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Archive for November, 2009

Akashi

I’m missing Jap Japanese food. It’s been approximately 23 days since my last Jap meal. That’s a long hiatus for me! (Thanks to a reader, I just realised that “Jap” is an ethnic slur to some. Sorry!)

A bowl of edamame was served when the waitress handed the menu to us. Because I was so hungry, I didn’t bother asking whether it’s complimentary (like bread in european restaurants) or charged (think peanuts in chinese restaurants). Eat first, ask later. And no surprise, it turned out to be the latter. Not too expensive at $2++.

I’ve got a thing for soba lately. Especially chilled green tea soba, the star of my Nigiri Chasoba Set ($16++ for lunch/$20++ for dinner). I cracked the cute little raw quail egg into the dipping sauce and was slurping away before you can say “itadakimasu” (let’s eat in Japanese)!

Maguro, sake, ebi and tamago are the selected nigiri sushi which comes with the set. The tuna was so fishy that I had to heap lots of wasabi on it to mask its strong taste. Otherwise, the rest of the sushi was pretty good.

Nabeyaki Udon ($14++ for lunch/$18++ for dinner) has a very sweet broth that’s addictive.

I don’t understand why there’s a discrepancy between lunch and dinner prices since the food quality is essentially the same. It’s like blatantly taking advantage of the 9 to 5 office workers who can only afford the time for dinner. Lucky for me I haven’t fall into that category. Yet.

I’ll only go for lunch! Never dinner.


Akashi
#B2-07/08/09 VivoCity
6376 9972

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1 Caramel

2nd food bloggers’ gathering of the month was sweet. Literally. 1 Caramel, the latest patisserie in town, was chosen as the place of honour to indulge our sweet tooth.

9 desserts. 8 foodies. 6 cameras. 1 passion.

I don’t like shortcakes. But this Shortberry Shortcake ($8.90++) has changed my mind. Yes, it’s that good. Usually the sight of stark white cream in shortcakes turns me off but this rendition uses strawberry creme instead. You may think that ultimately it’s still cream but the colour and flavour matter to the fussy me. The contrasting texture between the soft vanilla genoise and crisp puff pastry flakes is another plus.

Conclusion: I like unconventional shortcakes!

Forget dryness when it comes to the Hazelnut Pear Torta ($6.90++). This cake was extremely moist (in a good way!) and despite its dense look, it wasn’t overly rich or heavy. Nor were the caramelized pear slices too sweet.

I like.

The petite Red Miso Souffle ($12.90++) scored big on originality and creativity. I wouldn’t have thought that salty miso would complement the sourish yuzu ice cream so well. This was interesting but it’s a pity the portion was so small. Ah, and there’s that annoying icing sugar on it again.

Midori ($7.90++) is one of the latest creations with a strong Japanese influence to it. The matcha sponge and azuki bean compote layer are common enought but what differentiates this from other green tea cakes is the yuzu infused bavarois. Very distinctive and light in texture.

Lychee Rose ($7.90++) is a misnomer. I think it should just be named “Lychee” since the strong fruity taste overwhelmed the rose infused mousse and Valrhona ivory chocolate glaze. It’s lucky that I’m a fruit (and not “bundung”) lover so the cake was still acceptable for my palate.

As a general rule, I don’t like/eat cheesecakes or cheese tarts. The Peanut Butter Cheese Tart ($6.90++) is not likely to change my mind anytime soon. This is seriously for hardcore P.B. lovers! It was so rich that I felt like I was eating P.B. straight from the jar. The law of diminishing returns definitely applies here. You will either love it or hate it.

I’m still sitting on the fence.

Compared to the above cakes, the Chocolate Praline Cake ($7.90++) came across as prosaic. Any self-respecting patisserie will have some sort of signature chocolate cake and this is it for 1 Caramel. It’s a safe choice since it’s quite hard to go wrong with chocolate mousse and crunchy hazelnut praline feuilletine.

Just very average.

My 3 criteria for brownies? 1. Nutty. 2. Fudgy. 3. Moist. I’m not sorry to say that the Brownie Almond Cake failed my last 2 tests. For just $4.50++, the thick slice was value for money though.

I’ve saved the worst for the last. One bite of the Carrot Walnut Cake ($5++) with cream cheese frosting was more than enough. I’m not a fan of carrot cakes to begin with and this just reinforced my stand.

Dryness to the max is what this is.

If you haven’t noticed it by now, I’d ranked the cakes in order of my preference. No prize guessing which one is my favourite! Unless you totally hate sweets (an unfathomable concept to me), it’s more likely than not you will find something you like since there are more than 20 cakes to choose from daily!

I’m high on sugar.

Here are my sweetest foodie friends (Hi! Nice meeting you guys!):

Angeline & Janelle from Sistafood;

Elaine from Divine Essentials;

Fen & Yuan from Indulgence After Workout;

Harris from The Simplest Aphrodisiac;

and Michelle from Never Trust a Scrawny Foodie.


1 Caramel
6 Handy Road
#01-01 The Luxe
6338 3282

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Chalk

138. Mind you, that’s how many steps it takes to get to the top of Mt Sophia without a car. I. Was. Out. Of. Breath. A cruel timely reminder that I haven’t exercise since that much hated dreaded physical fitness torture test endured in VJC 3 years ago. Ok, I probably need to start doing something about the lack of exercise. Soon. Maybe.

I started with the Mushroom Timbale with Asparagus ($17) which was excellent! Take a bite of the seasoned mushroom mixture + the runny yolk from the Poached Egg + Truffle Oil. The result? Deep earthy flavours with subtle truffle essence. A winner! Another starter I tried was the Mushroom Consomme with Ravioli and Truffle Oil ($17). It’s not pictured here as I didn’t get a good photo of it. Think clear soup that somehow reminded me of chicken essence. Which I don’t like.

Whoa, the Salmon Confit with Braised Leek & Kombu ($29) was insanely good! If any fish deserves the overused term “melt-in-your-mouth”, THIS IS IT. The brilliant red-orange flesh may look raw and uncooked but trust me, it’s not. I think the trick is to cook it slowly over very low heat so as to seal in the juice and flavour. Exquisite!

The daily specials were written on a portable blackboard and brought to our table by the waitress as she introduced the menu to us. One of the specials of the day was the Roasted Quail with Stuffed Chestnut &  Risotto ($32). I don’t eat birds so no comment.

Desserts continued to put a smile on my face. The Passionfruit Souffle ($13) was so light and fluffy with moist innards. Make a hole in the centre, pour in the chilled Vanilla Anglaise and for a few blessed moments, I had heaven in my mouth. By the way, want to know one of my many pet peeves? Icing sugar! It annoys me to have to scrap off that white powder off my desserts. I know it’s there to look pretty but really, it’s not working.

I’m not so much a crumble-girl so I don’t have it in me to rave about the Apple and Rhubarb Crumble with Cinnamon Ice Cream ($13). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad, just not as awesome as the souffle.

The dim lighting is every photographer’s nightmare and I had to resort to using flash for some most shots. Totally uncool, I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures! All prices are nett, which is great since I don’t have to kill my brain cells calculating that +17% nonsense. 

I want to eat chalk. Again.

 

Chalk
11 Mount Sophia
#01-03
6883 2120

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Bakerzin

Just a short post today before I go back to mugging mode. I’m sure that many of you know about Bakerzin’s monthly promotion, right? This month, it’s macarons at $1+ each! I went to the Paragon outlet and was amused by a sign saying “Please queue here for macarons”. Will there even be queues in the 1st place? I don’t think Singaporeans are that crazy over macarons. Yet. If ever.

Flavours tried: Pistachio, Hazelnut, Black Sesame, Sakura and Yuzu (clockwise from the green macaron). Only 2 out of the 5 were good enough to impress. B.S had an intense flavour which I loved (it’s no secret that I love anything black sesame!) and yuzu was interesting with its light citrus tang. The other 3 were very forgettable.

 I’m still loving the macarons from TWG!

 

Bakerzin
#02-09 The Paragon
6333 6647

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Capricci

2 years, 4 tests, 1 license. I’ve finally passed my driving test! Nothing (yes, not even crappy food) can prick my bubble of happiness today. But no worries there. If nothing else, I left Capricci with an even bigger smile on my face (if that’s even possible)!

Complimentary foccacia topped with tomatoes and herbs in a cute wok-like basket. I didn’t take to the strong cheesy taste.

Usually, I get bored of pasta after a few mouthfuls. But Tagliolini with Grouper, Zucchini and Saffron sauce ($22++) was so delicious that I can easily finish the whole serving all by myself. If I have to pinpoint what’s exactly so great about this, I would think that it’s the saffron sauce that transforms a simple plate of pasta into an extraordinary one. The aromatic fragrance was irresistible!

