Dinner @ Kok Sen Restaurant

September 30, 2018 in Chinese by thywhaleliciousfay

My girlfriends and I have been so busy that we celebrate one another’s birthday 2 months late. Our latest trend. Haha. So although my birthday was in August, we only managed to find time in September to celebrate. Keke. And because we were a big group of 7, I suggested heading to a zi char restaurant for us to order many dishes. Yeah!

It’s also the fact that we were dining as a big group that it was a must to make reservation at the popular and famous Kok Sen. However, it proved to be a real challenge to to even get through the line. Despite calling thrice, no one picked up my call. And since I was in the area for brunch, I popped by the restaurant and made reservation for dinner on Sunday.

On the day of our dinner, my girlfriends and I arrived at the restaurant at 6.30pm. And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) Sambal squid, $23 (medium) (above)

2) Prawn paste chicken, $26 (medium) (above) – With a whole chicken used, this was unexpectedly bad; Very dry. My girlfriends and I were shocked the dish was executed so poorly because prawn paste chicken is almost a ‘will order’ dish at zi char restaurants. So we honestly expected more, especially from Kok Sen since it’s even read from Michelin Singapore website that Kok Sen marinate the chopped chicken overnight in a secret prawn paste batter blended by the chef and freshly fried to order. We certainly tasted no prawn paste. My girlfriends and I joked that the main chefs must be busy with the signature dishes and left this dish to be cooked by the junior staff.

3) Claypot yong tau foo, $23 (medium) (above) – We ordered this as it’s strongly recommended by one of my girlfriends who dined at Kok Sen before. It’s also a signature dish of Kok Sen. And this was different from our usual yong tau foo. For the paste, Kok Sen used a mixture of squid, prawn and fish. And they are very generous with the paste stuffing, which was also what that introduced the firmness to the soggy vegetable pieces like eggplant. Do come early to try this dish as I read the dish (does) sell out before closing.

4) Black bean sauces fish head, $23 (medium) (above) – Stir-fried with bitter gourd, this was really good. I liked the sauce a lot.

5) Crispy noodle surface with shrimp omelette, $19 (medium) (above)


  

6) Big prawns hor fun, $36 (medium) – A must order since this was the other famous dish at Kok Sen besides the claypot yong tau foo. And this was seriously good. The sauce… Wow. My girlfriends and I concluded we could only satisfy our craving at Kok Sen should we crave for this rendition of hor fun. We haven’t tried something similar at anywhere else.

Our dining experience at Kok Sen Restaurant was superb. Highly recommended. We came for the food and it didn’t disappoint. My girlfriends and I were raving over every dish with the exception of the prawn paste chicken of course. Keke.

And in all honesty, I wasn’t expecting much of the service especially after our bad experience with J.B. Ah Meng‘s staff. But the service at Kok Sen Restaurant surpassed my expectation; My girlfriends got me cake but at 8.30pm, cafes in the area were closed for us to proceed with ‘Part 2′ after our meal. Since it was 2 slices of cake (bought from Keong Saik Bakery before our dinner), we decided to have it at the restaurant. All while silently praying that we won’t get chased out. And because we required new set of utensils to share the cake among ourselves, we requested for extra forks. And that’s when the staff surprised us by passing us disposable plates and forks. Wow. That honestly touched us.

But one shouldn’t expect much of the ambience. There was no air-conditioning although we didn’t sweat much because of the fans.

KOK SEN RESTAURANT
30-32 Keong Saik Road, Singapore
6223 2005
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sun : 12:00 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 5
Tues – Sun : 17:00 – 23:00 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon

Dinner @ Circa 1912

August 26, 2018 in Asian, Chinese by thywhaleliciousfay

With the sudden influx of pictures circulating on instagram in April and May 2018, it certainly piqued my interest about Circa 1912. Did a search on Google and learnt that Circa 1912 was inspired by the food David Yip grew up with; Cantonese food from restaurants such as Southern Sky, Cathay, Spring Court and other leading restaurants of the time where dishes were elaborate, and cooked with premium ingredients and traditional cooking techniques.

