The sparkling lights, the jingly tunes, the cakes, the parties and the alcohol are in abundance. It is Christmas again in London Town. It is a beautiful time of the year and a happy one for me and many others. It is a time to catch up with love ones, decorate the house, the desk or the shop. It is a time to get an advent calendar and guiltlessly indulge in a chocolate a day for the next 24 days, even if it is only 9.30am in the morning.
Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you and your family have a marvellous time.
Legendary Hong Kong is a simple Hong Kong-styled restaurant or Cha Chan Teng as it is commonly known in Hong Kong. It managed to bring together the best of such a place and executed it brilliantly in Singapore. The food is top notch, the prices are affordable, the service is efficient and the place is clean. The simple metal framed chairs, tightly arranged tables, mosaic tiles, chubby booth seats and walls filled with tacky photos really give the place an authentic feel.
There are 4 category of food on offer in Legendary Hong Kong. The most popular category is the Roast Duck & Char Siew and that’s what we kicked off with. The London Roast Duck lived up to the hype. The skin was crispy, meat was tasty and juicy. Brings me back to famous roast duck restaurant by the name of Four Seasons in London. The roast pork was also great. Crunchy and thin skin crowning a tasty pork chunk. Hainanese chicken was soft and juicy. Delicious with the ginger and spring onion condiment. Char Siew was meaty with a good touch of sweetness. Overall, top class barbecue meat. Good ingredients executed brilliantly.
Moving on to their Noodle & Congee (Porridge) menu, I zoomed in to their selection of Wan Tan Mee. As you will find in Hong Kong, there are a wide variety of meat or toppings/side combination that you can have. I picked the Braised Beef Brisket & Tendon Soup Noodles. I am not a fan of the Hong Kong style Wan Tan Mee, where the noodles are done in a more al-dante manner and there is a strong taste of alkaline but thought i have to try it again. The braised beef brisket and tendons were wholesome. Melt-in-your-mouth juicy beef. The soup was tasty but not over-powering the subtly of the dish. A good wholesome bowl of noodles.
3rd up was their Traditional Bread and Tart menu. It had to be the Custard Crust Bun (or also known as Pineapple Bun), a Crispy Egg Tart and a nice hot cup of homely Hong Kong Milk Tea. For the uninitiated, the Hong Kong Milk Tea is a unique strong black tea served with evaporated milk to give it silkiness and normally gently sweeten. They do a wicked one here. The bun and egg tart was good, but was a touch cold for my liking.
I didn’t get to try anything from their Dim Sum menu this time round. Will be back to fulfil the task.
This restaurant is kids friendly. There are baby chairs and plenty of room for prams. It charges 10% for service charge and 7% GST.
Legendary Hong Kong
63 Jurong West Central 3,
Provisional Unit #03-80
Jurong Point 2 Shopping Center
I am finally at Cuppage Plaza to check out some Japanese restaurants. I have heard that there are many hidden gems tucked in this old-school shopping complex. There is nothing much here apart from Japanese restaurants and Japanese KTVs (adult karaoke joints). Kaiho Sushi, on the 3rd floor, wasn’t quite what I expected to find. It looks like your average basic Japanese restaurant with its Japanese eccentricity like random wall adverts, cloth curtains and cute ornaments by the cash counter. Your perception will change immediately as you catch a glimpse of the professionally churned out dishes. You will come to the realisation that this is not your average Japanese sushi restaurant. Kaiho Sushi serves fresh sashimi, sushi and will also offer the same fresh ingredients grilled or deep fried or in vinegar dressing. Having said that, it also comes with a price tag to match, which I thought is rich given the poor setting of Cuppage Plaza.
I started off with salmon and yellowtail sashimi. They were fresh, but the salmon didn’t deliver the punch as it was sliced too thinly. I didn’t quite notice it before, but the chunkiness of the salmon does matter quite a bit to the experience.
Next up was a selection of sushi. I ordered sweet prawn (amaebi), yellowtail (hamachi), spicy salmon roe (mentaiko) and salmon (sake). The prices above are per piece! The sweet prawn was fresh and fat. The gentle sweetness and the freshness gave it the complete package. There was a nice dose of wasabi in between the prawn and the sushi rice giving it a nice kick. The rice was beautifully flavoured with vinegar and ever so sticky. The salmon portion on the sushi is much chunkier – perfect.
The chawanmushi came with crabstick and and Japanese fish cake, which were very popular with the kids. Apart from that it was pretty ordinary, not exceptionally smooth as hoped.
