Sunday, March 30, 2008

Guan Hin Part II

It has been more than a year since my family last visited Guan Hin so a revisit was in order especially after Guan Hin had just undergone a facelift. The new Guan Hin now boasts a more spacious interior through efficient usage of space and whitewashed walls to go along with the spanking new carpet and furniture. The lingering nostalgia is gone as well, covered up by the fresh coat of paint that dons the walls.



Braised Goose

The goose was thinly sliced and tasted great with the not too salty gravy. Some work needs to be done on the beancurd though, coming across as a tad too rough for my liking. Comparisons are inevitable between Guan Hin's rendition and that of Hung Kang, with the latter taking the cake effortlessly with its polished rendition of this traditional Teochew dish.



Sauteed Kailan

Nicely stir fried without being overcooked. However it was a little too oily and watery. What I liked was that it came served with "Ti Po" or crispy fried sole fish, which gave the occasional crunch and added saltiness.



Steamed Pomfret

Fresh and steamed just right, with the flesh firm and sweet. Just the way a good dish of steamed pomfret should be. Paying compliments to the fish was the gravy, tasty from all the sour plums and tomatoes in it.



Liver Roll

The liver roll or "Ngoh Hiang" was honestly quite good. Thin crispy skin covering a mould of finely chopped liver but with only a slight hint of liver taste. Dipped in the sweet and sticky plum sauce, it made for a nice dish.



Yam Paste with Gingko Nuts

As mentioned before, I consider yam paste or Orh Nee as one of the hallmarks of Teochew food, which explains my high expectations of it. While I used to praise Guan Hin for their rather stellar rendition of this traditional Teochew dessert, the same compliments couldn't be extended that evening. Barely warm when served, it looked pre made and as though it had been sitting in a corner for quite a long period of time. Texture wise, it wasn't smooth, coming across as chunky and oily. Even the gingko nuts were too soft and bland. A total disappointment.



Bill

A rather filling dinner for 5 came up to about $90, which really isn't very expensive but somehow or rather, food standard has slided a little, especially in the case of the Orh Nee. Service was acceptable but could be better. Has the hype over Guan Hin resulted in a decline in its culinary standard - one that took decades to build?



Likes: Above average Teochew food, not too expensive
Dislikes: Long waiting times, service can be better

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

Overall:6.5/10

Address: Blk 34 Whampoa West

Contact: 6298 3179

Opening Hours: Daily: 11.30am - 3pm, 6pm - 10pm

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Stewhaus

My colleague and I were wandering along East Coast road wondering what to have for lunch when we stumbled upon Stewhaus - a nondescript cafe located just next to Sushi Jiro.



Interior

Stepping into the simple no frills interior made me feel all warm and fuzzy, with its wooden finishings and smallish interior - just like returning home. Service was cordial but a little inattentive that sunny weekday afternoon though.



Summer Vegetables Soup with Kidney Beans & Mushroom soup

I've never actually drank summer vegetable soup before so it was quite an experience for me. The soup was refreshing and light but I didn't quite take to the kidney beans (personal preference). Overall a decent soup, but not something I would order again. As for the mushroom soup, it was nice and thick with generous bits of mushroom. However I did find it a bit too salty for my liking.



Half Pork Knuckle

Pork Knuckles are usually grilled (at least those that I've eaten) so it came as a surprise that Stewhaus's rendition was baked instead. The pros of such a cooking method is that the pork knuckle turns out healthier (less oil) but the downside is that it sacrifices quite a bit on taste and texture. For one, the meat wasn't fibrous, coming across as gluten like and the nice grilled taste which I personally like was missing. Thumbs up for the skin still retaining its crispiness though.



Mixed Berry Stew

Another first for me. Zesty from all the berries yet sweet at the same time from the ice cream. Very contrasting flavours indeed but not exactly something to shout about.



Bill

$38 for 2 soups, 1 main and 1 dessert isn't exactly expensive but its not cheap either. Food quality falls just above the average mark and only service charge is levied (No GST). Would I be back? If I happen to be in that area, maybe.



Likes: Homely feel, average pricing
Dislikes: Food average

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

Overall:6.75/10

Address: 695B East Coast Road

Contact: 6445 5037

Opening Hours: Tue-Sun: 11am - 11pm (Closed on Mon)

Website: http://www.stewhaus.com

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Inagiku Part II



A revisit long anticipated. Inagiku or 稲ぎく underwent a makeover last year and now boasts a spanking new interior coupled with a modern menu to boot.





Interior & Menu

Unlike the old traditional brown wooden interior, the new one is decked out in jet black and oozes contemporary Zen. A little too much if you ask me, especially with the somewhat fanciful light displays. However, as with the old interior, the tables are quite close to each other which makes conversation rather impersonal.




Foie Gras To Fruit No Lemon Kama - Mango & Grape Marinated Boiled Foie Gras with Prawn and Grilled Pork in Chervil and Lemon Sauce

A most interesting dish. I had expected the foie gras to be soft and mushy from boiling but it was surprisingly firm and smooth to the tongue. When consumed together with the grapes and mangoes, the sweetness from the fruits came through and complemented the foie gras very well. It helped that the dish came with fresh, crunchy prawns and nicely grilled pork as well. Portions are dainty though.



