Friday, May 28, 2010

A Lite, Healthy Underground Bite

I was actually on my way to check out Sultan Prawn Mee (long long no eat) at Kallang but was stopped in my tracks by Mescluns. It was a place I had passed by many times but thinking that they only had salads, I was hesitant to step in. Yes, yes, cows should eat grass...

Only upon seeing their board featuring sandwiches and soups did I decided to try here for lunch.

The salad bar offered green leaves, nuts, fruits, bacon, chicken, tuna, egg, potato, tomatoes, sprouts, fusilli etc etc. I was tempted between opting for a salad or a sandwich.

In the end, I went for the Chicken Caesar with Romaine Lettuce, Avocado, Beef Bacon & Parmesan ($7.50) on Foccacia bread- a salad in a sandwich! Hahaha. The chicken pieces were tender while the lettuce provided a refreshing crunch. Beef bacon bits and Parmesan added heaps of flavour. A pity the avocado was barely noticeable, otherwise this sandwich would have had a nice creamy feel.

Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the sandwich. Surprisingly substantial (not in the gluttony way) and wholesome!

To this sandwich, I added an additional $3.50 for a soup and a juice.

The soup I picked was Warm Tomato Bisque with Basil Pesto- a bright, tart soup with a nice consistency. The flavours tasted natural but was a little too tart for me. The basil pesto added a slight herby dimension. Maybe roasted red bell peppers and garlic would add sweetness and balance to this soup.

The Orange Juice was indeed freshly-squeezed. I saw it with my own eyes and was again convinced by its fresh, citrus smell, natural cloudy sediments and sweet-tart taste.

Meslcuns is a good, quiet spot for a wholesome bite. I left feeling healthy and happy! After one too many big meals of buffets, roasted pork, wanton mee and pork cutlet, this feels goooood.

#B1-26B Citylink Mall
Tel: 6884 6120

Chew On This: Meslcuns refers to a mixed salad and here, you can indeed customise your own salad by picking your favourite ingredients and leaves! No more unwanted morsels that get pushed to one side just because one doesn't eat them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Conveyor Belt Hotpot Buffet!

Conveyor belt sushi was probably the first conveyor belt concept to hit our shores. Then we had conveyor belt dim sum. And now introducing conveyor belt hotpot (or steamboat)!

At a recent tasting, I was seated at the bar counter and had an individual pot which is great for those a little more concerned about hygiene. There was seven broths to choose from (Szechuan, Tom Yum, Herbal , Prawn, Chicken, Mushroom and a monthly special) and I opted for the monthly special of beef broth. The beef broth tasted like a light French-style beef bouillon.....

...perfect for beef! Hehe. The Sliced Beef (background) was a little tough from being very lean, but the Sliced Wagyu Beef (foreground, right) was a steal at $5 from the Premium Items section! The better fat marbling translated to tender bites with better flavour. Another Premium Item was the Sliced Venison (foreground, left; $3.50) which was also an interesting choice for a healthy, lean red meat dish. It had a mild taste and was more tender than the Sliced Beef.

There was also chicken and pork slices though I felt the former was sliced too thinly for an enjoyable bite.

Seafood-lovers need not feel left out. Mussels, clams, squids, prawns, fish, flower crab and sea cucumber make their way around the conveyor belt on plates. I particularly like the prawns- medium-sized and sweet.

The Scallops ($5) from the Premium Items were succulent and tasted fresh. Just don't over-cook these babies!

While tucking into your hotpot, don't forget the eight sauces that ply the conveyor belt. I sampled three- Kichi Kichi Chili Sauce, Chili Chin Chalok and Kichi Kichi Sesame Sauce. The Kichi Kichi Chili Sauce added a nice spicy-tangy touch while the Chili Chin Chalok fared well with its spicy-tangy-savoury notes. The Kichi Kichi Sesame Sauce was unfortunately a little too watered down for my liking.

To end off the savoury part of dinner, a quick DIY assembly resulted in a hot bowl of udon with beef slices and a poached soft-boiled egg in beef broth. Yums!

