Monday, November 30, 2009

Hatched!: nice and cozy...and full of memories

with family

Located right at the former Eusoff College residential hostel of the National University of Singapore, and just a short walk from Raffles Hall where I stayed during my undergraduate days...Eusoff was then an all girls hostel, and hearts of Rafflesians of RH as we called ourselves...and especially so for those who hot blooded male RH residents, would throb at the mention of "going to Eusoff". In those days, men were only allowed into the receiving foyer, and no further. Eusoff College has moved to its new grounds within the Kent Ridge campus, and for a while, it remained a residential college, but opened to both sexes. But it has since been commercially redeveloped. The old buildings still retain their old world charm, thank goodness the new tenants did not totally modernize it. And where the dining hall of Eusoff used to be, now housed Hatched!, The Wine Company and a prata shop. The Wine Company is worth a visit, so more of that in another blog entry, but the prata shop...despite its popularity, is not worth the calories.

The subject of my entry today is Hatched!

The menu was certainly was the cheerful gentleman who served us...

As implied by the menu and the catchy name Hatched, every item on the menu features eggs...All day breakfasts were offered. A quick perusal of the rather large number of options indicate that this was going to be interesting...the folks who wrote the menu have a sense of humour.

The restaurant was laid out and decorated more like a canteen, or a cafe...with a huge blackboard with specials etc scrawled on it.

I ordered the pancakes, of course...regular readers of this blog will know of this soft spot for big, hot, fluffy, pancakes with rich butter (or whipped butter) and maple syrup.

And indeed they were as promised. Hot, rather large (about 7 inches in diameter and about 1cm thick), fluffy. The batter was well done...with just a right tinge of sugar and salt. A small cup of maple syrup and another small cup of whipped butter was presented with the pancakes and a few blueberries. The blueberries were a bit stingy, I thought...I expected more blueberries...but no matter...the pancakes were quite delicious, and the maple syrup was also excellent (wish there were more generous with the the maple syrup and butter).

Kin had the Bacon Rap

Three slices (lumps really) of mozzarella cheese, wrapped in streaky bacon, baked and served with some fig jam. The dish tasted fine...the mozzarella tasted fine...and cooked nicely...sometimes mozzerella can be tough and have a tannic bite when overcooked...but this was done right, and very pleasant. The bacon was lightly fried, and wrapped around the cheese. A simple dish, but quite effective in busting the hunger pangs.

Edward had the Burly Benedict:

Our server recommended the young man to go for the double...double poached eggs, each topped with mornay sauce (Mornay sauce is a bechamel sauce with cheese...usually gruyere or and parmesan) sitting on a slice of wagyu beef and half an English muffin. Eggs benedict is not the easiest dish to prepare...though the idea of poaching an egg is easy enough, getting it perfect is rather difficult. The best I have eaten is at the breakfast table at The Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. I found the eggs to be nicely done...just right, when cut open, the outer had just begun to solidify, and the insides were still runny. Edward didn't like the eggs as much. The wagyu was a bit tough. On the whole, decent dish, though not spectacular like it can be given the way it was presented.

Interesting which brings back some memories, but mainly one which serves solid, traditional breakfast items...done well, if not not exceptionally well...but good enough for repeat visits.

26 Evans Road #01-06 Evans Lodge
Singapore, 259367
Tel: 67350012/13
Sun-Thu: 8am - 10pm
Fri-Sat: 8am - 12am
(Closed on Mon)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Eating in Bangkok: Krua Sa

with Prof. Thanet

Dinner with Prof. Thanet is always interesting. I have had several wonderful meals with him, both in his native Thailand and in a wonderful restaurant in San Francisco, where he was on a visit to his alma mater, and I was on a stopover on a business trip. I have also chronicled various interesting dinners in Bangkok...the most memorable for me was the recent visit to Krua Apsorn.

This time, we drove to yet another interesting restaurant...Krua Sa Ros I understand it, translated from Thai, this meand Sa's Kitchen of Strong Good Taste. Interesting name. Interesting place it was on a narrow soi, off Vibhavadi. As it happens, two restaurants are side by side...Krua Sa is further in from Thanon Vibhavadi.

