Monday, June 27, 2011

Yummy Viet, Smith Street

In the midst of the incredibly touristy Food Street in Chinatown is this little Vietnamese joint. One of those places you would miss completely in the overwhelming number of eateries.

Once again armed with discount vouchers (ha!) we ordered Summer Rolls - Goi Cuon ($3.50) which we heard were good. Rice paper, lettuce, raw bean sprout, pork slices, cooked prawn, with homemade bean sauce. It was alright in my opinion, but alotta things felt off compared to your usual vietnamese springs rolls :
1) Not enough lemon grass. While there was that one long sprig outside, there's next to none inside, and the bulk of the inside were vermicelli.
2) Sauce - the "homemade bean sauce" was more like satay sauce, and I much preferred my sweet chilli!

I liked the 'skin' - it wasn't too thick or too oily, just nice to encase the filling lightly. Yea I also would have preferred the regular sweet chilli sauce, although I suppose the peanut-y sauce is somewhat unique. This was okaay.

Nevertheless, it was dense and prawns were fresh, but I expected more!

I had the Slice Beef and Beef Balls with Pho - Pho Tai Bo vien ($6.90) - pretteh good. Pho soft and chewy and soup flavourful - the beef balls were the real winner in this dish, versus Ngau Kee I think can fight man!!! Dense and springy, unless those soft mushy crap you sometimes get (at chinese noodle stalls).

There's something comforting in slurping this down. I wish the soup stock was beefier and thicker, it would have been a better balance with the fresh basil and parsley inside.

We also ordered Vietnamese Stew Beef - Bo Kho ($6.90) with a side of rice. Now this was beefy - the sauce was very sweet and fragrant, presumably having been cooked for some time. I enjoyed the first few bites, but somehow the flavour kind of died off for me. It's like it hits you quite powerfully the first few times, and then falters. Might just my tastebuds being cranky though! Anyway this is a very generous portion of beef - possibly even enough for two! Oh I also wished the rice was bit more fluffy.. this actually came dry and clumped together.

Man, the white rice was epic fail - it was stone dry and even after dribbling sauce it was hard and teeth-sticking. Meh. Soup was pretty good though, very generous with portions of mystery beef cuts and the basil goes well!

It was ... it was ... nniicceeeee but not particularly very memorable, like I wouldn't be like "hey man i just NEED TTOOO GO BACK THERE FOR VIETNAMESE FOOD". No, wouldn't happen.

HGW Link :
Rating (out of 4) :

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ma Maison, Bugis Junction

Been meaning to try this place for a while! Out for a double date one Wednesday night, we finally had a chance to visit the Bugis branch. After waiting in line for a gabiliion years and getting increasingly grumpy as heck, we were led into the restaurant. Must say the interior is very homey (I suppose maison-like) and cozy.

Ordered half dozen escargots baked with garlic butter ($9.50) to share and settle the gastric juices. When placed on our table, the waitress set the sand decor-thingajig on fire. I guess that's about one extra brownie point for presentation? Anyway the snails came in their shells and you have to pry the flesh out with a little fork. Tasted okay, nothing to shout about really. It could have been more fragrant. More garlic, more butter (always!).

I thought the escargots were quite run of the mill! Nothing quite as interesting as the vol-au-vent or fantastic as those at Les Bouchons.

C ordered the 'curry rice japanese style' ($14.80). Was quite a big portion. I took a small bite and this wasn't bad - salty, a bit sweet, not spicy. Not particularly memorable though, although C said it got better the more she ate it.

Again, rather normal japanese curry, generous portion of chicken. Hmm. Yea.

The moment we spotted this on the menu while waiting in the queue, we were sure we'd try this - cuttlefish ink spaghetti ($15.90). This jet-black saucy mess is really good! Also comes with bits of mushroom and squid. Nevermind that it leaves a very unflattering stain on your mouth and teeth - this is a must try.

The cuttlefish ink (different from squid ink?) pasta was ... really not too shabby. Might be relative to the other dishes we had but oh well! Flavourful, but quite lacking in terms of 'liao' - not enough seafood and mushrooms were excavated.

Having had AMAZING mentaiko pasta at Spaghetti Goemon, I told that any other versions will probably not be up to par (and this was true!). While it was still generally 'nice', it lacks the distinct oomph and sheer generosity of the mentaiko we had previously.

I had the spaghetti "MENTAIKO" w/ chili cod roe ($15.90) - interesting, is the cod roe chillied or does there exist a fish called 'chili cod'? We will never know (cue dramatic music *dun dun dun*). Anyway, it didn't matter as this pasta was bland. The only taste I could ... taste was the seaweed on the spaghetti. Definitely a disappointment, as I was essentially paying $16 for pasta and seaweed, which for $16, I can buy 4 packs of raw spaghetti and enough Tao Kae Noi to feed 10 people. Disappointment at its finest.

I chose the 'Italian Style' 180g hamburger steak with cheese ($16.90). This was quite disappointing honestly. Maybe because I was expecting a lot more from the hamburger steak, which was just a small chunk of patty sort of lying there on my plate swished in a LOT of brown sauce. I could have had the option of a side of rice, but chose not to indulge in too much carb (ha! who am I kidding now..). The patty itself was small for a big eater like me (:D), but tender and quite juicy. But the SAUCE WAS SO SALTY. I almost gagged towards the end - mind you I finished everything up, save for about half a plateful of sauce. Maybe rice would have balanced it somewhat? But still.. this made my tongue shrivel upon itself.

The patty was good but the sauce, my god. What the heck. It's like distilled soy sauce.

I think the greatest disappointment (besides the aforementioned disappointment at its finest) was this shebang. Montblanc Tart (~$8) - crumbly base, cream, and some hazelnut wishwash. More like MontBland (ahha!).

Looks pretty and enticing on the outside, but really lacking substance. You want to be in its mere presence - then you take that bite and GODDAMN why does it hold so much empty promise?! ..Kinda like that attractive girl/boy you once dated until you realise she/he could not carry a decent conversation that doesn't revolve around her/himself or the people she/he hates.


Anyway, I really thought the food here was completely not worth the price tag, and definitely 100% not worth the wait. Food was exceedingly normal, and you can get much much much better Japanese or japanese fusion elsewhere. Well we probably ordered the wrong stuff, but if you have food items on the menu that are 'wrong stuff' then why is it there?

HGW Link:
Rating (out of 4) :

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Beef Wellington

Once again inspired by damn 12 year olds cooking Lamb Wellington, we decided that it wasn't too difficult (boy were we wrong!) and tried to make a Beef Wellington ourselves!

Contrary to what its name may suggest, this dish did not originate from the capital of NZ.

Beef Wellington

- Beef steak : big enough for two
- Button mushrooms
- Onion : 1, diced
- Frozen Puff Pastry : 1/3 pack
- S&P
- Red Wine : 1/2 cup
- Beef Stock : 1/2 cube
- Some twigs of asparagus

First up, we seared the beef slightly on each side - from what we read this was supposed to seal in the juices. Unfortunately after lightly searing it already looks good enough to eat! I suppose this recipe could end right here if you want.

The end.

If you want to continue making Beef Wellington, fry up your chopped onions and mushrooms until soft. This is supposed to go over the beef before you wrap the bugger up - almost all recipes will call for liver pate or a mushroom duxelle, but since we were lacking a food processor we just fried that shit up!

Leave the mushrooms mixture and the beef to cool. In the mean taime, roll out your thawed puff pastry - while puff pastry is not that hard to make, the frozen ones are already super good and not expensive! A small $4 pack is good for 3 big beef wellingtons or dozens of tiny pie desserts. So anyway, roll it out so that it fits the hunka beef, cover the beef with the mushroom mixture, then fold and seal!

Egg wash that mofo! Then toss in the oven for about 20 minutes at 220 celsius or until golden brown. That's it! We had some leftover mixture which we will just serve on the side.

We made a simple red wine reduction sauce - mix the red wine and the beef stock cube with 1/2 cup of water and let it simmer (tossed in a bayleaf for good measure).

Also drowned some asparagus in there to soak up the flavour.

Unfortunately during this time we were horrendously distracted by Food Network Asia and returned to the kitchen 10 minutes later than we were supposed to D: The beef stayed in the oven 10 minutes too long, and the asparagus was boiling 10 minutes too long as well. Regardless, out comes ze bouef wellington.

Also you are now treated to a view of a portion of my kitchen/front door.

Served alongside our soggy drunken asparagus!

While this may not be the bestest rendition of beef wellington in the history of beef wellingtons, I must say this was a pretty good first timer effort! It was actually very wet when we cut into the pastry. Not sure why this happened (should we have poked holes on the pastry? put less mushrooms? cooked it 10 minutes too long? le sigh), but we certainly hope to improve! I benchmark all beef wellingtons against the excellent one I had at the British Club, and I'll make sure we aim for that standard :D

Quite unfortunately when we took it out of the oven, the pastry was leaking juices :( Also when we introduced the beef to the element of the knife, a stream of red liquid gushed out from the beef, making the pastry (at least the bottom part) damp and soggy. Not quite sure what went wrong here! As above, a couple of reasons could be :-

1) Use of onions and mushrooms - a duxelle would be relatively dry while pan fried onions and mushrooms retain a lot of moisture
2) No holes in pastry, trapping steam and condensing into itself, causing an infinite inception loop of liquid
3) Overcooking the beef causing the liquid in the beef to escape

Any suggestions would be welcome!
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