Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chicken Champ

**First & foremost, pls be informed that this is merely my personal opinion and NOT some (official) review whatsoever. Read on with a pinch of salt, if you may.**

My mum had asked that we try out the 'fried chicken place' by the Nuradee brothers. She read an article about it in the papers.

Fried chicken? Of all things, why fried chicken? Instantly, Arnold's came to mind.

Chicken Champ

I hurriedly checked the web for any details pertaining to its location - and only came up with the online version of the newspaper article that published their story.

In my hurry to find the place (I was looking for the signboard), my parents, who were behind me actually found it instead. I don't see any signs. My bro told me that I overlooked the 'mascots' standing in front.

Namely the bosses themselves, the Nuradee brothers.

Live performance

When our food first arrived, the brothers seemed to be gearing up for a performance.

True enough, one of them started strumming and they soon belt out one top-40 hits after another. In both English & Malay.

I found a relative there with his SEVEN kids, son-in-law and grandchild; celebrating his wife's birthday. The brothers, upon knowing that; broke into a birthday song- sung in all 4 languages.

They also sang their own heart-rending song, in conjunction with Mother's Day (a week late, but nvm).

Their harmonious voices (which admittedly, I'm a big fan of) really whet our appetite as they perform right there. I was kinda 'paiseh' when eating because the mini-stage where they performed was right beside our table.

..Not to mention how I have to 'thicken my skin' to take these food photos.

The menu

As I browsed thru the menu, I can't help remarking to my bro, "Reminds me of Arnold's." Really! 80% of the menu seemed similar!

Well, I heard their current operations manager used to work for Arnold's...

The Trio set

Yes it's meant for 3pax. 5pcs chicken, coleslaw, mashed potato, fries and an 11" submarine (sandwich). All for ard $30++.

The veggies in the coleslaw are in much bigger chunks than those in KFC & Arnold's, thankfully. And more creamy.

But the mashed potato are also like that from Arnold's - hopeless!

When these arrived, my bro whispered back to me, "Eh, exactly like Arnold's.."

One just can't help comparing!

THE fried chicken

Drats. I forgot to request for NO drumsticks. My mum was quick to reach for the wing. My bro and I had to settle for those darn legs.

The flour could be more spiced and crispy. I find the taste here to be more comparable to those from Tenderbest or Do & Mi, albeit being less greasy.

Nonetheless, Arnold's still rock my boat.

Battered onion rings

I sure prefer my onion rings done this way, compared to those breadcrumbed variety (for my bro, this apply for fish & chips as well).

Needless to say, we enjoyed them.

French fries

The thick-cut shoestring type. The way I like them. Doesn't seem salted when it arrived at our table. Not that I mind anyway.

Loaded potato skins

I can't recall the name for these here. 'Potato Munchies'? Or something along that line.

Potatoes with most of their 'meat' scraped off, then dipped in batter before being fried. It's then loaded with our chosen fillings (varieties available are similar to those of the submarines). We chose Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Dengdeng & Tuna. They're then topped with squiggles of nacho cheese & mayo. Comes in sets of 3's or 6's.

We agreed that these are the best so far.
They also serve rice with their chicken and there's also bolognese and seafood spaghetti. Not to mention spring chicken.

There's ice-cream for desserts. Also ice-kachang & chendol (but that time the ice-machine hadn't arrive yet).

At the end of it all, my family was pretty reluctant to leave because we totally enjoyed the brothers' performance (still ongoing when we left). But we gotta make way for other customers since the venue was pretty small and it was almost dinner time.

Imho, if you want good fried chicken (but equally less-than-appealing sides), go for Arnold's. Their fried chicken got oomph! But if you want fried chicken accompanied with good service and great live music; by all means, come to Chicken Champ.

Do check first, to see if the bosses are gonna sing that day.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mother's Day Meal 2

This is soo overdue.

My mum had always wanted to come here but I can't see to see what the big deal behind this place is. Worse, I did have a meal here sometime back and the experience had been less-than-pleasant. All the more that I avoid coming here (so far it's only been the VC outlet).

