Sunday, May 25, 2014

Chock Full Of Beans

We were craving for something different on a lazy Sunday morning and made the trek far east to Changi Village for brunch at Chock Full Of Beans or CFOB for short.

 photo 20140302_111309_zpsa08aec48.jpg

The Place

As the name suggests, CFOB specializes in coffee; a drink which I seldom partake in and have absolutely zero knowledge on save for the fleeting knowledge that it exists. Tucked away in a corner shophouse along Changi Village Road, the place is packed on a late Sunday morning and you can choose to wait in line for a table or leave your contact number (the preferred option).

 photo IMG_6792_zps40b83e0c.jpg

Omelette With 3 Fillings

We chose salmon, cheese and mushrooms for the fillings and the omelette came served with 2 thick slices of homemade toast and a toss of greens. Ingredients were a little sparse and the egg wasn't creamy enough but at such a price point ($12), I really can't complain.

 photo IMG_6797_zps2e43bfdc.jpg

Eggs Benedict

The Eggs Benedict sported a generous serving of ham but minimally runny yolks on a slice of hard toast and topped with a rather liquid hollandaise sauce. Average.

 photo IMG_6795_zpsefe8d564.jpg

Buttermilk Waffles With Caramelized Bananas

Burnt at the bottom and a tad too stodgy, the buttermilk waffles were rather bland and came with whipped cream instead of the usual maple syrup. Topped with sweet bananas that could do with a little more grilling for extra caramelization. Average.

 photo IMG_6801_zpsfd467db4.jpg

Iced Hazelnut Latte

As mentioned earlier, I know nothing about coffee but I did like the hazelnut latte, which was pretty soothing with a hazelnut tinge. But the main draw is definitely the cute 3D art, which is never quite the same even on the same day (ie. blue ribbon vs red ribbon). And at $6.50 a pop, it was worth the money and the wait, considering the effort and skills required.

 photo 20140302_111216_zps9af25aaa.jpg

Bill

Brunch set the both of us back by almost 40 bucks, which was relatively reasonable considering the quantity of food (quality was average) and of course the beautiful latte art. I understand that GST has since been incorporated so prices would have gone up a little but I'll probably be back just for the coffee and maybe to try the desserts.


Final Verdict:
Ambience: 6.5/10 (typical cafe with lots of al fresco sitting)
Service: 6.5/10
Food: 6/10
Value for money: 7/10

Overall: 6.5/10

Address: Blk 4 Changi village road #01-2090

Contact: 6214 8839

Opening Hours:

Tue - Fri: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm

Sat - Sun: 9:00 am - 10:00 pm

Website: https://www.facebook.com/cfob.changi

Friday, May 16, 2014

Cherry Garden Part IV

It was meant to be a catch up dinner and although my last experience at Cherry Garden was forgettable (due to the less than ideal quality and quantity of food), I decided to give the restaurant yet another chance. 

 photo IMG_6654_zpsa79a94ca.jpg

Interior

I was still very much taken by the classic oriental decor with the dark wooden beams, red lanterns and pavilion like dining corners. Definitely a great place for a quiet and romantic date (that's if your date is into oriental fixtures).

 photo IMG_6614_zps6829ecdb.jpg

Peking Duck

The 4 of us started off with a side order of half a peking duck; Carved table side with both skin and flesh intact and wrapped in a relatively thin and toasted crepe.Although not exactly the "traditional" way to enjoy peking duck (which usually places emphasis on the skin), I enjoyed it quite a bit thought the skin could have been a little more crisp. Great start!

