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the farewell feasts

been so utterly busy settling pre-trip administration that its been difficult to blog about all the good food i’ve been ingesting that’s been seriously threatening my diet regime. -_-.. but i suppose there’s something about eating great food that makes you want to share it with the rest.. so here goes:-

new ubin seafood kinda exists in a shady-looking area amidst car-repair workshops (which explains the rows of cars in various states of disrepair, some with obvious vandalism signs) so i guess if u wanna call it hidden, you could. its definitely a foodie’s place, considering this would be the last place you would expect a good zi char restaurant to exist. so there.

for the uninitiated, zi char translates loosely as “cook-fried” (which doesn’t make much sense i suppose), but describes a category of chinese food that involves huge fires and big woks to completely “fry” the food and imbue the essence of the “wok-heat” within. (gosh, translations don’t exactly make sense). well, nowadays the definition is kinda loose, but it essentially describes all sorts of dishes that are to be shared among many and eaten with rice/mantou etc..

so new ubin is pretty cool because it seems to have incorporated some western influences and modern amenities – first with a decent air-conditioned eating room (which apparently is fully-booked quite far in advanced during the weekends. we went on a weekday and it was mercifully less crowded), and then also with obvious western styled dishes mixed into their menus.

one of their signatures is the rib-eye beef with caramelized onions, a side serving of wedges and a plate of fried rice fired from the remnants of beef portions and beef oil ($56, see picture above). and boy.. this dish seriously trumps many major western restaurants in terms of the flavor, texture and savoriness of the beef. we ordered the beef medium  and gosh every bit was utterly delicious, meaty, tender and juicy with tons of flavors locked within. providing caramelized onions and mustard certainly didn’t hurt as well. then we come to the fried rice — fellow foodie laishan swears by it as one of the best fried rice she has ever tasted, and honestly i concur – the rice is fried just nice, lending the rice grains a certain level of “kou-gan” (loosely translated as ‘mouthiness’ or a certain bubbly efferverscent texture) and the beef ingredients (fried to a crisp) form the perfect juxtaposition to the rice grains. this dish is obviously blardy unhealthy but its utterly irresistible. this is a must order.

and you know what’s best? this place has no corkage charges and people are known to bring bottles and bottles of wine to enjoy it with this amazing rib eye beef. and honestly, with servings meant for 2 – 3 and the additional acoutrements, $56 is a pretty darn decent price. western restaurants ought to shudder in fear.

another signature is their fried hokkien mee ($24), in which a ‘small’ order comes served in a gigantic plate that can serve up to 7 bowls of glorious, seafood-broth drenched noodles that taste pretty awesome. again, you can choose to be blardy unhealthy and add tons of lard into the dish (i opted out), but its delicious on it own, with generous servings of ingredients like squid, barbecued pork and so on. the noodles are chewy and well cooked. yummy!

creamy sauce flower crab with fried mantous 

besides these, we ordered salted egg squid ($18), kang-kong fried in belachan, and flower-crab in creamy sauce paired with mantous and it was enough to fill 5 of us up completely. (we regretted getting 2 bowls of rice to share) once again, its utterly unhealthy food but also quite irresistible. to be honest, im not a fan of crab and i can’t discern between awesome seafood and just ok seafood so i shan’t comment too much – i just know i enjoyed the interesting and original creamy, slightly spicy sauce that the crab was cooked in, which made for a delicious dip for the mantous. (and gosh, i absolutely love those fried mantous)

all in all, a very delicious expensive that is obviously gut-busting and cholesterol racking. laishan mentioned that she could feel her arteries clogging as she gobbled down the salted egg squid so eat in moderation k? it might be quite unhealthy, but in moderation, the meal was utterly satisfying and didn’t leave one with that greasy, jelak feel that you sometimes get when you have gobbled down copious amounts of fats and such (i.e. like a gigantic kfc meal).

its not exactly cheap – we paid $35 a person for the meal (inclusive of orh-nee dessert, which we didn’t particularly like) but to be honest, considering the spread of food that we had eaten, it’s a decent price. overall, a good recommendation and a better place to bring your ang-moh friends to expose them to awesome, authentic singaporean food instead of the more expensive options of like no signboard seafood or ah hoi’s kitchen. 8.0/10

new ubin seafood (sin ming) |  Block 27 Sin Ming Road (behind Block 26), #01-174 Sin Ming Industrial Estate Sector A | local, chinese

