Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Homely Japanese Fare at Ootoya

When Ootoya first opened in Singapore at Orchard Central some years back, it was an instant hit despite its location at a mall notoriously known for its steep, spiralling carpark access, lack of toilets on the 1st floor and awkward layout.

Now with moore outlets opened, Ootoya provides more accessibility and options to diners.

I am happy to find one near home at the relatively new Changi City Point. :)   

Sis had the Aji Set ($20) with a horse mackerel split down its middle and grilled over charcoal. Its flesh was firm and its flavour a pleasant salinity.

I went for the Hokke Yuan Set ($19) that featured thick pieces of atka mackerel fillet. The skin was a tad burnt but surprisingly and thankfully, there wasn't that chao tar bitterness. This mackerel spotted a softer, sweeter flesh.

Mum decided on the Shogayaki ($18.50) that had slices of Sangen pork from Kagoshima prefecture in Japan, stir fried with ginger and onions. The flavours were rather familiar and comforting as stir fried pork with ginger is a common Chinese dish in Singapore. The pork was a little bit fatty and juicy! :p

Most meals here offer the option of a set. For an additional $5, one gets rice, miso soup and appetisers. What's moore that the rice, miso soup and thinly sliced cabbage salad are all free-flow! YAY. Sorry lah, this carbo fan loves free-flow rice. Moohahaha.

Speaking of rice, one can opt for white rice or the Gokoku Gohan. I would recommend the latter as it was a delicious, wholesome mix of brown rice, barley, black sesame, white sesame and corn...at no additional charge! 

Reasonably priced, homely Japanese dishes are what makes Ootoya such a hit.

Changi City Point (other various outlets)
Tel: 6636 1228

Chew On This: Visit this Changi City Point outlet during weekdays and get 1-for-1 Kirin beer and desserts!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Beef Noodles Booster

Often than not, the weather plays a role in deciding what the body craves or feels like eating. With the recent wet, gloomy weather, I was happy to see a beef noodles stall at this hawker centre.

The Dry Beef Noodles ($4) had thick beehoon doused in a tasty, dark, gloppy gravy that was boldly beefy and accented with spices like, I am guessing, star anise and cloves. The beef slices were a little tough but nothing that needed jaws of steel thankfully. Blanched beans sprouts and strips of preserved vegetables added a nice crunch while a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of chopped peanuts addd zing and texture. The chilli sauce was pretty garlicky and reminded me of chicken rice chilli sauce.

You know I had to try the soup version too didn't you? Moohaha. The Mixed Beef Kway Teow Soup ($5) had a soup that was dark, robust and full bodied with a thick cloud of protein precipitates. This was no wimpy beef soup. Consisting of ox tripe, beef ball, beef slices and thin pieces of stewed beef (which were flavourful and tender!), this made for good eating.   

Will definitely be back when I am next in the area and craving for cow cow (robust) beef noodles! 

Traditional Hainan Beef Noodle
Stall 93
North Bridge Road Market & Food Centre
Blk 861, North Bridge Road

Chew On This: The friendly old lady at the stall shared with this cow that they were previously from "upstairs" and moved down to their present location about 3 months ago...and yes, she is Hainanese, just in case some of you are wondering. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Day Trip into JB

Needing a break from work, a short getaway is good. But like team sports such as soccer and basketball, it can mean the sometimes arduous task of gathering friends, coordinating schedules and agreeing on itinerary.

So akin to jogging, sometimes all one needs is just a pair of shoes. Armed with my makan buddy, we headed into that favourite getaway city of Singaporeans- Johore Bahru. There was nothing really planned. Just a list of recommended eats from a Google search online and a relaxed, open mind.... and nature's best tapao containers- 4 stomachs. Moohehe.

First stop just about 10 mins walk from the Causeway entrance was this quaint, old coffee shop Restoran Kin Hua at one corner. Perfect time for breakfast. While the kaya butter toast was forgettable, the kopi was smooth and rich, and the two large soft boiled eggs tok kong!

