Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Broers Cafe: Coffee And Sandwiches With Friends!

I love catching up with friends over a cup of coffee; Cuppa and conversations go well together for an excellent chill-laxing session! Since coffee chains are way over-rated and overcrowded on weekends, indie cafes then become ideal solutions. The place that we explored this time round? The Broers Cafe!

Located in the quiet enclave of Jalan Besar, Broers literally translates to brothers in Dutch, and serves fresh brews and light bites all day. The minimalist decor gives a laid-back atmosphere though I secretly wished for plush armchairs for a more cosy touch. Company for the day? Xinli, Vinleon, Mu Yao, Glenn and Peter!

Latte, 8oz ($4.00)

Still my standard caffeine drink. Frankly, as long as its not too acidic, good for me already!

Beef Sundried Sourdough ($7.50)

Thin slices of roasted beef, lettuce and tomato in between a nicely-toasted sourdough bread, the sandwich wasn't particularly outstanding but still made a decent light lunch. Served with a cup of potato salad, the so-called "special handcrafted sauce" tasted pretty much of mayonnaise and pepper.

Smoked Norwegian Salmon Ciabatta, Cajun Chicken Focaccia

Not into beef? They got other meat options as well!

Chicken Mayo Croissant

The croissant selections came without the potato salad. Well, if you really don't need the carbo load then!

My bill came up to $11.50 for sandwich and coffee. Foodwise, there really wasn't anything memorable though I appreciated the cafe's tranquility on weekends. Besides, having great company was all that mattered!

The Broers Cafe
No 3 Petain Road,
Tel: 6295 5426

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, January 27, 2012

Marriott Cafe: Discounted Standards at Discounted Price?

On the many occasions that I walked past Marriott Hotel, the outdoor cafe always seems to be promising for a good chillout session. Their high tea buffet was also something that I wanted to try. So when the girlfriend's classmates asked us along for a 1-for-1 online deal some time ago (3 months, actually..), I thought I could finally check it out!

Well, not quite. It turned out that Marriott Hotel was undergoing a major facelift and had shifted the cafe upstairs. The dining area was mostly converted from corridor space and even the ballrooms were opened up to handle the influx of customers. Let's just focus on what's important then: The buffet spread!

Drinks Selections - Free flow of juices available, though I doubt they were straight from the fruits. Lime was the safest choice!

Assorted Cold Starters - Seafood were pretty fresh stuff, though the oysters seemed to be a little underfed in size. Sushi selection was minimal, while smoked salmon made up for the lack of sashimi.

Assorted Finger Sandwiches - Cold ones that weren't worth the stomach space.
Prata with Curry - These were so rubbery that my jaws were literally sore from the chewing. Curry was watery too. Next.

Assorted Dim Sum - Starchy and thick-skinned. Never again.
Kueh Pie Tee - Soggy and underflavoured.
Popiah - Same filling as above. What do you think?
Basmati Rice with Curry - Not the fluffy, grainy texture that I was looking for.

Rojak - You could pretty much adjust it to your liking since it's DIY-styled, but the you tiaos were kind of rubbery after being left in the open.
Laksa - Rich and milky broth with a good kick of spice. Finally, something very decent!

Mini Pizzas, Fried Pancake, Breaded Minced Meat - Kids-friendly bites.
Beef Short Ribs - Something which I would love but unfortunately, the batch I had were slightly undercooked with blood around the bones.
Oyster Omelette - Served at the live station, the gooey mix had the fragrance of eggs and was slightly crispy on the outside. Many reruns for it!

Cake Selections - Nothing stood out, frankly. A far cry from their deli creations.
Ice Cream Selections - Build your own tower! Old-school yam worked for me.

At $22.36 nett per person, the high tea spread would still be worth your time, but I honestly hope that this isn't the type of quality served during regular pricing. I would expect plenty out of hotel buffets usually and even more given the brand name of Marriott. We shall see after the revamp then.

Marriott Cafe
320 Orchard Road
Singapore Marriott Hotel
Tel: 6831 4605

Taken with Nikon D70
Sunday, January 22, 2012

Reunion With The Dragon!

