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Momofuku Tour – Part 1.

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Special Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich (w/ Daikon)

We came to New York for a couple of days on our way through to Montreal to visit some great old friends from Singapore, who moved here about a year ago. Thankfully both of them are crazy foodies and so there were no arguments on how to spend our quality time together. Today we walked around the Lower East Side of Manhattan and passed Momofuku Ko, which gave our hosts the idea to start a little bit of a Momofuku sightseeing tour. It was getting pretty late for lunch so our first stop waited just around the corner in the form of Fuku, the popular fried chicken sandwich shop out of David Chang’s culinary empire. This place is tiny and if I remember it right, only has standing options for their customers.

We had to pay while going in and following the recommendation of my mate I purchased the special sandwich and one of their alcoholic beverages. I was kind of surprised that a fried chicken sandwich shop actually serves something, that reminded me of a pretty mean frozen margarita. Wow, that thing was strong. Anyway, I was half through my aperitif when the sandwiches showed up. The whole thing was huge, and the little soft bun was just big enough to keep everything together and your fingers sort of clean. The meat was breaded with a nicely spicy and crunchy coating and super juicy on the inside. I must admit I really liked this one, even though I would normally disagree with Mr. Chang’s view on the white parts of the meat being inferior. I actually love me some good chicken breast from time to time. White meat, dark meat, in the end it all comes down to texture for me, but this chicken thigh with its’ crispy coat did a very fine job. But what makes the special sandwich so special? A big slap of crunchy daikon shavings, which also made the otherwise fairly heaty dish a bit lighter for me. I did also get the chance to sample the famous Säam sauce, their take on a Korean chili paste with an angle. It was intriguingly addictive and I enjoyed it enough to use it on every other bite from that sandwich, I’m just not entirely sure if I actually loved it.

Anyway the concept works, fast food with great quality ingredients, nice taste with a different set of flavors and some booze to go with it. Why the hell not?

Fuku (open all week)
163 First Avenue
New York
NY 10003
United States of America
http://momofuku.com/new-york/fuku/

“Light & Cheesy”.

imageBack here during lunch break I felt light and cheesy and hence ordered their ‘Croque Monsieur‘ for a change. Presentation was nice, two large slices of bread, baked over with loads of cheese and creatively finished with scribblings of balsamic reduction on top. The bread was a bit flappy and the ham could have been thinner sliced but the hearty saltiness of the cheese and the touch of sourness from the balsamic made this a great new lunch option to turn to.

VivaVox Cafe
3A International Business Park
#01-10 Icon@IBP
Singapore 609935
Tel: +65 6686 3368
http://www.vivavox.com.sg/

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/

Little french breakfast café.

imageOn the lookout for a quick breakfast before shopping we stopped by ‘Choupinette’, the place with the radiant and colourful sign on Bukit Timah Road. I didn’t have french style breakfast for ages and couldn’t go past the ‘Croque Madame‘ which is pretty much a grilled ham and cheese sandwich topped with a sunny side up. It looked quite neat there with that perfect circled egg and the squarish thick cut double layered toast underneath and taste wise it was pretty good as well. Salty ham, saltier gruyere cheese but unfortunately greatly over-toasted which made it all super dry so that I was really glad I had made my sandwich a “madame” as the runny yolk at least added some moisture to the dish. So flavours were good, execution regrettably didn’t delivery 100% but it’s still a pretty nice place for a quiet breakfast off the Dempsey Hill crowds with very friendly service as well.

Choupinette
607 Bukit Timah Road
#01-01
Singapore 269708
Tel: +65 6466 0613

Little breakfast find in Causeway Bay.

imageArrived in Hong Kong, we stayed with our friend who just had moved to Causeway Bay. The first morning wasn’t our designated dim sum day so I looked around the internet for a coffee place close by. I found a joint called ’18 Grams’ that turned out to be just a two minute walk away, a small pretty coffee shop that at most maybe holds 15 people including the outside tables.

I had the ‘Ham & Cheese‘ which was right what I needed for a very hungry morning, great toasted and crunchy poppy seed bread with a salty mix of the lean smoked ham and wonderfully gooey cheese. They also had my favourite ‘Iced Drip Coffee‘ which they funnily served in a champagne flute and a mega refreshing ‘White Peach Soda’.