And come Mother's Day this year, I ran out of ideas as to where to bring my mum. Then I recall her eagerness to come to Fig & Olive that one time so I decide to just give them another shot. I was contemplating between their numerous branches and settled on Vivo City (yikes, I know!) for its convenience.

I actually forgot to make a reservation until that very day. Thankfully, I was to dine there at 4pm, which was in between actual meal-times so we managed to secure a table. I informed them that I have a baby pram and they thoughtfully gave us a table near the entrance.

We ordered one of their specialty platters (there's 2) but was later informed that they ran out of it. So I ordered the other specialty platter. No luck, too.

No surprise there. Considering it's Mother's Day and also due to their prime location, I'm not surprised if their turnover had been exceptionally high and food ran out fast.

But darn, I would love to sample the various things on their platter!

Maghribi Chicken w/ Olive Rice

"Herbs grilled chicken with Mediterranean style sauce serve with Olive rice..."

My mum's order. For once, she ordered chicken.

Honestly speaking, this reminds me of a Malay wedding. Namely, Nasi Minyak with Ayam Masak Merah.

But that is one heck of a Nasi Minyak. The rice was very fragrant and fluffy. My mum picked at the topping of olives but she eventually realised that they're aren't as bad as the ones that she's had before.

And that chicken dish was delightfully spicy with robust herb-y, tomato flavour. So not like the Malay version of Ayam Masak Merah. Maybe they really used Moroccan spices for this one. Delish!

Grilled Chicken BBQ Kebab

"Herbs grill chicken with BBQ sauce on mayo spread, onions and greens with choice of pita or herbs bun.."

I don't know if it's because my bro was watching his weight or he's skeptical of the food served at a Mediterranean restaurant (he dislikes Mediterranean food).
I was disappointed that he wasn't adventurous enough to try their gourmet sets. Not even the Fish & Chips. To me, this doner kebab is just sooo... common.

But to his advantage, a specialty restaurant should be able to transform something as simple as this into something really different. Or maybe it's just me, as someone who loves her sauces. They were pretty generous with the juicy chunks of marinated chicken that was drenched in the savoury BBQ sauce.

Zafira Zaytoon Steak

"Beef sirloin steak with Olive herbs, potato cilantro and fresh greens.."

My order and supposedly, one of their specials? I was gunning to order one of their steaks and I settled for this one cos' of that really Mediterranean-sounding name plus their side serving of baked potato, which I'm a big fan of.

The size of the steak got me kinda' taken aback. It's a tad small and thin, seriously. And the edge seemed to be where the tendon is and is kinda sinewy and tough. By the time I cut off that part, I ended up with an even smaller piece of meat. When asked about the done-ness, I was asked, "Rare, Medium or Well Done?"

I know that there are risks when I asked for Medium. The term medium, there are also medium-rare (slightly red/raw) or medium done (too cooked). Mine turned out to be medium-rare (50% reddish meat). Not that I really mind but I was worried if my dad got the same. He wouldn't have liked it.

The fresh garden salad appeased me a bit and that raw onion did go well with my slightly raw meat. I only picked at 3-4 olive bits before letting my dad relish in popping them into his mouth. He loves them olives!

The single potato was pretty small. So unlike the slightly bigger ones that I'm used to at Eatzi Steakhouse. I remember seeing in my cousin's photos that her friend had TWO of these small-sized potatoes on her plate. hmmph!

What's with the term, 'Cilantro Potato'? Where's the 'cilantro' aspect of it? Not a single green speck on it!

Figo Cyprus Steak

"Beef sirloin steak with fig herbs, fresh veggie served with choice of pasta or Olive rice..."

Sorry, but this plate was my dad's and it came out last so he was pretty ravenous by then and was not willing to co-operate with me to allow me to properly photograph his plate. Pfft.

Seeing my dad's plate made me regret my own order even more. His piece of meat was definitely bigger and come from a better part of the cow (more lean, less sinewy). And it came topped with fresh slices of figs! This dish should be the restaurant specialty then (has both Fig & Olive).

Seeing him relishing his meat, maybe the meat is done more to his liking (most likely, really Medium), thankfully.

And that clump of tomato-based pasta definitely looked more appetising than my 'cilantro' potato.

