Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Plaza Singapura Basement: Chippy & Saybons!

It had been a busy weekend with F1 going on and getting involved in it (Army Top Secret!), but I somehow managed to find time for a walk around town.

The problem with the area is that its flooded with fast food, coffee/restaurant chains and lousy food courts, that sometimes you really don't know where to go for a quick meal. My girlfriend and I eventually walked to Plaza Singapura and being not very hungry, we decided to have a mix-and-match dinner at the basement eateries.

Chippy had been around for quite some time already, initially making headlines for introducing Deep-fried Mars Bars to Singapore. I had been wanting to try its fish and chips so I finally had my chance.

Beer Battered Fish & Chips ($4.60)

Unfortunately, it wasn't very impressive. I opted for the salt & vinegar sauce which happened to be soaked up too much by the batter, resulting in a overpowered sour taste. Though stated beer-battered, I couldn't really taste any beer in it. The batter was also soggy (maybe due to the vinegar) and not crispy enough.

The only plus point was that its made upon order, so the fish was served piping hot. Also, its reasonably filling for one as each portion comes with 10 pieces of fishes and a small amount of fries.

Saybons is a small french food eatery that was celebrating its one-year anniversary. Some time ago I tried its dessert crepe and was rather impressive. This time we gave its soup and bread a try.

Seafood Bisque (Left, $4.90) Wild Mushroom (Right, $4.20)

The seafood bisque was great! It was rich in lobster taste which greatly resembled the lobster bisque at Meritus Mandarin Triple 3 buffet. Though there wasn't any pieces of seafood in it, its already a real bargain for such quality stuff at this price .

The mushroom soup was also nothing of your campbell type, with mushroom bits and a earthly natural taste. With all the soups being labelled with the healthy pymarid tag, I expected them to be MSG-free and good for your health!

Focaccia Bread with Garlic Herb Butter ($1.60/2 pieces)

Toasted on the spot, the focaccia bread was warm and tasty with a spread of the garlic herb butter. Goes well with the soup or eaten on its own.

Overall, Saybons gave a better experience than chippy, or maybe chippy served other better mains. Will be back to try out Saybons's other soup flavours and its range of savoury crepes . With so many other snack outlets at the basement, the next time when having a headache on what to eat in town, try mix-matching at PS!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Chung Cheng Chilli Mee: One of its kind!

Chung Cheng Chilli Mee served noodles with a combination of toppings that I had never seen before elsewhere. Together with its secret chilli recipe and good ol soup stock, its one of the must-try store at Golden Mile Food Centre.

Mee Pok Dried ($3.00)

Mee pok had always been my choice when eating such noodles, preferring its texture and fully enjoying the condiments when eaten dried. The $3.00 portion comes with generous amount of sliced hard-boiled egg, tau pok, vegetables, pork ribs and 2 prawns. If you are really hungry, you can always have the $4.00 upsized version.

The fiery chilli is not only spicy, but also contained other stuffs that added on flavour to the noodles. As a result, it gave a complete different taste from bak chor/fishball mee. The acommpanying soup is of excellent quality, hinting many hours of brewing with many prawns and ribs.

I heard that it tasted better in the past and quality had dwindled with the generation, but to me its still rather tasty and unique that you can get nowhere else. Try it for yourself!
Sunday, September 21, 2008

Chong Qing Hot Pot: 麻辣火锅 Buffet!

To tell the truth, I never liked steamboat at Marina Bay. Its hot, not-very-hygenic, waste-money-on-drinks, and rather low quality/over marinated ingredients. Yes its cheap and good for class gatherings/army cohesions as it suits everyones' budget, but if you are with friends who are willing to pay more, and for a really good meal of buffet steamboat, Chong Qing Hotpot @ Tanglin Shopping Centre is my no. 1 choice!

Don't mistaken the place for Tanglin Mall, this one is the older one beside Orchard Parade Hotel and have lots of textile shops on level one. Go up to level 4 and you can find it after venturing through a bit of corridor. The place has the touch of an oriental teahouse, brightly lit and air-conditioned. Though a little squeezy, it gets me into the steamboat mood!

We had a mix pot of chicken broth and 麻辣汤 (Spicy Soup). If you are a hardcore spice taker, you can ask for extra dried chilli to be added into ur 麻辣汤. But do this at your own risk! The normal one is already enough to make me break out in sweat and numb the tongue for a long long time. Then again, I can't really take spiciness whereas my girlfriend literally drank the 麻辣汤 when we came last time..

There's close to 50 types of ale-carte unlimited-servings ingredients, around 40 more that costs extra (eg. lobster, sea cucumber, abalone) and around 10 dishes that comes only once (xiao long bao, sliced salmon, desserts etc). I can't possibly list out every single one that I ate, but I'm gonna highlight one of their in-house speciality on the free flow menu.

Handmade Fish Paste

The fish paste is thinly spread onto a plate and you could either ask the friendly waitress to cook it for you or DIY. I prefer to DIY as its more fun for the hands-on experience.

All you need to do is to scoop some boiling soup onto the plate,, slice the fish paste into quarters and repeatedly rinse soup on each indivudual pieces until they slide off the plate. Try not to scrub the paste off the plate as it simply means that its not scalded enough yet. Leave it in the soup for a while before consuming. Fresh and smooth, I can have tens of plates of these!

Clockwise from top left: Enoki Mushrooms, Pork Belly, Spinach Noodles, Fresh Prawns

This is what I like as a finale. Crunchy enoki mushrooms, fatty pork belly and succulent prawns (came on sticks, so convenient for you to peel that you don't even need hands!) in spinach noodles, drenched in a rich bowl of soup that has the essence of so much seafood, vegetables, meat and whatsnot, its a satisfying way to end off the meal!