A drizzle of dark soy sauce and a sprinkling of white pepper into the broken yolks made for a delicious mess. The eggs were a golden, orangey hue and tasted very rich. Very very good start!

Here's the coffee shop's signage.

Next up we ventured into Restoran Sekee for some noodles.

The Kway Teo Soup with Everything (full works for burger speak) was a light and tasty bowl of smooth kway teow, pig's liver, kidneys, lean pork and bits of lard.

Wanting to give the dry version a shot after spying a neighbouring table, we ordered the Dry Noodles. The egg noodles were different from the ones we are used to in Singapore. These were slightly thicker, more chewy and less yellow. Doused with a chilli paste and spiked with vinegar, these noodles were made for slurping. :p

In the same area, we wanted to try IT Roo. Said to have the best Chicken Cutlet in JB but alas even after strolling around and returning twice some minutes later, it was not opened. :(

Deciding to give the stomach a short break, we took a taxi to another district some 10 minutes drive away. Here, we whacked the wanton mee stall. There were many stalls and not knowing which was the better one, we randomly tried our luck.

It turned out average at best. The portions of char siew, noodles and wantons were generous but the char siew was a big let down- too lean and without any roasted flavours.

And then it was a 2-hour full body marination massage that was cheap and rather shiok. Moohahaha. Ahem although it was amoozing that I did not regurgitate my wantons at the forceful kneading of the PRC lady. 

After the massage, we shopped around a bit at KSL City before buying tickets for Skyfall at RM12. And we managed to squeeze in a bak kut teh meal before James Bond. Yay!

The most awesome side dish here was the preserved vegetables. Salty with a savoury, tangy punch and cooked till tender with pork belly and lard, it was sinfully goooood.

The Bak Kut Teh itself was a big claypot of goodies. With only 3 pieces of pork ribs, the other ingredients seemed to steal the thunder. But never mind because they were all great in this pot. Pieces of pig's stomach, intestines, pork balls, tau kee, golden mushrooms, pacific clams and QQ strips of pork which were both chewy, springy and gelatinous at the same time. The soup here was neither the white peppery Teochew version nor the dark herbal Klang one. It was sort of an in between with lightly herbal, sweet porky flavours. Excellent pot!

Restoran Shoon Huat, I will be back for moore.

Then it was time for 007. Didn't know he had such a thirst for Heineken. LOL.

When the movie ended, it was a mini adventure of sorts when the whole theatre of movie-goers walked through a dark corridor (think black out) only to realise that the entrance was the other way.

Bellies asking for some food, we made our way back to City Square Mall, near the Causeway.

Hot stones anyone? Like a little sizzling action of raw meat on heated stone slates.

Seasoned minimally, the Striplion was a little tough but was quite enjoyably beefy.

The Ribeye, on the other hoove, was milder in flavour and decent though nothing to shout about. I didn't expect too much anyway.

Well rested and fed, our day trip to JB came to an end as we boarded the bus for Victoria Street.  What a great one day getaway! :D

Chew On This: Cos the exchange rate is looking pretty good too.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

db Bistro's Antidote to Monday Blues

Oh yes that dreadful feeling on Sunday evenings and heavy feet on Monday mornings... classic Monday blues symptoms.

But one Monday evening, I found myself perked up by db Bistro Moderne's Monday in Lyon- a specially crafted 3-course dinner menu inspired by Daniel Boulud's hometown of Lyon, and made only available on Mondays. It's been a while since my last visit too.

Choice of one of these starters:

The Plateau de Charcuterie was a stunner. This platter of duck terrine, pate, hams and cured meats with some good bread and butter, and a bottle of wine would make me one very happy cow. :)

The Soupe A L'Onion was also yummy with a rich beef consomme, caramelised onions and chewy, melted Gruyere cheese.

