Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Borgo



I cannot believe how long it took but I finally tasted food at Borgo. Seems like a merry-go-round in the culinary world as Borgo is formed jointly by two Italian chefs, Chef Mimmo and Chef Andrea. Coincidentally, both worked with different restaurants located across each other; the former from La Braceria while the latter from Cantina.

Earlier, when I found out Chef Mimmo had left La Braceria, I grieved at the loss of a good pizza and hearty grilled fare. But I need grief no more. He continues to hold the reins at the grill while Chef Andrea will concentrate on the pizza and pasta. Sounds like an invincible pairing huh?

Well, the baked scarmoza with a mushroom sauce (S$17) made a simple and delicious starter. The mushroom sauce reminded me of the huge platter of sauteed mushrooms I so, so loved over at La Braceria. But then, I am but a funghi whore.

I also had my stomach on one of the specials for that day - baby octopus. Those unfortunate babies ended up in a pasta dish (S$26) composed of perfectly al dente linguine tossed with a slightly spicy tomato sauce specked with green and black olive chunks and of course, the babies. Population control, I say. In any case, the sauce was delicious and the octopus, flavourful and non-chewy. Delicious, but I admit I thought it was a wee bit pricy.

The friend who had grilled lamb chops (S$32) thought the meat was quite excellently timed. The meat was juicy and need no sauce. He was amazed at the generous portion as well, expecting one less chop and not so many garnishes. Needless to say, he was a happy camper.

Overall, the food was good and the service, excellent. Maybe just a little too enthusiastic by constant checking on your table, hoping to clear the plates even though you are not quite done.

Nonetheless, this place is away from town and I do like that because sometimes you just want to pull away from all the chi-chi and pretentious places and dine in full comfort of your own skin. I believe you can find that at Borgo. I hope I can go back soon.

Borgo
789 Bukit Timah Road (S) 269763
Tel: 6466-7762

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Inaugural makan session of 2007 . . . .



.....was held at Mellben Seafood. It was a blast! As usual, the company was great but especially more so tonight even with a few new faces but there was little or none of that awkward first-time feeling. Generosity was displayed with wines flowing everywhere. The food was generally quite good and service was cheerful despite the crowd tonight. As proof, you can see one happy recent runes here :)




Check out the damage done to our waistlines here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Shin Kushiya


Shin Kushiya
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean.
The past few days saw me eating nothing really exciting. In fact, food was ingested with not much enthusiasm if not only to fill the tummy and stop the rumbling.

But a cinema stop at Vivocity over the last weekend saw me eating at my first kushiya. For the uninitiated, this place specialises in "kushi (δΈ²)" or skewers used in Japanese cuisine to hold pierce and hold food for grilling and frying, such as yakitori.

Skipping straight onto the kushi items, both of Shin Kushiya's special onigiris (one eel $3.80, one chicken $3.40) and a few assorted skewers ($2.20 - $3.80) were ordered to share. Just in case the stomachs complain of hunger still, we ordered the tuna and swordfish sushi roll ($11.80) at the very last minute.

So, to jump to conclusion, I did not think highly of this place. For starters, the grilled food arrived rather quickly so I suspect they were mostly precooked for a bit first to cut cooking time. Secondly, while I do not claim to be an expert, I don't think all Japanese grilled food should be doused with generic bottled teriyaki sauce. The said sweet sauce was on everything and I could taste nothing but that.

Interestingly, 3 different flavoured salts (green tea, chili and sour plum) were provided to salt the skewers which were "intentionally undersalted". But those were merely eye candy, as we left untouched after deeming them to be redundant because the flavor of the salt would be masked by the excessive teriyaki sauce and make the food even more saltish.

Thirdly and my uttermost peeve, Shin Kushiya serves this really substandard soysauce that was weirdly oversalty! I was taken aback by the extreme saltishness when I ate into the sushi roll that had just a little corner smeared with the soysauce. Yucks! It was funny how we had difficulty finishing the 3 remaining pieces, debating for a while whether to dip or not, to eat it bland or otherwise.

The other girlfriend wanted to play safe and ordered their salmon ikura don ($16.80). She complained the rice was dry and was actually scrapping off the excess teriyaki sauce to pair with her rice. Hahaha, so ironic that the dreaded sauce did come in useful or a good example of how one girlfriend's trash is another girlfriend's treasure.

