Labyrinth (1 Michelin star) Pre Theatre Menu – a very average dining experience

Labyrinth

I have a soft spot for progressive cuisine. My favorite restaurant to date is Gaggan. I enjoy the modern take on Indian food – licking plates and eating with my hands felt fun and liberating. I was also impressed by Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin. Thus, I made sure to include Labyrinth in my latest Singapore trip. Labyrinth has 1 Michelin star and does a modern take on Singaporean cuisine, using many techniques from molecular gastronomy to propel local Singapore food into the 21st century.

Labyrinth-Muruku

I came here with a friend for their Pre Theatre Menu (SGD 68) which is the same as their lunch menu, served at 6 pm. You’re directed to a lounge when you arrive and served murukku and apple flavored water. Service is a little stiff and formal from two of the waiters, like they aspire to a caricature of what they imagine French Michelin-starred restaurants are like. Having been to France and dined at Michelin starred restaurants in Paris, I can assure you it’s not like that over there. Some staff are really friendly though.

Labyrinth-Singapore

Unfortunately, one of the Indian or Malay waiters had a really bad case of halitosis, like there were pounds of ripe old tonsil stones stuck somewhere in his throat. That was a real turn-off in a meal setting. I usually don’t comment on things like these unless it affects the dining experience, and this did. I had to hold my breath while he explained the dishes and wait for the nauseating miasma to disperse before I could get started on my food. It was a real struggle.

Oolong-Tea-Egg

Dinner started with Oolong Tea Egg. This is described as “Uncle William’s quail egg” and it’s one of their signature items. It’s a quail egg with a liquid interior yolk which is not the yolk. The liquid has been injected into the egg to replace the yolk. It’s very smoky. I liked this.

Nasi-Lemak-CCF

The second snack is “Nasi Lemak” Cheong Fun – chicken skin, ikan bilis and egg yolk gel. It’s a soft pillow of chee cheong fun (CCF) that tastes like nasi lamak due to the spicy anchovy sambal inserted inside. The egg yolk gel coats the CCF bite to add some creaminess and the crispy shard of chicken skin provided a nice texture. Decent.

Heartland-Waffle

Heartland Waffle ended the trio of snacks, described as local chicken liver pate and goji berry jam. The waffle is soft and fluffy. Pay attention KFC! This is how you should do a waffle!! It has a strange, intense flavor from the liver and goji berries that I didn’t like at first, but I enjoyed it after chewing for a while. It’s very tasty. This is the best one out of the three starters.

Mantou-Coconut

There was a complimentary snack described as coconut butter with deep fried buns. These are the same mantou you’ll see served with chilli crab in Singapore. It was a nice flavor but it’s not ready for prime time yet. The butter was very hard to spread. My friend called this “experimental” which is the best way to describe the dish. I told her I’ll be stealing that word for my blog.

Ang-Moh-Chicken-Rice

The plates sequence started next with “Ang Moh” Chicken Rice. This is another one of their famous dishes which features home-milled rice flour, grandma’s chilli sauce and braised chicken. There are chilli strands on top of the dish, which reminds me of A Noodle Story. The dish tasted interesting but it’s not my favorite thing. It is remarkably similar to one of my failed meal prep dishes – creamy chicken.

Nippon-Koi-Farm-Silver-Perch

Nippon Koi Farm Silver Perch is described as “Fish Bak Kut Teh”. It’s herbal pepper broth, ulam raja and textures of black garlic. You’re served the fish first…

Fish-BKT

…then the BKT broth is poured out of a teapot tableside.

Labyrinth-BKT

This was my favorite dish of the night. The fish was cooked well and tasted good. I enjoyed the crispy vegetables on top of the fish. I thought the deep fried vegetables were a little too oily but overall, this creation has very nice flavors. I love the sweet herbal soup.

Indonesian-Pork-Collar

There are two options for your main. My friend went for the Indonesian Pork Collar. It’s char siew, mixed greens, kale and pickled bak choy. I liked the fatty char siew and the flavored dust. It’s delicious but I don’t think I’ll enjoy eating the whole thing since the fat and sugar will be a bit cloying after a few mouthfuls. The pickled bak choy is very important for cutting through the rich flavors.

