Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sage, the Restaurant, Singapore

Of all the much lauded restaurants in Singapore, Sage wasn't one we had heard it's one we will never forget! Tucked away unobtrusively on Mohamed Sultan road not much is given up from the street that should you enter, your mouth, mind and soul will be thanking you for weeks to come. We had no booking, fortunately there was a spare table for two, next time we think booking would be advisable it seems we have joined a not so small, not so secretive club all enthralled with the masterful show put on by the crew from Sage.

With so many great choices we were only left with one...the degustation. And so with that decided we were off.

An amuse of salmon tartare with truffled green pea veloute set the tone for the night ... each spoonful a mouthful of flavor and contrasting textures.

Mille-feuille of smoked duck breast with pickled red beet, sorbet of grapes and hazelnut-tarragon dressing. The sorbet melting to provide a fantastic dressing for the nicely smoked duck and just crunchy beets.

Pan seared foie gras on a pear and walnut chutney, muscat poached fig with spiced port glaze. The foie gras cooked just so, it's rich creaminess off set by the poached fig and an amazing chutney the spiced port glaze a clever switch from the balsamic reduction oft seen around.

Seared scallop on Belgium endive gratin with avruga caviar, sauce Normandy and parmigiano lace, a single fat scallop sitting a top the endive the caviar serving to draw the dish back from being overwhelmed by the rich sauce. Amazing!

Roasted quail breast and leg confit with butter cream gnocchi on tomato fondue, prosciutto and parmigiano sauce. The quail sitting in a puddle of the delicately flavored sauce along side the softest creamiest piece of gnocchi we have ever encountered it almost seemed to be quivering in effort to maintain itself as a whole.

Charcoal grilled Kurobuta pork loin with red cherry chutney on a slow cooked terrine of pork cheek topped with polenta and lavender honey glaze. If there's one thing we love more than pork, that's two types of pork .. and Kurobuta at that! Well my mouth waters still thinking of this dish and that's all I have to say about that.

Finally ... Chocolate souffle with amaretto ice cream and vanilla bean custard. We're told our desert will be twenty minutes, I love that this hasn't been pre-fired even though by now we are the last in the house. The souffle arrives puffed and proud .. and so it should be! Crunchy on the outer and so soft and warm on the inside ... the ice cream is excellent, although the vanilla custard seemed a little third wheel, not that I'm complaining.

We think of adding a cheese plate to the end of our meal but seeing through the large glass window from the restaurant to the kitchen and seeing the chefs starting on tomorrows prep we leave them with our sympathy and thanks.

The foods was amazing the wine list extensive and the service superbly professional. We think a visit to Sage would be alone worth the price of a ticket to Singapore.


Sage, the Restaurant
No 7 Mohamed Sultan Road
Tel (65) 6333 8726
Open Lunch 12:00-2:30pm Wednesday-Friday
Dinner 6:30 pm-10:30pm Tuesday-Sunday

Golden Mile Food Centre, Singapore

Our first visit to Golden Mile Food Centre we were on the hunt for some of the famous Soup Tulang. We first sniffed out the stand with Roti John, Adimann Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice ... this Muslim stall is known to do a mean Roti John with loads of minced mutton and egg topped with a little mayonnaise and chili sauce. The Roti John is a Singaporean creation of onions and eggs spread on a split French loaf and grilled. This one was awesome! it had just the right amount of chili sauce and mayonnaise, heaps of flavour from the mutton, slightly crunchy onions and all in a bizarre soft of French Toast / Omelet roll way ....


.. and then noticed Haji Kadir & M. Baharudeen Soup Tulang was right next door. After ordering our Roti John we placed an order. This is all they do, you just specify how much you want on your plate e.g $5, $6, $8, $10


Soup Tulang is a wicked mutton marrow bone dish. The bones braised in an addictive bright red tomato & chili broth served with chunks of French Bread, to mop it all up.


There's no polite way to eat it, you just need to get in there, fingers, hands and all. The little plastic spoon you're giving works well when reversed and the handle used to poke the last little bits of marrow through ... The soup here is very robust, sweet, spicy, thick & a little gamey with a good amount of meat left on the bone to gnaw on as you slurp through the marrow. What an experience!


We still had a little more room and a few more places on our list. On the top floor we found Chong Cheng Chilly Mee, Prawn Mee, Laksa a renowned hawker of chili noodles. A fragrant and fiery dish of egg noodle, pork slices, pork ribs, prawns, hard-boiled egg all topped with a smack-your-lips chili sauce. A small bowl of soup on the side, and all for S$3. How good is that?

Not able to fit it all in on one trip, we returned again later in the week. We were here to check out Mansaku, a hawker stall busting out traditional Japanese in the midst of all things Singaporean.


Here you have a choice of 6 sets including katsu, terriyaki, unagi and a couple of dons. Being very unimaginative we both went for the terriyaki chicken. In all fairness, it was the only set that came with the chawanmushi that we were both eyeing off ....


The chicken itself was a beautiful piece of thigh, still with the skin on. It was so tender inside, like it had been steamed. But with delicious crispy skin all laden in a glistening terriyaki sauce.. there was the standard shredded cabbage with chili mayo garnish. A great little chawanmushi with chunks of chicken and shitake mushroom sunk in the bottom. Miso soup. Rice and a wedge of fresh cut watermelon.


All this was served from a bustling little stall, with just 2 men doing the lot. Seriously, this place was so busy, we never saw the line less than 10 deep and constantly moving. Superb! and at S$4.80 a set, Amazing!

Golden Mile Food Centre

(not to be confused with the Golden Mile Food Complex)
505 Beach Rd

Adimann Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice, for Roti John
#B1 - 14
11am - 11:30pm

Haji Kadir & M. Baharudeen Soup Tulang
#B1 - 13/14/15
11:30am - 1:30am

Chong Cheng Chilly Mee, Prawn Mee, Laksa
#01 - 59
9am - 8pm

#01 - 93
11am - 4:30pm
Closed Monday

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

the French Stall, Singapore

As it was our last night staying in Little India area, after having such a divine meal here on our first night, we couldn't resist going back for more ....

The French Stall is run by Xavier La Henaff, who was a 2 star Michelin chef in France before coming to Singapore. He first opened a little hawker stall, where he worked with just one other chef 15 hour days. They made pastries, sauces and prepared various meats and seafood dishes all in a 3m square stall. After a couple of moves, they now seem to be staying put on Serangoon Rd. It's a nice red and white brick shop house on a lovely little corner that goes back one whole block.

Now, for the food ... They offer a few set menu's ranging from $16.80 up to $25.80. Dishes can then be upgraded/changed for a small fee. We however went for the al a carte selection. To start, we had pork rillete which came with cornichons and baguette and the house smoked Norwegian salmon, which was 2 generously thick slices with baby capers and a beautifully seasoned and lemon dressed shredded iceberg. We savoured each and every bite, the smokiness of the salmon leaving a lingering flavour in your mouth.

We then had the grilled lamb chops, with had a nice crunchy exterior but a deliciously soft and pink interior. They were served with marinated eggplant and sauteed potato. We also had the grilled entrecote of beef with black pepper sauce. Classic French bistro fare. Yum.

After seeing several giant profiteroles buzz by us throughout the meal, we couldn't resist. The giant profiterole came towered with vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce. Divine!

Part II

On our second trip back, we had in mind to just order a bunch of appetizers to share .... Although after reading the daily specials, we decided we had to try the confit duck (good choice) and also hard to resist a 300g rib eye. A nice piece of steak is a rarity on our travels around Asia. We started again with the smoked salmon and another of the day's specials, aubergine confit. The aubergine flesh was soft with a little creaminess, almost a mousseline.. but still had welcoming chunks throughout. This was served with a tomato coulis and basil oil, a perfect pairing.

So main course, the confit duck leg. The duck meat itself was so flavourful. It's said that the duck meat, foie gras, escargot and various other tid bits all come from France. But the standout of the dish was the amazing braised cabbage. It was so savoury and so soft, but not a strong cabbage flavour. There was bacon, carrot & garlic and like it had been monte'd with cold butter just before serving, as it had a beautiful sheen. The plate was just finished with a little jus and devoured rapidly. The rib eye certainly hit the spot. A smokey, crisp outside and a deliciously tender well rested inside. It had a red wine sauce and fried potatoes with a touch of rosemary..

We then started again. Foie gras with spinach and a sweet Jerez sauce. The foie gras, divine! the spinach nicely sauteed and seasoned and it all surrounded by a lovely sauce made from the pan juices, a little vinegar and the Jerez. Did I say Yum...

This led into a cheese plate, 3 French cheeses with crusty bread. There was a double cream, a blue and a cheddar, which all went very well with a glass Roussillon, Maury Floreal oak aged red fortified.

After sitting for a few moments, we were ready for another profiterole. We also tried the chocolate souffle, which was the perfect size, nice and petite but still full of flavour. Have I said Yum yet?

the French Stall

544 Serangoon rd

Open 3pm - 6pm for drinks and deserts

6pm - 10pm for dinner

Closed Mondays and public holidays

Sungei Road Laksa, Singapore

The words Singapore and Laksa go hand in hand ... So this morning we set off into the blazing sun in search of one of Singapore's finest. The Wong brothers and their family have been at it for more than 50 years (and you can tell!) in a small lane at the back of Little India of Jl Berseh.

The laksa gravy is still kept warm over a charcoal fire

The soup was not to thick, but still full of flavour. Extra chili smeared on the side of the bowl was a nice addition. There was bean sprouts, rice noodles, fish cake, saw tooth coriander and optional cockles, for those who like it modern. They serve it with just a spoon, with everything including the noodles, small enough to eat without hassle. Everything was superb, the flavours balanced, the spice just right and at $2 a bowl, you could easily go back for a 2nd (possibly even 3rd) helping. There were many who did, lah.

In the small food complex there were only 2 hawkers who had ques and were constantly busy... The laksa and a small Rojak stand.

Of course we were curious to try. Rojak is a kooky salad of fruits, vegetables, fried bread, tofu and sometimes grilled cuttlefish in a tamarind & chili prawn paste topped with crushed, roasted peanuts. This particular version had chunks of pineapple, cucumber, jicama, bean sprouts, torch ginger, warmed fried bread and tofu. It was all coated quite thick in the moreish tamarind dressing, so each bite a surprise as to what lay underneath... At just $2.20 a plate it was enough for 2 and an excellent follow on from the laksa.

Sungei Road Laksa is open daily from 9am - 6pm

It is closed the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month

The rojak stand looks like she closed up about 4pm

Blk 27 Jln Berseh # 01-100 Jin Shui Kopitiam

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Claypot Rice Chinatown Food Complex, Singapore

We were having a wander through the newly renovated Chinatown food complex, it's a massive warren of stalls... we had no idea where to start so we just meandered through stopping to have a peak in random places.. whilst peering in at pots of clay pot rice "give it a go, you won't regret it" was the advice given to us by a local picking up his order, it looked and smelt fantastic. Couldn't say no .. you have a choice of chicken, salted fish, Chinese sausage or a mix of all three. we went for the mix. It takes about 20 min so we filled the time fetching some drinks and talking to our new Singaporean friend who was very impressed with our efforts in Singapore's culinary world so far.
Clay pot rice is so called for the pot it is cooked in. The rice and other ingredients all cooked together in the clay pot over a flame.. as the rice cooks and the stock is absorbed the rice starts to fry. A good crispy crust slightly blackened is that of a good clay pot.
Ours was no exception, a moreish crunchy crust, nice firm plump rice in the center and hidden like treasure through out juicy chunks of chicken, little salty bursts of fish, tasty strips of Chinese sausage and shitake mushroom. Mixed with the plate of spring onion and coriander it was awesome. S$8 gets you a pot that easily feeds two .. S$10 gets you a pot for four. Great value, Great taste!

A recommended follow on from here was a traditional Asian dessert stall. He is the only one in Singapore that still grinds all his flavorings rather than opting for the much more common packet mixes mostly seen these days.
With a dozen or so flavors up for grabs it could be quite hard to make a decision especially as you can mix the flavors to create your own special blend.
We go for the walnut cream and the almond both thick and unctuous, the walnut has so much flavor and disappears in seconds. The almond also delicious but the strong marzipan flavor gets the best of us and we can only manage half.
With such a positive experience we know we'll be back for more of both sooner rather than later.

Chinatown complex
Blk 335 Smith street

Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice
Stall 053
open 12pm - 2pm, 4pm - 8.30pm closed Wednesday

115 Tang Shui
Stall 206
7.30am - 5.30pm closed Tuesday

Monday, July 28, 2008

Long Beach Seafood Restaurant, Singapore

Chilli crab....Singapore......Singapore.....Chilli crab, the two are synonymous with each other, and we are here so how does that saying go? When in Rome...

