Wednesday, May 30, 2012

4th Blog Birthday!

Collage made with Photovisi

Wow oh wow, yet another year has passed! While I have no doubts about my love for food, writing consistently for four years is quite a personal achievement with the hobby jostling for time against my other commitments. The past year had been quite an exciting ride. Food-wise, I have seen myself eating at new places and revisiting two countries. Academic-wise, my final semester was spent juggling between my graduation project and a part-time internship, climaxing at the much-anticipated completion (phew!) of my NTU Business degree.

As a new stage of life begins (work starts next week!), I hope this little space of mine will continue to grow with even more memorable dining experiences and yummy-looking photos. To celebrate the occasion, I have given the header banner a makeover and tweaked the contents of other pages slightly. Hope everyone enjoys the refreshed look!

Speaking of "everyone", I realized that my blog has crossed 200,000 unique counts recently. That's another wow oh wow! Friends or strangers, regulars or google-ers, here's a BIG THANK YOU as I really appreciate the support that you have given and I hope that the blog has been useful to you in one way or another. My stand remains: No product giveaways, no (more) polls for you to vote me in, and definitely no dine-with-me-for-free contests. Just good ol sugar-free writeups on what matters most: food.

And as per every year's tradition, special thanks goes to the ever-patient girlfriend and family who have not yet gotten irritated by my before-meal camera-fiddlings!

Last thing, I will be off to Phuket tomorrow for a short break that I (probably) deserves. Let's hope that every meal is a drool-worthy one!

Keep eating,
30th May 2012
Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thai Airways: Lunch & Dinner Meals!

I always look forward to in-flight meals. For me, there's something magical about tucking into a hot meal 35000 feet above ground and looking at the beautiful clouds outside. That enjoyment became much less frequent for me with the advent of budget airlines, but it certainly did came on my last trip to Bangkok!

Taking Thai Airways, I was pretty excited about the flight itself after hearing plenty of good things about the airlines from fellow bloggers, earning thumbs-up particularly for in-flight meals. The cabin itself was cheerful with colourful seats, while the personal screens were of reasonable sizes and loaded with entertainment to last for the two hour journey.

Here comes lunch! While we didn't have the croissant that Xin Li raved about, the bun served was nonetheless decently warm and soft. The other side of cold salad was also fresh and crunchy, paired with a packet of sourish yet appetising dressing.

Black Pepper Chicken with Fried Rice, Tom Yum Prawn with Rice

I always choose something different from the girlfriend so that we can try more stuff. The fried rice had a nice eggy aroma to it, going well with savoury chicken chunks. While the other one didn't look as good, I thought it was the better one with the well-flavoured prawns and mushroom and a quarter of salted egg.

Apple Crumble

And this, was really good. Served warm and moist, it had generous chunks of apples within and had a top layer crumbling well. Better than plenty of places on the ground, I will say!

Apple & Prawn Salad, Tiramisu

For the dinner back, this made a nice starter with crunchy apple cubes. Though the tiramisu was missing a layer of cocoa powder, it was still pleasant with its creamy texture and alcohol touch.

Curried Prawns with Rice, Chicken Rice

There is no such thing as too much prawns eh? The first one was again very well done with rich curry taste, while the other one was something closer to home with flavoured rice.

Drink options

Besides the standard soft drinks and fruit juices, they served bottles of red and white which were bad even by my amateurish standards. Skip them and go for the Singha beer I would say, in which the air stewardess will give you a grin and whisper "good choice!"

Taken with Nikon D70
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tai Hing @ T2: Not Quite The Real Deal

Shopping and eating at Changi Airport's transit lounge is always a joy, maybe because its the prelude to great travel tales. Before our trip to Bangkok early this year, the girlfriend and I checked in earlier to enjoy the window shopping and made time for snacks at one of the transit cafes that I have been dying to try out: Tai Hing.

If you have been to Hong Kong, you would know that Tai Hing is one of the new-age 茶餐厅 chains popular among the locals. They opened their first outlet in Singapore at Terminal 2 last year, and I still don't quite understand the location choice. I'm guessing that the last thing a tourist (or even Singaporeans) want before leaving Singapore is something that doesn't even represent the country. Anyway, decked in their signature purple theme, customers at the cafe were few before lunchtime with even less staff tending to us.

Duo Sandwich ($4.80)

With flight meals in mind, we only shared a sandwich for the break. Using luncheon meat and fried egg as fillings, it tasted as straightforward as the description.

