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Posts from the ‘Eating Out’ Category

Afternoon tea at the Conrad Centennial Hotel

Continuing with the afternoon tea theme, Lobby Lounge is the next venue to tempt my taste buds.  This is what I experienced.

Lobby Lounge (Conrad Centennial, Singapore)

This is the second visit to Lobby Lounge for afternoon tea in 2 years.  They have upgraded their tea selection to TWG Tea Company.  There were some delightful teas on offer like Weekend in Moscow containing rose petals to simple chamomile tea.  I remember a larger spread of hand-made chocolates and cookies on my first visit.  This time, it has reduced by half. The waitress served our afternoon tea in the three-tier format with sandwiches in the middle and cakes/pastries filling the remaining plates.  Lobby lounge has stuck to the classic afternoon tea sandwiches:  egg, cucumber and smoked salmon.  There were other sandwiches on offer including char siew (roasted pork) and crispy bacon with oodles of caramelized onion in a baguette.  Bacon tasted so good!.

Overall, sandwiches are ok.  The bread was very dry on the surface which meant that the kitchen has let the sandwiches out in the open for a while.  Since it is a weekday afternoon buffet, the kitchen did not have enough sandwiches ready to keep up with the re-orders.  We had to wait at least 20 minutes each time we asked for more sandwiches.  Hence, I was very disappointed with the slow service.

There is one item on the menu that I look forward to is their souffle which is freshly made and served immediately.  As a foodie and a cook, souffle is one dish that can work or fail at anytime.  For me, souffle has to a super light and fluffy without tasting too much like an aerated sponge cake.  The mixture is prepared by the kitchen staff and the souffle is then baked in a mini oven in the lounge for patrons to view. As soon as I dipped my spoon in the souffle, I knew it wasn’t what I know wasn’t what I expected.  It tasted like a plain vanilla sponge cake to me. The pastry that I like best in this afternoon tea was their raspberry collection.  One particular sweet was raspberry tart with custard.  The fruit was bright red filled and burst with sweetness when you bite into them. Yum!

Aside from the slow refills of sandwiches and wanna be souffle, it was still a nice afternoon to spend with my sister and her daughter.  A girlie bonding session indeed.

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Cheerio from me!

Contact details for Conrad Centennial Hotel

Two Temasek Boulevard

Singapore 038982,

Tel:+ 65-6334-8888

Afternoon tea with the girls at The Fullerton Hotel

When one thinks of high tea, the image of a group of ladies with wide brim hats sitting in a garden taking small bites of their cucumber sandwiches or dropping a dollop of cream on their warm scones whilst sipping freshly brewed hot tea served from the best bone china .  Ahhh,  such simple gathering to catch up on what is happening in each others daily lives.  Thanks to the British colony, the tradition of afternoon tea continues today in Singapore.  I had the pleasure to enjoy traditional english afternoon tea in two hotels.  The first place is The Fullerton.  Here is what I thought of the place.

The Courtyard (The Fullerton Hotel, Singapore)

The once General Post Office is now home to the Fullerton Hotel.  The Courtyard is the venue where I met my cousins for a girlie catch up.  The ambience was nice without the noisy lobby hotel feeling. The waiter brought out a 3 tier stand filled with savoury and sweets to begin our afternoon feast. There is a comfortable selection of teas from around the world.  I decided to have peppermint tea. What I like about Fullerton’s afternoon tea are their sandwiches.  There was an assortment available.

  • Traditional egg sandwich.  One of my favourite sandwiches.  Had just the right amount of whipped mayonaisse without overpowering the egg. Bring me some more!
  • Traditional Cucumber with wholemeal bread.  Thinly sliced cucumbers covering the freshly baked bread that we asked the waiter to refill the platter a few more times.
  • Mini bagels with smoked salmon and capers.  A generous slice of smoked salmon with cream cheese.  Delish!
  • Mini multigrain roast beef sandwich with sweet onion sauce.  This is a nice addition to the menu.  Beef was cooked medium rare and moist.

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Scones are essential in any english afternoon tea.  Plain and raisin scones had a good texture without being too biscuity.  The strawberry jam was a little too runny for my liking.  I preferred jams that has a little more texture without tasting like syrup.  On the hand the clotted cream made the scones tasted even better. There was a good range of cakes and pastries to tempt any sweet tooth.  Crème brulée is not a typical afternoon tea sweet and I have a weak spot for a good Crème brulée. The custard texture has to be cooked perfectly where it is smooth on the palette.  Fullerton didn’t disappoint me with their crème brulée.  The sugar topping was caramelized nicely with no burnt after taste.  The custard was very smooth that each scoop was a pleasure. The other cakes Overall, I had a lovely afternoon at the Courtyard and with good company, it just made it more enjoyable.

 

Contact details for Fullerton Hotel Singapore

1 Fullerton Square

Singapore 049178

Tel: +65 6733 8388

Oodles of noodles goodness in a bowl

What is it about a bowl of noodles and hot soup that sets one at ease.  For me a good bowl of noodles is one of my favourite comfort foods.  During a family vacation last December, I as introduced to a restaurant in Johor Bahru, Malaysia known for their fishballs and yong tau foo.  Yong tau foo is chinese stuffed bean curd.  Traditionally served in a clear broth with some vegetables, yong tao foo is served with noodles or rice.  Ah Koong restaurant to local Malaysians and Singaporeans alike known for yong tao foo.

With the open kitchen located in front of the restaurant, my eyes were tantalized with trays of fresh fish balls, tofu and stuffed vegetable such as green/red chilli, lady fingers/okra with fresh fish paste sitting on a bed of ice.  Beside the colourful platter, there is a buffet of different noodles from yellow egg noodles, rice vermicelli to big fat rice noodles.  Time to tickle the taste buds.

You can’t help not too look at one side of the restaurant wall where a montage of pictures of local and Singaporean celebrities pictures who has patronized at the restaurant giving their thumbs up.  No doubt this boost their popularity a little more. One of the things I love about eating yong tao foo is that you can eat the traditional way served in a soup or you eat “dry”.  When it is served dry, it means some sauce poured over the individual ingredients.  Trying Ah Koong yong tao foo for the first time, I opted to have mine the traditional way in a soup with some rice noodles.

When the bowl of steaming hot clear broth was placed in front of me, there was some fish balls, deep-fried wanton, some marinated pork balls, crispy bean curd skin stuffed with fish paste, some lettuce leaves and a piece of seaweed.  The broth was full of flavour and I love that each scoop is filled with either one of the ingredients swimming in the bowl.  The fish ball is not too chewy and there is still a crunch left from the crispy skin of deep friend wanton and bean curd skin. We couldn’t help to try some side dishes.  A serving of ngoh hiang and a basket of deep-fried yong tao foo.  Ngoh hiang is pork mince with water chestnut wrapped with bean curd skin which is deep-fried and served with some chilli sauce.  It is very sinful but rather delicious not only from the crispy skin and the crunchy water chestnut inside the mince.  As for the deep-fried yong tao foo, it was a mixture of crispy bean curd skin only, wanton, and bean curd skin stuffed with fish paste. Well what can one say about anything deep-fried, it sure tasted good.

In a recent day trip to Johor, my family couldn’t driving to Ah Koong for lunch.  This time, I wanted to be bold and try something different.  I ordered my yong tao foo noodles served dry .  The rice noodles are tossed in dark soya sauce topped with some spring onions with a small bowl of the clear broth and some pieces of mixed yong tao foo.  It is a nice balance to have the clear broth to wash down the soya sauce noodles.  If I had to choose between soup or dry yong tao foo, I would order the soup version.  I just like the comfort of sipping hot soup.  We also ordered a serving of steamed yong tao foo.  The dish came with several pieces of stuffed bean curd, red/green chillies and bitter gourd drizzled with some garlicky brown gravy.  Bitter gourd is my least favourite vegetable and happily offered to anyone who is willing to eat it.

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I do enjoy the food at Ah Koong. I love their quality of the home-made fish balls and serving consistently good wholesome food. If we were to drive to Johor again, I wouldn’t hesitate to make a detour to Ah Koong for a bowl of good fishball noodles.

Contact details:

Ah Koong Restaurant – Skudai, Johor Branch

Located at:  No.42 & 44, Jalan Jati 1

Taman Nusa Bestari Jaya

81300 Johor Bahru, Johor

Malaysia

Tel: +607-511 2200

Business hours: 11am to 11pm

Cocotte – c’est très bien!

Sorry folks for the long pregnant pause from the last post.  I have been under the weather for a while.  I am much better now.  Ok, time for a my review on a  restaurant.

Together with my three girlfriends, we decided to try out a casual French restaurant called Cocotte located on Dickson Road.  Cocotte means casserole in French and aptly represented by their blue logo of a dutch oven pot.  As soon as you walk into the restaurant, the first impression came to mind is the casual ambience and homely feeling. It is like stepping into a local eatery in a small French provincial town.  With battered paint look on the wooden table, the cutlery is displayed in a simple colourful pot plant with a small branch of fresh flowers.  It is not your ordinary pot plant when it is made by  the infamous cookware brand, Le Creuset.

We ordered several starters and shared among the four of us. From the description, we tried Pissaladiere, Chicken Liver Mousse and Fried Tripe.  Pissaladiere is an onion and anchovy tart Nicoise style.  There six bite size tarts.  The onions are pureed and the anchovy carefully placed on top.  At the first bite, you taste the sweet caramelized onions immediately then the saltiness of anchovy kicks in slowly. I love the contrast of sweet followed by the saltiness. Since anchovies are generally very heavy with the salt, it can overpower other ingredients in the dish.  The crust of the tart is very thin almost biscuit like.  There was a good balance of flavours for a starter.

It wouldn’t be French restaurant without one liver dish on the menu.  The chicken liver mousse served in a ramekin with some thinly sliced gherkins, a bed of mesclun lettuce and tomatoes plus a small bowl of tomato coulis.  With warm bread rolls, the liver mousse texture is very smooth.  It has just the right seasonings and it is difficult not to have another spoonful of the mousse with the bread.

Next is the fried tripe coated with breadcrumbs.  Accompanied with the tomato coulis (the same served with chicken liver mousse), the tripe was cooked nicely without being too chewy.  Since the tripe has very little flavours, the breadcrumbs added a nice crunch and when dipped into the coulis, the sweetness of the tomato gives a little more zing to the otherwise boring tripe.

Moving on to the main course, their signature dish roast chicken came highly recommended but it is not served on Tuesday.  So we couldn’t try it.  However, he did suggest to try beef bourguignon and roast pork collar.  My friend and I were in a carnivore mood. I wanted to try the beef bourguignon and my friends’ ordered the roast pork collar and lamb shoulder.  When it comes to beef bourguignon, I immediately think of Julia Child’s recipe. I have attempted cooking Julia’s recipe and I know it is involves time and patience to produce a good bourguignon.  Cocotte’s use grass-fed beef marinated overnight and braised in red wine served with roasted baby potatoes, sauteed mushrooms and pearl onions.  The bowl filled with a large chunks of beef sitting in a pool of thick brown gravy with mushrooms, carrots and potatoes nuzzled between the meat.  The meat is so tender that you need the minimal effort to pry to bite size pieces.  It was beautifully seasoned that need take an extra scoop of gravy with each mouthful. It was a rather large bowl and a substantial amount of meat that I could only bring myself finishing half of the serving.  It so yummy that it reminds me of a home-made meal.

The first thing that you notice with the roast pork collar dish is the mustard colour gravy.  The pork collar is cooked in a creamy Dijon mustard sauce served with brussel sprouts, roast baked potatoes, sauteed forest mushrooms and a a handful of crispy fried almond flakes.  I tried a small morsel.  The pork is cooked perfectly and tender.  The sauce is incredibly rich and it goes well with the pork.

Finally, the lamb shoulder.  Using grass-fed lamb, it is stewed slowly and served with baby carrots, fava beans, new potatoes, fava beans, peas and pearl onions.  Presented in the same size bowl as the beef bourguignon, the lamb shoulder is covered with some jus.  A simple stew that packs some good flavours. The lamb shoulder is cooked perfectly that you can use a fork and spoon to cut the meat.

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As much as the dessert menu look tempting, we simply had no room to fit any sweets in.

Overall, I love the Cocotte simplicity of serving down to earth and unpretentious French food.  If you like the homey style of cooking with great flavours and great ambience, you should do yourself a favour and visit Cocotte. I would definitely return to try the other dishes like their  roast chicken and leave some room to try the desserts.

Bon Appétit!

ADDRESS:

No. 2 Dickson Road
Singapore 209494

OPENING HOURS:

Lunch:
1200hrs – 1430hrs
(Last order 1400hrs)

Dinner:
Mondays to Thursdays
1830hrs – 2230hrs
(Last order 2200hrs)
Fridays to Saturdays
1830hrs – 2300hrs
(Last order 2230hrs)

Website: http://www.restaurantcocotte.com

RESERVATIONS:

+65 6298 1188
info@restaurantcocotte.com

No Signboard Seafood (Esplanade) is starting to lose their touch

When entertaining out-of-town visitors, it is only fitting that we hope he/she is keen to immerse themselves into the culture as much as they can.  What a better way to appreciate the culture by trying the local culinary.  Although some visitors are returning for the second or third time, the most often asked question is ‘”what food should /must try in Singapore?”. Other than chicken rice or laksa, perhaps one of the most suggested dish is chilli crab. If you ask most local Singaporeans where to eat chilli crab, the first restaurant name that comes to mind is Jumbo.  They certainly have built their reputation.  However, there is another seafood restaurant that has gain attention over the past 8 years  is No Signboard Seafood.

Established in the 1970’s as a stall in the Mattar Road Hawker Centre, No Signboard has expanded to four locations on the island. I was first introduced the seafood joint by family members over 5 years ago at their Geylang branch.  Decor was plastic tables and red plastic chairs/stools – it was simple and the food was great.  Since then I have returned to the same outlet on various occasion and enjoyed each time. I was thrilled to learn they opened at Esplanade in 2007 and the last time I visited the this outlet was 2008.  The food was just as good as what I had at Geylang branch.

Having the same perception as three years ago, I suggested to bring our visitors’ to try No Signboard at Esplanade over the weekend.  With the view of the Marina Bay, it was a perfect place and setting for a seafood lunch degustation.  Everyone was very excited to get their hands on the crabs.  So here is what we ordered and what I thought of each dish.

  • Chilli Crab with deep fried Mantou to mop up the sauce:  The sauce in my opinion is key to a good chilli crab.  I like it to be medium to thick consistency  enough to coat the crab and easy to scoop with the Mantou. The last thing you need is to have the sauce dripping on your forearms.  I tasted the sauce and it just didn’t have enough chilli kick.
  • White pepper crab: I prefer black pepper crab.  The white pepper crab for me was just ok.
  • Special Duck: this cold dish just show cased the duck in special marinate. The mean was quite tender.  I may not order this myself.
  • Steamed Seabass cooked in Teo Chew Style: the Seabass was very fresh and I do like the preserved vegetable, ginger, mushroom and fresh coriander/cilantro used to give the extra flavour.
  • Beancurd with seafood: This is one of my favourite beancurd dishes.  I enjoy the soft texture of the tofu with mushrooms, snow peas and some seafood.
  • Spinach cooked in chicken broth and wolfberries: Simple vegetable dish.  Nothing wow about this dish.
  • Deep fried marinated chicken:  This dish is supposedly marinated with prawn/shrimp (belacan) paste.  The paste is a very pungent and strong taste when used in cooking.  However, I failed to taste the marinate in the chicken.  I was a little disappointed as I have ordered this dish before where I was able to detect the marinade when I sunk my teeth into the chicken.  This time round it just tasted like any other fried chicken.
  • Crispy Cereal Prawns: The idea of using breakfast food into a seafood savoury dish is great.  I like the crispy sweet taste of the cereal covering the deep-fried prawns.  I noticed that the prawn has been dipped in a light batter.  I am not too sure if this recipe has evolved.  In the past where I have ordered this dish, the prawns were just deep-fried leaving the shell nice and crispy.  The sweetness of the cereal can overpower the taste of the prawns.

Overall the meal was a-ok.  No one particular dish stood out for me. Perhaps No Signboard is starting to lose their touch in cooking the seafood to what I first stated at Geylang.  The company certainly made up for the lack lustre .

No Signboard Seafood

8 Raffles Avenue

#01-14/16

The Esplanade

Singapore 039802

Tel: +65 6336 9959

Open from 11am to 11pm

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