Monday, November 29, 2010

Nespresso: New Toy At Home!

Citiz C110 - Fire Engine Red

While I'm not a heavy coffee drinker, Mom is a real fan who needs her caffeine everyday. She has been eyeing the pretty Nespresso machines for quite some time already, but always felt heart pinched by the price. So when Dad found out on his recent UK trip that it was about 30% to 40% cheaper (Corrected by Mom, its 50% to 60% off!) there, it became too good a deal to resist bringing one back!

Working on pressure theory, the coffee machine uses only coffee powder of its own brand. Sealed in colourful little capsules, there are plenty of flavours to choose from, ranging from low to high intensity, decaffeinated or not. Too pretty to use!

Price of each capsule ranged from about 80cents to just over a dollar. Over the long run, I don't think its really expensive considering that your kopitiam coffee costs 10 cents cheaper but way more affordable than Starbucks!

And its really easy to operate! Pop the capsule in, press a button and voila! Used capsules are conveniently caught in a "dustbin" too. Noticed the tiny holes? Shows that the coffee powder within had been expended already!

This little buddy is a perfect partner to the machine, making warm milk froth instantly. Latte, Cuppuccino, anyone?

Why not match it with vibrant containers and pretty cups? Set for a perfect afternoon tea!

My first cup of Latte

But just when I'm excited to try more creations, I was rudely reminded by the dreadful word: Exams. Yes, I'm cooping myself up in school from now until the last paper on December 17th. Darn.

Anybody wanna join me for a cuppa after exams?

Nespresso Boutique Stores
Ion Orchard #01-14
Takashimaya Basement 1

Taken with Nikon D70
Wednesday, November 24, 2010

TAB: Where Food Meets Music!

This is an invited session

While I have talked about how people hunted high and low for a perfect first date venue, there's also this other side about finding an awesome place to hang out with buddies. Think casual (but must be nice la) food, a drink or two and best of all, a live band for your TGIF moments.

We didn't have much choices for such a place, the closest that I could imagine would be Timbre @ ACM. Then again, I kind of disliked sitting at the tall tables for long, getting hot and sticky under Singapore's humid sky. And here's where TAB fits in, offering a perfect solution for my three wants!

Situated at Orchard Hotel, TAB is a brand new gastrobar that prides itself in bringing food and music together. Spanning over two storeys, the huge place offers a mini concert stage, featuring local talents, resident performers and international artistes. What excites me is that they have stand-up comedians too!

Last week, TAB hosted a group of bloggers for a preview of their delicately crafted food menu, as well as trying out a few of their signature cocktails. With comfortable booth seats besides ceiling-to-floor glass panels (not much of a view, pity) and little round tables closer to the stage action, there's definitely somewhere suitable for you, regardless of a lively dinner with the girlfriend or a loud hangout night with the boys!

Fried Calamari ($12), Fried Whitebait ($13)

First up, the fried nibbles! Thankfully, the calamari wasn't rubber tough and retained a good chewy texture, while the little fishes were crispy and somehow addictive. Paired with citrus mayo, these bar snacks were great for sharing!

Buffalo Wings ($12), Cinnamon Sugar Cheese Tortilla ($10)

Maybe it was due to us snapping away for too long, the chicken skin turned out to be quite soggy. Though it was more sour than spicy, I rather liked it that way as it whetted my appetite for the meal!

Now I'm not so sure if I want to share this! I might be biased as I'm a fan of cheese and cinnamon, but the melting blend of sweet and savoury went really well with the firm tortilla skin. Stole the show among starters!

TAB Burger ($16)

First of the mains! One of TAB's owners shared with us a story behind the size of the burger: He was tired of unable to find a good one in Singapore that fits comfortably in his hands, so might as well create his own! The beef patty was moist, juicy and flavourful with a strong herb seasoning. Served with cheese and caramelised onions, this is one burger that I would gleefully chomp down without looking glam!

Oh and we all thought that their fluffy fries were made from sweet potato, but it was really just coated with a sweet-tasting batter. Very unique and went well with the thai chilli sauce!

Fish & Chips ($16)

I think I have asked this before, but haven't really found a answer. How is a good beer battered fish suppose to taste? Made with the exotic Negra Modelo beer, the batter was indeed light and crispy, but is beer just for textural effect, or am I able to actually taste it?

A good attempt with the usage of curry mayo that was denser and more intensive than you-know-where, but I felt that the quality of the fish itself was a slight disappointment, being normal dory that left a mushy aftertaste. Then again, I should take in its relatively low pricing as well.

Chicken Parmigiana ($18), Seafood Marinara Pasta ($20)

Coated with the Japanese type of Tonkatsu bread crumbs, the chicken is than baked with cheese toppings and marinara sauce. With a chewy base, we agreed that it could very well pass off as a pizza instead. Though the huge portion and accompanying mashed potatoes do fill you up real good, I didn't like the choice of breast meat used. Thigh meat would have been so much more tender!

