Monday, July 31, 2006

Newton Circus Hawker Centre

Seems like all the well-known hawker centres in Singapore have just been renovated or are currently under going renovations. Newton Circus Hawker Centre recently re-opened for business, so I was quite happy to come here to check it out.

The layout is quite different now - the tables are in the centre with the stalls in a huge circle surrounding them. The tables right in the middle are probably the best seats in the house - they have a nice resort feel about them, and you feel like you're eating right under the stars... but beware when it rains as these seats are not sheltered.

I normally order Sambal Sting Ray $10 from Guan Kee Seafood (Stall no. 53). Been ordering from them for the last 4 years... I go back to them purely out of habit but their sting ray is really not too bad.

Coincidentally enough, we ended up sitting really near the stall so I didn't have trouble finding them. In any case, I already recognise the people who work at that stall... the easiest to spot is the Indian guy - rare for an Indian to work at a 'Chinese' stall and so he quite stands out.

As for the food itself, the sting ray is always fresh and the sambal is spicy without being overwhelming. It's grilled really nicely - so that the meat is still juicy... and with the right amount of sambal on top of it and a pinch of the onion/cincalok sauce, it's a taste of heaven :)

The other dish I always order from the same stall (Guan Kee Seafood Stall No. 53) is the Sambal Kang Kong $6. The smallest size is already a pretty big portion so don't ever try ordering a medium. I love it so much that I normally end up eating *most* of it :)

This plate of Fried Carrot Cake $3 was ordered from a random stall. Decent but then it's kinda hard to do bad carrot cake. This is one of the very few things that vegetarians can eat at a hawker centre... We also ordered a plate of Fried Hokkien Mee but I forgot to take a photo of it :P

One complaint about the new Newton Circus Hawker Centre - seems like all the stalls are selling the same things! Here's an example - just around where we were sitting, there was at least 6 stalls selling BBQ Seafood. Definitely a lack of variety... but pretty good ambience. Still quite crowded from people checking it out so be prepared to wait for a parking lot.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Mario Kitchen Korean Restaurant

My first taste of authentic Korean food was in LA in 2001. Steaming hot spicy Sundubu (tofu soup with clams, eggs and meat) is the best thing to have in cold weather. Since then, I've been trying to find good Korean food in Singapore. Unfortunately, LA has some of the best Korean food in the world so the Korean food here does not come close at all to what I'm craving... but you never know when a good Korean place will open up so the hunt continues...

I noticed this place while having dessert at Ji De Chi right next door. Also read it about it on mr brown's blog so I thought it might be worth checking out.

We ordered the Medium BBQ (Beef) and Steamboat set which cost $33++.

The beef was quite tender and relatively tasty. The soup in the steamboat was not as spicy as it looks. Lot of stuff in the steamboat - pork ribs, potatoes and veggies. It was quite a lot of food for two people...

What I love most about Korean food is the side dishes - kimchi, ikan bilis etc. I find that most Korean places in Singapore never give enough side dishes, compared to the huge variety and portions that you can get in LA *sigh*

The place was casual, seemed like a popular hangout for SMU students. And there was no air-con - thank goodness it was not too warm that night. Oh, and the grammatical error in the name bugs me too! Should it not be "Mario's Kitchen"?!?

Good-sized portions for that price and the food was not too bad but I'm unlikely to go back unless I'm in the area and totally craving kimchi.

Mario Kitchen Korean Restaurant
8 Liang Seah Street
#01-04 S189029
Tel : 6333 9379

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cafe Iguana

I've always loved eating here... it's got nice ambience, fab magaritas and yummy fajitas. I normally have the beef or chicken fajitas when I'm here - but was feeling like I wasn't all that hungry so I went for the Grilled Chicken Burrito ($14.99) instead.

Ok, indulge me a little while I demonstrate my bad photo-taking skills....

This is the first photo I took of the burrito I had. Bad huh? :P

Then I remembered Joe's advice on a previous post - increase shutter speed and reduce the flash... and look how much better it looks! Thanks for the advice Joe! Plenty of room for improvement but it's a start :)

What exactly is a burrito? It's basically onions, capsicums, beans, rice and your choice of meat - all wrapped in a flour tortilla and topped with salsa. I love how there's so many different things in the burrito - kinda like a Mexican version of a pohpiah! But with meat! :)

I also had a *virgin* strawberry margarita - had enough alcohol the night before :P They have some pretty interesting flavoured margaritas, like pink guava and soursop. Will be adventurous and try the next time I'm here.

Cafe Iguana
30 Merchant Road
#01-03 Riverside Point
Tel : 6236 1275

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ji De Chi 記得吃

One thing that is a must have for me when I'm in Hong Kong is tang yuan in ginger soup. This is real comfort food - tang yuan oozing with sesame or peanut filling... hot ginger soup warming your insides... and the best part - the unexpected kick of the ginger taste.

I've been on a hunt for good tang yuan in ginger soup in Singapore. I normally have it at Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao, but I've been told that there are two dessert places in Liang Seah Street that also have it.

Was really full after dinner but the topic of tang yuan was brought up during dinner... and well, I just had to have it :)

So I ended up at Ji De Chi 記得吃 at Liang Seah. It's a really simple place with tables spilling all over the sidewalk - very casual and very crowded.

Lots of other yummy sounding desserts on the menu - but I had to satisfy my craving so I ordered the Tang Yuan in Ginger Soup. Isn't it just so pretty?? The difference in the colour of the tang yuan is to differentiate the ones with sesame filling from the ones with peanut filling. A bowl of comfort for just $2.50 :)

The tang yuan was boiled to just the right firmness, and the soup had the right amount of "sharpness" to it - I really liked it! Can't wait to come back here to try the other stuff on the menu!

Ji De Chi 記得吃
8 Liang Seah Street
Tel : 6339 9928

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hanabi Japanese Restaurant

Yes yes, Japanese food again :)

My favourite places to have Japanese buffet are Ikoi at Miramar Hotel and Shima at Goodwood Park Hotel. I've realised that it's not very fair to say those are my favourites when I haven't tried any other places - so to be objective, I've been meaning to try out other places... Called and made reservations here twice before but never actually made it... till now.

I love going for Japanese buffets - there's a wide variety of dishes including everything from the usual sashimi, sushi, temaki, maki, to tempura, grilled dishes, teppanyaki etc. Just order whatever you want and it's served to you. Even better than normal buffets because you don't even need to get up. Oh dear, how lazy do I sound? :P

There's quite a range of dishes here at Hanabi. In the spirit of being adventurous, I ordered quite a few dishes that I don't normally order. The Yakiniku (grilled beef) was ok, but a little too oily. The Potato Croquette was really good! The Skewer Platter was decent - I tried Shishamo for the first time, it was kinda weird. Enough said.

Can't remember what this dish was called but it's basically a katsudon without the rice. Quite yummy and a nice change from all the sashimi and sushi...

Speaking of sashimi... I love Salmon Sashimi. For the longest time, I only ate Salmon Sashimi but recently started eating Tuna Sashimi and quite like it too. I've tried other types of sashimi but always end up eating Salmon and Tuna Sashimi - just prefer the taste and texture.

The Salmon Sashimi here was very fresh and sliced nicely. I've had sashimi at Sakae Sushi that was sliced the wrong way and have since realised how important it is that the sashimi is sliced correctly.

My other fave at Japanese buffets is Tempura. I didn't like the Ebi Tempura here - it wasn't crispy enough and just didn't taste very good.

The buffet during dinner time costs $33++. Pretty good range of food but quality-wise it can't compare to Ikoi. One major gripe about this place is that while there is free flow hot or cold green tea with the buffet, they don't serve ice water - you have to order mineral water.

I think I still prefer Ikoi :)

Hanabi Restaurant
331 North Bridge Road
#01-04 Odeon Tower
Tel : 6338 6626

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Spize The Makan Place

Read about the Chicken Masalah Murtabak here some time ago and I've been dying to try it for a while now... so when someone suggested going to Spize for supper, I was definitely up for it :)

My main grouse about prata is similar to that of mee goreng - the lack of meat (see previous post)... that's why I always end up having murtabak whenever I go to a prata place. For those who are as carnivorous as I am and love a good meaty murtabak, have to try the one here.

The Chicken Masalah Murtabak ($5) is really good - brimming with pieces of spicy masala chicken, the prata is crispy and the curry is delish! Huge huge portion - as all murtabaks usually are - so I ended up picking out all the chicken bits instead of eating everything... and no, I did not eat the whole thing by myself :P

We also ordered the Cheese & Mushroom Roti John but I didn't try it. It originally came with meat in it and they were nice enough to do it over without meat so that our vegetarian friend could eat it. Extra points for good service!

