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Murugan Idi House

This chain originated from India and is supposedly reputed for its idli. I love idlis so I wanted to try Murugan when it was first opened.  Unfortunately, stars didn't align and now, Murugan has expanded from one to 3 outlets! Finally though, I was able to arrange a meal at the Race Course Road outlet.

Menu is not very complex. The idli, thosai and uttappam are the main staples, and there are some variants of these staples (eg. with butter, egg, onions etc). No masala chai was available. Alas. A meal in Little India isn't quite complete without chai.

Sambar plus 4 types of chutney were served with the meal. The idlis arrived piping hot. Surprisingly fluffy, it had a mild sweet note and the texture was just perfect for soaking up the sauces. Without me asking, one server noticed we were running low on our sambar and he checked with us if we would like more.   "Yes please!". I love the sambar :)  Granted the restaurant was not so busy but I really appreciated his in…

Review: Chin Huat Live Seafood

The Man was first brought to Chin Huat on a work occasion.  He walked away so impressed with the food he quickly arranged for us to try it too.  Since then, we went back yet again because his brother was craving the lobster.

Located at a relatively quiet neighborhood, the restaurant was bustling in contrast.  Tanks of fresh seafood clustered in a corner really whetted our appetites as we walked past them to the table.

On the first occasion, the Man insisted we must try the crab with golden sauce, and the Boston lobster with bee hoon.  In addition, we ordered some other dishes as well like kang kong with sambal, homemade tofu with crab, razor clams that could be had by the piece (which is great!) and a seafood hor fun.



The lobster was sold by weight. We had a pretty big one, around 2 kg  and the dish made a grand appearance on a huge platter.  The lobster was cooked with a bit of broth, and we added fried bee hoon to make the meal more substantial. The lobster was meaty but rather che…

Out with the old

The mother was nagging at my insane number of shoes that had overpopulated the cabinet and spilling out onto the surrounding areas. So I made a mental note to do a spring clean to make space.
While I was out, I came across a pair of shoes at Kate Spade. How timely! Since I would be spring cleaning and making space later, I had no qualms about snapping up this beauty that is now sitting in a proper spot in the shoe cabinet.

Capri Trattoria

The usual gang met up to celebrate a birthday at Capri Trattoria at Binjai Park. It was my first time there and I was pleasantly surprised by how casual and homely the restaurant was. It was packed for a Sunday night, with quite a number casual neighborhood guests dressed in polos and berms.

Being in a large group meant we could order tons of dishes to try.  However, we placed our orders slightly after 8:30pm and a lot of items on the specials and the ala carte menu, were no longer available. What we ordered though, was generally very decent and walloped by the hungry folks.

The caprese was delicious as burrata was used and there were super sweet cherry tomatoes.  Another standout was the truffle cream pizza that had a heady and intoxicating fragrance lingering even after the pizza was devoured.

Some of the misses included one of the daily specials, grilled calamari,  was simply done over the grill and drizzled with a bit of oil and good balsamic vinegar as dressing.  But it was slig…

San Guo Grilled Fish

So you might now be aware, we always go to Chong Qing Grilled Fish for our fix.  Prompted by a Groupon advertisement, I bought a deal for a set dinner at San Guo Grilled Fish located at Geylang, just to try a different restaurant for a change.

Not sure if it was due to its location, or that we went on a Saturday night, the restaurant wasn't crowded at all.  The set dinner comprised of steamed dumplings and jellyfish, both nothing special but edible.

The main deal is the grilled fish.  I decided not to go for hot and spicy this time because while we both enjoy the kick, it does get unbearable for us to really enjoy the fish proper.  So, I went for pickled cabbage (酸菜) and I thought it was a good choice because the heat didn't distract me from enjoying the food.


To be really honest, the taste of the spices on the fish was far more superior at Chong Qing but the ingredients and prices in general at San Guo is slightly lower. I will still go back to Chong Qing as my first choice …

Star Vista and lunch

It was just pure coincidence I found myself needing to fix a lunch appointment near the Holland Village area. Star Vista came to mind as I see the building everyday on route to work but never had a chance to visit.
It was just a few days post the grand opening so a lot of shops were not even open.  There are quite a lot of new interesting eating spots but I was not even in the mood to try new things.  A quick walk around later, I settled for Itacho Sushi.  The food there is dependable and reasonable quality for the prices they charge.
The service team was short-handed and there were a lot of unhappy customers. Fortunately for us, we managed to get by pretty unscathed.  My usual orders are lots of aburi sushis and then salmon belly sashimi.  Yums!

Kaixo, Basque-inspired Cuisine

After the dinner at Buko Nero, I chanced upon Kaixo and the Basque-inspired menu intrigued me. Though closed for service, the chef owner came out to greet me when he noticed I was examining the menu.

A couple of weeks later I made a dinner appointment with some of my ex colleague friends and we all went to Kaixo.

To be very honest, highlight of the meal for me were the chestnut soup and the pintxos.

The former was thick and creamy, almost purée like. Comforting for a cold night. (The other soup that we ordered, a pumpkin veloute with foie gras, was also proclaimed to be the better dishes.) The latter could do with crisper bread because they were a bit tough to eat. But the toppings reminded me of Spain. Good enough for me.

The rest of the dishes were average, nothing particularly outstanding, unfortunately.

   

Chong Qing Grilled Fish

Are men usually creatures of habit?  My Man is, especially when it comes to food.  He always goes to the same places (not many, either!).  So, I have decided to do a review on all places he has introduced me to :)

So first up.....Chong Qing Grilled Fish.  Essentially, the restaurant specialises in these grilled fish dish that is a whole fish rubbed with a mixture of spices, first grilled until the spices had thoroughly flavored the fish, then put into a hot pot to simmer with other ingredients.

One could choose the type of fish (seabass, grouper or carp), the size of fish (medium or large), the type of broth (there are a few types but I can't remember them all except ma la 麻辣, fragrant and spicy 香辣, pickled cabbage 酸菜 , fermented black bean 豆豉).  

He was introduced to Chong Qing Grilled Fish by a friend and has always gone back there since.  The restaurant has two branches, but we go to the one located at Liang Seah Street, which was always busy and packed at meal times.

We us…

Buko Nero, oldie but goodie

This was a dinner about 3 weeks ago.  It must have been at least 3 years since I last dined at Buko Nero.  I guess that's what happens when a restaurant requires far too advance of a reservation, I forget about it!
Nothing much has changed though, the key folks,Oscar, Tracy and her mother, they are still there. I thought the ventilation has improved but as the night progressed, I thought otherwise (hahaha, but I deal). Menu-wise, the favorite dishes are still on there and the 5-course set dinner is still a steal, albeit now at $55+.  We decided to go ala carte though, after a few items on the daily specials sounded appetizing.  But before the meal started proper, we were served our amuse bouche and the homemade foccacia, familiar and as good as before.



Appetizers included the tau kwa tower which had strong robust flavors, a light and refreshing burratini with pomelo salad, and a thick creamy broccoli and basil pesto soup (made without cream, Tracy always emphasizes that point). 
A…

Red Velvet Cake for the Man

It was the Man's birthday last weekend and I managed to sneak an afternoon away to bake him a birthday cake. I was discussing possible flavor ideas with my team mates, leaning toward the chocolate direction (cannot go wrong with that!) when one of them suggested the red velvet cake, which was also fundamentally chocolate flavored cake.

I thought it was a great idea. The man loves unusual food so this would be excellent!

I didn't have any specific recipe and a few google searches led me to conclude the different recipes out there don't differ too much, and I picked out one from allrecipes.com.

As usual, I cut down sugar by at least 20%, and the cake wasn't compromised. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. :)

My only gripe was the generous use of red food coloring. Two whole bottles of them made me uneasy. Next time, I'll try to look for natural alternatives like beetroot.

Happy birthday B!

Chapati from Norris Road

The Man suggested trying the fresh made chapati from Norris Road since I haven't before.

Located in a corner coffeeshop, I got to enjoy soft, pliable chapati fresh off the griddle. Most people order the chapati with keema (minced lamb curry) but I ordered a side of mixed vegetable dal ($1.20) with two chapati ($0.80/pc).

The chapati itself has a nutty flavor but not much else. It was essentially a whole wheat bread, so having a side dish would be crucial to add some more flavors. The dal was very good, enhanced by addition of caramelised onions that was distinctly sweet and soft. The meal made a nice breakfast but 2 whole chapati could be a little heavy.

Oh skip the Teh halia from the coffee shop. The tea was weak and they use industrial ginger granules instead of fresh ginger juice.

Chocolate Mediant Tart from Tiong Bahru Bakery

The bakery is perpetually busy on weekends and to be honest it has not wow'd me enough to have to wait for ages. But, it is decent so when around the area and have a craving for something "carb-y", I do a take away! The queue moves along pretty fast.

[As an aside - the design of the takeaway box is pretty retro. Me like.{

This time around, I tried the chocolate mediant tart. It looked small and manageable. Plus, it was covered with dark chocolate which meant it would not be too sweet.

True enough, I really enjoyed the tart. Underneath the blanket of velvety dark chocolate were whole hazelnuts and chopped dried fruit. Those elements made up the "mediant" of the tart (obsessive bakers or pastry eaters would know), and added much texture and balanced out sweetness.

$6.50 for a tart isn't most cheap snack but what you get are quality ingredients and satisfaction.

So far, I have tried the cereal baguette, the squid ink sandwich, the croissants- plain, almon…

Travel: Mak Noodles (Hong Kong)

Much have been said about Mak Noodles. Made very famous probably by Anthony Bourdain. Lol.

Still the first visit yonks ago didn't form much impression so I decided to revisit it at the Jordan Street location. Packed but still got a seat within minutes, we ordered four dishes and were absolutely stuffed.

Outstanding was definitely the plump wanton and shui gao. They were slightly over $30 HKD per bowl and not as cheap as others relatively, but trust me, worth every penny. Each dumpling was plump and filled with fresh ingredients, and each order was about eight delicious dumplings. The shrimp roe noodles was meh, lacked seasoning and too much noodles too little roe. We got a side order of gailan too. On hindsight, we needn't, because there were a couple of stalks in each bowl of dumplings as well. But gailan just tastes different and so good in HK, we finished up the big plate of greens anyway.

Travel: Simple and Delicious Cafe Warung Murah (Seminyak, Bali)

We chanced upon Cafe Warung Murah in Seminyak when we were trolling the main strip for something to eat, something more local and less sterile than most of the fancy restaurants. 
Here, the atmosphere is like a kopitiam.  The food was authentic and we ordered dishes that were cooked to order. The prices were reasonable and relatively inexpensive - think 3 dishes, 3 drinks cost us around S$16 in total, and the portions are hearty even for 3 (we were 2 people eating). 
For the budget conscious, there is also a selection of precooked dishes that you could pick from, not different from our local "economic rice".  Tuna satay. Meaty and spiced like otah. Delicious. 
Gado Gado, a vegetarian's dream loaded with tons of different greens and a creamy peanut sauce that also packs a bit of heat.  The sauce made the dish really substantial.
You should also try the avocado shake while you are in Indonesia.  A local specialty, the subtle green and buttery flavor from the avocado blend…

Travel: Sunset drinks at Ku De Ta (Bali)

Brunch at Wimbly Lu

On a rare occasion where I could meet the Man early enough to have brunch, we headed to Wimbly Lu.

The menu is limited but sufficient. I was there more for a cup of joe anyway. But the crepe with garlic mushrooms and mozzarella still phit the spot, albeit a little on the small side.

The orange flourless cake was less impressive though. I found it a tad stodgy even though the mild sweetness was very pleasing.