Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hot Box Bistro

It seems that people nowadays are not content with just opening any western food stall at a neighbourhood, but one which purportedly offers high quality at a fraction of the price you would pay at a restaurant. Hot Box Bistro is one such upstart and has apparently generated a minor buzz in the foodies circle. And so I trudged down reluctantly one evening, not willing to uproot myself from the goggle box, only to pleasantly discover that the coffeeshop beamed live telecasts of the world cup as well.

Chicken Popcorn Bites

They were having a promotion for the chicken popcorn bites @ $2.90, which seemed too good to resist. Bearing a resemblance to deep fried soft shell crab because of the protruding bits of flour, the chicken bites were a little sweet yet salty - a direct correlation to mono sodium glutamate (MSG)? And where was the mustard mayonnaise sauce promised in the menu?

Paprika Chicken ($6.80)

A not so generous serving of thigh meat with a coating of melted cheese atop, the paprika chicken tasted rather mild and appetising, but the meat, though moist, could have been juicier. Nostalgia set in when I took a swipe at the fries. It reminded me of the simple fat laden fries I used to eat as a kid (fries nowadays are still fat laden by the way). The coleslaw was terrible by the way, bland and lacking in crunch.

Carbonara ($6.50)

This classic Italian pasta's cream based sauce seemed a little overly runny but the penne was done almost al dente with a generous serving of bacon bits. Two problems here. First, I'm not sure if the cream based sauce is made in house, but it sure tastes canned. Second, the bacon bits didn't exactly taste very fresh. I could make out a slight taste of oil amidst the cream.

In conclusion, the food isn't fantastic, but certainly still palatable. Pricing wise is a wee bit steep for coffeeshop standards but service is great. By service I am referring to the taking of orders, the delivery of food to the table and the casual banter between the staff and the customers. As for me, I won't be in a hurry to return.

Final Verdict:
Value for money:6.5/10

Address: Blk 503 Jurong West ave 1 #01-855

Contact: 6560 3880

Opening Hours:

Mon: 11:30 am - 10:00 pm

Wed - Sun: 11:30 am - 10:00 pm


Thursday, June 24, 2010


The opportunity to visit 1TwentySix presented itself one humid weekday evening, in the guise of a voucher, courtesy of the management. I can't say that I've been eager to try out this sister outfit of One Rochester @ Rochester Park, not after the bad reviews I've heard about it so far.

The Place & Menu

Located along the inner fringe of Big Splash towards the sea, 1TwentySix boasts an al fresco sitting area that is rich in nature and certainly great for chilling out. The "air conditioned" interior is actually a small area with some form of feeble air conditioning. The problem is, the area isn't enclosed and there is no air curtain to stop the cool air from escaping. There is a huge glass partition but it is apparently only used in the afternoons. And yes, it did get a little too warm that evening.

Complimentary Bread

Crusty exterior with bits of wheat and corn amidst the soft and warm dough - good bread never fails to start a meal off on the right foot.

Tuna Nicoise in Two Styles, Seared Tuna Tataki and Tuna Confit with French Beans, Cherry Tomatoes and Soft Boiled Quails Eggs

The tuna tataki was good - well seared on the outside while retaining its smooth yet firm texture on the inside. A lingering smokey taste accompanied by a dash of saltiness. Can't really fault it.
The tuna confit, on the other hand, was lost amongst the salad, masked by a rather saline solution. I could still make out the tuna though, but barely.

Tartare of Scallop, Ocean Trout and Tuna Loin with Foie Gras Parfait and Caramelised Shallots

I had thought that the tartare of scallop, ocean trout and tuna loin would certainly be a very fishy combination, but I was wrong. It was actually nice and to a certain extent, refreshing, without coming across as overly raw. Topped with a raw egg.
Please let me qualify that even though I like foie gras, I am not a big fan of it done parfait (75% foie gras) or pate (50% foie gras) style simply because I like my liver whole. So the chilled, smooth foie gras parfait simply didn't appeal to me.

