Just Acia or rather "Just Asia" is a new set up featuring Asia's staples of noodles and rice as its main menu items. With a tag line that says "free flow of drinks and ice cream" at a starting price as low as $2.80, this is a place that is light on the wallet at first glance. There are currently 3 outlets for this franchise, Downtown East, Dhouby Ghaut MRT station and Suntec City fountain terrace. It was on a day of celebration that we visited Just Acia and i can't deny that the price was what drew me in at first. The following is what we had and my thoughts on the food.
The interior of the restaurant is simple and sat about 20-30 patrons. There was a payment counter right smack in the centre and your bill is presented to you upon completing your orders. The free flow of drinks and ice cream are also located right behind the payment counter so thats where the majority of the action will happen. Overall, the interior is serviceable and nothing impressive.
Herbal Chicken Soup Set ($11.90) - After some contemplation on the menu, we decided to have something more mid range as compared to the usual $5.90 meals. My order was the herbal chicken soup and it looked pretty substantial actually. There was half a chicken in the soup and it came with rice and some beans. The thing about herbal chicken is that the soup it comes in must be good, otherwise the whole dish amounts to naught. And unfortunately, the soup is salty and lacking much herbal taste in their version. My verdict, don't order this.
Stir Fried Greens ($4.80) - This wasn't too bad actually. At the least, it tasted crunchy and tasty enough to praise but nothing more to recommend.
Tom Yum Seafood Set ($10.90) - My gf ordered this and it was definitely much better then my herbal chicken set. The soup is still salty as though made of seawater but there's enough spice inside to give it a tinge of hope. Add to that generous ingredients and you have something tolerable but still too salty.
Spinach Tofu ($2.80) - On the menu, this was touted as the must order dish and chef's specialty. I'm sad to report its nothing special. In fact, it was rather bad because there's a very obvious layer of thick oil over it. The interesting thing is the texture which is similar to steamed eggs except that in this, the "eggs" are rubbery. Not recommended as well.
Free Ice Cream - The ice cream ain't half bad. I'm betting on Wall's or some simple NTUC brand but it works for me. The chocolate is thick and rich and so was the vanilla. I could have this for a long time. The free flow drinks were also a surprise for me since they weren't diluted by too much. Impressive. The total bill for this rather disappointing dinner amounted to $32.53. Is it too expensive? Not really. Is it worth the money? Difficult to say yes to that too...
Overall Score: 5.5/10 (6.5 for drinks and ice cream)
Last word: It wasn't all bad. There's decent stuff here i'm sure. In fact, i saw it packed in the Dhouby Ghaut outlet but i can't say the same from my visit to this outlet. As it stands, i do not think i will return for another try here but might consider trying the other outlet.
After another long workday and seeking refuge from the daily storms through my stomach, we decided to throng Upper East Coast road for some food. Introduced by my gf, this is my first trip to Thai Express and this is what i have to say. "Sa-nook!" Which means to enjoy and have fun is the philosophy for Thai Express which terms itself as "a destination for friends to convene and have fun" instead of being just another restaurant. Interesting concept and one that brought them to set up shops in various parts of Asia, including New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and even Saudi Arabia.
The interior of the outlet is rather spacious with 2 levels of seating. An estimated 40-50 patrons can fit into the restaurant with some al fresco seats located outside. Everything is in a rather fiery color palate with reddish orange dominating most surfaces.
Tom Yum Seafood Pot - The clear tom yum seafood soup is spicy and had a reasonable amount of seafood tossed in for good effect. Can't say much apart from it being decent though.
Soft Shell Crab ($7.90) - I found this just plain bad. Overly oily with minimal meat because it was overfried and lacking any discerning taste whatsoever to commend. 1 crab at $7.90 is also pushing it since you can get the same item done better elsewhere for a smaller price tag.
Phat Thai Seafood ($9.90) - This was pretty much the best item i had that day. Its just very soft and tasty char kway teow to me actually but it was done well with the lime, seafood and the grounded nuts did loads to enhance the taste. It was also more towards the spicy side of things but i did enjoy this quite a bit.
