Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Novus

The only previous time I ate at Novus, which was at my friends' (A & G's) wedding, I was suitably impressed, and hence when there was a chance of having lunch at Novus, I jumped at the opportunity. Little did I know that the ambience was so delightful! As you can see from these photos, the interior was decorated beautifully with coloured walls, high ceilings with mirrors, flowers, warm lighting, and the like. It was very old European in execution - reminscient of the Versailles palais (somewhat) or the Schonbrunn Palace - and definitely not kitsch - very nicely done I must say. 












It was a pity, however, that they did not have their set lunch, which would have saved us a lot of money. Instead we ordered ala-carte - which meant that we could try their foie gras! And what good foie gras it was! Perfectly seared, crisp on the outside and smooth on the inside, with a lovely charred flavour giving way to a rich velvety interior with just enough taste of liver, and paired with some caramelised fruit-like things. Great dish and almost as good as the foie gras at Eleven Madison Park. Only grouse was that there was not much to go around but I guess good things comes in small packages. (8.25/10)












I had the duck confit paired with some roasted potatoes and mushrooms and sprigs of rosemary. The skin was crisp and underneath the requisite layer of fat was present - which made for enjoyable (but sinful) eating. The addition of rosemary went well with the duck, cutting through the latter's richness and muskiness with hints of spice. Overall a competent duck confit (7.5/10).


















My friend had a steak which came with herbed butter. She enjoyed it and I tried a bit and it was pretty good. Probably not going to rate it here since I wouldn't be getting the full picture, but yes. 


























Anyway, here's wishing you a very merry Christmas and may you be blessed by the Lord as you celebrate His birth and the wonder of it all.

(Another shot of the wonderful interior).










Thursday, December 20, 2012

Meii Sushi

Meii Sushi has moved from their old hideout at the corner of Tanjong Pagar Plaza into a little corner of the second story of International Plaza - not much of a difference. The menu remained the same - however. We placed our orders for the Chirashi Don which came out looking like what you see in the photo. In other words, not very good - the pieces of fish were tasty enough especially the large prawn, and the salmon was just cut hence rendering it fresh - but the rice was not vinegary enough and the fish in general was just ... okay. I've had better. (6.5/10)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Strangers @ Work - Raffles Place


Another coffee joint has joined the party at Raffles Place - the owners of Strangers' Reunion have set up a shop in the CBD (more particularly in the Arcade) aiming to serve good coffee to the masses at work - hence the name "Strangers @ Work".


Head down and grab some good coffee! Yes I went there today (opening day) and it was good as usual. Of a similar standard to their usual shop at Kampong Bahru road.

The place also sells Greek-style yoghurt.





Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ramen Bari-Uma, Tanglin Shopping Centre

Yet another ramen joint has sprung up in Singapore - Ramen Bari-Uma, located at the basement of Tanglin Shopping Centre (NOT Tanglin Mall), replacing the Bombay Woodlands restaurant. Apparently it's a chain of ramen joints from Hiroshima.

The Travelling Hungryboy gave this place a very good review, stating that it has fast propelled into his top 3 ramen places in Singapore, along with Menya Mushashi and Tonkotsu King. Well, since I loved the latter two, I had to try this place out for myself.













I visited at circa 9.30pm on a Sunday night and boy was it empty - the only other diners were 4 Japanese. I ordered the Ajitama ramen (their specialty) to see what the fuss was about. 























My ramen soon came - and boy it was good! The broth was reminscent of Menya Musashi's - thick, savoury, full of umami, not too salty, and with a bit of that smoky flavour, although not as smoky as Menya's. Good, although I have to say I prefer Tonkotsu King's soup, which is a bit more complex. The pork on the other hand was better than Tonkotsu King's - it was charred nicely and had that char-grilled flavour. 