150 Day Grain Fed Beef Tenderloin with Roast Bone Marrow with Chilli and Shallots

Although 1TwentySix's menu seemingly focuses on produce from the sea, I took a gamble and went with the 150 day grain fed tenderloin. And I was suitably impressed. The tenderloin was nicely char grilled on the surface and done to a perfect medium rare. Add to the fact that the meat was tender and flavourful and you have a clear winner. One thing odd was the mushroom sauce, which had a strong mushroom taste but did seem a little overly sweet.
The side of fries were decent and didn't turn soggy when cold. What I thought was interesting was the broccolini, which was cooked with garlic and ginger - a very Chinese style of cooking, just way too oily.

Black Cod Fillet with Fennel, Blood Orange and Pistachio Salad served with Beaujolais Sauce

Fresh, firm yet flaky but outright bland. The fish wasn't sweet nor the sauce flavourful. All I could make out was a faint taste of fish and an initial sugar induced sweetness. Decent by any standards but could have been a lot better.

Frozen 'Deconstructed' Strawberry Shortcake with Home Churned Strawberry Ice Cream

A recommendation from our waitress, I didn't quite take to the strawberry shortcake at first due to the seemingly excessive strawberry ice cream. However, as I dug deeper, I could make out a mish mash of sponge and flaky pastry, making the dessert quite enjoyable after all. If only I had 2 stomachs.

Valrhona Dark & White Chocolate Fondant with Coconut Praline Ice Cream

Most chocolate fondants come in only the dark variant, but 1TwentySix's offering combines both white and dark chocolate. Rather gimmicky if you ask me, because its just white chocolate oozing out together with the dark chocolate when you crack open the surface. But something different nonetheless. Texture wise, the crust was a little soft but at least it wasn't gelatin like. Coupled with a rich viscous chocolate filling and a creamy coconut ice cream, this dessert held promise for a sweet ending.

Fine Apple and Frangipane Tart with Calvados Ice Cream

The tart had a thin, flaky and crisp base with a nice oven baked taste to it. The apple slices weren't overly tart and I could make out a tinge of sweetness from the frangipane (sweet almond filling). It probably helped that the tart was sprinkled with icing sugar. The calvados (French apple brandy) ice cream didn't really make an impact though. Easily forgettable.


I would have had a wonderful meal if not for the less than cool dining environment. And the price for such an indulgence? Approximately $202 (before the use of discount voucher). Expensive? Arguably yes. But with very few other "fine dining" options in the east, 1TwentySix could probably be a consideration for your next special occasion or celebration.

Final Verdict:
Ambience:7.5/10 (-0.5 for the lack of aircon)
Value for money:6/10

Address: 902 East Coast Parkway, #01-26, Playground @ Big Splash

Contact: 6348 2126

Opening Hours:

A la Carte

Dinner: 6:30pm - 11:00pm*
Monday – Sunday
*last orders at 10.30pm

Sunday Brunch
10.00am - 3:00pm*
*last orders at 2.30pm

Gastro Bar

06:00pm - 1:00am
(Sunday - Thursday)

06:00pm - 3:00am
(Friday, Saturday, Eve of Public Holiday)


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Liang Kee Teochew Restaurant

Liang Kee used to be housed in the now defunct Ellenborough market and known for its Teochew cuisine. After the death of its founder, 3 variants of the Liang Kee brand name have popped up, giving rise to the confusion as to which is the original and "authentic" outlet. If you are interested in reading more, see here.

Interior & Menu

We chose to patronise the newly opened outlet at Whampoa, which moved from Robertson Quay, because of practical reasons - it was the closest one to our area and we had walked past it on our previous visit to Ban Heng. The air conditioned interior has limited seating and reservations on a weekend are necessary, or you risk either sitting outside in Singapore's humid weather or a long wait for a table to free up.

Teochew Braised Duck

I am not sure if geese is still in shortage but we had to make do with duck. And what a huge duck it was, going by the breadth of the meat slices. I did think that the duck was a wee bit too dry but at least it had a mildly rough texture that made for better chewing. The gravy was fragrant which did help to enhance the flavour of the duck.