I’d come back here again anytime to try the other delicious looking breakfast items or to have one of those fancy looking coffees again. Nice one.

18 Grams
Unit C, G/F 15 Cannon Street
Causeway Bay
Hong Kong
Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China
Tel: +852 2893 8988
http://www.18grams.com/

Meatball Grand Prix.

imageIt was the second night of the F1 Grand Prix and a friend and I had scouted the walkbout areas for suitable spots to catch the best views of the race when we both became pretty hungry but didn’t want to have any of the standard event foods like the overprized underaverage burgers and such. At the Esplanade we ran into ‘Sauce’, a place I heard does everything meatballs but had forgotten about again.

We had two servings of meatballs to start with – the ‘Classic Italian‘ (beef and pork) with ‘Firehouse Arrabiata‘ and the ‘Old School Beef‘ with ‘Green Market‘ pesto. Both types were actually great, the meat tasted pretty good and they had the perfect consistency, nice and fluffy. The arrabiata sauce, slightly tangy was full of sweet tomato flavor and the pesto with it’s slight bitterness wasn’t bad either. Unfortunately the portions were rather small so we added their meatball sandwich to our order. We had the ‘Classic Italian‘ version again so the meatballs obviously were the same. The bread on the other hand looked promising but was a boring slouchy something, which was quite dissapointing knowing they prepare the much more difficult meatballs rather well and then cock up on the bread sourcing. I probably would also recommend to take it easy on the cheese as it strongly overpowered the great meaty taste.

Anyways, meatballs top, sandwich flop! The service was messed up but let’s just blame that on the customer overload during the formula 1 and the outer and interior design isn’t really worth mentioning either. However I’ll probably give it another try for a quick meatball snack.

Sauce Bar
8 Raffles Avenue
Singapore 039802
Tel: +65 6837 2959
http://www.saucebar.com.sg/

Finally a decent Reuben!

imageI had seen a bunch of pictures of sandwiches from this place from many fellow bloggers that I couldn’t get it out of my head, especially since their subs use coleslaw or sauerkraut on them. I somewhat expected a modern sort of deli but this was a rather plain subway style kind of joint, where I had to order at the counter and my name got called up once my sandwich was ready.

I wasn’t that hungry but just to be on the safe side I ordered the large version of the ‘Corned Beef on Rye with Swiss Cheese, Sauerkraut and Russian Dressing‘ or as I would have called it the ‘Reuben‘. Large here meant nothing else than an extra slap of corned beef (could’ve been much bigger for my liking) which was wonderful juicy but a bit streaky at parts. Sauerkraut must be my favorite sandwich topping in the world and also on this one here it just gave the perfect sour note to the saltiness of the beef and the cheese, everything was tucked in nicely. All that was balanced out by the creamy fruitiness coming from the Russian dressing but best of all was that the bread was awesome too, all buttered up and toasted right, just nice. Mainly because of its’ light color I had my doubts that it was actually rye bread, but then again I’m not a baker whatsoever. I also did get a fat slice of pickle with my sandwich but made a personal note to anyway order some extra ones next time as one simply just wasn’t enough.

I’d love this place to be closer to my work or home but for me to make my way out to MBS regularly just for a sub in such a simply setup place they better up the ante on the meat and sauerkraut. Still, it was pretty good.

Sweet Spot Deli
Bay Level, #01-30 The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
10 Bayfront Avenue
Singapore 018956
Tel: +65 6688 8584

Seven Hours, Fourteen Dishes.

imageThis was on nearly every Singaporean based foodblog the last couple of weeks and since a friend asked me to go and I had never been on one of those events we went early Saturday to start with an early lunch.

Where to eat first was already decided before we even arrived  – the ‘Porchetta Sandwich‘ from the ‘The People’s Pig’ (USA). This was one good start of the day. Eventhough they only gave out half sandwiches, those were delicious. The suckling pig like roast meat was juicy and pleasantly fatty with a sweet and spicy chili jam on top that gave the whole thing a bit more punch. The bitter flavor of the arugula balanced out the fattiness and spice and to top it off they added a nice piece of crackling which I would have loved to be bigger. The Inside of the ciabatta bun was dipped in the pork jus which gave the sandwich an even meatier taste. So we were off to a good start.

imageWith the pork sandwich half way down we strolled a few stalls further for the ‘Tacos‘ from ‘Tacombi’ (USA). First disappointment was they didn’t offer the ‘Beef Tacos‘ anymore as they apparently didn’t turn out right in this climate. Second disappointment was that the ‘Fish Tacos‘ weren’t really that good. The battered and fried fish was super dry and so was the tortilla they used. Even though the chipotle sauce was quite tasty and the red cabbage was nice and crunchy I felt unsatisfied.

imageNow it was time for some Asian food and so we head for one of the longest queues all the way at the end ‘Phan Rang’ (Vietnam) with their ‘Banh Xeo & Banh Khot‘ combo. ‘Banh Xeo‘ I already had before in Vietnam and these ones were really tasty filled with crunchy sprouts and vegetables and fried crispy on the outside. The ‘Banh Khot‘ were like little egg tarts with prawns and I wished they would’ve been a bit longer on the heat as some of them were quite raw inside tasting like undercooked omelette but overall still not bad but I didn’t envy the chef, assembly-line-frying both dishes without a break.

imageSwitching back to western cuisine we opted for the ‘Soft Shell Crab Burger‘ from ‘Euro Trash Food Cart’ (USA) and yet another dissapointment – they ran out of their beef paddies so we had to go for the plain crab option. This slowly started to seem like a pretty “incomplete” event. Luckily even without the beef paddy this was a pretty awesome burger once I did get over the fact that I ate a whole crab with everything in and outside, I’m weird like that. The crab was crispy and still moist inside and the thousand island like dressing gave it a nice fresh touch. Just the bun was more the sweeter kind which I found slightly odd.

imageFurther on the western trail we arrived at the ‘Swamp Shack’ which sold ‘Shrimps & Grits‘ and their so called ‘Smothered Chicken‘. The shrimps were mega crunchy with a very dry batter which held up pretty well against the gravy and the grits which was like a corn polenta, nice and fluffy yet very filling. The chicken dish had the same gravy with mashed potatoes but I had a hard time finding some meat in there. Good comfort food with the grits as my favorite component.

imageNext up was ‘Soto Tangkar‘ by ‘Pak Haji Diding’ (Indonesia). The soup was quite rich and a tad spicy but the beef didn’t really cut it as it was too chunky and tough for my preference.

imageNow this was one of my highlights of the day, the ‘Seafood Tostada‘ from ‘La Guerrerense’ (Mexico). On their sign they offered two different kinds but our crispy corn tostadas came with everything on it they had in stock. The seafood topping was a cevice of fish, crab, shrimp, tender octopus and delicious sweet scallops that must have just hopped out of the sea. This was then finished off with a big cajun style marinated shrimp big chunks of avocado and a spicy shrimp lemon juice with peanuts. So delicious complex simplicity.

imageUntil now we had stayed away from the Indian stalls as many of them seemed to sell quite filling stuff but this one looked pretty interesting and so we tried the ‘Litti Chokha‘, little charcoal baked buns with a mix of tomatos, potatos and eggplants as well as some mint sauce to go with it. The buns were harder on the outside and crumbling on the inside and soaked up the condiments pretty good. I really liked the vegetarian chokha as it was nicely light and suited the buns well.

imageAs they had both, beef as well as pork jerky we ordered the ‘Hainan Fen‘ from ‘Hai Ya’ next. Apparently a very common dish from the Hainan province in China but I had never heard about it here. Thick eggs noodles were topped with a multitude of ingredients – beef and pork jerky, cilantro, chives, peanuts, sprouts, little shrimp, squid and a soya based gravy. I realy liked it, especially the jerkies and peanuts and even the tiny shrimp weren’t as fishy as I thought. One thing I would have loved to have missed though was the squid which was also some kind of jerky, pretty strong in taste and hard to pick out as it camouflaged itself as noodles.

