Tasty Tastings

Tasty Tastings

All the tasty treats devoured during Tastemaker tastings go here.
Russell Leong
Russell Leong

And now we have my absolute beloved bar bite of the night at @sake.toshi, the Japanese Oysters Kaarage ($24+ service charge for 6). Six astonishingly gargantuan Japanese oysters are coated in batter and deep fried. Sure, oysters are an acquired taste, but once you’ve acquired it, you’re gonna love these fantastic fried oysters.⠀

I want to know where they grew these mammoth mollusks, because on god they are MASSIVE! There’s absolutely no way you can make this a one-biter, it’s at least a two or three biter. If you can fit this whole thing into your mouth in one go, call me ‘cause I wanna know what dat mouf do. That aside, the batter coated the oyster is remarkably thin, and as such, doesn’t absorb all that much oil.⠀

Normally when you deep fry something, you use ingredients that are a little less than fresh. Not these oysters, oh no, they’re so fresh that if you want ‘em any fresher, you’ll have to fish ‘em out the sea yourself. They’re P H A T, creamy, briny and utterly unctuous, and they’re deep fried just enough to firm up the texture of the flesh, but not enough to cause shrinkage. Just splash a dash of lemon juice, and that’s all you need. The mayonnaise on the side was completely surplus to requirements considering just how scintillatingly sumptuous these oysters were.⠀

Thank you so much for the invite, @sake.toshi & @burpple

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And last but not least, the Scallop Ikura ($24+ service charge) are Hokkaido scallops tempura’d & deep fried, and garnished with mayonnaise & ikura (salmon roe). The scallops are fresh, sweet and sensually soft, while the briny ikura be poppin’. It was near perfect flavour wise, but I doubt I’ll be paying twenty four dollars for this again as the scallops were pretty small for Hokkaido ones, and there’s only a pair on a stick.⠀

Thank you for hosting us, @sake.toshi & @burpple!⠀

If you’re feeling a little extra, they have Uni Seaweed Tempura ($24+ service charge for a pair). Tempura seaweed is the crisp bed on which a dollop of uni (sea urchin gonads) lies, seasoned simply with a dash of shoyu and truffled caviar. It’s briny, creamy, rich, salty and the height of hedonism, contrasted against the crisp of the deep fried seaweed.

The other platter we ordered at @alteregosg was the Seafood Grilled Platter ($53++), which featured a grilled salmon fillet, dory fish, king prawns, squid and mussels. The seafood already made for a hefty portion, but Alter Ego decided to slap a whole mound of curly fries, salad and a corn on the cob just to make this platter even more ponderous.⠀

The grilled fishes were sublime. Seasoned spectacularly and jazzed up with the addition of herbs, the dory and salmon fillets were flaky, moist and incredibly scrumptious. The king prawns were delightfully fresh, and grilled to perfection. Keeping the shell on for grilling added even more unctuous umami to the crustacean, which balance out well with the natural sweetness of these large shellfish.⠀

The squid rings were stunningly fresh, but notably under-seasoned. Fortunately, the plethora of sauces that accompanied the platter rescued it, and the slightly out of place sambal chili was a match made in heaven for these bouncy squid rings. The mussels were tragically overcooked however, and these poor mollusks were chewy like rubber. Such a shame, it was all going so well.⠀

Alter Ego seems to be refocusing their menu for larger parties, and their platters are perfectly primed to take full advantage of this shift in strategy. A few improvements and tweaks, and these platters will absolutely dominate the market.⠀

Thank you so much for having us, @alteregosg & @burpple!

And now for the meat of the matter. One of the items on @alteregosg recently altered menu is the Meat Grilled Platter, priced at $53++, and it is a massive marvel of meaty magnificence. Marinated grilled chicken breast, lamb cutlets, a ribeye steak and a few fried chicken winglets take up pride of place on this platter, and are escorted by the entourage of corn on the cob, assorted veggies and curly fries.

The little winglets were a couple of minutes overcooked, which was a bit of a bummer. However, the marinated chicken breast, which I was very apprehensive about, turned out far better. It was remarkably moist, peculiarly tender, and pleasantly palatable. The herbs & spices that the chicken had been marinated in had achieved their task admirably, infusing flavour into a normally tasteless piece of protein. The trick to keeping the chicken moist and tender was it being pounded thin, as it ensures that the chicken cooks through without drying it out. Fellas, always remember to beat your meat.

The stellar lamb cutlets hit all the right spots for me. A well managed gaminess, a whole lotta seasoning perfumed with copious amounts of herbs, and a tasteful tenderness are the keys to selling me on a lamb dish. These lamb cutlets hit all that and then some, mainly thanks to the cutlets being cooked bone in for maximal moisture & flavour. As for the ribeye steak…well, it’s the best cut from a cow, and there’s a felicitous amount of fat in it. And as we’ve established long ago, fat equals flavour. And this ribeye had lots of it, plus a tremendous amount of tenderness.

Of course, as delightful as the meats are, carbs complete it. Of course, there is nothing as completely perfect as curly fries, and these crispy curly potato twirlies were absolutely awesome. A perfect platter in my book of facts. Thank you so much for hosting us, @alteregosg & @burpple!

When someone mentions Turkish cuisine, the first thing that springs to mind for most are kebabs. Juicy, well seasoned meat sliced from an enormous hunk of meat slowly rotating on a kebab grill. However, the more traditional version is meat wrapped around a skewer and grilled over charcoal, and that’s what @mavirestaurant.sg has to offer.⠀

The lamb Adana Kebab ($26++) is minced lamb marinated with assorted herbs & spices and grilled over a charcoal grill, and served with rice, a slice of flatbread, and some veggies. The minced lamb retains its moisture even after grilling, and each juicy bite of tender minced lamb offers little resistance to your jaw. The inherent gaminess of lamb is obscured by the herb & spice mix, which flavours the lamb spectacularly. And of course, the charcoal grill has imbued the kebab with its smoky goodness, heightening the already ambrosial aroma of the meat.⠀

The bulgur pilaf was incredible, and outperformed the already decent butter rice by a significant margin. Each grain of bulgur was like a supersized couscous, and had an addictive bite to it. The bulgur was cooked in a tomato sauce, and had a tastefully tangy edge to its savouriness. The veggies on the side were sadly neglected though, as they were completely undressed and looked as if they had seen better days. Still, the lamb kebab & bulgur pilaf were more than enough to make this dish a smash hit.⠀

Thanks for hosting us, @mavirestaurant.sg & @burpple!

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I haven’t had a pide since my university days of getting shitfaced at three am, and pides aren’t as common in Singapore as they were in Australia. @mavirestaurant.sg savoury Sucuk & Egg ($23++) takes me back to those delightful drunken nights, and had me hankering for a cold pint of Cooper’s Sparkling Ale. Alas, Mavi is a hundred percent halal, so there’s no booze to be found.⠀

Even without the booze, this sucuk & egg pide was plenty palatable. The pide dough is formed with a hollow center for any number of fillings to be packed into, and that’s what makes ‘em so alluring. The dough itself is moderately chewy, a little bready but still moderately dense. Of course, if the pide had no fillings, nobody would bother with it. That’s where the sucuk & egg come in. ⠀

As the more astute of you may have already guessed, sucuk is sausage. Or more precisely, sucuk is a dry, spicy & fermented sausage enjoyed in the Middle East & the Balkans. Slices of it are arrayed atop the egg that’s been poured into the cavity like pepperoni on a pizza. The egg & sucuk are baked along with the dough, and the beaten eggs acquire an airy, spongy texture akin to a frittata. The sucuk gets that marvellous Maillard reaction, and goes crisp around the edges and expels some of its spicy oils as it cooks.⠀

The result is a charmingly chewy and stupendously satisfying bread dish. The chewiness of the carb-laden pide dough is cushioned by the soft, delicate sponginess of the egg. And for salt, a little spice and a smidge of meat, the sucuk delivers its sausage-y goodness. This is perfect as a sharing dish, but it’s also perfect for hogging all to yourself. Don’t be a sucuk-er, get your pide today!⠀

Thank you for the invite, @mavirestaurant.sg & @burpple!

