Friday, June 29, 2007

Black Or White

A taste of the classic Singaporean Hokkien Mee in the new VivoCity shopping centre in Telok Blangah....

On my trip to Singapore, I promised myself that I would eat as much Singapore style Hokkien Mee as I possibly could.

I blame it all on my ex (who was Singaporean)!
He got me hooked on this yummy carb-loaded dish.... which is an eye for an eye I suppose, considering I introduced him to a lot of yummy carb-loaded Malaysian delicacies which ruined his otherwise healthy diet.
:)

Anyway, my first Hokkien Mee on my recent getaway to Singapore was in the new Vivo City Shopping Center in Telok Blangah (near Sentosa Island). The Vivo City food court has an interesting concept - they have 2 separate sections : Halal (named Banquet) and Non-Halal (named Kopitiam):
The 2 Sections of the Food Court....

The food court was funky and modern - with cute retro plastic chairs and bright colour scheme that made the place very upbeat. Of course, I gravitated to the Non-Halal section and quickly scoured the place for a Hokkien Mee stall. Eventually, I found one deep inside, almost at the end of the food court area:
The Stall of My Choice....

I asked the old uncle manning the stall for a plate and happily exchanged 4 Singapore Dollars for the long awaited dish:
The Singaporean Hokkien Mee....

As it was a food court, I was hoping for the best but expecting the worst.
(As food courts usually serve horrible food which people only buy because it's convenient)

However, I was very pleasantly surprised.
The noodles - supple yet moist without any starchy aftertaste.
The sauce - bursting with deliciously savoury flavour of the eggs mixed with garlic and chicken stock.
The sambal/ chili sauce was also pretty good - fragrant without being too spicy.
(It tastes even better when you squeeze the lime on it as it gives it that fresh sour zing)

My only complaint is that the prawns were horrible - they didn't taste very fresh and all the flavour and texture had been boiled right out of their skinny little bodies... but otherwise, the Hokkien Mee was nice overall.

As you can see, the Singaporean version of Hokkien Mee is very different from ours here in Malaysia. Ours is dark, rich, fragrant and tastes wonderfully sinful whilst theirs is light, "ching" (clear) and tastes loads healthier somehow - probably mainly because it doesn't come with pieces of "chee yauw char" (deep fried pig fat).
(Any non-Malaysians curious about our local Hokkien Mee? - If yes, click here for a review I did 0n a coffeeshop in PJ...)

I know a shopping center food court would not be considered a good place to look for authentic and delicious local food but it's convenient lah. My trip to Singapore was only for 3 days and I didn't have time to go look for the famous hawker centres/ coffee shops that are not in the main city/ shopping areas.

If you have time though, the hawker centre in the main Serangoon Gardens area (which is about 20 minutes away from the Orchard Road area) has a great Hokkien Mee stall.
(Although the one in Vivo City is great by food court standards)

So, it's: Delicious and affordable Singaporean Hokkien Mee in a clean and modern food court BUT Singapore Dollars to Malaysian Ringgit forex tends to hurt the wallets of poor Malaysians like myself!

Summary Information:
Hup Kee Hokkien Mee @ Vivo City Food Court, Singapore

Opening Hours: 11am till late.
Phone: -
Address: Level B2, Kopitiam food Court, Vivo City Shopping Centre, Telok Blangah, Singapore.

NOT HALAL


OTHER REVIEWS:
- Jos Loves Food



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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Baby Back

Pork ribs and more in Hartamas....

The Dinner

"That's such a strange location for a restaurant famous for it's pork dishes....", I thought to myself... "It's on top of an Islamic Bank!"
Riblees Exterior

Anyway, overall the location of the new Riblees is pretty convenient and easy to find. It's perched on top of the Al Rajhi Bank in the main Hartamas area and is surrounded by free parking lots...
(And of course, when I don't say "free" I don't mean that it is easy to find parking there - it's usually very hard actually - but at least you don't have to pay for it)
**
(Need another landmark?: It's more or less right behind the Hartamas outlet of the tacky disco gym - True Fitness)
(** Update in 2010: Sorry this is no longer applicable. Parking ticket meter machine thingies have been installed since last year - it's not expensive but still, free is better, right?)