This place has a huge menu including tze char dishes which I can't wait to try the next time I come here. The only thing that bugs me about this place is the parking - parallel parking right in front of the stall, with tons of people watching you... too stressful!

Spize The Makan Place
409 River Valley Road
Tel : 6734 9194
Opening Hours : 6pm - 6am

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Gluttons Bay

How self-aware are Singaporeans to actually call an eating place "Gluttons Bay"? :) One of my favourite places to eat - and because of all the out-of-town visitors the last few weeks, I've been coming here more often than usual. Trying not to think of my sky-rocketing cholesterol level...

A must-try stall is Hup Kee Fried Oyster Omelette (S$5/6/8). Eggs with chunks of potato flour - fried just nicely so that there are also crispy bits, topped off with juicy fresh oysters, and don't forget to dip it in the tangy chilli sauce... YUM!!! They use quite a bit of oil to fry this so try not to watch them cook it and you'll feel a little less guilty about eating it later :)

My friend had a craving for Bee Hoon Goreng so we ordered from the Old Satay Club Mee Goreng stall. I actually quite like Bee Hoon Goreng - my only grouse about it is that there is not enough meat in it. But this one really did taste pretty good, not too spicy.

We also had the Sambal Sting Ray from the Boon Tat Street BBQ Seafood stall but I forgot to take a picture...

Baybeats 2006 was going on right next to Gluttons Bay - and Electrico happen to come on just as we finished eating so I got to see my friend being a bona fide rock star :)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Jerry's @ Jalan Kayu

I was supposed to eat at Sunset Grill on Saturday night... but I called on the way there to try to make a reservation, and was told that there were no available tables! If you ever want to eat there on a weekend night, remember to make reservations in advance... so we ended up going to Jerry's at Jalan Kayu instead. Not that there's anything wrong with Jerry's - it's definitely on my list of all time favourite restaurants...

We weren't particularly hungry, so instead of each ordering a main course, we ordered lots of appetizers and shared a slab of ribs instead.

Love the Buffalo Wings here! Erm, I only remembered to take the photo after we had started eating... hence the messy plate and missing wings - it was originally an order of half a dozen wings *embarrassed*. At least it's not a photo of bones :) There are three levels of "hot-ness" - Smoking, Intensi-fire and Chef's Challenge. We thought we'd play safe and go for the lowest level. Finger lickin good! And hot without being a torture. At Sunset Grill the levels are from 1 to 10 and the level 3 was a real torture to eat... even for me.

We also had the Deep Fried Mushrooms but I forgot to take a photo of it. One of the best places in Singapore to have deep fried mushrooms. The last time I had it, it was a take-away order so it was all soggy by the time I ate it... so I was quite happy to have it fresh from the kitchen this time - crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Ok ok, to be perfectly honest, I was so eager to eat it that I kinda burnt my mouth...

Ribs are a must have at Jerry's. We ordered a full slab of BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs. The ribs here are really good - the meat just falls right off the bone. The meat is super tender and each bite has just the right amount of flavour.

Other dishes that we ordered were the Steamed New Zealand Mussels in Wine and the Sauteed Mushrooms - both were quite delicious too!

Forgot to keep the bill so I can't remember how much each dish cost - but at least there are photos :P

Jerry's BBQ & Grill
227 Jalan Kayu
Tel : 64840151

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Dresser

Caught "The Dresser" this past weekend - free tickets again :)

No, "The Dresser" is not a play about furniture... it's about the relationship between an aging Shakespearean actor and the guy who dresses him (his 'dresser').

This is the first time I've seen Adrian Pang on stage and I was really impressed! Having seen him only in bad local TV productions, I didn't quite know what to expect... but I was blown away by his acting skills - he has perfect comic timing, providing most of the laughs in the play, and also pulled off a pretty good English accent. His portrayal of the meticulous dresser was convincing without being over the top.

On the other hand, I didn't like Michael Corbridge, who plays the aging Shakespearean actor, also known as Sir. In the play, Sir is getting on his years, and due to exhaustion and old age, is slowly losing his mind. Seeing Sir swing from being deliriously crazy to being sane and perfectly lucid just did not seem real to me. Well, I guess it's not really fair to say that Michael Corbridge didn't do a good job, but rather the fault lies with the playwright.

What I absolutely have to bitch about is the supporting cast. There is nothing I HATE more than people overacting... and this play had two really bad overactors and I cringed whenever they appeared. One played a cocky supporting cast member and the other played a female supporting cast member trying to seduce Sir. The guy who played the cocky supporting cast member seems to think that nasty glares constitute cockiness... and the girl seems to think that acting affected, IS acting. I still cringe thinking about it.