But step inside what looks like a home, one is presented with the even more homey feel...

Ajarn Thanet tells me that the owners are also in the antique business...and have chosen to decorate their restaurant as would an antique lover would do up his home...I feel like I was eavesdropping into someone's home...very beautiful.

As usual, Thanet ordered a variety of dishes to sample. We started with a very interesting appetizer comprising of lightly poached cockles covered in a green chilli sauce:

I found the dish exquisite. The rich, luxurious taste of the lightly poached cockles...still juicy and very plump, was counterpointed by the limey, spicy, hot sauce. The condiments that accompanied the dish were raw sliced garlic, dried chilli, and peppermint leaves.

We then had a dish which was described in the menu (yes they have an abbreviated English menu) as fried chcken pieces.

Indeed, pieces of a small free range chicken were marinated and deep fried, and covered with deep fried, crispy garlic. The chicken was excellent. Juicy, and tasty, but I found the garlic to stick to my teeth....though, as a fried garlic lover, I am enthralled by the taste. I would have preferred the garlic to be more well fried, so it is crispy through instead of a crispy exterior but soft, slightly moist insides.

The also have satay...

Minced pork, marianted and put on a satay stick, grilled. And eaten with a smooth, creamy peanut sauce. The meat was juicy.

Tom Yam Kung is a Thai standard. Basically there are two main varieties...the original version with a clear soup: hot, spicy. And a more modern adaptation with a cloudy soup by adding assam and making it sour as well.

The kung (prawns) were super fresh, very large river prawns. They were plump, fat, tasty...slightly crunchy and sweet. The prawns were halved, and the fat within their huge heads allowed to cook with the soup...the crimson floaters you see in the soup is actually fragments of the super-flavoured, tasty prawn fat. The soup was very tasty as a result of the prawn fat, and lightly flavoured with lemongrass, light in spice hotness, and not sour at all. Well balanced soup. The vegetables added variety, especially the fat mushrooms which imbued additional flavour and taste.

Green curry fishballs were next:

This a very complex dish...many ingredients, many textures from the richness of the coconut milk in the green curry, to the crisp julliened vegetables, to the soft, spongy, springy fish balls. Interestingly the fish balls were halved and were empty inside...perhaps designed to pick up more of the rich, spicy curry sauce.

Main course, so to speak is deep fried sea bass:

The fish was very fresh, I would imagine it was live just before we ordered it. But this was common with sea bass which is farmed. The freshness was very apparent...the fish smelled fresh, clean. And the texture of the meat within was tender, moist, flakey and very tasty...while the outer was a shell fried to a crisp. The same deep fried garlic which was garnishing the fried chicken was also liberally sprinkled on the fish.

And for some variation, clear noodles - tanghoon (or woonsen in Thai) with crabmeat.

The woonsen was cooked just right...slight softer than al dente. And the crab meat provided the foundation for this wonderful dish. Rich, creamy, fresh, fat crab meat. Really a great dish.

I found the sauces offered by Krua Sa to be very interesting...and assualts all the senses, sight, smell, taste...and offers a wonderful accompaniment to the dishes.

As usual, Prof Thanet has succeeded in tantalising my tastebuds...the restaurant selected was interesting...certainly a tourist would not be able to have the knowledge, resources, or ability to casually wander into such a temple of Thai traditional cuisine, but also one which shows off the fresh produce of the land, and culinary genius of the people.

Krua Sa Restaurant
177/1 Soi Vibhavadi 13 Vibhavadi Road Chatuchak, 10900 Chatuchak, Bangkok
tel: 662 9363982
Map here

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Steaks in Bangkok: Ma Be Ba

Leslie recommended that I go and try this restaurant in Bangkok...Ma Be Ba...better than Mamou's in Manila, he says. What a strange name, me thinks...and better than Mamou's? This intrigued me. So the first evening I was back in Bangkok, I took a stroll to Soi Lang Suan.

