RUSTIC FRENCH IN CLEMENTI
When Summer Hill opened in January, the menu was simple: roast chicken and roast pork collar.
The casual restaurant in Sunset Way has become a hangout for residents in the neighbourhood and further afield, and so the menu has become a lot more ambitious.
Rustic French is still the vibe, however, as this is what chef-owner Anthony Yeoh does best.
My favourite new dish is Roasted Baby Eggplants With Green Goddess Hummus ($14). Smoky and with tender skin, the eggplants sit languorously on hummus tinted green with tarragon, chives and parsley. Hazelnuts and currants are strewn on top and the nuts add crunch to all the softness.
For a main course, the Veal Chop ($69) is juicy under its panko and thyme crust. I usually love the collagen in slow-cooked beef, but the chunks of oyster blade in the Beef Bourguignon ($36) have too much of it and the dish is head-spinningly rich.
In the last week of every month, Bouillabaisse ($39) is on the menu. The Provencal fish stew is served with baguette and rouille and is a much lighter option to the veal and beef.
I love the Grilled Prawns ($18) from Argentina. The dish is served with a very intense lobster creme that tastes like a bisque and is thickened with egg yolks and cream. Also good, Duck & Brie Toasties ($14), filled with duck rillettes and brie, and served with a cherry, caramelised onion and port compote.
For dessert, order the Strawberry Cobbler ($8). The fruit is stewed with rosemary and balsamic vinegar and topped with a rosemary biscuit, which remains crisp on the bottom because it is not baked with the berries.
WHERE: Summer Hill, 01-62, Block 106 Clementi Street 12 MRT: Clementi OPEN: 5 to 10.30pm (Tuesdays to Thursdays), 11.30am to 4pm, 5 to 10.30pm (Fridays to Sundays), closed on Mondays TEL: 6251-5337 INFO: www.summerhill.sg
HOMEY FARE MINUS THE CROWD
The brunch scene in Singapore is savage. For people who just want to chill out on a Sunday, it's tough to find a place without long queues or thundering hordes.
So I am glad for the serene oasis that is Daily Affairs Dining Bar in Cairnhill Community Club.
The food is not complicated and I love the crunchy Healthy Fresh Harvest salad ($9), with sweet strawberries, cherry tomatoes, corn kernels and Japanese cucumber. The Modern Caesar Salad ($8), however, does not have the anchovy kick I like in a Caesar. A runny egg does not modernise the salad one bit.
For a main course, the 8-Hour Braised Beef ($16, above) is a great choice. The meat is cooked slow with aged Hua Diao wine and that glossy sauce has good flavour. Mashed potato, chunky the way I like it, and a small salad complete the plate.
The biggest problem with the place is that all the food comes at once: soup, salad and main courses. There seems no thought to pacing, or how diners are supposed to deal with the avalanche of food.
Fix that and I'll go back.
WHERE: Daily Affairs Dining Bar, Cairnhill Community Club, 1 Anthony Road MRT: Newton OPEN: 11am to 10pm (Mondays to Saturdays), 10am to 6pm (Sundays) TEL: 6262-4342 INFO: tinyurl.com/y7x2daj8
SMOOTH CHEONG FUN IN THE CBD
Navigating the little streets that make up Far East Square can be difficult. There are so many restaurants and bars.
But persevere. Yin Ji, a restaurant selling cheong fun or steamed rice rolls, is worth checking out.
It is part of a chain that started in the 1950s in Guangzhou, China, and has spread its wings to Canada and Singapore.
The star here is the smooth, stretchy and translucent rice roll (above), supremely soft. But there is crunch, too, because crisp lettuce leaves are wrapped in the rolls together with the filling. Everything is designed to soak up the flavourful drizzling soya sauce.
Tender Pork & Liver Roll ($7) is the best of the four I try. The combination is unbeatable, I think, although the pig liver is a little overcooked.
Tender Beef Roll ($7) has some spring in the meat. The Fresh Prawn Egg Roll ($7.50) comes with a thin omelette on top, which does not entirely make up for the sparse filling of small prawns.
I order Fried Dough Roll ($4.50), not expecting much. Zha leung can be dicey if the youtiao filling is oil-logged. But in this case, the crullers are crunchy, making the pairing with the soft rolls very delightful.
Demolish this one first.
WHERE: Yin Ji, 01-01 Far East Square, 133 Amoy Street MRT: Telok Ayer OPEN: 11am to 8pm (Mondays to Fridays), 10am to 4pm (Saturdays), closed on Sundays TEL: 6443-3875 INFO: tinyurl.com/yconjmsr
YUMMY STUFFED CHICKEN WINGS
When we were little, my sister, who hated to eat, used to wonder why people could not raise boneless chickens and fish.
When she is next in town, I'll take her to StuffedWing, a stall in the Kopitiam foodcourt at Tampines Mall.
It sells the boneless chicken wings (above) of her childhood dreams, stuffed with all manner of things.
The best ones are Signature Nonya Curry ($3.80 each) and Signature Nasi Lemak ($3.80 each). That curry filling is properly punchy and aromatic.
The rice-stuffed nasi lemak wing comes with peanuts and sambal, and the sambal is just the right balance of spicy and sweet.
Strangely good is the Signature Mac & Cheese ($3.80 each), with pasta that is just cheesy enough.
Alas, the Signature Salted Egg Yolk Prawn ($3.80 each) does not have much salted egg yolk flavour; and the Original ($2.90 each), stuffed with prawns, cries out for some crunch or more assertive seasoning, preferably both.
It must take heroic skill to debone all those wings, so that diners can simply hold the wing tips and start chomping. That they also emerge from the fryer with a crisp and greaseless armour, well, that's a bonus.
WHERE: StuffedWing, Kopitiam foodcourt, 04-27/28/29 Tampines Mall, 4 Tampines Central 5 MRT: Tampines OPEN: 11am to 9pm daily INFO: www.stuffedwing.com