Monday, 24 September 2012

Lao Beijing

Another weekend, another good excuse to indulge in food.
Okay, who am I kidding? Why do anyone even need an excuse to eat good food?

Craving for some Asian Cuisine, L and I came to Lao Beijing for their xlbs, to see if they are comparable to the ones at Din Tai Fung.

Panorama Shot of the (Empty) Restaurant
Round table in the corner- Best for gatherings!
Located on the 7th storey of Orchard Central, the restaurant had a nice feel to it however because of the actual location on the 7th story, mirrors instead of windows are used. The lights were dim, making the whole dining experience a cosy one. That is if you're not claustrophobic.

Utensils in Pretty Arrangement
Personally, I like how the staff arrange the individual sets of utensils neatly on the table. It is like giving the customers a head start to a pleasant dining experience. See that particular dish of crackers in the above photo. It's crispy, tasty and not too salty, unlike the ones served by many other restaurants. In fact, it was so good L and I nearly cleared 2 plates of it on our own while waiting for the food.

Maybe because we were the first customers they had on a Sunday afternoon (since they just ended their break and open the restaurant for business again at 530pm), the waitress stood by our table and advised us what to order, what their signature dishes are, etc. She even suggested getting some vegetables as we had ordered far too many meat dishes. And oh boy, totally glad we listened to her and exchanged one meat dish for some greens.

Some of the dishes we had are:

Pan Fried Guo Tie. There are 2 choices to pick, we got the ones with Pork and Chives filling. If you don't fancy the smell or taste of chives, skip this dish. The taste of chives was overwhelming for this dish, I literally washed the dish down with vinegar.

Assorted Mushrooms with Broccoli. Since this is a rather safe dish to order, obviously we will not expect something fanciful. And we were right. Plain plate of broccoli with the assorted mushrooms. Great for mushroom lovers though, because the chefs are certainly not stingy with the amount of mushrooms.

Fish and Bean curd Clay-pot. My personal favourite dish of the whole meal. Tried it once when I brought my family over to dine at Lao Beijing previously, and I couldn't get the lip-smacking fish slices and bean curd out of my mind ever since. The slices of fish meat were fresh and soft, you really have to order this when you're dining here. My only complaint is that this particular dish is rather bland, would prefer it to be a little bit more salty!

Yangzhou Fried Rice. Another safe dish on the menu for us to order. But comparing this to the fried rice we had previously at DTF, this won our hearts (and mouths and stomachs) more.

Meat Bun. Disappointing dish considering that what attracted our attention to it was the picture on the menu. The skin made of flour was too tough and thick for satisfaction, but perhaps we were both too full to enjoy this dish. L dug out the meat filling, and left the skin untouched. L felt that the meat buns available at markets all around Singapore are better than the meat buns by them. Kind of self-explanatory i guess.

And finally,
Steamed Juicy Meat Buns. If you're one of the customers who'd come to Lao Beijing just for their xlbs, you will be disappointed. How could they named this dish 'Juicy' when there is a pathetic amount of soup in each pouch of xlb? The skin are thick, the meat is paltry.

If you want really good ones, head over to Din Tai Fung. Enough said.

Bill came up to $71.35 for the both of us. I wouldn't say it's very expensive, given the amount of food we ordered. The fish and bean curd clay-pot impressed, and the fried rice was tasty. But one thing for sure, I will not patronise them for their xlbs.

Lao Beijing
Orchard Central
#07-14/15 181 Orchard Road
Singapore 238896
Tel: 6509 1878

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Square Restaurant - Food Outside The Box

Being an extremely lucky girl, I'm blessed to secure a part time job after A Levels, which lasted me all the way til I graduate from University. That's a whole good 3 years of part time, with 1-2 months annual breaks which allowed for me to study for examinations, and a 3 months break for me to go for internship at ease. With such flexible schedules, and of course, understanding supervisors, I really couldn't ask for more.