Toh-Thye-San-French-Poulet

I had the Toh Thye San Farm French Poulet (SGD 10 supplement). This is a Cantonese style roast chicken with glutenous rice and egg yolk from Freedom Farm. There are two parts to this dish – the fillet of roasted chicken and the medallion of sauced chicken inside glutenous rice. I liked the latter but the former tasted a bit plain. I thought it was sous vide chicken but the waiter told me it’s been cooked for 5 hours at 55 degrees Celsius in the oven with sugar on the skin to crisp it up. There are crispy prawn cracker crumbs on top, which I thought was a nice though.

Labyrinth-Rosella

Next up came the palate cleanser called Clam Leaf Snow made with rosella meringue and textures of grapes before the dessert course. Our waiter even brought out a rosella plant so we could see what it was made from, but this felt more like a rehearsed, robotic scene than a genuine attempt to add value, which I experienced at Waku Ghin and Shinji.

Clam-Leaf-Snow

I did enjoy the palate cleanser though. It was quite good for something meant to just reset your tastebuds. I particularly liked the fruits at the bottom.

Cristal-De-Chine-Caviar

The dessert course was Cristal De Chine Caviar, basically a modern interpretation of kaya toast. It is made with kaya ice cream and Sing Hong Loong toast. This was excellent! I love the crispy bread the nice caramelized kaya ice cream. The kaya is salted too so there’s burnt notes and salty notes. I also enjoyed the hot (bread) and cold (kaya ice cream) temperature play. The edible miniature maple leaf was a nice touch. 10/10. I’ll eat the hell out of this if they served it separately.

Labyrinth-Petit-Fours

Labyrinth ended the dinner with a duo of seasonal treats. The petit fours were durian macaron and chiffon pandan. The durian macaron is very strong tasting. Even though I like fresh durian, I’m not a fan of durian desserts. It’s a no from me. The chiffon pandan was a plain, unsweetened hunk of cake. I think it’s supposed to be a palate cleanser after you eat the tiny durian macaron.

Labyrinth-Us

The bill came up to SGD 172 (RM 524) for two. The dishes at Labyrinth tries to be creative for the sake of being creative. A lot of the techniques were unnecessary and forced into the dish to provide some pizzazz. The smoke-and-mirrors felt like an attempt to divert your attention away from the very average food. There was nothing extraordinary about the taste or execution of most dishes. It did not make me want to return. Labyrinth would have gotten into my Bottom 3 if not for Shisen Hanten, The Song of India and Crystal Jade Golden Palace.

Crystal Jade Golden Palace (1 Michelin star) – a disheartening set menu dinner

Crystal-Jade-Golden-Palace

I’ll like to tell you a tale of extreme disappointment. Let me preface this blog post by saying Crystal Jade Golden Palace was the worst Michelin star restaurant I’ve been to in Singapore. The food was very mediocre, and the prices were incommensurate to the ingredients and experience. I wanted my itinerary to include one homegrown local chain, so I came here despite warnings and objections from other people. My dad has been to this exact outlet and said it was disappointing. He never says things like that.

Crystal-Jade-Set-Menu

I was seated just inches from the waitress station so there was constantly movement and noise around me – shouted orders, staff getting chopsticks, water refills. Crystal Jade Golden Palace tries to squeeze so much revenue out of the outlet that there are chairs and tables where there should be none. I came here to try their SGD 48 set meal but was told that it’s only available for lunch. This wasn’t stated at all on their website or menu. The dinner menu starts at SGD 78 and it doesn’t look as appealing.

Crystal-Jade-Edamame

I went for Executive Set Menu C at SGD 88 instead. It took me ages to decide coz nothing in the menu items sounded appealing to me. I didn’t think there was anything special about the dishes but I silenced the inner voice telling me to run and picked one almost at random. I was offered edamame beans, which was charged at SGD 2. Even my tap water incurred a SGD 1 cost!

Teochew-Marinated-Appetizer-Combination

Teochew Marinated Appetizer Combination (Two Varieties). The deep-fried ball thing was very ordinary. It made no impression whatsoever. I don’t even know why there’s a rice cracker beneath it as it adds nothing to the dish. The slice of duck with vinegar was likewise forgettable. It’s just a plain, below average piece of meat doused with vinegar. If I didn’t like the kind, grandmotherly waitress serving me, I might have been tempted to cut my losses and leave right now.

