Saturday, June 30, 2007

Villa Seafood Galleria


The tour of trying out far flung food places continues with a visit to Villa Seafood Galleria. As with Made In China and Pier Eleven, Villa Seafood Galleria is owned and operated by the Singapore Explorer group, which has a knack for sourcing out isolated places to set up restaurants. I mean that as a compliment by the way.




Shots of the place and the exclusive private dining area

Sitting pretty at the top of Labrador nature reserve overlooking the sea, Villa Seafood Galleria is a little paradise all by itself, shrouded in greenery. The private dining room was set amongst a pool and oozed pure class through its fall to ceiling windows. The air conditioned common dining room, however, didn't impress that much but was spacious and comfortable with yes, floor to ceiling windows as well.



Menu



Crispy Almond Chicken

A less than interesting name, a less than interesting dish. It was essentially chicken coated with almond on the skin and baked. The skin was nice and crunchy from all the almonds but the meat was a little on the dry side. Ironically, for a name like Almond Chicken, there wasn't the faintest taste of almond at all, at least not that I could detect. However, the biggest gripe about this dish was that some pieces of chicken had a slight oil residue, which is a big no no.



Deep Fried Seafood Bean Curd in Special Sauce

The Beancurd belonged to the rough and uneven variety, which wasn't exactly my cup of tea. However, this one had a slight fish and mushroom taste to it which got me hooked somehow. Maybe I'm just a sucker for beancurd.


Fried Noodle with Seafood

Fish noodles usually come in soup so this fried variation came as something new to me. Not that I'm complaining though. The noodles were slimmer and more springy, with the extra bite evident. However, I did find it a little too oily though, which made it almost unpalatable when cold. On a positive note, the toppings of prawns and scallops were plentiful, making the dish all the more enjoyable.



Kailan with Scallops and Crab Meat

You can't really go wrong with vegetables and the Kailan was well, simple yet tasty. Fresh and crunchy, the vegetables were topped with generous servings of crab meat and gravy.



Deep Fried Prawns in Wasabi-myo Sauce

Huge prawns which were a little crisp along the edges yet succulent and full of bite topped with a thin layer of wasabi and mayonnaise. Now who wouldn't like that? The wasabi sauce honestly didn't look like much but it got really strong after a while. The small slices of cut fruit, though nothing fantastic, were a nice complement to the prawns.



Chilled Pumpkin Sago

Another first for me, the pumpkin sago was smooth yet not too starchy. Coming across as sweet and refreshing with the fruits and grass jelly in it, it was a little small for the price though. It helped that the sago was served really chilled as well.



Bill

I would say that the food at Villa Seafood Galleria tends towards the finer side as compared to its sister restaurant, Made In China, but of course prices are steeper and portions are smaller as well. $113 for 2 pax does seem a little on the high side but the ambience and service more than makes up for it. If you have a big group (10-20pax), you must go for the private dining room by the poolside.



Likes: Nice ambience, good service, above average food
Dislikes: A little pricey, rather inaccessible without transport

Final Verdict:

Ambience:7.5/10 ( I would give it a 8.5/10 for the private room)
Service:7.5/10
Food:7/10
Value for money:6.5/10

Overall:7.125/10

Address: 30 Labrador Villa Road

Contact: 63396833


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant



Happened to be at Bugis Junction with my gf and chanced upon this Nanxiang Steamed Bun Restaurant. Actually it was the only restaurant that didn't have a queue at 730pm on a weekday evening. They are supposedly a very well known outfit in Shanghai, so expectations were rather high.



Interior

The interior was rather cramp, evidently with the restaurant trying to squeeze as many tables as possible in the relatively small room, resulting in a less than comfortable boxy looking dining area. I could easily overhear the adjourning table's conversation, not that I wanted to though. I guess that gives you an idea how close the tables were.



Pork Rib Noodle

Have you ever tried pork rib noodles that were sweet? I for one, have not. Thats why Nanxiang's rendition came as quite a surprise (or was it shock?). The broth was sweet, not the MSG kind of sweet but literally sugar sweet. The pork ribs were sweet as well, which was rather weird, considering that I had expected the entire dish to be salty. The noodles were rather springy though and appeared to be the only thing that was "normal". Sorry but sweet broth and pork ribs just don't cut it for me.



Yang Zhou Fried Rice

For $8.50, I had expected better. The Yang Zhou Fried Rice was a joke and I'm not kidding. Served in a rounded symmetrical form, the rice looked like it had been pre-prepared and scooped from a container using a bowl (I'm just guessing). The de facto Char Siew was replaced by luncheon meat which is a poor substitute in my humble opinion. The rice lacked taste and came across as rather bland. Probably the only thing that I liked about this dish was the homogeneity of colours.



