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Monthly Archives: August 2012

31 Tan Quee Lan Street #01-01
Tel: 6334 4086

We were introduced to Xin Yuan Ji some time ago, and it is now our go-to place for sliced fish soup in Singapore. The restaurant itself is a full service tze-char restaurant, catering both to the one-hour luncher and the relaxed steamboater. It is particularly noted for its steamboat, fishhead curry and fish soup offerings.

The sliced fish soup with condensed milk ($5.80 – $7.00) is one of their specialities. You can have it with thick beehoon, porridge, or a separate serving of rice. The original purpose of adding milk was to mimic the appearance of fish-bone soup that has been boiled for hours, but it also has the effect of giving the soup a smoother texture and a pleasant sour-salty aftertaste. Fried fish slices are also available.

The sanlao fish hor fun ($7.00) comes hot out of the kitchen smelling of wokhei, the smokey, slight charred scent cherished by Cantonese chefs. There is a generous portion of fish and beansprouts, with plenty to share around.

We’ve not tried the rest of the dishes on the menu, but the shrimp prawn paste (belachan) chicken is a best seller and purportedly very good. Just don’t question how healthy it is.

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5 Purvis Street #01-04
Tel: +65 6333 3121

Angel Hair Pasta with Sakura Ebi

French food anywhere hardly comes cheap. Considering the number of processes involved in making even some of its classic dishes, the price might even be justified. However, the two proprietor-chefs at Saveur Restaurant may have stumbled upon a happy solution to French dining’s price-quality dilemma. Following their move from a humble hawker stall along East Coast Road to their current premises at Purvis Street, Saveur has thrown down the gauntlet and (to quote Monty Python) now shake its fist in the general direction of fancier/pricier establishments like Garibaldi (No. 35) and Gunther’s (No. 36) down the road. Saveur is budget French dining at its most optimal.

Pan-fried foie gras with lentils and pickled onions, available in 35g and 70g lobes

Confit of Duck, Orange segments, Sautéed Shitake

The menu is simple to navigate, and not so fancy as to overwhelm. We strongly recommend the bestsellers: pan-fried foie gras with lentils and pickled onions ($7.50-$13), the angel hair pasta with sherry minced pork and sakura shrimp ($3.90), and confit of duck with orange segments and sautéed shittake ($8.80). We also had their premium offering of pan-fried monkfish ($23.90). The food was faultlessly prepared and tasty to boot, which really makes us wonder why it is that other restaurants still manage to murder their food at thrice the price!

Pan-Fried Monkfish

9 Penang Road
Park Mall #01-01
Tel: +65 6338 8611
http://kith.com.sg/
Kith café did well by opening its second outlet at Park Mall, a niche mall known more for its expensive furniture shops and lack of patrons. Yet, it’s precisely because of its slow-n’sleepy character that makes it suitable for an indie joint like Kith – far enough from the manic bustle of Orchard Road but still a convenient 2-minute walk from Dhoby Ghaut MRT station. Kith’s coffee came highly recommended by friends, so I dragged Hweifen along for a coffee and lunch.

We started with a macchiato and latte. Now, I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a coffee person, so I was happy to defer to the judgment of my better-informed counterpart. She proclaimed in her characteristic manner that the coffee was “mehh”, which I translated meant “good, but I’ve tasted better”. She also noted that the macchiato was smaller than she thought it would be. On my part, I was glad the waitress didn’t give me a dirty look when I asked for sugar with the latte.

Because we were also hungry, we had the tenderloin spaghetti ($19) and big breakfast ($15.50). The spaghetti itself tasted fine, tomato-tangy with the beef adding a smoky hint. However the treatment of the tenderloin was shameful. The meat is just too delicate for stir-frying. The lack of fat means it dries up quickly when subject to high heat – which was exactly what happened. A better choice would be to use sirloin or ribeye, do it on a griddle as a large chunk and then slice them medium rare into the spaghetti.

The big breakfast was customizable, but I picked the wrong combination by choosing the poached eggs and brioche toast. The brioche with added butter and jam was particularly nasty. Go for a sandwich-able combination – ciabatta/focaccia with eggs done scrambled/sunny-side-up. Nit-picking about the steak aside, Kith was decent for food. What made the place nice was how chill (what an indie word!) the place felt. The premises suffered from no lack of natural light and there was plenty of seating in the canopied alfresco area outside. Plus, the waiting staff was really polite (“certainly, sir, any drinks to complement your mains?”). No brusque, dour service here, sir. At Kith, we teach our people their proper Ps and Qs, mind you. That really made my day.