imageEnough of the filling dishes we went back to India and tried the ‘Chicken 65‘ from ‘Abhishek’. This fried chicken was covered in a wondeful spice mix with a citrusy fragrance and the sweet spiced dipping powder took it all to the next level. That was awesome and I just wished lean chicken breast was more popular in Asia as that would have made this even better.

imageAfter all those hearty dishes it was time to check out the dessert corners of the fairground and so we started with ‘Kue Pancong‘ (Indonesia) that were lightly baked coconut cakes in a special shape topped with white sugar. I love coconut so this was right up my alley, maybe just a little dry.

imageThe next sweet affair again came from India and was offered by a Singaporean stall named ‘Heaven’s Indian Curry’. They offered a dish called ‘Putu Mayam‘ or ‘String Hoppers‘ which was basically freshly pressed and steamed rice noodles topped with bright orange sugar and grated coconut (also available with chicken curry). This was great and tasted quite light cause of the steamed noodles and the dessicated fluffy coconut with a sweet cover of orange caramelized sugar. If you missed the fair their shop is at #01-15 Ghim Hoh Market and Food Center, 20 Ghim Moh Road.

imageBefore washing all that wonderful stuffing down with the one or other Warsteiner we had one last sinful dish, the ‘Sticky Rice Banana‘ from ‘Nam Bo’ (Vietnam). I was lucky queueing up at the right time as the staff on the fairground told me this is by far the most popular stall and waiting can be rather long during peaks. I really like Thai ‘Mango Sticky Rice‘ and thought this might be similar but here they wrapped banana chunks in glutinous rice before grilling it over coales wrapped in bana leaf and finishing it with a thick sweet coconut sauce and sesame seeds. Eventhough I would have wished for more banana this was a lovely closer to an endless seeming feast and so seven hours and fourteen dishes later (I didn’t count the seconds of ‘Porchetta Sandwiches‘) we finally capitulated and didn’t move too much for a while.

I really enjoyed my first food fair experience even with some sold out items and complete stalls being closed like the Danish pork buns which I was so looking forward to. What really pissed me off was that they re-opened on Sunday again. Dang!

http://www.wsfcongress.com

World Streefod Congress 2013
Singapore F1 Pit Building & Paddock
1 Republic Boulevard
Singapore 038975

Fair Trade for Pie

imageI was on my way home from a short business trip to Melbourne and didn’t have a single meat pie during my whole stay. I knew there was one cafe at Tullamarine Airport that had one just perfect for my last minute fix but when I finally arrived there I had to realize that the cafe had turned into an Italian deli. After searching the entire airport in vain for pie I finally capitulated and was pretty disappointed, it was an Australian airport after all. Thankfully I passed ‘Bar Pulpo’ which offered ‘Bocadillos‘ the tasty sandwiches I new from Spain.

I went for the ‘Serrano with Zamora Cheese‘ and asked them to put it into the oven quickly so the cheese could melt. This thing was beautiful. The generous slab of serrano ham was lovely nutty and the cheese added it’s deep salty but not overpowering taste. This all in a perfect piece of baguette which had it’s own taste, nicely spiced and soft and firm at the same time. I just say I entered the plane very happy and content so I would recommend this to any hungry traveller passing through here.

Bar Pulpo by Movida                                                                                                                                Departure Mall Melbourne International Airport Terminal 2                                                               Departure Drive                                                                                                                                      Tullamarine                                                                                                                                                    Victoria 3045                                                                                                                                               Australia

Angry Chicken For Lunch!

imageAnother day, another lunch. Somehow this week we felt like something new and so again today we tried a place we haven’t been to before  – ‘Nando’s’, a Mozambican-Portuguese franchise restaurant at JCube mall next to Jurong East MRT.

We all decided for a variation of the ‘Angry Mango Chicken‘; Wrap, Pita and my choice, the burger with their signature ‘Extra Hot Peri Peri Sauce‘. As my two sides I had the ‘Coleslaw‘ and the ‘3 Bean Salad‘ which both were more boring than anything. The coleslaw was slouchy and missing crunch and both salads lacked a good pinch of salt which might have saved them from falling under the ‘lame’ category. The chicken was not so much a burger as a sandwich. The bread was more baguette like but very soft and as they meant good with the sauce also completely soaked. The chicken itself was quiet nicely grilled, not particularly moist but tasty nevertheless. Together with the greens and the peri peri sauce it made quiet a good combination, just the mango wasn’t really that present. The sauce tricked me at first as it appeared tangy yet not biting which changed like three quarters through the sandwich when I started sweating and had to breath with open mouth. Tasty though.