I loved the set design! The translucent walls allowed us to see conversations taking place behind doors and along hallways. The set also seamlessly transformed from Sir's dressing room to the backstage of the play that was taking place. So we the audience, somehow ended up backstage looking at King Lear being staged. Brilliant!

The play was slightly draggy though, lasted about 2 hours... and I was told the original West End version was 3 hours! But the ending was touching and tied the story together really nicely.

All in all I had a good time - it's just the thing if you're looking for an evening of light entertainment.

Durian Season!

*Photo added!*

Believe it or not, after that very full meal of fish steamboat, we headed down to Geylang for durians :)

Geylang always scares me. No, not the disgustingly sleazy hotels and prostitutes plying their trade... but the horrible traffic and parking situation there. Somehow... really, don't ask me how, I managed to find a place to park. And after walking past 5 or 6 stalls, we finally decide on one. We had 3 durians for $10 - after a full meal, we knew we couldn't eat too much :)

The durians were decent - you can't really expect much for that price. I was just happy to satisfy my durian craving :P And there's just something about sitting on wobbly stools and tables by the road side that just adds to the taste of the durian...

And oh course we had to have mangosteens after that... Erm, I finally learned how to open mangosteens for myself *embarrassed* :)

Note : See previous note. Photos akan datang!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Whampoa Food Street (KENG) Fish Head Steamboat Eating House

*Photo added!*

Ok, so yesterday's weather was hot hot hot and not really suited to having steamboat... but I've been dying to try this for so long that I just had to have it despite the weather :)

I've passed by this place many times, and even my sister has pointed this place out to me as one of the good places to have fish steamboat. This place is so popular that the tables actually spill out the back door onto the alley behind!

Luckily I was with a friend who could the ordering - I am absolutely lost when it comes to ordering Chinese food. She ordered fish steamboat with red garoupa $30 (for four persons), prawn roll (hei zou) $6, spinach with mushrooms $12.

So all this time, when people talked about fish steamboat, I always thought it was like traditional steamboat where you have to cook the food yourself... so I was (pleasantly) suprised when the steamboat came - with all the food in it already cooked! Yay, no need to wait for food to cook! We could tuck in straight away! :)

The steamboat was heated by charcoal - that's so traditional, I don't think I've ever seen steamboat done this way! The soup looked milky and was really tasty - no doubt soaking in all the flavour of the fish. In the soup there was countless chunks of very fresh fish, lots of chinese cabbage (which I kept eating :) ... and yam. Eek, not my favourite thing, so I avoided it like crazy.

Here's the best part - like bak kut teh, the soup can also be topped up :) Sigh, I think I must have had like 5 bowls of soup...

The prawn roll (hei zou) was really good too. For those who've never had this, it's kinda like ngoh hiang, but with prawns and turnips. Crunchy and meaty! The tze char here looks pretty good too, going from how satisfied the other customers looked.

Including drinks it came up to about $14 per person. Very reasonable price for a very good meal!

Note : I did take pictures, with my own camera too... but couldn't find the cable to connect the camera to the computer and hence could not upload the photos. Will buy the cable soon. Photos akan datang :)

Whampoa Food Street (KENG) Fish Head Steamboat Eating House
556 Balestier Road
97694451 (KENG)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Marks & Spencer Belgian White Chocolate Coated Blueberries

A new find!

Bought a packet when I was at Marks & Spencers over the weekend. Was looking for my favourite potato rings (which, by the way, has been out of stock for the past few weeks - argh!) when I saw this... White chocolate and blueberries sounded like an interesting combination so I thought I'll give this a try.

Here's what it really is - freeze-dried blueberries coated with white Belgian chocolate, dusted with blueberry powder. Ok, so freeze-dried blueberries doesn't sound very appetizing, but really it tastes very much like raisins. It's an interesting twist on your usual chocolate coated raisins.

It's a bit of a weird fake-looking purple colour (because of the blueberry powder dusting). But pop one tiny little piece in your mouth and I guarantee you will not be able to stop at just one :)

It costs $3.90 - not that cheap for such a small packet... but that just forces me to ration. So it works out perfectly for me - I don't eat too much so I don't put on too much weight, and I don't eat it up too fast so I don't spend ridiculous amounts of money buying more of it!