For those who seek a little inspiration or need some help, check out the "Secret Recipes" cruising the conveyor belt and feel free to tweak them to suit one's personal preference. It can inject some fun. :)

Moving on to desserts. I was very impressed with the Chocolate Hotpot with Cut Fruits ($5). It featured a good variety of goodies such as strawberries, dragonfruit, dried apricot, marshmallow. green apple and even muah chee! Let the marshmallow melt a little in the chocolate hotpot and be rewarded with a gooey sweet treat. The chocolate was smooth and nicely bitter-sweet. Very good value at $5.

Overall, Kichi Kichi offers a good value hotpot buffet with affordable add-ons from their Premium Items section, in a comfortable, trendy place. This is a good balance between budget, quality and a whole lot of quantity!

Note: The buffet includes more than 60 items (meats, seafood, vegetables, noodles etc) while Premium Items (like the Sliced Waygu Beef, Sliced Venison, Scallops, Salmon Belly etc) are available at very affordable prices.

Weekday Lunch 11am-5pm: Adults $19.90++; Students $14.90++; Kids 3-9 years $7.90++
Weekday Dinner 5pm-10pm: Adults $21.90++; Students $19.90++; Kids 3-9 years $7.90++
Weekend Lunch & Dinner (including Public Holidays and Dinner on Eve of Public Holidays): Adults $23.90++; Kids 3-9 years $7.90++.

Thanks to Carlyn of Sixth Sense Communications for the invite and Dawn of Kichi Kichi for hosting me.

Kichi Kichi
City Square Mall
Tel: 9170 1146
Opens: 11am - 10pm daily

Chew On This:
There's a handy bag hook under the bar counter to keep your precious off the floor!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Interesting Turkish Place (Halal)

I've walked into a pretty interesting place for lunch lately. The sights, smells and shop name were all indicative of Turkish/Middle Eastern fare.

Then there was Istanbul Laksa ($3.30). Yes, Istanbul Laksa! While I am certain laksa is more Singaporean/Malaysian than Turkish, the one served here is Nonya-style and no less delicious. Thick, creamy and fragrant, this laksa was topped with beans sprouts, fishcake slices, laksa leaves and chicken kebab bits from the rotating spit. I opted for an additional boiled egg (50 cents). Delish!

The Chicken Doner Kebab with Cheese ($5.20) featured chicken kebab, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and onions in between pita bread. The pita bread wasn't the flat, hollow ones I had expected. Instead, it was more substantial with the texture of a light sponge cake. The sauces that bound all the ingredients together was a tasty mix of creamy, tangy, spicy and sweet flavours.....mirroring that familiar comfort of Roti John.

Beef Bomb ($8) turned out to be an outer shell of minced beef that encased a boiled egg. The minced beef could have been a little less lean for a juicier bite. But on the whole, the dish was good with a black pepper sauce that was slathered over. Better still was the Power Chili Sauce (ask for it!) that tasted mild initially but induced quite a searing heat after a few seconds. Shiok! Beef Bomb came with baked herbs potato and a bean salad.

For desserts, forget about Turkish Delights.

There's Cold Tremella with Red Dates & Aloe Vera ($2.20). Cool and soothing, it makes for an enjoyable dessert especially on hot days!

For something more soothing and herbal, try the Guilinggao ($3). The slightly bitter finish leaves a pleasant trail at the back of the throat.

Istanbul Gourmet is a casual place where the food is homely and (if you seat at the bar counter) the touch is personal.

Istanbul Gourmet
Eastpoint Mall
Opens: 11.30am to 9pm (or whenever the meats sell out!)
Closes: Mondays

Chew On This:
The man behind Istanbul Gourmet is Henry Teo, Chef-Owner, who was previously with Hyatt Singapore for 10 years before starting his own catering and restaurant/cafe business decades ago. He has been at the current place for 14 years and has seen customers grow up, marry and bring their kids back here for makan!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Y.E.S. 93.3FM's 美食鉴定团 @ Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant

As part of Y.E.S. 93.3FM's 美食鉴定团, I had the honour of joining DJs Jiafa and Weibin, together with their listeners and not to forget fellow blogger and 938LIVE contributer, AromaCookery, for quite a few dinners. One recent episode brought us to Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant at the new-ish City Square Mall.

