Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Seoul Yummy - Casual Korean (Suntec City Outlet)

Whenever I think of Korean food, two things spring to mind: Korean BBQ and Kim Chi in various forms. Korean cuisine is a whole lot more than that, of course. I suppose in our corner of the world, Korean BBQ joints seem to form the majority of restaurants serving Korean cuisine.

The darling and I came across Seoul Yummy in Suntec City Mall, which presents itself as a casual Korean dining place. Menu prices seemed pretty reasonable, and well ... there was a huge (faux) tree in the middle of the dining area with bright orange leaves, making it actually quite inviting.

We go for their weekend Set Lunch, which for SGD20 nett buys you a glass (or cup) of Hot / Cold Roasted Barley Tea and a choice of Starter and Main Course. Oh, and not forgetting the customary banchan (side dishes) that most Korean places serve.

Personally, I found the banchan rather lacklustre and forgettable. The kimchi was a particular disappointment, lacking in spiciness (heat) and overloaded on the sour.

Our first starter is the Steamed Kimchi with Pork Dumplings, which isn't too bad. It sort of tastes like a steamed gyoza with kimchi as the vegetable component. The dough is a tad bit on the thick side, though.

The Potato Pancake was a little disappointing. To be honest I'm not entirely sure how this pancake is supposed to taste. To me it was just bordering-on-tasteless starch, even when liberally dipped into the provided sauce.

The darling orders the Bibimbap (Mixed Vegetable Stone Pot Rice) with Pork - which ended being pretty run-of-the-mill stuff.

My Hotplate Spicy Kimchi Soup with Pork (and rice) fared little better. The soup itself was quite a bit more watery & diluted than I was hoping for, and lacked "ooomph." At least the ingredients were quite generous - lots of pork, tofu, egg and assorted vegetables floating around.

For the price that we paid, I think that the meal was satisfactory. It certainly wouldn't qualify as "gourmet," but then it's unreasonable to expect gourmet taste for un-gourmet money. If you're craving for Korean food and don't really want to break the bank, Seoul Yummy should satisfy, but otherwise you'd probably have more satisfaction elsewhere.

Seoul Yummy is located at the Basement Level of Suntec City Mall. Non halal.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chicken & Beef Pies at Cottage Pies Cafe

Ever since we tried the sublime pies at Miami Bakehouse over at Perth, we've been looking for a local alternative to satiate our pastry cravings. Which has been quite hard, really. Perhaps it's because we don't really have that "pie culture," but there just aren't that many pie joints around.

Our search for the nice pie brings us to the Cottage Pie Cafe over at the White Sands Shopping Centre next to the Pasir Ris MRT station. "Cafe" is perhaps stretching things a bit, because it's pretty much just a kiosk, outdoors facing the taxi station.

There's about a dozen different freshly-baked varieties on offer. We try the Steak & Mushroom Pie, which is nice and fluffy, if a little low on the filling-to-pastry ratio.

The chicken pies come in three flavors - normal, black pepper, and curry. These pies are quite a bit smaller - bigger mouthes could finish off a pie in three or four bites.

We paid SGD7.50 for the two pies, so prices are reasonable. Perfect for tapau'ing a dozen or more for breakfast, tea, pot lucks, etc. I'd say the pies are pretty good for local standards - that is to say, still nowhere near the delicious pies in Perth.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Menya Musashi's Curry Ramen (ION Orchard)

Quick and Short update - Menya Musashi has opened a new outlet in ION Orchard!

Unlike the branch over at Raffles City, there isn't much of a queue for the ION Branch - possibly because not many people know about it yet?

Anyways, the flyer outside caught my eye because, well ... Curry Ramen? That would be a definite first for me, so the darling and I give this joint a second shot!

The Curry Ramen is ... interesting. Instead of your typical cha shu it comes with shabu shabu-style sweet pork slices, in a watered down and yet still starchy-bordering-on-slimy curry sauce. It tastes good but I still don't like the texture of the broth.