Even that this is not the place I would go the extra mile for it sure is a decent place for a lunch change once in a while. And next time I might try the pita version as that actually looked really toasty.

http://www.nandos.com.sg/

Nando’s                                                                                                                                                                     2 Jurong East Central 1                                                                                                                                    #03-07/19 JCube                                                                                                                                    Singapore 609731

More Parma Please!

imageThis place is just around the corner from my work and today my colleague had her birthday and wished to have her birthday lunch over there.

The few times I came here I always ordered the ‘BLT‘ so for a change I went with their ‘Parma Ham Sandwich‘ today. The first great thing about this sandwich was the toasted Turkish bread which was crispy on the outside and soft but tasty on the inside. Second great thing was the actual parma ham with it’s intense and typical nutty flavor. I only wished they would have been a bit more generous with the parma as more than two thin slices would have been nice. I’m not too sure what cheese they used  but it’s light smokey aroma together with the bitter rocket rounded the whole sandwich up just nicely.

I thought that was a really decent sandwich and might pop by here for lunch now more often hoping they’ll stack it up with more of that tasty ham eventually but I don’t hold my breath.

http://www.vivavox.com.sg/

VivaVox Cafe                                                                                                                                                          3A International Business Park                                                                                                                       #01-10 Icon@IBP                                                                                                                                    Singapore 609935

Lobster Rolls at Buena Vista!

image
One of my work mates was desperately craving for a Boston Lobster Roll today so I researched a bit on the net and found this joint close to our work place – the ‘Boston Seafood Shack’ at the Star Vista mall at Buena Vista.

After selflessly canceling all my gym plans we went together with another colleague to check it out after work. It is a place that reminded me of a mix of ‘Fish & Co.’ and ‘Long John Silver’, so generally where the younger crowd hangs out. Anyway we got us some ‘Snapple‘ from the fridge and ordered three of their ‘Boston Premium Lobstah Rolls‘ and waited for our buzzer to signal our grub to be ready.

The rolls looked tasty and were well stacked with lobster meat. Unfortunately the taste didn’t really live up to it’s looks. The bun was brioche like sweet and too soft for me, a baguette instead would have fitted the dish better. The sauce was a bit blend and could’ve used some extra fresh herbs and salt. The lobster on the other side was fresh and juicy, cooked nicely and kept it’s natural sweetness.

Overall it was not too bad but for just under 20$ for the roll next time I might look for other lobster vendors around the island.

http://www.bostonseafoodshack.com.sg/#home-page-block                                                                      

Boston Seafood Shack                                                                                                                                           1 Vista Exchange Green                                                                                                                                    #01-12 The Star Vista                                                                                                                             Singapore 138617

Nice Brunch Deli At Mandarin Gallery

imageIt was much more difficult than what I expected it to find something to eat on the first day of Chinese New Year. We ended up going to the Mandarin Gallery where thankfully Jones the Grocer was under the few places that were open that day. We were exceptionally lucky as well as even that all seats were taken we were the first in the queue and did get to try some wine and cheese whilst waiting.

We started off with the “Duck Rillette” that came accompanied with baguette and pickled gherkins and onions. It tasted very delicate and had the right mixture of meat and fat without being greasy.

For my main I went with their “Chicken Club Sandwich“. The bread was hearty and properly toasted, the chicken breast juicy and the lettuce and grilled bacon gave the sandwich a nice crunch and saltiness rounded up with a fried egg and creamy avocado.

Super friendly service, good and quality food, I’ll be back; also to try their “Pulled Pork Sandwich” which unfortunately wasn’t available on the brunch menu.

http://www.jonesthegrocer.com/

Jones the Grocer                                                                                                                                                 33A Orchard Road                                                                                                                                             #04-21/23 Mandarin Gallery                                                                                                                  Singapore 238897