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a smorgasbord of flavors condensed into one soup.

you know, i think i finally understand what makes reviewing local delicacies so difficult for me. i take a relatively scientific (god forbid) approach toward savoring my food, trying to discern nuances between flavors and how they balance one another. the problem with asian food though, is that the flavors involved are usually overpowering and tend to dominate your palette at one time, not allowing for any taste balancing. now, this doesn’t mean that these local delicacies are any less delicious as compared to say french fare, but it’s just.. a different food concept. in essence, in asian food, the “zhup” (inherent sauce) is  helluva important.

so let’s look at exhibit A: whitley road big prawn mee (lorong telok). (hmm.. as an aside, its makes for really confusing names when you name your hawker stall after a particular location, but then start expanding or shifting stalls.. it’s like the conundrum of finding 2 variants of katong laksa and queensway shopping centre.. lol)

foodwise, i ordered the pork rib prawn mee noodle ($5). think the prawn broth was really good – an sensory-overpowering peppery warm soup with many nuances of different flavors. the flavor of the broth essentially gave taste to the noodles (which my friend commented weren’t too great) and the other condiments. adding the fried onions was an inspired decision, really adding sparks of tasting and crunchiness to the dish. also liked the prawns dipped in chilli sauce (soy sauce + green chilli). the pork ribs didn’t exactly change the flavor profile of the soup (i assume the broth is from one main pot) and so they were pretty pedestrian.

just another aside, my word of the month is now “pedestrian” –  its so irritatingly condescending when used on food. heard it from one of the comments of joe bastianich when he was reviewing some food on masterchef. that guy is a masterclass at giving mean comments. lol

anyways, the service here was a little annoying – by that i mean that the aunties kept badgering us to order (we were there for barely a minute in when they started their badgering). and they KEPT using the words “shuai ge” and “xiao mei” to end off their comments.. so essentially i think i heard like 10 “shuai ge”s within a span of like 2 minutes. and of course these aunties dun QC one.. they call any guy that is alive shuai ge… 

but all in all, a decent meal in my opinion, that left me wanting for more. my friend apparently didn’t like it that much and recommended me to give a rating of 4.. lol.. nahh.. i’ll be nice. 6.0/10

whitley road big prawn mee (lorong telok) |  18 Lorong Telok, #01-01 | local, prawn mee

sun, sand and the sea

one of the greatest gratifications of doing dragonboating is that it grants you a ticket to simply gorge yourself crazy with food without any guilt whatsoever. i mean, you’ve earned it essentially. and its nice that the team usually heads straight for the beach road golden mile food centre for lunch, since the food there is really good, and much cheaper than any other brunch destinations that have been popping around singapore.

so perhaps i shall take a slight sojourn from the atas/brunch path and review some hawker food. =) this was also inspired by the cnngo post on the 40 singapore foods we can’t live without. i feel like trekking round singapore to capture all the experiences at these places man..

anyways, food blog it is, so food we talk about.

tong ji mian shi lor mee, $3 or $4 (shown is $4)

mind you, i never really liked lor mee for a long time, distrusting the broth to be some sort of carbs intense stew that made one utterly full. it was only from eyeing my fellow teammates choices and smelling the piquant aroma of the lor mee did i venture to try the dish. tong ji mian shi does a great rendition of the lor mee, injecting fried wonton, meat slices, fried lotus root, egg together with the noodles, and together with the flavorful broth, it makes for a really hearty and satisfying dish after training. the most important ingredient imo, is the amount of black vinegar you add into the broth (ask the uncle if you are unsure) — the vinegar really does enhance the soup broth flavor, giving that additional oomph to the proceedings.

tong ji mian shi is quite decorated with newspaper clippings and certificates documenting their success with lor mee, but it seems like they are also pretty well known for their bak chor mee and laksa.. hmm, more food to try next time. 4 / 5 chopsticks

tong ji mian shi | blk 505 beach road, #01-100, golden mile food center | lor mee

playful eating.

