Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rasapura Masters at MBS: a nice hor fun.

Hor fun is a standard offering from cze char a one dish meal...complete...carbs check, proteins check, vegetables check.

So for the solo diner, this and other dishes of the same fried rice, char kway teow, various noodle soups are the lunch or dinner of choice.

I love a good hor fun...but unfortunately, most served by the cze char stalls are lame. The hor fun is usually not fried no wok hei. The gravy too watery or too starchy, and not flavourful. The ingredients, especially the seafood not fresh. The vegetables overcooked.

I am glad to report that none of these apply to the cze char stall at Rasapura Masters. One of the less expensive meals to be had in MBS, this was quite delightful.

All the right ticks on the all the right boxes. Noodles had wok hei. Fried enough, as my late father would say. The seafood, reasonably fresh. The gravy...yum, tasty. All for $5. Not bad. Not bad indeed.

Cze Char stall
Rasapura Masters Food Court
Marina Bay Sands

Monday, July 25, 2011

Seb's Bistro

Sebastian Reuiller is an interesting fellow. Cutting his teeth at Les Amis with the legendary Justin Quek, he moved on to a bistro bearing his name at Greenwood Park (Sebastian's...which I have written about before...and lamented that it is no longer in existance for the gorgeous confit du canard), then to Picotin. And now in a fairly new place, once again bearing his name...Seb's Bistro.

The restaurant is rustic and relaxed...and dining, lunching, breakfasting is al-fresco, with giant fans blowing wind to cool the eaters...:-)

The place is child friendly, and the same building also houses a children's play the parents can eat in peace while the kids have their fun. We were there on a lazy Sunday, with some good friends visiting from Hong Kong...

Edward had the Sunday Roast, man's cut...some 500g of roast beef on the bone...

Two huge slabs of, and richly marbled, lay on the plate with cherry tomatoes, some green beans and a large baked potato. A small Yorkshire pudding lies on a separate small plate to complete the Sunday Roast.

The order was for medium rare...

And it was just a little over medium rare, and just shy of medium...actually what I like...:-). Edward tends to prefer a little bloodier...but this doneness is perfect for the rest of us...of course even a young man cannot finish 500g of beef in one sitting, we each took our cuts. The beef was superb. Wonderfully seasoned, the cut was beefy, the meat was perfect in its consistency and makeup...not too soft as to fall off the bone, but not tough at all. The mouthfeel was superb. I can still almost taste the beef in my mouth. One of the best roast beef I have eaten in a while, and in memory better than roast beef specialist Lawry's.

Our friend Lean also ordered the same, but the ladies cut, which was still some 300g. And she also shared it with her husband.

I had the lamb shank. I ordered the confit du canard, as I remembered how wonderful it had always been at Sebastian's...but they didn't have it that day.

This was braised till ultra tender...fall off the bone with the prodding of a fork kind of tender. The meat was flavourful without being overbearing with the taste and aroma of mutton. The gravy was rich, satisfying. And the mashed potatoes which accompany was also very creamy, smooth and tasty. Another winning dish.

Kin had the lamb chops

For me, it was also superb. The lamb had the nice aroma, again not overpowering, but a faint hint that it is indeed lamb and not another meat. The meat was a little tough...requiring some mastication before it is swallowed...but for me, very good. Kin thought it a little tougher than she preferred. We briefly compared it to the one served at La Nonna's...and though this was a good lamb chop to me, we concluded in agreement that La Nonna's was better. The lamb was served on a bed of potato gratin...which I again found to be superb, and a side of grilled vegetables.

Sean, with the intention of sharing Lean's beef, ordered a chicken pics. But he declared it to be quite nice.

Dessert time! Kin had to have the chocholate cake:

She thought it to be lesser than what Reuiller used to serve at Sebastian's...I do agree...the chocholate lava within did not quite have the same consistency and viscousity as it was a bit too viscous. But I thought it was a nice, bitter chocholate blend, and went well with the vanilla ice cream.

I had the apple tart

Which I thought quite nice. The fruits adorning the tart were fresh, and the pasty light and fluffy. Shiok.

Sean had the pear tart...

I did not taste the tart, but it looked exquisite.

Overall, I think Seb's Bistro delivers....great food, good ambience...I would have preferred some air conditioning though. But definitely one to return many times.