Hot Milk Tea ($3.00)

This, was in fact the real reason for the sandwich as it wouldn't feel right to drink milk tea on its own. Unfortunately, this was also straightforward-ly disappointing as it was nowhere near to true HK standards. With the ones here lacking in tea fragrance and silky texture, Imperial Treasure's WOHK are doing it way better.

Bill for two was $10.80 after taxes. While it would be too early for me to write them off without having tried the signature roasts, first attempt at Tai Hing Singapore didn't impress when the fundamentals weren't right. Maybe another chance on my next trip!

Tai Hing Cafe
Departure Transit Lounge #026-109
Changi Airport Terminal 2
Tel: 6214 3606

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, May 18, 2012

Rumah Rasa: Indonesian Cuisine!

This is an invited session

What do you order at a chinese mixed rice store? I'm a pretty habit person so I will order the same few dishes in different P&C methods. Same goes for Chinese Cze Char; don't you always end up with Kangkong Belacan and Hotplate Tofu somehow? Well why not have a Indonesian Cze Char for a change? Rumah Rasa might just be the place to start.

Located at the newly opened Bay Hotel, Rumah Rasa is the hotel's all-day restaurant, specializing in Indonesian cuisine while also providing a simple international menu. Last week, I was privileged to attend a lunch tasting session to try out their specialties, which really reminded me how long it has been since I had Indonesian food (ayam penyet included). With cozy booth seats, I can imagine pockets of family and friends tucking in for a feast already.

Complimentary Crackers, Ais Serai ($4.00)

Crackers are always good pre-meal snacks, and these were even more appetizing with their spicy chilli dip. The homemade lemongrass juice was pretty strong in taste, reminding me of the one I had back in Bangkok Blue Elephant. Cool and refreshing.

Soto Ayam Madura ($6.00)

To start off the meal proper, each of us had a bowl of the chicken broth with chicken shreds and beansprouts. As a Chinese who had drank plenty of chicken soup brewed with Jinhua Ham, I thought this was rather mild tasting. The star, unexpectedly, was the accompanying potato croquette with its thin, crisp outer layer with soft, fluffy insides. Wouldn't mind if they offered one more eh!

Tahu Telur Surabaya ($8.00), Udang Petai Belado ($12.00)

To me, the fried beancurd and egg is like the Hotplate Tofu of Indonesian cuisine; a combo that would please everyone. Alas, the outer skin wasn't as crispy as I hoped it would be but we were assured that it just happened to be slightly off-standards that day. While most people shy away from petai beads, I'm quite accustomed to its bitter, acquired (ie smelly la) taste having eaten it since young. Great with spices and prawns.

Ayam Panggang Berkakak Jakarta ($14.00), Rendang Sumatra ($14.00)

I don't usually have remarkable words for chicken dishes, so there wouldn't be an exception here. Nonetheless, the juicy bird was grilled all the better with a layer of sweet sauce. Now the beef dish, is definitely my favourite item in a Indonesian meal. While they didn't use fatty cuts, the lean meat was still cooked till tender and accompanied by rich and thick coconut gravy. Rendang with rice? Perfect.

Sayur Lodeh ($8.00), Paru Goreng ($8.00)

The mixed vegetables seemed to be lacking in coconut fragrance, as I would prefer a more "lemak" version. At first, I was worried that the beef lungs would have the grainy texture of livers, but it turned out to be crispy and rather unique tasting, good enough for seconds actually!

Ikan Bakar Rumah Rasa ($28.00), Nasi Kuning ($2.00)

The grilled seabass, despite its mighty display, didn't leave much of an impression on taste. The relatively bland meat needed some help from the chilli sauce in fact. And how can we not have the yellow ginger rice to go with the dishes? The fragrant rice grains were of just the right texture to my liking.

Banana Fritters ($8.00), Chocolate Brownie à la Mode ($8.00)

To round it up, pisang goreng is always a good choice with its crispy batter and sweet taste. The brownie was really westernized as compared to the other dishes we had. Nothing spectacular about it either.

Es Chendol ($6.00)

For something more classic, cool yourself off with a large glass of this icy dessert. While I didn't try, the dining companion seemed to be quite satisfied to end off her meal with it.

As previously mentioned, Bay Hotel is really new in the Harbourfront area and a mere 5 minutes walk from the train station. While the suites aren't ready yet, staycation promotions are already up and the prices are a lot more wallet friendly than the ones on the island opposite.

Likewise, the menu at Rumah Rasa is spanking new and short at the moment, but it is set to expand in the near future. While I feel that some dishes need fine-tuning and better consistency, its good to know that we do have an alternative for family dinners and friends gathering. Skip the hotplate tofu and head for tahu goreng instead!