One of the actual reasons why I was drawn to have a meal there was because of the pic that my cousin posted on Facebook; of the meal she and her friends had at Fig & Olive (Jurong Point branch).

I was pretty disappointed to see that the portions that they had were definitely bigger and slightly different. I'm aware that Fig & Olive do franchising and all but shouldn't they at least monitor to see that portions and servings are at least standardised throughout all their branches?

Anyway, we ended our day with a picnic on the roof garden while munching on Yuo Tiao, Butterfly fritters and Ham Chim Peng (halal, from the stall in Food Republic) with perhaps hundreds other families out there. I dare say that at least 1/2 the crowd at Vivo City Mall that day pushed baby prams. And I'm no exception.

For once I enjoy being part of a crowd. These crowd of people who are out to let the women in their lives who are mothers; enjoy their day of celebration. These crowd of people where the women gladly display the prominent, yet unseen badge that label: MUM.

And for myself, who is celebrating my first Mother's Day as a mum, with my own mum - well, that day is indeed unforgettable.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mother's Day Meal 1

Hubby's bro-in-law had arranged for a Mother's Day celebration dinner on that Friday night at Makmur Restaurant (PKMS Building). Our big group was seated at their private dining area on the 2nd level (didn't know that place exists!).

I've had my meal there before and wasn't that very impressed by their zhi char style, which I deem to have been done the 'Malay way'.

Tom Yam Soup

Tom Yam Soup is getting to be pretty boring. It's everywhere, isn't it?

And yet, there ain't many variations. Same old, same old. Next time, I'm gunning for either Mock Shark's Fin Soup or Szechuan Hot & Sour Soup.

Deep-fried prawns

There was a slight debate on our side of the table, as we wondered what actually is the method of cooking.

I strongly felt that it's Butter Prawns cos' I've had something similar at Bali Thai before. Aunt insist on calling it Breadcrumb Prawns (cos that's what it seem to look like to her).

Whatever it is, it's the best dish on the table to me. Like the cereal bits in the popular Cereal Prawn dish, I took scoopfuls of that crispy bits to eat with my rice.

Spicy Squid

I have no idea what style of cooking this actually was. Spicy and slightly sweet. Tasted almost like sambal sotong, except for this certain taste that makes it somewhat different.

Not bad. Know what would have been good to add here? Leeks. Thickly cut leeks that's stir fried with the squid ringlets. Yum!

Black Pepper Crab

They used the Sri Lankan Crabs here, albeit the small-sized ones. Maybe it's because this is a Malay zhi char place, but I half expect them to use blue or flower crabs instead.

The sauce isn't that bad and the crab meat is slightly sweet. But I much prefer the sauce of the Chili Crabs that came after this one (not phtographed- hands already dirty).

I miss those kind of sauces where the egg is slowly stirred in and still remain visible, in the form of thick strands. And the egg-y taste give a totally different flavour. That would have been really yummy!

Sweet & Sour Seabass

Pardon the poor picture quality, here. Like the crabs, it seemed like they only serve small-sized seafood. Wished that the fish was fried till much crispier. If I'm not wrong, this fish is still swimming in the display tank prior to being fried. So it's fresh. Hubby like this dish enough to finish the remnants of the fish (and even asked if there's anymore).

The sauce was alright. It hard to go wrong with a sauce as common as Sweet &
Sour, rite?

Good reason why I still post this pic is to show you the chunks of onion wedges. Look back at all my pics. The onions seem ubiquitous! And they sure could've cut them smaller! Myself, being a fan of onions, was silly enough to sample the onion from every single dish just to know how they taste like with different flavours. Hence the major case of dragon's breath, post-meal. Ugh!

Other dishes that's not photographed were the Chili Crab, Onion & Chili Omelette, Oyster Sauce Kailan & Kangkong Belacan. Free dessert was provided, in the form of a large bowl of fruit cocktail.

The food here is pretty decent, imho. But I much prefer my Chinese-style zhi char to be cooked by Chinese hands. Maybe it's such a stereotypical notion - a cliche even. But that way, it's more authentic!

Monday, May 10, 2010

more random eats

Oh fish! I really need to get inspired...

