Saturday, January 29, 2011

Smash da Chicken!

Not exactly a violence against chicken episode but after hearing good things first from my Malay army friends, then my American-Indonesian Chinese scientist friend and just yesterday, my Indonesian Muslim neighbours, I had to get to Ayam Penyet Ria. And where better (and nearer my home) than their new branch at the newly-opened Bedok Point.

I saw Smashed Beef Balls on the menu but this cow is against indignant treatment against the male bovine species...moohahaha. Next please!

Ayam Penyet + Nasi ($6.50)- a pretty complete meal! Ayam Penyet literally means smashed chicken and refers to fried chicken that is flattened/smashed, usually with a mallet. The meal here had crispy fried chicken with a kick-ass sambal chilli that was potent and sadistically delicious. Also on the sides were kangkong, raw cabbage and cucumber, fried taukwa and tempeh (fermented soybeans). Served with white rice to cushion some of the sambal's heat.

We also ordered the Sup Buntut + Nasi ($6). An Indonesian oxtail soup, this had lovely flavour of beef bones and aromatic spices but was unfortunately a tad on the salty side and felt like it had a sachet of instant noodle seasoning powder (read MSG) added in. Thankfully, there wasn't that nasty throat feeling from MSG overdose. I enjoyed the tender and tasty meat of the oxtail and felt that the best thing in this bowl was the humble potato. Cooked just right (neither too hard nor mushy), the small pieces of spuds had an amazing flavour! Sort of natural starchy sweetness infused with the beef broth and spices.

To cool off the sambal's spiciness and even fight off hot weather, Es Cendol ($3.50) is a perfect dessert. Crushed ice with coconut milk, rich gula melaka and chendol (the green worm-like jelly) were balanced in flavour and intensity.


Ayam Penyet Ria
Bedok Point (other outlets available)
Tel: 6441 0025

Chew On This: The Es Chendol here does not contain red beans (but please do not start writing to the Straits Times forum) unlike many versions of Chendol sold locally. It's apparently Indonesian style which means sans red beans but with the addition of small bits of jackfruit!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Awesome K Soup for the Soul

An SMS came in with info to meet at a Korean restaurant in Joo Chiat. And with that, dinner with the family was set. :)

I totally dig the two soups that came with the two set meals (Pork Set Meal $55; Beef Set meal $68) we ordered! D-E-licious!

The Galbitang (clear beef rib soup) was a clear broth of beef short ribs with leek. Rich, clean-tasting and beefy sweetness. The pieces of rib short rib were slightly chewy (in a good way) and tender, packed with tonnes of flavour.

The other soup- Bangaetang (half ginseng chicken) was equally satisfying. Pour in a shot of ginseng wine and inhale the warm waft of aromatics. The flavour from the chicken, dates and other ingredients had enriched the soup which also contained grey glutinous rice and other grains. This made it like a ginseng chicken porridge with texture, a slight nutty flavour and plenty of oomph!

Both are soups perfect especially in this @#$%&* muggy weather which makes blogging about them now torturous.

Anyway, like most typical Korean restaurants, there were the complimentary (some say cost already added into menu prices) banchan- small side dishes of kimchi, tofu, big sprouts, anchovies etc.

The beef was a 200g piece of fresh sirloin. Grilled over an electric grill, the meat was good though nothing exceptional or special.

What was better was the three slices of premium black pork collar! Sigh. It was a day when the pig won the cow. Sweet, tender and flavourful with small streaks of fat, its glistening powers went from my lips to my heart.

Slice the grilled meats, dab a little sesame oil and sweet-spicy sauce, and wrap with lettuce (free flow). Nom nom nom.

We ordered an ala carte portion of Korean rice cake ($2) which was yummy and chewy with a toasted exterior after grilling! A carbo-freak's popcorn. Moohehe.

Mushrooms ($10) were also another good dish to order. Simply grilled and dipped into sesame oil and soy sauce, its natural sweet earthiness made it delicious especially when eaten with rice.

A chilled cup of sweetened Cinnamon Tea and a heart-shaped watermelon ended dinner.

Each set came with a bottle of Korean traditional rice wine. Sweet, milky, fermented flavour with 7% alcohol.

The pork collar is good reason to return! :)

Ju Shin Jung
451 Joo Chiat Road (other branches at East Coast & West Coast)
#01-01/02 Katong Junction
Tel: 6440 7707
Opens: Monday to Thursday: 11.30am-2.30pm; 5.30pm-11pm (last order 10.30pm)
Friday to Sunday, Public Holidays: 11.30am-11pm (last order 10.30pm)

Chew On This:
A small, white, round tablet was presented at the start of the meal. Don't pop it. It's not a blue-pill-or-red-pill kinda pill. Place it in a dish, pour water on it and it transforms into a wet hand towel. Magic!

