Monday, April 30, 2012

Best Ayam Penyet?

Ayam Penyet...or smashed chicken is a speciality introduced to Singapore by our Indonesian neighbours. Succulent chicken, deep fried till crisp, and then smashed with a hammer or flat side of a chopper, and served with fluffy fragrant rice with powerful sambal. Who can resist that?

This stall in Changi Village, used to be tucked in the Food Centre in Blk 2, but as the centre was undergoing renovations, the stall and many of the famous hawkers at Blk 2 have migrated nearby. Now in a coffee shop just across the road...it still offers the same delicious meals.

Not quite smashed...as the chicken looked intact...but the slight crisp batter was superb...flavourful, crispy. The chicken retained its juicy goodness, and was wonderfully tender and tasty. The sambal was excellent. Rice fluffy and fragrant...a bit like Hainanese Chicken Rice...though not quite.

Not your traditional Ayam Penyet, but nevertheless a very nice one...and very satisfying...especially for many of us...its a 40km ride to get to Changi Village to have this for lunch, and another 40km to return home.

Sri Bastari (Changi Village)
Blk 5 Changi Village Road

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Saveur, now in Purvis Street as a restaurant!

Saveur...a little French stall in a coffee shop in Joo Chiat makes it big...after a while (I am not sure how long) in the coffee shop, the owners decided they wanted a restaurant. Reopened at Purvis Street, at the premises formerly occupied by Restaurant Ten, long queues form just before opening.

We arrived at about 11:40am, opening time was noon, and we were already second in the queue. The line grew to more than 20 pax by the time the restaurant was opened...and as it was barely 2 weeks old then, we observed the staff across the road at Gunter's curiously peeking out to look at the queue.

Much has been said about the food...once opened, the service was brisk and quite nice. Orders taken, and very soon...what seemed like perhaps a minute or so, the first course arrived.

As we were in the vicinity of Gunter's...and the menu offered it...we had to have the angelhair pasta. Served with prawns and caviar:

But the boys at Gunter's can rest easy. Other than the size of the serving was probably 3 times larger at Saveur and the price a quarter of theirs, Gunter's still hold my best experience with chilled angel hair pasta with caviar.

The Saveur's version was served room temperature. I guess it must have been prepared earlier, and perhaps even plated earlier. The angelhair was dry, and almost tasteless. I had to ask for a little more olive oil to add some flavour. All the flavour was in the prawns, which was a tad over-seasoned. I think the dish would be better if some of the flavours from the prawns had somehow migrated to the pasta giving some life to the otherwise dead tasting angelhair. Not my favourite dish.

I ordered the duck confit...a must eat dish according to many in the blogosphere

This was also pre-prepared...I expect the confit to be prepared before...afterall it takes a long time to confit a duck, but I expected it to be nicely crisped in the pan before service. The duck was crisped, but not nearly enough. The meat was mild flavoured...which I quite liked. Overall, not a bad confit...especially considering that it was $8.90...even cheaper than at La Petite Cuisine.

Lionel had the beef burgogne.

I took a slice to taste...it was a tad heavy in seasoning...but only a tad. But was nice, tender, melt in your mouth beef cheeks. For me, perhaps this was the best dish, though I am reasonably happy with my duck confit.

The mains are served with some vegetables, mushrooms and sat on top of a dollop of mashed potatoes. We suspected this was not made in-situ, but prepared from the instant powdered style. It was smooth, creamy, and tasted mildly of potato. Not the same as the superbly flavoured one served by Damien D'Silva at the now defunct Big D Grill.

Overall, considering the price, I enjoyed the meal. Cheap. But if you are intending to saveur (pun intended) the delights of French cuisine, you will be disappointed...especially if you are well versed with the French culinary capabilities found elsewhere in Singapore and of course France.

Saveur
5 Purvis Street #01-04
6333 3121
12-3pm, 6-9.30pm
Walk in customers only

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pete's Place at Hyatt

Pete's Place at the Hyatt

Sometimes, all it takes for a restaurant to have a firm place in one's heart is just one dish, or just one beautiful occassion. Pete's Place is one such restaurant for me. Beautiful personal memories dating back nearly 30 years. Nice.

But as this is a food blog, I will talk about the food...recently I revisited after many years...too long, IMHO, but there it is. Not particularly hungry, we skipped the lunch buffet, which I was told is quite good. And went a la carte.

I had a simple linguini with prawns.

