Sunday, March 31, 2013

Tanglin Halt Market Eats

Peanut minjiang kueh makes this place tick - yet distance and working hours make this almost an impossible feat. We were there on a Friday night and most stalls were closed, the same applied for the bigger hawker center just around the corner - what happened to us being a gourmet haven?

Guangdong Wanton Mee

Open: 5.30pm to 3am, Monday to Friday

wanton mee

Wanton Mee ($2.50)

To begin with, I did not know how popular this wanton mee stall is. Infact, this was just one of the few stalls that had a queue and join I did.

wanton soup

Simple fare of mee kia with wantons and char siew yet there was something so different in a same same but different sense. No alkaline taste for one and the chilli paste tossed in did wonders for the dish. I did not know lard was part of this dish - welcoming it no less. Now I know where to get my supper craving of wanton mee!

Indulgence Western Food

chicken chop

Chicken Chop ($5.50)

Breaded chicken chop with the old school crinkle cut fries and garlic bread.

Traditional Hainanese Chicken Rice and Curry Chicken Noodle

curry chicken nooodle

Curry Chicken Noodle ($5)

curry noodle

The curry lacked coconut milk for that creamy aftertaste though. None too special.


Bean Sprouts ($3)
Oyster Sauce Vegetable ($3)

Just to fill up the daily intake of greens, the bean sprouts were a tad raw. 

Da Di
Stall 8

fishball soup

Fishball Soup ($2.50)

I am no fan of fishballs in the first place and these were rather ordinary.


The tray return initiative was launched earlier this year and kudos to them!

And then, we returned for seconds one weekend morning instead. No surprise then that the stalls open at night were closed and we saw a different spread of food.


Tanglin Halt Original Pancake
Stall 16


So there, meet the legendary that everyone online raves about - lauded as royalty of nostalgic peanut pancake and I have procrastinated for too many years to ignore.  A beeline was already formed when we made it there and I panicked - what if they sold out on me since their closing time stated 11am and it was past that cinderella timing.

Peanut ($0.60) or red bean ($0.70) pancakes but the latter came in a round sealed one. The charred edges were crispy and instead of peanut butter paste it was ground peanuts and sugar. Traditional definitely and well at first bite - it was legendary but the sweet overload was an overkill. A messy affair guaranteed and the batter was a tad undercooked hence a gloppy texture at some parts of the pancake.

Cheng Mei Shi
Stall 14

lor mee

Lor Mee ($3)

A decent one though the vinegar could have been stronger for a punchier taste.

Seng Kee
Stall 19



Ripoff for both normal and banana leaf otahs since it was just the fragrance that made all the difference and hardly any trace of fish.

Tian Shui Hainan Ji Fan 
Stall 21


Another that sparked off a neverending queue, incredibly tender chicken with a broth that packs volumes of hard work. Looks like these hidden gems are not too far off from the overhyped actually.

Tanglin Halt Food Centre wowed, for the number of food gems available and at such affordability. It just proves the point that underdogs do outshine sometimes.

Tanglin Halt Market and Food Centre
48A Tanglin Halt Road
Singapore 148813

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Restaurant Week: Oso Ristorante @ Bukit Pasoh Road


We made a last minute cancellation for this last stop due to overwhelming bad response on the selected place. Oso happened by a stoke of luck of someone else's last minute cancellation since it was fully booked throughout. We were actually greeted by the chef himself at the door since there were a number arriving at a bright and early time of 6pm. Trust Singaporeans to all be early.

Hashi Japanese Restaurant, takes the first level of the shophouse is slated for open early next month - hearsay that it will be a Kaiseki restaurant, I shall await the reviews!


We were brought up to the second floor - lo and behold, the place was filled with diners and all for restaurant week. A rare sight truth be told for most of the places attempted for restaurant week were barely filled and theirs would be classified as oversubscribed.


Last stop for restaurant week!


The bread basket consisted of brown bread, some crackers and sundried tomato bread alongside olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Fragrance versus taste for this since all were disappointing. The sundried tomato bread ended up being more cake texture than bread. 


Buffalo Mozzarella Tartar with Basil Peso and Tomato Sabayon
Slowly Cooked Pork Belly with Honey served cold in "Porchetta" style
Tartar of marinated Tuna Loin and Mixed Vegetables in "Scapece"

Plating was playing with lines and symmetry somehow, though not uniformly so as we realised later. Each dish somehow did not arrive that beautifully plated - somewhat shoddy due to haste. Nonetheless, I liked the tuna loin tartar best. The pork belly reminded me of the wild boar jelly that I can find in Chinatown Hawker Center, only more refined whilst the mozzarella tartar was just a-okay.


Thick and Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Avruga Caviar

Thick and creamy could be the misnomer for this since it was hardly so. The granulated texture of the soup made it like baby food to some respite and avruga caviar was merely ornamental.


Homemade "Tagliatelle" Pasta with Light "Taleggio" Cheese Fondue and Black Truffle Puree

A hardened dish infact, the pasta threads were too thick and ended up clumping together. Cheese and truffle puree were lost in the fragrance though, yet another than smells better than it tastes.


Sea Bass Fillet and Cherry Tomato stewed in Squid Ink Sauce with Marjoram

This was an interesting item on the menu as squid ink hardly is presented with anything else apart from pasta and the infamous pudding with urchin. The execution of sea bass fillet was a sorry one - mushy and hardly flavourful.


Braised and Deboned Duck Leg served in Timbale with Mash Potato and Orange "Gremolata"

I was disappointed when first presented since the duck meat was shredded and presented in a potato cake. Yet, this proved to be the most enjoyable dish as the meat was hardly salty as would most duck confits be and it was hearty enough!

chocolate soup

70% Dark Chocolate Soup served with Saffron Frozen Parfait

Chocolate soup was served hot - overcooked at some parts and undercooked at others. The rich black liquid was a lovely one with bitter undertones and frozen parfait provided a lovely contrast.



Best tiramisu tasted in Singapore - I finally concede defeat to this Italian classic. Most tiramisus end up soaking wet yet this was well balanced and really light! I am completely sold on their desserts.

5 courses whizzed past really quickly and the kitchen's efficiency has to be lauded. Yet, they could have been way better than these presented somehow. The feeling gotten then is, restaurant week does not apply for well established restaurants since they have the following desired. More of those without dining stars and supplements the next time, I note!


Oso Ristorante 
46 Bukit Pasoh Road

Friday, March 29, 2013

De Burg @ Bukit Merah


Mention gourmet burgers at hawker prices and I gladly welcome the suggestion. De Burg is no stranger to foodies, in fact they have been blogged to death and will be opening up a second outlet soon. Housed in a eating house that is occupied by three other stalls, namely beverage and a western food stall. In fact, it seems that the whole eatery is meant for the customers of De Burg - especially with the checked table cloths that don most tables.


Beers with burgers anyone?


These are recommended with their grilled eats and were it not for the cough, I would have gladly made the pairing.


Buzzers help to manage the expectations of time, at least I was waiting for it to buzz than waiting for a waiter to arrive.


Two page menu with squiggly lines of items.

chicken popcorn

Popcorn Chicken ($4)

Hunger did get the better of us since De Burg believes that burgers are not fastfood hence giving full explanation for the longer than usual waiting time required.

At first glance, the portions were terribly measly. I still stand by my verdict that they are measly but possibly the best popcorn chicken around - better than KFC, hot off the fryer and absolutely crunchy and juicy. I salivate at the mere mention.


The Desiree ($29.90)
Chips, Bacon, Cheese, 200g AUS Beef Patty, 200g Lamb Patty, 200g BBQ Sauce, Salad, Tomato, Onion, Mayonnaise


All of juicy, the patties were piled on top of each other and it was quite a sight with a dagger sticking out. Theatrics aside, it was a solid burger. Fries were hardly impressive though it came with it as part of the works.

crab burger

Crab Burger ($14.50)
100g Crab Patty, De Burg Mega Power Salted Egg Sauce

By normal circumstances I would have opted for a beef burger, but salted egg crab was just too droolicious by description to ignore. The crab patty was just a patty made by stirring the crabmeat and salted egg sauce together to form a patty which hopefully would not fall apart too soon. I still credit them for the burger buns charred at the edges which is rare in the burger-sphere here. The taste was not great, seriously. Salted egg is actually a wonderful ingredient to work with since the savouriness is quite an addiction for me, yet it was ordinarily nice.

The burgers are not Singapore's best, though I could slap on the other accolades of juicy, value for money and gourmet burgers. I would return for the beefy ones next, at least these are cheaper than and made's!

De Burg
119 Bukit Merah Lane 1

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Restaurant Week: Takumi @ Marina at Keppel Bay


Keppel Bay, the place for the rich and flamboyand. I refrain from using famous since the bay is really too small for much fanfare. With a view as serene as this, staying at the Reflections is as therapeautic as this looks.


The display of yachts for the romantic rides that loved up couples indulge in now and then. A friend got proposed to on one!


I was there for Takumi, located on the second floor.


The sake masu was strategically placed as I was really tempted to have sake as a pairing to the dishes.


For once, the water cup is actually larger than the regular green tea cup!


The row of lucky diners who will get their hair perfumed with teppanyaki smells.


Chef is hard at work, before the action begins.


Matching paper mats and chopstick covers.

spring vegetable appetizer

Spring Vegetables Delicacies

With a starter this wow-worthy, the expectations mounted. It was mind boggling to look at much less eat since the colours and presentation made it distracting. All ingredients are sourced by Japan and definitely seasonal.


This simple vegetable dish topped with bonito flakes were ordinary but presented like that, seemed exquisite.


Crab with gourd was strangely, bitter. It had a slight starchy texture too.


Possibly the smallest don ever eaten, the grated tuna and roe were actually sufficient as a tasting portion. Only grouse is, it lacked other flavour apart from being salty.


The main star of the appetizer, mackerel coated with radish and a cream sauce. Despite the mild fishyness, this was actually decent and hardly an appetizer!

teppan abalone

Teppan Abalone with Radish in Cream Saikyo-miso Sauce

I suppose Takumi took risks with serving abalone as a mains because portions are terribly small for one - and for mains, this has to be a ridiculous portion. Theatrics on the teppanyaki pan involved just slicing of radish for easy consumption and searing of the abalones which were subsequently sliced for presentation. As for the saikyo miso sauce, it was pre-made. This was just shellfish on a delicious radish.

sakura icecream

Sakura Ice Cream with Gyuhi Rice Cake

Sakura in icecream is as floral as lavendar and there were points where it was too potpurri for a dessert. The gyuhi rice cake was on the hard side and proved to be a lacklustre effort by an amateur chef.


I was interested in their fried rice dishes instead - reckon that is the benefit of sitting infront of the chef. Foie Gras fried rice anyone?

Takumi could have gotten the proportions wrong, especially when the appetizer started out so hearty.  Portions were not huge enough to satisfy even for a lady diner and we headed off for seconds elsewhere. By the end of the restaurant week trail, this was the best of the lot but not spectacular.


2 Keppel Bay Vista, Marina at Keppel Bay #02-01

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Restaurant Week: Absinthe @ Boat Quay


Since the days of Keong Siak Street, I have been wanting to check out Absinthe. Every other Restaurant Week seats seem to be snapped up so fast, I get annoyed. I suppose I had the luck this year to nail us a reservation.

In the shophouse along Boat Quay lies Absinthe, a four storey shophouse I realise after choosing to sit "indoors" which ended up being a two storey walk up. Stairs are steep so proceed with much stealth.


Restaurant week trail continues.


Cute interior.


From the time we were seated to our orders being taken and for bread to arrive, it took almost forever. The first rounds of bread were dispensed from a huge bread bowl and subsequently each table had a tray's worth of crusty bread. Depending which part of the baguette gotten, it could be pillowy soft or hard as rocks. The salted butter was a welcome addition too. 


Marinated Yellow Fin Tuna, Pesto and Frisee with Goat Cheese

A slab of yellow fin tuna was unfriendly but the frisee with goat cheese was most welcoming. I never quite thought much of the cheese-raw fish combination yet this was amazing.


Absinthe Style Seafood Pie


I wanted to get ketchup to go with this but was unnecessary eventually and definitely an insult to the chef since the buttery puff pastry was brilliant on its own. The seafood fillings were generous and hearty for a soup even, loved it!

pork belly
Iberico Pork Presa “a la Plancha”, Du Puy Lentils Ragu

Proportions were clearly wrong for this - the lentils ragu dominating over the sliver of iberico pork. All of tasty and greasy but all good things should not just exist in small parcels. I love my lentils and this worked wonders for me.


Seared Mediterranean Sea Bream, Spinach and Prawn-Potato Crushed, Parsley Emulsion

Toasted seabream with a crispy skin and what tasted like a continuation of the seafood pie, I have no complaints about this especially when it was not fishy.

choc tart

Vahlrona Chocolate Tart, Coffee Cream

The chocolate was dense and the tart could have done with a bit more crunch, not the best tart eaten to date and the coffee cream was hardly complementary.
lemon tart

Lemon Meringue Tart

This was the alternative that I requested for and they kindly obliged without any surcharge. The tangy lemon curd and raspberry coulis were delightful though I had the same comment about the tart base. 

4 courses at $55++ is a steal I'd say for quality food. It was a lovely experience dining in the attic of a shophouse and though it was not the best french meal I have eaten, it was good enough to wish for a return.

Boat Quay