‘Hideaway’ food

This was a dinner treat in exchange for a favour. We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant that was located in an industrial-like area and the restaurant was located in a canteen-like setting that was also open to the public. This was probably only known to foodies or folks who stayed in this part of town.

We ordered one dish each. No prizes for guessing which was my order. Frogs, of course! And they were yummy! The brinjal was also good. The deer curry and century egg vegetable dishes were not too bad either. Dishes worth ordering again are the brinjal and the frogs.

Kimly Live Seafood, 18 Boon Lay Way, #01-98 Tradehub 21, Singapore 609966. Tel: 66864665.

Fried vegetable dish with century eggs that look like golden nuggets. It has a prestigious name which I don’t remember.

Deer meat curry. I’ve not really had deer meat curry before so this is a first for me. A good alternative to pork and chicken.

Fried brinjal which was surprisingly good as I don’t like the softness of the brinjal. But in this dish, the brinjal was slightly more chewy and crunchy at the edges.

Battered and fried frogs! Yum!

Char kuay teow

We were at Expo and we were looking for something to eat for dinner. I decided to try the Char Kway Teow as the stall had several accolades. A queue was also just starting.

I am so used to Malaysian char kway teow that had enough wok hei. This one came close but it was a little too sweet. Still not too bad for local kway teow and may be fine for the locals who may be used to sweeter-tasting kway teow. I appreciated the generous helping of bean sprouts though.

Lao Fu Zi, Universal Dining, Singapore EXPO, #01-53, Hall 5 Atrium.

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Remember to eat

A friend brought me to this place at Jurong Point a few weeks ago and I fell in love with the desserts here. He told me that the name of the shop Ji De Chi means Remember to Eat. I thought he was kidding at first until I realised he wasn’t. The wallpaper in the shops show a Hong Kong food street with the name Ji De Chi at different points in the picture. Being a Hong Kong food street photo and the fact that they serve Hong Kong desserts, one can assume that this place is a Hong Kong dessert place. But they also serve shaved ice desserts which is from Taiwan and one of their best desserts is the iced durian, pomelo and sago dessert — durian being a local fruit, this is one of my favourite desserts.

There is no information online as to who opened this chain of dessert stalls. I thought at first it was opened by Hong Kongers but my HK friend did not think so as the desserts themselves were not authentic enough (to her) to be from Hong Kong though they seemed pretty good to me. So this may be a case of three friends who went to Hong Kong to learn about Hong Kong desserts and brought the idea back here. Or they may have taken the concept from another Hong Kong dessert outlet which is really from Hong Kong and charges more for their desserts.

This is not the first time that food concepts have been brought in from overseas, an impression given that the food is from overseas when the people who start the company or run it may in fact not be from those countries and the food costs less than similar offerings by their foreign counterparts. And the stores do a roaring business among the largely unsuspecting customers who care more for the taste of the food and the price, than where they come from.

Ji De Chi, 63 Jurong West Central, 3 Jurong Point (New Wing), #03-102/103/104. Tel: 6794 8887.
Ji De Chi, 8 Liang Seah Street, #01-03. Tel: 6339 9928.

Iced durian, pomelo and sago dessert — one of my favourite desserts. When I first had this at Jurong Point, I was very glad that they served the bitter type of durian, which was my favourite. I also had this at Liang Seah Street and the amount of durian there seemed lesser. The durian puree there seemed more watery than the one at Jurong Point. Nevertheless, I still like this dessert.

Osmanthus tea and wolfberry jelly dessert. This was pretty to look at but not that nice to eat. It was simply too sweet and the taste of the tea and wolfberry were not strong enough to counter the sweetness.This was expensive sweetened jelly.

Fresh mango, black pulut rice wrapped in green tea sticky rice roll that was sprinkled with dessicated coconut. I frankly found this dessert a little hard to describe because of the combination of tastes. It seemed like a clash of tastes — mango, green tea and the black rice all had their own distinct taste. When brought together, the tastes seemed to clash instead of blend in with each other. Since the black rice and the sticky rice were from the rice family, perhaps mango could have been left out. There might be less of a clash this way, as the mango seemed a little out of place. The green tea with black rice blend may have been sufficient, drizzled with dessicated coconut. Red beans may have been a better alternative to mango.

These tang yuen were from a much earlier visit and I really liked this with the ginger syrup. I thought it tasted better than some of the other dessert shops which serves similar dumplings. There are peanut and sesame paste fillings in the dumplings.

Iced mango, pomelo and sago shavings. This too was from an earlier visit and I really liked this combination as well. There was no clash in the taste and the mango taste was clearly the strongest and the pomelo and sago blended in with the mango taste.

The Saturday night crowd. It was past 10pm at night.

Basics plus some

This was an unexpected combination of food. Runny half-boiled eggs eaten with a dash of light soy sauce and pepper (I don’t eat it with dark soy sauce, sorry, and I don’t know when people started eating it with dark soy sauce as I’ve always eaten it with light soy sauce since I was a child), kaya toast and crab meat patties.

The interesting bit about this combination of food is that I’ve not eaten it for a long time and to eat it again, albeit for dinner, was nice as a light snack. The crabmeat patties were more to add bulk to the meal as we were out cycling and needed a little more energy for the exercise.

This place used to be a Japanese restaurant before but it is now a more local as well as Asian food place.The place is also affordable. On weekends, the queue builds up rather quickly as people come out for their leisure activities and exercise.

10 Tebing Lane, #01-08, Singapore 828836. It is opposite Popeye’s.

Half-boiled eggs. This was not how it was served. We had already ‘burst’ the yoke when this pic was taken.

Good ole kaya toast set (the half-boiled eggs were part of the set).

Crabmeat patties which were Thai. It was a little too spicy for me but then, I do not take things that are too spicy.

The inside of the patty. The patties had chilli sauce right on top of them when they were served, which we had to remove.

High class snacks

It was going to be a meeting of old friends and nobody else was hungry except me. So we settled on some snacks for my benefit. We were at the Grand Hyatt, which gives you an indication of the type of place we were in. We sat down for drinks and ordered the humble curry puffs and hummus with bread but paid Hyatt prices for them. My friends ordered cups of tea while I had a lemonade.

The food was fine. We weren’t really at the dining area itself and hence our menu was more limited. The food at Straits Kitchen is local hawkerfare food at Hyatt prices which I may go for if I wanted a wide variety of local food under one comfortable-and-more-classy roof with folks who would enjoy such a mix of food in this kind of setting. Definitely a place to consider for a special meal now that I know about it.

Straits Kitchen, 10 Scotts Road, Grand Hyatt, Singapore 228211, Singapore. Tel: 67381234.

Curry puffs were good.

Hummus with olive oil and bread.

Awfully nice

When was the last time you described something nice as awful? Well, the name of this place is either an awful play on words or brilliant. There is nothing conventional about this store. They serve a limited range of chocolate cakes, ice-cream, truffle, bars and others. The range is intentionally limited and the focus is on quality. This chain has been around for fifteen years and they have also expanded into Indonesia and China — not bad for a shop that sells a limited range of chocolate products. Some people like my chocoholic friend swear by its products and vouch for their quality. I was not really in the mood for chocolate that day but my chocoholic friend was. She bought a slice of cake and I chanced upon the Kahlua bars. They seemed too hard to resist so I gave in. It was cheaper than the cake that my friend ordered (though lighter) and at least still affordable and not as common as some selections made by some of the other brands of chocolates. It was not too sweet and one could taste both the kahlua and the dark chocolate. And did I mention that it tasted awfully good too?

Awfully Chocolate, 1 Seletar Road, #02-02 Greenwich Village, Singapore 807011. Tel: 6556 0656

Kahlua bar which was about half the size of the chocolate cake

Rich sinful chocolate cake which had seriously good chocolate in it

Good and affordable Japanese dining

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!

This was one of the earliest Japanese restaurants around before others came into the market and took a large market share. One of the reasons why they have managed to remain and expanded their business is because they serve good Japanese food at affordable prices. Coming here was like visiting a place that I used to frequent but do not do so as often now because like so many customers, I am now spoilt for choice where Japanese food is concerned. Nevertheless, this is a good place to come to for decent authentic Japanese food that will not burn a hole in one’s pocket. Also, one need not wait excruciatingly long to get a seat nor rush through one’s meal after getting a seat.

There are newer Japanese restaurants who are newer than this one whom I have already dropped off my list as I find that their food quality has dropped substantially as they became more popular and they are no longer value for money. This place has managed to maintain their quality and affordability. Kudos to them! Yup! Definitely shifting this restaurant back to my visit-more-often list.

Ichiban Boshi, 68 Orchard Road, #06-05/06 Plaza Singapura. Tel: 68370113.

Aburi salmon — raw salmon that is slightly seared, which I like.

Japanese curry beef served with rice where you can see the beef slices. Some places claim that the meat in their curries cannot be seen as the meat has dissolved into the curries as they have been cooked for so long. Well, I like to see the meat in my curries. Call me Southeast Asian but that’s how we have our curries!

Salad with more aburi salmon!

Wanton noodles

This stall is located in a coffee shop in New Town, Petaling Jaya (PJ). Run by two sisters, I grew up eating their wanton noodles. We even followed them to the different stalls that they had to relocate their stall to in the past, either because of rental or other issues.

Wanton noodles, Malaysian style, is more black than the noodles they have here in Singapore. The difference is in the pork lard and the black soya sauce which they generously mix into the noodles. These noodles are usually eaten with small dumplings, char siew (roast pork) and choy sum (green leafy vegetables that is blanched). A home visit to PJ would not be complete without this.

Wanton noodles, soup version.

Wanton noodles, dry version. A bowl of soup with dumplings in it, a cup of coffee in an old ceramic mug and green chilli to eat the noodles with

Coney dogs, floats and Mum

I saw her as she drove into the carpark, passing two parking lots that were in her view. She disappeared around the corner. I waited. Minutes passed by and she still had not appeared. I wondered if I should go and look for her. Then she appeared, walking slowly, with her umbrella that also doubled up as a walking stick.

This was our local youth haunt growing up. We would come here after school almost daily — way before Starbucks and Coffee Bean arrived on the scene, before McDonald’s almost took over the fastfood market, with KFC and Burger King coming in a close second. Today, it stands on the same spot that it has stood since 1965 as the area around it changed. If the walls could talk, the pages of tomes of books would have been filled with their gossip. My brother would bring his family here whenever the kids visited Gran and everyone would order the same thing — coney dog, root beer float and the occasional waffle. Gran’s standard order in the past few years has been the fish marina burger. It was easier for her to digest. We come here about two to three times a year.

A&W no longer has any outlets in Singapore and this is one of the few outlets in Malaysia. In 2010, many outlets were closed. By Malaysian standards, the food is not cheap. Local food is cheaper and nicer. But many people hang out here still. This place in this part of Malaysia has almost become a Malaysian institution. The familiar bear in orange has greeted its customers since day one, as the first fast-food joint in Malaysia.

We left when the rain stopped. Mum drove us back, oblivious to the humps and honks of other cars on the road. She has always moved quickly, and it is no different even at this age! Some things don’t change so quickly, like the food at A&W. Love you, Mum.

A&W Family Restaurants (PJ Drive-in), No 9 Lorong Sultan, Petaling Jaya 46000, Malaysia. Tel: 603-7957 6250. This is a 24-hour joint.

It was always a challenge to prevent the float from spilling over, even after all these years. The taste is still familiar. This is now a local franchise as it has been bought over in 2001.

Beef coney dog set meal.

Beef Coney Dog. They used to have coney dogs on special on Tuesdays. After all these years, that too has not changed.

Spoilt for Choice

Sometimes as a food blogger, one can tell of changes to the economy. A few years ago, we wouldn’t find such restaurants in the heartlands. Such places in the city or along Orchard Road would have been common or part of the norm. But in the heartlands? It was virtually unheard of.

We wanted to have pizza and ended up here because it looked more happening at 3pm on a public holiday, compared to the other restaurants next to it. We also had not been here before, so in we went. This local modern American Italian food and dessert outlet chain is under the Ministry of Food umbrella and is named after its founder and has a very wide range of food on its menu — so many that we didn’t know what to choose at first. The same is true of MOF no Izakaya menu as well.

We ordered one appetiser, one main meal and one dessert to share between two people.The mushroom fritto was dry. We expected the mushrooms to be juicy but zilch, nothing flowed out. The pizza was fine but seemed a tad pricey for an 8-inch.

I was fascinated with the banana fritters and ice-cream. I had grown up with goreng pisang and this reminded me of that. There is a choice of batter but I preferred it in its original form. From the picture, I guessed that it must have been wrapped with spring roll skin and then deep-fried and served with ice-cream, almond flakes and bits of chocolate chips.

The one thing that I felt was unwarranted was the charge for water. I’ve been to other eating places where they charged 30cents for water. I am fine with this practice and the water was refillable. But here, the cost was 30 cents ++, i.e. plus 10% and then 7%. It was also refillable but the total cost per glass was 35.31cents. What’s my point? They should inform customers that the cost is 30cents++ and not just 30cents — a matter of integrity and not so much, cost. At 35++ cents, I also may not have ordered the water. There are places that would serve it for free.

So, what’s so special about this place? It serves alcohol. A few years back, such places would not have been found here. People don’t drink over dinner in a western restaurant in the heartlands usually. The issue is affordability. And this place is an unlikely place for such a do because of its location — it’s not in the city area, Orchard or Bishan — though this chain has outlets in those areas as well. This may be an indication that there is a market for not just dining but also wining now. And as a more affluent younger generation is coming up, their food choices are also changing and this place may well be a reflection of that affluence.

Lenas, Hougang Shopping Mall, 02-20/22. Tel: 6386 1929.

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