Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bumbu Desa - Lucky Plaza

I asked my mum out after my doctor's appointment, since it's the eve of her birthday. However, she brought my 2 distant relatives; teenage girls from the small island of Blakang Padang along, since they were bunking over at her place for their school holidays. Oh well…

The day actually started off sunny. However after our Zuhur prayers at Al-Falah, the skies darkened and we didn't manage to go past Paragon, before the skies opened up. Being the only one with a small, folded umbrella, I volunteered to walked over the the shops at Lucky Plaza, buy an umbrella and send it to my group.

On the way, I noticed this really cool couple with 1 small folded umbrella each, actually asking around if anyone wants to share umbrellas with them to Lucky Plaza. And they were ferrying people to and from Paragon! Amazing!

Anyway, after that little adventure, we were really famished. Initial plans was to head to our favourite eatery, Ayam Bakar Ojolali but we somehow can't find it (this happens EVERYTIME!). While searching, we stumbled upon this small eatery, Bumbu Desa. I asked my mum if she want to try something new. She agreed.

Turns out, I've tried their food before.

I wasn't exaggerating with the term, 'small' for this premise. So cramped that when I sit, there's no more space for anyone to sit directly behind me so the seats had to be pushed underneath the table.

Menu board

Not exactly a wide array but the varieties are there.

Melinjo chips with sambal terasi

The crackers have already been packed into handy ziplock bags. Pretty useful for bringing back any uneaten remainders.

The sambal terasi that's served on the side is a little on the sweet side. But no less spicy! It also had visible bits of onions, which reminded me a lot like the Balinese sambal 'matah'.


Pretty forgettable, although I appreciate the taste of 'kencur' (aromatic ginger) in there.

May I suggest that they use smaller crockery next time? Especially when the food portions aren't too big. The large plate seemed to further underwhelm the already 'meh'-looking dish.

Sup sayur asem

Another forgettable dish. I've really forgotten how it taste like!

Satay Madura

One of the girls ordered this. I know that she isn't much of a heavy-eater but the portion had looked so dismal that she readily agreed when we suggest that she add-on a plate of rice.

Nasi Rames

Another girl opt for this (she must have been hungry).

Sigh… another dismal presentation. I think that even food bought from those Economy rice stall looked better when served.

That spot of gravy looked pathetic. With reference to the display picture, I had expected those curly fried noodles instead of that limp clump and there should be 2 pieces of chicken instead of that lone piece.

Bebek Goreng

And then my ordered dish arrived.

After having my expectations lowered by the other dishes, this one almost blew me away when it was served.

That was quite a sizeable piece of duck and it sure looks crispy! Well, it helps that it was served on a plate of the right size…

And it's yummy too! Very nicely marinated. I read somewhere that the marinated duck is usually steamed (ungkep) before being deep-fried for that crispy aftermath. Had a great time tearing off the crispy meat and dipping them in the given 'sambal terasi' and 'kecap manis'.

I savour every single bit of meat (using hands of course), down to nibbling at the bones. I guess they can always excuse it when a pregnant woman is eating with gusto.

I dare say that this version is even nicer that the one I had in Bandung.

Ikan Bakar Jimbaran

Surprisingly, I don't remember having this when at Jimbaran. Even when I was there, twice.

This version reminds me of the 'Ikan Panggang' served at where I used to stint at Sanur Indonesian Restaurant, once upon a time. Fish is simply marinated with salt and maybe tumeric, before being dipped in some soy sauce mixture, then grilled awhile.

It's then finish off in the deep-fryer for the delightful crispy finish.

Unlike Sanur, which used the sumptuous seabass; here it's simply freshwater fish (prolly a tilapia). The soy sauce coating did help to mask any muddy taste, thankfully.

My mum, ever the fish lover- she savoured this down to the bones, too.

Our lunch

Truth to be told, most the foods we had DO have that appetising taste. If you learn to ignore the really dismal presentation.

This is a place that doesn't really believe in the use of any garnishings, I guess.

