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Prince Coffee House

22 May

Recently I’ve had a few batches of friends visit me in Singapore…and they all asked me the same question: Where can I get good local food? Honestly, I’m not much of a local fare girl. I’m not into laksa or chicken rice or mee siam, and the only local fare I like is probably bak kut teh. So it had been quite difficult for me to take friends to awesome places to have awesome Singaporean food. One day, I heard about Prince Coffee House, and thought it might be a hidden treasure where my friends could explore the supposedly wonderful Singporean fare. (I’m sorry if I reek of cynicism regarding local fare!)

Prince Coffee House was established decades ago…between the 60s and 70s. They started out at Beach Road, where Prince cinema was located…and thus their name. They then moved to Coronation Plaza, and since life always comes full circle, their address is now 249 Beach Road. It was a bitch to find; my friend and I walked up and down Haji Lane and Arab Street for a good twenty minutes, before we realized that it was not in either street, but in between Haji Lane and Arab Street. If you stand along the main road and stare at Park Royal Hotel in front of you, you’re probably right infront of Prince Coffee House. It’s right by the main road!

Ox Tail Stew

This dish was the in thing back in the day, but as my parents tell me, this is too much a hassle to make, and so it is pretty hard to find ox tail stew nowadays. This was my first ox tail stew (although I’ve had ox tail soup, which was as different from it as apples and pears), and I was impressed. The meat came off the ox tail just like that. So tender, so moist. As this was the tail of the ox, there was not much meat. So if you, like me, can’t appreciate  muscles/tendons/fats, and don’t not know how to gnaw at the bone, you’d probably be eating only 1/8 of the dish. As for the gravy, it was thick and creamy (my guess is from the bone marrow) and laden with stock. To make this heavy dish wash down easier, the ox tail stew was served with broiled carrots and beans. The mash was nothing fancy.

 

Sweet and Sour Pork

We were impressed by the battered pork – so crisp on the outside without having too much flour, and so moist and tender on the inside, like a great katsu. However we found the sweet and sour sauce too sweet for our liking. This was served with chips, although they were nothing to rave about. Just your ordinary chips.

Beef Hor Fun

Next up was stir fried noodles with beef in thick gravy. I was hoping for more wok hei, you know, that wonderful burnt aroma you get if they fry their noodles right before adding on the gravy. Although the wok hei was minimal, I would say this was a pretty decent dish of hor fun, with gravy not too thick nor overly salty, and the beef was perfectly tenderized. Absolutely amazing with picked green chili!

These three are their most popular dishes. There’s also the chicken pie, which we were not impressed by. They took a chicken pie out of a foam box from the fridge to show us the size (about 7 inches), and although it is homemade, it did not look too impressive as it looked rather dry. We planned to order a yam cake, but decided three large dishes were good enough for two to share!

The food was pretty good, but as to whether this no frills, old school coffee house made me a changed woman regarding local fare, the answer is no, unfortunately.

My verdict: 3/5 spoonfuls

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New Lucky Claypot Rice

29 Apr

Never been a great fan of rice, except perhaps if it were risotto. But somehow, the strong aroma of charcoal-cooked rice is too strong a temptation to resist.

New Lucky Claypot Rice relocated from a kopitiam in the Clementi area to Block 44 Holland Drive. Been quite some time since they relocated, but I never had a chance to visit, which is odd, given how often I frequent the area. So today, when one of my best law school buddies wanted to have a “last” dinner before I leave, I thought, why not give it a shot.

Not difficult to locate the stall, given the strong aroma of slow, charcoal cooked rice.

When I got there, my pot for two was sitting there, waiting for me. No worries that it’ll turn cold, because the claypot really does keep the rice hot. Not warm; hot.

When the uncle uncovered the pot, I just felt like burying my face in it and gobbling it all up. Less than partly coz all I ate the whole day was M&S biscuits, but more because it smelled so good, and looked so great, especially after we added in the black sauce and stirred. Apologies for not having remembered to snap a photo of how it looks, after the sauce was added. I was that excited to dig in.

New Lucky Claypot Rice doesn’t disappoint. Tastes the same as it used to. Chicken were tender (but I’m too spoiled and I hate the bones), and the lap cheongs thick and juicy. Loved the lap cheongs, actually. There was a cube of salted fish. Pretty genius how they use the bone, rather than the fish meat itself, because the marrow would secrete marrow juices, which are thick and creamy, while the meat would have been overpoweringly…stinky and salty.

