Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ma Maison: For the Salt Lovers

Originally at Nagoya Japan, this restaurant has travelled all its way here to our very homeland Singapore - with its first branch opened at Bugis Junction, and its second at The Central ©, Clarke Quay.

Ma Maison
What immediately sent us both in awe was its old English cottage charm, complete with parquetry flooring, wooden tables and chairs.

Ma Maison
The windows are fringed with curtains, and window sills are filled with wine bottles and interesting ornaments like old clocks and some tin boxes. There's even a wooden rack with displays of wine bottles, dainty plates and crockery.

With candles and vintage table lamps, the entire restaurant was set in dim lighting, creating a very homely and romantic feel.

Boat Quay
From our (reserved) window seat, we had an excellent view overlooking the Singapore River, which further enhanced our dining experience.

Western dishes with a Japanese twist are served here. To speak of, what is unique about Ma Maison is that they have authentic Japanese servers to wait on you, but of course it takes time for you to really understand their English.

Cha Soba Salad

Cha Soba Salad,   S$7.00++,   

A splendid fusion of Japanese and Italian, where the tangy Cha Soba was well mingled among the ham strips, shredded eggs, tomato wedges, cucumber slices, lettuce, kizami nori (shredded seaweed), and a few blobs of Japanese mayonnaise. The thoughtfulness of keeping the salad cold extended to even the plate, to doubly make sure you enjoy the dish chilled.

Tonkatsu Set

Tonkatsu Set,   S$19.50++,   

The Tonkatsu Set consisted of a deep fried pork cutlet served on a wire mesh, a bowl of miso soup and rice, Japanese salad, mashed potatoes, pickles, and a single scoop of black sesame ice cream as dessert. The restaurant provided two seasoning to go along with the pork cutlet - high mineral rock salt, and Ma Maison's homemade Tonkatsu sauce. (Both salty!)

This dish had been highly recommended by peers who had tried it, and personally, we find it too fatty and salty for our liking. Portion was big, and with every bite, juice and fats came oozing out from underneath the crispy cutlet skin. Miso soup came with a surprising chockful of bonus ingredients like carrots, onions, chicken cubes, plus some other vegetables (too many to remember!)

Doteni Hamburger

Doteni Hamburger,   S$19.80++,   

The Japanese really take pride in their food presentation, and just by the look of it, you can't wait you to get your fork and knife working. Topped with a sunny side up and scattered with small soft pieces of beef tendons, the minced beef hamburger patty made a good attempt. The whole dish was soaked in heavy Doteni (red miso bean) sauce, which turned out to be so salty that the taste stayed stinging on our taste buds.

Doteni Hamburger
The delicious but salty mix of everything.

Payment Key
A big brass key would be placed on every customer's table for them to make payment after they're done with their meal.

Notice that we kept emphasizing how salty the food was. Yes. In fact, that was really what we could recall of the food served in Ma Maison. Great ambience, great service, and definitely a great place for salty taste buds.

Ma Maison - The Central
Ma Maison - The Central
#03-96, The Central ©
6 Eu Tong Sen Street, S(059817)
(+65) 6327 8122
Mon - Sun: 11.30 a.m. - 11 p.m.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup: Highly Addictive

Start your day right with a bowl hot steaming Bah Kut Teh from the famous Ng Ah Sio stall. As early as 6 a.m. in the morning, you'd be surprised to see crowds bustling at this eatery.

Situated at Rangoon Road (near CTE), it wasn't exactly the most accessible spot unless you have your own private transportation. Of course you could always walk from Farrer Park MRT or take a bus in (if you know the way), but most of the customers here were often families and regulars from the older generation (we're an exception).

Service here was speedy and efficient. The moment you got your butts seated, Ng Ah Sio's staff would come over to you with a PDA in their hands, ready to take your order anytime. And within a few minutes, your order (once entered into their system) would be sent straight to your table hot from the kitchen. Thereafter, the bill would also come along, printed nicely and inserted into a black bill holder, those typical ones you would encounter in a restaurant.

Pork Ribs Soup

Pork Ribs Soup,   S$5.50+ (+ S$2 You Tiao, +S$2 Tea),   

Bah Kut (pork ribs) were so tender - one bite and everything slipped off from the bone. The soup was a huge pepperish sensation, which would send spicy tingles to your taste buds. And as you drain the soup to the last bit, you could actually find garlic and crushed peppercorns residue at the bottom. One bowl surely wouldn't be enough, and the good news is, the soup was free flow.

Best companions to along with the Pork Ribs Soup were none other than traditional Teh (tea) and You Tiao (deep fried dough sticks). There are six different types of Chinese tea for you to choose from, and we ordered the Xiao Yue Gan - soothing to the after effects of the pepperish soup.

It was the "Lao Zi Hao" (old brand name) that Ng Ah Sio carried, which kept them maintaining their food quality and thriving business. We recalled when we were kids, our parents used to bring us here, and we would always stick out our tongues and fan them wearing a frown on our faces, because we couldn't take the spciyness. Now, this Ng Ah Sio had becomed one of our personal favourite Bah Kut Teh stalls.

Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup Eating House
Ng Ah Sio Pork Ribs Soup Eating House
208 Rangoon Road, S(218453)
(+65) 6294 7545
Tue - Sun: 6 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Mon: Closed


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Shokudo Japanese Food Bazaar: Spoilt for Choices

The popular Marché concept, had been brought into the market by Thai Express Concepts (also the company which brought in Thai Express, Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafés and New York New York), but in Japanese style instead.

Shokudo Main Entrance

We went early on a weekday, and fortunately, we got into the restaurant without any waiting. Because most of the times, it's jammed up with the long queues, and you can't make any reservations beforehand.