Here are some pamphlets taken from the shop, for your reference.

…You're most welcome.

Bumbu Desa set menu
Weekend set menu

More set menu
Set menu

Lunch special
Lunch special

Did you manage to compare the pictures of the food on those pamphlets with the ones served to us?? How can I not have high expectations initially, you tell me?!

Even the names makes the dishes sound sooo good! Ayam Goreng Makassar, Ayam Goreng/Iga Mak Nyus, Rawon Mojokerto… Agh! Sound so delish!

Oh wait. **All Picture Are For Reference Only**

Darn, you didn't say…!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Orange Lantern ~ Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine

My bro is one of those who got their year-end bonus on the 12th of December and he wanted to bring his family out for a dinner treat. Also to celebrate my mum's birthday in advance.

We were having a headache when planning on what to have. From one buffet to another. This type of cuisine or this type of cooking style... Frustrated, I asked that my bro just asked my mum herself.

Turns out, she already had a place in mind. And one day before the dinner, I managed to book a table for us 5, inc. my kiddo. There, that settled everything. Phew!

My mum seemed to be curious about Orange Lantern, a restaurant that we've passed by on many, many occasions in Harbourfront Centre but never stepped into. Besides, I guess she's really curious about Vietnamese food in general because I kept regaling her about my experience with Mon An's food.

We arrived after a busy phase and the stuff were busy clearing the tables. They pointed out to the table that's been reserved under my name. It was at a nice corner with booth seats on one side and enough space for 6-7pax. I initially thought that it was too much space but I guess not… You'll know why, later.


Tentalising combo sets

I really like the combo sets. If I come in small groups and would want something for myself, I'll definitely go for this, which has a bit of everything.

Hot lemongrass w/ honey tea ~ $4.90

For my parents and myself.

Fried seafood platter ~ $7.90

My bro ordered this and seeing how small the portion really was, he ended up having it for himself and shared some with my kiddo.

Gỏi cuốn ~ $6.90

Vietnamese soft rice paper rolls. We were told that each portion has only 2 pieces so I ordered 2 plates. My bro refused to even touch the single piece that's left (too raw for him, he said). We eventually doggy-bagged it.

We were asked if we want the prawn of chicken version. We chose prawn.

True to it's popular name(s): salad roll or summer roll; this is indeed refreshing. It's served with this strong-tasting dip containing hoisin sauce, peanuts and some chili, or tương xào made from tương, a Vietnamese fermented bean paste/soy sauce.

Chả giò ~ $7.90

Vietnamese Imperial Rolls. Spring rolls made with this net-like skin that get really crispy when deep-fried.

We were told that each plate has only 3 pieces so we ordered two. But when it arrived it looked like there's much more! Apparently, each roll is pretty long, to begin with. So they cut them into 2 parts. And there are now 6 pieces on each plate. 2 plates of these meant that we've got to finish off 12 pieces!

Should have just ordered 1 portion. We also doggy-bagged the remaining ones.

Inside the Chả giò

These are one of the better ones so far. The fillings don't look like much because of the thick layer of super-crispy egg-based skin. But it really is good.

Comes accompanied with Nước chấm (Nuoc cham) dipping sauce that are served quite frequently as condiments in Vietnamese cuisine. It is a sweet, sour, salty and spicy sauce made of fish sauce, sugar and lime juice or vinegar.

Goi Xoai ~ $7.90

Mango salad. Has a much cleaner taste as compared to the more exotic-tasting Thai version. That crispy shrimp floss on top really amped this dish. Otherwise it was pretty bland.

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken Skewers ~ $7.90

Oh, these were awesome!

They seemed pretty heavy-handed with the spice so there's a strong taste and scent to the minced chicken meat. But it wasn't overwhelming and the taste caught on.

There's another version with minced prawn meat on sugar cane, if I'm not wrong.

Kid's meal: Fried rice w/ chicken wing ~ $6.90

I was happy to find something for kiddo. Alas, he didn't like it one bit.