ya’know how when you were young and your mom told you not to play while eating your food, else you would get indigestion? well, mom, tell that to old school delights then. =) a brightly lit themed eatery intending to bring back one’s childhood memories, this place found along upper thomson road is one nice place to chill and just enjoy the cheerful ambience.

i say themed because the restaurant really does try its best to recreate the old time feeling — what with menus decorated as report card books, enid blyton books stacked on shelves along with wooden toy guns and a gratuitous use of the chalkboard for all sorts of scribbling. furthermore, each table has a toy box filled with old time favourites like five stones, country-flagged erasers and snap cards — i just realised how cheap our fun was compared to the children of today who demand ipads and tamagotchis to satisfy their interests.

anyways, come to this place more for the ambience and just for chill out sakes, but don’t expect too much fancy stuff on the food front.

mee siam, $5.50

you see, the problem with trying to create a cafe that sells simple Singaporean style hawker food at slightly pricier prices usually doesn’t work because it is so easy for people to find another standard for comparison. in a sense, such comparisons are so easily accessible to us as compared to say good french food and good japanese food that it takes an astoundingly outstanding rendition of a local fare to really justify an increase of price based on taste. indeed, old school delights doesn’t succeed on this front — whilst eating my mee siam, i was instantly drawn back to a time in JC where i would head to ghim moh for $2.00 mee siam that tasted pretty much the same.

i would argue that most cafes that serve local fare will suffer similar fates, though I would recommend people to head to Space @ Humble House, at Esplanade, as they renditions of local fares are really a step up, with choice ingredients such as scallops and prawns in your carrot cake, and a really cool, sleek, minimalistic atmosphere (and of course they make you pay for it).

well, old school delights doesn’t exactly make a mark on the food front, though the desserts look tempting (and perhaps one day I would try it). nevertheless, what it succeeds in doing is to create a warm, cheerful atmosphere that invites people to come in and relax, drink in the cheeriness and recollect on days gone by. 6/10

old school delights215M Upper Thomson Road | local, comfort food, desserts

[shot of the singapore flyer]

so my journey for good food brings me to the food trail @ the singapore flyer, apparently opened last year and having a food-republic-esque concept of gathering the better hawkers together for people to enjoy. and whilst its definitely touristy, the prices aren’t too bad (my fren had coupons.. cheers lik sin). anyways, this is also in reply to jimson who comments that i never go take singaporean food, and to miss cheryl choo who thinks im less singaporean than some tourists. -_-

[bak kut teh, $5.80, with coupon $3.80]

btw did i ever mention that i love bak kut teh, especially after the malaysian trip up to KL where bryan’s parents bought us some deliciously awesome klang bah kut teh.. i’ve been craving that along with crispy you tiao… its something about the peppery and intensely complex and flavorful soup along with the meat and the dark chilli sauce that creates a great combo. but yeah.. the variance between crappy bkt and good bkt is huge.. so yeah.. this one was pretty decent. but i’m still looking for my klang bkt.

[hokkien mee, $3.50]

ahhh.. this one was an outright winner, especially considering how the food republic one’s have been increasingly disappointing, especially the one at MBS. this one was every bit the flavorful with the prawn mee taste, and the noodles were the right amount of ‘Q’ and chewy (gosh.. i fail at describing local cuisines) and the crispy peanuts complete the textured profile. yummy! i see where the pricey-ness is coming in though.. that plate was kinda smallish and left u wanting more..

[poh piah.. i couldn’t be bothered with price after awhile..]

supposedly chilli and non-chilli, but they tasted generally the same (non-chilli). again, the addition of the peanuts and some other crispy component that me and my friend couldn’t figure out, really elevated the taste profile. that being sad, the radish within.. hmm.. wasn’t as tasty.. wierd.

[cheng tng, my friend had this.. i have no comments]

lol.. wow.. describing singaporean food ain’t very easy ehh.. but i must say.. it tastes good and costs a miniscule fraction of what other restaurants command.. its a great alternative! haha well.. and if u like eating tons of carbs.. haha =)