Thursday, October 28, 2010

Morton's: All Hail The Steak!

When my parents and I were younger(sounds odd but true), we used to celebrate occasions by whacking buffet lines. Those were the days when we all had bottomless appetite! These days, they tend to go relatively easier on the stomach, but that didn't stop us from celebrating dad's birthday with our second love, steak!

Located in an unassuming corner of Mandarin Oriental, the legendary Morton's had long been on my must-try list. Since dad wanted to see if the standard here is on par with the ones he had in US and HK, I almost nodded my head off when he suggested the place!

Our reservation was originally scheduled to be at 9:30pm on a weekend night, but we decided to try our luck for walk-in at about 7pm and managed to get a table! Decor wasn't extravagantly posh, but emitted more of an old-school, less-formal vibe. We were seated just beside the open kitchen and managed to steal glimpses and smells of all the goodness rolling out!

Yet again, apologies for the grainy shots. My hands just ain't that stable for long exposure!

Complimentary Bread, Menu Introduction

Bigger than two fists combined together, the giant onion loaf had a fantastic aroma, slightly crisp coating and soft, chewy interior that was blended with onion bits. I would have asked for another one if not for the huge portion of mains that followed!

The well-trained Morton's staff led us through the customary menu introduction, but that really served as an experience more than any practical purpose. I didn't catch some of things he said and he would probably curse me if I asked to repeat it all over again. Like I told Phoebe, the poor Maine Lobster probably went from scared to zonked out after being carried up and down for the whole night!

Ocean Platter for Two, Baked ($82.50)

Looking for something to share, we chose the baked variant over the chilled one, served with 3 dips that I only roughly remembered one of them to be Mayonnaise.

Battered Jumbo Prawns - Huge and crunchy. Not too much surprises.
Bacon-wrapped Scallops - Pretty normal again, scallops were expectably good.

Jumbo Lump Crabmeat - Fresh and chunky. For the lazy me!
Oyster Rockefeller - Baked with cheese and spinach. Yum!

New York Strip, "slightly smaller cut" ($108.00), Prime Ribeye ($90.00)

Boy these were giants! Even mom's supposedly smaller cut was way larger than usual steaks. My jaw dangled for a moment when I saw the size of these perfectly grilled beauties, marvelling at the perfect grill lines before finally carving a slice!

And carve is an overstatement. With my ribeye cooked to medium doneness, I barely need much effort in cutting the thick, tender meat. Taste-wise? Juicy, well-marbled, full of natural goodness and robust flavour, I could go on and on to tell you how heavenly that steak was but simply: Best one I ever had!

Grilled Asparagus ($25.00)

Attempting to balance out the meat intake, we had one green side for sharing! (Not too much balancing really) Thick, crunchy stems that was well-paired with vinegar.

Complimentary Legendary Hot Chocolate Cake

I guess many people like to celebrate birthdays at Morton's, as we heard the song being sang out at least 6 times by the staff that night and with chocolate cakes being sent out as fast as the steaks. Hot molten center with Haagen Daz Vanilla ice cream. Not as legendary as the steak, but still a sweet gesture to end the meal!

Bill for 3 was 624.40 after taxes, inclusive of a bottle of red ($135.00). Costly? Definitely. Memorable? No doubt. Will I be back? Resounding yes, but not before its my turn to bring the parents with my first paycheck!

Morton's Steakhouse
Fourth Storey, Mandarin Oriental Singapore
Tel: 6339 3740

Taken with Nikon D70
Saturday, October 23, 2010

Keisuke Tokyo: Crab Over Prawn Stock!

Some people ask me, how do I remember the taste of food since I don't take notes? I would say that pictures help plenty! Besides keeping receipts for name and price referencing, photos will remind me of a dish's key characteristics, as if transporting it right before me again. And trust me, this is very useful for backlog posts!

Some time before school starts (yes, its that far behind), my classmates and I had a dinner gathering and being the residential food directory, they asked me to recommend places to go! I thought Parco might be a pretty good idea since most of them haven't been there before, and we settled on Keisuke since we were curious how Japanese prawn noodles will taste like!

Widely covered in other blogs already, Keisuke Tokyo specialised in using prawn stock for their ramen. With a black chic decor, we managed to get a semi-private corner of long table for the 11 of us. Service was prompt and friendly, refilling our water glasses at regular intervals.

Prawn Stock Ramen Special ($19.00)

Of course I must have a go at their signature dish! Served in a pretty dome bowl, the broth was clear with an orange tint, thanks to the mass of prawns sacrificed. Rich in flavour, it was a very different approach from the usual pork bones base but then I thought: apart from the novelty, will I be willing to pay this much again for an upgraded version of Prawn Mee?

In fact, everything else about the ramen was pretty normal. White noodles, stewed bamboo shoots, prawn wantons, bland chicken meat and a not-so-good egg. Alright, prawn stock ramen, checked!