 photo IMG_6620_zps9ee3d4c7.jpg

Cherry Garden's Hot & Cold Sampler

We swopped the braised beef in the hot sampler in favour of roasted pork due to religious constraints on the part of my dining partners. Though crackling crisp to a fault, the roasted pork was a tad too salty and porky for my liking. The other hot sampler was a scallop with salted egg yolk which I personally found to be average due to the sweetness of the scallop being overwhelmed by the egg yolk. I like salted egg yolk but I do think its a waste of such a huge scallop. 
Drunken Chicken in hua diao and rose dew chinese wine made up the cold sampler and as much as I don't fancy chilled chicken soaked in wine, this was pretty decent. Lightly chilled for a more crunchy texture, the chicken spotted a light alcohol aftertaste which went down pretty smoothly.

 photo IMG_6622_zps964bddb0.jpg

Superior Broth with Shrimps, Scallops, Crabmeat, Conpoy, Maitake Mushrooms & Vegetables

Flavourful yet light with a variety of fresh ingredients, the soup was good to the last drop!

 photo IMG_6629_zps782bdd7f.jpg

Braised Twelve Head Whole Abalone & Sea Cucumber with Premium Oyster Sauce

The twelve head abalone was good for 2 mouthfuls; Chewy and not overcooked. Served up with a piece of sea cucumber on a bed of vegetables. Nicely flavoured from the oyster sauce.  

 photo IMG_6631_zpsda613434.jpg

Wasabi-aioli Prawn with Salad of Duck Julienne & Jellyfish

Sporting a thin coat of flour smeared in wasabi, the prawns were deliciously crunchy without the wasabi taste coming on too strongly. The accompanying salad of duck and jellyfish was pretty nice as well; Firm slivers of duck coupled with the crunchiness of jellyfish.

 photo IMG_6635_zpsf0f3c3cc.jpg

Oven Baked Honey Marinated Cod Fillet with Black Pepper

First looks, the cod looked uncannily like a piece of salmon due to the reddish exterior. But it was cod alright, boasting a velvety and naturally sweet flesh accentuated only by the honey marinate and the mildly peppery and aromatic black pepper sauce. 

 photo IMG_6639_zps8d619642.jpg

Steamed Marinated Chicken & Wild Rice Dumpling

A smallish rectangular block of mildly sweet, semi sticky rice with a moist layer of chicken wedged between, topped with roe and served in a rich and rather thick, savoury gravy. Tasted very similar to delicious glutinous rice sans the oil. One word. Excellent. 

 photo IMG_6643_zps63c30fc6.jpg

Homemade Organic Black Bean Pudding with Japanese Sesame Ice Cream

In typical Cherry Garden style, our dessert came served atop a container of dry ice submerged in water to give off that mystical, smokey effect. Theatrics aside, the black bean pudding was nicely quivery and immersed in what looked and tasted like a pandan infused broth. Adding to the texture were tiny chocolate balls, which gave it a nice crunch whilst the sesame ice cream added a chilly yet distinctive sesame perspective. Definitely ended the meal on a high (and sweet) note.

 photo IMG_6658_zps548d5e57.jpg

Bill

4 set dinners and half a duck for 4 hungry diners. The total cost? A cool $553. Sure, that hardly qualifies as cheap in any sense but the food quality has improved significantly since my last visit and is on par with some of the best Chinese restaurants in Singapore in my humble opinion. Service was quite accommodating as well and all in all, it was a great dinner. Looking forward to a return visit soon!


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 9/10
Service: 8/10
Food: 8/10
Value for money: 7/10

Overall: 8/10

Address: The Oriental Singapore, 5 Raffles Avenue

Contact: 6885 3500

Opening Hours:

Lunch:

12pm-2:30pm

Brunch:

11am-1pm (1st seating)

130pm-330pm (2nd seating)

Dinner:

6:30pm-10:30pm

Website: http://www.mandarinoriental.com/singapore/fine-dining/cherry-garden/

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Norway - Other Eats

 photo 20131228_144059_zps70e1be98.jpg
 photo 20131227_222350_zps9842c76f.jpg

Food wasn't great on TG J from SIN-BKK-OSL-BKK-SIN. Service was decent but no great shakes. The flat bed on the 777-300s was great but the foot cubby was a little too narrow for my liking.

