08 June, 2008

Secret Recipe, Zhou’s Kitchen, Seoul Yummy & Lerk Thai - A Gourmet Safari at Square 2

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WARNING: LONG ENTRY!

But hang in there and you might stand a chance to win a $20 & 20% discount dining voucher!!
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HFB was honoured to take part in another food tasting session following this and this. Themed as “Gourmet Safari at Square 2” that took place yesterday, HFB was told that he is allowed to bring along three other family members or friends to chomp at four different restaurants in Novena Square 2 (Yes, how coincidental that its Novena Square again!). We were told to meet at the basement where the first restaurant, or rather café chain is – Secret Recipe, a lifestyle café chain that has become a household name following its debut in Malaysia since 1997. It has since successfully established its brand name in Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.

The Lamb Stew served with Mashed Potatoes is one of their signatured dishes. The meat was very soft and yielding that a lightest tug of the fork will cause the meat to be easily separated from its bone. However, the meat could be better infused with the gravy and the mashed potatoes could be slightly salted for better flavour - we find it slightly cold and hard as well.

The Pan Grill, or Grilled Dory Laden with Lobster Gravy and served with Fries was the other main we sampled. On its own, the lobster gravy is strong with lobster tang, but we find the pairing with the fish a slight mismatch. Dory being a fresh-water fish also comes with a slight muddy taste.

The highlight of Secret Recipe belongs to its award-winning Chocolate Banana Cake. Crowned as the "Most Original Chocolate Cake" award winner in Malaysia 1999, the cake is pretty addictive. Loads of Thick Banana Slices on a Bed of Chocolate Cream with Chocolate Cake, this cake doesn’t come across as chocolaty as Awfully Chocolate’s version, and would bring a nice finale to a meal, however, we would prefer the cake to be slightly more moist.

We were quickly ushered to the next venue - Zhou’s Kitchen - 周 (Zhou) is the family name of Andrew Tjioe, Tung Lok Group’s Founder and Executive Chairman and Zhou’s Kitchen is a welcome shift from the high end Tung Lok restaurant to a casual Chinese dining restaurant that caters to the palates and pockets of diners from all walks of life.

The décor is a mixed of Eastern influence of bamboos and jade and Western influence of clean and bright modern lighting.

Each table was served with delightful Prawn Crackers as we waited for our first dish - Young Sweet Potato Leaves Sautéed with Sambal Belachan.

A straightforward dish that is a close substitute to Sambal Kang Kong, some might dislike the subtle bitter aftertaste.

The Xing Hua Traditional Homemade Noodle is a bowl of Udon-like noodles served in slightly gluey gravy. The gravy is light on the palate but noodles tend to be starchy towards the end.

The Xing Hua Dumplings served in a bowl of MSG-laden soup was disappointing. The dumpling tasted of strong pork smell and the skin was not the best I have tasted.

The best dish was the Grandma's Braised Pork with Toufu that was doled out in a claypot. Pork was soft and flavoured but a pity that the toufu was not braised along with it, as it was hard and hardly soaked in the gravy.

Following that, we travelled up to Seoul Yummy, another casual dining place that serves Korean food with its entrance hidden at the corner of third floor.

First up was the Hotplate Spicy Octopus – it comes with a good bite and was crunchy. The gravy is quite spicy to eat it on its own but pair it with a bowl of sticky white rice should do the trick.

The Shrimp Roe Beef Hotpot Mixed Rice was one of my favourite dishes – akin to claypot rice, the bottom of the rice was crisp and the shrimp roe adds a nice twist to this dish.

Steamed Kimchi with Pork Dumplings was quite a disappointment – there wasn’t any hint of kimchi in it and we found the meat too overwhelming. The skin of the dumpling is also not the best we have tried.

Everyone’s favourite for the day belongs to the Special Trio Bingsu, or Yoghurt Ice Cream with Kiwi, Strawberry & Red Bean Toppings. The dessert was served on a bed of ice shavings thus every spoonful was delightfully chilled. Ice cream comes with a tint of sourness that should be the way a natural flavoured yoghurt ice cream should taste like (Yoguru might wish to take heed).

Moving on to our final destination, Lerk Thai – a restaurant chain operated by the Select Group. Therefore it is no coincidence that the word 'Lerk' in Thai language means 'Select'.

The Special Prawn Cake was one of my friend’s favourite, but I thought it was evidently soaked with oil, as the leaf of lettuce underneath was drenched thorough. I find it pretty salty as well.

The Pha Thai, or Thai Fried Thai Kway Teow was quite a disaster. Way too salty and kway teow overcooked, every mouthful was quite a torture – this dish was hardly touched.

Exotic Pomelo Salad with Shrimp and Peanut, a supposedly appetiser was served towards the end which was pretty weird as our palates were once again invoked. However, we were told this is because the pomelo is shred fresh from the kitchen only upon receiving orders. As such, the flesh of the pomelo is very fresh and sweet. Prawn was also pretty crunchy. However I believed fish sauce was added to this dish, and as such one might find it salty towards the end.

Thai Pudding with Coconut Jelly Cup (Sago) wraps up the Gourmet Safari. The coconut wasn’t too heavy and the pairing with sago for the dessert was pretty good.

To end it off, HFB would love to reward one of his faithful readers with a $20 Secret Recipe voucher and a 20% off Zhou’s Kitchen voucher. The first person to submit his/her correct answer to the following two questions, “What is the name of Secret Recipe's award winning cake?” and “Which corporation group does Zhou’s Kitchen belongs to?” will stand to win the prizes. Please send your entry to hisfoodblog@gmail.com. Closing date is Friday, 13 June 2008. (Disclosure: Only readers with a local Singapore address qualify. Please also enclose your name, contact number and local mailing address for verification and mailing purposes.)

Secret Recipe - #B1-129
Zhou's Kitchen - #01-73
Seoul Yummy - #03-67 to 70
Lerk Thai - #02-65 to 67
10 Sinaran Drive,
Novena Square 2
Singapore 307506

Disclaimer: No ratings would be given, as this is an invited taste test. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Jingwen and soshiok.com.



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3 comments:

steveky said...

How could anyone eat all that in one go?! LOL.

Despite the disappointment that you obviously found in some dishes, the Seoul Yummy dishes caught my attention. The Shrimp Roe Beef Hotpot Mixed Rice will be a definite starter for me...

Keep up the fine work HFB!

HisFoodBlog said...

Hi Steve,

The food was split four ways - wasn't as bad as you think BUT nevertheless still as filling.

I agree that the Shrimp Roe Beef Hotpot was a nice twist to the usual Bibibap and I pretty much like it.

HTan said...

Just received the $20 Secret Recipe voucher and a 20% off Zhou’s Kitchen voucher fr HFB ...will be heading to Secret Recipe this weekend .. THANKS !

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