Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chicken Biryani: Mahamoodiya Restaurant

Nasi Biryani...many varieties...but the one I so love is the Hyderabadi style dum biryani.

As I understand it the dum style is cooking in a sealed pot...keeps the heat in, and cooking is by the steam generated. The Hyderabadi style is where the marinated meat and usually parboiled basmati rice is cooked together.

In Singapore, most biryani sold by the typical Indian or Mamak stalls are made in a huge pot. I prefer the ones made in small single portion pots like those I used to enjoy in Mumbai and Delhi.

So it was interesting to me, when my good friend Eddie Sng brought me to this place in Simpang Bedok, which serves single portion biryani, done dum style.

I am not sure if its individually cooked dum there was no seal to the copper pot. Typically a handkerchief or a pastry layer is used to seal the pot, and the layer is cracked open at the table, releasing wonderful aromas.

But the basmati used is beautiful long grained. The spices were very nice. Very fragrant, aromatic. Tasted heavenly. The meat, being cooked in the steam trapped by the seal is wonderfully tender...truly fork tender.

Very nice. Perhaps one of the better chicken biryani I have had for a very long time.

On this occassion, we frequent this restaurant quite often, Eddie had some pratas...which look awesomely crisp.

I did not try it, but he confirmed it was very good.

And for me the chicken biryani was enough for many returns. Very nice, and highly recommended.

Mahamoodiya Restaurant
335 Bedok Rd, Singapore 469510
6446 5176

Monday, August 26, 2013

Great Cze Chars: One Ocean Seafood Restaurant

Another cze char place with a twist...

Last week, I featured Kian Seng, a cze char place which is quite extraordinary for the cooking, but also interesting use of ingredients. Today's feature is on One Ocean...a rather large cze char chain with several outlets throughout the island. The one I went to is in tucked in an industrial building in Toa Payoh, and is rather more like a restaurant than a regular cze char place in a coffee shop. The dining area is air conditioned though they do have tables in the non air conditioned area as well.

The restaurant is also part of many kitchens who use the unique ingredients offered by Unilever Food Solutions.

We started with Double Boiled Sharks Fin with Pumpkin and Pork Ribs Soup (pre-order at least 1 day required), where they use the Knorr Concentrated Scallop Bullion.

The broth was clear, and tasted very nice and savoury. A tad saltish, but very fragrant and nice on the palate. The pork ribs were a bit tough, but still nice enough to eat. There were some strands of sharks fin, but a bit precious, in my opinion. The taste of the soup was very nice, but I felt the ingredients were not quite commensurate with the $28 a bowl asking price.

Next, we had the Golden Mashed Potato Roll

Very interesting dish. Beautiful to look at, even nicer in the mouth.Though the potato outer covering has the texture and taste of a hash brown, it is totally ungreasy, and a wonderful potato flavour. The stuffing complemented very well, as did the pumpkin like sauce.

The Italiana Scallops was next

Another very tasty dish...the scallops were small, but fresh, very sweet and succulent. The french beans and mushrooms were sauteed just right in the Knorr Italiana Herb Paste as a sauce...the beans remainding crunchy, but thoroughly cooked...and the mushrooms were nice and tender. Even the potato crust like fan which I guess is meant as a decoration tasted wonderful with the sauce and the vegetables and scallops.

Next we had a wonderful beancurd dish...Milk Cabbage and Beancurd Skin with Scallop Broth

The beancurd was very good. Fragrant, crispy, light and airy, layered. Topped with dried, deep fried scallops for extra oomph. And a magnificent sauce to mop it all up.

Next up, yet another beautiful fact, my favourite in this tasting...the Salted Egg Golden Flake Prawns

Salted egg yolk encrusted prawns are not new. And many of them are fabulous. But the twist in One Ocean's offering is the salted egg yolk are mixed with the Knorr Mashed potato flakes which seemed to either fried or lightly toasted. Not greasy at all, but the flakes provided a crunch and mouthfeel which elevated the already magnificent dish to another level. The prawns themselves were fresh, and had crunch and balanced well with the deep, rather heavy flavours of the salted egg yolk. This dish is worth the visit!

Crabs were next...the Italiana Crabs

The crabs were also nice, but after the excellence of the prawns, they did not shine as much. The crabs were nice...sweet, fresh, firm flesh. The Italiana sauce goes very well with the crabs.

Overall, excellent place to dine. The food was cooked magnificently, interesting use of ingredients and flavours to highlite. Recommended.

