Vegan Burg: As Unhealthy As It Gets

One evening, DC ordered Vegan Burg delivery on a whim. At that point they had a starter pack offer consisting of two burgers, a pack of fries and a pack of franks.

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The two burgers looked and tasted pretty much the same, except that the tangy tartar had slightly sour mayo and the cracked pepper one was, well, peppery. Duh.

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The burgers were pretty good, with soft buns, ample lettuce, squidgy mayo and patties that had the vague taste and texture of chicken. If I didn’t know better, I’d’ve thought that it was a regular mystery meat-filled processed burger.

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But no, this is mystery vegetable-filled processed food. The veggie franks were testament to that because they tasted exactly like any frank you’d get from the supermarket. I admit that they are tastier and burstier than normal franks, and are probably the paragon of franks. Notwithstanding, they are still highly processed and I shudder to think what’s inside real mystery meat franks. The fries were very excellent. Despite spending some time in transit, they were still just about crisp and the insides were nicely crumbly-melty. I liked the seaweed powder coating. It’s somewhat like McDonald’s samurai shaker fries, just probably a bit better.

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Apparently this place uses organic whole grain in their buns and don’t use trans fat. I suppose if you’re going to eat fast food you may as well do less damage by going vegan.

Vegan Burg
44 Jalan Eunos
Tel: +65 6844 6868
http://www.veganburg.com/

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A Good Brunch at db

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We’re not sure how it happened, but one Sunday I found myself at Daniel Boulud’s swanky cafe at Marina Bay Sands with DC, Shinta, KK and Eeyore. We opted to share some starters and then proceeded to our own main courses. The first appetiser was the quail ballotine en croute ($22), basically a baked pate of quail and foie gras enclosed in a pastry shell. It was well executed and tasty. Maybe I’ve had too much airline food but this reminded me a lot of the stuff you get on the plane if you eat just the quail part. But with the foie gras centre, things are all good and yummy. I quite liked the pickles at the side, especially the bit of shiitake pickle – a refreshing change to the usual carrot and cucumber pickle.

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The spicy tuna tartare ($23) was good in that the ingredients were impeccably fresh and flavourful. The chef had a very light hand in the spices as it was hardly spicy to my palate, yet paradoxically heavy on the salt. Perhaps he was going for the cured salmon style while I was expecting more sashimi salad.

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The chop chop salad ($15) cost more with shrimp ($21). We counted 4 shrimp, making them $1.50 each, which isn’t too bad considering that they were, as is the standard at this restaurant, fresh. What I enjoyed throughout the meal was that every ingredient in each dish seemed to burst with freshness and was pretty much picked at its peak. I normally tolerate bits of wilted salad leaves here and there, sometimes even at the best places, but at db, it seemed like they did a proper freshness QC. Very good! Here, again, the salad was very tasty and fresh, though nothing inventive or mindblowing. $15 for a fresh salad with watermelon, sweet and juicy though they were, seems a bit steep to me.

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For mains, DC went for the piggie burger ($24) which had a beef patty topped with pulled pork. My tasting portion of beef patty was well seared on the outside and nicely juicy in the outside. I didn’t taste much pulled pork and think the patty is delicious enough to have on its own. Maybe I’ll go for this one next time.

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KK and Eeyore both had the original db burger ($35), which had braised short ribs in the middle of the meat patty and foie gras on top. I didn’t find my tasting portion very special and didn’t even notice much of the short ribs. One thing though was that the foie gras was tiny and I was very lucky that the piece KK cut for me had a tiny sliver that barely caught my attention had it not fallen onto my plate. But the fries at this place are da bomb. I think they’re probably the best fries I’ve had in recent memory. These are definitely twice fried, they’re super crisp on the outside and somehow slightly waxy and moist on the inside. I wouldn’t call it fluffy, but somehow the texture worked really well. The flavour was great too, and they salted the fries just so. I wonder if they put beef or goose fat in the oil to make it taste that good.

