Thursday, May 28, 2015

味蜀吾老火锅, Lijiang China - A Pictorial

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We tried 味蜀吾老火锅 on the recommendation of our guide, Kewen, from Lijiang Insiders (the sidecar was a blast!) and it proved to be a pretty decent eat. I would skip the namesake fried pork though; too much flour and tasteless.


Final Verdict:

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

Overall: 6.5/10

Address: 古城区 五一街文治巷73号

Contact: 0888-5357000;0888-5150899

Opening Hours: 11am to 11pm daily

Website: http://weibo.com/wswljd

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Wildfire Kitchen + Bar - Brunch & Burgers - A Challenger To The Burger Crown?

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We dropped by Wildfire Kitchen for brunch one Saturday morning, in search of their highly raved about burgers. But alas, burgers weren't available till 12pm so we had to order off the breakfast menu.

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Taking over the spot vacated by Hatched along the leafy stretch of Evans Road (just across the road from MOE), Wildfire Kitchen spots a cafe like amostphere with cement screed floors, metallic chairs, overhanging exposed tungsten light bulbs, free seating and a "pay and collect your food at the counter" ordering process.
 
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Hot Chocolate

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Swiss Rösti

The rösti was deliciously crisp on the outside without coming across as overly charred whilst the scrambled eggs had a nice creaminess (a little less milk would be much appreciated though) to it. Best eaten with the chewy, mildly charred sourdough bread and the firm, savoury Toulouse pork sausage. Only gripe I had was that the salt content in the rösti seemed to be unevenly distributed; some parts were saltier than the others. Nonetheless, a pretty nice dish overall.

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Wildfire Breakfast

Wildfire's namesake breakfast aka the big breakfast. Fresh tasting hash browns (no recycled oil taste), savoury Toulouse sausage, mushrooms, a choice of egg (I chose poached), crisp bacon, greens and toast. The eggs were mostly runny (a tad overcooked as a tiny part of the yolk had already  hardened) and went well with the sourdough. Pretty decent as well.

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Bill

Brunch for the both of us cost a relatively reasonable $52. Quality of food was a notch above average and I like that there's no service charge imposed. Do note that its cash or nets only so don't be caught unprepared like yours truly.

And I went back during lunch one weekday to specially try out their burgers.

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The Works

This had everything thrown in (120 day grain fed beef patty, baby spinach, bacon, rösti, Parmesan crisp, onion rings, fried egg, tomatoes, beer caramelised onions, guacamole and signature sauce) and was it a feast for the eyes; the sheer monstrosity of all the ingredients stacked up layer by layer and culminating in a beautifully (but partially) glazed bun. Unfortunately it wasn't quite as good as it looked. By virtue of the many ingredients, there were too many competing flavours in every mouthful and it was difficult to have all the flavours gel together. Sometimes less really is more. That aside, the patty (done to a requested medium) was a little too mushy for my liking and the buns could do with a little more time on the griddle to achieve a nice crisp. Still a decent burger nonetheless but it definitely won't be near the top of my list that's for sure. Maybe their basic or specialty burgers might fare better.

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Bill

And of course the bill. I'll probably return just to have another burger before coming to a conclusion. But for now, I still very much prefer Suprette.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 6.5/10
Service: NA
Food: 7/10
Value for money: 6.5/10
Overall: 6.67/10

Address: #01-06, 26 Evans Road

Contact: 6734 2080

Opening Hours: 11am to 1030pm daily

Website: http://wildfire.com.sg/

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bai Yun (白云) Restaurant, Lijiang China - Dining In Tranquility

We were in Lijiang (丽江) for the holidays and stayed at the beautiful Banyan Tree Lijiang. Feeling lazy and daunted by the 15min walk in the cold to 束河古镇 (Shuhe Ancient Town), we decided to do dinner at  Banyan Tree's Chinese restaurant, Baiyun (白云).

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The Place & Menu

The restaurant is pretty much like a glasshouse. Floor to ceiling glass panels throughout allow a view of the green foliage on one side and a pool of water with trees growing out of concrete structures on the other. When night falls, the pool is illuminated with spotlights and a powerful flame torch. And by virtue of the design of the restaurant, every table is guaranteed a view. Probably one of the simplest yet most charming Chinese restaurant I've come across to date.

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Appetiser

My tolerance for chilli is pretty low so I gave this a miss. I understand from the wife that it packs quite a spicy kick though. 

