Thursday, April 28, 2011

De burgs: former Sunshine Cafe Burgers

Burgers...we have gourmet ones like those I have featured from Landing Point and at dB. We also have the fast food ones like Carl's Jr, et al. Some time ago, some bloggers proclaimed that a little cafe, called Sunshine Cafe, just around the corner from where I live serves the best burgers in Singapore. I attempted to eat there, since it is so near and all that, but as the cafe was situated within a condominium, it was only open to the residents...interesting, methot. I later found out that they were initially open to the public, but the diners made so much noise that the management of the condo decided to close access to public. Needless to say, Sunshine Cafe had to close.

When I heard they had re-appered in a coffee shop in Ghim Moh...I went to try.

Simple store within the coffee shop. They offer quite a variety of burgers. Their mainstays were the beef burgers with Australian beef patties, but they also offer non-beef versions and even vegetarian burgers.

Anyway, we ordered a few burgers.

The patty was huge...and we didn't even order the giant ones in which is their claim to fame...numerous pictures of diners and their giant burgers.

Tastewise, the beef was roughly cut...they claim no binders were used...and you can almost taste the beef....I mean that in no disrespect...many burgers, especially those from the large chains...don't taste of beef. This one even has the texture of roughly hand chopped beef. The grilling was rather conservatively done...medium rare which I ordered came reasonably accurate to my request. But no charring on the outsides. The bun was ok.

We also had the bacon beef burger:

I would have preferred the bacon to be grilled or fried to a crisp. Though the beef patty and bacon was rather tasty. The combination of cheese, lettuce, tomatos were nicely done, and piled on high.

Best burger in Singapore? Not by a long shot, in my humble books. Nice to eat? OK if you are hungry for a burger and cannot stand those served by the large chains. Certainly De Burg's creations straddle the huge chain store burgers and the gourmet ones...on all counts...price, quality of ingredients, and taste.

De Burg
Stall No.3, Block 10 Ghim Moh Road,
#01-78., Singapore, Singapore 270010
Tues - Sat: 11:30-21:15
Sun: 11:15-21:00

Monday, April 25, 2011

Black and White Cafe: extreme french toast

I wrote about Hong Kong's cha chan teng earlier...and I wonder why we don't have these East meets West hybrids in Singapore...perhaps we do in the form of the kaya toast coffee places. But most kaya toast places in Singapore do not serve a full menu...true we usually have some curry chicken, mee siam, nasi lemak and perhaps snack like food, the Hong Kong cha chan teng usually have more substantial meals. In the mornings, the interesting instant noodles, with eggs, luncheon meat. And the amazing french toast.

The Singapore version by Ya Kun and Killiney are impotent in comparison. Here we have one slice of thin bread, dipped in egg, and then fried. And served with a small piece of butter and a slap of kaya. Nice, I agree, but nothing like the huge thick slice of bread. With either peanut butter generously applied inside...I even found one cha chan teng which serves kaya within. Then a slab of butter. And a small pitcher of maple syrup.

The version above is served in one of the many cha chan tengs in Hong Kong. This particular one is one called Black and White, which has many branches throughout the territory. This particular branch I visited is truly nostalgic...old table and chairs, in a restaurant with white tiled walls, and old, rude wait staff...hmm...old Hong Kong.

One of the better french toasts I have ever eaten. The bread is very soft, tender even. The egg covering was slightly crisp and very fragrant. The peanut butter is excellent, and the butter with maple syrup is divine...truly a wonderful dish.

Black and White Cafe
many locations throughout Hong Kong and Kowloon

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tai Hing: chain cha chan teng...any good?

Milk tea is a speciality in many cha chan tengs in Hong Kong. For some reason, the tea dust they use in Hong Kong creates a special flavour to the tea...a bit astringent, tannic, but divinely and intricately intertwined with the rich, creamy milk. Very special. Tai Hing is one such chain stores which serve up a delicious concoction.

Served cold with the ice on the outside, so as not to dilute the tea. Superb. Even the hot version...shown behind the ice cold version is superb.

Though a chain store, each branch is totally different. I am not sure if its a franchise, but I tried two seperate Tai reputed to be the original store in Causeway Bay, and another in Mongkok. The food and the tea seemed to be the same to me in each of the stores. But the decor is totally different.

