Monday, September 22, 2014

Paul's new Executive Set Dinner menu at Tanglin Mall and Westgate

Paul's is an bakery from Paris with a long and interesting history from 1889 in France. They opened their first outlet in Singapore in 2012 in Ngee Ann City.

They introduced an interesting menu of affordable meals in their  outlets in Tanglin Mall and Westgate...both an Executive Set Lunch for S$13.90 and their Executive Set Dinner for S$18.90 from now till October 31.

I went for a tasting at the Tanglin Mall outlet, a quaint restaurant, reminiscent of a boulangerie in France, with a large bread counter at the entrance, and a nice beautifully decorated dining area.

I tried the Set Dinner...first up the soup of the day, which was Cream of Brocolli

Made with ground brocolli, it was rather pleasing, but not spectacular by any stretch of imagination. I rather enjoyed it, as it was hearty and wholesome. The cream was light, and the bits of ground brocolli provided the namesake and the taste.

I also had the traditional beef stew. 

This was a hearty dish. Chunks of beef, nicely stewed till tender, with lots of vegetables, potatos, carrots, leaks and a thick, delicious brown sauce. Served with a green salad on the side and house bread, baked fresh. Loved this dish. Very traditional, very countryside. 

Kin had the chicken in cream sauce

Called Saute de Poulet aux Champignons or roasted chicken with mushrooms in a cream sauce. Rather delectable too. The chicken was nicely roasted, and very tender. The mushrooms were fresh ones, and very flavourful, and went very well with the cream sauce.

The set dinner came with either ice lemon tea or ice mint tea...rather refreshing.

Nice dinner sets, and very affordable and good value. 

#01-16/17 Tanglin Mall
163 Tanglin Road
Singapore 247933
Tel: +65 6736-3257

#01-05 Westgate
3 Gateway Drive
Singapore 065832
Tel: +65 6369-9080

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Stirling at Bukit Timah Village

Great steaks and grills are a passion of mine. And I am always on the lookout for reasonably priced steaks which are grilled correctly.

When the owner Elwyn called to invite me for a tasting, I looked at the menu, and thought very interesting. Most interesting was the CV of the chef, who was trained as a grill master. Interest piqued, I went.

The decor was rather homely...a large long bar on one side, and tables for twos and fours on the other. Outdoors, but under cover of a roof, was more seating. The place boasted a nice selection of craft beers and divers alcohol. 

But we were there for the food...and we started with the grilled appetizers:

Halloumi cheese, pan seared, and served with a salsa like salad with baby spinach, tomatos and capsicum. I found this to be quite superb. The texture of the halloumi cheese, a speciality of the Greeks/Turks was superb. The salsa was just nicely so, and went well with the spinach. Though, I might have longed for some rockets within the greens.

A twist on the traditional Italian parma ham with melons is the chef's interpretation of parma ham with grilled watermelon.

The grilled watermelon was lightly grilled over charcoal, and rested on a bed of rockets and olive slices, and topped with parma ham. I thought this was somewhat less successful than the traditional pairing with raw melons. But the dish still works, and was rather pleasant.

Then came the char grilled steaks

As usual, I ordered the Chicago Medium Rare...medium rare on the inside, but charred on the outside. The 300g cut of ribeye was rather substantial, and served with a sauce and a knob of herb butter. For the sides, I had the grilled vegetables (excellent!) and french fries with truffle sauce, which was also excellent.

I think the chef showed his expertise in the steak. Grilling was perfectly done. Deep within, a touch medium rare, working beautifully to medium just under the wonderfully smokey exterior which was lightly charred. Very good. One of the better steaks I have had in a while. And almost on par with Ruth's Chris and Cut...but at a fraction of the price. This 300g cut of prime Australian beef...grass fed, and corn fed for the final 120 days, is luscious, nicely marbled. 

We also tried the crispy Atlantic King Salmon

This was also superb. The leek dill sauce was perfect foil for the slightly lumpy mash potato, and the piece de resistance is the perfectly grilled, and fried salmon. The skin was very crispy, but the insides still rather moist, and flavourful. Very good fish, and very highly recommended, especially for those who do not eat beef. 

