Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hai Tien Lo Part VI

Popped by Hai Tien Lo (HTL) for lunch one glaring weekday afternoon. The restaurant is currently having a "cardholder dines free" promotion until the end of November with a minimum of 2 pax for their weekday dim sum lunch.



View from my seat and Interior

One of the huge draws (at least for me) of HTL is its excellent views of the city scape and its uncluttered seating arrangement that allows most, if not all tables a window side view without bearing the brunt of being exposed to direct sunlight. An ideal place to have a leisurely lunch in my humble opinion.



Deep Fried Cheese Rolls

Very well deep fried crisp wanton skin enveloping a prawn filling with hints of cheese. Honestly it was a little unsettling for me and the excessive oil factor was quite a turn off.



Pan Fried Seafood Dumplings

The 锅贴 (Pot Stickers) were just bad. The skin was too thick and tasted more chewy and limp then crispy. It could have done with a lot more flavouring as well. I gave up after the first mouth.



Poached Beijing Dumplings with Vinegar Chilli Sauce

The 饺子 was a little oversoaked in the mildly spicy and vinegarish sauce which rendered the skin unbearably soft. At least the prawns were fresh but could have done with more crunch. Overall decent but not something I would order again.



Pan Fried Rice Rolls served with Conpoy Sauce

This dish of rice rolls (猪肠粉) differed from the usual dim sum offering in that it is pan fried till lightly charred on the surface before serving. Coupled with a savoury sauce boasting mild flavours of shrimp, it was delectable - fragrant and tasty.



Stewed Ee Fu Noodles with Crab Meat

You have a choice of either this noodle or the duck & silver bean sprout fried rice (limited to 1 order). The noodles sounded more appetising hence we went for it. Limp would be a good word to describe the noodles as it seemed a little too soft. However, the crab meat was generous and overall nothing too fancy.



Crispy Stuffed Beancurd Skin

The beancurd skin (腐皮卷) reminded me of samosa, with its triangular shape and puffed up appearance. Crisp beancurd skin covering fresh shrimp and pork filling sans the reused oil taste, what's not to like?



Steamed Carrot Cake

This looked deceptively hard and dry and I half expected it to provide stiff resistance to my fork. On the contrary, it was smooth with bits of meat for that added texture but could have done with a more robust taste. The sauce was lightly salty and savoury but there was just too little of it in my humble opinion.



Steamed Mushrooms stuffed with Prawn Paste

I envisioned a huge mushroom stuffed with prawn paste in the center. What I got was a mushroom with a huge lump of prawn paste sitting atop and drizzled with egg white sauce. Perfectly fine I guess and very decent with the woody taste of the mushroom providing a nice backdrop against the mild fishiness of the crustacean paste.



Steamed Prawn Dumplings

Semi translucent (albeit a little too thick) skin offering a peek of the generous mound of fresh and crunchy prawns buried within. Served piping hot and wolfed down in a matter of seconds. That's the magic of it.



Steamed Barbecued Pork Buns

I am a sucker for carbohydrates hence I never fail to order the buns at any dim sum session. Straight out of the steamer, the BBQ pork buns were very good. Fluffy and moist flour with a generous serving of BBQ pork that threatened to elevate my sugar levels close to that of a diabetic. Sesame seeds mixed in with the filling provide a nice crunch to the overall texture. If you have a low tolerance for sweet stuff, my advice would be to skip this entirely.



Steamed Sea Cucumber in Abalone Reduction

The sea cucumber was soft almost to the point of being jelly like. Not exactly my cup of tea.



Deep Fried Vegetarian Taro

Decent without coming across as too oily though it was very well deep fried to a crisp. The presence of vegetables within provided an extra crunch amidst the smoothness of the taro.



Steamed Pork Dumplings

Thankfully, the siew mai had a significantly larger proportion of lean to fatty meat, which cut down on the nausea quite a bit. The presence of prawn paste in it upped the taste factor but overall texture seemed a little on the soft side.




Chilled Mango Pudding served with Cream of Mango Sago

Aesthetically pleasing, the mango pudding came served with Nata De Coco. Decent and a nice sweet conclusion to the oily dim sum session. If mango pudding isn't to your liking, there is the option of Hashima for dessert as well.