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While rice is a capable complement to the sublime Güveç, there is a superior pairing. Güveç starts with a G, and so does Gözleme. Yup, it’s a match made in flavour heaven. @mavirestaurant.sg Gözleme ($13++) is shaped like a slice of pizza, and is just as irresistible as its Italian counterpart. The flatbread is stuffed full of spinach and feta cheese and baked till hot n ready.⠀

The feta cheese flavours the Gözleme quite well with its inherent saltiness, and adds some creaminess to the carb laden mix. Feta isn’t a great melting cheese, so don’t expect any cheese pulls. But what it does is make the Gözleme richer, heavier and more delicious. The spinach does help to bulk up the bread, and make this a very healthy side dish. Ordinarily, the Gözleme would be quite unremarkable, but pair it with the Güveç, and its final form is unlocked.⠀

The unleavened bread used in the Gözleme soaks up all that terrifically tasty tomato sauce, and it turns into a cheesy, tomato-y carb delivery vehicle. The unleavened flatbread does possess a fair bit of chew, but the tomato sauce from the Güveç softens it up and injects even more deliciousness into it. While these two aren’t a pair that springs to mind immediately, trust me when I say that they belong together.⠀

Thanks for the invite, @mavirestaurant.sg & @burpple!⠀

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While the Turks are renowned for their shakshuka, I would argue that Güveç, its lesser known cousin, deserves all of the recognition that shakshuka gets, if not more. Or at least @mavirestaurant.sg rendition ($32++) does deserve that fame. A stew of chicken, bell peppers and other veg baked in a tantalising tomato sauce and topped with melted cheese, the Güveç is as every bit as hearty as it sounds.

Mavi’s Güveç is portioned into a claypot and baked till ready in a stone oven, which does require quite a fair bit of time to achieve. But when it’s ready, oh boy oh boy is it a thing of beauty. The tasty, tangy tomato sauce bubbles away gently under the beautiful blanket of browned cheese which also conceals the bell peppers & chicken stewing within the sauce. The chicken is only slightly salted, so it’s entirely up to the tomato sauce to carry the entire dish. Or in this case, claypot.

Fortunately, the tomato sauce is a bonafide MVP, carrying & flavouring this entire stew with its charming combo of Turkish spices, tanginess & umami. The paprika provides a nice hint of heat to the simmering stew, while the cumin adds its strong, unmistakable earthy, nutty & warming qualities to add a new dimension to the Güveç. Added to the sweet, sour & salty characteristics of the tomato sauce, the herbs & spices round out the flavours well and make it a truly robust stew.

Unlike the kebabs, the chicken chunks in the stew were simmered to perfection. The chook was juicy & tender, and had soaked up a great deal of flavour from the terrific tomato sauce. The bell peppers had been stewed thoroughly, becoming soft and losing their sharpness in the process. And to top it all off, the melted cheese adds that luxurious richness to the entire stew. While the Güveç is perfect with the butter rice on the side, there is a dish that is purpose built to pair with this stew.

Thank you for hosting us, @mavirestaurant.sg & @burpple!

