Saturday, September 27, 2014

Forty Hands, Tiong Bahru

After the disappointment of breakfast, I need something to cheer me up. May and Tim had planned to have late lunch at Forty Hands, a cafe at Hipster Central that is Tiong Bahru. This was my first visit to Tiong Bahru. Even though I have heard about that area's hipsterness I did not know it was that hipster. At the same road I count 5, maybe 6 hipster cafes, one hipster book store, one hipster provision shop, one hipster curtain and sheets shop, saw one girl shooting with a hipster twin lens reflex camera and me shooting with a digitalized OM camera. Forty Hands is tuck away amongst all these amongst Yong Siak Street. Blk 78 to be exact. The entrance is quite unassuming. You will miss it if you don't look hard enough. 

Open the door and you will be greeted by deco that screams Hipster. Quirky posters, graffiti and the like. I was also surprised by the crowd since it was already late lunch. Quite difficult to get a table but managed to get one by the door.

Hipster Graffiti
Hipster Poster
Hipster Coffee Cabinet

After settling down, we proceed to order. First and foremost, Forty Hands would like to remind you that this is a coffee place. They show their seriousness by having an espresso machine with 3 presses. Since it was a hot day, May and I ordered the iced latte($6.50). Glad to report that the coffee here is as good as they claim it to be. Apparently the boss here have a distributorship of coffee called Common Man Coffee and they use the same beans. The balance between the steamed milk and espresso is just nice. There is a strong yet not overpowering taste and the after taste lingers around with just the right amount. A bit on the fruity side but one of the best iced latte I have tried. Tim said he had enough coffee and decided to get a Mandarin orange flavoured Mexican soda.
Hipster Barista at Work
Iced Latte

The food. Tim and I ordered the same thing. Eggs Benedict served with roasted potatoes($16). This place claims that all the ingredients used here are organic and they even plant their own herbs in the backyard. Our eggs ben consist of pouched egg, organic shoulder bacon, baby spinach all stacked on top of a soft muffin. There are actually 2 versions of eggs benedict here the other being the steak version.

Eggs Benedict
Yes, my dear Sith Kith Cafe, this is how pouched eggs should look like. Pouched for the right amount of time, drained properly and the sides trimmed. The pouched eggs are nicely done. It goes just nice with the Hollandaise sauce, all easily soaked up by the English muffin. Whereas most eggs ben use rockets as their greens, the spinach is a nice twist.   

How pouched eggs consistency should look like.
May ordered something that I have forget its name. Basically it is pouched egg served with sautéed mushrooms and truffle($17). Presentation is nice served in a Chinese soup bowl (those used for double boiled soup) which is placed on a plank with 2 pieces of toast. Basically, you mix the content of the bowl and eat it with the toast.
Pouched eggs served with mushroom and truffle

I have never been a huge dessert person. They have a weird selection of desserts but my attention was caught by the Onde Onde cupcakes and the Chendol cupcakes. Sounds super weird but challenge accepted. Ordered one each to share.   

The chendol cupcake really contained chendol and if you dig deeper, there is actually red bean and gula melaka. Like a bowl of real chendol. As for the onde onde cupcake, there really are shaved coconut inside it and a layer of gula melaka (I somehow managed to not take a photo of it). Tasted weird but in a good way. Since the fillings are already quite sweet, they are actually smart enough not to sweeten the cake too much. So, glas to report that the overall sweetness of the cupcakes are at the acceptable level.

Really got chendol
 A visit here more than made up the disappointment that I have over breakfast. I have always said that to run an F&B establishment, you will only succeed when you are passionate about making good food. This establishment oozes the passion of the owners. It starts off by using the freshest and best ingredients you can get. Whereas at the Kith Cafe, you get the feeling that the owner is just trying to sell as many plates of lousy breakfast as they can. Hence, "the everything here is standard, Sir" statement. The difference, can't be more profound.

P.S. After giving your body sustenance, feel free to pop by Books Actually opposite to feed your mind. It has quite a selection of rare books, especially by local authors.  

