Sunday, November 25, 2018

Is Cut by Wolfgang Puck the Best Steakhouse in Singapore?

👍 Steaks are cooked to the perfect temperature and have a terrific sear.
👎 Dining room is really dark, Food is really pricey.

Where's the best place to get a steak in Singapore? Well, if we go by the Michelin Guide, Cut by Wolfgang Puck's the only Steakhouse in the city with a Michelin star. The restaurant's got a little bit of a reputation for being pricey, though, which is why we've been putting off a visit ... until today!

Cut Wolfgang Puck

You probably already know this by now from reading other reviews - or by having just walked past the restaurant - the dining area is really dark. Tables are also packed quite close together, resulting in noise levels that are surprisingly high. Not the best choice for a romantic dinner, then, unless you can get one of the more private, alcove tables set along the edges. Also, while sometime in the past waiters used to bring meats to your table to help you choose your steaks, it seems that doesn't happen any more.

Cut Wolfgang Puck

The waiters do at least bring the bread selection to your table, though. We especially liked the sourdough and the onion bread. The pretzel was pretty good, too!

Cut Wolfgang Puck Assorted Bread

For starters we had the Maryland Blue Crab Cake (s$38) with Heirloom Tomato Relish and Basil Aioli. The crab cake didn't disappoint: Almost all crabmeat and no filler. perfectly seasoned, delicious. Would totally order this again when/if we return.

Cut Wolfgang Puck Maryland Crab Cake

We also tried the Maple Glazed Pork Belly (s$33) with Fuji Apple & Yali Pear Salad, and Sesame-Orange dressing. This appetizer was also amazing, the pork belly being cooked to tender, melt-in-your-mouth perfection. The acidity from the julienne'd apple & pear and citrus dressing was marvelous in preventing fat overload. Definitely a must-order.

Cut Wolfgang Puck Maple Glazed Pork Belly

On to the main star: The Steaks! Cut stocks and serves up a relatively high variety of cows: USDA Prime, Australian Angus and Wagyu, American Wagyu, and Japanese Wagyus from Hokkaido and Sendai. The cuts are priced from a very reasonable s$92 for 340gm of USDA Prime NY Strip/Sirloin all the way up to $330 for 170gm of Hokkaido "Snow" 45-days Dry-Aged Wagyu Rib Eye.

We decided to share something more mid-range: The Tasting of New York Sirloin (s$255), which comes with:
• 120gm of USDA Prime Illinois Corn-Fed beef,
• 120gm of American Wagyu from Snake River Farms, and
• 90gm of Japanese Wagyu from Sendai prefecture.

Each steak came cooked beautifully: A perfect medium-rare (as we requested) almost from edge to edge, and yet having a terrific crust on the top and bottom. These are simply the most well cooked (technically) steaks we've ever had in Singapore.

With regards to the meat, well, it goes somewhat as you might expect. The USDA Prime has the most chew and is the most stringy, and the Wagyu was so tender and fatty it almost felt like eating foie gras. The Snake River Farms wagyu - our favorite, by the way - was somewhere in between (slower to the USDA Prime than the Sendai cow, though).

Cut Wolfgang Puck Tasting of New York Sirloin

To accompany our steaks we added on half a 400g Maine Lobster (s$25) and Foie Gras (s$45) - both of which were well cooked but overshadowed by the meat. We also had Tempura Onion Rings (s$18) and Brussels Sprouts (s$18) with Sesame Yuzu Aioli and Glazed Shallots. Ultimately we felt that the flavour of the Brussels Sprouts was too intense, and didn't enjoy how it tended to overpower everything else.

Cut Wolfgang Puck Lobster and Foie Gras

Being too stuffed after starters and mains we declined to order anything off the dessert menu ... but still got a (surprisingly delicious) mini carrot birthday cake anyway!

Cut Wolfgang Puck Birthday Cake

Before we left we also got some petit fours, the best of which had to be the black sesame macaron; it's earthy flavour blending beautifully with the sugar and ground almonds.

Cut Wolfgang Puck Petit Fours

So there you have it! In our opinions Cut does live up to its' reputation as Singapore's best steakhouse. The way they char their meats while yet maintaining perfect edge-to-edge temperature is sublime; and their starters and sides are also very solid. The price tag is pretty steep, though, so it'll remain firmly in our "special occasions only" bucket (unless we get lucky with an upcoming toto jackpot).

Cut by Wolfgang Puck is in the Marina Bay Sands Shoppes, right next to the Sands Theatre. Reservations highly recommended; Non-Halal.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

10 days in Switzerland (and a bit of France): Travelog!