Fish-Maw-Thick-Soup

Crab Meat & Fish Maw Thick Soup in Teochew Style. This is a very fatty soup. It tastes like it’s made of pure collagen. So thick! So viscous! I felt I can overturn the bowl like a DQ Blizzard. The soup stuck to my mouth and coated my lips with intense flavor. I was at the border of loving it and hating it. I’m not sure how to feel. I’m confused! I’ve been reflecting on the soup for a few days and decided I love it as I’ve been craving for that insanely thick mouthfeel since. This was the best dish of the night.

Baked-Cod-Fish

Baked Cod Fish with Miso Sauce. Did this taste delicious? No, it was merely competent. There’s nothing special about the dish. The tapioca chip and sprig of parsley looks out of place. To be fair, this wasn’t bad – I enjoyed the creamy, sweet sauce with the fish. But that’s the thing, it’s just acceptable. Adequate. Average.

Vegetable-with-Wild-Mushroom

Sautéed Vegetable with Wild Mushroom. This one really pissed me off. It was literally a few scraps of carrot, peas and mushrooms in an unremarkably bland sauce. The only thing of note is the deep fried enoki mushroom, of which there were 2. The size of this vegetable dish is more or less the area of a credit card, and not much thicker!

Handmade-Noodle-with-Baby-Abalone

Stewed Handmade Noodle with Baby Abalone. The noodles were overcooked and under-seasoned. There was a lack of any appreciable flavor in this dish. The baby abalone was serviceable but there was nothing particular about it. The dish was edible for sure, but so middle-of-the-road that any hawker center could do a better job. I was so hungry I finished everything anyway.

Mango-Puree-with-Pomelo

Chilled Mango Puree with Pomelo & Sago. This looks and tastes like a lazy cook decided to randomly toss in several leftover ingredients to increase the average cheque size. It was below my already lowered expectations, if that’s even possible. A sad end to a depressing dinner. The bill for dinner came up to SGD 107 (RM 327).

Maids-Leftover-Chicken
(This is a photo of the chicken and noodles I ate at home immediately after this dinner to illustrate how hungry I was)

Dinner would have been cheaper if I had ordered a la carte. I’ll have a more filling meal too, but I wanted to check out their set menus, which is supposed to highlight their best dishes and abilities. Maybe that was my mistake. I had to destroy a bowl of leftover chicken and noodles my sister’s maid cooked when I got home coz I was still very hungry. The portions were way too small!

Crystal-Jade-Golden-Palace-HB

I don’t mind paying for exemplary food. My most expensive dinner was RM 1,615 at Gaggan and I walked away a very happy man. I recommended Gaggan to my sister and all my friends. I even sang praises to random strangers who didn’t ask. But it really makes me angry when I pay good money and receive middling, ordinary and subpar food. Crystal Jade Golden Palace was a letdown of epic proportions. I cannot un-recommend it enough.

Rolina Traditional Hainanese Curry Puff – the second to get Bib Gourmand

Rolina-Singapore-Curry-Puffs

Rolina was the second ever curry puff stall to get a coveted Bib Gourmand award in the Michelin Guide Singapore this year. The first was J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff. Interestingly, J2 claimed in an interview that most curry puffs are similar so they didn’t know why they were selected. Haha. Since I’m giving out anecdotes today, the name of Rolina is a mispronunciation of Novena. Chinese speakers regularly say “Rolina” instead of “Novena” so they used the Singlish pronunciation as their stall name.

Rolina-Traditional-Hainanese-Curry-Puff

Rolina only has two types of curry puff – Sardine and Curry Chicken & Egg. They both go for SGD 1.50 each. They’re much smaller than J2’s curry puff and the crust is different. These babies are handmade and the crust is buttery and thin. There’s a decent amount of stuffing inside too. The owner was exceedingly friendly and courteous. I found this unusual in a hawker center stall but most welcome.

Rolina-Bib-Gourmand

I brought some back to Malaysia but it’s not as nice after reheating since the skin doesn’t keep its crispness. It’s much better when it’s hot and fresh. The buttery crunchy skin is an important part of what makes a curry puff good. I liked both the curry chicken and sardine but the sardine one resonated with me more coz it’s spicy. It’s a lot spicier than I expected. Very good.

Nouri Singapore (1 Michelin star) – Teishoku lunch at a superb restaurant

Nouri-SG

Nouri is one of the new restaurants who received their first Michelin star in the Michelin Guide Singapore 2018. I was excited to check out this place. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. The main seating inside the restaurant is a large white marble dining table which flanks the kitchen. The chefs literally plates in front of you so you can see them working while you eat. Chef-owner Ivan Brehm was there to cook and explain the dishes to all the customers.

Nouri

I love places like this coz I’m a total food nerd. Burnt Ends have a similar setup. The same restaurateur group is behind both. This makes the dining experience more intimate as you can see the elements that goes into your dishes and talk to the chefs while they’re preparing your food. I was here with my dad for their “Teishoku” style a la carte lunch. You choose the main (vegetable, pork or fish) you want – appetizers and desserts are included.

Rice-Sourdough-Basil-Butter

The meal started with a slice of rice sourdough bread made in-house with basil butter. The bread was warm and crusty – delicious! I like how easily the basil butter spreads. This is a minor thing but some restaurants – even Michelin starred ones – serve cold butter that’s nigh impossible to spread. Both my dad and I loved this.

Brazilian-Street-Snack

Chef-owner Ivan called this complimentary appetizer a Brazilian street snack. He explained that many people here think it’s Indian but it originates from South America. The caviar-like pearls on top are okra seeds. That’s ingenious! There’s tons of flavor in both the crispy lentil filled bite and the exquisitely nuanced frothy base with oil. It’s so yummy my dad couldn’t hide his approval.

Nouri-Seafood

I went for the Seafood (SGD 44) which is described as locally caught parrotfish, physallis beurre blanc, watermelon radish salad, red vein sorrel. There are 4 side dishes included with every main. I’ll explain them later. The grouper was mild tasting, but the Cape gooseberries adds a nice acidity to the dish. The creamy sauce was excellent. It’s overall a more subdued main dish with clean flavors.

Vegetable-Restaurant-Broth

Vegetable “restaurant” broth. This simple sounding side dish is made of 7 different types of organic vegetables. It’s served hot in a double walled shot glass you can pick up and slurp. I really enjoyed the intense and varied flavors within, as did my dad. He was very impressed.

Organic-Watermelon-Radish

Organic watermelon radish with black pepper sauce had dashi jelly, Tahitian vanilla and wild whole green pepper mixed in. I thought that was very interesting. It’s an unusual flavor combination but I like it.

Sambal-Ikan-Bilis-Acaar

Yacon and tapioca with sambal ikan bilis and red chilli achaar. This small side dish is absolutely packed with flavor! The anchovy sauce is so intense tasting. It goes very well with the creamy element and milder tasting tapioca. Excellent combination. My dad liked this a lot.

Snowpea-Beetroot-Salad

Snow pea and beetroot salad with fermented tamarillo dressing was done competently but the light flavors made this more of a palate cleanser. Nothing wrong with that, the different intensities in flavor help balance things out.

Nouri-Vegetable

My dad went for the Vegetable (SGD 32) which was described as 48 hour caramelized orange, aged carnaroli rice, roasted yacon, Carles Roquefort. Roquefort Carles is a famous unpasteurized artisan blue cheese. It was intense! So rich and complex. We both loved it! There’s bits of orange fruit to cut through the strong flavors sprinkled on the dish. We both enjoyed this tremendously. The carnaroli rice is very different from our rice – each grain is distinct and firm. Very well executed.

Pickled-Lemon-Cranberry-Ice-Cream

Dessert was pickled lemon and cranberry ice cream with clove and creme fraiche. This was a sublime end to our lunch. The bright, acidic flavors of the ice cream finished the meal on a delightful note. I always feel acidic desserts work better than chocolate ones. My dad, not being a big dessert fan, finished everything on his plate. That’s how splendid it was.

Chef-Iven-Brehm

The service at Nouri was extremely good. All the waiters and chefs were very friendly and attentive. I dropped my napkin and they promptly changed it. Chef-owner Iven Brehm came over to introduce every dish and served us personally, which was an excellent touch. One of them remembered I wanted to take a photo with Chef Ivan and prompted me as we were about to leave. The prices for lunch was very reasonable too! We spent SGD 102 (RM 310) in total. There’s a SGD 5 charge per pax for their water but I don’t mind it at all. I’ll definitely be back for dinner! I feel Nouri has great potential to move to 2 Michelin stars in the future.

Nouri-Singapore

Nouri
72 Amoy Street, Singapore

PUTIEN Kitchener Road (1 Michelin star)

PUTIEN-Michelin-star

My dad and I are both Heng Hua from Putien. The Heng Hua diaspora is one of the smallest groups in Malaysia. I thought it’ll be a great idea to bring him for dinner at PUTIEN, Kitchener Road. PUTIEN serves authentic Heng Hua cuisine. They have many branches in Singapore and Malaysia but only the original Kitchener Road one has a Michelin star. I’ve met many people who swear by the food here and it’s the only PUTIEN they’ll eat at.

PUTIEN-Kitchener-Road

I asked my sister to call them coz they only accept phone reservations but for some reason they didn’t have my name on the ledger when we arrived. Luckily, we were able to share a table with another duo. The Kitchener Road outlet is exceedingly packed – I saw a guy trying to secure a 30 min slot via walk-in. He claims he’ll be able to finish eating and be out within half an hour!

PUTIEN-Pomelo

I ordered a few of their signature dishes to try. PUTIEN furnished us with complimentary pomelo from Putien in China as an appetizer. It was pink and sweet with very little bitter notes. I also like the attention to detail – they served it on a bed of shaved ice.

PUTIEN-Sweet-Sour-Pork

PUTIEN Sweet & Sour Pork with Lychees (SGD 13.90 for small) is their flagship and it tastes amazing! I love sweet & sour pork but a lot of the dishes in zi char restaurants are done as a mere afterthought with not much attention paid to it. It has become a pedestrian dish but PUTIEN’s version has a crispy exterior wrapping tender whole pork chunks with a delicately sweet sauce. It’s well balanced and very moreish. 10/10! It’s the best version of sweet and sour pork I’ve ever eaten. I love the lychees too. Yum.

Bian-Rou-Soup

PUTIEN Bian Rou Soup (SGD 4.80/pax) is something my hometown of Sibu is famous for as well. It’s minced pork in a wrapper but PUTIEN does a higher end version of it. The pork is chilled, never frozen, and pounded using a mallet instead of a chopped with a cleaver. The wrapper they use is gossamer thin and delicate. It’s very good! It tastes like the ones we get in Sibu but a lot more sophisticated – better rice wine, higher quality vinegar etc.

PUTIEN-Homemade-Tofu

Homemade Bean Curd (SGD 10.90 for small) was my dad’s selection. He loves tofu and he’s a bit of a tofu connoisseur. It’s something he always orders when we have dinner, so I’ve also eaten a lot of tofu by proxy. This is very exquisite – soft, yet firm tofu with a nice textured “crust”, an intricate silken sauce and well-balanced flavors. It tastes like one of my dad’s favorites from Rejang Park in Sibu but superior in execution. Delicious.

100-Second-Croaker

“100-second” Stewed Yellow Croaker (SGD 13.80) is another one of their famed dishes. It’s a type of fish found in Putien that has been steamed for just 100 seconds in a claypot. Unfortunately, this fish has a lot of bones. By a lot, I mean every single minute piece has 100 bones inside. You’ll probably not enjoy this if you don’t like bones in fish. Neither my dad nor I liked this, which wasn’t really helped by the lack of flavor.

PUTIEN-Heng-Hwa-Beehoon

Fried Heng Hwa Bee Hoon (SGD 9.80 for small) is a must order here. This is a Chinese National Intangible Cultural Heritage item and the noodles are milled by hand in Putien. There’s quite a lot of seafood under the dish – clams, prawns etc. The noodles are nicely textural with a bit of a bite and there’s a lot of smokiness. Lots of wok hei. It goes very well with their sweet and sour lychee pork.

PUTIEN-Spice-Mum-Chilli-Sauce

You must add the PUTIEN Spice Mum Chilli Sauce to the bee hoon to kick it up a notch. Their chilli sauce is excellent! Spicy, acidic and appetizing. I even bought a bottle to bring back home. It usually retails for SGD 6.80 but they had SGD 1.80/bottle promotion as part of their 18th anniversary celebrations.

PUTIEN-Chopsticks

The cashier gave me a pair of PUTIEN branded chopsticks as a free gift when I paid the bill! I thought that was cool. I love food related souvenirs.

PUTIEN-Us

PUTIEN Kitchener Road has very attentive service. I told our waitress I’ll serve myself coz I wanted to take photos first. The waitress noticed I wasn’t using the bowls they provided for the 100-second croaker and told us it tastes better with the soup and served us when she saw I was done with my pictures. The food was also delicious! It tastes super familiar to us, which means the food in Sibu is authentic Heng Hua too, despite being away for several generations. Everything tastes like home but better executed! The bill came up to just SGD 67 (RM 200) which is very reasonable! Recommended!

Tarte by Cheryl Koh (Pastry chef at 2 Michelin star Les Amis)

Tarte-by-Cheryl-Koh

I’m not the type of person that goes gaga over desserts. I am faintly bemused by the parade of unicorn shakes, cheese drinks, bingsu and HK egg waffles that has taken over the minds of the populace by storm. I enjoy desserts, I just don’t normally seek them out. Tarte by Cheryl Koh was an exception. I made a pilgrimage after my Shisen Hanten lunch so I could check them out. Cheryl bakes all of the tart bases here personally!

Tarte-by-Cheryl

Cheryl Koh was awarded Asia’s Best Pastry Chef 2016 by S.Pellegrino’s 50 Best list. She’s also the resident pastry chef of 2 Michelin star Les Amis. That’s very impressive credentials and the tarts she serves has an equally impressive price tag. Tarte by Cheryl Koh sells each small tart for SGD 10 (SGD 11 for dine in) which is high even by Singaporean standards. Despite that, I saw a constant stream of people dropping in to takeaway some tarts. I wanted to experience the café so I ordered a latte (around SGD 8) to go with my sweet tart.

Seasonal-Fig-Tart

I asked the girl which tart she thinks is best and she recommended the seasonal fig tart (SGD 11). There are beautiful slices of fresh figs on top of fresh cream and a buttery, crumbly tart base. The flavors go very well together, and they’re accentuated even more by my palate-cleansing latte. Their coffee is by Gryphon Coffee (a small batch roaster) and it’s very tasty! I was also amazed by how delicious the fig tart is. It’s mildly sweet so it’s not cloying. This is perfection in a tart!

Tarte-SG

I also ordered a pistachio tart (SGD 10) to go since I like their takeaway box. There are crumbs of pistachios on top of pistachio cream and their faultless buttery tart base. Delectable! All the tarts at Tarte by Cheryl Koh are newly made. They don’t keep a lot of inventory and there’s a constant stream of freshly baked tarts appearing. It’s a little costly but well worth the money. This is the quintessential representation of a perfect tart. 11/10!

Big Prawn Hor Fun @ Kok Sen Restaurant (Bib Gourmand)

Kok-Sen-Restaurant

Let me share with you one of the best things I’ve eaten this trip. It doesn’t have a Michelin star but it has won the Bib Gourmand award for three years running – ever since the inception of Michelin Guide Singapore. I hesitate to use superlatives but Kok Sen truly is Flavortown! I should add that I came here with a friend after our 1 Michelin star Labyrinth dinner so the review isn’t colored by my hunger. It’s even more impressive considering I was slightly full, or at least, satiated.

Kok-Sen-Singapore

Kok Sen is best described as a zi char restaurant. It has been serving up favorites for over 50 years! There’s no air-conditioning and the place is extremely packed. You’ll need to queue up for a table and tables are shared for parties of less than 4-6. It’s very noisy and slightly uncomfortable but the premises are very clean, especially compared to Malaysian dai chow places.

Kok-Sen-Big-Prawn-Hor-Fun

This is the famous Kok Sen Big Prawn Hor Fun (SGD 18 for small). It’s one of their signature dishes. The thick, sticky sauce is made with peanuts 🥜, sweet chilli sauce 🌶️ and egg 🥚. It tastes like a cross between satay sauce and chilli crab 🦀. The sauce coats the hor fun perfectly. This comes to your table piping hot and it’s best eaten immediately. The dish is topped with 2 big prawns 🦐 sliced into halves that’s cooked to perfection. I don’t know how something can taste so good but this wok hei packed dish is divine!

Kok-Sen

I was lost in the incredible flavors and my tasting notes were reduced to Trump-like simple hyperbole. So prawny! So umami! So salty! So belacan-y! So yums! So much wok hei! So saucy! So so so recommended! I’m lost in Flavortown!! There you have it. All I wanted to do was to shovel more hor fun and sauce into my mouth. I couldn’t get enough! It was a compulsion – my brain was telling me to EAT MORE OF THIS GOODNESS! I wanted to immerse myself and swim in that awesome gravy. I highly recommend Kok Sen. 10/10. You need to come here and try this.