Green Chicken Curry ($8.90) - I'd term this as mediocre at this point. To be honest, i've tasted quite a few renditions of green curry chicken and never did understand what was so special about them in the first place. This did not serve to change my opinion. It just tastes like chicken soaked in coconut soup throughout all my tries and the same goes for this rendition.
Complimentary Beancurd - This came complimentary due to a promotion at the time. The chilli and nuts went surprisingly well with the beancurd but the beancurd itself was fried for too long. It was thus rather dry and hard. Still possible to remedy this with additional chilli though.
A simple meal cost me $39.55 after a lengthy discussion with the supervisor on the wrong order of our tom yum soup. He graciously decided to amend our bill which managed to salvage the experience somewhat.
Final Score: 5.5/10 (7/10 for the Phat Thai Seafood)
Last word: Wrong orders and quarrels aside. The food is average from what i've had or maybe i'm not very familiar with Thai cuisine since i can't take much spice. The phat thai is probably worth a try but i find it hard to recommend anything else i've tried. The supervisor is rather kind and funny which is what the restaurant is about and i do thank him for his help. However, in the end, a return is definitely not on the cards for this outlet.
Another overdue post which happened more or less during the New Year time frame. Was invited along to this food tasting by FZ once again. Special thanks to both FZ and Christina, the marketing manager for graciously accepting my presence at this tasting.
Straits cafe has a very down to earth feeling to me. Glass panels separate the business crowds and roads from the interiors and even more glass panels are used to separate the kitchen from the patrons. The interior is simple with LCD televisions adorning some parts to provide more entertainment while dining in.
The selection is diverse and well thought out. Basically, i think it covers pretty much everything a buffet should cover. This is rather surprising because at first glance, it looked limited but when i went back to actually look and pick the food, there was a whole lot of variety and to say the least, having one item from each managed to stuff me to no end.
What Chinese New Year would be complete without some Yu Sheng? So it was with Straits Cafe, they actually do it more DIY style which is found from the DIY counter. But as we were invited, we were fortunate to have the staff rehearse the entire routine for us. In terms of taste, the yu sheng is balanced but didn't really manage to wow anybody. Overall decent with thick fresh salmon and fragrant crackers.
Needless to say, their rendition is glorious with overflowing ingredients. Lots of sharks fin, lots of pork belly, fish maw, abalone, prawns, lup cheong, mushrooms and dried scallops. Each individual pot is supposed to have been stewed for at least 6 hours before serving. In terms of taste, the abalone is certainly stewed till soft with a nice fragrance from the rest of the ingredients. I liked the pork belly, mushrooms, abalone and fa chai that was in this dish. Because i had a few other renditions of this after the meal, i have to say that this was one of the better ones i've had this year. Worth a try.
The above shows the amount of items you can take from the counters and its not even the full picture yet. I felt that the food served here is pretty decent, items that are supposed to be fresh are fresh, with some exception in a few prawns i had. Worth mentioning will be the laksa which is suitably spicy and tasty also being surprisingly light. The sashimi counter is worth returning over and over again. So is the chilled seafood section with its oysters and shrimp. I also liked the meat section which had different versions of beef and the yam ring which i felt was pretty decent as well. The dessert section's cakes didn't quite catch my fancy apart from the durian pengat and durian puff. They were lighter and less concentrated then i would have liked though.
Overall Score: 6.5/10
Last word: I actually found the food here decent. Maybe its because Christina advised on how the executive chef is one with superb potential in his cooking or that their standard that day was above average. One honestly cannot expect too much from a buffet, after all, how good can food prepared en masse be? So taking it for what it is, this restaurant and this buffet works pretty well for me. It helps that the poon choi is the best i've had this year as well. Good effort.
Another belated post but no fear, this is still very much relevant. No Signboard Seafood is one of those hawker fairy tales with a humble beginning that slowly built their empire from nothing. Beginning as an honest-to-goodness Zhi Ca stall serving good tasting Chili Crab and using white pepper as the unique selling point of their crabs to a big name restaurant that still attracts hundreds of patrons daily. This is a coffee shop fairy indigenous to Singapore and a much sought after dream of many.
No Signboard Appetiser Platter - Overall, the platter was rather decent but nothing too flashy. Honestly, i've pretty much forgotten a majority of the items i've tried here. So the conclusion is that it was average.
Shark's fin Soup With Crabmeat - The shark's fin came across as rather starchy and sticky but had generous chunks of crab meat within. It also came across as being too salty for some, nothing vinegar and pepper could not salvage though.
Chicken with Pork Floss - I actually took to this quite well. It was served hot and crispy with sprinklings of pork floss on top. The floss added sweetness and fragrance to the juicy chicken meat. Not too bad IMHO.
Steamed Garoupa HK style - The fish was overcooked. Short and simple. The meat was obviously too tough due to over steaming. Otherwise, you can't go wrong with this form of cooking.
Broccoli with mushrooms - The mushrooms and broccoli were both really nice and soft.......I think thats about all i can say about this dish. Next!
Yam Ring With Spicy Fillings - This one is rather tough to judge, simply because some liked the spicy fillings which consisted of squid, prawns, fish and lots of balachan chili. While others felt it was too weird for their liking. I belong to the latter, i like my yam ring traditional and with the usual items. Especially cashew nuts, which there was none here.
White Pepper Crab - Now this is more like it. The reason why No Signboard made its mark, good old fashioned white pepper crab with big juicy Sri Lankan Crabs. True to form, i thoroughly enjoyed this dish because its equal parts spicy, equal parts sweet and 100% fragrant. If there's a reason to go to No Signboard, its this dish. (Note: I've heard that the original Geylang branch is even better at this dish. So maybe you can try there.)
Cereal Prawn - This was decent. The cereal was sweet and fragrant but the prawns were hit or miss. Some were fresh and some simply weren't. Take your own chances.
Fried rice - Quite fragrant but nothing else worth mentioning on this one.
Longan and Almond - I'm guessing canned dessert but please correct me if i'm wrong on this. Nothing too special about this dish either.
Overall Score: 4/10 for everything else (7/10 for crab only)
Last word: Service in the restaurant was alright but there was this impression that they didn't quite like our group there. Food was below average for most and honestly, i can name quite a few Zhi Ca areas with better food then here. I didn't see the bill for this meal but i'm betting on it hitting at least $1000 because it was a set meal plus some ala carte orders for a group of above 10 people. For the unflattering score, its because we expected more from such a famous establishment and it simply wasn't met apart from the crab. Special thanks to Steward who gave us such a big feast and was so generous and kind to us throughout years. Sure, the review isn't good for the restaurant but we still had a good time. Cheers and i'm sure there's a better year for all this 2009!
Beginning in 1998, Awfully Chocolate brought a concept and slowly but surely, turned a simple idea into a region spanning franchise. One of its founders, Stella Huang, is a resident Singaporean celebrity who sang and acted in various sitcoms during her university days earn "some" pocket money. The result of a simple concept and limited selection of items is what you get from Awfully Chocolate.
I guess this franchise is proof that a simple idea can blossom and spread with a good amount of financial backing and some really tasty chocolate.
Ice Cream: This is the first time i tried their ice cream and it was smooth. Despite the extremely thick chocolate its made of, the bitterness was mild. It also had just the right amount of sweetness to push you towards the next mouthful. However, i can't help noticing that the ice cream has a taste very much familiar to extremely thick Milo concentrate. Not to say its a bad thing, but its an observation. My two cents? Reasonably good enough to stand on its own, but more then a few mouthfuls and be prepared to call in sick the next day.
Cake: I've tried a slice of their cake before and its rich, slightly fluffy and easily messy to enjoy. The fudge is smooth and moderately sweet which once again, gives it a balanced taste. I felt it was pretty similar to 3 other cakes i've had before though. Lana's cake shop, Choc-a-bloc and even Secret recipe. I think its a fair comparison since they all belong to the moist chocolate fudge category. The difference is mostly on the ratio of chocolate to sponge and Awfully Chocolate's version has most in common with Lana's version, albeit having a thicker fudge layer in the middle and on its coverings. Whether you like it or not depends on how much you like chocolate.
Final Score: 6/10
Last Word: I like chocolate and this is definitely pretty good for both the ice cream and the chocolate cake. I also like the attitude of the founders for their arrogance and daring in sticking to this concept but honestly, there are lots of chocolate cakes around. And when the differentiation factor is not as apparent, its less of a draw to return. Still, give this a try if you have not tried it yet.