The restaurant was cavernous. Huge. Looked like a cave...high walls...huge murals on the ceiling...various paintings on the walls. Interesting. At 7pm, the whole place was almost empty. An Italian family was occupying a table...and there was me.

I ordered a glass of the house red...a Chianti...not bad...soothed, I ordered their fillet...the waitress said it was very good...I described I wanted it Chicago medium...oops, mistake...blank look on her face...I explained...medium rare inside, but charred outside...she nodded, apparently understanding what I wanted, but puzzled as to why would anyone want a steak like that. She said she will tell the chef...I watched her walk to the kitchen and explain to the chef...who was Italian, so she spoke in English...and she repeated what I had wanted.

I settled down to nurse my wine, and a basket of freshly baked bread was presented. The bread was outstanding, as was the dips. Very promising. Leads me to believe that the pizza probably is very good...indeed the Italian table ordered some large pizzas...looked and smelled good.

The steak arrived. It was disappointingly not Chicago medium. There was hardly any charring on the outside. It was nestled on a bed of vegetables, and hash brown. I cut it open:

It was indeeed medium rare inside. The meat was very tender...too tender that I suspect generous use of chemical tenderiser. The meat was lifeless. Tender, soft. No beefy taste, no charred flavours (of course!), no foie gras notes. Just soft beef. The sauce was very salty, though it was very tasty.

So great steak? Absolutely not. NY Steakhouse at the JW Marriott at Sukhumvit Road is superior. So don't talk to me about unseating Mamou. Aston's trounces it. The breads promise a nice pizza, but I didn't try it.

p.s. Normally I try and only do good reviews and only for restaurants I would recommend. At least one item that I ate at the restaurant has to be good, or something else was exceptional. For Mabeba Bangkok, this was the bread basket...the steak was disappointing, hardly something worth a sidetrip to sample. So perhaps this is an exception entry.

Ma Be Ba Italian Restaurant
93, Lang Suan Rd, Lumphini, Pathum Wan, Bangkok

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Big D Grill: Again

with family

I had always wanted to return to the Big D Grill ever since the Makan Session. The taste of the kurobuta pork, of the wagyu, of the pastas lingers in my mind...but somehow we never managed to return...until this Sunday.

I ordered the familiar: Kurubota pork chops:

The pork looked resplendent in its glory...perfectly grilled...with Damien, I didn't have to tell him I wanted it charred outside, medium was de rigeur for him...the pork chop was done the way I liked.

The kurobuta pork was thick, rich, juicy, and grilled wonderfully. Very very good...flavourful, tender...everything one could want in a pork chop. The whipped potato was divine as was so fine, and creamy. Edward loved the pork and the potatos.

The home made baked beans were also superb.

We also had an order of spagettin carbonara:

Unlike the last degustation, the pasta was al dente. The sauce, super rich and creamy. The sauce lacked a bit of punch, and I later discovered that this was because Damien did not use Parmigiani cheese, but regular parmesan cheese. But the richness of the egg was apparent, and made a nice dish.

And we tried something new...the onglet.

The onglet, is a French word used to describe a cut of beef which hangs from the diagphragm of the steer. This was a cut of beef which is lean and known for its flavour.

As can be seen above, the cut was sinewy...indeed, anatomically this is a piece of muscle which continues from the diagphragm of the cow...the diagphragm is s tough piece of meat, because this is a heavily used muscle...used for breathing. But the onglet is kind of like an extension, hanging from it. Seared in high heat quickly is the only way to cook onglet, and Damien gets this. The cut was done charred outside, and just a touch rare of medium rare. Edward enjoyed it, but I thought a minute more on each side on the skillet will do the trick...and make the steak perfectly Chicago medium rare. Indeed the cut was chewy, a bit tough even, though not to the extent of being bothersome...the texture was rather nice on the palate...but very flavourful. Deep, strong flavours of beef, and a slight hint of kidneys.

