Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Food in the Room: Chocolates!

Last of the mini-series!

We tend to have loads of chocolates in the room, often giving or sharing them with others so that we wouldn't kill our throats. Besides Mars Bars and Ferraro Rochers, here are a few unique ones!

The roomie got this from somewhere but don't know where, and it had been sitting around in the fridge for a pretty long time! Don't worry its not expired yet, so we still pop one once in a while!

I think due to the fact that it was always in the fridge, the liquer centre was more jelly-like than liquid. Still, the irish cream taste was promininent, best to let it just slowly dissolve in your mouth!

Alot of people asked me if I had bought this in some atas supermarket and whether its expensive, but guess what, its just something bought from your friendly NTUC! The brand had been in the market for several years already, as I remembered first buying it back in army.

Crispy thin wafer with smooth chocolate cream and subtle hint of hazelnut, one is never enough! Also available in Vanilla, Chocolate, Cappuchino and Choco-mint!

This is a personal favourite! Thick milk chocolate bar with chunky almond meat, yet another found-in-NTUC brand but barely promoted. Pardon the teeth mark, but its all about taking a huge bite and finding gold within!

Two more papers to go, and I'm shifting out this friday! Now, anyone wants to stay with us next semester?

Look for the previous parts here, here and here.

Taken with Nikon D70, Sony T70
Sunday, April 25, 2010

Food in the Room: Homecook Meals!

Part 3 of the mini-series!

I simply love my room fridge. Never mind that we are paying $80 more per semester for its usage, the perks of having cold orange juice, cooling fruits and chilled chocolates are just so worth it! And besides stuffs that bought from supermarkets, homecooked food could be kept overnight too!

Roomie's parents came over one weekend evening and brought us a much-desired meal from home. Apologies for the jerky shots as we were basically two very hungry wolves who couldn't wait to get started!

The killer dish was the brownish looking thing at the top right, stewed duck simmered with ginger. Brought all the way from China, the duck breed was much smaller than what you usually saw in Singapore. It was oh-so-good with melting skin and tender meat shreds, with flavourful ginger absorbing the dark sauce and juices.

Besides that, stir-fried vegetables, sunny-side-ups, steamed fish and prawns filled us up real good! And in case you are wondering..

Salmon Sashimi ($10+)

No, my roomie parents were not Japanese chefs. We bought this at Jurong Point Kuriya while doing grocery shopping. A little indulgence to destress!

And my mom, not willing to be outdone (nah I'm kidding, there was no rivalry at all), cooked up a feast on another weekend! Again, the can of luncheon meat looked out of place. But well.. some cravings are just difficult to explain!

Beef Short Ribs with Asparagus and Mushrooms, Clear-boiled Chicken Soup

Somehow my mom always had stock of these fantastic boneless ribs in the freezer. Pan fried with pepper and vegetables, we cleared every bit of it! I didn't know how long she took to boil the chicken stock, but it was so rich with natural goodness that we couldn't get enough of it! Just to prove my point..

When I took out the lefover next day, it was choked so full of collagen that it turned into jelly! Tasted as good after reheating!

A heartfelt thank-you to both parents for showering us with tender-loving care despite not even going home. Will be good kids and make your troubles worthwhile!

Click here for part 1 and part 2!

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, April 23, 2010

Punggol Nasi Lemak, Ice3: More Supper Places!

I love catching up with friends over supper. While we are all busy with different schoolwork in the day, wee hours are always great to share news and laughters. But lazy me doesn't like to to take night buses or risk pricey cab fares, so its good to have friends who drive! For this session, we first went to Punggol Nasi Lemak at Kovan!

Rice with Egg and Chilli, Chicken Wings

I got to say, these guys served one of the best coconut rice I have eaten! The rice grains are fragrant, fluffy and had just the right amount of hardness to my liking. Chilli was mildly spicy with a sweet aftertaste, and every one of their eggs were runny! However, the rice portion was really small with one serving probably just half of a usual bowl.

I used to love the wings so much that I could easily down 3 at a go. While its signature crispiness remained, I found the meat itself to be rather tasteless. Either my memories were too fond, or the ones discovered at Pioneer MRT Bee Hoon store were simply too good. (Entry pending!)

Sambal Brinjal, Stir-fried Long Beans

Brinjal was well done with the addition of sambal chilli, while the long beans were really to just satisfy cravings. I forgot to take a shot of the otaks, but they were really good too with chunky thick cuts of meat.

The prices here could be really expensive for nasi lemak standard. 7 wings, 7 otaks, 2 dishes and 3 plates of rice with eggs cost us over 30 dollars. But honestly, I would still willingly pay for good chinese-styled nasi lemak. Anyone has better recommendations for me?

Next stop, a short drive to Serangoon Gardens brought us to Ice3! The dessert parlour had neon blue bar tables that were cool to huddle for desserts sharing, but I realised not good for photos as a lot of my shots turned out blue-ish!

Alcoholics Anonymous, Black + White ($10.90 each)

Their signature mudpies! I would order the first one on every visit because I simply could not find anything similar elsewhere! Smooth rum n raisin ice cream on top of a orea cookie crust, drizzled with raisins, almond flakes and butterscotch syrup. Go ahead and eat more, you won't be charged for drink-driving!

The other one was white choclate ice cream with coco crunch, chocolate chips and dark chocolate sauce. Not as exciting as Alcoholics Anonymous but still pretty nice. Going Bananas would be another good mudpie choice!

Waffle with Banana ($7.90), Ring of Fire ($11.90)

While fresh from the kitchen, the thick and spongy waffle wasn't to my liking as I pretty much preferred the ones at Udders. I couldn't remember all the flavours from RoF, but the ones that did stood out were Brownies N Cream, Tropicana Sorbet and ChocoNanas. The scoops were fairly small so you wouldnt feel overdosed from all the flavours!

With late closing hours (we left around 1+ am and it was still packed), Ice3 would be an ideal place for healthy-no-drinking chill outs, ending the stressful day on a sweet note. And of course, presence of good company always helps!

Now, where do you go for late-night bites?

Taken with Nikon D70
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Orange Clove: Catering with a Difference!

This is an invited session

What do you think of catering buffets? Fried rice, deep fried snacks, curry vegetables, fruit cocktail. The ones I had always seem to revolve around these few items. While there are high-end caterers like Purple Sage pampering you with live stations, most of us spend plenty of time looking for differentiated menus at affordable prices. Orange Clove might just fit the bill!

Being part of Neo Group Catering, Orange Clove specialises in Halal-certified dishes and pays particular attention to food presentation as well as layout settings. To celebrate the launch of their new menu, a Bloggers' Night was organised at the Botanic Gardens!

The theme for the night was purple, white and crystal, which indeed added a touch of elegance and was pleasing to the eye. I also liked how they used silverware instead of paper plates and plastic utensils, while the hot dishes were kept warm in polished, enclosed metal containers rather than open-air trays.

Baguette with Mushrooms and Capsicum, Assorted Sushi Platter

I rather liked the combination of warm sauteed mushroom and juicy capsicum, savoury with a refreshing aftertaste. Pity that the baguette was soft and rubbery, would have fared alot better if they were served Bruschetta-styled. Sushi was pretty run-of-the-mill with various types of makis and nigiris.

DIY Salad, Sausage Platter, Potato Salad

With choices like sliced hard boil eggs, baby tomatoes and croutons, it was a great idea to provide a salad counter for people who love customising and tossing their greens! Sausages were juicy and easy to eat, while the potato salad consisted of halved roasted baby potatoes, lightly flavoured with salt and pepper.

Penne Pasta with Chicken and Mushrooms, Honey Chicken

Ahh.. No more bee hoon or fried rice! Its good to see pasta being served as the main carbo item, but it was slightly bland for my liking. Likewise, while the chicken meat was tender and succulent, the honey marinate stopped at its surface level, failing to penetrate within the white meat.

Pan-fried snapper with Miso Butter Sauce

Now this stood out among all the hot dishes, presented nicely in a rolled-up form with asparagus strands adding colour to it. While the fish quality was fresh, it was a tad overcooked, resulting in a rough and grainy texture. My friend suggested that perhaps it required longer cooking time to retain its firm shape. Also, I'm not sure if it was meant to be intentionally bland, as I did find the miso sauce going well with it.

Lemon Merguine, Strawberry Tart, Cheesecake

Served in cute bite-sized portions, the merguine's lemon flavour was zesty and likeable, while I thought that the pairing of strawberries with coconut shavings was rather good. Cheesecake was also better than I expected with smooth, thick fillings and flaky biscuit base. Definitely ahead of what other caterers are providing!

Orange Clove Cupcakes, Mango Pudding

Though looking good with their company logo, the sugar icing was too sweet to be eaten, so thick and harden that you could have mistaken it as a lid! To be fair, the muffin beneath was rather good to munch on though.

Pudding was a little watery, and while strawberries were thoughtfully sliced up, the grapes were really a puzzle. Did they expect guests to pluck it off one by and one and leave the vine floating in the pudding?