How should you spend 10 days in Switzerland? Well, we're definitely not Europe travel experts - having visited only once in the last 5 years - so we can't answer that question definitively, but perhaps our travel video will give you some ideas!

We flew in to Geneva, did a couple of day trips to nearby French lakes and mountains, then headed gradually to Zurich via the Zermatt and Jungfrau areas.

In Switzerland, we traveled mostly via the excellent Swiss rail, ferry, and gondola network - offsetting some of the high costs with the Half Fare Travelcard.

Anyway you can check out the breakdown of the places we visited in the video; Do let us know in the comments if you've got any questions and we'll try to answer them to the best of our ability!

📅 Detailed Itinerary 📅

Day 1: Tour of Geneva
✓ Lake Geneva / Jet d'Eau
✓ English Gardens and Flower Clock
✓ Geneva Old Town / Shopping Area
✓ Patek Philippe Museum
🍴: 🤤 Cafe Du Centre, 🤤 Auberge de Saviese

Day 2: DayTrip to France (Chamonix)
✓ Chamonix
✓ Aiguille du Midi
✓ Montenvers / Mer de Glace
🍴: 😒 Café de Paris Genève

Day 3: Day Trip to France (Annecy)
✓ Annecy Old Town
✓ Le Palais de I'lle
✓ Jardins de l'Europe
✓ Château d'Annecy
🍴: 🤤 Glacier des Alpes, 🤤 Restaurant MS Libellule, 😒 KFC

Day 4: Zermatt / Matterhorn
✓ 3½hr Train to Zermatt
✓ Gornergrat
✓ Partial Hike down to Zermatt
🍴: 🤤 Chez Max Julen

Day 5: Zermatt / Wengen
✓ Mountaineer's Cemetary
✓ Zermatt
✓ 3½hr Train to Wengen
🍴: 🤤 Da Sina Pizzeria

Day 6: Jungfraujoch
✓ Jungfraujoch
✓ Partial Hike down to Kleine Scheidegg
✓ Lauberhorn Crazy Golf
🍴: 🤤 Kleine Scheidegg Restaurant, 🤮 Pasta & More

Day 7: Day Trip to Bern
✓ Bern Federal Palace
✓ Bern Prison Tower
✓ Zytglogge Tower
✓ Einstein's House
✓ Bern Cathedral
✓ Bern Bear Park
🍴: 🤤 Metzgerstübli, 🤤 La Golosa Gelato, 🤤 Brasserie Chez Edy

Day 8: Männlichen and Grindelwald
✓ Männlichen Gondola & Royal Walk
✓ Summer Gemel (luge) to Grindelwald
✓ Grindelwald & Grindelwald Reformed Church
🍴: 😒 Eiger+ Cafe Lounge, 🤮 Jungfraublick Wengen

Day 9: Rigi Kaltbad
✓ 4½hr Train and Ferry to Rigi Kaltbad
✓ Mineralbad & Spa Rigi-Kaltbad
🍴: 😒 Rigistübli, 😒 Restaurant/Hotel Alpina

Day 10: Zurich & Home
✓ 2hr Train to Zurich
✓ Reformed Church
✓ Fraumünster Church
✓ Bahnhofstrasse
✓ Zurich Old City
🍴: 🤤 Crepes and Meat skewers in Zurich's Old City

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Trains in Switzerland: Should I take the Swiss Travel Pass or the Half Fare Card?

Like many other things in the country, travelling in Switzerland is expensive - particularly if you're spending at least a week or more there. That means that you'll probably be visiting several different cities or tourist attraction hubs, racking up hundreds of Swiss Francs on train, bus or ferry rides.

The easiest, least-planning-required way to reduce these fares are via purchasing the Swiss Travel Pass, which allows you 'free' travel on the majority of Switzerland's public transport network - with some caveats, of course. However, if you're willing to do put in just a little more planning legwork, the Half Fare Travelcard could save you even more money!

Swiss Travel Pass or Half Fare Card

Note: This is not meant to be a comprehensive Swiss travel post, I'm far too inexperienced for that. What this post is, is a simple comparison for my own personal one-week journey in Switzerland between the Half Fare Card and the Swiss Travel Pass starting from Geneva and ending in Zurich, with stopovers in a couple of the country's most popular tourist destinations in between!

