Sunday, November 30, 2008

189. Swee Kee (Ka-Soh) Fish Head Noodle House was very crowded on weekdays, very hard to get a table especially at lunch times. Surprisingly, it was not crowded on a Sunday.

I thought it was pickles but it wasn't. I was amazed. Those were the fried pork lard. It was the first time I came across having fried pork lard served together with the pickles. parents started their long ago stories where people only ate rice with fried pork lard bla bla bla. I'm pretty disgusted by how one could have eaten that thing with rice. Some ate the pork lard (in dense liquid form) drizzled over rice. Yucks!

Fried chicken in prawn paste (Har Jiong Gai) @$11.80
I smelt of the pungent prawn paste even before this dish was served on the table. The prawn paste was so strong. I thought this dish should have been a thumbs-up but it wasn't. Pretty disappointed. It came like fried chicken left untouched for some time. I know some restaurants had their fried chicken added with red colouring to make them look more appetizing. But, I must say I'm all against colour additives. I find the chicken pretty tasteless. Not so well-flavoured.

Salt & Pepper Prawns @$18.80

Prawns was big and the meat was firm. It was mediocre. It didn't really make me wow-ed.
Buckwheat Vegetables @$6.50

This was my favourite dish. A plate of greens. I like buckwheat vegetables. This type of vegetable is very crunchy and though didn't look appetizing at all is very tasty. Simply fried with garlic, it tasted better than any other dish.
Braised Tofu @$8.50

Egg tofu was cut in long strips instead of the usual coin size. It was braised with chye-po, minced meat and mushrooms. It was delicious and went very well with plain rice. However, it was very oily. What remained in the plate was a pool of oil and I, for an instant, was annoyed by that sight.

Fish Slices Hor Fun @$13

It wasn't as good as I have expected it to be. I had thought it should be very tasty since they are the expert in this dish besides the fish head noodles. The thinly sliced fish slices were very fresh but overall the hor fun lacked the oomph. Also, it was oily. It was far-fetched than Hong Kong Street's version.
Overall, the bill was $74.45 for 5 pax. I felt it was slightly expensive for the dishes we had and the dishes were pretty oily.

Swee Kee(Ka-Soh)
96 Amoy Street

188. Amande ~ The Almond Bakery

I was in the mood for macarons so when my friend wanted to go to the Sony flagshop over at Wisma Atria, I decided to get my macaron fix from Amande ~ The Almond Bakery over at Tangs yesterday. Just a moment ago, I saw Fen's entry on macarons. What a coincidence. I felt sometimes food bloggers think alike. There was once I read of two food blogs posting an entry on the same place on the same day. Haha.

I bought a box of assorted flavours at $12 for 12 pieces. Else, $1.20 each. So, at $1 a piece, I think it's most probably the cheapest macaron one can get. Can't choose the flavours but the lady boss said they were the most popular choices. 6 different flavours and each with 2 pieces.

Chocolate macaron, Apple macaron and Chestnut macaron.

I felt the chocolate macaron was a better choice over Obolo's. The chocolate stuffing wasn't as sweet as Obolo's so I wouldn't have mind popping a few more. Chestnut macaron was not so signifcant in taste. I couldn't really make out it was chestnut.

Strawberry macaron.

I felt it was just so-so.

Cheese macaron.

The cheese macaron was with hint of sourness which I didn't like. It was like cheese gone stale.
Apple (green), mango (yellow) and Strawberry (red)

Traffic light macarons. I felt the colours were very vibrant so I decided to take a picture. The apple macaron's cream filling was a little sour. The mango macaron was good. The stuffing was not cream but a bit like the mango gummy.

The shells of the macarons weren't chewy, instead it was very crispy. The chewy granache underneath the crispy shell was not thick enough to account for any chewy touch. A light touch would have break the shells.
Presentation of the macarons was in accordance to the price paid. The sizes of the macarons were not balanced from what I got in the box. Some were too big to fit into the tray. Amande is a good choice for macaron lovers with a budget. Though, it wasn't the best, it was considered decent.
Amande~The Almond Bakery
Tangs (Orchard)
Basement 1

Saturday, November 29, 2008

187. Mandarin Oriental Hotel - Melt ~ The World Cafe

I'm back to uploading my photos with the largest size because the previous entries gave me a headache with the picture alignment. Also, I think bigger pictures do let you guys have a clearer view of the food!
I can't help but marvel at the architecture of the interior of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Standing at level 4 of the hotel where Melt is, I looked up and caught vertigo. Like the world is reeling and I asked is that toppest level up there going to collapse like the dominoes? Nah...kidding.

Melt ~ The World Cafe. I felt it was an expressed meaning in the food they served. I have seen the variety show which showcased their dinner buffet. I was appalled by the range of food they served. However, earlier on today, I was at Melt for their high-tea buffet. I was told by the lady at the main entrance that high-tea buffet entails English breakfast tea with local delicacies. I decided it was a better option than The Atrium which only allows a 1-time order of their 3-tier pastries and assorted sandwiches, along with free-flow of beverages.

Outside Seating

One could have a choice of sitting inside or outside which I thought makes no difference. For high-tea buffet, we were only seated at the level where all the bar counters were and not the ground level where the diners were treated to garden views. Garden views was most probably for the dinner buffet.
I think that's the chili sardine or tuna pie. It wasn't labelled so I wasn't very sure but it was well-flavoured. Just, not my kind unless I'm very hungry. Next on the right was the butter crust filled with a tomato mixture which consisted of meat, mushrooms, mini tofu cubes and etc. Liquer was added but not sure what that was, tasted a bit like white wine. I felt the liquer content was a tad too strong and resulted in the filling with a hint of sourness.

The char siew pastry is a must-try! I'm not big on char siew pastry because I didn't really like buttery pastries. I loathe the feeling of having to gulp down water to clear my throat of the crisp. This time round, I thought I'll just try one. And...woots! It's good. The exterior was light and crispy. The char siew stuffing weren't too sweet.

The mini quiche appeared too modest. Taste wasn't too evident. I felt it could have been bigger. At least 2 bite sizes? If you ask me, I preferred my quiche to be with spinach and cheese in a ratio of 3:1.
The cranberry scones is another must-try! I lurrrve their cranberry scones with the clotted cream. Cranberries were added in generous amount. It wasn't too dry.
The baskets of fruits on the shelves were real fruits! They brought along a burst of colours. So many, how about a glass of fruit juice? On enquiry, they don't serve fruit juice for high-tea buffet. Oh...what a pity!
The only dim sum available were siew mai, har gau, sticky rice and red bean buns. I didn't take red bean buns. The dim sum was average.
There was salted egg yolk in the sticky rice, else it would have looked pathetic to me. I find it a little dry and not so strong flavoured, most probably because not too much fat meat was used; less oil. I have no idea why they called it sticky rice instead of glutinous rice. The former sounded a bit unrefined for a 'upz' (some said chi-chi) hotel.
The laksa was well-flavoured. I could taste of a strong shrimp (hay bee) flavour. A mouth-watering bowl of hot laksa warmed my stomach. The laksa base wasn't too thick. Quail egg was added instead of the usual chicken egg. There were cooked curry leaves in the gravy which turned black in the process of cooking and I added more of the fresh cut curry leaves to make my laksa so fragrant. It wasn't too oily. Must-try!
Shooter glass of desserts were kept in the fridge-alike drawers to keep the desserts chilled when served. I thought it was a rather attentive part of the chefs to do so. It's yucky to have desserts which are not chilled. I thought there was a wide variety since there were 3 drawers to choose from but they were repetitive. Only 5 types in the drawers.

The matcha financier was surprisingly good. The matcha flavour wasn't too overpowering. It was moist. I didn't like my financier too dry. I felt it was an exquisite financier, be it in layout or taste.

(L-> R): Black pepper strawberries with ivory chocolate mousse, Green tea tiramisu with passion fruit, Semolina pudding with red current coulis and Chocolate flan.

I would say I only like the black pepper in the shooter glass. The black pepper, as its name suggest, did not really mean exactly the black pepper seeds we had in our crabs. It was more of a mild type. Black pepper for the desserts. Just like those used in the chocolates I have mentioned in 1 of my entries. Same goes for the chocolate flan.

The gelee on the semolina pudding was good. At least to me, I felt it was of the right texture, not too starchy nor runny.

The green tea tiramisu was a flop. It was bland. Except for the thin layer of matcha in the middle and the white chocolate flakes on top, I could not really make out it was a tiramisu.
I would like to say something about the mousse for the above 4 shooters. It was bland, like eating cream unsweetened. greasy feel. I was disappointed with the dessert shooters.
Apple crumble. It was nice of the chefs to make the apple crumble into tartlets. Usually served as a whole in a tray, the dishevelled look of the crumble falling everywhere after being spooned by a lot of diners is pretty a turn-off. FYI, there wasn't the raspberry on top of it. It was used as a decoration to the plate of apple crumble tartlets, so I took one to decorate mine. Haha. It was pretty different on the texture because of the crust. It was like those of quiche's. Not so much on the apple flavour. I felt it was also partly due to the size. A tad too small.
(Furthest -> Nearest): Strawberry Cheesecake, Mango mousse cake, Irish Coffee Cake, Chocolate Brownie.
I like the strawberry cheesecake. Must-try! It was moist, not too heavy on the cheese and the strawberry flavour well induced into the cheese, creating a nice swirling pink.
Mango mousse cake with a matcha sponge cake base. I didn't make out what was the green gelee. The matcha sponge cake at the base, though not a very thick layer, has an evident taste. I find the overall taste a bit weird. Not to my liking.
Irish coffee cake was most probably the most sought-after cake for me along with the matcha financier. It simply stands out as the best. Must-try!
Chocolate brownie was not too bad either.

2 of the kuehs I took. Tapioca cake and the onei-onei alike kueh. The tapioca cake was very coconut flavoured, with shreds of coconut in it. I felt it was slightly hard. I like tapioca cake to be soft. The pink kueh was with no filling. Nothing special.

I didn't take any of the assorted sandwiches. Too full to even have one when I reached this counter. It was also the same counter for the waffles. I found lime sorbet was offered to go along with the waffles. I thought that was pretty incompatible. Other ice-cream flavours included espresso, chocolate and strawberry. My friends tried out chocolate and strawberry flavours and the former was the best; the later too sour.

I love this corner! It attracted me when I was ushered to my seats. Jars and jars of marmalade, jams and look! the peanut and cinammon butter stored in the stone pounding bowls and the honey batter alike spatula. Made me think of Pooh holding his honey pot always.

It was the chef's creation. The cinammon butter. I felt it was pretty special. Like yin and yang, the cinnamon butter was a mixture of the light butter and heavy cinnamon taste.

That's a pretty high mountain of chocolate fondue!

Dark chocolate fondue. I find it slightly sweet.

It was $34++ per pax. The total bill for 5 of us worked out to be $200.10. With UOB card, 1 dines free with 3 paying adults. The final bill was $160 for 5 pax.

Overall, food range was quite alright. Service was a bit slow. We had plates occupying our tables for quite some time and the staffs did not clear them until we asked them over. They also did not take initiative to check if refill of tea/coffee was required.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Level 45 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square
Singapore 039797
Tel: 6885 3082

Opens Daily
Breakfast: 6.30am - 10.30am
Lunch: 12.00noon- 2.30pm
High-Tea: 3pm - 5.30pm (only sat&sun)
Dinner: 6.30pm - 10.30pm

186. Crystal Jade Shanghai Restaurant

It was a dinner cum supper by the time a couple of us reached T3. It was the last order. Since it was late, we decided not to eat to our fill. Every crystal jade outlet has a different standard and I think this outlet at T3 is one of the best. Located at level 2 of the viewing mall, diners see the overall view of the main lobby, the registering counters.

Zha Jiang Mian @$7.50

It was delicious. Their version was spicier and the meaty gravy was in excess. I didn't like the noodles to be drowned in the meaty gravy. My ideal zha jiang mian would be an appropriate amount of meat gravy which coated the noodles sufficiently and not in excess. I felt it lacked the fragrance because it was covered by the spiciness and most probably, they missed out the mushrooms. I felt adding mushrooms to zha jiang mian made the noodles more palatable. I preferred the one from The Asian Kitchen to this. But, the texture of the noodles from Crystal Jade was better to The Asian Kitchen's.
Xiao Long Bao @$5.50

I was quite disappointed with their xiao long bao. It wasn't the best I have tasted so far. Well, I thought this is one of Crystal Jade's best dish. It appeared to be just a so-so.
The skin could have been made thinner and the meat filling mixed with more ingredients to enhance the flavour and texture. I felt the filling appeared just like a ball of minced meat mixed with starch.

Pan-Fried Dumplings @$4

I thought it looked good but looks are deceiving. I felt the filling was too much. The bloated dumpling made the overall taste rather rough.

Red Bean Pancake @$6
I'm loving it! I seldom order this because I always felt they came oil-laden. Crispy on the exterior and the hot and finely ground red bean paste oozed out as you lift them up with your chopsticks. The thickness of the crepes was quite appropriate for the amount of red bean paste. The red bean paste wasn't too sweet. Most importantly, the pancake wasn't oil-laden. Shiok!

The bill worked out to be $28.13.

Crystal Jade Shanghai Restaurant
Changi Airport Terminal 3
Viewing Mall Central
Level 3
Tel: 6241 8468

Thursday, November 27, 2008

185. Khansama

I saw an Indian guy holding a stack of fliers but when people neared him, they turned away from him. None of the people walking in front of me took the thing he was giving away. So, I did the different thing, I stretched my hand out to take the phamplet he was giving out. I was curious. It was a phamplet of this Indian cuisine restaurant called Khansama. The illustration on it showed a restaurant built of the castle's design. And I wondered if there is such a place nearby because I didn't see the castle.

And my doubts were answered when I went to the restaurant for lunch today with a few of my colleagues. It happened that they wanted to try out the restaurant too.

The exterior which was painted like a castle didn't give a genuine castle feel but the interior did. The interior was of a pretty authentic Indian architecture where the walls were nicely done up with plastered silicon to create the fake existance of doors. I didn't mention it was wholly an authentic Indian feel because there were many modern standing lights which was more of westernised designs. It was a fusion feel which I thought was great, taking away the common perception of an autocratic Indian feel.

Though hidden in a corner, business was brisk at lunch time. This paid off the hard work of the man who gave out fliers every morning.

*I didn't eat the following sets so I shall have my comments reserved.

Chicken Briyan Set @$6.90

Under the artificial coloured rice (not saffron), generous amount of chicken.

Butter Chicken Pratha Set @$6.90

Tandoori Chicken Briyani Set @$6.90

Chicken Thali Set @$9.90

I was curious about the 5 small bowls of accompanying condiments/dishes so I decided to order this set. Enquiring the name Thali with my Indian colleague, it meant plain rice with the small bowls of condiments.

I took individual shots of the condiments for a clearer view.

(L-> R) : Curry Chicken, Vegetable Curry, Curd(yogurt) and Lantil Curry

All the curries was tasty, went well with the briyani and chapati (roti). I didn't like the curd. It was actually yogurt with onions. I thought it tasted a bit like sour cream but the idea of adding them to the briyani was pretty weird.
The briyani rice wasn't oily. In fact, I felt it was slightly dry. Nonetheless, I felt it was better than being oil-laden.

This ball aroused my curiousity the most. It was a dessert. I remembered my ex-Indian colleague brought me food from India which he claimed it was sweets. Not wrapped up and it was like our brown sugar tiles. It was very very sweet and on further enquiry, I got to know it was made of sugar and ghee. No wonder, my ex-colleague said it was a sweet.
This ball was immersed in sugar syrup. For a moment, I thought if it will be as sweet as the 'sweet' I have previously eaten.

Surprisingly, it wasn't. It was of acceptable sweetness. It was made of flour. It was like madeline made moist by immersing in sugar syrup. And....a surprise inside, a raisin was added. I tasted of a hint of orange in the ball. It was nice.

Sweet Lassi @$3
Lassi is a traditional drink of India. Lassi is actually a sweetened yogurt drink. It was more diluted than the Nestle yogurt drink we get in supermarkets.
I once saw a variety show on India. In India, the Lassi drink was actually served in clay cups and a very generous amount of sugar was added to half the amount of the yogurt drink seen here. It was stirred quickly and the drink was made frothy. Then, they smashed the cups after they finished the drink because clay cups were much cheaper than other material made cups.
I guessed in Singapore, we are more health conscious. The lassi drink wasn't too sweet; a hint of sourness. The aftertaste was mouth-puckering. I liked it!
They have the salty version and other fruit-flavoured lassi(s).

Prices for set meals were of nett price.

8A Biomedical Grove,
Immunos Building
Singapore 138 665
Tel: 6774 0300
Other outlet
87 Science Park Drive #02-01
#01-k1 The Science Hub
Singapore 118 260
Tel: 6776 0300