Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Imperial Treasure Nan Bei: Great Dim Sum?

Dim Sum is one of the classic favourites from Hong Kong...and in Singapore. We love our dim sum (also variously spelled tim sum).

Imperial Treasure restaurant is one of the flag bearers of Chinese cuisine in Singapore...interestingly, though I have eaten at a number of their outlets, and particularly like their Super Peking Duck outlet in Paragon, I have never eaten at their Nanbei outlet in Ngee Ann City. My good buddy was surprised, as this was her favourite, so we went to sample it one lunchtime.

We started with the chee cheong fun...with prawns.

From this first dish, it was clear the chef in charge was very good. The chee cheong fun was very fine, more similar in texture and fineness with those in the great Hong Kong establishments than those more commonly found in Singapore. The cheong fun itself was very ncie...smooth, clean, and provided a beautiful palette to show the crunchy, sweet, fresh prawns. The soy sauce added a nice little push to lift the taste. And eaten with a bit of the inhouse heh bee hiam (a kind of sambal with dried prawns), quite divine.

Much the same, with the next dish...congee with pork balls

Again the adjective fine comes to mind. The congee is very smooth, very refined. And again, the starch provides a clean, clear palate to show off the deep fried, crispy croutons and the magnificent pork balls. Very good.

Next, bean curd skin...

Bean curd skin, wrapped around fresh prawns, deep fried, and eaten with Worchestershire sauce. A classic in classical interpretation. So very agreeable. I found the dish a bit on the greasy side, but cannot fault the taste.

Polo pau is next

Again, superb. Seems to be the theme in this restaurant...but indeed it is. The sweet. crumbly topping is just superb to bite into...the bite, of course gives way to the more resilient bread bun, which in turn reveals the sweet and salty char siew within. Very good.

Xiao Loong Pau was our next dish

The skin of the XLP was exceptionally fine...but did not break when picked up with chopsticks. The soup was intense, a bit salty, but good flavour. The meat was also very nice, and a delight to bite into.

We finished it with another classical Hong Kong dish...the kon chau hor...or hor fun fried dry with seafood

A kind of char kway teow. Very beautifully fried. Note the bits of the huge prawns were charred...the fire of the wok used to fry this must have been ferocious. And the wok hei very present. Nicely done with spring onions and taugeh providing some crunch. The dish is very tasty, but again I found it a tad greasy.

This is an excellent establishment for dim sum. Very nice. Very fine. Highly recommended.

Imperial Treasure Nan Bei Restaurant (Ngee Ann City)
391 Orchard Road
#05-12/13/14 Ngee Ann City
67381238

Monday, May 27, 2013

JB Eats: Kam Long Fish Head Curry

Fish Head Curry...a delicacy only found in this region, and interestingly, only seemed to be enjoyed by the locals here. I have difficulty persuading my German friends to try. Only one did try, and he found it not to his liking. But it remains a firm favourite of the locals in Singapore and Malaysia.

I seldom eat Fish Head Curry outside...as my mom cooks a mean one at home. The fish she would use would be ultra fresh, and the cooking done in the traditional peranakan way...with thick coconut gravy, and the fish head cooked in the curry. Not steamed, then placed in a claypot with gravy which was cooked elsewhere, ladelled over.

It was a delight to discover this little place in Johor Bahru, as introduced by Tony of Johor Kaki. The day he introduced the dish to my buddy and I, we had just eaten. So we returned at a later date to sample the delights.

When we arrived, it was only 11:30am, and a queue had already formed outside the shop.

The shop only sells fish head curry. No side dishes. Only options are to add vegetables and to add tau kee (bean curd sticks). We ordered a medium (for 3 pax), with additional vegetables and tau kee.

The intent is to put the tau kee into the curry, to absorb the flavour. I tried it on its own...looks very crispy, but not really so. The taste is mildly of yellow beans as it ought to be.

The fish was served in the claypot it was cooked in...and cooked a la minute. So it will take a good 10m or so before the dish is served. Orders are taken when one is still in the queue, so I gather it took about 15-20m for the fish to cook.

The fish head was reasonably fresh....actually very fresh. There is a slight taste of fishiness on the gelatinous parts, but the fish is probably fresher than almost all commercially available fish heads I have eaten in Singapore. The curry was mildly spicy, mildy coconuty. But very fragrant and nice.

The vegetables, a little unusual for fish head curry, included cabbage, tomatoes. And it went very well with the tau kee.

Certainly one of the best fish head curries I have eaten in a commercial establishment. And better than any served in the shops in Singapore. Worth a journey to just go to JB and eat.

Kam Long Restaurant
Jalan Wong Ah Fook
Map: http://g.co/maps/27rwh
GPS: 1.459763, 103.764549
Monday to Sunday 8:00am to 4:00pm.
Non Halal - No Pork, No Lard

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Take 2: Aroy Thai

I wrote about Aroy Thai's authentic Thai cusine before...I return to resample some of the delights and to taste their tanghoon prawns.

But first some starters...the stuffed chicken wings are very good as well...

Very crispyly deep fried, the skin is absolutely a delight. The chicken wing is deboned, the wing meat removed from the skin, minced with some herbs and spices and then stuffed back into the skin and deep fried. Marvellous.

As a vege dish, we had the Thai Kangkong

Nice and fresh, lightly cooked...so the leaves and stem is still crunchy. Nice.

And what we came to try...prawn tanghoon

Quite good, though not equal to the best I have eaten in Bangkok. Those had a layer of pork fat lining the steel kuali, so that as the dish is baked, the tanghoon does not get scalded and burnt. And of course, the pork fat releases wonderous aromas which permeate the dish. In this case, no pork lard, which might indicate that the dish was prepared and then put on the hot wok/hotplate to be served. The requisite herbs and plentiful peppercorns complete the authenticity. The prawns were large, a small serving had 4 prawns. They were fresh, crunchy. The tanghoon was quite good. Soft, with a bit of springiness...not too much to render it tough, but just enough to give the beautiful texture. Very nice. Recomendded.

I had always liked the cooking at Aroy Thai, and this tasting, proved no different. Great food.

Aroy Thai Restaurant
109 North Bridge Road
#04-06 Funan Digitalife Mall
6338 3880
Mon-Sun: 11.30am-2.45pm, 6pm-10pm
(Saturdays whole day, 930pm last order)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Nasi Padang at Hajjah Maimunah

Hajjah Maimunah is one of the cornerstones of Nasi Padang in Singapore. I have featured Sabar Menanti as well as Rumah Minang...two of my favourites...today's post is on Hajjah Maimunah, just a stone's throw from Kandahar where the other two outlets are...in Lorong Pisang.


Five of us ate one lunch time...the restaurant, rather large with an upstairs and downstairs air conditioned seating area. We were lunching on our cycling trip, so we sat outside to watch over our bikes, parked along the shophouse across the road.

On to the food...first the beef rendang

The spices were rather nice...but I found the beef too tough.

Fish with kichap manis

The fish was ok...I found it to be a bit bland. The kichap manis was nice, but not enough to smother the fish...as this was a black prompfret (bawal hitam), the meat was a bit rough, and rather tasteless.

Pegedil

For me, this was the highlight of the meal. The cutlet was tasty, if a bit dry, but eaten with a generous helping of the curry, it was excellent. Great taste.

We had a helping of siput, a kind of sea snails...

Not my favourite either...very mild tasting...and um, so little meat. The lunch companion who requested we order this seemed to enjoy it very much, finishing almost the whole plate all by herself.

The vegetables were no better

The kangkong was a bit old...tending on being a bit tough...and being slightly undercooked did not help.

The ladies fingers were even more bland...

But it was a shame to serve peanuts which were a bit stale...no crunch, no crisp.

A famous nasi padang restaurant, but one which I did not find commensurate with its reputation.

Hajjah Maimunah Restaurant
11 & 15 Jalan Pisang
6294 8732
7am to 8pm

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Delights from Pek Kio: Bak Chor Mee

Cambridge Road market is kind of a gourmet secret....


My good friend and I actually stumbled on this stall...we dropped by one lunch time, rather late...most of the stalls were closed...but found this open. We tried it...lovely.

Really pleasantly surprised. Chock full of traditional ingredients. Fish cake slices, meat balls, liver, minced pork, and a wonderful chilli with dried prawns.

I have tasted better...Tai Hwa's version is probably quite a bit tastier. But nothing beats this for value for money. Tastewise it is less intense, a bit milder, but nonetheless still quite delicious. Nice and recommended.

Fishball Noodle Prawn Noodle Laksa
#0145
Pek Kio Market

Monday, May 13, 2013

ToTT Bistro

TOTT...a place to shop for kitchen utensils and cookware for both professional kitchens as well as home kitchens. But within, a little cafeteria has continued to gain reputation as a good, and reasonably priced place to eat.