Swiss Travel Pass or Half Fare Card

In the table below, I've compared the price difference between buying individual tickets with the Half Fare Travelcard, vs having the 8 consecutive day Swiss Travel Pass, versus having no discount card at all. We see that the Half Fare Travelcard has the lowest overall cost, but why? A few reasons:

a. For many of the more touristy trains and gondolas, holders of the Swiss Travel Pass still need to pay 50% of the fare - identical to the Half Fare Travelcard.
b. For (arguably) the most touristy train - the one to Jungfraujoch - holders of the Swiss Travel Pass pay 75% of the fare, instead of the 50% paid by Half Fare Travelcard holders.

Swiss Travel Pass or Half Fare Card

c. As tourists, we can sometimes take advantage of 'super saver tickets' during lower-peak timings, which are discounted further on top of the 50% off from the Half Fare Travelcard. In the Zermatt to Wengen itinerary below, for example, the super saver train ticket stacked with the Half Fare Travelcard ends up with a cumulative 70% discount over the full fare ticket.

That's pretty reasonable for a 3 hour train journey!

Swiss Travel Pass or Half Fare Card Swiss Travel Pass or Half Fare Card

Of course, the Swiss Travel Pass does have its advantages other than price - for example, on trains, buses, and ferries which are 'free' you don't have to worry about checking schedules or buying at ticket: You can just hop on and hop off as you desire. And these calculations change significantly based on your own specific travel plans, so there really is no one size fits all.

Nevertheless hopefully this quick comparison helps to give you an idea of what sort of options you have available when planning travel in Switzerland ... and how much it might cost in general (yes, I really did spend over 500 Francs in a week). Happy holidaying!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Korean Sweet & Spicy Topokki (Fish Cake, Spam, Rice Cake)

3 tablespoons of Beksul Sweet & Spicy Topokki Hot Sauce
2 tablespoons of Honey
6 Fish Cake
6 Spam / Luncheon Meat
50g Rice Cake

Step 1: Pan fry Fish Cake and Spam and set aside.
Step 2: Add Water Rick Cake, Beksul Sweet & Spicy Topokki Hot Sauce, Honey and let it boil for 3mins.
Step 3: Add Fish Cake and Spam. Lower heat and let it simmer for 2mins.
Step 4: Remove from the heat and serve.

Give this recipe a try and hope you like it too.

- This brand's Sweet & Spicy Topokki Hot Sauce spicy level is high. We added Honey to bring the spice level down.

Click here for our blog page Cooking Recipes - Others Cuisine for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Creamy Garlic Butter Mussels

750g Mussels in shells, debreaded and scrubbed
1 tablespoon Butter
1 small Onion, finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
50ml White Wine
200ml Heavy Cream
1 teaspoon Dried Parsley
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
Toasted Bread (Brioche / Butterscotch / French)

Step 1: Soften the onion and garlic in the butter over medium to low heat.
Step 2: Add the thyme and wine, and increase the heat to high.
Step 3: Add the mussels, cover with the lid and steam for 6 to 10 minutes until the mussels have opened.
Step 4: Stir in the cream and chopped parsley, and season well.
Setp 5: Remove from the heat and serve with toasted Bread.

Give this recipe a try and hope you like it too.

- Mussels quality matters, various brands mussels taste blend.

Click here for our blog page Cooking Recipes - Western Cuisine for more recipes. Hope you will be inspired~

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Superb cheap charcoal Yakiniku (焼肉) at Aburiya, Boat Quay!

👍 A great balance between cheap off-cuts and pricey premium ones.
👎 Our charcoal pit started losing heat 2/3 way through dinner.

What, to you, is needed for a good Yakiniku (焼肉)? For us, it's these criteria ...
✓ A Charcoal Grill
✓ Good selection of highly marbled meats
✓ A wallet-friendly price

... of which, of course, most places normally only meet two out of three.

We then heard that Aburiya over at Boat Quay might be able to check all three boxes, though, so we headed over on a Friday night to check it out!

Cheap Yakiniku Singapore Aburiya Boat Quay

The main reason we're here is for their Aburiya Kiriotoshi Tokumori which, at about $16/100gm, is remarkably cheap. Naturally there's a catch: these are the assorted cut-off ends of all the various other types (and cuts) of meat served in the restaurant, so you don't get to choose what cuts you want, and you don't get perfect, artfully arranged slices.

Cheap Yakiniku Singapore Aburiya Boat Quay

That's okay, though, because these are slices of proper yakiniku Wagyu and Tokachi* beef, and are almost as good as the pretty cuts!

* "Tokachi beef" is a brand of beef from the Tokachi region in Hokkaido. The Tokachi beef served in Aburiya are from a cross breed between Kuroge (黒毛) and Holstein cattle.

Cheap Yakiniku Singapore Aburiya Boat Quay Kiriotoshi Tokumori

Aburiya does serve up a wide variety of more premium cuts and meats too, though! We added on an order of Wagyu Jo Karubi ($16; higher grade available at $26) ...

Cheap Yakiniku Singapore Aburiya Boat Quay Wagyu Jo Karubi

... and an order of Atsugiri Tongue ($20; other grades available at $16 and $25).

Cheap Yakiniku Singapore Aburiya Boat Quay Atsugiri Tongue

Surprisingly, Aburiya serves the Jo Karubi in (relatively) thick, chunky slices - around 1.5cm rather than the 0.5cm or so that's typical for yakiniku. We like this quite a lot - the thicker slice means you can get a far better char on the edges while still maintaining a juicy, fatty, medium/medium-rare inside.

Cheap Yakiniku Singapore Aburiya Boat Quay Wagyu Jo Karubi

The tongue was also really good. We like the beefy flavour of yakiniku'ed beef tongue, but if it's not prepared properly it can be really tough. No such problems with this particular tongue!

Cheap Yakiniku Singapore Aburiya Boat Quay Atsugiri Tongue

Oh, we also ordered an obligatory Yasai Mori (assorted vegetables, $13), which turned out to be just so-so. If you want to keep a balanced diet, you'd probably be better off ordering something else like salad, or kimchi, or specific vegetables to throw onto the grill.

Cheap Yakiniku Singapore Aburiya Boat Quay Assorted Vegetables

After adding on a couple of $5 soft drinks, a bowl of $3 rice, and taxes and service charge, the final bill came to $120.06 (for two people). So perhaps not so wallet friendly after all after adding on all the more premium extras. Nevertheless it's still a pretty good value, in our opinion, and totally worth a return visit.

Aburiya is at 79 Boat Quay (it's closer to Clarke Quay rather than Raffles Place). Reservations recommended: For our Friday night visit without reservations we had to wait for about 10 minutes for a table. Non-halal.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Tokyo's Best Mid-Range Sushi: Mantenzushi Marunouchi (まんてん鮨 丸の内)

👍 Good Sushi, unbeatable value, Gaijin-friendly reservations.
👎 Expect to be in a food coma for a while after.

Stories and videos about Sushi places in Tokyo and Japan tend to focus on the high-end: How many of us don't know of Sukiyabashi Jiro or Sushi Saito? Quality comes at a cost, though, and in the case of Tokyo's top Sushi places that cost is steep, both in pricing (¥30,000 and up), and in sheer difficulty in getting a seat at the table in the first place.

If you're willing to lower your targets a little, though, some excellent sushi can be had at literally a fraction of the price. Take, for example, the sushi omakase at Mantenzushi Marunouchi (まんてん鮨 丸の内), where ¥6,480 buys you 11 nigiri, 1 hand roll, and 14 sashimi/other food items (that works out to ¥250 per morsel). Overall, the sushi is the best I've ever had at this price point, although service standards and attentiveness to detail are perhaps a little ... casual. Oh, and I guess one or two of the items are a tad bit eyebrow-raising (*koff koff enoki mushroom sushi and wasabi leaf koff koff*)

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo
Mantenzushi Marunouchi

Anyway, I won't do write-ups of each individual sushi or food item - partially because with omakase the menu is ever-changing, but mostly because there are too many different items 😉 Enjoy the photos!

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Shijimi Soup
Shijimi Soup

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Buri Sushi
Buri Sushi

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Seared Swordfish
Seared Swordfish

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Cured Bonito
Cured Bonito

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Abalone Sashimi
Abalone Sashimi

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Sawara Sashimi
Sawara Sashimi

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Hirame Sushi
Hirame Sushi

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Sticky Slimy Seaweed
Sticky, Slimy Seaweed

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Aji Sushi
Aji Sushi

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Enoki Mushroom Sushi and Tarakko
Tarakko and Enoki Mushroom Sushi

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Botan Ebi Sushi
Botan Ebi Sushi

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Nanohana and Daikon
Nanohana (fig leaf/flower) and Picked Daikon

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Mini Ikura Don
Mini Ikura Don

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Wasabi Leaf
Wasabi Leaf

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Bafun and Murasaki Uni Sushi
Bafun and Murasaki Uni Sushi

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Akami and Chuutoro Sushi
Akami and Chuutoro Sushi

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Anago Sushi
Anago Sushi

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Shijimi Miso Soup
Shijimi Miso Soup

