Thursday, April 24, 2014

Back From Seoul-Searching

Dongdaemun, South Korea

Alright I'm just back from the land of Cosmetics, K-Pop and awesome BBQ, so give me sometime to sort things out before writing a fresh post.

Kamsa hamida!

Taken with Nikon D7100
Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wang Dae Bak: Grill Some Meat, Cook Some Noodles

Its funny how I'm writing this now given where I'm heading next (Major leak!), but Korean bbq has always been enticing for me. Think sizzling meat and boiling stews; what's not to like? While I haven't been to many of them, the one that I can count on for returns visits got to be Wang Dae Bak.

With one outlet at China Square (and another along Amoy Street), the popular place is hard to walk-in on weekends. Decor was really simple and raw; drum barrels as seats (doubling up as storage for your bags), shiny metalic tables and black-painted cooker hood. Place your order and watch the staff work in a jiffy.

Assorted Complimentary Banchan

As with all Korean meals, the accompanying small dishes are good enough to be a meal on thier own. The selections here are pretty wide, always seeing different dishes on my multiple visits. Our favourites were the mashed potato ball, sausages with beans and stewed beancurd skins that kept us munching throughout. Oh yes, chilled tea is complimentary and refillable too.

Bottled Hite - Large ($10.00)

A boys' night out calls for a beer. Actually any nights out with korean bqq should call fora beer. The Korean classic was nicely chilled, light and smooth to pair with what comes next. I forgot to take a proper photo of the egg mixture (peeking out in the corner) that they poured into the mini dam, making a really good fluffy ommelette after some time.

Army Stew ($35.00), Seafood Pancake ($18.00)

If you love your processed meat and instant noodles, this got to be the ultimate comfort food. With generous amount of sliced luncheon meat, sausage and pork belly within, the huge pan of tomato and bean-based soup is excellent to be shared, with everyone eventually attacking the springy noodles. Top up one more noodle cake if it ain't enough!

The other one is a sharing essential as well, having a crispy exterior with soft, floury inside, filled with handfuls of chives and seafood mix (think prawns, oysters and clams) that make every bite flavourful.

Pork Belly ($20.00), Beef Short Ribs ($28.00)

With the oh glorious meat being nicely marbled and fresh, rendering them juicy and tender was just a matter of timing on the hot grill as we DIYed to our liking. Good things do come in small packages.

Total bill for 3 was $130.65 after taxes. Not the cheapest Korean BBQ around but given the quality and portion (of the stew and pancake, not meat frankly), it was indeed a tasty treat. Need another bout of meat and beer soon.

Wang Dae Bak Korean BBQ Restaurant
#01-64, China Square Central
22 Cross Street
Tel: 6225 2646

Taken with HTC One
Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Mikuni: The Art of Robatayaki

While teppanyaki and yakitori restaurants are fairly common in Singapore, I think the same can't be said for Robatayaki, aka Japanese-styled barbecue. Eager to be properly introduced to the cooking style, a buddy and I decided to take the luxurious route via Mikuni, with plenty of help from our FAR card membership.

Located at Fairmont besides Szechuan Court, Mikuni took over Inagiku (Gosh i remember that place for their awesome tempuras and unagi) years ago and has established itself to be among the top Japanese restaurants in Singapore. Besides very entertaining teppanyaki counters, it also has a dedicated robatayaki room where the daily selections are displayed and cooked in front of you, served by chefs using long wooden paddles.

Rather than rackling our brains, we had the 158.00++/pax Robatayaki Tour Course which included most, if not all of their signatures.

Crispy Ebi Cracker, Assorted Sauce Dips

Starting with savoury, crunchy nibbles, these were pretty addictive as we looked forward to our meal. There were different sauces and flavoured salts to pair with meat, seafood and vegetable dishes, which I vaguely remembered the thick miso one as my favourite.

Complimentary House White

A little extra for Friday night unwinding that I redeemed using one of my FAR card welcome vouchers. Not a big fan of Chile wine, but still quite easy on the throat.