Brimming with the likes of mussels, scallops and prawns, the pasta was reasonably well-done. However, I thought that the sauce was abit too sweet and might feel heavy towards the end.

While they might not have a desserts menu yet, why not have a cocktail to round off on a sweet note!

Fan-Tab-ulous ($15), Hasel & Gretel ($18)

The first one had the taste and cooling effect of cucumber, very refreshing!

The next one was almost like a blackforest cake in liquid form, with strong reminisce of cherries and vodka. Yum!

First Wives' Club ($18), Caipirinha De Maracuja ($18)

Pretty to look at, but I really wasn't too fond of these two. The first one was suppose to be a blend of mangoes and rose, but all I could make out was the overwhelming alcohol. The other one was somewhat a complete opposite, way too bland and light with the slight sourness of lime.

Charlie Brown ($18)

Aptly named after the cartoon character, the unassuming peanut butter took centrestage here! Smooth and natural, I enjoyed its thick and bitter sensation with a spike of vodka. Ranked it 2nd after Hasel & Gratel!

Not quite done with the night? Then head upstairs to the cozy lounge for more laid back chilling! I heard that the bartender here could make any drink you want, so go ahead and see if he's game for your challenge!

With reasonable pricing and many pleasant moments, TAB is more than just another live music venue with its much-effort food items and innovative range of cocktails. For one, I am looking forward to come back and watch the comedians in action over a handful of burger and fries, and of course friends to share the laughter with!

#02-29 Orchard Hotel
Tel: 6493 6952
Do visit their website or give them a call to find out more on their upcoming performance schedule
Note: Enter from ground floor under the huge yellow sign, you can't miss it

Special thanks to Kimberly and Vivian of Fulford Public Relations, and the managerial team at TAB for the invite!

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, November 19, 2010

RamenPlay: Play Less, Eat More!

When asked to identify a homegrown food brand, I guess the pork floss bun's founder would be one of the top choices. Who would have knew that a new age bakery will grow into such a huge establishment! Bringing in more foreign brands over the years, Breadtalk definitely widened our experiences with the franchising of Ding Tai Feng and Carls Junior. And now they ventured into Japanese grounds with RamenPlay!

The outlet at 313@Somerset was quite empty during the weekday dinner period (not like the other dining places were full either), so we decided to give it a shot! With a bright and wood-coloured theme, service was attentive and speedy as the lady pleasantly took my orders even though I forgot that I was supposed to fill the order slip myself.

Ice Lemon Tea

Girlfriend and I took the Dinner Value Combo which included a choice of ramen, sides and drink. Nothing much on the lemon tea as it was just your usual concentrated syrup type.

Mini Tonkotsu Ramen ($11.80 with set), Mini Sanpou Shoyu Ramen ($13.80 with set)

To be honest, I wasn't expecting too much of the tonkotsu soup after being pampered by the likes of Santouka and Nantsutei, but I was visually surprised by its creamy colour when served, further confirmed with a sip. Though not as rich, the version here was nonetheless tasty and slurp-worthy! Served with a thin slice of tender charsiew and not-so-impressive egg, it was good to have a change of Hokkaido yellow noodles after my continuous encounters with Kyushu white.

Now I made a mistake for my order, as I thought that it will be tonkotsu base as well and not noticing that it was actually Shoyu base for the set. Not too bad, but I still preferred the tonkotsu one and kept stealing more from the girlfriend! Ingredient-wise, I liked thier signature combo of char siew, melting pork belly and pork cheek all in one bowl. Great if you want to try more!

If you noticed the first shot, they actually have a variety of condiments to go with your noodles. Interesting combinations with the chilli chives standing out, but I would pretty much prefer the soup taste on its own!

Misoyaki Roll, Mini Gyoza

The first side dish was done pretty well with crunchy batter, oozing cheese and diced asparagus and carrots, though the pork slices itself was just a tad tough. Went nicely with the thick miso sauce!

I actually liked the gyoza here more than most of the exquisite ones in ramen shops. Not so much on taste, but it was in a way value for money, given how it was much bigger and stuffed with fillings.

Bamboo Chicken, single serving ($3.50)

I had to order this interesting one after I saw the next table eating it! Served within a bamboo stick, grilled minced chicken never tasted so good with its natural sweetness and juices! Though I couldn't really appreciate it being dipped in raw egg. Pass over the miso sauce please!

Bill for two was $34.25 after taxes. Coming in with just normal expectations, I left satisfied with the quality and the price that I paid for, though the portion size might be a little small if you are feeling real hungry. The variety of sides available is a good draw factor as well, but I guess I will be back primarily for its original size of Sanpou Tonkotsu Ramen!

B3-04, 313 @ Somerset
Tel: 6634 0051
Note: There's another branch at Resorts World Sentosa, at the Casino entrance level.

Taken with Nikon D70
Saturday, November 13, 2010

Superdog: More Than Just Sausages!

Is it just me, or are the prices of fast food really high these days? In fact, I don't even touch the Golden M outside NTU (much cheaper on campus). Then again, with so many fast food brands emerging these days and the type of premium quality they promised, I don't see no reasons either. And what's a better way to find out if they are worth my money than trying them out!

Superdog was one of the earlier new brands in the fast food market, opening their first outlet when Vivocity started operations. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the company seemed to be a homegrown local and not an overseas franchise? Somehow I never ate there over the years and so we finally visited the 313 Somerset outlet!

Ice Lemon Tea

I think more fast food places are putting in efforts to shift away from the conventional syrup drinks, and this is one good example. Very similar to Carl's Junior version, the one here was refreshing and light, suitably sweetened with a natural lemon taste.

French Fries, Onion Rings ($1.00 top-up for meal)

For our two sides, both the thick fluffy fries and diced rings were pretty well done, served with a crunch on the outside and piping hot fillings.

Grilled Fish Burger ($7.00 with meal) with extra sunny side up ($0.50), Bacon Lovers Burger ($8.00 with meal)

A rather good choice by the girlfriend, the fish fillet was juicy with a slight herb marinate as the buns soaked up the runny yolk. I didn't have a particular craving for hot dogs and beef burgers that night, so opted for the bacon instead. It was too hardened for my liking (somehow I was already expecting that), though redemption points came from the juicy onions slices.

Bill for two was $16.50 nett, Superdog had reasonably good items though my burger wasn't really satisfying. I foresee myself coming back for their signature hot dogs!

#B3-21/22 313@Somerset
Other outlets at Downtown East, Vivocity and White Sands

Taken with Nikon D70
Monday, November 08, 2010

Imperial Treasure: Where the Cantonese Goes!

While I was never a true Hong Konger, frequent trips back made me appreciate dim sum and hot tea since young, with yum cha being a regular sunday affair with the HK families in Singapore! Over the years we have gathered at East Ocean, Golden Boat and Lei Garden for a taste of HK, and here we are at another family friends' regular haunt, Imperial Treasure!

Do note that I'm specifically referring to the one at Great World City, because like Crystal Jade, they have ventured into other dialect cuisines as well and the one here is just of Cantonese origin. Decor is modern and classy, packed to the brim on a Sunday noon. Service was fast and efficient, changing plates and topping up tea for our table of five regularly.

Roasted Pork (烧肉) - Not quite to my expectations. Flawless skin but meat was on the tough side.
Deep Fried Pig Intestine (炸大肠) - Very crispy and clean, in fact you can say its a healthier version with very little of the fatty linings, but I would prefer my pig intestines to have a bit more of the chewy feel.

Prawn Dumpling (虾饺) - Passed the thin and stick-less skin test with a succulent whole prawn.
Pork and Prawn Dumpling (烧卖) - Well done with bit of mushrooms within.

Pan-fried Steamed Roll (煎肠粉) - Nice charred surface with smooth texture, paired well with sweet and sesame sauce.
Beef Brisket Casserole (牛腩煲) - Flavourful stew of tender meat and sticky tendon.

Vegetarian Dumpling (素蒸饺) - Highly recommended by the friend, translucent skin with a tasty blend of diced spinach and mushrooms. Not bad at all!
Steamed Pork Ribs with Black Beans (豉汁蒸排骨) - Juicy meat with aromatic sauce, another classic done right!

Barbecued Pork Bun (叉烧包) - Fluffy exterior with savoury yet sweetened meat. Thumbs up!

Barbecued Pork Pastry (叉烧酥) - Flaky buttery skin with the same fillings as the previous.
Steamed Glutinous Rice with Chicken (糯米鸡) - Came in a cute little parcel, suitably moist and marinated with tender chicken chunks. I like!

Salted Fried Dumpling (咸水角) - Filled with minced meat and some diced vegetables, just average for me.
Fried Sesame Ball (芝麻球) - Light with a slight crisp, wonderful fragrance of sesame seeds. Yum!

Egg Tart (蛋挞仔) - Eggy filling with well-layered pastry skin. Nothing to fault!
Salted York and Custard Bun (流沙包) - Served piping hot with creamy, savoury fillings that flowed like a yellow lava. Awesome! If only there's more of the liquid gold in each bun!

Mango Pomelo (杨枝甘露) - Thick, mango mixture with bursts of tangy pomelo. A cold favourite to round it off!

I'm not sure about the prices here, but I think it was on the mid-to-high side. With fine execution of little treats, pleasing surroundings and the chatter of Cantonese all around, it did feel like being back in Hong Kong momentarily! Will be back for more!

Imperial Treasure Cantonese Cuisine
#02-06 Great World City
Tel: 6732 2232 (Reservations recommended!)

Taken with Nikon D70