Archive

@Novena

New Vietnamese shop at United Square.

imageI had been here when they just opened shop and it all was still pretty basic and semi-finished but looked much better this time around, even though the stickiness of the tables seemed to have remained.

I already had one of their Vietnamese sandwiches before which was fairly tasty already so this time I wanted to try their ‘Bun‘ instead. I ordered the version with the spring rolls, drizzled some sauce from the condiment tray over and gave it all a good mix. Taste wise this was nothing that excited me too much, mainly because there were hardly any fresh herbs in it but I appreciated the freshness that comes with a cold dish and the different textures going on, created by the thinly cut vegetables, the crunchy roasted garlic and the crispy fried rolls. The latter had actually a very nice and thin skin which seems to be hard to find outside of Vietnam.

It’s a bit setup like a better hawker stall with food, that’s okay and more than reasonable priced. If I should come back here in the future though I most likely will stick to the sandwiches.

Banh Mi 888
101 Thomson Road
#B1-06 United Square Shopping Mall
Singapore 307591
Tel: +65 6354 3858

Freshness is around.

imageWe have a new sandwich/pasta shop at Velocity and as I went to to ‘Salad Stop!’ already twice this week I wanted to give this one a try.

It was their soft opening day or something and they ran out of most of their bread choices at the time I showed up for some late dinner but thankfully there was some good looking ciabatta left so I could still start assembling my cyo (create-your-own) sandwich. The toppings of my choosing were the pulled pork, julienne cucumber, coriander, thai basil and their cilantro loaded chimichurri sauce which they let me try first before settling for it. It was served stylishly simple in a brown paper bag on a wooden board, I picked it up and I instantly started munching on. The taste was actually great, all ingredients were fresh and delicious, from the tender pork fibres, over the crunchy finely chopped cucumbers to the kick ass chimichurri. If I had to change something about this sandwich the taste definitely wouldn’t be it. I would however suggest to be a bit more generous with the ingredients as there was a lot of bread which absorbed and therefore hid some of the great flavours what didn’t do the delicious ingredients the justice they deserved. Unleash the potential.

The place itself is more casual and simple set up in a modern way, the people behind the counter were super nice and helpful, that paired with some nice sandwiches is enough to bring me back here to try more and just make sure I’ll ask for some extra sauce.

Marco Marco
238 Thomson Road
#02-26/27 Velocity@Novena Square
Singapore 307683
Tel: +65 6358 4466
http://www.marcomarco.com.sg/

It’s been a very lao time.

imageIt felt like a hundred years that I had been to ‘Lao Beijing’ but tonight I wanted to refresh my memory big time and went berserk on their menu. I spotted ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ (小笼汤包) so it came naturally to start with those favourite little steamers. Not being the prettiest of its’ kind, they were quite nice, had thin skin and a generous slurp of soup in ’em but neither the meat nor the broth had a too distinguished flavour.

imageDumpling time wasn’t over just yet so we had a round of awesome ‘Pork & Cabbage Jiao Zi‘ (boiled). The cool thing here was the cabbage, not very common and tasted great together with the fine meat mass. Aside another regular on my orders, some crunchy and slightly spicy, delicious garlic cucumbers.

imageOver to the noodles some ‘Beijing Style Zhang Jian Mian‘ (老北京炸酱面) came our way. The noodles were soft and and thin and the whole thing tasted nice refreshing with all those chopped scallions but wasn’t really like a bean sauce but more like a lightish bolognese, nonetheless good.

imageAlso the ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ was more an interpretation of the bowl I like so much. Nearly a clear broth with some minced meat and chives taking a swim in it. No sesame, no peanuts, no gooey creaminess made this not really extra special but still tasty enough to give it a like.

Even though the food was not sweeping me off my feet, it was still tasteful and delicious maybe with a slight setback caused by their  modifications on my old time favourites. It’s quite a busy and bustling place at peak hours in a bit of a warmer setting than the usual dim sum restaurants and surely has some decent dishes to offer. I might come back to try their high tea buffet as even though I’m not a big fan of such, ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ free flow doesn’t sound too bad to me.

Lao Beijing 老北京食堂
238 Thomson Road
#02-11/12 Velocity@Novena Square
Singapore 307683
Tel: +65 6358 4466
http://www.laobeijing.com.sg/

Bari-Uma opened at United Square.

imageUnited Square had a new ramen shop in their basement – one of the ‘Bari-Uma’ branches – and my mate and I wanted to go check it out tonight.

I wasn’t up for the full on tonkotsu action so I ordered the lighter ‘Shoyu Ramen‘ which tasted nice enough but was nothing too exciting and unfortunately again not sufficiently salty. Will I ever have a desert in my mouth again? As ordinary as the broth was as extravagant were the condiments, the chashu/pork belly was flame grilled and had this awesome and unusual smokey flavour and they did a great job boiling up some perfect flavoured eggs as well. Unfortunately the noodles fell a bit short behind such standards and hardly made an impression on me but the deliciously different ‘Boiled Gyoza‘ were top and sure made up for it.

Trying new ramen I tend to set my expectations very high and even though ‘Bari-Uma’ didn’t quite make the bar it is still good having another reliable ramen source so close by and since I haven’t tried their signature ‘Tonkotsu Ramen‘ yet there’s still some things to discover here.

Ramen Bari-Uma ばり馬のらーめん
101 Thomson Road
#B1-08 United Square
Singapore 307591
Tel: +65 6354 3711
http://www.with-link.co.jp/eng/index.html

Raw fish from around the corner.

imageThe night before our holidays we wanted to have some quick Japanese without too much traveling involved so we went ‘Rakuichi’ at the Oasia Hotel in Novena.

The ‘Akami Tuna‘ looked flawless and had a beautiful clean taste, unfortunately was also a lil streaky at bits. The ‘Ebi Sushi‘ also was close to perfect, fresh and with an outstanding snappy texture. Snappy is also the right word for the ‘Assorted Pickles‘ we had which were a brilliant combination of radish, gherkins, cucumber etc. with only one weirdly tasting purple something that I didn’t find too appealing.

imageWe also had their ‘Agedashi Tofu‘ which was kind of boring compared to others that I had and a big slice of ‘Wagyu‘ that had a nice nutty flavour but was nearly too buttery to eat too much of and sadly quite chewy as well. Last but not least we had one of their special spicy makis with prawn that I forgot the name of. The taste wasn’t bad but completely different to any other maki I had before as it was rolled in chilli flakes and topped with a lot of thinly sliced and flame touched sharpish onions. Not bad, not bad at all.

I like how the place is setup, clean, stylish and minimalistic, they put a lot of effort into their presentation, the service was good and the food was too but for the higher price tag I was just expecting a little more “wow” for our dinner so ‘Rakuichi’ will probably not become my first go to address for my regular Japanese fix.

Rakuichi Japanese Restaurant
8 Sinaran Drive
#01-05/09 Oasia Hotel
Singapore 307470
Tel: +65 6659 6683
http://rakuichi.com.sg/

My Kopitiam Attempt.

imageMy friend from Jakarta who stayed with me wanted to eat some porridge and I wasn’t feeling too well so we decided to go for something quick and dirty round the corner and ended up at one of my least favorite places, the Kopitiam in Velocity. At least it looked more appealing since they had renovated the whole food court last year.

Looking for something that would be soothing my stomach I spotted a promising ‘Chicken Noodle Soup‘ at the ‘Korean Cuisine’ stall. There was nothing really special about this but it fitted the purpose. The soup was close to tasteless but therefore the natural flavors of the ingredients came out. There was a generous portion of rightly cooked rice noodles, leaves of cabbage, quite nice meat of chicken breast and a very funny squarish shaped hard poached egg. These were all very basic flavors without too much spices being used but it gave me back some of the power that I needed.

I’m not a big fan of Kopitiam and probably never will be but this was quite okay and I might return for a light and cheap after-workout-meal sometime.

Korean Cuisine
#03-47/56 Kopitiam
Velocity @Novena Square
238 Thomson Road
Singapore 307683

Mr. Wee is back!

imageIt’s been now a couple of weeks since my beloved ‘Wee Nam Kee’ has moved from the recently torn down Novena Ville down to United Square about a kilometer south. I had a good workout today and needed some proper protein and carbs to fill up so I headed into exact this direction.