Thanks to Debbie at Ate Consulting and the fine folks at Unilever and One Ocean for hosting.

One Ocean Seafood Restaurant
1002 Toa Payoh Industrial Park #01-1407
Other outlets
Ocean Seafood Woodlands, Blk 892C Woodlands Drive 50 #01-02
Ocean Seafood Ang Mo Kio, Blk 107 Ang Mo Kio Ave 4
Ocean Seafood Serangoon, Blk 151 Serangoon North Ave 2
Ocean Seafood Hougang, Blk 435A Hougang Ave 8
Ocean Seafood Tanjong Pagar, Blk 7 Tanjong Pagar Plaza

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Great Cze Chars: Kian Seng

Cze Char with a difference! How interesting. When I was first recommended by a good friend to this place, I had wanted to go sample the offerings...but before I even had a chance, I was invited by a PR Agency to do a tasting there. A Cze Char place with a PR Consultant? Even more intriguing!!

But it was not quite as it seems. The folks who engaged Ate Consulting as the PR Agency was not the cze char stall, but Unilever Food Solutions. But why Unilever? Well, they make and produce all kinds of interesting stuff...including some quite ingenious ingredients used to create cze char and of course restaurant coffee shops to restaurants in 5 star hotels.

For this review, they wanted to highlight the professional ingredients used to produce two of the dishes offered by Kien Seng. A stall which have been offering cze char style food for almost 40 years...first in Yio Chu Kang Stadium and now tucked in the industrial Ang Mo Kio.

First off, the Tom Yam Potato Flakes Prawns.

Very interesting. The prawns are coated with a very light cereal like batter...which is actually made from Knorr mashed potato flakes. These are supplied by Unilever. The taste is excellent. Very good. The prawns were very fresh, cruchy, very sweet, and the outer coating was beautiful...very light, a wonderful aroma reminiscent of potato chips. Magnificent.

The other Unilever ingredient - the Italiana Herb Paste...used on pork ribs

I found this a bit less gorgeous as the first. The pork was quite good, but I feel the chinese wok style cooking was a bit at odds with the Italian herb sauce. It did taste good, testament to the skill of the cook and the ingredients used, but I found it a bit lacking in harmony between the pork and sauce. My lunch companions felt otherwise. One of them, a Canadian living in Singapore, thought it was marvellous. So I guess there is no accounting for taste.

We had an Indonesian style Prawns in Claypot next

Very nice. The curry was rich but with a distinct taste. This was confirmed when the Kien Seng owner told us that she did not use coconut milk, but rather Carnation evaporated milk in the curry. The spices used in the curry was very authentic Indonesian Chinese style. And the prawns were nicely fresh and sweet.

A herbal chicken in soup was next

I found this superb. The soup has a wonderful aroma, and quite a thick viscousity..not starchy viscous, but thicker consistency than watery soup. The soup was savoury, with a heavy herbal flavour which I absolutely adore. Very, very good. I did not eat the chicken meat, but a small sample I tried told me it was very tender, still moist and very tasty.

A pork collar dish next

Pork collar, in nam yu sauce, stir fried till crisp outside...but tender inside. Pork collar tend to be a bit fat...but the dish was not greasy, though the fat within the meat provided the flavours, it did not give a greasy mouthfeel. Goes well with the pickled pumpkin it was served in. One of my favourite dishes.

Next up, Sambal Sweet Potato Leaves

Another very good dish. The sweet potato leaves were very nicely done...the leaves were young and very fresh. The cooking exhibited superb control of the fire, and the sambal used was superb. Truly a great dish!

A hot plate of oysters in egg was next

Also superb! The oysters were very fresh, fat, juicy...and cooked just so. The eggs on the hot plate served well as a platform to showcase these oysters to good stead. Nice, rich dish.

We also sampled the Nyonya Style Steamed Fish Head

A rather authentic nyonya style sauce. Again sans coconut milk, but with a rather healthier evaporated milk. The fish was steamed, and was very fresh. I ate the gelatinous parts, which tend to have some unwarranted flavours if the fish was not ultra fresh. This head had no unwanted flavours...fresh, fresh. Very nice meaty head.

And finally for dessert, Ohr Nee

Magnificent. The yam paste was ground by had a wonderful, slightly gritty consistency which I so love. And the flavours were superb. The lady boss told us this was the only dish she used coconut the flavour could not be authentic otherwise. A wise choice. Bautiful.