Special Crab Stock Ramen ($15.80)

Now I thought this was in fact a better find! The soup was thicker and more intensive, brimming with crab sweetness. Using thick flat noodles and topped with a piece of well-layered pork slice, I enviously eyed my friend as he slurped up every drop of it!

Prices here are pretty reasonable in the ten to twenty range, but I just feel that they need something more unique to keep me going back. For a start, maybe make the crab stock ramen a regular item? If not I would probably head straight for Nantsuttei when in the area!

Keisuke Tokyo
Parco Marina Bay #P3-02
Tel: 6337 7919

Taken with Nikon D70
Sunday, October 17, 2010

潮州妹: Porridge Buffet With a Wow!

Notice: This restaurant is closed

Some time back in April, I received an email poster about this new teochew porridge buffet restaurant. What caught my attention was its affordable pricing and wide spread of dishes promised. I was even more tempted to go after reading about it on IeatIshootIpost, as the owner really is a friend of Dr Leslie. Half a year past by and making three trips already, this really has to be the best value-for-money buffet in town!

Situated along Mohamed Sultan Road, 潮州妹 (Literally ‘Teochew Sister’, a play on dialect as Porridge and Sister sounds the same) has a simple, modern décor with seats comfortably spaced out. The buffet is served ala-carte style with dishes available on a rotational basis.

Staff here are really pleasant, largely influenced by the very passionate and sincere couple-owners, Joe and Tracy, who are very involved in the restaurant’s running, going table to table all night to chat with the customers. Now that’s excellent service!

The thing about eating regular teochew porridge was that with the limited number of diners (and sometimes, price-wise), it would be hard to try everything that the store has to offer. But that’s not a problem here! They intentionally served the dishes in small quantities so that you really can have a bit of all items for the night, and have encore rounds for your favourite ones!

I brought the girlfriend’s mum here on one occasion and being a Singaporean Teochew, she was impressed with the authenticity of the dishes, particularly stuffs like Chilli Sea Cockles, Salted Vegetables and Preserved Vegetables that she grew up eating. If only she will give her stamp of approval for other things as well.. =)

One of the more unique dishes is the Steamed Beancurd with Pork Floss. Simple in preparation but very comforting with its silky texture and savoury touch. The Bak Kut Teh, which is only available at night, uses premium ribs that are tender and moist while the soup is nicely peppered with a rich homecooked flavour. We had many refills of these!

But the two dishes that absolutely stole the show at Teochew Muay got to be the Braised Duck and Large Intestine. Both were outstandingly marinated, with the duck meat being wonderfully tender and the fatty intestine giving a sinful yet high feeling. Now I really lost count of how many encore rounds I had for every visit!

And don’t leave without a bowl of their homemade Tau Suan! Unlike your usual hawker ones, this is more watery (not diluted, mind you) with the beans thoroughly blended. Ask for a bowl of freshly roasted You Tiao and you will end off the meal nicely. A friend I brought left with a huge grin after 3 bowls of it!

Rice and Porridge, two bowls each. A personal testimonial to how good the food was. Burp!

Priced at $10.50nett for lunch and $13.80nett for dinner, Teochew Muay is an excellent place to indulge in without burning a hole in the pocket. Fantastic comfort food with enjoyable service, what more can you ask for? I need another visit already!

潮州妹 (Teochew Muay)
No.5 Mohamed Sultan Road
Tel: 6235 0338

Taken with Nikon D70
Wednesday, October 13, 2010

KFC Roasta Burger: Roasting the Chick!

This is an invited session

When it comes to fried chicken, there's just no way toppling KFC. Yes we have seen strong competitors surprising us with their recipe and unique menu these days, but with so many years of stronghold and a huge fan base, Colonel Sanders can continue sniggering at their efforts. And besides the fried ones being finger lickin good, oven-roasting seems like a bright idea too!

Last Saturday, a bloggers' session was held at KFC Suntec to introduce the new Roasta Burger. Instead of the usual grilled/fried burgers, KFC came up with an oven-roasted one to stand out from the crowd. Even the packaging box resembled a cute little oven!

Wrapped neatly within the box, the new burger looked more like a sub with its elongated shape. Sandwiched between the oat-bran dusted bun were tomato and lettuce slices and a large chunk of skinless chicken thigh meat. Stretched my mouth widely to make first contact!

The tender, juicy texture was well-received, nothing short of what I will expect of thigh meat done right. Flavour-wise, their signature sauce (not secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices, but still secret) was kind of sweet and savoury, leaving a subtle spicy aftertaste that appetisingly made you go for the next bite already!

To be really blunt, it felt like a roasted version of the Golden Arc's McSpicy, without the heatiness and adding an oriental touch with the 咕噜肉 (sweet and sour pork) type of sauce. A little advice, skip the large dope of mayonnaise to appreciate the original taste!