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A proper Turkish meal starts with the classic Mediterranean staple of hummus & bread. @mavirestaurant.sg housemade hummus ($12++) is served with what they call pita bread, but I’m convinced is pide bread, but none of it really matters when you’re busy whetting your appetite with this Middle Eastern classic.⠀

The hummus was smooth but quite stodgy, with the blend of chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini & olive oil combining to make a dip that’s perfect with anything. It was charmingly creamy, and seasoned quite satisfactorily, making it a delightful dip to pair with the bread.⠀

I am an avowed disdain-er of eggplant, but Mavi’s breathtaking Babaganoush ($12++) had me hooked at the first bite. The awesome Ali Nazik was using this exact same smoked eggplant purée, and it was utterly incredible. The smokiness from the puréed eggplants elevates the already sapid flavours of the purée, and the copious addition of garlic makes the babaganoush even more delicious. Smooth, salty, smoky and simply addictive, I couldn’t help but mop up as much of it with the bread as I could.⠀

While the pita/pide bread was acceptably appealing, I preferred the Balloon Bread ($7++) instead. It’s airy, light and charmingly chewy, and more closely resembles pita bread. Perfect for wiping up every last dollop of the brilliant babaganoush and the hearty hummus.⠀

Thank you for hosting us, @mavirestaurant.sg & @burpple!

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Istanblue Meze & Grill has recently rebranded as @mavirestaurant.sg to avoid any confusion with its competitors, and they still continue to whip up tasty Turkish treats. Yes, Mavi is Turkish for blue, in case you were wondering. One of the best entrées of the night that could flawlessly pass as an appetiser for the table is the traditional Turkish dish of Ali Nazik ($24++ for chicken, $28++ for lamb).⠀

Ali Nazik (also known as Ali Nazik Kebab) is an smoked eggplant purée mixed with garlic yogurt & butter, and dotted with cubes of marinated chicken or lamb. In our case, we got the lamb Ali Nazik, and of course, it wouldn’t be Turkish cuisine without bread on the side. I normally detest eggplants, but this eggplant purée was upgraded by the inclusion of garlic yogurt & butter into the mix. The smokey, savoury & smooth eggplant purée was gloriously garlicky and decadently rich, but the lamb cubes absolutely stole the show here.⠀

The scintillatingly spiced lamb cubes were deliriously delicious, and each juicy meat cube tasted similar to a chorizo. The gaminess of the lamb was almost completely concealed by the bold, intoxicating spice marinade, and the extra spiced oil drizzled on top of it added even more flavour & lusciousness. Mavi’s Turkish pita bread that’s baked in-house looks more like pide bread, and is notably dense & chewy. It performs exceptionally at mopping up all that exquisite eggplant purée though, so all’s good.⠀

Thanks for having us over to sample your terrific Turkish treats, @mavirestaurant.sg & @burpple!

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The crown jewel in @enjoyeatinghouse fish lineup is the Salt Baked Whole Barramundi ($40++). When a whole ass fish touches down on any dinner table anywhere, it automatically becomes the center of attention. Enjoy Eating House’s Salt Baked Whole Barramundi is a statement piece, albeit a tastefully subtle one.⠀

The local Singaporean fish that’s delivered fresh daily from a farm off Pulau Ubin is simply baked in a cocoon of salt, and that’s quite adequate for this fantastically fresh fish. Don’t try to eat the skin like I did though, it isn’t scaled and is there for decoration. I wish they’d scale the skin & make it edible, it would be the perfect accompaniment to whatever drinks you order. The salt baking has given the firm, flaky and slightly moist barramundi flesh adequate salinity, while not overshadowing the natural sweetness of the firm flesh.⠀

Most of the flavour work is conducted by the Thai style seafood sauce & the house-made sambal served separately. The Thai sauce was a godsend, as it moistened the barramundi and provided a riot of flavours. The deep umami of the fish sauce in the mix is balanced with the sour & spicy elements of the mix, resulting in a quintessentially Thai sauce that everyone’s familiar with. Enjoy’s proprietary sambal is no less scintillating, with its insistent spice backed up by superb sapidity and just a little bit of acidity. The little sharpness sets it apart from other sambal chilies out there, and I enjoyed this minute difference.⠀

Minor gripe aside, the Salt Baked Whole Barramundi went swimmingly well and had us all hooked. Thanks for hosting us, @enjoyeatinghouse & @burpple!

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Alcohol may not be good for my body, but my body is good for alcohol. Insta: @okwhotookmyusername

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