No complaints with Penne with Salmon and Pesto of Arugola ($22++) but it’s definitely not as awesome as the tagliolini. This is intended to be tossed in cream sauce but I had it changed to a tomato base instead. It’s interesting that fresh chili was also served with the pasta which gave a nice kick to it.

Sometimes, being adventurous doesn’t pay off. Semifreddo of Ricotta Cheese and Walnuts drizzled with Rum Liqueur($10++) didn’t impress at all. Though I like the texture of frozen mousse and crunchiness of the walnuts, this was rather bland and flavourless. And it helps if there’s more rum too as I could barely taste it.

Next time, I’ll just stick to the familiar classic Tiramisu ($10++). Moist, well soaked lady fingers distinct with espresso and the smooth, creamy whipped mixture of eggs and mascarpone cheese left me wanting more!

Great food aside, service was impeccable. The manager and the other waiters were attentive and prompt in offering recommendations, topping up our glasses and clearing the plates. Owner Mr Massimo came over to our table to welcome us personally and didn’t forget to give us a warm handshake when we left. Now, do you get why I like Capricci so much?

 

Capricci
27 Tanjong Pagar Road
6221 6761

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Romano Ristorante

If I’ve known that ravioli, tortellini and any other types of stuffed pasta (my favourite!) are not on the menu, I’ll probably not come here in the 1st place. To be fair though, there’s a wide variety of pizzas and pasta to choose from. And prices are very reasonable for the large portions served!

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Farfalle Salmone ($12.90++) was good when I took the 1st few bites. But after awhile, the sodium level rocketed sky high. The saltiness seemed to come more from the tomato sauce than the smoked salmon.

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Somehow, every component of Farfalle Polpa Granchio ($13.90++) missed the mark. Crabmeat wasn’t sufficiently fresh; chili flakes didn’t give any satisfactory kick; and the garlic and olive oil weren’t fragrant enough.

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I cringed when I saw the ugly Homemade Tiramisu ($8.90++) with its jagged edges. The food snob in me was ready to write this off completely. Until I tasted it. And it was surprisingly good with a proportional balance of savoiardi to mascarpone cheese. Never judge a tiramisu book by its cover!

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The tiramisu was good but not fabulous enough to win my loyalty. And the pasta was disappointing. Plus, the location is not exactly accesible. There, 3 reasons why I’ll be hard pressed to believe that I’ll be back anytime soon.

 

Romano Ristorante
10 Jalan Leban
6453 3778

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La Nonna

I braved the annoying heavy rain… For some precious one on one time at La Nonna (“The Grandmother” in Italian) with the person I love most in the world. Sheltered from the pouring rain, the warm and cozy Trattoria atmosphere made us feel so comfortable and at ease.

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Most of the time, I can’t be bothered with the complimentary bread basket since it’s usually uninspiring. But this cracker-like flat bread was so crispy and aromatic with herbs seasoning that I was happily nibbling away while waiting for our orders.

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The heartless me abandoned the flat bread immediately the second I laid eyes on the Nera ($19++). Tissue-thin (I exaggerate but you get what I mean) pizza dough topped with squid ink, tomato, mozzarella, prawns, scallops and calamari, this just screamed “EAT ME NOW”. And so I did!

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Oh boy, this is one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten! The magic combination of the thin crust and heavenly squid ink spread made this lip-smackingly good.

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Still lusting after that provocative cod from Buko Nero, I was hoping that Merluzzo ($28++) would help to tame my craving. No such luck! Severely under seasoned, the oven-baked cod was bland to the point of being tasteless.

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Cioccolata ($12++) was recommended by the waiter and I’m glad I listened! I reckon it’s hard to go wrong with chocolate and banana which is what this oven-baked tart with vanilla ice cream is all about. Only fault I could find was that the tart was not served as warm as I would have liked but that could have been due to the long time I took for photography.

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Of course, there’s Tiramisu ($12++), my obligatory must-have dessert at any Italian restaurant. Mascarpone cheese was smooth and creamy enough but I thought the lady fingers were inconsistently soaked, resulting in an uneven texture. Still, it was a wickedly huge portion to be savoured!

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Service wasn’t impressive (the waiter seemed more interested in folding napkins than refilling our glasses) but I didn’t care much since the food was good. Unpretentious, down to earth, rustic… These are the words floating through my mind when I recalled my hearty meal at La Nonna. Now, if only my grandmother can whip up such dishes!

 

La Nonna
26 Lorong Mambong
Holland Village
6468 1982

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