Tako Sunomono or sliced octopus and cucumber with seaweed in vinegar dressing was interesting. There is a variety of textures in the dish with the crunchiness from the cucumber, the slight chewiness from the seaweed and the softness of the octopus. The dressing is every so subtle not to over-power the natural taste of the 3 other ingredients. I think it might be better with the scallop or ebi? Will have to find out next time.
Hotate Mentai Yaki or Scallop in Spicy Roe Paste was definitely the highlight of the meal. The paste or sauce from the spicy roe was rich and flavoursome, aided by the slightly burnt flavour. I could have the sauce all night long. The scallops where sliced into smaller chunks, soft and fresh. A must try.
Soft Shell Crab Tempura was decent. Not the best I had, but sufficiently crunchy. I would have liked it to be more fluffy and crunchy at the same time. The dipping sauce was also average. Maybe stay away from the tempura here.
California hand roll was beautifully made. The seaweed was crisp and the ingredients were held nicely together with a good amount of mayo. Having said that, I think the avocado seems to be missing…
Kaiho Sushi is a good Japanese sushi restaurant. The service was prompt and professional. But with the price range it is charging, I think there are very stiff competition out there. At about S$80 per head, I think I will probably be spending it elsewhere. It will need a major renovation to bring its interior inline with the higher end prices.
This restaurant is kids friendly. There are baby chairs and sufficient room for prams. It charges 10% for service charge and 7% GST.
If you are looking for salted egg yolk crab then you should definitely be heading to Keng Eng Kee Seafood (or KEK) in Alexandra Village. The salted egg yolk sauce is divine. It is rich and flavoursome. The balance of richness and fragrance from melted butter, the saltiness from salted egg yolk and the wholesomeness of evaporated milk make this a sauce to die for. Luckily there is usually a generous helping of the sauce all over the crab, or else there would have been many cases of uncivilised fights for it in KEK. It is an absolutely delicious dish.
Keng Eng Kee is an overgrown coffee shop from years of successfully satisfying many who craved for good value great Chinese home cooked meals. Tucked in the middle of “car workshops central” not far from Ikea and Queenstown Shopping Centre, tables are spread across two shops, one of it the original coffee shop and the other is a small air conditioned unit with seating for 40pax. Service is top notch. There are plenty of knowledgeable waiting staff and attentive cleaners. My orders came out promptly even on a busy Friday night. Had to wait quite a while for the crab as they make it in fresh large batches. Worth the wait!
Marmite Chicken is another popular dish at KEK (although is certainly isn’t the most photogenic). On biting into it, you instantly appreciate why. It is crunchy, juicy, sweet and marmite-y. As with sweet and sour chicken, the crunchiness is critical to the success of this dish and there are plenty to “crunch” about on it. Next on the “recommended” list is definitely Claypot Braised Pork Liver (S$10.00 for a small portion). I don’t think this is a dish that is widely available in other Tze Char places as I haven’t come across it. You get perfectly cooked liver in Chinese wine gingery dark sauce. The liver slices were soft, tasty and ever so slightly chewy. Just like the crab, the sauce packed quite some ummph.
Moving down the list, I get down to “Moonlight” Hor Fun. Skillfully fried hor fun (broad soft white noodles) with prawn, sliced squid and chinese sausage topped with a raw egg (supposedly moon!). This is a simple but yet very delicious dish. The flavoring was perfect, the noodles were soft and the ingredients were fresh.
Another hot favourite among regulars is Mingzhu Roll. A small order of this gets you 6 pieces of crunchy fried beancurd parcels stuffed with prawn, mushroom, salted egg yolk and ham. I didn’t get to try any of it as it was an absolute favourite of my little one. I think he liked the crunchiness. Will share when I get a taste next time.
The Sambal Kangkung (chili and prawn paste stir-fried vegetable) was different from the conventional ones. There is a generous amount of dried baby prawns which gave it a very strong flavour, over and above the strong flavour from the sambal. Good if you are looking for the extra edge, but a bit too much for my personal liking.
All in all, Keng Eng Kee is a great Tze Char (Chinese) restaurant. There are plenty of amazingly delicious dishes to choose from, especially the Salted Egg Yolk Crab and the “Moonlight” Hor Fun. Coupling that with the prompt friendly service and how kind it is on the wallet, it is definitely high on my favourite list. I do need to remember to balance the order of “strong flavoured” dishes with more “mildly flavoured” dishes as the strong dishes at KEK really packed a punch!