Friday, January 21, 2011

CNY Delights at Xin Cuisine!

It's the time of the year where turkeys are so last season and where the colour red remains in vogue- Chinese New Year!

Yu Sheng is a firm favourite for many during this festive time. It really is a sort of raw fish salad- shreds of root vegetables, slices of raw fish and assorted condiments and sauces.

For a dramatically exquisite Yu Sheng, check out Xin Cuisine at the Holiday Inn Atrium! This Yu Sheng with Bling ($388) is assembled like no other Yu Sheng I have Xin. Instead of a mound, the shredded vegetables are layered to form an esthetically beautiful pyramid topped with gold flakes- a powerful symbolism of great wealth, beauty and position.

Now presentation aside, how can that warrant $388? And hey, who moved my cheese fish?

Ah that's where this ice sculpture comes into play. Nonono, don't start splashing coloured syrup on it. This, my friends, is no dessert. Slices of fresh sashimi are shaped into flowers and nestled on ice. Salmon! Tuna! Lobster! Sweet prawns! Cobia! Geoduck!

Once all tossed together, this CNY salad was scrumptious! Very well-balanced and refreshing without being overly sweet or heavy on the five spice.

Next up was the Pen Cai! The Imperial Pen Cai is a luxe rendition with whole Australian 3-head abalone, deer tendon, superior shark's fin, fish maw, sea moss, dried oyster, black mushroom, wild bamboo pith, goose web, sea cucumber and Chinese baby cabbage stewed for hours in a superior stock. I especially like the flavourful deer tendon, sweet baby cabbage and tender abalone. This pot with a bowl of rice will be an indulgent meal on its own. No joke.

The earlier photo was a pen cai meant for our tasting purpose. The actual size of the Imperial Pen Cai ($888) meant for 10 people is depicted above (the pot in the foreground). Not cheap but for all that quality premium ingredients, including 10 abalones that each costs $58 on its own, it is a worthwhile indulgence.... should one have the budget.

For something simpler, the Seafood Prosperity Pen Cai ($388 for large; $288 for small) with lobster, abalone, sea whelk, fresh scallops etc is also available.

But wait, there's more!

Takeaway the Imperial Pen Cai in style! It comes with this complementary silk bag completely resplendent in red imperial dragon motifs.

See what I mean? ;P

And since it's going to be the year of the Rabbit, we had a rabbit dim sum....more specifically- a rabbit-shaped dim sum. So cute lah! Encased within tasted like a fresh, meaty prawn stuffing with tiny bits of Chinese parsley.

It's not the year of the Pig but quite hard to say no to roast pork lah. Nice crispy crackling and good portion of meat. Would have preferred a little sweetness in the mustard though. Honey or malt candy perhaps?

Some small nibbles were, for tasting purposes, served in a platter. From left to right: chocolate Champagne glutinous rice ball, radish cake, chrysanthemum nian gao and coconut nian gao.

The chocolate Champagne glutinous rice ball hide a potent punch! Champagne usually has about 12% alcohol but this one had the horsepower of rum or brandy. Moohehe. Don't eat and drive.

As an end to the meal, I particularly like the chrysanthemum nian gao. It was sticky, chewy goodness with a distinct floral chrysanthemum flavour. Nice!

Thanks to Tracy of Holiday Inn Atrium for the invitation and to the staff of Xin Cuisine for their hospitality. Check out Camemberu's take!

*No rabbits were harmed for this blog post.

Xin Cuisine
Level 4
Holiday Inn Atrium
317 Outram Road

Tel: 6731 7173

Chew On This:

There are several private dining rooms available with each named after a certain tea.

And it's not named just for fun hor. Diners can request to have the "room tea" served ($6/person) or opt for the "room tea" of other rooms should they desire. We had the Morning Blossom Pearl Tea. I really like the Bodum-type tea cup which was double-insulated to keep the tea warm longer while being comfortably cool to hold! Swee lah!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Can't Believe I PS Cafe-d Again

Not that I'm a regular at PS Cafe. My last experience getting a table at their Palais Renaissance branch was so off-putting....until we walked away and chose somewhere else.

Well, I went to PS Cafe just recently for Pookie's birthday. She set the venue. Anyway, it was a nice catch up with Xiao Lao Ban, Sugar Demoness and birthday girl, Pookie.

