Sunday, August 29, 2010

Quiznos: The Gourmet Subs!

I have been eating alot at Subway these years. Besides being a healthier choice (I still need my dosage of KFC every now and then though), its one of the few fast food that really fills you up with a long sandwich (can be made even longer) and chewy cookies. While Subway has certainly gained popularity with more outlets, it needs to look out for this competitor!

Quiznos landed on our shores sometime last year alongside Tully's Coffee (same franchise owner), selling sandwiches in a style that is almost identical to Subway: Queue up, choose your bread, fillings and options to make it a meal! That being said, they do have their own unique menu and sell sandwiches in 8" size, somewhat in between a 6" and foot long. There is also a condiments corner which let you add more sauces and toppings to your liking!

Classic Italian (6", $6.20), Zesty Grill Steak (6", $6.90)

We thought of measuring how the first one would fare against Subway's classic Cold Cut Trio, and it sure did well! While there wasn't as much meat, we actually liked how the salami, pepperoni and honey ham was distinguished, unlike a lump of ham that eventually tasted the same. The white bread was toasted and soft on the inside, while the fresh veggie toppings, mozzarella cheese and red wine vinaigrette made it even more enjoyable!

If the Italian was good, the other one was even better! Again, they could be more generous with the amount of fillings, but the sliced steak was really tender, drizzled in delightful honey bourbon mustard and grille sauce. With toppings of mozzarella, cheddar, mushrooms and sauteed onions, it felt liked eating a sub version of Burger King's Swiss Mushroom, but of better quality ingredients! Impressive!

Chicken Noodle Soup (top up $2.70), Classic Caesar Salad (top up $3.50)

We took the soup out of curiousity and didn't like it at all. Bland taste aside, it had probably been cooked way beforehand with the bits of pasta feeling really mushy.

The salad was a much better choice, large bowl of fresh, crunchy greens with your favourite sauce! By the way, topping up also includes a soft drink (Root Beer available!) of your choice.

Bill for two was $17.95 after 10% discount with OCBC card. Though slightly pricier than Subway, Quiznos is probably targeting a consumer group that is willing to pay more for great-tasting premium subs (They even provide fork and knife for the subs!). I will be heading back to try out the other creations!

#03-33 Orchard Central
Tel: 6509 9833
3 other outlets islandwide

Taken with Nikon D70
Thursday, August 26, 2010

Provence Cafe: Casual Tea Sets!

Its not hard to find places for afternoon tea in Singapore. Besides hotel lounges, we have the almost-everywhere Starbucks and TCC, or the more upmarket ones like Royal Copenhagen and Canele. And I just found out that Provence Cafe has pretty good sandwich sets too!

Located at Ion Orchard, this was their 2nd sit-in cafe after their original outlet at Holland Village, though they have a few other Petit Provence branches for speedy takeaways. Ordering was fast food-like: queueing at counters while browsing the wall menu, taking a number as you wait for the food to be delivered. Service was polite and courteous as you would expect of its Japanese origin.

The sets came with beverage options of coffee, tea or juices. The coffee had a nice dark aroma, adding hokkaido milk and sugar to our own liking. I doubted that the orange juice was freshly squeezed, but at least it wasn't from concentrated syrup.

Tuna Toast ($4.50), Ham Katsu Toast ($4.80)

The girlfriend had craving for tuna, so this suited her well! Sandwiched between two nicely-browned toasts, the thick filling was accompanied with slices of crisp lettuce. Though nothing spectacular, I was glad that it tasted fresh and not overly mushy.

The ham katsu was deep-fried upon order, making sure that you have a piping hot sandwich everytime! There wasn't too much oil residue as each bite of the crumb coating gave a resounding crunch. Simple pleasure!

Mini Croissant ($0.60), Cream Cheese Sesame Roll ($0.80)

Why not add on their signature croissant? It was as good as ever with sugar lightly coated over their buttery, fluffy dough. The other one was really nice as well, with fragrance of black sesame and solid cubes of savoury cream cheese within. Bring more of them home for breakfasts!

