Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Oooh, there is a pilates class today at 12 noon, my first, and I don't really know what to expect!

Will they give me a medal when I have completed the course (this is my own medal btw, for completing the stanchart run last year)?

Will I look like Wong Li Lin when the course is over?

I am so looking forward to it...

NOT a food-related post... but I don't care! tralalala...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Crystal Jade Dining IN @ Vivocity

Crystal Jade Dining IN (Vivocity #01-112) is a very pretty restaurant, with glass frontage facing a beautiful sea view and a very intriguing walkway (one side was red patterned glass panelling, and the other side was an acquarium) leading into the restaurant.

The cutlery and chinaware were exquisite, and thoughtful (they had 2 pairs of chopsticks for each diner, silver ones and wood ones - presumably for picking off communal dishes and for eating).

I think they must have quite a lot of nice dishes, but as I didn't pay for this dinner, my host did all of the ordering.

We shared a few different soups. The meatball with ginseng soup was flavourful and the ginseng was not too overpowering. The shark cartilage soup was bland, and I didn't like it much. The seafood soup in coconut was the prettiest, arriving in a coconut husk! The coconut flesh was tender and could be scooped out quite easily.
The battered fish with yam was also very pretty. See the medley of colours! Taste-wise, it was not bad, not too salty and quite fresh.

This is the vegetable dish of the night - Spinach with egg. The egg was overcooked, in my opinion and was not really a wobbly custard, more like a pancake. No like.An odd choice for a Chinese restaurant, but interesting nevertheless. Kimchi chicken with thick glass noodles (tung hoon) in a stone bowl. Korean origins, obviously. The pickled cabbage was a bit to spicy and tart for me, but I liked the chicken and the very tasty tung hoon - which clearly has soaked up all the savoury juices. This stone bowl kept everything hot and bubbling away until the very last drop.

We also had a few other dishes (rice with corn and pine nuts, roast platter of pork, duck and char siew), but they were not very memorable. Maybe we should have tried other dishes?

And why is this restaurant called dining IN, with the IN capitalised anyway?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hua Yu Wee Restaurant @ Upper East Coast Road

Hua Yu Wee Seafood Restaurant (462 Upper East Coast Road) is almost an institution in these parts. It's been here for the longest time (DH even remembers celebrating his birthdays here as a child). Even though I always see many cars and crowds of people on weekends, one usually can find a seat there as it is a very spacious place, converted from a large colonial bungalow, with one's choice of air-conditioned or al fresco dining.

The food here is great value for money, with no service charge. It's quite funny really, 'cos the aunties that serve you are all kebaya-clad (same blue-ish prints as the ones for our famous Singapore girls), but that's where the similarity ends. I think part of the reason why there isn't a service charge is because, the aunties aren't really that good with the service part. The service with a smile campaign didn't quite reach these corners. But it's quite ok, they aren't rude or anything. Just pretty harried with the full crowd. I think they might be pretty friendly if one comes here on weekdays.

We started with mee goreng (large portion for SGD 12), it was slightly spicy, al dente and with a decent amount of squid and prawn and fish. Not everyone at our table got one piece of each, but we did get lots of noodles and beansprouts and at least one piece of seafood.

Braised Spinach tofu with mushrooms next (SGD 12 for a big portion). Can't complain, crispy on the outside and smooth and soft on the inside, with some tasty starchy gravy.

Ahh, this one was FANTASTIC - black pepper crayfish (SGD 28 for about 500g, it's sold by weight you see). About 1 crayfish per person, the flesh was fresh and succulent, and the yummy sauce it was smothered with was sticky and peppery ooh, delicious. DBiL liked it too! DBiL and I have the same tastes, so we both raved about this one.

Then, the steamed live prawns in herbal broth (SGD 30) arrived. Before they cooked it, they brought this whole bowl of jumping prawns and asked, can we cook it now? Err, yes yes yes. When it arrived, it was great. Steaming hot, the prawns were sweet as can be. The broth was quite peppery, rather than herbal, so that was a little odd. Look, it's a perfectly peeled prawn. There is not a single bit of shell, not even on the head or tail, so I could pop it all in my mouth (except the eyes and feelers lah!). DH peeled it for me! I feel so loved!

We also had some obligatory stir-fried dou miao (pea shoots, SGD 12), which were fine. DM wanted greens so we ordered some. Funny thing is, I am not fussed about greens when I am with DM, but when it's just DH and I, I find that I tend to worry more about whether we are eating healthily or properly.

Then, finally, the piece de resistance - the crabs! Lovely Chili Crab (female, with roe but smaller) and Lovely Black Pepper Crab (without roe, but larger and meatier), so explained our server. The crabs cost SGD 33 per kg.

The chili crabs were spicy but not overly so. The chili crab gravy, with a hint of tomato and the unmistakeable fragrance of the crab roe, was great with the steamed and fried buns that we ordered. The crabs were really meaty and tender. All parts of it were delicious.

But, I really preferred the black pepper version. Dry sticky black pepper sauce fried with the crabs until every bit of the shell and exposed flesh is coated. It is fragrant and not too spicy. I don't mind getting my hands dirty for this! DH, bless his heart, tried to peel every pincer for me, until I had to ask him to stop... I like shelling my own crabs cos that's were the tasty bits are!

Look, just look at the size of this monster! It was pure delight biting into this juicy meaty crab claw!

Total damages, SGD212 for 7 adults, with a 10% discount for UOB credit card holders, not bad, wouldn't you say?

Spizza @ HarbourFront Centre

Spizza, with a few branches across the island, is a dependable fallback for thin crust pizzas.

DH, ever the woefully ignorant one, has never been to Spizza, so despite the plethora of choices available in HarbourFront / Vivocity, we ended up here.

We started with the Cesare Salad (SGD 9 - "why must we pay money to eat grass?!" moaned DH, "I want to eat calamari!"). I silenced him with my best mommy stare and stated categorically, "Greens are good for you!". This shall be good practice for when Baby gets older. Hopefully it won't be necessary.

I liked the Cesare salad, which admittedly wasn't a very large portion. It had the requisite greens, shaved parmesan and croutons in a tasty anchovy dressing.

DH ordered 2 large pizzas (SGD 16 for regular and SGD 19 for large).

The Laura was the quattro formaggio one, ie 4 cheeses. Ooh, and what strong cheeses they were. One was definitely a blue cheese, its distinctive blue veins were still visible, and so was it's distinctive whiff. After the initial shock, we gobbled this one down quite quickly as the aroma grows on you.

The Sofia was the seafood one, and it was quite good. It got a little soggy in the centre because the ingredients were still moist when the pizza was served, but that isn't a big problem if one eats quickly.

There is a promotion for Amex card holders - 15% off.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Orange Lantern @ #01-98 HarbourFront Centre

I used to come here quite frequently before megamall Vivocity opened up and lured me over with its extensive array of shops and restaurants.

I was in the mood for a vietnamese pho dac biet (beef rice flat noodles soup with everything - tendon, beef balls and brisket) and as there isn't a vietnamese restaurant in Vivocity, I came over for a quick bite.

However, I was enticed by the grilled beef with rice vermicelli (SGD8.50) and decided to order this one instead.

It was a good choice.

The slices of beef were fragrant, slightly smoky-sweet and a little chewy. The rice vermicelli was somewhere in between thin bee hoon and laksa bee hoon, and went quite well with the tangy dressing and generous crushed peanuts that were provided. I created my own special dressing by adding lots of sliced chili padi to the dressing, so it was spicy and tart at the same time. Ooh, added oomph!

In this set, one has a choice between prawn paste on sugar cane (as above) or a fried spring roll. I chose this one as I like gnawing on the sugar cane, but the spring roll isn't too bad either.

Quite an enjoyable quick lunch.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Imperial Herbal & Sinchi TCafe @ Vivocity #03-08

I've been here for a quick weekday lunch previously.

This time, I came over the weekend. Which means more crowds. But also means that I get to have a more leisurely lunch. It was a good thing as I got to try more dishes.

First, we had the signature fluffy egg white with dried scallop in tapioca basket (SGD4 per single serving). It was as good as I remember it to be - cloud-like, soft, tasty egg white (not over-cooked) in a crispy basket that was light and not oily. Yum. A very good start.

The shark cartilage soup with bamboo pith (SGD20 per single serving) was milky-hued, which one obtains by slow boiling the shark bones and cartilage until all the richness is infused in the soup. That would give the soup an unmistakeable gumminess and umami richness. This soup however, took a shortcut by adding evaporated milk to obtain that creamy hue, so there was a little milky smell to the soup (which would be obvious to a foodie like me) and the soup was a little thin and not at all rich as it should be. A let-down.

Deer Tendons (SGD18 per serving) - it was served with some obligatory greens and a few pieces of fried yam slices, but the rest of the plate was filled with these slippery yummy things. I love tendon, and so I really liked these.

Cod with lily bulbs and black fungus (SGD12 per single serving) - each ingredient had some lengthy health benefit which I cannot remember. This dish was slightly sweet, and therefore not one of my favourites. The fish was well cooked, just right and still flaky.

This is deep-fried scorpion on a beancurd puff (SGD5 each), so cute! It was a tiny thing, the size of my little finger, and quite a novelty. It tasted like any other crunchy deep fried thing, it could have been a mini-spring roll with my eyes closed. It's meant to have some antioxidant properties. Whoa.