For desserts, we tried the tiramisu

Not quite as special as the mains. For me, the tiramisu lacks the alcohol punch, and a bit pedestrian...though I suspect that remark is a bit overstates the is certainly edible and tastes good, but not great by any stretch of imagination.

The crepes were rather more successful

I rather enjoyed it. The crepes themselves could have been left on the pan a bit longer to develop a light crisp on the outside, but it was cooked well, and with nutella within was nice. Chocolate flakes and berries with vanilla ice cream adorns. 

For me, the standout dishes in this restaurant were the mains. The steaks were truly great, lacking only the slightest to the magnificent steaks at Cut and in the US, because they do not use dry aged beef....hence lacking in the foie gras like flavour imparted by dry aging. I will certainly crave for more steaks here. And the Crispy Atlantic King Salmon is another great dish to saveur.

The chef is a rather youthful looking fellow, having learnt his craft in The Steakhouse at Clarke Quay, and the restaurant is also co-helmed by another chef, who is only 19 years old, and yet to go for his NS.

Remarkable restaurant. Highly recommended.

Sun - Thu: 11:30 - 00:00
Fri - Sat: 11:30 - 01:00

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Yummy Recipes at Kallang Pudding

The name is direct, in your face. The claim, bold. Does it live up to its name?

This interesting restaurant, looking like the set of a Chinese sword fighting movie, and situated right smack in an industrial estate in an industrial building came with very high recommendations from one of my great foodie friends.

The renovations for the restaurant is claimed to be in the upper six figure range, with antique art and furnishings abound. But this is still a family restaurant, and on a sunday evening when I visited, it was rather full, and abuzz with families dining.

First off, we tried the sio bak...roasted pork belly

Instantly memories of the fabulous roasted pork we had in Hong Kong flooded back. This is one of the best roasted pork we have eaten in a long time. The skin is crisp, light, and wonderfully golden brown and fragrant with a hint of charring. The meat was juicy, without being too fat, and beautifully tender and tasty. Very good roast pork.

Their kailan in two styles was also recommended

On the foreground, a nice, succulent kailan, cooked just right, still with a nice crunch, but cooked and no green flavour. Very nice with a nice dose of garlic. On the background is thinly sliced kailan, deep fried till crisp and tossed with deep fried crispy silverfish. The taste reminded us of sea weed, but this is kailan. Very nice. 

As both Ed and I were big fans of pig's stomach soup, being spoilt by my late mother's wonderful rendition of this soup, had to try Yummy's version. The Yummy's version has an interesting twist. A whole chicken is stuffed into the pig's stomach, and the entire package cooked in a thick-ish savoury soup with fish maw, slices of abalone and other goodies. 

Shown above, the entire stomach with the chicken inside is removed from the pot, sliced at the table. The slices of pig's stomach are placed in the bowls and the chicken left on the plate and served. The chicken is extremely tender while still maintaining quite a bit of the juiciness and chicken flavours while being mixed with overtones of pork flavours. The stomach was also tender but as they tend to go, still retaining the springy, texture. Very nice. 

The soup was marvellous. Thick, almost with a collagen like consistency, bursting with wonderful flavours. Within are bits of pork, Korean ginseng, abalone slices and fish maw. We love the soup very much. The dish can serve 10 with each getting a small bowl, or 4-6 with 2 bowls each. We were 3 that evening, and we had a tough time finishing this, even though we adored it. Must order, especially if you have a larger group.

Very interesting restaurant. We will be back to try the lobster porridge, which we were told by friends that is also benchmark setting. As well as other dishes. Probably a larger group next time, so we can sample more delicacies. Definitely highly recommended.

Yummy Recipes

47 Kallang Pudding Road, #01-08,
Crescent @ Kallang S(349318)
T. +65 6343 1818F. +65 6636 0602

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Malaysian Food Street at Resorts World Sentosa

Today's post is a bit unusual...I have featured the food at Malaysian Food Street before. And like the Penang Char Kway Teow and KL Jalan Alor Black Hokkien Mee very much.

