Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tiong Bee Bak Kut Teh, Singapore

Braised pig trotters, pig intestines and pork rib soup anyone?

For this miss piggy, I was in for a treat today ... bak kut teh; otherwise known as pork rib soup, or in its literal translation, 'meat bone tea'.  However, the latter doesn't sound quite as appealing now does it?

I have been wanting to try bak kuh teh for some time now.  And today, I was fortunate enough to be joined by a local foodie and new found friend 'Gigi'.  She very kindly offered to take me to her old neighbourhood haunt, Tiong Bee Bak Kut Teh.

An unfussy, no-nonsense kind of a place where menus don't exist, but tissue boxes do, fantastic ... yay!!!  It is run by an Aunty who is in her 70s and she is joined by her son who helps to run the show. 

Gigi did the honours of ordering which saved me from having to decipher the food on offer.  We had a wonderful array of porky dishes.  Sorry vegetarians! 

Braised pig trotters; the meat literally fell off the bone and was so so amazingly tender and juicy.  Pig intestines; something (along with the pig trotters) I had never eaten before until today.  They were chewy, very chewy and I can only describe it as something similar to a very chewy jelly snake, but obviously not in flavour!  I can't say I would rush back for these, but I am glad I tried them. 

Now for the pork rib soup (bak kuh teh) - cooked the Teochew way -this steaming hot broth was peppery, porky, heart warming, and totally lip-smacking delicious.  I had two more top-ups, which by the way are free!  A plate of salted pickled cabbage, braised tofu and crispy fried dough fritters (you tiao).  The crispy dough fritters are dipped into the steaming broth to soften before eating. 

With a generous portion of rice, I felt satisfyingly full at the end.  I don't know anything about how these dishes should taste, but for me, I really enjoyed my first ever bak kuh teh experience.  I loved the peppery fire of the soup and I loved the melt-in-your mouth meat off the trotters.

Thank you Gigi for a brilliant introduction to bak kuh teh and can't wait for our next food outing.

Tiong Bee Bak Kut Teh
588F Jalan Datoh, Off Balestier Road, Singapore 329899

7am to 3pm
Closed on Alternative Mondays

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ryoriya Sangokushi, Robertson Quay, Singapore

Do you often hanker for some casual home-style cooking, but away from home?  I know I do.

Yesterday lunch time was one of those moments.  I wanted something filling, but tasty; close by, but enough for a little stroll; and satisfying enough to walk out feeling full, but not to the point of bursting.

Ryoriya Sangokushi is one of those casual places with home-style cooking set in unpretentious and informal surroundings.  They serve 'Japanese style Taiwan cuisine', which I can only describe as Japanese style Taiwan cuisine.

With bright orange seating outside, communal tables and large booths lined along one corner inside, my partner (Mr. P) and I wandered in towards the latter half of the lunch service.

Having been to this place a couple of times before and ordered from the set lunch menu, for around $11-$15 you get a three dish meal.  There is a good variety to choose from and if you don't fancy a set lunch, you can just order from the normal menu.  A few dishes which are listed against the back wall:

Today, I wanted carb and lots of it, so I ordered the braised pork with rice, lo mein noodles, and pan-fried chive and pork dumplings.  With this comes a mini salad, dressed in a light asian dressing and unlimited iced tea.  What I also like about this place is that you get a little paper napkin.  This really has to be my number one peeve when eating out in this country - see my Take Away Guide to eating out in Singapore.

The food arrived pretty quickly.  Salad first, followed by the braised mince pork rice, followed by the lo mein noodles, and then a little wait for the pan-fried dumplings.  The little wait being only a few minutes. 

The braised pork was a little fatty, but I actually didn't mind this as the pork was diced into really small pieces.  It was beautifully tender and had just a slight hint of savoury sweetness.  There was a little chopped pickled cabbage underneath the pork which gave this rice bowl a bit of a tangy twist. 

The ramen noodles were delicious, with a hint of chinese five spice, a few leaves of bok choy and half a hard boiled egg. 

Three little chive and pork dumplings arrived soon after with a shredded ginger in vinegar/soy dipping sauce.

Service was pretty quick, but the place was only half full when we arrived and most people were already eating.  

For a quick home-style lunch, this place isn't bad at all.  I have been here during the busy noon to one o'clock lunch hour and it was packed to the rafters.  Service didn't seem to suffer though.

