Rumah Rasa – Sedap Indonesian Food?

5 05 2012

Ever since I was a tween, I have always had Indonesian tenants living with me under one roof. Most of them are part of the same extended family and came out to Singapore due to the supposedly better education system. My home hosted 8 of them at our peak, all kids around my age and we would watch anime and cartoons together and play games like Risk and soccer in our free time. It is also thanks to them that I have had some contact with Indonesian cuisine, whenever they brought out food and keropok from Indonesia. Growing up however, I was never a fan of spicy food, though my palate has evolved somewhat since then. So I was glad to get an invitation by Rumah Rasa, a new Indonesian restaurant housed within Bay Hotel located opposite Vivocity as I seldom encounter Indonesian restaurants in Singapore (the only other restaurants in this genre that come to mind is Kintamani Indonesian Restaurant at Furama Hotel and Bumbu Restaurant).

Heading the kitchen at Rumah Rasa is veteran Chef Sharifah, who has previously honed her skills at SATS, Raffles Hotel and St Regis. She comes across as a humble lady with a real passion for her trade, and I was looking forward to be educated on what authentic Indonesian cuisine is really about. The other bloggers present at this tasting were a friendly and relatable bunch, Rachel from Oyster Dairies, Dawn from 365Days2Play, and Peter from Ho Chiak.

Since Rumah Rasa is the hotel’s sole restaurant at this time, the kitchen caters to both room service, dine-ins and takeaways, doubling up as a breakfast venue for guests staying at the hotel. Revelers from St James will be pleased to note that this eatery is open from 6am to 4am daily.

Arriving slightly ahead of schedule, I was first served some Belinjau Chips while waiting for the other guests to arrive. I have had this a couple of times at home, but always thought it was tapioca chips. Belinjau is actually a type of nut-like fruit that turns from green to yellow to red upon ripening. The chips are mildly bitter so I don’t really like to eat it on its own, however it does go well with sambal. To cool of the spicy sambal, I also had a Ais Serai aka “Homemade Lemon Grass Juice” ($6++). Initially, it tasted unexpectedly sharp because quite a bit of carbonated soda water was used to make the drink but it got better as the ice melted. Would have opted for a still version if it was available.

The Soto Ayam Madura ($8++) is appetizing but it is not one of the more spectacular dishes here in my opinion. It’s simply a light and hearty Chicken Consomme with Shreaded Chicken, Beansprouts and topped with a Potato Croquette.

You can’t go very wrong with the Ayam Korma ($14++) aka Chicken simmered in Mild Yellow Curry.

The Tahu Telur Surabaya ($8++) is made using Fried Beancurd and Egg topped with Sweet and Spicy Dark Sauce. The taste is about there, very nice and eggy but what was lacking was the accompanying crispness as it seemed like the Tahu Telur had been left in the open for some time.

The Sayur Lodeh ($8++) is made with Mixed Vegetables in fragrant Coconut Gravy. It’s a personal preference but I prefer mine to be heavy on the coconut milk, so that the gravy is very thick and rich. I felt that the one here is too watered down but apparently, this is how it is done in Indonesia.

One of the better dishes today, the Udang Petai Belado ($18++) or Prawns Stir-fried in Chili Gravy with Petai Beads was fantastic. The prawns were fresh and the chili had enough oomph to make me swelter. As I’m not really into spicy food, my knowledge on the differences between the different sambals is extremely limited so it forces me to go online to understand more once I encounter terms like “Belado”. At the back of my mind, I always thought that sambal just means chili but in reality, there are many different varieties of sambal. Two common types would be Belado and Belacan and they possess very different tastes and origin. Belado has an Indonesian influence while Belacan is more Malaysian. The main difference between the 2 is that in addition to the common ingredients like Chili, Garlic, Lime Juice, Salt and Oil used for both sambals, Belado requires the addition of Tomatoes as a base ingredient while Belacan requires that Shrimp paste be added. So I would think that Belado is slightly more watery, has a brighter colour and less salty (because of the lack of shrimp paste) compared to Belacan.

The Ikan Bakar Rumah Rasa ($28++) is a Charcoal Grilled Red Snapper marinated in turmeric and topped with homemade Spicy Sauce (as stated in the menu), though the wait staff said it was Sea Bass. Not sure 100% which is right but I believe this was Sea Bass. Taste-wise isn’t worth much mention.

Rendang Sumatra ($14++) or Beef simmered in spicy Coconut Gravy was pretty good. Some people like their beef lean and meaty, while other like theirs fatty and tender. I lean more towards the latter. The beef here is lean, but not tough to chew. Out of all the dishes we tasted, general consensus was that this was a clear favourite.

The Paru Belado ($12++) is Crispy Beef Lungs served with Chopped Chilis and Onions, something I haven’t tried before and didn’t even knew could be eaten prior to this meal. I had always wondered why we can eat chicken and pig liver but never their lungs and I just shrugged it off thinking its probably a very dirty organ like fishes gills that we don’t eat. So today was definitely an eye opener. When it first comes out piping hot from the fryer, it really tastes quite good with the chili, crispy like keropok. There was some remnants of a bloody taste though, so if you don’t like organs like liver, you would probably want to skip this.

The Ayam Panggang Berkakak Jakarta ($14++) aka Grilled Chicken served with Rumah Rasa’s Homemade Spicy Sauce is decent, a nice mix of savoury and sweet as the chicken is marinated using palm sugar as well.

I would definitely recommend the desserts here. We had the Deep Fried Banana Fritters served with Vanilla Ice Cream ($8++), which had a very light batter so one can definitely polish this off on your own.

The Es Chendol ($6++) made using Fresh Coconut Milk with Kidney Beans, Green Jelly and Sugar Syrup is great too. A creamy dessert is a fitting end to a spicy meal.

Overall, I felt that there weren’t any dishes that was particularly sedap (delicious), but nothing was incredibly terrible either but it’s indeed a good place for an introductory lesson into Indonesian cuisine.

Rumah Rasa

50 Telok Blangah Road, Bay Hotel

Tel: +65 6818 6681

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Din Tai Fung (Resorts World Sentosa) – All Din Tai Fungs’ are equal, but some Din Tai Fungs’ are more equal than others

1 11 2011

*This tasting was sponsored by Din Tai Fung

If you think that a meal at Din Tai Fung (DTF) means the usual Pork Xiaolongbao (XLB), Fried Rice and Chicken Soup, think again. In conjunction with their 8th Anniversary, DTF will be launching 6 new dishes and 6 new desserts and drinks to their already extensive repertoire of dishes at all DTF outlets.

For those in the dark, you must know that not all DTFs’ are born equal. At some Din Tai Fung outlets, especially those located at the more up-market locations like Paragon, DTF offers premium items such as their Black Truffle XLB. DTF’s new outlet at Resorts World Sentosa is another example, which plans to cater to the tourist crowd by offering 8 new delectable Asian delights only available at this outlet, in addition to the 12 new items mentioned above.

I will be using pictures provided by DTF but rest assured the pictures are representative of what will be served. Interestingly, I found the plating of today’s dishes nicer than what is shown in the pictures anyways.

Our tasting session started off with a showcase of the 12 new items to be included in all DTF outlets. First off, the Sliced Duck in Crispy Spring Onion Pastry.

3 New Dumplings are also being introduced to DTF’s menu., the Fish Dumplings, the Chicken Xiao Long Bao and the Steamed Angled Gourd & Shrimp Dumplings. Of the 3, I was most taken by the Fish Dumplings which were stuffed with sweet Snapper flesh that I found refreshing to the palate. Having been pampered by DTF’s signature Pork XLBs for the longest time, the Chicken XLBs didn’t bring with it as much an “oomph”, as healthier and less oily chicken broth is used instead of the savoury pork broth. For an even healthier choice, the Steamed Angled Gourd & Shrimp Dumplings promises to enhance your skin complexion. Beauty comes at a price though, as its flavour comes across as slightly muted for my liking.

One of my favourite dishes in today’s tasting, the Handmade springy Noodles with Spicy Sesame Sauce. The chili oil hits the spot and the dish manages to pull its own weight despite its apparent lack of ingredients. I believe an extra order of chicken soup on the side would be the perfect accompaniment for those who can’t take the spice and wish use the soup to dilute the chili.

A play on Yong Tau Fu, DTF has also decided to introduce their version of Green Chili stuffed with Marinated Meat. With its origins in Thai cuisine, DTF specially imports the green chilies from Thailand, and it packs an extra punch compared to usual mild green chilies used in Yong Tau Fu.

Having been periodically dropping by Eu Yan Sang to purchase their Hawthorn Roselle Drink whenever I’m down with the flu, I felt that the Roselle Juice from DTF tastes somewhat similar, just slightly less tangy from the absence of hawthorn. Instead of using normal ice, DTF has come up with an ingenious idea to keep its drinks chilled while avoiding the downside of drink dilution – by adding in a frozen iceball made up entirely of whatever drink that was ordered! So when the iceball melts, the concentration of the drinks remain unchanged.

Lemongrass Juice is highly popular Thai drink. While I’m personally not a huge fan of lemongrass, many others at the tasting session felt otherwise. It does remind me a bit of Sugarcane Juice with Lemon though and I’d imagine this would make an awesome drink at East Coast while feasting on BBQ Stingrays and Satay. 

Recently, my mum has been blending random vegetables and fruits and presenting it to me as a drink. With no added sugar and with much too dense a consistency, I’d immediately cringe whenever I hear the roar of the blender in operation. While DTF’s Blended Juice, made from the combination of fresh Pineapples, Celery and Carrots, tastes much better (or much less worse), I believe it’s not something most of us are used to, especially if you like your drinks and juices on the sweet side.

My favourite of the 4 new drinks happened to be the Earl Grey Lemon Tea. Somehow, it possesses a greater depth of flavour compared to the usual lemon teas.

Almond Pudding coated with Black Sesame Dressing. While I’m a fan of almond jelly, I felt that the black sesame didn’t complement the pudding well.

The Mango Pudding however is a different story. The pudding tastes delightful, with generous chunks mango cubes scattered within the jelly.


Now let me touch on the 8 new dishes made available only at the RWS DTF outlet.

The crowd favourite had to be the Nonya Curry Fish Head in Clay Pot ($26++). You know, it does say something when claypots are being drained off its contents by professional food editors. Really quite a remarkable feat that a Chinese restaurant can come up with such an authentic Nonya dish, with a rich aromatic curry rather than the watered down curries common for most fish head curries.

My family is really into fish. Like how most Cantonese families must have their soups in every meal, my family must have fish. When I was younger, Dad always told me how it’s good for eyesight, and I often shrugged it off. Fast forward a decade or so and I’m starting to believe him. My family of 5 all possess near perfect eyesight! (Disclaimer: Genetics might be the real cause). Cod isn’t cheap in Singapore, I believe it costs close to $40/kg at the wet markets, so DTF’s Hong Kong Class Steamed Cod Fillet with Superior Soy Sauce ($21.80++) is rather affordable for its portion. You can hardly ever go wrong with cod, but I found today’s one slightly overdone. Apart from that, it was alright.

Homemade Beancurd & Sea Prawns on Sizzling Hot Plate ($16.80++). DTF makes its own egg tofu from scratch from a central kitchen to ensure freshness and quality control. 

Cantonese Sweet & Sour Pork ($14.80++). 

I found the Beef Sirloin with Aromatic Black Pepper Sauce on Sizzling Hot Plate ($19.80++) too peppery and the beef too lean.

The Crispy Prawns in Creamy Dressing with Plump Lychees & Juicy Peaches ($14.80++) is another dish I’d recommend. The prawns are fried in a tasty light batter but do avoid smearing too much creamy dressing as it might get a bit too cloying. Well, I sense DTF’s efforts in addressing this issue by adding some lemon juice into the prawn batter, which works pretty well.


Crispy Chicken Wings Marinated in Shrimp Paste ($8.80++). Marinated for over 4 hours in DTF’s homemade shrimp paste before being deep fried for 5 minutes, the wings are kept juicy on the inside while crispy on the outside. 

Szechuan Wok Fried Diced Chicken with Sun-dried Chilis and Toasted Cashews ($14.80++).

I had a wonderful time talking to Hoong An, one of the three founders of Hungrygowhere, who so happened to sit next to me for this tasting and coupled with the discovery of a few gems among DTF’s new dish offerings, I truly had a wonderful time.

Thanks to Din Tai Fung for the invitation!

Bon Appetit!

Din Tai Fung (Resorts World Sentosa)

26 Sentosa Gateway, #01-217 Resort World Sentosa

Tel: +65 6686 3656 





Prive Bakery Cafe – Dates and Sticky Dates

5 03 2011

When one of my friends asked me to suggest a place to celebrate his birthday cum 1 month anniversary (with his gf), Prive immediately popped into mind. Located at Keppel Bay, it’s an idyllic getaway to spend the weekend afternoon brunch. You would definitely love the setting with the numerous private yachts berthed within the marina, and the surroundings are great for cam-whoring! To complete the experience, do come in your summer frocks and colourful summer hats! I’m sure you’d have a blast taking marvelous pictures worthy of making it into your highly exclusive album of facebook profile pics.

On the other side of the same coin, the ambience for dinner is totally different. The diminishing natural lighting makes the area seemingly more private and romantic. A short stroll from the restaurant and you will arrive at a small pier, a place best for whispering your sweet nothings to your dear beloved, maybe to even pop an important question or two.

Anyway I have been digressing.

Sitting side by side, Prive Bakery Cafe is the less costly alternative to Prive Restaurant, which I find much more appropriate for a casual dinner.

I had the N.Y Burger ($26++) which I thought was fantastic. A nicely charred 200g Wagyu Patty, Melted English Cheddar, Crispy Onions, Aioli and Fries, this is definitely one of the best burgers I have had in Singapore (way better than the overhyped Original DB Burger I had recently at DB Bistro Moderne). It’s reminiscent of The Hand Burger’s The Works, though I much prefer Prive’s version as the patty was thicker yet more succulent. Bonus marks for the well toasted buns and yummy crisp onion ring too. They should seriously consider offering these onion rings are sides on the menu, I’m sure it would be an instant hit!

Prive Cafe serves a pretty decent Fish and Chips ($19++) as well. Battered, not breaded, is just the way I like it.

On the other hand Prive and its sister restaurant Cafe Hacienda @ Dempsey have not left me with any positive feelings about their pastas so my advice is best to avoid it. The Spaghetti with Meatballs ($22) was boringly simple and mediocre at best.

For Desserts, I would suggest the cakes, be it the Luscious Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Cake (Reese’s lovers will probably be fond of this!) or the Hazelnut Praline Royale.

The Tiramisu ($7++) is pretty good too.

While Sticky Date Pudding ($10++) is my all time favourite dessert, Prive’s rendition (served with Butterscotch and Vanilla Ice Cream) is left wanting. It’s a bit too high on the “datey” taste and the core of my pudding was utterly dry. So far, sticky date puddings in Singapore are served with caramel or butterscotch sauces, but the best sticky date pudding I have eaten by far was in Adelaide where a chocolate dip was used instead.

While driving to Keppel Bay is highly encouraged, the walk into Keppel Bay from Harbourfront can be rather pleasant as well.

Few places in Singapore boasts the charm and allure that Keppel Bay possesses. It’s definitely a great place to bring dates where the atmosphere is light and casual, rather than the rigidity inherent in most fine dining restaurants.

Bon Appetit!

PRIVE BAKERY CAFE

2 KEPPEL BAY VISTA, GF MARINA @ KEPPEL BAY

TEL: +65 6776 0777





Modesto’s @ Vivocity – $48 Nett Set Dinner for 2

22 06 2010

Whenever I eat out, I have this general policy: The restaurant and it’s food must either be freaking awesome(regardless of price), or else I would rather head down to some food court or coffeeshop in an attempt to budget(I can’t believe how my economic rice managed to spiral to $7.70 at Wisma’s Food Court last Wednesday…) for my next freaking awesome meal.

That’s probably the reason why I haven’t patronised Modesto’s yet. I have heard that it’s good, but is it good enough? I guessed a $48 Nett Set Dinner for 2 pax wouldn’t hurt…much

The Modesto’s @ Vivo is very family friendly. Nothing too fancy bout the decor and with the construction of Resorts World almost complete, I can imagine the view at night would be great, with the lightings over at Sentosa and all.

Here at Modesto’s, instead of the customary complementary Bread Basket that Singaporeans love so much, they ask instead if you would like Garlic Bread($6++) to start off the meal. I didn’t ask but if there was a choice of complementary bread basket over this Garlic Bread, I would surely have taken it. The 3 pieces of Garlic Bread were drenched in oil, soggy and chewy, to the extent that it was hard to tear…using my teeth. I would rather have bought 4 Breadtalk buns and settled my dinner with $6 there and then.

Garlic Bread($6++)

For the $48 Nett Set dinner, you get a choice of 1 Appetizer, 2 Mains & 1 Dessert. It sounds inadequate but trust me, the portions are so ginormous here S and myself wouldn’t have finished this even without the Garlic Bread(thank you very much for wasting stomach space).

I would have preferred the Caeser Salad but since S doesn’t care for my concerns of her getting colon cancer, piles or constipation in the near future, we had the Mushroom Soup instead. Anyway, I figured Mushrooms ain’t that bad, it contains Chitin which acts as roughage in our digestive tracts in place of the Cellulose found in Plants. Science facts aside, I unexpectedly really loved this Mushroom Soup, which was divided for us into 2 bowls! S found it a tad salty but I thought it was perfect and with all the different types of mushrooms blended together, makes for a pleasant earthly starter.

Mushroom Soup

The Chicken Sausage Pizza was next up! Modesto’s prides itself on making traditional Italian Wood-fired Pizzas and it’s thin crusted pizzas have earned my respect. I love how the crust was not made soggy with the tomato base and cheese but on the other hand, I’m not really a fan of sausages on my pizza. S forgot there was actually another main coming up because this pizza was so amazingly huge for 2 people to share.

Chicken Sausage Pizza

I’m a boring person. This is probably my 3rd Linguine Vongole this month but at least, this makes me somewhat of an expert on it now right? Not to bad I thought, some irritating sand particles here and there and with slightly too much salt and oil, that’s about all the feedback I can garner.

Linguine Vongole

An Italian Classic; The Tiramisu. The Mascarpone was more cream than cheese but with Tiramisu, I have learnt that there is no best 1 in the world. Only the 1 most preferred by the individual. So, while I would say I liked this Tiramisu, it’s not my most preferred.

Tiramisu

While I hate shopping centres for their lack of restaurant choices, mainly because the same restaurants chains end up sprouting in every shopping centre, I would definitely consider Modesto’s again for their simple fuss-free Italian fare.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

MODESTO’S (VIVOCITY)

1 HARBOURFRONT WALK, #01-166/167 VIVOCITY

TEL: +65 6376 9808








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