18.7.17

136 Hongkong Street Fish Head Steamboat

Sometimes, I think the West region of Singapore gets maligned for the deceptive lack of good food. It's not to say that the area is teeming with amazing food galore (because it's really not), but there's a decent smattering of dining options that I'd make the trek, even from the East, to eat at.

Like this non-descript cze char spot in Clementi (it's really more West Coast than Clementi proper), which was depressingly devoid of people on a week night (I've been told it's crazy busy on weekends). A friend had raved about its claypot 'bee tai mak' or rat's tail noodles (not particularly appetizing a name, I know), back when it was still located in Toa Payoh, but I never got around to visiting the stall until now. In its new-ish coffeeshop premises all the way in the South-West of the island.

Notwithstanding its moniker, skip the fish head steamboat, and head straight for the tze char menu, it's what's exceptional here. Also, you know how many restaurants push their so-so dishes as "signatures" to increase orders of their middling offerings, so you ignore them? Here at 136 HongKong St Fish Head Steamboat, take heed to their signatures, you'll do well to stick to them. We found that the dishes missing a thumbs up emoji were notably less impressive.

A must-try, the Claypot 'Mee Tai Bak' ($8 for small), dotted with pork mince, chopped kailan, a couple of medium-sized shrimp, and finished with a raw egg cracked into the bubbling earthenware, was absolutely fantastic. Robust, velvety and redolent of garlicky notes, each strand of silver needle noodle slid down the throat like rich silk.

If mee tai bak isn't your thing, there's the Boss (Big Prawn) Bee Hoon ($15), a rice vermicelli variation of the above claypot and luxed up with more prawns. I generally prefer the texture of skinny rice vermicelli, so this got my pick.

Another must-try was the Hongkong-Style Deep-Fried Fish Skin ($10 for small) delightfully crunchy and burnished with a coat of salted egg yolk essence. Spiked with sliced chilli and fried curry leaves for a punchy spice, this was sinfully delicious.

The Thai-style Deep-Fried Oyster Omelette ($9) was wonderfully fluffy, and the the oysters were surprisingly fat and succulent.

The Beancurd Prawn with Egg ($18) was overwhelming with the taste of ginger. The heat of the ginger oblierated the delicate sweetness of the prawns, and that lovely egg drop gravy. Suffice it to say, we didn't finish this.


136 Hong Kong Street Fishhead Steamboat
713 Clementi West St 2
Tel: 9437 8260
Open daily from 11am to 2pm for lunch; 5pm to 11pm for dinner

Beef & Broccoli Stir-Fry

This classic Chinese take-out dish is an incredibly easy, low-fuss stir fry that needs about half an hour of prep work, and even less time to cook. The key to this is a big big fire, so turn up the stove and fry away!


Ingredients (feeds 3-4):
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets
half a capsicum, julienned
10 white button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup sliced sirloin beef, marinated with spicy bulgogi sauce
1 small yellow onion, sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light soy
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp mirin
2 dashes white ground pepper


Directions:
1) Fry onions in canola-sesame oil mix, on high heat, about 1 minute till caramelised.

2) Add garlic and toss through for 15 seconds.

3) Add broccoli, fry for 1 minute.

4) Add mushrooms, fry about 1 minute.

5) Add peppers, fry about 1 minute.

6) Add beef, soy, mirin, pepper and oyster sauce, fry for 30 seconds or until beef is half cooked. Dish up immediately, the residual heat will cook the beef mostly through. You want the beef medium-done, so it remains tender.


17.7.17

Super Loco

After that awesome dinner at Super Loco sometime back, we resolved to pop by for brunch one weekend. Izzy had raved about their brunch offerings, and I was curious how the Mexicans do breakfast.

Turns out, Mexican brunch is simply regular Mexican food, just jazzed up with eggs. Robust and invigorating, Mexican breakfast foods are a punchy, rousing way to kickstart your day. We relished every dish ordered. My only gripe: in spite of my instructions to hold off the parsley/cilantro/coriander leaves/spring onions in everything, they kept putting cilantro in every.freaking.thing...urghh, that was quite a pain to pick off every.single.chopped.up.leaf.

