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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bussorah Street Bazaar - Mini Otah-Otah

So I recently dropped by the Bussorah Street Bazaar Ramadhan to see how it was this year.
Firstly, it's smaller. Secondly, it's shifted slightly. It's no longer along the same stretch on the Kandahar/Bussorah main road this year. It's actually shifted onto the pathway along Sultan Mosque itself known as Muscat Street.

It's a pretty packed environment truth be told. Just a narrow lane with stalls flanking each side.
Most of them are selling pretty much the same thing. You've got your lauk-pauk to go along with your rice. Kebabs are always around just like the burger stalls. There are some shops selling your kuih-muih Melayu (although classic favourites like Bubur Som-Som and Kuih Jongkong seemed to be missing. Or maybe I was too early/late). Some unique stalls selling Naan and even one selling Bosnian food are there.

There was one stall that did catch my eye though.

Mini Otah-Otah (5 for $2.00)

There was this guy slaving over an electric grill with what seemed like otah-otah.
Really really small otah-otah.

I'm actually a sucker for otah-otah believe it or not so how could I possible resist this.
I'm definitely used to seeing the normal otah-otah around and quite a lot of different variations nowadays but this was actually the first time I was seeing the Mini variety.

You may see this guys working hard to grill the otah-otah.

I didn't get a chance to ask his name because he seemed so busy but I'm going to call him 'Guy Smiley'. Why? Because the guys was smiling all the time! And to me that was a real plus point.

He would literally look you in the eye and give you this wide smile which was really inviting and said to me "Come try my otah-otah bro!" And so I did.

And yes yes I know. The lady besides him looks like she's making the hand signal for money.

Don't be fooled by the small size of the otah-otah - it still packs a punch!

The otah itself does not contain too much flour (like some of the others you might get nowadays) nor does it have too much coconut in it. Just the right mix if you ask me but my darling wife doesn't really fancy the coconut aspect of the otah-otah. But we both agree it also manages to be a bit on the spicy side!

And I took a photograph but it wasn't really clear - there are some pretty considerable chunks of fish you might find in your otah-otah. This definitely gives it a nice texture with some bite rather than your average flat red otah-otah which may be tasty but does tend to be a bit... lembik if you know what I mean.

Adam's Verdict:
Mini Otah-Otah 4/5

Maryah's Verdict:
Mini Otah-Otah 3/5

This shop also sells Pau Johor if you want to try it.
But I definitely recommend the Mini Otah-Otah. Please buy me some too okay! 

Anjung Otah-Otah Mini / Pau Johor

Bussorah Street Ramadhan Food Fest 2012
Bussirah Mall/Muscat Street

Operating Hours: 3.00pn til 8.00pm (21 July til 17 August)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bazaar Geylang - Peking Duck

Peking Duck ($5.00)

So my old classmate Sharil commented to me "Eh Adam I wanna eat Peking Duck got or not halal one?".
Okay so maybe he didn't say it EXACTLY like that.

So I did some research and guess what?
I could not find a single place in Singapore that sells Halal Peking Duck.
Roasted duck - yes. Peking Duck - no.

But behold! I came across it! Just as I remember it from last year!
Okay so maybe it's not the real thing but it comes close enough I guess...
And as you can see from the picture above, it actually doesn't look that bad.

The original version of Peking Duck sees a duck roasted til the skin is crispy while the meat remains tender and juicy. It is then dipped in several sauces (ie soy and garlic sauces) before being wrapped in a thin flour pancake with some cucumber and a sweet bean sauce.

The version above may not be the Real McCoy but trust me it's actually not that bad.

I spoke to the guy who's peddling the stuff (see him smiling?).
Apparently you'll only get to buy this stuff during Bazaar Geylang because they don't have a physical shop anywhere else. He also said they set-up sometimes at certain pasar malams but I'll be honest with you I have never seen this at any pasar malam.

They are actually a Halal roasted duck supplier so I guess their duck must be pretty good.
They are also selling Takopachi balls at a connected stall but I'm just here for the duck!

So the roasted duck slice is wrapped in a flour pancake.
The pancake looks slightly thicker than what I see in those Food Network shows that feature the original Peking Duck but I guess it's not so bad. There's not much taste to it anyways.

The roasted duck slick itself is actually pretty good.
It's missing the crispy skin but it's very tender and it's actually a pretty thick slice.
The thing about duck is that you have to clean and cook it properly or else it'll still have that gamey 'ducky' smell/taste but this duck is definitely well roasted.

I didn't get any unpleasant taste when I bit into it but then again it could be because of the sauce.
It's not an original sweet bean sauce but it's actually Hoisin sauce which is fine because Hoisin sauce is sometimes used in the original Peking Duck.
But it's definitely a sweet sauce. It's actually tastes close to the sweet sauce when you eat Yong Tau Foo.

Adam's Verdict:
Peking Duck 3/5

You get 6 rolls for $5.
This may actually be considered quite pricey but then again you can't really get this anywhere else.
It may not be the original Peking Duck but I guess it comes close enough to try.
So unless you wanna buy the roasted duck and try making it yourself - give it a try.

 Halal Itik Panggang

Geylang Bazaar
(Near Haig Road Banquet)

Operating Hours: 2.00pm - 11.30pm

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tampines Bazaar Ramadhan

I'm sure many of you east-siders know of the famous 'bazaar bawah blok' in Tampines right?

It used to be situated at Blk 942 just before the Tampines Stadium junction) and there was always traffic congestion in the late afternoons because people would park and wait at the bus stop at the side of the road just to rush in and get some food.

Well I'm afraid the bad news is that there is no more bazaar there this year.

But my darling wife and I decided to go check out a lead and found out that it has now shifted to a different location in Tampines!

It's now been shifted to Blk 301 Tampines Street 32 (like duh as seen above).
This is just across the road from Tampines East CC (the big green one) and at the same junction where you turn in at Ngee Ann Secondary School to get to Tampines Mart.

Well you've still got your usual mix of stall but most of them selling the same thing.

I think at least half of the stall were selling all the lauk-pauk for you to enjoy with rice.
I saw a Kebab stall. I saw a couple of stalls selling burgers. And a lot of stall selling kuih-muih.

The one major stall that was missing seems to be the stall that sells 'Bee Hoon Briyani'.
When the bazaar at Blk 942 was still around, I remember the biggest crowd would be for this Bee Hoon Briyani and it would sell out the fastest as well.

So if you're looking for Bee Hoon Briyani you might wanna head down to Bussorah Street instead.

Two more things I simply have to point out.

1 - The parking is going to be hell.
2 - The block is not as spacious as Blk 942. So prepare for the situation as shown below

Bazaar Ramdhan

Void deck of Blk 301 Tampines Street 32
Operating Hours: 3.00pm - 7.00pm daily (21 July - 17 August)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mad Jack

I never really had a good impression of Mad Jack.
It had a reputation of being a good place to get some decent food at a good price (where have I heard that one before eh...).

I went there a few years ago with my Dad and his steak came out raw.
That's right. Not even rare. But RAW. (And no it was not Monday Night).
But I must say that the service was top notch then. My dad pointed out the steak to the waiter and they didn't just take it back to the kitchen to further cook the same piece of meat but served a brand new cut of steak. Now that was definitely impressive.

And now after so long we finally decided to give Mad Jack a try because we had a hankering for some western food and Botak Jones was a no-no.

Blue Mountain Beef Burger ($8.90)

So the Blue Mountain Burger boasts itself being the "Tallest Burger in Town".
The one I ordered above is only the 3-tier one. For those really really really hungry people out there - they also have a 5-tier option.

So it consists of 3 self-made beef patties, a pineapple ring, a slice of tomato, cheese, lettuce and some mayonnaise between 2 buns. And they serve it with some french fries. Seriously.
I just read out to you ALL the components which you can verify from the picture above.
Seems a bit simple yes?

Firstly let me start with the patties.
They are definitely made with a good quality beef which is quite flavourful.
You can tell they make their own patties when you get chunks of onion and strips of carrot in each bite.

The patty itself may be respectable but I'm afraid the cooking of the patty is not.
The cooking was thoroughly inconsistent for my burger.
The top patty was just barely at the point of medium-well done with the middle of the patty being the rarest part. The center patty was the most well-cooked patty between the 3. It was juicy and still packed a great beefy flavour. The patty on the bottom was overcooked on the outside but completely rare on the inside.

I'm not sure what the aim of the cook was.
Was he trying to give me 3 different varieties of patty so I could try them all out?
Did he cook the patty at completely different ends of the grill hence the varying temperatures?

