Monday, September 29, 2014

Les Patisseries Toa Payoh

Opened by three young culinary graduates, Les Patisserie may be "another cafe in the hoods" but not quite so because it churns out some fine French pastries which caught my curiosity. Very much so since there is a scarcity of good ones in SG. 
Dulcey Hazelnut $7
I selfishly wished that the people could just focus on pastries and execute them well. But perhaps diversifying into savoury brunches, light pasta meals and coffee is also part of their survival strategy. Trying to be as fair as possible (though it's still impossible la), I went twice and tasted everything except for the Fraiser, Tarte Au Citron and Tarte Tartin.

Is this Rocky or Softy?
L'Rocky ($7) created a false illusion of a sophisticated multi-textured gateau when it was simply a chocolate mousse-sponge coated with chocolate ganache. What could be an unadulterated chocolate experience was tainted by the rancid nuts and some compressed honeyed almond chips that failed to impart any exciting crunch. Same goes for the Chocolate macaron ($2.50/pc). It looked pretty but the meringue shells seemed to be subjected under much tension. Too chewy. 

I would be heavily condemned for trivializing the original inventor of the Plaisir because this is quite a faithful and successful reproduction of almond jaconde, vanilla Bavarian cream and chocolate mousse. Treading a safe and cautious path, the Plaisir could etch out a sharper character if the Pate a Bomb was torched longer for a more brilliantly golden caramelized sheen.
But to my great relief, I managed to find the Creme of the crop here-Dulcey Hazelnut $7. Like the buttery sweetness of melted Valhorna Blonde, there is a sublime overload of gooey milk jam, accented marvellously by the under layer of nutty nibbling and crunchy tart shell. Don't say I didn't warn you about the sweetness. But it's truly a revelation of the senses.
(Updates: the original tart shell has changed to chocolate shell on my most recent visit)
I can't appreciate coffee but I do love my Opera. The alternating layers of smooth, robust coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache worked in synchrony, triggering relapse of haunting and bitter melancholy. 
The pastries that I had on my 2nd visit fared much better, though the Salted Caramel macaron is still too chewy. The stretchy innards of the Croissant ($2.80) has a delectable saltiness which most croissants lacked, but it is still not the best in town.
If you are a fan of mango, then I'm quite sure you'll like the Mango Mousse Cake. Yes, the components were too prosaic but the silky texture of the mousse was noteworthy. Best of all, the chefs got the right sweetness. 
This mountain-lookalike Italian classic consists of two biscuit sponges layered with mascarpone cream. Texture works but not the java flavour as the espresso and coffee liquor were too weak. 
Forest Berry $6.50
Not a novelty, but alas something that is quite rarely spotted here. Crunchy, lightly salted Sable Base topped with berries and piped with Creme patisserie. Together with the Dulcey Hazelnut Tart, this gave me the hope that Les Patisserie has the potential to create more promising pastries, if they can break out of the saturated zone. 

Price Range: Reasonable 
$5.50-$8.50 for petit cakes
$2.50 / macaron
$2.80 for plain croissant
Les Patisseries
Blk 186, Toa Payoh Central #01-428
Singapore 310186
10am-10pm Daily

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Boiler: It's a Crustacean Feast