I attended a MasterClass where Chef Adolf Tan shared the recipes and some secrets of why these dishes taste better than other places which serve similar in Singapore.

Of course, the reference is still the dishes in the native city. I discussed this with Chef Adolf and he told me that his aim is to achieve about 80% of what can be tasted in Penang or KL. The reason is because some of the ingredients are not available in Singapore, even on special order, as some have a very short shelf life, and others have been restricted by the authorities (like fresh duck eggs which packs a wallop in Penang for their CKT)

The recipe is rather simple...and as usual, simple dishes are the Penang the dish is spelled Char Koay Teow, here is the recipe:

Ingredients: serves 1

200g Koay Teow
35g Bean Sprouts
5g local chives, cut
5g chopped garlic
Chillli paste to taste
35g fresh prawns
15g Chinese sausage
1 egg
30ml pork oil
20ml premium soya sauce, or as an option a dash of fish sauce and pepper


1, Heat up pork oil in wok until can see the oil smoking on the wok. Add chopped garlic and prawns.
2. Stir fry till fragrant, and add koay teow and beansprouts. Fry for about 1 minute.
3. add chilli paste, soya sauce and stir fry untill well coated, then add Chnese sausage and chives.
4. Add egg, cook till the egg is done.
5. Garnish and serve.

The Masterclass CKT was cooked on a portable stove, but the regular CKT in MFS is cooked on a super powerful high pressure gas stove...the one which sounds like a jet engine taking off. This will provide the requisite wok hei to the dish, which is so treasured. Traditionally in Penang, the dish is also cooked in a charcoal fire, where a fan is used to stoke the ambers to very high heat. And the charcoal adds an additional depth to the dish, infusing it with smoky flavours for an even more powerful wok hei.

The next dish demonstrated was the Dai Lok Mee...or KL Black Hokkien Mee. 

The special ingredient used when you eat at MFS is the noodle. I often lament that local renditions o this very special dish lacks authenticity as most use either udon or regular mee. But in KL,  the mee is yellow noodle, but thick and has a special flavour. MFS went to the trouble to get the local Singapore noodle manufacture to make the mee in Singapore to be as close to what is obtainable in KL as possible. Chef Adolf shared with me that the manufacture of this mee is only for MFS and the manufacturer is under contract only to supply to them.

The recipe is as follows:

Ingredients: serves 1
200g Dai Lok Mee
25g Choy Sum, cut
50g Round cabbage, cut
5g chopped garlic'
30g pork oil
25g pork loin, sliced
35g fresh prawn meat
20g brown cuttlefish, cut
10g Premium soya sauce
30g Premium Dark Soya sauce
150ml chicken stock made from 250g of chicken bones and 500ml water boiled and reduced to 250ml.

1. Heat up wok with pork oil and add both cut vegetables, pork slices, cuttlefish, prawn and chopped garlic
2. Fry till fragrant, add chicken stock and mee
3. Add soya sauce and dark soya sauce and simmer till sauce coats the noodles
4. Stir well and serve.

Visually, the noodles look very similar to the ones I have eaten in KL. And the fragrance is absolutely captivating. Tastewise, this is probably the closest to KL I have sampled in Singapore, big thanks to the special noodles used.

Malaysian Food Street
Resorts World Sentosa

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Datouxia in Upper Aljunied

The quest for the ultimate prawn noodle continues...with Wah Kee firmly seated at the throne, in my view, many young new challengers arise to take a shot...some fall short, but some, come amazingly close!

This is one of them. Quite amazing, considering that this shop is little over a month old when I was invited to visit. 

Straight into the noodles...first up, the big prawn dry noodle.

The broth is made by fresh sea prawns, and boiled with pork bones, ground prawn heads for hours to create the rather thick consistency, and full flavoured broth. The prawns used were quite large, halved in the middle for ease of eating, and were fresh prawns from the wet market which they buy every day. 