Seb's Bistro
(al fresco only)
7 Rochester Park

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Coffee Stars by Dao

Recently opened...a favourite of mine in Bangkok...known as Coffee Beans by Dao in Thailand, this is a wonderful type of Thai fusion restaurant...typical in the Thai capital. Superb food, easy, relaxing ambience.

Their new outlet in Singapore was a bit different. Long queues, and though the service staff are quick, attentive and knowledgable, they are often too stretched to perform a result, service is not good.

But the food is. Wonderful...sublime are the words which come to my mind when I think of the food...

Really nice salad, with the typicaly mix of Thai tastes...sweet, sour, spicy and salty in one plate. The greens are very fresh and crunchy, but the salad dressing is quite special. Very nice.

I love the char kway teow...done in a fusion Thai/Penang style...

Nicely fried, with good wok hei. And the noodles are just so smooth, with a nice bite, and just slides down the throat...yes, I am tempted to say...sublime. The ingredients are fresh, the prawns are large, succulent and crunchy to the bite...with a breath of the sea. Shiok.

And the desserts are very good too...

I had the durian cake...very good...tasty. Thai durians were used...I suspect Monthoong, so the mouse like durian filling is superbly smooth, creamy.

Highly recommended, albeit perhaps till they sort out the shortage of staff, and improve the service. But superb food.

Coffee Stars by Dao
Wisma Atria

Monday, July 18, 2011

Crystal Jade Golden Palace: refreshing new menu

This is an invited tasting.

Crystal Jade is 20 years old! Imagine that. And I have been eating there for almost as long. It comes as no surprise this old stalward is a family favourite. Edward wrote about it some years ago, when this blog was in its infancy. And I have brought business associates to lunch several times as well.

I was recently invited to the Press Lunch by Linea Communications (Thanks to Ann Chan) to mark the occassion of the 20th anniversary and introduction of some new dishes.

The occassion also saw the unveiling of their new logo...a smart yellow and purple one, and is part of a rebranding focus they embarked on this year. Their new tagline: " Prepared with love, served from our heart" resonates well. Currently with 100 outlets, Crystal Jade will continue to expand this year, adding 22 new outlets, 9 of them in Singapore.

The Chairmand and CEO Mr. Ip Yiu Tung addressed the press group, providing insights to the early formation years, and how he grew the business from one restaurant to its current presence in 18 cities in 9 countries. All within the span of 20 years.

But on to the food review....

First course is a starter combination:

Comprising of cold lobster in Teochew style and marinated pig's knuckle and pickes.

The lobster is a live Australian lobster. The lobster is poached, and cooled at room temperature. Apparently this is the authentic Teochew method of preparation. And I can testify that I can taste the freshness. Of course, it was a live lobster you say, but the texture and flavour of a lobster is so delicate, overcooking or use of spices and seasonings can easily overpower the freshness.

The pork knuckle is marinated in a traditional Teochew marinade of cinnamon bark, and spices with Chinese rose wine.

For the second course, a delightful soup:

This is a double boiled sea whelk and chicken with starfruit and pomelo.

The sea whelk is also live, and boiled for 3-4 hours till tender. Chicken, compoy, cordycep flower, dried logan and wolfberry are then double boiled with the whelk. Starfruit and pomelo is then added. The starfruit provides a nice crunch and acidic counterpoint to the smooth and savoury taste of the soup and whelk. I found the pomelo a bit too sweet, though not incongruent with the taste of the dish, seems a bit out of place.

A deep fried chicken was then served:

You just gotta love the presentation. Two thin slices of what seemed to be a pink water guava adorns the plate....indeed not just adorns but provides some crunch which aleviates any greasiness of the deep fried chicken. The chicken was excellent...with a wonderful crunchy skin and tender, moist meat within, and was served with a side of black truffle and mushroom, with a knob of purple cauliflower. The unleaven bread on which the chicken is seen resting on is also quite delicious. Quite shiok.

The fourth course was a simmered cabbage:

I found this curiously heartwarming and very tasty. The cabbage is simmered with cordeycep flower, and a pumpkin soup added to provide a nice, mild sweetness. Some shreded dried scallops which have been fried to a crisp is added as a garnish and to temper the soft, juiciness of the cabbage.

An interesting rice dis followed:

As the dish was served, we were told this is the Chairman's own recipe...tweaked by the chef for maximum taste. A variety of 10 ingredients: white, brown, red, black glutinous rice, wheat, black and green beans, sesame, sweet corn and diced taro are individually prepared and mixed and steamed. Prawn, dried shrimp, diced chicken and mushroom are then added. Instead of being fried, the rice is healthier. The starch proved to be quite tasty...and the chef cooked it al dente...leaving a nice bite and chewiness. Teh prawn was superbly fresh and crunchy.