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Shinta had the barramundi grenobloise ($34), again an impeccably seasoned dish. My tasting portion of fish had a lovely crisp crust of skin that really added to the juicy fish. Excellent.

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Finally, my dish. I went for the grilled yellow fin tuna ($36), which I felt was the weakest link of the main courses. The tuna was of decent quality. I’m belabouring the point here, but the produce offered at this restaurant is faultless. However, the flavour of the tuna somehow didn’t sing and I felt that the corn fricasee was a tad too stodgy despite being lifted by the spicy, mustardy watercress. Plus, I could hardly taste the hedgehog mushrooms that I ordered the dish for (yes I put dishes with mushrooms at the top of my order list). While it was a decent rendition of tuna, it was sadly very forgettable.

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For dessert, we were stuffed and none of the other desserts appealed to us, so we went for the warm madeleines for the table to share ($8). Considering that the rest of the dishes were fairly pricey, we were expecting no more than one madeleine per person in that portion. We were very happily surprised that the madeleines came piping hot instead of warm and there were plenty to go round. Even Shinta, who was on a no-carb diet, dipped in and there were so many that no one fought over the last piece (a rarity in this crowd). I liked how each delicate little cake had almost crisp edges of darker golden brown that really added to the tender texture of the morsel. The subtle orange peel flavour added to the yummy ending to the meal.

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I like db Bistro Moderne and think it’s got good, fresh, well executed food and efficient, attentive service. Price-wise, it’s not cheap as we paid $66 per person for all the food above plus a glass of wine and a fruit punch (don’t order the fruit punch, it tastes just like the type you get at post-event buffets). However, I’d say it’s quite worthwhile, as opposed to truly value for money, as the produce really is fresh (there, I’ve said it yet again!). I’d return, though probably for a chi-chi splurge than for a regular work-night dinner. Oh yes, and I’d return for the fries!

db Bistro Moderne
B1-48 The Shoppes Marina Bay Sands
Tel: 6688 8525

The Tanglin Tree

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The Tanglin Tree is a vaguely Australian-inspired place just at the edge of town that’s nice for a quiet dinner out. It has pretty decent food presented in an equally pretty manner. DC had the teriyaki cod skewers, I had lamb cutlets with spicy lamb sausages and we shared three sides of fries, green salad and ratatouille. The fries were done just right: crisp outside, fluffy inside and with salt bits bursting on the tongue. The green salad was well-tossed in a tasty low-key dressing, but the ratatouille was a letdown. Hardly the stuff of epiphanies and childhood memories, it was too sharp and too mushy for my taste.

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DC’s cod was surprisingly good and beautifully presented, as you can see from the picture. I normally steer well clear of teriyaki and cod as I’m not very fond of sweet in my savoury food and I find that cod is often too fatty for my taste. This version was deftly handled with a light touch. It helped that the cod was in small pieces so that the excess cod oil would’ve oozed out in the cooking. Lightly crisp outside and meltingly tender inside, the cod almost made me regret not ordering it…

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… until I ate my lamb and was well pleased. Now, it’s not earth-shatteringly good, but an extremely decently executed dish. I didn’t feel like it was lamb overkill as the portions were restrained and well-proportioned. The cutlets were done just right, again the contrast of the right textures inside and out, and the sausages were nicely spicy without being overwhelming. It also helped that my food came nicely presented too!

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The most interesting thing for dessert was this flourless orange cake (goes to show how boring the dessert menu is). It was very dense, a change from the spongier norm. It was also surprisingly good as we found ourselves gobbling up it all up with the creme fraiche despite already being very full from our mains. Though not a particularly orangey cake, the interplay of dense and sweet cake with tart fruit and unctuous creme fraiche had a lot to speak for.

