Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant

Ever since I stepped into the working society, time passes by extremely quickly. I barely have enough time for myself, let alone say for my loved ones around me. So weekends are my most precious days where I truly get to sit back, relax, and spend time with important people in my life.

Last Saturday, I met up with L and his family for seafood feast at Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant.

Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant is a place where you can be assured to have fresh seafood. Why? Because you are serve only what you choose! You go to these tanks, observe these living sea creatures, and then you indicate which particular one you set your eyes upon.

Unqiue Seafood Market located just outide the restaurant
Tanks and tanks of living sea creatures.
Prices (by weight) stated clearly.
This is damn disgusting.
That's not all. The stall owner will then pick up the creatures you'd selected, put into a huge plastic bag, and then indicate for you to go over to the weighing scale.

Thats our crabs being weighted!
So that's it, no fear of them exchanging your goods for an inferior one. So you literally eat what you see/choose.

When you first step foot into the restaurant, wear a jacket. No, I am not kidding. Or maybe we arrived before the crowd, so the temperature were beyond comfort. But when one of the waiter saw me rubbing my arms to keep myself warm, he initiated to switch off the air-conditioner which we were sitting in front of. This thoughtful gesture scored 10 points for me.

Interior of the Restaurant

But if you are looking for a nice place to give a treat, skip this place. I will just be blunt, the decor is nowhere near the standards of a high end restaurant. There is a permanent, oily smell that lingered in the air the moment we stepped in. My whole jacket reeked of the smell after the whole dinner. Throughout the dinner, we were served by this grouchy waitress. And okay, enough said. Let's move on to food.

First dish of the night, Peking Duck!
Peking Duck
Always have a soft spot for this dish ever since I had the first ever bite at Szechuan Court, Fairmount Singapore. And that particular Peking Duck was the best ever, even better than the authentic Peking Duck I had in Beiing. In most restaurants, the duck will be sliced in front of the customers by the cook, the skin and little meat is to be eaten separately from the rest of the meat, For the latter, you get to choose what kind of dish you want them to cook the meat with, for example noodles, or you can choose to eat it plain.
Peking Duck

Nothing particular special about this dish. The skin was thin and crispy, though a bit too oily for my personal liking. Wrap it with thin pancake slices, dab a little of the sweet bean sauce and add in a slice of cucumber or two. Not bad at all. Just not special enough to create a long lasting impression. The meat, however, wasn't tender enough for me to want more than 2 slices.

Next on the list, Oysters.
Fresh Oysters
First, you have to squeeze lemon juice onto the oysters, to kill whatever bacteria left on it. Then if you fancy, add a small amount of Tabasco sauce for a little spice. Then you pick up the meat using a fork and throw the whole thing into your mouth. The conclusion is either you love it, or hate it.

It's the latter for me. I cannot accept the after taste that lingered in my mouth. Too fishy and raw for me to like it. Swallowing it was a struggle for me. But this is definitely personal, because I don't have a liking for raw stuff. Both L and his parents did comment that the oysters were fresh and sweet though. In fact, L's mum went on to order two more. So I guess, if you like oysters, you will like the ones here.

Cereal Prawns, one of the top listed food item on our list.
Cereal Prawns
It is difficult to cook this dish well. The cereal must not be dry, yet it can't be too oily. You have to fry the prawns well, but take note not too over-fry the prawns which will make the meat tough. Ensure that a right amount of cereal are mixed well with the prawns, and a dash of spice should be added to complete this dish.

If you are a fan of cereal prawns, I'm guessing you will be disappointed here at Ah Yat, because I've certainly tasted better ones elsewhere.

People gasped at the sight of this expensive little palm-sized fortune. To be honest, I'm indifferent towards them. I have never taken a fancy for abalones before. They are good, but not awesome. One will be enough, next dish please.

Okay this is probably the main highlight of the whole meal.
Crab with Salted Egg Yolk
I can feel myself drooling now. This dish is good! Even though I was disappointed to see that the crab wasn't drenched in a golden-yellow gravy, which is still hot and runny. However, this suffices too, somehow. The half harden salted egg yolk was a terrible mess of heaven, I can't help but to lick them off the crab shells before cracking them open for the tender meat which lies beneath. At least this is better than any gravy which was too buttery, or lacking in salted egg yolk flavour.

Bill turns out to be over $300 for the 5 of us.
Not cheap at all, but for the fresh seafood that one can get, why not?

Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant (Turf City)
200 Turf Club Road #03-01/02
Main Grandstand Turf City
Singapore 287994
Tel: 6883 2112

Friday, 24 August 2012

Coffeeshop at Teban Garden

You know you aren't a true blue Singaporean if you have yet to step into a coffee shop, feeling sweaty and irritated with the crowd. The air all stuffy and humid, to make things worse somehow the fans aren't really helping. But the surprising thing is, no one can quit going to coffeeshop for meals yet. Why?

You don't need to be a mad scientist know the answer to the question above. That's because in the coffeeshops, that is where you can find some of the most amazing food at super affordable prices! And I am sure this is the only reason that kept people going back.

A few days back, my daddy decided to bring the whole family out for a meal. We used to do this often when I was much younger, before my brother and I started having other commitments, like giving tuitions, etc. Sometimes, no matter how happy you are with your life, and how busy you are, it's always important to free up your schedule, just for your closest and loved ones. (: Afterall, family members will always be the ones there for you, no matter how bad/terrible things and situations are!

Okay, enough of life. Now, back to food!

Blk 54
Not a very accessible place for people living outside of this area, but if you drive, everywhere is accessible!

Not much of a crowd because we avoided the 12-2pm lunch crowd. So it was a breeze finding a table, much to our relief. It was such a hot day, we needed a table where the fan is emitting wind our way.

Lor mee/Prawn Noodles/Satay Beehoon Stall
This is the store which my daddy always patronise whenever he is here for meals. He said the Lor Mee is superb. Well, that is what he claims.

Lor Mee
Lor Mee is a dish served in thick gravy with lots of starch in it and thick flat noodles, accompanied with several ingredients. The most common ones are half boiled eggs, ngoh hiang, fish cake, pork, fried dumplings, etc. Most people will eat with vinegar, garlic and/or chilli. The really traditional stalls will also sprinkle fried fish crumbs as toppings before serving.

In my impression, Lor Mee is supposed to be piping hot, with the right amount of ingredients. Noodles should be springy, with fragrant pieces of pork slices. Gravy should not be runny, like you're having noodle soup. It should be thick enough so you can mix your noodles all evenly.

I was blown away by the looks of it. When it was served, I couldn't wait to have the first bite! But like how the saying goes, Looks can be Deceiving. This particular dish is out to disappoint. The noodles tasted limp, instead of springy. The ingredients weren't  at all tasty. And most importantly, the gravy went wrong. Terribly wrong! Even with the right noodles and ingredients, wrong gravy will have spoiled this dish completely.

Enough said, let's just move on.

Prawn Mee
Prawn noodles is one dish that will forever be in my top favourite list. How can someone not like prawn noodles? Okay, I'll excuse those who are allergic to prawns or doesnt't like prawns, but for the rest, get prawn noodles into your life! The fragrant prawn broth is the main essence to this whole dish. Almost nothing can go wrong when you have a flavourful soup base, that leaves people yearning for more. A best combination would be beehoon/noodles, while some will opt for kway teow/noodles.

The brother ordered this particular dish. Took a spoonful of the soup, decided to give it another try. Another spoonful down, before i decide that this is enough. The soup was obviously lacking in every ways. Not tasty, not rich, doesn't leave a trace of prawn flavour in my mouth, and ahh full of MSG in my opinion.

Satay Beehoon
 Not a fan of satay beehoon since I don't fancy having nuts in my food as they get stuck in between the teeth easily. And as we all may know, satay beehoon sauce is a chilli-based peanut sauce, very similar to the sauce we eat with satay (hence the name satay beehoon, if you're wondering). The dish will usually be served with satay sauce spread on top of vermicelli, accompanied with ingredients like kang kong, bean sprouts, prawns, and even cockles in some.

As far as I can remember, I have never tasted one satay beehoon which leaves me wanting more. This isn't an exception. The sauce was quite weird, in my opinion. Sticky, and uh, starchy. Pardon me if this is the way it should turn out to be, but it tasted like a combination went wrong. Didn't score with my parents either, even though they love satay beehoon.

Finally, a new stall, Hua Zai.

