Friday, October 31, 2008

Prawn Mee and distractions

with Larry

Had lunch with my good friend and fellow major foodie. Wacow sms me to join the ieat super-gang for a Prawn Mee tasting at Henderson Road, but I had already setup this makan with Larry last week.

Larry suggested the Wah Kee Big Prawn Noodles at Pek Kio Hawker Center, he had been a fan for years. ieat blogged that this was the best Prawn Mee.. And years ago, as a young chap, one of my seniors, who is a prawn noodle superfan brought me to the Farrer Park Hawker Centre and we had this as his favourite. I vaguely remembered it as quite excellent.

When we arrived, the lady boss told us that they are not able to cope...too many orders. Waiting time at least half an hour. So we will have to come back another day.

Larry went off to get some chwee kueh from Pin Wei just across from the noodle shop.

I remarked that I am not a fan of chwee kueh, but Larry said, " will like it". And indeed I did. I think its better than the famous Tiong Bahru one. When it arrived, it is apparent this is a different Chwee Kueh...measuring some 4 inches in diameter, it is larger than the average Chwee mockingly calling to itself as the king. Next, it was fully laden with chye por...not the miserly bits that adorns the peasant Chwee Kueh. The chye por seem to me to have been simmered/fried lovingly to absorb flavours of the other ingredients...I don't know what the ingredients are, but its yummy. The rice cake is smooth, and had a beautiful texture...firm yet very soft. Sounds like an impossibility....but as the cake enters your mouth, this is the feeling which permeates. The chilli was powerful, and provided the necessary kick to make this a great dish.

We also ordered a plate of black carrot cake from Heng Leong.

This is a power carrot cake. The sides of the cake are singed - nearly burnt...with thick, sweet sauce. The cake is firm to the bite, unlike many which are so soft that it falls apart at the mere poke from a chopsticks. This remained firm when being transported to the mouth, and provides some bite. In this respect, it reminds me of a Penang version called Kueh Kak. The egg clinging to the cake provided flavour and the radish completes the taste. Excellent carrot cake.

Still hungry and needing our prawn noodle fix, Larry suggested we drive over to River South (Hoe Nam) Prawn Noodle near the now abandoned Jackson Centre.

The store offers all kinds of "accessories" to your bowl of prawn mee. Ranging from pork ribs, abalone, pig tail, fish cake. We ordered a mee sua and a mixed beehoon mee with prawns and pork ribs.

The wait was about 10 mins, and we had some fish cake to while the time away. Not bad, but not very special either.

Then the prawn noodles came. Impressive. Each serving of dry noodles came as a set of two large with soup and prawns/ribs. And another with the noodles in thick broth.

Each bowl ($7 each) came with 3 prawns, 2 large, 1 smaller. Partly deshelled, the prawns were reasonably fresh, and tasted fairly sweet and was crunchy. The noodles in dry gravy was quite special. I had beehoon mee mix, and Larry had mee beehoon mee was done slightly soft of al dente, but still nice and tasty as it was coated in thick broth. The broth was rich, and crustaceany in flavour. The soup was robust, and had a nice aroma. Taste was quite good...sweet, with strong flavour of prawns. I enjoyed this quite a bit.

Heng Leong Carrot Cake
41A Cambridge Road
#01-13 Pek Kio Market & Food Court Centre

Pin Wei Chwee Kueh
41A Cambridge Road
Pek Kio Market & Food Court Centre (forget to take down stall no, but opposite Wah Kee Prawn Noodle)

River South (Hoe Nam) Prawn Noodles
31 Tai Thong Crescent (Near Jackson Centre)
Singapore 347859
Tel: 62819293
6.30am to 4.30pm daily
Closed once a month on Mondays

Photonotes. No experiments done during this shoot...except +1EV overexposure...inadvertently left on from yesterday's shoot. Histogram corrected in ACR.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tsukiji Market, Tokyo

With Dr. Frank Muller during our trip to Tokyo and Kyoto in Feb 2006.

These shots taken when they still allowed visitors into the chilled tuna place. I understand these days, they do not allow tourists into the chilled tuna section. And only a limited number are allowed each morning into a small staged area to view the frozen tuna section to see the frozen tuna auction.

