Wednesday, August 31, 2011

DB Bistro: Burger Supreme!

The influx of celebrity chefs at our two Integrated Resorts definitely brought the local fine dining scene to a whole new level. Restaurants at Marina Bay Sands are as attractive as the resort grounds itself, and our first foray was to celebrate mom's birthday at DB Bistro!

Located opposite the entrance of Sands Theatre, the french eatery was packed on a Friday evening (in case you are wondering, I took the above shot near closing time!) with show-goers and casual diners alike. With classy maroon colours, hip bar-like decor and a chatty atmosphere, the place was great for small gatherings yet stop short of being ideal for intimate dinners. The excellent service also made sure that we were well taken care of throughout the meal.

Complementary Cheese Gougeres

Fragrant and chewy with an airy, cheesy centre, these little snacks well-deserved their reputation!

Complimentary Bread Basket, German Riesling ($95.00)

It had been awhile since I had a memorable bread bowl, but this definitely left an impression! Among the fresh mini baguettes, sourdough slices and bread rolls, I particularly liked the last one as the smooth brown skin was lightly salted to make it even more appetising. Went really well with salted butter!

For the joyous occasion, we had a bottle of white that was light and smooth on the throat. Cheers!

Foie Gras Terrin ($26.00)

Creamy as it should be, it was my first time to have it paired with sweet passionfruit. A delightful combination that was accompanied by tasty buttered brioche.

Snail Fricassee ($24.00)

A maiden attempt for all of us, this was served with pasta, nuts and chicken chunks. Interesting but not outstanding in taste though.

Seafood Casserole Provencal ($35.00)

Our first sharing main course was unfortunately a huge disappointment. While the broth was alright, the mussels were stale with a fishy aftertaste. When we reflected this to the management, they did kindly offer to replace it with another main course but we declined that anyway.

Steak and Frites ($49.00), Duck Confit ($36.00)

The sirloin steak was done to a juicy pink centre with charred surface, though nothing to shout about with its inert quality. Fries on the other hand, seemed to be double-cooked as it was very well done with crispy skin and fluffy within.

The duck meat was fork tender with crispy skin, nothing to fault as we enjoyed every bit of it.

DB Burger ($38.00)

This, is what the post title is all about! Juicy sirloin patty, meaty short ribs shreds and a melting foie gras centre, a royal recipe for the king of all burgers!

Well, not quite, as we found out. Though the ingredients were each of heavyweight status, they weren't exactly mindblowing when pieced together. In fact, I enjoyed them better when eaten separately, a case of too much good things trying to outshine each other.

Before I move on to desserts, take a look at the cute miniature Tabasco bottles that DB Bistro gave to customers!

Molten Chocolate Cake with Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream ($15.00)

Though it was great that they could oblige with birthday greetings and candles, the cake itself was just alright with little lava within.

Bill for four was $374.29 after taxes. While we had a pleasant dining experience on the overall, DB Bistro didn't wow us the way as we had anticipated, as we were more delighted with the little things (Bread fest, anyone?) instead. DB Burger? been there done that!

DB Bistro Moderne
Basement 1 (Across Theatre)
The Shoppes At Marina Bay Sands

Taken with Nikon D70
Saturday, August 27, 2011

Coffee Bean: Breakfast Options!

Waking up early on a weekend morning (rarely for me) usually warrants something more than just jam and toast, and Big Breakfast from ol Mac just isn't that big anymore. Thankfully, more and more places are offering breakfast menus, from the fuss-free Yakun eggs and kaya toast to exclusive Prive egg Benedict. As I found out, Coffee Bean had hopped onto the wagon too!

The outlet at Ion Orchard was rather cosy and quiet for breakfast, meant for lazing hours away with newspapers in hand. Every breakfast set came with free coffee/tea refills till 11am. Not sure about the caffeine addicts, but one mug was enough for me already!

Brek 'O' Day ($9.90)

Served with two eggs done your way, warm baguette, boiled sausages and cranberry salad, it wasn't very wow but good enough to start off the day positively.

Salmon Egg Muffin ($8.10)

Unfortunately, the outlet ran out of muffin (what, in the morning?) and had to replace my order with baguette instead. Still, I was delighted with the generous amount of smoked salmon within, as a mouthful of the it with sunny side up and toast was really satisfying. But I reckon a soft muffin would make an even better combo!

Bill for two was $21.10 after taxes. Not too bad considering the refillable coffee and availability of free iced water. Have an enjoyable breakfast before heading for the voting booths today!

Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
#B1-12 ION Orchard
Outlets Islandwide

Taken with Nikon D70
Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mellben Seafood: Oh Crab, Need To Queue!

It's not hard to find a good Cze Char place in Singapore. With one in almost every coffeeshop under a HDB block, they have a cookie cutter-like menu that surely offer some sort of crabs, omelette, pork ribs and kangkong. Of course, some have standards that are higher than others and will amass a faithful group of followers from all over Singapore. Mellben Seafood is probably one of them!

A gathering with two other couples brought us to their Ang Mo Kio outlet which proudly took up the space of an entire coffeeshop. While parking was relatively abundant in the HDB estate, the restaurant queue could be quite horrendous if you didn't come early enough. We witnessed a perpetual snaking queue that lasted throughout our meal!

Even after getting a seat, the lengthy waiting time for food to be served could also test your patience (and stomach). Thankfully, all the food orders were served at almost one swop so you wouldn't have to pick finish on one dish before another arrived. A word of caution though: Make up your mind when you first order in the queue, subsequent add-ons tend to be ignored or simply forgotten.

Stirred Fried Sweet Potato Leaves with Belacan, Signature Deep-Fried Tofu

Opting for this instead of Kangkong as obligatory greens, it had a nice "wok-hei" and was tastefully spicy. I was hoping that their tofu would be the ultra smooth type at Pow Sing, but it turned out to be some sort of coarse, minced tofu mixed with spices. Not that it was bad though!

Sweet and Sour Pork

A friend had the craving for this and it turned out to be a good choice! Although the meat was leaner than I would have preferred, the flour coating was just nice as it gave a good crunch without leaving a mouthful of flour. Comfort stuff to go with rice!

Chilli Crab with Deep Fried Mantous

Moving onto the stars of the dinner: Crabs! Sacrificing big, meaty Sri Lankan crabs, we had three that night and all were cooked with different methods. I would start off with the one that was admittedly, mediocre. The gravy was plain disappointing as it felt watery and didn't have any chilli/ketchup/whatever-chilli-crabs-were-supposed-to-be-like taste to it. Didn't even bother to mop it up with the freshly fried buns.

Creamy Butter Crab, Claypot Crab Been Hoon

On the other hand, the other two were simply brilliant and probably justified the long queues at Mellben! The first one was oh-so-sinful as the rich, savoury gravy coated the succulent crab meat. Now this should be mopped clean with buns!

The crab soup was another addictive experience. Sweet, smooth and milky, we definitely had many bowls of this and was thankful that we ordered additional portions of soup and thick beehoon to be shared! Very satisfying!

Bill for 6 was just over $200 after taxes, including drinks and rice for all. With reasonable pricing and excellent quality (know what to order!), Mellben is definitely a place to keep for yummy Cze Char. But better come early or risk the maddening wait!

Mellben Seafood
Blk 232 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3
#01-1222 Singapore

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, August 19, 2011

Cafe Cartel: Super Deal For Ribs!

I don't think I need to give much introduction to Cafe Cartel, do I? The forerunner for free-flow bread, value-for-money lunch sets and of course, their signature slabs of ribs. Recently, I noticed that they have this really good deal for their pork ribs and since it had been quite a while I last stepped into the cafe, why not?

Despite being around for probably a decade or so, Cafe Cartel still draws quite a crowd with their fun, fuss-free western dining concept. Dinner at the Marina Square outlet required a little waiting during peak hours. The menu (and price) seems to be updated with plenty of new options to keep people returning for more!

Soup, Soft Drink and Free Flow Bread Top Up ($3.90)

Frankly, I have very low expectations when it comes to soup-of-the-day, but the Cream Of Chicken definitely left me pleasently surprised. Thick and flavourful, I like how they added a finishing touch with the cream drawing!

My experience with their baguette was quite a roller coaster one. Eons ago when we first ate it, it was so good that the bread became the highlight of the meal. Then it went into a trough with cold and coarse quality, before becoming inconsistent and depending on luck to bump into freshly baked batches. I think I was lucky that night to have it warm with a nice crunchy crust and fluffy interior. Butter and olive oil was good, but to have vinegar would be even better!

St. Louis Pork Ribs ($11.80)

During my secondary school days, Cartel was THE place to go for full-filing meat galore. Not that its not filling now (just look at the size!), but I guessed expectations had raised. Served with a scoop of coleslaw and hearty dose of fries, the ribs were slightly tough and tasteless on the inside, while the drenching BBQ sauce got overwhelming sweet and boring towards the end. But hey, they already gave you a huge discount off the usual price, why complain so much?

Crispy Fish & Egg Burger ($15.80)

The girlfriend opted for this instead and was pretty satisfied. Hot, battered fish fillet with melted cheese and a pretty sunny side up. Simple but nicely done!

Bill for two was $35.20 after taxes and 10% Citibank card discount. With the ongoing promotion (the manager also couldn't tell me when it will end), I thought it was really satisfying to polish clean a generous slab of ribs, though there was no way, nor would it be fair to compare them to Tony Roma's. Do make a trip before they decide to end the offer!

Cafe Cartel
6 Raffles Boulevard #01-208
Marina Square
Outlets Islandwide
Check out their website for new menu!

Taken with Nikon D70
Monday, August 15, 2011

Join NTU Deli Aprecio Club This Year!

This is an advertorial for what I had been busy with for the past two semesters

Dear NTU freshies and returning seniors, looking for a CCA to join this academic year? Foodie at heart and hope to find like-minded friends? Want to explore new dining places that you never had the chance to go?

Then join the one and only food-dedicated CCA, the NTU Deli Aprecio Club!

DAC prides itself in bonding food lovers together and bringing members to places that will be difficult to explore as individuals. For example, we kicked off the previous academic year with a visit to Mycofarm, a homegrown mushroom farm, learning about the different types of mushrooms and their farming habitats. Shhh.. Shitake mushrooms may not be as yummy as you thought after hearing how they are grown!

This was immediately followed by a mushroom-themed steamboat buffet at The Mushroom Pot, where members huddled around for a yummy lunch, getting to know each other better amidst chopsticks dipping into the boiling pots!

Riding on the wave for tours was a visit to Fassler, Singapore's premium salmon and seafood producer. Their factory in Woodlands was an eye-opener as Mr Fassler himself taught us about the preparations process and of course, we got to tuck into the cheapest and freshest salmon sashimi ever!

Its no secret that we loved buffets, so for a different kind of buffet, DAC brought them to Teochew Muay (now closed), a buffet restaurant specialising in teochew porridge! Fantastic braised duck meat and intestines aside, we were also lucky to have Dr Leslie of IeatIshootIpost to give us a crash course on teochew porridge facts!

While most of us love to eat quality ice cream, little did we knew that it is actually replicable at home! The second semester saw us making a trip down to Tom's Palette for a hands-on ice cream making lesson. After a detailed walkthrough by instructor Belmont, we started making our own chocolate ice cream and why not, an ice cream buffet on all of Tom's flavours! (Told you we loved buffets already)

While it is usually the academic clubs and JCRCs preparing pre-exam goodie bags for students, DAC took it upon ourselves to come up with one for our members! Useful Staedler stationery, snacks for study marathons and restaurant vouchers, we got you covered for the exam!

So how to join us? Come on down to our CCA booth from:

Today till Friday (15th-19th August)
10am to 4pm
At North Spine, near LWN Library (Spot us with the large DAC banner!)
Join our facebook page!

For $10 a year, you get to receive the latest updates on club activities and join them at discounted member rate, receive frequent e-newsletters and entitled to freebies that we give out. Collect your free copy of the annual publication and talk to us to find out more about the club and its upcoming events. See you there!

Afterthoughts: Growing up with musical CCAs made me seek a change at the University level and I was completely sold the moment I heard that NTU has a food club. Taking charge of the club for a year wasn't an easy task, but it was definitely something I enjoyed doing. Seeing how my members enjoyed the various educational trips and yummy treats was certainly rewarding, and even more so when you see some of them returning for more.

Most people didnt know: Taking up the position was one of the main reasons why I rejected my exchange opportunity to Australia. I believe this is passion. Die-hard food passion.

Taken with Nikon D70