Category: Novena

Curry Favor – Curry Buffet Anyone?

By , March 3, 2009

238 Thomson Road #03-26/27 Velocity @ Novena Square Tel: 6255 2395

Buffets are common, but a Curry Buffet, and Japanese for that fact does sound a little …. I don’t know… peculiar?

Curry Favor at Novena Square offers a unique curry buffet at $22.80. And you don’t have to worry you only get to eat katsu with 5 different curry sauces, because you do get a good mix of starters like tempura, karaage, croquette, agedashi tofu and unagi.

A little information about Japanese curry: Though curry has its origins from India, the Europeans first introduced it to Japan in late 19th century during the Meiji Era (1869-1913) as a form of western food. Since then, Japanese curry has taken a form of its own and it is distinctly different from its origins. It is not as spicy and usually contains a tinge of sweetness not found in other forms of curry.

And since there is no coconut milk in Japanese curry, it is also seemingly healthier and easier on the stomach compared to other curries.

The Ambience
Curry Favor is the first Japanese Curry specialty restaurant in Singapore. But this branch at Novena is very different from the first store at Stamford House. While the main branch at Stamford had a more classic and rustic charm, this branch spells contemporary and clean-cut with the use of basic black and red. I wonder why the distinct differentiation in look and branding.

The Food
General feedback I receive from patrons is that the Novena Branch pales slightly in comparison. Sometimes, it could be because it’s a branch and the whole ambience played a part.

Well, according to Curry Favor, their curries are “carefully created by our Japanese chef in a process that spans more than 5 hours daily. Our signature curry sauce is the essence of our intense research effort, using only fresh vegetables to bring out the spectrum of flavors from carefully selected curry spices”.

I have tasted better Japanese curries, but generally do agree that there is a certain standard in the taste and texture of their curries. Some can be a little too thin or sweet. And I went to one other store where my shirt smelt of curry after walking out.

I have been to Hungrygowhere and noticed that their management team has left a note after your comment. Good work for being responsive. And if you happen to be reading this on my humble blog, I would like my curry to be warmer and appreciate if curries can be refilled. But I know the answer’s a “No”.

While I have no major complains against Curry Favor, one wishes for more variety here. The very fact that it specialises may be a double-edged sword.

The Verdict
Needs More Flavours, but Good Enough. 3*

Xi Yang Yang Dessert 喜洋洋甜品 (Novena)

By , August 7, 2008

101 Thomson Road #B1-20 United Square Tel: 6255 6477

All these years, I have been in search for a ‘perfect’ hei-bai 黑白, the half-and-half dessert of almond and sesame paste. The best I have eaten was miles at Hong Kong’s Honeymoon Dessert.

Those I have tried locally either have the wrong proportion, or just dump the two together, even to the extent of mixing it already. Then, what’s the point?  (See negative demonstration.) 

踏破铁鞋无觅处,I finally found THE right one hidden at a little corner of Novena United Square. Looking like the yin yang symbol, somebody finally got it correct.

The Good To Know
Newly opened just months back, the owners wanted to develop the Hong Kong desserts niche in Singapore. I hear that the chefs are employed from Hui Lau Shan 许留山  and HoneyMoon in Hong Kong. ( Dessert King Hui Lau Shan ended its run in Singapore years back, possibly due to high rental cost and unsatisfactory location.)

The Food
The menu includes the signature dessert specialties such as Mango Sago Pomelo with Coconut Cream  & Mango Ice Cream 杨枝金捞($4.80) Durian & Black Glutinous Rice on Snow Sago ($5.50), Steam Egg Pudding with Ginger Juice ($3.00) and Almond Cream Harsma ($6.80).

The must-order is the Mango Sago with Pomelo 杨枝甘露 ($4.80), with generous portions of grapefruit, pomelo and sweet mangos which you can slowly savor. It’s how it tasted like when I had it in Hong Kong, and suddenly there was a great sense of satisfaction.

For light bites, you can try the Mango ($2.80) or Durian ($3.00) Pancake. With soft thin skin, white fluffy cream and delightful mangoes, the snack will melt in your mouth.  But two small pieces for the price of $3.00 may be considered steep to some.

The Glutinous Mango Balls ($3.00 for 3 pieces) felt like ‘odeh odeh’ with light coconut shavings  on the outside and cold mangos on the inside. Rather average for the price.

For a drink, the Mango Coconut Juice with Aloe Jelly ($3.80) comes in 3-layers of white, yellow and green. When mixed, slurping the smooth coconut and chewy jelly drink is an enjoyable experience.

The shop is not without its flaws. But with the right kind of pricing and marketing, it has potential to achieve great things. I have been there twice, and certainly will not be the last.

The Verdict
The familiar taste of HK. 3.5* 

Hong Kong Café 师奶茶餐厅 (Part 2)

By , July 22, 2008

With reference to service standards in my previous entry on Hong Kong café, I wrote in to their official website to get a feedback. To me surprise, I had a reply on the same day.

Unlike some websites who have their feedback only as a token gesture (where I never had any replies back), Hong Kong Café shows that they do value customers’ responses.

Here’s what the representative Mr Benny Foo said:

F & B services standard have drop tremendously throughout the whole of Singapore to be honest, Singaporean now are not very willing to pay for service charge but still demand good service, by the way they do not realise that service charge basically help establishment to pay for experience service crew that usually comes with a high price tag.

And also experienced service crew is really hard to come by anymore, they either chose to work in fine restaurants or hotel’s F & B cause these company usually pay high wages especially for experienced staff, they can afford to do that because of the high price tag they put on the food.

Turn over rate is also very high for service staff in Singapore which is already a norm to many companies, most of them will quit as soon as they becomes experience & start sourcing for the best paid company which is pretty easy to find at current market.

As the turnover rate for staff is very high, it’s not easy for us to have constantly experience staff serving our customers, cause every new staff needs quite a bit of time to be able to serve professionally.

Anyway these are not excuses for us not to serve well, in fact we do indeed put in alot of time training our staff, but customers will definitely meet those in experience staff during the transition period.”

Hong Kong Café 师奶茶餐厅 (Thomson)

By , July 21, 2008

275 Thomson Road #01-08 Novena Ville Tel: 6256 5655

China waitresses = Bad service?A common complaint with many HK cafés – That waitresses don’t speak good English and a simply rude. 不可以一竹竿打翻一船人. I had my fair share of bad experiences, but I would think it could be just a difference in culture, and serving staff just want to get their work done. If you want cheap food,  you have to forgo some service?

Hong Kong Café call themselves “The Most Highly Recommended Hong Kong Café in Singapore since 2004”. They are proud of the fact that they are the One and Only Hong Kong Café featured over 6 times on television and 10 times other media platforms.

Recommended by consumers? Maybe not. Reviews from have been quite mixed: Some say it offers good food at reasonable prices, while most others say the service (or lack) spoils it all.

The Good To Know
Let’s start with the menu. It’s probably the ‘Chinese’ way of design- The more the merrier. But this menu can be TOO crowded and confusing, with hundreds of various items. Red stars, blue star everywhere.
My friend asked, “How come almost every item is recommended leh?” FYI. Blue means chef recommended, Red means media recommended, while many have both. Blur already!

The Food
Their range include HK Famous Baked Rice/Spaghetti, Street Hawker Specials, Fried Noodles/Rice, Claypot Rice/Porridge, Hong Kong Noodles, Macaroni, Instant Noodle, Dim Sum, Café Snacks, Soup, Toasts, Desserts, Iced Blended Drinks… You really wonder if the chef can prepare EVERYTHING well.

I had the Curry Chicken Instant Noodle ($5.80 and one blue star). The chicken and potatoes were tender and soft, and curry not overly spicy. It’s actually good! They are quite generous with their servings too.

The Spicy Salt & Pepper Deep Fried Squid ($6.80 and two stars) was crispy tasty but a tad too salty, as though I was eating a pack of chips. The HK Panfried Carrot Cake ($3.50 and one red star) a rather delightful ‘snack’ as well for being soft and not too oily.This Thomas branch offers a daily set lunch from just $7.00++, which includes a spaghetti, Hong Kong Soup and milk tea/coffee. That’s good news for the lunch time office crowd at the Novena vicinity.

The Service
The TV installed plays the occasional news or sports matches, but look who’s actually watching them. Many have complained about the terrible service (read: heck care attitude), but I didn’t find it THAT bad. Just speak to them in Mandarin!

The Verdict

Forgivable food (not bad), Unforgivable service (sometimes). 2.75*

Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice

By , July 7, 2008

342 Balestier Road (Next to Shaw Plaza) Tel: 6252 2318

Wanting to satisfy my chicken rice cravings, I went to the Loy Kee’s main branch at Balestier and was greeted with a warm smile and a nod from this lady behind the cashier.

The shop is plastered with pictures of celebrities like Michelle Yim, Martin Yan and Charmaine Sheh (but somehow I wonder ‘why always those few celebs’ haha). And that’s when I realised that the same bespectacled lady is Mrs Loy (Mdm Jane Tan) herself! Like a little fan, I whipped out my camera for a picture together.

The Ambience
Other than the framed celeb pictures, this coffee shop-like eatery oozes out some nostalgic charm with marble tables, big chairs and swirling fans.

The Food
Loy Kee has been one of the names synonymous with the famous local Hainesese dish. Once voted as the Best Chicken Rice in Singapore in the 1990s, it has expanded far and wide to several food branches. With an amazing heritage and reputation since 1953, the common complaint is standards have dropped ever since.

Other than the standard sets which comes with chicken, vegetable, rice and soup, they have varied to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu includes Curry Chicken Rice, House Laksa, Roasted Pork Noodles, Nasi Lemak and House Macaroni.

Despite all the competition, I still enjoy the chicken meat, being thin and tender with a slight touch of oil and succulence (some chicken can be too thick or dry). The rice is slightly on the dry side and I would prefer it to be a tad oilier. But the truth is, chicken rice is very subjective and there are probably different camps on separate sides.

The noodles were springy. I like.

I also had the Seafood Mini Steamboat which had a mixture of pork organs, abundant bean sprouts and some seafood served in a claypot bowl constantly heated up with a burning flame. With two slices of fish and prawns, you can literally count the seafood.

Ever since Loy Kee first started out at Whampoa Drive, it still attracts a loyal following. But we shall await for omy voters to decide  which is their favourite chicken rice seller.

The Verdict
Times have changed, with Choices aplenty. 3.25*

Other Related Entries
Sin Kee Chicken Rice

Lerk Thai Restaurant (Square 2)

By , June 7, 2008

10 Sinaran Drive #02-65/66/67 Novena Square 2 S(307506) Tel: 63972282

Many people still call the ‘Lerk’ Thai chain of restaurants ‘Jerk’ Thai, no thanks to the logo.  The chain is started by the Select Group Ltd, which many should be familiar with their catering business and ‘cai peng’ (Chinese rice). And to no surprise, ‘Lerk’ means ‘Select’ in Thai.

The Food
Some of their recommendations include the Gai Hor Bai Toey (Deep Fried Pandan Leaf Chicken), Nuer Prik Thai Dum (Beef with Black Pepper), Gaeng Kiew Whan Talay (Green Curry Seafood) and Pla Muerk Nung Manow (Steam Cuttlefish with Hot, Sour and Spicy Sauce).

The dining experience was destined to be a mediocre one with a bad start of the Thai Ice Tea. It lacked of the unique Thai ice tea flavour and was very diluted like drain water. Even the Nescafe version I made myself tasted a lot richer.

Continue reading 'Lerk Thai Restaurant (Square 2)'»

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