To catch the action, you need to get there early. The auction starts at about 5:30am, and by 6pm its all over. However, there are many sushi-ya around the market serving great, inexpensive sushi and sashimi for breakfast. Tasting chilled tuna (or other sashimi) which has never been frozen is a treat not to be missed. The fish is so fresh, so sweet, so tasty.

A view inside the chilled tuna section. Gotta be trucks, which look like forklifts on oil drums are running around...and can knock one over...

Frozen tuna

Huge tuna...I think this is blue eye tuna...see the marbled otoro on the cut side of the tuna in the foreground...oishi!

Just the body...inside view. You can see the carcass, and skeleton...looks more like a pig or cow than a fish...

I managed to catch the auction scene...I am sure the same chap is still there...the auctioneer just goes off speaking loudly and very fast...and in a moment, the deal is done. And the new owner of a nice piece of tuna carts his buy off to his store somewhere in the huge market complex.

After successful auction, each stall holder takes his buy back to his stall. Here is one cutting up the tuna...see the way he cuts the fillets are by a samurai sword.

And after the large fillets are taken off, a helper takes a spoon, and scrapes the parts next to the fish's ribs...this is very tasty, being closest to the bone...and served in sushi.

A worthy trip, even if I had to wake up at 5am in winter.

Photonote: All shots taken with EOS 300D, and 17-40L. No flash was allowed inside the market. Shot in large jpeg, color balance was a little tricky, but done in Photoshop using Levels middle eyedropper.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fish Market, Greenwood Avenue, Singapore

with Prof Horolographer, SJX and RobG

A friend from the Philippines visited, and a a few of us decided to get together for lunch with him before heading out to the MBF tea event at Au Petit Salut. We decided to go to Vanentino's at Rifle Range. I have known Chef Valentino for many years, since when he first came to Singapore from his native Venice some 8 years ago...then he was working as chef at Cafe Roma, just off Sixth Avenue. I always loved his touch - pasta, pizza, fish all tasted great. He then ventured out on his own, and at one stage his mother (Mama mia!) joined and he set her up at another Valentino's in Changi. He recently moved to Rifle Range, occupying a quaint shophouse...but being Deepavali, he was closed. We went to the Fish Market at Greenwood Avenue instead...nearby.

This was a quiet residential spot, nestled amongst an expensive District 10 suburb. A row of shophouses which boasts of many eating places...some quite the old Shiro - a Japanese joint so exclusive that they don't take appointment only...but once inside, cuisine is divine, and service quietly superb. They have recently closed to move to another place...I understand to be the former Couduroy & Fitch at Sixth Avenue. Another winner here is the French Bistro - Sebastian's. A family favourite, this is a delectable bistro...service always attentive and knowledgable. And the food always dependable and excellent.

Nearby there is also Chat Masala Too...a branch of a classic Northern Indian joint, dishing up favourites. Also in the same row is Lana Cake house, famous for what else cakes. Which brings us to the Fish Market. This is actually a fish market - you can buy fresh seafood, and have the folks there clean, and even suggest how you cook it.

But venture a bit into the shop, and there is a dining space, setup for perhaps 30 diners. The style reminded me very much of the seafood restaurants that dot outside, tiny diner inside. A smell of the fresh sea permeated as one enters.

As we were preparing for more food later, we decided to go light...a Shashimi platter comprising salmon shashimi, octopus, jellyfish and ginger. They usually have yellowfin maguro (tuna), but that day they ran out, and offered a double portion of salmon instead.

The sashimi was fresh. As can be seen from the pic, the glistening salmon testified to its freshness. But this was no Japanese restaurant, where the sushi chef takes pride in not only tempting the tast buds, but also provide a visual treat with the presentation of the food. In contrast, this was a fish market, the fish was fresh, but simply presented. Taste was excellent. Though I have tasted better in Tsukiji market and Tokyo, but in Singapore this one passed the muster.

RobG had a Portobello mushroom salad, and it looked very nice.

I didn't taste it, but it looked like a large, fleshy portobello mushroom was grilled with some cheese and set athroned on some garden salad.

We ordered a hot platter to be shared. This was a large plate...measuring some 12 inches across, and packed with nice seafood.

This comprised of (clockwise from 11 o'clock) char grilled lobster, wild king prawns (partially hidden), octopus in a salad, littleneck clams, greenlip mussels, gorgeous deep fried soft shell crab and calamari poppers.

This was a lovely plate. The lobster in particular stood out...firm flesh, sweet, tasty. The deep fried soft shell crab was also exceptional...the roe within provided enveloping richness to the crispy crab. Went very well with my glass of Wolf Blass Chardonnay - house pour for the day.

Nice place. I noticed that they also have Maine Lobster, and Alaskan King Crab...will come back to try next time.

Fish Market
34 Greenwood Avenue
Singapore 289236
Fish Market 11am - 10pm
Lunch 12pm - 2.30pm
Dinner 6.30pm - 10pm
Sat, Sun, PH 12pm - 10.30pm

Photonote. Taken mainly with EF35 f/1.4L...borrowed from Prof Horolographer. Must say this is a superb lens. Nice bokeh, though not as beautiful as EF85 f/1.2L. Rich, nice colour, including the out of focus area. At f/1.4, the depth of field is understandably shallow, but I like the effects. I also tried my 85L with a macro extension tube, but the magnification is too high...too close to the food.

White balanced in custom mode, by shooting at white table cloth and referenced in camera. Small adjustments done on Photoshop Levels mid-eye dropper.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Golden Mile Food Centre, Singapore

Hawker degustation...this is an experimental post with no pictures. Just cross referenced back to the ieat blog. I have been following the blog for about a year...without knowing Dr. Tay who runs the blog, I identified with his taste, and generally agree with those of the places he recommends. Lately, I joined the forum, and finally met with the ieat gang, and including Dr. Tay...interesting bunch, I think I have found a foodie home...and I look forward to many makan sessions with them.

So after church this Sunday, the family decided to go try out the many hawker places recommended by the blog and forum.

We started at ROC Pizza, but when we got there at noon, it was not opened yet..."come back at 12:30"...hmm...hungry, we strolled downstairs and ordered 2 plates of Fried Hokkien Prawn mee. This was not the same HKM as I blogged before in Beo Crescent, nor like that one found in Kims. But the method of preparation was different. No gravy, but it looked like the noodles were cooked in gravy, which had time to be infused into the noodles. The plate looked like fried bee hoon mee...dry. Each strand was tasty, and full of flavour. Nice. Highly recommended.

By the time we wallop 2 plates, yes, the chilli also packs a punch, and unusually they included slices of raw chilli padi which provided extra oomph, it was half past, and we strolled upstairs to ROC. Ordered a Pizza Margarita and Pizza with ham and mushrooms...both 12 inchers - $15 for both was reasonable.

While he baked the pizza one at a time...we were the first and then only customers, Kin walked over and bought a plate of Char Kway looked like a plate of fried chye sim, with some crispy silver fish...but within the folliage was some CKT...sweet, empowered with some nice see harm. The store was very popular, perhaps because it proclaimed in a large sign that no pork, no lard. The taste was ok, sweet. Reminded me of the CKT you get in the morning breakfast fried noodles store...the one which is ready prepared. I liked the use of the crispy silver fish in lieu of crispy lard. But a real CKT needs some lard to taste right. Eat again index? Not really.

By then the pizza arrived. The dough was very thin...the sides bloat up into a crispy balloon at the edge of the pizza. The ingredients were quite thin as well. The consistency of the bread was crispy. It was more like eating crackers with topping. The family rated this pizza as ok, no great shakes. The ingredients used...the ham, cheeses used in were not exceptional...the Quartro Formaggi at Modesto's was my reference standard...four kinds of superb cheeses, parma ham...etc...but, of course at a different price level. The ROC version could not compete. For the low prices charged, it was ok, but I won't return just for this pizza. Our favourite at Modesto's was not threatened.

By then, we were almost full...and not yet sampled the chilli mee, the pasta at the other end, and the beef hor fun...which had a very long queue and looked wonderful. Next time.

