Saturday, February 25, 2012

Penny Black, Boat Quay

 A little dinner and drink time before one of the last few screenings of Wicked, we decided to check out a spot at Boat Quay we've always wanted to check out. Partially drawn to the delectable list of the sandwiches available as well, the pastrami sandwich does sound awesome after seeing the kind of pastrami New York serves up!

 Penny Black is located right at the start of Boat Quay just next to UOB Tower - can't miss it!

  Well guess I was at fault for expecting a new york deli style sandwich at an English bar, but this sandwich did look appetizing on arrival.

{ Pastrami and Camembert Sandwich ($15.50) } 
Sliced smoked beef seasoned with herbs and spices and layered with Camembert cheese, with crisp lettuce, tomatoes and a balsamic cranberry sauce on Farmhouse white bread. Served with straight-cut fries.
 A paltry three thin cuts of pastrami and a paltry three slivers of camembert cheese, taste wise overall was just alright. The pastrami was surprisingly tough and bland though the salty cheese and balsamic did help. The white bread was tough as well so it was honestly rather a chore to work through this sandwich! None too impressed. Fries double fried.

 From bear's ravings about pastrami sandwiches I was very excited to try this. It wasn't bad actually (of course not comparing to the epic NY-style ones, which I haven't yet tried!) - pretty generous slices of smoked beef (nicer if just a bit thinner) which went quite nicely with the slightly salty camembert. I didn't mind the chewy white bread.

{ Apple and Rhubarb Crumble ($10) }
Granny Smith apples and chopped rhubarb baked with Triple Sec and roasted pinenuts, topped with homemade crumble and served with vanilla ice cream

 This was excellent! The buttery sweet crumble was amazing. Probably the best I've ever had! This is the go-to dessert if you're in the mood for something sweet but non chocolatey. My only gripe is that the ice cream melted too fast in the early evening heat as we were seated outside. Excellent stuff, highly recommended!

 The crumble on the other hand was pretty superb - the home made crumble was sweet and crunchy, apple rhubarb mix just mildly sweet and warm and the cold ice cream was just the perfect complement.

 Penny Black serves up some other yummy-sounding and good-looking food of mostly English variety, so if you're in the area for some grub and beer do definitely check this place out. 

The Penny Black Pte Ltd
26/27 Boat Quay (just off UOB tower)

HGW Link (67% recommended at time of posting) :
Rating (out of 4) :

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hokkaido Sushi, M Hotel

*Any opinions below are only based on the Omakase deal

 Once again lured by the promises of huge discounts from such websites (never again!), we bought a $49.90 for $153 omakase set for Hokkaido Sushi (which apparently has won awards before) for a dining experience on V-day. Woe is me!

Prices below in brackets are the claimed value for the dishes that make up the $153 price tag (  : pish posh!). 

Not long after sitting down we were being served with the appetizers - clearly pre-prepared and stored in the fridge due to the cold cold bowls. First two courses was a century egg tofu (just decent and the century egg flavour too diluted) and a wafu salad, which was just ok.

{ Homemade Pitan Tofu and Wafu Salad ($11?) }
Beancurd with Century Egg and Mixed Salad with Seaweed in vinegar sauce

 After a while the sashimi plate came - again cold plate, meant it was pre-cut and kept in the fridge. What I believed to be salmon, aji, tai and maguro, they were not bad by any means, but no where near what I assumed freshly prepared air-flown Hokkaido sashimi to taste like. And is this plate really worth $35?

{ 7 pieces of Sashimi ($35?) } 

 The chawanmushi was a little unusual - there was a layer of soup-like thingy housing the ikura just above the chawanmushi. This was pretty good actually, if you like the popping of the ikura roe, mildly sweet and salty. Chawanmushi was lukewarm, bordering on cool, but flavour was not bad.

 I like my steamed egg firm but wobbly but not wet - so this was kinda "eh?" for me.

{ Hokkaido Beni Shake Ikura Chawanmushi ($15?) }
Steamed custard egg with Hokkaido red Salmon roe

 As this plate was being served, the waiter said "this is beef". I asked her to repeat because I was expecting a least a small description of what it was (mentioning it was supposedly Wagyu tenderloin would have helped). This dish was again, not bad - the beef was soft and tender and flavourful and the mushrooms were especially tasty. But I wouldn't have thought this was Wagyu and I definitely would not have paid $25 for this portion. Was served lukewarm.

{ Wagyu Tenderloin Beef with Mixed Mushroom ($25) }

 This was probably the highlight of the night! Perfectly grilled salmon steak with (overly) generous spreading of mentaiyaki - light, flaky, sweet and the skin full of omega 3, and went well with the sweet sweet mentaiyaki.Unfortunately half way through the mentaiyaki got a little too cloying as well! Could have used less.

 This is good! Probably the warmest dish of the night lol.

{ Nama Shake Mentai Yaki ($18) }
Grilled fresh Salmon with spicy cod roe sauce

 The signature hokkaido maki - this was surprisingly good, can't go wrong with fried seafood in a sushi roll! The bits of roasted sesame and the generous tobiko gave a really great flavour overall, sauce was a little too creamy and we hoped it was by the side instead of sitting on it.

{ Signature Hokkaido Maki ($10) }
Sushi roll with deep-fried seafood wrapped in seaweed, topped with Flying Fish roe

 Finally we arrived at the second to last dish - the wakame soba. I thought there was absolutely nothing out of the ordinary of this supposedly $10 bowl of soba, and in fact I thought the soba was a little too chewy.

{ Wakame Soba ($10?) }
Hot Japanese seaweed Soba

 Ended it all with a scoop of Matcha Ice Cream - a little too sweet and not enough Matcha for my liking, Haagen Dazs or Tom's Palette's variation is definitely superior.

{ Matcha Ice Cream ($6?) }

 I thought that the dinner overall was okaay but definitely not worth the supposed $153 in total. Thing is, we don't know if the restaurant serves the exact same thing if we were to order ala carte. If it does, then this place is waaaay overpriced. There is a pretty good chance of getting food of equal quality for much cheaper elsewhere. Please note that this is of course based entirely on our experience with the Omakase set alone. 

Hokkaido Sushi Restaurant
81 Anson Road
Level 9 M Hotel (3 minutes from Tanjong Pagar MRT)

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HGW Link (64% recommended at time of writing) :
Rating (out of 4) : 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

7 Kickstart Brewiches, Armenian Street

 Just opposite the Substation and Peranakan Museum is this kitschy cafe with an unconventional name. From outside the dark tinted glass doesn't look particularly inviting (and if not for the operating hours written on the door we would not have guessed this place was even open) - but step in and you find yourself in an unexpectedly cosy cafe.

 We came here for lunch and coffee at the recommendation of an SMU student (hi Jastine if you are reading this) and could imagine this place to be very popular amongst the uni student crowd for two reasons - (1) the proximity to campus and (2) the 'hipster-ness' of the cafe interior (as proven by a group of well-heeled students lounging around taking photos of themselves with their expensive cameras) - but who are we to judge? We're here for the food :)

 You place orders at the counter and food is delivered to you. There seems to be a random assortment of seating arrangements. We sat at a regular (?) table.

 Menus are sprawled in writing on various vertical surfaces (most prominent being the blackboard next to the counter) but there is also a printed menu (in a student's file) to look at.

In urgent need of caffeine we started with our fuel for the day. Personally I opted for a classic flat white because I wasn't really convinced of the stranger concoctions. This was smooth and strong, although would be nicer if more aromatic.

{ Flat white }

 If you ever wondered what orange + chocolate + espresso tastes like, look no further! Despite the supposed two shots of espresso, the orange chocolate overpowered the drink so much I had to laugh every time I took a sip (not necessarily in a bad way!). I didn't quite think orange pairs well with coffee, but it definitely pairs well with chocolate so you end up with something like a really prominent orange mocha. If you love orange chocolate, you will love this.

{ Jaffa Latte ($5.70) }
Zesty Orange + Wicked Chocolate + Sexy Expresso x 2

 I had the salad sandwich - expecting a sandwich but what I got was this!

{ Chicken, Turkey Bacon, Cheese and Salad Sandwich ($8.70) }

 What I got instead was a sandwich arranged like a salad + IKEA excalibur on a small pan. Honestly with the messy scattered arrangement and the small non-flat surface to work with, this was a real pain to consume. But setting aside my need for neatness, I diced and mixed everything and ate it like a salad, and it's actually pretty good flavour wise. The BBQ sauce and the pink mayo (more later) goes really well with the juicy chicken and turkey bacon, and in terms of portion it's surprisingly voluminous.

 I opted for the 'pizzette' (as in small - or female? - pizza) with spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes and itty bitty chunks of cheese. It's really just grilled pita bread with a whole slew of toppings thrown on it - toppings that look and tasted suspiciously like ingredients in the sandwich above.

{ Spinach, Shrooms, Tomatoes and Cheese Pizzettes ($8.70) }

 Here the pink mayo features quite prominently, shown below (we tried colour-correcting to the best of our ability!). The mayo is on the sweeter side and can get a bit cloying/overwhelming after the first few bites. Without saltiness to off set it my dish got a bit blah after a while. One other gripe for me is the "spinach" here - this is the Chinese variety (heng cai, lol). Also would have preferred melty cheese, rather than in minuscule chunks. I must say though the mushrooms were really yum: plump, juicy and earthy in flavour.

 I thought the pita bread was way too thick and doughy and it got hard to cut.

The pink mayo, sunflower seeds and cheese seem to be common toppings for both (maybe all) dishes and honestly the mayo overpowers most of the taste so they do all taste similar after a while. In the case of my sandwich there was just too MUCH mayo so while nice become a little too cloying. That said the food is actually decent and quirky, and the coffees are also great (and quirky). Definitely worth a shot.

7 Kickstart Brewiches
50 Armenian Street
#01-02 Wilmer Place (near SMU business school)

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HGW Link :
Rating (out of 4) : 
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