Monday, October 09, 2017

Bird Bird - More Than Just Fried Chicken

Bird Bird moved to the east a couple of months back and I chanced upon it while dropping by Cedele (a few doors down) one afternoon a few months back. I was hooked and made it a point to visit shortly after. Just for the record, I have been there quite a few times for lunch/brunch ever since.

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The Place

Bird Bird occupies a corner unit along Frankel Avenue and parking is limited to the private estate behind (however you are free to park anywhere you like as long as you are able to evade the rather frequent patrols by the traffic wardens). The interior is kept simple with cement screed floors and wooden tables.

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Cornbread Waffles

At $3 a piece, the cornbread waffles were relatively pricey. But by golly, they were worth it. Mildly sweet with a rather significant corn taste and served with smoked maple syrup. Definitely my kind of carbs. Just watch out - they get cold and limp rather fast so eat them while they are hot/warm.

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Black Truffle Mac & Cheese

This was delicious; Al dente macaroni coupled with a light fragrance from the black truffle bits and a not too creamily rich sauce nursing a tinge of zest to keep nausea at bay. Topped with shavings of cheese and croutons for an extra crisp.

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Brown Sugar Bacon Chop

I loved this as well. The thick cut bacon chop was seared and coated with a thin, brittle layer of caramalised sugar; sweet with salty undertones. A little different from the renditions of both Peter Luger and Clinton Street Baking, which do without the evident layer of sugar but equally delicious.

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Signature Fried Chicken

Our order of half chicken consisted of 5 pcs from wing to breast. It looked absolutely mouth watering but unfortunately I found the seasoning a little underwhelming and not thorough enough. The meat was tender, juicy and moist but the skin was a little bland and lacked the oomph I was hoping for (in this respect, Southern Bird @ Marina Bay Sands does a better job). The signature gravy tasted like runny mashed potato gravy. Maybe the other chickens taste better?

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Durian Softie Pie

An absolute crowd pleaser, the toasted milk softie had a light browned taste to it without coming across as too sweet. Topped with a generous scoop of durian pudding, white chocolate, sitting on an almond crust base and drizzled with gula melaka caramel for an added sweetness. Delicious and definitely a great way to end off the meal. 

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Brunch cost the 2 of us ~ $81, which isn't exactly cheap but I think it's worth the price for the above average quality of food in general. Service is decent but just be aware that the ventilation isn't great so you will walk out of the place smelling like your meal. Weekday lunch sets offer a much better value proposition so it would make better sense to go during lunch (you can even top up $5++ for a durian softie!)

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Truffled Housemade Curly Fries

ps: The truffled housemade curly fries are really addictive; thin and crispy without all the oil (definitely a misperception).

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 6.5/10 (can get a little noisy and ventilation isn't great)
Service: 7/10
Food: 7.5/10 (8/10 for the durian softie)
Value for money: 7/10

Overall: 7/10

Address: 97 Frankel Avenue

Contact: 6694 8270

Opening Hours:

Tuesdays - Sundays
11.00am - 11.00pm | Last orders at 9.45pm
Closed Mondays


Monday, September 25, 2017

Riders Cafe - Nice Respite But Can Get A Little Warm

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We had been meaning to drop by Riders Cafe for the longest time but somehow never managed to get to it until one overcast Saturday morning when we decided to go off the beaten track.

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The Place

Located at the Bukit Timah Saddle Club in a charming colonial style building, Riders Cafe boasts great ventilation and views of a field and horses (sometimes - not to mention the smells too). Which is great if the weather is cooling (not too common in Singapore though) and you enjoy dining alfresco. The place is a constant buzz so reservations are advisable (I witnessed a few people being turned away without one).

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Fried Chicken BLT

The chicken patty was well marinated with spices and came across as mildly sweet but not too dry. Topped with coleslaw, rather weak kimchi mayonnaise and sandwiched between two rather insipid buns. Still palatable though.

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Riders Burger

I opted for the works; added mushrooms, bacon rashers and an egg. The Angus beef patty had bits of fat in it which made for a nice chewy texture. However the bovine flavours were a little muted and the bacon, a little limp. I liked the smooth creaminess the egg yolk provided though; a sort of gooey glue that brought everything together. Buns needed more butter and time on the grill in my humble opinion. Decent burger overall but no great shakes.

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Death By Chocolate Cake

This was very sinful and oh so good (I'm definitely biased). A luscious slice of moist chocolate cake slathered with mildly viscous chocolate sauce and served with a scoop of ice cream. Watch out for the sweetness overload though.

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Salted Caramel Brioche

Salted caramel brioche topped with a scoop of vanilla (not vanilla bean) ice cream and honeycomb. I liked the flavours; salty yet sweet. Unfortunately the brioche was rather inconsistent in texture - some were crisp while others came across as limp and stodgy. A bigger scoop of ice cream would also have been appreciated as towards the end, the brioche got a little too salty and there was no ice cream left to "dilute" it. Still a decent dessert nonetheless.

