Sunday, June 8, 2008
Friday, June 6, 2008
Nando's at Myaree
I'm a lucky person. Nando's seem to have an international following of fans who love Peri-Peri. For those who do not know what Peri-Peri is, Peri-Peri is the African name for the Bird's Eye Chilli. The African people had introduced the Portugese settlers to Peri-Peri and it became part of their everyday culinary life. The Portugese settlers experi-perimented with Peri-Peri in a variety of exotic dishes and of course with chicken, by blending it with other natural ingredients like herbs, spices, lemons and vinegar. Nando is famous for their servings of Portugese flame-grilled meats with their own recipe of Peri-Peri. It is sad that Singapore does not have a franchise of Nando's but lucky for me, there are Nando's outlets in Perth. I have been to several of Nando's franchised outlets and well, my numerous return visits speak for themselves.
As Nando's is a self-service restaurant, the concept is very much like Carl's Junior or Superdog in Singapore. We had to order at the counter before we got the Signature Nando's Rooster with our queue number 10. I think ornaments like that do add to the vibe of the restaurant. More in sync with the theme of the restaurant and the food.
Hot Peri-Peri & Mild Peri-Peri Sauce
Before heading to our tables, we had to get the bottles of sauces from the small table near the counter. The meal is not complete without the sauces! The sauces are so good that they are available for sale. They come in different degrees of spiciness; Mild, Hot and Extra Hot. For beginners or non-spicy eaters, they also have the Lemon & Herbs sauce which contains no Peri-Peri. The Perinaise (Peri-flavoured mayonaise) is also on sale. Challenge yourself or your companions to see how well you all fare at the Peri-o-meter!
Many restaurants in Perth do require diners to pay for sauces. Eg. McDonald's generally give out 2 packs of ketchup free but if diners want more or sauces of other flavours, they have to pay AD$0.50 per pack unless they are ordering the nuggets with come with free sauces. For the record, Nando's offer their diners free sauces. Though it means diners can consume as much sauces as they like, the bottles of sauces remain in the restaurant after the completion of the meal. Diners are not allowed to take the bottles of sauces home. That's why they are on sale.
Anyway, our order was for a Mild Sauce Basted Whole Chicken and a serving of Peri-Peri Chips (AD$20.95). Apparently, it is way cheaper in Malaysia but......I'm not going to take a flight to Malaysia! They flame-grill the chicken manually and put the basting sauces in accordance to the orders. I saw the staff flame-grilling the chicken behind the counter. The chicken was tasty, succulent and tender but areas like the wing and the drumstick got a tad too burnt at the ends. I don't mind slightly burnt bits of meat BUT I do not like my food tasting like charcoal. It's like biting into a piece of slightly burnt Char Siew versus a piece of charcoal-tasting Char Siew.
The Peri-Peri Chips came with the Peri-Peri salt (mixture of Peri-Peri powder and salt) added to it. Nando's do serve Original Chips (no Peri-Peri Salt) for the same price as the Peri-Peri Chips but generally, people order the Peri-Peri Chips 'cause that is what Nando is famous for. Nando's at Northbridge serve Original Chips along with the Peri-Peri Salt Shaker so that diners can choose how much Peri-Peri salt they like on their chips. I prefer adding salt on my own as you can tell from the picture, someone added heaps of salt onto the chips that it was too salty. Overlooking that fact, the fries were delicious as they were crisp on the outside and soft on the insides.
Food aside, the atmosphere of the restaurant makes it a good pick for a family or casual dinner setting. The service is deplorable as with the food and service trade, staff come and go so quickly that there is not much of a service standard to speak of. The cashier at NorthBridge was a Japanese whose command of English made ordering slow and erroroneous. At Myaree, we were given the wrong queue number for our order and wrong orders kept coming to our table which got the serving waitress annoyed at us for some reason. It was not our fault that we were given the wrong queue number and we did return the wrong orders back to the counter. Oh wells. At least I don't have to pay extra for service.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Everytime some new comes out, I will make a beeline for the new product in anticipation. I like junk food, snacks and whatnot. That's no big secret. Except when I'm hoarding my junk. So when the new Dark Chocolate Pucca appeared, I bought 2 boxes of it.
From Meiji, the dark chocolate is smooth and yummy. The slight bitterness hit the palates at the right spot without the rancid aftertaste that some dark chocolates have. The cracker reminded me of WaterThins cracker without much taste on its own. It had a slight cocoa flavour minus the sugar. The bittersweet chocolate and the cocoa-flavoured cracker complimented each other. In the shape of a fish, Pucca targets the young and the old. My little sister loved the "cute fish biscuit" while the older members of the family relished the "adult-ness" of dark chocolate biscuit snack.
It disappeared so quickly that the next time I replenished my stock, I had to pretend that I bought one box less.
It is available at Cold Storage outlets. Try Harbourfront if the other outlets do not have it.
Close-up of the almond milk
Having heard some raves about the simple good food at Figs & Olive, I decided to check out the VivoCity branch. The atmosphere there during late afternoon hours on a weekday was simply perfect. After avoiding the noise and cramp from the busy lunch hour crowds, I felt totally at ease with the good food and sea view to enjoy.
The dory fish was very fresh and well-seasoned with herbs. It was well-cooked too. I tried the fish on its own and was very happy with the smooth texture and flavours of the fish. The natural flavour of the fish was enhanced by the herbs. The creamy mushroom sauce served atop it was delicious as well. It had the herby aromas and chunky pieces of mushroom that I loved. The mushroom provided bite to give the contrast in textures with the smooth taste of cream sauce and texture of fish. It was quite light and not overwhelmingly creamy that I could eat the sauce on its own! My only fault with the dish: I felt that the creamy mushroom sauce and its overload of black pepper overwhelmed the delicate natural flavour of the fish. Only stronger flavour meats like red meats will be able withstand the dominating creamy mushroom sauce. However, both the fish and sauce were tasty enough that no one would mind this method of serving fish unless you like your fish al naturale.
The tomato based pasta was good too. The spaghetti had a good bite and had a flavourful olive oil taste. There was something else that made this pasta delicious but I can't seem to put my finger to it. Praise goes out to the sauce. This Mediterranean pasta sauce met the basic requirement of a pasta sauce. Unlike many places serving pasta in Singapore which tend to serve soupy pastas, the chef had the sense to keep the tomato base to a SAUCE and not a SOUP. Soupy sauces do not give pastas much flavour as they are normally too watered down or thin that you will need to gulp down spoonfuls of the sauce for the pasta to have flavour. However, at Figs & Olive, the sauce was thick enough to coat the pasta properly to give the pasta the intense tomato flavour. Two thumbs up! I am proud to say that you will only need a fork to eat this pasta.
The salad was a disappointment as it was just a bed of salad greens with rings of onion flavoured simply by olive oil sitting at the bottom of the greens. The salad greens also had a bitter aftertaste that I did not relish. I had higher expectations of the salad. Perhaps a dash of balsamic vinegar would add the punch that is desperately lacking in this bland salad.
For drinks, I ordered almond milk. Something that is not quite expected of a Mediterranean Western restaurant. It was not extraordinary but nevertheless, still good. It reminded me of those sold in bottles at the Gilman Village Coffeeshop.
Fried Unagi with Honey
Fried Udon KL Hokkien Mee Style
Fried Rice with Stewed Pork and Radish
For lunch, a couple of Dim Sum choices, a la carte dish, tea and snack, adding GST and service tax can easily hit $60 for a party of 2-3. While the prices are steeper than other Chinese restaurants, remember that you are paying for the ambience, view and service besides the food. Stylish decorations do not come cheap. Service needs fine-tuning as the service varied vastly on the different days and time I visited the restaurant. The place can be a tad too noisy during lunch hours that you'd strain your ears trying to listen to what your companions say but it's great for a family setting. When I next returned to the restaurant, dinner was served in a pristinely peaceful atmosphere that somehow seemed more refined. Kudos to the extensive selection of teas available such as the less common White Chrysanthenum and Rose tea which are offered besides the normal selections.
They have half-priced Dim Sum after 2.30pm on weekdays on selected items only.
Hei She Hui
1 Harbourfront Walk
Telephone: (65) 6376-9740
Food: 3.5/5 (Custard buns and durian mochi are must-tries!)
Price: A tad steep for an average Chinese restaurant fare but it is not an everyday affair. Still affordable.