But wait, we were not done yet...we next went to the Ice Queen and ate some gelato. Made in-situ, the gelato claimed to use only fresh milk...less sugar, less fat, no eggs. We had 2 triples ($3.90 each triple) - Black sesame, Peanut, Rum n Raisin and Durian, Green Tea, Hazelnut chocholate. The Black sesame was nice...can really taste the sesame. The Rum n Raisin was rather strong with rum...the way we liked it. The Peanut tasted like cold peanut butter. Durian was quite strong tasting and pleasant (incidentally we had durian the evening before...tapow from the fruit store next door to Two Chef in Commonwealth Mao San Wang and another the seller claims to be better than MSW - he calls Tek Kar. Both were excellent.) The Green Tea was lesser than those I have tried in Tokyo, and the Hazelnut choc was forgettable.

This Food Centre was an interesting to do a tasting...many great stores, and good mix of old style, traditional looking hawkers with new, yuppie like hawkers. Worth another visit if just to try out the other stuff mentioned above.

Golden Mile Food Centre
Various stalls.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cze Char: Siang Hee, Zion Road, Singapore

with office colleagues

I found out about this Cze Char place from the a recommendation by mienmienmien at the ieat forum. One of the elders of the forum Wacow invited me to join the makan gang for a session at 2:30pm. Dr. Ieat was joining the lunch, and would be free only after closing the morning session of his clinic. Lunch at 2:30 is too late, would have died of starvation...and I gotta be back at work.

So I became the Advanced Party for the Makan Gang...and descended on Siang Hee with 4 of my office colleagues. The place was almost full when we arrived.

We proceeded to order the recommended dishes...the menu, hung on the wall...

ahem...we ordered almost everything on the menu, except for the fish dishes...which comprised of two orders of deep fried ter ka (it was so good that after the first one, everyone on the table agreed to do a second), one Marmite pork ribs, one Mongolian pork ribs, one House Special tofu, one pumpkin prawns, and some vegetable...a plate of French beans.

First the piece de resistance: the Deep Fried Pork Knuckle.

This dish deserved its we settled down to order...wacow smsed me "mien says pork leg is a must eat".

What seemed like a whole pork leg was served...the bone whole, and the meat de-boned and chopped up to rough pieces. Unlike German pork knuckle, which usually features a cut with a smaller bone (thibia?), and more meat, this had a huge bone (femur?) and less meaty.

Deep fried to perfection...very crisp skin...with a tingling small layer of fat greasy taste or feel. Very well done. The thin, crisp skin disintegrates with a crackling at every bite...sometimes the German Schweinshaxe can have crackling which can tend to be a bit tough, but this Chinese style "Ter Kar" was deep fried in very hot fat which renders everything keropok crispy. Superb. Agreeing with me, one of my colleagues - known as GT-R, by the car he drives, proclaimed immediately on his first bite, "WAH fantastic man!"...he had recently returned to Singapore after a 18 month stint in Hong Kong. Even HKG food cannot compare. "Boh beh chau".

The meat was tender, and not greasy. Collagen clung to some bits, and made the pork extremely tasty and nice on the palate. One of my other colleagues remarked that it is not as porky taste as some he had eaten. His remark reminded me of the lechon in the Philippines which had such a strong pork odour that I could not stomach it..I guess he was referring to that type of pork. This pork had a good pork flavour, but not overpowering and being pork lovers, it was a beautiful scent.

A chilli dipping sauce which taste distinctly quite Thai was the perfect accompaniment, as it provided the tang, and bite to the meat.

The Pumpkin Prawns was also outstanding.

As there were 5 of us, 5 huge succulent prawns were smothered in a thick pumpkin sauce which clung to the crustaceans like paste. The lovely sauce contained slices of red cut chilli which provided the oomph...I think the sauce is very special.

The prawns themselves were very fresh, and crunchy to the bite. No sea fragrance was detected, but no complaints...sweet, tasty.

Two styles of pork ribs were offered, and we ate both...the Marmite ribs was recommended by mien.

I had imagined the dish to be marmite...and had near nightmares last night about ordering it...Marmite is high in purine, and threatens to increase uric acid in the blood which may lead to gout. My uric acid levels are high, though I am asymptomatic of the disease...prevention is better than cure. When we arrived, I threw caution to the wind, and ordered it.