Beautiful to look at, wonderful in fragrance. And excellent in taste. The linguini was nearly perfect al dente. The prawns were fresh, crunchy, and had the breath of the sea still within. And the combination was excellent. Highly recommended, if a bit on the pricey side. Pete Place Basement of Hyatt Regency Singapore

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fish Head Curry and Hainanese fare at a typical Curry Rice shop

Fish head curry and other dishes at SG Fish Head Curry

Fish head curry is not something I often eat outside of home. My mom cooks a killer fish head curry, so makes the inclination to want to order one when eating out very low. But once in a while, when with great friends, and one of them have a craving, I will end up eating one. But today's post is not totally about fish head curry, though the shop is called SG Fish Head Curry. Its about some great Hainanese curry rice, with traditional, but well executed dishes.

As eating places go, this is a fairly typical Hainanese styled Curry Rice shop...hundreds dot our tiny island. Some good, some bad, a few rise above to become really culinary temples. Is this one of those worthy of elevation?

Joyce did the ordering, and by the time the gang assembled, we were ready to eat. In no particular order...

Mutton curry

Very nice. Smooth, but sinewy mutton. Tender would probably not be the word to describe it...it was a bit chewy, needed a firm bite. But yet yielding. Nice flavour without the strong mutton odour. Spices very nicely blended, though for me, a bit lacking in the hotness department.

Sotong curry

Squid...sliced and cooked in a beautiful curry sauce. The squid was cooked just right...sometimes, especially in curry rice stalls like this, the squid is cooked till rubberised. But this was nice. Tender. Goes down nicely.

Prawns in a sweet sour sauce

Plump, fresh prawns. The sauce was well balanced between sweet and sour. Nice...what more can I say...what more need I say.

Traditional Hainanese pork chop

Classical style. Deep fried pork chops in a sweet, sour, tangy sauce. Not my favourite dish this lunch, but nonetheless well executed, and drew compliments from my eating kakis.

Fried Chicken

Nicely done. The chicken was breaded and deep fried. Crispy batter, nice and juicy chicken. Two thumbs up.

yes we have more...fish head curry...

Served piping hot in a clay pot. Nice mild curry. The fish was rather fresh. No funny smells as is common in many fish head curry places...indicative of a fresh head to start. The curry was a mix between the very rich but spicy peranakan style I get at home, and the tangy, sour, spicy ones in Indian restaurants. For me, this was not the highlight of the lunch, but given my elevated standards to judge fish head curry, it passes the "ok to eat" mark. Which is saying quite a lot...as I am probably very biased when it comes to a good fish head curry.

That was not all...we still had some vegetables, to complete the meal...counting...um...a total of 8 dishes for 6 people. Did I say we were great eaters?

Overall, nice lunch place. Fast efficient service. Good food, though not spectacular, suffices. So to answer the question posed at the begining...well no...this is not one of the temples of dining.

SG Curry Fish Head

31 Seah Street

Monday, April 16, 2012

Savour 2012: East vs West Faceoff

I was invited to atttend Savour: a foodie event, featuring some interesting invitational chefs from around the world, with masterclasses and a really nice produce market. This is an account of a friendly faceoff, to cook lunch...a duel between the Western Chef and the Eastern Chef.

The kitchen sponsor Bosch's own booth to showcase their beautiful and functional kitchenware was the venue for the faceoff...in one corner, the Eastern Chef...John See:

John is currently a consultant with Bosch. And in the Western corner...Claudio Sandri of Brasserie Wolf

I have eaten at Brasserie Wolf and sampled Claudio's cooking...quite good.

Today, John was going to cook a special fried rice with prawns, and Claudio a baked fish.

The prawns...just as they were inserted into the pan

Note they are using induction cookers from Bosch. Like my experience in the 1 Michelin Star Kitchen at Carrousel, Bulow Palais in Dresden, more and more professional kitchens are turning to induction stovetops...fast, clean, ultimate control of the heating power, and best of all no flame and a kitchen which is not as hot as the traditional kitchen.

The fish, preped and stuffed with goodies...

The fish was wrapped in a clear wrap, some alcohol was added, and flambed....

And into the oven it went...as John was sweating his onions, carrots, and other ingredients, his helpers brought out a most amazing serving of otak...

Excellent. Smooth, creamy. Spicy. What more can I say. Very good otak.

John continued to fry the ingredients, and then added the rice...hands on!!

In no time, the rice was ready, as was the fish...and it turned out to be a friendly competition, as they were plating on the same plate...gorgeous

Fried rice with prawns and baked fish with otak. Great dish!

Many thanks to Valerie Tham for the invitation. I certainly enjoyed the session.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Siang Hee in new location

I waxed lyrical about Siang Hee before...They recently moved to Serangoon Gardens, and Ah Yoke started cooking up a storm again. I went back to resample the dishes with a few friends.

We arrived at about 11:20am...it was not yet opened...I popped by the back, and saw Ah Yoke, who was rather glad to see me...was told they would open 11:30...though I guess noon was more accurate. At 12, they opened.

I ordered the same dishes that I am familiar with, to see if there were changes...I am happy to say, they remain just as good.

Pumpkin prawns

Large succulent prawns, in a crispy, crunchy batter, smothered with a gorgeous pumpkin sauce. Excellent.

Mongolian pork ribs

Still very nice. A bit salty, this time round, but beautiful ribs...tender, yet with a bit of bite.

One of our buddies eating with us wanted to try the beef hor fun...

Looked and smelled very fragrant. I didn't taste it.

From the looks of it, Ah Yoke is back in good form...albeit in a smaller kitchen and a smaller staff. Just one other person...(her husband?) helping with the preparation.

I still give the stall a hearty recommendation.

Serangoon Gardens Food Centre,

Stall 20. 49A Serangoon Garden Way.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bollywood Biryani: contender for the best?

My cycling group have a motto....ERP...for Singaporeans, its not a poke at our ubiquitious Electronic Road Pricing, but ERP stands for Eat, Ride, Photo. The order suggests somewhat the relative importance of the activites. I had the opportunity to sample one of our foodie kaki's favourite biryani...just across the road from his Camera Shop, Roland took us to Bollywood Biryani.

I was going to be taking a break today...returning to blog on Thurs, but I thought this is a short simple post to highlight a very good biryani. Best, I am not sure...but certainly very good.

The mutton biryani has a rather large piece of mutton embedded within the rice. Basmati rice was used, but in my view, this was not top drawer biryani, but very good one. The grains of the rice was not ultra long, wiry type one gets in India. But the rather more normal types we have imported to Singapore. They use mutton, not lamb, so the meat had some bite. A small plate of spicy curry gravy accompanies.

I found the dish to be quite satisfying. The spices on the rice and smotherng the mutton was very fragrant and nice. And what's best about the dish is that it feels less oily.

Nice biryani. Good value. S$5.50 a plate for mutton. Worth returning.

B1 Cafe, featuring Bollywood Biryani
Basement 1
Peninsula Shopping Complex

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Monday, April 2, 2012

KL Hokkien mee in Singapore: Found in Food r us?

KL Black Hokkien Mee in Singapore

The KL style of hokkien mee is a potent varient of the fried noodles. Black, beguilling. Salty, but also with the faintest tinge of sweetness, coupled with the powerful wok hei and the bite of a good belachan chilli. Intoxicating! Finding one in KL is difficult enough, but to find this style of cooking in Singapore...well...let's not ask for too much. But what are the best fascimilles of this intrepid style?

Many cze char stalls in town serve up some variant. The Singapore style is less black, less wok hei, less powerful sambal. I have grown to love the local variant as well. The best for me, being the one in Beng Hiang. Thick yellow noodles, nestled...drizzled with a brown sauce. Fragrant and wonderful. There is a stall somewhere in Geylang, which I have yet to try...Kong Kee...which is reputed to serve authentic KL style. But as I live in Farrer Road, just across the MRT station is one which I hear (from Makansutra Forum) that is equally as good...so we went to try.

Certainly nothing much to look at. But the powerful whiff of the wok hei is present and accounted for. The crispy bits of pork lard is present. The beautiful, nearly black sauce shows its beauty...not quite as black as some of the famous ones in KL, but good enough for Singapore. Taste? Very good. After months of not eating the real KL stuff, this one is a good approximation. So far, in my view, probably the closest and most authentic in Singapore. High praise indeed...but try it for yourself.

Somewhat less successful in authencity...perhaps they were not aiming to be authentic...but still rather tasty is the KL style ying yang

Fragrance of the wok hei is apparent. The noodles were expertly fried. The bee hoon crisp. The hor fun could be fried a bit longer...but I found this dish satisfying. Nice...ticks all the right boxes. Kin found it to be only adequate.

We also ordered a plate of Penang Char Kway Teow...fergedaboutit....nothing like the real thing. Too greasy. Kway teow was too thick...more like hor fun. Urg.
Blk 3 Queens Road, #02-171 Singapore

+65 6473 3822
Daily: 11am–2.30pm, 5pm–11pm