The taste was rather good. The prawns were fresh, crunchy, with a nice crustacean sweetness. The broth was, as mentioned, thick and quite flavourful. I tasted a hint of sweetness, and indeed some rock sugar was used in the preparation. A little of the powdered chilli elimated this altogether, and in my books a game changer. The broth took on a more savoury persona, full of umami, and very flavourful. 

As can be seeen in the pic above, a lot of lard crisps and deep fried shallots were piled on the bowl imparting a wonderful aroma and flavour. Very good in my books. 

My lunch companions had the soup variety

They offer also pork ribs and pig tails with the prawns on the noodles. They also offer a chilli paste which is also quite marvellous. A bit akin to XO sauce, but perhaps with less premium ingredients...the paste is made with chilli, belacan and dried prawns (hae bee). This adds a powerful umami kick to the noodles. 

For me, the soup is rather nice. But Penang Kia at Compassvale has a more flavourful and tasty soup. And Wah Kee has bigger prawns which are just as fresh, and as great tasting, with a broth which is more reminiscent of French bouillabaisse than any Prawn Noodle soup I have tasted. But Datouxia seem to have captured a nice happy medium in between offering an excellent broth and beautiful, fresh prawns. I highly recommend this Prawn Noodle. 

We also sampled the ngor hiang

I thought this plate to be rather average...nothing outstanding. Indeed, when queried, they do not make the ngor hiang but buy from the same supplier who supplies the Beach Road Prawn Noodle shop in East Coast.

The shop is opened by a young fellow, Ah Ann, who learned his craft as a cook doing economy rice, but yearned to venture out to do Prawn Noodles. He was inspired by the Beach Road Prawn Noodle...which he thought had such great potential, with good clientele, but yet, the food falls short of expectation. I agree with this assessment. 

He went back to his hometown of Alor Star and to Penang and Johor Bahru to try and learn how to do the prawn noodle, but even when he offered to pay for the recipe and tuition, nobody wanted to teach him. So he drove to the stalls he admired in Singapore at 4am in the morning, and observed how they made their prawn noodle. With some creativity, some tips from friends, and I guess a good palate, he came up with his own recipe. Enterprising indeed. And highly recommended for Prawn Noodle.

I am sad to report that as of 21 September 2014, Datouxia has ceased business. The owners have decided to stop and reconsider the viability of the business. And I do hope they resurface somewhere with a more viable business model.

383 Upper Aljunied Road,
Singapore 367868
Phone: +65 90622342
Operating Hours: 7.30 am to 9.30 pm daily

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dong Po Colonial Cafe in Kandahar St

Last week I talked about an innovative Nanyang Kopi stall in ABC. This week, we explore how another traditional kopi tiam has taken innovation and modernized their offerings.

Situated in a restored shophouse in Kandahar, nestled just a few doors away from Sabar Menanti and Rumah Minang. The shop is rather quaint, with a name like Dong Po Colonial Cafe, it certainly looks the part. The interior is air conditioned, with tables and chairs reminiscent of the good old days. 

An old, Flying Pigeon bicycle is used as a decorative prop by the five foot way and one can certainly sit outdoors. I cycled there on one of my visits there, and sat outside by my bike. 

The coffee is a rather standard offering of Nanyang Kopi. Pleasantly aromatic, with a good mouthfeel and body, but not strikingly unusual.

The toast I have next to the coffee, is something quite special, and which I adore

Called the Bostock, this is usually made with brioche, but the innovation here is it is made with freshly baked (in-house) local style bread. Topped with an almond syrup and toasted almond flakes and dusted with castor sugar. The taste is rather mild...with the toasted almonds providing most of the flavour and aroma. I rather liked it. 

On another occassion, we tried the huge French toast with ice cream

This is truly enourmous. The bread is baked in-situ, and lightly coated with egg, lightly toasted, 
and stuffed with butter, topped with a vanilla ice cream, a dollop of fresh cream on the side and drizzled with honey. Quite nice. The bread was crusty, slight crispy outside but remained soft and moist within. Very nice contrasting textures between the bread crust, bread inside, the ice cream and the fresh cream. 

Nice, quaint place for a cuppa. Highly recommended.

Dong Po Colonial Cafe
56 Kandahar Street
6298 1318
Tue-Thurs 930am-830pm
Fri-Sun 930am-930pm
Closed on Monday

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hylam Street Old Coffee at ABC Brickworks

Nanyang kopi has its own charms, even for one almost totally entrenched in the espresso culture.

I have written about espresso in Singapore and the waves of progress. But quietly, the nanyang kopi scene remains as a constant support to the coffee drinking public. Instead of $4.50 typical for a double espresso, only $0.90 for a kopi-o. Black coffee, made by the immersion method using a sock.

Almost everywhere, these kopi tiams (coffee shops) offer low cost coffee and tea to the masses. Almost all the time, they make the coffee using Robusta beans, often mixed with maize and often roasted with margarine. The roast is usually quite dark, and sometimes some sugar is added during roasting, making a caramalized roasted bean, very dark. This makes a dark brew, black, thick, and for the better ones, with a beautiful aroma.

But this little store, tucked in the corner of ABC Brickworks does something I have never seen in a kopi tiam. The gentleman who makes the coffee, the barista I guess, grinds each pot of coffee on demand. All the other stalls around the island use powdered coffee, pre-ground to make pots which are diluted to make the cups of coffee. I guess each pot making about 10 cups or so. The pot brews thick, and the coffee is diluted as it is poured into a heated serving cup...according to the order. One can order "pok" meaning thin or more dilute like an Americana, or "gao" or thick meaning less dilution.

Note the grinder in the background on the left of the photograph.

The same sock immersion method is used, but for each pot, the uncle grinds his coffee from beans. This alone makes the coffee much more aromatic, and a great difference.

The kopi-o is black, thick, and wonderfully fragrant. Much more than any other kopi-o I have tasted in town. He also makes a nice tea. And of course, kopi, kopi-c, and kopi peng...translated, coffee with condensed milk, coffee with evaporated milk, and iced coffee with evaporated milk.  Along with toasted bread with bread and butter/kaya, and half boiled eggs. The food is not spectacular, rather perhaps just a bit above average, but the kopi is outstanding.

Hylam Street Old Coffee
ABC Brickwoods Food Centre, Blk 6 Jalan Bukit Merah #01-53 s150006 (Bukit Merah)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sum Kee Food at Yeo's Building Pasir Panjang

I have passed this place often. Often intrigued, but never tried. One of our watch gatherings, we decided to try this place out. And were we impressed!

So the cat is out of the bag...innovative cze char style food, with crazy creative names. Very nice environment, great food, good service. The owner Mr. Sum came up to chat with us after our meal, when we decided to move to the outdoor seating for some cigars and finish our cognac. Interesting fellow. Corkage is nominal $1 per person, and he will gladly provide stemware.

We started with some appetizers...interestingly named Bikini Chicken

Deep fried chicken skin: crispy, and light, not greasy. The taste is very mild, but the crispy texture is wonderful.

Next, Kung Fu Pork Ribs

Quite unlike any pork ribs we have eaten. The pork is lightly battered, and deep fried. The sauce is quite interesting...slightly sweet, slightly sour, slightly salty, and lightly spicy. Very nice. The sauce comes with jullianed cucumber, carrots and bits of onion.

The star for me, was the Wallet Chicken...this item is not on the menu

A whole chicken, totally deboned, and stuffed with glutinous rice, diced chicken meat, peanuts, chestnuts and dried shitake mushroom...every part of the chicken, including the drumstick and wings are deboned and stuffed.

The stuffing is a bit like a bak chang...wondefully moist. Very delicious.

The chicken meat is deep fried till crisp, note the blisters on the skin testament to the very hot oil used for the deep fry. The meat tasted like just any other fried chicken...but for me, the speciality in this dish is the stuffing.

We also had Ultra Man Chicken

Chicken nuggets, coated with salted egg yolk, fried till golden brown. This style is commonly used for prawns, but this is the first time I have eaten this with chicken. Works well...makes me wonder why others have not tried. Nice.