The dinner buffet is priced at $30.90++ on weekends, which surprisely didn't increase much over the decade (yes it had been around for almost that long already). There's a different name outlet by the same parent company in Suntec City fountain area, but I don't know if the menu or price is the same. If you are craving for some good, spicy steamboat, don't forget about this place!
Monday, September 15, 2008

The Prime Society: Damn Good Steak!

I had been craving for a good steak for quite some time already, but I couldn't find an occasion to celebrate at The Prime Society @ Dempsey, where I first dined on Mother's Day and the price wasn't exactly friendly. So when Dad's birthday came, I finally had the chance to book a table for the family!

Housed in an old britsh barrack, the high ceiling, restored foundations and wooden furniture brings about an elegent class for the restaurant. Yet the ambience wasn't of too serious with jazz music playing in the pipeline and casual diners having the occasional laugh-out-louds. And oh, do ask for Mr Marcus Chua to take your orders as he is very helpful, friendly, informative and entertaining. Waiter of the year!

Note: Do pardon me for the bad quality of some of the photos. I'm still learning how to apply ISO mode correctly on my compact camera and I hate using flashlight for overkilling results most of the time.

Bread & Dip ($8.00) Jumbo Prawn ($16.00) Foie Gras ($28.00)

The bread was warmly toasted and came with 3 different types of sauces, a tomato one (red), and the other two which i suspected to be egg york & cream-based (yellow) and olive & herb-based (green). All three were appetizing but i particularly like the light veggie taste of the green one.

The two pan-fried prawns were crunchy and topped with lemon sauce, but slightly pricey for my liking. The foie gras was slightly cheaper than Pontini, but was fairly larger and cooked with better control. The apple and raisin sauce was a perfect sweet compliment to eliminate heavy aftertaste.

Australian Wagyu Ribeye Grade 9 (160g I think) ($75.00)

The wagyu ribeye was the most expensive celebrity item on the menu and I just persuaded my dad to go for it. Served medium, the ribeye was very well-marbled, simply melting in your mouth with a buttery aroma and full of natural beef flavour. You could even eat it without a knife! My dad's appetite wasn't very big so the portion was just nice for him.

Ribeye 250g ($42.00)

This was served on a wooden oak plank (to retain natural flavouring as claimed), served with daily veggies and the best fries I had yet.The thick cut fries was slightly salted and buttered, arrived hot and remained crispy throughout the meal. The crunchy skin and powdery inside made it a class above all other fries.

I had a larger portion of the normal ribeye and though not as well-marbled as the wagyu, it was still skirted with a nice layer of fats in the centre and side, tender when cooked medium and rich in taste . A damn good steak overall!

Filet Mignon 160g ($36.00)

My mom chose the thick cut filet mignon for its pink centre and chewy texture. Though oozing with quality, i preferred the fattier ribeye to this. The ladies portion was still too much for my mom though.

Clockwise from left: Mushroom Cream, Blue Cheese Avocado, Herb Butter, Pepper, Red Wine

Instead of having a sauce for each of our steak, we chose to have a sampler of a few of their best sellers. The blue cheese avocado was the most exotic one, I rather liked the intense flavour but I guessed not everyone can withstand the taste of blue cheese. The mushroom cream and herb butter was milder and more creamy, while the pepper and red wine tends to be more watery but still flavourful. Personally, I will recommend not dipping any sauces first so that you can fully enjoy the excellent quality of the steak itself.

We skipped the not so impressive desserts menu and later went for Ben & Jerry's next door. Total cost was $331.91 after GST with a bottle of Devils Creek Merlot. Ouch for my wallet.. but hey, its for my dad! Do consider the place for special celebrations and a must-try for steak lovers!
Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Botak Jones: Coffeeshop Mega Burger!

Heard about this place many times already, but didn't really have a chance to visit it due to its inaccessibility for me. After meeting my girlfriend after school one day, we decided to give it a try and went to the clementi outlet.

The coffeeshop itself had quite a few stores but 8 out of 10 tables were eating from Botak Jones, while 1 were eating from another italian store and the remaining one split among the bak chor mee, cai fan and whatsmore (kinda pity their business actually). Their serving style reminds me of Astons Express where you ordered from a counter first before picking up a number stand.

Fish & Chip ($6.50) + Sunny Side-up ($1.00)

The batter was crispy and they used pacific dory which were lighter and lesser of the frozen taste. There were only two choices for side dishes that day, the coleslaw was abit too wet while the french fries were fresh and sprinkled with savoury cajun powder. They do provide malt vinegar for the fish & chips, which i preferred over chilli/ketchup sauces. Overall I felt that they have done it better than Aston's.

Botak Burger ($8.50) + Shitake Mushroom ($2.00) + Sunny Side-up ($1.00)

I wasn't feeling exceptionally hungry that day, so I went for the single patty burger. The hand-pounded non-frozen (as they claimed) minced beef was big, juicy and grilled just nice, with a slight pink in the middle. Topped with a layer of melted cheese, together with the toasted bun, abit of my add-on egg and some earthly shitake mushroom, all in one bite. Omph! You should have seen others ordereing the double, or even triple patty burger. That will take a real hungry carnivore to devour it all!

Good quality, pleasent service and affordable price, a nice place for no-frills western. I heard one of the outlet had the orignal Mr Jones at it. Btw, do give the coffeeshop's homemade lemon tea a try if you want a drink, refreshing and not-too-sweet. Will be returning on a very very hungry day!