Old Spaghetti House at Galleria

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Yesterday afternoon, after a day of running around trying to do job interviews and visit the GSIS office for my father-in-law, we stopped by Galleria on our way home to have dinner.  I wasn’t sure what to eat, but I was in the mood for something Italian, so my wife recommended Old Spaghetti House.  I’m glad we went.  The food there is great!  It’s not fine dining per se, but it’s well worth the money.

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I went with the Vietnamese garlic spaghetti with shrimp.  I’m not sure if it’s actually a popular Vietnamese dish.  It tasted really good though!

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My wife decided to have their puttanesca, which is translated literally as “whore’s spaghetti”.  There are conflicted theories about the origins of this dish, but the more colorful one is that it was a dish that prostitutes in Italy’s state run brothels made for themselves out of the odds and ends in their larders.  As a condition of working in the state run brothels, they were only allowed out one day a week, so they were often low on supplies and this light sauce made from few ingredients was the result of their attempts to get by.  More information can be found in the Wikipedia article.

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After dinner, I finally got the chance to introduce my wife to funnel cake.  Funnel cakes are popular at fairs in the US, but they’re pretty rare in Asia.  I don’t recall ever seeing a place with this on the menu in Singapore.  She loved it!  You can see in the photo that they don’t add quite as much powdered sugar as they do in the US, but it came with a choice of toppings which made up for it.

Speaking of Singapore… it seems like you can’t get away from it over here.  I found this stuff on the menu:

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I don’t care for the original Tom Yum soup, so I really don’t think I’d like the way it tastes as a pizza or spaghetti.

Swensen’s at Changi International Airport Terminal 2

The last thing we had to eat before leaving Singapore was at Swensen’s, which is an odd circumstance since I vowed never to eat there again about a month after reaching Singapore.  Well, it was Swenson’s at Tampines, but you get the idea.  We’d received some horrible service with our dishes showing up more than 20 minutes apart from each other and the waiter never returning to take our drink order.

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot open at 2:30 AM at Changi, so our choices were pretty limited.  When we saw the sign saying that Swensen’s was on the lower level and was open 24 hours a day, we resigned ourselves to another potentially disastrous experience for the sake of filling our bellies.

I wasn’t disappointed with the meal this time, though it was nothing to get excited about either.

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I was a little surprised when this showed up at the table.  I’d ordered a chocolate soda, but I didn’t think it would come with a big ball of chocolate ice cream on top.  In the US there’s a fast food place called Sonic’s (I think that’s the one) where you can order flavored Cokes.  Just out of curiosity I ordered a chocolate Coke one day and it wasn’t bad, but it was just Coke with chocolate syrup mixed in.  I had expected the same thing here.

Beef Mee Goreng

Mee goreng is something I came to love about Singapore’s food scene.  That and nasi goreng.  Well, I gained an appreciation for a lot of foods that come from the Muslim and Indian Muslim food stalls.  Swensen’s version of mee goreng isn’t too bad.  The beef was very tender, the tomatoes were flavorful, but overall the dish seemed to be lacking something.  Maybe they add a lot of MSG at the hawker stalls?

Seafood Kway Teow

My wife went with the seafood kway teow.  She said it was a good choice.  The soup was thicker, tastier and more filling than the usual hawker fare.  I kinda wish I’d ordered one of these too.

So, Swensen’s managed to redeem themselves, literally at the last minute.

The Pancake House at Galleria Mall

Earlier this month my wife and I were looking for a place to eat in Galleria and I saw something that looked like it would definitely hit the spot, The Pancake House.  They had some interesting looking ads in the window and the one that caught my eye was a fried chicken tenders and waffle dish.  It claimed to be ‘Southern’ style chicken, as in Southern US style chicken.  Fried chicken is popular in the South, but from what I know (from a movie) the idea of waffles and chicken is something from Los Angeles.  Well, I could be wrong.

The service standard at the restaurant was great.  We were greeted at the door and quickly shown to a seat.  The service from the waiter was prompt and friendly.  The place is clean and it has a nice theme.  My dish seemed a little pricey, but it was still reasonable, especially since it was in the mall.

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This is the Southern chicken and waffle.  There was also a small bit of salad that was pretty good.  I loved the black olives.  The dish also came with three sauces: syrup for the waffle, a gravy for the chicken, and a light, tangy dressing for the salad.

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My wife ordered a traditional Filipino dish that’s usually called crispy liempo.  The menu had a fancy name for it, but I can’t remember what it is.  The meat is deep-fried pork belly and the rice is garnished with fried garlic.

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p align=”left”>We didn’t try anything else from the menu, but after the great meal we had, I’m willing to go back for more.

Singapore in Manila

Having recently left Singapore I thought it was cool to see Singaporean restaurants in Manila, specifically in Megamall.  I suppose it makes sense that there would be Singaporean restaurants here, in Manila.  A large amount of Singapore’s foreign labor force comes from the Philippines and while Filipinos may eventually go home, they might still crave some Singaporean dishes like I do.

So, here’s Singapore in Manila:

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We took a brief look at the menu for ‘Orchard Road’ and saw Hainanese Chicken Rice listed prominently.  It’s nice to know that I’ll still be able to satisfy that craving.  I hope they serve the red chili sauce with it though, or it just won’t be the same.  If you’re wondering, the chicken rice is priced at roughly 6 SGD there.

The second restaurant will hopefully help me satisfy my craving for kopi, though I didn’t think about it at the time and didn’t check the menu.

The Soup Spoon @ Bugis Junction

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My wife and I are constantly finding and trying new restaurants and I’m kinda sad that this one slipped our notice until just two days before I leave Singapore.  The Soup Spoon has some GREAT food.

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My wife ordered the Simon & Garfunkel Ragout (pronounced ‘ra-goo’).  I had a little taste of it and it was delicious.  I don’t know how close to original the ragout recipe is, but it was great on its own.

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I had the Velvety Mushroom Stroganoff.  Ever since I got to experience the mushroom soup at Say Cheeze in Tampines 1 I’m always on the lookout for a chance to try a new recipe.  I never realized mushroom soup could be so good, because in the US plain ‘cream of’ soups aren’t that popular and the ones that come in the cans are really bland.  The mushroom soup at The Soup Spoon is really excellent.  It’s thick and the chunks of mushroom are big enough to sink your teeth into.

The soups could be a meal by themselves, especially with the bread roll that comes with it, but they had a set meal offer that we took advantage of.

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My wife tried their Garden Green salad.  She said it was nice.

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I had the Chicken Tikka half-wrap.  It was ok.  I think I’d have enjoyed it more but it didn’t really go well with the soup I chose.  The taste was tart and sour, which was an abrupt change after the smooth, mellow tastes of the soup.  Oh, and the stuff on the side that you can see in the picture above?  It tasted just a bit south of foul.  I left that alone.

Overall, the meal was very satisfying and very filling and, surprisingly, very affordable at only 22 bucks for both of us.

I’m just sad that I’ll probably never eat at this place again.  It would’ve been a regular stop for me if I’d known about it earlier.

Japanese Sesson Grill at Manpuku, Tampines 1

We’ve gone to Manpuku quite a few times, but we still haven’t tried everything the place has to offer.  That’s not so much for lack of opportunity, but lack of desire.  You see, Manpuku as an establishment has slowly been going downhill.

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When Manpuku first opened, the place was packed all the time.  It was fresh, it was clean, the decor was awesome and the food was a novelty.  Unfortunately, most of the choices weren’t anything to get excited about, especially for the prices they were charging.  Most of it is little better than hawker food.

A few months ago, I’m not sure exactly when, Manpuku’s customer base shrunk to the point that they did away with the charge card system.  It used to be that when you arrived you would queue up to wait for seating and to get a charge card.  You would use the card to pay for the items you wanted from the various booths inside.  Then, before leaving you went through a register check-out lane, kinda like in a grocery store.  That’s where you settled your bill.  Now, you just walk in and pay at the specific booth you want to eat from, either cash or NETS.  If you want to use a credit card you still use the original charge card system.  I suppose that system became more of a hassle than it was worth in regards to having extra employees just to ring up the bills and the owner realized it would be more cost effective to have individual booth workers handle their own cash payments.

With the lower patronage comes lower standards it seems.  The trays are usually covered in a white grime and the eating utensils still have residue on them when you pick them up.  It makes me wonder if they even use washing soap or if they just rinse them with water.  I’ve also had trouble communicating with some of the employees lately.

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Despite these issues, there are still a few gems to be found there.  The ramen from Aoba Hokkaido Ramen is pretty good but we wanted to try something different, so we went to Japanese Sesson Grill, which is in the corner near the MRT tracks.

The food is a bit pricey.  Individual kabobs were between 2.50 and 3 bucks apiece, which seems expensive given their size.  We settled on having a set meal that came with five skewers, rice and miso soup for 13 SGD.  It seemed a fair enough price to pay for what we were getting.

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One good thing about Manpuku falling out of public favor is that it’s less crowded and you can actually have a quiet sort of meal there.  We went to the very corner, overlooking the MRT station area.  It was even a bit cozy feeling there.

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The food itself was better than I hoped it would be.  It’s nothing to get too excited about but I definitely felt that I’d gotten what I paid for and left satisfied.

Kim Garry: Hong Kong Restaurant

The booths looked really comfortable but they were all full. The booths on the other side of the restaurant were roped off, since the restaurant wasn’t that full.

On Wednesday I went to meet my wife for a late lunch and she recommended we try out the Kim Garry restaurant that’s on the basement level of Tampines 1. I’d never had Hong Kong style food before, at least that I know of, so I was willing to give it a shot.

When we were seated by the hostess, she tried to squeeze us into a cramped area along the wall that was already packed with customers, so we went ahead and re-seated ourselves at a stand-alone table where we’d have more room.  If I’m going to pay for food at a restaurant I’d rather be comfortable, otherwise I’d just go pay 3 bucks for food at a hawker and squeeze in there.

This is the back of the restaurant. If I remember right, there was a window in that back wall that opened on the kitchen.
A little Engrish to liven things up.

The decor of the restaurant is really nice.  It had a stylish, modern look to it, but it felt a little incongruous given the types of food.

The borscht soup and the silverware, which was packed in a sealed container.

The food itself was good.  We started out with the borsch, which is a traditionally Russian or Polish soup that has a beet and tomato juice base.  The borsch we were served had chunks of tomato and cabbage in it as well.  I’d never had borsch before, so I have no basis for comparison but it seemed pretty good to me.

Before moving on, one more thing I’d like to point out is how they serve their silverware.  You can see it in the picture above.  It comes in a sealed container and the utensils were spotless, which is just how I like it.

The sauce was delicious and the serving was generous!

My wife had a dish that I forget the name of, but it had pork chops in garlic sauce over spaghetti noodles.  She let me have a bite of the pork chop and it tasted great!

A few pieces of the beef were chewy, and I think I screwed up picking the red wine sauce that’s under the cheese, on the rice, but it was still a good dish.

I went with the beef baked rice with cheese.  There was a choice between a white cream sauce with sweet corn and a red wine sauce.  I went with the red wine sauce, which I think may have been a mistake.  It’s sweetness threw off the whole dish.  If I go there again before departing Singapore, I’ll definitely try a baked rice dish with corn next time.

When it came time to pay the bill, we were happy with the cost.  The food seemed to be reasonably priced.

Overall, the dining experience was moderate.  It’s hard to judge a whole restaurant off of one trip and one dish, but I think this is a restaurant that’s worth going back to at least a few more times to further explore the menu, if only I had the opportunity.

California Pizza Kitchen at KLCC Suria Mall

While we were in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend we decided to go down to KLCC to look around and have dinner.  We weren’t sure what we wanted to eat but as we were looking at the electronic store guide I saw that there was a California Pizza Kitchen in the mall.

Neither of us had ever eaten there before so we gave it a try, with mixed results.

The ambience is very, very nice.  The place has a clean, uncluttered, modern look that was refreshing and relaxing.  Also, the service staff was incredibly friendly and helpful.  No complaints there.

The food wasn’t too bad, I guess, but what bothered me about it is that everything was incredibly oily.

The first thing we ordered was an appetizer.  I think it was called an ‘avocado turkey bacon roll’ or something along those lines.  It’s the first item on the menu under appetizers.  It was described as a fusion between Eastern and Western flavors and was basically a cheesy, gooey, extra greasy egg roll.

While eating the thing the hot grease was running out of the roll all over my fingers and forming a small puddle on my plate.  That’s a definite no go.  Also, the taste of the oil was a bit overpowering, to the point that I couldn’t even distinguish the taste of the avocado.

In fact, in this second photo you can actually see the grease dripping from it.

Shortly after finishing the appetizer the pizza showed up.  We got a thin crust ‘Sicilian’ pizza.  Thin crust pizzas are usually less greasy than full crust pizzas.  Unfortunately that’s not the case with CPK’s thin crusts.  It was oily as well.  We went ahead and finished the pizza, but after the second slice I could’ve walked away from it.

My wife and I have changed our eating habits over the last year and we’re consuming less and less oily foods.  It’s better for us, and less oily foods taste better anyway.  I was reminded again of how good Trattoria’s pizzas are in that 313 @ Somerset mall in Singapore.  CPK’s offering wasn’t even in the same league and cost nearly the same price.

New Year’s Dinner at ‘New York, New York’ at CityLink Mall

We were running behind when it came time for the fireworks show so we had to haul ass down to the Esplanade area without stopping on the way for dinner. Luckily, there’s a ‘New York, New York’ restaurant in CityLink Mall, which you walk through to get to the Esplanade area.

The last time we ate at ‘New York, New York’ it was the DownTown East location and it left something to be desired. I guess it was just what we chose to eat that time though, because our New Year’s Eve dinner was EXCELLENT.

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We started off with an appetizer of dry-spiced spare ribs.

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Then we moved on to our main course! We both had fajitas. My wife had beef and I got the chicken and beef combo (pictured above). They tasted great, and they even came with guacamole. I hadn’t had guacamole in quite a while so that was a nice treat and the strips of beef tasted great!

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Unfortunately we let our eyes get bigger than our stomachs and we weren’t able to finish everything, but hey, it was New Year’s Eve so what the hell? Gotta be a little decadent sometimes right?

The place was packed. We had to wait on a table when we got there. Even so, we managed to get in and out in about an hour. At 10:15 PM we started heading for the Esplanade. It was madness. You’ll see it in the next post. I’m just waiting on the video to finish uploading to YouTube. I recorded the entire fireworks show so it’s taking a bit of time.

Say Cheeze, Tampines 1

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My wife and I finally got around to trying this place out.  I’d actually decided not to eat there because the decor is hideous.  I mean, I want to be nice, but there’s really no excuse for how horribly ugly the place was decorated.  So, I’d written it off.  It didn’t look that appealing.  I know someone is thinking something ‘cheezy’ about books and covers, but when it comes to food, appearance is important.

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So, I never really paid attention to the place until about a week ago when someone I know told me the food there is good.  A few days later we happened to be in Tampines 1 and realized it was time for dinner, so we started thinking about where we wanted to eat.  Then I remembered what the guy had said about Say Cheeze and we decided to give it a shot.

When we first glanced over the menu we weren’t that impressed but we couldn’t think of anywhere else to eat so we sat down and ordered.  We were very surprised.  I wish I’d brought my regular camera.  These are just from my iPhone.

The dishes we ordered had an upgrade ‘combo’ deal.  For 5.90 SGD (4.90 on weekdays) we got a drink and a choice of soup.  The add-on price seemed kind of high until we saw the soups.

My wife’s minestrone soup was very, very good.  She let me try it.  Seems like I forgot to take a picture of it, but it was really thick and had pieces of pasta and vegetable in it.

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I asked for the cream of mushroom soup.  It wasn’t watered down at all.  It was also very thick and could’ve been a light lunch by itself if it came with a piece of bread.

The soups were a real treat.  They reminded me of the soups we used to get at OrganiCafExperience in Century Square’s basement level, before it closed.

The main dishes:

My wife's mushroom stuffed ravioli.
My wife’s mushroom stuffed ravioli.
My baked beef lasagna.
My baked beef lasagna.

The sauces were delicious and the servings were just the right size.  I can’t believe how good the food is there, considering the way the place looks and the relatively low cost of the meals.  We’ll definitely be going back!