Wednesday, January 31, 2007

astons specialties . a good steak

Astons Specialties
119 East Coast Road
Tel: 6247 7857

I'm avoiding Astons. Yup, you read it right. I've been saying 'NO' to D's relentless requests for Astons. It's not that I think Astons is no good. On the contrary, I'm a huge huge fan of the steaks there. The only reason I'm avoiding Astons FOR NOW is ST ran an article on mid-priced steak places on a Sunday about 2 weeks ago. They rated Astons as tops which of course, was a fantastic thing cos good food is meant to be shared. In doing that though, the crowd has come in, and even when I drove past on a weekday night past 9, there were still hoards of people trying to get their share of meat which wasn't the case before the article was published! So anyhow, either I visit at some odd hour or wait til the crowd has satisfied its curiousity. Unless of course D forces me into it.

Anyways, I'm not blaming ST. They were right on this one. Astons is great. It's reasonably priced, the meat quality far exceeds the price you pay for its steaks and it's also cooked perfectly. Getting a steak to be served doesn't mean just slapping it on the grill; a lot of skill is actually needed to get it evenly cooked on both sides but still retain the moisture within.

The cheapest steak you'd get there is the sirloin for $9.90 and the priciest being the wagyu beef at $38.90 which I think is pretty reasonable for the quality of the beef you're getting. Plus, you get 2 sides with each steak order and so far, my favourites are the bbq baked beans and onion rings.

I've tried the Rib Eye and the New York Strip and personally, I prefer the latter although both were delicious and cooked perfectly. For the price you pay, you'd never imagine getting steak with the thickness you get at Astons. Imagine this, you can actually specify whether you want your steak well done or medium rare for a fraction of the price you pay at other steak houses. Best part is, you get what you ask for. I was a happy camper when I saw the redness I wanted in my steak. Perfect.

Hopefully I'd get to try the wagyu beef the next time I'm there. Frankly, Astons deserves all the attention it's getting especially with quality food at quality prices. It's definitely far better than some other supposed "steakhouses" I've visited. Those bad experiences I never want to have again. *shudder*

Sunday, January 14, 2007

one delicious bun.

Café Tai Lei Loi Kei
Largo Governador Tamagnini Barbosa
Taipa, Macau

Seems like it's the same everywhere. People queue where there's good food to be eaten. It usually doesn't apply for all stalls with queues but this one I agree with. Tai Lei is famous in town for their pork chop buns. It's simple; just a deep fried pork chop tenderloin sandwiched in a toasted bun. So simple yet extremely delicious. The pork was so tender and well marinated. What's better was the toasted bun that made biting into it such a pleasure.

Tai Lei sells a variety of things including pork chop noodles but before the 3pm that they start selling the buns, long queues form outside the stall just to make sure that they don't miss out cos the pork chop buns sell out really fast. If I'm not wrong, by the time you get there by 5pm, they'd be sold out already. Mum & Dad happened to be that late the last time so they missed the 'pork chop bun' boat.

I've read about other good pork chop buns in Macau. Afterall, it's a snack that they're well-known for. Until I try those, this absolutely stands now as the most delicious pork chop bun I've eaten. Not to mention that it only costs HK$ 11 and plus, I enjoyed the hot, fresh snack standing out in the cold. Oh! And don't forget that milk tea too...

Friday, January 05, 2007

cuteness redefined.

The Japanese are known for their beautiful and intricate product packaging. Not to mention that they were one of the pioneers in making "cuteness" something that almost every teenage girl wanted a bit of some time back.

They'd really done it this time. How on earth did they actually manage to make food look cute???!!! I mean seriously, how much cuter can food get!!

Ok. I am overreacting a little but only because I was so excited when I opened the box which a colleague brought back from Hokkaido. I wasn't the only one. Everyone else who walked past gushed "so cccuuuuutteeee!!".

A Japanese cracker makes up the body. The head is just a simple round piece of wood. The clothes, face and hair is all printed on the wrapper. Only the Japanese would think of packaging their food like that. Ingenious! Oh.. and cute with a capital 'C'.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

good ol' chicken.

Sin Kee Famous Chicken Rice & Fish Porridge
Block 159 Mei Chin Road #02-89G
Mei Chin Road Market & Cooked Food Centre
Opening hours: 10am - 8pm; closed on Mondays

I could have chicken rice every other day and I'd probably not get sick of it. Well, that is if I don't actually fall sick from eating too much of it. Problem is though, not every chicken rice hits the right spot. There are some with the chicken too dry, some with the rice too oily and the list goes on. Sin Kee's chicken rice keeps me satisfied though, despite its hits and misses.

For some, the chicken rice may be about the rice or it could be about the chilli. For me, it's about the chicken. Sin Kee's chicken is served with its bones intact but its meat is tender and tasty. My favourite part; the generous amount of soy sauce & sesame oil that was drizzled all over the chicken. As salty and unhealthy as it is, I always love to put the sauce onto my rice so it never really matters is the chicken rice isn't that tasty in the first place. Yup. I'm talking about Sin Kee's chicken RICE. It doesn't have that much of a chicken flavour. It's not oily but I think it would do better with more fragrance and flavour.