19 Tanglin Road
Orchard Parade Hotel
Tel: 6732 4438

There is a little bit of everything at Akashi. Its set lunches and dinners are priced affordably for the casual diner, but its sushi counter is also a place of wonder for the sashim-ly inclined. Akashi is one of the better known Japanese restaurants here in Singapore, but it deserves a mention anyway for its consistency, longevity and quality of food. Judging from the evening crowds, we aren’t the only ones who think so. Be sure to make reservations to avoid disappointment.

The menu is extensive, so we’ll only cover our favourites. The chawanmushi ($8) is some of the best we’ve had, silky smooth with a tangy citrus inflection. The black-hog tonkatsu (served in a set) was consistent on the half a dozen occasions we’ve had it, with a nice crispy batter and some marbling for added juiciness.

Sashimi – fresh, thick slices with plenty of bite

California Reverse Rolls, with a massive topping of ebiko for kicks

Akashi has a decent selection of California-styled rolls, with the house special reverse rolls priced at $10-$15 for 8 pieces.

The chirashidon set ($28) is generously portioned, with large chunks of salmon and tamago sliced into it. Also consider ending off your meal with some of the restaurant’s Japanese ice creams. The goma (black sesame) ice cream is particularly good.

Experience tells us that food normally tastes better if the proprietors are around to keep things ship-shape. At Akashi, it so happens that there are three brothers to do just that, with two of them taking personal charge of the the sashimi counter at their Tanglin flagship. You’ll find them slicing fish and swigging sake with their guests in the evenings. Our friend goofing around above introduced us to his Uncle Don, who in turn gave us advice on life and clarified the distinction between women and ladies (“you leave the woman at home, you bring the lady out”). Quite pithy for a man on to his 12th sake cup.

Most people hate having tourists walk into their shots of majestic monuments and wondrous natural sceneries. I’m not too particular myself – with the fog and drizzle as bad as it was at the Mutianyu Great Wall that July weekend, tourists were the only things there were to take. They hammed it up pretty well, replete with looks of genuine bemusement and fatigue-induced confusion.

“Which way to walk, da?”

Asian dad valiantly rallying his little troopers for a charge up the ramps.

Visibility was awful, on the day of Beijing’s worst rainstorm in 61 years

My friend Juan, an upstart Chilean conquistador.

Some other shots I took from an early visit to China in 2010

“Daddy are we there yet?”

18 Xiaoyun Road,  霄云路18号, Beijing
Tel: 6595-5135 www.flo.cn

There is nothing exciting about Brasserie Flo. The food is predictable and reminds you a bit of your mother’s cooking. But that isn’t always a problem, is it? Sometimes you go to restaurants not to be excited or titillated, but to treat yourself to a familiar experience. Flo is a chain of upscale eateries originally from Europe, setting up shop in Beijing in 1999. It prides itself on serving classic French food in an oriental capital and does so with confidence. Also signature to the restaurant is its seafood counter, replete with air-flown oysters from France, fresh and plump as a baby’s bottom but never mind the carbon footprint.

Oysters

All this familiarity is a major selling point, especially with its recent move to spanking new premises along Xiaoyun Road, the heart of the diplomatic district in Beijing. The vaulted interior, spacious booths and ceiling-to-floor glass panels give a real sensation of space and a European charm.

Foie Gras, Plum Jelly, Fig Toast (not pictured)

We went for the Classic set menu (RMB 298), a selection of the restaurant’s best-sellers. The escargots were decent, meaning they were drowned in a lip-smackingly tasty herb butter, but not a terribly value-for-money dish. A much better option was the foie-gras, which was perfectly matched with fig toast and plum jelly.

Beef Tournade, Plum Tomatoes, Potatoes and Greens

Suckling Pig, Truffle Mash, Plum Tomatoes

The conservative ethos of the kitchen was clearly evident in its main offerings. The beef tournade was a simple and elegant plate of food. The meat came perfectly done (medium), with the plum tomatoes adding a splash of colour and freshness to the dish. The suckling pig was brilliant. The Chinese really know their pork belly, and Flo’s was some of the best we’ve had. The truffle mash actually had discernible slices of the black treasure in it, and went well with the pool of pork jus that had been cleverly “ponded” in the middle.

Belgian Waffles, Chantilly Cream, Strawberries

To end it off, Gloria had a slice of the Belgian waffles with Chantilly cream and strawberries. The waffle had a slightly chewy bread-like texture, not really what we’re used to but pleasant as well. The crème brulee, like the escargots, was good but not terribly value-for-money.

Of course there are better restaurants around, but one will find comfort in Brasserie Flo’s attentive service and ambiance. For a more affordable alternative, go on a weekday for their set lunch and power lunch options. (128 and 148 RMB respectively)

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