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Stewed Yak Shank

This was the first time I had eaten yak (牦牛) and it apparently belongs to the same family as the cow. Thinly sliced and jellied (very much like 猪脚冻), the shank was served mildly chilled and had a rather strong bovine taste (quite similar to beef honestly) coupled with a pleasant saltiness from the jellied gravy. Served with a sesame, peanut sauce for a creamy dimension. Pretty good!

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Braised Local Beancurd

The texture of the Naxi beancurd leaned more towards tau pok (豆干) and that meant a much rougher texture and less moisture as compared to the silky smooth ones I usually prefer. But I still found this dish quite enjoyable due to the richly thick and savoury gravy, which was undoubtedly the key to the enjoyability of this dish.

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Wild Honey BBQ Pork

A little fat and moisture would have been much appreciated for the BBQ pork, which came across as dry and mildly sweet from the drizzled honey sauce.

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Fried Vegetable

I don't know why this showed up on the bill as fried vegetable but the broccoli with superior stock was nicely cooked without the vegetable coming across as too hard or soft. Coupled with a robust superior stock (上汤), it made for a rather pleasing greens dish.

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Over The Bridge Local Black Fish

Black carp is apparently one of the most expensive and scarce domestic fish in China (which explains the relatively high price point vis a vis the quantity). Thinly sliced and served in a tasty chicken stock and watercress broth with black fungus, the flesh was firm and sweet without the muddiness. Pretty nice.

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Cantonese Fried Rice

Our prerequisite carbohydrate dish, rice. On hindsight, we probably should have just gone with plain steamed rice as the Cantonese Fried Rice lacked wok hei and flavour. At least it wasn't oily.

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Bill

A relaxing dinner for two cost us to the tune of CNY 435 (~ SGD 95), which is quite pricey given that the living standards in Lijiang aren't exactly high. But it's a Banyan Tree after all and the nearest eatery is at least a 15 minute walk away so I guess you pay more for the convenience and the hygiene (hopefully!). Generally speaking, food quality hovered a whisker above the average mark and service was quite decent.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 9/10
Service: 7/10
Food: 6/10
Value for money: 6/10

Overall: 7/10

Address: 云南省丽江市古城区束河古镇悦榕路1号

Contact: +86 888 533 1111

Opening Hours: 6.00pm to 10.30pm daily

Website: http://www.banyantree.com/en/cn-china-lijiang/bai-yun-restaurant

ps: We enjoyed our time @ the Banyan Tree Lijiang. Just to share a few photos of the place and our interesting in room dining experience!


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Looking inwards from the entrance of the hotel

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In villa BBQ dining

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hatter Street Bakehouse & Cafe - Desserts In The Neighbourhood

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We often drove/walked past Hatter Street Bakehouse & Cafe and the place used to be rather quiet until it got featured in a few publications as well as The Straits Times. Intrigued by the hype, we popped by one weekend afternoon for a dessert fix. And even at about 3pm, the place was still pretty full (it's actually pretty small and cramp) but we were lucky to snag two counter seats facing the pedestrian walkway.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Tart ($6)

I love a good chocolate hazelnut tart and this was actually pretty good; Chilled, smooth richly yet not too sweet chocolate encased within a crumbly tart shell and topped with a hazelnut. Only gripe I had was that the shell was a tad too moist and could do with a little more stiffness.

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Waffle With Pandan Ice Cream & Gula Melaka Sauce ($9.80)

This was a rather unique combination and it piqued our interest quite a fair bit. Crisp waffle (I found it a tad too hard for my liking though) coupled with a scoop of smooth, mildly flavoured pandan ice cream and drizzled over with a distinctive yet not cloyingly sweet gula melaka (palm sugar) sauce. Pleasantly nice local twist to a western dessert I must say.

Will I be back? Most probably, since I don't stay too far off. However Ciel Patisserie might still be my top choice for desserts in the same area as it's cheaper, has less crowds (although seating is even more limited) and quality as a whole is rather similar. Only downside is that they don't do waffles.

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 6/10
Service: NA
Food: 7/10
Value for money: 7/10

Overall: 6.67/10

Address: Block 212 Hougang Street 21 #01-333

Contact: 6431 6156

Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 1PM - 10PM

Website: http://www.hatterstreet.com/

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Summer Palace - A Restaurant Week Lunch

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It was restaurant week again and we decided to do Chinese for once. Since neither of us had ever been to Summer Palace, we decided to give their lunch a shot. 

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Interior

Located on the third floor of Regent Singapore, just a level above Basilico, Summer Palace houses a rather traditional Chinese interior complete with wooden chairs, golden pillars and a floor of red trim carpeting. We were lucky to be seated by the window (3 such tables available) but there was honestly no view to speak of except for the pool below and the hotel guests sunbathing by it. Still, I appreciated the serenity of the whole place. 

