Dog eat dog world

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Morton's of Chicago @ The Oriental

Our spread at Morton's...

As a meat lover who absolutely loves her steaks, this is one place that i have always wanted to try. And I finally got to last night. Ck was in town for the weekend and we decided we will have something really special. Special meaning this is by far the most expensive dinner I have ever eaten in my life (!) with the steak alone costing a whopping $86 +++ (note that price doesn't come with any sides) and you got to experience real impeccable service.

We were greeted warmly when we walked in to the restaurant located at the 4th floor of the oriental hotel and I was surprised by the bustling atmosphere inside the restaurant. For the kind of moolah this restaurant charges, i thought the ambience would be more sedate and formal. Nevertheless, we were ushered to our seats and were promptly given the drinks list.

Dinner commenced with their signature onion loaf seen above. Look at the massive size, i swear it's like a bowling ball. Anyway the loaf went really well with the butter with its subtle onion aroma and light crust. I was tempted to have more but stopped myself from becoming too stuffed as the servings at Morton's were well known to be huge.

CK ordered a martini to start off while I went with a very nice Chardonnay. Meanwhile, Tina, our server came by with the well known 5 minute talk through on Morton's offerings. We were shown a 'collection' of steaks, ALL raw, and taken through the different cuts.. from its famous double porterhouse cut to the bone in ribeye to the double cut filet mignon, etc. We were also introduced to the non-steak items such as yellowfin tuna, salmon and maine lobster.

Eventually we settled on the following items:
1) A bone in ribeye steak, done medium rare
2) A double cut filet mignon, done medium rare
3) Sauteed wild mushrooms
4) Fresh brocolli with hollandaise sauce
5) Jumbo crab cake as appetizer
6) Molten chocolate cake for dessert
7) Additional 2 glasses of reds to go with the meat

This is our appetizer which was pretty good. Real fresh crab meat and roe were used to make this. The flavours were brought out beuatifullly with some added lemon zest on the side. So much so that CK craved for a taste of some fresh oysters. The two would have complemented each other very well.

Moving on, our steaks arrived and boy was it massive! Above is the double cut filet mignon which was excellent. It was like tataki in steak form. It was succulent, tender, aromatic, flavourful..... perfect. It was very very good. I told CK that perhaps if the steaks were charred it would have been even better and CK thought so too. So when one of the managers walked by to check on us, we casually mentioned the steaks were good but could have even be better if it were charred.

The excellent service meant that our steaks were promptly taken away from us and sent back to the grill to be charred. It was like done immediately so we didn't have to wait long at all. In fact when the steak returned perfectly charred, with no effect on my doneness of the meat, I was duly impressed with the speed and quality of the remarkable service and understanding of their product.

While the charred quality worked wonders for my filet mignon, it kinda brought down CK's ribeye slightly as for his steak, it seemed to make the steak much more chewy with the strong charred taste being a tad too overpowering. But not to say the least, both were still excellent in their own right.

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A very nice place for a chit chat

Brussel Sprouts at Robertson Quay. I was here last Saturday night with my girlfriend F for some girly chit chat and drinks. You might have seen its owner, the very blonde Emmanuel Stroobant, on TV before. Some show called Chef in Black or something.

Anyway, this guy's Belgium so Brussel Sprouts is kinda like a belgium restaurant/bar with an emphasis on beer and posh finger food. Over 50 kinds of beer are available here and some are really fancy with exotic flavours and all.

To make things easy for myself, I went straight for beer on tap. Pictured here is the Leffe Blonde, which is what I ordered. Nice to drink but for some reason i was yearning for an Erdinger instead. F ordered something recommended by the waitress, which was a nice crisp beer with a zesty aftertaste, the name I cant pronounce very well.

I mentioned posh finger food. Well the highlight of the menu is actually the norwegian mussels cooked in a variety of styles. I stared at the some (8-10?) styles of cooking and eventually settled for the no-brainer, the house special. The house special listed onions, white wine, butter, cracked black pepper, parsley etc ... all of which very much agreed with me.

The mussels arrived with the promised free flow hot chips with aioli sauce and we quickly tucked in. It was very very tasty. The mussels were juicy and the sauce light and aromatic. The chips came piping hot and went terrific with the beer. It was so good that I downed my Leffe almost too quikly and ordered another Stella Artois to go with the rest of the chips. Hahah.

Anyway I must say I really enjoyed sitting outside, chit chatting over a beer here. This place makes for some good coversation. I'll be back real soon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bangkok was wonderful

I joined CK in BKK for a really crazy weekend filled with loads food and shopping - and came back smiling from ear to ear!

First up, I touched down, met up with V (one of my friends who also happened to be in BKK) and headed straight to meet up with CK. Thereafter, we went to Chinatown for the standard seafood dinner which was as expected, v good. V then left to return to his hotel while me and CK hung around Chinatown a bit more to have coffee. We came across this Kaya roti man just across the street and ordered a soft bun. It was very good and seemed different from the accustomed Ya Kun taste (if you know what I mean). What's interesting is that this guy uses his tongs to created a constant clatter while toasting bread.

We took the non breakfast option when we booked our hotel as it would set us back by 300 bht person, which is a pretty high price when you figure its mostly bread and cereal. I think we would rather enjoy breakfast at one of the lovely stalls at Chatuchak on saturday morning. So this was what we ended up having.

Nice and full of innards (my favourite) but a tad too sweet. Hmmm, I told Ck we should go back to that nice 'boat noodle' stall I visited on my last trip in March. But as you know in Chatuchak, it is virtually impossible to look for a particular stall. It's like 'needle in the ocean'. But we were very lucky. We managed to find it. And not just that, it had expanded to the unit next door and this new section boasted cute chandeliers and fancy tables. But the point is that CK tried the noodles here and agreed taste-wise it was one of the best.

From Chatuchak, we rushed back to enjoy a 2.5 hour spa treatment near our hotel. The treatment consisted of an organic body scrub and aromatherapy massage. It rained heavily on our way back to the hotel and was so bad we had to hail a cab to reach the spa. The annoying thing was that it was just a turn away from our hotel!

(Erm in case you are wondering why i look so 'dry' in this picture, this picture was taken in the morning when we went to book our treatments)

This is the front door to our spa. It's quite cool isn't it? The door really is round and when you open it, it comes out full circle. Abit on the spa experience, it's decently priced at 1750 bht for a 2.5 hour treatment. But how good your treatment is depends on your masseuse. I got a much better one as compared to CK. He was so pissed with his masseuse he really didn't want to give her a token tip, but oh well, he relented in the end.

Anyway for dinner tonight, we had planned to enjoy something really special. READ: Expensive. So we settled on French food since I never really had real french food before. The restaurant we went to is called Philippe Restaurant, located on Sukhumvit soi 39.

Strongly recommended by the dark suited Thai restaurant manager, we started with (1) an appetizer of duck foie gras stuffed in home-made pasta, accompanied by with a delightful truffle reduction; and (2) a classic lobster bisque.

Duck foie gras pasta

I will go on and describe the duck liver pasta appetizer. Ok here goes... this is like one of my most memorable pasta dishes I have ever eaten. Truly a perfect matrimony of taste, texture, sensation and smell. The smoothest, creamiest duck liver lovingly encased in freshly made pasta, shaped like a rectangle. Take a bite and the foie gras melts on the tongue, at the same time interacting with the wonderful truffle flavours from the sauce. The pasta itself was very fresh, cooked al dente. Providing an excellent textural balance to the creaminess of the duck liver. I am in heaven.

Lobster bisque

Above is the lobster bisque. I feel it exemplifies the essence of French cooking: the complexity of simplicity. It's like how difficult it is to make a good cup of coffee, or to fry a perfect plate of char kway teow. It's simple, but so hard to achieve excellence. Well, the lobster bisque was just that. This one really impressed me. It was creamy without coming across as cheap. It has the right amount of lobster flavours without any of the 'fishyness'. The taste was subtle yet flavourful. Superb.

Next came our mains. CK ordered a roasted veal dish with foie gras sauce (done medium rare) while I had the grilled tenderloin with some kind of black pepper and cafe de paris butter sauce (medium rare too).

Roasted veal

This was the veal which was good but still not as good as my tenderloin. For me, I always refrain from ordering veal as I feel it lacks a strong beefy taste. The veal was rightly done and the foie gras sauce was very very nice but overall my main still outshone the veal.

Grilled tenderloin. Yum.

Ok now for my main. I give it 10/10 for the doneness of the meat. It was spot on. I loveee my beef done this way. All pinky raw in the centre with the outside scorched perfectly for the right amount of smokey grilled taste. The only bad thing I can think of is that this is prolly Aussie beef. If it had been US or Japanese beef for that matter, a stronger beefy fatty taste would have lifted the dish up even more. But still, all in all, I totally enjoyed this. Also, an added bonus was that the accompanying asparagus and grilled tomato were extremely fresh.

While i have no basis for comparison, this being my 'first' visit to a french restaurant, Philippe exceeded my expectations at all levels. The duck liver pasta was a real star.

Just a bit on info on where I put up at this time. I stayed at Le Fenix Sukhumvit at Soi 11. A new boutique hotel that is groovy in design but poor in finishing ( looks like a rushed job when you look closely). What stood out was the location of this hotel. Soi 11 is home to Bed Supperclub and Q bar, 2 of Bangkok's hottest nightspots. This time round, I had no problem with cab drivers not knowing where my hotel is. All I have to do is tell them to head to Q bar and my hotel is right opposite. Tried and tested, every taxi or tuk tuk for that matter, KNOWS where is Q bar.

Here are some photos of the hotel.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Chiang Mai Feb'07

This is a somewhat backdated post but I felt it was quite necessary to talk about this really fabulous burger joint I happened to eat at while in Chiang Mai.

I was in Chiang Mai for a couple of days earlier this February with CK and his parents and it was a really nice, laid back trip. I enjoyed myself immensely. Other than the nice weather (22 deg in the day, 15-17 deg at night), a very memorable Elephant trek cum day trip and the beautiful handicraft available at the famous Night Bazaar, there were some pretty good stuff I ate too.

Yummy Mike's Hamburger

Most notably, was Mike's Hamburger, a stand that is located on the corner of Chaiyapoom Road and Chang Moi Road along the east side of the moat. We ordered a bacon cheeseburger and it was really what a hamburger should look like: Massive chow that is sinful down to every bite. Every burger comes with one gigantic onion ring, another item they claim to be famous for. It was really good, in fact one of the best burgers I've ever tasted. There are pork burgers to be found too.

A very famous restaurant in Chiang Mai which most, if not all, locals here are familiar with is Huen Phen. A northern thai restaurant, this place is famous for the local noodle dish of Khao Soi. Basically curry noodles with half the noodles in gravy, topped with the fried version of the same noodles. The Khao Soi here has a fragrant curry taste that needed no additional flavouring (a bad habit of mine is to always add-on to flavouring) so that speaks volumes.

Spot the 'fish curry''s on the LHS plate with the pandan leaf hidden behind the Khao Soi

One thing I must mention is that the Northen Thai taste was nothing like the sweet, sour, spicy taste we expect of Thai food. To be honest, it always veered on strong, pungent and at times just plain weird. Just to give you an example, we ordered a dish of 'fish curry' from Huen Phen but instead of fish arriving steaming hot in a bowl of gravy, the fish was actually pan fried and covered in a dry curry paste!! But if there was one thing I like about Northen Thai food, it is the fact that sticky rice is the rice of choice. I agree sticky rice went better with local dishes as it brought out the flavour well. Nice to eat on its own too.

Well back to something more familiar to us, I sampled a very delicious Orh Luak and Carrot Cake at one of the day markets. The Orh Luak was nicer than the carrot cake and to my surprise, many people in Chiang Mai spoke Teochew!

As for the market, Chiang Mai indeed has some very fascinating markets that could easily rival Fremantle market or Queen Victoria Market. So if you are looking for a 2-3 day trip with a laid back itinerary, do visit Chiang Mai. I like the overall vibe. It's really very very relaxing.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Big Day Out

Grover had a fabulous day chilling out at East Coast today with his new found friend Mocha.

He even carried his own bag! Kekeke...

Well, actually the main event of the day was to bring Mocha for her jab at the vet. Afterwhich, to cut the long story short, 3 of us - me, F and V - and the doggies went to East Coast Park for a lovely afternoon stroll. We landed an 'unplanned' major makan session.

I am very proud to say I stay in the East. It is somewhere I believe all great hawker food come from. East Coast Lagoon Hawker Centre is definitely one of my top favourites for quality hawker fare (the other being Bedok blk 85 Hawker Centre). What's more, the ambience here is fantastic whether you come here for a late weekend afternoon tunch or for a midnight supper rampage - it's all good. Always good.

We lurrveee Cheok Kee Duck Rice here. Tender braised duck on top perfectly cooked grains coated in dark soy, drenched in thick flavourful gravy. Highly recommended to be enjoyed with a side order of our favourite duck liver.

The popiah here is always delicious too. I was ordering popiah a few stalls down from the very famous Lagoon Leng Kee Beef Kway Teow when I saw it had no queue! Immediately I jumped at the chance to sample its goods. Many a time I came here for supper I had given up coz the queue was simply way too ridiculous. Anyway, I ordered the default Mixed beef Kway teow soup and this shit is really good! I mean, damn bloody nice loh... I have since gotten recurring cravings for the ultra tender beef, light soupy taste and it's QQ kway teow texture...

And if you are in the mood for some satay, make a beeline for Haron Satay (stall 55). It's my stall of choice. My other 2 friends haven't had satay from this stall before so I ordered 15 sticks for us. And they can't get over the fact that this is way tastier and juicier than most satay. The mutton here is especially excellent.

We didn't have this coz the stall wasn't opened yet but never miss the satay bee hoon. There is only one stall and loads people queue up for this. It's worth the wait. If you have Malaysian friends, do bring them here to try this. This is one dish that is totally, 100% unique to Singapore.

Are you hungry yet?

Wagyu Beef Sashimi @ Kazu

Me and CK were back at Kazu again recently. This time we were there coz CK had promised to treat his aunt on her birthday at Kazu.

I don't wish to bore by going into detail what we had stick-by-stick. But here's a lovely picture of the lovely cold appetizer we ordered. My only complain was that these came out slightly too frozen, such that when the beef touched the tongue, there was a delayed action in the 'melting fat' sensation! Other than that, it was as good as it looks, with the luscious fat slithering over my tastebuds as I popped one of these babies into my mouth and unleased the canivore in me.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Marutama Ramen

There is a ramen craze happening in Singapore now as evidenced by the number of new ramen joints sprouting all over the island. The one with the longest queues and most media hype happens to be Marutama Ramen.

I tried it the other day with 2 of my friends and was torn between 2 choices. The first one was the basic option of Marutama Ramen with an extra order of egg and the other was for the Aka Ramen, its broth boiled from 7 different kind of nuts. It has a pale orangey hue and comes with small chicken balls floating in the soup. There was also generous sprinkling of coriander, my favourite garnish. Lastly, it is served with a wedge of lemon.

I thought the ramen was ok only. The broth was not as nutty as I would expect. Also, I thought the lemon was a bad idea as the zangy kick it gave to the broth did not do much for its taste. The noodles also went soggy quite quickly and soon halfway into the bowl, I was reminded of Fei Fei Wanton mee (not one of my favourite things). I heaped on a whole load of garlic chips which helped lift the dish up immensely. Nevertheless at $15, I opt to finish every drop.

I got a taste of my friend's Marutama Ramen and thought the broth to be far tastier than mine. I may come back for this just to give it a second chance. Other than that, I thought the noodle at Miharu was by far springier and tastier.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Adventures in Bangkok

This trip happened amid the bomb scares in Bangkok and I am thankful my family came back safe and sound.
As usual, I went to Thailand with 3 things in mind:

1) Eat.
2) Massage.
3) Stock up on underwear

We touched down in the evening at the new airport and took a cab into Sukhumvit where our hotel was located. As if it was a premonition of our luck with BKK cabbies to come, our first taxi ride in BKK was a disaster. Our cab driver actually did not know his way to Sukhumvit! Can you believe we took over an hour to get to our hotel? And the whole time, the fella was on the phone with some operator trying to give him directions!

After an hour on the road, we FINALLY checked in and headed to Chinatown for dinner. Those who have been to BKK would know that there were 2 main restaurants in BKK, one occupying either side of the road recognisable by their T-shirt colour. One's red and the other's green. This time we went to the green one.

Not bad at all. Fresh and delicious, the oyster omelette was superb, as was a dish of giant prawns in milky broth I ordered. It was really cheap too. Just over a thousand baht per person!

Boat Noodle Stall. Check out the pork fat crisps at the side!

The next day we went to Chatuchak market and as expected, it was a feast for not just the senses, but the taste buds as well! I must point out that while I am generally impressed, or even in love, with thai styled pork or beef noodles, this one I tried at Chatuchak - curiously named "Boat Noodles" - was really fab! There was also a wonderful option of ordering a small bowl of those yummy pork fat crisps as a snack or to embellish the noodles further.

While the perils of staying at a relatively "unknown" hotel was frustration with cabs, the good part was that Sukhumvit was home to a number of very authentic Japanese restaurants. (Did you know that Thailand has the biggest number of overseas Japanese?)
We ate at a very nice jappy place called Niigata Restaurant at the road outside our hotel.

And this is my sister's lovely Hamburger steak. Yummy.

Now if you plan to have a special meal in BKK. Please try to catch a meal at Zanotti Restaurant in Silom. Here, I had one of the best pizzas and bruschetta. The pizza was really thin and flavourful. The aroma of the cheese tempting you to quickly savour it. The bruschetta was also exceptional. Topped with very fresh tomatoes, the overall taste was deliciously light and simple. For dessert, try the tiramisu, which was above average with its creamy yet fluffy texture.

Come eat me!

Bruschettas. Fresh and sweet!

I really think Zanotti is a must-visit in BKK. If not for the food, the lovely romantic ambience and cute yellow mustard walls will make your day too.