I thought that he was turned off by the bits of mixed vegetables but when I have a taste, I found out that the fried rice was actually bland. Like they forgot to season it or something. For my kiddo who's used to spicy fried rice made with potent sambal belacan, I guess this is a no-no for him.

He even refused the chicken. My bro had a bite and deemed it delicious. It's actually honey fried chicken. Guess kiddo's appetite got really turned off. Yeah, he's at one of those frustrating, 'I don't-wanna-eat!' phases. Pfft. 

Seafood fried rice ~ $11.90

My bro's order. I was worried that he may not find things to his liking but he seemed happy with this.

The mini wok was filled with a chock-full of ingredients. You can see from the pretty chunky pieces of seafood there.

Canh Hai San ~ $6.90

Spicy Seafood Soup. Also my bro's order. In the back ground is his glass of ice lemon tea ($3.90).

I don't know what it was with him ordering all the seafood stuff, that day. But I sure didn't expect him to order soup!

I initially expect this to be similar to the Thai tom yum. I mean, it sure looked like it. But when I randomly had a taste, I realise that this wasn't that much spicy. In fact, it also wasn't sour… at all! It's was really savoury, with pretty sweet after-taste, prolly due to the prawns inside.

Bowl of Pho Bo ~ $11.90

Vietnamese beef noodle soup. Both my parents ordered this. They may flip through the menu back and forth but they still end up ordering this. Pfft. Guess it's something that they'll never tire of.

Funny thing was, after placing the orders, we saw this huge bowl being served to someone at the next table. They were like, Whoaaa…!

We thought that that was something the couple would share but it turn out to be a single portion of Pho Bo! My mum was aghast and remarked that they both should have just shared a single bowl…

Pho Bo bowl

Just look at the size of that bowl! It's just crazy!

The soup was nice and savoury but I was surprised to see that the bowl lacked much herbs and greens. This bowl was very simple, unlike the ones I'm used to, from Mon An.

Bun Bo Nuong ~ $11.90

Grilled Beef w/ Vietnamese vermicelli (it's different from our local beehoon). My order.

When it first arrived, I was like, "Okayy… How do I eat this?"

I recall seeing someone dipping the grilled beef into the Nước chấm sauce and eat it with the the vermicelli like how one eats rice. But I find that to be too much hassle so I poured all of the Nước chấm into the bowl and gave everything a good mix. Ala Korean bibimbap.

This dish is yummy!! I love it. The beef, my gosh. It was sooo nicely marinated with goodness-knows-what but the taste reminds me a lot like satay! It does carry a strong taste of lemongrass. The bowl looked hefty but I cleaned it up in no time. The raw greens on the side help to balance things out. Beef and salad? Bring it on!

I ate one of the spring roll but I realise it just wasn't as good as the imperial rolls.

Thịt Bò Nướng Lá Lốt ~ $12.90

Or 'Bo La Lot' for short. Vietnamese grilled beef wrapped in wild betel leaf. I've always been curious about eating wild betel leaf (also known as 'daun kaduk' to the Malays).

My late great-grandma used to chew on betel leves ('daun sireh') wrapped around some lime (kapur), pieces of areca nut ('pinang'), cloves and shreds of woody vine ('gambir'). She will chew on these and the remnants (some reddish lump) will be spit out later.

It was a pretty disgusting habit and being the kid that I was, I got curious and tried to chew on that fresh betel leaf. Immediately spat it out. Bitter as hell with a weird after-taste. I wondered why my great-grandma looove chewing on it so much.

When I told my mum of this dish, she got excited. She saw people eating this in tv programmes about Thailand and Vietnam. Even some in Malaysia. She was very much curious about the taste of this wild betel leaf too.

In the picture, it looked like the Mediterranen dish called 'sarma' or 'dolma', where grape or cabbage leaves are wrapped around a filling. It's an an appetiser dish, if I'm not wrong so I thought the same for this one, too.

Wrapping the Bo La Lot

Little do I know that this dish is a meal on its own. Ooops.

When it first arrive, I took one of the 3 parcels out of its skewer (there were 2 sticks). I had a bite and was taken aback by the very strong taste of the beef. It's almost like the the grilled beef I just had but much stronger. The betel nut itself doesn't taste like much.

I was wondering why the beef was flavoured in such a manner. I looked back at the plate it was served in and had a 'light bulb moment'.

I placed another parcel with the peanut chunks inside a piece of green-leaf lettuce, included some stalks of bean sprouts, 2 sticks of julienned cucumber, a piece of basil leaf and some vermicelli. I then dripped some of the accompanying  Nước chấm sauce on it and proceed to wrap everything up tightly before stuffing it into my mouth.

If you find the process familiar- yes, I was inspired by how the Koreans eat their 'Samgyeopsal'.

And you know what? That seem to be the way to eat this dish after all! Guess those items that accompanied the skewered wrapped beef were not mere garnishing.

I made a parcel for my mum and made yet another one for myself, this time adding some pieces of mango from the mango salad… Fwahhh!

I read somewhere that they used to serve sheets of spring roll skin with this. That would have made more sense, right? Hmmmm...

Anyway, all in all the whole meal came up to almost $180. Sounds pricey but we really ordered a lot. Such that our tables were filled! And the food is really amazing.

If you eat beef, I highly recommend the beef dishes. I didn't order much chicken because my dad was nursing a cough that time.

The Orange Lantern
1 Maritime Sq
HarbourFront Centre

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Pappa Mia @ T1

My SiL asked me to join her and cousins for a dinner date. I was initially apprehensive because these are my hubby's cousins after all (currently, we're far from chummy) but then again, we're around the same age range so I have no doubt about getting along with them.

The initial plan was to meet at I Am Cafe at Haji Lane (interesting review HERE). One of the cousins is a friend of one of the owners. I was excited, naturally. New eating establishment! And I looove cafes; expensive coffee and food be damned.

However, there's a last min. change of plans. One of them had to send off her future SiL; who's returning to Melbourne so location gotta change to Changi Airport Terminal 1. I asked my SiL, "What's at T1, aside from KFC and Pappa Mia?" I gave her a list of other restaurants in other terminals.

Everyone eventually settled for Pappa Mia.

It was raining on that evening and I was really hungry. Admittedly, I unconsciously had high expectations of the food. What more when the menu looks a tad different from the sister restaurant: Pappa Rich.

…Bad idea.

Coconut Ice-cream

My elder SiL came with her 2 younger kids and they've already had a heavy meal elsewhere. So she ordered desserts and snacks instead.

This was one of the desserts ordered. Plus points for presentation, there.

 A scoop of coconut ice cream served atop an actual coconut with gula melaka (palm sugar) and peanut bits inside. I refused the ice-cream but ask that they leave some of the coconut flesh for me.

And what do you know? The coconut was the 'old' kind so the flesh- though thick, was hard. I was digging at a wall, literally. I end up having a taste of the melted ice-cream inside. Nice, rich taste but I felt that the peanuts made it weird (to me, that is).

Chendol w/ Ice-cream

Another dessert ordered. I remember my colleague remarking that their ice-shavings were quite coarse. Here, it looks finer but it could be even better. My SiL remarked that the green 'chendol' bits tasted a bit bitter on its own.

Not sure if that was coconut ice-cream on top, though.

Toasted wholemeal bread w/ butter & kaya

I love the bread here. Despite being the wholemeal kind, it taste way better that the ones found elsewhere. It's just so fluffy, too.

I was just starving and my food took too long so I grabbed a slice. Satisfying!

Dry Kway Teow w/ Prawns & Chicken Slices

This was served when one of them was away, sending her future SiL briefly at the departure area below.

By the time she came back, I think the Kway Teow (flat rice noodles) already gotten a tad clumpy. She did order the dry version but it seem like there's not enough sauce/gravy to mix everything together.

The flavour came off as a tad bland too so she asked for some chillies. She was given a small platter with both sambal and cut chili padi.

Penang Laksa

My eyes lit up when I saw this on the menu (it wasn't available at Pappa Rich). I dearly miss the Laksa Penang that used to be sold at the Banquet at the currently-being-renovated Eastpoint Mall.

The picture in the menu here also made the bowl look so enticing so I was very eager to savour this.

I admit that I was somewhat crestfallen to see that the bowl that was served to me looked nothing like the picture. There wasn't much greens or even the extra portion of 'hae ko' (petis/prawn paste). And my first sip was a jarring sour punch that almost turned me off. I have low tolerance for sourness so this one hit me hard. Too hard. Too much lime? Or should I blame the pineapples? Or too little 'hae ko'? No idea.

But I was hungry so I ate it anyway, wincing when the sourness got too much to bear. I enjoy the thicker-than-norm laksa noodles, though (thick like mee 'tai mak'). In the end, I gave up when there's still some left in the bowl because the sourness actually numbed my mouth (tongue, lips and all). Those who know me will know how I ALWAYS finish my food. So this is an exceptional case.

Oxtail & Tendon Noodles

My younger SiL's order. It was a rainy night and she remarked about wanting to have the Tom Yum Soup. Her sister chided her for having boring tastes.

She re-looked the menu and find these interesting-looking pictures of Oxtail & Tendon and Beef Brisket Noodles. I told her to just take the more interesting oxtail with tendon since beef brisket has a tendency to be tough when not prepared well.

Guess this actually took sometime to prepare as it was the last to be served. I expected a strong herbal taste or something but any accent of that was surprisingly mild. It had more of a 'stewed soy sauce' taste.

Actually there were more food ordered. Their popular food items like the Char Kway Teow and chicken rice (which had a pretty interesting presentation). There's also chicken curry w/ Hainan-style steamed & toasted bread. Some drinks are included.

The meal for 8 pax comes up to around $115++. Not exactly cheap but each serving of food comes at a pretty affordable pricing (with large portions). Service was prompt and friendly. My advice is to go for their popular items. Adventurous choices may end up being misses instead of hits.

You've been warned.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Paris Baguette

Ahhh… it's been a while since my lady boss gave in to her sweet-tooth impulses and splurge on pastries and cakes for tea time.

She came back one afternoon, gleefully lugging a large bag with 'PARIS BAGUETTE' on it. She excitedly remarked that Paris Baguette is as common in South Korea as Delifrance or BreadTalk is, over here.

I guess that's why she got curious and decide to give the ones here a try. She grumbled about them being expensive though, for she remembered the ones in Korea were much reasonably priced.


The cake on the left is a mound of vanilla mousse & covered with fluffy sponge cake cubes. It has these 2 interesting-looking small liquid droppers containing really tart berry sauces. To squirt into the mousse before consumption.

On the right is Mille Feuille.  Layers of crispy, flaky pastry with slightly sweet cream (or custard??) in between. Nicer than Flor Patisserie's version, actually.

Tiramisu mille crêpe

I'm somewhat disappointed that this isn't a 100% mille crêpe. Some layers actually use sponge cake to easily add up to the height.

Oh~my baby Crepe~

This is one of their best sellers. I guess that's why it got itself that special (albeit mushy) name? Otherwise, this can easily be called, 'Raspberry mille crêpe'.

Reminds me a lot like a strawberry shortcake, in mille crêpe form.

'Sunny Breezy' lemon tart

My favourite of the lot. I love citrus-sy desserts. It helps that this wasn't too sweet, too.

photo 1
Royal Pudding

She also bought something that's kept in this insulated foil pouch. Took it out and out came these two:

photo 2
Milk puddings

2 cute milk jars filled with mil-based pudding and flavoured with what looks like coffee/chocolate and mango, maybe?

I don't know yet because I haven't try. Sugar overdose on the cakes already.