 photo 20131226_140807_zps0f1ee4f6.jpg
 photo 20131226_140907_zpsfcfa9057.jpg

Daim Ice Cream

We bought this at the domestic terminal of Oslo's Gardermoen airport on our way from Oslo to Tromsø. Interestingly, Daim originated from Norway and Sweden in 1953. The ice cream was pretty nice and tasted a lot like soft serve with a layer of hardened milk chocolate.

 photo 20131226_133650_zps415d521e.jpg

Baguettes from Upper Crust

This baguette chain serves up delicious baguettes with a variety of fillings. Better than Singapore's Delifrance baguettes in my humble opinion.  

 photo IMG_6494_zps5e29b848.jpg

Pizzas from Yonas Pizzerias Tromsø

It was Christmas and nothing was open, save for Yonas @ the nearby Radisson Blu hotel so we had to settle for that. The pizzas were decent and the atmosphere, cozy. The pizza crusts could have been a little more chewy though.

 photo IMG_6277_zps4e3c98a6.jpg
 photo IMG_6349_zps0161d090.jpg
 photo IMG_6354_zps656e848a.jpg
 photo IMG_6359_zps03b99a28.jpg
 photo IMG_6362_zpsa17208c8.jpg
 photo IMG_6366_zps9944e363.jpg

Grand Cafe

We had dinner at the famous Grand Cafe along the historic Karl Johan Street and I tried lutefisk (lyefish), a Scandinavian delicacy, for the first time. It's essentially dried codfish prepared with lye which renders the texture soft and gelatin like. I personally couldn't eat it straight out as it was way too fishy for me but when eaten with the bacon oil, potato and mashed peas, it became much more palatable (It had a very strong odour as well). Needless to say, I struggled very hard to finish even 1 serving of the fish and on a few occasions, I had the urge to regurgitate whatever I had just swallowed.
The Christmas platter on offer wasn't great either, with the roasted pork skin coming across as rock hard and the sausage a little too overwhelming on the cinnamon. 
And it wasn't cheap, at almost SGD 190 for 2 dishes and a tea.

 photo 20131221_160537_zps8f655232.jpg
 photo 20131221_190022_zps6331aaca.jpg

Caramalised Nuts

I got this from one of the Christmas markets around Oslo and it reminded me of the ones from Moorish Nuts in Fremantle, Australia. It was that good! But SGD 8+ for a small packet isn't really my idea of a cheap snack.

 photo 20131220_095452_zpse268e749.jpg
 photo 20131220_101938_zps02935750.jpg
 photo 20131226_204746_zpsb92a8836.jpg

Burgers from MacD and Burger King

The burgers taste much better than the ones in Singapore as they are freshly made when you order. The beef used tastes much better as well. Of courses prices are triple that of Singapore. The Fillet O Fish is about SGD 8 just for the burger alone.

 photo 20131221_095215_zps895f0984.jpg
 photo IMG_6333_zps45327951.jpg
 photo IMG_6331_zpsd14b9668.jpg
 photo IMG_6335_zpsbf7a57a0.jpg
 photo IMG_6367_zps63bc0dff.jpg

Breakfast

Baker Hansen is your typical bakery in Oslo and they are a dime a dozen; Very much like Old Chang Kee in Singapore. The variety is quite decent and so is the quality. Just stick to the breads though. The cakes tend to be a little dry. 2 sandwiches, a slice of cake and a bottle of fruit apple juice for SGD 55.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Fiskekompaniet, Tromsø - Definitely A Restaurant You Should Try

 photo IMG_6412_zps7164e3a3.jpg

Since we were in Oslo, we made plans to take a short flight to Tromsø to catch the famed northern lights. And just a 2 minute walk away from our wonderful hotel (Clarion Hotel With) was a seafood restaurant, Fiskekompaniet, that came highly recommended.