This restaurant doesn’t charge for service and is baby & kids friendly.
Sushi Airways is the brain child of ex-Grand Hyatt chef Wong Eng Chun. It is based on the idea of fresh seafood that are air-flown 4 times a week to the little city state of Singapore. Carrying on the theme and for a little bit of fun, the restaurant is modelled as the interior of an old-school, propeller airplane (a 1930s Douglas DC-30 for those who knows a thing or two about planes!). You will find in-flight food menu, many rounded-edge rectangular windows, aluminium cladding throughout and even air stewardess in full uniforms. As it is perched on the 1st floor, it offers a relaxing spot for you to watch the flow of lives in Kampong Glam while digging into some good sushi.
We kicked off the meal with Uni or Sea Urchin, a prized delicacy. It was served in its shell. The dark round shell with long pointy spikes is quite a spectacle – has an “alien” feel to it. There are 5 pieces of fat tongue-like roes in the core of the shell. The yellow to orange coloured roe was rich, creamy and has a sweet, fragrant and briny flavour reminiscent of the ocean. I am not sure what to make of the added fragrant flavour, don’t think it helps to bring out the flavour. Instead, might have distracted me from enjoying it more.
Next up was the Sashimi Moriwase (Sashimi Set). You will get three slices each of six types of seasonal seafood. In this occasion, we had Tai (Sea Bream), Akami (Blue Fin Tuna), Kajiki (Swordfish), Sake (Salmon), Shirako (Sperm Sac, yes, you read correctly!) and another unknown seafood (?). Unsurprisingly the sperm sac stole the show. There were raised eye brows, shock and horror, and laughter when it was introduced. But it was the taste and flavour that won the credit. It had a foie gra like texture, soft and melts in your mouth. The flavour is very subtle and brought out nicely by it being ever so slightly torched. Who would have thought, but i guess more sperm sacs for me next time!
Next was an off the menu maki roll as recommended by my friends who are regulars. It is apparently known as the “special ebi roll”. Special it was indeed. It was beautifully made with deep fried prawn in the maki core and topped with a generous dollop of crab mayonnaise paste. The crabby flavour went well with the richness of the mayo and the crunchiness and sweetness from the deep fried prawn. 37-pages in-flight food menu
Sushi platter came with plenty of variety in good portion size. You will have spotted in the photo above that they had more of the yummy sperm sacs and uni. I felt slightly underwhelm on leaving Sushi Airways. With seafood flown in 4-times a week, I was expecting something more amazing. I was expecting off the chart freshness and variety of seafood that’s not commonly found in Singapore. I think I may have been expecting too much. It is quite a good Japanese restaurant with bit of a twist in the heart of Kampong Glam. It is definitely worth checking out in you are in the area.
This place is kids friendly but you will have to muscle the pram up to the 1st floor.
Kok Sen on Keong Siak Road came highly recommended by many. It is such a Zi Char institution (Chinese restaurant) that it will be impossible to get a table without reservation even as early as 6.30pm on the weekend. The food is fantastic and there are many great signature dishes that stands out as Singapore’s best. Having said that, the place is unpleasantly dirty, poorly organised and you can forget about getting a smile from the front of house. It is such a shame that many food-lovers are forced to enjoy the outstanding dishes in such a 3rd grade environment. This makes going to Kok Sen like going to visit the in-laws. You know that it is good for the kids to spend time with the in-laws but you know that you will be nagged and tortured while you are there!
One of Kok Sen’s most popular dish is definitely the Claypot Yong Tau Foo (Stuffed Beancurd/Tofu). You will find lightly deep-fried stuffed beancurd, aubergine and pepper in a wholesome thick gravy-like sauce. This is an amazingly delicious dish. I don’t know if it is the finely chopped ginger and garlic that is in the sauce, or the soft, springy and fresh fish/prawn/squid stuffing or the coriander garnishing, but this is a powerful package of a dish.
Another favourite in Kok Sen is Kai Lan stir fried with garlic and roast pork. This is a simple dish but yet gives satisfaction at many levels. There is a good crunch on bitting into the Kai Lan and there is plenty of juice left in it. The roast pork was just nicely soften and rounds up this dish.
Classic Yang Zhou Fried Rice was made beautifully. Love the combination of shrimps, char siu (barbecue pork) and egg.
Will need to report again on the other signature dishes like prawn paste chicken, prawn hor fun, black bean pork ribs with bitter gourd.