Fried Prawns with Salted Egg

This dish came piping hot, with the gravy still bubbling and frothing. The relatively fresh prawns were of average size and overall tasted decent with the gravy buttery and a little coarse, probably due to the bits of egg yolk. However, this dish is best eaten hot as the gravy tends to harden as it cools and things get really gross from there.



Baked Mini Puff with Pork, Mushroom & Bamboo filling

The baked mini puffs looked like your normal curry puff, but break it open to find pork, mushroom and bamboo. Supposedly of course. Truth is, I only found pathetic bits of mushroom in it with what seemed to be scrap morsels of minced meat. It was like eating the pastry more than anything else. Not that it tasted good by the way.



Steamed Soup Bun with Crab Roe and Pork Filling

Purportedly Nanxiang's signature dish - the Xiao Long Bao (XLB). I honestly wasn't the least bit impressed. The skin was way too thick and I had to literally tear it apart before I could take a snapshot of the filling. And there is something about the QC of their XLB. Some had loads of fluids contained within, some had minimal. Talk about consistency.



Pan Fried Pumpkin Cake

I have never tried Pan Fried Pumpkin Cake before and I don't think I ever want to try it again, at least not at Nanxiang. The cake was soaking in oil but tasted decent though, a little sweet and crispy on the outside.



Bill

$59 for such mediocre quality food is plain absurd. The only redeeming factor was the reasonably good service but I don't think thats enough to make me go back.



Likes: Reasonably good service
Dislikes: Mediocre food

Final Verdict:

Ambience:6.5/10
Service:7/10
Food:5.5/10
Value for money:6/10

Overall:6.25/10

Address: #02-53 Bugis Junction

Contact: 6835 7577


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Keyaki Part II



A reunion long awaited. Been pushing back a revisit to Keyaki because of time constraints and partly due to them being full on most weekends. The writeup on my first visit is here.



Exterior & Interior

The pictures say it all. Traditional Japanese interior and a garden with a koi pond, complemented by waitresses in kimonos. A walk into a different world altogether, one where you forget your wearies and take pleasure in the subtle intricacies of life.



Menu



Age Dashi Tofu

Served steaming hot with a lid, the Age Dashi Tofu carried itself relatively well with its smooth textured interior yet not too thick and slightly crispy skin. The sauce was light on the palate but overall the dish, while good, failed to impress me. I've had better for sure.



Ebi Tempura

Now this is where Keyaki shines, for this visit at least. The Ebi Tempura was definitely one of the best that I've tried so far. Gone are the memories of bland batter and tasteless dips from Sun with Moon Japanese Dining. Keyaki's batter was light and flavourful - not the MSG induced kind of flavouring though and good enough to eat on its own! The prawns were huge and fresh and I could taste the sweetness of the prawns, barely though. The accompanying sauce was robust and added a lingering salty dimension to the tempura.



Asparagus & Garlic Fried Rice

Teppanyaki is purportedly the forte of Keyaki and after my last visit there, I'm most inclined to agree. The garlic fried rice was fragrant and fluffy, with each individual grain of rice throughly fried. Coupled with lots of fried garlic pieces and egg, it made for an enjoyable side. The asparagus were a little too overcooked though.



Prime Beef Tenderloin Steak

This dish is certainly drool worthy. Succulent, flavourful and fragrant. Only gripe I had was that it came medium well instead of medium rare which I had requested for. Nevertheless, very little quality was lost and the beef certainly made my day.



Ebi Bacon Maki & Tori Tsukune

The Ebi Bacon Maki was nice without being too overwhelming on the flavours. The bacon wasn't too salty (read: Hua Ting) nor was it overly fatty and the prawns were fresh, though not as succulent as I would have liked it to be. Overall a rather dry dish.

The Tori Tsukune or Grilled Minced Chicken Balls were a little too soft, lacking that quintessential firmness and bite that I usually associate with meat balls. Decent though.



Yaki Tori

The Yaki Tori or Grilled Chicken Cubes on a skewer reminded me uncannily of kebab. Drizzled with loads of sweet teriyaki sauce, the chicken were well grilled but did come across as a wee bit too dry. The vegetables were a little too charred for my liking.



Ebi Tem Maki

Not much can be said about the Ebi Tem Maki as it wasn't remarkably good nor bad. The rice's composition was good and didn't come across as too sourish while the prawns were crispy.



