My Big Fat Greek Feast

My Big Fat Greek Feast

Featuring Bakalaki, ALATI, ERGON Deli + Cafe
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

Guaranteed to keep you full for hours, this features two poached eggs on a large sesame seed pretzel (known in Greek as "Koulouri") and loads of thick, creamy, cool Greek yogurt. Lashings of extra virgin olive oil, a splash of spicy oil and masses of chopped chives oomphs up the dish wonderfully.
You have to appreciate the chewiness of a good pretzel to enjoy this. And that, I definitely do.

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From the moment the order is put in, it takes about 40 mins for the Moussaka to be ready. But it is well worth the wait.
Make sure you use the big serving spoon and dig down deep to get all the layers of cheese, eggplant, potatoes, tasty beef mince and bechamel sauce of this baked casserole.
Depending on how many other items you order, or how hungry you are, I reckon this traditional Greek dish can feed between 2 and 4 people.

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While being led to our seats, I spotted a basket of crispy fried squid on nearly every table we walked by. Well, it was a crowd pleaser for good reasons.
Coated in a thin, crunchy batter, the bite-sized pieces of squid tasted fresh and were delightfully springy. A squirt of fresh lemon juice was all it needed.

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So basically, this is a big block of feta that gets pan-fried, then coated in honey and sesame seeds. Yup, it is by no means complicated but nonetheless, its salty-sweet combo tastes delish.
However, to be frank, I found it a bit heavy going after eating two chunks of the cheese as it is dense and rich. Maybe it's also because I had overdosed on pita bread and dips before that... Anyway, it was really nice of the staff to help us pack the remainder to take home.
My advice? Order this to share.

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The "Mezzedes & Orektika" section of the menu here is extensive. There're so many items in there that called out to me, but restrain was needed as I also had my eye on the Moussaka and some grilled seafood too.
Eventually, I settled on the Pita Bread (one large piece cut into quarters: $2.90++) plus two kinds of dips - the Taramosalata ($15.90++) and the Tyrokafteri ($14.90++).
The former is a snowy-white cod fish roe that isn't too different from the Japanese mentaiko. Just a little finer in texture, it's mixed with bread crumbs and lemon juice to form the spread. The Tyrokafteri is a spicy feta cheese spread that has an appetising savouriness but really isn't hot at all.
Since there're only two of us at dinner, I got the dips in smaller portions in a set of two. Bigger groups of diners can opt for the set of four. The thing is, there's so much of the dips, we actually had to get a second round of pita bread to eat them with. Let me tell you, I was heaping on the spreads like no tomorrow, and even then, there were leftovers.

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Newly opened, Bakalaki Greek Tavern was surprisingly crowded when we got there tonight. Don't be fooled by the name, this isn't some low-ceilinged dark pub but a beautiful, spacious restaurant. It's done up in lots of white and light wood, with several ceiling fans whirling above. At night, warm lighting bathes the entire place in a cosy golden glow.
We liked all the dishes we got but the Htapodi (or Grilled Octopus) was a standout. There's not one but two large tentacles per serving which makes it pretty good value. Expertly grilled, they were tender to the bite despite their hefty size and girth.

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By no means will these misshapen lumps ever win at the beauty stakes but boy oh boy, do they taste spectacular. Stretchy, squidgy and chewy on the inside, these crunchy-on-the-outside balls of deepfried yeasty Greek doughnuts are more substantial than the Loukoumades I've had at Wild Honey. Served searing hot, they taste magnificent with vanilla ice-cream and Greek honey.
Prices stated are before 10% service charge.

"Kagianas" (also known as "Strapatsada") is a traditional type of scrambled eggs with tomatoes dish that many Greeks have in the summer months. Alati's version is salty and more flavourful as thin slices of pork sausage are included. The thin, crispy fyllo/filo pastry sheets are delicious and perfect for scooping up the scramble. However, I could have done with a few more of them.
The portion is big enough for two or three people to share as a starter but do note, this dish may not always be available as it was the day's special when I was there.

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For a thoroughly Greek experience, Alati is a cool destination to hop over to. For starters, their all-white interior which mimics the look and feel of Santorini, is gorgeous and quite a sight to behold.
The food is also authentic as they pride themselves on flying in wild-caught seafood from the Aegean Sea at least thrice a week. Not only does this ensure freshness but you'll get to have seafood from that region. For eg. depending on what the fishermen catch, you can choose to sup on Lavraki (Sea Bass), Tsipoura (Sea Bream), Rofos (Dusky Grouper), Sardela (Sardines), Fagri (Red Porgi) and more. And that's just for fish alone. With cleverly controlled preparation methods, the Athens-born chef nudges whatever you order to peak enjoyment level by setting the stage for the fish's natural flavours to sing loud and clear. I chose to have our Sea Bass grilled (salt-baked is another option) and it tasted superb (see pic above).
Besides fish, there's also Kalamari (Squid), Garides (Shrimp), Astakos (Lobster) and other sea-dwellers. Our order of the Kalamari was crunchy and completely grease-free but I thought the battered coating was a tad salty (didn't stop me from whacking my share though).
I had my first taste of Greek alcohol here too, starting with the Akres Soukras, a house-pour white wine and ending with a complimentary glass of Mastika (sometimes spelled "Mastiha") from Git, one of the co-owners, who described it as "the Greek version of a limoncello". Made from the sap of the famous Mastic tree found on the island of Chios, it's high in sugar and contains about 30% alcohol - yup, strong stuff. When I brought the glass up to my lips and inhaled, a distinct pine-woody scent flooded my senses. The drink itself went down like sweet liquid fire.
After this wonderful seafood-centric dinner (our bill for 2 with alcohol came to $185 in total), I am looking forward to returning soon to find out if the meat dishes can hold their own.

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Within the crispy paper-thin fyllo pastry is a truckload of soft, snowy white feta cheese. Drizzled over this incredible parcel is a thick, orangey-gold Greek honey. I am not shy to say I was making X-rated noises while eating this.
In my opinion, a must-order appetiser if you like cheese.

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The Athens-born chef of this one month-old Greek restaurant on Amoy Street obviously knows what he is doing. In his hands, these grilled octopus tentacles turned out amazingly tender despite their size. Accompanied by housemade sourish onions and baby tomatoes, this is a fine example of how fresh seafood should be prepared: with as little intrusion of the superfluous as possible.

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Cheers to my first Greek wine: the Akres Soukras. Fresh, light and blooming with floral and fruit notes of roses, peaches, avocado and citrus, it is a real pleasure to drink and drink and drink. "Stin iyĂ¡ mas!"

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Can't cook to save my life but boy, can I eat! đŸ˜„ (I pay for all my meals unless otherwise stated)

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