Monday, December 31, 2012

Will the best Lor Mee please stand up? A tale of 4 epic fails, and one rather outstanding example of Lor Mee

Lor Mee: simple fat noodles, covered with a thick sauce. The noodles being the mee component. The thick savoury sauce being the lor. Firm favourite in Singapore.

I kind of like them once in a while...usually for breakfast, but sometimes for lunch. And particularly as a mid-ride lunch. Satisfying.

Several famous lor mees come to mind. 178 Shark Meat Lor Mee in Tiong Bahru Market...who became famous for serving shark meat made into fritters with their lor mee. For me, it is mediocre. The other Lor Mee stall in Tiong Bahru market is altogether more traditional, with slices of braised pork belly, and a braised egg. But still a bit middle of the ground for me.

I recently tried the stall in Telok Blangah curiously known as Tiong Bahru Shark Meat Lor Mee. Found that to be too starchy. But with the addition of a piece of chicken cutlet...deep fried, crisp outside, juicy inside elevated the game a bit.

But the lor was bland, and starchy.

I also tried the famous one at Bkt Purmei. Long queues characterise this stall...the upsized version is $4, and is presented thus

Not my taste. Too starchy. No meat...a few small bits of traditional braised pork belly but no other meat adorns this lor mee. Neither fish fritters nor chicken cutlets...just plain flour save the day, they were crunchy and rather tasty, but really, the only saving grace of this lor mee was the cut chilli padi.

So epic fails so far...4 and counting. One of my buddies suggested the Tanjung Rhu Lor off I went to try it.

Ah...finally, a hit. They used flakes of a deep fried garoupa. A nicely crispy and tasty deep fried wantan is added. A braised egg too. And the gravy was thick, very delicious. The noodles, done just right. I went back again two days later to ensure that it was indeed a good lor mee...and indeed it was.

They also serve a mean Wanton my view, better than the more famouse Kok Kee one just a few stalls down the same aisle.

Done black, the sauce was just right. The noodles could be a bit more al dente, but I cannot really complain. The char siew was ok, the wantan themselves were rather nice. I prefer the wantan mee from this stall...and to add to the enjoyment, the owners are nicer folks...smiling, and chatty.

Chai Kee Chicken Rice Noodle House
Tanjung Rhu Food Center

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Blessed Christmas

Wishing all readers, friends, and clients a Blessed Christmas

Monday, December 24, 2012

Jade Garden in Sungei Ringgit: Lobster Capital of Malaysia

Lobsters...this crustacean conjures up certain images in one's mind when it comes to cuisine. Luxury, tasty, high end. This is one such adventure to taste this elixir of life.

My cycling group made a trip there one day...take a ferry from Changi Point Ferry Terminal to Pengerrang, Johor. And a short ride to Sungei Ringgit, a fishing town by the coast, also known as Lobster Town. They even have a giant stainless steel lobster in the middle of the town.

We also had several very fresh seafood items for lunch, here is the tale

Started with the topshell

Some call topshell a poor man's abalone...though it is more a snail than abalone...this creature lives within a shell looking like a top...conical shaped. The meat is chewy, but as one chews releases some rather nice flavours and sweet notes. A bit more flavourful than abalone on its own. But not special enough.

Next up herbal chicken

Great herbal flavours...from the aromatic whiffs, to the rather strong taste of the soup. The chicken is rendered very tender, fall off the bone on a prodding of the chopsticks. But still rather tasty and not dry.

We also had a fishmaw braised with vegetables

A bit fishy in aroma...but tasty...the fish maw a bit resilient in texture, but giving way to the a crunchy like mouthfeel. The braising liquid is rather tasty. I rather enjoyed this dish.

We also had some lala, stir fried with spring onions and ginger

This dish is rather tasty, but I would have preferred larger lala (clams), which are perhaps more meaty.

As there was an ostrich farm nearby, we tried the stir fried ostrich

This was a bit of a disappointment. The meat was sinewy, quite tough, though nice deep flavours with only a hint of game. We tried some ostrich steaks later that afternoon at the ostrich farm, but that experience was totally different...much more tender, almost wagyu like without the marbling. Perhaps different quality of ostrich.

Another slightly disappointing dish was the squid

The squid was supposed to be crispy and tasty, but it was neither. A bit too chewy.

A bit of tofu, which I found to be quite good

Regular readers would know I have a soft spot for tofu...this one is rather enjoyable. The tofu is fragrant, and very smooth, creamy inside the slightly springy, deep fried exterior.

And finally what we came there for...the lobsters

Technically not a real lobster, as a lobster by definition needs to have claws. This is more correctly called spiny lobster or crayfish (though crayfish sometimes confuses with another crustacean.

The lobster is offered in various cooking methods...we opted for the house special sauce. One whole lobster per person, and costed according to the size...we had large ones.

The taste was excellent. The meat had a consistency and texture more springy and firmer than prawn, but the flavours were deeper and more pronounced. The crustacean sweetness was very nice. The sauce compliments the meat. Very good. Definitely will come back for this space, sometime in 2013, I will do a lobster vertical tasting...a whole meal, perhaps 2 full lobsters, halfed, each half done in a different style. That would be a meal to look out for!!

The seafood is generally fresher than most of the stuff we get in Singapore, and the lobster was outstanding. Prices were kinder to the wallet than in Singapore, but the entire meal, fed 10 hungry cyclists cost about MYR750 (about S$300). The prices have obviously been adjusted to cater for the mainly Singaporean crowd...banners of Mediacorp artises endorsing the food is all over the restaurant.

Jade Garden Seafood Corner
54, Jalan Kerisi, Sungai Rengit, Pengerang, Johor
GPS: 1.350967,104.224076
11:00am to 10:30pm

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Khansama: Best Indian restaurant in Singapore?

Indian food...a cuisine unique to the subcontinent, and truly a masterpiece cuisine ranking with the French, Italian, Chinese and Japanese. I do love an Indian meal once a while.

Be it a simple roti prata with fish curry, or a dosa with some dhal. But a full Northern Indian meal, like those I had the pleasure to eat in Delhi is rare for me...possibly because it is always a large meal, but also because it is very rich, and not the healthiest of meals.

When I asked the Deputy Editor of India Se...a magazine specializing in addressing the needs of Indian nationals living in Singapore, what he considers to be the best Indian restaurant in town...he said without the slightest hesitation...Khansama. Kin's childhood friend, a traditionist Indian woman if there was any, concurs.

And since then, Khansama, especially the Biopolis outlet, chosen for the relaxed environment and usually rather uncrowded atmosphere, has been our family favourite. As one enters, the decor is electic indeed...from muskets hanging on the wall

To Art Deco figurines bearing lamps

Tandori is a must eat in a Northern Indian restaurant...

This is a whole chicken serving. Indeed excellent. Deeply spiced, tenderised with yoghurt, and cooked in the tandoor. Very tender, juicy, yet slightly crisp on the outside with a beautiful smoky flavour.

The mutton biryani is also superb...

Long grain basmati...good because the glycemic index is low...releasing sugars into the bloodstream in a constant, steady also beautifully fragrant on its own...but aided by the spices and saffron...becomes a wonderful rice...glorious in its own right. Within is found chunks of tender, mutton covered with superb thick curry. Very nice biryani.

I love dhal, so we had the dhal mukani

Black lentils, lots of ghee...makes this a wonderfully fragrant, rich and luxurious dish. Very nice on the palate...superb mouthfeel.

We had mutton curry in addition...

Thick chunks of mutton...a bit sinewy, but rendered soft and tender by the long hours in the pot...and a magnificent curry. I found this to be very good, but might have wished for a less sinewy cut of mutton...perhaps a tender lamb joint even, but as it is...a mutton curry and not a lamb curry, it is rather good.

Palak paneer...

Spinach with cottage cheese is another staple. Especially for vegetarian Indians, the cheese provide the essential proteins. Easy to eat...the spinach is mashed, and cooked till very soft, almost pulverised...the cheese mild and provides a textural contarast.

And an Indian restaurant worth it salt would have great naan...

We enjoyed the garlic and butter naan...I wished it was a bit more fluffy like those in Delhi or Mumbai, but this level of naan in Singapore is quite good.

Overall, an excellent, authentic Indian restaurant. Great food, reasonable service and price. And best of all, a quiet and uncrowded environment. Highly recommended.

Khansama Tandoori Castle
8a biomedical groove,
Immunos Building #01-20,21,22
6299 0300, 6774 0300

Monday, December 17, 2012

Da Dong Prawn Noodles

Hokkien Prawn Mee is a hot favourite Singapore hawker food...probably amongst the top 5 most popular, I rekon.

My favourite is Wah Kee in Pek Kio, but a friend suggested that since he has been eating at Da Dong for many years, following the hawker as he moved several locations, I had to try.

The fragrance wafts to one's nostrils as the noodles are being served.

This is the dry version. The noodles were dente even. Very nice, with a light kee base, but being coated in the sauce/soup had a beautiful aroma of the crustaceans. The soup is probably the star here...savoury, but very fragrant, aromatic. The liquid is more viscous than most watery soups, and packs a punch. The prawns were very fresh.

Overall, for me, this is very good prawn noodle, but the Wah Kee auntie gets to keep her crown for the best.

Da Dong Prawn Noodle
Mellvyn Coffee Shop
354 Joo Chiat Road

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Majestic Bay Seafood

Magestic restaurant is the long time helm of Chef Yong. Having cut his teeth in Pan Pacific Hotel, he ventured out on his own, establishing the standards by which many are measured. Jing in Fullerton Hotel, Majestic at the Majestic Hotel and now fulfilling his dream to own and run a seafood restaurant...the Majestic Bay at Gardens by the Bay.

Located right in the new-ish Gardens by the Bay, a bank of tanks with divers fishes and live seafood greets the visitor as one enters. The decor is elegant, but still remainding quite casual.

We began with 4 selections of dim sum

First pic: steamed, shanghai dumpling, pork...aka Xiao Loong Pau

The tim sum is made by a specialist chef...I find the xlp skin to be a bit tougher than I would have preferred, but the filling and the soup within was quite nice.

Next up seared, chili crab meat bun

The pastry was quite fine...the filling being chilli crab meat was rather tasty. Nice dish.

The classical Baked BBQ pork bun, with a slight twist

Quite regular, methinks. But the next dish, spicy, minced pork dumpling was quite interesting.

The sauce is a vinegar-ish, sour, salty concoction with a deep savoury base, probably from the stock. The dumplings were quite interesting...very similar to the those found in Northern China. Quite nice balance between the rich pork filling and the tartness of the sauce.

We had the soup of the day which was - Old Cucumber with Pork Ribs Soup

This was a favourite of ours when Chef Yong was at the helm of Pan Pacific's chinese restaurant...the name escapes me for now...the soup was clear, refreshing and tasty. But what surprised me was the pork ribs used in the soup was still very nice, tender, tasty rather than being reduced to muscle fibres, the pork ribs retain the full flavour and was very nice.

Next steamed, live leopard garoupa, Light soya sauce

This fish was superb. The steaming of the fish, done 80% so that the bits of meat by the bone is still pink, but the rest of the meat is gloriously done. The fish was a live leopard graoupa...very nice, silky smooth flesh, almost creamy and luxurious on the palate.

The next dish was also rather special...with an innocuous name like wok-fried, radish cake, XO chili sauce belies its excellence

The radish cake was nicely done...the flour based cake part was savoury and rather nice consistency. But the highlight was the house made XO sauce...superb. With bits of dried shrimp, dried scallops in a rich spicy base. Superb.

Then an invention by Chef Yong...Live crabs, Bay’s signature “Kopi” sauce

A very large Sri Lankan meat crab, cooked in a special kopi sauce...invented by Chef Yong...comprising of 3 different kinds of coffee beans. The sauce is a bit like the coffee pork rib sauce we encounter rather often these days. But then the crab with sauce is doused in chinese rice wine and set ablaze...quite a spectacle.

But for me, the taste was less than the beauty of the dish and the spectacle of the serving. The sauce is rather sweet to the extent of being coy, and perhaps overpowering. The essence and flavour of the crab was lost in the complexity of the sauce. I can see how some people may be enamoured by this dish, but for me, it does not do the trick.

We next had a rice dish which was very popular...their baked rice, assorted seafood, chef’s recipe sauce

The tasting party agreed with nods of approval on this did I. Much like paella that the Spanish is famous for...this was quite a nice dish for me. The rice was covered with the sauce which was rich, tasty. The seafood fresh and verynice.

And finally the sweet’s temptation

Comprising (from back to front) the Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Yam Paste Stuffing, Shredded Coconut; Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Fresh Cream Stuffing; Steamed Custard Bun, Salted Egg Yolk; Bay’s Chinese Pancake, Red Bean Paste

Overall, a nice high end cze char style seafood eatery. Cooking was excellent, and the quality and freshness of the ingredients outstanding. Congrats to Chef Yong for achieving his seafood restaurant dream

This is an invited media tasting, thanks to Janice of FoodNews and Chef Yong for the invitation and entertaining evening.

Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant
Flower Dome, Gardens By The Bay.
18 Marina Gardens Drive #01-10

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ramen: Hachifukumaru at OG Orchard

Quick post today, as I am now in Germany for a business trip. More in-depth posts next week on my return. For today, I feature a small ramen place tucked behind the OG Department Store in Orchard Road.

I was introduced to this place by a friend who eats there regularly. Nice little place, as these ramen haunts tend to be...perhaps echoing the ramen-ya in Japan...

There were options for set meals, but I elected to try one of their special a la carte items, served with a chicken cutlet

Black sesame based sauce. They also offer a red sauce which is supposed to be spicy. I didn't try that. The soup was nicely flavoured, not too salty as many of these ramen soups tend to be. Nice, slurp-able soup. The fried chicken was ok, nothing special...the batter crisp, the meat within reasonably tender and juicy.

The noodles were nicely done, they had a good texture, springy. No egg was served with the ramen. Eggs were an extra charge item.

Overall, not a bad ramen, but these days the ramen scene in Singapore is getting rather crowded...we are getting pampered with so many options, and if I were in the area, I'd just walk a few meters across and have my ramen at Santouka.

Hachifukumaru Ramen Shop
OG Orchard Point, #01-130
6737 9713

Thursday, December 6, 2012


French week continues with Poulet is a rather new restaurant opening in the Bugis Plus building...revamped and reconcepted. This restaurant has been drawing rave reviews, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Located in Bugis Plus, in a rather open seating area in the middle of the 4th floor

We ordered the poulet roti...roast chicken with cream sauce and mushrooms

The chicken was rather plainly roasted...with not much in the sense of seasoning and this resulted in rather mild tasting meat. The cream sauce was a tad overpowering, being very rich and heavy. I must say I have had better roasted chicken. The Beer Chicken I recently sampled at Chums had much more flavour and was richer in taste.

For starters, we had some baked escargot

I found the garlic sauce to be very light, and they seem to have put in some tomato puree on the bottom of each cup before inserting the escargot. Each snail was a bit small, but nevertheless ok in taste.

French fries

These were ok, and nothing special. Thick cut french fries, with a chilli tomato dipping sauce.

Certainly less than I had expected...perhaps my expectation was raised because of the reports, but this was rather normal chicken to me. True the price was not exorbitant...the whole chicken was below $30. And I can only recommend it if one is in the area, and yearning for roast chicken.

Poulet Restaurant
201 Victoria Street
Level 4 Bugis+, Singapore
6509 9411
Daily: 11.30am – 9.30pm

Monday, December 3, 2012

French Week continues with champagnes

10:28 AM 3/12/2012

I was about to move on to a local restaurant review, when I was invited to a champagne tasting by ChateauAsia, and so here is the extension of French Week, with a feature on some interesting champagnes. can one say no to it? I guess the then French Emperor Napolean was famously qouted as saying, “In victory you deserve it, in defeat you need it.”

An essential lubricant and aperitif of choice in the luxury the many horology events I attend in a year. Champagne is served all day, from breakfast at the food stations in the SIHH. As are available in most of the booths in the Salon. And served with gusto before dinner, and even during. A drink for all time.

Chateau Asia is an interesting new wine concept house, recently set up in Singapore. Set up by some French nationals who reside here, they offer hand picked wines from all French regions. And offer them for sale on their website in limited quantity for a limited period. Prices, I find are very reasonable.

This tasting was done at the Tower Club at Republic Plaza...the playground of the rich and famous movers and shakers in Singapore industry. Set atop the Republic Plaza within the CBD, it offers spectacular views within and without.

The tasting started with a small glass of sparkling wine from France to set the stage to showcase the real champagnes. This was the Jalance Chardonnay Brut NV..selling only for S$25 a bottle. 100% chardonnay, Languedoc-Roussilon. Citrusy, lightly flowery. Bubbles a bit large...perhaps crude, and dissipates quickly.

As one knows, the method champenoise is used to produce sparkling wine...and the appelation is only applied if the wine is produced in the province of Champagne in France. All other terrior are simply known as sparkling wine. And indeed some, like the Asti Spumante and various sparkling wines from Australia are very good. But none have the same prestige, the same aura, the same je ne sai quoi as a real champagne.

So the next bottle to be opened was a rather inexpensive champagne...S$49 a bottle. The Charles du Roy. Brut NV.

This is a traditional mix of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay...the bubbles were somewhat more powerful and persistent. Beautiful, bright straw champagne colour. On the nose delicate, flowers, dried fruits were faintly noticable. On the palate, very fresh, crisp. Not as dry as some would have liked, but very approachable.

Next the only Grand Cru we tasted that evening, and only one of 17 Champagne Grand Crus. The Paul Louis Martin Grand Cru. Selling for $68 a bottle.

60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Very fruity nose, beautiful bouquet. And on the palate a fullness, a sharp tinge. Very refined.

We progressed to the more exotic Heidsieck Monopole Rose Top

I am quite familiar with Charles Heinsieck...this the regular pouring champagnes in Singapore Airline's Business Class. But a rose, where the Pinot Noir skins are left just a bit longer to impinge the beautiful light rose hue is a bit more exotic.

I had expected a more sweet palate, perhaps the rose reminded of kir royale...a cocktail of champagne and cherry liqueur, but the Monopole Rose was well balance. Light, delicious. Hints of berries - perhaps raspberries and strawberries were present on the nose. $75 a bottle.

Then comes the big guns...first a blanc de blanc...the Ruinart

The champagne of choice in Lange events in Germany, this is a very special champagne. Made from 100% Chardonnay...hence the moniker blanc de blancs (white of whites), it is a blend of Chardonnay from various years.

The champagne is a beautiful pale gold glow. Beautiful, persistent bubbles. The nose hits with an intense fresh fruit and then follows by floral overtones. On the palate, very full, rounded. Citrus was apparant, and beautiful finish. Very elegant.

And rounding up the tasting...the magnificent Dom Perignon 1999.

What can one say. A Dom is a Dom. Beautiful, complex fullness. Powerful intensity, very pronounced finish. 1999 is just begun to be beautiful for drinking. Not as powerful as 1975 or even 1990. But nevertheless, a magnificent champagne.

Always wonderful to drink champagne...many thanks to Elodie Dorfiac for the invitation and Arnaud Blandin for hosting and information overload.