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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Best Mexican Nacho Dip!

Just wanted to quickly share one of my personal favoruite recipes with you all. Mexican food is something that I sincerely miss, and of course, it's a cuisine which can so easily be converted into vegetarian, as very few of their dishes revolve around meat. From burrito's to enchiladas, all can be made vegetarian relatively easily. Vegan, on the other hand, is very difficult. As Mexican's love cheese, and almost every Mexican dish I know involves cheese. My recipe is no different, so vegan's, apologies for excluding you here.

This meal can be split up into two stages; First, making the salsa for the nacho's, and second, making the nacho dip. Here is a list of the ingredients you will need.

Ingredients (serves two people)
1 Small Onion
1 Can of Diced Tomatoes
1 Red Capsicum
Cayenne Pepper (or similar)
Half a block (125g) of Cream Cheese
Half a block (125g) of Cheddar (or other) Cheese
Paprika (optional)
Large pack of Nachos (Doritos)
1 Can of Refried Beans

1. Dice and fry onions until soft.
2. Add diced tomatoes (add water if too thick)
3. Add paprika, cayenne pepper, two jalapenos, and 3 tsp of jalapeno juice.
4. Finely dice and add capsicum
5. Place Dortio's onto baking tray, then add the refried beans on top of them. Make a 'cup' shape with the beans, and pour HALF the mixture into it. Keep the other half of the mixture in the pan.
6. Sprinkle more cheese on top of the salsa and beans. Then put into the oven for 20 minutes on 170 degrees.
Nacho Dip
7. Put the 125g block of cheddar into the remaining salsa mixture. Allow to melt. Stir regularly to avoid cheese from burning.
8. Put the 125g block of cream cheese into the mixture. Same again, allow to melt and stir regularly.
9. Remove nachos from oven.
10. Pour nacho dip into bowl.
11. Le Fin.

So here we have the Nacho's. Hopefully these pictures will help to articulate what I'm trying to say in the instructions.

This meal is certainly not cheap to make, what with how ridiculously expensive ingredients are in Singapore, but I'm sure after you all try it, you will deem it worth the price! Bare in mind I am a big eater. For Singaporean's, this recipe may well happily feed three people.

One of my most beloved meals in the world. This Nacho Dip is truly the best, and I urge everyone to give it a try! It's very cheesy, and should be served thick, but not too thick. The consistency that is shown in this picture is how it should typically be.

Hope you all enjoy it!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pine Tree Cafe - Bugis

Sorry for my absence. Well, back to the Fortune Centre again. Probably the best place in Singapore for quantity of vegetarian food. It really is a dream! I've heard a lot about Pine Tree Cafe, and have eaten in almost every other place in the Fortune Centre, so trying this place has been long overdue! With my peers giving quite glowing reviews of this place, I was quite excited to check it out. So, let's see how it went...

Pine Tree Cafe
Location: 190 Middle Road, #02-09/13 Fortune Centre
Contact: 98154940
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-9pm. Closed on Sunday.

I was inspired to try this Sardine Curry Puff mainly due to how much I love the Gokul version. But of course, Chinese and Indian curry puffs are quite different. The pastry used for this puff was quite commendable, but the filling was a little sub-standard. Mainly because the people who make mock sardine simply haven't made it anywhere near authentic enough...Yet. But not only that, this puff was not fresh, it was cold in fact. The filling did taste fishy, of sorts and the price was not bad, but I didn't enjoy it greatly.

Price: $1.20. 5/10

The Claypot Chicken Nugget Rice was the first main dish that we tried. To start with the positives, the chicken nuggets taste delicious! The mock meat was very authentic, chewy and juicy, with a divine sauce accompanying it. Unfortunately this was the only plus point of the dish. First major criticism is this is a hotpot not a claypot. The ingredients were not cooked inside this, making the whole purpose of the dish redundant. This was very annoying to me, as the main reason I order claypots is for the superb flavour of the rice, this is just plain white rice scooped inside, really unacceptable. I welcomed the inclusion of broccoli and the cashew nuts, but I was still left fuming over the false advertisement of this dish.

Price: $4.50. 4/10

We also ordered the Chicken Cutlet Noodle. This dish (accomapnied by soup) was reasonably priced, but in regards to portion size, it could be considered a little on the small side. The chicken cutlet was delicious, the crust (crumbs) of the chicken was crispy, and tasted scrumptious - Without a doubt the highlight of the dish. The mock chicken similarly to the nuggets) was juicy and packed with flavour. The noodles were chewy, but had a sour bi-carbonate aftertaste.

Price: $3.50. 7/10

Conclusion - I can't deny that I was left feeling a little unfulfilled at the end of our journey to Pine Tree Cafe. The major low light was certainly the hotpot/claypot situation. But the mock meats at this place seemed to be of a really high standard. Perhaps we were just unlucky with the dishes that we ordered, and I'd like to go back again soon to sample a wider variety of dishes, in order to get a fuller understanding. But from what I've sampled so far, I wouldn't consider this place anything special.

Overall Rating
Food - 6/10
Ambiance- 6/10
Service - 7/10
Value - 7/10

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Il Piccolo Pizzeria - Sengkang

I revisit Il Piccolo once again. Before i continue, sincere apologies for being away for so long. I've just started a new job, and really not had time to go out and about sampling food. Kopitiam Square, in Sengkang was hyped for many many months, but sadly it's withering. Over half the stalls in this large food court are now closed. Which means most likely the whole food court will close eventually. Which i am not heartbroken about, apart from Il Piccolo, all the food there is pretty poor. But i will miss Il Piccolo, they have other branches, but none will be as convenient as this one! So Sengkangers and others, make the most of this place while it lasts!

Il Piccolo
Location: Kopitiam Square
Contact: 68860312
Opening Hours: Unknown

WARNING - This place is not 100% vegetarian!!!

CLOSED DOWN - As of 24/08/2011

My main inspiration for reviewing this place again is one dish in particular! This is the Gnocchi Di Patate Pasta. For those unfamiliar with what gnocchi is - The best explanation is they are small soft balls usually stuffed with potato. I prefer pasta more than gnocchi, but these are not bad. Also included in this dish are mushrooms and asparagus (a favourite veggie of mine). Portion size this dish is not too much and not too little. But the real highlight is the delicious and delectable sauce, which all the ingredients are swimming in.

The sauce is tomato and cream based, which is a particular weak spot for me. I simply love these type of sauces. But i can assure you this is not simply my bias shining through, this is a genuinely great tasting sauce with fantastic ingredients.

Price: $7.00. 9/10

Conclusion - Numerous vegetarian friendly pizza's and pasta's are on offer here. As well as side dishes such as garlic bread and bruschetta. All of which are quite delightful. Making these dishes are surprisingly quick also, it's rare to wait over 10 minutes for anything, so thumbs up there too. Gnocchi is a must try from here though, along with the four cheese pizza. Since Il Piccolo has opened up in Sengkang i'm sure i've gained weight...Maybe it would be good for my health if it did close down....

Overall Rating
Food - 8/10
Ambiance- 6/10
Service - 8/10
Value - 8/10

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Masala Tandoor - Marine Parade

Located in the same food court as North South East West, this is an Indian stall with an extensive variety of vegetarian dishes (see picture). Unfortunately, they do sell meat dishes also. But with such a high amount of Indians being vegetarian, you'll find that almost every Indian (especially North) stall/restaurant will have a considerable amount of vegetarian food. Those looking for vegan options might struggle, as many dishes are dairy based. Similarly for those unable to take garlic and onions, as they're such a common base for most Indian dishes. Only Gokul i know doesn't cook with onions and garlic, and i'm still finding that hard to believe.

Masala Tandoor
Location: Blk 89 Marine Parade Central
Contact: Unknown
Opening Hours: Unknown

CLOSED DOWN as of August 2010

WARNING - This place is not 100% vegetarian!!!

When this Poppadom Appetizer arrived the first thing i worried about (being as thrifty as i am) was 'are they charging me for this?'. The answer was no, which is a huge plus point for me. Giving me things i didn't order for and charging me is a huge gripe of mine, so i was glad it was complementary! Not bad quality as well, although poppadom's aren't really my thing.

Price: FREE. 7/10

We ordered the Plain Briyani Rice. It was not an impressive rice dish unfortunately. The texture of the rice was both a mixture of mushy and dry (i'm not sure quite how it became both). Flavour wise, although it did have quite a distinctive star anise taste, i didn't really taste anything else in the rice, which was disappointing.

Price: $2.00. 3/10

Loyal followed of The Hungry Ang Mo will know that i have a soft spot for naan. So, of course, i had to try the Plain Naan. The price is definitely great value, no complaints about that. But as far as quality, this was an awful naan. It had the texture of stale bread, it was too thick and hardly charred at all. It wouldn't surprise me if this wasn't cooked in a tandoor at all, as i've made better naan's myself just using a pan. Good value, but terrible quality.

Price: $1.00. 2/10

Another good value dish, the Palak Paneer, the popular spinach based curry with clumps of paneer (cheese) inside is one of our favourite Indian curries. Unfortunately, it was dreadfully done here. The whole dish has a burnt garlic taste to it, which was not welcoming at all. The taste and texture of the paneer was ghastly. The cheese was too soft, and more importantly it tasted like it was way past it's sell by date. It was not pureed correctly, so it had a very coagulated texture, and the smell and taste of onions and garlic were done in excess. Good price and foul quality.

Price: $4.50. 2/10

The final dish we sampled was the Malai Kofta. While it was an improved dish, compared with the palak paneer, it was still lackluster by normal standards. It was a very watery curry, this curry should usually have a thick, mild and creamy texture. None of these elements were present, instead the curry more closely resembled daal. The kofta balls were not bad, the texture was good, but unfortunately that terribly sour paneer was inside. The taste of the curry consists strongly of turmeric. While the portion and price can not be criticized, the quality again lets it down.

Price: $3.50. 4/10

Conclusion - It's important to understand, when going to Indian stalls the quality won't be at the same standard of mid/high range Indian restaurants. So it's unfair to make such comparisons. However, the quality of the food from Masala Tandoor was atrocious. It was the worst Indian food that i have ever tried in Singapore. I don't want to come down too heavily on this place, and believe me, i did want it to be good. But, i can't lie about how poor the quality was here. The price and portion size is all fine, and it's nice being able to buy cheap Indian food somewhere. But with quality like this, i would never eat here again, regardless of the price. If you want cheaper Indian food, the stall in Bugis is where you should be heading.

Overall Rating
Food - 2/10
Ambiance- 5/10
Service - 6/10
Value - 7/10

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Green Room Cafe - Ang Mo Kio

It's quite rare you discover a restaurant in Singapore with a truly idyllic setting. Well, The Green Room cafe certainly provides that ambiance. It is located in Bishan Park, which can be a pain to get to. MRT wise it's nestle in the middle of Ang Mo Kio and Bishan, therefore an additional bus is required - It's too far to walk. Your best guide is to head for the Ang Mo Kio Swimming Complex. It's opposite the road from there. Once you located it, make sure you don't (like we did) go into the wrong restaurant. There is Canopy Restaurant located next to it, and there is no sign to say it's not Green Room. Aramsa Spa is also located near by, if you've just won the pools.

The Green Room Cafe
Bishan Park II, 1382 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1
Contact: 65561533

Opening Hours: Everyday 11am-10pm 

CLOSED DOWN - As of 11/10/2014

Just wanted to show you a snap of the interior of the restaurant. The place was very quiet when we arrived. The trees inside provide lovely decor, with the wafting smell of lemongrass (used mainly as it's an excellent natural mosquito repellent) covering the whole restaurant. So, how was the food...

The first three pictures are part of a set meal, which is available during certain periods of the day (but they are willing to do it anytime, really). This Juice Of The Day is a conglomeration of chiefly pineapple, with mint and sugar added. Not bad overall, but it had a very 'home made' feel to it, definitely nothing that almost anyone could do. The addition of mint was enough to raise my eyebrows, but the taste is nothing more than ordinary. They have ample choices of juices, all ranging around $8-9 dollars.


Again we continue with this set main. Here is the Soup Of The Day. The blended soup which is made up of potatoes and carrots was not bad. I would have preferred more bread though.


The final section of the set meal is the main. Here you can choose between four options. We selected the Penne Pomodoro. The sauce seemed like it came from a bottle. Overly sweetened without a tinge of tartness to it. The pasta was al dente but it wasn't enough to save the dish.


Price: $18.00 (juice of the day, soup of the day & one main meal).

The Mushroom Baked Brown Rice came in a huge serving plate. However it was spread so thinly, you might think that its actually a pizza. That being said, due to the copious of cheese and the richness of the sauce, I would say that the portion was satisfactory. The dish faintly resembles the risotto dish we had. Does it taste good? Yes. But whichever dish drenched in cheese doesn't?

Price: $15.00. 5/10

By far the most disappointing dish of the evening was this Risotto. As soon as it arrived i was mortified by the portion size. It's really minuscule. The taste is heavily overpower by truffle, which is a taste that i've yet to acquire. Overall i found it quite plain, and i've tasted much better versions of risotto. For the price, i would strongly recommend avoiding this dish.

Price: $15.00. 3/10

Here we have the Portobello Burger. It was generous portion, with many different elements. Firstly, the salad which accompanies this dish (and others) is a typical balsamic dressed salad, but they also include olive oil in it. The portobello was very juicy, and was nicely spiced. It was laid on toasted herb bread.

Price: $13.00. 8/10

The dish i was looking forward to try the most was definitely the Curry Lamb Pie. Although i was not disappointed per se, i found it very different to how the title might suggest. Before i go into more detail, what needs to be mentioned is this restaurant not bringing knives to the table. Dishes like this need to be cut with a knife, and to not bring one is careless. Although the pie is a little spicy, i didn't find anything which would indicate it's a curry.

Price: $14.00. 7/10

Here is a better look at the insides of the pie. I found the mushroom stem mock meat inside to be very similar to the ones which are commonly found in typical Chinese dumplings. I wouldn't say it would match a 'lamb curry' in any way. This picture looks awfully gruesome...Who said vegetarians only ate veggies, huh?

Conclusion - The main attraction for Green Room Cafe is the setting. If one was the critique this establishment based entirely on the food - Although not disastrous - I would find it overpriced and lackluster. But, with the setting and ambiance being so majestic, and that being such a rare commodity in Singapore, i would be inclined to give this place some merit. If you want to go for a high level dining experience then i wouldn't recommend Green Room. However, if you want a peaceful and unique setting where you can experience reasonable quality food, then this might be what you're looking for.

Overall Rating
Food - 6/10
Ambiance- 10/10
Service - 5/10
Value - 4/10
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