Obviously I ordered their ‘Chicken Rice‘ from roasted chicken and simply replaced the oily yet delicious signature rice with the steamed version not to chuck all my morning efforts out the window. First up came their chicken soup which had a strong taste and was a great kick start that made me even hungrier. When the main arrived the meat was super tender and juicy and as so unusual for chicken breast actually tasted like chicken. Delicious. The kicker of this was the chopped coriander on top and the wonderful chicken stock underneath which was even richer in taste and had a light soy touch so that I munched up all the cucumber slices that soaked in it. For my rice I used a lot of their signature chili and grated ginger which made it all a flavor party and with every spoon I played around and changed the ratio of the ingredients.

I still love this place, familiar faces, great down to earth food and even that it lost a bit of it’s coffee shop charm, the longneck bottles of beer and the outdoor seating, it still managed to retain some of the old atmosphere and definitely it’s popularity. This is one of my favorites and not only because I can walk here. I have been here a million times before and there’s a high chance I’ll be back already next week.

Wee Nam Kee Hainanese Chicken Rice Restaurant 威难记鸡饭
101 Thomson Road
#01-08 United Square
Singapore 307591
Tel: +65 6255 6396
http://www.wnk.com.sg/

Closeness ≠ Goodness

imageWhere to go when you don’t have much time? Close! That’s right, and that’s exactly what friend’s and I thought yesterday and made our way to ‘Pigsfly Kitchen & Bar’ at Goldhill Plaza.

Not really feeling like anything else I ordered ‘The Pervert‘ from the ‘Burger Office’, pretty much their bacon cheese burger. I didn’t hold my hopes up too high as I had their burgers before and wasn’t too impressed. I asked for a spicy sauce when ordering but this request got lost somewhere in the process which wasn’t too bad as the standard bbq sauce is quite tasty and sweet. The toppings in general were okay, the veggies were fresh with a bite, the extra grilled onions were nicely soft and the bacon had a good salty taste but definitely could’ve been way crispier. The bun was soft and too sweet but the biggest letdown really was the beef patty. Even though much firmer than the last time, it actually was pretty lame, under seasoned and tasted like nothing much. The peppered fries were alright but nothing to rave about either.

It seemed to have become quite a popular place in the meantime but if I should come back here then only for the Thai stall which has some pretty tasty dishes to offer. Sorry ‘Burger Office’ just not my thing.

http://www.pigsflykitchenbar.com/

Pigsfly Kitchen & Bar (Burger Office)
1 Goldhill Plaza
#01-05
Singapore 308899
Tel: +65 6352 7484

Home Cooked Italian Food in Novena

imageI very spontaneously met up with my friend yesterday in Novena for a quick dinner and since I had not been to ‘Da Luca’ across the road we agreed on going there.

I ordered a pasta dish that I had here before and which I haven’t seen anywhere else – ‘Stracci Con Brasato Di Coniglio E Olive Nere‘. The pasta was super flat and homemade stracci that even being extremely thin still was perfectly al dente and nicely glued together where there was no sauce. The stracci were sitting in a ragout-like gravy which had a light taste of long cooked tomatos, red wine, fresh herbs and the deliciousy braised rabbit meat. There was heaps of the meat on the plate and I wouldn’t have needed any teeth to eat it as it was so softly cooked that it easily fell apart in my mouth. Once in a while I did hit some chunky vegetables or find some hidden cheese under the pasta which added new layers of flavor and texture to this lovely dish.

I loved this home style cooked rabbit pasta, delicious and simple which fits greatly to the unpretentious and down to earth ambience of ‘Da Luca’ with it’s friendly staff and fast service. Grazie mille!

http://daluca.com.sg/

Da Luca Restaurant
1 Goldhill Plaza
#01-19/21
Singapore 308899
Tel: +65 6258 4846

New Pizza Joint in Novena

imageA friend and I were in a hurry as we wanted to go watch a movie and therefore needed something quick and dirty for dinner. We decided to try out a recently opened pizza place at United Square in Novena, ‘Extra Virgin Pizza’ just next to the future location of ‘Wee Nam Kee’. The increasingly popular concept of restaurants making you place your order before sitting down is not really mine but since we needed to rush anyway I didn’t mind this once.

