Thursday, July 25, 2013

"Suparb" Bar-Roque

It was an email from a friend who gathered this group of foodies (some camera shy :p) on one weekday night at a new restaurant in town- Bar-Roque Grill. A familiar name mentioned in that email caught my attention- Stephane Istel.

I first met Chef Stephane when he was the Executive Chef of db Bisrto Moderne at MBS. Two things made an impression that evening- his excellent sauces and his infectious, boisterous personality.

Together with Kori Millar, the former GM of Sky57 at MBS who is also Stephane's life partner, Chef Stephane is now the proud co-owner of Bar-Roque Grill. His new baby is stylish, cosy and comfortably dim (if you are not taking photos), with an interior boasting a playful mix of rusticity and luxury.

Chef whipped up a big feast that evening until desserts were in danger of being left out! Moohehe.

So enough with the rambling and let's see what dishes made their way to our long communal table.

Dinner kicked off with a rather locally-inspired dish. Braised Pork Belly Buns with Pickled Cucumber, Leeks & Espelette Pepper ($6/piece). The pork belly was marinated with pineapple which sounded interesting. Unfortunately, this dish didn't appeal to me. I found its flavours a little confusing and the pork being lost in it.

Then out of a red cast iron pot came forth a homely Chicken Soup inspired by his mum. It was rich, sweet with root vegetables though a tad salty. Chef shaved some black truffles for an indulgent touch.

Spinach Salad, Goat's Cheese, Dates & Almonds ($16) was a pretty good salad with varying flavours and textures. A smattering of fried shallots added a local touch.    

The Char-Grilled Octopus, Arrugula, Tomato Confit, Almonds & Romesco Coulis ($24) featured lovely, tender octopus pieces. Lightly seasoned, the dish allowed the natural sweetness of the octopus to come through. Very nice paired with the crisp, minerally Alsace white wine.

Mooving on to the main courses!

I was blown away by the New Zealand Little Neck Clams, Garlic Pork Sausage, Mushrooms, Parsley, White Wine & Grilled Sourdough ($22 as appetiser; $32 as main course). A hedonistic mix of lovely flavours! The bit of gravy was so good for dipping a crusty bread into.

There was a tomato-based variant too with a tangy-sweet gravy. Tasty but I mooch preferred the white wine version. :)

Then a whole smorgasbord of goodies from the huge rotisserie appeared! It felt as if the clouds had parted and a legion of angels sang. Ok sounds a bit dramatic but you should have seen the buzz when all the roasts were taken out of the rotisserie and laid out on wooden boards! A pwah mooment.

The Prime Ribeye ($198/kg; shown above in the background) was my personal favourite. Plus-sized, simply seasoned with a nice bite and sweet beefy flavours that are released upon chewing. The French Free Range Chicken ($20 for 1/2; $38 for whole) had pretty good flavour but was just a tad dry. Chef uses a French breed of chickens farmed in Malaysia. In short, French citizen, Malaysian PR. Moohaha.

The Pork Knuckle ($58 for a serving for 2 pax) looked promising but was decent rather than outstanding. I was expecting moore robust flavours I guess. Expectations are dangerous. Le sigh.

The Roasted Suckling Pig ($380 for whole pig) was also more visual pleasure than taste. Sorry Chef, I lean moore towards the Chinese-style suckling pigs. :p

While the piggies were relatively disappointing, the wooden board brought another star to the table. The Challans Duck ($250 for whole bird) featured blushing pink meat, a thin layer of fat and five-spice-rubbed skin which added another taste dimension to the meat's deep flavour. Went excellently with the young Cote du Rhone red.

For a hearty carb dish, try the Ravioles "Royan" & Wild Mushrooms. The rich, creamy sauce and earthy mushrooms provided warm comfort.

Desserts made their appearance with the clock almoost approaching midnight. Cowabunga! But end on a sweet note we moost.

Apple Pie "Mum's Recipe" ($12) was homely with baked pieces of apple that were soft but not mushy. Lightly spiced with cinnamon and served with rum & raisin ice cream.

Dinner ended with the Traditional Creme Brulee ($12). Scented with vanilla and with a lightness that made this perfect after all that food (this cow ain't complaining though!)

Then it was time to bring out the wheelbarrows to ferry stuffed diners out.

But wait, kudos to Chef Stephane, Kori and their Sous Chef Alex for the beautiful dinner experience. Their aim is to deliver "love on the plate" and that was evidently seen in the food that evening.

Thanks to Andrew, Bing and David for putting this together and SGFoodonFoot for his power LED light which provided mooch needed illumination, otherwise this would look like an Earth Hour post. Moohahaha.

It was a great night of food and company around the table. To borrow chef's word, "suparb'!

Wheelbarrows not inclusive.

Bar-Roque Grill
165 Tanjong Pagar Road
Tel: 6444 9672

Chew On This: Enjoy the whole animal on Sunday with Bar-Roque Grill's "nose to tail eating" dinners!