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Our bill came up to ~$74 for 2 burgers and 2 desserts which isn't too expensive but food quality in general hovered a notch above average at best and service, though proficient enough, didn't seem quite friendly. The place is nice but given Singapore's humid weather most of the time, ambience alone isn't a big enough draw for me to return.

Final Verdict:

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

Overall: 6.5/10

Address: 51 Fairways Drive

Contact: 6466 9819

Opening Hours:

Sunday – Thursday 8am – 9pm
Friday & Saturday 8am - 10pm
Closed on Monday


Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Pier, First (玉衡堂,頭等貴賓室), Hong Kong - A Brief Pictorial

I previously did a comparison between The Haven, a CX lounge in HKIA and SQ's The Private Room in Changi (with ANA's Suite Lounge on the sidelines) so thought I would do a pictorial on newly renovated The Pier @ HKIA.

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The Place

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The Dining Area & Food

It was an early flight out for us so everything was rather fuzzy for me. The food was decent as far as I can remember and service at the dining area was excellent. Personally prefer this lounge to that of The Haven.

Address: Level 6, Terminal 1, near Gate 63

Contact: Not available

Opening Hours: 0530hrs till 0030hrs

Monday, August 28, 2017

Lung King Heen (龍景軒) Part V, Hong Kong - Our Annual Visit

And so we decided to stick back with Lung King Heen, having skipped it on our previous Hong Kong trip in favour of the rather disappointing Sun Tung Lok. Having booked only ~ 1+ months prior, we ran the risk of not getting a table during our weekend in Hong Kong.

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The Place

But thankfully it all worked out and they prioritised us for a window seat (albeit in another section of the dining hall) when someone cancelled. Only pity was the rather foggy weather outlook but I guess that's common in the winter months. Still a great view nontheless.

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Crispy Spring Rolls with Lobster and Black Truffle (2 pcs)

This sounded really decadent (not to mention ridiculously expensive @ ~ SGD 62 for 2 pcs) and it was excellent. A crispy exterior belying generous lobster meat and grated aromatic black truffle. Only small gripe I had was that the spring roll did seem a wee bit overly deep fried.

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Abalone Puff

One of our must order items, the abalone puff sported a buttery base and a mildly chewy whole abalone (small one though) served on a bed of minced pork. Delicious.

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BBQ Pork Bun

And for our perennial favourite, the humble BBQ pork bun.Not too sweet BBQ pork filling with pine nuts for added crunch and a crusty, mildly sweet top. Still the best I've tried to date (and yes, it is better than the much vaunted ones from Tim Ho Wan).

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Braised Tofu with Morel Mushrooms and Vegetables

This dish was average at best; smooth but rather bland tofu coupled with overly starchy sauce (I could make out small globs of starch). Perhaps the kitchen was eager to close as it was already last order. Still not acceptable though.

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Lung King Heen Roast Chicken

Thankfully the namesake roast chicken made up for the prior disappointment. With an option to have it deboned (newly introduced and perfect for lazy people like us), the skin was crackling crisp while the meat, tender and juicy. Served with lightly salted lotus root chips and lime sauce for that shot of zest to help "neutralise" any misplaced notions of nausea.

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Lunch cost us to the tune of HKD 1329.90 (~ SGD 230 at time of writing) and it was money well spent (well, with the exception of the tofu). One bummer is that prices have been steadily heading north and they decided to do away with the petit fours.

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 7.5/10
Service: 7.5/10
Food: 8/10 (9/10 for the BBQ pork buns)
Value for money: 7/10

Overall: 7.5/10

Address: 4th Floor, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong

Contact: (852) 3196-8880

Opening Hours:

Sundays and public holidays
11:30 am – 3:00 pm

Monday to Saturday
12:00 noon – 2:30 pm

Daily 6:00 pm – 10:30 pm


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Lei Garden 利苑酒家 Part II, Hong Kong

Our previous visit to Lei Garden Mongkok (1 Michelin Star) was great so we decided to revisit during our recent trip.

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The Place

We didn't have a reservation and walked in when it opened for business. Thankfully tables were aplenty but people starting streaming in at about 7pm so I would recommend making a reservation if you intend to dine around that time.

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Double Boiled Soup (老火汤)

We started off with a hot favourite (literally!) - a deliciously light yet flavourful lotus root with pork and octopus double boiled soup. Definitely a great way to start off especially if you like soup.

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Honey Sauce BBQ Pork

Boasting a ~30% fat to meat ratio, the tender charsiew was coated in a layer of mildly sweet honey and had crispy charred bits along the edges; doused in a mildly salty sauce (unlike Singapore, which is usually sweet). Pretty good.

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Stir Fried Scallops with Yellow Fungus, Macadamia & Snow Pea (HKD 188)

I counted a total of 10 beautifully seared and relatively large scallops (a tad overly chewy though, especially the bigger ones), fried with macadamia nuts and sweet, crunchy snow peas. The wok hei was distinct but I found the fungus a tad too mushy for my liking. A good dish nonetheless.

