Saturday, December 31, 2016

Best Eats in 2016

It has been another wonderful year. I started blogging as a hobby and it is still so even after all these years. My blog is a platform for me to share my food adventures and I have always been wanting to do it better. I appreciate your continued support and thank you for being with me all this while.

Here, I am sharing my top 9 memorable eats in 2016. I have linked them to the related posts and you could just click on it to read more. 


PAPA JONES BAR-B-Q AND GRILL
Block 214 Serangoon Avenue 4 #01-88 SINGAPORE 550214
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 2.30 pm / 5.30 pm to 9.00 pm (Daily)


49A Serangoon Garden #01-19 Serangoon Garden Food Centre SINGAPORE 555945
Operating Hours: 7.15 am to 2.00 pm / 6.15 pm to 10.00 pm (Tuesday to Friday)
                             7.15 am to 3.00 pm (Sunday & Saturday) (Closed on Mondays)


10E Sixth Avenue Kopitown Coffee Shop SINGAPORE 276474
Operating Hours: 8.00 am to 4.00 pm (Closed on Thursdays)


335 Smith Street #02-072 Chinatown Complex Food Centre SINGAPORE 050335
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 8.30 pm


Block 335 Smith Street #02-193/194 Chinatown Complex Food Centre SINGAPORE 050335
Operating Hours: 10.30 am to 2.30 pm / 4.30 pm to 10.30 pm (Closed on Wednesdays)


Block 93 Toa Payoh Lorong 4 #01-48 SINGAPORE 310093
Operating Hours: 6.00 am to 3.00 pm (Daily)


102C Jalan Jurong Kechil SINGAPORE 598602
Operating Hours: 12.00 pm to 2.00 pm (Thu to Sun) / 6.00 pm to 9.00 pm (Tue to Sun) 


505 Beach Road #B1-53 Golden Mile Food Centre SINGAPORE 199583
Operating Hours: 10.30 am to 9.30 pm (Closed on Alternate Mondays)


116 Upper Bukit Timah Road #02-28 Bukit Timah Food Centre SINGAPORE 588172
Operating Hours: 2.00 pm to 8.00 pm 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant : old-school dim sum fare

This is a well-known dim sum restaurant located at the heart of Jalan Besar, in the district of Little India and it has been around for almost 50 years. They have started to serve late breakfast and lunch only recently as they used to serve just dinner and supper.

There was quite a crowd when we were there at about 8.30 pm. First, is to get a ticket from the machine at their entrance and you will be allocated a number with an estimated waiting time. It reflected on my ticket that it would be about 45 minutes of waiting before we could get a table. The waiting time was much shorter though as we were seated 15 minutes later, there is no specification on whether we want an indoor or outdoor seating and perhaps that was the reason why we got our table sooner than expected. We were allocated a table at the black alley.


While waiting for a table earlier, We have already done filling up the order chit. 


There is an old-fashioned service bell on every table. When we were about to press the bell to submit the order chit, the service staff came quickly and said, "Here I am!". The service was impressively attentive. 




The canned drink is priced at $1.80 each.



Steamed Salted Egg Custard Buns (3 pieces for $2). This was amongst the better ones that I ever had, the skin was fluffy with the salted egg custard oozing out after I took the first bite.



Har Kow (2 pieces for $2.40). The Har Kow which is also known as prawn dumpling did not quite impress, the skin was slightly too thick which I did not like.


Siew Mai (2 pieces for $2.00). I have eaten much better ones than this so this is not my favorite as well. 


Beancurd Prawn Roll (2 pieces for $3.00). This did not taste particularly impressive as well.


Rice Roll with Char Siew ($3.50). It is handmade Chee Cheong Fun topped with dried shallots and served a pool of soy sauce. I did not like it much too as I have eaten much better ones as well.


Carrot Cake (2 pieces for $2.40). This was my most favorite. It was deep-fried well to the desired crispiness but still moist within. 


