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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Blue Diamond Restaurant: Naan and Butter Chicken

My Dad, Brother and myself went to Blue Diamond Restaurant with the intentions of having biryani for our next installment of the Quest for Briyani series (which will be posted soon).

But my Brother decided to try something else at the same time.

Garlic Naan ($2.50)

Oh I love Naan. And apparently so does my Brother!
There's something about freshly baked bread that just does it for us I guess. Fresh and hot!

The garlic flavour is not too strong on this one so those 'vampires' among you need not worry.
My brother says this one is a bit too dry though. And we LOVE our garlic so I guess this was a bit of a letdown for us.

Butter Chicken ($6.00)
When someone says Butter Chicken, I always imagine some pieces of chicken swimming in a butter sauce. Well technically, this is exactly the same description but definitely more vivid.

The butter sauce is delicious in my opinion. It's buttery and still have the spicy taste you expect.
It's not too spicy though so you don't have to worry. In fact, my Dad says it's sweet!

It goes really well with the Naan and surprisingly well when I paired it with my briyani too!

Adam's Verdict:
Garlic Naan 3/5 -- Butter Chicken 4/5

Azlan's Verdict:
Garlic Naan 2/5 -- Butter Chicken 3.5/5

Zain's Verdict:
Garlic Naan 4/5

I have a feeling we will be going to a few more places for Naan and Butter Chicken..

Blue Diamond Restaurant

24 Buffalo Road
(Across from Tekka Market)

Operating Hours: 9.30am til 10.00pm Daily

Friday, March 22, 2013

Kacang Pool Special

I love Kacang Pool.

But because it can be.. well.. a little on the unhealthy side (with all the ghee and the egg and the what-nots), it's best eaten in moderation. So that means that it'd better be a damn nice serving.

When I was a kid growing up in Eunos, the original Eunos market had some of the best food ever.
There was this one stall that sold only 2 things - Rojak Buah and Kacang Pool.
But it was for some reason, closed most of the time.

Well that stall stuck it out after the fire at the old marketplace and shifted to the new Eunos Market.

Kacang Pool ($3.00)
Well the stall sells a few more than 2 things now but Kacang Pools seems to remain a firm favourite.

Along with your piping hot kacang pool (made up of mashed fava or broad beans), you get a fried egg (which has a slightly runny yolk) and of course the usual garnishes like chilli and onions plus some bread.

A lot of people have a lot of differing preferences when it comes to their Kacang Pool I'm sure.

Some people like theirs to be on the chunky side which means the beans are not mashed or blended too finely. You'll still have a pretty thick consistency that way.

On the other hand, you have the people who like theirs to be runny and smooth. This means the beans are blended till extremely fine and I guess you say a little more of a fluid consistency.

For me - not fussy when it comes to this.
Thick or fluid I'm still gonna whack until finish.

And as you can see from the picture on the left, this stall has it just in the middle. You can scoop it up or soak it up with the french loaf that comes with it or you can just have it with the egg and garnishes. It's gonna be delicious either way. Oh, and you'll still a few whole beans that missed the blender.

Salt and Lime for additional seasoning
This stall goes the healthy route and does not seem to include any ghee.
There's definitely a good dose of oil but not much or no ghee and minimal additives.

They'll give you some salt and lime to add as you please.

Now that's what I call comfort food.
And when that runny yolk breaks and starts running all over the place, grab some bread, mop it up and shove it in your mouth and go "Mmmmm".

And for the record, I cleaned the plate. Literally. (I used the bread)

Adam's Verdict:
Kacang Pool 4.5/5

My old neighbourhood market may have relocated but some of the old stalls definitely followed suit and I'm so happy that they did and this stall is one fine example.

Kacang Pool Special

Eunos Crescent Food Market & Food Centre
Blk 4A Eunos Crescent #01-03

Operating Hours:
7.00am til 9.30pm (or til the food finishes)
Closed on Wednesdays

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hara Tim Sum Kitchen

So it's another walk down memory lane in this post...

When we were kids, my Dad used to buy these paus from Haig Road.
It used to come from this one stall at a coffeeshop where the current Banquet now stands and it was just this one guy selling Halal tim sum and nothing else.