Brickfields Famous Char Kuey Tiaw & Cendol

Brickfields-CKT

Who wants to sit under the blazing hot sun on uncomfortable stools strewn by the sidewalk with loud motorbikes and cars zooming inches away from you while you eat a plate of CKT? Surprisingly, quite a lot of people. I’m not sure if the exhaust smoke adds to the flavor but this no-name stall in Brickfields is packed during lunch. Or so it seems when it was at the sidewalk opposite. Now that it’s at a roomier five foot way, it doesn’t seem that crowded.

Char-Kueh-Tiaw-Brickfields

I’ve been wanting to eat here and my adventurous lunch kaki and her friend jio me today. Brickfields Char Kuey Tiaw is just a stall built with corrugated sheets at a pedestrian sidewalk near my office. It’s a mystery how a place like this received operating permits. I imagine it was grandfathered in back in the days coz you never see stalls like this outside of a permanent structure now. The famous cendol in Brickfields is located right beside it.

Brickfields-Famous-CKT

You need a certain type of person to appreciate the CKT here. If you insist on air-conditioned comfort, Brickfields Char Kueh Tiaw is not for you. It’s sweltering hot, very noisy and quite uncomfortable. I have to admit, I did wonder why people want to put themselves through this. I’m not a huge fan of getting soaked with sweat and walking around for the rest of the workday with BO. But I wanted to try it. They fry each plate of CKT individually and have a sign stating they’re open from 12:03 pm – 9:32 pm. I thought that was hilarious.

Brickfields-Cendol

The cendol is slightly salty due to the unsweetened (or salted?) coconut milk. I like it but one of my lunch companions didn’t. I think the slightly salty cendol is nicely balanced. It’s a lot more interesting to eat this than a one-dimensionally sweet cendol. Your taste buds are a lot more interested and engaged with a sodium tinged cendol. 8/10.

CKT-Brickfields

I ordered the CKT with an extra fried egg (RM 8). I had been warned that the CKT here is not the dry wok hei type of affair. It’s a slightly soggy and moist plate. You will likely be let down on your first bite. The taste creeps up on you. There’s prawns, siham, lap cheong, and crispy fried pork lard – all the ingredients that’s supposed to be in a plate of CKT.

Brickfields-CKT-Us

I prefer eating rice with lots of meat so maybe my verdict is slightly colored by my penchant for flesh. I’m inclined to be more carnivorous during mealtimes to get my protein macros in. It’s not a bodybuilding thing, I’ve always liked eating lots of meat products. Taste wise, it’s alright but not the best plate of CKT I’ve ever had. I give it 5/10 but you may like it more if you enjoy eating CKT.

Saturday brunch @ Foo Hing Dim Sum, Puchong

Foo-Hing-Puchong

The last time I went to Foo Hing was over 6 months ago. I was writing an article for Malay Mail about dim sum and they were one of the places I covered. You can’t sample a lot of different items when you’re eating alone, so when May organized a casual dim sum brunch, I thought I’ll take this opportunity to find out more about what’s good here. I know they’re famous for their Portuguese egg tarts, and justifiable so, but I’m less familiar with their savory offerings.

Foo-Hing-Dim-Sum

I tend to order the same thing every time since I know what I like. These will inevitably be some variation of har gao (prawn dumplings) coz I love the stuff. But after watching an episode of Samurai Gourmet, I realized that I’ve been too safe and adventurous while ordering food. Their chai tow kueh (fried carrot cake) with chai bo (pickled turnip) is decent. I was tasked with finishing this and I didn’t mind at all.

Fried-Egg-CCF

I also discovered a very beautiful thing – this is chee cheong fun with egg. It doesn’t sound like much and it looks quite pedestrian but it’s delicious! They fry an egg with lots of oil so it bubbles up Chinese-style, and roll it in the CCF. You get the familiar comfort of a fried egg with the slippery texture of the thin rice wraps. It’s surprisingly good. This came highly recommended from May and I’m glad I had it. It’s something I wouldn’t have discovered by myself. Simple, yet delectable.