This home-made bean curd (SGD4 per single portion) wasn't that great, perhaps because we were getting a bit full when it arrived. It was quite tasty, and sufficiently soft in the centre, so objectively speaking it wasn't bad. I didn't like it because the green topping was not spinach as I would have imagined it to be, but rather seaweed, which infused the bean curd with a bit of a strong fishy(?) taste. I usually like seaweed (in sushi, handrolls, even crispy seaweed snacks) so I don't know why this one just didn't work for me.

We also ordered deep-fried brinjal slices (SGD12 per serving) and some ee fu noodles (SGD18). The brinjal slices were dipped in batter and reminded us of deepfried nian gao one eats during new year - same crispy tempura-like exterior with a hot, yielding centre. The ee fu noodles were ok, but nothing to shout about.

Cheng Li Yuan @ Tanjong Pagar

Cheng Li Yuan (72 Tanjong Pagar Road) is quite a quiet, cosy restaurant serving unpretentious northern Chinese cuisine. It is opened by a mainland Chinese family who are here because their son is studying in Singapore.

It may be slightly salty and oily for some, but bear in mind that authentic mainland Chinese food tends to be heavier on oil and condiments.

My family seldom ventures into this part of town, but we were here over the weekend for a very good (and joyous!) reason, and therefore we fortuitiously chanced upon this place.

Crispy prawn balls coated with potato strips - this was a signature dish, and I can see why. Each prawn is coated with slightly sweet mayonnaise, rolled in potato strips and then deepfried. So it is an interesting medley of tastes and textures. The candy sprinkles are a little unusual, and probably quite unnecessary.

San Bei Ji - literally, 3 Cup Chicken. 3 cups of what, you ask? It's supposed to be 1 cup each of sesame oil, rice wine and vinegar/soya sauce. The chicken was fried before tossed in this slightly vinegary, savoury sauce, so it was not bad. There was a thick layer of oil at the bottom, which proved to be a little intimidating after a while.

Fluffy egg white with fish and broccoli - another signature dish, and quite affordable at 12SGD. There was a raw eg yolk on top that we had to quickly mix up, but I think we waited a little too long and so it wasn't cooked enough. They mixed a little vinegar into this dish as well, so it was also quite appetising.

Lamb rib stew - again a signature dish. It has a strong lamb taste, and it may not be palatable to some with delicate taste buds. They were however, quite tasty and tender and fell off the bone very easily. The white pieces you see in the metal stew dish are circles of tofu, which were probably added just before the dish was served, as they were a little cold.

Not all the dishes were a hit. This is fried pig intestines with black fungus. We thought it would be crispy intestines, and ordered it. But it turned out to be the kway chap-style and it smelt a little too porky for me. We didn't finish this one. Luckily it only cost 10 SGD.

We also ordered xiao long bao (8 dumplings for 8SGD), rice and dessert of egg white puffs filled with red bean and dusted with sugar.

All in all, the bill came up to SGD96 for 6 people, which wasn't too bad.

Service-wise, they were friendly and accommodating and even helped to watch our car as we parked outside their place. They upsized our dessert at no extra charge too.

Only worrying thing is, we were the only table in the restaurant on that Saturday night. Ummm.. which affects the turnover of the ingredients, which in turn affects the freshness of the food.

Werner's Oven @ Upper East Coast Road

Werner's Oven has been around for quite a while. It serves hearty German fare, in a little cosy setting, without any frills or stuffy waiters. Recently they refurbished the place, so it's more spacious and airy. They also have their own parking space in front of the eatery, so it's quite convenient.

This is the pan-fried camembert with cranberry sauce (SGD8) . Crispy crust of breadcrumbs and all melty on the inside, it was quite a delight to eat. The cranberry sauce was slightly tart, which provided a good accompaniment to the cheese.

DH's main of farmer sausage with saurkraut and potato salad (SGD18.50). I think it has lost a bit of its edge, sadly. The sausage was not as spicy or snappy as it used to be which probably means more filler ingredients like flour? The potato salad used to be better too, with hard boiled eggs, potato and green apple. They omitted the eggs here. Wonder why, eggs aren't expensive.

My main of pork knuckle with saurkraut and mashed potato (SGD19.50), however, was as good as ever. The large and meaty chunk of knuckle was crispy all over, not a bit too hard or too charred. PERFECT. There were lots of gelatinous bits between the skin and meat, providing me with lots of chewing pleasure (stop saying it's fat ok, it's cartilage!). The saurkraut was just right, although I found quite a lot of bacon bits in it, rendering it as unhealthy as my pork knuckle. The mashed potato was smooth and creamy, thereby evidencing the addition of a healthy amount of cream and butter.

NOT the healthiest of meals, I would admit.