Lovely wishes for the Hungs from the thoughtful girlfriend

Updates have been a little slow lately, but I promise plenty of write-ups on my Hong Kong and Bangkok trips soon!

On this Chinese New Year Eve, I wish for everyone to have a joyeous reunion dinner with your family, and may the dragon year ahead brings prosperity for all!

预祝大家身体健康, 龙年行大运! 吃团圆饭咯!

Taken with Nikon D70
Tuesday, January 17, 2012

CP Microwavable Meals: Quick Fix In Minutes!

Remember that I won a CP goodie bag from the Biggest Eater competition some time ago? Well I have finally finished eating all of it (The goodies, not the bag of course)! And to be fair, all of them were "cooked" using the fastest and simplest method: Microwave oven!

Chicken Green Curry With Rice, Shrimp Wanton in Tomyum Soup

From Blue Elephant's oh-my-goodness rendition to KFC Thailand's budget fix, green curry is definitely my soft spot in Thai food. So as long as it doesn't taste horribly wrong, I will lick clean the very last drop! CP's version was mildly spicy with red chilli bits, but the sweet and milky flavour still made a good companion of rice. Too bad about the tough chicken chunks though.

A variation of their bestseller! Soup was fiery with a strong tomato aftertaste, while the wantons, needless to say, were still of the usual excellent quality with smooth skin and chunky whole prawns.

Curry Wings, Spaghetti in Chicken Sauce

Well marinated with Thai-styled curry, I guessed the drumlets would taste even better when deep-fried. Microwaving seemed to have force out the grease and left it slightly dry.

The most straightforward (ie boring) of all, it was simply chicken bolognese pasta with flat flavours. The small dope of spaghetti made it more suitable as a snack rather than a meal.

I'm not sure how much they cost, but the prices of processed food aren't exactly cheap in Singapore. And given the convenience of neighbourhood coffeeshops, its hard to justify getting a processed pack of spaghetti over walking to that western food store and dapao a box of freshly made one.

Then again, microwavable food can really be life savers when you are at your wits-end for an extra dish at tonight's dinner, or when the hunger pang strikes in the wee hours. The chicken green curry rice will make a real good backup in my freezer!

CP Microwavable Selections
Available at supermarkets islandwide

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, January 13, 2012

Azur II: Buffet For The Dragon Year!

This is an invited session

Traditionally, a lunar new year meal will have families hurdling around a big table and feasting on auspicious-sounding dishes. But sometimes it gets difficult for smaller-sized families to finish a whole fish, chicken, or in the case of Yusheng, tossed between a young couple. Eating at a buffet then seems like a pretty good idea and Azur might just be the place to go!

I first made contact with the buffet restaurant of Crowne Plaza Changi Airport when a buddy of mine celebrated his 21st birthday here. Besides the awesome company, the food itself was definitely worth remembering with the likes of meaty boston lobsters and fresh drunken prawns. So when I received the invitation to try out their new additions to the buffet line this lunar new year, I was looking forward to a good spread already!

Besides the festive dishes, Azur will also continue to serve their western favourites such as live stations for grills and pastas. On my previous visit, I remembered the desserts as being exquisitely presented in tasting portions so that guests could try a bit of everything without feeling overly stuffed. I'm glad that it had remained that way!

What's a Singaporean CNY meal without yusheng? That's right, Azur will be serving it fresh at a live counter! The chef will proportionise the ingredients and sauces according to the number of diners, then you can have a mini lohei at your own table! Just don't be too rowdy lest strands of veggies fly to the next table!

For the joyous occasion, Head Chef Alvin Leong has specially created a Ginger Shoyu Dressing for the yusheng and used crispy salmon skin as one of the base ingredients. While the buffet will only serve the yusheng with Norwegian salmon, you can order a takeaway yusheng for 8 pax with salmon ($48.00++), abalone ($68.00++), or both ($88.00++)!

Standby your chopsticks.. and huat long long ah!

I thought that the tangy sauce gave the Chinese salad a light, refreshing touch, while the addition of salmon skin lent a savoury flavour and a good crunch besides the usual crackers. The seafood toppings proved to be luxurious but really, it was rather enjoyable on its own!

