I love the recent initiation by Food & Travel Magazine. They give readers a chance to basically, go behind-the-scenes, like their editors, and embark on a food-tasting session. Except, this experience is one of many experiences packed into a day – a food trail. If you are interested in joining them (and maybe we’ll get the chance to meet each other!), click on the link above – any upcoming food trail will be updated on their Facebook page. This time round, we were toured around Clarke Quay – the restaurants many thought were too touristy for locals. As I had to rush over from somewhere else, I missed the first stop at Tomo Izakaya.
I have never thought to eat at a Korean restaurant at Clarke Quay – a spot where the general preconception is that it’s a place only for drinks, bar food, tapas, maybe. Until this time, when I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food served.
Drinks are part and parcel of Clarke Quay, no doubt about that. Just so you know, I’m don’t drink. The Strawberry Makkoli Fruit Cocktail ($14++/glass or $48++/jug) tasted like cough medicine to me. Makkoli is a Korean alcohol made with a mixture of wheat and rice. Unless you like those medicine-tasting alcohol, opt for other fruit concoctions like orange, mango, pineapple, banana or green apple. I personally very much preferred the non-acoholic Sparkling Soju ($18++/jug). It’s simple and refreshing; comes in citron, lime, strawberry or green apple flavour.
Korean Steamed Egg ($8++) :: Granted there is nothing too special about it, it is one of those comfort food where, if you crave, will satiate it. It is laced with green onions, red pepper flakes, salted shrimp sauce, salt and pepper. Very soft and fluffy. It really depends on the mood, it’s not an absolute ‘worth paying for’ item.
I was most impressed with its Boss Fried Chicken ($22++/9pieces or $38++/18 pieces), spicy or not. It is what is drawing me back for some late night supper, since it opens until 6am for most of the week. The skin was really crisp, and once you get past that, the most tender and moist meat surfaces for some serious meaty action. They are of an arguably acceptable portion too. I just can’t wait to head back and order 18 pieces, share it with my friends over a catch up session.
Cheese & Spicy BBQ Chicken ($34++) :: I really quite like this dish as well. The chicken itself was once again, spot on in tenderness and moist. But a problem is, it is really spicy. I can hold spicy food reasonably well, but this was very challenging. That aside, I thought it comes with too hefty a price tag though.
From 10pm – 12am, Boss BarBQ offers a liquid buffet – the only Korean liquid buffet in Singapore. It’s priced at $28++ for ladies and $38++ for the guys, and drinks include Korean beer, soju bomb, soju shots, some Makkoli fruit alcohol, and sparkling fruit soju. If you are here to drink, it’s brainless that it’s value-for-money. The entire group of us had the soju bomb, and just like how the Jägerbomb is played, we did the same, and got high just by successfully toppling them in one try.
I am already planning a trip back to Boss BarBQ with my friends in June. I saw that there’s a Beef Bulgogi that serves 4 – 5 people at $36++, and Bibimbap at $18++. I’m eyeing them, on top of my Boss Fried Chicken!
What’s worth paying for:
Boss Fried Chicken.
Address: 3C Clarke Quay, River Valley Road, #01-04
Telephone: 6336 3393 (takes reservations)
Opening Hours: 6am – 1am (Sun – Tue); 6am – 6pm (Wed – Sat)
In all honesty, Coriander Leaf is one of those restaurants that I have walked past numerous times but failed to take a second look, no thanks to the font face of the restaurant name. The same can be said to any restaurants with a design that contains font faces like Comic Sans, Arial etc. Little did I know, that this ‘noobish’-looking restaurant has countless accolades under its belt 13 years since its opening. Not only that, it is established as a fine-dining restaurant, serving Pan-Asian cuisine, including creations and interpretations of dishes from Lebanon, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Indian, Iran and Pakistan.
To add to that mouthful, Coriander Leaf also runs cooking classes, which cover over 15 different cuisines, and cater to over 50 corporate and institutional clients for events / programs. It was surely more than meets the eye.
If you are one of those who cannot decide on a dish (in this case, an appetiser) no matter how much time is given, you might want to just opt for the sampling platters. The Asean Platter ($34++) comprises (a) clear tom yum soup, (b) crab cakes, (c) smoked duck, pomelo and vermicelli salad, (d) Thai green mango salad, (e) Vietnamese rice paper rolls, and (f) salt and pepper tempura calamari, while the Mezze Platter ($32++) contains (a) chickpea and lentil soup, (b) chickpea and tahini dip, (c) herb-crusted cheese balls, (d) roasted red pepper and walnut dip, (e) chickpea and fava bean rissoles, and (f) tabouleh salad. If I were to pick, I’d pick the former. Not only are they the usual go-to for appetisers, they were done at least average too.
Tandoori Chicken ($30++) :: I have grown to love Tandoor dishes over the past few months. Its fragrance from the clay/metal oven is one of a kind. I thought the restaurant’s rendition of the Tandoori Chicken is pretty good, though I had rather just had it alone without the accompaniment of tomato-cucumber-yoghurt relish (it’s just something I haven’t gotten used to). The end product remained succulent. A dish I would come back for.
Za’atar Crusted Spiced Lamb Rack ($46++) :: It was one of the better lamb racks I’ve had, I must admit. Middle-Eastern inspired, the game is coated with a mixture of dried herbs, sesame seeds, salt and other spices. I liked the way it was done because it’s quite a surface-flavour and doesn’t hinder the taste of the lamb. The meat was also incredibly tender, unlike many other, tough ones. It comes with herbed couscous, garlic tomato confit, and drizzled with pomegranate sauce.
Desserts :: In all honesty, I thought the desserts were all well-executed. My favourite, surprisingly not the ordinary Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake ($16++) served with vanilla bean ice cream, was the Pulut Hitam ($14++) that comes non-traditionally with coconut ice cream and fresh bouchons of mango, scented with pandan. I love the difference in temperature, and the texture too – warm bits of glutinous black rice pudding with the cold, smooth, and creamy coconut ice cream. Something that’s not too sweet, not too common. The Creamy Milk Pudding ($15++) wasn’t bad too, with a distinctive orange blossom aroma, and comes with fresh fruit compote. I like the velvety and creamy texture of it. When cream and milk come together, it feels really substantial on the palate. Despite all these, I thought they are all priced a little too much, which is why I would most likely still be deterred to ordering desserts here. Pity. If it was just around the range of $10 – $12, it would be perfect.
But because Coriander Leaf is established as a fine-dining restaurant, and has indeed, attained for themselves many accolades over the past 13 years of operation, it can be argued that the prices are only justifiable in the Singapore fine-dining scene. If I had the money, I wouldn’t mind paying for the Za’atar Crusted Spiced Lamb Rack and all the above desserts. Oh, the Entertainer App has a 1-for-1 for its main courses. Time the lamb rack! Otherwise –
What’s worth paying for:
Address: Merchant Courts, Clarke Quay, 3A River Valley Road, #02-03
Telephone: 6732 3354
Opening Hours: 12pm – 2pm, 6.30pm – 11pm (Mon – Fri); 6.30pm – 11pm (Sat); Closed on Sundays.
TongKang Colonial Bar & Restaurant
Tongkang is a type of light wooden boat used to carry goods some two hundred years ago. And yes, TongKang Colonial Bar & Restaurant is that F&B outlet you can certainly spot from across the Singapore River. These are the last surviving pair of Tongkangs, and patrons can actually experience dining on the deck, with no additional charge! Its highlights largely revolves around grilled meat and seafood – rejoice!
Its Spicy Wings ($8++/6 or $14++/12) was a bad start to the meal. It was absolutely lackluster with bland meat and not at all spicy, juicy or flavourful. I would suggest against it and try its other appetisers instead.
On the other end of the spectrum sits the Live Oysters ($26++/6 or $38++/12). Depending on the season, the oysters vary. Country origins of the oysters may be France, Australia, USA and Canada. It works out to be about slightly more than $3 per pop if a dozen is ordered, and I think it is value-for-money, considering its reasonably plump and sizable flesh.
Bento Seafood Platter ($55++) :: Made up of king prawn, pacific scallops, Japanese squids, Japanese amberjack, cod, yellowfin tuna and an option of normal, sweet potato or truffle fries, it is not denied that it is a somewhat luxurious spread of seafood. It is beautifully coloured and evidently fresh, almost seems like this Tongkang has turned into a fishing boat, and these seafood were just caught. It can be shared between two persons. I don’t know if I will pay that much for it though, personally. Unless I’m a huge seafood enthusiast knowing in detail how to appreciate them, I probably wouldn’t.
Hot Stone BBQ is available for your meat. While it’s always fun to DIY, I find that I wouldn’t really want to, especially if I’m on a lazy laid-back visit here. Fortunately, at no extra charge, the waitstaff will be able to do it for you upon request. If I were to return, I would probably ask for it to be done cooking before it is served though. The smoke stunk up my clothes.
And probably because of the DIY hot stone BBQ, the meat wasn’t done to perfection. I mean, I do not have a degree in cooking, and it is comparatively more challenging to grill a thick slab of meat than most other food items. It turned out slightly disastrous and the doneness was off. Seasoning was simple, meat was near-nude flavour, but was alright.
What’s worth paying for:
Address: 3D Clarke Quay, River Valley Road, #01-06
Telephone: 6333 4868 (takes reservations)
Opening Hours: 6pm – 11pm (daily)
Photos by Kathleen.
This was a media session. Thank you Food & Travel Magazine.