Monday, 6 February 2023

Marmaris – Hidden Treasure in Little India

Marmaris is Authentic Arabic, Mediterranean and Western food in Singapore’s Little India. A quick google search will show that it is one of the highest rating restaurants around Little India. Since we were looking for something different, we decided to check out Marmaris.

Marmaris
When you arrived at the location, you will be greeted by two vertical rotisseries, commonly found in the Middle Eastern grilling the meat. In the middle, there will be the ingredients bench, which looks similar to the one in Subway store, where the staff assemble the shawarma, salads and other items on the menu.

Shawarma
For dine-in, you can go to the 2nd floor. It is air-conditioned and simply furnished with wooden tables and chairs. The lights and the walls are decorated with Middle Eastern lights and Middle Eastern motifs wallpapers. There is also al-fresco seating on the 1st floor.

Dining Area 2nd Floor
Decor and Lights
We started the meal with Hummus Salad Platter ($8) – Served with Arabic Bread, Veg Salad and Muhallal – Arabic Pickle. The hummus is smooth, creamy and packs with chickpea flavour. The Arabic bread is warm, soft and pillowy. We just can’t stop scooping the hummus with it. The salad on the side is simple yet refreshing. In no time, we polished off the platter.

Hummus Salad Platter
Falafel (1pcs, $1.50). From the look, we thought it was going to be hard and dry. Surprisingly, it is crispy externally, while it is moist and soft inside. Very good.

Falafel
Al Faham (Grilled Chicken, Signature, $15.50 half, $28 full). We ordered half, as we also ordered a rice dish. According to the menu, the chicken is slow-grilled with special herbs. It is served with Arabic bread, veg salad and garlic sauce.

Al Faham
The exterior of the chicken has a nice charred texture and flavour, followed by juicy and succulent flesh, including the breast part. Though the marinate of the chicken looks fiery red, it was not spicy at all. The chicken is very tasty and the garlic sauce just enhances the flavour of the chicken and herbs further. It is served with lovely Arabic bread as well.

Al Faham
Lamb Shank Briyani ($17.90, 1 pax). I just can’t say NO to a lamb shank briyani. Cooked in a claypot dum, the aroma just entices us when it was brought to our table. Of course, the bone sticking out just add the WOW factor to the dish. The rice is fluffy, sweet and tasty. The lamb shank is juicy and without any gamy flavour, however, it is a bit of a challenge ripping the meat off the bones. I think the lamb shank can be cooked longer, before mixing it with the briyani. My best experience with lamb shank briyani is when the meat reaches the point of fork tender and falls off the bone. I’ll probably order the mutton briyani next time.

Lamb Shank Briyani
Lamb Shank Briyani
Lamb Shank Briyani
We end our meal with Kunafe ($12) - A traditional Middle Eastern dessert made with cheese and thin noodle-like pastry soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup topped with crushed nuts. I like the crispy texture of the Kunafe, combine with the sweet and savoury flavour in it. The sugar-based syrup is served separately. Though the syrup looks milky, I find it too watery and does not blend well with Kunafe. Instead of pouring the syrup into the pastry, it is better to dip the pastry into the syrup.

Kunafe
We had Mango Lassi ($4.50) and Fresh Lime Soda ($4.50) to accompany our meal. The bottled water is already on the table, so if you open it just let them know when you make the payment on the 1st floor.

Drinks
CBK verdict: it was a great Arabic Middle Eastern food. Very tasty, flavourful and pocket friendly. The winners of the night are the Hummus, the chicken & the garlic sauce. We’ll definitely come back to try the Shawarma and the rest of the dishes. Cheers!!


Food & Drink: 8/10
Value: 9/10
Service: 6/10
Ambiance: 6/10
Budget per Person: $11 - $25; $26 - $50.

