Sunday, November 18, 2012

Leng Heng BBQ Seafood and Tales of Lao Ma

Hubby's birthday has come and gone.

This year, no-one seemed to be in a really good mood to celebrate. Hubby's appetite was missing due to an illness and I was still experiencing occasional bouts of first trimester nausea.

Nonetheless, the food nazi in me prevailed. Even if we don't indulge in a sumptous feast this year, we should have at least have something decent.

Since we were buying back, East Coast Lagoon Food Centre came to mind. It has a great range of food (ranging from bbq chicken wings to rojak, wanton mee and seafood) and there is ample parking. I quickly made a "google search" for the best bbq seafood in East Coast Lagoon Food Centre and Leng Heng kept appearing.

I've never heard of Leng Heng before but based on the mouthwatering pictures and accompanying rave reviews, I knew I had to try. What further piqued my interest was recurring mention of the stall's lady boss- a fiery woman named Lao Ma with a commanding presence and a boisterous personality. I also liked that telephone bookings were welcome.

So I called Lao Ma and placed an order. She struck me as a friendly confident auntie with lots of heart. And she is definitely someone who knows (and loves) her food. We ordered a chili crab, 2 black pepper crabs, 2 prawn pancakes (she insisted one would not be enough), lala (mussels), fried baby squids, cereal king prawns and a sambal stingray. The total bill came up to SGD238.

When it comes to the taste test, there were several hits and misses. The prawn pancake was really delicious- the batter was crisp and bursting with hints of chopped waterchestnuts and fresh prawn. Lao Ma's chili sauce and sweet sauce dips were also nice complements. I would order this again.

My other favorite was the cereal king prawns. I'm a sucker for the crunchy oatmeal and this version did not disappoint. I could just eat this dish with rice alone and be the happiest person in town. The prawns were huge, succulent and juicy.

The rest of the items can be described as passable but lack lustre. The crab size was disappointingly puny. Some of the pincers were not even as long as my thumb. Of the black pepper and chili version, I would definitely choose the black pepper one, which packed more punch. Somehow there was an unappetising layer of red oil on top of the chili version.

The fried baby squids were nice but I think places like Jumbo and Seafood Paradise serve up a better rendition. They had turned a little soggy by the time we tucked in so half the magic was missing.

Lao Ma also really endorsed the Lala (braised in a brown unami garlic gravy) but I didn't find anything spectacular about it. This continues to perplex me.

Last but not the least,  the sambal stingray. I found the sambal marinade a little too mild for my liking. I've eaten a better version from another stall in East Coast Lagoon (forgot the name but its beside the famous Rojak stall).

As usual, we over-ordered and had the leftovers for lunch and dinner the following day (Side note: Besides the above, I had also ordered satay and wanton mee). 

Overall it was an okay experience. I don't think I'll specially order from this shop but I don't mind chomping on the cereal prawns and prawn pancake as a snack if I next happen to swing by East Coast Lagoon food centre.

I wonder if Lao Ma will recognise me.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Omakase @ Teppei Japanese Restaurant

This is the place to go if you want to experience Japanese dining Izakaya style. You sit in a room teeming with at least 20 other like minded diners, back touching back, perched uncomfortably on a little stool. The air is stuffy and reeks of stale oil.

But your discomfort is not in vain because the food is THAT good. In fact, this has definitely got to be the best no frills Omakase experience I have ever had.  For SGD70 (after all the +++) here's what we had.

Refreshing salad with crunchy sweet nutty notes
Lovely silky tofu (kind of like the Chinese fu-chok dessert) with a dollop of uni paste
A mossy conch with curly briny flesh which you extract out with a toothpick. Simply steamed with no accompanying condiments. Weird!

A more normal looking sea whelk which tasted rather bland.

Squid rings with crunchy asparagus. Clean tasting and perfectly cooked.

This dish I did not like. Cod fish in honey miso. The sauce was nice but my fish had tons of little bones, making it a chore to eat.

A crunchy roll with some minced sashimi, tempura bits and fish eggs encased in seaweed. Very addictive!

An assortment of very fresh sashimi ranging from otoro to salmon and scallop
When the cooked main courses arrived in relatively quick succession, there was no turning back. It was love at first sight when I sunk my teeth into this.