Sake Sashimi - Salmon Sashimi

The salmon sashimi was pleasing to the eyes and very fresh, as evident by the colour and firmness of the flesh. However I did find it a little too thickly sliced, which affected the texture or what the Chinese term as 口感.



Teppanyaki Sirloin

Now this dish was a bummer. The sirloin was a little undercooked in some areas probably due to the thickness of the meat and it was tasteless and rubbery. A sheer waste of $45 if you ask me.




Tempura Moriawase - Assorted Tempura

Inagiku's forte has always been tempura and the Tempura Moriawase came looking like a mess. Hardly appetite whetting I must say. But the batter was ever so sublime, thin as paper and light as air, without the oily residue taste that plague a lot of tempura. Its $60 though, so make the pieces count.



Ebi Inagiku Sauce - Prawn with Inagiku Special Sauce

Still smarting from the $195 lobster I had the last time round, I opted for the poor man's alternative this time round, the king prawn ($60). Not that it was any lacklustre as compared to its more expensive cousin. The prawn cubes were aplenty, grilled till lightly charred and topped with the very creamy Inagiku special sauce. Be careful not to consume too much of the sauce though as it can be quite nausea inducing due to the overdose of creaminess.



Bill

Prices seem to have gone up a bit since the revamp and dinner for 2 cost us to the tune of almost $270 before discount ($135 after 50% discount). Food quality is still good save for the occasional misses but definitely not value for money. Hey its fine dining after all and Inagiku has its reputation of being one of the most expensive Japanese restaurants in Singapore to keep!



Likes: Excellent service, excellent food
Dislikes: Very pricey

Final Verdict:
Ambience:7/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:8/10
Value for money:5.5/10

Overall:7/10

Address: Level 3, Fairmont Singapore

Contact: 64316156

Opening Hours:

Lunch: Daily - 12:00 noon to 2:30 pm

Dinner: Daily - 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Eighteen Chefs



An entry long overdue. Had lunch at Eighteen Chefs with a few friends one weekday afternoon. What's interesting and noble (to a certain extent) about Eighteen Chefs is that it takes in ex convicts and delinquents and helps them turn over a new leaf by training them in the food business. Its owner and head chef, Benny Se Teo, who was a former drug addict, trained at Jamie Oliver's London restaurant, Fifteen.




Interior & Menu

Located at a corner of Eastpoint just next to the POSB, Eighteen Chefs has a rather simple interior which can seat up to about 50 pax. This place runs on a self service system hence no service charge is levied. To order your food, simply fill up a form and bring it to the counter to make payment. Your orders will then be served to you shortly.



Baked Rice with Creamy White Sauce & Chicken Slices ($8.90)

You get to choose what kind of sauce you want for your baked rice as well as the ingredients that go into it. Honestly, the baked rice I had (see above) was decent but nothing to shout about. While the cheese was nice and thick, I found the rice a little too bland for my liking and the cream sauce did little to help. But at $8.90, its relatively cheaper and quality is slightly better than the ones they serve at Swensens.



Eighteen Funky Strawberry ($5.80)

$5.80 for 4 scoops of ice cream served with strawberries, hazelnuts and oreo biscuits - now that should be excellent value for money really. It would have been better if the strawberries had been fresher and if the ice cream had been been richer. My guess is that they gave us tub ice cream from the supermarket.



Bill

A decent lunch for 3 inclusive of a dessert to share cost just over $35, which is still pretty acceptable for the quality. Service was excellent and even though the food wasn't exactly stellar, I'll be back to try other stuff. After all, life is all about second chances isn't it?



Likes: Excellent service, reasonable pricing
Dislikes: Average food

Final Verdict:
Ambience:6.5/10
Service:7.5/10 (Impressive because no service charge)
Food:6.5/10
Value for money:7/10

Overall:6.875/10

Address: #01-36 Eastpoint Mall, 3 Simei Street 6

Contact: 6782 1298

Opening Hours:

Sun-Thu: 12noon - 9.30pm

Fri-Sat: 12noon - 10.30pm

Website: http://www.eighteenchefs.com

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sweet Indulgence



Sweet to indulge - the catchy tagline behind Sweet Indulgence, a quaint little cafe that resides along quiet Stanley Street and the venue of choice for our monthly dinner.



Interior & Table Arrangement

Fronted by a pink signboard, Sweet Indulgence's interior is rather small and "cafeish", sitting up to a maximum of 24 pax while the al fresco area can take another 10 or so. The thing that irked me quite a bit was that the air conditioning wasn't cool enough even though it had just rained. Imagine if it was a bright sunny afternoon. On a more positive note, the entire place exuded a nice cosy vibe, setting the tone right for a relaxing after work dinner.



Complimentary Bread

I didn't think too much of the complimentary bread. For starters, it wasn't served warm. Not to mention it was dry and sparse as well. But hey, its free.



Pear Juice

I liked the shooter of pear juice - light and sweet. Complimentary as well.



Salad

A simple salad with only freshly cut vegetables. Pity about the overwhelming Italian dressing, which came across as much too strong. A light dressing is always welcomed.



Cream of Broccoli

Salty salty salty. That was the first impression that hit me when I took a sip of the soup. Other then that, nothing else actually registered in my taste buds which was quite sad really.



Garlic Prawns

This dish came as compensation due to the removal of a choice for the main course from our pre agreed list. To be honest, I'm almost glad that happened as the prawns were really quite good. Thought small, they were fresh and crunchy with a hint of pepper. Light yet full of flavour. I would have stuffed myself silly if not for the fact that we had to share a bowl amongst 5 pax.



Poached Salmon with White Sauce & Herbs, served with Pasta and Seasonal Vegetables

I didn't choose this main but had a taste of it. First thoughts, the salmon had none of the overwhelming raw fishy taste that I absolutely abhor. Drizzled with the creamy white sauce, it was actually quite decent. The same can't be said about the pasta though, which was bland and overcooked, as evident by the overly soft texture.



Oven Baked Chicken Thigh Steak with Crisp Skin served with Chef Sauce & Potato Mash infused with Vanilla and Cream

I opted for this as my main and wasn't too bowled over by it. For one, I had expected crackling crispy skin but got none. The meat was tender and tasty though but could have been juicier. As for the mashed potato, I would have preferred it to be smoother. But having said that, I appreciate the creativity behind the infusion of vanilla and cream.



Strawberry Cheesecake

I honestly don't know what to make of this. Sweet Indulgence is known for its desserts but if the cheesecake was anything to go by, I wouldn't buy it whole sale. Aesthetics aside, the cake was moist yet firm but almost tasteless. In fact, it was so forgettable that I didn't remember eating it until I saw my empty plate. And its tiny by the way.



Warm Choco Lava Indulgence

We got this complimentary dessert to share between 4 pax as Sweet Indulgence swapped our agreed upon Tiramisu to the lacklustre Strawberry Cheesecake due to some logistics problem. Billed as a best selling hot favourite, the choco lava cake oozed decadent thick chocolate through a break in the outer crust. Now here's the part that really bugs me. The crust was very kueh like - soft and limp, which meant that the whole thing came crumbling down after we made a hole in the crust. But for something that retails at $8.90, I guess its quite worth it.



Bill

The 20 of us chalked up a bill of $671 inclusive of the $11 for corkage. That works out to be $33 per pax which I find pretty reasonable for the amount and quality of food we got (we got a glass of coke each as well). Just for the record, food quality hovers just around the average mark but service and service recovery is quite good. Okay to give it a try if you are in the area. Just don't get your expectations too high.



Likes: Good service and service recovery, reasonable prices
Dislikes: Average food

Final Verdict:
Ambience:6.5/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:6.5/10
Value for money:7/10

Overall:6.875/10

Address: 2 Stanley Street

Contact: 6223 7707

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri: 10am - 10pm. Closed Sat, Sun, PH

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rose Apple Deli



Read in the papers of this new place to check out along East Coast Road so headed down for lunch one wet afternoon.




Interior & Menu

Located just off the intersection of Joo Chiat Road and East Coast Road, Rose Apple Deli is part of a new breed of eateries which not only sells food, but also sells/exhibits other stuff like clothes, art pieces etc. Other similar eateries that come to mind include Project Shop Blood Brothers Cafe at Paragon. Decor is simple and clean with only about 5 to 6 tables available for dining in customers.



Pan Fried Radish Cake & Yam Cake

Billed as a must try, the yam and radish cakes have supposedly been made by the owners' family for more than 30 years. I must admit, both cakes were quite good, tasty from the use of dried shrimps and not soaked in oil. However, it could have been better. For one, the texture was a little too coarse. Portion size could also have been bigger for $1.20 a piece.



Grandma Rayna's Roast Chicken

Usually the naming of a dish after members of a family is used to conjure up an image of homely comfort food. And truly comfort food it was. The roast chicken was tender, juicy and a tad sweet probably from the honey glaze. But as with the radish & yam cakes, portions were a little small for the price ($10.80).



Gingko Silky Bean

Honestly I didn't quite take to this. The beancurd skin taste was overwhelming and the syrup was bland. But that's just me.



Waffle with Ice Cream

I'm not sure if this was a one off thing, but the waffle had a sour aftertaste which was an instant turnoff. It was quite a size and crispy though but the ice cream tasted rather normal.



Bill

The food is decent but prices are a wee bit high. I like the laid back atmosphere and friendly service though, perfect for a lazy afternoon tea.



Likes: Decent food, nice quiet place
Dislikes: A tad expensive

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

Overall:6.625/10

Address: 85 East Coast Road #01-01

Contact: 63486335

Opening Hours: 11 am - 9.30pm (Tues - Sun including public holidays)

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