If you like a meaty salad, try the Salade Lyonnaise. Thick chunks of bacon and chicken liver were unabashedly displayed beside their leafy neighbours. Break open the poached egg and mix the yolk with the carrot and mustard dressing for a tasty salad.

Mooving on to the choices for mains:

Cabilleaud Poche featured a thick cut of cod that was poached perfectly; served with fish mousse quenelles which were sort of ang moh fish cake (moohahaha) and a very flavoursome Nantua sauce made with crayfish and, I suspect, butter. 

The chicken option of Poulet Au Vinaigre could delight people who say that chicken is a "boring" dish. While the chef uses French chicken raised in Malaysia (think French expats turned Malaysian PRs), it was the sauce that stole the show. It had nice acidity, slight creaminess, smokiness from bacon and a tangy note from the cherry tomatoes. This dish also came with tarragon rice pilaf which should appeal to those who cannot do without rice in a meal. :p

Holy cow! At this point I suddenly realised a big gun in my direction. Ahem. But I digress...

The only vegetarian main of Gratin de Cardons "Dauphinois" was no weak push over. A gratin of cardoon and potato, with earthy assorted mushrooms, it was a comforting dish. This was my first time eating cardoon, said to be a close relative of the globe artichoke. Wish I could taste cardoon on its own to get to know its flavour better.

And here's what you get to choose for desserts:

  Apple Tart Fine- lovely layers of puff pastry and this alcoholic cow loved the Cognac ice cream! :D

The Ile Floattante consisted of a floating island of steamed meringue that was delicately soft, marshmallow-like and maybe like eating clouds I would imagine. Moohaha. Vanilla creme Anglais and pink pralines accompanied the floating island.

Chocolate lovers can try the Coupe Chocolat Et Marron, a Valrhona chocolate ice cream with candied gao lak chestnuts.

Chef Stephane Istel who heads the db Bistro Moderne at Marina Bay Sands was on hand to introduce the dishes. Such a perky and jovial chef! I still remember him rah-rahing a small crowd at Ritz Carlton's Super Brunch in honour of the out-going Executive Chef Arnaud Thulliez.

A-ha! A sign of something good.

These warm lemony Madeleines were as good as I remembered them to be. This and a cup of tea made the perfect end to the evening.

With dishes of this quality, this dinner set is pretty good value I moost say. And I think they do their sauces excellently here! 

The Mondays in Lyon 3-course dinner set ($68/pax) is available only on Mondays and ends in December. Thanks to Philicia and Elzena of MBS for the invitation.

db Bistro Moderne
B1-48 Galleria Level
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
Tel: 6688 8525

Chew On This: Fancy some wine with your Monday in Lyon meal? Add $32 per person for a glass of white and a red Les Vins de Vienne Cotes Du Rhone. The white (Les Laurelles 2010) was refreshing, light to medium bodied and with plesant citrus and mineral notes. The red (Les Cranilles 2010) was a GSM blend that was soft, flavourful with red fruits, spices and gentle tannins.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

A Late Night Korean BBQ Buffet

Ok, so after talking about vegetarian diets, we ended up with a meaty dinner buffet at this Korean restaurant. Moohahaha.

The spread at Ssikkek Korean Grill BBQ ($13++/pax for lunch; $26++/pax for dinner) was pretty decent with some dishes like kimchi, Korean rice cake and jap chae, alongside freeflow soft drinks, rice, fruit, soup etc but the focus was unabashedly on the meats.

Sausages! Pork Belly! Beef ribs! Marinated beef slices! Steak! Chicken! Pork collar! The marinades were tasty and made the marinaded meats perfect for being wrapped up in a lettuce to be eaten in one mouthful. The unmarinaded meats were also good- allowing the natural flavours to shine. Just dab them into a dish of sesame oil, salt and pepper once cooked and enjoy.

