September 30, 2008

Another couple of good meals in Singapore

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I'm eating my way through Singapore, making up for all the time that I've been away. Besides the usual street food and supper, I did have another couple of memorable meals after the great start I had on Friday.

On Sunday, I got together with some friends for brunch at Braise, with a beachfront location on Sentosa. This seemed like a great location for a relaxing Sunday brunch, as the weather was beautiful - for the most part. Turns out the food was pretty good as well.

We started with a whole selection of starters - which one can have seconds, thirds, or however much one desires! These were:

Caesar Salad - pretty decent I must say
Scallop wrapped in Parma Ham with Rocket Salad, Honey Balsamic Dressing - the only dish I did not have, but the crowd liked it enough to get seconds
Pan Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Banana - actually done pretty well and the banana was a nice touch
Poultry Consomme - this came with a foie gras ravioli and I definitely had seconds
King Prawn Cocktail Salad - pretty large and sweet prawns
Sundried Tomato and Spinach Olive and Parma Ham Escargot with Herb Crust - nice to nibble on
Pan Fried Crab Cake with Curry Aioli - really cute and delish

Next was the egg course, and I had mine done Benedict-style over an English muffin, with sausages. Not bad. While the ladies chose not to have a main course, I decided to have

Cod Fish and Chips. The batter was pretty good, and the cod was pretty tender and juicy, but I must say that the fish was a little bland. It could definitely use some more salt. The chips were thin wafers of taro, potato and sweet potato chips, very different from what I was expecting.

My friend who had the Angel Hair Pasta with Lobster Oil and Sauteed French Crevettes seemed to have enjoyed it, and it really did look delicious with those tiny shrimps.

For dessert, I had the Cheese Platter with a combination of hard and soft cheeses. Pretty good stuff.

While we could drink all the juices we wanted, I wanted to drink a bottle of the 2005 Cloudy Bay Te Koko. The price charged by the restaurant was only a slight premium to what the wine sells for retail in Hong Kong, so it was a no-brainer for me. The wine was delicious as I remembered, with notes of muscat grapes, green apples, honey and minerals. I really loved this wine, and it's such a different expression of the Sauvignon Blanc grape.

The restaurant has an excellent wine list, including a couple of vintages of Le Pin... which you would not expect from a restaurant with this location.

We spent about 4 hours just eating, chatting and generally enjoying ourselves. I thought the price was very reasonable for the quality as well as the quantity of the food. I think I would go back for another visit if given the chance.

For Monday night, I went for a totally different experience. I had tried the very yummy crab bee hoon (米粉) from Sin Huat Eating House some time ago (thanks again, Tony Bourdain), although the dishes were so expensive that my friends and I never went back. Three of us spent around SGD 300 for dinner, and at this at an open-air hawker stall establishment in Geylang!

Anyway, there have been recommendations floating around the net for a similar restaurant nearby, where the dish to order was crab tang hoon (冬粉), and apparently for much cheaper. So the original crew set off to find Ya Kwang (亞光), just down the road from Sin Huat in Geylang.

We started with kway chap (粿汁), flat noodles in sauce with a plate of braised pig intenstines, duck meat, tofu and egg. This was OK but not especially outstanding.

Next came a nice plate of Penang fried kway teow (炒粿條), which was full of flavor and, at a mere SGD 4, the best value of the evening.

The sambal sotong (calamari) was not as spicy as I expected, and it was OK.

The chicken wings were just finger food, but could have used a bit more marinating as it was a bit bland.

So what about the crab tang hoon? Well, it was pretty good. We had two Sri Lankan crabs which were big enough but not huge. The crabs were sweet tasting and good. There wasn't a whole lot of tang hoon, but since one of us decided not to partake too much of the dish, there was plenty to go around. Chef Jason does still use the Korean version of the tang hoon (used in chap chae) which were thicker and as a result less soggy. However, initially the tang hoon wasn't able to absorb a lot of the flavor from the crab, and it was only towards the end that I tasted the full flavor in the tang hoon. So the lesson here is to eat the crab first, and do the tang hoon later.

One thing that marred the experience was actually at the end, when we asked Chef Jason for the bill. I had read over the internet that the crab tang hoon costs SGD 25 and came with "two small crabs". A sign at the restaurant also confirmed that the dish cost either SGD 25 or 28, so I didn't bother asking for the price of the dish. When the bill came, the dish came to SGD 60.

Admittedly, this was still a bargain considering we just had two nice Sri Lankan crabs. But we decided to make an offhand remark (in jest) that while the food was delicious, it was a little expensive. If you want to see how fast you can piss off the chef, this would be the exact comment you would want to make. The mood changed instantly, and Jason said "You're kidding, right? You can complain that my food doesn't taste good, but don't tell me that I'm expensive!" He walked off, and was pissed enough to send someone after us to give us back the change/tip that we left on the table. I guess he really wasn't amused, and didn't exactly have a sense of humor...A word of warning to future potential diners...


FourSeasons said...

Hi Peech:

I think SGD25 or 28 refers to the local crabs, but since you ordered two Sri Lanka crabs, I would say SGD60 is quite reasonable.


Peech said...

FS, I realize that SGD 60 is reasonable for Sri Lankan crabs, but I think it's just the expectation of SGD 25 since it's been written elsewhere and also on the menu - without clarification.


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