Tuesday, November 30, 2010

TAB @ Orchard Hotel

Special thanks to Kimberly and Vivian for the invite, as well as the three amicable gentlemen behind TAB who nourished us so well!

TAB


TAB's doors swung open sometime this August and has been a play lab for local acts to hone their performances and popular overseas acts to reach out to more audiences. For that, TAB already stands out from the rest of its kind. Its lofty food aims include both a gastrobar and New York Deli concept.

more interior

Roomy interior...
interior

Perched on the second floor of Orchard Hotel, it offers a view of the other side of busy Orchard that I tend to neglect.

Pub Grub accompanies alcohol to a T. Most if not all the time, it is deepfried to awaken the tastebuds and whet the appetite for alcohol further. No surprises in its offerings except one...read on to find out more!

cinnamon cheese

Cinnamon-Sugar Cheese Tortilla ($10)
Cheese-baked tortilla with sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon

An interesting combination of cinnamon and cheese which made this taste like bak kwa churros. Probably it sounds odd but it was a delicious carb fix to start off with.

buffalo wings

Buffalo Wings ($12)
Crispy deep fried chicken wings with a coat of fiery cayenne pepper sauce

Fiery and crispy was lacking in these usual suspects at a pub dinner but these was just fine otherwise.

calamari

Fried Calamari ($12)
Spice-coated squid rings served with citrus mayo

Made no attempt but the companions seemed to like it.

white bait

Fried White Bait ($13)
Seasoned whitebait deep fried bait accompanied by citrus mayo

TAB's version is less crunchy than the rest, at least the white bait flesh can be tasted.

Mains are always meant for the hungry. Pub food in particular barely interests me (with the exceptional few) mainly becauce the focus is usually on the drinks and ambiance. TAB tries to change that perception.

chicken parmigiana

Chicken Parmigiana ($18)
Breaded chicken breast oven-baked with a topping of marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese, with mashed potato and sauteed vegetables

Meant for the ravenous, the portions justify that. A humongous portion of breaded tender chicken breast (inspired by the Japanese katsu) with a layer of sinful cheese. The potato mash came across a tad dry though but otherwise, it was one really filling mains!

curry mayo

The Brit favourite.
fish chips

Fish & Chips ($16)
Beer-battered Dory Fillet with homemade fries and a curry mayo dip

The fillet was somewhat too mush, yet that is characteristic of dory.

the beer behind the magic

Soaked in Mexican beer, the fish fillets are fried till an irrestible golden brown. I adored the curry mayo dip but it can honestly do with a bit more fire.

fries

Mega whooper loved the double cooked fries! Their fries were slightly sweet and tasted almost like sweet potato.The second place in Singapore I know that double cooks its fries for the extra crisp and crunch. The fries are available ala carte as well. They were so good, I ended up shamelessly stealing them from the other table.

yumz

Tab Burger ($16)
Burger topped with cheddar cheese, cornichons and caramelised onions, with salad and homemade fries on the side

Impossible to resist signature beef burger. The portion is similar to a Mcdonald's burger and deliberately shaped no bigger than one's fist as one of the owners liked the idea of holding it up and munching on it rather than daintily using a fork and knife. (A faux pas I made!)

burgers

A decent attempt made of a bar burger, TAB's version is juicy with herbs embedded. Once again, the fries stole the thunder and glory.

pasta

Seafood Marinara Pasta ($20)
Seasonal seafiid with pasta in marinara sauce. Choice of linguine, angel hair or spaghetti

Made slightly spicy but I found this a tad saucy and slightly sweet. The pasta came with a school of seafood figuratively, scallops, fish fillets, prawns and mussels made this an underwaterworld gathering.

slew of happiness

Cocktails are my best friends. House pours are usually watered down if not overladen with liquor which makes it a balancing act to fit each person's tastebuds. Cocktails are most definitely ladies drinks as they appeal either in colour or description or choice of ingredients. TAB has a bartender who makes his rounds nightly to tease and tempt patrons with whimsical requests. Throw him any theme (or how you're feeling) and he'll be able to concot something within the parameters of his bar. Talk about flexibility! A great pity he was not on duty that night, if not I'd have asked him to give me a taste of paradise. Morton's tops the list for martinis and Heatlounge at Royal Scotts Hotel for Caiprinha.

Kudos to TAB for having a range of different cocktails, apart from the universal language of cocktails. Infact, they have taken the liberty to conjure up a range of cocktails with comfort ingredients.

starting aperitf

Fan-Tab-Ulous ($15)
Gin, Fresh Cucumber, Elderflower

When I first saw the cucumber sticks, I thought "rabbit food". The cucumber essence within the drink was barely discernible apart from the refreshing aftertaste. Yet when removing the cucmber sticks, it tasted really like diet food.

passionfruit caiprinha

Caipirinha De Maracuja - Passionfruit Caipirinha ($18)
Fresh limes, golden-ripe passionfruit

Inspired by the cult film, "City of God", TAB gives this national Brazilian drink a twist with passionfruit. I am a self declared fan of Caiprinha but found this version too flat and watered down.

peanut butter cocktail

Charlie Brown ($18)
Smooth peanut butter, vanilla, vodka

I was looking forward to this all night long! Peanut butter anything is sheer delight. Tasted a weebit reminiscent of Baileys, this packs a nutty lethal punch.

How about Hello Kitty next with a splash of cherry blossom?

First Wives' Club ($18)
Bourbon, mangoes, rose

Acquired with a potent cough mixture finish.

cocktails

Hansel & Gretel ($18)
Fruits, jam, cream, vodka

A clear table favourite with the kitsch cherries blended into it and barely chocolatey despite the outlook. Loved how this tasted just like a cocktail version of Blackforest cake. A must try!

Food unconsciously becomes part of the package when it comes to choosing a place to chill, though company still ranks tops. Overeasy is one of those watering holes that I consider a favourite and places like Chamber put me off because of mediocre food. TAB tries to offer more than decent food and different drinks to please the hungry alcoholic.
I hear they are working on expanding the menu to include pizzas, desserts and more drinks too. Only dinner is available at present.

toilet magic

Totally irrelevant...but the toilet slogan got me laughing. The Men totally do not get it...!

As of November 18 2010, Happy Hour at TAB is from 5pm - 8pm, or 9pm for DBS card holders.  DBS card holders also enjoy 10% off their F&B bill, 1-for-1 on selected Martinis and a free main dish with every three main dishes ordered. You may want to drop by for more details!

http://www.tab.com.sg/

Closed on Mondays.

TAB
442 Orchard Road
#02-29 Orchard Hotel

Monday, November 29, 2010

Chop Hean Kuan @ People's Park

The Dad recounted the three dimsum kings of yesteryears (Da Dong, Nam Tong and Ming Kee) whilst we tucked into a late afternoon tea. . Chop Hean Kuan or 斗記 belonged to the same era. Spotting two stall spaces, one as a retail front while the other serves as an open concept kitchen where workers would gather around a bucket of meat and a pile of dough kneading dimsum through the day.

DSC_0107

It's baked, it's flaky...it's time for dimsum teatime!

DSC_0120

Fried Pau

Otherwise known as 烧包, I expected this to be a fried char siew pau...turned out to be 鮮肉包. Memories of the delectable 鮮肉包 courtesy of Daniel were evident once I sunk my teeth into them. A far cry in fact, looked better than it tasted. From the bland flaky pastry to the meat filling, not too big on this.

DSC_0121


Char Siew Sou

Shaped like a curry puff and dusted with sesame seeds, the sweet char siew fillings were held together by a gummy paste. The same pastry from the fried pau was still not a fave.