Run by bankers-turned restauranteurs, The Boiler is an Louisiana style Seafood restaurant located in the most unthinkable place-Tai Seng Industrial area. But the location doesn't seem to matter at all, given that it was brimming with diners on a weekday night of our visit.
First up, we kicked off the lobster relvery with the Live whole Boston lobsters that are available in three different sauces. The Works (spiciness ranging from mild to raging hot), Garlic Butter and Peppa ButterThe Works is piquant with an assam-like tang, but not too spicy. With lobsters shipped in daily from US, the taste can hardly go wrong. Sweet and not overcooked, the chunky fleshes might be a hassle to remove from the shells at first but all efforts were rewarded when you mopped down with the sauces.
But we soon found out that it's got more to offer than the lobster. Pick from brown crabs, prawns, mussels, clams and then choose your sauce. That said, the heartiest way to round off the evening is to feast on the Boiler's Bombdiggity Bag ($139/4); literally a seafood bomb filled with everything including sausages, corns and some deep-fried mantou buns at the side for soaking up the juices. 
The starters were overall quite impressive too. The Louisiana Spicy Mid Joint Wings ($8.90) were zappy with a nice sour kick that makes you grab for more. The Southern Chicks and Waffles ($9.90) had plenty of crisp, not only in the chicken but more importantly in the waffles that were drizzled in maple syrup. I shy away from the Bacon Shrimp ($11.90) in smoky Hickory sauce because they were too salty. 
As for the Fish & Chips ($12.90), it's a classic in its own league. The fish stayed moist and piping hot within a light, crunchy batter.

The Signature Lobsicle ($15.90), aka lobster on Popsicle, might be safer in the Boiler instead of the deep fryer as they were too chewy.
Business was so good that the chocolate molten lava cake ran out of stock and so we settled for the C.B.D, a pungent pun on the business district of Singapore because it stood for Crispy Banana Durians. Forget about the Bananas were substituted by yams that night, cos the pungent durians have already stolen the limelight. 
As we all know, never judge a restaurant by the history or the location. Despite being opened only for a few months, it's no nonsense when it comes to the Cajun-style lobsters here. Walk in, sit down and put on the apron. We did. And we ate. We ate very well indeed. 
PROMOTION!! LIVE Lobsters are going at $49 (usual $79) till end of Sept

The Boiler 
18 Howard Rd
#01-06, Novelty Bizcentre
Singapore 369585
Tel: +65 6635 1285
Access: Tai Seng MRT Exit B

Thank you Derrick and Carrie for the invite and hosting!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Yojiya Cafe よーじや: From Kyoto to Tokyo

If you have been to Kyoto, you may have come across Yojiya, a famous cosmetic brand best known for their oil-blotting paper. It has finally stepped out of Kyoto to set up a cafe in Shibuya, Tokyo. 
Menu might not be as extensive as the cafe in Kyoto but it still features popular items like this Yojiya matcha parfait (¥1000). It is quite hard to forget this parfait, not because of the rather "scary" face but because it is exceptionally sweet.

The Vanilla ice cream tasted like condensed milk and one catches the usual suspects such as matcha ice cream, warabi mochi, red beans and black beans. Overall quality surpassed Morinoen and you can go for this after trying Gion Tsujiri, Kyo Hayashiya's and Gion Tokuya's version. 
Yojiya Cappucino 

Not cookie but Black Bean Financier that comes with the Cappuccino!
There are plenty of matcha sweets to satisfy the matcha lovers. But not sure if it's a good thing to list out the calories for each item on the menu. The calories for the Yojiya's parfait is as scary as the image so if you are concerned about it, there is a smaller version at ¥800.

I was dismayed by the small and lacklustre portions of the Mont Blanc Set. Each ball composed of houjicha/macha chestnut paste, chantily cream and a soft sponge. The Monaka Wafers which diverted away some sweetness, were slightly stale. If you are looking for Matcha or Houjicha Mont Blanc, head to Sanoah 
Other sweets include Matcha Tiramisu, matcha chiffon cake, matcha brownie. For savouries, there is also a small selection of Kyo-style pasta. The Matcha latte powder and soft cookies which I tried on my previous visit to Kyoto, are also available at the retail corner.

Yojiya Cafe よーじや
Shibuya Hikarie B2
Nearest Station: Shibuya
10am-9pm Daily
Last Order 8.30pm

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh : Dark Clouds Looming

Standards have dropped tremendously. The lukewarm bak kut soup ($7/pax) was the ominous sign of a meal that eventually went downhill. The pork ribs, regardless of which country it came from, was not consistently cooked. It was the first time I encountered so much difficulties tearing off the meat from the bones.