Here's what we tried:

Nanxiang Drunken Chicken ($6.80) made me happy. While the meat could have been more silky, I love the chilled sensation flavoured with Chinese wine. The smooth chicken skin glided down my throat with pleasure!

Another hit was the Salted Egg Yolk Prawn ($12.80). The rich aroma of salted egg yolk permeated the air as the dish was brought to the table. The prawns were battered, fried and drenched in salted egg yolk sauce. Very appetising with a mix of sweet and savoury flavours. A pity that the prawns had an artificially springy texture though.

A signature dish here, the Braised "Lion's Head" ($5.80 for 4 pieces), was a meatball's meatball. I like the crunch of the waterchestnut that had been mixed into the meatball and the touch of five-spice powder. Unfortunately, the extra large size of the meat ball made anything more than a few bites too rich-tasting. This is definitely a dish to order and share and enjoy with plenty of rice and Chinese tea (Pu-er's good).

The Stir Fried String Bean($9.80) was a simple and good dish of crunchy beans in a slightly smokey-spicy sauce.

The Signature Gyoza ($4.80 for 5 pieces) was average to me with its chewy skin and insufficient feeling filling. Or maybe there were other better stuff to eat...

Like the King Size Nanxiang Crab Roe Steamed Soup Bun ($6.80). Except this was more like a better thing to drink. This extra large xiao long pau look-a-like was served with a straw! Suck cautiously on the extremely hot liquid and enjoy the sweet broth infused with the flavour of crab. The skin is extra thick and not meant to be eaten. I know Singaporeans being Singaporeans would probably eat even the skin but really, just drink it!

Shanghai Pan Fried Pork Bun ($3.20 for 2 pieces) spotted a fried bottom and I enjoyed the contrast of this to the steamed chewier, softer upper parts. The pork filling was delicious too.

As a healthy alternative to ordering fried rice, the Shanghai Vegetable Rice ($7) was light-tasting with the vegetal sweetness of chopped kai lan. The grains were glossy and just a wee bit sticky. Interesting.

Crab Roe & Pork Filling Steamed Bun ($11.80 for 6 pieces) is one for those who enjoy crab roe. Rich and flavourful, each bite (actually only one bite) was full of the crustacean's roe. For those who like it spicy, try the Spicy Crabmeat & Pork Filling Steamed Bun ($10.80).

After the avalance of dishes which came at a blink-and-you-miss speed, it's time for desserts.

Golden Pumpkin Cake ($3.60 for 2 pieces) was sweet and chewy- a nice combination! The natural sweetness of pumpkin shone.

Yam Pastry with Sesame ($5.20 for 4 pieces) was another table favourite. Toasted sesame flavours. Crispy exterior. Soft, mildy sweet yam filling.

I found the Sweet Bean Paste Pastry ($3 for 2 pieces) a tad too dry for my liking. It resembled those traditional pastry mooncakes a little.

Prices here are friendly and I think families and friends wanting a casual meal could consider Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant.

Thanks to DJ Jiafa for the invitation to join in the fun, Felix and Ivy of Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant and FoodNews, respectively, for hosting us. Catch AromaCookery's take here!

Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant
180 Kitchener Road
#04-15/16 City Square Mall
Tel: 6509 9134

Chew On This:
Check this out! It's a flat wall-paper printed with images of bamboo steamers that has that 3-D feel! Apparently they bought so many bamboo steamers to decorate the restaurant, there was a shortage and hence this wall-paper.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day Steamboat Dinner @ Teochew Traditional Seafood Steamboat

Wanting to avoid all that gimicky commercialized Mother's Day offers at most restaurants, our family decided on a small steamboat restaurant in Joo Chiat. It was air-conditioned so eating steamboat was still a comfortable affair. Most tables were families who were also probably commemorating Mother's Day.

Besides, gathering over a hot pot meal as a family is a meal with love and family warmth. There's just something about communal dining sharing a pot.

The soup stock was simple but tasty- fish bones and I'm guessing either pork or chicken bones.

The Fish Kway Teow ($5; foreground left) was interesting. When cooked, it had a slightly floury bite and tasted like fish paste with salt. The Fish Ball and Pork Ball Combo ($6; foreground right) was good to taste both without ordering a full portion of each type. Sadly, I found the fish ball to be average while the pork ball had the distinct taste of Chinese parsley (which I personally do not like). This Chinese parsley taste was also found in the Wanton ($5; background right). What was really good was the Meat Dumpling ($5; background left). The skin had a slightly resilient bite (similar to the Fish Kway Teow actually) and the pork filling was tasty.

For meats, I enjoyed the Fatty Beef ($10) which was streaked with fats and ultra tender with a sweet, gentle beefy taste. A little goes a long way. We also had two veggies- Bai Cai ($4; background left) and Tang Oh ($4; background right).

Live Prawns ($12 for 200g) was also available. They are served covered to prevent the crustaceans from committing suicide.

But their death contributed to the sweetness of the soup and made for good eats! Each prawn was medium-sized and was sweet with a nice natural, springy bite.

A special item was the Fried Dou Gen ($4; foreground). Essentially beancurd sheets that had been folded and fried, these were dipped into the boiling soup for a few seconds. The quick dip rendered a contrast in texture- crispy and spongy. The Red Grouper ($25; background) was fresh and firm.

It was a healthy, satisfying and affordable dinner. :)

Then we headed to near-by Four Season's Cafe for dessert. Twas not the season for durians. Alas. With the money spent on lousy durians, we could have ordered the Chinese Pomfret plus a few more side dishes....but life is not about's about looking forward. This place serves cze char dishes.

Teochew Traditional Seafood Steamboat Restaurant
176 Joo Chiat Road
Tel: 6348 8924
Opens: 5.30pm - 12 midnight

Chew On This: No service charge and GST! Woo!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Casual & Robust Thai Food Marks Poster Completion!

This post almost marks the end of Final-Year Project. The bench work, thesis and poster have been by now all completed.

While waiting for the poster to be printed, a few friends and I hopped across the printer shop for lunch at a Thai cafe. Ryan said he brought his girlfriend there and found the food to be spicy and portions to be big. I like that combination too.

First up, the Tom Yum Seafood Soup ($6). It was beaming with squid, prawns, fish slices and aromatic herbs like lemon grass, galangal and lime leaf. While the seafood items could be fresher, the soup was pretty enjoyable- a mixture of sour, spicy and salty.

The Pahd Thai aka Thai Fried Noodles with Pork ($4) had thin, flat rice noodles and was stir-fried with egg, beansprouts, firm tofu and well-marinated pork slices. There was a slight wok-hei which was perked up by the fish sauce. The squeeze of lime and scattering of chopped peanuts added a fresh dimension and texture, respectively. Only the raw beansprouts on the side made me queasy due to my dislike for the 'raw' taste of beansprouts.

Pahd Pak Boong aka Stir-Fried Kang Kong ($6) was a potent vegetable dish with the popular vegetable cooked till still crunchy in a sauce that screamed garlic, fermented black beans, fish sauce and fresh red chilies! The fish sauce gave it a distinct Thai feel and added that salty-savoury boost. Very good with rice!

Another dish that demanded rice was Beef Pahd Ka Pao aka Stir-Fried Beef with Basil Leaves ($7). Small pieces of beef were stir-fried with chopped long beans and basil. The sauce mirrored that of the earlier kang kong dish but had a fresh, aromatic lift thanks to the inclusion of basil.

In addition to white rice, I also tried the Kao Pahd Saparot aka Pineapple Fried Rice ($6) which turned out to be packed with the flavours of turmeric, shallots, pork floss and perhaps curry powder. The only disappointment was the rice which was a tad too wet. Maybe using overnight rice would fix this.

There were desserts available but I guess I'll have to leave it till the next visit... not that I needed an excuse to return. The rustic appeal and robust flavours of the food here I like! Portions are generous too.

Aroy-Dee Thai Cafe
91 Bencoolen Street
#01-12 Sunshine Plaza
Tel: 6336 8852
Opens: 12noon - 10pm daily
Closes: Sunday

Chew On This: While pigging out eating, take a breather to enjoy the Thai paintings hung on the walls.