Nadaman

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Another late post, but I’ve really been so busy with exams and oral commentaries and what have you. Life seems like a never-ending slew of happenings and events and emotions- I just cannot keep up with everything. Currently drowning in a quagmire of helplessness and self-destruction, yay!

Nadman, nadaman. Cue the witches’ chants. I came here with my Grandma during the December holidays one fine Monday (shock horror! Monday? It seems like an impeccable dream now). It always seemed like that high-class enclave shrouded in some dark and sophisticated air. Almost demeaning, it’s very name Nadaman seemed to reek of superiority. I don’t know why, but that’s just how I felt about it. Even though on the other hand, it also sounds like ‘nada, man, I don’t give a damn’.

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Steamed egg custard (chawanmushi)- part of the lunch set

Sashimi set -$70

I remember this chawanmushi in particular because of its lovely, silken tofu texture. And I usually pass up this dish. Really, I still find it a little hard to willingly finish a bowl of egg custard, mostly because many places serve it obtrusively bland. And then here comes Mr Flavourful Silken Tofu, punctured here and there with a little nugget of mushroom or fatty chicken. Lovely.  I still wonder at how, even after years of experience, chefs are able to manipulate their skills so wisely and deftly so as to produce the perfect texture each time. It’s mind-boggling and admirable. It came after a traditional small appetiser of sweet pickles in a little saucer, which perked my palate just enough to make me look forward to the main course.

70 bucks. That’s easily a burnt hole in your wallet. Then again, it was the most expensive lunch set, an aspect of the menu my darling grandmother cared rather little for. This woman loves her sashimi, and thank goodness it was worth it. The thing is, if it’s fresh, it will taste good. It’s really just a matter of chop, chop, plate, glaze. Make it look pretty too. I relish the light chew, cool slosh of slime, a soft wail from the dead animal’s voice as it hits the back of your throat. Factoring in that substantial variety of fish, including salmon, tuna belly and swordfish, the price was a little startling, but not extensively surprisingly either. Nothing too, well, fishy.

On a side note, I always feel like a duck next to my swan of a grandmother. She does everything with impeccable grace, so much so that my efforts with a pair of chopsticks would appear to be a toddler’s game when compared to Swan’s slow, deft handling of whatever she touches. Traditional, feminine, graceful. That is my grandmother compressed into three words, I tell you now.

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Gyuniku Koumikayi Set- $45 (sliced sirloin beef in onion and sweet soy sauce)

Prawn and vegetable tempura- $20

Yes baby. MY set. The beautiful juxtaposition between stealing bits of cold sashimi and the sweet, bold richness of that teriyaki-like onion and soy sauce, drizzled over febrile, firm strands of juicy sirloin. Scarred with ridges and perfectly angled knife marks to enjoy maximum saturation of sauce. Don’t get me started on those onions. They were caramelised to perfection, without yielding all firmness. Just the way I like it. Just between debilitating and robust. Crunch, chew, the earthly splendour of the bulb basking in the heat of your mouth. Coupled with a fat spoon of obese Japanese rice speckles, like three-dimensional bits of snow freckles- moist, plump, as white as ever, it made for the most satisfying bite. The unstimulating but necessary bed of warm rice creating an appealing, slightly sweet canvas for the drunk flavours of the plate. I wouldn’t say it’s the best beef ever, but darn, was it good.

And that tempura? Not too thick and pale with careless slopped-on beer batter. A thin wrinkled layer adhered nicely to the well-cooked underwear that was the succulent prawn and fresh, seasonal vegetables. I can’t eat tempura or any of the fried stuff without the signature tempura sauce (made with soy sauce, mirin, dashi stock, salt and sugar) and cool radish (daikon) flakes. Oh, how I love that white snowy mound which beckons me to dive into its textured complex! Saturate the wrinkled outside with enough sauce to kiss the outer layers of meat as well. The batter on each was a little uneven though, with some yielding a thicker, chewier outside than others. Well, I can’t ask for too much, can I.

Just the two of us Japanese gluttons, separated by a few centimetres and a few generations.

Rating: 4.1/5

Nadaman

22 Orange Grove Rd, Singapore 258350
Shangri-La
6213 4571

Strangers’ Reunion

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So I couldn’t find the door. The large glass door which lead directly to the light wood enclave so appropriately named Strangers’ Reunion. Let… Let me tell you a short story. I leave my house, take the bus to Tiong Bahru, get lost, hail a cab. Typical, normal, I would say. Nothing not very Alex-like. But I think the embarrassment peaked when I found myself floundering about like a complete and utter idiot even when I reached the shophouse. The words were clear, right there in front of me, I even saw my two cute and nice and short friends Celeste and Liz (probably laughing at my incapability as a human being) sitting in the corner. Not finding the door is just not acceptable. The whole time I was there I felt like lashing out at all the sensible people who were capable of opening the right door at the first try. Ha, they’ve probably been here before anyway.