As Virginia, Marketing Director of KFC explains, they were able to explore such opportunities since they installed ovens for baking the Portuguese Egg Tarts (which by the way, has really amazing standards!), so don't be surprised if you see more roasted varieties in the future! A roasted two piece meal, perhaps?

The Roasta Burger will be a permanent addition to the menu, selling at $5.90 with a regular coke and side. Being so brainwashed by their fried chicken, it wouldn't come to me naturally to opt for a roasted chicken burger on my next KFC visit, but it never hurts to have more options for everyone!

Kentucky Fried Chicken
Outlets everywhere except Pulau NTU
Note: The Roasta Buger will be available for delivery from 19th October onwards, while the promotional meal and Roasta Buddy Meal will only last till 23th November

Special thanks to Migs and Linda of Group M, and the wonderful team at KFC for the invite!

Taken with Nikon D70
Saturday, October 09, 2010

Zhou's Kitchen: Chinese Set Lunches!

If there's one thing that I look forward to working in Shenton Way next time (provided that I do make it there), it will be the never ending choices for lunch. Golden Shoe, Far East Square, along with the many small eateries and cafes, just let me recharge for an hour please?

When I was in the vicinity some time ago with the girlfriend for her job interview, we were looking for a place for lunch when we saw Zhou's Kitchen having this really value-for-money set lunch options. Starters, soup, main and desserts all for just $8.80++? You stopped me right there!

The only catch? You had to dine at the outdoor area. Well technically its still indoor (within Far East Square complex) and it wasn't too warm either. Service was nice and friendly, though much have to be improved on the serving speed as they seemed to be shorthanded.

Carrot Cake and Char Siew Pau, Soup of the Day

Both dim sum items were pretty decent, carrot cake was soft and chewy with a crisp layer which went well with their chilli sauce, while the bun was warm and soft with the tender pork bits nicely sweetened.

Not sure if the soup changes everyday, but my Lotus Roots with Soft Pork Bones soup was flavourful and homely. Thumbs up!

Crispy Noodles with Seafood, Teochew-styled Fried Mee Sua

Served with pieces of prawns, scallops and fish, the first one was good enough on its own, tasting even better when soaked in the thick gravy. I always find mee sua to be just ordinary noodles when fried, a huge difference from the soupy variants. Nonetheless it was still pretty fragrant being stir-fried in soy sauce and came with chicken pieces and beansprouts.

Both mains were rather small in portion but really, I'm not complaining given the price!

Mango Sago

Nothing spectacular, just something sweet to end off the meal!

Bill for two was $20.60 after taxes. Being a subsidiary of Tung Lok Group, there really wasn't much to fault on food quality, except that the serving pace could be a little faster for the busy executives. Definitely an attractive lunch option in the area!

Zhou's Kitchen
#01-01 Far East Square
9-13 Amoy Street
Tel: 6877 1123

Taken with Nikon D70
Monday, October 04, 2010

Hatched: Mega Pancakes!

When I had more breathing space during the holidays, brunch was always a lovely option when waking up and feeling hungry on late mornings. And there's no one better than Ms Bella V to consult for brunch ideas! So we fixed a date to meet up and went off exploring Hatched!

Located at Evans Lodge, Hatched is really one place that I wouldn't particularly think of visiting when not driving, with a fair bit of walking distance from Bukit Timah Road (Don't even think of coming in from the Botanics Garden end). Decor was pretty minimal with wooden furnishings and a giant blackboard on the wall, while the cute concept of chicken and eggs could be prominently found in their kitchenware.

Philly Omelette with Chicken Chipolata Sausage ($16), Where's Waffle with Sunny-side Up and Black Forest Ham ($16)

Served with a block of cream cheese, Bella V was loving the juicy sausages and tender beef steak within the omelette. Girlfriend's waffle order was also nicely done with a slight crispy coating, paired with tasty ham and a runny egg yolk. Good stuffs!

Pancake Party ($10), Wilted Spinach ($2)

Now trio's a party! I was feeling hungry and decided to upgrade from the Duo Pancakes ($8), only to be in for a pleasant surprise for three thick and fluffy pancakes! Served with caramelised apple cubes, cream and maple syrup, this was a real delicious sweet treat! Can be paired with blueberries or strawberries too.

The side dish was a real letdown though, overcooked with way too much salt. Go easy with the pinch eh chef?

Bill for three was $44 with no GST and taxes, additional 10% discount for NUS students (boss was kind enough to extend the offer to NTU students!). Hatched is really wallet-friendly when compared to other all-day-breakfast places, though its location can be a turn off on overly sunny or rainy days (sadly, that's most of the time). But when the pancake crave strikes, I might just brave the walk in!

26 Evans Road, #01-06 Evans Lodge
Tel: 6735 0012
Note: Closed on Monday

Taken with Nikon D70