Bill

Dinner for 2 cost just slightly over $160, which threatened to run me dry. But then again, the food quality is evident, with the exception of the Robatayaki. Service is impeccable and reservations are highly recommend if you are going during the weekends.



Likes: Quality of food, laid back ambience, great service
Dislikes: Pricey, Not too impressive Robatayaki

Final Verdict:

Ambience:9/10
Service:8.5/10
Food:8.5/10 (lower for the Robatayaki. Probably about 7/10)
Value for money:6/10

Overall:8/10

Address: Pan Pacific Hotel 4th floor

Contact: 63368111

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bab Noodle

Had dinner with my gf at Bab Noodle. Have been patronising this eatery for about 5 years since 2002 (if I remember correctly).



Interior


Menu

Located within Millenia Walk, Bab Noodle provides a nice and relaxing place for you to slowly enjoy your food during meal times - a far cry from the mad crowds that throng every eating outlet at within the vicinity.



Tori Katsu

I personally didn't quite like the Tori Katsu because the flour was a little too thick and overall the chicken had an slight oil residue taste. But then again, it wasn't half as bad as I described it to be.



Tofu Donburi

I'm a sucker for tofu with minced meat and I never fail to order this dish whenever I patronise. To be honest, there's nothing special about this dish. Its just that I can't seem to find something like that anywhere else. A huge chunk of agedashi tofu topped with lots of minced meat and gravy - now that's something close to my heart.



Tori Karaage

This dish came across as a little too dry and hard, making chewing a tad challenging. Portions were quite small as well. Overall very average tasting.



Bill

Well the food's nothing spectacular, coming across as average at best. However, factor in the good service and the relaxing atmosphere and $24 for 2 pax is a steal in the heart of town.



Likes: No crowds, good service, inexpensive
Dislikes: Average food

Final Verdict:

Ambience:7/10
Service:7/10
Food:6/10
Value for money:7/10

Overall:6.75/10

Address: #01-20 Millenia Walk

Contact: 63366770

Here's a snapshot of our after dinner dessert at Eden Cafe.



Oreo Cheesecake & Chilled Fruit Tea



Bill

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Seah Street Deli Part II



Dinner once again at Seah Street Deli, my choice of a hearty western meal in a laid back and noisy environment, when I have the money of course. This will be a short writeup because I've done a review before, albeit a rather short one as well. See here.



Interior & Condiments



Menu

Nice American diner style place to eat in, complete with a full size jukebox that belts out perennial favourites. Reminded me of the small diners I used to frequent in North American when I was still a student. Only difference is that this one didn't come with booth seats.



Cheese Fries

Well, as the name suggests, this dish was essentially cheese with fries, except that the cheese wasn't drizzled onto the fries. It came in a small saucer for you to dip your fries in. The fries were not too badly done, crispy and fresh. The cheese was thick and gooey, just that the portion was quite miserable considering the amount of fries we had.



Cheese Macaroni Chicken

Cheese atop macaroni with slices of grilled chicken is a rather simple dish to make but sadly not many places in Singapore sell it. Seah Street Deli's rendition is probably one of the better ones. However on this occasion, the macaroni was a little dry and burnt. The cheese was nice and thick but could do with a more generous serving. No complains about the chickens though, which were grilled with a slightly smoky taste.



Beef Pot Roast

My must order dish whenever I drop by. The pot roast consists of thinly sliced chewy pieces of beef which are a little charred along the edges , giving it that nice burnt taste and mashed potatoes with a buttery texture and taste. Very good!



Chocolate Decadence

The chocolate decadence was still as big as I remembered it to be. Only difference is the price, which has shot up from $7.95 a few months back to its present $11.95, a 50% increase over its old price! I would have been cool about it if the quality had been maintained, but no, the eatery decided to cut down on the ingredients as well. The all important layer of black forest between the layers of chocolate and cake was now gone. It breathed life into what was originally a mundane chocolate cake and made it great. Don't get me wrong though, the chocolate cake was still quite good, with the chocolate concentrated and not too sweet. But it can be really overwhelming if you decide to finish it all alone.



Bill

The prices have certainly increased since my last visit here in August last year. Food quality has dipped a wee bit, but its still pretty decent for the pricing. I should still be patronising.

Likes: Hearty fare, very American diner style ambience, friendly staff
Dislikes: Not cheap, can be noisy if the place is packed

Final Verdict:

Ambience:6.5/10
Service:7/10
Food:7/10
Value for money:6.5/10

Overall:6.75/10

Address: #01-22 Raffles Hotel

Contact: 63371886