Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fish Market Sakuraya, West Coast Plaza

This is rapidly becoming one of my favourite spots to eat in West Coast Plaza, which is a mall I frequent heavily as my church is just next door. 

The concept's simple: there's raw fish that is packaged in plastic supermarket style, and you just select the piece you want and tell them your table number, and they'll serve it to you, sliced and prepared.

There's also a wide variety of cooked foods and rice dishes, including this barachirashi which was a joy to eat. A steal at $15, considering that Sushi tei has a similar chirashi don for about the same price, but there's no comparison in terms of the quality and freshness of the fish: Sakuraya wins hands down. 

The barachirashi was a delight: each piece was just very fresh, the swordfish was oozing with fish oils that was so juicy, the tuna had the intense "metallic" taste which I enjoy, even the salmon was delicious; and not to mention the hamachi though. Only thing I didn't like was the crabmeat. Sure, it wasn't Aoki, but it's also 1/3 of the price. And - there's fresh wasabi which is lovely too.

The last time I went, I ordered some Kampachi as well, which was sliced beautifully and melted in your mouth. I remember the time when S and I ordered many pieces of salmon belly - the only thing I can say is - OISHI!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Guan's Mee Pok, Maxwell Food Centre

A relatively new mee pok stall has opened at Maxwell Centre, named "Guan's Mee Pok". When asked whether they were related to the Ah Guan Mee Pok at Syed Alwi Road, they were non-committal. I'm not quite sure what that means, and I hope there are no trade mark / passing off issues there. 

In any case, I'm not here to talk about IP law, I'm here to talk about food! And boy was it a good bowl of meepok. The stall is somewhat unique since every bowl of noodles features an Ni-tamago egg (the Japanese half-boiled egg with a semi-solid yolk), and some fish maw as well.

The noodles were good: quite springy, although they tend to clump together (not a good sign). The sauce, made of powerful chilli and spices - was good and coated the noodles well. The egg was delicious, and they also provide some fried fish balls and fish maw. Very untraditional, if I may say so. Good bowl of noodles and the queue wasn't that long, so that's a 8.25/10.

I also ordered a Dried Scallop with Fish Maw - more fish maw, in a superior stock. Quite delicious too, somewhat like eating a cheap shark's fin soup. (8/10)

I would definitely come back, if only the heat wasn't so unbearable.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Platypus Lobster Shack

It has been some 3 months I visited my friend N's lobster shack located at China Square, and boy has the place become extremely popular since those days when no one visited! Right now there's always a queue - certainly a great problem for N.

I have heard rave reviews of the Seafood Crustacean Bowl so I had to try it, and boy was I glad I did! Lobster, summer caviar, uni cream, rice - and with everything blowtorched to give it that smoky taste. Paired well with the seafood flavours coming through. Great stuff. (8/10)

I was feeling healthy so N made me a salad. Tasted so good. Lemon vinegrette and chopped tomatoes. Not on the menu though. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

28HK has unveiled a new menu

28HK, that uber cool cocktail bar at Hong Kong street, has come up with a new menu which features classic comfort American food. This is a burger which was pretty delicious - seasoned with salt and pepper, this was aged beef which had a robust and sweet and funky taste with lots of depth that comes from aging beef. At least I thought it was aged. Gently paired with some deep fried gherkins on the side, Nice. 8/10

The drinks are always good here but be prepared to pay 20 and up per drink.  

Friday, July 18, 2014

Shinzo Japanese Cuisine - overpriced Japanese.

There are some places that offer true, authentic, good value-for-money food, such as my favourite Teppei, or Chikuwa Tei, or Aoki's set lunch; places that don't try to rip you off, but offers good value for what you're paying.

One place where I certainly did not find that at was at Shinzo Japanese Cuisine operated by Lawrence Chia, brother of Ronnie Chia of Tatsuya.

To cut the long story short, we were in a party of about 10 or more people. Some of them ordered the most expensive omakase set which I understand to be about S$190 per pax. On a budget, I opted for the S$167 (which is, in my opinion, pretty expensive). So, I expected to eat until I dropped - or at least; to have a variety of foods - in various styles - which would also leave me feeling satisfied.

I was so wrong. 

To be fair to Lawrence, it started off on an alright note. We were presented with some fish liver tofu which was alright - although the liver taste could have been stronger.

The next course was sashimi - and this was not bad; there was sea bream with truffled Japanese seaweed, one piece of chutoro which was quite heavenly, a yellowtail, and an ebi. Not bad - and quite delightfully presented.
We moved on to a plate of fish - this was just lightly seasoned and grilled, to be eaten with some radish and lemon. I thought to myself - this was alright.
And then - some Japanese eggplant which came in a creamy sauce. Not bad, although the eggplant seemed to be overwhelmed by the sauce and I could hardly taste the sweetness.
And after that - there was just course after course of sushi; and that was it. If you really wanted to know what was served:

The yellowtail was not bad - good fish flavour.
Seared otoro was - predictably good; with the fish oils coming through.
Then you had some akamai, garnished with some sesame seeds.
And after that - a piece of squid - done with some sesame seeds.

Next up was a piece of snow crab which was pretty good; quite sweet meat.

After that - mentaiko sushi with swordfish that was torched.

And a delightful piece of uni.

And then, ikura.

Squid came next.

I can't remember what the next piece was, sorry. Oh yes - Anago! Thanks rubbisheatrubbishgrow! 
Okay, I mean - it seems to be alot of fish - and this would have been pretty awesome if I were eating a sushi omakase. But when the chefs were feeding those who ordered the S$190 sets all the good stuff such as snow crab, a whole sea urchin, and they finished off with more sushi, fried rice, noodles, etc - so that they were satiated, I was thinking; hey! I'm not full! Where's the next dish! Where's my food! Where's - some noodles or something? Hell, you could give me a plate of lowly salmon maki and I'd be happy! What...but no - there's no other food left. No fried rice, no ramen, no soba, no nothing. 