Rumah Rasa
50 Telok Blangah Road
Bay Hotel Singapore
Tel: 6818 6666
Click here for hotel website!

Special thanks to Dennis of Publicist PR Communications for the invite!

Taken with Nikon D70
Monday, May 14, 2012

Meii Sushi: Japanese Set Lunches!

Tanjong Pagar is a great place to eat, having done my summer internship here last year and now accompanying the girlfriend for lunches in the area. There's my favourite homegrown ramen store, Homebaked Dough at Tanjong Pagar Plaza, and the ever-addictive Jing Hua Fish Soup at Maxwell Food Centre. Not forgetting about the upmarket stuffs over at Duxton too. And when craving for a quick Japanese fix, Meii Sushi is right there for you.

Located a brisk walk away from the train station, I haven't heard of Meii Sushi beforehand but was attracted to its set lunches menu when walking past. It was only later that I found out that the place was known for their sushi and Omakase meals. Being a really small diner, there were only a few tables and a long counter bar to watch the chef in action. Service too, can be a little slow but definitely acceptable.

House Salad, House Green Tea

Served as part of the set lunches, the salad was nothing fanciful. Still, the crisp, shredded vegetables and its sesame sauce provided a light and refreshing start to the meal. Meanwhile, warm green tea is always nice to have in soothing the throat.

Tempura Soba Set ($12.00)

The tempura batter wasn't among the lightest and fluffiest in our books, but the fresh, crunchy prawns made up for it. Also served is a simple buckwheat soba in soy sauce soup, perfect for those who love both their rice and noodles.

Tonkatsu Set ($12.00)

Now this is even more value-for-money. For 12 bucks, you get a tender pork cutlet that's crispy on the outside, japanese rice that's good enough on its own with the dried seasonings, and a miso soup that's not run-of-the-mill with fresh baby clams. Satisfying!

Bill for two was $26.40 with service charge only. Not too bad when you are seeking a quiet, japanese lunch in the area. Note to self: return for sushi soon!

Meii Sushi
Blk 7 Tanjong Pagar Plaza
Tel: 6220 3466

Taken with Nikon D70
Thursday, May 10, 2012

TWG Tea: Pick From The Hundreds!

Every now and then the girlfriend likes to take time off and just chill the weekday away. As she puts it: the out-of-office joy when others are in-the-office. So on one of those days, we decided to lunch in style at Marina Bay Sands and headed straight for the tea expert, The Wellness Group Tea.

More simply known as TWG, we went for the Garden outlet by random, though you might prefer the other one on the bridge to see touristy gondolas rowing along. The lunch crowd was expectedly sparse with few tables in suits or with cameras round their neck, building up towards tea time. Service was polite and prompt, just I would expect from everything at the integrated resort.

Onion Bun (Set Lunch)

Sharing a Half Set Lunch ($29.00) and ala carte orders among us, the complimentary bun was soft and nicely warmed. Nothing spectacular but comforting with a swipe of salted butter. For the full course, do top up additional $5 for desserts.

Egg Benedict ($19.00), Filet Mignon With Tiger Prawn (Set Lunch)

The girlfriend went straight for the classic all-day-breakfast item, drizzled with creamy hollandaise sauce and served with crisp greens. As the muffins soaked up the perfect runny yolks and eaten with savoury smoked salmon, she was one happy girl to be on leave.

As for my mains, the plating was pretty impressive with a huge grilled prawn perched on top of a pineapple ring and medium-rare filet mignon. Taste-wise, it was just as good in the same order of crunchy texture, sweet, fruity touch and juicy, tender meat. Enjoyed every bit of it!

Love Me ($11.00), Creme Brulee (Set Lunch)

Of course, you couldn't leave this place without trying at least one of their teas. While they say the list is extensive, I will say its mind-boggling, easily taking up to 20 minutes to scrutinize every tea code and its ingredients. Eventually, we settled on the one with a refreshing mix of lime blossoms and verbena, and the one that smelt remarkably similar to the french dessert. Very pleasing for the throat and stomach after the mains.

Bill for two was $69.45 after taxes. Very luxurious compared to the usual lunch meals ($3.70 for da-paoed mixed rice from Lau Pat Sat, anyone?) but hey, its an off day after all. Do pamper and recharge yourself when on one!

TWG Tea Restaurant
2 Bayfront Avenue, #B2-65/68A
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
Tel: 6565 1837

Taken with HTC Sensation