I really wish Kok Sen could improve the eating experience beyond the quality of its food. The owners need to put a smile in their heart and make it a joy for their staff to work there. They need a proper table reservation and allocation procedure. The place need a proper spring clean. Please don’t expect customers to sit next to a filthy smelly drain on the back lane. Let’s expand the kitchen capacity so that dishes can be churned out quicker. Like many patrons, I totally love their food, but please let us have it in a clean and enjoyable environment.
This place is kids friendly but will be very tight for a pram.
Char on Guillemard Road caused quite a stir when it first launched 24 months ago. It created two opposing clans, one worshipping it for bringing them the best char siew ever, the other want it to be banished because its “char siew” isn’t char siew. Char siew or char siu is Cantonese barbecue pork and it usually has a red shiny glaze finish and rarely comes with any sauce. The char siew in Char is not red, it also comes with a generous amount of black sweet sauce. Nonetheless, there is one important point that both clans agree on. They both love the taste of it. The melt in your mouth meat, coupled with the rich sweet black sauce (honey, dark soya sauce, sugar, hoisin sauce, five spice?) is absolutely delicious. The balance of fatty and lean meat is critical, giving it a moist and juicy mouthful. Sinking your teeth into this is like crashing onto the sofa after completing the marathon in personal best time….absolute heaven! Make sure you pre-order when you make your reservation to avoid disappointment. Char is located on Guillermard Road which runs parallel to Geylang Road. Geylang Road is home to some of the best Singapore local food restaurants (among other things). Its location conveys what Char is trying to offer. It is offering the well loved Cantonese cuisine, but with an infusion of Western techniques, herbs and spices. Unlike the usual Zi Char restaurant, Char is fully air-conditioned with trendy light fittings and dotted with modern paintings. There is no sign of horrible red catering chairs, no poorly taken photos of food on the wall and no inappropriately dressed overage beer-aunties! The menu is simple. Focusing on only the best they can offer rather than trying to please everyone. There is a wide selection of craft beers. It is a funked up 21st century Zi Char restaurant.
The Roast Pork Belly (Sio Bak or Siew Yuk) was the next celebrity on the list. As with the Char Siew, it is not your ordinary affair. It looks similar enough to its cousin, but there was a mild sweetness and it doesn’t have the strong five spice flavour. The crispy skin had a glowing golden colour and crunchy like a piece of potato chip. The meat was moist and flavoursome. Top notch if you like the twist. I do!
Next on the menu was the Roast Duck. The skin was thin and crispy with a glossy shine on it. The crunch of the skin combined with succulent meat was a bliss. But there was nothing outstanding about it. In isolation, I think it would have been a great dish. But in the presence of the Special Char Siew and Roast Roast Pork Belly it was relegated to a commoner.
Apart from the roast meats, Char also has a selection of other meat and vegetable dishes. We had the recommended Minced Pork with Aubergine Casserole. This is another classic dish on the Cantonese menu. It was well cooked. It came pipping hot and I loved it for its heartiness. Salty rich dark sauce incredibly enveloping the tasty minced pork and fresh aubergine.
Stir fried Dou Miao with garlic was delicious. Carefully cooked to retain the freshness of the vegetable and finely flavoured with garlic and a touch of salt.
I love Char. It is a place where I can go at any occasion and with any food-lover. High quality fresh ingredients made with plenty of attention to details. It delivered great Chinese food in a modern and comfortable environment. Perhaps that’s “casual dining”?!
I was really excited about going to Dutch Colony Coffee Co. on Frankle Avenue this morning. I have read so much about the incredibly wonderful coffee that they represent. The place has an industrial warehouse design style with a touch of modern chic. The ceiling is raw with exposed wiring, the support structure of the center piece wooden table is made out of steel water pipes and there is a long bar with black grill cupboards above it. They soften the functional and ruggedness of the industrial design by using warm lighting and dark colours to create a cosy, relaxing and inviting venue. But do stay away from the few tables under the skylight roof in the afternoon, it can get pretty toasty there.
I had a chat with the barista while waiting for my lunch dates to arrive. The coffee is where this place comes into its element. They pride themselves with “single origin” coffee beans. These are beans sourced from one particular plantation or farm. They are not blended with other variant of beans nor beans from other plantations. A bit like your single malt vs. blended whiskey. This supposedly allow you to pinpoint it if you really like a particular single origin coffee! I guess this is coffee growers attempt at moving up the curve that wines have been enjoying.
