Iluma is one of those places that seems like such a good idea but once you go in, you get bored so fast 10 minutes seems like an age. Unsurprisingly for a teenage-oriented place, this place is teeming with kid-wallet-friendly places. Empire State is one of them. Surprisingly for a teenage-oriented joint, this place has decent value for money food!
I insisted on having salad, so this starter came along. I was pleasantly surprised to see the fairly sophisticated touch of pistachios and grape halves under the balsamic cream dressing. Of course the teenage touch was having way too much dressing so after a while I gave up trying to scrape the extra off. Can’t fault them for being generous though.
I thought I’d have a change from burger (DC was on a bit of a burger roll), so I went for the completely different spaghetti meatball. If I was a teenager, I’d be in heaven: it was one hell of a plate of pasta. Think of a huge plate of spaghetti smothered in bolognaise sauce and then have a giant meatball on top of it all. It’s crazy mound of food and it took ages to get through.
DC of course went for the Empire State Burger. In a rare moment of weakness, he declared it the best burger he’d had in a while. I felt that while it was incredibly juicy, there wasn’t a whole lot of taste to it aside from salt. It wasn’t a bad burger though, and was hardly asking to be gourmet.
This is a great joint for having a lot of food at decent prices. The tagline is spot-on: they’re sure to stuff you till you’re full. It’s a great place to take a teenager (or a DC for that matter!).
201 Victoria Street
#04-03 Iluma At Bugis
Tel: 6238 7076
This is a rather cheap and comforting dish that freezes very well. It’s great to defrost one of these for a quick pasta dinner when really busy. I normally make a huge batch of this and freeze them in little baggies. The ingredients aren’t expensive at all, especially if you use frozen beef. Not being a fan of mystery meat, I skipped the beef mince and bought frozen beef cubes which I then minced with my food processor.
Please note that this is hardly authentic at all. I doubt it’s anywhere close to what an Italian mama would make and I make no apologies for it. I like this recipe and I’m sharing it. A warning to carnivores: it’s not very meaty because it’s bulked up by the onion, carrot and celery. To me, it’s a good thing because I don’t have to worry about including veggies, though I normally do if I’m not pressed for time. If you’re in for a meat fest, easy! Just add more meat. Cooking is that simple. Uh huh.
1 head garlic
4 large onions
3 large carrots
5 sticks celery
2 tbsp oil
2 punnets button mushrooms, quartered
500 g minced beef
2 tbsp dried oregano or mixed herbs
1 tsp cinnamon powder
2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
½ cup red/white wine
2 cans stewed tomatoes, chopped
Peel and chop the garlic, onions, carrots and celery into tiny bits. For goodness sake, please use a food processor of some sort. I salute you if you manage to chop it all by hand.
In a large pot, sweat the onions and garlic in the oil, followed by the carrot and celery. Don’t let any of it brown. Stir in the mushrooms.
Turn up the heat and add the beef, stirring till coloured.
Now add the herbs and spices, followed by the wine.
Allow to bubble before adding the chopped tomatoes.
Turn down the flame and simmer on low for one hour. Alternatively, put it in a slow cooker or thermopot for a couple of hours.
To freeze, allow to cool and then pack into plastic baggies.
To eat, cook macaroni till al dente, toss it in the pasta and season to taste.
Top with cheese and then put under a grill to allow the cheese to melt.