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The Tanglin Tree
56 Tanglin Road B1-01
Friven & Co Building
Tel: 6733 0992

Applebee’s

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Ever since spying Applebee’s from across the road at Oriole cafe, I’ve been wanting to check out this American chain diner. I remember reading a blog somewhere in which some random American girl (I know, not a particularly good source) said that it was her all-time favourite and was intrigued since then.

We started off with a Sour ApplebeeTini, an apple-flavoured martini with a cute stick of apple pieces to garnish. It was more apple juice than alcohol and  not particularly sour, though very palatable. This is one of those drinks that you could easily have on an empty stomach, it’s so mild. I’d imagine teenagers would adore this drink. Not your manly man type drink but very apt for the place and the food.

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DC the burger king ordered the Fire Pit Bacon Burger. It was a big burger with an even bigger portion of fries on the side. The seasoned fries were very good: soft inside and crispy outside. It was a good start already. The burger was very well seasoned, though I felt it a tad overcooked. It could be juicier but the melted cheese topping compensated nicely. No big deal with the jalapenos, they hardly added any heat but then again this is Singapore and we’re used to far hotter. I wasn’t very keen on the bacon because it was a bit too burnt and didn’t taste very bacony. But on the whole this was a very good burger with a nicely toasted bun, loads of ingredients that made a mess and excellent fries.

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I had the half rack ribs with Southern BBQ sauce. Those ribs were quite something. They were incredibly soft and tender with the meat practically falling off the bone and coupled with the sweet, smokey BBQ sauce, ambrosial. I don’t normally like sweet mains, but this was an exception. The accompanying coleslaw was surprisingly fresh and good quality. Coupled with the aforementioned excellent fries, this dish seemed pretty faultless to me!

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Now despite our full tummies, we couldn’t leave without trying dessert could we? There was no choice but to share a Maple Butter Blondie. The blondie was served  topped with vanilla ice cream on a hot skillet and maple butter sauce was poured on top to sizzle away. This was one of the few desserts that really worked the contrast between hot and cold, making it very special. I especially loved how the maple butter sauce caramelised on the skillet. Eating that those bits with the crisped up bottom of the blondie with cold creamy ice cream was such a sensation to savour.

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In short, expect loads of good, honest to goodness American food. None of it is gourmet, but it’s got me wanting to go back very soon!

[Edited to include the fajitas.]

So DC and I did go back another day. This time DC had the steak. Don’t bother with that sinewy excuse for meat, just head straight for the fajita combo. This sizzling plate of seasoned rice has lovely strips of beef and chicken nestled on a huge pile of  onions and peppers.

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Accompanying it was a generous plate of four tortillas, shredded cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo (basically onion and tomato salsa), sour cream and shredded lettuce. Making up the tortillas so that I didn’t overstuff them was a big challenge, I’m so greedy. I wanted a bit of everything inside and ended up squishing half the contents onto the plate by the time I got through the tortilla. It was very yummy though, with plenty of spice and smoke from the meat and onions and creaminess from the guacamole and sour cream. There’s enough for two people, so you could try sharing and ordering more starters and desserts. I certainly couldn’t manage a blondie dessert the second time round!

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Applebee’s
111 Somerset Road
#01-11/12 TripleOne Somerset
Tel: 6735 9671

Sea View Burgers

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We ventured to Prive Cafe again, this time for dinner. The service was much improved from before and our server did his best to move us up to a table with a better view when we first had a less than ideal table. Instead of sticking to our post-festive season diet, I broke ranks and went for burgers instead of salad. So did DC. At least his was the cod burger. It was a thick, well-cooked fillet of cod topped with grilled cheese sitting pretty on a garlic bun. I quite enjoyed it, despite not fancying cod much. Here, the fish that I normally find too oily worked well as a burger filling as there was enough juice to have moist mouthfuls of burger with each bite. The fries were good too, crisp outside and soft inside, though quite oversalted. Then there was the fresh salad that gilded the lily very nicely. At least there was a bit of a nod to the diet here.

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I went the whole hog and did the Mexican burger. On top of my juicy medium-done beef patty sat some guacamole, grilled cheese, tomato salsa, sour cream and jalapeno slices. It was a great medley of flavours and textures coming together to form a very squishy (and satisfyingly so) burger.

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It’s definitely better to come here for dinner than breakfast.


Privé Bakery Cafe
2 Keppel Bay Vista
Marina at Keppel Bay
Tel: 6776 0777
info@prive.com.sg

A Very Dramatic Meal

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It was the end of a very long work week. I’d just recovered from one of those nasty bugs that was percolating round and round that sick building I work at. It was late and DC suggested we go for burger and beer at Smokin Frogz. That place was so packed we almost had to stand. We were lucky to get a table after a short wait.

The burgers were very good though: meaty and juicy. Although mine was a mushroom burger, the mushrooms hardly registered. Such a pity since the rest of the burger was good. There was soft bun and thoroughly melted cheese to top it all off.

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We were delighted to spot some harder to find beers on the menu. DC went for the Chimay Red and I had the Little Creatures Pale Ale. The Chimay Red was rich and malty but also quite hoppy. Surprisingly for something so malty and dark, it was rather fruity with a hint of apples. The Pale Ale was very forgettable: light and smooth but nothing much. It seemed like the Little Creatures took flight before putting in the flavour.

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The beer was also very heady! It was probably a combination of exhaustion, post-illness fatigue, a late dinner and the alcohol. One moment I was telling DC that the beer had gone to my head too fast and the next I was waking up from a faint, flat out on the floor. It must have been rather alarming to the rest of the customers. I was lucky that DC was there and also had the help of another diner who was a nurse. We’d arranged to meet a couple of his friends there for drinks but they showed up only to help haul me to car and get to A&E to be checked out. Such a pity since the Chimay was good and fairly cheap (less than $10 I think).

Smokin Frogz
879 Bukit Timah Road

[post script: I’m OK, don’t worry. The hospital couldn’t find anything wrong, so all’s well.]

Relish

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It was raining so instead of our usual running date, DC and I went to stuff our faces with beer and hamburgers. Oh joy.

First, the beers. DC had the German Konig Ludwig Weissbier (5.5%) that was light, wheaty and smooth. I didn’t fancy it that much because it was a tad characterless and hadn’t much in the flavour department.  But true enough to the suggested pairing, it went well with his burger (see ginormous later).

I had the Belgian Titje Blanche (4.7%), also smooth and light but much better than the Konig Ludwig. It had a sweet and rounded fruity taste that I liked a lot. Slightly hoppy, it had a bitter aftertaste that balanced off the flavour profile very nicely. A worthy pairing with my seafood burger.

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DC ordered the bacon and cheese burger with guacamole on the side. It really is as huge as it looks! It was a rather decent burger: juicy though vaguely lacking in beefiness. I liked it together with all that sinful melted cheese, bacon and even more sinful guacamole. Accompanied by fries and mayonnaise, this probably negated our exercise gains for the month.

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I went for the seafood burger. It worked surprisingly well as the prawn, crab, squid and fish (?) combined very well.  Tasted good and had lots of texture from bouncy prawn to soft crab to rubbery (in a good way) squid. Enhanced by the lime mayonnaise it’s definitely a keeper. I’m coming back for this one.

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It was Wednesday, where there was some kind of ladies special. DC mock pouted as I tucked into my free chocolate cake. He’ll just have to come back wearing a skirt! For the record, it was very good. There was something a bit dense about the cake, as if there was too much cornstarch in the mix. Now don’t come telling me that molten choc cake is supposed to be dense. It’s not. Molten choc cake is supposed to be rich. Rich and dense are two different things. Anyhow, I’ll stop knocking the rather flavourless cake, it was free after all.

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501 Bukit Timah Road
#02-01 Cluny Court
Tel: 6763 1547