Overall a very good Ramen joint in Singapore - top 3 for tonkotsu. (8/10)







Friday, December 14, 2012

Artistry @ Jln Pinang

It seems like so many independent coffee shops are now sprouting up all over the island like mushrooms, when just five years ago you'd be hard-pressed to find any. Then Papa Palheta / Oriole came, and soon the island was replete with cafes. How cool is that. But wow my dream has always been to set up a cafe, but now there are already so many! But I guess, the more the merrier...Okay enough of my musings - today's review is on a relatively new space called Artistry, located at Jalan Pinang, which is just next to Arab Street. (It's also near the jamming studio, for those in the know (BeatMerchants)). The space is airy and well lit (I apologise for the bad photography) and serves as an art space as well, to display works of local art. There's also space for live music performances - and as you can see, there we have a musician restringing his guitar.

Terence of Liberty once posted on his Facebook that the brandy cake here was so good, so I came down wanting to try it. 

Add caption
However, I was successfully distracted by the Lemon Poppy cake that looked ever so appetizing, and was in fact, according to the waiter, the best-seller in the cafe. Hence, I went with it - and, wow, no regrets. Pretty good - tangy, with good texture from the poppy seeds. Moist enough, as well, and not too light (I hate cakes that are too light actually). This was good. Plus it came with some delicious lemon curd which was not too sweet and with just the right texture. (8/10)

The coffee comes from the abovementioned Liberty Coffee - consumed as a Gilbratar, there were notes of chocolate, full-bodied and easy to drink. The usual Liberty-style blend (8/10). The usual. 





Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Teppei Revisited (Again)

Taking into consideration the number of times I've been to Teppei Japanese Restaurant at Orchid Hotel, it would be an almost impossible task if I had to blog about every single one of my eating excursions at Teppei. Hence, I only blog when the food is truly remarkable - as was the case last Tuesday when I went down to Teppei with J for omakase.


We started off with their usual salad-style dish - the salad here was with lotus roots. It was nice and crunchy. Next up came squid with squid eggs (above) - the squid well tasted like squid, while the roe was delicate with an interesting texture.



Things got more interesting with Fugu Sashimi - having never eaten Fugu the poisonous fish before, I guess I was excited to try it - if it didn't kill me, of course. Thankfully I'm still alive. Marinated in some light ponzu / soy dressing, the fugu had a slightly springy texture and delicate flesh.

The sashimi course soon came and left me impressed - Chef Teppei must have been feeling in a generous mood, for the course included 1 toro, 1 scallop, swordfish, etc. The toro was buttery heaven of course, as always; what really stood out was the scallop which was fresh plump and sweet. 






















Next up, we had pork knuckle in some vinegary dressing of sorts. Rather interesting and the bones were great to gnaw on, with some crispy areas which packed in a punch. 


We moved on to some Chawanmushi with cheese (pictured below) which featured exquisitely smooth egg curd and a hint of cheese.






















Some fried items came - fried monkfish and puffer fish. Both were alright. 







There was some tempura okra with whale sperm "shirako" inside - it's an interesting experience eating 'shirako', since it's got that umami, but is a little fishy as well, and yet the texture is a bit like eating into a gingko nut. I wonder if that's the right description, although. 

Next up was a Wagyu beef fried teriyaki style. This was very good, as always - tender beef, well seasoned and fried. Very tasty.
We had clam soup after that, with some Japanese yam. This was alright, though I much preferred Teppei's other incarnations of clam soup. The previous one which he served with yuzu was simply amazing.

I remembered pointing to the uni which I spied on Chef Teppei's work station and mentioning to him that I would like to have some. Chef Teppei duly obliged by making us a nice big uni sushi each during the last course (told you he was in a generous mood?) where one could choose sashimi rice, fried rice, fried udon.... As you can see in the photo above, that was just lovely uni - floral and full of umami. The ikura on rice, as well as the barachirashi on rice, were equally good. Can't fault the freshness of the ingredients nor the execution.

Overall a meal at Teppei is always good fun and always delicious, and furthermore it does not bust a hole in the wallet as compared to other places which serve a similar standard of food. The Omakase above is SGD50++ per head which is a steal considering the amount of food.

The only bad thing is the waiting list - The waiting list for Teppei is apparently 2-3 weeks, but there are often empty seats if you're dining alone at around 9-10pm (they open until 12am, no worries). 