Shokudo Card and Wooden Token
Once you step in, you would be issued a Shokudo card and a wooden token. Like Marché, it was free seating for everyone, so the wooden token (instead of tissue packs) could be used to 'reserve' your table.

Shokudo Japanese Food Bazaar
Afterwhich, you could then start making your rounds around the restaurant, browsing what the various food stations have to offer.

Japanese Pizzas
Japanese thin-crust pizzas.

Japanese Burgers
Besides traditional Japanese cuisine, Shokudo also offers Japanese-infused Western food like these Japanses burgers.

Assorted Meats and Seafood
Assorted meats and seafood, fresh and raw.

Food and pricing were displayed altogether, in a very clear-cut manner. After you've decided on what you want, you'll hand over your Shokudo card to the chefs and order straight from them. Your food then gets cooked on the spot, and you can collect it the moment it's done, piping hot.

Grilled Chicken Omu Rice

Grilled Chicken Omu Rice,   S$6.80++,   

Fried rice, topped with streams of tomato ketchup, wrapped together in an egg omelette - made up this sweet and sticky combination known as the Omu Rice. Going alongside, was a reasonable share of tenderly grilled chicken steak.

Pork Katsu Curry Rice

Pork Katsu Curry Rice,   S$7.80++,   

We seldom eat Japanese curry, so we don't really know how to judge what's good and what's bad. For us, we kinda like this version, thicker and tastier than the usual, with lots of potatoes and carrots in it. The Pork Katsu was mildly fried, not too oily nor too much flour. Ultimately, what we like best about this dish was the generous portion.

Bamboo Barbequed Eel Rice

Bamboo Barbequed Eel Rice,   S$3.80++,   

For those who wants a less filling main course (so that they could still try a variety of other sides), this Bamboo Bbq Eel Rice is just the right thing for you. And we both thought that S$3.80 for such a tasty portion of Unagi (eel) was quite a steal.

Shitake Mushrooms Skewer, Pork Asparagus Skewer

Shitake Mushrooms Skewer,   S$2.00++,   
Pork Asparagus Skewer,   S$2.50++,   

Skewers were pretty much of the average, but a tad to the dry side. They would be better off if accompanied by some sauce.

Banana and Chocolate Crepe

Banana and Chocolate Crepe,   S$4.80++,   

Freshly made hot crepe topped with one the nicest combinations around - bananas and chocolate. Yum.

Red Bean and Mochi with Ice Cream

Red Bean and Mochi with Ice Cream,   S$5.80++,   

The Japanese Red Bean was gooey; Mochis were soft and chewy; Matcha gelato ice cream from Haato was full of flavour. Opt for this bowl of guilt-free dessert, if weight / health is an issue you're concerned about.

You see what you get - The brilliant part about this whole concept is that you could take as much time as you like to place an order; and you could have your dessert before your main course without getting weird stares from servers or customers from the next table. Then again, due to a clashing amount of both positive and negative feedbacks, the quality of the food becomes a question. In our opinion, it wasn't as bad as "don't even bother trying" (cause it depends on what you order, and there are too many to choose from); neither was it the super uber delicious kind. Nonethless, what will keep us returning to Shokudo is the varied diversity and affordable pricing.

Shokudo Japanese Food Bazaar
Shokudo Japanese Food Bazaar
#B1-44E, Raffles City Shopping Centre
252 North Bridge Road, S(179103)
(+65) 6937 3793
Mon - Sun: 11.30 a.m. - 10 p.m.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Xin Wang Café: All Rounder

From baked rice / pastas, to curry chicken, to dim sums, to pork chop, to sandwiches / burgers, to mee sua / noodles, etc etc; there were so many different choices in Xin Wang's menu that I felt completely lost. After a long internal struggle, I decided to settle down on just toasts.

Of all, why order a few pieces of flour? Cause I couldn't really spot any dishes that exclaimed "uniquely Hong Kong". Moreover, I felt that most of the dishes here, I could get better bets elsewhere, for equal or even lower prices.

Borsch Soup

Borsch Soup,   S$2.90++,   

You would appreciate this if you are a fan of vegetables. Carrots, celery ribs, onions, boiled in a sour combination of tomato paste. An oriental version of minestrone soup, but in a much more diluted state.

Po Lo Pao

Po Lo Pao,   S$1.90++,   

They always speak about the famous buttered pineapple buns in Hong Kong dramas, and I didn't knew they literally do insert a slice of pineapple inside. However, the Po Lo bun itself wasn't quite up to my expectations - the top crust wasn't the usual hard and sugary ones I like, and the butter was so well hidden I could have missed it.

French Toast

French Toast,   S$3.90++,   

Coated with a layer of beaten egg, then deep fried to golden crisp, this French Toast is among the popular dishes here in Xin Wang. Thick Toast was fluffy and moistened with the right amount of butter, while the maple syrup just rounded it up in lingering sweetness.

Condensed Milk and Butter Thick Toast

Condensed Milk and Butter Thick Toast,   S$3.90++,   

The exaggerating butter eliminated almost every possible trace of the condensed milk. Inside of the toast was far too brittle - one slice of the knife crumbled it totally. What ended up with was a pool of liquid butter oil and plenty bread crumbs.

The amount of butter was one big issue here - inconsistency. Too much, it makes the whole thing sick and greasy. Too little, it doesn't bring out the fragrance and moisture of the toast. I'm not in any position to comment much about the main courses, but so far the ones I've tried (in the past) were average only. Like I mentioned earlier, there are better finds out there. Xin Wang is too much of an all rounder to specialise in something really delicious.

Xin Wang Hong Kong Café - Kovan
Xin Wang Hong Kong Café - Kovan
#01-133/135, Heartland Mall
205 Hougang Street 21, S(530205)
(+65) 6487 3481
Mon - Thur: 11.00 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Fri - Sun: 24 hours