Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ju Bao



Had dinner with my folks one weekend evening and didn't want to venture far from home so ended up at Ju Bao, which is headed by the former head chef of Lei Garden, Yip Kin Chee.



Located at Teck Chye Terrace along Upper Serangoon Road, or more commonly known to people in the neighbourhood as "Hongkong Street" for its high concentration of Cantonese restaurants, Ju Bao's selling point is purportedly its great Cantonese food at affordable prices. Crowds throng this place during weekends so if you are thinking of having dinner, please go early.



Broccoli with Scallops

Our waitress tried to hard sell this dish to us and we succumbed. After all, how expensive or bad tasting could it be? On both accounts, it was a grave mistake. The scallops were small and lacking in bite but the major bummer was the fishy smell they emitted. The broccoli was still decent but at $22 for such a small portion, you have got to be kidding me.



Crispy Chicken

I suspected the chicken was precooked and left to cool in the kitchen because it was cool when served. And it was very oily. Some parts of the chicken were very salty while other parts were bland. Did I mention that portions were small as well? Sadly, the only positive note was probably the moist and tender meat, which made eating the chicken bearable, but barely.



Steamed Tofu

The tofu was smooth and came topped with mushrooms, minced meat and some other garnishes. However the dish in its entirety tasted rather bland and $8 for 4 relatively small pieces is terribly expensive.



Bill

While the absolute prices of the food didn't seem much, but factor in the quality and quantity of the food and its really a case of too little (quality & quantity) and too much (price). An unsatisfying dinner for the 3 of us cost about $47, which would have been better spent elsewhere. From the former head chef of Lei Garden, I had expected way better. Did I go on an off day or is the place just over hyped? I seriously wonder.



Likes: Nothing
Dislikes: Food quality average, rather pricey, parking is a headache

Final Verdict:

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

Overall:6/10

Address: 19 Teck Chye Terrace

Contact: 6280 2208

Opening Hours: Daily: 11.30am to 2.30pm, 5.30 to 10.30pm

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dessert Bowl



A newcomer has burst onto the dessert scene at Serangoon Gardens, which already hosts popular dessert outlets like Frolick, a yoghurt specialist and Ice Cube, which sells ice cream and the like. However this new dessert place, aptly named Dessert Bowl or 一碗甜品, caters to people who prefer Chinese desserts.





Interior & Menu

Opened only about a week ago, Dessert Bowl can be rather difficult to find, given that its on the 2nd floor and plays neighbour to a pub along a quiet row of shophouses that houses OCBC as well. It definitely doesn't help that the signs are not prominently located. However make your way up and be rewarded by the sight of a brightly lighted cosy area which can probably take about 30 people or so. If you are lucky, you might just get one of the 2 sofa seats that overlook the roads below through the huge glass windows.



Rock Melon Sago

A very typical Chinese dessert, the rock melon sago wasn't outstanding and I personally found it a tad too sweet. But having said that, I don't remember the last time I had a rock melon sago that made me go wow. So maybe its just me.



Strawberry Ice

I didn't get to try this but from what I understand, the strawberries were very sour but other then that, no other complaints.



Mango De Creme

My original order of the Durian mousse was sold out so I thought I would try something a little different, namely the Mango De Creme, which was essentially custard with toppings of mango cubes and puree served up in a tin foil container. The custard came across as smooth and firm, very much like the texture of creme brulee. I'm not sure if it was effort on the part of the shop or pure luck that the mango cubes were sweet but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Overall a rather enjoyable dessert.



Bill

I don't really eat alot of Chinese desserts so I'm not sure if $10.50 for 3 desserts is considered expensive. But personally I think its still acceptable especially when this is definitely a cheaper alternative to Ice Cube. The dessert menu is rather extensive and that would probably be a good reason for me to drop by often for an after dinner dessert session.



Likes: Friendly service, decent desserts
Dislikes: Air conditioning a little too cold

Final Verdict:

Ambience:6.5/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:6.5/10
Value for money:6.5/10

Overall:6.75/10

Address: 80A Serangoon Garden Way (You have to walk up a flight of stairs to get to the place)

Contact: 62851278

Opening Hours:

Tues - Thurs: 12pm - 1030pm

Fri - Sun: 12pm - 12am

Closed on Mondays

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Canopy



Have you ever wished you could have a nice and relaxing weekend brunch/lunch in a lush greenery setting without the midday heat or the pesky mosquitoes? Well that was certainly on my mind as I headed to Canopy for a lazy weekend lunch with my gf.