I guess for that price I should not be complaining right?
I know this is not the kind of place where the maitre'd is going to ask how well I would like my burger meat to be cooked but if he's not going to ask then the least the cook can do is make sure the patties are cooked thoroughly.

And another thing to note - there's no way you can pick this burger up and chomp down.
You're gonna have to deconstruct each layer so you end up eating the patties separately.
And because the ingredients are individual (ie pineapple at the top, mayonaise only on the bottom etc) you might get the feeling that you're eating 3 different types of burgers.

 Chicken Chop with Black Pepper Sauce ($8.90)

So my darling wife had the lesser of two evils - The Chicken Chop.

I took a bite and I have to say the sauce was actually very peppery. But nothing to grind about.
My wife says it's very tender and not too bad.

We also paid an additional $9 to add the Soup of the Day, the Dessert of the Day and a glass of Pepsi.

 Mushroom Soup

This mushroom soup was definitely made from scratch. It definitely is not the instant type.
Unfortunately it's also not the delicious type.
The do have minced mushrooms in there somewhere but a little too much cream makes it tastes like a bowl of mushroom-infused milk. Prepare to add your own salt and plenty of pepper.

Black Forest Cake

Mad Jack isn't really the first name that comes to mind when you think of cakes.
And we found out why.

Mad Jack actually has a wide variety of cakes to offer including Apple Pie, Banana Chocolate and Black Forest which happened to be the Dessert of the Day and it's served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream with chocolate sauce drizzled all over.

Okay okay I'm not going to say so much about the cake because there really isn't much to say.
Simply put, it wasn't the best Black Forest Cake I'd ever had.
But I will say this - they served it on a teacup saucer. An actual teacup saucer.

Adam's Verdict:
Blue Mountain Burger 2/5 -- Mushroom Soup 2/5 -- Black Forest Cake 2/5

Maryah's Verdict:
Chicken Chop 2.5/5 -- Mushroom Soup 1/5 -- Black Forest Cake 0/5

Let me end by saying the service was still impeccable.
The staff were attentive and helpful as they were on my last visit all those years ago.
Hopefully they will still be as helpful when I next visit in a few years down the road.


Mad Jack

304 Bedok Road, The Market Place (Simpang Bedok)
Tel: 6445 8168

 Operating Hours: 11.30am – 12 midnight daily

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dapur Penyet

So Gwen hands me a leaflet in the office and it seems there's a joint claiming to offer the "Real Penyet Cuisine"... Hmmmm...
Definitely something worth checking out yes?

Dapur Penyet claims to be the "pioneer of Ayam Penyet for Singapore in 2004".
Kinda weird because it's not really a name that comes to mind when someone mentions "Ayam Penyet" to be honest. But such a claim must surely not come without some serious conviction am I right?

So the leaflet shows 6 locations (Tiong Bahru, Causeway Point, Toa Payoh, GIANT Tampines, Orchard Cineleisure and AMK Hub). It also makes reference to an outlet as East Coast but weirdly no address is listed. (But fret not, it seems that that particular outlet is along East Coast Road.)

It's also worth noting that all the outlets are actually situated within food courts.

So the wife and myself dropped by GIANT Tampines with the specific intention of checking out this "pioneer" of Ayam Penyet and see if it lives up to the title.

Nasi Ayam Penyet ($5.90)

So the wife had the Nasi Ayam Penyet.
Firstly, let me point out that the rice served is the normal white rice which is actually the authentic way to serve it with Ayam Penyet.

I personally prefer to have the type of rice they serve with normal chicken rice.
Not very authentic I'll admit and definitely a very Singaporean touch (which is why I always seem to head to Sri Bistari for my ayam penyet fix most of the time).

Many migt tell you that the best and most authentic Nasi Ayam Penyet you can get is from Ayam Penyet Ria (which I am yet to officially review) and they do serve plain white rice.
So I guess for you 'authentic' Penyet lovers, you can be happy they do the same here.

Next up would be the chicken itself. And I'm afraid the news is not good.

The chicken itself was tender and fried well I guess.
But the batter coating the chicken itself was nothing impressive.
In fact I'm willing to go as far as to say that it was bland and really sucked. It really reminded me of the same bad coating you might get when you buy lousy goreng pisang.

And because this is the same stuff that makes up the 'kremes' aka the crispy crumbs, I'm afraid the crumbs suffer the same sucky fate as well.

