Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Amoy Street Food Centre, Dhoby Gaut Exchange (P.Osh, Pie Kia), Marvellous Cream, The Sweet Potato Place, Tom's Palette, Allanbakes

Kelly and I have been wanting to come down to Amoy Street Food Centre for the longest time ever but the whole inconvenience of the ERP and parking put us off so this time round, we decided not to be lazy and asked along our 2 other CG mates Sheryl and Weixin on our makan trail before catching Twilight.

The stalls that we wanted to try were the 2 famed fish soup ones, beef noodles from Hong Kee Stall, sgkueh.com for the orh-nee and ondeh ondeh (but it was closed), the 2 muffins stall -bake_of and Missy Muffins (both closed!!), and Zhenjie Desserts place. I totally forgot about the new tortilla wraps stall All Natural Kitchen (somehow that doesn't register in a hawker centre memory and we didnt see it anyway)

First up, face off between the 2 fish soups - the first of which is Piao Ji Fish Porridge

This is the more expensive of the 2 stalls since the fish soup starts at $5. The fish and prawn soup starts at $7, and you can add an additional $3 per large prawn. Piao Ji actually has 2 stalls - the other one is just opposite, facing each other.
Fish Soup $7

The fish soup (with porridge) is served in a long shallow bowl. The soup was really flavourful - but I still prefer the fish soup from Jin Hua Fish Soup at Maxwell Market because the soup was more robust. This fish soup is clearer and more healthy tasting.
Next we tried Han Kee.
I must say that the hawker ladies are quite unfriendly - they refused to give us extra utensils so we had to go back to Piao Ji for more chopsticks.
Fish Soup, $4

The fish was very very smooth - its much smoother than Piao Ji's, but the soup was too peppery it masks the fish soup flavour. For 4 bucks there was as much fish as Piao Ji's (which was $7) so this is definitely better value for money.

We tried the sliced beef noodles from Hong Kee Beef noodles next.

Sliced Beef Noodles
The beef gravy was really good, and the beef slices tender. The beef flavour totally permeated the smooth rice noodles.This makes me miss the beef noodles from the stall at the now extinct Scotts Food Court.
Desserts next! All our dessert options were closed so we had only this left to try - Zhenjie Dessert and Ah Balling.

Left: Sesame Paste and Peanut Paste, Left: Beancurd Barley with Gingko Nuts
The sesame paste was very smooth, although we found the peanut paste slightly diluted - tastes a little like baby food to me!

The Gingko nuts are caramelised and sweet and firm to bite, and there was a generous amount of beancurd. I love this dessert and everytime I have this my friends (like Michelle)always say that this dessert is actually quite easy to make at home. My grandma used to cook this too because the old folks believe it is good for the complextion. Gingko is also supposed to be good for the brain, and my mom used to make me take those gingko extracts. A mystery how the humble gingko nut can target so many organs.
Left: Cheng Tng. Right: Ah Balling in Peanut Soup
The Cheng tng is chokeful of ingredients -this stall is really generous! There was plenty of longan, fungus, and this cubed jelly which is not found in other cheng tngs. Sheryl and I dislike the white starch balls in the dessert so we are glad we didn't find any here. The cheng tng was also quite sweet and this is one of the best cheng tng I've tried.
The Ah Balling is also fantastic.The tang yuan was chewy and smooth and so soft that it melts away in your mouth. The peanut soup was okay - I think the Ah Balling stall in Ghim Moh has better peanut soup and their tangyuan is definitely more chewy and firmer.
It was the first time I've tried coffee flavoured tang yuan - and this was really good. The coffee paste was quite strong and it goes very well with the sweet tang yuan. Find the yellow coloured tangyuan and you'll be trying a very very unique dessert!
I also tried the green tea tang yuan (which was of course, green coloured) and the green tea paste was also very strong. It was very good.
I think the fun in eating tang yuan is the guessing of the flavours in the tang yuan. The Chinatown one makes this game challenging because all the different flavoured ones look indistinct from each other.