Certainly there were perhaps 10 pieces of sushi and that's great. Wow. But hey, seriously, I expected better for that kind of price. 

No wonder Teppei is such a wonderful place - for S$70 I ate like a king. For S$80 - course after course. In contrast, Shinzo's food may be refined especially the sushi, but it left me high and dry. In the end, I walked over to BK Eating House and had a bowl of meesua-tar. Man, I was happy. I finally had a smile on my face.

Come on, I know that food costs in Singapore are high and all that, and the cost price of the food that you gave to us at the dinner is probably about S$50 at most. And I pay S$100++ for your service? Hell no.

Sorry, not going back. There are tons of other good Japanese places that I'd rather spend my money on. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Le Bistrot Du Sommelier, Armenian Street

Wow, I realise that I haven't actually blogged about Le Bistrot Du Sommelier, a French bistro-style restaurant located at Armenian Street. The chef Patrick used to helm the kitchen of Au Petit Salut at Chip Bee Gardens, which was where I first had a taste of good fine homely French food, before even travelling to France. Over the years, Le Bistrot has been renowned for serving tasty and delicious French food done in a rustic style, such as their onglet steak, and various rillettes and foie gras preparations. Not haute cuisine by any stretch of the imagination, but then again - haute cuisine is rather pretentious anyway and labourious to eat every day.

We made a last minute booking so there wasn't space at the proper restaurant, but we managed to snag a table at the Rillette bar upstairs. I found it to be a rather cool space, high ceilings and loads of space to have a fun night out.

We ordered a combination platter of rillettes and terrines: there was a rabbit rillette which was quite tasty; and a pork terrine which was well, a little short of my expectations, honestly - as it was a little flat (7/10); but what saved the day was the foie gras terrine, which was delicious: smooth and fatty, earthy; with the foie gras taste in an absolutely smooth terrine. Great with the brioche that they serve it with. (8/10)

What really blew our mind away was our main of Cote du Boeuf - This was super shiok (delicious in Singlish): very buttery in taste, perfectly done to a medium rare, absolutely superb, tasty stuff. (9/10). What I really liked were the ends where the fat had caramelised and melted. Yums!

I was really impressed with the wine that I chose, a Cote Rotie Rene Rostaing 2010 Cuvee Classique (Ampodium), and this was really delicious. On the nose, a massive and complex nose of butter, bacon, spice, meaty aromas and black pepper, some earth and spice, and a palate of dark plums, black and red fruits, slight spice and chocolate; great structure, some sweetness, bacon and leather. Very elegant for a Cote-Rotie, almost Burgundian for its purity. Delicious stuff. (9/10).

Overall, I can't fault the food here - it's homely, rustic, delicious and tasty food done well. And a great wine list to boot as well, which befits the name of the place. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Pince and Pints, Duxton Road

I'm sure all of you have heard of Bonito Chico / Love Bonito, which is one of the first blogshops to become a viable, successful, booming business. My old churchmate Frederick married one of the owners of Love Bonito and has been working there ever since; and recently he's opened a Lobster joint called Pince and Pints, located at 31-33 Duxton Road. Even though it's only been open a week, it's been fully packed day-in day-out and I must say his publicity team has really done a fantastic job. I heard that the queue starts forming at 4.45pm before it opens at 5pm, and by 6pm, the wait is 2 hours; and after 7.30pm, they stop taking new customers since the queue is about 90-100 people. That's really good business isn't it! Fred calls it a "happy problem" and I have to say, I'm inclined to agree. 

He advised me to arrive before 5pm - maybe 4.30pm, in order to beat the crowds, and so today I popped down at the advised time to wait for a space to eat. You can see - from the photos - that I've managed to take the photos of the empty restaurant, but it wouldn't stay empty for long because a great snaking queue started forming outside the restaurant at around 5pm. 

Pince and Pints basically does only lobsters - done 3 ways: either steamed/grilled ; in a lobster roll; or in a 'chilli lobster' which is kind of like a chilli crab, complete with mantou. I am a sucker for Lobster Rolls, so I ordered the lobster roll which came with fries, garlic aioli, and some salad tossed with a homemade dressing and some Parmesan cheese. I must say the lobster roll was extremely delicious and sublime - one of the best I've had in Singapore and comparable to those in New York (Red hook; Luke's lobster), and in some ways surpassing those. The magic's in the bread: they butter the bread roll and lightly pan fry it such that the butter is absorbed into the bread; and it's topped with some very fresh, sweet and succulent lobster meat that's lightly tossed in mayonnaise, and garnished with some spring onions. This was outstanding and already a winner. (8.75/10). There were thick large chunks of lobster meat - can't go wrong!

Accompanying the lobsters is a large variety of wines, cocktails, and alcohol beverages. Good stuff. I enjoyed the Gewurtztraminer that I ordered: refreshing and slightly off-sweet. The Dark and Stormy cocktail I had was good as well: lightly spiced ginger beer and rum. 

I spoke to Fred and was informed that he visited Boston and New York, speaking to many lobster suppliers and trying their produce, before narrowing down the list to a few - before importing the lobsters from the suppliers that he favours. The quality of the lobsters is certainly evident from the lobster meat that I had, and so much so that Ken from Naked Finn - who certainly knows his seafood - also obtains some lobster from Fred. 

Anyway, it's great to see a place serving lobster roll - which is one of my favourite dishes. Pince and Pints is certainly highly recommended - if you can beat the queue!