 photo IMG_6416_zpsc0147fd1.jpg
 photo IMG_6370_zpsc5573658.jpg

The Place

It was nearing Christmas and the snow laden pathway presented a beautiful sheet of white, with gentle snowflakes caressing our down filled jackets as the lights of the Arctic Cathedral shimmered across the lake in the darkness. And it was only 530pm.
The interior of the restaurant is decidedly modern, with full length windows offering a view of the neighbouring harbour and the boats docked nearby. Pretty cosy environment in my humble opinion.

 photo IMG_6373_zpse79f71b8.jpg

The Menu

The menu is kept simple and consists only of seafood, a singular meat dish and a couple of desserts. 

 photo IMG_6375_zps152d06c8.jpg

Complimentary Bread

The complimentary bread basket came with a few slices of baguette and Christmas stollen, in celebration of the yuletide season. Palatable but no great shakes.

 photo IMG_6378_zps15cd665b.jpg
 photo IMG_6385_zpsa0ffc38e.jpg

Scallops

The parsley root soup with grilled scallops was quite good; Creamy without coming across as nauseating whilst the scallops had a nice grilled taste but did seem a wee bit too soft. Strips of crisp tapioca provided a nice crunch to break the monotony of the soup.

 photo IMG_6381_zps1c29fa21.jpg
 photo IMG_6384_zpsbdd1edba.jpg

Lobster Cream Soup

First impression was that the soup was a little runny but surprisingly the robust crustacean flavours were left intact. What was interesting was the pickled cauliflower, which provided a nice counterpoint to the saltiness of the soup with its mildly sweet, vinegarish tones. Adding to that was a nice crunch from the rye bread crumbs. Delicious!

 photo IMG_6391_zps2f100fab.jpg

Seafood Casserole

Extremely fresh and tasty Norwegian king crab, lobster, mussels, shrimp and halibut all in one bowl. The gravy was reminiscent of the lobster cream soup, just a tad milder with a tomato undertone. Talk about a scrumptious meal.

 photo IMG_6392_zps0099744d.jpg

Halibut

The pan fried halibut was nothing short of excellent in my humble opinion. Flaky, smooth flesh coupled with a nicely salted, crisp exterior and served up in a delicious white wine sauce with a hint of lemon to help cut through the salt. Did I mention that the fish was very fresh as well? Although I'm not a exactly a fish person, I would gladly have seconds and maybe even thirds!

 photo IMG_6402_zps3519e9bb.jpg

Crème Brûlée

I wasn't a great fan of the vanilla bean creme brulee, which came across as a little runny with the torched sugar layer a tad too thick. Can't fault the portion size though.

 photo IMG_6396_zps738827ae.jpg

Snickers

Now this was a rather interesting dessert. It was essentially brownie chunks with milk chocolate mousse, crushed peanuts, toffee sauce, coffee ice cream and sea salt (Is that the actual recipe for Snickers?). The overall concoction was akin to a smooth and not too rich Snickers bar with a nice salty sensation towards the end. A sinfully wonderful end to our dinner.

 photo IMG_6425_zps022a7540.jpg

Bill

Food quality in general was great (with the exception of the creme brulee) and dinner for the both of us clocked in at NOK 1190 (~ SGD 250), which is considered very reasonable by Norwegian standards. Service was excellent and very sincere (our waiter at least) and it was so impressive that we decided to leave a rather significant tip (even though tipping isn't practiced in Norway). If there's one restaurant that I'll be going back in Norway (specifically Tromsø), it's definitely Fiskekompaniet.


Final Verdict:
Ambience: 8/10 (great view of the quiet harbour and it helps that it's snowing)
Service: 9/10
Food: 8/10
Value for money: 8/10

Overall: 8.25/10

Address: Killengrens gate, 9007 Tromsø

Contact: +47 489 90 425

Opening Hours: Weekdays 4pm-11pm

Website: http://fiskekompani.no/?lang=en