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Claypot Rice (HKD 52/pax)

This was my first experience eating claypot rice in Hong Kong and it is quite different from what's served in Singapore (at least based on my limited experience). When the claypot is served, the waxed meat is separated and the dark sauce added in whereas in Singapore, everything is mixed in together with the dark sauce. The Lei Garden rendition also didn't have the burnt "taste" and came across as rather bland. I liked the waxed meat though; compact but not too dry or overly sweet.

I forgot to take a photo of the receipt and I don't quite remember how much it cost but all in all, it was a good meal (with the exception of the claypot rice) and the both of us rolled out of the place. Service was slightly warmer this time round and I'll definitely be back!

Final Verdict:
Ambience: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Food: 7/10
Value for money:NA (don't remember the cost)

Overall: 7/10

Address: 121 Sai Yee Street, Mongkok, Hong Kong

Contact: (852) 2392 5184

Opening Hours:

Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Dinner: 6:00 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Lan Fong Yuen (蘭芳園) Part II, Hong Kong - Middling Pork Chop Bun But Consistently Great French Toast

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And we were back at Lan Fong Yuen (LFY) about a year later for breakfast and of course the delicious French Toast.

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The Place & Menu

It was an early Saturday morning and there was quite a fair bit of space available (we didn't have to share tables this time round) and service was a lot more agreeable.

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Stocking Milk Tea (絲襪奶茶)

LFY is touted to be the creators of the ubiquitous Stocking Milk Tea or 絲襪奶茶; it came across as lightly bitter with a mild sweetness. Not a tea connoisseur but found it pretty decent though I would have liked it a wee bit sweeter.

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Pork Chop Bun (金牌豬扒包) - HKD34

The award winning pork chop bun. But I found it rather average; a relatively tough piece of pork chop sandwiched between 2 rather dry and thin burger buns. I honestly don't see the fuss.

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Nissin Noodles With Chicken Chop (皇牌雞扒出前一丁) - HKD36

They didn't have their famous 蔥油雞扒撈丁 available so early in the morning so we went for the instant noodles with chicken chop which was decent if you like Nissin with all the packet seasoning aka monosodiumglutamate. The chicken chop was crispy along the edges yet sufficiently juicy and savoury.

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French Toast (傳統咖央西多士) - HKD24

My absolute favourite french toast with a blob of butter in the middle. Mildly crisp on the outside with a delightfully soft and fluffy center filled with kaya; all without the greasiness that I would usually associate with deep frying. Add honey for that extra sweetness. Excellent!

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The total damage? HKD 94. Relatively expensive for a 大排檔 but I'll be happy to return for their french toast.

Final Verdict:

Ambience: NA
Service: NA
Food: 7/10 (8/10 for the french toast)
Value for money: 7/10

Overall: 7./10

Address: 2 Gage St (中環結志街2號)

Contact: 2544 3895 / 2854 0731

Opening Hours:

Mon to Sat - 0730hrs to 1800hrs

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Half Pound Burger Bar & Grill - Decent Value Set Lunch

Half Pound Burger (or HPB for short) sounded promising so we dropped by one Saturday afternoon to partake in their reasonably priced set lunch.

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The Place

Located close to the start of Purvis Street, HPB occupies a simply furnished but comfortable unit just metres away from Saveur.

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Soup Of The Day

It was either the Roasted Tomato Soup or the Potato Leek Soup for the set lunch so we went with the former. The tomato soup came across as rich but a little too zesty for my liking whilst the croutons were overly soggy, probably from sitting in the soup for an extended period of time.

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Grilled Chicken Burger

The grilled chicken patty tasted rather similar to a huge piece of chicken satay but came across as a tad dry. Decent flavour though but maybe having a bit of sauce would make it better? Side of fries was okay though the dipping sauce was rather interesting; a mildly sweet and creamy butter base that actually went well with the fries.

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Petite Half Pound Burger

As far as burgers go, this isn't anywhere near the best I've had but definitely not near the worst either. The patty was juicy though it was rather compact and strangely tough with a mild brovine flavour. Layered with Monterey Jack cheese, a strip of decent candied bacon (not as good as the one from Peter Luger or Clinton Street Baking or Bird Bird) and capped with a crisp, buttery bun (a wee bit more time on the grill would have been better in my humble opinion).

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Sure the food at HPB isn't fantastic. But at $17++/pax for lunch (includes a drink), it's actually pretty decent value for money especially in the City Hall area.

Final Verdict:

Ambience: 6.5/10
Service: 6.5/10
Food: 6/10
Value for money: 7/10 (based on the set lunch)

Overall: 6.5/10

Address: 8 Purvis Street

Contact: 6906 1900

Opening Hours: 12:00PM - 10:30PM (Closed on Mondays)