The Mexican take on an English full brekkie, The Grande Breakfast ($24) comprised scrambled eggs kicked up a notch with salted smoked chile, braised black beans, grilled chorizo, fried streaky bacon, esquites corn nibblets, guacamole, spicy ancho mayo, and a couple of toasted sourdough. A beautiful gestalt of flavours, the platter was as hearty as it was vibrantly coloured.

The Huevos Benedictos ($19), a Mexican interpretation of the Anglo-Saxon-originated eggs benedict, with pork carnitas, chipotle hollandaise, and pickled pink onions, balanced the bright and spicy with the creamy and rich.

The Super Heuvos Rancheros ($20), of cheese quesadillas and baked black beans, was slathered in a potent tomato salsa, and bulked up with a duo of sunny-side up eggs, a dollop of sour cream and fresh guacamole. Saucy, bold, and fun, this was so delicious I almost didn't mind the parsley nested in the beans.

The Chilaquiles ($19), a bowl laden with crispy totopos studded with bacon lardons, salsa roja, black beans, and pickled shallots was held together with melty Monterey Jack and a fried free range egg. Bright, punchy, and a delightful contrast of textures, this was breakfast-style nachos done right.

Another must-try, was the Pulled Pork Tortas ($15), with slow-braised pork shoulder, apple slaw, refried beans, and habanero mayo. This was indulgent, sumptuous and meltingly good. Truly an outstanding dish, and I daresay, as good a pulled pork burger as Burnt Ends' Sanger.



Super Loco
60 Robertson Quay
The Quayside #01-13
Tel: 6235 8900
Open Mondays to Thursdays from 5pm to 12midnight;
Fridays from 5pm to 1am;
Saturdays from 10am to 1am;
Sundays from 10am to 12midnight
Website: super-loco.com

14.7.17

Ang Mo Kio Central Market & Food Centre, 724 Ang Mo Kio Ave 6

How we stumbled upon this underrated but outstanding hawker centre was fortuitous.

So, I've been hankering for soupy braised duck noodles (yes, there's such a thing!) recently; it's been yonks since I last had it (also, yes, I do have the most random cravings). It's not a dish widely available or easily found anywhere, but a little research turned up this little gem of a braised duck + kway chap stall in Ang Mo Kio Central Market & Food Centre.

So, post-duck noodles, we waddled around said hawker centre, which led to the discovery of a treasure trove of hawker offerings. My picks are listed in descending preference as follows.

Braised Duck

A must-try, the Duck Noodle Soup ($4) at Ban Chuan was exceptional. Supplemented with a soy braised hard-boiled egg ($0.60), the broth was robust and brimming with the richness of stewed duck bones, but not at all cloying with herbal accents which typically hit me with a "heaty" headache. The duck, too, was sublime, smooth and juicy with nary a whiff of game.  

The Dry Duck Noodles ($4), also topped up with a soy egg ($0.60) didn't fare too badly either. The flat rice noodle-yellow egg noodle mix, slicked in a gravy emulsion of soy, oyster sauce tossed with chilli and spices, was scrumptious.

The store front for reference. Methinks that the base flavour notes of the kway chap offered at this store plays a large part of how delicious the soup base of the duck noodles are. I may not have eaten a lot of soupy duck noodles in my life, but I know a good thing when I see it; in my view, these are the best duck noodles on the island.

Ban Chuan
#01-19
Open daily from 11.30am to 8.30pm

====================================================================


Yong Tau Foo

Another must-try was the Yong Tau Foo Soup ($3) at Yi Xiang Feng. I've eaten A LOT of yong tau foo in my life, but this was one-of-a-kind. At first glance, you'd see that the soup stock appears remarkably dusky. There are distinct notes of dried sole fish and fried ikan bilis blended into the yellow bean base, lending a toasty accent to the soup. We licked this clean.

The stall front for reference.

Yi Xiang Feng
#01-23
Tel: 9455 1641 / 9635 3203
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 7am to 7pm; closed on Sundays

====================================================================


Satay Bee Hoon

For a relatively small hawker centre, AMK Central Food Centre has a good number of hard-to-find, or unique, offerings. Satay bee hoon is one hawker food that's dying out, and I seldom see this noodle dish being offered. But this hawker centre, despite its relatively small size, has 2 satay bee hoon stalls!

Centre Satay Bee Hoon ($3.50) caught our eye with its numerous writeups, and turned out to be one of the best renditions of the beloved noodle dish. The satay sauce was smooth, almost velvety, and punchy without being too oily. The cockles were fat and fresh, the pork slices were tender, and the prawns were sweet, all of which were fresh.

The stall front for reference.

Centre Satay Bee Hoon
#01-12
Tel: 6505 9554
Open Wednesdays to Mondays from 11am to 8pm; Closed on Tuesdays

====================================================================


Minced Meat Noodles

You know how people say that beauty isn't just skin-deep? Well, here at Hup Hup, you'll find the epitome of "beauty is skin deep". I don't expect good service at a hawker centre, but the woman manning this stall, whose attitude is as ugly as her appearance, was memorably grumpy. I'm not the sort to judge one by their looks, but I say, in this case, judge away. (sidenote: apparently, I'm not the only one to have made this assessment....there are multiple reports of her foul nature)

That said, I'd still recommend the minced meat noodles here. The woman isn't offensive enough (interaction with her is very brief anyway) to warrant passing on the noodles.

The Mee Kia ($3), topped with stewed mushrooms, oodles of minced pork, and a couple of fried wanton discs, was stellar. There's no vinegar added to this, but the chilli sauce was extraordinary, bold and balanced. Even the soup served on the side stood out, with its meaty depth of flavour.

The stall front for reference. A tip is to look over that list on the left of the stall, below that red poster, and have your order at the ready, "mee kia" or "mee pok", "large $4" or "small $3", "chilli" or "no chilli", and "eat here" or "takeaway".

Hup Hup Minced Meat Noodles
#01-39

====================================================================


Minced Meat Noodles

There's another noodle stall also hawking the same wares. Ru Yi whips up a mean bowl of fishball noodles, but it also serves mushroom minced meat noodles, which more traditional style passed muster but less of a standout like Hup Hup.

We supplemented the Mushroom Minced Meat Noodles ($3) with an extra serving of Fishballs ($1). This may be so-so compared to Hup Hup, but it boasted wonderfully comforting flavours.

The stall front for reference.

Ru Yi
#01-17

====================================================================


Chicken Rice

Another stall here that sported a bit of a queue was the Chicken Rice ($3) at Seng Bee. The soup, sweetened with cabbage and aromatic with stewed peanuts, was noteworthy, but the chicken, rice, and chilli were decent, albeit pedestrian.

The stall front for reference.

Seng Bee
#01-31
Tel: 6458 2556
Open Wednesdays to Mondays from 8am to 8.30pm

====================================================================


Carrot Cake

Lim Hai Sheng was heralded by multiple publications as frying up a top-notch plate of White Carrot Cake ($2) but we didn't think it was that great. There was that bit of charring on the edges, but there was no smoky fragrance, and the radish pudding could be a smidge softer and chewier. That being said, the chilli paste was extraordinary, and helped give this middling dish a lift.

The stall front for reference. I suppose we should have known it wasn't as good as the accolades claim, the stall was frequently devoid of customers, who mostly flocked to the aforementioned stalls above.

Lim Hai Sheng Cooked Food
#01-09
Tel: 9003 5259
Open daily from 8am to 10pm

===================================================================


Cheng Teng

The sweltering weather calls for Iced Cheng Teng ($2), my favourite local dessert. The one at Four Seasons was a half-and-half. The ingredients were forgettable, but the herbal soup was awesomesauce, nuanced, refreshing and harmonious.

The stall front for reference.

Four Seasons Cheng Teng
#01-34
Open daily from 10.30am to 8pm

====================================================================

Ang Mo Kio Central Market & Food Centre
724 Ang Mo Kio Ave 6

12.7.17

Moosehead Kitchen & Bar

Ever since that incredible meal at the fabulous Maggie Joan's, I've been hankering to try their sister restaurant, Moosehead Kitchen and Bar.

A casual restaurant serving modern Mediterranean cuisine in small-plates, Moosehead's distinctively livelier and breezier (also because it's open-aired) than Maggie Joan's. Whereas the latter's food was a smidge more serious and boasted more refinement, Moosehead's offerings were decidedly carefree and easygoing. Still, I preferred Maggie Joan's cuisine, which I felt had tighter execution and more cohesive flavours. (a fun bit of trivia: the owners of Moosehead Kitchen - Bar named Maggie Joan's after their beloved gran)

Service was, similar to Maggie Joan's, sluggish. Our water glasses only got refilled once throughout the 3 hours we were seated, after we asked for it. And our credit card payment took 20 minutes to process. In a restaurant of 4 other occupied tables. To be fair, the restaurant was short-staffed; there was just the 2 waiters handling the night's dinner service.