I usually try the ‘Margherita‘ when I first visit an Italian place as it gives you an opportunity to judge their skills with the most basic ingredients yet very difficult pizza but since I had to be quick on my feet I went with the ‘Prosciutto & Arugula‘. Literally five minutes later it was already sitting on my table; steaming hot. It was a quite night for them but I found this still pretty impressive.

On top of the speed I was also positively surprised with the taste.The parma ham was of good quality but did lack a bit of the the strong nutty flavor parma usually has. The arugula was mildly sharp and not too bitter and they didn’t go too strong on the parmesan cheese which nicely covered everything under a salty cheesy blanket. I ate the toppings off one piece to get an idea of what a ‘Margherita‘ would taste like and also that one was a winner. The sugo was fruity and close to sweet and actually tasted like real tomatos and the dough was thin, crispy charred and crunchy on the outside crust which was slightly to fat for me but nevertheless was seasoned well and tasted great.

I am happy to have another respectable pizza place close by as I can’t stand most of the deliveries here which overload their pizzas with meats and cheeses. If I would need to pick something negative about this place it would probably be the price as a 26 dollar pizza – even that not unusual for Singapore – simply is too expensive, especially for a ‘fast lane diner’.

http://www.extravirginpizza.com/

Extra Virgin Pizza                                
101 Thomson Road                    
#01-14 United Square Shopping Mall
Singapore 307591            
Tel: +65 6247 5757

Wanton Mee: Local Fastfood No.1!

imageI had a lot of things to do for my trip today so I needed a quick dinner fix urgently. I was running some errands over at United Square in Novena and on my way out I passed one of the ‘Pontian Wanton Noodles House’ branches. Traditionally I have these noodles late at night and quite frequently in their 24h branch at Cuppage Plaza but it seemed like a good choice and a break from all the burgers recently.

As I was in a hurry and did takeaway I only realized at home that it didn’t come with the usual ‘Dumpling Soup‘ and worse, I forgot to ask them to use the really spicy chili, my bad. A big plus tough was that my takout box was loaded with extra pickled chilis which I found brilliant as they gave the rest of the ingredients a nice sour and spicy sidekick. The char siew was lean and good but not to intensely sweet and bbq-y. The wantons weren’t too thrilling either but their crunchiness nicely added another layer of texture to the whole thing. I wished I wouldn’t have forgotten to ask for the extra hot chili sauce but it was still good and spicy enough to start up a light sweat and the one thing I liked the most was the hardness of the noodles, nice bite.

The ‘Wanton Mee‘ was nothing too exciting or deluxe but still filled me up just nice and with it’s unremarkable looks, diverse textures and flavors it left me more satisfied than most other fastfoods would have.

Pontian Wanton Noodles House                                                                                                                      101 Thomson Road                                                                                                                                          #B1-20 United Square                                                                                                                            Singapore 307591

Pho Bo…So So!

imageI went here together with a workmate in the evening as I had seen this place opening up recently and I hoped for a new place for good pho.

We started with the ‘Lemongrass Prawns‘ which tasted pretty alright. The batter was somehow different and crispy. I thought the lemongrass would be somehow incorporated into the actual prawns or crust but instead it came in form of a dipping salsa that was actually really tasty.

As main I went for the ‘Spicy Beef Pho‘ with Tenderloin. When I first sniffed on the broth I regretted that I went for the spicy one as it smelled as the chili would come from spicy prawn paste that I don’t really fancy that much. To my luck it turned out that the only thing prawnpasty must have been my nose as the soup didn’t taste like it at all. Unfortunately it didn’t really taste like anything. The broth was unspecial, not spicy and with only few herbs and greens in it and the beef was rather fatty too.

There may be some alternatives to be found on the menu but the pho won’t bring me back here anytime soon. The search continues.

http://www.vietcafe.com.sg/Welcome.html

Viet Cafe                                                                                                                                                                  10 Sinaran Drive                                                                                                                                                #01-07 to 12 Square 2                                                                                                                                      Singapore 307506