Tuesday 28 February 2023

Niu Dian Beef Noodles – Superb Taiwanese Beef Noodles [MEDIA INVITE]

Niu Dian Beef Noodles, a Michelin Bib Gourmand awardee in Taiwan for 3 consecutive years has landed in Singapore. This beloved Taiwanese beef noodles were started in 2005 by Chef Lin Chun Ying, who had vast experience as Head Chef of Western Cooking in 5-star hotels in Taiwan. Drawing from his expertise, Chef Lin incorporates Western cooking methods into Chinese cuisine to create the flavours of beef noodles from his childhood.

Niu Dian Singapore
Niu Dian distinguishes itself by using only premium beef parts specifically flow-in from Australia. Combining their handmade noodles that are chewy in texture and 24 hours brewing of the beef parts, mirepoix and curated blend of herbs, Niu Dian has become a firm favourite in the Taiwan Beef Noodle scene. To ensure consistency across Niu Dian’s outlets, all proprietary sauces, marinades and selected ingredients are imported mainly from Taiwan.

Menu 1
Menu 2
We started the tasting session with Braised Beancurd ($3.90). Our initial impression, the beancurd might look a bit dry. Once I bit into it, the braising sauce just burst into my mouth, followed by the chewy beancurd texture and classic smoky aroma. It reminds me of the traditional beancurd shops in Taiwan.

Braised Beancurd
Cold Century Egg Tofu with Bonito Flakes ($5.90). LD says the century egg is fresh, rich & creamy and it is coated with the tangy sauce. The bonito flakes on top added a delicate umami flavour to this side dish.

Cold Century Egg Tofu with Bonito Flakes 
Combination Speciality Beef Noodle ($19.90). We choose the hard noodle texture with strong original broth. The combo cuts include Boneless Rib Cut + Tendon + Tripe + Golden Coin. The original broth has a nice yellowy colour broth, infused with the essence of the beef. A nice-looking beef consommé. When we first sipped into it, we can taste that the broth is packed with solid beef flavour. MOO MOO.

Combination Speciality Beef Noodle, Strong Original Broth
The hard thick noodle has a lovely chewiness on it, while the rib cut and golden coin cut are amazingly tender. The tendon is soft with a delicate crunchy texture, while the tripe is springy yet soft. The cuts of the beef tasted clean and packs with delicious beef flavour, in absence of any gamey beef taste. The chopped spring onions are imported from Taiwan, the aromatic aroma just complements this bowl of soup perfectly.

Hard Noodle
Rib Cut
Next up is the Trio Speciality Beef Noodles ($18.90). We choose the hard noodle texture with strong braised soup base. This trio speciality includes Boneless Rib Cut + Tendon + Golden Coin. The braised version mixed the beef braising sauce with the original broth. The result is a robust broth with a bit of a spicy kick to it. The noodles are thick with a nice QQ to them, while the rib cut and golden coin are tender it is also full of braising sauce. If you like spicy, this will be the one for you.

Trio Speciality Beef Noodles, Braised Broth
Golden Coin
To accompany the noodles, there are three condiments you can add to the dish. Bone marrow chilli, salted vegetables and chilli dipping sauce. The bone marrow chilli paste is Niu Dian rendition of XO sauce. It is made with a special blend of chilli, fried with bone marrow from beef bones. The essence of the beef is so strong, it will totally upgrade your beef noodle experience or other food that you apply it to. In Taiwan outlet, they sell their bone marrow chilli by the bottle. Chef Lin mention that they put it in fried kway teow in Taiwan to enhance the flavour of the dish.

Clockwise from Top: Bone Marrow Chilli, Salted Vegetables & Chilli Dipping Sauce
The Condiments Counter
The salted vegetables are imported from Taiwan, like most of the fresh ingredients in Niu Dian. This will help to balance the richness of the beef. Meanwhile, the dipping chilli is similar to those served in beef noodle stores in Singapore. It is watery and has the tanginess of lime in it.

