Sunday, August 31, 2008

Shokudo: Japanese Pasta!

Situated at Citylink Mall, Shokudo: Japanese Pasta & Pizza took over from old tenant Raku Ninja. Though of the same name, this casual cafe/restaurant specialised in japanese-styled pasta, unlike the Marche-styled one in Raffles City (which I have heard of many mixed reviews, mostly bad unfortunately). Dined there once before, I was impressed with the range of pasta sauces offered, thus returning for a visit with some friends right before the Fireworks Festival.

The brightly-lit cream white decor is comfortable to the eye and they had some nice oval-shaped tables for large groups. Japanese pop music was playing in the background but I wasn't really listening. Recommended to sit further inside to avoid the clattering noise of bypassers.

Cheese Wanton ($4.80)

We shared this as an appetiser, serving was rather small and enough for only about a piece each. At least it tasted alright with crunchy skin and hot melting cheese on the inside.

Tori Karaage in Tomato Cream ($8.80)

Salmon Avocado Carbonara ($8.80)

Both were offered at student price, but I don't know if the portion varied from its regular ones. The tori karaage were tender and tasty, while the sauce hinted faintly of tomato sauce. The carbonara were more creamy and had cubes of salmon and melt-in-your-mouth avocados.

Tsukune Carbonara ($12.80)

Kaki & Ham in Wafu Sauce ($14.80)

The chicken meatballs were nicely presented and tasted great too, each well-marinated and grilled while maintaining a firm, slightly chewy texture. I chose penne for my pasta, which came with big juicy oysters and slices of ham. The wafu (literally means "japanese style") sauce was non-cream and slightly over-salted, but still palatable to my liking.

Tonkatsu Curry Rice ($13.80)

The cutlet came in a surprisingly large portion, with the pork loin coated in crispy bread crumbs. The japanese curry sauce was the standard thick non-spicy type that went well with the rice and sunny side-up. However, we were quite put off that additional portion of rice would come at a price of $1.50. What the heck, are those organic rice or something?!

Seafood Thin-crusted Pizza ($12.90)

I had this the other time I came. The base was as thin as biscuits with little toppings. Served slightly cold maybe due to its thickness. Not very value-for-money or recommended.

Total bill for 5 was $74.90, which worked out to around $15 per person. Rather reasonable for a cafe located in this area. With quality pastas (all four arrived pleasently al-dente!) and spoilted for choices of sauces (basil, curry and even stir fry!), this place is a nice break from your usual italian pastas. There is also a new shokudo cafe located at bugis junction, which served more than pastas. Checking it out soon!
Monday, August 25, 2008

Nan Hwa Chang Fish Head Steamboat: Hotpot by the road!

Think this is the 2nd time that I'm having fish head steamboat, the 1st being so long ago that I couldn't remember what it tasted like. Anyway, this store is located at the stretch of road adjacent to beach road, leading to The Concourse.

There are two similar shops along the street, one just named Nan Hwa Chang, located closer to the main road junction, the other which I frequented was slightly further in, named Nan Hwa Chang (Ah Chiu). According to my girlfriend's mom, there were some sort of business dispute and thus splitted up, with the 2nd one being more original. Anyone could clarify?

Business was so good that they opened up tables beyond the coffeeshop and onto the back alley and side walk. Been quite some time since I last had a meal by the roadside! Service was quick and efficient, staff helped you look for tables and could easily rant off recommendations.

Pomfret Steamboat (Small)

There are other fishes available such as different breeds of grouper. But we chose the original pomfret and wasn't disappointed. The portion was rather generous, with chunks of fresh and tender pomfret slices. There were also yam pieces, seaweed and vegetable in the pot. Most importantly, the soup was really good, containing the natural sweetness of the fish and side ingredients. The non-thirsty aftertaste showed that the soup was MSG-free too. A reminder: Do finish your pot of broth 1st before asking for the free refills, as it severly lacked the desired fish flavour.

Stir Fried Sambal Sweet Potato Leaves

Deep fried Beancurd

A nice change from your usual sambal kangkong, the potato leaves were full of "wok-hei". The beancurd would have been more appreciated if I had never eaten at Pow Sing Chicken Rice before, which served the best, silkiest deep fried beancurd. Nevertheless, it was still above average and went well with the sweet sauce.

Total bill was ~$50-$60 for 3, with two cans of drinks. A nice place to go when you are craving for good ol fish broth! Maybe when I'm free enough I will do a side-by-side comparison with the other store too!
Sunday, August 17, 2008

Marvelous Cream: New dessert in town!

If you have been walking across Citylink Mall for the past few months, you will notice this under renovation ice cream shop at the Suntec City end with nice looking desserts as its wallpapers. Last month, the franchise which hailed from Japan finally opened its door and wowed many by-passers with its brightly-lit decor and tempting pictures/models.

Marvelous Cream sells mainly 3 types of desserts. One is its original creations of pre-fixed ice cream, 2nd is a DIY creation from its wide choices of ice creams and add-ons, and 3rd is its selections of parfaits(par-FAY), which according to Wikipedia refers to "French parfait, frozen custard made with cream, and usually with a fruit puree" or "American parfait, a tall glass filled with ice cream, layered with various syrups, topped with whipped cream and a cherry." In this case, I think Marvelous Cream was selling both types.

We chose one of the original creation for the night, and the show begins!

First the base ingredients, belgium chocolate ice cream and banana were put onto the freezing stove.

Banana chopped up and put onto the flatten ice cream, sprinkled with hazelnut bits.

Thoroughly mixed and "fried"

Drizzled with whipped cream and chocolate sauce

Banana Belgium Chocolate in Waffle Bowl ($6.50)

And the end product! Rich in chocolate and not too sweet, with bits of banana and hazelnut to nibble on. Dipped with crunchy waffle pieces, a good one for the sweet tooth! Tends to melt abit fast though, a sign of quality ice cream? Will definitely be back to try its parfaits!
Sunday, August 17, 2008

Carl's Jr: The one that beat up others!

I used to love Big Mac alot more. Remember there was a promotion period when it was going for $2 each? I had three in a day, and around 8 in a week. Yep almost became Super Size Me: SG version.

But that was all in the past when I wasn't so sick of fast food (wonders of too much weekend duties in the army), when burgers from the M were considerably larger and cheaper, when I was going for quantity instead of quality, and above all, when there wasn't Carl's Jr.

Porobello Mushroom Burger

Considering the quality and quantity of the food here (not forgetting the free flow of drinks too!), the higher price does seems to be justified. The portobello mushroom burger I had was layered with flavourful mushrooms, melted swiss cheese, vegetables and a nice charbroiled beef patty. The buns soaked up all the juice nicely and was delicious to the last mouth.

Sante Fe Chicken Burger

The chicken burger was juicy and tender despite using breast meat, and a good alternative from beef. See that cheese oozing out? Tempting!

Onion Rings

The onion rings here are excellent compared to elsewhere, using whole loops in a ring instead of chopped-ups. The result is an onion ring that is more crunchy and onion-ish. Too bad it comes in only one size.

Beef Chilli Cheese Fries

Trying this for the first time and postively surprised by its generousity of cheese and minced beef. Only slightly spicy, the cheese and beef combo is a heavenly dip for the fries. I have a feeling that the beef was really a smashed-up patty in disguise and man, I'm not complaining!

Best fast food burger I had in Singapore! Why I said that? Maybe I should rave about the one I had in Macau soon!
Monday, August 11, 2008

Ramen Santouka: As authentic as it can get!

Central is the new (actually not so new already) hip place that is rising in popularity for its variety of japanese restaurants, some of which are making their first appearance in Singapore. Ramen Santouka is tucked in a corner of Central which might be easily missed out if you don't know your way there, but its position could be seen clearly from the outside of the mall, facing the Singapore river.

The restaurant is a fairly small one, housing less than 30 diners at one time. But I would say its normal for a ramen restaurant to have such capacity, given that each ramen is cooked upon order and served quickly, much like the ramen eateries I experienced in Tokyo a few years back.

Service was Japanese-like, friendly and efficient. What I like was that every table has its own flask of ice water, serviettes and condiments, saving the inconvenience (and sometimes frustrations) from asking the staff every now and then. Another extra plus point was that the staff were attentive enough to notice that my girlfriend and I were leaving our bags on the floor, and promptly carried over a basket for us to put them in. Now that's what I call going the extra mile!

Charhan Shio Ramen Set ($15.50)

All ramen in Santouka are Tonkotsu-based (pork bones), and comes in flavour of Shio (salt), Shoyu (Soy sauce) or Miso (bean paste). The set consists of a bowl of Shio ramen, garlic fried rice and seasoned egg.

The ramen do not arrive piping hot but just of a high temperature, as explained that it would be more easily eaten and enjoyed by customers. The noodles were of great quality, clearly shown in its nice firm texture. The rich soup stock hinted many hours of simmering and I thoroughly enjoyed it to the very last drop. The topping charsiew simply melt in your mouth, with delicious bamboo shoots, kombu and fish cake. Excellent and satisfying!

The garlic fried rice was surprisingly good, japanese round rice fried with garlic, eggs and pieces of chopped charsiew, topped with seasoned pickles. Every mouthful contained the aroma and savoury flavour of the ingredients.

I would expected the egg to be slightly more runny but nevertheless, well done and good to eat. Ever try doing it a home? Do let me know if you can get the exact timing and method!

Kara Miso Ramen ($13.00)

A spicy version of the miso ramen. Good variation if you are up to something spicy. Noodle portion for both bowls were generous and you could even further upsize it. Notice that if you top up $2.50, you would be able to get the complete set already. Very value-for-money!

Bill for two was $33.50 after tax. Very worth it for its authentic taste and good service. Much better than a certain franchised restaurant all over Singapore. Come early though, or be prepared for a long queue!
Sunday, August 03, 2008

Pontini: Squid Ink Pasta!

Pontini was the italian restaurant where I had my first taste of squid ink pasta some years back. Imagine black gooey pasta that leaves stains all over your mouth and teeth. Disgusting, but heavenly. I couldn't find any other places that whip up a better squid ink pasta than here. Fast forward some years later and its time for a revisit.

Pontini is located within Grand Copthorne Waterfront hotel, so its decor and ambience were of a certain class. It was a weekday that night and had relatively little diners. The friendly waitresses were mostly from the Philipines and you might take some time adjusting to their accent.

Complimentry breadsticks

Couldn't stop munching on these the moment they came. The two sauces (which I suspected to be egg york cream and grinded olive) tastes really good too. There were also another complimentry bowl of warm assorted bread.

Beef Carpaccio with Eggplant ($26.00)

Pan-seared Foie Gras on Toast with Apple Sauce ($29.50)

The beef carpaccio was a season special, slightly different from its usual topping of cheese flakes. The beef was fresh and distinct in taste , with the eggplant slightly marinated to give a bit more flavour.

I find the foie gras rather overpriced given its small small portion. Nevertheless, it was well cooked with a slight burn on its surface, going well with the toast and apple sauce.

Squid Ink Tagolini (Main Course Portion) ($34.50)

The star of tonight's dinner! I'm not sure if memory failed me, but I was rather sure that last time round the sauce was also of squid black colour. Nevertheless, the al dente tagolini were bursting with intense flavour, well complemented with fresh scallops, tomato shreds and the now lighter sauce. The squid taste lingered in your mouth even after you have swallowed it, but now with less stains on the teeth!

Tri-meat Pizza ($26.00)

Couldn't remember the exact name, but its a thin crust pizza with three types of meat and mushroom. The dough soaked up the delicious meat juices and the burnt sides hinted faintly of usage of a real wooden fire. Meat-lovers will happily devour it all!

Dessert Platter ($27.00)

Consisting of Tiramisu, Creme Brulee and a Ice-cream-like Almond dessert. Not particularly outstanding but good for trying out a variety of desserts.

Total bill for 3 was $230.30, inclusive of a bottle of red wine and a 1L Panna mineral water, and after a 15% Citibank discount. Prices are on the steep side, go easy on some of the not-so-recommended starters and desserts, but personally still feels that its the best place to go for squid ink pasta, unless you guys know of a even better one!