When cold lettuces and cold pig liver/kidney slices are thrown into a broth that is not hot enough, the final outcome of the Pig Liver & Kidney Soup ($5) was a mishap that stink of blood. Besides Bak Kut Teh, this place also sells some zi char dishes like the miserable plate of Sambal Potato Leaves ($7) full of withered greens. Other side dishes include braised beancurd skin ($3), braised peanuts ($2) and braised pig skin ($2) but none raised above the bar. Perhaps the Mee Sua Soup ($2) and the Fried Prawn Roll ($10) were the only pillars we could lean on.
Ironically, isn't this place known for its Bak Kut Teh in the first place?
Rong Cheng Bak Kut Teh 榕城(新民路)肉骨茶
Blk 26 Sin Ming Lane #01-114/117
Mid View City
Singapore 573971
7am to 9pm daily

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lola's Cafe Singapore

The glut of cafes that opened in Singapore within the last year has left me in a spot of disconnectedness with the people who are actively involved in "cafe-hopping". So I did some research before heading to Lola's Cafe which was suggested by Ms K. Strangely, it seems like the entire nation is heading for the brunches instead of the dinners (perhaps the fetish for egg bens has yet to subside).

One of the most tried-and-tested dishes here is the Avocado Egg Bens ($15). Nothing much astonishing about this but the excellently toasted brioche was so crunchy and ideal for mopping up the mixture of runny egg and sweet salad dressing that collected on the plate.The Honey and Paprika Wings ($10)  were indeed so popular that customers who couldn't snap a seat, were ordering it for takeaway. Juicy and sweet, these chickens would definitely be even satisfying with more spice. 
dark chocolate tart with coffee cream ($5)
Earl Grey Tart ($5)
Black Tea Prune Brownie with Vanilla ice cream ($7)
The dark chocolate tart with coffee cream ($5) could be the best bet out of the three sweets we've had. Speckles of sea salt tempered the bittersweet cacao ganache within a thin chocolate tart shell, though I couldn't recall tasting baileys or espresso in the cream. Meanwhile, I failed to comprehend an Earl Grey Tart ($5) whose filling resembles mudflow. Not sure if it was intended to be of such loose consistency or to be curd-like as those of lemon meringue tarts. The Black Tea Prune Brownie with Vanilla ice cream ($7) might not win brownie points on its looks but the clever use of tea-soaked prunes injected another dimension of sweetness to an otherwise archetypical baked chocolate cake. 
Lola's Café 
5 Simon Rd, 545893
Brunch 10am-3pm
Snacks 3pm-6pm
Dinner 6pm-11.30pm

Monday, September 22, 2014

日本茶菓 SANOAH : Matcha vs Houjicha

Sanoah is one of the rare Japanese patisserie that specializes in sweets made using Japanese Tea. There is only about 3-4 Nama-gashi (mousse cakes) but "less can be more" as each creation is of high quality.

Caramelized Walnuts Sandwich
Shittori Gateau Chocolate Cake (made with France Chocolate) 
Can you tell which tea flavour each belong too? (From left) Matcha Sencha Houjicha 

The Matcha and Houjicha Mont Blanc are creations above the notch as the intensity of the tea played down the sugariness and cloyiness that one might fear of a traditional French Mont Blanc.

Each piece contained an elastic mochi pastry skin that is filled with fresh Chantily and sponge, then piped subsequently with either matcha bean paste or houjicha bean paste. 
Sometimes the usual matcha roll or green tea parfaits can become all too-common. And thus I was delighted to spot this new summer creation on the shell. What an arduous task it must have been for the chefs to assemble the chestnut mousse, pear and peach mousse neatly onto the bitter matcha mousse and sponge. But the results were rewarding--the mousse were smooth and fruity, without abusing the sugar. 
日本茶菓  Sanoah
-Isetan Shinjuku Basement
Nearest Station: JR Shinjuku or Metro Shinjuku-sanchome
-Isetan Urawa 
Saitama Prefecture
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