I am not recommending this place for the food since it is not that cheap for the quality you get. But having said that, Shin Kushiya offers a nice habor view and has plenty of seats. It will make a good choice if you need Jap food fast, in the ever-crowded Vivocity on a weekend.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Kaisan, reloaded

A relatively satisfying lunch experience left me hungering for more sushi, not to mention a disappointing dinner at Sushi Yoshida, I just could not wait to give dinner a try at Kaisan. Despite a slight change in the agenda, I was glad the dinner date was kept and literally counted down until the time finally arrived and we took our seats in front of the sushi counter.

With the make-shift “Today’s special” menu hanging on the wall behind serving as a guide, the chef was given free-rein for the dinner. With the food settled, we relaxed and chatted and ate, and talked, and ate some more, and laughed, and ate even more, and made friends with the staff before lifting our heavy stomachs reluctantly so the restaurant could close for the night.

The ball started rolling with Chef’s recommendation of a warm simmered dish of fried whole taro simmered in a thickened broth with shimeiji mushrooms. The dish was lovely, being the vegetable-head that I am. Then the ball gathered momentum with the introduction of sashimi.


Chef started from the white-fleshed and mild-tasting fish, which was a clean and light-flavored sayori, small in size, quickly followed by tennen hirame (wild flounder) eaten with ponzu sauce. A darker and stronger-flavored isaki sashimi followed, not without Chef's showcase of his knifeskills; definitely quite impressive!

Serious fooding, specifically sushi, followed. Again, Chef served us in a similar fashion, in order of intensity. What was put in front of us, we ate. Tai, hamachi, kanpachi, shimaaji, aji, otoro aburi, negi otoro uni, otoro, more of that delicious negi otoro uni (this time naked without rice), taraba kani (Alaskan king crab in season now), hotategai, bluefin maguro, hirame fin, ikura, and finally, we ended our gluttony on a high, a decadent negi otoro temaki.




I am still amazed I managed all of the above, and enjoyed every piece at that too. My head is still giddy from thinking about all that sushi, with special mentions to the fatty otoro that melted in the mouth, the clever sprinkling of yuzu on the saltish sacs of salmon roe, which lifted each element and yet binded them all together, the creamy kanpachi, the innovative combination of uni with negi toro and the sweet, sweet kani in season.

It would be impossible to name a favourite as I savored them all. I also tend to be biased towards a sushi that is not exceedingly big, as in the case of Kaisan. Notably, the mound of rice is kept small, not bland but instead, possesses pleasing hints of mirin and sugar.

Chef Thomas not only believes in serving the freshest of seafood but also chooses to serve seasonal varieties so the quality and flavor are at their peaks. These two qualities, fundamental yardsticks of sashimi and sushi, shone throughout the meal and I am so very glad I do not have to travel all the way to Japan for decent sashimi and sushi.

For the full set of sushi and sashimi porn, visit my photos here.

Kaisan Japanese Restaurant
Tel 63394929
#01-21 Raffles Hotel Arcade

Much better than my last entry


Kaisan @ Raffles Hotel
Originally uploaded by Skinny Epicurean.
...so stay tuned!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sushi Yoshida - Better lunch than dinner



Action, action and more action - alas, all that did not translate into a sensational meal I could blog and share about. In short, my dinner at Sushi Yoshida was rather disappointing especially so after a couple of good lunches there.

The sushi, which was what I was after, was mediocre to say the least. To be picky, I thought the rice was rather bland; rice to fish ratio was also slightly higher than I preferred and the rice mounds sort of fell apart when I picked them up with my chopsticks. Maybe I should just use my hands in future.

The fish was also nothing memorable; the chutoro ($14) failed to melt in my mouth, the hamachi ($7) was a little fiberous (yes, I know!) and the hotategai ($6), ikura ($8) and sake ($6) were just okay. Best of the lot was the aji ($6), creamy and sweet, enhanced with just that bit of grated ginger, spring onion garnish, and a dab of soy sauce. To be fair, the fish was as fresh as a new shipment could be; we witnessed the arrival of a white treasure cove and the immediate preparation by the chefs behind the counter (hence the frenzy).

Though not thoroughly full, I could not bring myself to order any more, lest I be even more disappointed. Maybe it was the distraction caused by the new shipment but in any case, I concluded Sushi Yoshida would remain better as a lunch venue. But I did make friends with the chef's wife and again, had the good company of like-minded friends as always.