Chef Lin with Bone Marrow Chilli
For the full Taiwanese dining experience, Niu Dian collaborate with Palace Tea and introduced a selection of in-house creations and signature drinks for bubble tea lovers. The Lime & Sour Plum Green Tea with Aiyu Jelly and Lychee Mint Black Tea made a great pairing with the beef noodles.

Palace Tea Counter
Lime & Sour Plum Green Tea
Lychee Mint Black Tea
We were impressed with the flavours during the Media Tasting, we decided to make a return visit the following week. This time around, we ordered Premium Braised Combination Beef Noodles ($28.90). The beef cuts will include Boneless Rib Cut + Tendon + Tripe + Golden Coin. The serving itself is different compared to other noodles. Here, the noodles are served in the original broth. The beef cuts are served in a separate pot with the braising sauce. There is also an empty bowl plus a small plate of sliced salted vegetables. You will also get an instruction paper on “3 Ways to enjoy our Premium Braised Beef Noodles”.

Premium Braised Combination Beef Noodles
3 Ways to enjoy our Premium Braised
 Beef Noodles Instructions
The noodles with the original broth allow us to taste the original beef noodle soup. Next, we get to try the noodle soup with braising sauce, by adding the braising sauce slowly. The strength of the braising sauce in the soup can be adjusted to our preference. For the finale, we get to try just the noodles with just the braising sauce, almost like the dry noodle version. All the cuts of the meat have the same taste and texture as during the Media Tasting, thus quality consistency checked! Yummy!!

Original Beef Noodle Soup
Premium Braised Beef
Original Beef Noodles Soup with Braised Beef
Noodle (dry) with Braised Beef and Salted Vegetables
Combination Beef Soup ($17.90 + $1 for additional egg drop). The beef cuts will include Boneless Rib Cut + Tendon + Tripe + Golden Coin. A good choice for someone on carbo restrictions. If you have tried the original soup, choose the additional egg drop to this broth. It gives the broth a nice smooth and silky texture that made us wish that there was a bowl of rice to go with it (oops, there goes the no carbo diet).

Combination Beef Soup with Egg Drop
For those who don’t fancy beef, Niu Dian also serves Black Sesame Sauce Noodle ($11.90). It uses the same noodle; however, the Black Sesame Sauce is vegetarian-friendly. It is aromatic and bold. I find the flavour is on the mild side, especially after I try the beef noodle. I suggest you mix it with the salted vegetables to pump up the flavour. However, it suits LD’s tastebuds and she even polished off the sesame sauce.

Black Sesame Sauce Noodle
Black Sesame Sauce Noodle
For the side dish, we tried the Braised Beef Tendon ($6.90). It is surprisingly good. The gelatinous-looking tendon is soft and crunchy yet mild in flavour. LD, who don’t really like to eat tendon, was walloping them with the bone marrow chilli.

Braised Beef Tendon
Braised Beef Tendon
During this visit, we also tried Chrysanthemum Milk Tea. We don’t like it as it was too sweet for our palate. The milky flavour did not bode well with the richness of the beef.

Part of Dining Area
The décor of the restaurant is inspired by its Taiwanese roots. Combination of solid wooden tables and chairs that are classy and elegant. The service is friendly, though on the minimum side as the ordering is done through the QR code on each table.

Part of Dining Area
Overall, LD and I liked Niu Dian Taiwanese Beef Noodle. They brought the flavours of Taiwan to Singapore and the best part; it is so delicious and the quality is consistent. A must-visit for beef / beef noodle lovers and also for those missed Taiwanese Beef Noodles. Moo Moo. Cheers!!

Thank you very much Protegie and Niu Dian Beef Noodles for the invitation.

Food & Drink: 9/10
Value: 8/10
Service: N/A (Tasting Invitation)
Ambiance: 7.5/10
Budget per Person: $26 - $50

Niu Dian Beef Noodles (牛店)
520 Balestier Road
#01-01/02 VIIO @ Balestier
Singapore 329853

Sun – Thu: 11.00 – 15.45; 17.30 – 21.30
Fri & Sat: 11.00 – 15.45; 17.30 – 22.00

Sunday 12 February 2023

Chocoelf – Singapore Homegrown Chocolate Brand [MEDIA INVITE]

Chocoelf is a Singapore homegrown chocolate brand with its own factory in Jurong and has been around for 18 years. It is a joint creation of a master chocolatier (Josephine) and a surgeon that loves chocolate (Joe). Over the years, Josephine has continued to hone her expertise through influences from the best chocolatiers in Swiss, French, German and Italian.

