big a fan of the famous Geylang beef whorefun hor fun but I'm definitely bookmarking this one!

Teck Hin Fried Hor Fun
Blk 20 Ghim Moh Road
#01-44 Ghim Moh Market and Food
Closes: Mondays

Chew On This: The hor fun (the noodles itself!) is fried in batches before individual portions are topped with ingredients and doused with the sauce. This ensures that the hor fun remains fresh and hot.