Why 1912? Because it’s the year when Cantonese cuisine peaked. An era when blenders were non-existent and chefs were graded for their knife and sauce making skills.

And I visited Circa 1912 twice. Once with my family for weekend lunch (with dim sum) and shortly again with my instagram foodie friends for weekday dinner. It’s also this meal that led to the start of my friendship with @abbey_thebolobao, @thetravellingcow and @free.the.umami. Blessed much.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3), we ordered:-

1) Roast “golden coin chicken”, $5 per piece (above) – Made with candied lard, chicken liver and pork, this was really good. But as it can be too sinful for some, one may request to have the portion halved (as pictured) and share it instead of taking the full portion.

2) Deep-fried fish roll with preserved meat, $38 (8 pieces) (above)

3) Deep-fried superior stock and pig’s brain, $28 (8 pieces) (above) – It was slightly daunting at the prospect of eating pig’s brain, but this was done nicely. Its texture reminded me of milt (fish sperm sac/shirako), but denser.


4) Deep-fried crab ravioli, $5 per piece (above) – Like a huge wanton, it was enjoyable to bite through the crisp skin and into the juicy meat filling within. But I didn’t finish the skin because it was slightly pretty oily.

5) Wok-fried goat milk with chicken and seafood, $38 (above) – Order this because I was intrigued. But hmm… It was like eating egg-white omelette?


6) Traditional sweet & sour iberico pork, $38 – Upon ordering, the staff highlighted the meat would be fattier because iberico pork was used. But we really enjoyed this dish. Good ratio of fats and meat (for most of the pieces), crisp and interestingly glazed with a more-sour-than-sweet sweet & sour sauce where its sourness was achieved with hawthorn. But of course, I couldn’t make sense of the addition of strawberry into the dish.

7) Quick-fried wheat-shaped squid, $28 (above) – This was ordered because we read beforehand that the squid was sliced to resemble wind-blown shafts of wheat.

8) Trio of roast meats, $30 (above) – When my family and I placed order for the trio which usually comprised of crispy iberico charsiew, plum-flavoured roast silverhill duck and nam yue (red fermented bean curd) roast pork belly, we were unfortunately told the duck was sold out. Sob. So it was replaced with braised chicken smoked in Chinese tea. And the roast pork belly was a standout. A must try.


9) Plum-flavoured roast silverhill duck, $68 (whole) – This was ordered during the meal with my instagram foodie friends. And this was so, so good. Instead of using salt to marinate the inside, duck was roasted with plums stuffed inside. A must order.


10) Garoupa, $9/100g (above) – Fish could be cooked steamed, fried or braised. However, we didn’t like the sauce which the fried fish was drenched in. Once I put a piece into my mouth, a strong whiff of sourness hit the back of my throat. I kid you not. Which was a pity cause the garoupa was fried beautifully. And the dish came up to $108.

11) Sunflower chicken, $200 (above) – Not on the menu, we ordered this in advanced when we made reservation for dinner. And yes, I certainly didn’t know the poached sunflower-fed chicken was going to be so expensive. Taste wise, it reminded me of… Kampong chicken? I am sorry. I’m probably not educated enough to properly appreciate this.

12) Plain chicken-essence congee, $3 per bowl (above) – If one’s serious about one’s congee, this would be a ‘must order’. Silky, creamy and smooth. Infused with the essence of chicken (ie, chicken broth), the mixture of glutinous rice, old and new jasmine rice was cooked at high heat for two hours. And if one ordered the sunflower chicken like us, the congee would be complimentary (as verified on our receipt).

13) Braised crab meat with winter melon, $28 (above)

14) Hong Kong kai-lan, $18 (above)

15) Braised spinach in Chinese ham broth, $18 (above)


16) Pan-fried mee hoon with seafood, $18 (above)


17) Baked red bean puff pastry, $6.80 (above)

18) Aged tangerine peel red bean soup, $10 (above)


19) Tangerine bean curd with orange broth, $8 (above) – We were puzzled to how we should enjoy theis dish till we flip the tangerine over to see the almond bean curd filled within.

  

20) Almond tea with egg white, $6 (above) – My favourite of the four desserts we ordered.

Would I recommend Circa 1912? Well… Pardon my ignorance and lack of appreciation for this style of cuisine (early 20th-century Lingnan cuisine), but I honestly don’t see myself returning to Circa 1912. As in… True, I enjoyed dishes like the duck, roast pork belly, and sweet and sour pork. But there’re other Chinese restaurants which execute these dishes equally well too.

So unless one knows how to truly appreciate dishes cooked with traditional cooking techniques or wishes to try nostalgic dishes which David has brought back from the past (like the deep-fried superior stick and pig’s brain), I won’t actively recommend Circa 1912.

And yes, if one is curious about the dim sum at Circa 1912 which my family also had during our weekend lunch, click here for the dim sum menu and here for pictures of the dim sum we tried.

CIRCA 1912
1 Scotts Road, Shaw Centre, #03-07/11, Singapore
6836 3070/9242 9046
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 11:30 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sun : 17:30 – 22:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7 

Dinner @ Peng’s Restaurant & Catering

April 27, 2018 in Chinese by thywhaleliciousfay

After our last enjoyable zi char session, my colleagues and I were off to another. This time, one of my colleagues recommended his favorite hunt; Peng’s Restaurant. A Teochew restaurant set in the neighbourhood of Hougang.

Making reservation for dinner on Wednesday meant we went straight from work. Reaching slightly after 8pm, we were able to find a parking lot easily. Though one should note the restaurant occupied a unit in the row of shophouses that’s nestled within a private housing estate. So yes, if one is taking the public transport, it would be a 15 minutes walk from Hougang MRT station.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7), my colleagues and I ordered:-


1) Peng’s cold dish $38 (small) (topmost) – Normally, I wouldn’t order the cold dish since it more of a wedding banquet dish to me. But the colleague who recommended Peng’s Restaurant strongly recommended this. And on the plate, we had jellyfish, baby octopus, prawn, ngo hiang and century egg. And I loved this dish for the ngo hiang!

2) Liver roll, $10 (small) (above) – My colleague again said this is a must order because it’s their signature, and so we did. Served together with the cold dish (item 1), I got to say this was impressive! I thought it was going to be just a (puny) roll of purely liver, but apparently it wasn’t.

3) Spinach (sauted), $15 (above)


4) Oyster omelette, $12 (small) (above) – Loved how fluffy the omelette was.

5) Chai-poh kway teow (pan fry), $15 (small) (above) – I would definitely recommend one to order this! My first in having this, and its texture is unlike any that I had before.

6) Teochew braised sliced duck, $12 (small) (above)


7) Traditional braised pork with steamed buns, $15 (small) (above)


8) Pomfret, season price (above) – And Teochews are famous for knowing their fishes, and of course for cooking them. So it be a crime if we didn’t order any fish dish. And for choice of cooking, we naturally went with steamed! So good.

9) Sweet yam with pumpkin & gingko nuts, $5 (single serving) (above)

Despite the restaurant’s (slight) inaccessibility (mainly cause they are located in Hougang and I don’t really venture into that area of Singapore. lol), I honestly enjoyed the dinner at Peng’s Restaurant. Actually I am sure my colleagues did too. So yes, I would definitely recommend Peng’s Restaurant! Great Teochew dishes at affordable prices. Would definitely head back (one day soon) to try the other dishes on their extensive menu.

PENG’S RESTAURANT & CATERING SERVICES
30 Lorong 1 Realty Park, Singapore
6289 6975, Facebook
Overall: 7.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Wed, Fri – Sun: 11:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Wed, Fri – Sun: 17:30 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 8
Service: 7
* Closed on Thur