So after 4 months, I finally found time to meet up with both my NUS supervisors! Not without food, of course.

So here we are, The Square Restaurant at Novotel, Clarke Quay. Situated very near to Liang Court, please make sure you find the right entrance to Novotel. Or else, you will end up walking around in circles in Liang Court.

Get into the right building. Take the right lift up to 7th storey. Start feasting.

Perhaps we were too early. I couldn't think of any other reasons why the restaurant was so empty. (Until much later)
Almost empty restaurant
But I can't complain. Less crowd can make dining a more comfortable experience.
The spacious dining area with such contemporary furniture and deco makes this modern restaurant an ideal place for large gatherings or family dinners.

To start off, here's the Fresh Seafood Selection.
Fresh Seafood Section
Well, being not a fan of seafood, I didn't try any.

Sushi Platter is next on the list.
Sushi Platter
Oh, how my heart jumps with joy when I spot my favourite Jellyfish Sushi sitting quietly on the tray, waiting for me to pick it up gingerly and pop it into my mouth. But the disappointment sets in as soon I threw the whole sushi into my mouth.

The rice was wrong, the seaweed were damp, even my favourite jellyfish doesn't taste fresh.

Conveniently next to the sushi was a variety of well, pretty looking sandwiches.
Sandwiches for your pick!
Let's just stop at pretty looking. I took a bite of the tune sandwich, and I left the rest uneaten. The bread was such a chore to chew, and the tuna mix was too raw and fishy. I understood why the tray of sandwich was almost left untouched at the end of the buffet.

The Square Restaurant offers quite a few live-cooking stations, namely Roasted Meat section, Singapore's all-time favourite Fried Carrot Cake, Satay/Otah/Chicken Wings, and Noodles section.
Roasted Meat Section (blurred)
The Roasted Pork were not bad. In fact, it was good! The meat was tender, juicy and very tasty. And of course, they provides a reasonable selection of condiment sauces right in front of the counter for your pick.

The Carrot Cake didn't score with me though. My favourite CC will be located in one of the most humid and stuffy hawker centre, where I will request for the cook to add it more cai-po and make it 'more black'. Never had a fancy for white carrot cake.

If you ever dine here and you can only eat one item on the list, please go for the chicken satays. They were so good, I can't help but to go back for three more servings! First of all, the station had already won me over with the familiar smell of smoke. Satay is always one of Singapore's famous dishes, but to make the meat tender, tasty and not overly dry after grilling, that needs alot of skills. The Satays served here absolutely scored full marks with me! Not kidding. The meat were very well-marinated, and it was grilled to almost perfection. I believe no words can do this dish justice, you have to try them yourself!

Next on list was the Noodles Station, which I was already too full to try.
Noodles section
You just let the friendly cooks behind the stations know what noodles you want, and they will whip up the dish for you right there, on the spot.

Aha, not at all unfamiliar with this dish, I am sure.
Chilli Crab
The meat was fresh, the sauce was tasty. What's more to ask? Oh. One of the waitress even serve our table a bowl of lemon water for us to wash our hands with, without us asking for it.

Now that I'm quite stuffed, time to head to the desserts section!
I love how many buffets now allow us to create our very own ice kachang!
Ice Kachang Machine
I meant, just look at the number of jars we can get our condiments from! You'll be lost for choices, really.

Danish pastry

Chocolate Fondue
A buffet isn't complete without a chocolate fondue fountain. Lke many others, the chocolate here is so rich yet not too sweet to turn people off. And it's warm chocolate! Okay, I'm won over.

Fruit Tart
This particular Fruit Tart got my hopes up high, and then dropped me from heaven. The sweetness of this fruit tart is artificial. The base was well, lousy. I can't even describe it in words.
By the way, the rest of the desserts were disappointing too. Seems like most of them were leftovers, because majority of them tasted stale.