Individual photos call for them to simply fall into the 'random' category.

Grilled chuka idako

My sis-in-law ordered these Chuka Idako (seasoned baby octopus, done Japanese style) during a recent family chalet cum bbq. From what I remember, these things are usually eaten cold as a side dish. However seeing it all skewered up like that and the local tendency of preferring their food eaten hot; we grill it just like the satay.

Thing is, the seasoning that coat these baby octopus were on the sweet side so naturally sweet things burn pretty easily at the grill, even before they got crisp. :P

That got the elders got all curious about the 'red sotong'. But they taste good all the same.

Chicken chop

Ordered from one of those western food stalls at your typical neighbourhood coffee shop. This kinda' thing rocks. In fact, better that the western fare served in some pricey restaurants out there. Portion-wise and even in terms of the taste.

The fillet of chicken thigh, though a little inferior compared to the one from Western Chow; tasted a little more than just decent and is not dry. The sauce, though the amount appeared a little measly, carried the robust black pepper taste without much of its heat.

The coleslaw was so-so. The thin shoestring fries are so typical, you should know how they're like. That bun rocked btw. I love those soft buns!

Let's not get to that straight-out-of-the-can baked beans shall we. That one is hopeless, la (makes a pretty decent dip for the fries, though)!

Well, I shouldn't complain much when it cost all of $5...

Fish & chips

And this platter here is merely $4.50.

That price just seem so old skool, rite? And the length of that piece of bread-crumbed fish fillet is the diameter of the plate!

Not exactly a healthy meal for lunch but it works well when you crave for something... well... sinful. When you're stressed, y'know?

Chicken, mutton & beef tripe satay w/ the works

Satay bought from one of the better stalls at East Coast Food Centre. But it sure is weird should we be seated near a certain satay stall yet we bought from another? Or that we ordered seafood from a stall that also sell satay yet we bought satay from another?


Anyway, my hubby asked for mutton so we got that for our red meat option instead of the usual beef. Tasted a little gamey and more tough. I would really have preferred the beef.

Both the chicken and tripe meat were tender and well-marinated. I like that the satay here was cooked nicely. The meat was cooked through and tentalisingly charred at the edges.

Kinda' missed the ketupats that used to come with the satay instead of these slices of lontong that's becoming more of the norm nowadays. Where else can we get that aside from the satay stall at Haig Road?

Cereal Prawns

This was the only dish that we ordered from our favourite seafood stall - Adimann Seafood. That day my mum decide to go back to ordering the usual stuff from a stall that we used to frequent - Musa Ikan Bakar BBQ; to see what we've missed all this while.

I dare say that we didn't miss much. All of us agreed in unison that next time, we should just stick to Adimann. However, I'm curious about this Halal Chinese BBQ seafood stall on the other side of the food centre... I hope to give that stall a try someday.

Hubby first thought that we'll be ordering from that stall. From his expression, he seemed to have taken a liking the the food from there. Hmm...

Anyway, this has gotta be my favourite version of the now ubiquitous cereal prawns (available at almost all zhi char places!). A good reason is that they don't skimp on the curry leaves and chili padi. Also, they actually use the Nestle (Nestum) brand of cereal which is kinda premium in my book.

And mind you, they serve a pretty big portion for this one. That includes the size of the prawns.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

seafood lunch

My colleagues and I, we finally got tired of the same old lunch foods from around our office area (colleague who drives was on looong leave).

We went to this Malay seafood (zhi char) stall nearby. Usually it's always those quick fry-ups stuff like the mee/nasi goreng, hor fun, chicken rice etc. However, that one time, we saw this group of people at the nearby table ordering the fried calamari and they looked so enticing that we reminded ourselves to order that, one day.

And one fine day, since the bosses aren't around, we decide to have a slightly-longer-than-usual lunch. And order that fried calamari with maybe the hotplate tofu. Simple, regular dishes at a zhi-char, aren't they?

deep-fried squid fritters

We looked high and low for 'fried calamari' on the menu signboard before finally telling the proprietress, "Sotong goreng tepung, yang garing tuh..." (batter fried squid, the crispy one...).

I figure out why we can't find the word 'calamari'. It's because they used only regular squid - namely, small and thin ones.

The ones here...The batter could have been a little bit more spiced, you know? And served also with mayo instead of a small platter of diluted chili sauce. If I make this at home, I'll make for myself; fresh wasabi mayo for dipping. Mmmm....!

The one I had at East Coast recently would have been more like it.

hot-plate tofu

One look and I know that it's gonna be a disappointment. Why was it that the silken tofu ain't coated with corn flour and fried, prior to being added to the gravy?

And the meager amount of egg at the base of the hotplate - so thin was it that it got too crispy and slightly burnt midway through tucking in.

And that reddish sauce... Shouldn't the gravy be oyster sauce-based and brown? The taste actually reminded me of the Szechuan Hot & Sour Soup - salty & sourish (heavy on the vinegar there). That's just so wrong, wasn't it?

Ok, lesson learnt. Next time, we shall just stick to those quick fry-ups or the chicken rice. Period. -_-

Monday, May 03, 2010

random eats

Eh, I almost forgot to post this. Been in draft-mode since... last week?

These are just random posting of foods from last week or so.

macaroni in creamy cheese sauce & mexican drumlets

Cooked a pot of this the night before, as requested by my bro; with some good-size tiger prawns for added flavour. He wanted to bring some to work early that morning. We ran out of his fave pasta, the penne so I used these humongous macaroni instead.

I only managed to grab a block of Kraft Cheddar cheese and a carton of full-cream milk from the petrol station late that night. I would have preferred some parmesan and evaporated milk so that I can make Mac&Cheese instead.

Anyway, I woke up only to be told by my mum that she and my dad had finished up the sauce. So I cooked another batch for myself. This time, I got pretty indulgent with my garlic & onion bits. Lazy to peel & clean them prawns so I just deep-fry these mexican drumlets as a side.

McD's Cinna Melts

The most talked-about and overrated item a fortnight ago. Or was it last month?

I ate it right after it was cooked and ended up scalding my tongue in the process. This is best eaten hot, when the sugar have not yet fully caramalised so it ain't that sweet.

Once it cool down, that's when the cloying-sweetness really kick in that you realise that this thing is just not worth the hype.

Cakes from Cedele

My lady-boss came in and joyfully remarked that she's bought us some cakes. I was crestfallen to see Cedele Depot's brown/orange box. Last I recall, their cakes ain't that very nice.

This time, she bought us the (L) Real Dark Chocolate Cake (choc. fudge cake with a hint of mocha flavour), (C) Chocolate Banana Espresso Cake (I don't recall any coffee taste with this one but I like the strussel on top), (R) Chocolate Truffle Cake (very rich taste!).

Ok, some of their cakes are pretty nice after all. Just hope my boss buy me the better ones next time...

mee soto

From that popular 'red-signboard' stall @ Adam Road Food Centre. 'Amirah & Nur Aniqah Mee Soto & Mee Rebus'. I finally cave-in after persistent urges from my foodie-of-a-colleague to give it a try.

Been a long time since I queued THAT long for my food. Those huge bagedils (potato patty) seem to be calling out to me while I was still in the queue. Of course I had to order those. Soto is not soto without the bagedil!

The free-to-scoop cili kicap (chili in soy sauce) in the big jar outside makes it tempting to just take a whole scoopful (doesn't help that they use a ladle) but I'm aware of my lower tolerance for spicy stuff nowdays so I controlled the urge and gingerly took a tablespoonful or so.

My verdict? Ok, more like MY MUM's verdict. She of pure Javanese descent, who had sampled a fair share of Soto (which is really Javanese chicken soup) in her 50+ years; declared its taste to be 'not-authentic'. She remarked that the soup had too many spices and she even detected the taste of curry powder in it, which is not right.

Real soto, she said; should have a robust chicken taste (free range or 'retired chicken is used to prepare the stock) and only a slight hint of spices.

Authentic or not, I have to agree with others who willingly queued for this stuff that it sure taste good. Especially on a cold, rainy afternoon. Shiok! The only issue is for me to have a personal debate with myself, whether to queue for this or the equally famous Selera Rasa nasi lemak the next time I'm there.

I want their chicken wings!!