Bill for two was $10.70 with GST only, cheaper than proper cafes and definitely not losing out on taste. Portions might be slightly small for hungry males, but I guess would be sufficient for ladies even for a light lunch or dinner. I see that they have mini bread pizzas too. Next time!

Provence Bakery and Cafe
#B4-07/08, ION Orchard
Tel: 6509 3926

Taken with Nikon D70
Monday, August 23, 2010

Everything With Fries: And With Salmon!

For the past weeks, I was working at Fusionopolis and had the opportunity to explore eateries nearby, from cheap and good hawker fare to cosy chillout cafes. And when I have more time after work, how can I miss out the little food haven of Holland Village?

If you had been following food blogs, you would know that Everything With Fries had been receiving quite a bit of attention from bloggers. Decked in white furnishing and a huge blackboard at the side, it almost replicated the minimalist design of Awfully Chocolate (Yup, its the same boss!) and was operated by young, cheerful crews. I was there on a early weekday evening so I still had the liberty of choosing my seats, as it soon became a full house when night falls!

One Egg Soup ($3.90)

Being their signature soup (in fact, its the only) on the menu, it tasted similar to your usual cream-series soups, though it would be better if it could be slightly thicker. The piece of egg white on top added much texture as I liked how it was fluffy and with that eggy aroma. Innovation points!

Pork Cutlet Sandwich ($8.90)

Sandwiched between a hotdog bun, the cutlet was well-breaded with hints of herbs, crunchy at every bite. There was also something special about the mayonnaise sauce used as it was lighter and sweeter than the usual ones. One major problem remained: The cutlet was really too thin, resulting in a dry meat that took quite a bit of effort in chewing.

The main course came with coleslaw and of course, their fries! Opting for the Curry Flavoured Thick Cuts, it was served hot with a nice crisp layer surrounding the thick potato fillings. Curry flavour was prominent, though I would like it to have less salt and more curry powder.

Breaded Salmon ($13.90)

Now this was a surprisingly good find! With a layer of breaded crust, the salmon was very fresh and outstandingly handled, with solid edges and a melting center. The hollandaise sauce went nicely with the salmon, neither too sour or overpowering. Very enjoyable!

We chose Sour Cream and Onion Shoestring for this one, and it was much subtle in taste as compared to the curry one. Honestly, I think we are all spoilt by shaker fries until such flavourings do not come as unique anymore!

Nuttela Tart ($4.90)

And how can I leave without a slice of their signature tart? Very thick and smooth, the main bulk of the tart was almost like eating a curd version of nutella spread! Nope I didn't order two, it was just that I initially ordered without the vanilla ice cream, but I realised after a few spoonful that it was like eating a lava cake: too rich on its own and needed something light to ease the flavour!

Bill for two was $34.55 after taxes. With a varied menu and affordable pricing, EwF will be a good choice for a fuss-free western meal. Though they only have two outlets as of now (and another fast-food joint in Orchard Central), I'm pretty sure they will expand if it continues to be well-received. The mains seem to fare better than the burgers and sandwiches, so those would be my target for the next visit!

Side Event: If you have noticed, the price for the Nuttela Tart was without the ice cream, missed out in the bill as it was a later add-on. I noticed this only after payment and told the manager about it. He was nice enough to waive off the extra charges (Now don't push your luck and bully them!) and jokingly told me that he will charge for a double scoop on my next nuttela tart. Will do!

Everything With Fries
40 Lorong Mambong, Holland Village
Tel: 6463 3741
Check out their online menu!

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, August 20, 2010

Krish: A Place For All Occasions!

This is an invited session

It had been quite awhile since Lay Sian and I got together. Before you start gasping and thought that its going to be a long emotional post, no this is not it (We are still doing great btw thankyouverymuch), but I'm just reminiscing of the times that I sought so earnestly for the perfect first date.

The venue, the ambience, the food, everything that was planned to make it memorable. And if I had the budget and its availability back then, Krish might just fit the very bill!

Located at Rochester Park, Krish is a relatively young startup (opened for less than a year) that does modern European cuisine with an Indian twist, influenced by the origins of its owners and the creativity of executive chef, Matthew Baker.

Its always nice to have restaurants within colonial-era houses, giving that bit of homely, cosy touch. Walking about, I was really impressed by how much attention was paid to decor details. Rustic typewriter, family photos, cookbooks on shelves and glass bottle chandeliers, you will have plenty of fun just by exploring the place!

Fried Naan Chips

An unusual twist to your usual bread and dips! The crispy little things were served hot, infused with herbal aroma and savoury cheese bits. Very addictive!

We also had drinks from their cocktail list for the evening, mine was a Ravulo 9 with champagne base and predominated with orange flavour. Refreshing after a day's work!

Seared Foie Gras, Hamachi Tartar, Roasted Onion and Garlic Soup

While its usual for restaurants to pair the sinful liver with sweet sauces to ease off greasiness, Krish took a bold step further to serve it with savoury home-made peanut butter. Arriving on a slice of warm naan, the combination hit off surprisingly well as the chunky, crushed peanuts blended with the foie gras, alongside light, sweetened strawberries. The liver itself, was a tad too well-done for my liking, but overall a very special adaption of the classic dish!

The other appetiser was a relatively lighter one, as the diced raw Yellowtail was seasoned with vinegar and nicely presented on a bed of pressed, creamy avocado. I didn't try out the soup but overheard from the dining companions that it was rather heavy in onion taste.

Tamarind Glazed Leg of Lamb, Herb-crusted Korabuta Pork Chop, Seared US Diver Scallops

I had a slice of the lamb and instantly liked its tender texture, going really well with braised onions and mint pesto sauce. Yes there was still a trace of the game taste. but hey, what's lamb without it?

While I couldn't exactly taste the crust, the Korabuta (Nope, not a typo) pork fared well on the fattier, outer rim, but got tougher and drier as we got closer to the bone. Perhaps just awhile shorter on the stove? The accompanying tamarind risotto, on the other hand, stole the limelight. Perfectly semi-cooked rice grains with unique Indian herbs, there were also thin, crunchy asparagus to go along with.

My choice of main had a much smaller portion than the other two, but it sure made up with quality! Huge, juicy scallops were fresh and delectable, while the morsels of braised oxtails simply melted away in mouth. Awesome! How I wished I could have access to that entire pot of oxtail stew with a large bowl of rice! (Sorry, the Chinese in me emerging)

Malleable Chocolate Ganache, Blackcurrant Parfait

We had two choices for desserts as part of the media tasting menu. I was told that Krish's dessert advisor was none other than Janice Wong of 2am dessert bar, which sort of explained for the deconstructed style. While I would prefer dessert to be more straightforward (put it simply, to look like cakes and tarts), I do appreciate the ingredients used here.

The chocolate ganache was rich and slightly bitter, with slices of chocolate chips and a dope of chocolatey shaved ice in the middle. Unlike your regular parfait, the little halves were smooth with natural blackcurrant flavour and paired with creamy coconut ice cream.

Ice Cream/Sorbet Selections, Chai Masala Creme Brulee

They were also kind enough to let us try some other desserts on the ala carte menu. The red one was a very interesting Black Pepper Strawberry Sorbet, in which the sourness of the strawberry first hits you, followed by a fiery peppery aftertaste as you breath in a gust of air.

The Mint-Lemongrass Sorbet really freshened us up, as we likened it to having a spa in the mouth! Toasted Naan Ice Cream was a savoury hit as well, with the subtle taste of naan that didn't quite feel like eating starters all over again!

Creme Brulee was light and creamy, paired with a thin cinnamon wafer that added more flavour to the dessert. Calvin was totally in love with this!

We were given a tour of Krish after the dinner, which further wowed us with how comprehensive and thoughtful the place was. The little outdoor garden had kids-friendly swings and seesaw that were really meant to be played with (very well-maintained too), perfect for a family Sunday brunch!

Moving upstairs, there was a small dining hall that would perhaps be good for a private function, though I think the wall (on the left) could be a hindrance for the host to have a full view of his guests at the tables.

You thought that was all? Across the linking bridge on the 2nd floor is Krish's very own al-fresco bar. High benches and stools, comfy plush sofas or tatami-styled tables? Take your pick! I heard that they regularly screen sporting events and host game nights, excellent for a chillout night! Some held their wedding receptions here too!

Be it birthday parties, buddy drinking sessions or quiet dinners for two, Krish has covered just about everything that you can associate with wine and dine. Prices are on the mid-high range, but with the daring cuisine, delicate flavours and thoughtful ambience, I would say its worth the penny for some memorable experiences to keep. As for me..

(Credits to Amanda for the shot)

How about a re-first date?

Check out what the cheerful company for the night thought:

Amanda, Avnjl
Calvin, The Foodie-licous World
Cheryl, The Baker Who Cooks

Special thanks to Xiaomin, Danielle and Jillyan, the lovely ladies from Ate Consulting who played hosts to us that night!

9 Rochester Park
Tel: 7669 4644
Check out their website for menu!

Taken with Nikon D70
Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Goodwood Park Coffee Lounge: Durian Fiesta!

If there's one thing that the girlfriend will never get sick of, it has to be durian. The king of fruit's lure can hit her almost anytime, and yet still blame me for making her put on weight when I helped to satisfy her craving (Its hard to be a boyfriend, sigh).

With such passion, she had been eyeing Goodwood Park's renowned durian spread for ages, so we finally went for the dessert buffet with two other like-minded couples!

Priced at 24.80++ per adult, the dessert buffet was housed within the elegant Coffee Lounge, and we got one of the comfortable circular booth seats due to our group size. Service was polite and efficient, promptly refilling water and clearing our table by the time we were back with a fresh plate.

Knowing that there was absolutely no savoury items in the buffet, I had already prepared myself by downing a Big Pau from Teck Kee at CK Tang Basement!

There were 6 durian-related and an assortment of other dessert items available on a rotational basis. I had previously written on the Durian Puffs, which was still excellent but tended to be a little frozen for the subsequent batches. Thin and crispy, the Mini Durian Pancake was made fresh on the spot, oozing with warm, creamy durian puree. Really nice!

The Durian Swiss Roll was soft and light, with the durian taste really subtle when compared to the other creations. Durian Oreo Cheesecake was rather delightful, with the infusion of durian cream into the cheesecake with chunky crumbs of Oreo on top.

I didn't quite like the Durian Pudding as it was too jelly-like for me. The Durianmisu, which was their new creation for the year, hitted the right spot though! While it was certainly unsightly and some of my friends didn't like the combination, I was intrigued by the blend of durian with rich, moist espresso and cocoa powder. A brave and refreshing attempt!

Take a sip of water and cleanse your tongue for some other desserts! The (Clockwise from top left) Cuppacino Brownie had a solid base and not so much of cuppacino, the other sponge cake (couldn't remember what) was rather bland, Chocolate Mousse was too fluff-like for me while the Flourless Chocolate was rather good with its airy texture.

The taste of red bean heavily masked the green tea flavour for the Green Tea Red Bean Cake, I have a soft spot for Bread Pudding while there was a certain Blueberry Yogurt which I avoided after one mouth.

American Cheesecake was alright and the Panna Cota with Madeline came in such a tiny cup, not even the dessert spoon could fit inside! (I ended up drinking it like a shooter anyway)

There was also an array of Asian desserts like the hot Bubur Terigu and Red Bean Soup, as well as petite Nonya Kuehs. Nothing mind-blowing, but still respectably done.

Movenpick Ice Cream were also available, while the chilled cut fruits provided a much-needed break from the all the processed sugar!

And how could you stop at just one round of their durian creations? More, more!

Sergeant Oreo: Fall in!

If you are a die-hard durian fan with an insatiable appetite, then you would probably love this place to bits. Else I think it would be better to just order ala carte at the Deli instead. As for me? I lost count of how many rounds I made, but I knew it was enough to fill my durian quota for the year, or two maybe. Oh by the way, my savoury instinct still screamed at me to grab two skewers from Yakitori afterwards!

Coffee Lounge
22, Scotts Road, Goodwood Park Hotel
Tel: 6730 1746
Note: Durian Fiesta 2010 is already over, though the dessert buffet is still available together with their taiwan porridge buffet. Durian creations can also be bought from The Deli.

Taken with Nikon D70