Overall again, The Big D's Grill delivers fine meats. He also had an offering of peranakan dishes - pork and pineapple curry, assam fish curry, ayam buah keluak...but this Sunday, we were all western.

Big D's Grill
Block 46 Holland Drive
Singapore 270046

Open daily from 12pm-2.30pm and 6pm-9.30pm, except Thursdays which is dinner only from 5.30pm till 9.30pm

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tetsu: can food courts do high end dining?

This is an invited review.

Tetsu is tucked in the third floor of Tanglin Mall...a mall close to my home. I used to go often to Tanglin Mall, when it first opened...but have not been back for a long time. The mall caters mainly to the expatriate crowd, with restaurants and shops targeting at that market segment.

Tetsu is Food Junction's foray into the fine(r) dining scene in Singapore. Known for their food courts, Food Junction is known as a home grown started in Bishan with a food court in 1993. Their claim to fame is that they were the first to introduce the concept of themed food courts. Currently they operate some 11 Food Courts in Singapore, and 5 more overseas (Malaysia, Indonesia, China)

The restaurant was decorated rather nicely...with interesting accent lighting which creates a rather cozy mood.

Accompanying the meal with some dry sake...not being an expert, I reserve comment, except that it was very clear, clean tasting.

We started with some interesting appetizers:

The Kani Tofu: crab meat with century eggs:

The tofu was very rich tasting, smooth, creamy, and a bit resilient to the palate...providing some resistance to crumbling. The flying fish roe, crabmeat and century egg complemented the taste very well, providing more richness, and some piquant hints from the eggs.

Fugu Mirin Boshi:

Fugu...strikes fear in people's hearts...poison from a fish so lethal, that it kills a grown man within minutes of ingesting it. In Japan, a complex system of accreditation controls chefs who are allowed to handle fugu. I have tasted the delicacy once in Tokyo...and despite the hype, found it to be a let down...the fugu sashimi I hate had a tough-ish texture, pale, colourless...almost transparent visually, and almost tasteless. Seeing fugu in Tetsu's menu intrigued me. However, this was not fresh fugu. Tetsu did not have a qualified fugu chef, but rather imports the preserved fugu meat.

Fugu is merinated in mirin, and preserved in Japan. The dish had the fish in slices. It looked like a cuttlefish, indeed the texture on the palate and taste reminds me of cuttlefish. It was strong, powerful, with sharp counterpoints of salt and sweet from the mirin. Nice.

A typical tempura of ebi was also served as appetizer:

The batter was beautifully made, the prawns were reasonably straight - the Japanese pride themselves in how straight the chef could make a curled up prawn as one of the touches of a good tempura. I found the batter to be slightly greasy, but was very crispy and crunchy. The prawns itself were nicely cooked, but I felt the prawns could have been fresher, sweeter, and should have hinted of the sea. On the whole, the average quality of the prawns let down the crisp batter, and made this an average tempura, rather than a spectacular one it could have been with better prawns.

Sashimi was next:

Beautifully presented, the sashimi moriawase comprised of a whole sanma, hamachi, maguro, sake, and mekajiki. The sashimi was good. Freshness of the fish was good, though not supreme. The sashimi at Rakuichi and of course my favourite sushi-ya in Tokyo SushiZanmai is much better. But Tetsu's sashimi was good. In particular, I enjoyed the mekajiki - swordfish, lightly blowtorched, in its own small bowl of ponzu sauce was excellent...the sharp ponzu playing well with the rich swordfish. The hamachi - yellowtail was also very good.

Next the main courses:

Pork Rosu katsu:

As followers of this blog would know, I have an ongoing series for pork katsu...starting from the artisanal, and supremely delicious katsu served at Katsukura in Tokyo, to the sublime, rich tasting ones done by Tampopo/Tom the average ones from Ginza Bairin. On a quick analysis, Tetsu's katsu is smack in the middle...perhaps a touch below that offered by Tonkichi. The meat was dry and lean except for a bit of fat at one edge. But it tasted surprisingly moist. The batter was crumbly, and in my opinion lacks the integrity and crispiness offered by the better katsus. It disintegrated when probed by my chopsticks, and did not survive dipping into the sauce.