Omakase at Teppei is a luxury that's fast becoming a necessity. Thankfully it's not that costly to remain only a once-in-a-while luxury. Highly recommended! 







Sunday, December 2, 2012

Omakase Burger, Turf City

Omakase Burger is the latest burger craze in food-mad Singapore, and I first heard of it from a few friends who visited and exclaimed to me that it's the best burger in Singapore. Best burger in singapore? Really? Didn't know - had to go pay it a visit just to see what the fuss is about. And soon I saw the newspaper review and I realised that it's opened by a former ex-JC classmate of mine, Mr Cheng, who quit his banker job to start this Omakase Burger thing. 

mr cheng and his dad
the decor
Hence, i popped down, said hi to him (I hadn't seen him in a while), and asked quite a few questions, as to what his inspiration is, why did he start selling burgers, etc? Kinda an exclusive interview, if you'd like, albeit that I think 8 days already ran a similar story. Never mind. Well the story goes that he was always patronizing NYC and loved the burgers there, particularly from Shake Shack. (Read my review of Shake shack here). And he came back to SG and realised that there wasn't any place that could satisfy his burger cravings. So he decided to make some burgers himself, invested in a professional meat grinder, and experimented with various combinations of beef. Apparently he used an Excel spreadsheet and used various meats from various countries and from various cuts, from all parts of the beef and from many places. And he finally settled upon a combination which he felt was the best - and well, what he does is that he grinds the meat daily - he gets various beef cuts from various suppliers and grinds them in the shop every morning, and apparently only he knows the 'special combination'. It's kind of like how Pat LaFrieda makes a proprietary beef blend for Shake shack - no one else knows the special combination, and apparently many people have asked Pat LaFrieda what goes into the shake shack burger, but of course, these are intellectual property ie trade secrets, and of course you don't reveal these things to people. So Pat LaFrieda has a special blend for Shake Shack, and a special blend for someone else i.e. Minetta Tavern, and so on - but okay that's besides the point - the point is that, the combination of beef is important because it is the blend of various cuts from the cow that gives the beef in the burger it's own unique taste, which is unique to the restaurant. 

So well, I was keen to find out more about what went into the burger, so I probed further - and he really knows his stuff. Apparently, the short ribs gives alot of flavour, but you can't put them into a burger, because the meat flakes easily and doesn't combine together well because the meat proteins don't "latch" together in a patty - i..e if you were to have a pure short rib burger, it would disintegrate. And I'm sure he's done his research for various parts - I asked him what it would be like to have an Onglet beef burger - and he said it would taste amazing, but it's not suitable for industrial-use, which i guess it's true since there's only one onglet in every cow! And he said that he basically sourced for every good thing for each component of his burger - so he's got the best american bacon, best mushrooms, and so on. I guess the test is in the tasting eh, so here I went to try it out...

First up was the drinks - the homemade lemonade was pretty good, very refreshing. It featured some pulpy strands of lemon which were rather delicious - not too sour and not too sweet either.

The double-cheeseburger came, and wow that was rather good. Very juicy patty, almost too much juice that kinda flooded the entire bun (which was nice - rather soft), but with a good beefy flavour that came through nicely - nicely charred with a good beefy juice to it. The cheese added some umami savouriness to it. Only thing I wasn't a fan of was the lettuce - seems a bit too plebian for such a nice burger. The original Shake Shack burger used very fresh, crisp lettuce - not iceberg - and perhaps I should suggest to Mr Cheng to do the same. Hmm.....Overall though, a very good burger. (8/10).  
I ordered the sweet potato fries which were nice, a tad of sweet and very crispy.  (7/10)

The second time I came, I decided to try the Deluxe Cheeseburger - which came with onions and mushrooms - and I dare say I enjoyed this more than the regular one since I really love onions with my beef and definitely anything with mushrooms is something i'd definitely fancy. Good good. (8.5/10)
The truffle fries were great too - superb. I'm suggesting to him to add maybe sprigs of rosemary into the mix ala Spotted Pig which may be a good idea. Let's see what he says, haha. Anyway the truffle fries as they stand is a (8/10)