Very nice food at this little cze char place. Very highly recommended. Also, I did not get to sample it, but I was told they are also super famous for their roast suckling pig. So, definitely a revisit to sample that is in order!

Thanks to Joachim at Ate Consulting and the fine folks at Unilever and Kien Seng for hosting.

Kian Seng Seafood Restaurant
4013 Ang Mo Kio Industrial Park 1

Monday, August 19, 2013

George of Georgetown: new Penang restaurant in town!

A new Penang restaurant is always an interesting place to try...especially here in Singapore...

Penang has a well developed hawker cuisine. I have documented my favourites several times. And recently, a new Penang place opened up in West Coast Plaza

The menu seems extensive...almost all the interesting hawker foods from Penang is found here. From favourites like Penang Char Kway Teow, to less commonly found ones (in Singapore) like pasembur, inchicabin and jew her eng chye. Interesting.

I started with the Penang Char Kway Teow...a firm favourite

Excellent. One of the best and most authentic I have tasted in Singapore. Very authentic. Beautiful, almost charcoal wok hei...which I know is going to be difficult to get in a restaurant in a mall, so there wasn't the magnificent smoky this was cooked in a gas stove. But one which puts out quite a lot of heat, and a cook who is able to control the wok. Very nice. Cooked with pork lard, with the crispy bits as all the flavours are present and accounted for. A touch greasy, if that is my complaint...but with a taste as authentic as this, I am willing to overlook the grease...indulge infrequently.

Encouraged, we ordered the Sambal Fried Rice

Very nice too. Nice sambal with a firm flavour of the Penang belachan present. Nicely done. The prawn paste fried chicken which accompanies is also quite good.

We also tried the Penang Hokkien Prawn Mee

High scores again for taste, but not for authenticity. The soup base is not autentic. They use ground dried prawns to make the stock. Making it very savoury, and tasty, but not what is commonly served in Penang...whose best offers a clear soup, with rather clean taste.

The jew her eng chye was less successful

This is a dish made with dried cuttlefish, and a mix of julienned radish, carrots, and vegetables, eaten with lettuce and a dose of sambal belachan. The sambal is wonderful. Nice spicy, beautiful aroma. The rest of the dish is rather less nice. My mom's JHEC is much better. Verdict on this is that the dish is edible, but not great at all.

Their lorbak with prawn fritter was next

For the first time, lorbak served with lor in Singapore! Lor is a starcy, savoury dip common in lorbak from Penang...and somehow, even though many of the Penang restaurants do offer lorbak in Singapore, none I have seen served with lor...

And the lor in this case was rather nice and authentic. So was the lorbak. Very nice. Crisp skin, and nice meaty inside. The prawn fritters was not as good. Not crispy enough, a bit too heavy on the batter.

And for dessert, chendol

With a scoop of jackfruit ice cream. The ice cream is a bit pedestrian. The chendol...the green jelly like stuff, is authentic...looks hand made. Nice texture. Mix up the shaved ice, and within, the red beans within complete the chendol. With the very nice gula melaka...very nice. My only wish for this dish...a bit of attap seeds, and touch more gula melaka. A winning dish.

Promising restaurant. Very good CKT. Nice chendol. Good lorbak. Will be back to try out other dishes. Want to try the inchicabin, Penang Assam Laksa. And more of the fabulous CKT.

George of Georgetown
154 West Coast Road

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dutch Colony: great picolo latte

Getting a good espresso or latte is getting easier in Singapore these days. Gone are the days when Starbucks and the large coffee joints dominate...and in are the days of the little cafes, where owners are passionate about coffee, and the ubiquitious roaster takes pride of place in the shop.

The Dutch Colony is one such artisanal espresso place. The roaster takes center stage...

As is typical in stores like these, they sell roasted beans...and of course, coffee is ground to order, pulled on an 3 group espresso machine...I don't remember what the make of the machine was, but its a large commercial one.

I ordered a picolo I tend to do when I am not sure of the ability of the cafe to pull a nice espresso doppio.

Usually, it is only after I have tried and satisfied with the small latte (less milk than a regular latte), I try the espresso, and when I really like what I taste on the espresso, I attempt to order a ristretto. Ristrettos are difficult animals to pull...even an experienced barista will not always pull a beautiful ristretto shot...too many variables I guess.