Chocoelf's Speciality Store
Chocoelf's Speciality Store
Chocoelf’s speciality chocolate café now opens in Chinatown, showcasing their local and internationally inspired creations. Chocolate enthusiasts can swing by anytime to taste the magic of their fresh chocolates and craft hot cocoa drinks.

About Chocoelf
Chocoelf Menu
One of the latest creations served at the Chocoelf’s café is Ruby Hot chocolate ($8). Ruby chocolate is the world’s fourth chocolate discovery, made from the Ruby cocoa bean. The natural pink colour comes from the cacao bean and it has a distinct taste that is completely different from the usual milk and dark chocolate.

Ruby Hot Chocolate & Classic Hot Chocolate
When we first try it, it can easily be mistaken for Strawberry Milk. However, the distinct nutty texture made a difference in the flavours. The Ruby hot chocolate is suitable for those who enjoy milky chocolate

LD and I prefer the Signature Hot Chocolate ($6.50), where you can taste the solid dark chocolate in every sip and it has a medium level of sweetness, just nice to offset the bitterness in the chocolate.

Classic Hot Chocolate & Ruby Hot Chocolate
As a homegrown chocolate brand, Chocoelf also produced chocolate barks with Singapore local flavours. Think of Kaya Toast, Nanyang Coffee and even Bak Kut Teh. Though it is very creative, the taste can be subjective. We end up settling with Asian Noodle bark and Salty Caramel ($5.50 per piece).

Chocolate Bark
Chocolate Bark
We were surprised that the combination of the Chocolate and Asian Noodles. Think of that crispy noodle snack, with a blue monster logo that we like to eat. The richness of the chocolate followed by the crunchy hazelnut plus crispy and savoury flavour of the noodle just hits the spot for us. Yummy!!

Salty Caramel & Asian Noodles
Asian Noodles
Salty Caramel is made from classic white chocolate, salted caramel and hazelnut. It is a safe combination for white chocolate lovers. It is milky sweet, we a hint of salted caramel at the end. I would like it if the salted caramel is bolder, or topped with sea salt flakes on top.

Salty Caramel
For the fresh chocolate, we choose Pure Dark, Almond and Raspberry. These bite-size artisan fresh chocolates are perfect for personal consumption or as a gift. We like the dark chocolate for its solid chocolate taste, while the raspberry delivers a nice contrasting sourness that highlights the flavour of the chocolate.

Dark Chocolate, Almond & Raspberry
Dark Chocolate
The chocolates at Chocoelf are “NO SUGAR ADDED” or use sugar-free alternatives. Chocoelf is the FIRST chocolate-maker in Singapore to be awarded HPB’s Healthier Choice Symbol.

Fresh Chocolate
Fresh Chocolate
Fresh Chocolate
Fresh Chocolate
Fresh Chocolate
Overall, we enjoy our tasting at Chocoelf speciality café and learn more about their creations. As homegrown chocolate-maker, they are inspired to incorporate local flavours into their product. Some of them we like, some we don’t. Since taste is subjective, do visit Chocoelf to try out their product.

Fresh Chocolate Boxes
Hint: Valentine is coming and it is time to sweeten up your loved ones!! Cheers!!

Thank you very much Protegie and Chocoelf Team for the invitation.

Food & Drink: 7.5/10
Value: 7.5/10
Service: N/A (Tasting Invitation)
Ambiance: 7.5/10
Budget per Person: $11 - $25, $26 - $50; 

232 South Bridge Road
Singapore 058781

T: +65 6223 3380
Mon – Thu: 10.00 – 19.30
Fri – Sun: 10.00 – 21.30

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