Pictured below is a chicken, wagyu and tofu dish served "yin yang" style with one half of the broth comprising clear chicken stock and the other half Japanese curry. Mix it together and you get heaven.

The most "Chinese" oriented dish of the night and one of my favorites. Dumpling and king prawn in egg drop soup. My mother would approve! The soup was super unami and the ingredients were generous and fresh.

We were given a choice of spicy fried rice, normal fried rice or sashimi rice. I opted for spicy fried rice while hubby had the sashimi one.

I thought mine would just taste like ordinary garlic fried rice, possibly jazzed up with some chili. But again, this dish surpassed my expectations. It was definitely spicy but I couldn't see any chili inside. There were also bits of yummy surprises hidden inside, including chestnut, egg and bits of crunchy vegetables. Super yum!

Hubby seemed to enjoy his dish too. Check out that huge slab of uni on the left.

Dessert was lack lustre compared to the starters and main but decent nonetheless and a sweet end to the meal. We were given a choice of different flavours of ice cream. I had maple walnut and hubby took the chocolate.

As we left, the Japanese chef (who was working his magic right in front of us the whole night) flashed us a charming grin and hollered "Thank you. See you tomorrow". It took us a little by surprise but in a good way. Yes. We will definitely be back for more and we can't wait to bring our friends too.

Thank YOU for a mindblowing meal.

Angsty at The Clan Restaurant

For food ideas, I typically scour local print media (like 8 Days, The Straits Times, Simply Her, Food &Travel magazine), food websites like Hungrygowhere and local food blogs. Often, I am delighted with the result and relish each good find like a pirate who has found his bounty.

Unfortunately, there are also immaculately written articles that prove to be bogus, leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth. It makes me wonder if these articles are products of paid reviews, invited tastings, or just a marked difference in taste?

Clan Restaurant is one such restaurant where my taste seems to deviate from the mainstream. The menu sounds tantalizing, with fanciful sounding items like earl grey cured tuna, 48 degree poached salmon, 48 hours short ribs and an interesting apple "slurpee" amuse bouche. Value also seems reasonable with a 6 course meal costing around SGD62+++. Unfortunately that's where the good stuff ends.

Service was friendly at first but gradually degenerated to forced smiles, unfilled glasses and vanishing acts as the evening wore on and our complaints mounted.

Round 1: The evening started beautifully as we were ushered to our seats and presented with the menu. As I was feeling quite full from lunch, a waiter suggested that our party of 3 order 2 set dinners to share. We decided to take up his suggestion after perusing the menu. We quickly caught the attention of another waiter to make our order. When he heard that we were only ordering 2 set dinners, his tone immediately stiffened and he seemed reluctant to accept our orders. We felt a little embarrassed and eventually settled for 2 set dinners with an additional main course.

Round 2: The starters, sides and soups arrived in quick succession. Most of the dishes were ordinary tasting- a chewy smallish scallop spritzed with some truffle foam, salmon mousse in cute crunchy cone, a bland tasting crab leg, a cold unappetising slab of foie gras and passable crab bisque. A unanimous turnoff was the earl grey cured tuna with lavender scent. Urgh! It was like eating tuna marinated in axe brand oil.

Round 3: The mains. A total disaster despite the impressive descriptions. 48 hour short ribs (beef) in madeira sauce turned out to be cold leathery slices of meat on a crumpled Hoba leaf. My salmon course was fishy and hidden with bones. Another kaki's pasta with grilled barramundi was laced with strong lashes of squid ink which she didn't take well to. After giving our feedback to the servers (for the record they did offer to replace our dishes but we declined), we noticed a visible drop in service. Water glasses were not filled and our table seemed to be shunned in favor of the more appreciative diners from other tables.

Round 4: Dessert. We ordered their famous chocolate fudge and a green tea tiramisu. No complaints taste wise but not outstanding either. Potions were rather measly.

I don't think I'll be going back to this place again. It reeks of pretentiousness. I feel sick in the stomach just writing this review.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


One of the cutest videos to hit town - introduced to me by my other half.

Shows you don't have to be good looking to draw in the crowd. Just act cool and be yourself! =P

Thursday, August 02, 2012


I arranged a rare lunch date with Hubby yesterday. Chose the newly opened Pollen at Gardens by the Bay due to the novelty factor which includes (1) being transported to the restaurant in your own personal buggy, (2) eating food prepared (or at least conceptualized) by a one star michelin chef, (3) gaining free access to the Flower Dome thereafter and (4) getting up close and personal with a 1000 year old olive tree! Wow! How's that for SGD55 per head? I'm in! Was quite fortunate to secure reservations one week earlier. They are fully booked most of the days so reservations are a must.

It was a sweltering hot day and the restaurant is not exactly very near the main entrance so the restaurant's complimentary buggy service (which runs every 5 mins) was a very nice touch.

Pollen is located within the Flower Dome itself. Its furnishings are classy, white and seem to carry some Nordic influences. Most of the diners were locals comprising well heeled executives, rich tai tais and the occassional auntie. Formal wear is not a must here. Hubby and I wore jeans (paired with a smart top) and looked perfectly in place. However, I must also add that skimpy tops are also not recommended due to the chilly temperature in the dome. If you must, bring along a jacket or shawl.

Table 8. That was my requested choice of seating since it was recommended by an 8 Days article and purportedly boasts the best view (which includes close proximity to a 1000 year old olive tree on the 2nd level). Unfortunately, the restaurant doesn't open its 2nd level for lunch and Table 8 turned out to be a really shaky table on the first floor with a clear view of the Flyer, joggers and tourists.

The SGD55 menu offers excellent value.

For starters, we were served with some tough baugettes and sour dough bread, a potato cod spread and some clean tasting preserved olives.


The waiters don't seem to possess the finnesse of upper end eateries in Singapore like Cut, 1929, Mortons and St Pierre. One waitress spilled our bowl of olives just as it was about to be served to us while the other gave me a clueless look when I asked about the 1000 year old tree on the second floor. They were however attentive in refilling our water (yes, its only tap) and paced the meal nicely.

The food however redeemed the whole dining experience. Clean tasting notes with surprise ingredients that we never thought could work so well together. Portions were just right- leaving us satiated but craving for more.

Hubby's salmon starter was an interesting match of ocean trout (looked like salmon to me) with beer pickled onion, oyster mayo and smoked eggplant. A most unusual combination which left him a little perplexed and strangely delighted.


My starter of slow cooked egg with some tomato puree, cubed potato and chorizo chips was a savoury mess of comfort food at its best.

For mains, we both had the roasted pork belly with broad beans, squid and chorizo. Pollen's version isn't the crackly brown kind which you find at Chinese roast stalls. Rather, this one was caramelized with a melt in the mouth tenderness and richness that only pork can offer. Placed on top of the dish was a crackling piece of keropok that added some localised feel to the dish. What caught us by surprise was the addition of small pieces of slow cooked squid. Who would have thought pork and squid taste so good together? I suddenly recall a nyonya dish where minced pork is stuffed into fresh squid..looks like the Europeans also have their own ang moh version.

Dessert was interesting...a play of colours and textures. More to tease than to fill. Hubby's dessert of beetroot sorbet with hibiscus compressed apple and salted milk chocolate was again an evolution of taste that entertained our palates. It was so girly looking he almost wanted to swap with me.

My dessert was substantially less flamboyant in sight but no less interesting in taste. I opted for something more sourish and was rewarded by a cucumber sorbet with crispy and burnt lemon meringue. It was unlike any dessert I have eaten before. Heavenly.

We didn't linger too long at our table our lunch and promptly adjourned to the 2nd level to admire the 1000 year old olive tree before moving on to the main Flower Dome.

The transition from taste to sight, smell and sound of nature was seamless and left me slightly breathless. I felt as if I had been teleported to some flower garden in Cameron Highlands. An almost ethereal experience that I strongly recommend.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


We headed to Bugis Plus to watch the newly released Dark Knight on Friday night. The shopping centre was uncrowded presumably because pantang Singaporeans stayed clear of the Bugis area (due to the collapsed scafolding incident a few days earlier).

The show is dark and the characters are brooding and convincing. I totally lapped it all up. But the purpose of my post is not to rave about the show.

Introducing of the newest restaurants to open in Bugis Plus (formerly known as Illuma)

Ambience- very tasteful! Furnishings are reminiscent of a French bistro, complete with brick walls (lining the open kitchen), little street lamps perched between tables and piped in French music. Cutlery and crockery is of good quality. (quite heavy!)  Best of all, prices are reasonable with majority of the dishes going for under $20. Great for an unpretentious but cosy date.

As the name Poulet suggests, the restaurant prides itself for its roast chicken.  The chicken was literally roasted in its own juice, yielding bland tasting but perfectly cooked flesh which was partially redeemed by a tasty cream sauce scattered with chopped onion and field mushroom. I could almost detect a hesitant pause in the waiter's breath when I asked for chili sauce.

For starters, we ordered a platter of buttered garlic escargots. These were fresh and plump. The garlic butter topping was nice but not well melded into the escargots themselves.

Our soups took ages to arrive. While waiting, I was so hungry that I ordered a (disappointingly stale) baguette. Hubby's french onion soup was hearty but lacked the quintessential patch of melted gyuyere cheese.

 I throughly enjoyed the mushroom soup which was thick, buttery and very satisfying.

Hubby's oxtail stew was "fall off the bone" tender and very delicious. Although the portion looks quite big here, the actual amount of meat (after removing the bones) is actually very little. Not recommended as a main course for people with big appetites. The accompanying pearl onions were a nice touch.

Unfortunately, service was so slow that night that we had to pass on dessert (I was quite looking forward to trying their apple tart with vanilla ice cream). I'll probably drop in again just for dessert and drinks next time.

Total damage for 1 starter, 1 side, 2 soups and 2 main courses- $64. 

Saturday, July 07, 2012


Rakuzen's not the kind of place you bring a date with the intention to impress. It exudes a feel-good type of comfort that straddles between the cosy-ness of sushi tei and the classy-ness of Kuriya.

Hubby and I recently sat at the sushi counter and befriended 2 of the cheena junior sushi chefs there (Ken and Danny). We enjoyed the experience so much we have been returning ever since.

What's nice about Rakuzen (and getting Ken and Danny to recommend stuff to you) is the seasonal produce. There's bound to be something new that enhances your Japanese food vocabulary.

Here's what we had in our recent visit:

Cold tofu with some sesame cream sauce generously sprinkled with bonito flakes. I was on the brink of nursing a bad cold and wanted something smooth as a starter to soothe my throat. This hit the spot nicely.

Some very delicious (and humongous) grilled broad bean pods. You pry open the pod and fiddle with the spongy interior before gingerly prying out a bean. Best eaten with a dab of salt.  Regrettably, each pod only contains a max of 4 beans. And that is IF you are lucky.

First and foremost, those pink things are my fingers- not for consumption! I am showcasing a very addictive tuna crunchy dip which you smother on pieces of seaweed and cram into your mouth. This special "tapas" creation is painstakingly prepared by Ken- not on the menu!

If there were any most photogenic award for sushi that night, I think it would go to this mentaki baked salmon with fish roe.

Some negitoro sushi prepared for hubby by Danny. Tremendous effort was taken in pouring the quails yolk into the sushi "shell" but tastewise, so-so only

Danny and Ken were raving about the freshness of the uni that day but I wasn't too impressed. Maybe I have already been spoilt by the "real thing" in Japan's Tsukiji market.

An uber flavorful eel sushi which has been torched and lightly seasoned with some soy sauce. The wasabi they gave us was specially grated- not the powdery stuff you normally get.

My main course of breaded flatfish- so fresh you don't even need to eat it with any condiments/sauces.

The piece de resistance and a signature dish of the restaurant's- torched fire mackeral seeped in its own juices and oil. Hubby swears by this dish but I wanted to puke when I took a bite- too fishy!!

Mentaiko baked king prawns. The smokey flavor and the sweetness of the prawn came through beautifully. Sometimes all u need are good ingredients and good technique.

Scorched ika (squid) sushi. Ordinary and paled in comparison to the other dishes. Hubby's love for ika has somewhat diminished ever since he came to Rakuzen.

Another "not on the menu" item prepared by Danny. A medley of assorted seafood (scallops, prawns, clams etc) tossed in garlic and drenched in a unami miso tinted sauce. Maybe I'm just imagining things but when I ate this dish, I could somehow feel the warmth and dedication Danny invested when preparing this dish.

We usually skip dessert because there's nothing fancy in the menu other than the run of the mill green tea ice cream with red bean and mochi. Here is a random scoop of yuzu flavored ice cream which tastes exactly how it looks- bittersweet and citrusy.

Rakuzen definitely surpasses Sushi Tei in terms of quality and offerings. What makes Rakuzen even more palatable is a little known fact that the sushi tei discount card also applies here- 10% off dine in (Millenia walk outlet only).

Ps: We've visited Rakuzen's other outlet in Tampines and didn't like the ambience there.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Seaweed butter from St Pierre

I've been patronising quite a number of pretentious western joints lately. They make me sick in the stomach...the pint sized portions, tight prim smiles of waiters, sparkling/still water (sorry no tap) and excessive price tags.

Yet every once in awhile, a pleasant surprise comes aknocking, St Pierre's being the latest. Their seaweed butter (accompanied with warm bread as a starter) is ridiculously good. So good I just can't stop thinking about it. Best of all? It's free flow. =)

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Open Door Policy @ Yong Siak

Wow. Can't believe its been such a long time since I posted. Feels like a lifetime has passed. 

Catch up time!!

Going forward I'll have to write more succintly since time is short.

Here's my first post of 2012- open door policy at yong siak street tiong bahru.

Foodwise- overrated. Restaurant Ember still wins in terms of taste though I like the dingy quirkiness of Open Door Policy. (chairs are semi rusty and a light actually fell on an unfortunate diner seated behind us halfway into the meal)

First starter- Halloumi cheese with olives, sweet pea leaves and croutons. Best eaten piping hot since the cheese starts to taste like those primary school rubbers once they turn cold. I enjoyed this dish but it didn't make me go "Hallelujah"

Second starter- Chicken wing (boneless) with some exotic egg yolk like concoction which actually turned out to be twisties curry flavoured sauce. The portion was really measly for the price and the fried chicken was mediocre.

Third starter- Watermelon with scallop and some shredded ham. Judging from the way my kakis were "playing with the food" and the time we took to finish this dish, I can safely say it was our least favourite starter. Sorry no pictures!

First Main course- Mussels in basil sauce with fries. I finished this within 5 mins and still felt hungry (and cheated). The portion was really pathetic. For a moment, I wish I was teleported to Brussel Sprouts, which serve solid mussels and free flow fries.

Second main course- Since I was still hungry and saw lots of people ordering the mushroom risotto, I decided to give it a go. It was really salty but this time the portion was very generous. The risotto was a little too hard for my liking.

Third main course- Pan seared sea bass. Nice and hearty. I enjoyed the crisp crust. It was well executed but not particularly memorable either. A safe choice.

Fourth main course- 48 hour braised beef cheek with potato mochi. The meat was fall off the bone tender and this has definitely got to be one of the signature dishes of the restaurant (the other being steak tatare which we were too chicken to try)

First dessert- Pistachio scented chocolate souffle. Very impressive presentation and a very generous helping. The insides were light and airy which is telling of a well risen souffle. Tastewise I'll defer to comment since I'm not a fan of pistachio.

Second dessert- Deconstructed black forest cake. Looks like a mess but tastes pretty good. They were strangely generous with the boozy cherries (counted at least 15 of them!) Is it just my imagination or is black forest cake making some sort of resurgence in Singapore?

Third dessert- Pineapple tartin with yoghurt ice cream. Since there was no apple tartin in the menu, I opted for this, only to be highly disappointed at the one dimensional flavor.

Coffee. Purportedly brewed by the folks from Forty Hands. I don't take coffee but my kakis do. One ordered a flat white while the other ordered a macchiato. Both weren't impressed and had some trouble sleeping that night.

It's hard to secure a reservation at ODP because of all the hype surrounding it. At the end of the day, the food is decent and the crowd is hip. But that's about it. Don't expect to be blown away unless you are the dreamy bohemian type


Related Posts with Thumbnails