Jay’s place

If the Koreans have Psy, the Taiwanese have Jay Chou. And his posters are all over this little shop, giving it a high school feel. After all, this little place is named after Jay Chou’s hit album, 8 Degrees. The place serve Taiwanese street food, some classic dishes, desserts and bubble tea drinks. I seldom eat Taiwanese food and am not familiar with it. Tonight was like my introduction to Taiwanese food.

20131006-113736.jpg

A copy of the menu.

20131006-113749.jpg

Jay Chou’s poster on the wall. Near the cashier are Polaroid snapshots of customers to the place. This place has a high school feel to it. Jay Chou’s music is played in the background.

20131006-113800.jpg

Glass jelly and Rosehip milk tea drinks. I thought the rosehip tea resembled bandung, a Malaysian drink with rose syrup. The teas were not sweet which was good. The rosehips were placed on top of the milk tea giving it a nice look. Rose syrup had clearly been added, hence the red tinge. I was half expecting the bandung taste and did not get it, since this was not bandung after all. The teas seemed a little weak.

20131006-113816.jpg

Clearly, we ordered too much food.

20131006-113832.jpg

Preserved radish egg omelette. There was too much chai po (preserved vegetables) in it making it very salty. Then to balance out the saltiness, they added too much sweet sauce. We didn’t finish this dish. If they had gone easy on the preserved vege and the sweet sauce, this dish would have been fine.

20131006-113841.jpg

X.O. fried spicy chee cheong fun. It was a tad too oily although I really liked the fried bean sprouts and egg bits. The spiciness was still okay but it was too oily, making it a little hard to stomach.

20131006-113850.jpg

Cold noodles which were too sweet.

20131006-113859.jpg

Stewed pork belly with rice which was just nice. It had enough flavours in the pork and the pork was not dry nor did it taste overcooked. Though it was fatty, it did not taste oily. This was simply the best out of all the dishes we ordered and I suspect stewed pork belly is one of their better dishes. This was just nice for one person’s portion.

20131006-113908.jpg

Fried brinjal with pork floss. This too was good. The brinjal was not soft — I don’t like soft brinjal — and the batter was not overly thick. It tasted nice with the pork floss.

20131006-113917.jpg

Stir fried broccoli and mushroom with X.O. sauce. I don’t get the X.O. sauce thing, I’m afraid. I am so used to plain stir fried vegetables that I thought the X.O. sauce was an overkill and an excuse to charge more for a dish. Or is it a Taiwanese thing? The dish was fine, otherwise.

My conclusion of Taiwanese food, just based on this place, is that it is very salty, sweet, oily and somewhat ‘alcoholic’ (though most of the alcohol has dissipated when cooked over heat). I do not understand nor see the need for adding X.O. to some of their dishes (X.O. here stands for X.O. Cognac which is hard liquor and added for flavour) but apart from that, the food tastes pretty Chinese still. The irony I felt, was that their teas did not seem strong nor sweet enough but their food were either too salty, too sweet, both or too oily. I am likely to come back here and when I do, I’d stick to the stewed pork and all things porky as clearly that is their best dish, fried brinjal with pork floss and perhaps a bubble tea drink since bubble teas came from Taiwan.

This place does not charge service charge nor GST. It is an affordable place for a nice meal and chill-out time over desserts and drinks. The bistro was located along a street that was choc-a-bloc full with cars trying to find a park on a Saturday evening.  Several places along this street are known for their food as well.

8 degrees Taiwanese Bistro, 37 Teck Chye Terrace. Tel: 62848226.

20131019-030005.jpg

We have visited a few more times since the first visit. This is roasted grain tea, one of my favourite drinks.

20131019-030018.jpg

Shaved Ice Dessert

20131019-030029.jpg

20131104-214436.jpg

When we visited a third time, we tried their fried mushrooms, fried olive and fried trio egg (with three different types of eggs) fried rice. We had tried the other dishes before. The fried olive rice was nice. As for the trio egg, we probably would not order that again. The mushrooms too were nice. On this particular Sunday evening, the place was rather crowded and there was a power failure but we still tucked in.