It was superb. The pork was slight crisp on the outside, but remained tender, and was covered marmite sauce, which was kind of brown instead of black. A sprinkling of sesami seed provided visual interest.

Next up to be devoured, we had the Mongolian Pork Rib.

This was recommended by our friendly server, who spoke Mandarin, Hokkien and English...and maybe a few more languages and dialects.

In comparison to the marmite, the pork seemed to be fried almost crisp...not quite super crisp like the one I blogged about in the Beo Crescent post, but it was almost. There was no soft, tender core like that found in the marmite. As a result, the dish tasted completely different, notwithstanding the different sauce. We couldn't quite make out what was in the sauce. It was tasty, but we all thought it to be a lesser dish than its marmite sibbling.

The House Tofu was also quite outstanding.

Pieces of very tender, fragrant tofu, with one side coated with spinach was served under a thick gooey sauce with straw mushrooms, carrots and bitter gourd. I don't normally like bitter gourd, but this one was neither bitter nor unpleasant. Very nice dish.

To make sure we have some balance to the protein and fat heavy meal, we also had a plate of fried french beans.

The beans turned out quite special as well. Each strand was rendered nearly crispy, and the insides still kind of medium raw...and crunchy. The wok must have been super duper hot, and the beans seared at high heat, tossed quickly and removed with immaculate timing, so it is not overcooked, and served with some crispy bits. We could not quite make out what the crispy bits were...quite possibly either shredded squid. But it was tasty.

This Cze Char store is highly recommended...very good dishes. Reasonably priced. Chef - shown in his kitchen with red a genius. Chap in blue in foreground is our server.

For completeness...the owner came to check our satisfaction, as would a Michelin I grabbed a shot of her.

Siang Hee
89 Zion Road

Photonote: easy time...usual equipment. Plenty of was a cloudy day, but more than sufficient for f/8 shooting. No experiments with raw processing...:-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lamentations: no good steaks in Singapore

This is a pet peeve of mine. No good steaks in Singapore. I know we have Mortons - the revered Chicago establishment...while the steaks we get here are possibly the best in Singapore, they are not even close to what they serve in the US. We also have Lawry's which I think is only good for their prime rib roast (which are excellent), but not traditional char grilled steak.

My personal standard of measurement is Peter Luger in Brooklyn. They serve up a wonderful porterhouse. Closest I have eaten is the porterhouse served in Mamou's Kitchen in Fort Bonaficio, Manila. Right down to the pre-cut steak, tilted to allow the fat (butter and beef fat) to drain to one side. Thinking of it makes me salivate.

Ruths Chris are also good, especially in the US, but also their outlet in Hong Kong island in Lippo Building. A local chain in Texas called Saltgrass also serves up great stuff. Steaks in Europe are not anywhere near as good...not even the cote de boeuf in France is less wonderful than what the Americans can do. In Sydney, where they have lots of beef...they have the little restaurant downstairs of the GPO - Prime which is rather good. As is Kingsley, but they are a bit erratic...sometimes good, sometimes too dry.

I hear the Argentinians do the best steaks...or so tells me my good friend who is from Argentina...but I have not been to South America, so cannot testify to that.

So why no good steaks in Singapore? I am puzzled!

I suspect the secret is to start with, of course fantastic meat. Prime USDA Angus beef is the choice for a great steak. Typically wagyu has too much marbling to be able to provide the texture and the oomph for a great steak. Don't get me wrong, wagyu is fantastic, but my preferred method of serving the gorgeous Japanese beef is sliced, tepanyaki style, even with rice. But a char grilled steak is a manly meal...served with no sauce, no jus (I hate Australia, where they seem to love their jus, I always ask the chef to serve the jus on the side...pretending to watching my weight...they never understand if I tell them I don't want jus.)

The steak, either porterhouse or sirloin, is sliced to be about 1.5 inch thick, and thinner and you will loose too much moisture during cooking, and the steak becomes dry. (A thin steak can still taste a Roman thinly sliced T-bone cooked on a pan with oil, instead of just plainly grilled comes to mind). Too thick it looses its punch.