And finally dessert.

A combination fo a chilled pea cake and a sweet soup with Bird's Nest.

The chilled pea cake is a traditional preparation, reputedly a favourite of Empress Dowager. The preparation is reputedly very difficult, and the creamy texture of the chilled cake provided a nice refreshingly sweet aftertaste.

The soup is another traditional tonic dessert. The Bird's Nest was nice, smooth, gelatinous. And the soup provided able support in its glorious natural sweetness. A fitting end to a nice meal.

It would seem to me that Crystal Jade continues to maintain its place amongst the best Chinese Restaurants in Singapore, and possibly the region. The ingredients used are high quality, very fresh, and the preparation methods seem to be thouroughly traditional. The chefs seem to adhere to old recipes, tweaked for modern palates and more healthy eating habits, but still utilizing traditional, labourous methods. Their creations show this passion.

Crystal Jade Golden Palace
290 Orchard Road #05-22 The Paragon Singapore
+65 6734 6866
11.30am – 3pm, 6 – 11pm

Monday, July 11, 2011

db Moderne: Second Tasting...

Went back to db Moderne again...after the signature burger...see here for the review, I thought I'd try their other dishes...

We began with the amuse bouche, which is a thin crust pizza

Quite a nice start. The crust was light and crisp. The cheese did weigh it down a bit, but was every bit as tasty as any I have eaten.

I started with the Nicoise salad...

Two pieces of fresh tuna, lightly seared, on a bed of green beans, lettuce, quail's egg, and confit potatoes. Counterpoint was provided by a few pieces of pickled white anchivies which provided a salty, sour punch. Needless to say, the greens were very fresh, as was the tuna.

For mains, I had the lamb...

Beautifully done. The lamb was tender, juicy, and had a nice flavour. Two cuts were served...the sliced rack with 2 ribs, and a kubideh...a minced lamb on a skewer, seen on the plate right. The kubideh was ultra tender...the fall apart on prodding with the fork kind...but delicious.

and for desserts, flour-less chocholate cake...

Very good. The molten chocholate oozes out at just the right speed...testament to the pastry chef getting the chocholate at the right temperature and viscousity. The accompanying 3 scoops of ice cream were quite good as well, but I don't think they made this in-house.

Overall, after the slightly disappointing tasting of the db Signature burger...if you read my earlier review...not exactly a bad burger, no sir, indeed it is one of the better ones in town, but beaten by a cheaper offering across the bay. Today's tasting was rather better. The salad was good. The lamb quite superb, and the dessert was very good. Only the prices are a bit steep, but that's what you get for being at MBS. Recommended to eat here if you are around MBS, perhaps drop by for a pre-show dinner.

db Bistro
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
2 Bayfront Avenue

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Khoon Kee Tasty Prawn and Char Kway Teow: nice or not?

I dropped by the studios of Teo TH, one of the first and most respected professional photographers in Singapore, and after an excellent discussion, we were Teo, ever a foodie, introduced me to Khoon of his favourite prawn noodles...

The owners are sibblings...the brother used to be cook at Japanese restaurants in Japan (he speaks fluent Japanese), and the sister helms the wok for the char kway teow...interesting combination for a stall...but it works.

We ordered some of both...Teo had the soup prawn mee, and I had the dry with pork ribs. And of course a plate of char kway teow.

A closer look at the large, succulent, sea prawns:

The secret of a good prawn noodle is the must be thick, rich, imbued with crustacean flavours. My favourite at Wah Kee, where the soup is really savoury and super rich. But Khoon Kee's puts up a good fight. Ultimately, it is edged out by Wah Kee, but it comes very close...the soup is beautifully made. The prawns are also very fresh, and superb. Crunchy, yet sweet and fragrant. Very good. Shiok. The pork ribs are good too, but not time, I'll just order the version with only prawns.

The Char Kway Teow is rather good too...but I can see some of my friends will think it is not sweet enough...but the style is similar to Dong Ji, except it sans seafood, and the ingredients used are regular Singapore CKT. I rather enjoyed it.

We also had some jeu her eng chye...cuttlefish with a sweet, spicy sauce, with crushed peanuts from Bak Kee Teochew Satay Bee Hoon:

Most people queue up at this stall for the satay bee hoon. But as we already had prawn noodles and char kway teow, we had the jeu her eng chye instead.

Not bad. Though I find the sauce a bit too sweet. The jeu her was rather crunchy, though a bit lacking in flavour. But the kangkong was excellent, cooked just right. And the sprinking of freshly crushed peanuts were great.

Both stalls are an excellent eat. Worth the visit.

Khoon Kee Tasty Prawn Mee and Char Kway Teow
Blk 85 Redhill Lane, #01-58 Redhill Food Centre, Singapore
9769 3991
Daily: 9.30am – 9pm
(Closed on Tue)

Bak Kee Teochew Satay Bee Hoon
12pm - 8pm
Closed on Wednesdays

Monday, July 4, 2011

Good Eats in CBD: Xiao Bar Wang

Taiwan...another food haven...but one I have yet to travel to and sample its delights. In all the years of corporate travel, I only had Taiwan as part of my portfolio once, but that was all too brief, and before I went to visit, it was amalgated under Greater China, and split off from my charge of Asia Pacific. I must make a trip there one day...

But I have tried Taiwanese cuisine here in Singapore...mainly porridge, and perhaps the snacks...most famous of them being the crispy XL deep fried chicken.

An of Xiao Bar Wang invited me to a tasting of their new branch in the CBD...right at the former OUB Centre...occupying where The Standing Sushi Bar once was. I passed by during lunch last week (before the invited tasting), and the place is packed!

An explained the cuisine tries to bring the street food from Taiwan. One of the owners is Mediacorp's Jeff Wang, who hails from Taiwan, and wanted to share the culinary delights with us. So off I went...

We started with cold noodles...

Interesting, methot...cold noodles...reminds me of soba. But the noodles looked like regular local yellow noodles and tasted mildly of kee. The toppings are shreded carrot, and chicken. The sauces - meant to trigger the 4 main tastes; sour, sweet, bitter, spicy. The brown mustardy sauce on the left, is made with Century Egg with other added secret ingredients to make its texture mustardy, this is savoury with a hint of bitterness. The dark one on the right is yuzu+soya sauce, that is to bring out the sweet and sour tastes. Lastly, chilli oil (this is afterall Singapore, so centerstage for chilli!) for the spiciness. All ingredients and sauced are prepared on location...the taste? The cold noodles were a bit unusual, as we don't really have local cold noodles...but rather tasty. With the 3 sauces mixed in, the noodles have a tangy, creamy coating. Reminded me a bit of the breakfast beehoon/mee Singaporeans like to have...but chilled. Refreshing.

I also sampled their famous mee suah..

Mee suah, cooked in a thick, savoury soup. Apparently this is very popular in Taiwan.

Very nice indeed. The soup is made from pork and pork bones, probably for a long time, and was thick, and clings, smothers the strands of light, mee suah. The meat balls which accompany were very similar to home made...reminds me of the meat balls in bakwan kepiting...and reminiscent of the mee suah my mom used to make when we were young...though mom's concoction had clear soup.

I also tried the popular braised pork rice:

Again, the home cooked feel! Tasty without being spectacular...rather, dependable, home cooked. The pork, which was fairly lean, was thinly sliced and nicely braised, and sits on top the piping hot rice, with half a hard boiled egg and some stir fried vegetables. Good choice for quick lunch for office workers.

But the piece de resistance is the XL Crispy Chicken:

They were not kidding about the XL...the above is half a portion. The full portion is shown below...two slices, each the palm of a large man's hand in one serving:

The chicken is coated with a crispy, spicy, salty, aromatic crust...more like herbal crust than batter. Interestingly, though deep fried, I did not see, feel that it was greasy at all...indeed, if you look at the inside of the paper used to serve the chicken, it is hardly stained by oil. Only the chicken breast is used...flattened...encrusted, and deep fried. The taste is very good. The chicken is moist, and tender inside. The herb crust, wonderfully fragrant and crispy. Probably the best I have eaten. Shiok.

Before I left, I had the opportunity to meet with the chef Serena Wang, she helms the kitchens at all their 3 outlets...who happened to be on the stall that she is with An on the right:

Chef told me she makes everything on premises as they don't have a central kitchen. And they try to be as authentic as possible.

The restaurant is more like a fast food joint than a restaurant, but just the kind for the office folks in Raffles for a quick bite, out just as quick.

Great, home cooked style Taiwanese food in the middle of the CBD.

Xiao Bar Wang
#B1-02B , One Raffles Place