Size of the pot depends on how many dining buddies you have. Smallest, which we had, was for 2 persons. $10 for the pot. Looks like a small pot (to which Jon exclaimed, “Only one pot?” when he first sat down), but even though I had four bowls (most rice I’ve ever eaten in my life), and Jon had more, we still couldn’t finish it. A pot for 3-4 costs $15, and there are two larger pots.

Lotus root soup was executed pretty well, although not as fantastic as I hoped it would be. Kinda hoped it would be charcoal cooked as well. Generous servings of pork ribs, which were tenderly cooked, with meat falling off the bones. I could have used more lotus root, though. Best part – not too much sodium!

During peak hours, waiting time can be expected to be from anything between 45-90 minutes, according to the sign the put up. Be sure to call to pre-order your claypot rice a few hours in advance, to get it served immediately upon getting your seat! The number is +65 6678 7808.

Seating isn’t as much a hassle as it used to be in Clementi, where the coffeeshop was smaller and had fewer tables. Now at Holland, it’s huge; no worries.

My verdict: 5/5 spoonfuls

Song Fa Bak Kut Teh

18 Apr

So…after a terrible dinner at UTown (we had three sets between us, and ate less than half of each), Nadine and I decided we needed to get food – real food. So off we went to Clarke Quay for supper. I used to head to CQ at night for drinks and to club…now it’s just for Bak Kut Teh.

Bak Kut Teh has always been a major part of my life. I’m a sucker for soup (that’s the only thing I love about Chinese food), a sucker for herbs, a sucker for pepper. Before my mom became the World’s Best Chef, the best and most interesting meals I had was when she (or the maids) opened a packet of Bak Kut Teh and threw the packet of spices and some pork ribs into the pot.

Been awhile since I last had bak kut teh.

We managed to reach at 9.30pm, just in time for the last order. Disappointed that they had run out of a lot of choices, but then again, it was late!

I absolutely love how the interior feels so traditional. Wooden shophouse, ink writings on the wall, old school tiles…

Kinda reminded me of Taipei Story House. Transported me back in time a few decades.

Traditional tea paraphernalia

Pork Ribs Bak Kut Teh (Large) – $8.50

The small at $6.50 comes in a slightly smaller bowl, with 3 ribs. The large comes slightly larger, with 5 ribs. I’m not exactly a pork person, much less pork ribs, so my opinion against the ribs might be biased. I prefer soft ribs, if I had to choose, although they did not have it on the menu. As this was the normal rib, the meat came off slightly tougher (but not tough; just comparing to soft ribs, the way my mom does it), and it had slightly too much muscle/fat for my liking.

Soup was free flow. Had something like 6 top ups. Soup whore, the both of us. Super peppery (although Nadine tells me that the one at Balestier is more peppery; I haven’t tasted), and super salty. But it was still good soup. So many rounds of top up. Moneys made worth it. Not that it was expensive to begin with.

Pig Kidney Bak Kut Teh (Small) – $6.50

We ordered the last bowl of pork ribs, so we couldn’t have two. I don’t know what got into us – perhaps too hungry – that we had to order a second bowl. Actually, one bowl was sufficient, given the free flow top up, and the 5 ribs. But we got the kidneys in the end.

We didn’t like it. The soup was too bloody, because I think they do not cook the kidneys before serving. They probably just used the boiling hot soup to cook the kidneys a few minutes before serving it. This bowl came with bloody kidneys, as you can see in the picture, resulting in the soup having a bloody taste, and slightly cold from the raw kidneys. We gave up on this soup, and I told them to dump the soup, and pour us the normal soup. It’s the same soup base, just without the blood. Had this topped up several times as well.

My verdict: 4/5 spoonfuls, coz the blood tasted weird.

EDIT: Sodium overload here. I’ve drank almost 1.5 liters of water over the past few hours, but I’m still feeling extremely thirsty, and my lips extremely dry. I NEED TO GET ALL THESE SODIUM OUT OF MY SYSTEM. NOW. #healthfreak

New verdict: 3/5 spoonfuls

Honeymoon Dessert

9 Apr

Today Nadine and I decided to stock up on Marks & Spencer’s snacks, as well as bread for me. Cheers at UTown ran out of bread. I mean, the kind of bread I eat – the multigrain kind, not the white kind. After some shopping, we decided to have dessert. Tembusu’s dinners never satisfy.

I didn’t quite want Fruit Paradise as the remaining few tarts looked sad in the display fridge. So we headed to Honeymoon Dessert. First time I had dessert from this dessert shop was in Hong Kong. Can’t quite remember how it tasted there, so I shan’t compare.

Pretty crowded, even at 9+ pm. They had many tables, but not much personal space. I liked the interior decor, though.

We took something like ten minutes to decide what to get. Tough choice. The selection was the typical Chinese desserts you’d get: almond/red bean paste, tang yuan, mango/honeydew sago, and the list goes on and on and on…

Peanut Tang Yuan in Sesame Paste

The sesame paste was thick and consistent. No clumps, not watery, not overly sweet.

One bite into the tang yuan and I was taken back by surprise. I didn’t know it was peanut tang yuan, at first, until Nadine confirmed it. Hell, it didn’t look like peanut! It looked like curry, or cream custard. It was a pretty orange sight. No, it was not ugly, but I was just surprised. Pleasant surprise, I would say. IT TASTED SO GOOD. I’ve never been a fan of peanuts, but this one sealed the deal. It was not sweet, but slightly savory. Perfect when eaten alone, and perfect when eaten with the sesame paste. The skin of the tang yuan was soft, but not soggy, and did not stick to my teeth.

There were only three tang yuans, and so we split the third one. It was so cute how the orange gravy squirted out when we attempted to cut it open.

Mango Pancake

I don’t even see how this is a pancake. And it’s so small – smaller than the size of my palm!

BUT OH MY GOD. It tastes so delicious! I’ve been craving cream for the longest time (yes, I know, craving pure cream is so not me right…), and this totally satisfied the craving. Generous cream, generous mango enveloped in a thin and soft outer wrapping. Having grown up in Thailand, the land of mangoes, I have extremely high expectations of mangoes. This was natural, fresh, and juicy. It didn’t taste like it was dipped in syrup, nor had anything artificial mixed in. It’s so good we decided to order another one. Plus, there’s a 30% discount if you order two pancakes, with the discount off the cheaper one.

Durian Pancake

Sorry the picture looks terribly unappetizing, but I swear it was so good. Same thick layer of cream, and an equally thick layer of good quality durian. Pure indulgence, even for a person neutral towards durian.

Their pancakes are really amazing. Soft, smooth, creamy. Love it. But I reckon if I came back on a day I feel like my normal self, the cream might be an overkill.

The first thing I said to Nadine upon leaving was, “It was so good. But I’m not entirely satisfied. I’m still hungry.” Yup, the desserts were really good. But the portions were really small. I’ve a small appetite when it comes to food, but for dessert, my appetite’s bigger than my ego.

My verdict: 4/5 spoonfuls, marked down only because of the slow service and for leaving me hungry.

Ah Chew Desserts

6 Jan

It’s been forever since I’ve had such good desserts. Recently all the desserts I’ve had have been the sugar laden kind, which makes you happy for a few hours, then when blood sugar level falls, it just makes you feel fat and miserable. This one is different. It feels like comfort food. Made me happy for a loooonggggggg time.

Went out for zichar dinner (not something I would usually eat) with the Tasmanian Law guys Caleb and Thomas. I wanted fish soup. The kind with yam. But we couldn’t find any, so we ended up having zichar. Caleb here insists that with all my weird food cravings, I must be pregnant, and must go for a pregnancy test. Well, my food cravings baffle me as well.

After dinner we headed to Ah Chew Desserts at Liang Seah Street for dessert. Massive queue, but people like me, so we got seats almost immediately. Okay I was kidding, but how else do you explain our immediate seating when the queue was practically snaking out of the shop? Maybe they like Thomas. Or Caleb.

Desserts here are priced higher than the average dessert shop. They come at either $2.90 or $3.20 per bowl, depending on what you order.

Hot Ginko, Barley, and Beancurd Skin – $3.20

Caleb was craving this. So much for him calling me pregnant. It came with generous amounts of ginko nuts and the barley was well boiled. The only thing we weren’t too happy about was that the beancurd skin was shredded into tiny bits. We would have preferred it in larger pieces, then we could chew on it, rather than just swallow. Oh, one thing. This tastes soooo much better hot than cold!

Watermelon and Honeydew Sago – $3.20

As for me, I was super thirsty and in need for something cold. This did the job. The coconut soup was fragrant, but not so overpoweringly sweet that the ten chunks of watermelon and honeydew would have been masked. The individual flavors came out just right. The sago was perfectly cooked – neither too hard nor clumped together.

