24 August 2014

La Marelle Cafe

When I first stepped into La Marelle, I thought a Candy Crush bomb exploded in it. Located on the second floor of a shophouse at Bagdhad Street (near Arab St), the bright airy cafe was adorned with colourful walls decorated with cloud and raindrops motifs, flowery paper lanterns, whimsical decorations and merchandise for sale. We were immediately transported to the La Marelle world for children the innocent child in us.

I went to La Marelle twice actually. The first time I was on my own, and the second time with two friends. It was surprising to find La Marelle rather empty on a weekend afternoon on both visits, which makes it a great place to hide from the over-populated cafes and hot weather.

Iced green tea latte ($6.50+)

Not for the cult fans of Starbucks' green tea latte. La Marelle's green tea latte was less sweet but I could still taste the matcha powder. A cool refreshing drink on a hot afternoon. 3.5/5

Americano ($6.50+), Latte ($5.50+), Earl-grey tea ($4.50+) (clockwise from top)

The drinks were average and nothing to shout about.

Bonjour Singapore ($14.90+)

My friends ordered the Bonjour Singapore, which comprised of a butter croissant, grilled chipolata sausages, scrambled eggs and a side salad.

Something funny happened when my friend was ordering at the cashier. She asked to have the egg sunny-side up.

Cashier asked the cook if he can do sunny-side up.

Cook replied ok ... but after a few seconds, he asked, "How to cook sunny-side up?"

Erm.. that doesn't sound assuring
Anyway in the end, she just told the cook to do it scrambled style.

We were joyous when the scrambled eggs were successfully produced. Although they made it, they were not fluffy enough. As for the croissant which is supposedly their speciality, we could only say we had better ones. It would be better if the croissant was warmed before serving. The salad dressing was too sweet.

a Lait et Olio ($14.90)

I didn't know how to pronounce the name so I could only point it on the menu to the cashier. Basically, it's spaghetti tossed in aglio-olio style and served with turkey bacon and cherry tomatoes. I find it too oily. There was too much olive oil until I could see a patch of it beneath. The turkey bacon was not bad though but would be better if there was more of it :P 3.5/5

Crumble cheesecake ($8.20+)

Hmmm quite expensive for a cheesecake. But actually it is more than a cheesecake. The top layer is made of sweet crumble topping that is dusted with sugar icing. The cheesecake beneath was creamy and cheese-intensive. But the thing is the crumble doesn't stick to the cheesecake and so I ate them separately. I love the presentation which had little pink, red and white sugar hearts sprinkled on top of chocolate syrup. 4/5

Service was great and La Marelle was run by friendly Muslims who appeared to be relatives. No service charge but there is GST. Free wifi was available (ask cashier for password).

Although the mains were a little over-rated and just average, I think La Marelle is still a good place to escape from the crowded malls on a weekend. Just go for the desserts instead of the mains.

Address: 25A Baghdad Street Singapore 199664

15 August 2014

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Matsuri

On this island where ramen shops are sprouting faster than the speed at which this blog is updated, a lord of the ramen has claimed the king title even faster than anyone can say oiishi.

Keisuke-san has created his empire of ramen shops, with Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Matsuri his fifth and latest outlet anchored in the ulu ulu Parkway Parade. And all his outlets bear the name of the royal status - “king”.

Having previously ate at his Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons outlet (read review), I was very confident that I would love Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Matsuri too.

Friends always ask me what type of men I like. My answer is always Ramen. Err.. anyway.. finding a favourite ramen is akin to finding a partner. For example, some people like fat one, some people like thin one. Some people like it thick, some people like it natural. I was referring to the noodle and soup respectively. 

Keisuke-San knows this well and has allowed his customers to customize their bowl of ramen, right down to whether you want pork chasyu (though that sounds like a trick question). Similar to the Four Seasons outlet, the much-raved bean sprouts and hard-boiled eggs are free flow appetizers while you wait for your hot ramen to be served. 

