Monday, July 31, 2017

[Media Invite] Gu Cheng @ 460 Crawford Lane

Located opposite of Jalan Sultan, this place next door neighbour is Tolido Express. Taxi would likely be dropping you at Block 461 Crawford Lane as Block 460 is not so easily located. Gu Cheng serves Penang cuisine and its menu has about 6 mains and 5 sides.


Do check out Gu Cheng's Hungrydeals (1-for-1 set lunch, and it's a good deal). The food that we tried are assam laksa, prawn noodles and fried carrot cake. Oh my, aren't we taken by that carrot cake. So much so that we had 2 servings!

Penang Prawn Mee ( 梹城虾面) @8.80
bee hoon mee is best combo
The prawn noodles was actually not spicy. Robust with smokey flavours. The sliced pork was nice and thicker than other places. As these are family recipe, it may not taste the same as those you find in Penang itself.

Penang Laksa (梹城亚参叻沙) @$7.80

My favourite noodle dish was the assam laksa. Its flavours, the robust and full-bodied soup and a balanced overall tanginess. Yums! The lady-boss revealed that for this dish, two types of fishes were used. The kembong and sardine. Both typical ingredients for the soup base. When served, a spoonful of sweetened prawn paste (hae gor) is a must.

Penang Laksa (梹城亚参叻沙)
The first impression of the fried carrot cake was of its large chunky pieces. The portion was good for sharing amongst 2 pax as side dish and we spied a few large pieces of prawns. It was topped with hae bee hiam for added taste. What I liked was the piping hot taste and crisp skin. Tasted like this chai tau kway was battered then deep fried. So good.

Gu Cheng Signature Carrot Cake (古城菜头粿) @$8.80

If you're thirsty and wanted something light and healthy, try their signature rose tea drink. For me, I was happy with my sour plum although initially, I was looking for buah long-long drink.

Gu Cheng Signature Rose Tea @$3.00

Another main dish that we tried, was the beef stew. Is this Penang food? Not sure, but it was a rather nice stew. Hearty and tasty. The beef was beefy yet tender. The meat was stewed in Guinness Stout for 12 hours! No wonder. Not to worry, it doesn't have the bitterness of the stout, only the sweetness from the root vegetables and meaty flavours. Thumbs up for this!

Beef Stew (炖牛肉) $8.80
We also tried a number of side-dishes and my favourite would be the lor bak and the prawn paste chicken wings. Worth mentioning is the crispy tofu where the tofu was incorporated with pork and seafood then minced, before deep fried. The achar had lemongrass and had a refreshing taste.

Penang Lor Bak @$3.80 (per piece)
Cuttlefish Kang Kong @$6.80
Penang Otah @$3.80
Crispy Tofu @$5.80 (4 pieces)
Salted Egg Chicken @$7.80
Prawn Paste Chicken @$5.80 (4 midwings)

Actually, the prawn paste chicken is quite pricey with just 4 mid-wings. Now that you have seen the photos, do plan on what to get for that Hungrydeals! Hurry, while promo lasts.

Oh, and there's some kueh if you like to end the meal with something sweet.

kueh kueh

Thank you Hungrygowhere for the invite and Gu Cheng for hosting the tasting. Happy eating!

Gu Cheng

Address: 462 Crawford Lane, Singapore 190462
Business Hours:
Mon to Sat:
11am to 8:30pm

Closed on Sundays

Saturday, July 29, 2017

[Media Invite] Koat Aroy Authentic Thai Cuisine @ 1 Irving Road Tai Seng

Located just next to Carol Mel Cafe and within walking distance to Tai Seng MRT. Quaint little shop, with interior styled almost like a Bangkok back-alley-like feels. One could find the usual pad thai, basil rice, tom yum goong etc.

As usual, I'd like to check out the Thai iced-tea when visiting anyThai food eatery. It's like ordering fried rice in a Chinese eatery, to gauge its standard. Not the fairest way, perhaps but a habit. The tea was a bit weak and lacked the strong tea fragrance but will do as a thirst quencher.