You come in and the first thing which greets you is a jovial crowd, some bespectacled bohemians quietly, nonchalantly sipping away at their flat whites (or the more sophisticated with their espressos) behind the mysterious screens of their macs. Small tables aligned along the sides, all rather close to one another, all wooden and shiny, plastered with the faint drone of orange light. I? I was an SR virgin. I’ve seen pictures and things of course, all of crisp 6-inch wide browned buttermilk waffles with lashings of beautiful toppings accompanied by even more beautiful cups of coffee. We were already past the lunchtime-nigh, so tragically I wanted something savoury. Ordered and waited, the three of us chatting non-stop over various social situations and nonsense like the wonderful nonsensical beings we are.

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cappuccino, $4.90 and iced mocha, $6.50.

Say hello to the long-locked ladies who lunch- Liz (left) and Celeste. Aren’t their smiles gorgeous? Don’t ask me why the camera focus is on the glass bottle because it just so happened to be that momentary mistake and regret. I ordered the cappuccino, seeing it only fit to try their famed milky concoctions, a little startled by the price but this surprise was stunted when I was greeted by the beautifully and intricately decorated image of a swan nestled in a large purple cup on a yellow saucer. Plater certainly knows his complementary colours. One of the best foam art works I’ve seen yet, almost perfectly symmetrical, the swan itself brimming with a delicate life, albeit the fragile wispiness. The coffee itself isn’t robust enough, and I didn’t finish it. Heard a myriad good things about it, though. Perhaps it was one of those one-off circumstances. Despite the (oh-so) tiny letdown, I was highly impressed by the quality of the bean, which I could taste in the first tender sip. Yes, it must be tender, because rushing through a coffee just isn’t very connoisseur-like now, is it.

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Poached eggs on english muffin with a side of honey baked ham, $8.00+$4.00, eggs florentine with spinach, smoked salmon and hollandaise on ciabatta,  $18.00

What I like is how you can choose from all the various sides as well as the type of bread you should like to nicely sop up all the yolk and hollandaise. Their hollandaise was a little on the thicker side, but the flavour was preserved with the right amount of tang, the butter not saying farewell to the well-whipped yolks. The poached eggs fared eggsellently. See what I did there. Yolks and more yolks! It was disgustingly yolk-y heaven. Rich and sodden, yellow and beautiful. One soft slip of the fork caused an outrageous, glorious burst of bright yellow, spilling over onto the sides, buttering the lonely spinach leaves, offering a soft glaze for the lovely salmon beneath. Everything mixed together in perfect harmony. I enjoyed this a little too much, but the one thing I regret not getting for myself was this baby right below.

‘Can I have a bite?’

‘Sure.’

And thank God for that.

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Before you die of a visual orgasm, let me just make it clear that yes, this was both beautiful and delicious. A lot of beautiful things aren’t worth all the praise, but this… This.

Special of the day: Buttermilk waffles with caramel bananas, walnut crunch and vanilla ice cream, $14.90

You’ve heard of buttermilk pancakes, buttermilk scones, buttermilk in your pants. These buttermilk waffles are the lightest, crispest babies in the universe, and when fastened in that ridiculous, flawless, unbeatable, traditional (alright I’ll stop) combination of banana, vanilla and caramel, I warn you, you might cry. Yeah, in public. Everyone will watch you shed buttermilk tears into your perfect circle of yeast and flour and sugar- oh, sugar. Cut into it. Crisp, golden, carnal. It’s dangerous, it implores you to go on, zombie-like, to take your fork and smear a little of that ice cream on top, make it pretty with a sliver of caramel (note I say caramel, not caramelised, because that’s just the way they serve it, perhaps to make you feel a little less guilty over your pre-New Year gluttony, in an effort to kid yourself over your wondrous efforts to nourish that slovenly little body of yours) banana and walnut, go on, go on. I could go on, but that might be a little mean. When I say fluffy and light, I mean it. Too many a time I encounter stodgy, dense rocks with little square holes pricked in the middle to resemble (gasp) waffles.

Please just go and order this. I implore you.

Rating: 4.7/ 5.0

Strangers’ Reunion

37 Kampong Bahru Rd
6222 4869

VeganBurg

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Ha. Vegan, you say? Not so fast. Get up from the floor laughing. I know most of you would scramble at the thought of soy-and-tomato or mushroom-based patties. Maybe throw in a lettuce or two. Give it a little flair with a dollop of organic (shock horror) mayo. Oh! And organic cola to go with that. Or organic limeade and Pimm’s. If all else fails, we have some broccoli roulade and orange reduction to throw on a piece of (organic) bread. Bit of mayo won’t hurt. Who are we kidding right.