A must-try, the Bacon-Wrapped Char-Grilled Dates ($9) crowned with a dollop of aioli and a shower of pinenuts, was a game-changer. I typically detest dates, in particular those saccharine cloying Chinese red ones in many of the herbal soups (urghh), but these were flush with a rounded, nutty flavour, which balanced the salty bacon. So damn good we ordered seconds.

The Hummus ($9), mellow and velvety, was dusted with sumac for a bright acidity. Excellent when schmeared over grilled homemade pita.

These Fried Artichokes ($9), dotted with bottarga and sided by creamy ricotta, were the best artichokes I've ever had, bar none. I first had artichokes on a pizza, and that turned me off well and good, for a really long time. But these, wonderfully crisp with breadcrumbs and nuanced, were delicious enough to turn me back on artichokes.

The sumptuous fattiness of the Bone Marrow ($10) was complemented by the salty richness of the ortiz anchovies and the subtle tang of the sourdough toast,

The roasted Cauliflower ($15) seasoned with garlic miso and strands of leek confit, was a mixed bag. The charring was lovely, but the florets weren't thoroughly cooked through.

Ditto for the Broccolini ($10) which needed a few seconds longer on the grill. That sweet-spicy-peanutty hoisin aioli was fantastic though.

The Burrata ($22), dotted with pickled cucumbers and topped with Thai basil, was a little flat. And somewhat forgettable. This needed the heft of some cured meat to add some body.

The Chicken Breast ($25), surprisingly moist and delicate, was paired with charred baby corn and a creamy smooth tarragon tahini.

The Lamb Neck ($34), dry rubbed in ras el hanout spices, was a dud. The bold of the spice mix nor the pungent cheese failed to balance (or even mask) the weighty gaminess of the lamb.

The Pork Collar ($31) delightfully luscious, was paired with puffed rice, softened hispi cabbage, apple compote, and fresh dill, was my favourite main.

I don't usually order fries as a side, but a friend needed the carbs, and boy am I glad she did. The Triple Cooked Chips ($9) were addictive AF, having been burnished with some kind of sinfully scrumptious animal fat.

The Chocolate Mousse ($10) with salted caramel, vanilla ice-cream, and candied peanuts didn't look too impressive when it arrived on our table, but wow did it make up for its uninspiring facade in taste. A beautiful juxtaposition of the sweet and salty, hot and cold, this was a must-try.


Moosehead Kitchen + Bar
110 Telok Ayer Street
Tel: 6636 8055
Open weekdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner;
Saturdays from 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner;
Closed on Sundays
Website: mooseheadproject.com

7.7.17

Tommo's Pies, Darwin

First order of business whenever we're in Australia (or NZ), is to hunt down the best pies; it's our favourite Australian food.

Located just next to Crocosaurus Cove, it was serendipitous that we chanced upon Tommo's Pies. We actually were looking to buy a drink, but the smells drew us in, and we ended up buying a couple of pies. Just to try. Turned out to be one of the best pies we'd ever eaten (and we've eaten A LOT of pies). So obviously, we promptly bought another round of pies. A bonus: it's open till late at night!!

Must-trys are the classic Steak Pie (A$4.80) which is more mince pie than hefty steak chunks, and the Steak & Mushroom (A$4.80) which is studded with white buttons. Luscious and sumptuous with rich melty fillings, the pastry was buttery and flaky. A wonderfully comforting hunk of pie. 


A brinner-styled pie, the Beef Bacon & Cheese (A$4.80) was really just minced pie luxed up with bacon nubbins and an egg as well as grated cheese melted on top.


The eatery along main thoroughfare Mitchell Street.


Tommo's Pies
Shop 7, 58 Mitchell Street
Darwin
NT 0800
Australia
Tel: +61 8 8947 1001
Open Mondays to Thursdays from 8am to 10pm;
Fridays from 8am to 5pm;
Saturdays from 8.30am to 5pm;
Sundays from 9am to 6pm
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