Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Steak Out, Victoria Street

 December is all about feasting, what with the slew of Christmas and birthday lunches and dinners in store - we decided we shouldn't really be eating out for the month! Unless, of course, it was to use up the vouchers we had bought prior >.<

 We picked up a couple of vouchers for Steak Out - previously Republic of Steak (not sure if it's renamed or replaced entirely) - 28% off a steak, soup, dessert and drink? Sounds like a good deal!

 Well as it turns out the soup and the drink could have been given a miss. Soup was ok - it had that mushroomy fragrance but texture too thick and Campbell-y. Drink was just a regular watered cordial of some sort.

 But of course, the main attraction was the steak - we both opted for the ribeye which comes with two sides and some strange brown sauce. Verdict?

 ... nothing great, honestly! I guess in 95% of eating spots in Singapore, steak is steak, and the quality is usually proportionate to what you paid for. Granted, I doubt I'll pay the $20 ala carte price for this again.

 But ... who would have guessed the real winner of the night was the signature chocolate lava cake!

 The color on the outside was absolutely weird - white and flaky as though mouldy. Either the frost from the freezer hasn't dissipated properly, and it's some weird icing sugar that looked like dust. Regardless, the cake was perfectly warm and lava-ey in the middle, and went impeccably with the ice cream (which was also lovely).

 All in all, if you're looking for ok steaks at a semi-decent price near SMU, then this will definitely be a good spot to come often. But if you're looking for a good deal on good steaks, then ... probably not. I would come again just for the lava cake though.

Steak Out
89 Victoria Street

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HGW Link (47% recommended under Republic of Steak): http://www.hungrygowhere.com/singapore/republic_of_steak/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/steakout.sg
Rating (out of 4) : 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Food in Hualien, Taiwan

 Hualien was not a place I'd associate with good food - granted I've never been! I've always associated it with being a seaside town, and of course the scenery of the nearby Taroko Gorge.

 Regardless, when we arrived at our Hualien Bay minsu (which I would recommend!) on a rainy afternoon, we rested till the night before being shipped off to the city centre by the minsu owner to check out all good eats recommended.

 Our first stop was 公正包子 which was apparently SUPPPEERRR famous. Well there was no queue the night we were here, though there was no seating space. Through a series of misunderstanding we ended up taking away two xiao long baos (not to be confused with the Din Tai Fung version) which was just a small regular pork bun. I didn't think too highly of it - it was just a decent small pork bun, though ridiculously cheap at just 5 NT per (20cents WTF!!!!!).

They do sell a lot more stuff which I'm sure is good and cheap as well. We were back here another two times but the queue was ridiculous so we never got to try it again. Turns out there was no queue the first time round cos of the rain.

 Another populate chain, Mr Goose or 鹅肉先生 serves goose meat and stuff with your rice or noodles - almost like a strange mix of tze char place meets chicken rice shop. We didn't think too much about the goose - the portion we had was too bony and the flavour not far from duck.

 海埔蚵仔煎 / Hai Pu oyster omelette! Slightly harder to find, but you'll be greeted with a barebone shop with lots of seating space and (when we were there) lots of people taking photos! They serve one thing and one thing only, oyster omelette done Hualien style - sticky goop, fresh cabbage, tons of oysters and another strange orange goopy sauce. The fresh cabbage gave a crunchy twist compared to ones we are used to in Singapore (triply fried) or Hong Kong (fried but still sticky). We couldn't quite make out the orange sauce either, and the whole thing a bit too sticky for me!

 Continuing our futile search for chocolate enough-for-heart-clog-suicide ice, we checked out the final spot which was a shaved ice (刨冰) place. 五霸焦糖包心粉圆 - quite a mouthful, serving up shaved ice with more traditional ingredients like beancurd, red bean, grass jelly, pudding and 粉圆 which is a kind of glutinous ball with filling. We ordered the most popular item on the menu, and while we were disappointed we didn't get something chocolatey, half way through this prize winner we were getting hit left-right-center by a collection of sweetness and textures we just couldn't stop! Definitely worth a visit.

 Enroute to our day tour we were stopped at this place for lunch - apparently a famous pig trotter's restaurant by an aboriginese (原住民?) owner.

 Not a real fan of pig trotter's, but since it's famous and along the way, it deserves a try!

 Soooo sick of cabbage on our trip, we decided to get some bamboo shoots to mix up our vegetables a little bit. Soft yet crunchy, we just wished it was a little less oily.

 Oh ... crap. The smallest portion of pig's trotters was enough to feed a small family! It wasn't cheap either (IIRC around $10 for this plate). It was pretty nice - regular braised with soy sauce I think - but halfway through I was supremely jelat-ed from all the collagen. That and I do prefer the Chinese vinegar version.

 Hualien is also home to a few smaller night markets. We were sent off to Zi Qiang night market one day for dinner. Markedly smaller than any we've seen in Taipei, the place was just four rows of shops, and most of them selling the same thing.

 One of the BBQ spots 第一家烤肉串 was particularly famous - you can't miss it from the throngssss of people picking and choosing stuff, while ignoring the other similar, cheaper shops just next to it. The stuff wrapped in leaks was nice - a lot of wings and offals if you're into that kind of stuff! Honestly you could get the exact same thing from the other shops even slightly cheaper, with next to no difference in taste.

 While not too common in Taipei, you can get your coffin bread sandwich here at 蔣家官財板. Truly a plethora of flavours to choose, but the coffin bread itself is nothing too special. The base is thick french toast, opened up (like a coffin - ha!) and stuffing placed inside. We ordered the gong bao chicken, which tasted nothing like gong bao and wasn't spicy at all. Meh!

 There are a lot more sit down dinner places where you can get a mishmash of spaghetti, steaks and chops for a proper dinner at Zi Qiang night market. Despite being a small city, there's still plenty of food to be had while staying in Hualien. Though don't expect the diversity and the choice-spoiltness of the bigger night markets in Taipei.

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