I have been meaning to (yes, I was actually looking forward to making this purposeful trip) try this place out ever since it opened. Boxing Day, free day, day with family. A super late lunch it was. It was more than half empty when we got there, Paul McCartney posing in front of the doors with his ‘favourite meat-free fast food joint’. That was enough to get my meat-hungry DAD feel a touch more enthusiastic. I could feel his sighs and bemoaning make the air heavier. Once again, not so fast dad. Just… I believe in the power of vegan. I believe. McCartney believes. So you must believe too.

Sat down, but got up again just to look at the menu. The words ‘cracked pepper’ and ‘hawaiian teriyaki’ shone their little delicate vegan beams onto my glazed eyes. I was hungry just looking at the pouches of sauce oozing from the fat sides. Came across the phrase ‘smoky BBQ’ at the bottom and I was good to go. And then. The God-awful service. There was only one teenage waiter with black stud earrings, orange hair and a I-don’t-give-a-f sort of attitude looking at us placidly since the beginning. Frustration mounted before I even settled on my order. Almost peaked, but I kept a steady calm. Doubts rose.

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Above: Smoky BBQ, $7.90 on its own or $11.80 as a set. I got the set, along with their ‘citrus cooler’ and seaweed fries. Military-style, in a mess tin (which by the way, you have to empty out yourself when you’re done with the grub)

Which apparently contains beta-carotene. I’m up a level in the Vitamin A department, guys! More molecules with beta rings. Hallelujah. Their buns, jokes aside, are made from ‘organic wholemeal grains, unrefined raw sugar, distilled water and sea salt’. Now, imagine if they didn’t add the word distilled. All hell might break loose. I like how they put the words ‘unrefined’ and ‘raw’ in the same sentence. Talk about redundancy. But they hit the spot, this burger. The bun was soft, pliable and fluffy. More so than a Mickey Dees’, I would say. Yes, even so. I’m pathetic because I forgot to take a shot to show the sides; excuse me because I was too busy enjoying it, too busy to lift my greasy fingers off the damn thing, wipe them, pick up my camera, find the right angle, aperture, shutter speed and focus, and take a good shot. I could have, but I didn’t. Right now I’m trying to deal with myself on this one. Please.

The thing about burgers is that… it’s only subjective to an extent. You cannot deny a good one. Compared to last time’s experience at &Made, these were brilliant. I tried my sister’s ‘hawaiian teriyaki’ ($10.80 as a set) and my parents’ ‘creamy shrooms’ ($11.80, set), and both were flavourful in their own individual ways. Having originally contemplated the hawaiian teriyaki, I was still satisfied with my BBQ choice, with sufficiently sweet and slightly spicy BBQ sauce leaving a generous coat between lettuce, and yes, there were onions. My annoyance lay in the fact that there weren’t caramelised. But that’s only because I’m picky and a bother when it comes to onions. I don’t mind raw, but boy, if they were caramelised… Munched through alfafa sprouts (say it five times), tomatoes and lettuce. All organic of course. All the burgers are actually identical, little groups of twins and triplets, if it were not for the sauces hiding underneath those tender buns, or the slight textural differences in patties or degree of vegetable doneness.

Yes. Mushroom and soy-based patties. Hyphae growing on my tongue. No, just kidding. These tender, rather thin patties boasted more flavour than I expected. Probably because they were more textured and slightly sweeter than what you would find in an average red meat burger. Didn’t provide the same gutsy bite, but nevertheless, I can’t fault the flavour. The shroom and teriyaki burgers beat mine hands down, but hey, it was a first. My sister got the hotdog, which, considering the whole meatless factor, tasted pretty impressive. Meatless, but tastes almost of chicken. Alright, more like 51.54%. And I say this for all the patties. Pale, slightly chewy little discs. As for the citrus cooler, it offered a refreshing break between bites, though was a little diluted for my liking. These guys should offer a carbonated option. Oh, the service.

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I might be back.

Only if that waiter throws away his apron.

Rating: 4.4/5

VeganBurg

200 Turf Club Road #01-32
Singapore 287994

Phone: 6462 1281

&Made

Burgers (again) with my favourite.

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I don’t know if I’ve ever told you about my everlasting and overwhelming penchant for black and white. This place had it all done up lego-style, not my style in particular, but they tried and their efforts won’t go unappreciated.

My ‘favourite’? Oh right, that thing in the picture box just above, a little to the left. I hope the organism is visible. We sat down to a table, the waiter looking us up and down before taking away the bottle of red wine. Lix doesn’t drink, but I was more than happy to share in his alcoholic innocence. Virginity, almost. I was more ready for a little meat, some afternoon sustenance.