Beautiful. Just magnificent. The espresso base was nice, sweet, full bodied mouthfeel. The amount of milk added was just nice...enriching the espresso shot, instead of overwhelming it. Very nice.

Next time I am there, will try the espresso.

Nice, relaxed cafes tend to be...a bit rustic environment, being situated in the middle of a marketplace. Good place for a chill and a nice cuppa.

Dutch Colony Coffee Co
PasarBella @ The Grandstand
200 Turf Club Road

Monday, August 12, 2013

Revisit: Black Sheep Cafe

I reviewed Black Sheep Cafe once before. It served rather good French inspired cuisine, at rather reasonable prices. The owner and chef, Ratha closed the cafe, went to work for another restaurant...found corporate life was not for him...and worked to rebuild the cafe. It re-opened recently at a curious place, in the basement of a condominium block.

My earlier review of the food, I thought, was rather positive, as I compared Ratha's duck confit to the best I have eaten in Paris (Chez Dumonet). I recently revisited Chez Dumonet, and it was still rather marvellous. And I also recently revisited Black Sheep Cafe...

The place is situated in the basement of a private apartment block in the Sin Ming area...the basement floors were designated for shops, and Black Sheep Cafe was at B1.

The rather quaint decor, almost bare lik a canteen, but the characteristic paintings of a black sheep adorn the wall.

Chef and owner Ratha and his wife, almost in silhouette flanking the famous Black Sheep painting.

Warm bread, I suspect possibly made in house...I forget to ask Ratha...was delicious. Very nice, with a pot of butter.

I had the confit du usual, to gauge if it was still good

First impression is that this is a rather small duck. The leg was more the size of a medium chicken than a duck. The outer surface was to have been crisp, but it was not quite. It had a crispy texture, but the skin of the duck was still rather greasy, and not rendered crisp like the one in Chez Dumonet. But still, the taste was excellent, the meat was ungreasy, tender, and fell apart on probing with a it should be for a proper confit. The apple rosti was nice as a contrast to the fat infused duck leg, and a small serving of salad adorns the side.

Edward had the coq au vin

A bit unusual, as I had expected this to be served on a casserole. But I think it was cooked in a casserole, and dished out on a plate. The serving was somewhat larger than the duck. Nice flavours, tender meat. Good dish.

Kin ordered the crispy pork cheeks

This was rather good. I would have preferred a slightly more crisp outer for the pork cheek. And a little less fat on the meat. But it tasted quite marvellous. Beautiful texture, melt in the mouth quality. Very nice flavours. The orange sauce was a nice touch, providing some acidity to cut the heaviness of the pork. Very nice dish.

We ordered one soufle to be shared

Quite possibly the best soufle in Singapore. No comparison to Chez Dumonet's soufle, but for Singapore, probaly as good as it gets. Very nice, light texture, with the characteristic membrane like skin over. Tastewise, beautiful aroma of egg whites, and a little Grand Marnier. The hot soufle with the chocolate ice cream was excellent.

I chatted with Ratha after the meal...he lamented the labour situation of F&B outlets, and was eager to hear feedback on his cooking. Great fellow. Good cooking.

Black Sheep Cafe
Thomson V, B1-30
11 Sin Ming Rd

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cze Char: Exercising the wok

Cze Char is a staple standard in Singapore, cooked a la minute to order. Featuring fresh ingredients, some with great innovation. There are many around, most reasonably good.

Today, I feature one which was quite good. Situated just around the corner from my former office, this is a favourite in the area. This Cze Char is situated in the S11 Coffee Shop at Killiney Road, with a sitting area al fresco style behind the shop, under the shade of trees and tarpaulin. Rustic.

But most interesting is the food. Quite a standard menu, so I tried some staples. First off, Fried Beehoon with a spicy chilli sambal sauce by the side.

This is quite a standard dish offered by most cze char stalls. Apparently simple, but as with most simple dishes may be the most difficult to prepare well. This one is pretty good by most standards. Nice wok hei, beautifully cooked bee hoon...a bit al dente, but yet soft and rather soft. The crunchy taugeh and balance of salty and slight sour from the lime, and spicyness from the sambal is quite addictive.

Another standard for cze char is fried rice

Yet another deceptively simple dish. This one with beautiful wok hei, crunchy bits of deep fried salted fish, fresh prawns, and taugeh. Very nice.