DSC_0117

Ma Lai Goh

I grew up with Tiong Bahru's Ma Lai Gohs, the dafodil yellow is hard to resist every time I picked my tea choices over the counter. These were a shade too light and tasted more like sponge cake than ma lai goh. Yet another that did not satisfy.

Egg Tart

Of the lot, this was the best. The same bland pastry once again and sweet curd. Not the bestest of eggtarts but probably is Chop Hean Kuan's saving grace.

These are perhaps not the best of Chop Hean Kuan. Average at best for a diehard Tiong Bahru-Ho Kee.

Chop Hean Kuan
32 New Market Road #01-1018/16A People's Park

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Bella Pizza @ Riverside Walk

Bella Pizza reminded me of now defunct Oregano. It could be the size of the shop, or the way it was so well hidden. On a Friday night, reservations are highly recommended though requests for a table inside fell to deaf ears.

Calamari Frutti ($18)
Deep fried calamari, served with lime and arrabbiata sauce

The company loved this so much they were all gone in minutes. I kid you not. Apparently lightly battered calamari rings with a zesty sauce to match. What honestly amused me was the arrangement of food, they left a huge space for half the plate which left me wondering was rocket salad supposed to fill the void?

eggplant lasagne

Parmigiana Di Melenzane Con Pomodoro Basilico ($17)
Eggplant baked with parmesan and mozzarella, tomato and basil

Looked like lagsana and tasted like vegetarian lagsana. Pity the some pieces of eggplant were undercooked but overall a tasty dish.

Their pizzas are characterized by white and red sauces used.

bella pizza: parma ham

Pizza Con Rucola ($25)
Pizza with tomato, mozzarella, arugula, Parma ham and shavings of parmesan

bella pizza

Pizza Boscaiola (Porcini E Salsiccia) ($23)
Pizza with tomato, mozzarella, porcini mushrooms and Italian sausage

salami pizza

Pizza Bella Pizza (Mozzarella, Salmani, Ricotta E Spinaci) ($26)
Pizza with mozzarella, ricotta, salami and sautéed spinach

The best of the night and was recommended by the waiter.

Their pizza bases are thin bread types, still lacking in the chewy finish that Al Forno has. Perhaps that's the way the Italians indulge in Italy.

Has Robertson Quay found a fan in me? Not quite yet...too much of a crowd. I still prefer Dempsey.

Bella Pizza
Riverside Walk

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Punggol Nasi Lemak

You know how they always say "If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain"? The great thing about franchises is they bridge the distance between the original and consumer.

I am so not sure where the original Punggol Nasi Lemak is but one thing's sure, they opened one near me so darn long ago, I feel almost guilty it took me so long to introduce this.Dinner crowds filled this place and queues were a permanent fixture whilst the servers were kept busy with verbal orders of the various ingredients.

 ponggol nasi lemak 2

Luncheon Meat ($0.70), Chicken Wing ($1.40), Coconut Rice ($0.70/$1), Ikan Bilis (From $1), French Bean (From $1)


ponggol nasi lemak

Prawn Date ($1.20), Otah ($1.20), Fried Egg ($0.70)

All things fried makeths this array of ingredients that accompany Nasi Lemak, fortunately or unfortunately. The basic composition of Nasi Lemak that I was taught to appreciate included fried ikan billis, fried long bean/french beans, fried egg, fried chicken wing and a dollop of balachan. The rest were just add ons.

Fluffy fragrant rice dominates the meal and I relished every spoonful.

A great pity that the fried items tend to be overfried, for instance the luncheon meat and chicken wing. Fried to such dryness there was barely any "meat" left. Same goes for the tempura prawn that was so thickly coated with batter, it was such sorrow to ruin an otherwise delicate fryup!

If I could, I'd stick with my basic nasi lemak.

Subject to 7% GST.

Punggol Nasi Lemak
238 Tanjong Katong Road

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lee Wee Brothers Nasi Lemak Takeaway


Nasi Lemak Takeaway for lunch one day though Lee Wee has been my source of otah supply for the longest time.


Clumpy yet fragrant rice that was possibly too moist - a result of condensation. The usual suspects like ikan billis and omelette was glaringly missing and these were replaced with a meaty chicken wing, crisp potato croquette and fishcake. None too memorable but I dig the belachan! Spicy with a sweet finish.

I was not scrapping my box for more though, it was just a decent and different lunch takeaway.

http://www.leeweebrothers.com/pages/lunchbox.asp#

Lee Wee Brothers 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Baits by Ding Tai Feng @ Resorts World Sentosa

Bait at RWS for lunch beyond the usual 1km radius of the office, largely because the company wanted to check out Candylicious. Candylicious is such a major tease, almost living a kid's candy dream. I have a nagging feeling if I really indulged, I could potentially earn myself a lifetime membership. Anyhow it was to Bait for lunch!

Upon entering, we had our first taste of bad service with the waitress shooing us back outside to "queue" and wait to be called. After being shown our table, an over zealous waiter was utmost quick to take our orders. "$1 for warm water and cold water, $1.20 for hot tea." was his opening line, all said in a straight face. We could do with a little bit more warmth actually.

xlb

Xiao Long Bao

This is possibly the closest we have to Michelin way before celebrity chefs carved their niche here. I still slurp in awe of their impossibly thin skin and droolworthy meat ball and broth.

stir fried ladys finger

Stir Fried Ladies Finger

I'd consider the portion a tad small but good things do come in small packages right? Sliced so fine, this ladies finger dish did not have the starchy remnants that tickles the throat so much, found this yummy with fried shrimp. Perfecto with a bowl of steaming rice.


pork chop

Pork Chop

Decent.
pork ribs

Bittergourd with Pork Rib

Yet another nicely executed dish with meaty ribs and equally delish bittergourd slices, mushrooms and carrots. Hearty home cooked fare, this reminded me of.

prawn paste chicken

Prawn Paste Chicken

I'm hardly one who enjoys skin of any meat that much, yes...I'll take extra caution to weed off the chicken/duck skin, unless it's roasted so dry. The only exceptions have been made for roast geese from Hongkong but this particular prawn paste chicken had me chewing it meat and skin. Thankfully the oil level was bearable but I liked this enough to wish the portions were bigger.

Dessert is usually a must and the tolerable wait for dessert is perhaps 15 minutes? Baits tested our patience so, with at least 30 minutes and having the desserts arriving at odd intervals. Does not help that the chef would chirpily greet "你好" to  table of poker-faced bored to bits diners.

yam paste with vanilla ice

Yam Paste with Icecream

The companions had this. One main grouse; the plastic spoon that was distinctively an oddball.

longeivity buns

Mini Longeivity Bun (7 pcs, $7.50)
Sweet red bean paste imported from Taiwan

As part of their celebratory menu, Din Tai Feng celebrates their anniversary with longeivity buns! The buns had a huat-kueh texture and the smoothest-softest red bean filling. Surprise-surprise! Was not lotus paste and not too sweet....in fact, I'm loving this healthy version.

Yam Paste Xiao Long Bao
This took quite nearly eternity, workmanship of these hand moulded pastries were sub par. Not that I bothered with the 18 folds that Din Tai Feng is uber proud of. Tasted just like xiao long bao with yam paste. Nothing extraordinary but I do like how their desserts are toned down in sweetness.

Service is painfully obnoxious unfortunately at a location with high tourist traffic. if I may add...possibly one of the worst of Din Tai Feng's outlets. Baits did please with delightful tze char fare but I'm not sure if I'm willing to trade good food for lousy service yet.
 
Baits by Din Tai Feng
Resorts World Sentosa

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rocky Masters...Budget Brunch

Sunday Brunch is fast becoming a regular for the family..the perils of educating the parents on brunching and they gamely look forward to brunch now every Sunday!


Chicken Pottie Pie ($5)


Thin buttery layers of pastry capping an aluminium container's worth of chicken broth. This would pass off as decent.


Pizzas ($5.50 each)


Beef 
Ratatouille

Very homemade but I'm not complaining...! Vegetarian pizzas hardly appeal so my vote goes to Beef, the portions contain the sin-factor in a minimum. Great for single consumption.



Potato Wedges ($4.90)

Never can resist them wedges, despite knowing fully well they are frozen food.

Regular brunchfare without the fuss and pomp (think traipsing horses or lush greenery)...Rocky Master is as modest as can be.


Rocky Masters

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Marriott Hotel Takeaways

I had a craving for savoury so huge, I'm not entirely sure why I ended up packing three cakes back. Sugar versus salt, sugar wins. Somehow.

longan mousse

Lychee Mousse ($6)

It could be the finger biscuit that got me noticing it, or the row of plump lychees...I actually liked how the lychees were not fresh off a can but off a branch. The mousse had a certain foamy texture about it, a totally different kind of mousse tasted. Strangely, the cake was not soggy as it looked, tasted most like 雞蛋糕. And I realise, I liked it too the last time round!

marble cheese 

Marble Cheese ($5)

The unassuming surprise. Looked dry but turned out so otherwise. Loved the pleasant cheese taste and foamy texture of this. The only grouse was...where's the marble?

calamansi tart

Calamansi Tart ($4.50)

The most pathetic tart ever, soggy to the max and barely crumbly. Despite that, loved the acidic sour calamansi filling that seemed to increase in intensity with every bite. Yummmeh!

Marriott Hotel

Monday, November 22, 2010

Red Star Dim Sum @ Chin Swee Road

It was one of those lazy Saturday mid-mornings that I felt like dimsum. On a whim, I dragged the companion for dimsum without knowing exactly where to go and we ended up at Red Star. Expectedly packed for a weekend, getting a table was easy but getting the attention of the pushcarts was harder than hard.

red star

Old school.

red star

Memories of Lin Heung rushed back, only with more order. I really miss the insane amount of energy and fuss of a HK dimsum place!

tea

Not sure why but this reminded me of Bak Kut Teh in JB - washing your cups in a metal bowl. Very very odd link but that's how my family used to spend holidays or bored-out weekends, queueing to get across the causeway for the famous Ah Soon Bak Kut Teh fix. It's been more than yonks since I made a revisit.

push cart

The infamous pushcarts.

preserved cabbage

Preserved vegetables that I ended up nibbling on after eternity of waiting.

char siew pau

Char Siew Pau that was tragic. Gummy char siew paste with barely there morsels of meat.

xlb

The attempt on Xiao Long Bao was a wrong move, so very wrong. Imagine thick skin with filling made of mostly fat and the soup made its way out of the dumpling even before you bit into it. Neither of us could bare to stomach the last piece.

xlb single

Never ever again.

roast duck

Yummy roast duck with all the grease! Juicy and flavourful meat...I only wish the skin was crispy. At 12 buckeroos, this was pricey but then again it was the most decent item for lunch.

har gao

An order of Har Gao to complete the round of dimsum!

siew mai

Siew Mai's another of those must-orders.

dimsum plate

Nothing too spectacular with clumpy average skin and thankfully fresh prawns. That was it though.

congee

Watery congee that the companion seemed to love.

egg tarts1

Tai Cheong this is certainly not, neither is it Tong Heng but more than decent with the buttery crust and wobbly custard. Consistently a personal favourite through the years. Seems that "Durian Crepe" is their hottest bestseller but I'm holding my horses on that one.

For novelty's sake...Red Star does have a 600gm pau known as Dragon Phoenix Pau and it is seriously horrendously huge!!! I spied a table of 3 tucking into it.

Red Star oh red star...the only reason why I even bother returning is to relive in the nostalgic past that I wasn't even part of. Old school anything is a weakness.

Red Star
Chin Swee Road
7th Floor