20131104-214651.jpg

This was their sweet potato porridge set which we tried one late night. Not too bad. I liked the really crunchy peanuts, salted egg, chicken egg and pork floss. We could have done without the pickles and the pork bits which were too oily. So four out of six small dishes were good.

20131104-214709.jpg

Advertisements

Madam, again.

This was a review that I was contemplating doing after eating at Madam Kwan’s in Mid-Valley in KL sometime ago. So I decided to try the outlet here at Vivo City in Singapore.

I decided not to go so soon after they opened so that they would have time to iron out their opening kinks. Having eaten in KL and being aware of the exchange rate difference, I also wanted my review to be as objective as possible, and not be influenced by exchange rate differences.

I ordered another of their signature dishes which I know Madam Kwan’s is well-known for, i.e. nasi bojari. Service wise, the waiters and waitresses were very good. The shoddy service that was highlighted in some of the earlier reviews was not evident that night. But it was about 9pm on a weeknight, and the evening was not busy.

20130929-170215.jpg

Their menu.

20130929-170227.jpg

My friend ordered the penang assam laksa and they served the prawn paste separately here, which is the way it is supposed to be served. A plus point here.

20130929-170300.jpg

The nasi bojari with the three flavours of rice (and colour). The chicken was tender and the skin was crispy. The different fragrances in the rice were evident. The prawn sambal was good as were the rendang bits. This is unique to Madam Kwan’s and I shall give credit where it is due.

20130929-170319.jpg

Another view of the nasi bojari.

20130929-170338.jpg

This is the Penang laksa. There was enough sardines and mint leaves in it. Good but for one complaint. For the longest time, I’ve only had this particular dish in small portions. The one that was served in the restaurant was huge. Usually I do not complain about serving portions. After all, larger is better, no? Well, no. In this case, because the gravy was so nice and thick and flavourful, this dish, I’ve decided, is best eaten in small portions so that there is no overkill. A smaller portion would have left one sufficiently contented instead of feeling that the dish was too large to finish.

20130929-170808.jpg

Teh tarik that was too strong.

In conclusion, the food was good. We actually ordered one more dish but were very glad that they had run out of that dish. There was nothing else we wanted so we did not replace the dish with another and that was fortunate, as we would not have been able to finish everything. Price wise, we could have eaten nice penang assam laksa elsewhere for lesser. As for the bojari, that is a signature dish of Madam Kwan’s and I have not found it anywhere else unless clones appear overnight.

So if one is craving for Malaysian food and does not mind spending more for larger portions of food, this place will give you hearty portions (you should see the size of their otah) for the price one pays. Apart from the assam laksa which I felt was too large a portion and correspondingly, too expensive a price, the price of the nasi bojari was in line with the location and the type of restaurant that Madam Kwan’s is, in Singapore.

I reread my old review of Madam Kwan’s in KL and I have to say that between the two outlets, the food in the outlet in KL seemed simpler. It did not need to try so hard to prove anything as it was already proven. The outlet in Singapore has a certain reputation to live up to. The food has to be as good as the food in KL, at the very least, and on top of that it has to hold its own against neighbouring restaurants and their mouth-watering menus.

Madam Kwan’s at Vivo City serves a wider variety of drinks including alcohol which helps to position the restaurant as a serious sit-down eating place offering a Malaysian dining experience and not just one serving high-priced hawkerfare.

Madam Kwan’s, 1 Harbourfront Walk, Vivo City, #01-152 – 155, Singapore 098585. Tel: 6271 9989.

A yummy fish-y meal!

This is a reasonably priced meal. I was actually surprised at how precise some of the hawker stalls are and how quick their service is. I wanted the garoupa fish soup but they had run out of that fish. So I settled for their normal fish. It was immediately weighed and cooked and before I could even dig the money out of my wallet to pay the staff, the food was ready. This place has an ‘A’ grade for hygiene and they served otah as well which I added to my order. So, a fishy meal for a not-so-fishy price.

I forget the name of the stall but it is located at the hawker centre in Kovan, near Heartland Mall. I’ll update this post with the correct address when I go there again.

20130918-210423.jpg

Green food!

I decided that I wanted to have something vegetarian so I settled for this not realising that it was not Aglio Olio with spinach but that it was actually going to be cooked in spinach juice and look really green. And green it was, literally! I had a shock when it was first served. I really liked the pine nuts but not much else. I even brought it back to the serving counter to ask if the green colouring was real and not artificial colouring. They assured me that it was really spinach juice.

I returned to my seat and started eating. The pine nuts were the only items I liked. There was simply too much noodles, I guess in part to justify the price that it was priced at. I don’t think I will be vegetarian at this place again. Next time, I’ll just stick to my mushroom and tomato omelette with french fries on the side which used to be a good deal. Now they use fewer eggs in their omelette and charge more for it. Alternatively, I could have had one of their rice or noodle dishes which are always safe bets and more satisfying.

Han’s used to be a reasonably-priced place where one could get decent food and eat in air-conditioned comfort. I remember it was very popular when the first outlet was opened about ten years ago or so. Some of the western set meals were really value for money before and there was a wide variety of food. It was and still is self-service and one had to order and pay at the counter before getting one’s food. That was how they kept costs down.

Today, Han’s has expanded to many outlets, some of which are 24/7, and they have increased the price of their food as well. While they are still trying to get the quality of the their food to a more consistent level, they have certainly improved on their presentation, at this outlet anyway. The portions though have shrunk. Customers pay more for less but better presented food. The menu has also been streamlined which meant that some of their previous offerings are now history. The quality has not changed significantly, which is a relief, and I am still a customer.

Han’s Cafe and Cake House, 169 Jalan Bukit Merah, Connection One #01-20. Singapore 150169. Tel: 65 62725053.

Doesn’t this look green? Even my teeth turned green after eating this!

20130915-102016.jpg

Seafood hor fun is one of their better dishes.

20130915-102025.jpg

Dry beef beehoon was good.

Coffeeshop food

We came here due to proximity; it was nearer for those who were staying in the north. One of the criteria was that it had to serve crabs as we were feeling crabby again. So based on one review on someone’s blog that I found on the internet, we decided to come here. It also did not seem to be a very crowded place, due to location.

This is a coffee shop and it was not crowded. We got our table and seats immediately. It was after all only 6p.m., still early for many to have dinner. The food was good but not great. I could not help comparing the crabs here with the one that I had somewhere else before as after all, the crabs were the draw.

This is a chain of coffeeshops. I didn’t get the name of the zi char stall though, except that it is located at this coffeeshop. There are many stalls here. The one we ate from is the zi char stall though we also ordered from the chicken rice stall which apparently is also very good. If I came back here again, it’d probably be for the sambal fish and chicken rice from the other stall.

Broadway Coffeeshop, 334 Sembawang Cl, #01-01. Tel: 6758 4144.

20130913-191326.jpg

Sweet and sour pork

20130913-191333.jpg

Prawn omelette.

20130913-191404.jpg

Salted egg yoke crab. This did not have much gravy and we didn’t order the mantous (fried bread) to dip into the gravy either.

20130913-191353.jpg

Sambal fish. I’d come back here for this again. This is one of their more popular dishes.

Psy-go to Bibigo

If all roads lead to Rome, then all Korean restaurants must lead to Psy. Or perhaps it’s a case of Korean restaurants thinking that they need to work with Psy to promote their food. Better marketing and communication, I believe, is the key to marketing Korean food and I think this restaurant may have succeeded in these important aspects and no, they do not need Psy. A friend introduced me to this restaurant. She brought her own parents and introduced it to another friend who in turn brought her friends and all this is being spread by word of mouth.

As I was saying, this Korean restaurant did what few Korean restaurants have done. They had proper menus with clear pictures and descriptions, good service staff and great food. For a while now, most, if not all the Korean restaurants I have been to did not adequately explain their food. This is probably one reason why Korean food is not as well understood as say, Japanese food. Many Korean restaurants also tend to be family-run and their staff may not speak good English. This restaurant is run by a company that markets Korean food. The restaurant had Filipino waitresses who spoke good English and provided good service. Lastly, the food was clearly explained in their menus. For the first time I realised that bibim in Korean meant a mixture or to be mixed with. Hence anything with the word bibim in it would have a combination of things. Bibimbap for example, is a mixture of rice with lots of vegetables, from raw to pickled to cooked. There is also a choice of meat. Vegetables, carbohydrate and protein are mixed in a balanced way.

We ordered bibigo which was similar to bibimbap except that we could choose the kind of rice we wanted as well and the dressing we wanted with it. I picked black rice which was like glutinous rice and sesame oil dressing. We also ordered seafood pancake and mandoo or fried dumplings. The bibigo was rather refreshing with a light touch of sesame dressing. I simply love rice with vegetables though I found the glutinous rice a little heavy. The pancake was nice and crunchy and not overly oily. The same was true of the mandoo. All three dishes were well presented. The pancake came on a hot plate which kept the food warm and crunchy.

Bibigo has three outlets in Singapore now. Please don’t expand too quickly and remember to maintain the quality of your food. This restaurant is like a breath of fresh air as Korean food is still not very popular yet and there is a steady growing demand for it. Oh, and did I say, this is a great place to look at handsome Korean guys? You definitely do not need Psy!

Bibigo, 23 serangoon Central, #03-08 NEX shopping mall, Singapore 556083. Tel: 65-6509-8272.

20130908-190722.jpg

Bibigo with black rice and sesame oil dressing on the side.

20130908-190807.jpg

Closer picture of the different food on the plate.

20130908-190818.jpg

Mandoo or fried Korean dumplings

20130908-190828.jpg

Seafood pancake which was kept warm on the hot plate.

Good grub!

I have been wanting to come here for the longest time and today, I finally made it. The rain in the morning meant that not as many people were out and about and that helped to reduce the number of people queuing for tables so when we got there, we got the last table for two immediately. That was a relief. It was about 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning and there were several families with their children there. It was clearly a weekend outing for the family, with scooters, strollers and small bicycles in tow.

We ordered from the weekend brunch menu. The portions were not large; in fact we had to order some more food after the first order came. Originally, we had wanted to share the breakfast set which turned out to be just enough for one person. However, the food was of decent quality and was not overly salty. We chose beef sausage in the breakfast set and it was a decent sausage, not overly processed nor overly salty as some sausages can be. The truffled egg cocotte eggs were like two half-cooked eggs in a little ceramic bowl. I was surprised that the French had their version of half-cooked eggs — similar to how we have our half-boiled eggs for breakfast — . The eggs were a good size and the flavours were really natural.

The cutlery that we were given were WMF ones and the plates were fine China. This was the first place that I had been to that used such fine cutlery and crockery and the food did not cost an arm and a leg. The scenery was especially nice. I’d certainly come back here again to chill. This place opened their doors in May 2013, with a belief that they only serve to customers what they would serve to their own families. I reckon that’s a good belief to have for a food business.

Grub, 510, Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 (Bishan Park 1), Singapore 569983. Tel: +65 64595743.

20130908-150341.jpg

Grub Breakfast set with tea on the side. Toasted focacia, scrambled egg, portabello mushroom, side salad and a choice of pork or beef sausage.

Extra side order of focacia bread with a coffee latte.

Truffled egg cocotte. This is a French dish of half-cooked eggs. This was a simple dish, both in the way it is cooked and in the taste.

20130908-150419.jpg

20130908-150428.jpg

20130908-150442.jpg

The restaurant is within Bishan Park. The stream here has been naturalised. It is part of a river. This park is nice as it was built much earlier and it is spacious. The design is more unique and it doesn’t look similar to some of the other parks that are more recently built.

20130908-150449.jpg