As for the interior, it is nice - comfortable and classy, without being too extravagant. You can choose between the romantic indoor area or the more relaxed outdoor balcony area:
Riblees Interior

(The lighting was a bit dim though so please forgive the bad photos)

There is a pretty extensive menu of Western dishes, mainly focusing on pork. After some deliberation, we started off the night with the Nachos, Honey Squid and Bacon Quesidillas:

Clockwise from top left: Nachos, Honey Squid and Bacon Quesidillas

Overall, the starters were just OK.
(Lenny had been raving about how the Nachos were nice so I suppose I was expecting a bit too much)

The prices were fair for the serving size and the taste was pretty good for the nachos and the quesidillas (although I was hard pressed to find any bacon in it) but I found the deep fried honey squid cloyingly sweet and a bit too sticky.

For the mains, we chose the Nori Pork Steak and Riblees' specialty - the Baby Back Ribs:
The Baby Back Ribs and the Nori Cheese Pork Steak

I was curious about this fusion pairing of Nori (Japanese seaweed), cheese and pork. It sounded interesting but I must say that when I tasted it, I was pretty let down. The texture of the pork was ok - not very tender but definately not dry either (medium tenderness) - but the combination of the cheese and the nori with the pork was too salty for my tastebuds.

The main thing though is that I detest being served what looks like the typical supermarket mixed frozen vegetables on the side - not just that I don't like how it tastes, but I think it shows a lack of care/ passion in the preparation the overall dish.

The Baby Back Ribs on the other hand, is a better choice.
The ribs are pretty big and comes served with a side of curly fries, corn on the cob as well as a teeny salad and barbeque sauce. As with the pork steak, the meat was fragrant but not as tender as I would have liked. I have to say though - it is really worth the price (RM29++) for the size and I wouldn't mind ordering it again the next time I get a craving for something meaty.

Oh, I forgot to take a photo of it but the Creamy Prawn Pasta at Riblees is delicious! - a generous serving of thick, fragrant carbonara pasta topped with several BIG prawns. It's a bit too much for one person to finish (you may get "jelak" about half way through) but I'm definately going to try my level best the next time I go back.
:)

As for dessert we chose the Chocolate Mudcake Ala Mode and the Hot Chocolate Sundae:
The Mudcake and the Hot Chocolate Sundae

Nothing much to comment about these actually - they were nothing special... Just a simple way to cap off the night if you have to have dessert. If not, don't bother.

So it's: Simple, comfortable setting with friendly staff, good range of food (except desserts) and generous portions BUT only tastes OK and small selection of desserts and wine.

Restaurant Review
Summary Sheet:


Riblee's @ Wisma CKL, Mont Kiara (on top of the Al Rahji Bank)

Taste: 6
Ambience : 6
Service : 6
Price** : RM 50/++ per person
Parking: Painful at peak hours

** Approximation - 3 course meal, excluding drinks
Telephone No.: 03-6201 0180
Opening Hours: 12noon to 3pm, 5pm till late

NOT HALAL




OTHER REVIEWS:
- Chong's Loft
- Pasan Kia
- It's A Mei Leng's World
- chouB's corner ;)
- Serendipity In The Making


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Monday, June 25, 2007

How Far Would You Go To Win A Car?

Some time back, when I was on holiday, I watched a bit of this Italian game show called Distraction. I only caught it about halfway through, but my jaw pretty much hit the floor.

From what I understand, they start off with about 6 contestants and there will then be several rounds of challenges. The contestants will slowly be eliminated and the final contestant stands to win a brand new car.

Yeah, sounds very normal so far, right?

Well, the round I watched: It was the final 2 contestants answering questions while stuck in a phone booth... and every time they answered correctly, a naked person will join them in the phone booth!
O_o

Ai-yai-yai....
Damn, those people were brave!
(This was done in front of a live studio audience)

And it wasn't just naked men or naked women - it was a mix of both genders, young and old, fat and thin - with the only thing in common being their total lack of clothing.
*blush*
(Thank goodness there was some well placed pixelation on the TV screen to blur out their naughty bits though)

(It turns out that there are various other, sometimes painful, elimination rounds on this show: Find out more here at Wikipedia)

At first, I thought that this game show is crazy for a civilized nation but one night, Pat told me of an even crazier one from Russia that makes it pale in comparison.
(Apparently it's not on the air anymore but was incredibly popular for the one season that it was)

This loony Russian game show was called The Intercept... and the rule of the game was simple:
1) Steal a car (!!) from downtown Moscow,
2) Evade the police as long as you can, and
3) If you can avoid the police arresting you for at least 35 minutes, you win a car!
Oh, and btw: The police carry live ammunition with them.
Yes, you heard me: LIVE AMMUNITION.
(You can check out a bit of the show here on YouTube)

Hmmmmm, makes our Malaysian game shows seem pretty tame and boring, don't you think?
Haha...