Now onto the other dishes!

Treasures From The Sea - With quality ingredients like shark fins (Edited: Azur has consciously left out shark fins for this CNY, much apologies for the mistake!), fish maw and dried scallops, the flavourful seafood broth could hardly turn out wrong! The not-too-slimy texture was to my liking too.

Steamed Garoupa in Pickle Chilli - Instead of the traditional steaming with pork fats and soy sauce, Chef Alvin gave it a slightly spicy kick and used deep-fried lard instead, a sinful but oh-so-good nibble among the smooth fish meat. Note: For convenience sake, garoupa fillets will be served at the buffet instead.

Sea Prawn with Planta Butter and Salted Egg - Coated with a crispy, savoury batter, the huge prawns were fresh and chunky and in the words of a fellow diner: "Tasted almost like lobster". A fine expansion from their drunken prawns!

Roasted Chicken with Miso and Sesame - Not a fan of the bird (In Singapore, at least), but was thankful that tender chicken thighs were used and nicely marinated with the Japanese paste.

Braised Sea Cucumber with King Mushroom and Seasonal Vegetable - Sea delicacy that was stench-free and cooked to a good, jelly-like texture. Please be nice and take the accompanying veggies as well!

Wax Meat Fried Rice with Tea Leaf and Scallion - Another innovation, Chef Alvin painstakingly cooked the rice with tea, dried the leaves, diced and fried it all together with waxed sausages, waxed pork and waxed duck meat.

I'm a big fan of fried rice so I definitely favoured this over the traditional glutinous rice, but I did wish that the aftertaste of Pu-er Tea would be stronger and linger a little longer in the mouth.

Chilled Milk Pudding with Caramelized Banana and Coconut Ice Cream - The wobbly, creme bruelee-like pudding went really well with the ice cream and banana, as Chef Alvin told me that he got the inspiration from Hong Kong's Double Skin Milk Pudding (双皮炖奶). A very good sweet ending!

Now over the past few years, staycations have been gaining popularity among Singaporeans and Crowne Plaza definitely has some very unique selling points. How about this: a room that let you watch planes take off all day long? Sounds like something I could do for an entire afternoon with a cuppa in hand!

Oh, and don't worry about airplane noises. The rooms are fitted with sound-proof glasses to make sure you get a good night sleep!

At 36 square metres and with a eye-soothing, modern decor, the standard rooms are really spacious with clever designs, such as a wardrobe that doubles up as a minibar/coffee counter with a sliding panal. The huge glass wall separating the bathroom and bedroom let you watch tv in the bathtub even!

To pamper yourself more, opt for the luxurious suite with double the space and comfort!

Want even more pampering? Then upgrade yourself to Club Level! Oozing with style, guest could relax in the exclusive club lounge and even opt to have their buffet breakfast here.

With a rainforest design, the swimming pool is built among lush greenery that make you almost forget that you are near the airport. Not until you look up and see the air traffic control tower, at least!

While it might not be all that suitable for older generations, celebrating reunion dinners (tables still available!) or the subsequent days at Azur might be ideal for the younger crowd, where one can indulge in traditional chinese cuisine and balance it out with western fares at the same time. With its commendable standards and diverse choices, you will have a jolly good buffet feast in the dragon year!

Special thanks to Elena of McGagh Communications for the invite!

Azur Restaurant
75 Airport Boulevard, 2nd Floor
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Tel: 6823 5354
Visit the hotel's dining website for latest promotions!

Chinese New Year Buffet Lunch
January 23, 2012, Monday to January 24, 2012, Tuesday - S$58++ per person
January 27, 2012, Friday to January 29, 2012, Sunday - S$48++ per person
February 3, 2012, Friday to February 6, 2012, Monday - S$48++ per person

Chinese New Year Buffet Dinner
January 22, 2012, Sunday – S$98++ per person
January 23, 2012, Monday to January 24, 2012, Tuesday - S$88++ per person
January 25, 2012, Wednesday to February 6, 2012, Monday – S$68++ per person

Taken with Nikon D70