Hokkaido Sea Urchin and Tenshi Prawn with Mozuku Seaweed, Kampachi with Black Truffle Sauce

Served fresh and creamy, the prized roes were paired with a sweet, crunchy prawn and very fine seaweed, which the chilled combination felt very appetizing. The other, a hot favourite at Savour 2014, was equally delectable (and pretty) with flower petals and a strong truffle fragrance.

Seasonal Fish, Odori Prawn Shioyaki

I can't remember the exact type of fish, but it tasted like cod abeit with a firmer texture that was much to my liking. The prawn too was thumbs up with thick, succulent meat, which the natural flavours were magnified with a bit of salt.

Hokkaido Scallop with Sweet Corn and Asparagus

Cooked in its own juices with a dash of butter, the rich-tasting shellfish was oh-so-good with the broth, which also made nice drizzles for the barbecued greens.

Kagoshima Wagyu, Kurobuta Pork Belly

Gorgeous to look at when raw, tasted even better when cooked as the well-marbled beef cubes were full of robust, buttery flavours with tender texture. The pork belly, however, was the only blemish in the otherwise perfect meal as we found it a tad too tough and dry.

Complimentary Snacks, Kyoto Nishin Soba

Somemore nibbles as the pressed anchovies and cuttlefish made excellent alcohol companions. Carbs for the night came in the form of soba in a light, soy sauce-based soup, along with a tasty herring fillet that took me by surprise, in a good way.

Kyushu Musk Melon

I'm starting to understand why the fruit is so extravagently priced, as I honestly cannot remember tasting a melon that's as naturally sweet as this. Glad to finally taste its magic without having to burn a hole on buying one.

Total bill for two was $191.85 after FAR card discount and taxes. While a meal at Mikuni certainly don't come cheap, I think it is something worth saving up for with its excellent ambience, thoughtful presentation and of course, top-notch food quality. Definitely heading back to max out the FAR card benefits on it.

Level 3, Fairmont Singapore
80 Bras Basah Road
Tel: 6431 6156

Taken with Nikon D7100
Wednesday, April 02, 2014

SzeChuan Court: Dim Sum Attempt

I'm usually not too adventurous with dim sum places in Singapore, reason being that I stick to the good ones (think IT Great World) and have encountered too many bad ones. But since my Feed at Raffles membership counted Szechuan Court as one of its restaurants, I guess there's no harm to try it out on weekends.

Housed within Raffles City/Fairmont Singapore, the Si Chuan restaurant had a modern, cheerful decor with plenty of natural light. Service was prompt and courteous, with Cantonese being exchanged regularly between patrons and staff. The ala carte dim sum menu changes once every few months, so this particular visit carried mainly Chinese New Year creations.

Roasted Pork ($28.00), Yam & Pumpkin Cake ($6.80)

Regrettably, we had to start our Sunday brunch on a low note as the roast pork was tough and a tad salty, with the crispy skin turning chewy rather quickly. A pet peeve was that the belly meat came with the bottom layer of soft bone; a big nono for me. The other item pulled the score even as we liked the texture of mashy pumpkin and yam, crispy exterior and how it had the fragrance of sesame seeds.

Scallop Siew Mai ($9.80), Mixed Mushrooms Dumpling ($8.80)

With the first one being a decent attempt on the classic topped with a touch of luxury, we were also happy with the latter for its thin skin and chokeful ingredients, giving off a faint truffle-like smell.

Char Siew Bun ($7.80), Prawn & Yam Fritter ($8.80)

The staple bun was alright without being overly sweet and had pine nuts within, while the 芋角 wasn't the best I have tried with yam bits being too chunky.

Steamed Glutinous Rice ($8.80)

For the carbs, we had the piping hot glutinous rice with savoury chicken bits within and a slice of sweet waxed sausage. Fair but nothing outstanding

Total bill for two was $52.85 after FAR card discount. With relatively high pricing, small portions and above-average quality, I probably wouldn't be a regular here. Then again, as a Si Chuan restaurant, I shouldn't expect too much out of its Cantonese selection. Besides, I'm not exactly complaining with FAR card privileges (while it lasts!).

SzeChuan Court
Level 3, Fairmont Singapore
80 Bras Basah Road
Tel: 6431 6156

Taken with Nikon D7100