The Causeway Bay outlet is kind of old...more like a coffee shop, as seen above. The Mongkok one is totally fresh, new look...more like a swank cafe.

We ate the mixed roast meats:

Quite tasty. The goose had crisp, light skin while its meat was flavourful...nice and tender. The roast pork too came with a very nice light crisp skin. Pork in Hong Kong is more flavourful than the ones we get here in Singapore. Perhaps because its freshly slaughtered, perhaps its the feed used for their pigs. But the pork is distinctly different. Singapore's pork is more bland while the Hong Kong's pork is much more flavourful, and tasty.

And the same with the vegetables.

I blame it on the fact that we have to import our fresh food from afar. Most of our vegetables in Singapore come from Malaysia or Indonesia or even China. While for Hong Kong, I guess vegetables come mainly from China, so nearer to source. The Kale (kai lan) is all the more less fibrous, and tender than any we get here in Singapore.

And the piece de resistance for me in a Cha Chan Teng...the french toast:

Thick toast, sliced open and generously spread with a creamy peanut butter. Then dipped in egg and fried. The outside is crisp. The bread remained nice, light, fluffy inside. A piece of semi-melted butter accompanies, and a small pitcher of maple syrup completes the dish. Quite divine.

Overall, worthy to seek out one near you. The savoury meals are good. But their milk tea and french toast is excellent.

Tai Hing
many locations throughout Hong Kong and Kowloon

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

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A colleague at the getdpi forum is a professional food photographer and is offering a contest to win a free course. Click here to try your hand at winning one.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Congee in Law Fu Kee

Just across the road from the famous Tai Cheung egg tarts stand another venerable Hong Kong institution. Law Fu Kee, famous for their congee and fishcakes has stood for probably decades.

The congee is quite special. At first look and taste, it is like another congee from any other stall in Hong Kong...which means its pretty darn good. But look into the details, and one understands why the congee is special. The congee itself is ultra smooth. The rice grains are still visible, and not reduced to paste as some congee stalls tend to do. As you slurp the congee, the tongue can almost make out the grains, but then, they kind of pop, and disintegrate into a starchy fragrance. The phee tan and lean meat for which is used to fortify the bowl we ordered is good, but it could well have been any other ingredients of which LFK offers many.

To accompany the congee is their fresh dace fish balls. Deep fried, with flounder and tangerin skins added into the mixture before deep frying to a beautiful crisp exterior. The insides maintain a highly springy consistency. The home made clam sauce which accompanies lifts the subtle flavours. I love it for the chewiness contrasting with the crisp skin, and the subtle flavours of the dace, flounder and tangerine.

We also ordered a beef brisket HKG, if you just order a "ngau lam mien", they will bring brisket and tendons in a bowl of soup with wantan noodles. If you want the dry style, you will have to specify. The brisket and tendons are very good as well. Tender, but still maintaining the sinewy texture, the brisket is full flavoured. The tendons are cooked till ultra-tender...almost melt in your mouth. The noodles are almost di regieur, and reminiscent of the old Mak's Noodles.

I revisited Mak's this time, and not only have the crowds gone, probably because the newfound Michelin fame has caused them to raise prices and franchise the business, but I feel the noodles were a shadow of their former self. I am not sure if I can call them "world's best" noodles anymore.

LFK's noodles were somewhat between the standard created by Mak's when I tasted it in 2008 and in 2010. So, pretty good. Indeed, very shiok.

NB: This restaurant also garnered a Michelin "Cheap Eats" award.

Law Fu Kee
G/F, 50 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central
Hong Kong

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring Deer in Kowloon

Spring Deer Restaurant, nestled in the busy streets of TST in Kowloon is one of the old, famous restaurants. A favourite amongst Asian visitors, the restaurant is famous for the Peking Duck...however, with just the two of us, it was not possible to order the famous bird, as it was only offered as a whole duck.

As can be seen, it was totally packed on the Sunday evening, though the waiter managed to find us a table easily, the whole restaurant was packed...mainly with what seemed like local families having their Sunday dinner out.

We settled for three dishes...first the mixed vegetables:

This was actually quite superb. Very fresh, very tasty vegetables - especially the baby corn was wonderful. The light sauce which accompanies was also delicately balanced to show off the vegetables' own flavour. My favourite dish for the evening.

Also, a kind of home made tofu, in a shrimp egg sauce

The shrimp eggs were almost microscopic, and showed their presence as a reddish hue to the tofu, and a rich, but salty taste. The tofu was a bit more firm than I would have preferred, but was nice and fragrant.

We also ordered the fried chicken:

Almost like our har cheong kai, but without the seasoning of belachan. The chicken was fried in a super hot wok...scalding and making the outside and skin super crispy, while retaining the moisture in the meat. Good, but not really special to me. I prefer the HCKs in Singapore.

We then enquired about the xiao loong pau which we saw many tables ordering...but told the waiter to hold the order untill we finished the dishes as we might have had too much food. I guess he mistook our instruction, and delivered the xiao loong pau when we were finishing off our dinner. This took us by a bit of a surprise, as we were rather full, and had expected he'd come to check with us first...but I guess the entreprenaural spirit of Hong Kongers are such that if we did not specifically say we did not want it after our enquiry, they assumed to have made the sale...but anyhow...

The xiao loong pau was not spectacular. The meat was rather leand and a bit dry tasting. The skin was too thick. The juice within was ok. I had expected better, especially when almost every other table had a basket.

Overall, Spring Deer is not a bad place to eat. Not particularly one to make one's way to just to sample the food...perhaps the Peking Duck, but we did not try that. For the stuff we ordered, it was rather ordinary.

Spring Deer Restaurant
46 Mody Road
九龍, Hong Kong

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cha Chan Teng in HKG: Yuen Kee

For our first dinner out in Hong we were staying on Nathan Road in Kowloon, we thought a walk around to see what the locals were eating. As we passed Yuen Kee, I remembered a post on Camemberu that they were famous for their beef we dropped in for a visit.

First the ubiquitious milk tea...

Milk, tea, sweetened. Simple as that. But other than in India where this is often excellent. I only find great cha-nai in Hong Kong. Nowhere in Singapore can I find either iced or hot milk tea which is as good. Frequently, as is the case here, and in two other cha chan teng we tried this visit, the milk tea was superb.

The tea was brewed to a strength which I guess is best described as just right...slightly tannic and with good body and structure, allowing the fragrance of the tea (tea dust I understand is used to brew the tea for added power and oomph) to shine through the round, rich body of the evaporated milk used to enrich the brew.

Of course we tried teh beef hor fun:

First thing we noticed was that the horfun was sliced thin. And were not separated from each other...meaning each strip of hor fun was actually comprised of layers of hor fun. The beef was nice and tender, though I suspect a judicious amount of tenderiser has been used. The frying was very light, so not much wok hei. And we found the dish to be too oily. Chalk this up as only mediocre.

We also ordered the mixed meat with rice...

A leg of white boiled chicken and a leg of roast goose. The chicken was de rigeur. Very good, tasty, with good texture. I can taste the freshness, or absence of freezing on the meat. But the roast goose was excellent. The skin, delicate, roasted to near perfection - was crisp, with a sliver of flavourful fat just below...not too much as to be too rich, but just a small sliver to fortify the richness. The meat was nice and tender. Excellent! Very Shiok!

Overall, especially compared to other cha chan tengs that dot HKG, Yuen Kee is probably mediocre. So if you happen to be in the Kimberly Road, TST area, do drop by and sample the food. Otherwise, visitors to HKG are adviced that it is not necessary to seek out Yuen Kee.

But if we can get this quality of cooking in a Singapore cha chan teng, I would be happy. We do have a number of shops in Singapore who attempt to offer Hong Kong style street food, but none managing to attain any level of competency.

Yuen Kee Restaurant
27 Kimberley Road
Tsim Tsa Tsui
Hong Kong SAR

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Meals before flying: Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge in Terminal 3 Changi

As a longstanding Solitaire member (year 11 of my membership...I missed out on the lifetime PPS membership by a sliver some years ago, and now need to qualify annually), I enjoy the services of the Silver Kris First Class lounge whenever I fly Singapore Airlines. This is a worthwhile privillage, especially before a long night flight, where I can have a nice meal at the lounge before boarding, and put the seat down immediately after the captain puts the seatbelt sign off, and go to sleep. This way, I can often manage 10 hours sleep during a SIN-FRA flight, and still have time to eat a breakfast. Sometimes, I order a "Book the Cook" facility available for First and Business Class in Singapore Airlines for some of my favourites is the Lobster Thermidor which I have featured in a blog post before, and often I have this just before landing in Frankfurt or Zurich as breakfast after a long night flight.

Anyway, I thought for this post, I'd touch on the lounge. The First Class Lounge is a fancy is basically a Solitaire lounge. If you purchase a full fare First Class Ticket, you'd be ushered in a Private Lounge within the First Class Lounge. This special lounge is not open to anyone with a redeemed First Class ticket, or travelling on Business and Economy. But I digress. The First Class lounge is open to Solitaires who are travelling on SQ in any class.

The Lounge has a rather spacious lounge area with a bar. And a nice dining area shown above. During meal times - breakfast, lunch, dinner, they have a chef in attendance, and meals can be cooked.

This time, I was on a morning flight to Hong Kong, and breakfast was being served. There was a roti station, doing chappati and dhal. And a chef station with chicken hor fun:

Not bad. The noodles were very soft and fine. I rather liked the sauce on the dry version, but the soup was very tasty too. Sometimes, they serve a laksa, which I think is particularly excellent, rivalling the famous ones along East Coast Road.

On the buffet table, a slection of fresh fruits and cooked stuff.

Nasi Goreng Istimewa...special fried rice...I am not so sure about the istimewa tag, though this seemed to be common for fried rice in perhaps this is to denote the Indonesian style of fried rice. Shown here with a piece of siew mai, which I thought was rather good, especially with the SQ special chilli sauce. The chilli sauce might not be anything special in Singapore, but try it for the Dim Sum breakfast on the way back after two weeks of German, Swiss or French food...and its quite heavenly:

A plate of Dim sum with chewe kueh and har gow.

The fried carrot cake:

In the evenings, I am quite partial to the braised pork ribs...very nice.

Good work Singapore Airlines.

Singapore Airlines Silver Kris First Class Lounge
Terminal 3
Changi International Airport

Monday, April 4, 2011

db's Signautre burgers: best in SG?

Daniel Bolud is quite a famous chef...and one of the many who have recently popped up at MBS. The Frenchman has Michelin starred restaurants in the US and a few early reports from diners proclaim his Signature burger as the best in town.

The restaurant was fully packed when I got there for lunch on a Wednesday. And I was told, it is packed every lunch and dinner. Good business, methots.

So it was the signature burger which I ordered.

As I have commented before, gourmet burgers tend to be architectural marvels which often threaten a structural engineer's patience to the limit. Huge almost to the point of collapsing on its own at any attempt to eat it, the db Signature amazes with the aestetic beauty. Huge by most standards, the patty alone is huge, almost 4 inches in diameter...and almost a ball.

Described as a sirloin burger filled with braised short ribs and foie gras in a parmesan bun, the burger looked wonderful when I cut it into half.

Layers of meat...piled on each other and a rather generous sliver of foie gras can be seen. The meat patty is very tender, slightly smokey flavour. I ordered it medium rare with charred sides, but there was hardly any no crispy, charred bits to bite into. But the meat was very flavourful. Very nice patty. But for $38++ a serving with fries, it is rather more expensive than the wagyu burgers at The Landing Point at the Fullerton Bay Hotel, just across the Marina Bay. Comparing both, I prefer the Landing Point's version. Their use of wagyu, and the clever combination with aged melted cheddar cheese, the superb sauce and the sesame bun with the truffle fries were rather brilliant.

db also offered sides which were rather good. The platter of mixed mushrooms were rather good:

And the pear sorbet makes a wonderful way to finish the meal

For me, overall, the burger was very good, but I preferred the less expensive wagyu burger at The Landing Point. The pear sorbet was almost good enough to justify the visit. I will return to try the provence style menu which is also offered other than the burgers.

db Bistro
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
2 Bayfront Avenue