Thai iced tea @$2.80 each

The food price is reasonable so order away! We tried quite a variety and by the time dessert came, our stomachs were satisfied. Our table had pad thai, tom yum goong, steamed fish, basil rice, claypot vermicelli with prawns, and prawn cakes.

table full
For a meal like this, let's have some beer. Warm night, cold beer. That's the combi for adults.

take your pick

Of course, we had a Singha. Light and refreshing. Sharing the bottle in small small glass was rather nice. Cheers! Singha was $6.50 per bottle or $30 for a bucket of 5. German beers goes for $11.

The tom yum soup was rather tangy and somewhat spicy. It looked rather fiery but thankfully, manageable level of spiciness. Full-flavoured and yums.

Claypot glass noodles with prawns @$13
stir fried basil with pork @$8

The claypot glass noodles with prawns was nice but lacked the umami-ness of seafood. The stir fried basil with pork was so good. Tasted even better with white rice. And beer. Expects strong flavours.

pad thai @$6

We spied plates of pad thai on most tables. If one is dining in small group or single-pax, pad thai would be a good choice. The version here was nicely al-dente, sweet but not overly so.

For finale, I must insist that you try the mango sticky rice. I know, I know. These are usually dime-a-dozen at Thai eateries but trust me, the version here was good! For just $5. you get an oblong plate of warm sticky rice drizzled generously with coconut milk that's both sweet and salty, and lots of yellow ripe, sweet juicy mango flesh. Must try.

mango sticky rice @$5

Thank you Damien for extending the invite and Koat Aroy for hosting the tasting.

Koat Aroy Authentic Thai Cuisine

Address: 1 Irving Rd, Singapore 369520
Contact: 6386 7475
Business Hours:
11am to 230pm
530pm to 930pm

Sunday, July 23, 2017

[Media Invite] Element On Tras Street and Element @ Amara Hotel Tanjong Pagar

On which occassions do you dine in hotels in Singapore? For most locals, perhaps during weddings, or to seek out buffets, high-teas, or for other celebratory occassions like anniversary, birthdays etc. Amara Hotel has been around for the longest time and the restaurants that I usually associate with it, are Hyang-to-gol and Thanying. Nearby and within hotel vicinity, there's Bar-Roque Grill which recently was awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand.

Was invited for a hosted tasting at Amara Hotel and we tried Element on Tras and Element Restaurant. If you walk in from the hotel lobby, you'll find Element Restaurant at the lobby level. Element On Tras Street (EOTS) is the alfresco extension of Element Restaurant. Bar is open from 12pm to 1am while dinner hours are from 6pm to 1030pm. Serving Spanish fare and there's about 17 tapas on the menu, with a couple of soups, starters, mains and dessert. Cuando pienso en España, pienso en tapas y sangria.

Element on Tras Street

Element on Tras Street (EOTS)

Happy Hour till 8pm, and one could quench their thirst with draft beer, house sparkling, housepour wine and selected spirits for $10. Cheers! Enjoy the lively music and view of the street from EOTS.

House Sparkling @$10++ /$15++ (HH/Non-HH)

The house sparkling (Piccini Prosecco Vino Spumante Extra Dry) was nice and bubbly, and one sort of wish that the weather would be kinder. Maybe beer would work better in our humidity. Nevertheless, music was lively and company was great.

As there were only three of us, we sampled 4 items from the tapas menu. The usual classic order would be meatballs, gambas (prawns) and pulpo. Which we did.

Brava Meatballs @$14++
Pulpo ala Gallega @$18++

Thought it tasted of blue cheese in the beef meatballs but later on, found out that it had been stuffed with goat cheese. The sauce was spicy tomato and contains pork but it wasn't spicy at all. Flavour of the goat cheese made it interesting but the meat a little dry.

