Monthly Archives: March 2014

British Hainan

R and I had an impromptu dinner date with his sister and her hubby in the neighbourhood, at British Hainan.

After we were done admiring the eclectic mix of vintage collectibles and taking tonnes of photos, we finally settled down to order. The owner, Fred, is a real friendly chap; we felt like visitors in his cool house. He came to check on how we were and treated us to a bowl of mixed nuts before our orders arrived so that we are “kept entertained”.

B had already psycho-ed me to order the lamb shank ($28.90). I wavered a little between that and the oxtail stew but ended up with the former. No regrets! The meat was extremely tender and had a good mix of fats/tendon. The gravy was flavourfully sweet with carrots and potatoes, which was also a perfect dip for the accompanying bread. It was quite a big portion but yummy enough to finish it all.

20140331-154950.jpg R had the IPA chicken ($12.90). None of us actually knew what IPA was. For those in our “mountain turtle” family, IPA is a pale ale. This gave the grilled chicken leg a sweet, slightly sour and slightly bitter taste all at once. A simple one-dish meal which I am sure we would return for.

20140331-155125.jpg My SIL started with the onion soup ($6) and had the bangers and mash ($12.90). She gave both dishes a thumbs up.

20140331-155502.jpg20140331-155555.jpg My BIL had the fish and chips. This is not a great photo as the fish toppled over before I could take a shot. I didn’t try the fish but I could hear the crunch as he cut through it. I “stole” loads of the fries though – they were crispy and potato-ey.

20140331-155732.jpg Fred also treated us to ice cream after the meal, which was really nice of him.

20140331-155915.jpg Overall, a satisfying meal at affordable prices. We will definitely be back to try the other stuff on the menu. I already have my heart set on the clams with white wine sauce for our next visit.

20140331-160038.jpg 75 Carpmael Road
Open Mon/Tue-Sat: 11:30am-10pm and Sun 6-10pm [Updated] Lunch (Fri/Sat) 12-3pm / Dinner (daily except Tue) 6-10pm
https://www.facebook.com/British.Hainan

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Pastilla

R and I came across this Moroccan restaurant not far from our place last year. I have been reluctant to try it cos’ another restaurant (-that-shall-not-be-named) which promised to serve “authentic Moroccan cuisine” left me sorely disappointed previously when their chicken tajine tasted more like chicken with diluted mee rebus gravy. After that, I resigned myself to the fact that I would probably not be able to relive the taste I so loved in Morocco. But I am so so so glad we decided to take the plunge and try Pastilla! Their chef is from Chafchaouen and the taste is very close to what I remember.

We ordered 2 tajines to share (between $16-20 each). Each tajine comes with saffron rice or bread. The breads were fluffy with a crispy crust; we liked the bread so much, we ordered an extra basket (and this does not happen often for us)!

Chicken tajine with seasonal vegetables, olives and preserved lemons

20140315-132239.jpg 20140315-132317.jpg The chicken was very tender and fell off the bones. The sauce had lotsa flavours coming together – essence of chicken, sweetness from the carrots and other vegetables, aroma of the truckload of spices. I am not sure what else went into the dish (I am sure olives and preserved lemons featured somewhere); it was a deeply flavourful dish.

The main difference from what we had in Morocco was the vegetables; but I can see why the dish cannot be exactly replicated. The Moroccan version is served with tons of whole olives and huge slices of preserved lemons. I suppose the chef had to make do with what is available (and cheaper) in Singapore and hence, the substitute of potatoes, carrots and onions. I still liked the tajine very much; but it would be good if the vegetables could be in smaller chunks.

Chafchaouen Tajine – beef meatballs in light tomato based sauce topped with eggs

20140315-133059.jpg The meatballs were quite gamey so not really for non-meat-lovers. The tomato sauce was also very flavourful with spices and an excellent dip for the bread. R wiped up every last drop of the sauce with his bread. The egg atop was fully cooked and added another dimension to the dish.

Overall, a lovely experience and I would highly recommend Pastilla for a true taste of Morocco. I can’t wait to return to try their other dishes especially the couscous tajine!

20140315-133211.jpg 334 Changi Road
Open 5-1030pm (1130pm on Sat/Sun)
http://www.pastillacafe.com

Humble Loaf

I finally made it to Humble Loaf after 3 previous failed attempts* and I absolutely love the place!

It is a tiny cafe, and most out of place in a building best (or maybe, only) known for their photocopier shops and maid agencies.

The menu changes periodically and is artistically pencilled on their chalkboard. The breads used are all freshly baked in-house.

20140314-173059.jpg They also have weekend specials, which I now receive updates on after following them both on Facebook and Instagram. To be frank, I wasn’t particularly excited to check them out that weekend as they were featuring tomato tartare and I am not a big fan of sour stuff. As with all things in life, R and I somehow ended up there and of course, ended up ordering the tomato tartare – yuzu kosho, bean salad and marmite glaze – served on crouton discs.

20140314-173507.jpg It was a good mixture, texture wise – the crisp croutons with the mushy tomato and the green crunchy stuff on top (which I found out was the “yuzu kosho”, or yuzu citrus peel and green chillies). The tartness of the tomatoes was also mellowed by green chillies and marmite glaze. An interesting dish and you could almost “taste” the thought put into this dish.

I love brie and it was hard for me not to order the caramelized French brie tartine. The cheese coupled with the sweet burnt muscavdo cheese was yummy. But I did regret not choosing something more “exciting”.

20140314-173605.jpg But I had my “excitement” when the Sea-ly eggs (eggs with smoked salmon and marinated seaweed) arrived. It was a dish of colourful goodness and complexity – the creaminess of the egg + the saltiness of the stringy seaweed + the rawness of the soft salmon + the clean taste of the crisp little spring onion bits. Must try!

20140314-173708.jpg I am no coffee connoisseur; the coffee tasted just fine. Here’s my flat white and his short black; quite reflective of our (sometimes) divergent taste in food.

20140314-174134.jpg I really hope Humble Loaf expands (in the East). More people should get to enjoy their extremely imaginative, thoughtful and tasty creations. Highly recommended!

20140314-174439.jpg 20140314-175306.jpg Katong Shopping Centre, #B1-92
See above for opening times
(be sure to check their Facebook page before going as they may close on an ad-hoc basis or sell out for the day*)
http://thehumbleloaf.com/

Mojoburps

S & B wanted to gather troops to visit Mojoburps (so we could divide out the unhealthy calories, I guess). I was sold the moment I heard spam fries on the menu. So one hazy evening, 5 of us visited this corner coffeeshop and ordered almost all the fried stuff (each between $5-$8):

Onion rings

20140314-171712.jpg I liked this best. Not like the BK ones; these had sweet onion mash inside and were crisp on the outside.

Chicken wings

20140314-172010.jpg These felt extremely sinful (but good). Crispy and juicy with oily goodness.

Sweet potato fries

20140314-172143.jpg This didn’t quite work for me. They were sweet but very dense. I couldn’t stomach more than a couple.

Spam fries

20140314-172236.jpg I was slightly disappointed as I was expecting thinly sliced and uber crispy spam. However, these were a different sort – they were french-fries-size and lightly battered on the outside. But I like luncheon meat in any form so all was good!

On top of sharing the fried stuff, most of us each had a burger. They had chicken/pork/lamb/beef ($7-11) burgers and you could add on cheese/mushroom sauce/black pepper sauce/bacon for a small top up. Majority of us had the lamb burger, with an add-on of cheese. I liked it that the patty was slightly pinkish in the middle and hence very juicy. The burger came with little hash browns (tater tots); I think they have potential but mine tasted a little raw on the inside that night.

20140314-172339.jpg For drinks selection, they have a huge selection of craft beers and ciders. I was dizzied by the choices in front of me and ended up with just a coca cola. I definitely need to go back to make up for my poor choice.

It is a great (especially on non-hazy days) and affordable place to chill out with good burgers, beers and spam! Glad it is in the neighbourhood.

20140314-172527.jpg 364 Tanjong Katong Road
Open Tue-Fri 5pm-midnight and Sat/Sun 1pm-midnight
https://www.facebook.com/mojoburps‎

Tomi Sushi

I believe Tomi Sushi has been around for a while, but somehow R and I never came across it until it moved into Katong V. We have tried it a couple of times and it now ranks as one of our favourite Jap restaurants in the East.

Always ask for their “Specials” menu as it features their seasonal items and promotions. We picked the ankimo (fish liver) appetizer ($15++) and it was one of the best I have tasted. The fish liver was firm but crumbled into a creamy mash when I bit into it and the taste of the sea exploded from within. As with most liver/pate dishes, it can get heavy going but the tartness of the vinegar sauce was a good balancer.

20140307-102654.jpg The asari sakamushi (steamed clams in sake) ($10++) was also very good. It was served in a small claypot on an open flame. The clams were a little bland (perhaps having lost their flavour to the base) but you can dip them into the sauce for the ankimo. The broth was the essence; it was briny and sweet with the clammy flavour, and enhanced by the hint of sake. Such comfort food.

20140307-102941.jpg The sashimi and sushi were uber fresh. We had the salmon belly sashimi ($18++) and swordfish sashimi ($16++); as well as the Tori Sushi ($49++) which comprise a good mix of sushi, including uni, maguro chutoro and tamago (with rice on the inside). Tomi is particular about the soy sauce pairing and have separate ones for sashimi and sushi.

20140307-103217.jpg 20140307-103231.jpg R was impressed that this is the only Jap restaurant where he had seen me voluntarily requesting for grilled fish. Their kanpachi kabuto shioyaki ($30++) was really gooooood! It is a super huge amber jack fish head. It was absolutely fresh; no fishiness at all. Must order!

20140307-103437.jpg From our earlier experiences, I told R not to order any tempura dishes. Somehow these don’t shine. I didn’t take photos from my previous visits but I recall that they were oily and a little soggy.

It is not one of the cheaper Jap places but definitely worth it for the quality. To give our wallets a breather, we may try their set lunch the next time. I would recommend it as a place to go when you wanna treat yourself (and your loved ones) to a superb Japanese meal.

Katong V, Level 2
Open 11:30am-2:30pm I 5:30-10pm
(Other outlet at Novena Square (Velocity))
http://www.tomisushi.asia/