This place is on my 'regular lunch spots to go to' list when I don't want anything fancy and in need of a casual place to eat close by.  I have heard that it's popular with the expat Japanese crowd, which in my book has to be good sign ....

Ryoriya Sangokushi
Robertson Quay, #01-03 Riverside View, Singapore
Tel: +65 6238 8962

Daily: 11.30am – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10.30pm
(Closed during lunch on Mondays)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pho 99 Vietnamese Delights, Singapore

When you think of Vietnam, what dish do you instantly think of? 

For me, it is the wonderfully fragrant phở bò, pronounced more like 'fuh', not 'foe' as I innocently thought many moons ago.  It is, as many of you probably know, beef noodle soup.

My Vietnamese butcher at the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia told me that his mother would slow cook the broth for up to 24 hours.  I gasped when I heard this, thought it was a joke.  When he shook his head and told me that it was indeed true, I realised why he didn't seem keen on wanting to sell me any.  It's a labour of love for his mother and I am sure it is one fine broth.

Now armed with this knowledge, whenever I visit a place for some phở bò, I often wonder how long they have laboured over their stock.  Despite my romantic ideals, I doubt as long as my Melbourne butcher's mother.

I know for certain that I would not have the patience nor the inclination to watch over a broth for that long ... unless it was the elixir of youth and longevity.

Nevertheless, since leaving Melbourne, I have not had any phở bò and quite frankly, I missed it.  So when I read about this place over at Camemberu, well, I had no choice but to take my good self down there today.

It's on a street called Amoy and you can't miss the two big forest green awnings with the words 'Phở 99 ... Vietnamese Delight' in bright red and yellow respectively.

I arrived just after the usual mid-week lunch rush, 2:30pm and I was delighted to find that I had the choice of most tables.  I chose a table by the window looking back into the restaurant with a good view into the kitchen. 

You can see two girls washing dishes who casually glanced over when I took this photo;  one of them was singing a Vietnamese song and she had the most beautiful soft sounding, almost hypnotising voice.  The other two girls sitting down were preparing spring rolls against a huge backdrop image of beautiful Ha Long Bay.   

As I surveyed the lunch menu, the lady told me about the lunch special.  For $11.90 (no tax or service charge on top), I could have a choice of one of the six mains on offer with 2 pieces of deep-fried spring rolls and a drink.  Well, I was hungry and so I went for the obligatory phở bò with a homemade lemon barley. 

You get two table condiments here - chilli in oil and hoisin sauce.  You also get a plate of herbs: Vietnamese basil and sawtooth coriander; a wedge of lime and fresh slices of mostly de-seeded, red chilli.  My homemade barley in the background; refreshing, not too sweet and just what I needed to cool down.

I didn't have long to wait and when my food arrived, it was heaven.  My first phở bò in I don't know how long ... about six months I think?!

The soup was just lovely, the noodles were soft, the beef was tender and no gristle was present.  The hoisin sauce was just a tad sweet, not too much, just right.  Unfortunately, I went a little overboard with the chilli in oil, so next time I think I'll be a bit more conservative.  My only gripe - why no beansprouts?  I love beansprouts in my phở bò and sliced onion just doesn't cut it as well.  Still, I had no trouble polishing it off.

As for the crunchy, piping hot spring rolls, they weren't exactly hard to munch down either.  Light, crispy and non-greasy.

Lunch today was good and I want to come back for an evening meal already.

A couple of things to note: toothpicks are provided on each table, bonus.  No napkins though (like many places in Singapore that I have discovered), so bring your own.  And if I'm going to be really fussy, I'm not a fan of cutlery sitting upright. 

57 Amoy Street, Telok Ayer Conservation Area, Singapore
Tel: +65 9678 8735

Mon-Fri: 10am-9pm
Sat-Sun: 10am-8pm

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pizzeria Mozza, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Does size matter?  It's a matter of personal preference.  Italian or American?  Again, it's a matter of personal preference. 

I'm talking about pizza of course.  It comes in all different shapes and sizes, flavours and toppings.  Then there's the crust: deep pan, thin crust and stuffed.  There's something for everyone when it comes to pizza.

My first ever pizza was made my brother, when I was about six years old.  He came home from school with a sardine pizza; my mother congratulated him on what a lovely looking pizza it was. As a kid who grew up eating prodominantly chinese cuisine up to this age, I had never seen a pizza before.  I just stared at it with as much curiosity as I could muster.  What was this alien looking thing I wondered.