Only air dried beef have the intensity of flavour and tenderness to make a great steak. A cut of meat is air dried in a cool environment. Dry aging is important as opposed to wet aging. Wet aging is to age the beef in a bag. 90% of beef is aged this way. The beef is vacuum packed and sealed, and left to age for a few days. The aging process will tenderise the beef, but will not impart any additional flavours.

Dry aging is as its name suggests...the meat is aged in air, and this is not preferred by butchers and steakhouses as the process will cause a shrinkage of up to 20% of the meat by weight. The cuts (note the beef is not cut into steak sized cuts, but whole chunks) are air dried from 7 to 20 days, during which a complex chemical reaction by the enzymes within the meat takes place to tenderise the meat, and concentrates the flavours. At the end of the aging process, a thick crust develops on the jerky.

Why 7 to 20 days? From day 7 onwards, or as the chef/butcher determines as the desired aging period, two slices of steak sized cuts can be removed from each end of the meat, and the rest goes into the chiller for further air drying. Slices are taken out at intervals determined by the chef/butcher. The end cuts are then trimmed off the jerky, and grilled. This is quite an involved process, plus the loss of mass of the meat makes air drying not popular with steakhouses except those who insist on highest quality.

Note the heavy marbling and the jerky like crust on the meat. The fat in the marbling will gently cook the meat, and will impart a wonderful flavour. And will provide the necessary tenderness to the beef.

A steak should be grilled over a hot charcoal fire, and no other seasoning except for salt and pepper added after it is cooked. I like mine done Chicago style medium. This style of doneness means the beef is cooked until the outsides are sealed, and the inside is cooked (typically about 55C core temperature), but still pink and moist. Chicago style means the meat is then charred on the outside. Beautiful.

Here is a cut of sirloin, grilled to perfection - Chicago medium. Note the red arrow showing the charred sides. The blue arrow points to the fat characteristic to a cut of sirloin. Note also the steak is at least 1 inch thick after cooking as shown by the green markings. Some steakhouses will allow you to trim off the layer of sirloin fat at your table after it is served to you, and toast it to a crispy crackling.

Pictures taken at Gallagher's Steakhouse in Las Vegas. Gallagher's is a famous steakhouse founded in New York City in 1927, and the NYC outlet is a 1 star Michelin.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee: Beo Crescent

with colleagues, featuring photography by Maggie Teo.

Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee (HKM) is one of the favourite dishes in Singapore. Noodles, usually two types - white, round rice noodles, and traditional Chinese yellow kee noodles are fried, sometimes double fried, with seafood ingredients like sliced squid, prawns and lard to create a magnificent plate, perhaps unique to Singapore.

As mentioned in my Kim's Hokkien Mee post, a few makan fanatics in my office are crazy over HKM so we continue to seek out new experiences, and re-enjoy old ones. The makan blog run by Dr. Leslie Tay ( and its Forum provided some suggestions for us to begin our quest.

This HKM was a bit more watery than the super thick gravy dished out by Kim's. Less richly laden with cholesterol, but still remanding quite tasty. The fire was quite powerful, imparting a nice wok hei which is evident in the tiny bits that ever so slightly charred. The dish was obviously fried with pork lard, which is the oil of choice for discerning chefs all over...the animal fat blesses the noodles with a distinct, delicious flavour not found if the same is fried with vegetable fat. This kind of subtle flavour, is like ganja (Malay for opium) and is addictive. So are the bits of crispy pork lard which is sprinkled over the HKM.

For me, this was excellent HKM, but not in my book for top 3. The prawns were a bit bland and tasteless. It lacks crunch, and bite, and this tells me that they were not fresh enough.

As the same coffee shop is also famous for its Hainanese Curry Rice, we also ordered a plate of crispy deep fried pork and crispy deep fried prawns.

The pork was indeed superb. Crispy...yes, each piece is fried till golden crispy. The taste was fantastic, and crushing each piece between the teeth releases a wonderful aroma and taste. Not cheap, this pork, a small plate was $4.

The prawn was lack-lustre.