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Menu & Longjing Tea (龙井茶)

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Chef's Dim Sum Selection

Deep Fried Prawn Roll with Mango - I liked the crisp, deep fried rice noodles that encapsulated bits of crunchy prawn but unfortunately, the taste of mango was almost non existent. What was interesting was that the mayonnaise that came served alongside actually had hints of mango in it. Or was I imagining things?

Barbecued Pork Bun with Pine Nuts - Boasting a crusty, not too sweet top and a generous filling of sweet, mildly gooey BBQ pork, the bun was actually pretty respectable. However, unlike my personal favourite from Lung King Heen, the sweetness from the BBQ pork actually overwhelmed the nutty taste of the pine nuts and the bun itself wasn't as soft or chewy.

Steamed Prawn Dumpling with Bird's Nest -This was your typical 虾角 with a mere aesthetic upgrade aka tasteless shreds of birds nest. Throw in a relatively limp dumpling skin and you have an average prawn dumpling.

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Double Boiled Ginseng with Fish Maw, Conpoy and Bamboo Piths

Although I'm personally not a fan of ginseng, this soup was quite good in my humble opinion. Tasty yet light with the mild taste of ginseng helping to keep the nausea at bay and the spongy fish maw coming across as crunchy.

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Stir Fried Fish Cubes with Asparagus in Teriyaki Sauce

Flaky and smooth flesh coupled with a light sweetness from the teriyaki sauce and a mild savouriness from the stir fried garlic and ginger. Pretty good. Only issue I had was that the sweetness of the teriyaki dominated the natural sweetness of the cod fish, which I personally am quite a fan of.

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Fried Glass Vermicelli with Crabmeat and Black Pepper

A tad chewy with an abundance of wok hei, crab meat shreds and black pepper for that mildly peppery kick, the glass vermicelli was pretty decent. And the beansprouts added a nice crunchiness to it.

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Combination of Desserts

Osmanthus Jelly with Wolfberries - Nice and sweet with the wolfberries tasting very similar to raisins.

Mango Sago -  Chilled and a tad runny but thankfully, not too sweet. Not as refreshing as I expected and could probably do with a little tartness and a little more time in the fridge.

Lemongrass Jelly - I absolutely dislike lemongrass but this turned out surprisingly acceptable. The lemongrass taste was rather faint and it tasted like your regular ice jelly dessert with crunchy bits of aloe vera. Very decent.

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Bill

And so concluded our lunch, with two restaurant week lunch sets and a pot of 龙井 hitting the century mark. Pretty satisfactory lunch but I personally don't deem it wow enough for a return visit, not when the normal ala carte prices seem a tad steep for the quality of food. Service was excellent though; warm yet unintrusive.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7/10
Service: 7.5/10
Food: 7/10
Value for money: 6.5/10 (based on the restaurant week lunch menu)

Overall: 7/10

Address: Level 3, The Regent Singapore

Contact: 6725 3288 / 6725 3289

Opening Hours

Lunch: 12 noon - 2:30pm (Mon - Sat); 11:30am - 2:30pm (Sun)

Dinner: 6:30pm - 10:30pm

Website: http://www.regenthotels.com/EN/Singapore/Cuisine/Summer-Palace

Friday, May 08, 2015

Suprette - Awesome Burger In A Heritage Hotel

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I was in search of a good burger, having been recently disappointed by W39's over-hyped rendition and word on the street was that Suprette served up one of the best burgers in Singapore in current times. Since it wasn't too far from our place, the wife and I decided to drop by one Sunday morning for brunch (yay to free parking at the public carpark).

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The Place & Interior

Suprette is actually housed in the heritage Kam Leng Hotel (first established in 1927 and later extensively refurbished and reopened in 2012), along the busy and sometimes chaotic Jalan Besar Road. The simply furnished eatery is quite small and can probably take up to about 30 customers in one sitting. As it is located on the ground floor, all the views you get are of cars and passers-by (relatively rare). But the place is cosy in it's own right, exuding an unhurried, small world charm amidst the hustle of the passing traffic. However, having said that, pray for quiet patrons. During our visit, there was a relatively loud table who held us hostage with their gossips and that marred our experience quite a fair bit.