We also had Wa Wa Tofu.

Typical cze char stuff...but very well done. The tofu was fragrant, and very silky smooth...wa wa means smooth in Chinese. The vegetables were fresh, lightly fried, and still crunchy. The gravy, thicken with eggs was delectable.

We needed the all important prawn dish, as one of our members is a prawn Sambal Prawns:

I had expected the prawns to be larger, but other than the size, everything was great. Appropriately spicy, the fresh, succulent prawns had a crunchy bite and had a light fragrance of the sea and the sweetness typical of seafood.

The Jew Her Eng Chye  - cuttlefish with kangkong.

Nice. Reminiscent of the old stall at Gurney Drive in Penang. The eng chye was fresh, young, cooked expertly such that it still full of vigour and crunchy to the bite. The cuttlefish, I suspect is not the fresh variety, but rehydrated from dried cuttlefish, had a nice bite, and a great texture. The sauce was rather special...sweet, slightly spicy. Superb. One of the best I have tasted in Singapore.

Beef with bittergourd was next

The chef did everything right with this dish. But nothing stands out. The beef was tender, cooked just so, the bittergourd was not overly bitter, just a tinge of bitterness on the tongue, and giving way quickly to a sweet and lingering after taste. 

And the requisite spinach with three types of eggs.

Masterfully done. Cooked just right, with fresh high quality ingredients. The broth was very savoury and aromatic. 

Overall, as I had let the cat out of the bag earlier, highly recommended. Plenty of free parking outside. Reservations recommended for weekend dinners and weekday lunches.

Singapore 108942
Tel 1: 6737 3233
Tel 2: 6333 8556
Open daily

Monday, August 11, 2014

Lobster Porridge and other delectable cze char dishes at Maude Road

I wrote about our fondness for lobster porridge, and a very good one near Margaret Drive. But Chui Xiang is no more...the place where it was housed is slated to be demolished, and I understand the owners decided to reduce the operations to a stall in MDIS. So our search for a replacement began in earnest.

This little corner restaurant along Maude Road, near Little India came with lots of bloggers' recommendation...perhaps its because the PR people have been working the blogosphere with tastings. I did not participate in the tasting, but reading the review, decided to have a go at the lobster porridge.

A small portion, good for 2 pax is served with a medium sized lobster...about 450g fresh. Calling it a lobster is a bit of a misnomer, as lobsters have claws, but this was rather a crayfish or a rock lobster, dwelling in warm waters and lacking the said claws. More like a very large prawn, I guess.

The lobsters were nice and rather a bit larger than the Chui Xiang ones, though combined, they probably weigh almost the same. As a result, the Wanhelou ones here were a bit more meaty. The flesh was quite firm, had the requisite seafood sweetness and rather fresh. 

The porridge was cooked Teochew style, more like rice in a rich broth. The broth itself was nice, rich, If I were to make the obvious comparison, we found the Chui Xiang broth to be a bit brighter, so to speak, more flavourful and more robust. The Wan He Lou version was a touch heavy on the ginger...if it were to mask the less than fresh seafood, one can understand, but as the lobster was very fresh, this was not not essential, and I view it as perhaps a bit heavy. But it was still delicious, and made a nice filling meal.

We also had the kurobuta pan fried pork

The sauce was quite similar to what one would use for a char siew, I would imagine. And as a lover of char siew, I found this to be very nice. The pork was fat, tender, and had the slight hint of porkiness which provides a punch and dimension to the dish. Very nice. 

We also ordered the silver fish fried rice.

This was rather superb. The rice was nice and dry. The dish bursting with lots of ingredients, and tossed in a very hot wok with silver fish, scalions, eggs, small scampi, a bit of pork sausage. Scrumptious. Wok Hei was very powerful on the dish. Definitely a very agreeable fried rice.

Having sampled a small number of dishes, I think I can muster this restaurant a recommendation. I will be back to sample more of the rather large menu, and no doubt will enjoy it. 

Wan He Lou Chinese Restaurant
Daily: 11:00 - 14:30, 17:00 - 22:30