Oso Ristorante – More Style Than Substance

29 07 2010

I’m not a fan of fine dining. For the nouveau riche, fine dining typically translates into extravagant meals marked by impeccable service with acquaintances of similar social standing. Coming from a humble background, fine dining presents itself to me as a stressful meal where I have to cautiously scrutinize my every move lest I fumble and commit any faux pas. It’s a pity most of the best restaurants portray themselves as fine dining eateries, leaving me with little choice but to suck up any social arkwardness for a potentially rewarding meal.

While many restaurants fall under the “fine dining” category in Singapore, some are just more fine dining than others. Oso has a blend which suits me well. The place while not overly posh, is uncompromising on service standards and the food remains decent despite the leash on cost(at least for the Set Lunch).

Oso’s 3-Course Set Lunch is priced affordably at $32++, though not inclusive of coffee/tea which costs $4.80++ a cup. Quite tricky there and I was one to fall for it, since most other fine dining establishments include beverages and charge a slight premium to the comparatively cheaper $32++ priced here. What I like about the set lunch is that the menu varies weekly, hence you are never bored by the same old generic set lunch you had here a month ago.

I wasn’t impressed by the complimentary Bread Platter which came served at room temperature.

Complementary Bread

A common feature of fine dining, which I feel is utterly redundant, is the lengthy names of the dishes. Obvious attempts to add flattering sophistication to the food no doubt.

The Pan Fried Crispy Parma Ham Tartar “Piadina” Style with Salad & Balsamico was actually somewhat like a thin Murtabak. The Parma Ham wasn’t the lengthy thin crisp pieces found commonly on pizza but was more of a pork mince encrusted within the…for want of a better word, I shall say prata. Piadina is actually an Italian Flat bread, but it sounds pretty similar to prata, no?

Pan Fried Crispy Parma Ham Tartar "Piadina"Style with Salad & Balsamico

Still down with a persistent cough, I chose a hearty Soup as my starter. The soup wasn’t particularly memorable though I was glad the pepper wasn’t overbearing. I do like clams though!

Green Asparagus & Spinach Soup with Clams & Black Pepper "Impepata"

I had a try of all 3 mains available for the Set Lunch. We should have gotten a hint when the restaurant decided to add the word “Vegetarian” for this pasta dish. It’s often and particularly in this case, synonymous with “bland” and “unappetizing”. Even the creamy nutmeg sauce provided little respite from the lacking flavour.

Vegetarian "Rotoli" Pasta filled with Eggplant Ragout & Nutmeg Sauce

The plethora of colours just makes this look ever the more palatable. I normally associate capers with tartar sauce and tricking friends into eating them whole, that’s about it. Today I learnt that it actually goes well with Stingray! I loved the Stingray, somehow Oso managed to cook it to a nice tender texture with a hint of fattiness not commonly associated with Stingray. And don’t let the picture decieve you, the portion is actually huge and what I’d expect to get for $12 at an ECP BBQ foodstall.

Stewed Stingray "Razza" Fish with Capers, Tomato & Vegetable Ratatouille

I’m quite the leg person and I prefer thighs to breasts, and that’s not only limited to food if you get what I mean haha. The Chicken Breast here was fairly done, nothing bad enough to complain about but nothing good enough to rave about either. The Mash didn’t dazzle me either, it wasn’t smooth enough for my liking and the hint of  truffles was barely noticable to make a significant impact.

Poached Chicken "Pollo" Breast with Almond, Mash Potato with Black Truffle Puree

My favourite among the 3 desserts available for this week’s set lunch, who can say no to a warm White Chocolate Cake? It looks deceptively simple yet it agrees with my palate. Actually I think I might choose this over a conventional Chocolate Lava Cake.

White Chocolate & Mascarpone Cake with Sweet Wine Sauce

It’s just a slightly cooked Pineapple with what I thought to be Vanilla Ice Cream, enough said.

Pineapple Confit with Star "Stellato" Anise served with Saffron Ice Cream

An above average Creme Brulee with nice plating but where’s the Nougat?

Almond & Nougat "Torrone" Creme Brulee & Almond Milk Sauce

The one thing I really like about Oso is the fact that they bother to plate their dishes nicely. The one thing I didn’t like was that the nicely plated food didn’t have much of a wow factor. It’s definitely decent but comes up short if I were to say that it’s at the forefront of Italian Cuisine in Singapore. However, I’m sure the not so extravagent Set Lunch does inhibit Oso’s range of ingredients used and I’m sure (hopefully) that an ala carte session here in the future will do Oso more justice.

Bon Appetit!

OSO RISTORANTE

46 BUKIT PASOH ROAD

TEL: +65 6327 8378

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TCC – Buy 1 Get 2 Free Promotion Till 25 July

22 07 2010

Its been some time since my last post as things have been rather hectic of late. Between the back to back 3 freshmen camps that I signed up for, where I managed to secure roughly 30+ to 40 hours of slp in ten days, there has been little time for noshing apart from the pre-packed economic rice/beehoon. And now, I’m ill. Apparently, even 2 boxes of Panadol/Nim Jom Cough Syrup/Woods Cough Syrup/Strepsils couldn’t stop the inevitable. Anyway, this is a very old backlog I have which I am hoping people will get to read before 25 July. 

TCC is offering a Buy 1 Main Course/Pasta, Get a 2nd Main Course of Pasta and Premium Coffee or Tea Free! I like the flexibility of this promotion as TCC allows you to change your premium Coffee or Tea to a different drink by paying the difference in their prices. IE, If a Cold Chocolate cost $6.80, you will just be needing to top up the $6.80 – Cost of Premium Cofee/Tea($4.80) =$2 extra. I visited the TCC at Bugis Junction and the TCC at Lido on the consecutive days, though not on purpose, and managed to enjoy the promotion twice.

The mains mentioned will be listed in descending order in terms of being my favourite.

My favourite main. You would like this too if you like a pasta which is slightly creamy, slightly savoury and slightly spicy. I was pleased that despite the promotion, the portion that arrived matched the one depicted in the menu. The Salmon Tataki is seared lightly, resulting in a soft flesh that is a joy to nibble at. And don’t we just love a simple sunny side up to brighten our day?

Mentaiko Spaghetti with Salmon Tataki($19++)

The Homely-Style Beef Stew($20.80++) comes in at a close second. The chunks of beef were succulent and amazingly tender, considering this is TCC and no steakhouse. Even the sides of Asparagus looked and tasted young vibrant and lively.

Homely-Style Beef Stew($20.80++)

The Chicken & Turkey Baked Lasagna was pretty decent. You can seriously do no wrong by spamming any dish with tonnes of Mozzarella.

Chicken & Turkey Baked Lasagna

The Seafood Aglio Olio($18.80++) was fair. The Scallops were overseared and dry but the Prawns were fresh and crunchy though this wouldn’t be something I would order due to it’s immense spiciness.

The Seafood Aglio Olio($18.80++)

I saw it’s picture plastered on one of the pillars at Funan so I thought that the Sea Perch with Wasabi Vinegrette($20.80++) is TCC’s speciality and boy was I wrong. The Fish came overcooked, dry and hard and the Wasabi Vinegrette overpowered the Perch instead of complementing it.

Sea Perch with Wasabi Vinegrette($20.80++)

If TCC’s aim for this promotion is to promote their mains as decent cafe food, they have failed miserably. Decent is such an understatement, especially when they are not only good but priced reasonably too!

Bon Appetit!

 

 

TCC (BUGIS JUNCTION MAIN BOUTIQUE)
80 MIDDLE ROAD, #01-92-96 BUGIS JUNCTION 
TEL : +65 6837 2027





Yummy Claypot – Just Another Joo Chiat Eatery

11 07 2010

Mum told me she saw this Joo Chiat eatery called Yummy Claypot being featured on a Mandarin television programme called 城人杂志, for quite a while now I have been thinking the show is actually called 成人杂志 (which translated to English literally means Adult Magazine…lol), and since it is situated in close proximity to my place, we decided to have a family dinner there.

I was impressed at the variety of dishes on offer after a quick perusal of the menu. We didn’t really know what the specialities were apart from the Yummy Chicken in Pig Stomach Soup so we ended up ordering the 6-8 Pax Set Meal for the 7 of us to save us from the hassle of ordering ala carte, after all it’s only logical that the restaurant would try to include as many chef’s recommendations as possible in their set menus right?

Portion wise, the set meal proved to be more than sufficient, considering that 2 from my party are my octogenarian uncle and auntie while my dad and another auntie are also already in their 60s. I knew that going for a meal under such conditions was gastronomic suicide since I always end up being the rubbish bin object of affection whereby everyone will coerce me to eat more because I’m “skinny” or “losing weight”. Apparently, age must be taking a toil on their vision.

The Yummy Chicken in Pig Stomach Soup involves stuffing a whole Spring Chicken into a Pig Stomach and cooking it as a Chinese Herbal Soup. It’s very interesting to watch as the waitress starts cutting open the Pig Stomach to reveal the hidden Chicken. I felt that cooking the Chicken is such a fashion left it more tender and succulent with a light tinge of pink as it slow cooked within the protective layer of Pig Stomach. Combining a peppery Pig Stomach Soup with a Herbal Chicken Soup is indeed a stroke of genius!

Yummy Chicken in Pig Stomach Soup

The crab used for the Black Pepper Crab was a medium sized Sri Lankan one. Since this was no Seafood Restaurant, it came as no surprise that this wasn’t executed well. The black pepper sauce was too salty and watery for my liking and the crab seemed slightly overcooked, hence losing it’s natural sweet juiciness.

Black Pepper Crab

The Yummy Sweet & Sour Fish was a Deep Fried Promfret with Pineapples, Cucumbers & Tomato. The Fish was fried nicely and fresh which I feel are the 2 more important elements of a Fried Fish.

Yummy Sweet & Sour Fish

Stewed Prawn with Salted Egg was pleasant but nothing very extraordinary.

Stewed Prawn with Salted Egg

Dual Style Baby Kai Lan was another dish that I found interesting. 1 Style was the normal 油菜 while the other was a deep fried shredded baby kailan topped with small fishies(is it white bait?) which tasted much like crispy seaweed. I’m sure that picky children would gladly eat this savoury vegetable. 

Dual Style Baby Kai Lan

One of Dad’s favourite dishes, the Pork Knucle with Broccoli here came as a disappointment. The Knuckle didn’t give us the melt in your mouth effect, probably due to not being braised long enough. The gravy was thin and unappetizing as well.

Pork Knucle with Broccoli

The Pork Belly & Shrimp Fried Rice sure was tasty though with generous servings of stewed pork and fresh prawns.

Pork Belly & Shrimp Fried Rice

 As expected, this was another bout of overeating for me. Fooled by yet another television food programme, I felt that better fare can be readily sought from any decent zi char stall though the Soup and Dual Style Kailan was surprisingy good. For any potential patrons who are thinking of ordering the Yummy Chicken in Pig Stomach Soup, Plz do call in advance to order since there is only limited servings prepared each day. A plus point though is that they don’t charge the GST or Service Charge, so I can’t really complain about their sluggish service.  

Bon Appetit!

 

 

YUMMY CLAYPOT

340 JOO CHIAT ROAD

TEL: +65 6345 7345





Clipper Cafe – For the Glebe Market Shopper & Everyone Else

10 07 2010

Named as one of the hottest brunch spots in Sydney by TimeOut Sydney Magazine, Clipper’s Cafe is often thronged with shoppers from the nearby Glebe vintage market on Saturdays, I was one of them on this faithful day, but not before waiting patiently in line for about an hour or so.

It’s hard to discern if the decor is shabby, quirky or contemporary with the most random of items being stuck onto the walls (such as bicycles) among the other little trinkets here and there. Whatever it is, it’s definitely a great place to soak in the laid back Aussie vibes while sipping onto a latte.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Organic Flour Pancakes with  Fresh Strawberries, Banana & Ricotta with Maple Syrup(AUD 12). The pancakes here aren’t as thick as those from Pancakes On The Rocks so they are able to absorb relatively more Maple Syrup due to it’s larger surface area.

Organic Flour Pancakes with Fresh Strawberries, Banana & Ricotta with Maple Syrup(AUD 12).

The closest item on the menu to an Eggs Ben is the Poached Eggs with Smoked Salmon & Avocado on Spelt Toast with Capers(AUD 12). I’m not really into avocado so this wasn’t really a dish for me. The bread was too chewy tough for my delicate pearly whites too. I managed to trick K into eating the Capers(the green bits you find in tartar sauce) on their own and it’s such a hilarious sight to see his rapid change in facial expression.

Poached Eggs with Smoked Salmon & Avocado on Spelt Toast with Capers(AUD 12).

The Baked Eggs with Napoli, Mushrooms, Spinach, Fetta & Herb Toast(AUD 10) is one of the signatures here. The portion was indeed huge and it reminded me of the Toast Soldiers sans the gooey Mozzarella cheese which you get at Cafe Epicurious in Singapore. Again, mastication of the Herbed Toast proved to be a challenge. I didn’t really fancy this dish due to it’s sharp tanginess.

Napoli, Mushrooms, Spinach, Fetta & Herb Toast(AUD 10)

From what I see, Clipper’s has done a remarkable job serving up an affordable yet tasty brunch menu(though some of the dishes are just not my cup of tea) and reminds me a lot of Cafe Epicurious though I much prefer the latter foodwise.

Bon Appetit!

Clipper Cafe

16 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, NSW





Pancakes On The Rocks

9 07 2010

My friend cum neighbour E ate at Pancakes On The Rocks recently and raved to me about how awesome it was. Awarded Gold for Best Casual/Family Dining Restaurant for 6 years running, I was very excited to try it out. The branch at Darling Harbour which I visited had a perpetual queue and fyi doesn’t accept reservations.

I just had to try the Bananarama, after all it’s named after one of my favourite retro bands. I really liked this. Caramel, Maple Syrup, Vanilla Ice Cream & Bananas over Buttermilk Pancakes, a classic combination that will never go out of style.

Bananarama
For chocoholics, there’s the Devil’s Delight. Chocolate Pancakes with Chocolate Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce. Personally, I found it too cloying but K loved it and polished it off effortlessly.
Devil’s Delight

Crepes are also available here. We had a go at their Mushroom Chicken Crepe but thought nothing much of it. R and T felt that the crepes were just flattened pancakes and the crepes from Out Of The Pan @ Raffles City tasted better.

Chicken Mushroom Crepe

Pre-mix and Maple Syrup are sold at the shop too so I got a box of Pancake pre-mix for E!

Pancake Mix

On a side note, my friends who are currently studying in Sydney gave me a heads up that the main branch at The Rocks serves slightly better pancakes than this branch and operates 24/7.

Bon Appetit!

PANCAKES ON THE ROCKS

229/230 HARBOURSIDE SHOPPING CENTRE, DARLING HARBOUR, SYDNEY

TEL: 02 9280 3791





Adelaide – The Food Trail (Abridged)

8 07 2010

5 Days, 900km on the road and 15 meals later, we had conquered Adelaide, or at least what I thought to be the parts worth exploring. So this will be a short post on the sights and sounds Adelaide’s FnB industry.

Wine drinkers would definitely have heard of Jacob’s Creek. It’s one of the many vineyards found in Barrosa Valley, 70km north of Adelaide City. Since it is winter, the vines have shed all their leaves so the entire stretch looks very bare and somehow, rainbows are so common in Australia!

The tour included a wine tasting session at the visitor centre. The list was pretty extensive with at least 20-30 types of wines produced by Jacob’s Creek. I learnt quite a bit from the host about the different wines and it’s textures. My favourite was the Sparkling Moscato Rose which I found to be very light and fruity. Good for white meats and fish I guess? 

In a bid to act a little more refined and atas, we visited Blessed Cheese @ 150 Main Road, McLaren Vale, which has won numerous Food & Tourism Awards over the years.

It’s not just for the Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous. The Hoi Polloi can eat Cheese Platters while sipping Wine too! The last time I had a cheese platter over wine was at Wine Connection last year, whose cheese platter is quite a fair bit more meagre in comparison. A trio of Brie, Blue and Cheddar, Almonds, Dried Fruits and Minced Quince(which is a local fruit which tastes heavenly, somewhat like jam with honey).  

I didn’t realise it then, but Bracegirdle’s is actually an Award Winning Chocolatier for the last 3 years running at the Royal Adelaide Show, not to mention also housing the State Barrista Champion among their ranks. The address for the branch I visited(there are 3 branches in total) is 26 Kangarilla Rd, McLaren Vale for anyone who is interested.

At roughly $2 a piece, I thought that this was quite a steal for quality chocolates.

My favourite dessert of all time, the Sticky Date Pudding. The ones I have tried so far normally come coated with butterscotch or caramel but pairing it with decadent chocolate instead, wow I’m in heaven. Totally beats any Sticky Date Pudding I have tried in Singapore.

Common fare normally found in Cafes; Chicken Schnitzel and Fish & Chips. This was taken at a hotel cafe at Kangaroo Island, an island south of Adelaide City. The Fish used is caught locally and are called Whiting. The whole fish seems to be just filleted into halves and fried with some bones intact but it’s crispy so it’s totally fine.

This picture was taken at perhaps the most classy restaurant named Restaurant Bella in Kangaroo Island. South Australian Kingfish – Oven Baked, Harissa Spiced, Ferguson Lobster Macademia Nut Crust, Roast Vegetable Cous Cous in Carrot & Orange Butter Sauce(AUD 34). Wow that’s a mouthful of a name. I didn’t really know what was Harrisa or Ferguson Lobster then(I just checked it up on wiki), but this sure was tasty and light on the palate.

Some random Seafood Platter(AUD 50) we got at the only eatery on Granite Island, a stone’s throw away from Victor Harbour. This was meant for 2 but the portion is super big that even 3 guys couldn’t finish it!

On one of my friend’s friend recommendation, we took a drive down to Chocolate Bean located at 18 Union Street in Adelaide City. There are 2 floors and it’s a real nice place to chill or study and it has wi-fi!

5 of us shared the Chocolate Filth(AUD 18) which came as a platter consisting of Death by Chocolate Cake, 2 Shots each of White & Dark Chocolate Soup, a shot of Mousse, some Chocolate Dipped Strawberries, Cream and more melted Chocolate. Chocolate spamming is fun!

I haven’t tried the Nandos in Singapore but in Adelaide and Sydney, Nandos in a fast food joint. It’s fascinating to watch the hordes of people queuing for Nando’s in Singapore during meal times, since I didn’t think much it at the Adelaide outlet. KFC ftw haha.

That’s more or less the truncated food trail of the Adelaide leg. Chocolates, Cheeses, Wines, Seafood and more Chocolates!

Bon Appetit!





Nu Thai – Best Green Curry Everrrrrrrr

7 07 2010

Spicy & Sour are not my thing, so Thai food and I have just been superficial acquiantances. To me, Singapore’s Thai Express and Lemon Grass more or less sums up Thai food, the use of big flavours found from not so extravagant ingredients that can be readily harvested in the equatorial regions of South-East Asia. You won’t ever get a Papaya Salad with Truffles or Sharks Fin Phad Thai, so Thai food has never intrigued me. It’s just Basil Chicken, Phad Thai, Curries, Salad and that’s it, or is it? 

It’s came as a surprise, never would I have imagined that my disdainful attitude towards Thai food would be altered in Adelaide.

Maybe it shouldn’t be all that surprising. After all, Nu Thai, which lies in the heart of Adelaide’s Chinatown, has won accolades in the South Australian Awards for Excellence, Best Thai Restaurant(winner for 4 years, finalist for the other 2) from 2004 to 2009 among many other awards.

The shopfront really doesn’t look like much and doesn’t strike me as an award-winning eatery but a step inside the restaurant immediately changed my view; it was packing full house that my party of 5 could only be accommodated al fresco admidst the blistering winter zephyr. Ok it wasn’t that bad, they provided heaters for us and I was 4 layers deep in clothes too!

I shall start off with the dish that made the night and changed my impression of Thai food totally. The Green Curry Chicken(AUD17.90+). Cooked with Eggplant and Basil, the curry was tantalizingly creamy with a light spice. No doubt best curry(including Chinese and Indian and other Thai ones) I have laid my tastebuds on. This wasn’t the time to be courteous, we all lapped up the curry zealously and shamelessly and all was gone in an instant.

Green Curry Chicken(AUD17.90+)

Grandma’s Crispy Pork with Spicy BBQ Sauce(AUD18.90+)  is something else you can consider ordering. The serving was generous and it was a great accompaniment to the Free-Flow Steamed Rice(AUD3.00+).

Grandma's Crispy Pork(AUD18.90+)

The Basil Chicken(AUD17.90+) is something one can easily replicate at home. Just a simple stir fry of Minced Chicken, Chili, Garlic, Thai Basil & Snake Bean.

Basil Chicken(AUD17.90+)

We though the Tofu would be the main component in the Stir-Fried Tofu with Beansprouts, Garlic, Chives and Chili(AUD11.90+) but apparently this wasn’t so. It’s more like Tao-gey fried with Tao-kwa with some Maggi Sauce.

Stir-Fried Tofu with Beansprouts, Garlic, Chives and Chili(AUD11.90+)

I didn’t like the Mixed Seasonal Vegetables(AUD11.00+) and wouldn’t have ordered this if I had known the tofu dish was actually mainly made up of vegetables already. There was a pungent putrid smell of bamboo shoots which I have yet to encounter anywhere else.

Mixed Seasonal Vegetables(AUD11.00+)

Now that I think back, clearly not every dish we had was awesome and deserving of being labelled as Best Thai food. But then again, my party was on a budget and refrained from ordering pricier dishes that I think would have provided a better representation of the food served here. Neither did we order the recommended accompanying wine for each of the dishes. Still, the green curry was really unbelievably delectable and anyone who plans to visit Adelaide must try it at least once. 

Bon Appetit!

 

 

NU THAI

117 GOUGAR STREET, ADELAIDE

TEL: 08 84102288








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