OK in texture...the same crispy outer covering, but the prawns lack crunch, sea fragrance, and sweetness.

We also proceeded to Meng Kee Char Kway Teow in the next block (Block 22, Beo Crescent) for a plate of wet, sweetish CKT...very well done by the uncle...who also does a mean Carrot Cake for breakfast. Great wok hei, strong flavour, good taste. Nice CKT. Sorry forget to take photos...

Yang Zhou Fried Hokkien Mee
Blk 40 Lower Delta #01-16
Beo Crescent

Photonote: Pictures were taken by my colleague Maggie Teo with the Panasonic DMC FX55 used in my Brown Sugar post. Maggie is a budding photographer, with a keen interest to learn more about photography than most.

Shot this time in full resolution, except for the deep fried crispy pork, which for some reason was shot only in 600X400 original. No flash, colour balance reset using grey dropper in Photoshop CS3, and slightly sharpened.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Pierside, Singapore

While waiting to attend an event at Jing, Dr. Mycroft, Prof. Horolographer, SJX and I went next door and had dinner at The Pierside.

This is an old eatery which have been dishing up great eats to the beautiful people who show up at this trendy, fashionable area. The restaurant has a commanding view of the harbour...ok, this shot was taken about 60m away next to the Merlion...but the restaurant has an equally nice view...

We only had mains, as there was going to be finger food, champagne and single malt whisky at the event courtesy of The Hour Glass and Carl F. Bucherer fact, where we sat, the drinks counter was just a few meters away, and we actually felt like getting our free champagne from there...:-)

We were immediately served very small buns of bread...bite sized...these were hot when we got them...and tasted great.

Mycroft chose the wagyu tatare...he could never resist wagyu or any kind of fully marbled beef. And we were a bit shocked when it arrived...the tatare patty was super small...a mould about 1 inch in diameter and the same height. Hmm, that's not going to work, but a quiet word with the excellent Maitre d settled that, and soon it was replaced with a more sizable portion.

The quail egg, and passion fruit provide a nice visual treat, and must have provided a nice counter taste to the rich wagyu.

He reported it to be quite good. Tasty! he proclaimed. Like me, he liked his tartare quite spicy, and remarked that it could stand with a little more spice. My personal favourite of steak tartare (not wagyu) is in a small restaurant in Paris, where they allow you to mix the spices yourself. Yum.

Young SJX opted for the rack of lamb, and when that arrived it was 2 rib cutlets.

The dish looked gorgeous...the lamb looked beautifully done, with what looked like charcoal charring at the side, and when he cut the meat, looked perfectly pink inside. He seemed to enjoy it.

The Professor had miso cod. The Maitre d recommend it as a hot favourite of the restaurant.

The chef did a good job at the plating. The cod looked exquisite. Horolographer was satisfied with the fish, the fish looked like it was nicely done. It came with new the time I shot the picture, he had already taken a bite of one of the spuds. The fish was perched on top a bed of sweet peas.

I had the pasta. But with a twist. Slices of succulent, juicy Maine lobster was quite generously sprinkled.

This dish, I can was delicious. Excellent balance and sweetness of the lobster made my meal. The tagliatale was nicely done. Flat noodles like tagliatale should be made fresh, and though I did not ask the wait staff, I suspect this one tasted freshly made, and soft rather than chewy. Super.

The service was excellent. Cheerful...both the Maitre d and the waitress was smiling and happy to bring more bread, butter (yea, we did eat a lot of one might expect with Mycroft on the table). The setting of the restaurant was supreme, and the decor bright and cheery. Nice place. Really lovely. Enjoyed it.

Pierside Kitchen & Bar
Unit 01-01 One Fullerton
1 Fullerton Road
Singapore 049214

Photonotes: Shot with the usual 17-40L, but with 580EXII flash - indirectly using the white ceiling as a reflector.

The top shot of the durians of Esplanade was done with HDR. +2EV, 0EV, -2EV, combined using Photomatix HDR and Tone mapping.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Old Airport Road Hawker Center, Singapore

Silent post...only pictures, and photonotes.

First 2 pictures shot, sans flash, with EF85 f/1.2L at f/1.2. Super shallow DOF...I find this to be quite pleasing.

