Fat Lulu – Small but focused menu with a very polished service!

Fat Lulu

297 River Valley Rd, 238338

Obscured, far from any MRT station, definitely not suitable to trek to in the middle of the dry spell but well served by a bus stop just sitting opposite it, Fat Lulu has been making the rounds in social media and this casual restaurant not only serves up delicious grilled mains, but also electrifying traditional desserts, all perfected with a polished service rendered even during the peak hours! It was small and we were fitted at the table near the kitchen initially; not being able to bear the occasional hot draft from the kitchen, and as foodies love to see the preparation in action, we opted for the bar counter instead and that was fun!

img_9847What makes Fat Lulu’s small but delicious menu less boring, is also the daily specials that are written on the huge chalkboard. That perhaps is the advantage of a smaller menu, that it gives the chefs space to wield their creativity, duly expressed in the specials! We got the fried curried cauliflower to start off with; made heavier tasting with the creamy madras curry yogurt while condiments like grapes, dill and mint were added to give a refreshing cut. $12.

img_9849That Iberico pork Satay is one of those on that special board and when it was served with its lightly sweet savoury aroma wafting towards me, I could immediately associate them to the likes of bak kwa. Well complemented with the sweet honey glaze and we felt the evenly marbled fats gave it a very fragrant savoury edge. $12.

img_9850This heavy tasting Spicy BBQ Pork Ribs main was ordered at almost every table; I guess that’s what customers do when we see the previous table getting such a humongous treat at just $28. It would be daft if this wasn’t ordered. Beautifully marinated with the smokey kichap manis sauce coming through strongly and well permeated through that block of protein, the meat was also perfectly grilled to a coveted tender consistency. We loved how robust the flavour of that fermented soy sauce has come through and how it is deftly cut through by the lime drizzle. This was the star.

img_9851I wanted some good fish and the Ikan Bakar was actually a pretty exciting fusion. The parrot fish may have tasted drier but this could be the nature of such fishes as they are perhaps less juicier than a cod. The only wish I had, was for them to be less heavy handed on their garlic chilli butter as they tasted really quite spicy to me and intermittent rests were necessary. I have to say though that the yellow tumeric coating did make them look very appetising. $28.

img_9852On that creative board again, we plucked off the very modern Ice Kacang which was slightly theatrical with the liquid nitrogen used but it was for a better purpose. What this Ice Kacang is about – Gula melaka shaved ice, topped with the chendol noodles, chewy atap cubes, furiously cooled coconut bits (by that lq N2) and that really smooth tasty coconut ice cream, all eaten to give you that seamless burst of flavours in your mouth, as they do away with the more traditional red bean and sweet corn that could have simply clashed.

What we really like about it here is the bold flavours that we get, the very substantial portions that were served and definitely the very thoughtful service that we get from such a small restaurant. My napkin was quietly replaced when I accidentally dropped it on the floor, but I noticed that. How attentive could it be! And needless to say, I drank a lot of refilled water without having to keep asking for it. Great day out indeed!

Verdict: A good restaurant 3.9/5.

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Penang Culture – A new menu launched!

Penang Culture

Changi Airport Terminal 2

IMG_7057Say Penang cuisine and with my limited South East Asian vocabulary, I could usually only dish out the favourite few – Assam Laksa, Penang Hokkien Mee, Penang Char kuey tiao, that sounds familiar to their Singaporean counterparts yet taste largely different. Sour instead of a creamy bowl of laksa, soupy crustacean packed instead of a dry Hokkien mee and savoury instead of the dark sweetened kuey tiao, these actually seem to be very popular among Singaporeans as well. Not a huge South East Asian foodie and therefore wouldn’t be able to authenticate its authenticity, this was actually pretty delicious in my opinion and with such a family oriented setting at our beautiful Changi Airport, Penang Culture is quite worthy of a visit for a casual family dinner. A new set of menu created by the head chef who aims to put a clever twist to the otherwise more common dishes, making it slightly more upmarket. The difficult bit I felt was making it a Halal chain, that means no pork and much effort has to be put in to compensate for that porky umaminess. Lets see…

IMG_7052IMG_7065Premium Lobster and Scallop Noodles – Highly packed with a heavy crustacean flavour, this broth came through strongly that is well deserving of an applause. With that chunky scallops by the side that are well textured, this was further made upmarket with the slipper lobster added. Beautiful flavour soaked up by the noodles and vermicelli but I reckon the lobster has been overly permeated by the crustacean flavour that makes it lose it natural sweetness. This could have been added last. $16.95.

IMG_7046BBQ Salmon topped off with the Chef’s sweet, spicy paste. My biggest favourite of that night as that umami packed spicy chilli paste lifted greatly the entire taste of the fatty crusty salmon fillet! $11.95.

IMG_7049Penang Fire Wings – Deeply fried these belachan coated wings are to an adequate crisp, with its fragrance further complemented by the sweet plum and Thai chilli sauce, this definitely looked influenced by the Korean culture. $6.55.

IMG_7059Premium crab meat and salted egg fried kway teow. Without the use of pork lard, this still has its character retained by tossing it with the heavy tasting salted egg. $15.95.

IMG_7043Salmon Assam Laksa. The biggest difference from its humbler rendition – the chunky bits of salmon there which mellowed the otherwise distinctive sourish taste. And unlike the thick noodles used by many eateries, Penang Culture uses those imported from Penang that is much thicker and actually resembles bi tai mak. $11.95.

IMG_7044Penang Curry Fish Balls made in Chicken curry. $4.95.

IMG_7051Penang Rojak with cuttlefish tossed within. $5.95.

IMG_7056With so much sinful dishes, this Ampla Juice (Indian Gooseberry) came at the right time as a palate cleanser. Packed with loads of Vitamin C and antioxidants, this is made even more refreshing with a sour plum for a salty kick. Great drink indeed. $4.95.

IMG_7067Durian Chendol – Such a huge, decadent dollop of fragrant durian that makes the entire chendol even creamier and fuller in taste.

And even though Penang Culture functions as a Halal restaurant, we concluded that the taste wasn’t compromised at all!

 

Pasarbella Suntec – Officially open!

Pasarbella @ Suntec City

Near Esplanade or Cityhall MRT

IMG_9040While Parsarbella at the Grandstand models more closely after a Farmer’s Market that consists of a balanced number of grocery stalls and gourmet traders, the recent one at Suntec City functions more like a, if you would pardon me using the most layman term, a ‘food court’, albeit a more upmarket and hipsterish one. With 14 different stalls available all under one roof, you get a chance to taste a wide range of cuisines, spanning right across the globe as we start off from the hearty Eastern Korean Choo Choo Chicken followed by the Mediterranean Pita and Olives, then ending the journey at the States as you land yourself at Wolf Burgers or Cajun on Wheels. Which makes this a perfect dining place if the group couldn’t come to a consensus on a restaurant to hang out at. That, is the strongest point I reckon which Pasarbella is armed with – the epitome for an eclectic range of food.

  1. Choo Choo Chicken IMG_9041IMG_9050Riding on the current craze for Korean Food, Choo Choo Chicken managed to up the game with its Korean Seaweed rice that has the tangy, not overly-fermented kimchi sandwiched between which gave it a refreshing touch. All day sets available with fried chicken over here served in various flavours like soy, sweet, spicy, garlic, honey soy and sweet & sour. $12.90 for a set. This was apparently, the unanimous champion amongst all the other stalls that we have tasted, not because we are in for the craze (you know Korean isn’t my favourite).
  2. Mad Dogs Bar & GrillIMG_9067IMG_9069Beautifully braised that the meat falls off the bone effortlessly. However, the only gripe could be the oilier base it is served in which could potentially stop me from having another piece. Angus Ribeye ($25, 200g); Grain-fed sirloin ($18, 200g) and Pork Chop ($18).
  3. Squeezed! IMG_9053At Squeezed!, not only do they serve cold-pressed juices that have all the vitamins retained, lovely toasted brioche buns filled with the tasty savouries could also be found here. $4 for the toast.
  4. Wolf BurgersIMG_9062

    Soft fluffy bun, with thick patties sandwiched between. This could be a popular grub for the hungry CBD people.

  5. Cajun on WheelsIMG_9059Louisiana-style seafood cuisine served here presented in buckets of fresh crabs, mussels, clams and prawns, along with a serving of fries and cajun sauce of your choice.
  6. Rollie OlieIMG_9042A more playful Japanese place it claims with the more vibrant colours that don’t adhere strictly to the rules for a Japanese presentation; looking and tasting more fusion with American inspired sauces. Their highlights: Sunkissed Salmon roll (from $16.95) and Dos Amigos (from $14.95).
  7. Pita & OlivesIMG_9039The only mediterranean stall in the premise, Pita & Olives does indeed serve up freshly baked pita bread; fresh ingredients such as olives, tahini, chickpeas to create the wholesome Kebabs, Falafels etc. And we love that smooth hummus there in the centre.
  8. An AnIMG_9047IMG_9045For some Vietnamese Street Food, An An serves quite a spread, such as the Beef Pho, Spring Rolls and Salad. And they will be launching their Soft Shell Crab Pho soon which isn’t on the menu yet. Beef Pho set ($12.90).
  9. GrilloIMG_9063With the concept of donburi in mind, Grillo has decided to incorporate grilled seafood and seasoned meats on top of their rice bowls for a fuller meal. Menu highlight: The yuzu salmon Bowl with a house made slaw at $12.90.
  10. SarniesIMG_9070The spot for your caffeine fix which also serves up pastries and sweet treats.

IMG_90554 other stalls not tried, but that 10 was enough to send us home with a stuffed tummy. As for the quality of the food, hits and misses were as expectedly, prevalent which, given the benefit of doubt, may not be representative of the actual standard as some of the dishes were already pre-prepared to cater to the large crowd that night. Reviews equally split on their first principal branch at the Grandstand, it would be interesting to see how this second one fares as the traders over here seem to be serving up better quality food at an O.K. price.

Thank you Tessa for the invitation!

May May – May I serve you a delicious rice bowl please???

May May

65 Tras Street near Tanjong Pagar MRT

DSC_0303Served in a Japanese donburi (Rice bowl) style, May May restaurant has beautifully created several sleek yet appetising rice bowls for the CBD lunch crowd which are all reasonably priced at. Choosing your mains or desserts may have never been so simple as they try to keep both their lunch and dinner menus small literally, filling up just a single side of an A5 page.

DSC_0304While dinner is slightly more expensive (as with most restaurants) as they serve the more premium dishes such as ribeye etc (which are all in the thereabout of $30-ish), the lunch bowls were evidently very economically priced. Starting from $12, you could opt to complete it as a set which comes with a drink and salad by just topping it up with another $3. And naturally, the set was chosen!

DSC_0310Having decided to do healthy, I’ve got the Butter Poached Cod Rice Bowl that is paired perfectly with the fragrantly Grilled mushrooms and wasabi sprouts. The smooth Cod was flawless with its fairly tangy butter overcoat and such a healthy bowl, is somehow desirable in this searing heat.  $18. Continue reading

Wrap & Roll – A true reflection of Vietnamese cuisine

Wrap and Roll

Ion Orchard near Orchard MRT

I always have the misperception that Vietnamese food is bland, boring and when given a choice I would choose Thai over Vietnamese anytime! But after yesterday’s educational session with Jascintha, I realised that I was totally wrong and Viet food does have her own character and could potentially be as addictive as Thai food. Would like to first thank Jascintha for the really heavy and delicious meal at Wrap and Roll.

IMG_7286Restaurant looks empty as it was already 10pm by the time we finished our last course.

Succinctly, Wrap & Roll has three outlets in Singapore currently, namely at Star Vista, Ion Orchard and Kent Ridge while the 4th outlet at Changi City Point will be due to open in Jan 2015. So Easties, you will not be left out. Wrap & roll originated from Vietnam and was awarded the top 100 Vietnamese Restaurant 2012 in Vietnam by Delicious Magazine and Best Vietnamese restaurant chain 2010 by Vietnam Tourism Board. With such compelling accolades, it is no wonder that I was thrilled by almost all of the dishes that I tasted there yesterday. It is really heartwarming to know that Wrap & Roll puts in a lot of effort when crafting their menu, so that they do not leave out any signature cuisines from Ho Chin Minh, Huey and Hanoi. That essentially covers the whole strip of Vietnam.

IMG_7261Alright, I tried one of the newer drinks on the menu and got the freshly ground pomelo juice for $4.90. It tasted really refreshing, slightly sweet, acidic and citrusy. It makes me wonder how many pomelo pulps would they need to grind to produce a rich glass like this!

IMG_7265To kick off the meal, we got the Lotus Shoot Salad for $8.90. Forget about the seemingly safer mango salad on the menu and dive straight into this lotus shoot salad as I am sure you will definitely not regret it. Really fresh, crunchy and slightly springy shoots would ignite your palates and when eaten together with the keropok, this dish was impeccable. It has a slight chinese rojak after taste as fish sauce is used and I like that.

IMG_7269Minced Pork & Mushrooms Steamed Rice Crepe Rolls. $8.90. Sounds like Char Siew Cheong fen? This is an even meatier rendition topped with fragrant, crispy shallots and pork floss. Rice wrap was thin and slithery while there is a substantial amount of fillings in it and its taste is completed with the fish sauce. On top of its fragrance, the mushroom bits in it also add an additional chewy texture to this dish. Delicious!

IMG_7270Grilled Pork in Steamed Rice Paper Rolls. $6.90. The tender fat piece of pork is wrapped together with basil and mint and that helps to make it into a lighter refreshing yet savoury roll. Love the charred aroma from the pork and there indeed is a very good balance of tastes over here. Very addictive indeed.

IMG_7274

IMG_7275The Roll It Yourself Dish consists of delectable stir fried bean sprouts, mung beans, prawns and mushroom. The yellow pancake like thing isn’t an omelette as it’s too crispy to be one; instead it is an interesting mix of rice flour and tumeric powder. You could wrap them all up with the slightly pungent mustard leaf and topped it up with the refreshing basil and mint leaves to bring out the freshness of the fillings. $15.90. Very delicious ‘wrap’ over here indeed!

IMG_7277And yes, after all the wraps, we had some noodle action. Pho Beef Noodle Soup for $12.90. If you want to make it more savoury and slightly spicy, then add in the soy bean and sriracha sauce served by the side. Noodles were slightly Q and large, tender beef slices were served together with it while the soup is painstakingly boiled with herbs such as cinnamon and star anise. Very good bowl of beef Pho over here.

IMG_7279Rice Vermicelli with Grilled Pork & Deep Fried Spring Rolls for $11.90. Noodles served here were the mee kia kind of noodles and totally different from that of pho. The tightly wrapped spring rolls consist of Minced pork with mushrooms and fungus which kept bursting with flavours on every bite and the caramelised pork treasure hidden beneath makes this dish even more filling and flavourful. A disclaimer though – we were given more spring rolls as there were four of us devouring it!

IMG_7282Coming from the Hanoi Region that shares its long border with China, this stir fried seafood noodles indeed has quite a lot of oriental elements. Nevertheless, it was a very fragrant plate of what we like to call it “hor fun” as it has the addictive wok hei in it and seafood was definitely fresh and delicious.

IMG_7284Egg & Milk Flan Pudding with Vietnamese Coffee. $4.90. This tasted like milk pudding with coffee aroma in it. Milky and creamy, it would have been better if it has a stronger coffee punch!

IMG_7285Apology for the half eaten Coconut Jelly. The thick layer of fragrant coconut pudding on top makes this jelly really fragrant while the sweet raisins make it even more fun to eat. $4.90.

And yes, that was the grand tour of our Vietnamese night at Wrap & Roll. After trying their signature rolls, noodles and salad, I realised that Vietnamese really love to balance their otherwise heavy tasting mains or meat with the more refreshing leaves while their clever use of interesting sauces complements and enhances the overall taste of every dish. Wrap & Roll has indeed taught me that light tasting dishes can still be marvellous and lip smacking and I really have to thank Jascintha once again for the invitation! So, if you are still having any queries about Vietnamese food like me, try this and you most probably would change your mind!