But surely the sambal rocked right?

The sambal was very very spicy. But unfortunately it was spicy without much taste.
Rather than try and mix up something tasty that will not just set your mouth on fire but at the same time enhance the overall flavour of the dish, they decided to throw as many chillies into the sambal as possible to make you reach for water and somehow forgot the part about enhancing the flavour.

Empal Penyet ($6.90)

I decided to have the Empal Penyet instead because you know I love me some red meat.
Well I saw red alright.

Please do not be fooled by my excellent photography skills.
Those 2 pieces of meat are not as big as they seem. They were each about as big as the palm of my hand.
And instead of penyet-ing them after frying, they obviously penyet-ed the meat before cooking so you get 2 nice, small, flat pieces of beef.

Again nothing to applaud in the taste department.
The meat was hardly seasoned and more of the lousy goreng pisang batter made it worse.
It just tasted like oil.

As an additional side dish I actually wanted to order the Bakso Penyet (which is actually just batter-fired beef balls) just to see if it tasted as good as it looked in the picture but unfortunately it was sold-out (a blessing in disguise??)

So instead, I ordered another Indonesian favourite - Siomay

Siomay Bandung ($4.90)

This is actually very similar to Gado-Gado.
It's got fried potato, cabbage and tofu and it's covered in peanut gravy.

The actual Siomay part is a fish cake (inspired by the Chinese Siew Mai).

I'd actually never tried Siomay before despite hearing about it a few times and even a foiled attempt at trying it in Bali once.

It's quite a simple thing made out of fish mean and flour blended together and then steamed to make the fish cake.
For this dish it's cut quite thickly and actually looks like lontong (rice cakes) until you actually bite into it.

In this particular case however it does have a bit too much flour in it so when you bit into it you might actually think you were biting into fish-flavoured lontong.

But I guess for a first try it wasn't so bad.
I am hoping I get to try this dish again if I ever go back to Indonesia and then I'll get the chance to see if the stuff they serv here is anywhere close to the real deal that originated over there.

Adam's Verdict:
Ayam Penyet 2/5 -- Empal Penyet 2/5 -- Siomay Bandung 3/5

Maryah's Verdict:
Ayam Penyet 1.5/5 -- Siomay Bandung 2/5

There are actually a few other things on the menu that I wouldn't mind going back to try.
The Bakso and Iga (Ribs) are definitely on the list and their roasted items (Ayam Bakar and Empal Bakar) might do better than their fried counterparts maybe?

Dapur Penyet

GIANT Tampines
21 Tampines North Drive 2
3rd Level, Stall No 03

Operating Hours:
10.30am - 9.00pm

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Charco's - Beef Ribs

A couple of years ago, we were introduced to Charco's.
Situated in AMK at the time, the draw of this place was that it served authentic BBQ Ribs and a special Roast Chicken at an affordable price.

However, the ribs were Lamb Ribs.
When we tried it a few years ago as a Father's Day treat, there seemed to be more fat than meat on the ribs.
Firstly, we're talking lamb ribs so automatically the size is smaller and the on top of that the fat outweighs anything else of the plate. So I wasn't really impressed with the whole thing.

So recently I'm told that Charco's is now serving Beef Ribs as well so obviously I have to check it out right?
The only way we could get Beef Ribs is when we go to KL and makan at Hard Rock, Tony Roma's or Chilli's but it looks like finally we might have it right here!

And to make it even better - Charco's has relocated to Marine Parade!

The one thing that they still have is their Salad Bar.

So you have a choice of Caesar's, Seafood, Tuna Pasta, Egg, Greek, Potato, Chicken Avocado or good ol' Coleslaw.

You can get it ala carte at in either 2 or 3 salad choices on a platter in Regular or Large Sizes. (Between $5.70 to $8.80 depending in your choice of salad)

Or you could buy a meal when you order your meats which come with a choice of salads which may be more worth it in the end.

You'll see what I mean in awhile.

All this talk of salad alone is making me hungry.
Bring on the meat!

Beef Ribs + 3 Salad Choice ($16.90)

Beef Ribs Creme Meal ($16.10)

Okay maybe a bit more suspense.
A little bit more info on the side dishes first okay?

So my darling wife decided to choose Caeser's salad, Egg Salad and Coleslaw.
I have to say this - the Egg Salad was THE BOMB!!

On my plate you can see some peas (which were surprisingly tasty!!) and Charco's 'famous' Creme Potato.
It's basically potatoes in cream with some chilli powder sprinkled over it.
And I remember it being bloody delicious from our previous visit to the AMK branch all those years ago so I thought it would be a good idea to get an extra serving of veggies.

Veggies Plate ($7.00)

More peas and more Creme Potato.
Add in a Corn-on-the-Cob and some roasted potatoes and you have a healthy add-on side dish!
But to be honest the Creme Potatoes seems to have lost their magic. I remember they used to be slice a lot thinner which seems to make a difference. Or may it was just Potato Overload.

Okay okay enough about the vegetables and the side dishes.
Let's get down to business and talk about the actual ribs.

Actually the reason I've been putting off talking about the ribs is because I'm in a bit of a quandary.
After tasting it ourselves and then later checking with my brother how it was when they had his meal there (my brother and his wife were the ones who alerted me to the Beef Ribs), I think I'm going to find it very difficult to come to a conclusion on this one.

These were the ribs served on my wife's plate.
See the one on the left and compare it the one on the right. This is important.

Taste-wise I have to say that the ribs were delicious.
They had the nice smoky taste and the BBQ sauce was excellent. Not too strong at all.
But the next part is the problem.

The rib on the left was perfect apparently.
Nice. Juicy. Tender. Fell off the bone when you pulled it with your fork. Sounds like a delicious Beef Rib!
But the one on the right...

The rib on the right (aka The Right Rib) was a different story altogether.
It was on the tough side. You really had to use your knife and put some elbow into it.
Taste was still there. But definitely not as tender as the one on the left. An obvious case of overcooking the meat which caused it to dry out.

And the photo at top of the post?
Those were the ribs on my plate and you can see they look exactly like The Right Rib on my wife's plate so that means I got all dried-out ribs.

As you can see - on the left it looks juicy and delicious but on the right it's dry and stringy.
And I was quite disappointed actually. It was a waste of meat. Bad enough we didn't have much choices in SG and it turned out that the one place we found was serving dried-out meat.

And then I called my brother and asked him about his experience about a week ago and he claims that ALL of the ribs they got were tender and juicy!!
Hmmmm.... so this could either be a case of inconsistent cooking or my bad luck I got the wrong ribs...

Well it looks like we'll probably have make another trip to Charco's to test our theory and decide once and for all if this is the real deal for Halal ribs.

Oh and by the way. Just  few more notes.

Charco's has quite an extensive menu for the whole family. You have chicken, beef, lamb and fish in dishes ranging from kebabs to rolls, served with veggies or rice and even a kids menu.
(One of the items I'm gonna try next time is the Schnitzel!)

But one item I'd actually advise you to avoid is the Mushroom Soup.

Soup of The Day - Mushroom Soup ($3.50)

Looks delicious I know but it's not that great.
It's actually the instant powder type (not even Campbell's lor) and they make some modifications.
I'm not saying it's terrible but if you're the type (like me) who expect to have a proper fresh made mushroom soup then you should give this a miss. The $3.50 price tag compounds my decision to advise you to avoid.

For those of you who are curious, that's the Charco's Portuguese Chicken.

They actually have two types;
The Herb Chicken which is milder I guess and the Portuguese Chicken which is more robust in flavour and spicier by the looks of it.

You can order 1/4, 1/2 or a whole chicken and as usual you have a choice of the side dishes you wanna pair it with.

Unfortunately we didn't order it this time so we can't give you a proper review but Fadhilla and Aziz Rai say it's juicy and tender and pretty worth the money. 1/4 Chicken with 3 Salads will cost you $11.00.

Charco's also offers Family Feasts which gives you a helluva lot of food for a helluva lot of people so you might wanna check it out if you're gonna have a family reunion there soon.

Adam's Verdict:
Beef Ribs 3/5 -- Salads 3.5/5 -- Creme Potato 2.5/5 -- Mushroom Soup 1/5

Maryah's Verdict:
Beef Ribs 2/5 -- Salads ?2/5 -- Creme Potato 3.5/5 -- Mushroom Soup 3/5

Don't worry Charco's. I promise to return soon and try your ribs again.
Let's see if you can give me some consistency the next time and not a slab of dry meat.


Blk 80 Marine Parade Central
Tel: 6455 3711

Operating Hours: 11.00am til 10.00pm Daily