We ordered the food at the counter, pay at the cashier, and find a table. The food is served. It was quite fast for our order...first up, the chicken cutlet, which they call Southern Fried Chicken...boneless breaded chicken, deep fried and served with some coleslaw, french fries, and a sauce.

The chicken looked wonderful. Nice, breaded, crispy. Taste wise it was quite good. The chicken is quite juicy and tender. But the crispy parts were rather special. The dipping sauce was a bit salty to my taste buds, but my lunch companion was happy slurping it up with her chips.

The garlic bread served with both my order of chicken and my lunch companion's steak. But both were so stale and so hard, I told the waiter, and they served a replacement...which turned out to be exactly the same. This kind of standard is absolutely not acceptable. I demanded to see the chef, who came out, apologised and went in to prepare two pieces of garlic bread anew. The fresh ones were much better, but a bit too much butter and was oily.

Anyway, my companion's lunch was a sirloin steak

She ordered it medium...and it was delivered thus...

Methinks a bit rare for a steak which was supposed to be medium, where I expect to see only a tiny bit of pink on the inside. But the steak tasted ok...quite similar to those you get at food courts, which in this case is a small disappointment as this steak costs $24.90 instead of the usual $12 or so.

Overall, the food is quite ok..rather enjoyable, in actuality. But I am slightly disappointed with the garlic bread and the prices.

ToTT Bistro
896 Dunearn Road 01-01A, S(589472)
6443 8221

Thursday, May 9, 2013

KL Black Hokkien Mee and Sang Mien at Kong Kee

Black KL Hokkien Mee is one of the elusive dishes to escape from the woks of the chefs in Singapore. Those in KL, are wonderful...full of aroma, of wok hei, of beautiful and tasty ingredients. All efforts in Singapore has fallen short...


Wrong noodle type is the most common error...many here use udon...but the authentic KL style uses authentic yellow noodles, but fatter, slightly flattened, less yellow in colour, suggesting less alkali. Another common error is the sauce...perhaps in Singapore a tad too sweet. I love both types of sauce, if they are aromatic and has a thick consistency, but for authenticity, one has to go to KL.

Kong Kee is one of the more famous restaurants selling this Black KL Hokkien Mee. A full restaurant, with the whole works...including giant garoupa, lobster, crabs...one dines in air conditioned comfort.

For me, this is probably the closest anyone has come to in Singapore. The noodles, while not absolutely correct, is close. The sauce also is close...the wok hei very nice, and the crispy bits of pork wonderfully fragrant. My favourite in KL has bits of cuttlefish and a few strips of lightly cooked pork liver to enhance the taste. So for me, this is as close as anyone has done in Singapore, but still not quite there yet.

But the next dish we tried...the sang mien with prawns is absolutely wonderful.

The noodles were wonderfully crispy, and very fragrant. The sauce magnificent...with a melange of flavours...crustacean flavours mingling with a light pork flavour, and a slight tinge of soy. Very nice.

This portion is small with 3 half large succulent prawns ($20). The prawns were nicely fresh, as I mentioned, succulent...with a nice crunch, and a beautiful breath of the sea. Very nice.

Recommended.

Kong Kee Seafood Restaurant
611 Geylang Rd
6443 8221

Monday, May 6, 2013

Satay by the Bay: Satay, of course! At Top Satay

Satay by the Bay...an interesting hawker centre right smack between Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Barrage.


A frequent drink stop for many cyclists who ride around the area, I decided to stop one evening for some satay. Reputation is that it is very good. I had tried some from the City Satay stall there, but suffice to say, uninspiring. So this time, we decided to try the Malay stalls.

The sataymen in attendance were quite chatty..."Satay Club? No more Satay Club anymore la...they all bluff. Now we are second, third or even fourth generation satay sellers. Where got original from Satay Club? All retired or passed on."

Interesting, methots. Grilling of the satay is done in traditional style...over hot charcoal. But how does it taste?

Very good. We ordered beef and mutton. The beef was a bit tough, just a tad so. But the mutton was brilliant. Both were very beautifully flavoured. The sauce, or kuah as it is called in Malay, is quite good as well. Nice, crushed peanuts.Smooth sauce, very rich.

Recommended.

Top Satay
Satay by the Bay
http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/dining/satay-by-the-bay.html

Thursday, May 2, 2013