Sunday, October 27, 2013

NeNe Chicken @ Star Vista

Located at Level 1 of The Star, 1 Vista Exchange Green otherwise known as Star Vista at Buona Vista. Small small shop, and rather warm inside. Visited on a Friday evening, and its diners composition was made up of small group of friends, couples and single diner. Takeaway waiting time is 15-20 minutes.

Service staff that night were young teenagers. Service was alright.

attractive looking box
Green Onion Chicken Tender Meal with extra freaking hot sauce (@$10.90)

Hmm. The chicken tenders and buffalo sticks (fries) looked rather sad, don't they?

tasty but limp as limp can be
breast meat

The chicken pieces were quite small, and could be finished in two bites each. It was cold, and as it was breast meat, it was rather dry too. Best to reheat the cold chicken.

green onion sauce and freaking hot sauce (red)

Its original green onion sauce (tasted like a mix of soy and wasabi) was quite nice. Loved the freaking hot sauce. No worries, its heat was bearable and likeable. Mix these two sauce together for better effect. Nice.

The small radish cubes were good too, but only if you like pickles in the first place. Just found it abit too sweet.

chicken pieces coated with sauce

Perhaps, wings or chicken pieces with bones would be a better choice as compared to chicken tenders?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mel's Drive In @ Universal Studios Singapore

Located at Resorts World Sentosa Universal Studios. Pretty near the entrance. Visited on a Friday, during lunch hour, around 1-ish.

lunching in
plenty of photo opportunities with the retro cars
best burger in town?

The air-conditioning inside the diner wasn't very strong, but any cool air is better than the scorching hot sun outside.

Its interior reminds me of the show 'Happy Days'. Think neon lights, think juke box.

order and pay at this counter

It claims to have the best burger in town, hence ordered a double cheeseburger (@$12+) to try. The burger comes with fries, and without drinks. Had a bottle of apple juice (@$3.80+). Payment via Mastercard to get a 10% discount.

double cheese burger (beef), served with fries and a bottle of apple juice

Such a small bottle of apple juice. For about the same price, one could get a large carbonated drink or ice-lemon tea.

double cheese burger with lettuce, onions and tomato, smothered with thousand island

The beef patty actually had very little taste. Most of the flavour came from the sauce and cheese. The fries were rather limp.

time for more rides

A meal here would costs about $15.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ichiban Boshi @ Causeway Point, Woodlands

Located at Level 5 of Causeway Point. Visited on a mid-week evening, the restaurant had quite a few empty tables but no one to show the people in the queue to their tables. Hmm.


Anyway, eventually we got our seats. Tried their bestseller sake, the Hana Awaka Sparkling Sake (@$15.90++).

Ozeki Hana Awaka 7% alcohol, -60 250ml
junmai sparkling - light, fizzy and sweet

Light and refreshing, and feels quite pristine. The fizz came in the form of tiny bubbles. Doesn't feel like one is drinking alcohol. Taste wise, pretty similar to makgeolli (korean rice wine) but minus the cloudy bits, and has a more refined taste.

Asahi sashimi (@$19.90++)

Was hankering for some fresh sashimi. Scallop was tiny and sweet. Liked the crunchy akagai (I think?) sashimi.

Hanasaki Ika Tempura (@$7.90++)

Worse order of the night was the ika tempura. Mostly flour bits. Very very little squid. Lots and lots of fried batter.

Tea refill was upon request. Service can be further improved.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Oca Grassa @ Bukit Pasoh

Located at 6 Bukit Pasoh. If taking MRT, alight at Outram Park. Was there for Restaurant Week. Second restaurant, and also the last one for me.

"fat goose"

Wanted to try Oca Grassa because my friend had her florentine steak here and she enjoyed it. Since its restaurant week menu does offer beef, thought it was a good opportunity to visit and try its restaurant week set lunch at $25++.

view from my table

The only available timing for booking, was 2pm. Last seating for lunch. Didn't mind, because there was a concert to attend at 6pm, so it was just nice.

I was a party of one that day, since my bro had to cancel and no one else was interested. Too late to cancel the reservation too.

