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Klein aber fein.

imageMany people had recommended this place and tonight one of my pals organized a table for a whole bunch of our friends just to cancel on us like 20 minutes before. We took it lightly and concentrated on the menu choosing a couple of starters like the cold cut platter above with some awesome Prosciutto San Daniele with Pickled Pears that worked beautifully together. We also had some Parma Ham and my favorite Black Pork Capocollo, perfectly seasoned and salty cured meat. Contrasting this a little we also ordered some fruity and creamy Cherry Tomato & Avocado Buschetta that were pleasantly spicy.

imageMoving on to something meaty we had the Iberico Pork Belly which was quick seared to crisp perfection. Unfortunately the fatty parts were rather hard ish chunky and came across a bit too greasy so I was pretty much over it after one piece.

imageSince their pasta dishes are rather primi piatti sized we ordered one each and shared. I chose the Paccheri, Iberico Pork & Truffle. I loved how the ultimately fat flat noodles were arranged in some sort of basket shape keeping the fluffy mix of cream sauce and pulled pork inside. Great taste with the truffles not being too strong but the sauce was just so rich and stuffing that I couldn’t eat too much of it.

imageMy absolute winner was the crazy good Sea Urchin Spaghetti Carbonara. Even though very rich as well somehow it was just right and the uni, undeniably the main character, was not too overwhelming and therefore extremely enjoyable to eat. Maybe just the pasta could have hopped out the boiling water half a minute earlier but that aside, this was some truly great stuff.

To close we had a variety of cheeses and dried fruits. I’m pretty new to non-melted cheese, that isn’t on a pizza or a sandwich but I’m slowly getting used to the consistency and starting to appreciate the stronger flavors. I didn’t dare to touch the blue cheese yet but all others, which name’s I have forgotten were actually pretty good.

&Sons is a nice and hip place in a bustling neighborhood surrounded by a lot of busy restaurants and bars filled by the afterwork crowds from the business district. The waiters were actually pretty funny and the food delicious so what else do you need? I for one will come back for seconds of that fantastic Uni Carbonara soon.

@Sons (Bacaro)
20 Cross Street
#01-19 China Square Central
Singapore 048422
Tel: +65 6221 3937
http://sons.com.sg/

Get my spice on – Chapter 1

imageUsually when I’m on the People’s Park side of Chinatown I tend to get me some of that delicious intestine burning Mala Dry Pot, but this time I finally chose to try the little unconspicious Chinese stall outside the food center, which offers an interesting variety of spicy noodles.

I have no clue what this bowl was actually called but they used the thick round glass noodles and some minced pork in it. The fat noodles were super long and awesome slippery with a good chew and the the chili oil, meat and spices clinged perfectly onto them, which made every slurp crazy flavorful. The mince, coriander, peanuts and Sichuan peppers made this a brilliant and enjoyable dish that was at the same time pretty fun as well as fairly unpleasant to eat from the moment the first chili hit a sensitive spot.

I’m glad I finally tried it out and am happy they have a good handful of other similar dishes, deviating mainly by the type of noodles used and I’m sure that all of them are capable of giving me a similar kind of stomach growl as this one. Can’t wait for lip numbing round two.

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Chong Qing Xiao Chi 重庆小吃 (Chong Qing Snacks)
Concourse Area (People’s Park)
100 Upper Cross Street

Chicken that sticks.

imageWhen I tried out Tony’s Pizza a couple of weeks ago I passed by this huge medieval looking door just around the corner and once I figured this was an Izakaya Yakitori place it instantly made my to-do list. This list is growing exponentially these days and so a bunch of lovely friends helped me ticking this one off rather fast.

They have all sorts of stuff here but specialize in Tsukune, these delicious little grilled minced chicken sticks and since there was a Mixed Set on the menu, giving us the opportunity to try five of them, we were quite fast in ordering one set each. Our first was the Cheese Tsukune; not very traditional I suppose but a great thing to eat and the cheese was rich and sticky, gluing itself to the top of my mouth. Off to a great start.

imageSecond plate came with the more traditional Tsukune Tare, which had a much more familiar sweetish taste and gave the savory chicken flavors a chance to come through.

imageThe Okonomiyaki Tsukune with mayonnaise, sweet sauce and bonito flakes was an interesting combination of flavors. I have become a very passionate supporter of okonomiyaki in general and loved this one right away.

imageNow this stick was a bit odd; as much as I appreciated the chopped shiso leaves in this as much I was weirded out by the chunks of soft bones and fat that gave me the chills while chewing. I know many people would love this but it just wasn’t for me at all.

imageAt last there was another more fusion like version that I called Guacamole Tsukune. It was smeared with some creamy avocado spread and tasted exactly like that, nice and creamy and kind of Mexican.

imageOther than those five delicious sticks we also had the Pickles Moriawase, which, while being absolutely delicious, consisted of some light slaw, crunchy cucumber and hardly pickled carrots, small onions and yellow daikon. All together fantastic palate cleansers in between. Then there was some amazingly crunchy and sinful Chicken Skin (picture above) as well as a medley of chicken innards including chunky Gizzards, overly gamey Livers and some perfectly charred and firm Hearts.

I liked this place; it was loud, there were a lot of different aromas floating in the air, the beer was cold and their take and twist on those izakaya goodies turned out to be quite a mood lifter. I’ll be coming back for sure.