Before orders were made, there seemed to be a conspiracy amongst the 3 ladies to order smaller/lighter mains and leave space for desserts. Apparently, their previous visit resulted in too-stuffed-until-desserts-were-painful.

Still, we ordered Truffle Shoestring Fries ($15). Fried sticks of potato perfumed with truffle oil. Every cardiologist's nightmare but sedap lah. :p Fries served on a silver platter? Check. Atas skinny spuds indeed.

You think I would also go for something smaller/lighter? Ya right. The Chargrilled Cheese Burger ($28) was a sizable assembly of waygu and US chuck patty, melted gruyere and mozzarella, tomato, mesclun leaves, fried battered onions and sauteed mushrooms. All sandwiched between toasted sesame bun and served with fries. I requested for medium doneness and although a small portion of the patty was overcooked, it was still a great-tasting patty- sweet, beefy, relatively lean but tender with the minced beef just breaking away with a gentle chew. The rest of the ingredients were in harmony together...I especially like the earthy and juicy sauteed mushrooms!

Desserts were a shared affair.

Honestly, the Blackforest Profiteroles ($16) were half good....cos I was left with halve a profiterole! Moohahaha. I knew it was a bad choice leaving a plate of chocolate sin right in front of Sugar Demoness...but I don't blame her. Natural instinct at its very best.

Very really honestly, I preferred the Florida Key Lime Pie ($12). The tangy, citrusy notes with crumbly buttery cookie base refreshed the palate and was a great end to a meal.

Hail the Sugar Demoness. See her power? Don't pray pray hor. Ok, maybe I should quit Caipirinhas.

I forgot to take a photo of the entrance so I leave you instead with a shot from their rooftop bar. Happy birthday, Pookie!

PS Cafe
45 Ann Siang Road, #02-02 (entrance via Ann Siang Hill Park)
Tel: 6222 3143

Chew On This: Parents with kids take note: "We are sorry but PS.Cafe at A.S.H Park can admit Adults & Teenagers only. Families with younger children are very welcome at all other PS.Cafe locations." Not very pro-family here eh?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Scream for Free Ice Cream!!

Money doesn't drop from heaven, some might say. But ice cream does!

A friend, who has requested to remain anonymous, has kindly passed me some Häagen-Dazs vouchers. This Ice Cream Angel has generously offered to share the fat love. So lucky you!

5 randomly-picked winners will each receive $18 Häagen-Dazs vouchers! All you have to do to win these vouchers is drop a comment here saying "I want ice cream!" and do include your email by midnight this Sunday (23 Jan).

The vouchers should reach you early next week and you'll have till end of Jan to redeem them at any Häagen-Dazs outlet.

Enjoy. :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cool Vegan Burger Joint

Somehow thanks to a discount voucher bought off Beeconomic, we found ourselves at Veganburg- a cosy, interesting vegan concept near Eunos.

Burgers here contain no meat. In fact there wasn't any cheese as well! Vegan mah.

From left to right, we tried the Hawaiian Pineapple set ($10.85), Cracked Pepper Mayo Set ($9.85) and Smoky BBQ Set ($10.85).

Served in a mess tin, it was slightly reminiscent of Barracks and an ingenious way to save on washing since the overlaying paper is disposable. Veganburg is bright, fresh and casually cool. The whole vegan burger joint concept is pretty novel (to me at least).

Back to burgers!

Since they do not use meat, soy and minced mushroom patties were used instead. Was it as good as meat? Honestly, no. But then again it is not meat so it should not be compared directly.

The Hawaiian Pineapple burger offered a pan-grilled pineapple slice and a soya patty glazed with plum sauce. Not too bad though the "mock meat taste" of the patty was a tad strong. I like the organic ciabatta as burger buns- crusty and fluffy.

The Cracked Pepper Mayo burger appealed more with its initial peppery punch, soothed by creamy mayo beneath a bed of lettuce. The organic ciabatta for this burger contained sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts. Lots of good oils!

Smoky BBQ burger featured an oven-baked minced, mushroom patty that was savoury and slathered with BBQ sauce. Tomato slices, lettuce and alfalfa gave it crunch and a pleasant vegetal sweetness. The bun for this burger was an organic rye with wholemeal grains.

Overall, the burgers were pleasant as long as one doesn't expect them to be like a cheeseburger. Fries had a nice sprinkling of seaweed but I feel they could be more crispy.

The set meal came with a choice of juice (apparently no preservatives and added sugar). Since we had 3 set meals, we picked 3 different juices to try. Then we realised the colours looked like a traffic light! Moohaha.