Four special ramens take limelight at Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Matsuri. There is a story behind each ramen - each represents a Matsuri, which means festival in Japanese.

Tonkotsu Ramen Nebuta

One ramen caught my eye first, like a handsome guy would - The tonkotsu ramen nebuta ($13.90++, above). Described as mixed pork broth with fried fish stock, it sounded like something I would like as it incorporated seafood flavours. The very long-winded story of the ramen can be found in this wiki link. Anyway if you trust my english comprehension skills, the ramen in short pays tribute to a festival that surrounds a historical battle. 

One sip of the broth confirmed this is the work of Keisuke San. The broth was thick with collagen which was due to the pork bones cooked in the soup for a longer time than normal. It is evident from the gelatin texture of the broth - a trademark of Keisuke ramen. While the tonkotsu broth was thick, the taste was not as intense or umami-packed as I expected. The fragrance and sweetness of the seafood stock was subtle and not very distinct. Even after I added the sesame seeds, it was still not as flavorful as I wanted. This would appeal to those who prefer their ramen to have a clean traditional flavour over experimentation.

The chasyu used were the lean portions, which I personally found it tough and not sweet enough. There were very little fatty portions which were lovely, sweet, tasty and melts in the mouth. It would be ideal if the ratio of fat to lean portion is higher. 

Nevertheless, I love love love the noodles which were cooked to al dente perfection. It was my ideal width, and bouncy when chewed. 

One thing that Keisuke ramen never disappoints me is their soft-boiled eggs. Flavored, runny and sweet, they were soft-boiled to perfection. 

Rating : 4/5

Tonkotsu Ramen Awaodori

On first look, I thought the Awaodori ($13.90++, above) doesn't look impressive with its more-brownish-than-normal broth. It is actually a tonkotsu broth plus sukiyaki broth, topped with a raw egg yolk. But one sip of the broth proved that looks can be deceiving. The 2-in-1 broth was amazing, thick, flavorful, sweet and umami-packed. It was well balanced and it was as if the soup had its own body. Although by 3/4 of the bowl, one might feel overwhelmed by the sweet broth.

Instead of chasyu, pork slices were used for this ramen. They were thinly sliced with a perfect ratio of lean to fat juicy parts which was a burst of sweet and savory in every bite.  

My most favourite out of the 4. Rating: 4.5/5

Tonkotsu Ramen Sanjya

Sanjya ($13.90++, above) was created for the spicy lovers as it is made up of black, green and red spices sauces. The three different spices are meant to pay tribute to the three founders of Tokyo's oldest temple. 

I don't like my ramen spicy. Certain food are meant to be spicy- the spicier, the more shiok. Like laksa. Like tom yam. But not ramen. It will just mask the umami savoriness of ramen. 

On first look, our Sanjya looks scary with the huge blot of black pepper, red chilli sauce and green chilli sauce. For wimps that don't dare to disintegrate the black blot of pepper and mix the sauces, don't worry. The bomb is fake one. The soup was ok and not as spicy as I thought. It was more peppery rather than spicy hot and numbing. Maybe it is to suit the Japanese palate? Noted tummy was not on fire after eating Sanjya.

Rating : 3.5/5

Tonkotsu Ramen Yukimatsuri

Ramen Yukimatsuri ($13.90++, above) is named after an annual festival held during the snowy winter in Sapporo where snow and ice sculptures are constructed along the city streets. Inspired by snow, Ramen Yukimatsuri spots a generous blot of cheese powder on top of a thick miso cum tonkotsu broth. One would catch a whiff of the pungent smell of the powdery cheese and miso when the ramen is served.

Unfortunately, our Yukimatsuri seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. The broth was a confusing mix of heavy salty fermented miso taste, pungent cheese which disintegrated into lumps, chilli flakes which gave the soup a spicy kick, and sweetness from onions. The noodle saved the day.

Rating : 2.5/5

Decor is refreshing, colorful and imaginative - adjectives that are equally apt for the lord of ramen and his inventive ramens. 

Kudos to Keisuke san who is always pushing the boundaries of ramen cooking, and trying to introduce interesting twists to the conventional ramen. 

So which is your favourite ramen? Do share with me!

Address: 80 Marine Parade Road #B1-18A Parkway Parade, Singapore 449269

3 August 2014

Chicken Up

Fried chicken is my favourite food. In fact, anything unhealthy is my favourite. I can imagine 10 15 years down the road, my highly IT-savvy kids reading this blog would scream unfair/double standards if I forcibly take away their fried chicken educate them on the harmful effects of fried food. I need to hide this blog from them.

Chicken Up is a place that I have been hearing about for the longest time. It probably has the best Korean fried chicken. Legend has it that it was picked by a Straits Times reporter in a blind test. I love the Korean style of double frying chickens which retains the chicken juices while keeping it crispy and crunchy. Thus, even though we found ourselves on a 1-hour waiting list, we didn't chicken out (pun intended). We were up for it and our hearts were unwavering, full of anticipation for our turn to devour this fried chicken. 

Chicken Up is housed among the shophouses along Tanjong Pagar Road. On a good day with no crowds, you can choose to sit either indoors or outdoors. The patrons were mainly teenagers and youngsters. I thought it was quite noisy and rowdy. We felt like the oldest people there. 

We have heard a lot about the Chicken Up's cheap and good Korean fried chicken buffet at $25. Ya a fried chicken buffet where we can eat all the fried chicken so that we all can die earlier.

Fried chicken (obviously) made up the menu and there were other sides which we can also choose. We saw this watermelon soju (literally a half sliced watermelon which soju was poured in)  on every table. Seems very popular. The waitress recommended the five main dishes for us to try. Sounds like a good way to start.

We waited for damn long, like 15 mins before the first chicken arrived on our table. I found out from other reviews that each order is freshly fried so it takes longer time. Grrrr but Bonchon doesn't need so long lor (read abt Bonchon's amazing 2 minute wait

Presenting the chicks:

Yangnyum (below) - I loved the crispy and crackly moist skin which was coated with a sweet and spicy sauce and also sesame for additional crunch. It was not as spicy as it looks. More towards tones of sweetness. However, I found the meat a little tough. 4/5

Soya chicken (below) - Marinated and coated with Korean soya sauce, the soya chicken wings were more tender than the yangnyum. Maybe it was because chicken wing parts are usually more tender and moist than other parts. These lovely wings were as crispy and flavourful as they look. A pity that they were not served piping hot. 3.75/5

Spicy Up (below) - Looks can be deceiving. This innocent-looking golden brown chicken was a bit too spicy for me but not for my friend who is a spice girl (not the girl group). Served piping hot, the chicken's juices were sealed beneath the crispy skins. So juicy that the juices squirted out when I bite into them.  4.25/5

We also got the Andong Chicken Stew (below) which is a soya sauce-based soup that comes with a chicken drumstick that has meat so tender that it fell of the bone easily, and other goodies such as potatoes, carrots, korean rice cakes. My friend enjoyed it a lot but I found the broth too salty for my palate. 3.5/5

The salt-sprinkled truffle fries (below) were surprisingly not overpowering with the typical strong pungent truffle aroma. Thus, both my friend and I who are not big fans of truffles liked this. 3.5/5

Service was really slow and we had to wait for a long time for them to give us the bill. 

After which we waited a long time for them to collect the bill. 

We eventually paid in exact cash instead of credit card because they were really wasting our time. 

Personally we find this slightly overrated. I think the pieces were too big so we were really full after a few pieces. It would be perfect if they come in wings or drumlets. But still I think not bad lah. A change from usual KFC and better than KFC.

Address: 48 Tanjong Pagar Rd, 088469
Tel: 6327 1203
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