Dim-Sum-Foo-Hing

This was Ah Bok’s selection. It’s Chinese short pastry filled with BBQ pork and topped with pork floss. I also enjoyed this tremendously. I like sweet notes in my meat and this has it in spades. The texture of the pastry is also quite pleasant.

Deep-Fried-Prawn

I went with a few variations of deep fried prawn dim sum. There’s a tubular version with thin wonton wrap and a thicker, doughier one. They both taste similar, but the textures are different. Mouth feel is very important in dim sum.

Soy-Skin-Dim-Sum

This soggy mess of pork with soy bean curd wrap is also quite good. Again, something I wouldn’t have chosen myself but I’m glad I tried.

Portuguese-Egg-Tarts

Naturally, we finished with their yummy Portuguese egg tarts. I really like them but as I mentioned in the Malay Mail article, my favorite Portuguese egg tarts are the ones KFC had circa 2010. Haha. You won’t believe me but they’re the fucking bomb! Perfect pastry crust. Please don’t lynch me. 😄

Guilinggao

Foo Hing also have a range of tong sui desserts. I went with gui ling gao. I haven’t had this in a long time and I enjoy the bittersweet flavours. Pretty good. I read that most gui ling gao is not actually made with turtle due to the high cost of said ingredient.

Foo-Hing-Us

Dim sum at Foo Hing for the 5 of us worked out to around RM 30 each. I usually run up a similar bill by myself and I get to eat less variety. Dim sum is best enjoyed with other people so you can eat a range of different types. I also tapau 2 egg tarts home and tried their bakery style bun with BBQ pork filling (decent). We went for milk tea after and all the food and drink managed to fuel quite an intense workout session later. All in all, a nice Saturday morning.

Vishal Food & Catering BLR, Brickfields

Vishal-BLR

I got recommendations from 3 separate people to try Vishal BLR (banana leaf rice) after my previous post on the best lunch spots around Brickfields. I did a bit of Googling and heard a lot of positive things about them. Thus, I roped in my colleague and went to check it out just now. My office is in Menara 1 Sentrum but getting lunch partners interested in Indian food is a bit of a hard sell. The workplace is predominantly Chinese, and we usually go for Chinese food.

Vishal-Me

However, I’m a huge fan of Indian food and two of my favorites around here are Husen’s bombastic onion chicken and Singh Chapati House. I’m also going to Singapore in a week’s time and I booked 1 Michelin star The Song of India to check out their Deepavali dinner.

Vishal-Banana-Leaf

I decided to see if Vishal would impress. It certainly has its legion of fans. Vishal BLR is a 9 minute walk from my office, which is at the upper limits of how far people are willing to go for lunch. The furthest place we’ve been is 2 minutes less than this.

Chicken-65

I was told to get the fish cutlet and the “red color chicken”. Thanks June…that’s very helpful. 🙄 It’s not like most Indian chicken dishes are red. Hehe. She later clarified it looks like tandoori chicken and it’s fried, so I think I managed to get the right one. It’s Chicken 65 but I later found out this was the wrong red colored chicken. It wasn’t anything special.

Fish-Puttu

I also got some fish puttu, which is minced baby shark fried with egg. This tastes exactly like the dai chow shark’s fin and egg dish they serve at old school Chinese restaurants. The one you wrap in a lettuce before eating. It’s very plain. I expected more from Indian food. It didn’t make me go doo doo doo doo in joy.

Stringray

My third selection was stingray cooked in a sour sauce. “Eh, how come this dish sour one?” my friend squinted suspiciously. I also noticed she didn’t eat the stingray after that first bite. The flesh of the stingray was overcooked and rubbery and the sauce wasn’t the best I’ve had.

Vishal-Brickfields

I want to say that the flavors are beautiful and inviting. That it’s a symphony of seasoning on my palate. Or probably a Bollywood tune since it’s Indian food. That the distillation of spices and aromas into a song-and-dance in my mouth with lots of loose-flowing saris and grinning men doing the Indian head bobble on my tongue is a magnificent experience. That it was a “10/10 groomed mustaches” experience.

Vishal-Food-Catering

Unfortunately, I found the whole experience rather mediocre. Worst still, I felt like I have wasted my calorie allowance by eating this BLR. The prices are quite reasonable though – RM 6.20 for the rice with refillable veggies and curries and around RM 6 per small plate of protein. But I probably wouldn’t ever return. Have you ever been to Flavortown? I have, and it’s not here.

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