Swee Choon Mee-suah Kueh (2 pieces for $2.40). This is their signature and it is a must-order. It is made of mee-suah with bits of ingredients, stir-fried then transferred into the baking tin, steamed and leave it to cool before cutting into blocks and deep-fried it. This is a very interesting dish, this was my first time eating this snack and I totally enjoyed it. 


SWEE CHOON TIM SUM RESTAURANT
183 / 191 Jalan Besar SINGAPORE 208882
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 2.30 pm / 6.00 pm to 6.00 am (Mon to Sat)
10.00 am to 3.00 pm / 6.00 pm to 6.00 am (Sun & PH) (Closed on Wednesdays)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Khoon's Katong Laksa & Seafood Soup : better than 326 Katong Laksa

I came for the Prawn Mee but it was closed. I remember asking the Auntie of that stall when is their off day and she said, 'It is quite random." then I said, "Most of the times when I was here, the stall is closed." She said, "We usually sold out before 1 pm." I walked around the food centre to look for an alternative. I wanted to have Bak Chor Mee but Uncle and Auntie were eating their lunch and I did not want to disturb them.

I decided to try the Katong Laksa for the first time at a nearby stall and there was a short queue. They do not just serve the laksa but also fish soup and seafood soup. There are 3 choices for the laksa, the smallest portion at $3 then followed by the $4 portion and the largest portion at $5. The lady boss was smiling and rather friendly when she asked for my order. I went with the $4 portion. She asked, "with cockles?". I nodded my head. Then she used a spoon to scoop the chopped laksa leaves together with sambal chili. She showed it to me and asked, "Enough?". Again, I nodded. 


The thick bee hoon was deliberately cut into shorter pieces so it is easier to eat with only a spoon, just like other Katong laksa. It is served with 2 pieces of halved prawns, strips of fish cake, cockles and a handful of bean sprouts then garnished with chopped laksa leaves and sambal chili. It has a slight hint of coconut milk with a well-balanced spiciness. This might not be as famous as other Katong laksa but it is tasty enough to serve as an alternative when I need.


Though not as famous but this is better than the famous 328 Katong Laksa which I tried but did not like it enough to finish it. I still remember that only a small packet of sambal chili is given with each bowl of laksa and if you need an extra packet of chili then you are expected to pay for it. And, their laksa is priced at $5 for a smaller bowl and $7 for a larger bowl, which is more expensive and not quite worth the value. 



KHOON'S KATONG LAKSA & SEAFOOD SOUP
590 Upper Thomson Road #01-26 Sembawang Hill Food Centre SINGAPORE 574419
Operating Hours: 10.00 am to 7.30 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Genting Desserts & Drinks : Honeydew & Watermelon Sago

This is a popular stall in this food centre serving different types of cold and hot desserts. One of the must-try items has to be their Honeydew & Watermelon Sago for just $1.40. This is also my all time favourite dessert.


It is just a simple dessert that is served with a pile of finely shaved ice with a generous portion of honeydew and watermelon pieces underneath and topped with sweet corns and sago. It is served along with coconut milk that enhanced its flavor and level of sweetness. This is a refreshing choice, particularly on a hot day. 


GENTING DESSERTS & DRINKS
Block 226H Ang Mo Kio Street 22 #01-25 Keban Baru Food Centre SINGAPORE 560226
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 8.30 pm

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta, Singapore Vs Japan - World's First Michelin-starred Ramen : Are they equally good?

Chef Yuki Onishi, founded Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta in January 2012, it is a shop nestled in the residential area of Sugamo, Tokyo. They became the first Michelin-starred Ramen restaurant in 2015.

Chef Onishi after giving up a promising corporate career, returned to Kanagawa, his hometown, to follow in his father's footsteps in 1997. He acquired the art of making ramen in his father's ramen shop before moving ahead to pursue his dream of opening a ramen shop. When he started his own shop, his trademark dish is Shoyu Ramen with the signature Shio Ramen. The shoyu broth consists of 3 different types of Shoyu : cedar cask-aged Marudaizu natural soy sauce from Wakayama Prefecture blended together with a naturally brewed, aged Nagano soy sauce and a white soy sauce to intensify the flavor. This is added to the soup stock together with kelp from Hokkaido, pike from Mie, clam stock and other ingredients then boiled to bring forth its full flavors. The noodles are handmade and serving fresh daily using 4 types of whole wheat flour and whole grains.

JAPANESE SOBA NOODLES TSUTA, SINGAPORE
9 Scotts Road #01-01 Pacific Plaza SINGAPORE 228210
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 10.00 pm (Daily)

Tsuta Singapore has opened on 6 November 2016, it has only 18 counter seats and is located on the ground floor of Pacific Plaza. This is the only outlet of Tsuta, the second in the world after their original shop in Japan. This is a partnership with Hersing Corporation, an investment company which is also behind Tim Ho Wan and Kam's Roast Goose that are located in the same building. 

The queue is outside the restaurant and it started as early as 30 minutes before their operation time. I was the number 7 in the queue when I went there at 10.45 am. 


Their menu also consists of a limited selection of side dishes such as Niku Meshi (diced roasted pork on rice served with onion sauce) at $6, Ro-su Meshi (sliced roasted pork shoulder on rice topped with fragrant butter sauce) at $6 and soup chazuke at $2, the rice can be added to the remaining soup together with bonito flakes and Japanese seaweed. An additional portion of soba noodles is at $1.00, bamboo shoots at $2.00, rice at $1.80, char siu at $2.00 per piece and flavored egg at $1.80.


I decided to go with Ajitama Shoyu Soba at $16.80 which consists of a piece of char siu and a flavored egg. I also ordered Iced Wheat Tea at $1.80 to go along, this tea is selected by Chef Onishi as he feels that it complements his ramen most. 


The tickets were handed over to the service staff before I took my seat at the counter. I actually made an effort to check whether am I allowed to take picture of their kitchen before doing so as this is not allowed at the shop in Japan. 


Each bowl is served with 100 grams of noodles. The noodles are made fresh daily using the same combination of whole wheat and grain flours that are directly imported from Japan. It is known as soba noodles as the noodles are of a higher standard than the more common ramen. And, they cooked it just right. The toppings tasted close to what I had in Japan but it was garnished with spring onions. Pork collar is used to make char siu as it is lower in fat with just the same texture and flavor.

The shoyu ramen is made with the same types of shoyu then topped with a dollop of black truffle pureed in truffle oil. The shio ramen is also made with a chicken-seafood broth with Okinawa sea salt and Mongolian rock salt and topped with green olive pureed in truffle oil. The standards are expected to be the same. 


I waited for about 5 minutes for my shoyu ramen to be served. I frowned when I sipped the soup, it was much saltier as compared to what they served in Japan with a rather overpowering taste of truffle oil. I did not manage to finish the soup which is not quite usual for a soup lover like myself.

The standard is not the same and definitely not as good, it might be good during the initial period when Chef Onishi was around but it is so lacking now. It actually tasted quite ordinary, a far cry from what I had in Sugamo, Tokyo. Apparently, it is not even as good as some of the other options for ramen that are here.


There is also plan to include Miso ramen and Tsukeman, a ramen dish that is served with dipping sauce that is already on their menu in Japan.


JAPANESE SOBA NOODLES TSUTA, JAPAN
1-14-1 Plateau-Saka 1F Sugamo, Toshima-ku, Tokyu
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 4.00 pm / 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm (Closed on Wednesdays)

This is supposed to be the number one ramen in a city of thousands of ramen joints. Their location is a stone's throw from Sugamo Sation on the Yamanote train line which loops around center of Tokyo. To secure one of those 9 seats at the counter for a bowl of Micheline-starred ramen on the same day, you are expected to be there really early. Tickets for set time slots are distributed from 7 am and you are expected to come back later according to the color of the tickets allocated. The colored ticket represents different timing, at 11.00 am, 12.00 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm and 4 pm respectively. Please take note that everyone in the party is expected to be present to get a ticket. 

You are also required to pay a deposit of ¥1,000 in order to receive a ticket. It will be refunded later when you come back later just before you enter the shop and place your order through the vending machine. Do take note that the vending machine is in Japanese. There are only 150 bowls of ramen to be served daily in the price range of ¥1,000 to ¥1,500 ($13 to $20). There is strictly no picture of the kitchen is allowed and only one bowl of ramen per person, sharing is also not permitted. 



The instructions for the ticketing system is listed out and pasted on the wall at just where the queue is supposed to be, which is at the covered entrance to the apartment next to it. 


Their menu is simple, it consists of either soba or tsuke-soba served in a shoyu and shio varieties. Their Shoyu Soba is a soy sauce ramen that is made from a chicken and seafood stock base, enhanced by a soy sauce blend then topped with their signature black truffle oil and black truffle sauce that intensifies the overall umami experience. The broth of shoyu ramen is rich and complex while the freshly made soba noodles are firm, smooth with a desired chewiness that has a clear and nutty flavor, balanced perfectly with the black truffle oil, the char siu is perfectly roasted too.



The shio ramen is lighter and saltier in flavor. The seafood dashi made from the combination of clam and red seabream and it blended really well into the shio soup, which uses Okinawan sea salt and Mongolian rock salt. It is then topped with Italian white truffle oil, green tapenade, tomato and herbs.



You might want to include a trip to Sugamo when you are visiting Tokyo, this is not just for an affordable Michelin-star dining but also a top-class ramen experience. Ultimately, their ramen is so much better than that in Singapore. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tiong Bahru Fishball : Oldies but still Goodies

This is one of the original stalls from the Seng Poh Road Market that was shut down in 2004 and they relocated to the Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre in 2006. It was founded by Mr Loh since 1962 and they have been around for more than 5 decades serving homestyle fishballs made from Wolf Herring fish, commonly known as Ikan Parang or Sai Tor Her using their family recipe. 


Other than the fried fishballs, there are also mixed vegetable chilli balls, otah, fried beancurd roll with fishpaste, flat ngor hiang, cuttlefish ball, fish roll, fried tofu with fish paste and so on. Some of the popular items are usually sold out quite early. You are to select what you want first then handed over to the Uncle, it will then be re-fried and cut it up nicely and presented on disposable place with a bowl of chilli. 


This is also the place to go when you need to bring something to be shared at a potluck party. 



TIONG BAHRU FISHBALL
30 Seng Poh Road #02-20 Tiong Bahru Food Centre Singapore 168898
Operating Hours: 7.00 am to 3.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sheng Seng Fried Prawn Noodle : the wet Hokkien Mee

When i was queuing for the Lai Heng Pork Ribs Prawn Mee, i noticed that there was a queue for this stall, which is just directly opposite. Other than the catchy yellow signboard which has their stall name on it, there is an older one stating Farrer Park Fried Hokkien Mee, likely to be where they used to be. The prices start at $3 then $4 and $5 and i went with the $4 portion. 


The waiting time was shorter than expected. It was the wet version that consists of a good portion of a mixture of bee hoon and yellow noodles serving with ingredients such as sotong, prawns, slices of fishcake and egg, together with sambal chilli and a lime by the side. I started by squeezing the lime then mixing the sambal chilli into the noodles. The first impression after i had my first mouthful was that distinct eggy taste but the noodles were not well braised.  It might be due to cooking it too quickly in order to serve it fast to clear the queue thus did not give it enough time for the noodles to soak it well. 


Though this stall has its supporters but the overall taste was quite average and it would not be in my top list for good Hokkien Mee. I do not think they have added in fried pork lards as i did not see and could not taste any in it. 


SHENG SENG FRIED PRAWN NOODLE
41A Cambridge Road #01-40 Pek Kio Food Centre SINGAPORE 211041
Operating Hours: 11.30 am to 5.00 pm (Closed on Mondays)