Stir Fried Kailan with Prawn

This dish had a nice wok hei tint to it and the addition of ti po (crispy fried sole fish) accentuated the taste and texture. To top it all, the prawns were fresh and crunchy, making for a simple yet enjoyable vegetable dish.

Prawn Rolls

Crisp on the outside, the prawn rolls were moist on the inside but a little overloaded on the fatty meat. And ironically, I couldn't quite make out any prawn taste even though it was called prawn roll. Palatable but could have been better.

Liang Kee Beancurd

It seems like every mom and pop stall is making their own beancurd nowadays and Liang Kee, being an established brand, is no exception. The beancurd wasn't silky and had a strong egg taste coupled with a sublime savouriness, which I personally like. But the deal clincher was the minced pork gravy with dried shrimp that almost engulfed the slabs of beancurd. Very nice!

Pumpkin Yam Paste

An all time favourite of mine, the orh nee was nothing short of wonderful in my humble opinion. Fragrant with the smell of yam and smooth without being too oily or sweet. A perfect balance of texture and taste, allowing Liang Kee to catapult into my list of favourite orh nee places.


For the quality of food, $74 for 3 pax for dinner leans towards the value for money category, especially if you factor in the amount of food we ordered. Service was a little spotty but at least the lady boss (I presume) was nice enough. With Ban Heng, Guan Hin and Liang Kee all located in one stretch, it will be interesting to see how the competition heats up.

Final Verdict:
Value for money:7/10

Address: 34 Whampoa West, #01-27

Contact: 6297 7789

Opening Hours: 11:00 am - 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wah Lok Part III

A certain maniacal yearning for dim sum saw me at Wah Lok on a busy Saturday morning, in an attempt to kill off the tiny voice in my head that screamed "dim sum" over and over again.



This was some sort of a sweet bean based appetiser. Tasted a little like sweet vegeterian mock meat. Interesting but not exactly my cup of tea.

Carrot Cake

Best eaten piping hot, the carrot cake was smooth with bits of pork and shrimp, but not sublime enough with the gravy being a tad too salty. A decent eat nonetheless.

BBQ Chee Cheong Fun

Silky semi translucent skin hiding a generous serving of BBQ pork and topped with chives, which gave it a nice contrast and helped cut through the nausea. Nice but best eaten warm/hot as well, lest the skin turns limp when cold.

Century Egg Porridge

I'm not a big fan of century egg so I shall reserve my comments save for the fact that the porridge was nicely textured with bits of grain evident.

Pork Dumpling

The siew mai hit the right notes with its low proportion of fatty meat as well as a generous serving of relatively fresh and crunchy prawns. Not too salty as well.

Prawn Dumpling

Another quintessential dim sum staple, the har gao had nice crunchy prawns enveloped in a thin, not too elastic skin.

BBQ Pork Bun

Wah Lok purportedly serves up one of the best BBQ Pork Bun aka Bo Lo Bao (波萝包) in Singapore and its easy to see why. A crusty semi sweet top coupled with a nice, almost oozing BBQ pork filling that wasn't cloyingly sweet - No complaints, really.

BBQ Pork Pastry

I thought that the char siew sou lacked the buttery goodness in its pastry, something which I personally prefer. But still a notch above most places with its flakiness and not too sweet BBQ pork filling that had nice chewy bits of fat.

Egg Tart

Flaky pastry with a nice, moderately sweet custard center. Came in a nice bite size as well. Only thing lacking was the butter, in my humble opinion.

Custard Pastry

The 美人腰 (pretty lady's waist) ended our dim sum session on a positive note with its flaky pastry coated with tons of icing sugar, belying a warm, smooth and mildly sweet custard filling within.


A satisfying dim sum lunch cost the both of us about $58, which is very reasonable considering the quality. Wah Lok has managed to maintain its consistency over the years and I am sure I'll be returning for many dim sum trips to come.

Final Verdict:
Value for money:7/10

Address: 2nd floor, Carlton Hotel

Contact: 63118188/9

Opening Hours:

Lunch 11:30 am - 2.30 pm (Mon - Sat); 11 am - 2:30 pm (Sun & PH)

Dinner 6:30 pm - 10:30 pm