Monday, July 22, 2013

For something different...Sabah Kuo Man Noodles

This cow was on his way home for dinner and was waiting for the bus when his eyes strayed. Sabah fish paste noodles? Sounded intriguing. The stomach acids urged but I remain unwavered, looking forward to homecooked dinner. 

The next thing I knew, a flyer was in my face. Promoting fish paste noodles and beef soup! Argh. Good thing the bus arrived. Moohehe.

But I've been wondering about this stall since then...

So when an opportunity presented itself, I pitched it to my colleagues and we popped by. :p

The Fish Paste Noodles ($5.0) featured two bowls- one with mee pok tossed in a dark brown gravy that tasted a bit like the braising gravy from mushrooms, the other a bowl of tasty soup with chunks of fish paste. The fish paste was like a rough and rustic version of fish cake. Something different. I like the soup which had a very savoury touch of, I'm guessing ikan bilis, to it. I found the noodles a bit boring after a few bites. Missing my black vinegar, lard and chilli! LOL.

Add in their chilli sauce which was punchy.

The Sliced Beef Noodles ($4.50) had the same noodles and soup as the fish paste version but featured smooth slices of beef instead. The beef here was tendorised like in most Chinese eateries though it had a richer beef flavour than most. Still, my personal preference is for the bite and texture of non-tenderised beef.

Babi-tarians should check out the Crispy Roasted Pork Noodles ($4.50). The roast pork was juicy and cut into thick flavourful strips. Yums.

The next time, maybe I should opt for kway teow (or hor fun) soup since the dry noodles don't really appeal to me.

Sabah Kuo Man Fish Paste Noodles
351 Bedok Road

Chew On This: This place serves dim sum too. Maybe the next visit!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Good Ol' Pork Chop

There's nothing more sad than fried food that sucks. But when done well, it packs oomph!

Fortunately, it was the latter that prevailed at Supreme Pork Chop Rice. It's not hard guessing what this stall is popular for. So we all had pork chop. Moohehe.

The Pork Chop Rice ($4) had a good size pork chop boasting a crispy coat of biscuit crumbs and juicy meat. Salt, pepper and, I won't be surprised, some MSG but all very balanced and tasty. There was an old school appeal that I like. The classic, homely egg dip and crushed cream crackers treatment before deep frying. The side of salty, tangy preserved vegetables made me crave for kway chap. LOL. Ahem.

The Pork Chop Fried Rice ($4.50) was about the same with the exception of fried rice and the 2 sides of coleslaw and a fried egg. The fried rice was really average though.

If noodles rock your boat, one can also opt for the Pork Chop with Noodles ($4). The brown sauce was characterless but what got me hooked here was the mala chilli paste. It was spicy but pretty fragrant with Sze Chuan pepper corns.

Now if only they offered a XXL pork chop like one of those Taiwanese fried chicken stalls...

Supreme Pork Chop Rice
67 Beach Road

Chew On This: I hear there's usually a queue for lunch so swing by during dinner if you can!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Pretty Shiok Dry Prawn Noodles After A Long Morning

It felt like a long first half of the day at 1pm when I had earlier reported at 7am on a Saturday morning to be a kopi boy trainee. But that's another story for another time.

After finishing off, we headed to the MRT but my eyes wandered and by stomachs stirred.

Was that a prawn noodle stall barely 20m across the road that had a promising look? We went for it. Hook. Line. And fisherman.

When considering if to order the soup or dry versions, it always pays to have either one or a combination of the below. Moohehe.
- a dining companion
- 4 stomachs
- 2 wallets

The Prawn Bee Hoon Soup ($5.50 for small) was alright though I would have preferred for the soup to be bolder and more robust.

I mooch preferred the Dry Prawn Noodles ($5.50 for small) which had quite a nice kick with its spicy chilli paste, dried shrimp, fragrant shallot oil and pork lard. The prawns had a bit of orange roe near its head, which by the way is awesome to suck on. Some of the prawns could be fresher though.

Whitley Road Big Prawn Mee
18 Lorong Telok (other outlets at Old Airport Food Centre & Thomson Road)

Chew On This: Apparently all 3 outlets are run by a family whose founding member of this namesake stall started selling prawn noodles under the Whitley Road flyover in the 1970s.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Double Piggy Lunch

Having woken up at 6am to prepare for church duty one Sunday, I felt like having a meaty lunch when it got to around 2pm. The above plate of Char Siew & Sio Bak Rice fitted perfectly. While the sio bak could have been chopped into thicker chunks, it boasted a nice flavour and wasn't over salty. The char siew was a good balance between sweet and savoury, and had a chewy, crunchy texture which I much like. Must have been the proportion of meat, fat and tendon/cartilage.

A brown gravy that tasted like it was made from the drippings of roast meat and five spice was splashed over the meats and provided moore flavour.

I appreciate that the other components that made up this meal were also good. The soup for example was simple and tasty with soft cabbage, ginger and small pieces of pork ribs. The chilli paste was spicy and fragrant with dried shrimps (think XO sauce).  

To be honest, I actually was headed to Holland Drive Hawker Centre for lunch. Long time no eat there. But unfortunately, I saw this below sign.

Oh well. When one door closes, another opens! Moohaha.

168 Roast Specialist
Blk 43 Holland Drive

Chew On This: Fancy some suckling pig for a party? Order one in advance here!

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Cat Cora's Ocean Restaurant- Dining with an Underwater View!

Singapore has never seen so many international celebrity chefs setting up restaurants here than in the past few years, no thanks to the two Integrated Resorts. Over at Resorts World Sentosa earlier this year, American celebrity chef Cat Cora launched her Ocean Restaurant.

Cat Cora, whom many would know from watching Iron Chef, is the only female celebrity chef in Singapore. On the media preview night, she was personally at the entrance of her restaurant to welcome guests and later introduced the evening's dishes. Her restaurant here serves Mediterranean- Californian cuisine with sustainably sourced seafood.

Presented as the amuse bouche, the Sous Vide 48°C Ocean Trout with Sustainable Caviar & Prosecco Pear Crushed Almond, Vine Tomato Jelly & Garden Cress was a delicate way to start off the meal.

The next dish, Sakura Shrimp Risotto with Morel Mushroom, Black Truffle Butter Ikura & Seared Hokkaido Scallop, drew mixed reactions from diners I spoke with. I loved the comforting appeal of the the dish though it was moore like porridge than risotto for me.

The soup dish took the form of Vongole of Manila Clams with Spicy Sausage, Garlic Broth & Toasted Sesame Croutons. This was my favourite dish of the evening. The broth was clear with clean flavours of the clam and sausage.

We had two options for mains:

Grilled Basque Wagyu Striploin with Leek Bread Pudding & Roasted Sesame-Coriander Vegetables. The beef had a slightly tough chew. Flavours were alright though nothing really exciting.

I should have known to stick to seafood in a seafood restaurant. Moohehe. The King Salmon with Mandarin-Habanero Glaze, Meyer Lemon Cous Cous & Hot House Cilantro featured a slab of salmon cooked to perfection.

Here's the red wine served that evening- Luis Filipe Edwards Family Selection Gran Reserva Merlot 2010. Fresh, soft tannins and easy-drinking.

The meal ended with the 'After Eight' Mint Variation with Chocolate.

While the food won't really draw me back...

this will! The large panel showcasing schools of fishes, manta rays, sharks and other sea creatures swimming past the dining table certainly makes for a dramatic backdrop over a meal. There's something very calming and soothing just watching these beautiful sea creatures.  

The above 5-course set dinner was available at $158++. While the dishes might still be on the ala carte menu, please check with the restaurant on their availability as a set.

Thanks to Mathtew de Bakker of Weber Shandwick for the invitation and Cat Cora and her staff at Ocean Restaurant for hosting me.

Disclaimer: No stingrays were slathered with sambal and BBQ-ed during this dining experience.

Ocean Restaurant
22 Sentosa Gateway, Marine Life Park
South East Asian Aquarium
Resorts World Sentosa
Tel: 6577 6688

Chew On This:

Bet you will do the same! :p

Monday, July 01, 2013

Moosings on the Gordon Ramsay vs Hawker Heroes Thingy

Forget about senior civil servants and the law professor embroiled in sex scandals. Singapore seems to have been rocked by other happening happenings like the haze, Hello Kitty, Malaysian Super League and now Gordon Ramsay.

The Michelin starred Scottish chef known for his foul-mouth verbal explosions on TV show, Hell's Kitchen, is quite well known here especially to foodies and those who watch his shows. But this time, the commotion is about a challenge between Gordon and local hawkers. Chef Gordon is in Singapore on a 3-day crash course to learn three local dishes, Chilli Crab, Chicken Rice and Laksa, determined by online voting, before cooking them on his own in a showdown with Jumbo Seafood, Tian Tian Chicken Rice and 328 Laksa. The whole thing is dubbed "Gorden Ramsay vs Hawker Heroes".

While I do think that it is interesting to watch an ang moh celebrity chef attempt local dishes, I don't really know what the aim of this competition is about other than a publicity blitz for a telco company. For a western-trained chef new to Singapore hawker fare and flavours to cook local dishes and win against hawkers on their home turf is an uphill challenge. So if he loses, does that mean Singapore hawkers beat a Michelin starred chef? If he wins, does that mean our hawkers can't match up to a Michelin starred chef?

The competition element seems pointless. Or is it just moo?

Anyway, Gordon Ramsay, welcome to uniquely Singapore!