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Pasta Of The Day

Pasta of the day happened to be Carbonara so went for it. In a "tribute" to the local dining scene, the spaghetti is served on a water resistant brown foil (like those you would get at nasi lemak or economic beehoon stalls) placed in a old school tin plate. Or maybe they just wanted to save cost and do away with the fancy tableware. Anyways, the spaghetti was a little overcooked while the cream sauce came across as a tad runny. Throw in generous handful of porky, fat laden bacon bits and you end up with a rather uninspiring rendition of this Italian classic. I reckon I could get something similar at a random western food stall in Singapore, at a fraction of the cost.

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Suprette Burger

The sole reason why we were here; Suprette's eponymous burger, with an additional topping of bacon and mushrooms ($3 apiece). Soft buns slathered with butter and toasted on the griddle till crisp and golden brown on the surface, sandwiching a juicy, beefy patty with bits of fat for that extra chewiness and topped with a layer of gruyere cheese which imbued it with a faintly sweet, nutty taste.The additional topping of mushrooms was worth it, adding an earthy perspective to the mix but the bacon did come across as a tad too crisp, dry and lacking in salt. Overall still a good burger and one of the best I've had in a while (last one was at Minetta Tavern in New York).

There is only 1 dessert available daily and we didn't fancy what was on offer that day (lemon meringue pie with vanilla ice cream) so we skipped it.

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Bill

At $20++ for a basic burger with fries, it is honestly a little on the pricey side but I reckon it's well worth the dough. Service was decent and I'll be happy to return just for the burger (and the nostalgia from the hotel), minus the bacon strips of course.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Food: 6.5/10 (8.5/10 for the burger)
Value for money: 6.5/10

Overall: 6.75/10

Address: 383 Jalan Besar

Contact: 6298 8962

Opening Hours:

Breakfast and Lunch
Mon - Fri 7:30am - 3:00pm
Sat - Sun 7:30am - 4:00pm

Dinner and Drinks
Sun - Thu 6:00pm - 10:30pm (Closed on Tuesday Evening)
Fri - Sat 6:00pm till Midnight

Website: http://www.suprette.com/

ps: I went back again yesterday for the burger and it was still as good! Photo from my instagram.


Sunday, May 03, 2015

W39 Bistro & Bakery - Plenty Of Fluff, Very Little Substance

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I had read about W39's awesome burger in the various (un)conventional media outlets and eagerly made my way down with my colleagues one weekday afternoon to partake in the consumption of one of my favourite dishes.

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The Place & Menu

Nestled within the quiet private estate stretch of Jalan Mas Puteh and playing neighbour to KFC, W39 stands out with its cosy yet rather quirky interior with a nostalgic nod to yesteryear. Think bare floors, brightly coloured chairs, and knick knacks from my childhood (okay I'm old).

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Wagyu Burger

The main reason why I was here, the much raved about wagyu burger. I should had known better. For starters, it was relatively tiny (think McD's new Small Big Mac size but without the middle slice of muffin) and the bun was dry and insipid though crisp in some parts. Instead of medium rare as per my request, the patty came medium well but looked like it had hemorrhaged just before service (check out the amount of blood soaked up by the bun). Taste wise, it was rather similar to McD's Quarter Pounder patty, albeit coming across as slightly thicker. And the cheese atop tasted almost non existent. In my humble opinion, this burger doesn't even meet the mark for a normal, non fast food beef burger, much less a wagyu beef burger. How it is so highly raved about honestly confounds me.

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Mister Chocolate 

Apparently the best selling dessert at W39 (according to a placard in the display fridge), the Mister Chocolate did manage to provide a wee bit of redemption after the less than satisfactory burger experience. Smooth and rich chocolate fudge covering and flowing through the moist sponge whose texture was strangely similar to huat kueh (Chinese steamed cake). Top up $2 for a scoop of average quality vanilla ice cream. Overall still a decent dessert.

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Rainbow Cake

As vibrant and appetising as the rainbow cake looked, it was actually pretty bad. The buttercream was stodgy and eating it was akin to chomping straight down into a cube of butter. Dry sponge layers definitely didn't help one bit. It was so bad that there was quite a bit left over.

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Bill

Lunch for the 3 of us cost almost $87, which was pricey considering the quality of food. Service was alright but it will take more than service and a cosy ambience to get me to return.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7/10
Service: 6.5/10
Food: 6/10
Value for money: 5.5/10
Overall: 6.25/10

Address: 39 Jalan Mas Puteh

Contact: 96465372

Opening Hours:


Tue - Fri: 11:00 - 22:00

Sat, Sun &: 09:00 - 22:30

Closed on Mon (except on PH)

Website: http://www.w39bistro.com/