There has been a bit of a talk about visiting Spain. So the girlfriend brought me to this obscure restaurant for some Spanish fare. Don Quijote isn't exactly accessible by public transport, (with exception of the taxi, that is) but it is worth the walk from the bus stops at Jalan Jurong Kechil and Upper Bukit Timah Road.
First Impressions The restaurant is nicely done up with nice warm lighting. No deliberate and pretentious welcome phrase from the wait staff, (doubly awful if it is in badly pronounced Espagnol) just a dignified greeting and we were ushered to our seats. Family friendly and Romantic at the same time.
Jamón Ibérico de Bellota (Acorn) Spanish Free-Range Acorn-Feed Iberian Pig Ham that has been cured for 36 months
I added this item to my "to eat" list after a few travel and dining shows and articles featuring Spain and her legendary ham. Curiosity had the better of me and I decided to give it a try. I like it for the way the rich individual flavours from the fat and fibres permeate the palate. The fat seems to melt in the mouth, releasing this pleasant, nutty flavour. The meat fibres provides this firm, resilient texture that you would play on your tongue for a while before swallowing. Definitely an experiential food.
It costs $27 for 5 paper thin slices and a few sprigs of salad greens. Not bad, considering it is actually bits of a 3-year-old pig carcass.
Berenjenas al Horo Oven-Baked Eggplant
The girlfriend and I thought this would a "dry" dish consisting of the main event (the eggplant) with a little thick gravy on top. What the kitchen served up looked more like an oven-baked crockpot of clear vegetable soup with a halved eggplant. This dish was surprisingly flavourful. The eggplant was soft and mushy as it should be and the clear soup provided the needed taste for what would be a plain tasting dish. The only grouses: This dish was quite oily and the skin on the eggplant was rather tough. I'm guessing the eggplant was deep fried or sauteed with lots of oil before going into the oven. Nevertheless, an enjoyable dish.
Paella Negra Spanish Style Seafood Rice with Shrimp and Squid, in Ink
I like to think paella as the Spanish equivalent of the local claypot rice. At first look, this dish looks like rice with with too much blackened poison. Mixing the rice around reveals the generous condiments of shrimp and squid. The squid ink blackened rice had a nice, unique and robust seafood taste to it. Some might find this taste a little over-powering and tasting like some stale seafood. But if strong flavours are your thing, paella negra is for you. Of course, the fun part of all squid ink dishes is always about achieving that timeless blackened lips and teeth look.
Sangría Tinto (Red) Yum. This alcoholic drink was fruity, tasty and surprisingly potent. The slight fizziness and the chunky bits of fruit was refreshing with the generally heavy tasting food. Best to avoid it if you are driving. It would have knocked both of us out if not for sharing.
Last words I think Don Quijote serves up pretty decent Spanish fare at reasonable prices. Service is brisk and unpretentious. Dishes like paella will require waiting (25 - 35 mins) as advised in the menu. Bring friends if you like to try a variety of dishes.
With franchise monsters like Crystal Jade and Din Tai Fung numbing our palates away from gastronomic adventures and weaning us off truly good food, it is nice to see an independent setup working to bring true authenticity back to pique our taste buds.
Ye Shanghai surprises by serving up a wide range of Shanghai, Beijing fare and occasionally crossing to Hong Kong territories with a few bamboo baskets of dim sum, all from the confines of a little kitchen in an already tiny shop front.
Shanghai style fried fish On the outset, this looked like a very simple plate of deep fried fish until I sank my teeth into it. Fried till crispy on the outside, the flesh of the fish is fluffy, moist and light inside. There was also a pleasant tinge of sweetness that went very well together.
Drunken Chicken I personally liked Ye Shanghai's offering thanks to the strong wine flavour that permeates the meat. It is a lot more potent compared to Din Tai Fung's limp counterpart that I tend to mistaken as plain steamed chicken.
Fried Rice with Crab Roe While I could hardly taste the crab roe, Ye Shanghai serves up a mean fried rice that is comparable to Crystal Jade and Din Tai Fung's.
Mango Mochi With bits of fresh mangoes and light fluffy unsweetened cream in a thin translucent chewy dough skin, Ye Shanghai's mango mochi is provided a Midas' touch to an already satisfying and good valued meal. The natural sweetness from the mangoes was just right without leaving that heavy feeling that you usually get from too much sugar.
People queue up to pick their ingredients and wait a good half hour for a good bowl of Yong Tau Foo here. It's not hard to understand why once you tasted their soup and their specialty items.
The soup is sweet, light almost refreshing thanks to the generous amount of soybeans and ikan bilis that is so essential for a good Yong Tau Foo soup base.
Most of the items are prepared by the stall owners with the deep fried ones being the most popular, much attributed to the additional punch from the marinates. The must tries are the deep fried meatball, ngoh hiang, deep fried tau kee, stuffed mushroom.
One last worthy mention is the strangely exceptional smoothness and soft but firm texture of the bee hoon and yellow egg noodles when you order it dry.
Yong Tau Foo and soup-based food lovers should at least give this place a try. But as for those seeking stronger flavours, you might want to give it a miss.
There are many variations of rojak available in Singapore, all of which are have the element of mixing its ingredients up. While I can't say that I have a favourite kind of rojak, I do recommend this grilled variety.
Incidentally, people might argue that this isn't really rojak, but just a plate of stuffed taupok and youtiao. As for me, I'm more transfixed on the food. Who cares about debating if it should have pineapples and turnip before it can be called rojak anyway?
What makes the rojak or taupok youtiao here special is the use of a charcoal grill. Each item you order is toasted to perfection over the old school grill for that doistinctive smoky flavour you can taste in every bite. Everything is quickly cut into bite-sized pieces and generously drizzled with the black rojak sauce and a generous shower of crushed groundnuts.
End result is plate consisting of crispy youtiao that you wish you didn't need to fight over among friends. Among that, stuffed taupok with that amazing fine, crumbly texture that goes so perfectly with the crunch of beansprouts and cucumber.
Of course, I personally like that the stall is run by an old couple in an old school eating places like Bukit Merah Food Centre.
With is review is a picture of the stall for identification.
Food / Beverage What I like about the curry fish head here:Fresh fish usedPlenty of side dishes to choose fromFragrant curry gravy that is so good, you will ask for extra rice.the collagen rich areas of the fish, like the lips, and gill coversserved boiling hot in a claypot
Ambience Curry fish head is best enjoyed slowly and shared. I like the kopi tiam setting simply because of its distinct local character and because it is my personal favourite setting to savour the dish. It is a place where one can be himself/herself. Plus, curry fish head should be eaten without high levels of etiquette nor your favourite clothes since it can get messy.
Value Nothing to complain about here. The price paid included plenty of sides we ordered.
Service The cold, brutal efficiency of the kopi tiam is quite impressive. The orders came quickly to satisfy hungry diners. The servers were polite even during their peak hours.