The Yakiniku beef tenderloin was another story:

Tenderloin of beef was sliced and doused with yakiniku can be seen in the picture above, the meat was done just shy of medium. Perfect. The meat was very flavourful, and tender, and goes exceedingly well with the yakiniku sauce. The sauce was sweet, salty with powerful overtones of ginger. Excellent plus plus for this beef dish.

We also had Gindara Saiyotsuke

Black cod was filleted and marinated in miso for 24 hours, before being grilled. The cod was reasonably fresh, not exceptionally so, but the miso, despite of being the marinate the fish sat in for a long time, left little impression. The dark miso sauce on the side had to be used to provide some salt to the fish, which eventually brought out the fine, smooth, creamy, oily taste of the fish. I preferred the miso cod served at Taste Paraside, though the method of cooking is quite different with the same ingredients.

For starch, we had two. First cold udon.

Hiyashi Udon as the dish is called. Interesting. In all my travels to Japan I have not tried cold udon, which is supposedly quite popular in summer...I try and avoid Tokyo in the summer...its just too hot and the new coolbiz environment meant that the air conditioners in offices are set warmish and not always comfortable for someone who spent time walking in suit and tie from the train station to visit. Yes, coolbiz means short sleeved shirts with no tie or jackets, but being visitors, we are often obligated to dress for international business.

Anyway, I digress. The cold noodles were superb. The udon was snow white, thinner than regular hot udon, but thicker than soba. The texture was springy and spongy to the bite. And with the dipping sauce of unpasteurized soy sauce...with grated ginger and Japanese spring onions, was quite good. I enjoyed it very much.

We also tried their seafood fried rice, which is a speciality:

Japanese rice, fried with garlic, small shrimps and other seafood. Kin found the garlic to be too strong an overtone, however I liked it very much. For me, the strong garlic flavours interact with the other ingredients and rice to produce a nice tasting dish...other than the garlic, the rice was a bit mild until I sprinkled powdered chilli to spice things up. The chilli lifted the dish to near perfect - toning down the garlic, lifting the seafood bits, and drawing out the wok hei of the rice.

Finally the desserts. We tried three different desserts:

From right to left: Triple house sherbert of lime, strawberry and orange, Jinkasei Goma ice cream, and Yuzu ice cream on strawberry sherbert.

Although the sherbert was home made in the restaurant, I found it lacked the intensity found in other housemade sherberts I have sampled. The ice crystals were also a bit rough.

The gonma ice cream was interesting. Black sesame is toasted, ground and mixed into vanilla ice cream to create this dessert. The taste of the black sesame was very strong, a bit overpowering but not quite as the vanilla provided sufficient base for the flavour to develop. Rich tasting, but due to the strong black sesame taste, only for those who love sesame.

I saved the best dessert for last...the yuzu ice cream was near divine. Yuzu is a citrus fruit commonly used in Japanese cuisine, though its origins are in China. Like a cross between a grapefruit and mandarin oranges, it provides acidity, and a very nice aroma to dishes it is used in. In ice cream, it is wonderful. The acidity plays well with the richness of the cream. And bits of yuzu rind are found within. Excellent.

Overall, Tetsu excells in casual dining...offering a huge selection from their menu...but that's where I feel if they could focus on three or four specialities and offer only those, would be more interesting a restaurant. But as it is, due to the large selection, would be very suitable for large groups with diverse tastes.

Service was excellent. The Assistant Manager and Manager were at hand to explain the dishes, and they were very knowledgable. The waitresses were competent, and polite.

Tetsu Japanese Restaurant
163 Tanglin Road
#03-18 Tanglin Mall
Tel: +65 6836 3112
Lunch: 11.30am - 3.00pm
Dinner: 6.00pm - 10.00pm

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bismillah Biryani: best in Singapore?

various occassions

When Leslie Tay, now Asia's Best Food Blog by the Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards wrote that Bismillah was the best nasi biryani in eyes and tastebuds perked up.