In our previous visit we didn't at all get used to the starchy/slimy broth, and nothing has changed since that visit. The darling's white cha shu ramen was also, in our opinion, tasty, but the soup broth just didn't sit well with us.

At almost SGD40 for the two of us (including gyoza and two cups of houjicha), the pricing is a little on the low side when it comes to these Japanese Ramen joints. Pity that the style of broth isn't compatible with our taste buds!

Our Ramen Rankings:
Superb!: Ippudo & Santouka
Delicious!: Nantsuttei, Tampopo & Keisuke Tonkotsu King
Solid: Shin-Sapporo, Keisuke, Gantetsu, Gensuke, Riki, Ikkousha & Bario
Below Average: Marutama, Menya Musashi & Menya Iroha

Apologies for the poor quality of photos in the post, but we didn't have our normal cameras with us.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Malaysian's Take on the Malaysian Food Street (Resorts World Sentosa)

Ask a Singaporean and a Malaysian which country's Street (Hawker) Food is better, and chances are they will be in huge disagreement. We always see strong opinions on food, particularly when discussing which is better. Or discussing the origins of certain types of food (Bak Kut Teh, anyone?). My take on the matter is that your taste buds grow accustomed to whatever food you grow up eating, so you'd naturally have a preference for your home country's cuisine.

For what it's worth, Reuters just released an article on Top 10 cities for street food, in which Singapore is ranked #2, and Penang #3. Take that how you will :)

Anyways, having spent over two decades in Malaysia, my taste buds remain firmly entrenched in Malaysia-taste land. So I'm not too sure why it took me so long to come to the Malaysian Food Street in Resorts World Sentosa to get my makan on.

Opened half a year ago, the place is set up a little like a food court. Similar to Lot 10's Hutong Food Court, each stall is a branch/outlet of some well-known hawker from various places in Malaysia.

Lim Brothers' Char Koay Teow is first up. I was a bit hesitant while ordering because the ... Chef (for lack of a better word) was cooking something like half a dozen plates at a time - which is normally a pretty big red flag for good CKT. It turns out to be pretty decent, though, and you get a much larger portion that you normally get in Penang. At SGD5 per plate, prices are reasonable, too.

Up next we try Ah Mei Hokkien Prawn Mee - SGD5 per bowl, add $1 for pork ribs. Fragrant and sweet, with quite a nice flavorful prawn broth, slurping up the noodles reminded me of every trip back to Penang to visit the grandma and tour the city eating different hawker food. Looking back over the years I'm not sure whether the former or the latter was my primary motivation for the visits :)

Two years ago the darling and I went to Melaka to eat Chicken Rice Ball and we were very unimpressed. That sentiment hasn't changed much when trying the offering here in Singapore. It's the cheapest dish of the day at SGD4, and the chicken is pretty smooth (if served a little too cold), but the rice ball itself tastes too much like the Nasi Impit you eat with Ketupat.

I'm not sure which shop was 'chosen' to represent Klang Bak Kut Teh, but it does a horrendous job at flying the flag. SGD6.50 gets you a bowl of herbal soup (all herbs, no porky taste) with a few miserable pieces of dry and flavorless pork. A huge shame that RWS couldn't get any of the "real" BKT shops in Klang to come open shop here and had to settle for this pretender instead.

There are quite a few other stalls like Ampang Yong Tao Foo, KL Fried Hokkien Mee, etc, but two stomachs can only eat so much food at one sitting. We did manage to find room for some Penang Cendol (SGD2.50). We thought that it was a little too sweet (too much gula melaka, too little coconut milk), and the ice shavings were too "big" such that we ended up needing to "crunch" ice bits in our mouths. Not fun.

Some hits and misses overall; I think when eating your home food in a foreign country, you have to give some slack (you wouldn't go to the UK and expect perfect nasi lemak, would you?), so in that respect I would say generally speaking the food here doesn't disappoint.

Except for the Bak Kut Teh, which you should avoid at all costs, because it will disappoint.