There are single origin coffee beans from 6 different countries. There are sweet raisin & dark cocoa coffee beans from Brazil, butterscotch and caramel ones from Colombia, walnut and grapefruit ones closer ashore from Sumatra and also ones from Ethiopia, El Salvador and Mexico. After you have chosen the bean, you can enjoy it in the usual espresso-based coffee like a flat white, latte or cappuccino, etc or a brew out of the 7 different brewing apparatus, with names like steampunk brew, woodneck, V60, chemex and syphon (feels like I am back in chemistry science lab in school!).
I went for the Brazilian beans which were sourced from a plantation by the name of Fazenda Cruzeiro. I didn’t opt for any of the fancy apparatus but a good old Flat White and Cappuccino. Will come back to try those the next time. The Brazillian made a strong cuppa. It gives a thick, malty, silky feel in the mouth and has a clear hint of chocolate and nuttiness in it. It is a very flavourful and wholesome cup of coffee. It is good, very good.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the food i had. The Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich was poor. The teriyaki marinated chicken lacks the thick, rich, sweet and salty flavour you tend to associate with teriyaki sauce. It has been robbed of its dignity! The meat was too dry and the sourdough bread was uninspiring. Sweet potato fries is an interesting option, but it was too oily for my liking.
The Smoked Salmon Bagelwich didn’t fare any better. There is suppose to be a choice of bagels, but at 1pm on a Saturday, there were no bagels available and only the uninspiring sourdough bread was on offer. There was a generous serving of smoked salmon, but sadly not complemented with sufficient “luscious cream cheese” as it says on the menu.
Thai Milk Tea Loaf ($5.00) came close to saving the day. It is very moist and have a delicate milk tea flavour. It is really not bad. I also tried the Matcha Strawberry cake ($7.50), but it didn’t make the cut. I think the pairing of strawberry with green tea is a bad idea and it was too dry, even with the generous amount of cream that it came with.
In conclusion, go to Dutch Colony Coffee Co. at Frankel Avenue if you want a nice place to enjoy a fabulous cup of coffee and nothing else. It is a place that you can sit for hours and hours but stick to the coffee and don’t deviate to the cakes nor food. You will regret it.
This place provides free flow of tap water and doesn’t charge for service. It is also kids friendly.
Dinner at Forture Seafood Steam Boat restaurant on 27th March 2015 is officially the worst meal I had in quite a long while. The food was bland, overcooked in most instances and service was non-existence. It was like stepping into a taxi after the taxi driver has had many cigarettes in the car with the window closed and having him being rude to you as well. The experience was awful.
It all started with the simple pickled cucumber. I normally really enjoy digging into them as the sourness helps work up an appetite for the meal. It also has a good bite to it with a little spicy kick. The pickled cucumber I was served with had none of it. It was soggy and tasteless. It had all its life drained out of it.
The Thai Curry Fish Head was flatly lacking in sourness and the fish was severely overcooked. The subtle balance of spicy, sourness and sweetness of a Thai Curry was non-existence in the dish. Did the chef forget a vital squeeze of the lime and a dash of sugar? Was he distracted by a cat who was chasing it’s own tail? What I am left with is a bland spicy curry…..what a disaster.
Next up is one of my favourite dish, the salted egg yolk prawn. This was another disaster. The prawn wasn’t fresh and the salted egg yolk coating wasn’t salty! I didn’t even know that it is possible to have non-salty salted egg yolk? I would normally feel guilty for eating up all the egg yolk before I peel the prawn to truly enjoy the dish. No matter how much of it I am eating off this, I am getting no satisfaction from it.
Minced meat tofu was strangely sweet. I was expecting a savoury dish but it was annoyingly sweet. Is the sweetness coming from the caramelised onions? What is going on? The tofu itself was OK, but the overpowering sauce made it inedible.
Yes, you guessed it right. This was a really bad plate of sweet and sour pork. There was insufficient sweetness and sourness. The pork had no crunch to it. I am speechless!
Service doesn’t exist in this place. I had to wave my hand (in the air like I just don’t care) for a considerable amount of time before someone finally brought us the menu. Repeated the same before someone care to take my orders. And yes, repeated the same to pay for the bill. You will also be hard pressed to find a smile on the face of any of the wait staff.
I was gobsmacked as to how this restaurant can get some many things wrong in my one meal here. Time I give Gordon Ramsay a call to give someone a kick on the bum to turn back the dial on this restaurant.