Good chicken

My friends and I chanced upon this French restaurant while looking for something to eat. I do not normally have French food. In fact, I do not even remember the last time I ate French food apart from French pastries in different bakeries. Firstly, French food tends to be more expensive and secondly, I’ve not really learnt to appreciate it since I rarely eat it. But since I started this blog, I decided to venture out a little and try food that I normally do not try.

There was a short queue in front of this restaurant and the person in front of me was a Frenchman. Hmm… if the French come here, this place must be pretty good. After all, if a restaurant is not even patronized by its own people, what does that tell us about the restaurant, assuming it’s opened by the French? Well, it’s not opened by the French nor is the chef French, but he has trained in France. This restaurant is under the same group as Thai Express. It is as French as Thai Express is Thai.

I ordered one of their signature dishes (half chicken in cranberry and double mustard sauce) and it was good. The chicken was not overly large. It seemed to have been carefully selected so that the meat was not tough at all. The sauce was rich and the cranberry sauce was quite well-balanced with the double mustard against the grilled chicken. The meat was tender and succulent as well. The meal was hearty — a bit too much for me but certainly not too much if one is hungry. And if one is very hungry, one could order a whole chicken!

The other chicken dish had sauce that was more like a clear (Chinese or Asian) soup base which I actually preferred as it was not as rich. The portion of chicken, even though a half chicken, was smaller.

Another friend ordered an oxtail and panna cotta. We actually had a good chuckle when the panna cotta came as it tasted like beancurd longan at western dessert prices! Beancurd longan is of course, a lot cheaper. Tastewise, we could not quite work out which part was Italian and which part was just local beancurd with longan. The jar made the whole thing look a little interesting though. If we come back here again, we’d probably try another dessert.

Oh yes, I actually asked them if they served coffee and if their coffee was good. The guy who was taking our orders while we were still queuing answered a confident, ‘Yes’. And he was right. The coffee passed the test.

This place serves good chicken and we’ll probably come back here for good grilled poulet. One of the aims of Poulet is to serve affordable classical French food to the masses and they may well have succeeded. My gut feel (literally) though is that this is still a local version of French food and may not be as authentic as how the French would like to have their food.

Poulet, Great World City, Level 2 #02-K2/K3. Tel: +65 6733 495.

Their coffee was good.

Half chicken in clear soup stock base. I preferred the sauce here as it was not as rich as the other chicken dish.

Oxtail de Bourguignon. This was a traditional oxtail dish. The meat was very tasty as it had been stewed for a while. I would have preferred meat that is not as overly cooked but that is not what this dish is about.

Poulet de Cranberry — Half chicken in cranberry and double mustard sauce. One of their signature dishes. This was really delicious and the chicken was very nicely done. The sauce was nice too but just a little too rich for me.

Panna cotta with longan which could easily have been mistaken for soyabean curd with longan. We googled a panna cotta recipe after tasting this to see how different it should be from what we were eating. Honestly, we just couldn’t tell the difference between this and a local dessert at all.

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Simply pizza

This is a rather unlikely location for western food but business has been steady since it first opened. It is a small simple cafe with pictures of London on the walls and a flag of the UK.

I like the pizzas here and the Twinnings tea drinks. The coffee was horrible and I almost wanted to tell them that it was not at all difficult to serve good coffee. But I decided not to. I did not drink the instant coffee that was ordered, asking for them to change it to tea instead.

This place is a nice little joint for a quiet dinner. There is also a limited selection of beers. Certainly worth coming back to, especially because it is affordable and there are not that many western food places located here.

Streets of London, Blk 161 Bukit Merah Central #01-3725, Singapore, Singapore. Tel: 6377 0850.

Tomato based pasta

Thin crust pizza. I was able to change some of the ingredients to something I preferred. This had mushroom and pineapple in it.

Prata time

The eating places in the row of shophouses at Thomson Road have become our latest eating haunt, after several visits to different restaurants here. The prices here are reasonable compared to restaurants in malls. Tonight it was roti prata. The prata itself was not outstanding but the curry chicken here was good. The teh tarik halia (ginger-spiced tea) was also good and when eating Indian food, the tea is as important as the main meal and has to be as good.

It certainly is a place that one can come back to again.

Meera’s Curry Banana Leaf Restaurant, 910-B Upper Thomson Raod, Singapore 787112. Tel: 6455 8267

Teh tarik

Roti prata with egg

Plain roti prata with chicken curry

Three dessert drinks

One would not normally drink dessert but today, that was exactly what happened. Fancy a saltish light cheesecake blended, sesame seed drink? How about a cold soya bean drink with red beans? Or an iced chocolate for the not-so-adventurous.

The thick lightly blended cheesecake goma (sesame seeed) drink was an adventure as I am used to having sesame seeds in paste form as dessert or cheesecake on its own. But to have both in a drink was a new experience. Why not? A saltish iced thick shake-like drink is not everyone’s glass of shake and it was different but still, nice.

The soya bean with red beans was rather pleasant, as sweet drinks usually are. The red beans have been sweetened but the drink was not overly sweet.

This cafe has been able to come up with a nice selection of drinks that are rather appealing. Their range of coffee, tea and alternative drinks is quite wide.

The Connoisseur Concerto, Terminal 3, 65 Airport Boulevard, #01-22, Changi Airport.

Iced chocolate

Kuro Goma Cheese Swirl. Tasted a little salty because of the blend. A different taste.

Azuki Freeze — made of soya bean and Azuki red beans

Tasty soft food!

We came here tonight to get some soft food as a friend had just had her wisdom tooth extracted and could not chew that well. Hence, we did not do our usual order of samsui chicken, which is what this restaurant is famous for. We ordered a double boiled American ginseng and fish soup, homemade tofu with sauce and Penang fried mee suah. The surprise was that all three dishes tasted really good! The tofu was one of the recommendations. It was slightly crispy on the outside as it had been deep-fried but really soft on the inside, which was the bit that my (toothless) friend ate. The fried mee suah (fine wheat flour noodles which cooks very quickly and is softer than the other thicker noodles) had a lot in it — egg, bean sprouts, chicken and mushroom. I suspect the Penang part of it is in the black (slightly sweet) sauce that they used, fried sufficiently in a wok. It was large enough for two people to enjoy. The ginseng soup was a single serving and that too was boiled sufficiently such that all the flavours from the ingredients had gone into the soup, which is the whole point of double boil. It was a happy belly night.

Soup Restaurant, Hougang Mall, 90 Hougang Ave 10, #02-21 Hougang Mall. Tel: 63866188.

The homemade tofu which was loaded with shallots and small dried shrimps. This was really nice – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Double boiled American ginseng and fish soup. Good as well.

Penang fried mee suah. This was soft as mee suah (fine wheat flour noodles) is usually softer than normal noodles, hearty and had a lot of ingredients in it.

A perfect grill

I’ve driven past this place several times and often wondered why this place always had a steady stream of customers. I wasn’t even sure what it sold and what the name was. In order to write this post, I had to go back and find out its name.

The main draw of this place seems to be the frog porridge and the seafood grill. Served by waiters with arms full of tattoos, I was very happy with what was ordered, especially the grill. We ordered only one fish (ikan selar) at first but ordered a second one subsequently. The fish was grilled perfectly. The sweet potato leaves were also stirfried very well, with just the right dash of belachan (prawn paste) in it. I’m definitely coming back here for reasonably priced and good grilled seafood. I have to credit the belachan for making both dishes so appetizing. It was value for money indeed!

Belachan is made from very small shrimps which is washed in SALT water and dried in the sun for several days. Then they are crushed and dried further before being turned into a paste. In Malaysian food, belachan is usually pounded or blended with chilli and then fried into a very fragrant concoction of shrimp paste and chilli known as sambal belachan. The fragrance is offensive to some and I know of kitchens in some student dormitories which have banned the cooking of this because of the smell. What is fragrant to some is pungent to others. Many Caucasians or foreigners think that the smell is very repulsive when it is first cooked. After it has been cooked and mixed with other spices, the smell is not so repulsive. It was the combination of belachan, chilli and onion that made the food here very tasty, even perfect.

This is another spartan place where people come solely to eat the food. The staff here are quite friendly and the prices are very reasonable. The cars outside this place range from Mercedes and BMW to Kias, Hyundais and Kenaris, and every model in between. Parking lots are taken up very quickly during peak hours and there are not that many of them.

Hong Chang Eating House. 2 Braddell Road, Singapore 359895.

Perfectly grilled fish with sambal. We ordered a second fish.

Stir-fried tapioca leaves with just the right amount of belachan, onion and garlic.

Frog porridge. The more popular version may be the black sauce, spicy version. I ordered the non-spicy one. The porridge here is the watery version, not thick like how some other stalls serve theirs. It took a while to finish one portion.

Souffle baked rice

I came back here again for dinner. This time, I decided to try their signature souffle baked rice called Fuwa Fuwa. The souffle was almost an art form in itself as it was really light and fluffy at the top. I loved the baked fresh mushrooms in it but did not care much for the ham inside as like most processed meat, it tasted processed. But I know of friends who absolutely love this rice and go there just to have it. The combination of the lightness of the souffle top and the tomato baked rice on the inside was nice though. I think if they had used cooked meat (instead of processed meat) on the inside, I would have been really pleased, but that’s me.

Hoshino Coffee, 68 Orchard Road, Plaza Singapura, #03-84, Singapore 238839. Tel: 63383277.

A pasta dish in white sauce with bacon which a friend ordered.

Their signature dish that was almost an art form in itself.

Steamed coconut rice!

I had a craving for nasi lemak and decided to try out this place which is not in the usual malls. Located along a row of shops that serves quite a few types of Malaysian food, I decided that I would make another visit for the other foods that were found here.

The place says that its nasi lemak is steamed. One wonders why the emphasis on this when usually rice is steamed and even when it is coconut rice, it is also steamed, isn’t it? Not quite. Rice that is cooked in a rice cooker is boiled, not steamed. The rice here is steamed, not boiled. Hence, the emphasis on the word, ‘kukus’. This method of cooking is far more tedious but results in rice that is usually perfectly cooked and fragrant and this is evident in the taste of the rice.

The place is a coffeeshop, in the middle of a row of shops that range from food shops to car tyre repairs. There is a burger grill that fronts the shop and in a way, resembles a ‘Ramly burger’ kind of setting. Ramly burger is hawker-type burger in Malaysia, where burgers are grilled and sold with onions and sufficient dollops of chilli sauce. While that was food that I loved growing up, I do not seem to have the same fondness for it now. I find that the meat is too processed. I am sure that I have also been influenced greatly by western fastfood outlets which serve better meat in their beef patties, though not necessarily better taste, not that I patronize them that often. But anyway, I digress.

The place is not air-conditioned, which is fine. One helps himself or herself to the rice and food portions and pays accordingly. I ordered sweet and sour fish, the smallest drumstick which turned out to be rather large, otah and peanuts. I almost fainted when the total amounted to $7.70! I also ordered their homemade lime juice and there was so much sediment at the bottom of the glass that I was not sure if it was from the limes or something else. It did taste fine, however.

What I really liked was the rice, homemade otah and peanuts. Of the three, the otah was seriously good — you could taste the fish in it! The lime juice was fine too. I could have done without the other two dishes. Rice refill was free so if one loves coconut rice, that would have been a bargain. And yes, sufficient sambal sauces — both the sweet and spicy versions are available — to go with the rice!

What I did not like was the strong fan blowing in my face and food. That really ruined the meal for me as I like my rice hot or at least warm. With the fan blowing at me, whatever heat there was in the rice was blown away. There is very little ambience about this place. It is spartan with names scribbled and somewhat set in the cement walls in some parts of the walls and an odd picture or two hanging off the walls. The seats against the wall actually double up as storage for the extra ingredients that they need to store, which are properly sealed, and a good idea actually. I did wonder how they would be able to access the stuff when there are customers in the shop though they may do so prior to and after hours. But people come here for the food and not the decor and in some sense, it even has a ‘kampung’ — out of town — feel and one can forget that one is actually still in Singapore, which can be a good thing.

For those who are keen to check out this place, tally your total for your food BEFORE you load up your plate so you don’t get a shock when the cashier rings up the bill, and find a place that is not so near a fan!

Nasi Lemak Kukus, 908 Upper Thomson Road, Singapore. Tel: 82229517.

The rice was good. Loved the otah the most! I could have done without the others though. A little pricey for humble food though the nasi lemak (coconut rice) was free flow when you pay $1.

My friend’s order which was more varied as she couldn’t eat spicey that day.

Name at the front of the coffee shop

Ipoh Hor Fun

This is a chain of restaurants that serve Malaysian food. It is from Malaysia. The place is supposed to be well-known for its coffee and tea. Several of these outlet chains are in fact quite similar to each other in terms of food, drinks and price range.

We ordered the Ipoh hor fun as it is a time-tested dish that has been consistently smooth and tasty. The rice noodles are thin and cooked well enough such that it is smooth. It is soul food. This chain strives to offer good Malaysian food in an unhurried environment. Such food, while commonly found for less, in Malaysia, may not be so easily found elsewhere. However, even in Malaysia, there is a following. Their coffee and tea can also be purchased in supermarkets and shops as instant beverages. This place is halal.

Old Town White Coffee, Novena Square, Singapore.

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Honey spiced coffee

I usually go for coffee in its pure form. I don’t take it with flavours usually. But this time I decided to try the coffee with honey and anise seed. It was love at first sip and perhaps second. After that, the honey seemed to overwhelm the coffee. The anise seed spice was a nice addition though. This coffee was a little different and all natural, as opposed to coffee with flavoured syrup. I am not sure if it would have tasted better with less honey or perhaps a slightly more acidic coffee. This was new to the menu and it was certainly worth the try. I could have drunk the coffee without any milk as the coffee itself was quite light.

For a meal, I ordered the seafood gratin. I am used to baked rice that tended to be dry. This turned out to be quite moist to the point of being a little wet. I actually do not know whether baked rice should be dry or wet but it tasted fine and so I was not bothered by it. The cheese was nicely glazed on top of the rice. It was not too much nor too cheesy. There were a lot of prawns in it and not much of other seafood. It would have been nice if they had added more clams and perhaps some fish. After all, it is called seafood gratin and not just prawns. If I order this dish again, I might make a request to the kitchen for slightly more variety in their seafood.

The bonus was the 15% discount which they offered for certain credit card holders which I am very happy about. Food prices have gone up for this restaurant and the discount was very much welcomed.

The Connoisseur Concerto, 435 Orchard Road, #02-18 Wisma Atria Shopping Centre, Singapore. Tel: 67336597.

Coffee is sweet, my love

Seafood gratin

TCC Serviette

Zesta cheesecake. It had a dash of lemon in it.