New Vietnamese shop at United Square.
I 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
Tel: +65 6354 3858
Murtabak sandwiches on Rangoon.
Together with friends I was attending a climbing/belaying course at Little India and during our lunch break we strolled around looking something that wouldn’t take too long. We ended up at the little ran down hawker center of ‘9-9 Food & Beverages’ because the prata stall on the outer corner caught our eyes.
Since it was a long while since I had one I ordered the ‘Mutton Murtabak‘. It took quite some time to be prepared as I think the uncle first had to fire up the flat grill but when it finally came out on that fake banana leaf plate it looked like perfect triangles from a really big meat sandwich. The dough was pretty thin and was nicely browned and crisped up by the grill. The filling of mutton mince and onions had a delicious fragrant spice to it which I liked a lot and all held up pretty well without falling into pieces and making it less messy to eat. Dipped into the curry gravy rounded everything up nicely and added some more heat to the dish.
Atmosphere here is close to zero, cleanliness still tolerable even though some hungry birds were hanging around the open-face shop, obviously not too impressed by the scarecrow CDs hanging from the ceiling but this all aside, they make some pretty flavorful feel-good-food down here, that’s satisfyingly tasty and comes at an ok price.
9-9 Food & Beverages
95 Rangoon Roadt
1F Trads Buidling
Breaking News: Zhong Guo opens 2nd outlet!
People living around Bukit Merah can consider themselves lucky as ‘Zhong Guo‘ just opened a new outlet at Bukit Merah Food Center. The menu is the same as the one at the Chinatown Complex Food Center outlet so it’s still all about noodles and dumplings. Enjoy, enjoy!
Mediocre start with a nice safe.
It was my first night in Hanoi and waiting for my brother to arrive later that night a friend and I went to get some grub at ‘Quan An Ngon’ around the corner from our hotel. The setup looked promising with a nice outside garden filled with tables and different stalls offering all sorts of Vietnamese favourites.
As a must start of every Vietnam trip and because it was rather chilly outside I started with a bowl of hot ‘Pho Bo‘. Unfortunately this turned out to be rather boring, even though the soup was warm and comforting it lacked that special taste and was not really different to any sort of ordinary chicken soup; no cinnamon and besides lime and chilli sauce no condiments to add. The noodles were pretty soft too and only the beef slices were nicely lean, soft and tasted kina nice. Not my greatest find but I had already heard that pho in the north is very different and less unique compared to the type you get down south.
Not fully satisfied I tried to turn things around by ordering ‘Bánh Xèo‘, the Vietnamese street style pancake I knew from HCMC and the street food festival in Singapore. When it came I was quite happy to see lots of greens on the plate as well as some rice paper to wrap it all up in. I knew this only as lettuce wraps but couldn’t wait to give it a try anyway. It turned out to be quite good, the crispy pancake, the basil and mint and the crunchy sprouts all worked quite well together and were fun to eat too. Overall this was a tad dry and nothing I would really call a taste explosion but still quite satisfactory and actually managed to reconcile me over the letdown with the pho.
This place is probably a good start for visitors to try out many different Vietnamese delights and phase into the local cuisine at an obvious clean place with friendly English speaking staff and a nice beer garden atmosphere. There are many other dishes to try here so I might come back and give them another shot when I’m in Ha Noi the next time around.
Quán Ăn Ngon
18 Phan Boi Chau
Hoan Kiem District
Tel: +84 (04) 3942 8162
Oh man I missed this place and finally I made it back here on a day they were actually making their beautiful noodles. I was psyched and first up I had to have the ‘Dan Dan Mian‘ or ‘Spicy Sichuan Noodles‘ how it says on the board. The noodles were freshly handmade and nice and soft, maybe a bit too soft. The gravy was insane, just mildly spicy but enough to squeeze some drops of sweat out the back of my head, thick and rich and full of peanut sesame flavour. The savoury pork mince on top together with some crushed peanuts, fresh chives and cilantro finished the job just nicely.
I was already pretty filled up but not finished just yet as I also wanted to finally try their ‘Zha Jiang Mian‘. The bowl was loaded with freshly thin shredded spring onion and cucumbers sitting on beautifully thick and gooey minced meat soya bean sauce that was lukewarm and made this a great dish for the tropical heat today. I know this all sounds like raving and exaggerating but I really think it’s that darn good, M. this one’s for you.
Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao 中国拉面小笼包
335 Smith Street
#02-135 Chinatown Complex Food Center
A surprise stinger at night.
Wow, this was a long day on the beach, in bars and clubs but eventually everybody got tired but as so often pretty hungry as well, so it was supper time. There were not too many options at this hour and since my friends from Hong Kong already had ‘Spice’ the night before and really wanted to eat ‘BBQ Stingray‘ we headed for up ‘Newton Circus’.
Arrived everybody swarmed out to collect their favorite dishes and what came back to our table was more like a Sout-East-Asian buffet rather than a little midnight snack. There was ‘Laksa‘, ‘Prata‘, ‘Murtabak‘, ‘Chicken Curry‘ and and and. It was all good and exactly what we needed but the ‘BBQ Stingray‘ from ‘The Ocean BBQ’ (stall 16) was something more memorable. I had many stingrays before but this one here was super moist and had an absolutely beautiful thick layer of sambal schmeared on top. It still had heat, the chilis and all but was extraordinarily fruity and nearly sweet which tasted like none of those I had tried before.
On top of that the uncle running the shop was a pretty nice fellar, the stinger was awesome and all that at 3 a.m. at night. Pretty good ending to an eventful day I say.
The Ocean BBQ 海洋海鲜
#01-16 Netwon Circus Food Centre
500 Clemenceau Avenue North
When stopping over on the way back from Sentosa for ‘De Burg‘ burgers we decided to also try out the german stall in the corner to see what their skills were on german rotisserie. Being all hungry we ordered the large ‘Pork Knuckle‘ which was 1.6 kg bone in.
When a friend brought it over it looked a bit weird, all crisped up like on the picture. This might have been caused by quick frying the knuckle after roasting it to make it extremely crispy and less chewy to eat. The meat was very nice and tender and the skin was roasted til super crisp and therefore actually wasn’t that greasy. I would have liked it a tad more greasy for once but this was good; so good I even used some of the crackling to pimp my ‘Singhjector‘. What I found best about this dish was the gravy which was meaty, dark rich and savory and fantastically had cumin in it which reminded me of the style you get in Munich, lovely. The sides though were not really anything to be crazy about – the roast/mashed potatoes were okay but there was a weird tangy cucumber veggie dish as well which reminded me more of the stuff you get aside ‘Nasi Biryani‘.
Summarized, this was actually quite nice and compared to all the german restaurants, I have been to here and that are offering the same dish, it was also a bargain at around $25 for the huge portion. I loved the meat, I loved the cumin and will definitely come back here once I crave the knuckles again.
119 Bukit Merah Lane
Tel: +65 6276 6445
Finally some errands brought me back to Queensway and as it was so conveniently located I decided to return to ‘De Burg’ to finally try that mystical ‘Choco Lamb Burger‘ which I couldn’t get out of my head since I first saw it on the menu.
To be honest until I had my first bite I was not really sure if this was going to be totally disgusting or weirdly good. For a while I looked at the mayonaise and Nutella with slight disbelief but finally my curiosity won and I anxiously took a big mouthful. Now this was absolutely amazing. It worked so much better together than I ever would have thought. At first it felt like biting into a toasted Nutella roll from my childhood until I tasted that delicious lamb patty and it transformed into a burger. The meat was nicely charred on the outside but juicy and full of flavour on the inside, not too lamby as well. The juices and the chocolate mixing was a real eye opener. I couldn’t believe how fantastic that actually came together and that no one (at least that I know) has ever tried this before. The only ingredient that I reckoned was a bit odd was the tomato. The whole burger disappeared in no time and left me nicely filled and super content.
I was really happy I gave this burger a shot and can’t wait to introduce it to friends but thanks to the guys from ‘De Burg’ I already have another newly introduced burger lined up that wants to be “grubbed on”- ‘The Singhjector‘. Well done guys, you made my day.
De Burg Food and Drink Private Limited
119 Bukit Mera Lane
Tel: +65 6732 3235
Who Needs 18 Folds?
Finally Chinatown Complex Food Center reopened after a long break for renovation and since the last group of friends visiting Singapore were starving I brought them here hoping my favorite stall for ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ – ‘Hong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao’ or ‘China La Mian Steamed Buns’ was still there. And “Thank God” it was. The Chinese couple who ran it for the last couple of years seemed to have teamed up with another couple recently and today the two husband were on shift.
We ordered the ‘Xiao Long Bao‘ (XLB), the ‘Jiao Zi‘ and the ‘Spicy Sichuan Wonton‘. The XLB here maybe don’t have eighteen folds but to my opinion they are still the best hawker version available in Singapore. The dough was very thin so we could make out the soup level inside and the soup itself had a delicious and rich pork taste. Note to myself, “don’t be so greedy otherwise you will burn yourself every time again”, which I do, every time. I especially liked the meat filling as it tasted great, was smaller portioned and minced very fine which also pleased my preference for non-chunky texture. That all together with the smiling faces of the owners and a low price of five dollars for ten XLB makes me come back here again and again. The ‘Jiao Zi‘ were based on the same meat mixture but enhanced with chopped up chives which worked fantastically together. The dough was fried crisp on one side and nicely chewy on the other. The wonton had tiny pork meat pockets with a lot of noodle-like flattened chewy dough around that was soaked in a tangy chili oil. Delicious.
Even that I loved the dumplings as always I was left with a bit of emptiness as it was a Sunday on which they don’t offer their ‘Spicy Sichuan Noodle La Mian‘ but since I come by here quiet frequently I knew I won’t have to wait too long to taste them again.
Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao 335 Smith Street #02-135 Chinatown Complex Food Center Singapore 050335