Marmaris
111 Dunlop Street
Singapore 209430

T: +65 6291 3001
OH: Daily 11.30 – 22.00

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Basdban – Elevated Sichuan Food [MEDIA INVITE]

Welcome to Basdban! The sister restaurant of Birds of a Feather (review available here), under the umbrella of The Foreign Project Group. While Birds of a Feather showcase the elegant side of Sichuan cuisine, Basdban showcase an elevated version of Sichuan food.

Basdban Entrance
Decor in Dining Area
The décor at Basdban is edgy, funky and you can throw in the element of gastropub as well. While the bar is the centrepiece of the indoor dining area, the playful animated lights will brighten up the place with lively and funky music. There is plenty of seating outdoor as well, though the ambience is not as vibrant as the indoor seating.

The Bar
We kick off the tasting with Funky Fish ($18). Thick slices of salmon sashimi, dressed in funky sauce and yoghurt. The sashimi is fresh, while the funky dressing has the elements of sweet sauce and Sichuan oil. The yoghurt helps to temper the spicy oil. A good start to the meal.

Funky Fish
Funky Fish
Sticky Pork Ribs ($18) – Roasted Pistachio, Sichuan Sweet Vinegar Glaze with Housemade Pickles. Basdban uses the lean version of the pork ribs, similar to the baby back ribs. The sweet, tangy and spicy flavours come from the Sichuan sweet vinegar glaze, complemented with the crunchy roasted pistachio. I like the carrot and purple cabbage housemade pickles that balance the flavour nicely.

Sticky Pork Ribs
Sticky Pork Ribs
Sticky Pork Ribs
Lalalalala Fried Chicken ($28) – Wok Fried Chicken, Lala Clams, and Sichuan Chili. This dish will not be out of place in a Fear Factor challenge, as half of the plate is filled with cut Sichuan chilli. Well, I manage to get a few bites of the chicken cubes, that are aromatic and crispy. For the lala, it is like digging into the landmines, as seeds of the chilli or peppercorn might be hidden behind it. Not the dish for me, but Sichuan food lovers will appreciate this.

Lalalalala Fried Chicken
Two To Tango ($23) – Classic Sichuan Wok-Fried Broccolini, Caulilini and Minced Tofu. A superb vegetarian dish. Multi texture and multi flavour, complete with a kick of spiciness at the end. The tofu flavour completely transformed and can easily be mistaken for minced pork

Two to Tango
Two to Tango
Two to Tango
BB Prawn Aglio Olio ($28) – Sichuan Style Aglio olio, Tiger Prawns and Clams. Basdban interpretation of Aglio Olio. The tiger prawns are fresh and cooked just right. The pasta is cooked to al-dente, smooth, and silky with a touch of spiciness. The cherry tomatoes are plump and bursting with flavours while the Sakura prawns added a crunchy texture to the dish plus enhancing the umami flavour. Yummy!!

BB Prawn Aglio Olio
BB Prawn Aglio Olio
Wholey Fish ($48) – Whole Barramundi served in Mala Broth. Similar to the Chong Qing grilled fish. The whole barramundi is butterflied and deep-fried to seal the juice in the flesh and give the fish a crispy texture. It is then simmered in Mala broth to give it an aromatic and spicy kick. The spiciness level here is mild and easily acceptable to most people. However, if you like the super spicy version, don’t hesitate to ask the service staff to increase the spicy level to match your expectations.

Wholey Fish
Wholey Fish
The fish and other spicy dishes will go well with a bowl of white rice, that is served with furikake topping.

White Rice
Basdban Unagi Donabe ($45) – Sichuan Waxed Meat, Unagi, Morel Mushroom, Sakura Ebi, lard and Special Shoyu Sauce. A must-order dish here. The rice is soft and infused with multi-flavours from the waxed meat, unagi, mushroom, lard and Sakura ebi. The special shoyu sauce binds all the ingredients nicely. Once you scoop it in your mouth, it was a party in your mouth. Yummy!!