Arrived 10 minutes past 2pm, and was greeted by the staff upon stepping into the restaurant. Nice. Mr Andreano Carbotti (Operations Manager) happened to be around, and he suggested downstairs (ground floor) table. Ok, I admit. It was pretty awkward to dine alone, in a restaurant.

table for two, ground level
Restaurant Week Lunch menu

First up, appetiser of squid salad.

grilled squid, baby cos (lettuce), cucumber, tomato, pickled onions

The dressing was very light. Squid didn't taste much of grilled flavour though. Too mild.

homemade balsamic with olive oil, and warm bread

Liked the balsamic very much. A blob of tangy and sweet all at once. Andreano shared that their homemade balsamic had been boiled so that it is more concentrated and flavourful. Mixed it with the salad, and it felt like the flavours belonged together. Finished the greens soon after.

balsamic dressing

Since I was the only person at the ground floor area, chef and staff were very prompt in ensuring that the in-between-of-course interval was kept to a minimum. Like a minute or so. Still, I've managed to find stuffs to do, to amuse oneself.

staring at the ceiling lights in self-reflection

Had a brief conversation with Chef Edwin Lau (Group Executive Chef). He's very passionate about the beef that they serve at Oca Grassa. Curing and aging of the meats, preferences of locals, definition of 'good' beef etc. He's very willing to share the information.

Chef Edwin Lau

Meats that are undergoing the aging process, aren't pretty. The longer it aged, the darker the colour its outerparts will be. Eventually, all the dark crust need to be removed from the meat. These are known as wastage. Hence, the longer the meat is aged, the more costly it will be as the wastage percentage will increase. Aged beef has a more concentrated flavour and taste, and its meat texture tenderized.

beef aging differentiated, left to right shorter to longer timeframe

If one wants to reserve their own block of meat for florentine steak with preferred aging, they can do so at this restaurant.

Short prelude and gained some basics on beef aging and curing. Thanks Chef!

Back to the food, a beautiful plate of char-grilled striploin.

char-grilled cured aged angus striploin with garlic puree and balsamic dressing

The striploin was cured for a day and aged for two. The meat looked rare. The fats on the surface was rather chewy, so in this case, I'd prefer to have the fats trimmed away so that it's easier to eat. Thinly sliced, tender (but doesn't melt away), still moist yet requires one to chew quite a bit. Thought the beef tasted not like those 'metallic' beefy flavour, but rather, a very very slight hint leaning towards jamon iberico type of flavour.

The smooth mash with garlic puree in balsamic dressing was a delight to eat. Mopped it up with the beef! Personally, I'd like the beef to be more charred and its doneness up a notch.

Prosecco Belussi (@$12++)

For dessert, it was limoncello tart with pastry cream.

homemade limoncello tart
oozing out

The limoncello tart was rather sweet and the airy cream helped to lessen the sweetness a little. If not, the tart and slightly sourish raspberry will do the trick. Quite yummy and a nice end to lunch.

Service was polite and prompt.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bar-Roque Grill @ Amara Hotel, Tanjong Pagar

My first restaurant week, ever! Booking was a breeze through DiningCity. 830pm at Bar-Roque Grill Amara Hotel. They were doing a surprise menu, so I didn't know what to expect. Had a suspicion that they'd might do tart flambee, and that hunch was right!

Bar-Roque Grill Restaurant Week Dinner Menu

Arrived half an hour earlier, and was seated with no problem. Outdoor seating, and the weather was a little warm. The tables weren't that far from one another, but they weren't elbow length away. Just an elbow and a half probably?

outdoor seating
crispy pork terrine (supplement $6++)

Thought the service staff gave us the wrong dish. Was thinking, "Did we order crab cakes?" Haha, then realised...oh, crispy pork terrine.

pork terrine

Not sure why, but my mind was thinking of pate-looking terrine. This crispy version was interesting, as the texture was not the smooth, dense pate-style but rather small little chunks inside. Mildly flavoured and it was not funky, not at all.

Chose char-grilled octopus salad as the other appetiser.

octopus salad (supplement $6++)

Octopus was tender, though it was somewhat lacking the char-grilled smokey flavour. Rather clean tasting. Liked the crispy almond sprinkle as it added contrast to the bite.

Ordered a glass of restaurant week wine (french) to go along with our food.

RW white wine (@$10++)

For mains, there were four choices; Smoked Sausage and Mustard Braised Pork, or Baked Salmon, or Ravioles "Royan", or Grilled Wagyu Flank Steak.

Guess which one we ordered? One meat and one carb.

Grilled Wagyu Flank Steak (supplement $12++)
medium rare

The friendly service staff said that chef would usually do medium for wagyu flank and to quote, "That would be perfect." I was hesitating because we usually have steaks done medium rare. Hahaa. At the end, medium rare it was. The outer sides were a bit tough but the middle parts were all pink. Flank is still the tougher cut, with some beefy flavour and goes well with a sip of wine. The mash was smooth and good. Mildly flavoured.

Am beginning to think that chef seems very gentle with the seasoning. Flavours were mild and one could taste the ingredients for what they are.

Ravioles "Royan" with root vegetables and gruyere cheese

Best dish of the night, goes to the Ravioles "Royan". Perhaps, I was looking for stronger flavours and this dish has it. One could taste the mushroom, carrots, cheese and crispy shallots. The ravioles were tiny tiny square parcels. So cute. A spoon would be much more efficient in getting those delicious bits into the mouth, all at once. Cheese was not overpowering, it brought the ingredients nicely, together.

Due to some miscommunication (they thought we ordered tart flambe, I thought I ordered but in actual fact, didn't), we got The Classic - Bacon & Onions Tart Flambee. Chef's must-order Alsatian dish. Offered on the house. Heehee. Thank you, gentlemen!

Tart Flambee would do as a nice savoury starter to share over some drinks.

Tart Flambee - The Classic (bacon and onions)

Was really, seriously stuffed to the max by then. But of course, there's still room for desserts.

creme brulee
apple pie

Liked both the desserts. Creme brulee had a nice crisp thin sugar crust and the custard tasted just right. Sweet and not too creamy. Apple pie sweetness was natural, and the pie crust was quite yummy. Homely.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Boon Lay Raja Restaurant @ Jurong East (Part III)

Located at Level 2 of Block 135 Jurong Gateway Road. From Jurong East MRT, walk across the street towards JCube direction and one will see the 24 hours NTUC Fairprice on the right. After the traffic light, just walk straight (ie no need to turn left to JCube, nor turn right to Fairprice) and one will end up at the back  of Fairprice. You'll see a lift as well as stairs. Either way, just go up to Level 2.

Didn't realize, it had been quite a while since the last meal there. Was there for dinner on a Saturday evening, and at the same time, the restaurant was also booked for a wedding banquet. They still have a few tables open to public though, so it was pretty weird as it felt abit like we're gate-crashing on someone's wedding.

restaurant seats

Left the ordering to my bro. He's a regular there as his colleagues like going there for business lunches. For mom, it has to be something healthy. For dad, he likes his stewed pork belly but that night we had 'gu lou yuk' instead. For us siblings, how about a chili crab?

mom's dish: wolfberry vegetable (枸杞菜) with straw mushrooms, wolfberries and fried garlic chunks

The leaves had slight bitter taste and usually we'd make this into soups (anchovies stock base) back home. The presentation here was slightly soupy as well and tasted very healthy (ie not very salty). The deep fried garlic was not crispy, just slightly bitter. Probably all thrown together for the health benefit.

Was rather skeptical on whether they'll forget our food because of the ongoing wedding. That skepticism was allayed as the service staff who was waiting on the wedding guests was also conscientiously checking on our table. Good job!

deep fried pork with sweet and sour sauce (咕嚕肉)

At first glance, the pork dish seemed tough and dry. But it was not. The meat was not fatty, yet it was not tough nor chewy to bite. The sweet and sourness was balanced. Likeable dish.

When eating out, especially ordering dishes to go with rice, we'd have a pre-requisite for at least a dish that has enough sauce to slather over our rice.  Hence, the claypot tofu dish fits that bill perfectly. The soup from the vegetable dish was too mild for this purpose.

claypot tofu with mushrooms and roast pork

Of course, the highlight of our meal, was the chili crab. Ordered just one crab, priced at $6 per 100gms. The restaurant didn't confirm the weight of the crab prior to cooking. If one is particular about how much they'd like to spend on their seafood, then it will be best to inform the staff that took the order about the preferred weight range.

The chili crab was nicely presented in a big leaf. The sauce was thick, eggy, with short spice punch and sweet. Best eaten while still warm. Slurpilicious, tasty finger licking good.

chili crab
deep fried buns (炸馒头) for the chili crab

The fried buns were perfect foil. Would willingly forgo rice and go straight for these small pillowy fun buns.

that's how you do it

The staff told us it was normal meat crab, less than a kilo in weight. It was relatively fresh and sweet, though some parts did stuck to its shell. The spicy punch doesn't linger in the stomach nor tongue. But evil enough to earn a short coughing fit if one is not careful.

Eating crabs required some patience to coax its meat out of the shell. Liked that the kitchen had broken the shell at strategic points, so it didn't require any further pincer work on our part.

all that's left...

Expect boisterous noise, neighbourly and unsophisticate feel in this restaurant. The food that we've tried so far, tasted good and reasonably priced.

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