Exterior, Interior & Menu

Located smack in the middle of Bishan Park, Canopy is managed by Asmara spa and the cosiness is apparent from the minute you step in. Comfortable padded chairs coupled with huge wooden trim glass doors that allow sunlight to peer in make for a nice resort feel. The arched ceilings add a touch of colonial class and best of all, the interior is airconditioned. Canopy offers al fresco seating as well but unless you don't mind sweating it out on a hot day then by all means go ahead.



Eggs Benedict

One of the items on the breakfast/lunch menu, the eggs benedict was a rip off in my humble opinion. $12++ for 2 slices of bread, 2 slices of ham and 2 poached eggs drizzled with Hollandaise sauce just screams expensive. And to top it off, it wasn't exactly outstanding. The egg yolk wasn't the least bit runny and the bread was a tad too dry.



Wagyu Steak with Skinny Fries & Herb Butter

A daily special that was scribbled on an overhanging chalkboard, the wagyu beef weighed in at about 300g(according to the waitress) and came as per requested - medium rare. However that's where the complimentaries end. The wagyu didn't taste like wagyu at all. The meat wasn't as tender or succulent as I had expected it to be and it was pretty much tasteless. I know of places which can put this dish to shame with their normal beef. And in case you are wondering, the herb butter was pretty bland as well.



Linguine Tossed with Lobster

As tantalizing as this dish may sound, it was a disappointment really. For starters, the linguine wasn't al dente and came across as very bland. The small lobster cubes (yes cubes), though crunchy and fresh, were bland as well and overall the whole dish was rather dry.

ps: I could count the number of lobster cubes with 2 hands. I suspect all the cubes combined can barely form one whole medium sized prawn.



Bill

Disappointment would be an understatement, not when I had to fork out over $75 for a less than satisfying lunch. Service was a tad slow and the food was so average that I didn't have the heart nor the wallet to stay on for dessert. The good thing about this place is its setting, but unless the management decides to lower the prices or buck up on the quality, the neighbouring joint shows more promise.



Likes: Nice place
Dislikes: Food quality leaves much to be desired, expensive, service slow

Final Verdict:

Ambience:8/10
Service:6.5/10
Food:6/10
Value for money:5.5/10

Overall:6.5/10

Address: 1382 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1, Bishan Park II

Contact: 6556 1533

Opening Hours: Daily: 10am - 10pm

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bistro One Zero Three



Heard many good things about Bistro 103's food and service so made the trip west one evening to try it out for myself. Opened in April 2007, Bistro 103 is a small family run restaurant with the husband as the chef and his wife and brother in law manning the store.



Interior & Menu

Located at the unlikelinesses of places, in a small shop unit along Pasir Panjang Road just next to a motorcycle repair shop and Manhill Restaurant, Bistro 103 offers a simple and unpretentious dining area filled with wooden furniture and daily specials scribbled on a chalkboard. From what I understand, the menu is rotated monthly and corkage stands at $5++.



Breaded Seafood Tofu with Wasabi Mayo

This was something unique which I have never tried anywhere else before. The tofu was coated with bread crumbs and deep fried till a crisp. There was a slight hint of tofu taste but the texture seemed a little too firm for my liking. Also, the bread crumbs came across as a little too thick as well.



Bacon, Ham and Mushrooms

We chose to have this dish done with a tomato base for a change and I must say it was quite well executed. The tomato sauce was lightly sweet with a mild tomato undertone, which is vastly different from the usual zesty type of tomato sauce that I'm used to. The pasta was a little too overcooked though, as evident by its limpness. The quantity of mushrooms was also found lacking but the generous servings of ham and bacon made up for it somewhat. Maybe they should just omit the mushrooms in the title altogether.



Oven Baked Barbeque Pork Ribs

This came as a recommendation and though huge in serving size, I found the execution a little wanting. The marination was not thorough enough and some parts tasted bland. On the upside, the meat fell off the bone with minimal resistance yet retained a certain degree of firmness. Nice but could have been better.



Chocolate Panna Cotta

Usually chocolate and panna cotta in the same dish would do the trick for me but not in this case. The panna cotta wasn't firm enough and I couldn't quite make out the taste of it as the layer of chocolate syrup and cocoa powder above proved a tad too overwhelming. So much for a $5 dessert.



Brownie with Ice Cream

A staple personal favourite, the brownie was served steaming hot (literally!) as evident by the steam it emitted when I cut through it. Moist(a little too moist actually) and not too sweet. Coupled with the normal tasting ice cream, it made for a sweet and not too expensive ($5) ending.