Basdban Unagi Donabe 
Basdban Unagi Donabe - The Rice
Basdban Unagi Donabe - The Unagi
We commence the sweet ending with Glutinous Rice ($15). The glutinous rice is done three ways; fried, boiled and pudding topped with grapefruit, pomegranate and sweet sauce. You get to experience different textures of the glutinous rice (crispy, wobbly, creamy) at the same time. An interesting dessert.

Glutinous Rice
Glutinous Rice
Pick Me Up! ($16) – deconstructed tiramisu. I like the coffee crumble, followed by the cream and coffee-liquor infused mascarpone. The dark chocolate sheet is crispy and solid. I feel they can be more generous with the coffee liquor for that extra kick.

Pick Me Up!

Pick Me Up!
Basdban also serves a great cocktail to go with the food. Since I can’t take alcohol, I get to try their Oriental Flair mocktail version.

Oriental Flair - Mocktail Version
Monday Blues - Cocktail
Kyoho - Mocktail Version
Basdban Old Fashion - Cocktail
Overall, it was a great dining experience with Sichuan street food. The team at Basdban successfully elevated the dishes by using better ingredients and controlling the level of spiciness. I recommend the Funky Fish, Two to Tango, BB Prawn Aglio Olio, Wholey Fish and Basdban Unagi Donabe plus the Pick Me Up! Kanpai!! Cheers!!

Thank you very much Kristine, Chef Eugene and Basdban Team for hosting us.

Food & Drink: 8/10
Value: 7.5/10
Service: N/A (Tasting Invitation)
Ambiance: 8/10
Budget per Person: $51 - $80

Basdban
51 Telok Ayer Street
#01-01
Singapore 048411

T: +65 9755 1058
OH:
Mon – Sat: 11.00 – 15.00; 17.00 – 23.00
Closed on Sunday

Tuesday, 10 January 2023

Po – Signature Singapore Favourites

Po is a concept by Lo & Behold Group, known for its bold, edgy and innovative concepts. Po is the flagship restaurant of The Warehouse Hotel, which is also the inaugural boutique hotel by the group. The name Po is shortened from Popo, meaning grandmother, paying tribute to her contributions to Singaporean favourite home cuisine. You will get to know her when you open the menu in the restaurant.

The Warehouse Hotel Lobby
Entering The Warehouse Hotel, you will be welcomed by the enormous lobby, with an industrial look and high ceiling, decorated with different sizes and motifs of wheels. You won’t miss the huge bar in the lobby, complete with an extensive seating area for the patrons to chill and enjoy their drinks. On the right side after the entrance, you will find Po restaurant.

The Bar at The Lobby
The décor at Po provided a more intimate dining experience. Nicely decorated round tables with rattan chairs, a combination of a modern dining experience with a nostalgic feel. A must-order here is the popiah, hinted strongly at the setting on the tables.

Po
Part of the Dining Area at Po
The Table Setting
Dinner started with Belinjo Crackers ($9) served with belachan and kecap manis dip. Po served the sweet version of the belinjo crackers. It is crispy and crunchy, followed by a mix of sweet and bitter flavours. The belachan is spicy, fragrant and got POWER, according to the group.

Belinjo Crackers
Since everyone liked the Belinjo Crackers, we also ordered Indonesian Prawn Crackers ($9), also served with belachan, kecap manis dip. However, the prawn crackers were isappointing. There is almost no prawn flavour in the crackers and it tasted a bit dense. Stick with the Belinjo Crackers.

Prawn Crackers
Soft-Shell Crab ($22). It can easily be mistaken for har cheong gai. The batter is covered the soft-shell crab to the point you can’t see the crab shape. However, the batter delivers a super crispy texture, followed by the juicy flesh of the crab. The batter is very tasty on its own, you can eat it without the lime mayo.

Soft-Shell Crab
Otah ($18). My first impression when I bit into it was SOLID. The otah is dense, packed with mackerel, prawn paste, jumbo crab meat and homemade heritage spices. I can taste the fish, the crab meat and I am comfortable with the spiciness level. Yumz!

Otah
Charcoal-Grilled Iberico Satay ($24). Thick, plump and succulent pork skewers grilled to perfection. The meat is well seasoned and I can taste the lovely charred on the edges of the satay. The satay sauce with the pineapple is not rustic enough, I find it missing the OMPH. It will be nice to have the ketupat as well.

Charcoal-Grilled Iberico Satay
Popiah Classic ($32 for 1 – 2 persons, 4 skins). Since we have 6 people, we decided to order 2 sets of the Popiah Classic. The set is nicely presented. The popiah skin is served warm. It has the right thickness, soft yet bouncy at the same time.

Popiah Set Classic 
The key ingredient is the fillings, made with pork, shrimp, bamboo shoot, bangkuang (jicama), carrots and holland peas. Stewed over a long period, the ingredients get caramelised and create a unique umami flavour. Wrapped together with sprinkles of eggs, crushed peanuts, crispy flatfish, crispy shallots, coriander sprigs, beansprouts and sweet sauce. Housemade chilli sauce and freshly ground garlic are available, but they are not getting into my popiah.

The Fillings
The fillings and sprinkles provided are very generous, we have a lot of leftovers. Luckily, you can order extra servings of the yummy popiah skin, to finish off the ingredients. Yum Yum.

How to Make Popiah Like Popo
My Popiah
Kurobuta Char Siew ($20). The pork collar has a nice balance of meat and fats ratio. It is cooked to the point the middle part of the pork is still pink. It has a sweet, juicy, crispy exterior and melts in your mouth. Awesome.

Kurobuta Char Siew
Paper Spring Chicken ($68). It took 45 minutes of preparation time, so it arrived when we almost finish our popiah. The whole spring chicken is stuffed with glutinous rice, conpoy, dried shrimp, chinese sausage and mushroom. During the baking process, the essence of the chicken is infused into the stuffings, while the stuffings also flavoured the chicken and help the chicken to retain its moisture. The chicken is well seasoned, juicy and succulent, however, without a doubt, the start of the dish is the rice.

Paper Spring Chicken
Paper Spring Chicken - Unwrapped
Paper Spring Chicken - My 2nd Portion
We conclude our meal with Giant River Prawns Konbu Mee ($38). Po version of Hokkien Mee. The noodle is cooked with fresh river prawns, prawn stock, pork belly, pork lard and Sakura ebi. When you slurp the noodle, it was just exploding with flavours. The river prawns are sweet and fresh; however, the pork lard is too crispy for my liking.

Giant River Prawns Konbu Mee
The drink menu at Po is very extensive as it combines with the bar menu as well. It has 12 signature cocktails on the Po menu and it will be rotated regularly. I ordered mocktails Spritzerlati ($17) Melati Distilled Botanicals, citrus syrup, soda. It is refreshing, yet I can taste the depth of flavours in it.

Mocktail - Spritzerlati
The service is professional, attentive and helpful. The service staff knows the majority of the cocktails & mocktails plus they also help us to get extra services of belachan.

Cocktail - B.B King
Overall, it was a great experience dining at Po. While the food might seem familiar, the team at Po elevated those using better ingredients and modern cooking techniques. The menu might be slim; however, they try to produce the best version of each dish. I recommend Po’s Otah, Softshell Crab, Popiah Classic, Char Siew and Paper Spring Chicken. Cheers!!

Food & Drink: 8.25/10
Value: 6/10
Service: 8.5/10
Ambiance: 8.5/10
Budget per Person: $51 - $80; $81 and Above

Po
320 Havelock Road
The Warehouse Hotel
Singapore 169628

T: +65 6828 0007
OH: Daily 12.00 – 14.30; 18.00 – 22.30

Our Popular Reviews: