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Category: Cafés and Restaurants (page 1 of 13)

Back in time: Yet Con Chicken Rice (逸群鸡饭)

A couple weeks ago, my Australian buddy Cyn (best known as The Food Pornographer) and her partner Jac were in town. Thanks to the wonderful world wide web, Cyn and I connected via Twitter (I think). A few years ago, I made a trip to Perth, and I had such a fun time eating and chatting with her. So I was super dope when both Cyn and Jac were in Singapore–this means lots of eating (duh) and catching up.

The one great thing about having overseas guests is you get to be a tourist again–going to places that you rarely visit–Yet Con is one of them. Located along Purvis Street, Yet Con is an icon. Founded in 1940, stepping into Yet Con, I felt as if I have been transported into another world. The furnishing is old school coffeshop. The owner sits behind the counter, directing customers to their seats. And the place does smell a bit funky.

Among the three of us, we ordered chicken, Hainanese pork chop and mixed chop suey. At Yet Con, they only serve steamed chicken (白鸡) and you do not get to choose your preferred part. So we got half a chicken to share. The chicken itself was quite lean, like kampong chicken. The skin was not fatty and the meat was very flavourful. To me, the rice was equally important too. Yet Con’s version was savoury and tasty. As we have a second eating session, I showed restraint and did not order another bowl of rice.

The oriental-style Hainanese pork chop is one of Yet Con’s signature dishes. Jac found the sauce too sweet while Cyn quite enjoyed the chop. The mixed chop suey that we ordered was pretty good too–the dish had cabbage, baby corn, sotong, prawns and pork. It was refreshing and helped to cut the richness of the chicken.

Chicken rice is a dish I feel that is often taken for granted. It is readily available everywhere in Singapore. Yet Con’s version is quite unlike the ones we find at hawker centres. Most importantly, eating at Yet Con transports one into another era. I personally think everyone should give this institution a try.

Yet Con Chicken Rice (逸群鸡饭)
25 Purvis Street, Singapore
+65-6337-6819
Opening hours: 11.00am – 9.30pm (daily)

An overdue lunch at Violet Oon’s Kitchen

I have a bunch of girlfriends that I have known for years. They are uber talented, smart and “crafty”. We communicate mostly via social media, and we rarely meet up for lunch. Even if we do, there is always one or two missing in the picture. So FINALLY we managed to sit down and have a meal together at Violet Oon’s Kitchen.

All of us ordered a different main and some starters to share. I have heard so much about the dry laksa that I had to get it. It definitely lived up to the expectation. It is not exactly a fried noodle dish – it has enough sauce to coat the noodles without being sloppy. The rempah was beautifully done and they have added the right amount of coconut milk so you would not be sick of the laksa. And there were so much “liao”(translate: ingredients)–beancurd puff, fish cake and prawns. Everyone (including myself) loves this dry laksa.

My friend, R got the dry mee siam. Unlike the dry laksa, you don’t think you are eating dry mee siam. Perhaps it was the choice of noodles which was thick noodles. When I think of mee siam, I always relate to thin vermicelli. However the spices were well done, it was still a good dish.

At our table, another friend, R was brave enough to try the buah keluak pasta. The pasta was a tad too spicy for me but the buah keluak tapenade was strangely nice and addictive. I could not describe the flavour but it was rich and savoury. If the spice level was slightly lowered, I think I can polish off the entire plate

We also ordered the kueh pie tee and ayam goreng to share. The ayam goreng aka fried chicken was crispy and the flavour was pretty good. But the chicken was over-fried, it was a bit dry for me. The kueh pie tee fared so much better. The filling which was made up of bamboo shoots and turnips that were beautifully cooked in a rich prawn broth, making the entire dish super tasty.

We ended our meal with the bread and butter pudding with whisky and custard sauce. The pudding itself was moist and not too sweet. The whisky and custard sauce was the bomb (though some of the alcoholics at the table felt that the sauce can do with more whisky). This is one dessert that I would strongly recommend.

Though I am not sure when we will gather for another meal, this was sure a lot of fun. We filled the restaurant with our laughter and loud chatter. And it was made even better with delicious food in our tummies.

Violet Oon’s Kitchen
881 Bukit Timah Road
+65-6468-5430

A delayed birthday treat at Nirai Kanai Okinawan

The birthday was in November. The treat was in January. And now I am finally writing about it.

For the past few years, my friend, S will give me a birthday treat (together with another friend, G whose birthday is quite close to mine). Last year, I selected Nirai Kanai Okinawan. It was quite a feat finding the right place. S is allergic to seafood, and G doesn’t fancy fried food (yah I wondered why I am friends with her). After some good old googling, I found Nirai Kanai.

Located at the basement corner of Liang Court, Nirai Kanai Okinawan is an old school styled restaurant. The décor, in my opinion, is charming and adorable. The moment you step in, it is as if you have entered into a Japanese restaurant in the 1980s. And they are very considerate too. There are hooks and hangers for you to hang your jacket, and they built shelves underneath each table where you can place your bags.

We ordered quite a lot of food as we were hungry and greedy. I wanted the crispy river shrimps as they were my favourite beer snack. Though I did not drink that night, this little titbit is salty and crunchy, and best eaten when warm. The waiter placed the plate of fried shrimps in front of me, I had to push it aside as I cannot stop eating them.

One of Okinawa’s signature dishes is goya chanpuru. It is essentially thinly sliced bitter gourd with tofu, egg and pork. Nirai Kanai version was clean and well-seasoned. I would be quite content if you give me a bowl of rice and a plate of goya chanpuru.

Another favourite of mine was cubed beef steak. There was nothing fancy about this dish – good quality beef topped with garlic chips and stir-fried beansprouts. The beef was cooked to medium which was how I like it. This dish needed to be eaten fast as it was served on a hot plate which cooked the beef.

With all these food, we needed rice to accompany them. I ordered the onigiri. Unlike the conventional rice ball where the core ingredient is stuffed in the middle, the onigiri was made up of mixed rice with mushroom, pork belly and seaweed. The rice was well-cooked and flavourful. We also ordered a pork belly dish (which I never tried but my friends said it was good), and fried chicken (which was also pretty decent but nothing extraordinary). We were pretty stuffed after this meal.

Okinawan cuisine is said to be influenced by the Chinese and South East Asian. More importantly, this particular cuisine is low in fat and salt, contributing to the longevity of the Okinawans. Though I am unsure if the dishes we ordered were low fat and low salt, they were simple and delicious.

Nirai Kanai Okinawan
177 River Valley Road, #B1-01/02,
Liang Court Shopping Centre
+65-6339-4811
Opening hours: 12.00pm-3.00pm, 6.00pm-11.00pm (Mon-Fri), 12.00pm-11.00pm (Sat-Sun)

Afternoon tea at Pollen

Hello! This slacker here finally woken up from her food coma and resumes her writing. It has been a filling and delicious few months, and I cannot believe it’s 2014! I ate so much and I am amazed that my stomach has yet to explode.

My friend, Evie was back for her year-end holidays, and I suggested tea at Pollen for some catching-up. Unlike the hotels, Pollen’s afternoon tea menu was rather small. However every item that is served to you is well planned and paired beautifully. We were given a platter savoury and sweet treats.

Evie and I started with the bread basket of toasted sourdough and cod branade. At a glance, the cod branade looked tasteless – it was not fishy, and it was creamy with a slight hint of saltiness. We finished our bread and cod branade in rapid speed and were horrified when we discovered the table next to us did not finish theirs.

For the savoury items, we had Scotch eggs with piccalilli relish, and seared beef with zucchini relish and onion brioche. Though the Scotch eggs did not have the traditional minced meat encasing the egg, the latter was cooked perfectly with a runny yolk. Paired with the cauliflower piccalilli relish which was pungent and sharp, it was a delight to put this small bite in my mouth (and this coming from someone who don’t like eggs).

For the seared beef, it was cooked to medium rare hence the meat was not chewy. I prised open the onion brioche, and filled it with slices of beef and zucchini relish, and ate it like a sandwich. It was awesome. I definitely have no making of a dainty tai-tai. The tartness from the relish cut through the richness of the beef and brioche. And I almost did an “Oliver Twist” and ask for more.

Personally, I think the sweet did not fare as well as the savoury. There were some hits and misses. My favourite on the platter was the éclair with fresh strawberry and cream. Though Evie found the strawberry to be rather sour, I quite liked it as it was refreshing amongst the thick, luscious cream. The choux pastry was crisp without being dry.

On the platter, we also had an orange and cranberry scone, macarons and a banana tea cake. The scone was beautifully scented with orange but it was way too big. I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it. The banana tea cake was not too bad but I don’t fancy the buttercream on top which was a tad heavy. And the cake itself was also a bit stodgy. The macarons we had that day was raspberry and chocolate, and lime and coconut. They were quite well made and the flavours complemented each other.

Pollen’s afternoon tea looked little, but seriously how much can one eat. It is not a competition to see how many open sandwiches you can eat. It is about a comfortable space, where one can chat with friends and enjoy some delicious afternoon delights.

Pollen
Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay,
18 Marina Gardens Drive, #01-09
+65-6604-9988
Afternoon tea starts from 3.00pm – 5.00pm (daily)

The day I ate fried chicken at 10am

I love my fried food. I do not think I can go a week without eating anything fried. It does not need to be fast food. When I ordered yong tau foo, I would definitely pick out fried beancurd skin. And I also think people who eat fried chicken and not eat its skin, are throwing insult to fried food. What’s wrong with you people?

That said, it is not a habit or routine that I have fried chicken at 10am. No matter what terrible morning I have, it does not warrant fried food in the morning. I still believe breakfast should be substantial but not greasy.

My friend, Biona told me that the Philippines fast-food chain, Jollibee was voted to have the best fried chicken in Singapore. I have eaten at Jollibee years ago in Manila. I do not have much recollection of their fried chicken. Of course, a revisit is necessary. However Jollibee is notorious for its long queue. Apparently people queued two hours to get their food. In anticipation of the long queue, Biona and I met up at 10am and predicted that when we reached the front of the queue, it would be lunch time.

We reached Jollibee, we were shocked. There was NO queue. Well, there were a few people in front of us. I was clearly unprepared to have fried chicken at 10am. We made our way to the counter and got ourselves a bucket of 6 pieces of chicken, gravy and drinks. We did not get any sides as they did not look appealing to us.

In case you wondered, no, we did not finish all the 6 pieces of chicken. We only got the bucket because I want it. It is my dream to have fried chicken out from the bucket (yah I am not very ambitious). The last time I had that was when I was a kid at either my siblings or my birthday party. I mean seriously, fried chicken tastes the best out from the bucket.

We had to wait awhile to get our fried chicken – I guessed they did not expect fried food was in demand that early of the day. When our bucket finally arrived at our table, the chicken was piping hot. Unlike most fast food chains, the bucket contained all the dark meat and parts that I like – we got wings and drumsticks. When it comes to fried chicken, I much prefer the dark meat (the drumsticks and thigh) which are juicier and flavourful (and I think fried chicken breast is a joke). As the chicken was really hot, we started with the wings which cooled much faster. The meat itself was fresh and juicy. Biona commented that Jollibee used fresh chicken meat (instead of frozen ones) which contributed to the moisture in the meat. The seasoning or the batter for the chicken is rather subtle. To me, it was bordering to the bland side. I like fried chicken to be heavily seasoned. Chicken meat is quite mild in taste hence it can take on strong flavours. For every fried chicken order, you will be given a small tub of gravy which Biona loved and I hated. It was MSG-lardered and tasted like salty, watery brown sauce.

I do not mind dining at Jollibee again. The service is pretty good and the food is fresh from the fryer. However if I have to queue two hours for the food, I rather go to my favourite Popeyes and get my cravings sorted.

Jollibee Singapore
6th floor, Lucky Plaza
Open hours: 9.00am to 9.00pm (daily)

Happy birthday me! Smashing fun at The Cajun Kings

(Before y’all start to wish me happy birthday, the birthday is in November so yes this post is really, really late.)
Located in the centre of private estates, The Cajun Kings serves up rich, flavourful Creole-styled seafood in a playful manner. The menu is pretty extensive. Beside seafood, there are mouth-watering appetisers that help to appease the belly while you wait for your main course.

Sweet potato fries

The Kings wings

Among my group of four, we ordered the sweet potato fries, gumbo and the Kings wings. The sweet potato fries were piping hot when they reached our table. The fries were crisp on the outside and soft in the inside. Another delicious starter we ordered was the Kings wings. They tasted clean (this mean that they did not recycle their oil), well-cooked and were seasoned properly

Gumbo

I was very much looking forward to the gumbo. Gumbo is a southern Louisiana dish that is similar to a stew and it comes in different varieties. Some people add rice, while others will throw in beans. Tucking into this dish is always fun – you never know what you’re going to get. You get a bit of vegetables in the first spoon, and perhaps a small piece of sausage in another. The Cajun Kings’ version was aromatic and choke full of ingredients. I could easily wallop that bowl of gumbo all by myself.

Before the star dishes arrived at our table, we were each given a bib and a wooden mallet to prep for the mess to come. We have ordered a Dungeness crab in garlic butter sauce and red sea prawns cooked in the Kings’ mix (mild). The staff came and plonked two big plastic bags in the middle of the table. We opened up the bags and started going at them with our hands. And yes it was a hell of a mess.

The Dungeness crab was not overcooked and was rather sweet. The surprise was neither the garlic nor the butter overpowered the mild flavoured crab meat. We also had a fun time smashing the crab into pieces. Bits of shell flew across the table, the sauce dripping from our fingers. We had a much easier time eating the prawn. The Kings’ mix that we ordered was mild and you would get the pungent Cajun spice with a hint of heat at the end. I was happily sucking up the prawn heads which contained all the juices and spice. The prawn meat was firm and before eating, I would recommend dipping it in the cooking sauce.

Dinner at the Cajun Kings is not exactly cheap. But I can assure you that you will have a lot of fun playing with your food. And the best part, they are quite delicious too.

The Cajun Kings
15-1 Jalan Riang
+65-6284-4426
Opening hours: 4.30pm – 10.00pm (Tue – Sun)

oink’s guide to … Copenhagen! Conditori La Glace has the best tasting Danish pastries

While I was in Copenhagen, I told myself that I must stuff my face with lots of Danish pastries. I love Danish pastries, and I also had my fair share of disappointment. Especially in Singapore, no one does really good Danish pastries – they are usually commercially made and they don’t taste very nice.

I braved the morning rain and after walking in circles for almost half an hour, I finally managed to locate Conditori La Glace – the oldest confectionary in Denmark. Opened its door in 1870, Conditori La Glace has been serving delicious cakes and pastries. This historical café is beautiful, laced with history. I got there really early (I was their second customer) hence there was a limited pastries and cakes on display. And unfortunate for me, the staff at the counter did not really speak English so I did the “look what’s nice, point and order”.

While I was waiting for my pastries and tea to be served to me, I stared at the walls of Conditiori La Glace. It was decorated with family pictures from different generations. Every picture is telling a story about this café. At the same time, I started to notice all the cakes are rolling out to the display counter. I could only wish for a bigger stomach to have a taste of all the cakes.

When my pastries were at the table, I noticed I ordered two similar looking bakes. Still I was excited to sink my teeth in them. Though the pastries were not warm up, the moment I bit into them, the puff pastry just shattered. I love the custard centre which was creamy and not too sweet. And to my surprise, I don’t mind the marzipan icing. I personally detest almond-based product but the icing was pretty good and it complimented the puff pastry.

I enjoyed my breakfast at Conditiori La Glace so much that I returned a couple days later for afternoon tea. Despite the rain, there was a long queue and it was impossible to go in. This left me quite sad, as Conditiori La Glace really made the best Danish pastries I ever tasted.

Conditori La Glace
Skoubogade 3, 1158 København K
+45-3314-4646 (No reservations)
Opening hours: 8.30am to 5.00pm (daily)

oink’s guide to … Copenhagen! I was not prepared for the gloomy wet weather

After a few days in Norway and Evie back to work, I travelled to Copenhagen, Denmark. The reason why I chose to go to Denmark was because later the week, Evie and I would be going to Legoland. So yes it was about convenience.

Once I landed in Copenhagen, it was quick a train ride to my hotel. I have chosen to stay in WakeUp Copenhagen as it was apparently a 15-minute walk from Copenhagen Central Station. All I can tell you is whoever timed the walk did not have to pull a large suitcase. As I arrived really early, I couldn’t check-in. I was told that if I upgrade my room, I could get an immediate check-in. I was tired and cold so I forked out the extra dough for a two-hour nap.

When I awake, it was nearly noon. My first stop was the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotetek museum. Before I view the exhibits, I needed to fill my stomach. Located in the Winter Garden, the museum’s café served up hearty Danish fare. When I arrived at 1.30pm, the café was almost fully packed. After studying the menu, I chose a dish which comprised of two types of herring, boiled egg, onion and capers (DKK98/ S$21). This was accompanied by traditional Danish dark rye bread.

I never had herring before so I didn’t have much expectations and I was unsure if I would even like the dish. In the end, I love it. The herring was pickled hence it was not fishy yet the structure of the fish remained and did not disintegrate. When I saw the rye bread (which was another first for me), it looked cardboard dry. But it was not. With a smear of butter, the bread was chewy and flavourful. I topped the bread with a bit of herring, onion, capers and egg, it was absolutely delicious. I never thought I would like pickled fish that much. The plate did not look like a lot, but I was stuffed. A great start to my Copenhagen trip.

After lunch, I wasted no time and started going around the museum. Established in 1888, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotetek museum is an art museum founded by brewer Carl Jacobsen (his father is responsible for Carlsberg beer). The museum houses a wide collection of Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman arts. They are also noted for French impressionists and Danish Golden Age paintings. If you are a fan of the arts, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotetek museum is worth checking out.

Once I am done with my little art trip, I did a random walking tour around the city. As I strolled, the rain started, and it was quite difficult and slippery to walk on cobblestone, I seek refuge at a chained Danish pastry shop – Lagkagehuset (which also happened to be on my eating list).

At Lagkagehuset, you will be swarmed by the choices. There are so many delicious looking pastries. To order, you will first need to get a queue number from the machine. The server will call out your number and you will then tell him or her what you want. After changing my mind several times, I settled for a strawberry tart. The tart was made up of a chocolate shortcrust pastry, filled with pastry cream and topped with fresh strawberry and almond. When you are wet, unprepared for the gloomy wet weather, this strawberry tart cheered me up (and my cup of hot latte too). That said, the long wet walk back to the hotel was horrible. I need more tarts.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotetek
Dantes Plads 7, 1556 København
+45-3341-8141
Opening hours: 11.00am – 5.00pm (Tue-Sun)
Adult: DKK75/ S$16/ US$13Lagkagehuset
DK-1450 København K
(They have quite a few outlets in the city. This particular one that I went is the nearest to the town hall and my hotel)
Opening hours: 7.30am – 7.00pm (Mon-Fri), S7.30am – 6.00pm (Sat-Sun)

oink’s guide to … Perth! Jus Burgers’ onion rings are to-die-for

During my trip to Perth last May (yes, time flies), on one of the nights I needed to stay in and finish some work. My buddies from university saved me from hunger and brought me dinner from Jus Burgers. I had a classic cheeseburger (with blue cheese) (A$12.50) which was juicy and delicious. But what blew me away was their onion rings (A$6.00). They were the good onion rings – they were crisp, sweet and heavily salted. If I stayed in Perth, these would be my go-to snacks (thank god I don’t stay in Australia).

Jus Burgers
Shop 11/189 William St Northbridge, 6003 Perth
+61-8922-70668
Opening hours: 11.30am – 10.00pm (Daily except Mon and Sun, they close at 9.00pm)

Balzac Brasserie

Since opening its door last February, I am unsure how many times I have been to Balzac Brasserie. Located at the newly renovated Rendezvous Grand Hotel, this quaint bistro has been serving out delicious comforting French classics at a very reasonable price.

Each meal at Balzac will start with a bread basket. At every visit, a different variety of bread is offered to me and most importantly, they are always piping warm. Each basket is usually accompanied by herbed butter and salmon rillettes (the latter was changed when I was there recently). I had to show some restraint and not fill my stomach with bread.

One of the must-have for me is their Dubois’ lobster bisque (S$16). This rich broth is served with a small bowl of mini black Qwehli prawns which are salty and provide crunch when eat together with the soup. I would usually share the soup with a friend – I know that if I have this alone, I won’t have any space for my main (yes, it is that rich).

Every time I am at Balzac, I would attempt to order a different main. I have tried Entrecot (steak frites), roasted French quail, seabream en papillote – among these, my favourite remains the beef cheeks a la cuillere (S$26). The waygu beef cheek is braised for 48 hours and served with a smooth buttery mashed potato. This dish is a delight – the braised cheek is tender and melt in your mouth. A friend who had a funny expression when she heard beef cheek was turned and love this dish.

The desserts at Balzac could be their weakest link. They are not terrible – they are actually pretty decent. However when you compare to their starters and mains, they don’t blow your socks off. To leave my meal with a sweet note, I will opt for the riz au lait (rice pudding) (S$9) and Valrohna chocolate moelleux (S$12).

When I first visited Balzac, the service was rather shaky. My friends and I had a hard time getting the attention of the waiter, the food is served before our drinks. Over time, the service has definitely improved tremendously. During my recent trip, there was a miscommunications and my friend’s order was not registered. Our server, Wenna, was bent on finding out what happened and even sent over a tarte au citron to apologise.

If you are looking for a delicious rustic French fare, give Balzac a try. Oh and remember to order the lobster bisque.

Balzac Brasserie
Rendezvous Grand Hotel, 9 Bras Basah Road
+65-6336-0797
Opening hours: 11.30am to 10.30pm (Daily except Fri and Sat, it closes at midnight)
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