Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sanpoutei, Shaw Centre

Many people, including DanielFoodDiary and my personal ramen-loving friend, have given positive reviews of Sanpoutei, which has two branches which are located in Holland Village and Shaw Centre, so over the course of one week (incidentally, two Friday nights being sad and lonely) I visited both outlets to try the chow.

The first Friday, I visited the Shaw Centre outlet at around 7pm - and the queue was super long. I should have known, I guess. I waited for about half an hour before managing to grab myself a seat at the table, to try their Nigata ramen. 

I ordered the Nigata Shoyu Ramen - which came with a light soy-based broth which was pretty tasty and umami, and was pretty good; adorned with flat wiry noodles and delicious egg. Loved the menma (bamboo shoots) as well. This is a 8/10

Okay - I wasn't blown away, probably because I much prefer something a bit more full bodied, but this was good for what it is. At least you could finish the soup without feeling "jerlak" (or bloated).

The Shaw centre outlet was done up very well - very tastefully decorated (being the newer of the two outlets). A picture is uploaded to show you how it looks.

The next Friday, I headed over to the Holland V Sanpoutei outlet; and ordered the tsukumen (dipping noodles). The sauce was flavoured with sardines and had chunks of sardines in it; very umami and quite tasty (flavoured with fish). The noodles were wiry enough to allow the sauce to coat it; and the eggs and menma were again of top quality. The only grouse I had was that there was not enough of the sauce - sadly. Overall about 8/10 also; although I would have liked more sauce. 

The outlet was slightly more cramped - but it was still fine.

Overall Sanpoutei is one of the top ramen joints in Singapore - for the shoyu style - and I hope they continue to maintain their standards. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Black Swan's Mangalica Pork dish - All Hail ze Mangalica!

I am in love with Mangalica pork. Furry, cute, hairy Mangalica pigs are soo adorable, and the meat is even more delicious. I am talking about the Mangalica pork dish that I had at The Black Swan this week (No photos since my phone died). The meat was rich, unctuous, flavourful, robust, and sweet, almost like eating beef. And it was very pink - and slicing through it was so easy. And the taste was just awesome; rich mouthfeel and very flavourful, with the marbled fat just making everything so "porky". No wonder they say that the Mangalica pig was initially raised for the Emperors of the Austro-Hungarian empire; the Hapsburgs sure knew how to enjoy their pork! The dish came with some red cabbage and sweet apples to cut through the richness - but they were mere counterpoints to the wonderful pork. (8.5/10)

All hail ze Mangalica!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Hong Yuan Prawn Noodle ( Bestway Building)

I'd stick my neck out to say that Hong Yuan Prawn Noodles (Bestway Building, near Tanjong Pagar MRT) offers probably the best prawn mee in the CBD, and it is indeed a mighty fine effort, capable of matching the top guns such as Beach Road, Jalan Sultan, Hoe Nam and the rest. it may perhaps lose out to Wah Kee but it's really a very high bar already. 
Hong Yuan sells traditional Hokkien prawn noodles, i.e. cooked with pork ribs and prawns. I ordered the dry version - how did it taste? I took my first sip of the thick, richly-coloured soup (which augurs well): wow, I was impressed. The soup was a rich thick "gao" broth that was bursting with depth of flavour and  had an intense taste that was still quite well rounded, with a subtle sweetness. Yes, I enjoyed it a lot that I had a second bowl.
The gravy that adorned the noodles were superb as well - there was a lovely umami flavour from the chilli. The noodles were also well-cooked: smooth kway teow. Altogether: 8.25/10

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lucha Loco, Duxton

The margaritas at Lucha Loco are supremely excellent, probably the best in Singapore. I had just finished a long workout session and in need of a drink, and what better place to get some than Lucha Loco, made with top quality ingredients - good quality tequila, fresh lime, which makes for a really refreshing drink. Indeed the classic margarita was extremely enjoyable: I could have had a couple more if curiosity didn't lead me to try something else. (8.5/10)

I ordered the crab tostadillas again - they were as good as I remembered them to be: fresh crab with good seafood flavour, avocado, cabbage, doused in a tangy dressing; delicious and light all at the same time. We helped ourselves to seconds. (8/10)

The beer-battered fish taco was similarly excellent: tasty and paired well with their slightly spicy sauce. (7.5/10)

I was also quite fond of the ceviche: snapper and mango with onions and the other raw vegetables. Deliciously tart. (7/10)

My friend had pleasant impressions of the grilled fish she had the other day, and cajoled us to order it again, so we obliged - and we weren't disappointed with the grilled barramundi featuring flaky-tender flesh and crisp, well seasoned skin. (7.25/10)

Had another prawn taco (no photo) which was well-seasoned as well; as well as a passionfruit cocktail. 

Lucha Loco wasn't cheap - the bill per head was about SGD 80, but it certainly is an enjoyable place for a boozy night out. Yums. A tip: this place is packed to the brim on Friday nights and hence a recommendation's certainly in order. 

Duxton Hill

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Best food experiences of 2014

It's about 10 minutes to midnight, so here's a quick recap of the best things I've eaten in 2014:

1. Sushi Tokami - undoubtedly the best meal this year; I had the taste of the most awesome maguro ever, paired with deliciously tasty rice. Life changing sushi.