Grass Jelly in Carnation Milk – $2.90

Thomas has problems when he is given too many choices. With over 50 items on the menu, he clearly needed help. I picked this for him. The grass jelly was firm, although I could use it slightly firmer. I love chewing stuff. Surprisingly, the Carnation milk did not taste as sinful as I thought it would. It’s probably diluted with something, but I can’t tell what. Maybe fresh milk. Grass jelly and fresh milk is just awwwwww so nice. I miss the ones in Chiang Mai ❤

Overall, I’d say this is would be the perfect place to go to for desserts that would make you feel warm and happy in your heart. Sweetened just right such that you aren’t left with a temporary sugar high or a disgusting sugary taste in your mouth. Most comforting food I’ve had in a long time. Despite the queue and the inflated prices, it’s really worth it!

My verdict: 5/5 spoonfuls

Cozy Corner Popiah

23 Apr

Finally had a chance to try Cozy Corner’s Popiah. It’s a little eatery in Coronation Plaza, popular for their popiahs and kueh pie ties. Vincent had to go to Coro to get his Contract Law notes bound, and I thought, hey I should tag along to see if there are any clinics in the area, so that I could get some pills for Mak’s friend Vanessa. AND THEN MAIL IT TO AUSSIE. Weird much.

Talking about weird, I had quite a funny day, actually.

First thing in the morning: BBM conversation with Charlene…

Charlene: “Babe, why did you disappear off FB again? Exams?”

Me: “Er yeah. And it’s too much of a distraction.” BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH “How’d you know I disappered?”

Charlene: “I stalk you. I check your wall every morning.”

OMG. FREAKY FREAKY FREAKY.

Second thing: Ate my Petit Provence buns for breakfast.

Walnut Cream Cheese Bun – $1.80

It had a HUGE BLOB OF CREAM CHEESE inside. Like HUGE. Never seen any blob of cream cheese bigger than this. I was hoping for something like Barcook’s where it’s actually lathered and oozing out. But this was a BLOB, like how BreadTalk does it, although it’s definitely better than BreadTalk’s. Topped with burnt cheese. Not a fan of such toppings. Could use more walnuts.

Raisin Bun – $0.80.

Going to be my new favorite item from Petit Provence. Even after keeping it over night, it was still soft and rather moist. Mildly sweet. About 7 raisins in total?

Third (and funniest): The car infront of us just stopped at the entrance of the carpark near Coro. Vincent honked at him after a few moments, and then he drove closer to the gantry. Then we thought he didn’t know there was no sensor and he had to insert his cashcard. He was just waiting there for God knows how long! In the end, Vincent got down and said to the guy: “Are you going in?!” haha. so funny. The guy’s reply was: “Yeah but the carpark is full so I’m waiting.” Which didn’t make sense to us, as we thought he could just circle around the carpark in search or wait for a car to leave. It was only when we were about to drive in that we realized why the guy was waiting. Upon inserting the cashcard, the machine read: “Carpark full. Please wait.” HAHAHAHA OH MY GOD. So that was the reason why the dude was waiting! Vincent felt so bad. Okay so two carparks were full. Drove to Prince of Wales Road to find a parking lot. Vincent wanted to park on the double yellow line. Thank God he didn’t, coz the traffic warden came a little later on.

Fourth (and most frustrating): I headed to Bukit Timah Clinic while Vincent did his binding job. The clinic almost killed me. The nurses were so unprofessional. They took forever to get jobs done! I filled up a registration form, and the form was left sitting on the table for like 10 mins. Then I waited another what seemed like FOREVER before the doctor called me in. And the whole consultation session took like 2 minutes?! Then I waited another 10 mins for the pills and payment. OH WHAT THE FUCK. I can’t stand the smell of medicines, the smell of anti-bacteria solutions, the idea of being in a place full of viruses and whatnots. Given that it was situated in such a prime location, I expected so much more of the clinic! Definitely did not expect the cleaner to be mopping the floor while I was there. LIKE WHAT THE HELL?!

Okay I’m reminded that this post is supposed to be about Cozy Corner’s popiahs.

$2.20 PER ROLL. Crazy price for popiah!

I must say I was quite disappointed in how dull it looked.

The insides look more interesting, at least. Eggs, turnip, bean sprouts, and some other stuff I can’t identify. I asked for less sauce, so it wasn’t sweet.

This place is famous for the orange crunchy bits they add into the popiah. At first I thought it was shallots, but wasn’t too sure coz there was no onion taste. Had a little discussion with Rachel just now, and she says it’s probably some sort of tempura flour or batter. Batter, more like. Yeah. I’m convinced it’s batter.

Personally, I think it’s not that great. Even the fried crispy batter didn’t intrigue me that much. I just thought it was interesting. I prefer my entire popiah of the same soft texture. Mom makes better stuffings than this, although Mom’s has dried shrimp (which kills me) while this doesn’t. This was slightly on the dry side. Oh, if I remember correctly, Mom adds mushrooms in. I’m a big mushroom fan. Only downside to Mom’s is that there’s too much gravy and it’s slightly too salty, which is weird, coz Mom doesn’t usually cook salty food. Hmm…

My verdict: 2/5 spoonfuls. Could have been passable if it wasn’t $2.20 per roll. RIDICULOUS.

Taste Paradise

28 Mar

Restaurant Week. But I haven’t been to a single restaurant on the list. Sighs. Roy and I pigged out totally, at Taste Paradise this afternoon. For the first time ever, we didn’t end our lunch with dessert!

Supposed to come here for CNY, but they didn’t have dim sum, so we went to Paradise Dynasty instead. I still remember being pissed with the waitresses who couldn’t understand English. As for Taste Paradise…well slightly better English standards, but still not quite there. But at least, they understood Cantonese. And that, we can do.

Love the decor:

We sat down, looked at each other, and said “2 TRAYS OF CUSTARD BUNS!” Although they were not the first to arrive, I must must must start blogging with it!

Steamed Custard Buns $9++/ tray

OMG LOOK AT THE CUSTARD! I’m a custard whore, by the way. Love love love love love custard buns! I still can’t get over the custard buns from Macau all those years back, where sweet custard goodness just OOZE out. Ahhhh…Haven’t found anything close to it yet. Not even this. This was slightly salty – salted egg yolk – and sandy. The bun itself could be slightly fluffier and less dense. A pity this came last. We were stuffed by then. Or else we’d have fought over these buns!

Prawn and mango Roll – $4.90++

So sinful….Yet so good. Bite into this golden brown roll and mayo – I think it was mayo – and mango oozes out. Not quite as much as the custard buns, but they still ooze. I’m a big fan of stuff that ooze out.

The mango. I could use more mango than just one stingy slice!

The prawn.

Egg Tarts – $3.60++

They were so pretty I couldn’t bear to eat them. So crystalline and jelly-like!

Look at the pastry. They are virtually non-existent! Typical egg tart pastries are so thick that I could get sick by just eating the crust. Then the thick egg paste. But this…so light. Everything was just so light. Gotta be the BEST EGG TARTS I’ve ever tasted.

Steamed Thousand Layer Cake – $4.20++

I thought the name was interesting. So I ordered it. And when it came, I went “OHHHH!” Roy stared at me. Well, it’s because Hua Seng Hong in Bangkok does it too. Custard layered between mantou pastry.

Not too bad, but nothing that great about it. Still, I finished the entire tray. I’m obviously a custard whore.

XO Carrot Cake – $7.80++

Love how it’s so hearty! The carrot cake was firm, and the eggs were generously given. If it were any oilier, I would have said I could use more bean sprouts. But this was just right. The XO sauce works wonders.

The second best carrot cake would be at Redhill Market. The queue is crazy. I once queued 45 mins for a single plate $2. That one has been featured in the papers quite a bit. Apparently they use healthier oil and give more bean sprouts. But nah….still oily. Much oilier, compared to this!

Cheong Fun with Scallop – $5.50++

I didn’t like the texture of the cheong fun, but Roy liked it a lot. It was rather soggy, I would say. Prefer them springy and chewy.

Other stuff I didn’t touch…

Xiao Long Bao – $4.20++

They looked so sad. Definitely can’t beat Paradise Dynasty’s!

Steamed Chicken Feet – $3.80 ++

BBQ Pork Pastry – $3.90++

Drinks…

Luo Han Guo and Watercress Juice – $4.20++/glass

Luo Han Guo: my grandmother makes better herbal teas.

Watercress: are you sure it was watercress?

My verdict: 4/5 spoonfuls. Actually, it was all very good. But something was missing here. Not sure what. Or maybe I’m just not into Chinese food.

We’re such pigs – we spent $67.91 in total.

Either make reservations, or arrive early. They gave us one hour to eat. And it’s full house.

While having lunch, we were planning our dessert. Awfully Chocolate, Tom’s Palette, or K-Ki? In the end…we had none. The custard buns stuffed us so badly. haha. I had to walk around for a long time before all the food and oil got a bit digested. Found this amazing ad…

LOVE IT ❤