Battle of the Turkish Joints

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

We were in the Arab Street area quite a bit, partly because our favourite dive shop is there and partly because there were a lot of errands concentrated in that area for us to run. It was natural to end of the busy-ness with a good dinner. We chose Turkish places on two separate occasions and found that while they weren’t good enough to have separate posts of their own, they seemed to complement each other for an interesting comparison.

At Sufi, I had a lassi-like yogurt drink called ayran. It was thinner than lassi and a pleasantly sweet accompaniment to the meal.

IMG_3702

Pardon the bad lighting as we were sitting outside in the dim evening light. The combination starter, meze tabagi ($18) was stellar. It consisted of the classic turkish appetisers including babaganoush, hummus and cacik. The hummus stood out for being uber creamy and very tasty, full of chickpea and sesame flavour. We also fought over the patlican salata, the one with eggplant chunks cooked in tomato and peppers. The eggplants were cooked to perfection as they held their shape yet collapsed into an unctuous ooze when chewed.

IMG_3694

All this was accompanied by lavash, a pillow-like bread that rose majestically with the steam inside. We had to be careful when breaking it open to let out all the hot air. The tasty bread was a perfect foil to the appetiser dish.

IMG_3695

DC had the doner ustu ($12), supposedly chicken doner with buttered rice and a special sauce. He liked it a lot. Unfortunately I felt that it tasted a bit too much like  stirfries you get in greasy UK Chinese takeaway joints. My mum had the doner durum ($9), essentially the same chicken doner sliced with some vegetables into a wrap and accompanied by some cold fries – not good, hence no picture.

IMG_3698

Glad that we didn’t order that many disappointing mains, we had kunefe ($7.50) for dessert. Make sure you have enough people to share it as it’s big and very rich. It’s basically string pastry soaked in honey syrup, served with cream cheese sauce and sprinkled with pistachio dust. It’s very sweet, very decadent, and very delicious. I’m coming back for more.

IMG_3701

Sufi
48 Arab Street
Tel: +65 6298 2258


Then there’s Alaturka, just a street away. Funny how it seemed to be a bit of an opposite, because the appetiser platter ($14), though decent, wasn’t as good as Sufi’s.

IMG_3844

It came with the same bread, and again the bread wasn’t as fragrant and tasty as Sufi’s.

IMG_3845

The main course was where Alaturka really shone. This time my mum had the doner rice ($12), which I felt was much tastier. It was also quite salty, so we had to eat it together with the rice.

IMG_3846

The rest of us had the combination kebab that came in an impressive platter on a stand with the various grill offerings, with minced lamb, lamb chop, beef and various chicken parts. It was well grilled and tasty. I especially liked the lamb chop because it was tender and juicy.

IMG_3847

Then the dessert failed us. The baklava ($5.30), was tough and while sweet, didn’t seem to have been soaked in syrup enough. A pity.

IMG_3849

Alaturka
16 Bussorah Street
Tel: +65 6294 0304

Moral of the story? Go to Sufi for appetisers and desserts, and head to Alaturka if you only want main courses.

Yang Gui Fei

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

We discovered this little restaurant while wandering around Chinatown looking for a quick dinner.  I liked the gentle pun in the name, as the character for Yang was “sheep” instead of  the usual character for the legendary Chinese consort’s surname. Yang Gui Fei specialises in Xi’an cuisine, and is run by Xi An people. We only seemed to hear mainland Chinese accents from the other patrons and had high hopes that the food would be authentic!

As per our usual practice, we ordered a bit more than expected, starting off with some typical Chinese cold starters, such as these pickled long beans.  When they first arrived, I was a bit dismayed by how bland and faded they looked. But looks belay much flavour and zing. The beans were refreshingly spicy and sour,  plus fermentation did wonders to add to its flavour. They were super yummy and also deceptively spicy – on first bite, they were mildly hot but the more I ate the hotter my mouth got and I couldn’t eat more than two in a row before having to cool off my mouth with something else.

IMG_2372

We also had a plate of seasoned enoki mushrooms, similar in its savoury umami seasoning, just not pickled and only mildly spicy. They were a good interlude between bites of beans!

IMG_2373

The star dish of this place had to be the mutton. We ordered the mutton kebabs and also tried out a few chicken ones. These were well-marinated, but the chicken kebabs were definitely juicier and more flavourful than the mutton ones. The mutton ones unfortunately don’t quite match up to what I remember in Xi’an. It all became clear when the proprietress told us that they used New Zealand lamb and not proper grown-up and gamey mutton. Maybe they should change to a Muslim supplier from Tekka market and make it truly Muslim-style like in Xi’an.

IMG_2374

Here’s a close up on the spice mix that goes into the marinade.   Yum!

IMG_2375

The next dish we ordered brought back fond memories from my holiday in Xi An.  “Biang Biang” noodles are thick, flat and very chewy noodles seasoned with a spicy  vinegary dipping sauce. The texture of these noodles are far from the usual slightly limp and soft Chinese noodles. They are the epitome of al dente yet are nothing like any Italian noodle. I don’t know what type of flour they used nor how they developed the gluten in the noodles to get this lovely firm noodle with loads of bite . It was wonderful.Word of warning:  one bowl of “Bian Bian” noodles is plenty for two.

IMG_2376

Yang Gui Fei restaurant
18 Smith Street
Tel: 6100 0629

Indian at the Esplanade

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

DC and I needed some dinner before seeing the opera (how chi-chi!) at the Esplanade. We didn’t have particularly high expectations of the selection at the Esplanade. The Kebab Factory seemed interesting, so it was a whole load of carbs and curry before sitting through La Boheme. Definitely not a very wise choice, but we’re led by the tummy not really the brain. It was surprisingly good!

We started off with an interesting drink of lime, mint and cumin seed called jaljeera. It was a refreshing aperitif to prepare us for a good meal ahead. Our first dish was a palak dish that tasted a whole load better than it looked! Pushing aside the thought that it looks like gloopy baby food, the pureed spinach was smooth, creamy and quite rich. For a vegetable dish, it sure wasn’t a healthy option but at least we were eating our greens!

IMG_0152

The tandoori salmon I felt was a bit of a weak link. It was competently executed and the spices were fine. Too bad it was overcooked as is quite typical for Indian cooking. It resulted in a rough and not particularly pleasant texture. I liked the side salad of shredded daikon and beetroot much better.

IMG_0155

My favourite dish of the evening was the one with chicken balls stuffed with lamb mince. It’s not often to have something that incorporates two different types of meat. The chicken breast on the outside, quite surprisingly, wasn’t overcooked. The lamb stuffing was flavoured with tomato and it was a bit like bolognaise sauce, a very nice twist – very Indian and very Italian at the same time.

IMG_0158

We tried one of the wholemeal breads but that didn’t turn out too good. It was too tough and didn’t taste that great. The plain naan, on the other hand, was flavourful and fragrant. We’ll go for just the naan next time.

IMG_0159

Mirchi’s Kebab Factory
#02-23 Esplanade Mall
Tel: 6334 5590