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The ‘B’ Burger, $19 (this goes out to my ask.fm anon who suggested I actually put down the prices of food. Sorry about that. Perhaps I’m not the most inclined to associate price with final taste? I still love you. Just a note, all prices are in SGD.)

‘a juicy, dry aged beef patty atop with caramelised onions (MAJOR PULL FACTOR HERE), French Comté cheese and amazingly delicious caper and garlic mayonnaise’.

Yes, they said ‘amazing’. Like, really amazing, you know. There’s only so much a dollop of mayo can do, but this did quite the trick, pulling the sharper Comté flavour, like a wild character simmered down to white paste, together with the beef patty. My disappointment lies within the doneness of that patty. A little pink in the mid, but that’s it. Utterly overdone otherwise. The bread didn’t sing with grilled crispness, buttery and hardy, the juices scarcely flowed, the cheese did little but offer a mild flavour, with the mayo furthering the dimmed oomph factor. It didn’t come together, to put it lightly. The one thing I did spend time enjoying, mixing with the fries and provided little saucer of their handmade BBQ sauce, which tasted like dry and overly sweet sambal, if you ask me, were the caramelised onions. Because onions. There, done, said.

Disappointed? I should think so. I should really, really think so, especially after meaning to visit this place since June of this year. June, my friend!

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NY Bacon, $21

What my favourite had. ‘traditional dry aged beef patty, smoked bacon, tomato, mayonnaise, pickled cucumber and cheddar cheese’.

A little too American for my taste (you can see he went all out with the vanilla milkshake), but I eyed his patty with envy. Both of ours are dry aged, but evidently his was at least twice as tender, as delicately handled. You could tell just from the outside, maybe a little poke. I stole a bite, yes just a bite, and well, first senses don’t lie. Indeed it was on the less done side, much more to my taste, however the flavour couldn’t beat anything, letting myself down the drain just a little more. No impression, no dropping of jaws. No amazeball fries, either.

Mediocrity is pain. And if you’re one of those people who like hanking down on four inches of a well-glued burger, then well, sorry, this place isn’t for you. Well you could try…

&Made

Rating: 2.9/5

#01-04/05/06, Pacific Plaza, 9 Scotts Road

DB Bistro Moderne

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Clearly, one may observe that a squid clad in converse and a cropped tank with shorts would look right out of place here.

Today, I was that squid.

My mum, two sisters and I originally headed to Osteria Mozza for some impromptu Italian fare, however we were slammed in the face with the heaving sigh of a monstrous crowd, all elegantly dressed up for, yes, pizza and spaghetti. And so we headed north. To the bright amber lights and wooden decor of DB Bistro Moderne. Apparently the name comes from Daniel Boulud (is it just me or are the names Daniel and David just the easiest to mix up?), which reminds me of the word boule, or bread, and makes for pleasing mental imagery. Below, ignore the distracting slice of paper stealing light from the divinity of those mushrooms. Chanterelles, stems, butter, everything. Almost provocative, but humble and warm all the same. Delightful.

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side of mushrooms- buttery, fragrant, musky

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They even had a charming little kids menu, which I thought was rather considerate in such a flamboyant, mature space. Orders of tomato and butter parmesan ear pasta were minuscule but thankfully not to waste; the al dente textures supported hearty flavour, each bite abound with sharp parmesan sprinklings. Only for the rich kids, I caught myself thinking.

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french onion soup- onion and beef consommé, gruyère, croutons
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The Yankee Burger- beef patty, iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion and gherkin on sesame seed bun

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May I just say that that french onion soup was marvellous. Stringy, soft, caramelised onions clung to the tips of my fork, drenched in the dark honeyed pool of rich wine-like soup. Piping hot, with a healthy serving of gruyère and soggy croutons. I don’t mind soggy, no I don’t. If possible, I would have preferred less chunky matter and more broth, the purity of onion flavour paraded in the modern affection of a white cup.

As for the burger, I was, shock behold, quite let down. Disappointed, to say straightforwardly. I asked for medium rare, and yes medium rare it was, but flavour-wise, it was not. I looked wistfully at the menu by the side, wishing I ordered the signature foie gras and sirloin burger (I didn’t because there were too many reviews on this one burger, not all were up to expectations and this seemed like a standard option to judge). The middle was a little too moist, but not in the complementary sense. Meaty flavour was nowhere to be found and not even the tomato, onions, solo gherkin or elegant platter of three side sauces sufficed. Tolerable, but bland. On the other hand, the mini bun was toasted and buttered to absolute perfection. Picking at the crisp brown sides was childish play and pleasure. The fries were crisp and simple. Without a doubt, the stodge beat the protein. There was not an ounce of struggle in this battle of chaw.

Rating: 3/5

DB Bistro Moderne

10 Bayfront Avenue

#B1-48, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands