Monday, October 29, 2007

Astons Prime



Astons Prime is a recently opened upmarket version of Aston Specialties, catering to the more well heeled with a wider selection of premium meat available and reservations of course.



Interior

Located just a stones throw away from the original Astons Specialties, Astons Prime sits along the row of shophouses near the junction of Joo Chiat Road and East Coast Road. The interior is simply furnished and can probably seat up to about 30 people. There are corner booth seats for 2 pax which are a must if you wish to have more privacy. Pity there are only 2 of those seats though and I wasn't fortunate to get one of those even during lunch.



Complementary Bread with Homemade Garlic Spread

When a place claims to serve up its own homemade garlic spread, my expectations go up a notch because I like my garlic spread a lot, probably more than most people. Sadly, Aston's spread didn't even come close to meeting my expectations. For one, it was rather bland and didn't exactly jell in well with the bread, which incidentally, wasn't tasty nor was it served warm.



Chicken Quesadilla

Interestingly, biting into the Chicken Quesadilla was akin to eating roti prata with bits of chicken and BBQ sauce. The paper thin crust was a little crispy and flaky with a rather miserable filling of chicken. Not that I'm saying that its not good, but for almost 8 dollars, I'd rather order something else.



Fillet Mignon Prime Steer Grass Fed



Fillet Mignon Australian Grain Fed

Notice that the fillet mignon comes in 2 variations, the New Zealand fed and the Australian fed. I'm guessing the Australian one is better because of its superior pricing. But then again, I didn't get to try the New Zealand variant, so I'm really in no position to comment.

My Australian fed fillet mignon was small (they are all 8oz by the way, which is about 250g) but good. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it was excellent as I've definitely tried better but this one was really in a league of its own. Medium rare, succulent and sweet. Only gripe I had was that the meat slab was too thick which resulted in the exterior being a little too charred. I did like the accompanying sauce though, which tasted like it had a little bit of cheese in it.



Bill

$70 for 2 pax for lunch is rather expensive honestly, but good steak comes at a price unfortunately. Service is excellent and there is no service charge or GST which kinda sweetens the deal a little. I see potential in this place, but it would be nice to have a larger slab of meat for the same price, please?



Likes: Good steak, good service, reservations are welcome
Dislikes: A tad pricey, limited space

Final Verdict:
Ambience:6.5/10
Service:8/10
Food:7.5/10
Value for money:6.5/10

Overall:7.125/10

Address: 467 Joo Chiat Road

Contact: 63442447

Opening Hours: Wed - Mon: 11.30am to 11pm. Closed on Tuesdays.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Wild Rocket



I've always had a penchant for brunch - whiling the lazy mornings away in a serene setting coupled with hearty fare and great company. What better way to unwind and enjoy the intricate subtleties of life? And I've found just the place to do so - Wild Rocket. The man at its helm is none other than lawyer turned chef, Willin Low, who has built up a reputation for cooking dishes which are Singaporean at heart but with a twist.



Interior

Nestled at the top of a hill (Mount Emily), Wild Rocket is a quaint little eatery/restaurant docked on the first level of Hangout Hotel. The decor is simple, focusing on the simplicities and the giant glass windows complete with semi transparent curtains allow sunlight to peer through, creating a cheery and lively atmosphere sans the heat. An air of serenity and elusiveness lingers in this dreamy and charming little outfit.



Complementary bread

Though not billed as a fine dining restaurant, Wild Rocket still serves up complementary bread, which didn't quite impress me honestly. For one, the bread was too porous and came across as a tad too dry and bland. Thankfully, it was served warm.



Ricotta Jackfruit Pancakes with Maple Syrup

No this isn't a picture of left over pancakes. Its what we got for $8.50 - 2 small pancakes and 1 piece of deep fried jackfruit. It was excellent though, soft and fluffy with a tinge of jackfruit taste. Bits of jackfruit were also embedded within for added texture/flavour and the sweetness of the maple syrup was just about right. Now someone please explain to me why do good things always come in small packages?



Laksa Pesto with Spaghetti with Tiger Prawns & Quail Egg

A most interesting dish. As the name suggests, its spaghetti covered with coriander and bits of chilli flakes which is supposed to have a mild laksa taste. And by golly, it certainly does! The pasta was al dente but a tad too dry for my liking. I counted 3 average sized prawns and 3 quail egg halves, which certainly doesn't place this dish in the generous ingredients category. Honestly, this is not something I'll order again cause I don't find it outstanding.



Scrambled Eggs, Fresh Beef Sausages with Toast

A greedy mistake on my part. I had spied the adjourning table ordering this dish and the serving certainly looked generous. Oh boy, how wrong I was. 2 sausages, a small serving of scrambled eggs and a side of toast. The dish was clean in less than 5 mins, but not that it tasted great in case you are assuming. The sausages were rather salty and the meat didn't seem firm. As for the scrambled eggs, it was too salty as well and tasted like too much milk had gone into it.




The Wild Rocket Burger with Sun Dried Tomato Salsa

Notice the usage of the word "The" in the name of this dish. Its obviously Wild Rocket's signature offering and is THE must try burger. Pleasing aesthetics aside, the burger weighed in slightly bigger than Iggy's offering but smaller than those of Carl's Junior. The patty was huge by the way and rather well mashed, chewy and moist yet not overwhelming. Interestingly, the sun dried tomato salsa atop the patty was a tad sweet but complemented the beef almost flawlessly. The accompanying potato cubes were a little too soft and salty (I could make out the salt granules on the potatoes).



Kueh Buloh Tiramisu

Here's another classic example of how much of a mountain tortoise I am. I have no inkling whatsoever as to what in the world is Kueh Buloh. Shame on me. But the Kueh Buloh Tiramisu was quite good if you ask me. Soft with a nice layer of ice cream beneath it. But it kinda loses the Tiramisu flavour and composition though, which is rather ironical.



Dark Lava Chocolate Gateau with Ice Cream

Few molten chocolate cakes can match the truly splendid rendition by Mortons or the value for money offering at Abof. Wild Rocket's version comes close. Well almost. Its decidedly as good as Abof's but significantly more expensive as well (not as expensive as Morton's though). The shell was slightly hard while the spongy interior was soft and moist. Thick oozing, not too sweet chocolate completed the picture. But it was small, even smaller than Abof's.



Bill

I had a good and leisurely brunch, no doubt about that. But $95 for 3 pax does seem a little steep especially with the smallish portions. Its a nice place to hang out though and service is good. They will definitely be seeing more of me. On a side note, please let me reiterate that the place is tiny and you are looking at about probably 30 people max so please please please make your reservations.



Likes: Nice place to enjoy a lazy brunch, good service, good food
Dislikes: A tad pricey, location rather inaccessible, parking is a major headache

Final Verdict:
Ambience:7.5/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:7.5/10 (Except for the sausages with egg)
Value for money:6.5/10

Overall:7.25/10

Address: Hangout hotel, 10a Upper Wilkie Road

Contact: 63399448

Opening Hours:

Tues - Sat
12 noon to 3pm (lunch)
6.30pm to 11pm (dinner)

Sundays
11.30am to 3pm (brunch)
6.30pm to 10.30pm (dinner)

Closed on Mondays

Website: http://www.wildrocket.com.sg/

Let me end with a random shot I took of the cactus on our table.




Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yoshoku Kitchen



Popped by sleepy Serene Centre with my gf for some cheap French food only to find it packed to the brim with a long queue to boot. So we sort of gave up the idea and settled for the only other alternative (besides MacDonalds), Yoshoku Kitchen.



For cavemen like me, Yoshoku simply means western food with a Japanese flair aka fusion, for lack of a better word. This 1+ year old eatery sits quietly next to its more illustrious neighbours, Island Creamery and La Petit Cuisine. A cosy darkened interior complete with a floor to ceiling window beckons.



Menu



Hotate Mentai Chizu Yaki

The Hotate Mentai Chizu Yaki, or scallops baked with cod roe sauce, was rather interesting as I've never eaten scallops covered with a thick layer of cheese before. The scallops were quite a size and came buried under mounds of thick gooey cheese buffered by the Thousand Island taste alike cod roe sauce. Honestly, I liked it quite a fair bit (I'm a cheese freak) except for the fact that the cod roe sauce was a little too overwhelming.



Japanese Curry Rice

How good/bad can Japanese curry rice get? Yoshoku's rendition was averagely decent and unexciting. Curry was neither too watery nor coagulated but normal rice was used instead of Japanese rice, which was expected for the price ($8).



Wafu Bifu Suteki

Primed as one of the must tries in this restaurant, the Wafu Bifu Suteki, or beef steak with Japanese sauce, was a tad disappointing given that I had much higher expectations of it. The beef was unevenly cooked, with some parts being almost well done while others tended more towards medium well. That aside, the beef was relatively succulent and chewy but lacked the natural beef taste although I did find it quite well seasoned. The Japanese sauce was nothing more than a milder and sweeter version of the black pepper sauce.



Bill

$54 for 2 pax for a decent and filling meal in a serene environment is a little on the high side but still within the reasonable range IMHO. Service is good as well which is definitely a plus. Just don't get your expectations too high.



Likes: Nice place to have dinner, good service
Dislikes: A tad pricey, food is nothing to shout about

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

Overall:6.75/10

Address: #01-02 Serene Centre

Contact: 64622522

Opening Hours: Mon - Sun: 11.30am to 10pm


On a side note, I tried out Island Creamery after dinner!



On the whole I found the ice cream a little too creamy for my liking but hey its $4 for 2 scoops, way cheaper than Ben and Jerry's or Haagen Dazs. They have many interesting flavours too, like Teh Tarik, Pulut Hitam etc. Worth a try!

Monday, October 22, 2007

FRE(N)SH



Had an appetite for cheap French food so headed down with my gf to FRE(N)SH at Vivo City for a quick tartine fix.




Exterior & Interior

Hidden in a quiet corner of the colossal shopping mall, FRE(N)SH is interestingly named, from which I infer to be a short form for French & Fresh or vice versa. I may be wrong, but I deserve some marks for trying? The place in itself is tiny, as evident by the bar counter seats which take up the majority of the place. There are 4 tightly packed tables in a corner as well but they shouldn't even be an option unless you seriously don't mind sitting about 20cm away from the next table.



FRE(N)SH Chicken Tartine

How could I resist ordering a Tartine with the same name? (I'm assuming its their signature dish.) The bread was nicely toasted with extremely generous amounts of chicken, sliced potatoes and mustard. Personally, I couldn't quite stomach the mustard as it made me tear involuntarily but the chicken and potatoes were good. Probably next time round I'll ask for mayonnaise instead.



Chicken Tartine

This was very similar to the FRE(N)SH Tartine except that it had anchovies and it came with mayonnaise instead of mustard. As with the former, ingredients were generous and this dish had a slight fishy overtone which generally went well with the chicken taste. However, any stronger and it would have been revolting (at least for me).



Crème brûlée

Served in an aluminum foil container, the layer of sugar atop looked a tad charred but broke easily with the slightest effort. Didn't find it to be quivery smooth though. But I could make out the vanilla beans in it, which probably means that its home made. Thumbs up to that!



Tiramisu

Looking more like a chocolate cake than anything else, the Tiramisu had a nice amaretto liqueur taste to it, which is different from the usual Kahlua infused ones. However, I did find the layer of sponge a little too excessive, so much so that it reminded me of eating a slice of cake. On that note, the Mascarpone cheese was a little lacking. But overall rather smooth and decent.



Bill

No GST, no service charge, what more can I ask for? Well maybe a mint to cleanse my breath. I'm just being corny here but $32 for 2 set meals is a rather good deal if you ask me. A drink, a Tartine and a dessert - a complete meal without busting your wallet.



Likes: Good value, decent food
Dislikes: Cramp permises

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

Overall:6.875/10

Address: #01-163 Vivo City

Contact: 96439978

Opening Hours: Daily: 10am - 10pm (last order 9.30pm)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Shatin Kitchen



There are 2 faces to Geylang - the notorious red light district thronged by "social escorts" and the food haven where tiny shops and restaurants line every nook and cranny, serving up good food. Shatin Kitchen obviously falls into the latter category and is helmed by chef Tonny Chan.



Menu

Newspaper articles adorn the walls of this unpretentious air conditioned eatery located right at the beginning of Geylang road. Decor is simplistic and reminiscent of a typical Chinese restaurant without the frills.



Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

In case you are wondering, no, chef Tonny didn't name this dish after Lee Ang's Oscar winning movie. It is so named because of the ingredients in the dish - egg white, lobster and scallops as well as the way it is presented - in a basket made from deep fried wanton skin. This dish won chef Tonny an award in a cooking competition some years back and was featured in the recent 100 best dishes article published by the Straits Times. With the accolades aside, it was down to the taste test. Honestly, it was disappointing. Yes, I could taste the texture of the scallops and the egg white but where was the lobster? And if eaten alone without the wanton skin, it proved to be a tad too salty for my liking. Eaten with the skin, it was really nothing nothing to shout about, coming across as average and not something I would pay $6 a portion for.



Kailan

The vegetables were tasty but rather limp, probably due to overcooking and the gravy was a tad too starchy for my liking.



Five Spices Fried Pork Chop

Sorry about the literal translation but theres no English name for this dish in the menu. The pork chop was undoubtedly the best dish of the evening, with the meat tender yet lightly sweet and chewy. It actually tasted like very tender char siew, albeit of a different colour. Couldn't quite make out the five spices though.



Deep Fried Cod Fish

I liked the fact that the cod fish came with nice small tomatoes alongside to spruce up the entire dish. What I didn't like was that the fish meat was bland and soft, nothing like the firm yet smooth meat good cod fish should have. The accompanying sauce was rather bland as well, tasting like a watered down version of oyster sauce.



Fruits & Red Bean Paste Pancake

The fruits were complementary but the pancake was an ordered item. I've always been biased towards red bean paste pancakes but this one was a little let down. Though fragrant, the flour was too thick which made it rather chewy overall. On a positive note, the red bean filling was generous and not too sweet.



Bill

The 3 of us chalked up a bill of about $81, which is rather expensive given that the quality of food was merely slightly above average and portions are lacking in size. On a side note, I'm suitably impressed with the level of service at Shatin Kitchen, something lacking in alot of small Chinese eateries nowadays. However, all the hype surrounding this eatery is totally uncalled for in my humble opinion and I highly doubt that I'll be back.



Likes: Good service, decent food
Dislikes: Rather pricey for quality of food

Final Verdict:
Ambience:6.5/10
Service:7/10
Food:6.5/10
Value for money:6/10 (without discount)

Overall:6.5/10

Address:8 Geylang Lorong 3

Contact:67472483

Opening Hours: 11.30am to 2.30pm & 6.00pm to 11pm daily