It was too bad Sg Kueh was closed - we wanted to try the Durian ondeh ondeh and orh-ni there. Bake_of and Missy Muffins were also closed so I couldnt continue my Great Muffin hunt (SLII muffins started this hunt). So we were off to catch Twilight at Cathay.
Over at Dhoby Gaut exchange, we realised that there were many many snack stalls that sprouted over the past year. One of which was this very cornily named shop called Pie Kia.

Weixin bought the curry chicken pie, Kelly had chicken mushroom and cheese (extra large sized) pie. Sheryl and I had the sweeter ones - she had the mango and pear (which was recommended) and I had the jackfruit and dragonfruit. The girls were full so we planned to have this inside the cinema.

Jackfruit and Dragonfruit $1.50

Altogether there were 3 fruity puffs for sale- Mango and pear, jackfruit and dragonfruit, and sweet corn. I like jackfruit and cempedek so it was an obvious choice for me. Actually those pastries on display were plain pastries - they top up the fruit puree when you order.

I ate this at home in the end (because in the cinema, popcorn is a must for Kelly and I ). The pastry sank on me when I heated this at home and eventually the pastry was very soggy and buttery. But the filling was tasty - the jackfruit and dragonfruit is actually a good combination - the dragonfruit was not too overwhelmed by the strong scent of the jackfruit.
And I realised when I was eating the Apple Strudel from Ritz - that this Jackfruit and Dragonfruit puff IS actually a fruit strudel! (minus the chunky fruit pieces)
Actually, the whole reason why we entered Dhoby Gaut Exchange at all was to check out this P.Osh Brownie shop (but the other girls got distracted by the savoury pies)
This opened not too long ago and has many flavours like Triple Chocolate, White Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Marshmallow.

For the Christmas season, they had a temporary stall (and had those brownie samples!!) and we bought our brownie from there.
Peanut Butter Brownie $3
This brownie was very chewy and chocolatey - although I didnt really taste much of the peanut butter. It'd have been more awesome if there could be a thick peanut butter layer in the middle of the brownie. I still prefer my brownies warmed with nuts (and plenty of chocolate fudge and sauce and vanilla icecream)
Then trying our first popcorn from the Cathy - we had many many many many rounds of popcorn over at Cathay Cineleisure last time and the size of the extra large popcorn seemed to have shrank (or our popcorn appetite has expanded)
Popcorn, Extra Large. $7
Popcorn was quite fresh and there were many many chunks of heavily sugar coated ones! But equal amounts of small bits that were difficult to grasp and eat too.
Twilight is really tween fun, predictable and full of eye candy, with a Hermione lookalike as the lead and plenty of pale pale (fantastically translucent) complexions. All the stunts were copycats of superheroes - think spiderman and harry potter on brown sticks.
Sheryl and Weixin had to leave for dinner at home, so Kelly and I continued our eating spree to find our 'It' food of the day..
We took a slow stroll from Cathay down to Cityhall when I remembered that I wanted to check out Marvelous Cream at Citylink Mall. This is actually a franchise from Japan, and is the only branch outside Japan.
Its a super pretty shop, offering icecream teppanyaki and small cakes as well.
You can either choose an Original Cream creation, or concoct your own icecream.

So you can choose the icecreams (we thought the marsala expresso sounded the most intriguing) first..
Then choose from the numorous fruit, nuts, chocolate and even macaron toppings...

Choose a cup/waffle bowl or cone/chocolate waffle bowl or cone...

And they'd mix your icecream with the toppings on a -16 degrees celcius frosted marble top. Well we didn't go through all those steps as mentioned above because we chose one of their creations - the Belgium Banana Chocolate. As you see in the above photograph, they chop up the bananas and then mix it in with the Chocolate icecream, add in a sprinkle of almonds, added a dash of fresh cream and drizzled Koo Belcher Chocolate sauce all over.
A real showmanship, a skill we should be developing for mb. haha.
Belgium Banana Chocolate in a Chocolate Waffle Cone $5.80
Belgium Chocolate icecream, Banana, Almonds, Fresh Cream, Koo Belcher Chocolate
I haven't tried any other ice cream teppanyakis yet, but this idea hasnt found a fan of me yet, after this one. The chocolate icecream was really milky (tastes like the Nestle Chocolate icecream) so if the base is weak, no matter how good the toppings are, you won't be able to save this icecream. Everything turned out to be really mushy - the icecream and the bananas - and I am not really a fan of bananas anyway (although Kelly is!)
I'd definitely wanna try the icecream teppanyaki from Ice cream Chefs, Swirl Gelateria, Cold Rock Cremery, and Raffles Cremery next.
After having our unimpressionable icecream, we decided to stroll to New Asia Bar to check out the newly renovated bar - it looks almost the same as pre-renovation, except with newly lacquered floorings and the bar right at the end is no longer there and is converted to a seating area. The dance floor also looks slightly smaller. But the views are stunning still, of cos. We initially planned to check out Marina Barrage last but we realise from our satellite GPS vision up there on the 70th floor that it was actually REALLY FAR from civilisation so that'd have to be for another day. It looks more accessible by sea than land lar, must figure out how to go there.

I got sick of the thronging crowds at Citylink Mall so we decided to head to Suntec City via the roads and we saw some fire engines and ambulances whiz by and was wondering where they were heading too, while reminiscing about our emergency medicine days, doing ambulance runs and remembering that fire engines are rarely activated so there must be something serious going on. Turns out when we got home that there was a power failure at the Singapore Flyer! omg that was totally unimaginable, can you imagine Kelly, we were actually admiring the Singapore Flyer from New Asia Bar when there was a POWER FAILURE!!! but it was litted up stilll in pretty pink and purple lights, remember???? strange indeed. The rescue men sure needed Twilight superpowers to scale the Flyer man.
Anyway, I am still on my Great Fries Hunt (Yella Fellas started this) and The Sweet Potato Place (Suntec City, Red zone) was the next place on my radar. I don't see many sweet potato fries around except for those at Barracks.

I first read about this place in Posh Nosh in Urban and Hsueh recommended the roasted sweet potato.

Roasted Sweet Potato, $1.25 per 100 grams

We were shocked that they just chose a sweet potato from a contingent of them, weighed it and then packaged it. We thought that they were going to be roasted on the spot! The 2 guys manning the stall clarified that the sweet potatoes were roasted already, and are placed on a warmer so no worries about it being cold. I like my food PIPING hot ( I drink really hot soya bean milk and hot coffee - yes I know I risk oesophageal pathology =P) so I still wasn't too comfortable with the pre-roasted idea.

But the sweet potato was nicely caramelized, and was soft and sweet. Using a spoon to scrap out the potato away from the skin (which the uncle told us after we finished that we should try the crispy skin together with the flesh sigh) This was comfort food but not mindblowing. Especially for Kelly since she eats steamed Japanese sweet potato all the time (which is sweeter)

Sweet Potato Fries $2

But this was the one that saved the day. It was the star find of the day.

The batter coating for the sweet potato was quite thick and each fry felt like a skinny goreng pisang. Quite an apt analogy(Kelly's) since both sweet potatoes and bananas caramelize with heat, and are both sweet and soft.
We ate the first few on its own without any sauces (they don't have any ketchup or chilli) or condiments because we wanted to try it unadulterated but oh boy we were missing out, because when eaten with the plum powder it was AWESOME. An unlikely combination - I mean, who eats plum powder with anything else but guava - but the plum powder enhances the sweetness of the sweet potato fries. It was a fantastic sweet- sour combination, an ingenious idea. Now maybe when I eat goreng pisang I'd be hankering for that plum powder haha.
Luckily we didn't give up on this stall after that roasted potato. The uncle ah....he should actively promote his plum powder. Awesomeness!!
Fried Sweet Potato with Durian $1.20
Its shaped like a fried curry puff and is actually sweet potato ball with durian flesh innards and this was fantastic as well.

The sweet potato complimented the bittersweet durian pulp perfectly. It gives a new twist to the fried durian dumpling idea, because the sweet potato adds a whole new dimension to the traditional puff pastry. Wow these days the chefs come up with such ingenious ideas, nothing seems an unlikely combination.

Then we exited Suntec through a secret side entrance (which Kelly never knew about) to Nicoll Highway - when it suddenly drizzled! The weather was really whacky. (Does this mean that the rescue over at the Singapore Flyer was done in the rain too?!) We were super scared that Tom's Palette (Shaw Leisure Gallery)will be closed so we scurried off fast fast.
We entered Shaw Towers through a side door and had to walk through this dodgy corridor (and we were quite scared cos we just watched Twilight - yeah i know we're real mousey) to reach Shaw Leisure Gallery. And to our delight it was open! (I was 80% betting it'd surely be closed) Tom's actually closes at 930pm.

Tom's Palette gives the most sincere, homely vibe of all the icecream shops I've tried. You can tell that there is much pride and sincerity in the icecreams they serve. The ice cream here is also healthier as they use less butterfat. They believe in using fresher, natural ingredients and their ice creams have less air beaten in, so indeed each mouthful was really smooth and creamy.

We tried most of the flavours - in fact everything except for Tangerine (I hate oranges and other relatives of it). The coffee was really strong (so we were advised to try it the last)- but I didn't fancy it to order a scoop of it. I prefered the chocolate-expresso version from Seventh Heaven - there was this crunch from the crushed coffee beans and nuts. - but here its just plain coffee, i guess its just personal preference that I don't fancy coffee icecream on its own - I'd either have my expresso as a drink straight or have the icecream dorned with chocolate and nuts. The plain old dark Chocolate here is really thick - it is actually made from a chocolate block made into a ganache - other chocolate flavours included Granny's favourite (chocolate malt and cookie dough), Chocolate Pudding (with marshmallow and nuts), Chocolate Stout (with ABC beer) which I don't really fancy because I don't like beer.

The milkier flavours included Horlicks - which is a good version of the malted drink, Oreo cheesecake - good too but a milder cheese flavour in comparison to the salty caramel cousin. The other alcoholic icecream, Rum and raisin was also delicious - but its just that I've had too many alcoholic icecreams over the weekend - Seventh Heaven and the Bailey's milkshake at Prive.

The most unique flavour has got to be Lavender - the flower scent was really strong. I realise I only like lavender in teas or cakes a la the Lavande from Bakerzin - on its own its really herby.

The other fruity icecreams (I'm not too big on fruity flavours) included Summer berries (which reminds me of Marigold's Blueberry yoghurt) - made of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, Apple pie - the apple flavour was really light and the icecream had pieces of digestive biscuits, and Pink guava - very very sour and taste exactly like the Snapple version.

The problem with trying all the flavours at one go is that the milder ones tend to be overwhelmed by the stronger ones and eventually the ones we did choose were the stronger, seemingly more impressive ones. But I bet on its own, many of the milder milkier flavours were so damn good too. Simple, unadulterated and good icecream.

the many many well deserved accolades about the home made icecream and wonderful service. The service IS great, the young server said we can try every flavour and she will bear no grievances even if you DO try everything and walk away(because one woman did it before) but she said the more important thing to them is that you do find a flavour that you like, even if you don't buy anything. That is pride in the icecream you make and the willingess to share the love for icecream!
The bar counter where you can sit at (and they volunteer to serve us water, star service again) has numerous articles and scrawlings about random facts of Tom's Palette. No, Tom is not the owner, but is a name of a cynic who didn't believe the business will succeed and so Eunice and her husband came to prove them wrong. I really admire them, giving up their careers to immerse themselves into their passion of experimenting with icecreams and sharing what they truly love.
Kelly and I shared a large cup first ($4.40) then ordered another large one.

Salty Caramel Cheesecake, Chestnut Brandy
It was unanimous: the Salty Caramel Cheesecake was the most outstanding flavour for us. A fantastic balance between the saltiess and the sweetness from the caramel. The cheesecake flavour is so light but not masked by the sweetness of the caramel. This is A WHOLE LOT better than the super mild Azabo Sabo one (however you spell it)
The chestnut brandy is a christmas flavour - and this boozy icecream has bits of fruit in the icecream as well. This has a very good balance between the alcoholic brandy and the sweetness from the fruit.

White Chocolate and Cranberry, Strawberry
The white chocolate and cranberry reminds me totally of the cheesecake waiting for me at home (builds up the anticipation)- creamy and fruity. The white chocolate has a distinct after taste, and is very good. The many whole real cranberries made it all the more fruitier.
The strawberry was slightly sour, and had bits of strawberries as well, but I still prefer the creamier version(with real strawberries too) at U.D.D.E.R.S.
We missed out on the Wholemeal waffle because it sold out days ago and they were not making extra batter because they were going to close for 2 days over Xmas. (we were almost kicking ourselves because we thought we came in too late in the night thats why it sold out). They really do take pride in using the freshest ingredients not only in their icecreams but waffles as well.

They do sell semi-freddos too - which I learnt today, is a kind of mousse, and there was only one lone one left..but it was melon flavoured and too bad i dislike any kind of melons.

Eunice eventually came to talk to us and she was really friendly, and we caught on, chatting like old friends - she was telling us about the new icecream flavours she was coming up for Chinese New year - there is gonna be Pineapple Tart (oh I love the version at Island Cremery) and Tau Sa Piah - Do you know she is gonna get the tau sah (salty version) from the famous 611 Tau Sa Piah Shop itself? She is gonna concoct something with that as the base and then add in the pastry. I really cant wait to try that. The third new flavour she is experimenting now is the Pumpkin one - which she says that it tastes like sweet potato now and we were like Omg! you must go and try the sweet potato fries with plum powder that we just had. We love pumpkin too so we cant wait and hope that her experiment succeeds! Oh it must be really fun to have a Eureka! moment as an ice cream chef.

Her salted caramel story is quite interesting too - she says that there are a few methods of doing the caramel - as in the Sunday Times story - she says that 2am dessert bar (which shared its recipe on the newspapers) has a very safe method - but hers is slightly riskier in the sense that she may risk burning the whole pot of caramel. The temperature is of paramount importance - get it wrong and your caramel will either crystallize or it will burn.

Another thing that strikes us about Eunice is that she embraces competition - she acknowledges that fans of her icecreams may also have their favourites in other icecream places and this is true , given how each place has its own specialties - from Daily Scoop down to Island Cremery. She even adds that some of her competitors are on her mailing list. I mean, if your icecreams are honestly good, no competition is ever enough.
She also told us how she is trying to get a website up and running - and this is a one-woman show because she is taking on this arduous task with no external help, when i suggested she start a blog because it is quite low maintainance! Ice Queen also had a blog when her ice cream business was up and coming - but unfortunately Ice Queen is truly a piece of history now because Eunice verified that the owner of Ice Queen had sold her equipment so Kelly and I have truly missed out on the sesame and peanut ice cream unfortunately.

We left Tom's Palette truly satisfied and enlightened, with a new acquaintance as well =)

I couldnt wait to get home because there was the White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake from AllanBakes in the fridge! My mom collected the cake, intending it for Xmas but of cos it'd be polished up before that. This cheesecake is very creamy - from the white chocolate- and has bits of strawberries studded throughout the cake. It feels like a really dense and creamy cheesecake icecream. The base is a really soft digestive biscuit layer - I prefer this cos i find the harder biscuit layers really hard to cut through. This is officially my favourite cheesecake this year!

2 consecutive days of eating sprees ought to make me guilty enough to start studying, already.. Merry Christmas all =)

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