In terms of taste, I just remember liking it.  I was never averse to fish as a kid and it was in fact served at home on a weekly basis along with many other seemingly unusual items to a kid growing up with a limited Western diet, even today. 

But why sardine pizza, I never found out.  Perhaps that was all his teacher had to offer in his pizza making class back then.  Still, I have thankfully moved on from sardine pizza, although I still like mine thin crust, but with slightly more authentic toppings.

Pizzeria Mozza - one of the 7 celebrity chef restaurants in the Marina Bay Sands - is a Mario Batali restaurant.  Renowned for their California style pizzas, my partner and I decided to head there for a late lunch after a hefty shopping session in the retail complex.

Arriving just after 3pm, this place was heaving with every table occupied.  Luckily, we managed to get two seats at the pizza bar ... which makes for a perfect viewing platform for pizza-making watching.  We perched ourselves down onto a couple of high stools to enjoy the show.

Two chefs took to the helm of each of the wood burning ovens, one chef spun out the dough and another took care of the toppings.  This pizza production certainly ran like a tight ship.

As we sat waiting for menus, we educated ourselves to some interesting pizza facts courtesy of the paper place mats sitting before us.  For example, according to Pizzeria Mozza, did you know that 'half of all pizzas are purchased on fridays and saturdays'.  It just goes to show what a weekend treat pizza is; coconut is a popular topping in Costa Rica; and 'those aged between 3 and 11 prefer pizza over all other foods for lunch and dinner.'  

With a lot of staff busily buzzing around this place, I managed to hail one down to place our order.  A Salumi piccante, mozzarella, tomato & Fresno chiles ($26 nett) along with an Insalata mista ($8 nett). 

Like eager beavers waiting to be fed, we sat watching the chefs making the pizzas and delicious looking hot antipasti.  Now before I go on, I would like to note that sitting at the pizza bar is not conducive for those who need to eat 'like now'... in otherwords me.  It also didn't help matters further when I read that the pizzas may take up to 45 minutes to prepare and cook, but that the wait is definitely worth it. 

However, our salad came out quickly and there's nothing like a bit lettuce to pacify those hunger pangs is there.  At least it was a decent portion and it kind of reminded me of a Christmas tree, although I wasn't sure why.  

The dressing was (without trying to sound all pretentious), slightly piquant, and the lettuce was fresh and crunchy. 

Having watched what we thought was our pizza being made, it arrived a bit later, but not too long later.  It wasn't the most beautiful looking pizza I have ever seen.  In fact looking at the photo below, it does look pretty ugly.  Looks aside, this pizza was I have say, pretty tasty.  The base was wafer thin which is how I like it, and the crust had a cracker-like texture, which for me was a relief as I'm not one for a doughy crust.

As usual, I wolfed it down along with whatever salad was left.  The chillies were subtle, but enough to allow for a little heat to come through and the salami was deliciously juicy.  All in all, I really enjoyed it.  

Nevertheless, halfway through munching at this pizza, we decided that one would simply not be enough.  We had to order another.  So I flagged down another waiter to order the Prosciutto di Parma, rucola, tomato & mozzarella ($27 nett).

Now this one took quite a while to come out.  In fact we had to ask whether the order had been logged or not.  After checking the log, our waitress came back to assure us it was on its way.  And sure enough, it came out five minutes later. 

Now this one looked a little more pretty, perhaps because of the vibrant green rocket sitting against the landscape of the pink parma ham.  And now I am starting to sound like a pretentious art critic.  Well, I used to be arty farty back in the day when I did both history of art, and art A-Level ... years ago.

The parma was tasty and the peppery rocket gave it a lovely garden freshness.

The chefs are kept busy throughout their shift, making pizza upon pizza.  I somehow doubt they want to see or eat pizza when they are not working ... I know I wouldn't.

This place is family friendly, couple friendly and even solo diner friendly.  Music plays out in the background giving the place a relaxed but upbeat feel, and there is also a bar at one end.  It makes you feel as though you are on holiday. 

If you like California style pizza, Pizzeria Mozza is a great place to come for a casual lunch or dinner and a delicious bite to eat.  They don't just do pizzas, although obviously it is their mainstay.

And lastly, it's not cheap as far as pizza goes, but this is afterall, a pizzeria at the Marina Bay Sands.