Enjoyed the pulpo quite a bit. The sliced octopus was tender and strongly seasoned. Goes well with wine or sparkling and of course, beer! I think I ate the whole pan of these.

Gambas al Ajillo @$15++
Mini Hamburguesas de la Casa @$16++

When comparing price points and value, I'd go for the mini hamburgers where one gets dry-aged beef burgers with its solid patty done medium rare. The buns was a bit of a letdown though as it was rather dry and not fluffy.

dry-aged beef patty in house dressing

On the tapas menu, there was an item that I was interested in but had forgotten to order, was this Provolone a la Plancha; grilled Provolone cheese with raspberry coulis, honey mustard and balsamic reduction. Let me know if you had try it.

Element Restaurant

If you're interested to know what Element Restaurant has to offer for its current buffet line, here are some photos:

sushi and sashimi counter
cold seafood section
cooked cold seafood
cooked food

The dishes that I've enjoyed was the pasta cooked upon order at the pasta station. Chose a carbonara and mini raviolis (pork and spinach). Simple in taste and prepared with heart. There is also ramen station if you like but I'd prefer the pasta.

carbonara cooked ala-minute
from ramen station

From cooked food section, I liked the braised pork with black fungus quite a bit, stir-fried beef and salmon mini croquette. The mutton rendang was rather nice too.

braised pork with black fungus
stir-fried pepper beef
salmon croquette

There were french onion soup and ginseng chicken soup available during our visit on a weekday night. For the sashimi, we sampled unagi, cooked prawns, octopus, ika, salmon, maguro and mekajiki. Usually I will skip the ika as I believe it should be eaten very fresh or cooked.

sashimi platter

For dessert, I tried the mango pudding and tiramisu. No complaints there. The staff brought us jackfruit creme brulee and it was a surprise taste as I wasn't expecting this flavour.

jackfruit creme brulee

Thank you Lindy and Amara Singapore for hosting the tasting session. Enjoyed the introduction to Element on Tras Street tapas and its flavours of Spain, and hope to see new menu on the buffet line in Element Restaurant.

Amara Hotel

Address: 165 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088539

Reservations and enquiries:
Tel: (65) 6879 2607


Element on Tras Street

Business Hours:
Lunch (Monday to Friday), 12pm to 2.30pm
Dinner (Monday to Saturday & Public Holiday), 6pm to 10.30pm

Monday to Friday, 12pm to 1am
Saturday, Sunday & Public Holiday, 3pm to 2am

Element Restaurant

Business Hours:

Breakfast (Daily), 6.30 am to 10.30 am
Lunch (Monday to Friday, except Public Holiday), 12 pm to 2.30 pm
Weekend Lunch (Saturday, Sunday & Public Holiday), 11.30 am to 2.30 pm
Dinner (Daily), 6.30 pm to 10 pm

Buffet Lunch (12pm to 2.30pm, Monday to Friday)
Adult (12 and above): S$49++
Child (5-11 years old): S$25++

Buffet Dinner (6.30pm to 10pm daily)
Adult (12 and above): S$65++
Child (5-11 years old): S$32++

Brunch (Saturdays/Sundays & Public Holidays – 11.30am to 3.30pm)
Adult (12 and above): S$49++
Child (5-11 years old): S$25++

Weekends Only

Element on Tras Street: Breakfast Set
From S$15++ per pax

Element: Breakfast Buffet
Adult: S$25++ per pax
Child (6-12 years old): S$12++ per pax

Opening hours:
Weekend breakfast: 7am – 11am

Sunday, July 16, 2017

[Media Invite] Mi Si Hunan Cuisine Restaurant 密斯湘菜馆 @ 9 Mosque Street

Located at 9 Mosque Street, this Chinese restaurant that serves Hunan cuisine, is right next to Wink Hostel. Most of us would have been pretty well acquainted with Shanghai., Guangdong or Sze Chuan foods but Hunan cuisine seemed to be still quite rare in Singapore.

The restaurant was fairly relaxed when I arrived at about 7pm on a weekday. The shop is quite spacious and I suppose larger groups could enjoy a quiet meal in one of their private dining rooms. Not sure about the minimum spend required though.

What's Hunan cuisine characteristics? According to one of their staff, Hunan cuisine characteristics are  '酸' (sour) and '辣' (spicy). When further pried, she divulges that the spicy level had been toned down for local tastebuds. Aww...think we can't handle the heat? Well, most probably, I can't!

dining area
The kitchen is helmed by a native Hunan chef but the rest of the staff are from other places. For this invited tasting, we tried about 8 dishes of Mi Si Hunan Cuisine Specialty and local favourites.

The sizes of the dishes here are either medium or large. Bring along some friends or enjoy with family. We had lamb soup, spicy sweet potato noodles, house-specialty Hanging Fish Head (not as morbid as it sounded), stir-fried green peppers with sliced pork, cauliflower basket, spicy frog legs, pork ribs and hotplate beef. Eaten with a bowl of steamed rice, of course.


How about some beer to start? One could choose Tsingdao (青岛), Yanjing (燕京). The last I drank a Yanjing beer was way back in Beijing. This was slightly stronger than the one I had many years ago.


Let's take a look at the dishes. The hotplate beef was awesome! So flavourful and appetising. Spice level that'll give you the feels. Everything was deemed as 微辣 or mildly spicy. However, not all are equal. For example, the hotplate beef was definitely spicier than the Hunan style fried pork!

铁板孜然牛肉 (hotplate cumin beef) @ $18.80++
农家小炒肉 (Hunan style fried pork) @ $14.80++
It was also interesting to have carbs on carbs. Like the spicy sweet potato/tapioca noodles.Google translate says 红薯粉 is sweet potato but the menu wrote tapioca...Someone please enlighten me, thank you.

加了酸豆角的红薯粉 (tapioca/sweet potato noodles) @$15.80++
孜然排骨 (cumin pork ribs) @$18.80++

The pork ribs was of those dry-rub kind and since its ends were nicely wrapped with aluminium foil, one could pick it up without dirtying much the fingers. Paired well with the ice-cold beer. Meat, I like. Cumin, is a wonderful seasoning.

one for me
One dish that exceeded expectation was the cauliflower. Deceptively simple yet big in flavours. Was it just soy sauce, spring onions and chilies? It was so good! Texture was just right too. Soft but it doesn't crumble, yet not crunchy too.

大盆花菜 (cauliflower) @$10.80++
The house-specialty fish was served by hanging the pot with chunks of fish head in broth and simmered over a small flame. The official name is 第二代吊锅鱼头 but why wasn't it translated as second generation hanging pot fish head? Hmm. But I heard the staff said that the sauce/soup is from Chef's special recipe.

第二代吊锅鱼头 (fish head with special chopped chili in a pot) @$24.80++
The soup would bubble up and boil and the staff will turn off the fire in about 10 minutes after that. The soup was sourish, spicy and shioks. But oily too! Song fishhead is used for this dish.

spicy sourish fish head
Another dish that I've enjoyed was the fried frog with pickled vegetables. Super smooth, tender and sweet flesh. But looking at the price, I think the fish head would be more value for money. But the frog legs were good!

老枟酸菜跳跳蛙 (fried frog in pickled vegetables) @$31.80++

Lastly, the one dish that I didn't like was the lamb soup. The soup, I really disliked as the gamey smell and the flavour of the soup was just a no-go for me. The lamb meat was tender though.

lamb soup

All in all, Mi Si offers hearty food that's both spicy and sour. The heat from the spice was pretty bearable. It was just enough to give a mild jolt to the tongue and warmed the tummy. Quite shiok. If you could order just three dishes, here would be my recommendation; Hotplate Cumin Beef, Fish Head Pot and Cauliflower. Actually these three dishes are enough to feed a family of five.

Thank you to Mi Si and Hungrygowhere for the invite.

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