Carvers and Co.

DSC_3075 DSC_3077 DSC_3088 The look on my face when I was invited to my very first media tasting. Introducing the new meat-lovers go-to hideout, Carvers and Co at East Coast Road. These guys serve coffee at 10am and start brunch service 11am, all the way till 2 30pm. I’ve been meaning (you notice a trend here with all my blog posts now) to visit, specifically for their brunch special of peanut butter and walnut french toast. I’ve seen the pictures. I’ve wiped off the drool. It was all a little too much. So when Sarah, who also opened One Man Coffee at Upper Thomson, invited me that Monday night, you can just imagine my delight. Took the bus all the way to the East Coast, without a care in the world. Without a single care, caressing my coffee-deprived little belly. One of the first things I tried was their iced pour-over, using Brazil beans, served by an all-knowing, clearly coffee-crazed barista. The taste was clean albeit a little weak for my own preference. A refreshing start to this grand experience.

peanut butter and banana french toast, with toasted walnuts and maple syrup– $11.90
peanut butter and banana french toast, with toasted walnuts and maple syrup

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And if you wanna go all-American, pile-on-the-brunch-toppings style, you can add bacon for an extra 3 bucks. This was absolutely, disgustingly, heavenly. I was once again transported to One Man with their fabulous french toast formula, though this time there’s the added pizzaz of gooey peanut butter and warmed banana, a beautiful mess in the middle. They could even try using natural peanut butter, in all its grainy, home-ground and creamy glory, to further enhance the flavours here. The sides are ridiculously crisp, so much so that the crumbs feel like airy polka dots on your tongue. The toasted walnuts were the best touch, offering a earthy roundness to the otherwise purely chimerical and traditional peanut butter and banana pairing. What makes this french toast different is how the brioche is light, soft and crusty, and not overly weighed down by eggy batter, overly-drenched in naked batter. It’s like the delicate rose of all french toasts. Lady of the lambs. Almost untouchable, but boy was I glad to cut into this.

paprika candied bacon chips
paprika candied bacon chips
truffled egg-in-the-hole toast, with whipped grana panado and candied bacon
truffled egg-in-the-hole toast, with whipped grana panado and candied bacon

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Firstly, those paprika bacon chips go wonderfully with a sharp, creamy beer. The man offered a gorgeous pairing of Palm beer, which made the aftertaste of sweet bakkwa-esque bacon chips linger for longer. The paprika could have been a little sharper to give a little more kick, but overall they’re rather divine, and nicely crisp on the outside.

Secondly, please take a step back to admire that bacon jam, melted cheese and truffled yolk as one golden (literally) entirety. Mostly the bacon jam though, or the single element which brought all traditional eggy behaviour of a brunch dish on its feet. It was much stickier and retained better consistency as a ‘jam’ than what I remembered the last time I tried it at One Man, and one can smear the gooey delight all over the crust of the outer edges, lending both sweet and savoury flavour to the mild, light brioche, plain melted grana panado and truffle oil. Oh, truffle. This really is taking it to the next level. One of the best bits? Sliding your knife into that fried piece of bread, or the ‘hole’, if you will. Dig into that crisp shell of crumby goodness. King of side appeal.

candied carrots and celeriac mash
candied carrots and celeriac mash

The mash was edible velvet, and offered the right savoury kick without feeling too heavy or gluggy on the palate. The candied carrots could have been marinated in a little less syrup to retain more of its bite. I’m honestly quite the sucker for any candied vegetable.

truffle fries with garlic mayo and fried anchovies
truffle fries with garlic mayo and fried anchovies

As I may or may not have said before, I’m not actually the biggest fries person, but the fried anchovies here won me over. The fries were fresh, crisp and warm, just out of the fryer, its edges mellowed by the heavy wallop of garlic mayonnaise on top. You get a bit of everything on one fry, and everything was, frankly, a nice starchy and fatty mess. Reminds me of English pubs, and that in itself says a lot.

wagyu beef with caramelised onions and garlic confit
wagyu beef with caramelised onions and garlic confit

They also serve all sorts of meats, such as this wagyu with caramelised onions, which is absolutely to die for. The meat was nothing short of perfectly medium-rare and tender, yielding a rustic flavour brought out by the garlic confit and delightful mound of sweet, sticky caramelised onions. Just… Yes please. The woody meat paired excellently with the softened onions. Look at the wobbly red belly and bright sear on the outside. Communal. Big families. Full stomachs and passing of plates. This is what Carvers is all about. They also offer other brunch and breakfast specials, as well as meat platters, desserts and the whole range of coffee varieties. Their machine is enough to stump ya. It may be a little out of the way, but make an effort for just one trip. It’ll all be worth it, I promise. Once again, a special thank you to Sarah for inviting me, and I’m definitely bringing the folks over one day to try everything. I’ve got my eye on that vegetarian dish of pumpkin, eggplant and paneer on polenta!

 

Rating: 4.7/5

 

Carvers and Co.

43 East Coast Road

6348 0448

Muchachos

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I have to pounce on this short-spaced opportunity to write something about a little Mexican place tucked away in Chinatown. I tell you now that this is the first proper adult burrito I’ve ever had in my entire life. I’ll just subtly throw in the fact that I’m 17, so that leaves a little room for quick hop-and-go experiments now. Honest to God. Never in my life have I willfully set out to have a Mexican meal; the idea simply never appealed to me, purely because of my Asian-rooted culinary habits or the occasional yearning for some gourmet fusion fare. Throw in a burger or two and you’ve got me in the fish net. But burritos? Ha, I wasn’t even keen on the idea. But having read a number of reviews lauding the authenticity of this bean-stuffed hole in the wall iced with hanging lights, I felt like abandoning my comfort zone this Friday night. So we ventured to Chinatown, practically a foreigner in my own country, and immediately warmed up to the human heat and red bustle of the area.

The black sign stood out in neat block letters on a glass pane, and the inside beckoned with its beautiful lights, like mini lamps on the end of black streamers, a row of toppings, meats and fats smirking at you from the side. You see the sour cream, guacamole, beans deep fried a second time in mountains of lard, tomato salsa, sweet pulled pork, rice and more. A woman is spreading their homemade cheese spread of cheddar and Monterey Jack on tortilla. You secretly hope she is the best burrito filler they’ve got, and suddenly spot the cold glass of ‘Mexican Cola’ by the side. One of that too please, and you whip out $4.25, before scrutinising the toppings laid out naked before you.

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Carnitas Burrito- $12.95

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The friend I went with told me that the last time he came, he got the Carnitas, or pork butt slow-cooked in its own lard (goodness yum?!), stuffed with all the trimmings, and could’ve gone on for a full 5 minutes on how wonderful it was. I pondered the idea of beef, since it offered a new taste option and was just a little more expensive, so obviously I wondered if it had some special kick factor which separated the gold from the silver. ‘Pork or beef?’ I asked the capped and aproned lady. I didn’t even end on a questioning lilt before she replied with ‘pork’. Well then. Pork butt it was.

And pork butt it was golden. Added rice, black beans, deep fried beans (which I thought resembled a mild red hummus at first), tomato salsa, fresh guacamole made with ripe Hass avocados, pork, sour cream and hot sauce. The woman asked if I was on some special diet when I gawked at the re-fried beans. I said no, a little annoyed, and hurriedly asked her to pile it on. Thank you.  And yes, I do think burritos are wimpy children without sour cream or hot sauce; those two need to be married and done away with. The rice yielded a nice bite and edge, which offered good texture amongst the mush of creamy avocado and that moist, pink landslide of gooey beans. Starch upon starch upon protein, that was. I’m ever so grateful for the discovery of hot sauce at the place, for despite already being lovely and moist on the inside, the monster wrap still needed a little red kick in the gut with some flavourful, simple spice, to squeeze all those wonderful flavours together. The one thing I didn’t particularly enjoy was the occasional dry chunk of pork I would get stuck in the middle of a bit of guac (or my front teeth). Not exactly intolerably dry per se, but dry enough for you to notice in that sea of moisture, juxtaposed by the chewy beauty of tortilla. It was still aromatic, smoky and offered a good chew, so I wasn’t complaining. The tortilla itself isn’t toasted or grilled, which I didn’t mind, but doing so would have added another delectable dimension of flavour, another inch of smokiness.

They also serve quesadillas, more oddly named drinks, beer and buffalo wings. I’m making a strict mental note to visit more restaurants around the Chinatown area in the near future. Gems stacked upon gems. All hidden, all raising their arms to me. All so promising.

Rating: 4.6/5

Muchachos

22 Keong Saik Street

6220 0458

Mon – Thu: 12:00 – 16:00, 18:00 – 22:00
Fri – Sat: 12:00 – 00:00

Roundhouse Pizza Bar and Grill

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Sunday dinners.

Came across this name whilst doing my daily (almost) perfunctory scrolling through a food blog the other day. Roundhouse. Like Roadhouse but not quite. More…Round. Someone laud my honest jokes, please. Anyways, it’s a little Italian place started up by this local DJ, taking over the area in Turf Club where Picotin, another pizzeria-like restaurant-cum-bar, used to stand. Perfect ambience, with this lovely outdoor area, and we sat at a table with high chairs (who doesn’t love high chairs?!) They serve lots of meat, seafood, and most importantly, most characteristically, pizza. I went in with a bold stomach.

My dad’s smoked duck salad starter was a refreshing start, though it was odd how they also added things like blueberries and strawberries. I wasn’t complaining since I’m a fan of the odd combination, and the cold smoked duck still managed to take centre stage. The fatty outer edges were the highlight, of course.

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Seafood Bouillabaisse. Welcome to mussel, prawn, and fish fragments land. Coupled with a few bits of rather soggy buttered toast and a hollandaise-like dip which did little in complementing the toast. Appealing grilled marks though. These things make me jealous of the behind-the-scenes machinery. Grill marks are to me simply the epitome of grandiose home cooking. I think I need a grill pan soon. Just to be pretentious with my morning toast, you know. We dipped it in the surprisingly delicious bouillabaisse sauce instead. The dish was ho-hum, predictable, nothing flabbergasting.

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Good news. You get to customise your pizza. 2 flavours. One pan. Bring it. We chose half to be vegetarian, with olives, capsicum and mushrooms, and the other to be capoeira, a combination of 4 cheeses (mozzarella, parmesan, gorgonzola and cheddar). The flavours exploded on the emaciated crust, which was lovely albeit the fragile base. A stronger support would be nice. And I may extrapolate this in real life. My life. Actually.

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Grilled king prawns with pineapple salsa/ whole sea bass with orange barley risotto/ angus rib-eye (280g)

Salt, salt, salt. I cracked open my first prawn, fingers stuck in, nicely gooed and oiled (I made up that first word). I chewed at the head, limbs and all, but boom. My mouth throbbed with the taste of the sea, but not in a pleasant way. Tragic, it was. Fresh, elegant prawns with lashings of sodium. I had to pick at my mum’s grilled vegetables to lighten the heavy lashings on my tongue. Taking a bite of the sea bass further dimmed my hopes. Lacklustre, bland, banal, trite. A severe lack of balance in flavour, though the sear and cook on the outside was laudable. Oh, so sad. For the first time, I wasn’t eager to get down and dirty with a fish head. Almost good enough to compensate for the poorly inside. My dad had the rib-eye, but also said it was nothing to shout about.

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Outrageously dense vanilla gelato to combat the salt-rimmed roof of my mouth. Thick, sweet, speckled.

On the whole, not as impressive as I hoped, but look, I lived to tell the tale. Considering the fact that this place is relatively new, perhaps some things will change for the better in the near future. The ambiance and energy more than made up for some serious culinary flaws.

Rating: 2.8/5

Roundhouse Pizza Bar and Grill

100 Turf Club Road

64660966

Blu Kouzina

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To one and all. I am no longer a Greek food virgin. I can now safely say that perhaps all I need to try now is fish sperm and bull’s penis and all shall be well and good. It was all rather hurried, a flash, a stop. Greek food sounded all right, the sort of thing drowned in olive oil and cheese and olives. Very nice. But the experience I encountered was more holy than satisfying, I swear on it. And I now understand the three classes of olive oil- robust, medium and delicate. Not that I need to or anything. But I like to fill my life with useless, pleasurable knick knacks.

At the top we have xoriatiki, a greek salad with olives, a lovely large slab of feta, tomatoes, peppers and cucumber. The zing held its appeal even in the pool of oily dressing which, of course, made it characteristically Greek, however I do think they could’ve reduced the oil factor just a little to let the freshness of the vegetables shine through. It’s never nice to have the taste of naked oil soaking the walls of your throat, nothing to cling to. And then, melitzanosalata. Or in english, smoked eggplant mixed with herbs. Absolutely moreish. The sweetness of the eggplant was mushed together with miniature cheese fragments and fragrant herb, though it wasn’t as dowdy or drab as a plate of mashed ripe banana. It held its own, even with the glugs of oil. The oil, the oil.

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First best dish of the lot award goes to this baby. Saganaki with figs. At 18 bucks, this was full-on gold. Looks are deceiving. The richness cannot be doubted, and was perfect for sharing between the 3 of us. Translation? Alright. Kefalotiri Psito with fig sauce.

Um. Yes. Basically, fried cheese with the sweetest, stickiest, most deliciously cloying fig sauce. I love figs. And so should you. The sharp twang of cheese did well in making you feel better about the sugary bath it was lounging around in. The tender cheese, a ledge of yellow goodness, was really a treat.

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Grilled sea bream. Squeeze of lemon, squeeze of hope, knowing my wretched, impenetrable love for fish. More specifically, fish head. I took that bit and that bit only. Left the rest to the boys. I can handle the rest. The was a sauce to drizzle everything with, though I didn’t see the need, as the excess olive oil distracted from the fresh grilled flavour and rustic charm of skin, flesh and innards. Naked was the way to go.

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Bougatsa- filo and semolina cream rolls. The pastry was not as sweet as I expected, which was surprisingly pleasant when juxtaposed with the semolina cream, which filled up each nook of the pastry in the most rigid possible way. Firm and sturdy, not frigid and flowing, like how it sort of played out in my head. The cinnamon was a nice touch, but I think a cold inside, no matter how un-traditional, would have been dearly appreciated. Something cold and cream-like in texture would be preferable. Perhaps warm desserts aren’t my groove this time of night, especially after a 5-days dose of olive oil.

Rating: 4.0/5

Blu Kouzina

893 Bukit Timah Road

6875 0872

Kuriya Dining

Quality, check.

Service, check.

The best kampachi fish head? Well so far, check.

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top: udon noodle soup and sashimi platter. The udon soup is pleasantly fragrant, tasteful (one might expect at least a small degree of blandness, but all is not lost here) and delicate on the tongue. The noodles themselves have a good hold. And that sashimi is wonderfully fresh, the ice cradling all its sea-esque glory and purity.

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You see it, I see it. Kampachi fish head. Topped off with a half portion of unagi rice. I shared the fish head with my lovely grandfather, the only other person I know who enjoys it as much as me, eyes, brain, guts, pectin, cartilage and all. You can see his hand peeking at the top there, I love him so. Thankfully, he was nice enough that night to give me the eyes. Believe me you, these small things put me on top of the world. The fish was grilled to absolute perfection, and with the radish, a little soy and wasabi, made for the king of all fish heads. There was a certain essence to the head, a certain pizzaz which I haven’t found anywhere else before. The quality flabbergasting, taste, impeccable. As for the unagi, the two fat strips sitting before me dazzled me with their top-notch shine and plumpness. One bite seemed to refute the rice, which seemed so unnecessary in the savouring of the sea-fresh, teriyaki-glazed unagi. Softly sweet, boneless, fat eel to put you on a high.

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Fresh, reliable Japanese fine dining. Yes. I repeat, that fish head.

Rating: 4.8/5

Kuriya Japanese Dining

1 Kim Seng Promenade, Great World City