In my travels to the Indian sub-continent, I have tasted some amazing New Delhi (a small restaurant in Defence Colony, whose name escapes me now), in Mumbai (once a superior experience at the Hilton Towers coffee house...yes, next to the Oberoi which was seiged, and many times at Mahesh, and the Copper Pot), and in Karachi. The rice was superior...super long grained, non starchy, very fluffy and absorbent. I even hand carried 10kg of superior basmati rice once back from Delhi. The varieties you get in Singapore's provision shops are way inferior. Read Leslie's article for more information on basmati rice.

Not only the rice is superior, the spices are superior. The cutlets of lamb, often whole rack or leg are superior. Fat, no doubt, but flavourful, wholesome. And the generous amounts fragrant ghee used makes it an aromatic pot. None I have experienced in Singapore comes close.

But a few offer substitures when a trip to India is not possible to enjoy some biryani. I have written about Mirchi, whose Dum Biryani is superb. Almost close to the motherland's, but not quite. And the promise that Bismillah was the equal, lures.

I made a trip to Dunlop Street immediately the next day. True to form, I found the rice wonderful...but the mutton used was very tough, almost to the extent that one has to fight with it...that kind of killed the experience. But within the toughness, I could taste the hints of the spices which the chef had blessed the meat with. And the rice...wonderful.

I gave it a second try, and brought some overseas colleagues there for dinner...including an Indonesian, a Pakistani, and a Korean. All enjoyed the biryani...but the mutton was still being mutton...very tough. I discussed this with Arif, the owner who was there that evening...and he explained that he does not use ghee (healthier), and uses mutton from goat which is more than a year the meat is tougher...a quality he feels should be part of the mutton experience.

So when Cactuskit announce a mini-makan session that lamb curry was to be made available, I jumped again and made my third visit to Bismillah.

The lamb was served in a brown gravy...quite unlike any curry I have seen. Chunks of lamb...making out what I think is probably a whole leg or part of. Another serving, shown above was a rack of lamb...

The meat was very tender...fall off the bone. Very succulent, juicy. Nice flavour...and a subtle hint of the lamb. The sauce was more a brown sauce than curry, was heavy in pepper...The entire ensemble was rather nice. But I felt it did not scale the heights. The sauce was one dimensional, too strong of pepper. And no complexity to play with the flavours and aromas of the lamb.

The dish was served with hand made naan.

I am not sure if Bismillah have a tandoor oven to make the naan, I suspect not...but the naan was very dense. The dough did not rise at the ends to make a fluffy, light bread, but remained dense, and chewy. The taste was ok for naan, but I much prefer the fluffy, fragrant varieties found all over India and in Mirchi.

Not being able to resist, I also ordered a lamb biryani:

Lamb biryani? Earlier Arif had argued that only mutton, with its incumbent tough, sinewy meat was good enough for dum biryani...he had once declared that if mutton is cooked till tender, the meat is destroyed in his mind...but somehow, perhaps the power of Leslie's blog (I and a few others commented that the mutton was too tough), he now offers lamb.

This was absolutely wonderful! The lamb was tender to a fault...fall off the was served on the bone, and meat on the bone, being closer to the blood supply when the animal was alive tends to be sweeter and more succulent. Indeed this was. The lamb flavour was not overpowering, but subtle, ever present...perfuming the spices instead of the other way round. Very very good. The rice was superb as usual with Bismillah. Truly an outstanding dish.