I doubt that any versions of these game shows will ever make it as local spin-offs on our shores but thank God for that - having our darling Mat Rempits zooming around town is enough! If we have weekly rounds of high speed car chases around KL, I will just have to lock myself in the house.
(Oh, and I cringe to imagine seeing naked Makcik/ Pakcik types on screen in the local version of Distraction)

PS/ Yes - I haven't updated on food for a long time - super busy with work...(sorry!)

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Photo-less Food Review

Sorry, you'll just have to use your imagination this time....

I will start by apologising profusely that there are no photos whatsoever for this restaurant review entry....
(There were very few people in the restaurant and I agreed with P not to "act all touristy in a nice restaurant")

Anyway, if the food wasn't nice at all then I wouldn't have bothered to post up anything... but this new outlet of the ever expanding Crystal Jade family is definately worth a try if you're ever in the Vivo City Shopping Centre (Singapore).
:)

THE AMBIENCE:
The place was definately more upmarket as compared to the other Crystal Jades - the decor is modern yet very Asian (strong red and black colour scheme with Chinese embellishments) and there is a high ratio of wait staff to patrons. There is also a pretty good view of the sea from inside the restaurant (if you take a window seat).

THE FOOD:
The Peking Duck
The skin is gloriously crispy, with just the right balance of fat (just enough to give it a nice taste without killing you)... And when you wrap it up in the rice skin with a bit of the sweet dark sauce, leek and cucumber.....
*droool*
Glorious!
(Although P insists that he has tasted better ones in London and KL)
:)
We chose to have the remaining meat fried up with some Ee-Fu mee (Longevity Noodles, I think) and that was really nice too!

The Crispy Pork ("Siew Yoke")
Overall it tasted ok - not too salty, a nice balance of fat and meat, crispy golden brown skin and tender meat. However, the serving was just too tiny!
(I'm not sure I'd order this again)

The Kailan Fried With Garlic
So simple yet so nice.
:)
The kailan was fresh and fragrant, with a nice texture - not too hard and fibrous, as some kailan can be.
(Yum)


Of course, the food there isn't cheap - the half portion of duck was SGD35++, the teeny serving of pork was SGD12++ and the Kailan was SGD15++...
(Approximate prices - I lost the receipt, sorry)
... but still, it's worth a try if you want to have some delicious Chinese food with a nice view of the sea.

There.
That's my 2 cents worth.

So, it's: Nice restaurant which has a great variety of classic Chinese dishes on the Ground Floor of the new Vivo City shopping center BUT expensive considering the serving size and Singapore Dollars to Malaysian Ringgit forex hurts very badly.

Summary Information:
Crystal Jade Dine In @ Vivo City, Singapore

Opening Hours: 11am till late.
Phone: +65 6278 5626
Address: 1 Harbourfront Walk, #01-112, Vivo City Shopping Centre, Bukit Blangah, Singapore .

NOT HALAL


OTHER REVIEWS:
- Sparklette Food & Travel
- For The Love Of Food - Indulge


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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Melancholic

It's such a nice sunny day....
.... but I'm feeling down so it's time for a dose of James Morrison!:
(Original Music Videos)
(Home Made Video but Good Audio)

There.
I hope you enjoyed a serving of melancholy on this beautiful Wednesday morning.

Me? I can't believe it's the middle of the week so quickly (again).

There just seems to be so much to do and so little time.
Sometimes I really feel like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.... zipping here and there, looking at my watch and gasping "Oh no... I'm late, I'm late!".

Of course, it really doesn't help to have a mini choir group made up of my parents and P in the background who constantly chime: "You work too much! Talk to your boss! Get a raise - you don't earn enough to justify your work hours!".
(These are the same 3 people who on other days, tell me how much they will be proud of me if I'm a successful career woman and can take care of myself financially)

*sigh*
The thing is that I have talked to him.
... but I really don't think anything's going to change anytime soon.

"Yes, yes... your performance is very good. I'm very happy... etc etc."
Then, in the end, it turns out that my increment is only 5%.
(Please don't say that it sounds like a lot - my base pay is very low so it comes up to very little... and btw, inflation this year is about 3%, so that means I've only just caught up and essentially gotten a 2% increment)

And when I ask him for more, he said he will try to push HR for it....
... but then he left my formal letter in his in-tray for about a week until I gave up and just took it back.

I love my manager, I love my job...
... but some days are hard.