We had a rather late dinner which was unusual and even moore unusual, it was a buffet at that time of the night. Needless to say, when 3 hungry fellas are faced with all that yummy looking (raw) meats, the answer can only be "yes"....even at 9pm. Moohahaha.

Ssikkek Korean Grill BBQ
291 New Bridge Road (other outlets available)
#01-01 Oriental Plaza
Tel: 6225 6964
Chew On This: If you need a huge protein surge or a meaty fix. :p 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Probably why I didn't become an accountant...

The abacus was used as the calculator of yesteryear. My late Ah Kong himself used one at his now-defunct provision shop. But moo? I rather eat it. Moohahaha.

These nuggets of chewy goodness stir fried with fragrant mix of chopped garlic, chai poh, spring onions, hae bee and minced pork were irresistibly scrumptious and homely. Think of them as Chinese yam gnocchi. The chilli paste on the side tasted fresh and added heat. $3.50 for the above plate.

Hey actually, my biology/physiology lecturers should have described the shape of a red blood cell as one of these abacus seeds! LOL. Sorry lah. Can't help it- studied 7 years of life sciences. RBC. RBC. RBC. :p

Bugis Street
380 Jalan Besar
Lavender Food Square

Chew On This: Cos it's not easy to find this Hakka delight nowadays!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Makankakis at Parco Caffe!

Instead of the usual Chinese cze char style dinner, the makankakis had an ang moh dinner for November.

Parco Caffe makes an interesting choice because it is in a rather hidden, off the beaten path location and little is heard about this restaurant. And there's (fake) grass in some areas too! Moohehe.

Hungry tummies greeted the first dish that arrived- Pizza Parco Caffe. A 7-inch pizza topped with tomato, mozzarella, hon shimeiji mushroom, Parma ham and black truffle spread. The crust was a little too thin for my personal liking but I enjoyed the sweet earthy flavours from the truffle spread and ham.

Next, was a pasta dish that reminded me a bit of Gunther's $60 angel hair pasta I had at the food bloggers' lunch. The Parco Chilled Cappellini of chilled angel hair pasta tossed with roe (tobiko), spring onion, parmesan cheese, truffle oil and fish liver Bottarga was pretty delicious. My neighbour jokingly asked if this four-stomached creature was going to finish this in one mouthful when she saw me pick up the entire small mound of angel hair with a fork. LOL. Nah, I had to stretch my enjoyment and hence gently teased strands off to eat.

The fish course of Branzino con Patate. Roasted sea bass cube served on purple mash potatoes, black olives, capers and extra virgin olive oil emulsion. Moist fish with a bit of nicely seared skin. Unfortunately, I didn't quite take to the paste made of olives and capers which was surprising since I usually like both these ingredients.

The meat course of the evening was the Costina d’Agnello- roasted Australian lamb chop crusted in bread crumbs and Italian herbs, served with mixed vegetables caponata. The slightly gamey notes of the lamb paired nicely with the acidity and sweetness of the caponata. Eat. With. Wine.

The dessert of Parfait al cioccolato (double chocolate and cherry jelly parfait) ended on a disappointing note for me and was my least favourite item of this dinner. The part soft, part gummy texture and flat flavours didn't quite appeal. Even the macaroon perched on top flopped in the flavour department. :(

Maybe that's why one moost have a bit of wine and lots of good company (seated at the same table were pioneer batch makankakis, one pinky piggu and folks from Makansutra editorial team) with dinner so it all ends on a happy note. Moohahaha. Two Italian wines that evening- an interesting tightly-wound straight Merlot that wasn't quite like Merlot, and a white blend of native white grapes that was pretty fresh for a 2007.

Then we went off for a bowl of kway teow soup at a near by kopitiam to anchor the night. :D

Parco Caffe
10 Raeburn Park
Tel: 6223 6338

Chew On This: Parco Caffe serves up both Italian and some Asian dishes. Crayfish laksa, beef short ribs rendang or bak kut teh (with whiskey) anyone? :p See full menu here.