Malaysian Food Street is located at The Bull Ring - which is that row of shops directly circling the big rotating "Universal" globe at the entrance to Universal Studios. It's easiest to drive or take a cab here, but if you're public transport-ing, take the MRT to Vivocity and then the Sentosa Express monorail to the Watefront Station. Non halal.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Steak on a Budget at Aston's Specialities (Changi T1)

Aston's is perhaps one of Singapore's most famous names in the business of making steak. Not because they're the best, but because they're (perhaps) the cheapest. I mean sure, you'd probably be able to get cheap meat in some random food court somewhere, but not in a nice, comfortable air-conditioned joint.

We're trying the Changi Airport T1 outlet. It's cool, nicely decorated, pleasant - and the service sucks. Both of us asked for warm water, but we were served only one glass. I mean, does it take a fine dining restaurant waitress to realize that two people should have two glasses?

Later on in the night we also asked for tomato ketchup from a different waiter ... which never arrived.

Anyhow, the Mushroom Soup (SGD3.50) was rather ... mediocre. All cream taste with just a few bits of mushroom floating around. To top it off, the starch wasn't even dissolved properly, with small lumps of it floating around.

The Lemon Lime Chicken (SGD6.50) tasted pretty good. Despite what the name says, that sauce is more of a plum sauce rather than lemon and/or lime. Coleslaw and Onion Rings were just "OK."

Each main course comes with a choice of two side dishes - there's about a dozen different ones to choose from. I ordered my Prime Rib Eye (SGD13.90) with garden greens and mashed potato, both of which were also just "OK."

The rib-eye itself, however, was atrocious. Is it too much to ask for some salt and pepper on the meat? It was also very chewy, and the thicker half of the steak was nowhere near the medium-rare that I ordered.

Don't take my word for it though ... see for yourself: would this qualify as medium rare?

Perhaps it was just an off day for the chef, but for a restaurant that specializes in steak, such a mistake is hardly acceptable. The only reason I didn't bother sending it back to the kitchen, was because it was so bland and tough anyways.

Having tried Aston's I still maintain that for steak on a budget, doing it yourself is still the way to go. You won't get the "charred" taste using a grill pan at home, but you'll be surprised how good it actually tastes.

Aston's is Non-Halal.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pasta de Waraku - Japanese-style Pasta!

The darling and I frequent Changi Airport quite often - thanks to its' relative proximity, and multiple dining options available to the public. I've never done a proper count, but there could easily be three dozen or more separate eateries. Best part is that unlike other airports, prices aren't inflated at all. In fact, retail outlets can even be cheaper than elsewhere thanks to the 7% GST absorption.

Eating at the same joints over and over again can be a bit tiring though, so we venture into a Japanese pasta eatery named Pasta de Waraku. Located at the public areas of Terminal 2, the place offers up a myriad of different pasta dishes - some more Japanified than others.

Each pasta order comes with a mini salad bowl that can at best be described as mediocre. It's got your usual mix of salad greens, a (sour!) cherry tomato, and Wafu (sour/salty vinaigrette) dressing.

For starters, we try the Meatball Teriyaki (SGD8.80 for a half-dozen), which actually tasted pretty good. I'd wager they prepare it almost exactly the same as a Hamburg Steak.

The Fried Potato with Cheese Sauce (SGD4.80) was a little lacklustre, though. Fried potatoes. With nacho cheese sauce. Yes, it tastes exactly like what you'd imagine.

Pasta-wise, the Spaghetti alla Bolognese (SGD14.80) was way too watery for my tastes. I like my bolognese Meaty; this one was just weak and wimpy. As is the case with most mass-market pasta joints, the pasta itself was also overcooked - soft and devoid of that al dente slight chewiness.

The Prawn Spicy Carbonara (SGD16.80) comes with an extremely generous serving of large, fresh, springy prawns. Too bad, then, that the rest of the dish is lacklustre. I think you should also be able to see just how watery the carbonara sauce was. It felt more like carbonara-based soup rather than a real pasta sauce.

Overall, we probably would not return. Prices aren't low enough to accept the unimpressive food, especially when there are so many other superior dining options nearby.

Pasta de Waraku has three outlets around the City - Terminal 2, The Central and Square 2. Non-halal.