Sorry.
Don't mind me.
(This may all sound a little pathetic/ depressing)
:)
It just feels better to let it all out....
(Hope you don't mind listening to me whinge)


Hugs,
J

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

P.S. Cafe

A cute little cafe in the Paragon shopping center on Orchard Road....

While on my little getaway in Singapore, P and I were feeling a little tired during our mini-marathon around the city area so we decided to look for a place to get a little mid-day bite and caffeine boost.

We were actually looking for the Bakerzin outlet (which is on the 2nd floor) but chanced upon the P.S. Cafe (which stands for Project Shop Cafe) on the 3rd level of the Paragon Shopping Centre on Orchard Road. This cafe is a part of the Project Shop/ Blood Bros concept store and looked pretty interesting so we decided to try it out instead (This brand positions themselves to sell basic but high quality casual clothing).

There is a choice between the small but cosy dining area "inside" the clothes store (pretty much right next to all the clothes) or another small but airy section outside in the shopping center area. At that time, the outside area was super packed so we got a table inside:
A fuzzy photo of P.S. Cafe....

We were only there for coffee and dessert but looking at the menu (and other people's food), it seemed that there is a delicious array of food (from light sandwiches and salads to slightly heavier mains), desserts (cakes, muffins, etc) and drinks (coffee, fresh juices and even wine) there.

What caught my eye though was this racy magazine cover hung up at my eye level, near our table:
O_o....

Haha.
I cannot imagine that making it into Malaysia without some heavy editing with a black marker pen by some Customs officers.... Anyway, after some contemplation, we decided to go for the Banana Cream Pie (which cost SGD$12++.... ouch):
The Banana Cream Pie....

I have to admit : Initially, I was very disappointed when I saw the Banana Cream Pie.

"What the... ? It's not even a real pie!", I thought to myself.

"I can't believe I'm paying almost RM30 for a cookie with some sliced bananas, caramel and cream on top!", I continued to grumble.

When I ate each component on its own, it wasn't any good at all: The cookie base was too dry and crumbley, the sliced bananas were so normal and the topping of caramel+whipped cream+chocolate sauce was way too sweet...
... but when you eat it all together, it tastes SO good!
(Taste and textural perfection. Yum..... )

I'm not sure if I will go back anytime soon just to eat it though....
(EXPENSIVE!)
Don't get me wrong - it's very nice... but I can't accept that it costs so much.
(I mean, if I convert the price of the pie and my coffee to Malaysian Ringgit, I can have a filling meal at a decent restaurant or about 6 meals at a hawker centre)
(I'm a stingy girl at heart lah)
(Or more accurately, I'm just not rich enough to be so generous with money)
:(

(Ooh, and btw, I don't think that this place is Halal - it looks like very few places in the Singapore city center are)

So, it's: Small and cosy cafe which has friendly staff, a good variety of light meals and desserts on the 3rd Floor of the popular upmarket Paragon shopping center BUT Singapore Dollars to Malaysian Ringgit forex tends to hurt the wallets of poor Malaysians like myself!

Summary Information:
P.S. Cafe @ Paragon Shopping Centre

Opening Hours: 11am till late.
Phone: +65 6735 6765
Address: #03-41/44, Paragon Shopping Centre, 290 Orchard Road, Singapore 238859.

NOT HALAL


OTHER REVIEWS:
- Thursday Club
- Sparklette Food & Travel
- Yum.sg


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Monday, June 11, 2007

Back In KL

*streeeeetch*
*yawn*
Oh man - I'm actually so tired from my break in Singapore!
:)

I guess I was just trying to cram too much into the 3 days that I was there.... And P was no help either - he kept saying that we cannot waste time because it's so limited...
It's funny: He kept teasing me by asking me to chew my food faster!
(I'm a pretty slow eater as compared to him - he's usually finished by the time I'm halfway done)

Still, I had lots of fun walking around, eating, shopping and just enjoying the whole experience of Singapore.... I can't explain into too much length here but these are the main things I have observed about Singapore:
1) The national past time in Singapore seems to be hanging around Orchard Road.
Seriously, there were hordes of people! At times, I felt a little overwhelmed by the swarms of people walking around the street area and inside the shopping centers:
Humans everywhere....


2) Singaporeans love designer brands.
It seemed like every other girl was carrying a designer bag - anything from Guess (which is already not that cheap) to the newest Burberry (which I love but costs almost 3,000 Singapore Dollars) to the newest Fendi (which costs EVEN more - almost 6,000 Singapore Dollars!).