We are heading to the East Coast Park or more specifically the food center within the park where we have been told lives a great example of the National dish of Singapore. We're hoping this will be the crab by which all others will be measured in the future. The Place we have in mind has been recommended by two of our friends who travel to Singapore regularly, their commendations being backed up by the taxi driver we had as we first arrived here, this was enough for us and we jotted down the address.

We wandered in just after the 2 o'clock opening time and were pleasantly surprised that we weren't the first, dining in a restaurant alone makes me wonder what everyone else knows, but finding locals just as eager for the food gives oh so much reassurance. We get a table with a great view of the harbour and the immense queue of ships waiting to dock.
Just over our shoulders the tanks of jumbo Sri Lankan crabs all doing their best to look small and unappetising, it didn't work.. we are here for the crab and crab we shall have! We also ordered the house made tofu with minced pork, the stir fried Taiwanese sugar pea shoots and a plate of mantou (Chinese fried buns).

The tofu was the first to hit the table, 6 squares of silken tofu deep fried and topped with nicely seasoned pork mince, the polystyrene flower garnish was a nice touch..

This was soon followed by the pea shoots which was a good size portion of pea shoots stir fried simply with garlic, sweet and tender they were delicious.

All was soon forgotten as the crab arrived a huge plate of portioned crab all tumbled in the fragrant sauce, and what a sauce it was.. spicy and rich, sweet and sour, it's first mouthful caused a huge smile to bloom as we looked up at each other. The crab was sweet and plentiful, cooked to perfection (I think they may have done this once or twice before). All was made even better as we used the Mantou to scoop up the sauce it was a perfect partner the crispy crust providing a great textural addition to each mouthful.

While it was all so good we were both insisting the last piece of crab sittlng on the plate was each others we just couldn't manage it all. Glad we ordered a small crab.

This will indeed be the crab that all others are measured by.


Long Beach Seafood Restaurant
1202 East Coast Parkway
#01-04 East Coast Seafood Centre
2pm-12:15am Sunday, Friday & Public Holidays
2pm-1:15am Saturday & Eve of Public Holidays

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sakana Japanese, Singapore

We'd heard that the set lunches here were great value... so off we went to find out. Sakana is located on Liang Seah St, which is a bustling little street by Bugis Junction with an assortment of quality eats lining either side of the road. You walk in to Sakana and it's as if you're in a little country town in Japan. There are all sorts of little nick-knacks, paintings, calligraphy and hundreds of Sake bottles rattling around the walls.

They offer about 10 different set meals for lunch, ranging from S$13-S$21. Kim goes for the Unagi set, which comes with a gigantic slab of eel. It deliciously sticky with a little hint of smokiness, although we both wondered how it was possible to even near finish the whole piece ..... It also has miso, rice, yellow tail sashimi, a pink coloured pickled cucumber, a savoury sesame burdock root salad and a few wedges of orange. All was delicious, although massive!

I had the Udon set, which comes with a great big bowl of noodles topped with some shredded nori. There's also a delicious vegetable tempura, which is small pieces of pumpkin, onion, carrot, zucchini, eggplant and baby shitakes in a crisp batter. The sauce is mixed with spring onion and wasabi for a little zing... this is also poured over the noodles. There's 2 pieces of inari sushi (rice filled into sweet deep-fried tofu parcels, bliss!) and a few orange wedges. Everything was so full of flavour and nice and light.

I even had room for dessert .............
Conveniently located just next door, Ah Chew Desserts. A cute little bar serving bowls of sweets and a few sweet drinks.

The menu's are placed under glass at all the tables.. You make your decision and then place your order at the counter.

There is a machine-like construction line of about 4 churning them out to people at tables, and making up take-away bags for those waiting outside.. We were lucky enough to get a seat this time. We both order a bowl of mango sago, mine with the addition of pomelo. The sago pearls are swimming in a mango cream, that's not too heavy nor too sweet. There are chunks of fresh mango and a little bit of ice. Mine had the addition of pomelo 'sacks', hand picked little citrus explosions to look forward to with every bite!


Sakana Japanese
#01-03 / 04 Liang Seah St
Colonial District

Ah Chew Desserts
1 Liang Seah St #01-11 Liang Seah Pl
12:30pm-11:30pm Mon-Thur, 12:30pm-12:30am Fri, 1:30pm-12:30am Sat, 1:30pm-11:30pm Sun