Yet another standard...the har cheong kai...or prawn paste deep fried chicken

The cook/chef demonstrated excellent control of his wok and fire skills. Magnificently cooked...crispy, but yet not greasy outside. Even though this is a deep fried dish. And wonderfully moist and juicy within. Beautiful flavours.

Sambal kangkong

Rather de rigeur, but nicely cooked. Nice, young kangkong, cooked just right, crunchy. With a beautiful paste, with bits of dried shrimps. Very nice.

And an innovative dish

Pork chop slices with a sauce of salted egg yolk. Salted egg yolk is often used as a sauce ingredient for crabs and the ever popular prawns. But this is the first time I have seen it with pork. Creamy, almost milky, the flavours of the salted egg yolk blend beautifully with the tender pork slices. With a bit of chopped chilli padi...quite magnificent.

Quite a nice cze char stall, in the middle of the city. Great cooking.

Cze Char Stall, S11 Coffee Shop
117 Killiney Road

Monday, August 5, 2013

Authentic Thai: Mad Thai.

Wandering into a restaurant, sans reservation, sans recommendation is not usually something I do often...but one Sunday afternoon, after church service, we thought of lunching at Oh's Deli on their superb roast pork, but alas, it was done only on order. So we skipped acrossed the road, and spied this curious restaurant...named Mad Thai.

Intrigued by the name, we browsed the menu, and a gentleman came out to entreat us to enter, highliting some items on the menu. Very nice service! So we dropped in...the decor was quite nice...soothing.

Started our meal with a typical Thai salad...the mango salad

Quite a decent sized serving...heaped with julienned Thai mango, drizzled with fish sauce, chilli and crushed peanuts. Tasted very authentic, beautiful flavours...sour, sweet, spicy, salty and very aromatic.

We also order the Panang Beef Curry

Typically a thick red curry, this version had the gravy a bit less viscous than I anticipated. The gravy was very rich coconut flavours, with a touch of spice. The beef, seemed to be high quality beef, was sliced thinly, and was a bit over powered by the rather strong gravy. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this dish, especially as a counterpoint to the sour, salty mango salad.

One of their signature dishes is the Home made Tofu with seafood

What a beautiful dish...a magnificent splash of colours. Fresh seafood...the fish, prawns, and squid were very nice and fresh. The tofu made in house, and deep fried before being doused with the thick gravy. Very nice. Flavours a bit muted, but in combination to the other two dishes, quite superbly balanced.

Seemed to be a very interesting restaurant, with some beautiful flavours and good service. Recommended.

Mad Thai Authentic Thai Cuisine & Charcoal Barbecue
384 East Coast Road
6348 6686

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Friends Favourites: Beef Noodles at Ngee Ann Poly

School food...used to be a dread...but these days, schools compete for students, and have gone upmarket. Today I feature in Friend's Favourites, a brief food tour of Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

In my day in NUS, the best canteen was Eva's Kitchen. While the food was good, the environment was basic. But Canteen 4 of Ngee Ann Poly was like a high end food court in the Orchard belt. Air conditioned, well kept, clean tables and chairs. Very nice.

We were there to try the Beef Noodles, which my friend, a lecturer there, highly recommended. We ordered the upsized portion...increased noodle portion as well as additional ingredients...all for the princely sum of $4.

And a $2 plate of deep fried wantons to be shared.

We helped ourselves to the soup, as well as the pork lard crisps

The noodles were very nice. Cooked to perfection. The noodles were like the ones used in wanton mee...yellow, thin, springy, and very nice texture. The beef sauce was very good as wel...thick, smothering, and savoury. Within, boiled white radish accompanied...I found the radish to be quite flavourful. And the beef itself...very good. Contained slices of beef, brisket and tendon. All extremely tender, and very flavourful.

For dessert, we took the campus bus to Blk 72, to try out the brownie at Fahrenheit 8, a very interesting stall for artisinal ice cream set up as a social enterprise by the students.

They make the brownie on the premises. It was nice, chocolatey, but I did not find it very special or unusual. I was expecting some bits of semi-melted chocholates within, and perhaps some nuts. But this was just a plain brownie. The ice cream we had was salted caramel and rum and raisin...both quite good.

Interesting place to go for lunch, though the canteens get rather crowded during meal times, the food was excellent, and the pricing unbeatable. Recommended.

Noodle stall
Blk 43 Ground floor, Canteen 4.
Bus stop is Bus stop 4.

8 Fahrenheit
OurSpace@Blk 72
Ngee Ann Polytechnic