Green- Spinach Wheatgrass: Surprisingly no grassy taste or texture, pleasant apple flavour.
Yellow- Orange Passionfruit: Tangy and sweet!
Red- Apple Blackcurrant: Sweet and fruity.

We also ordered the Potato Spinach Pops ($3.80) to try. Unfortunately, it was disappointing. Maybe they should look to a good bergerdil for inspiration.

For dessert, the Guilt Free Chocolate Ice Cream ($3.80) was interesting. The chocolate flavour came through with a subtle background of nuttyness from brown rice. A rather light and refreshing ice cream. I assume they used soya milk instead of cow's milk too.

Yes, this is fast food with a healthier twist. Going meatless one meal a day (some say breakfast cos they skip that meal!) or once a week, be it for health, religious or environmental reasons, is not that difficult. And Veganburg offers a good starting point.

All their products are plant based and made entirely free from dairy. Their patties do not contain gluten, genetically modified organism product, preservatives and transfat.

Then we headed for a pint of Tiger beer....which is a great way to end a work week and coincidentally it's meatless too . ;)

44 Jalan Eunos (about 5-10 min walk from Eunos MRT)
Tel: 6844 6868
Opens: 11am-10pm daily

Chew On This:
Lazy to get there? Veganburg delivers too! Call or check their website.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Tapas-ing @ Holland V!

This hungry moo trotted down to Holland V to check out tapas bar, Sabroso Tapas Wine Bar, at their invitation.

Helmed by Chef Alfred G with almost 30 years of F&B experience and who spent about two decades in Italy and Spain, they prepared a tapas and wine pairing tasting:

The evening started with Cacerola De Asar Vicira (Pan Broiled Scallops; $12). Small but fresh and sweet Canadian scallops were cooked in shallot butter. This was paired with Mont-Marcal NV Cava ($67) that had a quite fine mousse and with soft acidity. Fresh and not very dry.

Croquetas (Deep-fried Bread-Crumb-Coated Jamon Bechamel; $12) was a little bland. I had expected more because of the usually intense flavours of Jamon. But it was better with the accompanying creamy dip. Pair with an interesting Champagne of Ukraine ($52). Eeks. I think the French will cringe at it being labelled "Champagne". It was semi-sparkling with a floral nose. There goes my virgin experience with a wine from Ukraine!

I like the sweet-salty contrasting flavours of the Tocino Envulto Aceitunas (Bacon Wrapped Dates; $12). :) This was paired with Beronica Crianza 2006 ($57)- nose of cherries, oak, floral. Medium-bodied with dry finish and nice acidity that cut through the rich flavours and cleansed the palate.

Albondigas Sabroso (Sabroso Meatballs; $14)- minced chuck baked and served with smoked caciolla (chef said it was a type of sheep's cheese) cream sauce. Beef and cheese is pretty fail-proof. Went nicely with a Penmara Shiraz 2007 from Hunter Valley ($76). Medium to full bodied with a bit of an exotic nose. Spices and cherries.

Another meaty tapas dish was the Costillas a la Barbacoa (BBQ Ribs; $14) featuring pork ribs soaked in milk and marinated with Spanish BBQ seasoning. You know why the great (and now ancient) beauty Yang Gui Fei took milk baths? Moohehe.

Ahem. Thoughts of a bathing concubine aside, these tender pork ribs were paired with Queen's Bay Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($43) from Chile. This pairing didn't appeal to me as the wine's greenish, stalky (under-ripe grapes??) tannins overwhelmed everything. I would have preferred the Crianza as a better match for this.

Then came bonus dishes...

Paella de Mariscos (Seafood Paella; $14) was flavoured with the sweetness of red bell peppers and seafood though the texture could be a tad firmer, less moist.

Espanol Brulee ($8) was a sweet custard spiced up with lime and Valencia orange zest for moments of zesty fragrance. A good take on the usual creme brulee.

Bizchoco aka "Drunken Cake" ($9) was a special dessert for that month. What's in it? Sherry, fresh whipped cream, cinnamon and lime zest.

Here's a line-up of the wines we tasted that evening.

Sabroso Tapas Wine Bar opens till late and offers a good late-night venue for tapas and drinks....especially with interesting wine choices and affordable wine prices!

Thanks to Elaine and Arif of Brand Inc for the invitation and to Sabroso Tapas Wine Bar for hosting me.

Sabroso Tapas Wine Bar
26A Lorong Mambong
Holland Village
Tel: 6766 0053
Opens: 11am-1am daily except for Saturday when it closes at 2am.

Chew On This: