SIMPLE YET DELICIOUS BURGERS
During a trip to New York last year, one of my most memorable meals was not at the three-Michelin- starred Per Se, but at a humble burger joint.
Tucked away in an obscure part of Le Parker Meridien hotel lobby that you hunt down after turning a few corners, it doesn't even have a proper name and is known merely as Burger Joint. The burger didn't look like much, just a basic cheeseburger, but that was the best burger I ate that trip, better than those from the more famous chains in the city.
So when Burger Joint opened here on Tuesday, I was standing in line.
The eatery is in a back alley at the end of Gemmill Lane and you push open a black metal door to find a passageway that leads you through a couple of turns. The last turn takes you to a room that replicates the look of the New York joint - down to the scrawlings left by satisfied customers on the wood-panelled walls.
You place your order at the cashier, then wait for someone to shout out your number to pick up your food.
The burger menu is simple, with just choices of hamburger ($13.10), cheeseburger ($13.80), bacon burger ($15.10) or bacon cheeseburger ($15.80), with an option to double the burger. You can choose how well-cooked the patty is - from rare to well-done - which is great.
I had a medium-rare bacon cheeseburger and it turned out perfect. The patty was juicy and had a distinct flavour of beef with a hint of smokiness from the charbroiling.
It tasted exactly like the burger I had in New York, which was not surprising as I found out later that everything - from the corn-fed Nebraskan beef to the Colby cheese to the sauces - was the same as what is used in the original outlet. Only the buns are baked here to Burger Joint's specifications.
What surprised me even more is that the prices were the same as in New York too, where a cheeseburger costs US$10 (S$13.40).
I'm not a big fan of burgers or food queues, but for a burger this good, I'll make an exception.
WHERE: Burger Joint, 115 Amoy Street, 01-03 (entrance through the back in Gemmill Lane) MRT: Telok Ayer OPEN: 11am - midnight daily TEL: 6221-8648
BEAUTY POT FOR MUM
A new dish created by Shang Palace's chef Steven Ng for Mother's Day, which falls on Sunday, may likely start a new festive trend.
Called Beauty Complexion Pot, it caters to most people's desire to look good.
Certainly, most mums - and quite a few dads too - would be tempted by the skin-firming qualities promised by the collagen-rich ingredients in the pot.
These include bird's nest, sea cucumber, fish lips, fish maw and snow fungus, which the Chinese believe can help maintain a good complexion. There are also mushrooms, abalone, chicken and roast pork to boost the flavours.
The pot reminds me of pencai, the popular Chinese New Year treasure pot which contains similar goodies. But instead of a thick, brown sauce, this is cooked with a collagen-rich milky broth that is especially comforting on a rainy day.
A pot for four persons costs $198.
WHERE: Shang Palace, 22 Orange Grove Road, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore MRT: Orchard WHEN: Till May 31 PRICE: $198 TEL: 6213-4398
TENDER SOYA SAUCE CHICKEN
At a recent lunch, someone mentioned the soya sauce chicken stall in Upper Cross Street and wondered if it was still around. I had not been to Chiew Kee Noodle House for years and did not have the answer.
There are two stalls along the row of shophouses selling the same thing, one at No. 8 and the other at No. 32. I used to eat at No. 8, but stopped after finding the chicken too soft for my liking.
Last week, I happened to be in the area and found that both stalls are still there. This time, I decided to eat at No. 32 and the food was good.
The noodles were firm yet not hard, which was how I like them. And the chicken was cooked just right - smooth and tender, but not soft. And the sauce was delicious, not too sweet or salty.
A plate of noodles starts at $4. I ordered chicken drumstick noodles (photo) plus a bowl of shrimp dumpling soup and that cost me $6.50.
WHERE: Chiew Kee Noodle House, 32 Upper Cross Street MRT: Chinatown OPEN: 8am to 7pm daily PRICE: From $4
SUBTLE TOUCH TO BEEF
Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant at the Marriott Singapore Tang Plaza has gone through a bad patch over the past few years, with one mediocre chef after another. But things are looking up with new executive Chinese chef Brian Wong. The Singaporean joined a few months ago and has just launched his menu.
Among the dishes I tried, the Wok-fried Beef Fillet With Angelica And Chinese Yam ($32, photo) stood out.
The slices of USDA beef were stir-fried with hua diao Chinese wine soaked with angelica sinensis, a herb more commonly known as dong quai in Chinese medicine and which is believed to be good for health. This way, you get the aroma of the herb in a more subtle manner. Angelica sinensis has an overpowering smell when used whole.
The beef was fried with wolfberries and Chinese yam, which are also used in traditional Chinese medicine. The meat was tender, flavourful and not too fat.
I liked that the dish was tasty without too much seasoning, allowing the natural flavours of the ingredients to take centre stage.
Deep-fried Prawns With Pumpkin Butter Sauce ($35) was a lot richer. The sauce was delicious, with the sweetness of the pumpkin balancing the salt in the butter. And for aroma, the chef added some curry leaves.
But the Wok-fried Wanton Noodles With Lobster In Superior Stock ($38) disappointed. While the lobster was good, the noodles - which are cooked separately - were bland.
WHERE: Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant, 320 Orchard Road, Marriott Singapore Tang Plaza, Level 3 MRT: Orchard OPEN: Noon - 3pm (Monday to Friday), 11.30am - 3pm (Saturday and Sunday), 6.30 - 10.30pm daily TEL: 6831-4605