October was when we discovered some terrific new places to eat, and reacquainted ourselves with old favourites.
Thai Smile Cafe, Circular Rd: One of many eateries along Circular Road, this simple coffeeshop serves quite authentic and very reasonably priced Thai food. The chicken with green curry was light and aromatic with loads of tomato aubergines.
Netsuretsu Ichiban Tei, Robertson Quay: Colleagues were in the mood for ramen. Actually we could not get a place at Miharu nearby, so we settled on this instead. I must say, the ramen here is quite respectable. The tonkotsu ramen came with a boiled egg that was nicely soft and yolky, as well as generous slices of tender and fatty cha-siu. Even better was the soft-scoop ice cream that reminded me of childhood days.
Auntie Kim's Korean Restaurant, Upper Thomson Road: There isn't really an Auntie Kim, the proprietors made the name up. No matter, as we enjoyed the food here very much and it has since become one of our regular haunts. On this first visit I really enjoyed my japjae, the bouncy and chewy potato noodles stirfried with scallions and bean sauce was just as I remembered from eating in Korea. Husband loved their spicy squid, which came in a huge platter and was very spicy which was how he likes his food.
CMK Restaurant (2/2), next to Mustafa's. It is actually a 24 hour coffeeshop, "discovered" because I was hungry after my shopping and their neighbour Saravana Bhavan had already closed for the night. CMK has a high turnover of customers who go for their all-day pratas and Indian-Muslim foods. The chapattis here are really yummy, not at all dry and floury, and goes well with their shiok mutton dishes. My favourite item though, is their plain pratas eaten with sugar or if I am feeling bad, wrapped round some sliced bananas.
Old Airport Rd Hawker Centre: I cannot believe that I haven't visited this old favourite for more than 10 months. Well, we're now back with a vengeance. Rediscovered the Nam Sing Hokkien Noodles which was just fabulous, the noodles all absorbed of the rich pork and prawn stock and tinged with plenty of wok-hei. On another occasion, the kway chap at Toricos reminded us again that there are some great foods that can only be found in this little island.
Kaisan (1/8). Thomas was away, Eric took over the fresh fish counter. We enjoyed sweet scallops and kodai sashimi. But his 'special' deepfried maki was not so successful. Johnson compensated for the lapse with his creations from his corner of the tiny kitchen. On this visit, we tried a lotus root uni sandwich- two pieces of lotus root encase uni and the sandwich fried and coated with a mild tomato sauce. Sounds bizarre but it was incredibly delicious, a masterful act in balancing taste and textures. Unfortunately we have since learnt that Johnson is now away on an indefinite period of sabbatical leave. I may be wrong, but this restaurant seems to be still struggling for survival in spite of the perseverance of the crew.
Crystal Jade (2/20): Dim-sum lunch at the CJ Kitchen, GWC- love their spring rolls. Dinner at the Korean restaurant which I maintain serves up the best BBQ beef in town.
Por Kee (1/2): This was the scene of our April makan gathering. This time round, our group was smaller. The cooking was generally above reproach but I was quite disappointed by the very indifferent service and smaller portions.
Forture Restaurant: The food served at the SAFRA wine dinner was lovely, unfortunately standards were not maintained at a subsequent visit.
My Mum's Place, Joo Chiat: Excellent cze-char and great service in this food-centric neighbourhood.
Rang Mahal- They must have heard us criticize their attitute because this time the service was flawless. We came early for Sunday brunch buffet and were given a lovely table on the platform with a good view of the room. Everytime we left the table someone came to freshen the table double-quick. The mango lassi was packed with the flavours of alphonso mangoes while my drink, the Lychee Fizz, was very refreshing and flowery. The buffet cost $35 +++ per person, which was quite expensive considering the limited variety of food. What was served was excellent though, very refined and exquisite. I loved their thosais, crisp and not oily, accompanied with chunky sambars and pungent pickles. From the savoury selection, I found myself liking the cashew and fruit pulao very much. This and their other vegetarian dish, a light curry of peas and mushroom, were my favourite items. The meat dishes were OK, a chicken curry, tandoori fish and chicken, and a lamb briyani, all very ordinary though. Their dessert selection surprised me, because I usually associate Indian desserts to be too milky and sweet, and it wasn't the case here. The mango-based desserts were fabulous, like the burki and ice cream, packed as there were with loads of alphonso mango.
Vansh (1/2). Pre-concert dinner. Like our experience at the parent restaurant, the service has improved greatly.
OSO (1/2): Husband took me here for our anniversary dinner and when we opened the menus we were thrilled to discover that it is the season for truffles. White and black. Not having eaten that much truffles in our life, we were not sure what is the difference between the two so we tried some of each shaved atop pan fried eggs. White is definitely better, it has a more intense aroma and the flavours more nuanced and lingers longer in the mouth. More truffles then, in the fettucine pasta. Even the cheese board had a pecorino infused with truffles, and it was most delicious I assure you.
Alex Eating House, Beach Road. There was a time when I ate here once a week, as the roast meats reminded me of the KL-style I was homesick for. The cooking though, has changed over the years. The roast meats are still done the way I like it, but the sauces that accompanies it have become too sweet and thick, almost ruining the rice on which they are poured.
Some of the places that we tried out and did not like much:
Pu Dong Kitchen, Balmoral Plaza. People come here for Shanghainese food, especially their braised pig trotters. OK only lah. There are many other places in town that does it better and at more amenable prices too.
Miao Yi, Coronation Plaza. My vegetarian frieds say this is the best place for a vegetarian Chinese meal in town. Nah. I just don't see the point. Chinese vegetarian can be quite oxymoronic, most places, like Miao Yi for example, would offer "mock meat" dishes which feature variations of meat substitutes like tofu, gluten, mushrooms and other soy derivatives rolled up in beansheets and deepfried and served with a thick mucinous sauce to simulate the real thing. Boring and unappetising, not to mention unhealthy with all that deepfrying.
Taiwan Delights, South Bridge Rd. Not.
At work, it was Penang Place (2/7) and Nordic Cafe (1/2) to relieve the tedium of eating at the food courts and Spinelli.