Thursday, July 29, 2010

Nando's in Singapore

I think I have fallen out of love... with Nandos, that is.

Any foodie, even those hiding under a rock, should have heard that Nando's finally opened its first Singapore outpost at Bugis Junction in May and there have been LOOONG, LOOONG queues. Since we were lurking around in the vicinity after my appointment with the obstetrician, we decided to have an early dinner.

Nandos Sauces

Extra hot for me please.

It can't have been the sauces .... they were still tangy, spicy and packed with that awesome indefinable peri-peri vibe.

Nandos Quarter Chicken set

My quarter-chicken set (done hot cos I 'chickened' out, hah!) with a side of mediterranean rice was only "okay". Somehow the magic was gone and it wasn't half as addictively moreish as those I had eaten at the London and Australian outlets. Was it that the quality of the chicken used was different? The marination time not as long? The grilling skills not as well-honed? Perhaps a combination of all three factors. I like my grilled chicken to be crispy and slightly burnt on the outside but moist on the inside, and the peri-peri flavour to be infused throughout the meat but this version just fell slightly short on these fronts.

Nandos Espetada Rustica

E's order of Espetada Rustica - 4 pieces of grilled chicken thigh stuffed with sundried tomatoes and skewered with red onion, with 2 sides (he opted for the grilled vegetables and peri-peri chips) was pretty decent but again nothing much to shout about, considering that it was fairly pricey at SGD23, double the price of my quarter-chicken set. Again, more char-grilled bits would have been nice and I couldn't quite taste the (small) sun-dried tomatoes either.

Nandos queue

What I did not like: The service left much to be desired, with lots of clueless and inexperienced wait staff milling around but not paying very much attention to customers. And I was rather miffed that the place does not serve tap water.

Oh well, Nando's Singapore will do well anyway, since Singaporeans love queues and da latest thang. See the queue that had already formed, on a Tuesday evening, at 6.15 pm! (Note: I read in the newspaper that a second Nando's outlet has just opened at Tanglin Mall. Hopefully it's better, though I am not sure if I would want to try it....)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Discounts on Fun Activities

Fancy taking up Muay Thai? Shimmying those hips while belly-dancing? Or doing a spot of rock-climbing?

A couple of months back, W introduced me to, a fun website that offers "deals" on cool things to do in Singapore. It works by the power of numbers, where retailers offer certain goods or services at a low price if a minimum number of customers sign on. Deals that I've seen so far range from the more ordinary like facials / massages / mani-pedis to the exciting like cable-ski and paintballing!

Discounts + fun activities = one cool webbie that I like lots.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Square Restaurant, Lombok

We always try to go for at least one fancy dinner on holiday, and in laid-back Lombok, there was really only one possibility (Hobson's choice really!) - Square Restaurant, which was thankfully located only about 5 min drive from Qunci Villas. E was very excited upon finding out that the Executive Chef Wayan Budiana had been sous-chef at the famed Mozaic in Bali, which we enjoyed tremendously.

Square restaurant

Square's dégustation set dinner was priced at a fantastic value of 250 000 Rupiah (38 SGD), so being the usual cheapskates value-conscious diners that we are, we ordered one set dinner plus one main course to share.

Square 1

First Course: Foie Gras, Apple Chutney, Sweet-Sour Tamarind Sauce. A generous slab of foie gras, with a lovely crispy seared exterior and melting warm innard, wonderfully paired with a tangy sweetish-sourish tamarind sauce. This was absolutely delicious, with the tamarind flavour melding wonderfully with the salty foie gras. A perfect marriage of Western and Asian.

Square 2

Second Course: Grilled King Prawn with Madras Curry Beurre Meuniere Sauce, Mushroom Risotto, Sautéed Bak Choy. Continuing the Western with Asian twist theme, this sounded strange and we were expecting clashing flavours with trepidation, but it turned out to be terrific! The curry flavour complemented the bak choy, prawns and risotto to a tee, and I thought how talented the chef must be, to even invent such a combination. My favourite dish of the night!

Square 3

Third Course: Tengulun Sorbet with Black Grape, Orange and Strawberry Salad in Syrup. A refreshing palate-cleanser.

Square 4

Fourth Course: Roasted Boneless US Duck, Cream Mustard Seed Sauce and Roasted Beet with Juniper Berry and Gin Infused Demi-Glace, with Mashed Potato. After the excitement and inventiveness of the first two courses, the main courses retreated into safe but competently executed territory. Duck is one of my favourite meats and this was pink without being too gamey. Enjoyable with the sauce! The mashed potatoes were rather chunky and could have done with a bit more "mashing", but perhaps the restaurant was aiming for a more "rustic" treatment?

Square 5

Grilled Australian Beef Tenderloin, Cream Mustard Sauce, Organic Asparagus Au Gratin, "Rinjani Tengulun Berry" Reduction Infused Demi-Glace and Mashed Potato. This was my ala-carte main course order, at 150,000 Rupiah (23 SGD). Pretty good and flavourful beef - albeit not as tasty as Morton's but nevertheless, excellent value for the price.

Square 6

Fifth Course: Square Fallen Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice-cream and Crème Anglaise. We swapped the original dessert in the set menu for this, seeing that it was much raved about by reviewers in the TripAdvisor forum. Was it a case of overly-high expectations? We failed to see what the big fuss was. Square's version was basically an adequate but unexciting rendition of the by-now-done-to-death molten chocolate lava cake.

Square also serves lighter Western and Indonesian and Chinese dishes - burgers, fried chicken, fried noodles and stuff like that. Word of warning though, that these are on quite a different level from the dinner, as we had lunch there and felt that they were unspectacular. I think Chef Wayan only oversees the more expensive dinner dishes and thus the execution and quality is a lot higher!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Warung Menega, Lombok

If we had gone to the Jimbaran Bay seafood stalls when we were in Bali, would we have enjoyed our trip then a lot more? The answer is probably a resounding yes, going by our experience at Warung Menega, which is apparently a "sister" stall to one of the more famous Jimbaran Bay stalls.

The seating comprises of a few rickety-looking wooden tables and chairs set up on the beach, barely 100 m away from the waves (indoor seating is also available but it's a tad smoky). For me somehow seafood tastes incredibly delectable when eating with the sand between your toes, listening to the waves lapping gently on the beach, and with the dim flicker of candlelight.

Warung Menaga menu

You start off by selecting your food, which is fun. There are a few tanks up in front where you can look at the seafood available (not live, but fresh given the fast turnover) and decide what looks the most appealing and yummy. Prices are very reasonable.

Warung Menega 2

Your choice of seafood is then smeared with a special chilli mix, and flash-grilled over a searingly hot coconut husk fire. It must have been those coconut husks that gave the food its wonderfully aromatic smokey fragrance!

Warung Menega 1

Our first meal there cost about SGD30 (half kg of clams, half kg of white snapper, and half kg of king prawns), with kangkong "pelaching" (basically, blanched kangkong vegetable with chilli belachan on top). My first few mouthfuls and I was swooning in delight - everything tasted really good and swimmingly fresh, though the fish was a tad overcooked and it might be a fussy business to pick out the fine bones but who's bothered? And the dips (chilli belachan; finely diced chilli padi with onions, garlic and lime; garlic paste; kechap manis) were simply astounding. Just eating that belachan with rice alone, I would be a happy camper.

Warung Menega 3

Well one meal was not enough so we made a return trip two nights later, selecting half kg of clams, half kg of calamari, and half kg of berona fish, as well as the "standard" kangkong dish (this time, stir-fried). This second dinner cost only SGD15! We both loved the berona, do choose this if it is available, its flesh is much sweeter in taste than the snapper, and has a smooth texture.

What a lovely experience... this is the stuff that good memories are made up of.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Holiday in Lombok

Our beach holiday in Lombok about two weeks ago was simply wonderful and blissful on so many levels:

1. Our hotel, Qunci Pool Villas ( What could be better than looking out at a gorgeous unblocked view of the setting sun casting its fiery rays on the ocean, falling asleep to the gentle crashing of waves, showering in a light rain in the outdoor bathroom?

Qunci view from balcony

the view of a floodlit ocean and swimming pool from the balcony of our room

Qunci pool
qunci's beautiful infinity pool

Qunci room

the simple but chic room

Qunci bathroom

bathroom with outdoor rain shower

2. Snorkelling in the turquoise-coloured, bathtub warm waters of the teeny tiny Gili Islands. Probably my last act of physical bravado at six months of pregnancy, but oh, it will be impossible to forget the beautiful neon-coloured marine fishes, stunning glowing coral scapes, and the serenely graceful sea turtles.

3. Great BBQ seafood. Warung Menega, modelled after Bali's Jimbaran Bay seafood bbqs, has charmingly rustic wooden tables and chairs set out on the beach. Eating barefoot with the sand between your toes and the flickering candlelight casting a dim glow over the food, who cares if the fish is a tad overcooked? Everything is swimmingly fresh, oh-so-affordable, and the chilli / sambal is to-die-for. More in the next post.

4. Quiet time 0ut. My life has been just so hectic recently both at work and at home (cleaning out and buying stuff for the baby), that this quiet time to think, reflect and talk to E was much needed. Afterall, this will likely be the last holiday that we take together as a couple, before our life is turned upside-down by Baby E.