There were many other stations of course!
Salad sections -  Chicken Sausage salad was lousy. The sausage tasted well, expired. Pasta salad didn't impress as well.
Ala-carte sections - Roti Prata wasn't crispy, nor tasty. I felt like I was chewing onto dough which wasn't mix well. Char Kway Teow wasn't too bad though, just stay away from it if you don't fancy oily stuff.
Ice cream section - The normal sort of ice cream you could get from anywhere, but they tasted good here because I dripped loads of the chocolate syrup over my icecream. And of course, nata de coco (from the Ice Kachang Station which is just beside the icecream one.)
Drinks section - Many drinks to choose from. You've the cold drinks namely Guava juice, Orange juice, Milk (for cereal), etc. Then you have a whole tray selection of tea, packed into little individual packaging, for you to choose from. When I was there, both coffee machines broke down, so we can't try any.

Did not have a good experience with the food, since most of them didn't impress. But the waiters/waitresses were nice and thoughtful to attend to our needs, with initiative. Although they do get a little rushed to clear our plates when we are not even done. But still, the service is out to impress, at least way better than the food served.

The Sqaure Restaurant
Novotel Clarke Quay Singapore Hotel
177A River Valley Road
Singapore 179031
Tel: 6433 8790
Opening hours:Buffet Breakfast - 6:00am to 10:30 am
Buffet Lunch - 12:00noon to 2:30pm
Buffet Dinner - 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Ala Carte Menu - All Day

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Swirl Art

Talk about Frozen Yoghurt places, you can name a dozen.
Talk about which Frozen Yoghurt places which allow you to DIY your own yoghurt. Aha! Can't think of any right now isn't it?

Swirl Art entrance. /courtesy of
Swirl Art, like many other yoghurt places, is a great gathering place for people from all walks of life regardless of age. Well, even if they do not fancy frozen yoghurt, you can't reject the cool air-conditioned place in this sunny island!

Comfortable sitting area
Cosy corner, great for girlfriends meetup!
Unlike many other stores whose pricing go by the cup size, this store offers frozen yoghurt by weight. Which in other words, you are on your own (literally). But before you move on to filling your bowl with delightful yoghurt, you can always ask for samples. The friendly girls in the swirlart shirts standing around will gladly feed you with samples.

So when you're done with the samples and have decided what flavours to choose. There are over 10 flavours, but this depends on the outlet you go to. I only come across blackberry, original, peach, strawberry, etc.

Stations containing your frozen yoghurt.
You grab the bowl size of your liking. March to the station with your desired flavour, and Twist & Swirl it away! And when you think you are finally done, well, not quite yet. Move on forward and you will see yourself coming face to face with at least 20 different toppings/sauces/fruits/etc. Just to name afew, there are nata de coco, fruity pebbles (oh heavenly), honey balls, various fruit slices, etc.
Sauces. /courtesy of
SOME of the toppings you can find. /courtesy of
No, just in case you're wondering, the toppings are not limited. So you can go on to pour the whole tub of toppings into your bowl. But do be reminded that there is a weighing scale right at the counter, so you have to pay accordingly to the weight of your bowl of frozen yoghurt. 

L and I decided to go simple - we agreed on no toppings but I cannot resist adding afew pieces of nata de coco.
Peach + Blackberry + Original combi.
I love how this frozen yoghurt is light and not over-creamy, so you will not get sick of eating this. With a tinge of sour yet sweet enough for the sweet tooths out there. And oh, it doesn't melt as fast as icecream too! A plus point, if you're thinking of grabbing a takeaway.

However, at $3 per 100g, it is definitely easy and totally possible go overboard especially with the spread of flavours and toppings awaiting you. Ours came up to a whooping $10+ for that bowl of blackberry+peach+original yoghurt with pathetuc pieces of nata de coco. So, please contain your excitement while you're Twisting and Swirling the yoghurt into your bowl!

417 River Valley Road
Singapore 248316
Opening Hours: Sun-Thurs: 12pm – 12am; Fri-Sat 12pm – 2am
Tel: 6836 6846