Besides the ordinary-tasting bean sprouts and the chicken gizzard, Dad didn't forget to order my favourite raw fish. Didn't exactly know the name of the fish they used but I'm a sucker for any type of raw fish. I loved it cos they sliced it up into decent sizes. I've eaten some where they were cut so small and thin that I could swallow without chewing them. Anyways, it was nicely seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil and the garnishing on the top which my young cousins pushed to the side cos no one loves all the "smelly" vegetables.

There's another Sin Kee that's located at Margaret Drive. This Sin Kee is the original one. The family decided to take a break for 3 years and then reopened at Mei Chin Food Centre. The one that you might have tried at Margaret Drive is opened by his ex-employees. The version there is also delicious but I remember it to be much oilier. Both get the thumbs up from me anyways. I'll be back, for sure.

Monday, January 01, 2007

a christmas buffet.

Oscar's Café & Terrace
Conrad Centennial Singapore
2 Temasek Boulevard
Tel: 6432 7481

D always shakes his head when I tell him that I'm going for a buffet but what I like about it is the choice of having a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Definitely good for indecisive people like me who takes ages to decide what to eat. Surely I can go for a 10 course degustation meal where I don't have to make any decisions and just sit and eat but somehow, I like the occassional buffet where you'd have to walk around, put different stuff on your plate, eat then start again.

After reading YX's entry on Oscar's buffet and sussing the different festive buffets around in town, Oscar's became the choice for my post-Christmas buffet dinner with a couple of close friends.

There was quite a good range of fresh seafood; crabs, crayfish, mussels, oysters, prawns. Quality wasn't too bad too. Then there was also sashimi which frankly, didn't look very appealing maybe cos it wasn't laid out too nicely that night. Very unlike the sashimi I had at the Ritz Carlton buffet. It was fresher at the latter too.

This was my favourite for the night. I've always been a big fan of caesar salads despite the "fatness" that it's loaded with (I'm sure D is shaking his head as he reads this). Oscar's version was really good in my opinion. What's interesting for me was that the salad was tossed in a whole barrel of cheese so as the chef was tossing the vegetables and the sauce together, he was basically scrapping the sides of the barrel thus incorporating the cheese into the salad. Ingenious!! So the whole salad came out nice and cheesy. Then there were all these condiments of egg whites and yolk, tomatores, croutons, mushrooms and my absolute favourite, anchovies laid out on the table. I love the saltiness that comes from anchovies. Reminds me of the anchovies pizza I had when I was in Perth a couple of years back with another anchovy lover friend.

When I'm at buffets, I usually ignore most of the mains and concentrate on the appetiser and dessert sections. Reason being I've never been impressed with the mains offering at the buffets I've been too. This was no exception as well. From what I tried, the pork ravioli with prunes was dry, the chicken looked dry, the beef was overcooked. When friends told me to not try this and that, I basically just gave up and ignored the whole section thereafter. I was hoping to see the duck confit, salmon and potato patties and pork leg mentioned in YX's blog! They looked so good there...

Oscar's has a wide dessert spread that looks so good you'd want to start them off as your appetiser. I was disciplined however cos I started from the front but when you do that, you won't really get to enjoy the full dessert spread cos by then, you'd probably be stuffed.

Oscar's got a waffle counter, an ice cream section and lots of little kuehs and desserts placed into little glasses. I have a penchant for stuff that goes into a little cup whether it's in the dessert or appetiser section. It's weird I know but I'd want to try almost everything that comes in a cup. I did that and frankly, the desserts didn't taste as good as they looked. Maybe mixing them all up and trying a little of everything wasn't such a good idea. It was just a whole bunch of weird flavours for me; apples, bananas and all the works. It was just too complicated. In my own opinion, I think the simple tiramisu or bread and butter pudding would have done just fine.

What I did like though, was the passionfruit ice cream and the waffles. The batter for the waffles was light and since it was freshly made, it was served crispy. The passionfruit was quite sour but did a nice touch to the end of my dinner.

All in all, I would say that Oscar's fell a little short of my expectations. Especially when I was treated to a sumptious lunch buffet at Ritz Carlton's Greenhouse the following day. For me, Ritz Carlton won this hands down. I did enjoy the night there though cos of the honest and interesting conversations that flowed during the dinner. Well, I guess when you ain't got the best food, you got to have the bestest company.

a recap of 2006.

Another year has just come and gone. I didn't even realise that time just flew past like that. It's been a pretty memorable year for me in many different ways. I've travelled more, experienced different food and culture, made new like-minded friends and for the first time, I actually fulfilled my new year resolutions!! Well, most of it anyways... The only thing I didn't really do is host a dinner for a BIG group of friends but I did have a very small one.. that counts at least to me!

I'm still thinking about what I should set out to achieve in 2007. I'll update again when my brain juices get flowing. My brain and body's taking a well deserved break during this rare 4-day holiday. Rest well everyone and have a very HAPPY NEW YEAR! May 2007 be a blessed one for all with good company and great food.