Bill

Being a promotion, the 2 of us paid a mere $38 nett ($76 before discount) for our lunch, which is a steal considering the stellar ambience, decent service and reasonable quality of food. Sure, some items are forgettable but the value for money proposition is undeniable.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:8.5/10
Service:7/10
Food:7/10
Value for money:7.5/10

Overall:7.5/10

Address: 37th Floor, Pan Pacific Hotel

Contact: 68268338

Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday: 12.00pm to 2.30pm & 6.30pm to 10.00pm

Saturday & Sunday: 11.30am to 2.00pm (Brunch) & 6.30pm to 10.00pm

Website: http://www.panpacific.com/en/singapore/restaurants_bars/Hai_Tien_Lo.html

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hatched



Finally! A place that sells all day breakfast and nothing else - a casual eatery by the name of Hatched, which apparently is the brainchild of a former SAF scholar who probably decided that eggs and breakfast were his calling.



Interior & Menu

The eatery is housed in Evans Lodge, a rather dilapidated building along Evans Road that is home to a prata shop as well. The interior of the place is charmingly cozy, with bright sunlight frittering through the side windows. Capacity probably peaks at about 30 people or less, making reservations a must, especially on weekends. Special mention goes to the menu, which is extremely colourful and cute but probably caters more to the ladies then guys.



Dippy Eggs and Soldiers

Cutesy names and aesthetically pleasing food presentation aside, this dish didn't wow one bit. The dipping bread sticks looked tantalising but had a funny mildly rancid taste while the soft boil eggs didn't taste anything out of the ordinary (Read. Your local coffeeshop standard). A pity there wasn't enough Parmesan cheese or limp bacon bits to go around.



Burly Benedict

This was a double portion and it sure wasn't big. The eggs were nicely poached but the muffin wasn't spongy enough for my liking and was overly greasy. However, the major disappointment came in the form of the corned wagyu beef, which was a little rubbery and tasted very processed. It didn't help that the salt content was excessively high as well.



Croque Madam

The Ciabatta bread was rock hard and I mean it literally. I had to muster up quite a bit of strength in order to cut through it with my knife. Seriously, hurling it at someone could have caused a minor concussion. The grilled kurobuta ham tasted no different from ordinary ham which makes it a waste of good pork. The side of mashed potato could have done with a little butter but at least the mushroom drizzle was decent.



Papillote

I thought that the smoked salmon was a tad too salty for my liking, masking the taste of the scrambled eggs. A very normal dish to say the least. I don't even know why we paid $12 for it. Well, at least the tomato was nice.



Bill

Ever had the feeling of being full but not the least bit satisfied? Well that was what we felt after our $58 brunch for 3. I like the vibe and decor of the place (save for the less then ideal car park lots) and I like the culinary concept. However, food quality treads in the average zone and the long waiting time for the food doesn't exactly help things. Lets hope, for Hatched's sake, that they buck up because I hate to see such a concept go to waste.



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

Overall:6.5/10

Address: #01-06 Evans Lodge, 26 Evans Road

Contact: 6735 0012

Opening Hours:

Sun-Thu: 8am - 10pm

Fri-Sat: 8am - 12am

(Closed on Mon)

Website: http://www.hatched.sg/

On a more positive note, we had desserts at Cedele, which provided the satisfaction that we sought. Ironical eh?




Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ministry of Steak



A new steak house has set up shop around my neighbourhood recently in an attempt to loosen Aston's stranglehold on the steak market for low to mid tier pricing steaks. Named Ministry of Steak (MOS), the name sounds like a rip off of the now defunct Ministry of Sound (also MOS for short) in Singapore.



The Place

Tucked away along the row of shophouses at Serangoon Gardens where the new NTUC is and just a stones throw away from Astons, MOS suffers from low visibility as the entire row of shops face away from the central bus stop. This particular unit has changed hands quite a few times due to low human traffic so it remains to be seen if MOS can thrive in such an obscure location.



Mushroom Soup

You have the option of adding $3 and getting a calamansi drink + a soup, which happened to be mushroom soup. The soup was rather watered down but at least it was decently creamy and had bits of mushroom in it. Not too bad for the price.



Pork Chops

With a name like Ministry of Steak, pork chops probably aren't their forte but this dish didn't turn out half as bad as I expected it to be. Sure, the meat was a little too chewy in certain areas and the garlic sauce a little too runny, but portions were generous and it beats eating tough pork chops served at some places.



Prime Sirloin

Cheapo me chose the cheapest steak on the menu - the prime sirloin. I must say that I was quite impressed by the handling and preparation of the meat. Beautifully grilled to medium rare as per my request and harbouring a moderate hint of salt, the steak was succulent and boasted natural beefy sweetness. You get 2 sides with every main course and my coleslaw and fries tasted decently fresh. Nothing to holler about though.



Black Pepper Steak

This was essentially the same cut as the prime sirloin, except that it came with black pepper instead of garlic sauce. And if it looks darker, yes it is, due to the fact that it was done medium well. A little drier and tougher, but still good for those who can't stand really stand the sight of blood.



Bill

The emergence of MOS in the area is sure to give Astons a terrific run for its money, given its quality and competitive pricing (3 of us spent $35). Throw in air conditioning and decent service and I know where I'll be satisfying my steak cravings again. This time I might just be tempted to try out the grade 5 wagyu for $30.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:6.5/10
Service:7/10
Food:7/10 (7.5/10 for the steaks)
Value for money:7/10

Overall:6.875/10

Address: 4 Maju Ave

Contact: 6280 1633

Opening Hours: Daily: 11am - 10pm

EDIT as of 7th Feb 2010: I have received notification that the owner has left MOS and has set up his own steak joint elsewhere.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Singapura Restaurant



My family chanced upon Singapura Restaurant one evening and was so taken by its nostalgic appeal that we stepped in for dinner. An old school Foochow eatery, Singapura Restaurant has been around since the early 90s and apparently, attracted quite a sizable following in more then a decade of operations.




Interior & Menu

Located just below a block of HDB flats along Selegie Road, Singapura Restaurant is highly visible if you happen to travel down that stretch of road towards Little India. Otherwise, you probably wouldn't know of its existence. The layout of the place is kept simple and cozy, with no emphasis on providing any visual simulation to the consumer. The steel chairs with red paddings/cushions are (at least to me) a classic characteristic of restaurants from yesteryear.



Braised Tofu

I can't say that the braised tofu was fantastic, coming across as your average decent cze char stall standard but with a relatively generous serving. The gravy wasn't too starchy and I liked the mushrooms and sweet peas that came alongside.



Honey Pork Ribs

Touted as one of their "must try" dishes, the ribs were wedged between good and decent. Crisp along the edges with relatively tender meat that didn't scream tenderizer. But the honey was a overly sweet and the ribs had quite little meat honestly, which at $15 for 5 pieces, wasn't exactly my idea of value for money.



Special Prawn Rolls

Now this dish was interesting. Apart from being another one of the recommended dishes, the prawn rolls differ quite significantly from the usual ones that most places sell. Instead of minced pork or prawn paste, it's whole prawns compressed into a cylindrical shape and wrapped around with a thin deep fried skin, which apparently is pig's caul. The prawns were very crunchy, almost to the extent of being hard, probably due to soaking in a sodium bicarbonate solution for too long. Personally I found the whole dish a little too fishy for my liking but the sweet sauce did help to mask the taste.



Bill

$50 for 3 pax isn't exactly expensive but the food isn't fantastic in my humble opinion. It might be the dishes we ordered. Service was quite good but then again, we were the only customers there that evening. Still I would give them the benefit of the doubt.



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

Overall:6.625/10

Address: #01-31 Selegie House, Blk 9 Selegie Road

Contact: 6336 3255

Opening Hours: Daily: 11am - 2.30pm, 6pm - 10.30pm

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mortons - In a different light





Interior



Onion Loaf



Mashed Potato



Chicken Christopher



Single Cut Fillet Mignon



Raspberry Souffle



Bill



Final Verdict:
Ambience:7/10
Service:8/10
Food:8.5/10
Value for money:6.5/10

Overall:7.5/10

Address: Oriental Hotel 4th Floor

Contact: 6339 3740

Opening Hours:

Mon-Sat: 5.30pm - 11 pm

Sun: 5pm - 10pm

Website: http://www.mortons.com/