There were even loooong lines outside some stores (like Coach and Gucci) that were having some discounts to clear off their Spring/ Summer collections.
(Mind you, getting 30% discount off (about 300 Singapore Dollars) a Coach bag is saving a lot... but on the other hand, 700 bucks is still a LOT to pay for a bag - to me, anyway)


3) Wah, (some) Singaporean girls wear very skimpy clothing!
I'm pretty open minded but some of these girls walking around Orchard Road (in broad daylight) had very little cloth on their bodies... bare back halter tops, really mini skirts, etc... They kinda looked like they planned to go clubbing straight after they finished lunch.
O_o
Haha...
Well, who am I to judge them anyway?
If they are comfortable enough with their bodies to bare so much skin, then it's really up to them.
:)


All in all, I had fun in Singapore.
Will update more on the food there as soon as I can.
Till then.....


Hugs,
J

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Singapore, Here I Come

Yay!
I've taken leave tomorrow and I'll be spending a long weekend in Singapore.
:)
It's not exactly an all out exotic getaway but I am really looking forward to this short break.
(.... ooh, and the Singapore Sale is on now!)

I'm hoping that I'll also be able to taste some yummy food while I'm there too - especially the Singaporean version of Hokkien Mee, which I love - but I do hope my bank account doesn't suffer too much.
Haha...

Anyway, I'll update on any delicious food I come across next week.
Till then....


Hugs,
J

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Soi 23

A fairly new Thai restaurant (<1 year) in the main KL area....

Realising that we hadn't had any Asian food in our weekly dinner schedule for quite a while, we decided to try out a fairly new Thai restaurant called Soi 23.

The Dinner

Soi 23 is located on the 23rd floor of the Pacific Regency Apartment Hotel (previously known as Wisma PanGlobal), just off the main Jalan P. Ramlee/ Jalan Sultan Ismail area. It's near the end of a small road called Jalan Punchak, pretty much right behind the Shangri-la hotel:
Soi 23....

The ambience there was nice - classy without being pretentious and mostly modern, with a few traditional Thai touches in the decorations. The restaurant was also very very quiet (we were one of the only 3 tables dining there that night) so we managed to get a really nice table: a mini private section, separated from the main area by some curtains, with a large floor to ceiling glass window overlooking the KL skyline:

Restaurant interior....

Scanning the menu, there was a good range of Thai dishes as well as a forgettable section of Western dishes (Hot dogs? At a Thai restaurant?? - Strange). The wine list was also OK - but seemed a little overpriced (there was nothing there for less than RM100++).
(The Chardonnay we had that night was delicious though... )

First of all, let me apologise for the bad food photos...
On top of the dim lighting, the wait staff there were just too helpful! They immediately served the food onto our plates so I couldn't get any nice photos at all.

Anyway, we started off the night with the prawn Tom Yum soup:
Tom Yum Goong

It didn't some cheap - about 14 bucks per person - but the soup was pretty good. It was smooth, sour and spicy and came with a generous serving of prawns.

Moving on to the mains, we chose the exotic sounding Morning Glory stir-fried with Belacan (which turned out to be Kangkung... Haha), the Deepfried Soft Shell Crabs, Basil Beef and Green Curry Chicken:
All the food, served on my plate: (Left to right) The Stir-fried Morning Glory, Green Curry Chicken, Basil Beef and Soft Shell Crab...

Overall, the dishes were ok (good but not great).
Nothing was wrong with them particularly but they just weren't fantastic....
(The prices were also slightly pricey considering the serving size)

Out of the 4, the soft shell crabs were outstanding though!
The crabs were fresh without any "fishy" smell at all, and beautifully crispy and light without being oily.
(I would go back to Soi, if only to eat this)

Having fire in our bellies from all the spicy food, we chose to skip dessert and instead just sipped on our Chardonnay to cool down our tongues. I'm not sure if I'll rush back here for another round of dining (the food's not THAT great) but it's definately a nice quiet and sophisticated place to bring out a loved one or some close friends for an intimate Thai dinner that won't break the bank.

So, it's: OK food (great soft shell crabs though), nice ambience, attentive and friendly waiters BUT a bit pricey for the serving size and expensive parking.

Restaurant Review
Summary Sheet:

Soi 23 @ Pacific Regency Apartment Hotel, KL

Taste: 6
Ambience : 7
Service : 7
Price** : RM60++ per person
Parking: Expensive (There's a bloody man who charges 10 bucks for parking outside!)

** Approximation - Asian style sharing meal, excluding drinks
Telephone No.: 03-2332 7777
Opening Hours: 12noon till late

NO PORK SERVED




OTHER REVIEWS:
- KahWai.com


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