Fruit Punch

Essential for a catered buffet, not sure if it came from syrup but it sure tasted so.

Puff with Mayonnaise and Egg, Prawn Cocktail

I'm not sure if these two were part of the original package, as they weren't listed on the menu list. The puffs replaced the mushroom baguette, and you couldn't really go wrong with it unless you hate mayonnaise. The cocktail were served in shooters filled with bits of sweet-tasting vegetables and fruits, though the prawn itself could have been crunchier.

Estio La Purisima Bianco 2008

The session ended with wine tasting from Neo Group's own wine shop, Wine Mansion. Not really a wine drinker, but I did prefer the fruity white to the spicy red being served.

Its nice to see caterers like Orange Clove putting in more efforts to satisfy their customers, changing the plain boring mindset of catering to something more exquisite and innovative. While the new menu needs fine-tuning in my opinion, its the dedication and thought that counts in providing a better overall catering experience. Worth considering for your next party or corporate function!

Special thanks to Jane and Jessie of Neo Group for the invite!

Visit Orange Clove @ their company website

Taken with Nikon D70
Sunday, April 18, 2010

Republic of Steak: Affordable Cuts!

When you mention cheap and good western food these days, Astons Specialities will probably be the first to come to mind. But with its hour-long queues and rather stagnant menu, it can get boring after years of hype, so it was a nice change to discover Republic of Steak!

Situated at the ground level of Victoria Hotel, its very prominent as you walked across the road from Bras Basah Complex. There was a slight queue at 7plus but I got seated within 10 minutes (Lucky enough to get the only booth seats!). Portraying the wild west image with grand canyon wallpaper and waitresses in cute cowboy hats, funishing was fuss-free with self-service of utensils.

Besides the menu items looking familiar, all main courses even came with choices of two side dishes. Hmmm? Yes you must be guessing already, and I indeed had sources telling me that this place is ran by an ex-employee of you-know-where. But leaving that controversy behind, I'm more interested to know how the food fares.

Ice Lemon Tea ($1.50), Calamansi ($1.00), Wild Mushroom Soup ($3.50)

Drinks were ordinary while better than canned stuffs, soup was not as thick and creamy as I preferred but still good with sufficient flavourings and bits of mushrooms.

While one of the staffs gave us normal grounded pepper initially, the boss (didn't catch his name, he was busy running about and talking to customers) noticed and swapped it with a pepper grinder, apologising that the crew were new and still rather inexperienced. Liked the sincerity!

Breaded Fish with Coleslaw and Onion Rings ($7.20)

Served hot, the dory fish had a good layer of crispy crumbs and I liked how it was lightly seasoned with herbs. Onion rings was a pity in arriving cold while coleslaw was refreshing despite slightly drenched in sauce.

Pork Steak with Onion Potato and Garlic Spaghetti ($9.90)

My eyes gleamed when I saw this on the menu. Pork chop, pork cutlet I had plenty, but I believe this is a first-hand experience with pork steak!

According to Wikipedia: Pork steaks are cut from pork shoulder blade (Boston) roast. Like the roasts, the steaks are flavorful and contain a significant amount of fat, which helps keep them moist while cooking

I'm not sure how true this applies to RoS, but I'm definitely loving it! Grilled in thick cuts, the steak was outstandingly tender and juicy. I almost forgot about the bland black pepper sauce and I didn't need it anyway, the natural charred flavour of the steak was good enough!

Sides-wise, the onion potato was probably pan-fried and tasted hearty, while the garlic spaghetti had strong flavours but way too greasy even for my standard. My plate was literally swarming with oil after I'm done with it.

Lava Cake ($4.90)

At its price, this was a real steal! No fanciful vanilla bean specks on the ice cream, but the lava cake had a nice immediate layer of crust on the soft sponge, oozing with hot bitter goodness as you paired with the cold stuff. Go ahead and end the dinner with one, or maybe two!

Bill for two was $25 with no taxes. Given its similiarity, I have to say that while you-know-where offers larger portions and consistency in quality, RoS is very promising with its own menu innovations and friendly services. I foresee myself going back for more steaks (pork and beef alike) and lava cakes already!

Taken with Nikon D70

Post-note @ 1.30pm, 18th April: It seems that RoS has been easily confused and mistaken as Ministry of Steak, the one at Serangoon Gardens and Clarke Quay. I myself thought that they were the same when writing this, although the owner did tell me that he had sold off his stake and no longer associated with them. I'm not going to engage in long story telling, but I guess you can easily check it up on the net if you are interested to find out more.