Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Year In Review 2013: Top Five Restaurants Tried For The First Time

My wife and I are "foodnatics" and we are always game to hunt down new food places to try out. 2013 continues to be a year where we visited a few new places to try out the food. However, our selection was kinda restricted due to my wife's pregnancy. Nevertheless, we still did quite a fair bit of food hunting, getting our sources via blogs, magazines and TV programs. Most of the new restaurants we tried are "hits", with the occasional few misses here and there, thus it was quite hard to select the top 5 from the list. I decided to narrow down the criteria so that the recommended restaurant would be one of those that we had tried for the first time in 2013 and it turn out to be a hit.

5. Xin Wang Hong Kong Cafe

This was one of the surprise find for this year. On the first visit, I ordered their papaya noodle soup and the standard was so-so only.  The 2nd visit was after my wife's post-natal gynae appointment at Ang Mo Kio. She was kinda sick of the home cooked confinement food and wanted to eat something else for her break, Xin Wang was the nearest restaurant that we could find. I ordered the Luncheon Meat and Fried Egg Noodle Soup and she ordered the French Toast and it turned out to be a very delicious meal!

French Toast - The french toast came piping hot and they had slapped a piece of butter on it to let it slowly melt into the bread. While it was crispy outside, the inside was quite soft, going very well together with the melted butter. If you have ordered the French Toast in Hong Kong, you would have found out that most of them give you condensed milk as an accompanying dip, unfortunately, the restaurant does not come automatically with it, but they are more than willing to give you a small saucer of it if you asked.

French Toast - Crispy Outside, soft Inside
Luncheon Meat and Fried Egg Soup Noodles - I thought that this was gonna be an ordinary bowl of noodles until I tried the soup. The soup was very succulent and had a sense of unami in it, not like those usual egg noodle soup that taste like it was made with chicken powder and MSG. The luncheon meat, fried eggs and noodle are normal but the soup itself makes it a worthwhile order.

Luncheon Meat and Fried Egg Soup Noodles - Must try the soup!


4. Crystal Jade Jiang Nan

Crystal Jade Jiang Nan is a casual dining restaurant located at Vivocity, directly opposite JPot, serving food originating from Shanghai, Nanjing, with some of the dishes given a slight creative twist. The few dishes that I recommend would be Multi-Flavoured Xiao Long Bao, Hot and Sour Soup with Bean Curd, La Mian with Spicy Chicken and Preserved Egg and the highlight 不是炒饭 (Not Fried Rice).

Hong Kong Ice Milk Tea put in an innovative jug to keep it cold.

Hot and Sour Soup in Beancurd - The right amount of spiciness and sourness with the
beancurd adding an extra texture to the taste.


Multi-flavored Xiao Long Bao - Not the first restaurant in Singapore to feature something like
this (Paradise Taste as a similar dish), but it was delicious with each Xiao Long Bao having its
own distinct taste. The flavors are: Original, Foie Gras, Cheese, Spicy Beef, Vegetable & Dried Beancurd
Black Truffle, Shrimp and Spicy Chicken.

Spicy chicken and century egg noodles - A weird combination to put spicy chicken with century egg
and further eating it with noodles, but it turned out to be a hit.

不是炒饭 (Not fried rice) - This dish may look like fried rice, but in actual fact its not, the "grains"
you see are actually chopped up beansprouts. Google 不是炒饭 to find out more about how this dish originate.


3. Sin Po Po

The name of the restaurant caught my attention when I saw it on Channel 8's Snack Attack III - I realized later that the owners had named it after a sleazy KTV joint that used to be situated along Tanjong Katong Road, near to where I was studying (TK Tech). The highlights of this restaurant is the old skool deserts and food that many of the older middle age generation should be familiar with. I have not tried the main staples there but have dropped by for desserts after dinner, so would update again once I have a chance to visit it again.



Old school furniture and biscuits tins at the entrance

Gula Melaka Jelly - smooth and very distinct Gula Melaka taste

Ais Ball (Ice Ball) - Authentic and flavor full, the ice was firmed and did not break easily,
much better than the onebeing sold at Singapore Flyer.


2. Akanoya Robatayaki

This restaurant very well deserves a blog review by itself but I have been procrastinating since my visit there. This should be the only restaurant in Singapore that serves only Robatayaki, which means "fireside cooking" - the concept of this is that the restaurant would lay all the uncooked ingredients in front of you to choose, once you select an ingredient (meant, seafood, vegetables, tidbits), the chef would then proceed to barbecue it over a hot-charcoal stove (or in some cases steam it) right in front of you and then dish it up to you. Do note that the restaurant has no menu and price list so be mindful of what you have ordered in case you get shocked by the bill at the end of the meal.

How can you not be tempted to over order when presented with this view!
This is how the chef serves up the food after it is cooked.


Wagyu Beef
Pork Belly
Chicken
Grilled Japanese Tilapia, lightly salted, every part is edible

Grilled snow crab leg

Grilled Japanese green chili

Additional order of Grilled cuttlefish, after we saw the next door 'expert diners' had it and it looked enticing

Additional order of Grilled rice ball, after we saw the next door 'expert diners' ordering it.


1. Han Restaurant

To be strictly fair, this should not be inside the list as we had actually tried the restaurant's previous incarnation at Si Bon at Amara Sanctuary, but I decided to make an exception and include it since its considered a restaurant we had visited for this year and the dining concept has slightly changed. The full review can be found here. We went to visit it a second time for my wife's birthday and the meal she had wanted before her delivery (interestingly, we visited also visited Si Bon just before she give birth to the first kid). Since the last visit, the restaurant has made some minor tweaks to the menu. It used to serve a sushi and 10 stick kushikatsu course, as well as a sashimi and 10 stick kushikatsu course, but it has since changed to become a single sushi, sashimi and 7 stick kushikatsu course. The 10 or 15 sticks kushikatsu  remains on the menu though.

Close up picture of the hood from the second visit

Fresh sashimi as part of the new sushi, sashimi and 7 stick kushikatsu course
Angel prawns are the main stay of the kushikatsu menu

Ohmi Beef are also part of the main stays

Same goes for foie gras

Fresh sushi as part of the new sushi, sashimi and 7 stick kushikatsu course

Clam soup as part of of the new sushi, sashimi and 7 stick kushikatsu course


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