Pizzeria Mozza
2 Bayfront Ave, #B1-42/46 The Shoppes @ Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Daily: Noon-Midnight

Saturday, July 23, 2011

4 Easy Steps To Healthy Homemade Peanut Butter

Homemade peanut butter;
It tastes better than any other
There's no better spread
To go on your bread
Than homemade peanut butter
                                       - My Food Odyssey

Ever since I started making my own peanut butter, I have never crossed back over to the dark side of the commercial stuff.

It has to be one of the easiest things to make and my version of it involves just one ingredient - blanched peanuts.  I use blanched peanuts because this way I can roast them without the addition of any oil or salt.

Blanched peanuts are simply peanuts with the shells and skin removed.  Peanuts are a good source of protein and they don't contain any cholestorol. 

In 4 easy steps, here's how to make your own. 

Healthy Homemade Peanut Butter

500g Blanched peanuts, washed and dried.
Note: Use as much peanuts as desired as there are no other ingredients.

1. Pre-heat oven to 180c/350F/Gas mark 4.

2. Wash blanched peanuts to get rid of any dirt and pat dry with kitchen towel or paper.  Place peanuts evenly onto a shallow baking tray and into the oven for 15-20 minutes.

3. Once peanuts are lightly golden brown, remove from oven and let stand for ten minutes to cool.
*Crunch peanut butter - see note at bottom.

4. Pour peanuts into a food processor and whizz until desired consistency.  This make take some time, but just keep whizzing until you reach your desired conistency.
Tip: When the peanut paste rises up the sides of the bowl, stop the food processor.  Use a knife or spatula to scrape the paste down and off the sides.  Turn it back on and repeat as necessary.

For Crunchy Peanut Butter:
Keep some peanuts aside after step 3.  Add them to the whizzed up peanuts after step 4 and blast the food processor for a few seconds, a couple or so times until desired desired consistency is reached.

Storage Tip: Store in an airtight container and it will keep in a cold refridgerator for a good few weeks. 


Friday, July 22, 2011

Anyone For Sticky Toffee Pudding?

Sticky toffee pudding
A simply irresistible dessert;
From the stickiness of the toffee
To the moistness of the cake 
Add vanilla ice-cream
To make heaven on plate. 
                                   - My Food Odyssey

That's my take on it anyway.

It is said that sticky toffee pudding was invented by Francis Coulson of the Ullswater Sharrow Bay Hotel in Cumbria back in the 1970s. However, in a finding by the British journalist Felicity Cloake, Mr Coulson actually admitted to adapting the recipe from a Mrs Martin of Lancashire.

After leaving Melbourne - where this delectable dessert is served by most cafes and restaurants - I landed in South-East Asia where it isn't as readily available. 

So what's a girl gotta do in these times of sticky toffee pudding shortages?  Make her own of course!

I started to scour the web and by chance, I even saw Nigella make her own quick version on TV.  Amongst the abundant recipes to be found, I decided that I wanted to follow the legendary Francis Coulson's.  Afterall, if the highly renowned British chef Gary Rhodes endorses it, it must be good. 

However, trying to find Coulson's exact recipe is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.  It is top secret and those who have been privy to it, have had to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Still, I found a version of Coulson's recipe online at Miles Collins.  And I adapted it for my own kitchen confidential experiment.   As I couldn't locate black treacle anywhere, I decided to adapt Jamie Oliver's recipe for toffee sauce by reducing the amounts of butter, sugar and cream .  It came out divine.

Sticky Toffee Pudding With Toffee Sauce

Serving size: 6
PUDDING INGREDIENTS - adapted from Miles Collins
50g (2oz) unsalted butter (room temperature), plus a little extra for greasing 
170g (6oz) caster or brown sugar
2 free-range eggs, medium
175g (6oz) dates, pitted and chopped 
175g (6oz) self-raising flour, sieved
290ml (10fl oz) cold water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp vanilla essence

TOFFEE SAUCE -  adapted from Jamie Oliver
90g Unsalted Butter
90g Brown sugar
120ml Thick cream

Optional: Vanilla ice-cream

1. Preheat oven to 180C/350 F/gas mark 4.

2. Line and grease an 8" round baking tin.

3. Cream together sugar and butter until light and pale.  Add eggs one at a time and mix well.  Sieve in flour and add vanilla essence. 

4. Meanwhile, place dates and water into a pan, boil for about 5 mins.  Add the bicarbonate of soda and give it a quick stir.

5.  Add the softened date mixture to the rest of the ingredients.  Mix everything together well, ensuring that there are no visible lumps of flour.

6. Pour the cake mixture into the baking tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until the top is golden brown and feels firm, but springy.

Tip: Insert a metal or wooden skewer to see if it comes out clean.  If so, the cake is ready. If not, put the cake back in the oven for a minute or more and test again.

7. Once cake is ready, take it out of the oven and let it cool for a couple of minutes before removing from the tin.

8. For the sauce, simply place the butter, sugar and cream in a pan over a low heat.  Stir gently for about 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce has thickened and darkened in colour.
NOTE: Please do not leave the sauce as it will start to bubble and rise fairly quickly, which is normal.

To serve, cut cake into equal portions, pour generous amounts of sauce and a spoonful (or two) of vanilla ice-cream for that extra touch of decadence.  Enjoy.

Storage Tip:  This cake can keep for up to 6 days in a cold refridgerator.  It also freezes well. 

I freeze individual portions with sauce.  When ready to eat, pop a frozen portion into a microwave on high for about 60-90 seconds.  It tastes just as good as when it first comes out of the oven.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

House Of Rice Roll & Porridge, Singapore

It's not every day that I feel like eating rice porridge, otherwise known as congee or 'juk' as I grew up calling it.

It's traditionally eaten as breakfast in the north of Thailand, a regular staple on any dim sum menu, and a sort of chinese comfort food.  A truly versatile dish: there are many different regional variations, it can be eaten at any time of the day or night, or as substitute for plain rice.

To put it simply, rice porridge or congee is rice that has been boiled down in water until the grains have broken down and have significantly softened.  Depending on the region, the consistency ranges from watery to almost gloopy. 

Personally I prefer mine leaning towards gloopy, but my late grandfather (who came from the Teochow region of China) used to like his watery.

House of Rice Roll & Porridge was on my path home today, so I decided to make a quick pit stop for a mid-morning/early lunch.

The place was clean and tidy which always makes for a good first impression.  Auntie greeted me with a smile and handed me a laminated menu as I walked in.

Written in both chinese and english, the menu is clear and easy to read.  There's an array of different items: sweet as well as savoury cheong fun; an assortment of congee including some interesting additional items such as intestine and pig liver; glutinous rice balls; specials; fried rice; snacks and desserts.

I ordered my favourite cheong fun of all time, char siew cheong fun (bbq pork), a fish congee, and a homemade lime juice to wash it all down with.

I didn't have long to wait, the char siew cheong fun arrived first, closely followed by the generous portion of fish congee.  Good job I have a big appetite.

I love the way they cut the cheong fun into bite size morsels.  In Hong Kong, they come in a stack of three long rolls.  This rice roll was soft.  With a melt-in-your mouth texture, the barbeque pork had been trimmed of any fat, and the sauce was neither too salty nor too sweet.  Although different from the Cantonese style that I am used to, it was delicious all the same.

The fish rice porridge had a sprinkling of green onions and crisp doughy cracker type things on top (sorry don't know the proper term for these?!). 

The fish was soft which was good, the consistency of the congee was thick and just how I like it.  I love my congee plain because then I can simply add condiments to make it spicy and salty.  Seeing how I am an chilli fiend, I spooned in lashings of chilli.  Oh, this was so good and so very filling.  Washed down with refreshing cold lime juice.  Yummy!! 

As I made my way out, I thought I'd take a snap of the framed press clipping from The Sunday Times regarding their durian cheong fun.  I'm not the biggest fan of durian.  Not just because of the smell, but also because of the texture, which for me is a little too slimey. 

However, Lazy Foodies did try it and now recommend it.  Perhaps I need to give this pungent smelling fruit another chance ... thus, it gives me an urgent excuse to come back to sample their prawn cheong fun.

A great little place serving good, simple, honest, value-for-money and to some, 'different' food.

House of Rice Roll & Porridge
89 Killiney Road, Singapore 239534
Tel: +65 6238 9028

11am-10pm Mon-Fri
10am-10pm Sat-Sun

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sapporo Ramen Miharu, Robertson Quay, Singapore

In need of a quick fix lunch today, I headed out and across the road to Sapporo Ramen Miharu on the ground floor of the Gallery Hotel.

For those that don't know, ramen is a Japanese noodle dish and the origins of ramen noodle actually came from China.  If you would like to know a little more,  ieatishootipost does a nice little introduction.

Anyhow, at 2pm, it was a late lunch and as I entered this small establishment, it was empty apart from yours truly.  Unperturbed by being a lone diner with three bored looking waitresses, I sat down to peruse the menu. 

Dominated by ramen noodle soup dishes (as one would expect), there are also dumplings (gyoza), appetizers, and a small selection of donburi (or don) on offer  The latter are simply Japanese rice bowl meals: a bowl with rice topped with protein and vegetables. 

At the top of the menu, there is a small note telling the customer that the Nishiyama noodles are especially imported from Japan.  I was rather hoping for freshly made ones on the spot .... or was this just silly wishful thinking on my naive little part. 

I ended up ordering the Shoyu ramen: original soy sauce. The second bored looking waitress proceeded to fetch me a glass of ice cold water whilst the one who took my order went off to the kitchen with my ticket.

Seeing as I had brought along some reading material, I got stuck into it. Otherwise I think I would have been as bored as the waitresses here.

The wait wasn't long and soon a steaming bowl of ramen arrived, served by the third waitress who didn't even glance at me when I said thank you.

As I stared into the bowl, it really did look like the photograph on the menu.  Now that doesn't always happen; what typically happens (to me anyway) is that the dish comes out looking like a completely different one or looking like a total mess.

As I swirled the spoon around, all I could think about was, why so much oil?  Seriously, it looked like a vat full of oil.  And I really dislike oily food.

Still, I began to carefully eat the noodles, shaking off as much excess oily broth as possible.  The noodles were pretty tasty with the right amount of chewiness.  The egg was ever so slightly softly boiled, the sweetcorn gave the dish a little savoury sweetness, and the pork was tender.

A ramen expert, I am not.  Did I enjoy this? Honestly, it was OK.  Would I have it again?  In a word, no.  Was it well executed?  Yes and no: yes in that the individual elements were good, although nothing outstanding and no, because the broth was just so darn oily. 

Now, I'm sure many will disagree with my above sentiments, just as I am sure that some will rave about this place. 

Even if I do end up being the lone diner again, I would like to come back to try their gyoza and a donburi.

Sapporo Ramen Miharu
1 Nanson Road, #01-11 Gallery Hotel, Singapore
Tel:  +65 6733 8464 

12am-3pm, 6pm-9pm Daily
Closed on Wednesdays

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jones The Grocer, Dempsey Hill, Singapore

Part grocer, part cafe, Jones The Grocer provides an almost warehouse size pantry full of delicious looking edible delights as well as cookbooks, teapots and other kitchen paraphernalia.

It's a large modern space with high ceilings and enough room to move between the stocked shelves and tables.  There's a deli counter, a cheese room, a selection of wine, vinegars, homemade pastas, the list goes on.  They also sell gourmet chocolate and I was delighted to find Willie's Chocolate bars for sale here.  I have been wanting to try his chocolate for ages!

Arriving just after 3pm on a Sunday, this place was busy.  All seats were taken inside and as we surveyed the available seating outside, we managed to grab the last two stools.  

That said, the turnover of sitting patrons seemed to be fairly regular in this place.  Plus, we didn't arrive during their peak lunch time which meant that we missed out on the brunch menu.

As we sat patiently waiting for some menus to be brought to us, none came.  So I found myself having to flag down a waiter inside.  Even then, it took a while for them to be brought out.

Service didn't get much better when nobody came to take our order.  Once again, I had to go grab a waiter.

Our drinks did arrive in good time though.  My flat white was smooth and probably a little on the milky side.  It could have passed for a small latte.  The berry iced tea was refreshing and came unsweetened.

We both ordered a pumkin and feta salad, which came in a large bowl.  It was dressed with a plain vinegar olive oil, the feta was certainly on the stingy side, the pumpkin pieces didn't fair much better.  It was a nice enough salad, for what it was that is.  But it really felt as though I was chewing on rocket leaves more than anything else.

The potato wedges on the other hand were mostly lovely.  I say mostly, because the one fattest wedge was still slightly raw in the middle.  Apart from this one minor flaw, these wedges were hot and crispy with a hint of rosemary.  The homemade mayonnaise was a bit bland.  I sometimes make my own and I like to make mine a little tangy.

I really wanted to try their coconut pancakes with mango and vanilla ice-cream, but had no room left.  Check out Coffee With Amee who gave these a 'must-try' thumbs up. She also sampled the brunch, and I have to agree with her 'Strike three'!

Service here really needs to improve.  The staff seem to be run off their feet and are so busy, they don't always catch patrons' attention.  

If you're looking for speciality items that you possibly can't find anywhere else, Jones The Grocer is worth checking out.  Unfortunately I can't comment on their desserts.  Not sure I'd come back especially for brunch and besides, there are so many more places that I'd like to try in Singapore.

Jones The Grocer
9 Dempsey Road, #01-12 Dempsey Hill, Singapore
Tel:  +65 6476 1512 

9am-11pm Daily

Monday, July 18, 2011

NYDC, Holland Village, Singapore


In the mood for some dessert, I headed down Holland Village way.  It has the usual TCC, Coffee Bean & Co and then I stumbled across this place, NYDC which translates to New York Dessert Cafe. 

It was busy, which in my book is always a good sign.  The signature colour red is big and bold, large booths line one side of the wall, pop art pictures adorne the walls and there is a buzz of chatter.

The counter at the front houses delicious looking, waist increasing, calorie rich desserts, which for me are hard to resist. 

The menu is somewhat playful and in the end I chose the traditional New York cheesecake.  Well, it had to be right?!  The last traditional New York cheesecake I had was from Eileen's Cheesecake in Little Italy, lower Manhattan.  And my goodness, their cheesecake is amazing by the way!

Back to this NYDC cheesecake in Holland Village, Singapore.  It was offered with ice-cream, but I politely declined.  I don't need more calories on top of the cheesecake and my waistline would not have been a happy one, let alone a good-looking one...

The cheesecake arrived dutifully in good time; a drizzle of sweet mango coulis with the cheesecake on top, but almost ruined by the childish looking dollop of cream with a sprinkling of 'hundreds and thousands'.  Seeing as this place also caters for children, I guess they have to make it appeal to all ages.

The biscuit base was thin and sponge-like which is how I like it.  The cake itself was creamy and smooth, and the taste of it really took me back to the days when I used to eat up cheesecake galore on my trips to New York. 

The waitress was all happy and full of smiles, which made for a pleasant 'American' dining experience. 

I had a camomile tea with my cheesecake which was a refreshing and light companion to the delightful sweet dessert.   

NYDC is a great place to come with friends, family, or purely solo.

30 Lorong Mambong, Holland Village, Singapore
Tel: +65 6469 2998

11:30am - 12am (Sun-Thu)
11:30 am - 2:00 am (Fri & Sat)

211 Roof Terrace Café , Holland Village, Singapore

Having not ventured far from my immediate vicinity - Robertson Quay - I felt it time to go a bit further afield to discover a new area in Singapore. 

Holland Village is a place that has popped up in many a local magazine and mentioned a few times on Asia Food Channel.  I had heard about a roof terrace cafe in this area and so I had to check it out.

On arrival to Holland Village, I was surprised to discover that this roof terrace cafe was at the top of a rather ugly looking shopping centre rather than some pretty old shop house. 

Taking the escalators up to the 4th floor, I felt just a little apprehension.  Upon entering the cafe, I was sure I had made a big mistake - with formica covered looking tables and cheap looking chairs - it just didn't look all that great.

When I asked for the roof terrace, the waitress took me outside where I was amazed to find a lush looking roof terrace with a serene water feature and pretty lamp lights.

The food here is a mix of Italian and Australian; pasta, risotto, salad, soup, meat and fish.  I opted for the rack of lamb cutlets with roasted vegetables ($28.80 nett) and my dining companion chose the spaghetti vongole ($16.80 nett).

We didn't have too long to wait for our food.  First impressions were pretty good, much better than expected.  That lamb was beautifully cooked, just what I asked for, medium.  The vegetables carrots and zucchine were al dente and the portobello mushroom was juicy and delicious. 

The spaghetti vongole came with a generous amount of clams, the chilli had been de-seeded to take away the heat, the spaghetti was cooked al dente and sauce was deliciously garlicky.

For a cafe, the food we had was well executed and well priced.  The roof terrace is certainly a big draw for those who want alfresco dining in the middle of a concrete metropolis. 

Staff are attentive and service is fairly quick.  This place is surely a lovely cafe to come for a spot of lunch and some respite from a shopping session.

211 Roof Terrace Café
211 Holland Avenue, #04-01 Holland Road Shopping Centre, Singapore
TEL: +65 6462 6194

9am-11pm Daily