I've a weak spot for Mini Pot Noodles, and many other food as well actually heh. So when the hawker centre/coffeeshop I am dining at have a stall selling Mini Pot Noodles, I won't bother looking out for other food items to fill my tummy with. Isn't it amazing. A bowl of noodles sitting in front of you, while a boiling pot of soup + wonderful ingredients swimming in the pot waiting for you to indulge in them, ie fish dumplings, fish cakes, meatballs, fishballs, veg, etc. And of cos, the egg cracked into the soup. The noodles here is the main essence, it should be tasty, springy and not lumpy. For me, I will ask for both ketchup and chilli. Best combination ever!

Mini Pot Noodles
One word, disappointment. First of all, the noodles were Lousy (with a captial L). The whole lump of noodles were stuck together, it feels like I was eating dough even though I have already pour some soup over the noodles. My heart dropped even further when i search the whole pot of doup for my fish dumpling. My heart screamed when I didnt manage to locate it in my pot. It was replaced with two-thirds of a hot dog, which doesn't even taste right.

To me, this is like a meal went wrong. Everything was bad, then got worse. I couldn't even finish my meal!

The only thing that taste alright for the meal was probably the can drinks which we got from the drinks stall.
The meal that disappoints
Never going back to this place for a meal again, not even if it will be a treat. I will gladly settle for some instant noodles at home. But well, there might be a chance you will have different views. Who knows?

Blk 54 Teban Gardens Road
Singapore 600054

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Din Tai Fung

There's one famous question. What are birthdays without celebrations?
Then this will lead to another question. What are celebrations without food? Glorious Food!

L turned 25 a few days ago ,so we went to Din Tai Fung at Wisma.
Wisma Atria
Went over at lunch time, so we had to wait for a little while for a table. No reservations made (again) but since this was an impromptu trip, I can't grumble much! Thank goodness the waitress gave us the menu so we can decide on our order while waiting. Brilliant idea, in my opinion. (:

After a short wait, we were brought to our table by a waitress. Glad we got a table by the window, allowing us to see the busy streets of Orchard Road. Wouldn't want to be seated in the middle of the restaurant and feeling suffocated amongst the crowd. Then, we were served a cup of jasmine tea each, which was warm and good. Heh, now my stomach's all ready for the food!

After a long wait, the food was finally served! Oh joy oh joy. Picture the smile a kid will have on his face when you give him a lollipop, or a hungry man chancing upon his favorite dessert. Picture that yet? Okay cut that smile, paste that on my face. Yup, that's how happy I am to see food. What's more, GOOD FOOD! What's life without food, I'd say.
Fried Rice with Pork Chop 
Shared the main course of the day with L since we wanted to save stomach space for xlb. Got a shock when I sank my teeth into the meat, the pork was so tender that I mistook it for chicken! However, despite the incredibly tender pork chop, this dish didn't quite score for me. It's a little bland, and ... just incomplete, much to my disappointment. I definitely expected more. L commented that this dish used to taste much better, before the store was relocated to the 4th floor.

We had one of the best fried rice ever at a coffeeshop near my neighbourhood. Will give it a review as soon as I managed to snap pretty photos of it!

Ahhh. A meal at DTF wouldn't be complete if one doesn't order some xiao long baos. Mark my words.

Legendary Steamed Pork Dumplings
Definition of xlb: Sinful small pouches of meat. Put one into your mouth, and feel the goodness burst into your mouth. The tenderness of the meat, and the savoury soup which surrounds, filling your heart with joy. The happiness that linger even after you've swallowed the xlb. Swallowing one immediately begets another. 

The original ones, and probably the most famous. Definitely famous for a reason. One simply can never get sick of these. A must-order dish when you dine at DTF! The skin is so incredibly smooth and thin, yet strong enough so it will not break when it's still hot. Do you know? One single xlb will have a minimum of 18 folds, and are finished with a twist on the top. This isn't just food, this is an art piece.

Before you get too excited when your xlbs are being served, do remain calm. Note that one simply DO NOT put the whole thing into your mouth because you will probably end up scalding your tongue and wasting the whole meal with burnt tastebuds.
How L and I eat our xlbs.
First, you bite the top part of the dumpling skin. Take note that you should just nibble and not chomp off a huge part of the dumplings. If you must, take a small sip of the soup which is already oozing out from the little pouch. Then, you pour vinegar into the pouch, add some ginger if you fancy, before finally throwing the whole thing into your mouth and munch away! Yes, that's it. Savour the taste. That's the taste of happiness.

Steamed Chilli Crab Dumplings
Latest item on the menu! Mention Singapore to many foreigners, and one of the things that they will mention will definitely be Chilli Crab. So, being a true blue Singaporean, how can I give this a miss? Ahhh, And I'm sure glad we ordered this. A tinge of spiciness to complete the taste. I wouldn't dare say this is better than the original one, but I would go as far to say everyone who likes crab should give this a try. (:

Steamed Pork Dumplings with Shrimp
Compared to the rest of the dumplings, this one scored the least. The skin was a little too heavy and thick for our liking. Finishing it was quite a struggle given that the xlbs had already caught our hearts. Would exchange this for more xlb, anytime!

Good food aren't always expensive!
Currently, there's a promotion for the Steamed Chilli Crab Dumplings.
If you're up for it, go try them! Oh, and while you're there, please don't forget to order the Steamed Pork Dumplings too! (: You will not regret it, trust me.

L enjoyed his birthday meal very much, and so did I. This trip to DTF would have been alot better if the restaurant wasn't so busy, and we had to remind the waiter to refill our cups of tea a couple of times. But well, at least the food made up the slow service!

Din Tai Fung
Wisma Atria
435 Orchard Road Level 4
Singapore 238877
Tel : 6732 1383

Monday, 20 August 2012

Strictly Pancakes

They said friends are your pillars in life, without them to share your joy and sorrow, you'll be living a wasted life. And i really couldn't agree more to that. So I always make it a point to organise/attend gatherings, just to do my part to keep the friendships going.

And boy, what are gatherings without food?

So off we go, to Strictly Pancakes! To indulge in uh well, pancakes, as the name of the restaurant suggests.

Sitting quietly along the Prinsep Street, Strictly Pancakes proves to be one of the hangout place where everyone can head to for brunch, anytime. An All Day Pancake concept dining place, where you can get pancakes at anytime of the day. Unlike Macdonalds, which you have to rush to wake up early for the pancakes, or else you have to settle for burgers once the time hits 11.01am.

After more than half an hour of waiting, we finally got a table for 6! I'm someone who hates waiting and queuing up for food, so whenever I want to dine somewhere, I always try to make reservations beforehand whenever possible. Which I failed for this gathering, because the clique meets at 1, and this restaurant only allows for reservations at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, ...

After a long wait, the waitress could only offer us the seats outdoors. But thank goodness, a crowd on the 2nd floor left so she offered us the seats indoors which we all gladly obliged. It was such a warm and stuffy day! On the second floor, there were two distinct seating areas. One is the sofa seats (which was directly under the glass ceiling), the other is the one with tables where the stronger air conditioning are. Luckily, we managed to get the latter! (:

And oh yes, here comes the pancakesssssssss! 

Strawberries & Co. (S$10)
Mine! Medium stack of original pancakes, accompanied by mixed berries, strawberries coulis and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. In my opinion, that scoop of icecream was the best on the plate.

Blackforest (S$11)

Tiramisu ($S12)

Apples and Cinnamon (S$10)
If you pay this place a visit, order the chocolate pancakes! They tasted so much better than the original ones. So much better that I switched one of my original one with my friend, for his chocolate piece. Both Tiramisu and Blackforest just prove that pancakes taste so much better with chocolate. Apples and Cinnamon just didn't score for me.

An advise for people with small appetites, please do order the short stack (which consists of 2 pancakes), or share your plate with another.  Because none of us managed to clear our plates, except for Benjamin who order the short stack of chocolate pancakes. Or maybe Aaron did, but he felt like puking pancakes out after that.

If you ask for my opinion, I would rather wake up early for Macdonalds' pancakes and the multiple packets of maple syrup and butter which I can get for free over the counter. SP's pancakes were too heavy for my liking, I found myself struggling after just 1 piece. The whole meal wasn't satisfying for me at all. Filling, yes. Satisfying, no. And that is a big taboo in the world of food, for someone to continue to feel as unsatisfied as he/she was before the meal. 

Or perhaps I should order the chocolate based one. Or perhaps pancakes only go well with maple syrup/butter for me. You should come with an open mind and taste them for yourself!

Strictly Pancakes
44A Prinsep Strret
Singapore 188674
Tel: 6333 4202

/some photos courtesy of google.com