Bill

Dinner for 2 cost about $62 which does stretch the value for money notion a little thin. But hey, its $62 for an appetiser, 2 mains and 2 desserts - a value proposition that can hardly be found elsewhere, not for the quality of food nor the service. And if you need that extra nudge, try patriotism. Its after all, local.



Likes: Food quality is quite decent, good service
Dislikes: Location, location, location

Final Verdict:

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

Overall:6.75/10

Address: 103 Pasir Panjang Road

Contact: 6476 6373

Opening Hours:

Tue-Fri: 11.30am - 3pm, 6pm - 9.30pm

Sat: 6pm - 9.30pm

Sun: 10.30am - 3pm, 6pm - 9.30pm

Monday, June 23, 2008

Waraku



Our fourth and final stop of the tour - Waraku, a casual Japanese dining joint with quite a few outlets in the eastern and central parts of Singapore.




Located on the 3rd floor of Central just further down from Wakashachiya, Waraku seems to be rather popular with Singaporeans judging from the long queues that form during meal times at alot of their outlets and the relatively good comments online. The interior at this particular outlet was decked out in shades of white and brown with wood featuring prominently in the decor. As with most of the other restaurants at Central, the window seats look out into the picturesque clarke quay for a more enjoyable dining experience.



California Ura Maki

Uramaki differs from other types of maki(rolled sushi) in that the rice is on the outside and the nori(layered sheets of seaweed) on the inside. Preparation methods aside, the california maki barely made it past the average mark. The rice was a little too dry and loose and the copious amounts of roe did nothing to enhance the taste, preferring to remain as decorative pieces instead.



Sashimi 5 Kinds

The huge platter of sashimi came with prawns, salmon, tuna, squid and yellow tail served atop a bed of ice and garnished with leaves and flowers to up the visual appeal. I don't know if the standard for sashimi is consistent throughout all the Waraku outlets but the sashimi at this particular outlet was bad. Nothing was fresh and I kid you not, I spit out the prawn and salmon as soon as I took the first bite. Maybe I'm just being picky and overreacting but it happens that I'm very sensitive to seafood which aren't fresh. But I wasn't the only one. Most of the sashimi was left untouched save for the polite gesture of a few pieces.



Likes: Nice place
Dislikes: Food quality leaves much to be desired

Final Verdict:

Ambience:7/10
Service:7/10
Food:5.5/10
Value for money:NA (Free)

Overall:6.5/10

Address: #03-89 The Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street

Contact: 6327 8860

Opening Hours: Daily: 11.30am - 11pm (last order 10.30pm )

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

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ramen Santouka Part II



The third stop of our tour - Ramen Santouka or らーめん 山頭火. As mentioned in my previous writeup just a couple of weeks back, Santouka is known for its shio(salted) ramen which has been consistently ranked #1 by Japan's media and magazines.



Exterior & Interior

The place was rather quiet as it was after the busy lunch period, a far cry from my last visit when I had to queue up for about 25mins before I could get a table. The view itself is worth a mention if you happen to get window seats. It overlooks Clarke Quay and the river in between, which definitely beats staring at blank walls.



The Chef



Shoyu Ramen

We ordered all 4 different soup base ramen to try, with the first being the Shoyu (soya sauce) ramen. I personally found the shoyu base a little unsettling because it was rich and milky yet had a very distinctive soya sauce aftertaste. Not exactly my cup of tea. The noodles were springy and looked uncannily like instant noodles though. The toro niku didn't seem as salty as my previous visit, which was a welcome relief of course, especially for someone who was already stuffed to the brim from Wakashachiya and Ma Maison.
I was too full to try the salmon rice but I understand from one of my dining partners that it was quite good, but then again it might be biased because he likes salmon.



Miso Ramen

This soup base tasted like a slightly watered down version of miso soup. And not being an ardent fan of miso soup meant that I had problems stomaching too much of this as well. It certainly didn't help that I was bloated by then. 2 mouthfuls of this and I raised the white flag.



Kara Miso Ramen

I didn't try this because I have a really low tolerance for spiciness and I didn't fancy downing glasses of water just to quell the mild fire in my mouth.



Shio Ramen

The shio (salted) broth suited me best. Rich and milky with a very distinctive pork taste. And since I only ate 2 mouthfuls, there was no chance of it making me nauseous like the previous episode.



Likes: Ramen is quite decent
Dislikes: Food in general not my cup of tea

Final Verdict:

Ambience:6/10
Service:6.5/10
Food:7/10
Value for money:NA (Free)

Overall:6.5/10

Address: #02-76 The Central

Contact: 6224 0668

Opening Hours: Daily: 11.00am - 9.30pm

Website: http://www.santouka.co.jp/