The Kith Cafe, Park Mall, Singapore

I had some errands to run in Orchard area this morning, hence did some research on where to have a decent breakfast in that area. Lots of foodies on the interweb recommended The Kith Cafe at Park Mall. Decided to give it a try since it is near Dhoby Ghaut MRT and prices seems reasonable. 

Ambience seems ok. Long and narrow indoor and a squarish outdoor sitting area. Quite standard in Singapore. Decided on the "Big" Breakfast (Take note that I put the big in inverted commas). This is when the first problem cropped up. There are baked beans in the breakfast and I requested the beans to be changed to something. The server just gave me a yaya papaya answer "No can do, Sir. All our things are standard." I wanted to yell at him what if I am allergic to beans and can kill me but decided against it since I do not want to ruin my weekend. I will just leave them aside. I opted for the sourdough and pouched eggs option. Ordered a latte as per my usual practice.   

Let me get straight to the point. This is the worst breakfast platter I have ever eaten. When the order came, the Big Breakfast does look big. However, it is obvious that they cheated. They just stacked the baked beans on greens and place the toasts on top of  everything to make it look big. Talking about the toast, this is the toughest dough I have ever eaten. Takes effort to even pull it off with my teeth. Paul Hollywood would have flipped if he is served this bread. Bacons were over fried and taste like tree bark. Only manage to finish one piece.

Should be named the Stack'o to Make it Look Big Breakfast

Next thing that is just plain wrong, the eggs. I know pouched eggs are not the easiest to make, but boy, the pouched eggs here are just plain wrong. Not only were the eggs undercooked. The kitchen did not even care to drain the eggs properly before serving. When I break the eggs, the running yolk got mixed up with the residue water. John and Gregg would have bitten any contestant who dare to serve this to them.

Yes, that is yolk mixed with residue poaching water. Not oil. 

Water, water everywhere
Anyone who know me well enough knows you won't see any egg left on my plate as long as they are edible. The poached eggs here are so undercooked and when mixed with the residue water from poaching, it tasted nothing but water. The funny thing is that the lady at the table next to me was complaining to her husband about the omelette and another table actually sent his food back because the scrambled eggs were too runny. Note to owner, if you can't do eggs properly, don't bother opening the cafe. I would love to see Gordon Ramsey come here and see what is his reaction.

If you are hoping that the coffee here would be it's redeeming quality, I have news for you. The latte taste like coffee flavoured steamed milk. No aroma, no after taste, no nothing. The salty after taste of the bacon stayed longer then the coffee's.

My conclusion, this is by far the most underwhelming breakfast experience I ever have in Singapore. Even the standard Starbucks breakfast is better than this. The worst thing to spend S$20 on.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Dong Seoul Korean BBQ Restaurant, Sri Utama, Segamat

When I was growing up in Segamat, a fancy dinner out is usually to one of the few Chinese restaurants. If we want "western fare", all we had was KFC. Much later on (like when I was in secondary school), we had MacDonald's, and later Pizza Hut. 

However, much had change over the pass year. At the row of shops facing the main road at Sri Utama Commercial Centre, Segamatians now have a choice of premium western fare (Vivo Pizza), Peranakan food, Sushi King (coming soon), KR Roasters and of course Korean BBQ which is the topic of my post today. 

Dong Seoul Korean BBQ is run by a Korean expatriate. This, I was made to understand, is the third or fourth outlet with the first outlet in Johor Bahru and branches in Kuantan. I was told that the owner uses his mother's recipe and all the major ingredients are imported from Korea. The matriarch even stationed herself at the outlet during the opening week to make sure that nothing is amiss in the food preparation process. 

First Visit

Grilled pork. What can I say? They use the finest cut of meat that is available and marinate it to perfection. Not too salty, not to bland. Just nice. Best part is there is no need for us to do the grilling, the servers will do A to Z for you. I have tried a few Korean joints in Jalan Ampang and I dare say this is on par if not better than those. Definitely better then the sorry excuse that is called Bulgogi Brothers. Well, never trust a pork free Bulgogi joint like you should not trust a pork free German restaurant. 

Next, Korean seafood hotpot. As usual, this is out of bounds for me. But look at the prawns, the squid, the enoki etc. I am sure it is choke full of flavours.

The kimchi here, is one of the best I have ever eaten. The cabbage is crunchy, the spiciness not too over powering. There are some version of kimchi were the chili paste taste like it had been over blended in a blender and left too long in the fridge. Things here are fresh.

The meal was ended with a refreshing dessert of fermented rice drink. Never seen or tried this before. It taste a bit like winter gourd tea.

Second Visit

Second visit was over the pass weekend for lunch. Since it was lunch we did not ordered anything fancy. Agnes ordered the sliced beef rice and I ordered the Bibimbap. Beef of course, I am not allowed but I don't think there was any complains from Agnes.

The bibimbap though, well, how should I put it. Ingredients are authentic but then I do not think Bibimbap is their forte. Firstly, I have no idea why they put a thoroughly cooked fried egg on top. Besides that, the dressing is a bit bland and it lacks the heat of Dolsot (hot stone) Bibimbap, which I prefer over normal Bibimbap. Best Bibimbap is still at Bibigo! and best Dolsot Bibimbap I have tried is at Mana Kitchen.

Other recommendations not pictured here are the Pancake (Seafood and also Kimchi)

From the way the restaurant is run, one can tell that the owner is indeed passionate about the business, which is exactly what you need when running an F&B business. Does not hurt when you insist on using the freshest ingredients available and is serious about spreading the food culture of your country. Verdict : Nothing to see here, Gordon Ramsey. However, your attention might be needed few doors down. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Delicious @ Sunway Pyramid

Delicious had always being one of my favourite restaurant chains around Klang Valley. Operated by the E&O Group who runs the E&O Hotel and Lone Pine Hotel in Penang amongst others, you get 6 star hotel quality food at a fairly reasonable price. For those who had been to Delicious long enough, you would know that things had never been so groovy some years back. Quality of food not consistent from branch to branch was one of the biggest problem because each outlet do their own procurement. I still remember some years back that the Bangsar Village outlet was the best and was always packed. I gathered that the management realized the problem and got the Executive Chef of the E&O Hotel in and cracked the whip. Since then, they had set up a central kitchen and standardized all procurements and cooking procedures. Scenes of Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmare comes to mind.

During my visit to KL over the weekend, we went to the Sunway Pyramid outlet for brunch. There were some changes to the menu but we stuck to things we were familiar with. 

The Hainanese Chicken Chop had always being a crowd favourite. People write home about the chops at Yut Kee but I think this is much better. Batter is light, fried just nice, not too oily and meat is succulent. Best of all served with thick cut fries. Not the skinny frozen soggy nonsense you get from a lot of restaurants. 

Eggs Royale, a simple dish of pouched eggs and smoked salmon served with Hollandaise sauce. Looked at the shape of the pouched eggs. Hotel standard presentation indeed. It is so round because they trim the sides with scissors after the eggs are cooked. Learned this from watching Masterchef Professional :p

Taste wise, no complaints. Just that the eggs are a bit over pouched.

Cabonara Mafaldine. They did some changes to the pasta menu. Can't remember them having mafaldine (ribbon cut pasta with wavy edges) last time I visited the BV branch. The pouch egg, I think, is an influence of those Japanese fusion restaurants that mushroomed all over the place. A bit of deviation from the true carbonara but still taste good nonetheless with a generous chucks of good quality parmesan.

The Big Breakfast. Comes with a cheese sausage (no idea why they did that, a bit cheesy, pun intended, if you asked me. I would have preferred a good old English breakfast sausage), a piece of toasted brioche, sautéed mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, sunny side up and beef bacon (this being a pork free restaurant).

Feeling a bit adventurous with the drinks hence ordered the Apple Cinnamon Chai. Would not recommend this to anyone with diabetes. Had 2 sips and passed it to Agnes. Too sweet.

The Latte. Apparently, they are now using Juan Valdez Columbian coffee beans. Packs much aroma and finishes off with a strong after taste. Quite Good.  

'Yum Yum, when can I start eating with Mummy and Daddy...'
This was also Chloe's first visit to Delicious and she seems very intrigue with the food on display :)