Tsukune Ichigo つくね 一期
399 River Valley Road
Singapore 248295
Tel: +65 6736 1340

Drunkards, party queens & chicken curry.

imageA very old friend was in town, well she isn’t actually old as in literally but I know her from my highschool days and we had not seen one another for quite a hand full of years. Revelling in memories we moved from bar to bar and ended up slightly tipsy and in a place I haven’t been since my third year in Singapore, the infamous Spize at River Valley. This place hasn’t changed a single bit and even though mainly from a different generation now, it still attracts the same bunch of weird night owls including hunrgy drunken people like us.

I ordered what I imagined would be the most satisfying dish for this kinda hour, the Mutton Keema Murtabak. When it came to the table I fiercely tore out a piece and inhaled it instantly before even remembering to take a picture. The thing was huge and the dough nice and crisp, at least on the top layer. The inside unfortunately was overly soupy and had only very little meat in it but mashed up with that delicious spicy chicken curry it seemed the perfect thing for that exact moment and just hit the spot.

If you have been to Spize in the earlier hours of the day you know it’s neither a very hip joint nor anything close to a fancy eatery. It’s a simple place that offers a good variety of decent dishes to feed the hungry hordes that gather here because of the long opening hours. Some come just for a break in between clubs, for others it’s their final stop after losing their ability to speak hours ago and some maybe come here just because they don’t have any better place to be or simply to be entertained watching the other lost souls mingling around. Spize, truly an institution for after-drink-suppertime in Singapore.

Spize
409 River Valley Road
Singapore 248307
Tel: +65 6734 9194
http://spize.sg/

Tandoori-ing it.

imageWe didn’t really know what to do for lunch and so when passing by the newly opened Zaffron Kitchen at Westgate we thought let’s just give it a try.

Yet another shop where you have to order your food via iPads which is still pretty alien to me, especially at places where you partially eat with your hands. I still managed to place our order only using my pinkie and soon after the first plates were coming in. The start made the Fish Tikka, which to my surprise was made of thick and juicy salmon chunks. It tasted great, less flaky than usual but also richer because of the fattier fish. I thought this was a brilliant twist to an old favorite.

imageWe also ordered the Tandoori Malay Chicken Tikka, which was marinated in yogurt and coriander. The coriander didn’t come across very strong but it was still a darn tasty piece of chicken, rustic charred and tender.

imageLast but not least was a first timer for me, some Tandoori Gobi. The cauliflower was super nice, slightly spicy with a bite and together with the fresh and crunchy onions and some drizzled lemon juice a great change up to the meaty dishes.

I undoubtedly enjoyed this place a lot, so much actually that I got on my colleagues nerves, raving about it all day long. It’s setup like a modern gastro bar with simple and elegant interior in a bright and light room. Food was great too, meat, vegetables and bread, everything on spot and service was kind and fast. You’ll see me back here again soon.

Zaffron Kitchen
3 Gateway Drive
#01-13 Westgate
Singapore 608532
Tel: +65 6465 9880
http://www.zaffronkitchen.com/

New branch is open for business!

imageToday I went for lunch at Orchard Central at the new branch of Nantsuttei and had my old favourite Hot Miso Ramen Extra Hot Tanmen again. It has been a very long time since I had this lovely spicy bowl of awesome but i must say they still got it and it tasted exactly the same as at their Parco Mall location. Additionally the new shop is more bright and modern, a tad bigger and by far much more convenient for me to get to. Great to have you around.

Nantsuttei
181 Orchard Road
#07-12/13 Orchard Central
Singapore 238896
Tel: +65 6337 7166
http://www.nantsu.com/sg/

Too much “Winterspeck”.

imageWe had a birthday dinner for a good friend and his little family and met all at Culina on Dempsey Hill, a nice bistro restaurant with a more kid friendly like setting.

We began our meal with a couple of starters like the Charcuterie Tasting Plate, which was pretty great. Especially the air dried meat and the rillete were perfect and even the weird looking cured duck breast tasted brilliant. We also had the Crab Cakes, that even though small were almost entirely made of crab meat without any starchy fillers and came with a delicious mustard tartar aside to be dipped in. Yum. Unfortunately the rest of the meal didn’t continue as convincing as the Burrata was miniature sized and the Fried Squid just had way too much oily batter on it and overall wasn’t really pleasant to eat.

imageAs main I had the $42 Rhug Estate Organic Pork, which I was looking forward to a lot. Taste wise the meat itself was actually quite good, soft and hearty but with that fancy name and for that price it was just not up there and way too tiny. Since it was advertised as loin I had hoped for a nicely lean piece of meat but on top of the smallish cut of pork was a rather huge layer of pure uneatable fat. Pretty disappointing that one was and the gooey cream sauce additionally made me feel uncomfortably stuffy.

So this was a rather unfortunate ending to a promising start. Don’t get me wrong, Culina in general is a nice place with in- and outside seating and you can also fill up your shopping cart with some goodies from their deli on your way out but if you should decide to go for a meal at their bistro, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to follow our birthday boy’s choice and go for the steak cuts. They had in fact quite a hefty price tag but therefore looked pretty awesome and apparently also tasted accordingly.

Culina Dempsey
Block 8 Dempsey Road
#01-13 Dempsey Hill
Singapore 247696
Tel: +65 6474 7338
http://www.culina.com.sg/