Next 2 is usual EF17-40 f/4L.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Brown Sugar: Singapore

with Dr. Mycroft

What attracted me to this place was the lure of their hand chopped wagyu burger in truffle oil, and pan fried foie gras. I read about it,and the allure of the wagyu...hand chopped instead of ground, truffle oil, and pan fried foie gras drew me like a moth to a flame. I had to go try this place out. And indeed I did, with my good friend and makan/watch/photo/hobby kaki Dr. Mycroft. We drifted into the restaurant after parking his slick, heavily modified Golf GTi at the free parking within the premises.

Some bloggers have discussed the merits of using premium beef like wagyu in a burger. Mycroft feels its a waste of good wagyu, so he had the pasta.

Tucked in an unlikely place, within a community center with a swanky name - Stardust, perched just off River Valley Road, the eatery looks like a modern, clean joint, like one is apt to find in Sydney.

Service was swift. The moment we sat down, we were presented the menu, and shown the blackboard which offered the day's specials. And soon we were offered a bowl of olive oil with vinegar and a plate of warm, toasted, crispy bread.

My burger looked kind of small. The patty was perhaps 2.5 inches in diameter, but about 2 inches thick. Served on a toasted split bun, it came with very crispy fries, and a serving of salad.

Perched on top of the hand chopped wagyu is a small sliver of foie gras. Pan fried to near perfection, this piece of fatty liver was gorgeous tasting. I think it must have been duck foie gras instead of the more expensive goose liver. But it tasted so heavenly, though it will surely up my purine intake...Still, wished it was a larger portion. (There is an upcharge of $8 to add the foie gras)

The truffle oil was difficult to discern. The burger patty was very tender...but then, as Mycroft argued, even if the beef was regular Angus, chopped or worse in other cases ground, it would be difficult to discern the superior wagyu texture and flavour. Indeed it was. But the patty was very nicely done. I requested for medium doneness, and it was perfectly so...slightly pink inside, no blood. It complimented with the fresh mushrooms very well. I also liked the bun.

They were quite generous with mushrooms heaped on the patty/foie gras, and being fresh, the fragrance and flavour of the mushroom was intense.

The french fries were also very good...crispy on the outside, and almost creamy on the inside.

Mycroft had the Linguine of Organic Mushrooms in Cream Sauce with Sliced Parma Ham.

He proclaimed the sauce a little too dilute, and the pasta a little too cooked to be al dente. But he liked his carbonara sauce with egg yolk and super thick, like those you get in Cafe Cartel, just as he liked his butter...the option he chose on his bread instead of the vinegar/olive oil.

Dessert was interesting.

I had the Molten 100% Valrhona Chocolate Cake, Raspberry Coulis, Vanilla Ice Cream.

The chocholate crust was softer than I had expected from the ones you get in Bakerzin. Cutting it open, the molten Valrhona chocholate oozes out sexily...enticing. The taste was superb...any dessert with Valrhona choc is going to be divine. It complimented nicely with vanilla ice cream.

Mycroft had the Sticky Date Pudding with Vannila Ice Cream.

Black date pudding was served with a generous helping of dried fig. I had a taste of the pudding...super sweet, but very tasty. Again nice compliment to the Vanilla Ice Cream.

Overall the service, ambience was very good. The quality of the food was excellent as well, as was the cooking. But the prices were a little steep. If the burger was $20 instead of $36 ($28 for the wagyu burger and $8 for addition of foie gras), I might be tempted to eat here more often.

Brown Sugar
277 River Valley Road,
Stardus Clubhouse (enter via Institution Hill)

Photo note: This was shot with a borrowed Panasonic DMC-FX55. Shot with medium resolution (I didn't think to change it. The max from the camera is 8MP, but I think this was shot in JPG at 4MP) Some sharpening, and resizing. I intentionally left it at 800 pixel width, to show the difference in the pictures and those I usually take.

I think the image is less 3D, and the range of colours is reduced. Also, small details, especially in shadow areas are also less visible on the Panasonic. Of course, it is unfair to compare a point and shoot to a professional camera with a professional lens.