It was always the same thing for us - BBQ Chicken Paus and Siew Mai.
And it was so delicious to use that we could finish up like a dozen of each with no problems.
Dad would buy a lot especially during Ramadhan where we'd eat some for buka and the rest for sahur.

But sadly, that stall closed and we couldn't seem to find it anywhere.
The only way we could find the paus were at some coffeeshops or petrol kiosks which carried the Hara Hong Kong Tim Sum product in the steamers. And there were not many around.

More common names were Nury Pau or KG Foods but... Hara Hong Kong was still top of the list for us.

Lo and behold, one day I happened to spot a sign from afar which bore the Hara name.
Could it really be the return of our favourite tim sum???

So my brother and I make our way one afternoon to check it out.

We spoke to a lady there who seemed to run the show and explained that Hara had been bought over and was now a major manufaturer of tim sum products. However, most of it was for export and for distribution which meant that Hara seldom sold its products for immediate makan on their own.

In fact, their current outlet was their one and only and they had only been there for about 2 years.

She was also quick to point out that Hara had adopted a 'Healthir Choice' attitude and incorporated a special wheat flour into their paus which gave them the appearance as above while giving you a healthier option when it comes to tim sum.

So on with the food!

Big Chicken Pau ($2.00)
Dad's favourite was always the Big Chicken Pau.
I think it was the egg that he liked.

Well it's definitely got more vegetables in it than I remember but it is a generous mouthful nonetheless.
Undoubtedly, the price has gone up as well but it's a pretty decent chicken pau.

BBQ Chicken Pau ($2.50 for 3)
Aha our favourite of all time.
In fact I still order a BBQ Chicken Pau at any place that sells Halal tim sum nowdays.

Unfortunately, it just doesn't seem the same as before.
It used to be a lot more tasty to be honest and the filling now is pretty dry.
I mean, it's still tasty but I guess times have changed...

Siew Mai ($3.00 for 4)

My brother is the supreme eater of Siew Mai.
If there is Siew Mai, he will eat it and it started because of Hara's siew mai.

And yes, it tastes as good as it looks in the picture.
Juicy and meaty and just simply delicious.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that these were from the traditional bamboo steamers they had there.
The paus on the other hand were from the modern electric steamer you'll find at the petrol stations.
I mean, when you think of tim sum, the traditional way is the bamboo steamers am I right??

Chicken Feet ($3.00)

Here's something I picked up from my Dad and my brother only recently caught on.
There's just something so comforting about a chicken's foot that has been seasoned, spiced and cooked till it's going to slide off the bones when you put it in your mouth. Sluurrrppppp.

But here's a fair warning - that's one spicy serving of chicken's feet.
It's probably the spiciest version I've ever tried anywhere. But still delicious.

Bamboo Steamers 2-1 Modern Steamers

And this next part coming up actually needs some explanation.
But I MUST point out from the start that this was probably a one-off incident. I mean, this could have happened to anyone at any makan place. So I'm just going to let you know what happened but it is not, in any way, intended to reflect a bad light on this fine eating establishment.

My brother and I enjoy the rice dishes when it comes to tim sum.
I'm talking about the all-time classics - Fan Choy & Lor Mai Kai.

Fan Choy ($2.20)

Lo Mai Kai ($2.20)

So it's basically rice (glutinous or otherwise) with some chicken or char siew chicken.
And we love it.

But this time, we had an unfortunate incident....

My brother started whacking the Fan Choy before my Lo Mai Kai had even arrived so it was half gone by the time I was ready to have mine. But something wasn't right... At first I was so insistent that it was just the glutinous rice and that maybe theirs was a special type which made it extra sticky. I even ate a mouthful to make sure.

But then my brother had a very strong case and was very confident that his Fan Choy and my Lo Mai Kai had gone bad. Bad meaning spoilt aka basi.

"No way lah!" I said. I mean, we're at the manufacturer's stall! This is like as close to the source as you can get! There's no way that this food has gone bad right?


That is not glutinous rice sticky...
That is unfortunately glutinous rice SLIMY...

A quick check with the server confirmed our suspicions.
In fact, a faulty steamer was to blame and all the Fan Choy and Lo Mai Kai from the steamer had gone south for the winter and had to be thrown out.

This was the modern steamer. The same modern steamer where our paus had come from.

Well they didn't charge us for the spoilt food (rightfully) and it's obviously impossible for me to give a rating for those 2 items.

And to be honest, the food wasn't all bad. Some of it was pretty delicious.
I guess it was just bad luck that 2 items had spoiled I guess. And I know it does not reflect on the taste of their food or quality of their ingredients but I'm afraid it does reflect on their quality control and management of their food products.

Maybe that's why it was empty during lunch time.

Adam's Verdict:
Big Chicken Pau 2.5/5 -- BBQ Chicken Pau 2.5/5 -- Chicken Feet 4/5 -- Siew Mai 5/5

Azlan's Verdict:
Big Chicken Pau 2/5 -- BBQ Chicken Pau 3/5 -- Chicken Feet 4/5 -- Siew Mai 5/5

Oh and one more thing.
The chilli sauce used to be the bomb but the new version is slightly on the sour side.
Which is actually really disappointing.

Hopefully next time we have better luck with the Fan Choy and Lo Mai Kai.
Or maybe we'll just stick with the Siew Mai.

Hara Kitchen

742 North Bridge Road (Opposite Nasi Pariaman)
Tel: 9068 0258

Operating Hours:10am til 10pm Daily

Update! (1st September 2013)

One of our readers, Sri Yusnita, informed us that it looked like Hara Dim Sum had packed it up.

Well, Hara Kitchen has down-scaled their operations but is still operating out of the same place.
Most of the shop is now operated by Nasi Pariaman who operates mainly just across the street but you can still get your dim sum fix at North Bridge Road!

Thanks to our anonymous reader for the tip-off! Keep them coming in! :)

PS you will see mainly the Nasi Pariaman sign when you go but if you look closely on the left, you will still see the Hara sign too...

See it there? :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Yureka Teppanyaki

A long long time ago, someone told me about a place in the northern area of Singapore that served 'Halal Teppanyaki'. That's right. Halal Teppanyaki.

My first instincts were to say " Sure or not...".
And all those years ago, I never got a chance to explore this claim of what might have been the only place to serve Halal Teppanyaki in Singapore.

What exactly is Teppanyaki?
Well it's basically a Japanese style of cooking food on a griddle or a pan and this is normally done in front of the diners. Food is served fresh off the grill and may also add an element of entertainment I guess. I mean, how much more freshly cooked can you ask for without having to cook it yourself?

I'll be honest and say that we here at The Halal Food Blog have had teppanyaki before but it definitely was not certified Halal. And it definitely didn't have any entertainment factor to it.

And what exactly do I mean when I mention "entertainment"?
Well a little bit of research online says that they added a little bit of showmanship when it came to teppanyaki in the 70s onwards. The chef would not only cook your food for you but also put on a little show while you waited for your food.

When I think of this, I remember that scene from Police Academy 2 at the teppanyaki place.
If you're still not sure what I mean, you can go to YouTube and watch some videos including the Police Academy one and some real-life videos taken by diners.

Well anyways, back to the review.
Many many many years after first hearing about it, I hear again about this Halal Teppanyaki joint and even better news this time - they had an outlet in the East!

They have an outlet in Springleaf in the North-side but us East-siders are lucky they opened up an outlet at Jalan Masjid near Kembangan.

So we made our way excitedly to Yureka...

The first thing I have to point out is that they don't just sell teppanyaki only.
They have other things like Sushi, Syabu-Syabu Mini Steamboat among other things if you're into the whole Japanese thing. But if not, they also have other more traditional stuff including some Thai Cuisine too!

But we're here for the Teppanyaki!!

They have sets already prepared for you to choose from so it depends on what you feel like having and also how many people will be eating. They have sets catering for diners ranging from 2-8 pax and items also range from seafood like lobster to premium Wagyu beef so take a close look at the menu before you choose.

We decided to have the Family Teppanyaki Set for 4 pax ($80.00).
It came with Chicken, Cuttlefish and a choice of 2 additional items like Chicken, Salmon, Scallop, Prawn, Beef and Cuttlefish. There's also (strangely) Seabass which you can have either Sweet & Sour or 3 Rasa.
By the way, all sets come with Japanese Rice, Miso Soup, Vegetables and hot Green Tea.

We decided to top-up and upgrade to Fried Rice plus we added some Mix Mushrooms .

And boy were we in for a treat.

Our chef for the evening was this guy called Farid.
He did a whole range of tricks with the ingredients he was cooking and the utensil he was using.
Flipping this and throwing that! Knocking this and slicing that!

Okay okay call me a jakun but this was the first time I was experiencing this and it was actually really fun!

Chef Farid frying up some veggies for the Fried Rice

That's an EGG he's flipping!

Nifty knife-work before slicing up the meats

Chef Farid tells us it took him 4 years to learn all the skills he has today.

Yeah that's some really fancy stuff there buddy.
But is the food any good?

Miso Soup

Stir-Fried Vegetables

I can't say much for the Miso Soup to be honest. It was actually pretty bland.

But, it may look pretty simple but those bean sprouts are pretty tasty.
Errr if you're not much of a taugeh fan then maybe you can opt for Chye Sim or mushrooms instead?

Mixed Mushrooms ($8.50)

This wasn't part of the set meal but we added on anyways.
My darling wife and I are such big fans of mushrooms so we can never resist.
Totally worth the top-up!

Garlic Fried Rice ($3.00 for Upgrade)
We also upgraded to the Garlic Fried Rice.
I was actually expecting a really strong garlic taste but definitely not the case here so if you're ordering it for the garlic then maybe you better let the chef know to garlic the bugger up.

I actually enjoyed the salmon to be honest but I'm not sure about the rest.
It's simply grilled and then the chef tops it off with the teriyaki soy finish which he also prepares there on the grill. And I was amazed how simple it was.

Basically he mixes up some butter with the teriyaki soy sauce he has and done!
He just lays it on that fish for you and it was delicious to me. He also does this for the chicken and I'm sure some other meats as well.

The squid was actually very well cooked.
But I didn't care very much for the sambal which coated it. It was way too asam pedas-ish for me.

Tender beef steak grilled on the hot pan with some simple seasoning and sauce.
Simple and nothing too spectacular. We did ask for the meat to be cooked medium-well and it was cooked to exactly that but.... I think next time we'll ask for well done.

You know what? The chicken was probably the best meat dish I had there.
The chicken was PERFECTLY cooked so that it was still juicy and super tender while you still get some crisp skin and all covered in that butter-teriyaki magic sauce.

Tiga Rasa Seabass
Okay so this dish actually didn't go with the seat meal.
In fact, it's the only main dish that wasn't at the teppanyaki grill but the Thai kitchen instead.
And it wasn't bad but it didn't really go with the rest of the food so it was just kinda odd.

And in case you were wondering, the '3' in Tiga Rasa refers to the 3 flavours of sweet, sour and spicy.
If you go anywhere and you get other things like 'salty' or 'bitter' then I think they're bluffing you lah.

Mean Mango & Red Passion ($3.50 each)
Not part of the meal but some fun-sounding and tasty sodas to wash down the food.
They have a whole list including some called 'Black Ocean' and 'Arabian Nite' among other things.

Adam's Verdict: 4.5/5
Maryah's Verdict: 4/5
Guest Reviewer #1: 3.5/5
Guest Reviewer #2: 4/5

We went to eat there with some special 'Anonymous' guest reviewers.
We may all have different tastes but we all agreed on one thing - Yureka is definitely a great experience once in awhile especially if you have someone like Chef Farid to not only cook tasty food for you but also entertain you with some fancy antics while he's at it.

It's some place where you can bring the whole family and everyone has something to enjoy even if they don't like Japanese food. And I've read a lot of critics online saying Yureka is "not authentic" and all that but to me it's a great place to have a decent meal with family and friends. Plus, it's still the only Halal joint of its kind as far as I know.

Chef Farid tells me to video him in action the next time we go down for more.
And it looks like we'll be doing just that.

Yureka Teppanyaki

10 Jln Masjid
Tel: 68427317

Operating Hours: 11am til 10.30pm (Daily except Friday 3pm til 10.30)