How does it compare to Mirchi and those in India? Well Mirchi uses ghee...this alone imbues the biryani with added flavour and fragrance...much like pork lard enhances the flavour of char kway teow, the ghee enhances the flavour of the biryani. So still no comparison. But a healtier version (not exactly totally healthy as lamb is high in cholesterol and saturated fats). I am able to live with, more than only live with it...but totally am able to embrace I don't get a guilty feeling of betraying my body each time I indulge. So Bismillah will be a permanent mealpoint for be visited, hopefully sparringly (for health reasons).

ismillah Biryani Restaurant
50 Dunlop Street
Singapore 209379
11am to 10.30pm dail

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Persian cuisine at Shiraz

with Kaasra, Kambiz, Luke

My Persian friends, brothers and perfect hosts: Kaasra and Kambiz invited Luke and me to a taste of Persian/Iranian food at one of the prime restaurants serving this ancient cuisine. Kaasra described the food as Silk the Persians learnt to do the art of the grill from the Mongols, as the Mongolian empire stretched from Mongolia to as far as Eastern Europe in the ancient days.

Located in the touristy area of Clarke Quay...its been a while since I was last at Clarke Quay...the restaurant is a little gem in the area. Beautifully decorated, it boasts of a display grill kitchen right at the entrance. Prominently displayed at the entrance is a circular sofa, with a beautiful colorful chandelier of sorts.

I started with a glass of Shiraz...(what else)...deep, dark, ruby red...good nose, nice soft tannins. Very good. This was the premium house pour...I forget the maker, but it was certainly French.

We started with grilled meats, of course...

From the bottom of the picture, lamb kubideh, barreh kebab, jujeh kebab, and meigu kebab, with mixed capiscum, onions, chilli and tomato.

For me the kubideh takes it all. This is minced lamb, chopped with spices, made like a patty, speared by a sword, and grilled over an open charcoal fire. Kaasra tells me that the best he has eaten is crisp and charred on the outside, and tender, juicy on the inside. The cooking was not quite at that exalted standard, but I found the meat to be very tender, juicy (literally...fat and juices ooze out as one cuts the kubideh). Superb tasting. The flavour of the lamb was absolutely captivating...ever present, but yet like behind a veil...coy at times taking cover behind the sheer veil of spices. Shiok!

The barreh kebab is pieces of lamb loin, barbecued in the same manner. It too was very nice lamb flavour, and very tender. The Jugeh chicken is spring chicken. A whole chicken under 700 grams, is marinated in onion juice and Saffron, and grilled over open fire. I found the chicken to be nicely done, but not as spectacular as the lamb. The Meigu (Persian word for prawn) kebab was a bit tough, and bland tasting...for me the lamb was the big star.

We also had a lamb chop...a dish which Shiraz calls Shandiz...named after a famous restaurant in Iran serving this delicacy. The lamb too was superbly tender, tasty, and very beautiful lamb aroma flirted with the tongue as one eats. Fantastic lamb.

The meats were eaten with a hand made pita bread...unleaven, and flat. And also 4 different kinds of basmati rice. Each with its own special flavour, and spiced. Excellent rice.

We had plain basmati rice, shown in the middle of the plate above. In Iran, they use Persian long grain rice, which is similar to Indian basmati which was served. In the foreground, was the Sabzi Polo. Sabzi means herbs and Polo means steamed rice. The long grain rice (basmati) is steamed with 3 or 4 different herbs and fresh whole young Garlic. At the far end of the plate is the Zereshk Polo. Basmati rice steamed and sprinkled with Barberry(Zereshk) and dressed with saffron. This version also had pomegranates which is not common. Zereshk Polo is always served with Chicken, so is a kind of Persian Chicken Rice. The golden brown rectangular pieces around the dish is known as Tahdig. Literally means bottom of the pan. Crispy rice is the most prized, and often fought over by the children in a Persian home. This one was made from rice/yougurt/egg mixture.

Half way through the meal, the music (which Kaasra feels is not really Persian, perhaps Arabic) was turned up, and a belly dancer made her way across the tables. Interesting entertainment for the uninitiated, but for real foodies, the real entertainment is in the superb food.

This is my first experience in a Persian restaurant in Singapore or abroad. And it is indeed pleasant. The food is superbly done barbeque, and the lamb was spectacular.

3A River Valley Road
#01-06 Clarke Quay
Tel: +65 6334 2282
Daily: 12noon-2.30pm, 6pm-11.30pm