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Negitoro Hand Roll
Negitoro Hand Roll

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Kanpyo Sushi
Kanpyo Sushi

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Egg Custard
Egg Custard

Mantenzushi Marunouchi Tokyo Strawberry

Mantenzushi Marunouchi (まんてん鮨 丸の内) is walking distance from the Tokyo train station (take the Marunouchi South Exit), in the basement of the Marunouchi Brick Square building (丸の内ブリックスクエア). Reservations are essential, but easy to make thanks to their Gaijin-friendly reservations website. Do pay them a visit and let us know what you think!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

665°F in the Andaz (by Hyatt): Halal-friendly high-end steakhouse.

👍 Charcoal-grilled meaty goodness, cosy dining area, terrific view.
👎 Expect to smell like BBQ for a little while after.

665°F is a steakhouse on the 38th floor of the 5-month old Andaz Hotel (by Hyatt). It's two main selling points are Halal-certified meats (and sustainable seafood), and a Pira charcoal oven: no sous-vide or pan-fried heresy in this kitchen!

I'm not too sure what the difference is between this Pira oven and the somewhat-more-well-known Josper oven, though. They both burn charcoal in an enclosed oven, so are the differences only with branding? Do let me know in the comments if you know!

665 Steakhouse Halal Andaz Hyatt Singapore Open kitchen

665°F is a surprisingly small restaurant: Other than another row of tables behind the photographer in this photo, there's a private-ish room off to the left which seats another eight diners or so. In practice it makes for quite a cozy dining experience, perfect for romantic dinners.

What might not be quite so romantic, though, is because the entire space is so small, the grill aromas from all that meat does spread through the entire restaurant - somewhat like a Korean BBQ joint - so be ready to have some meaty scents linger on your clothes and hair for a little while after.

665 Steakhouse Halal Andaz Hyatt Singapore Dining area

The inside of the garlic bread to start the meal was drenched with melted butter and therefore delicious; I would have liked a stronger garlic flavour however.

665 Steakhouse Halal Andaz Hyatt Singapore Garlic bread

Crab Cakes (s$13 each) were pretty good! The crabmeat used was the non-lump variety, though.

665 Steakhouse Halal Andaz Hyatt Singapore Crab cakes

Each steak comes with a choice of Béarnaise, Green Peppercorn or Mushroom sauces: We tried the first two. The peppercorn sauce was nice, if a little salty considering that the steak itself was already well salted, but I didn't much appreciate the béarnaise (didn't like adding cream to steak).

665 Steakhouse Halal Andaz Hyatt Singapore Bearnaise and Green Pepper Sauces

The first steak: Grain-fed, Black Onyx, Rangers Valley Rib-Eye - s$80 for 340gm - was cooked and seasoned perfectly, with the right amount of char on the crust. Perhaps it was missing pepper, but you're free to add your own (or add a dab of that green peppercorn sauce).

No complaints about the cooking, then, but the meat itself was somewhat mediocre: A tad bit sinewy in places, and with neither the fatty mouthfeel you get from higher MBS meats, nor the strong beefy flavours you normally associate with grain-fed Angus steer.

665 Steakhouse Halal Andaz Hyatt Singapore Grain Fed Rangers Valley Rib Eye

The Tajima Wagyu Sirloin - s$75 for 240gm - was predictably a lot more tender, with a terrific oily mouthfeel from the MBS 8-scored marbling. This meat was also a little lacking in the strong beefy flavour that I prefer in my steaks, but that is perhaps to be expected from Japanese cows.

665 Steakhouse Halal Andaz Hyatt Singapore Tajima Wagyu Sirloin

Both steaks were served medium-rare as requested. I also liked that they were rested just enough for the fibres to re-absorb all the juices without having the temperature drop too much.

665 Steakhouse Halal Andaz Hyatt Singapore Medium Rare Steaks

Just one side dish tonight: Green Asparagus with truffle butter (s$14). It was ... decent? It's as competent a dish as Asparagus with butter can be, I guess.

665 Steakhouse Halal Andaz Hyatt Singapore Asparagus

Our bill came up to around s$230 for two (after service charge and taxes), which is pretty comparable to other steakhouses in the city. I think that if you're after a more cozy, personal dining experience, and/or if you like watching chefs at work, then 665°F can't be beat. But if you want to focus more on the steak, then Morton's or Wolfgang probably provides a little bit more satisfaction.

665°F is on the 38th floor of the Andaz Singapore. Check out their website for full menu and to make reservations. No pork.