2. Jaan - such elegance from a high-end Singapore restaurant.

3. Aoki - their mazechirashi never fails to impress me.

4. Pince and Pints - One of the new restaurants that have lived up to the massive hype. Fresh, delicious sweet lobsters.

5. Labyrinth: creative mod-Singapore cuisine

6. Gaest - delicious Nordic sandwiches.

7. Dibs Bistro - creative cuisine bursting with flavour.

8. Le Bistrot Du Sommelier's cote du boeuf, amazing stuff.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Jaan @ the Swissotel, Singapore

I have been meaning to write about Jaan for the longest time, but I always kept putting it off until now, since I want to write about my top meals of 2014. And certainly, my meal at Jaan was exceptionally good. Located at the 69th floor of Swissotel, Jaan has been one of the top European restaurants in Singapore for a while now. Truth be told, I hardly eat out at fine dining places because I am reluctant to spend the $200 or more required to savour a fine dining degustation meal in Singapore, whereas if I were overseas - the considerations are different, perhaps because you've already spent much more for flight and accommodation so what's SGD 200 more? (And well - to be honest - I only take one or two long holidays per year). Therefore, I haven't been to the likes of Andre, Joel Rubuchon, Guy Savoy, Osia, Gunther's, and the like. And, of course, I have not been to Jaan, until now. 

(One of the other reasons why I don't frequent fine dining places so often is that the price of a great fine dining restaurant overseas is often far less expensive than the comparable establishment in Singapore. I went to Ledbury for their set lunch which was great value; and Jean Georges' is only USD40 for lunch, and Azurmendi in Bilbao was only EUR135 for exquisite top notch food which would blow away any restaurant here. And well - perhaps I'm biased, but I would rather go to Eleven Madison Park as compared to - Joel Robuchon Singapore. But okay, I'm digressing). 

But hey, it was a dinner worth remembering. I would stick out my neck to say that the food in Jaan is amazing, and certainly comparable to any of the top Michelin restaurants around the world, in terms of creativity, elegance, flavour, and the whole combination of the sum of its parts which makes the dining experience memorable and enjoyable.

The dining room wasn't as big as I expected: just a small room, perhaps 10-12 tables at the most. I really liked the industrial, geometric roof, which was an interesting juxtaposition to the glittering chandeliers - a combination of industrial and elegant, perhaps.

We started off with some canapes: they were really pretty, especially them Parmesan twirls. Delicious nuggets of cheese things. 

Things got even better with the next course: an amuse bouche of wild mushroom tea and walnuts. This was very delicious, with a rich and earthy mushroom flavour. Digged this. (8/10)

Then it was time for the first course: Gilardeau oyster with edible flowers, dill, and herbs. The oysters were superb: briny and sweet and slightly mineralish, paired up with some dill and edible flowers to provide a tinge of the herbaceous. Absolutely yummy. (8.5/10)

Next up, one of Jaan's signature dishes: Jaan's garden; a refreshing garden vegetable salad of fennel, carrots, broad beans, and other seasonal vegetables, paired together with a delicious light dressing. Vegetables are in vogue now (see L'Arpege) and well, vegetables are cool when they come from proper farms! Too bad - flavourful vegetables are so rare these days. (8/10)

A complimentary dish was served to us: 55 min poached egg with nuts; one of their signatures. Great balance of texture and flavours, although well I've been eating too many sous vide eggs these days. (7/10). This was alright. 

One of the star dishes of the night (probably my favourite dish): arctic char, a very clean tasting fish - with an elegant almost Japanese-like simplicity about it; paired beautifully with a light mushroom sauce. This went superbly well with the rich American chardonnay that was paired with it, with notes of toffee, spice, caramel, and retaining much acidity. I wonder what the chardonnay was because it was enthralling. A superb combination. (8.75/10)

Another "meat" dish: Mangalica pork. I loved the tasty fat bits. Paired with an elegant St Julien. (8/10)

Some elderflower grape jelly sorbet to cleanse the palate; refreshing.

We ended off with strawberries and yoghurt: a lovely light dessert, again very refreshing and with the taste of summer. A light ending to a great meal. (8/10)

Overall, the food at Jaan is quite praiseworthy. Very delicious cuisine, inventive, expertly presented, and if there's one word to use to describe it - it's elegant. The chef used to be a farmer (if I recall correctly) in France and hence his affinity with vegetables and other ingredients from the ground; and the respect for produce really shows. I would definitely come back here again, if the price was a bit less astronomical! It was about SGD200 with the Feed at Raffles card - which is rather good value for the quality of the ingredients, but far too pricy to be consuming this on a regular basis.

One of the best meals of 2014, as 2014 draws to a close. Happy new year all!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Common Man Coffee Roasters

Common Man Coffee Roasters, Martin Road (CMCR) would probably rank as one of the top few selections for a really good brunch in Singapore - as it ticks all the right boxes, namely:

(1) inaccessible location - you'd need a car to get there since it's miles away from any public transport;

(2) cool decor - the interior is really funky with shared seating - bar stools; industrial lighting; 

(3) an eclectic menu featuring all-day breakfast, Turkish breakfast, vegeterian options, burgers, and coffee prepared a myriad of ways.

Certainly, as it is the brainchild of Harry Grover of 40 hands and the Spa Esprit Group - both of them are responsible for many of the top cafes in Singapore.

My friend and I had 2 breakfast items each: I had the Organic Eggs Benedict with beef cheeks while my friend had the Turkish breakfast, which came with eggs, pita bread, olives, and other turkish offerings.

I'm not able to comment on the Turkish breakfast as I didn't have much of it, but my organic eggs benedict was done very well. The eggs were a golden orange as opposed to limpid yellow, and had much more flavour; and it was paired up with a well made hollandaise sauce,  on top of some beef cheeks, and bread. Everything was pretty delicious. Some rocket to cut the fattiness was in order too. Altogether: 8/10. The only gripe I had was that it was really expensive. This dish was about SGD25.

The coffee was good too: had a "bastard" blend cappuccino which was fruity and fragrant. 

CMCR's a great place for brunch, if you have an unlimited budget, or are slightly less budget-conscious. I guess we could make the same dish at home for far less - and it would probably taste just as good. Sigh, I guess we pay to be seen at a "hipster" joint.