Mamma Mia!

Mamma Mia!

These Italian eateries are sure to satisfy even the most demanding mafia dons for authentic, appetizing Italian fare. And it will definitely satisfy you.
Russell Leong
Russell Leong

While I found the truffle oil that had been liberally drizzled onto the cold somen quite overwhelming, there was no denying that this Cold Truffle Somen with Scallop Sashimi & Caviar ($16++) was exquisitely enjoyable. Especially after a meal stuffed full of mouthwatering meat in the form of Le Coq’s titillating yakitori.

The noodles were delightfully springy & bouncy, and were jus the right side of al dente. As for the sashimi scallops...oh man. The stellar scallop sashimi was stupendously sweet and sensually supple, a fine accompaniment to the noodles. The caviar was dotted around amongst the somen, and each provided a scintillatingly savoury pop when bitten into. Absolutely addictive, believe me.

Eating this plate of somen on a screaming hot day? Oh man.

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5 Senses Bistro has quietly updated & overhauled its menu since the last time I’ve been there. One of the new dishes on the menu is this White Seafood Crabmeat Pasta ($14.90++), which sees crab meat (duh), squid, shrimp & mussels stewing in a wonderful white seafood soup.

Apparently, 5 Senses takes the old adage that ‘you eat with your eyes first’ very seriously, as they serve this piquant pasta in a cute ceramic crab bowl. It is a little annoying to get all that brilliant broth out with all the tiny nooks inside the bowl, but there’s no denying that the presentation is bang-on beautiful.

5 Senses has always been a stellar soup maker even though they don’t specialise in soups, and their white seafood soup is utterly umami. It’s rich, briny, wondrously wholesome, and is undoubtedly hearty. The angel hair pasta is competently cooked to al dente perfection and absorbs that sapid soup well.

The seafood was pleasantly fresh, with the mussels tasting nice and clean and the crab with just a little hint of sweetness in it. The weird thing about squid is that it must be cooked just right, or it must be thoroughly overcooked in order to qualify as perfectly cooked squid. 5 Senses’ squid is definitely at the latter end, with the squid being soft and easy to bite into, with just a little bit of resistance and snap. The shrimp within ain’t much, but they’re fresh, slightly sweet & satisfyingly snappy.

Believe me folks, 5 Senses’ White Seafood Crabmeat Pasta is a tremendous treat for all 5 senses. No bullcrab here, only honest to goodness seafood soup.

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I’ve come to rely on Pizzaface for their reliably redolent Italian indulgences since their opening about four years ago, and their menu hasn’t changed much over the years. Except for this new addition to their simple, straightforward menu, the Granchio ($24++).

It’s pretty far from the traditional granchio pasta, which has crabmeat instead of mussels in it (cue the screaming Italian grandmothers in the background). Other than the mussels, there’s astonishingly al dente pasta and stunningly sweet cherry tomatoes tossed in olive oil and mirin. It’s a simple recipe, but quite unbreakable.

The only problem I had with this plate of pasta was that there was too much mirin added in and not burned off properly, resulting in an unpleasant pungency and an overly sweet aftertaste. Due to the excess mirin, there was a reservoir of mirin and olive oil at the bottom of the plate as well.

Nevertheless, it’s still a palatable plate of pasta. The mussels are considerably clean and fresh, with a nice sweetness tinging the naturally briny taste. The linguine was absolutely al dente, and those cherry tomatoes are excellent explosive little packages of sweetness every time you chomp down into one of them.

Even though Pizzaface’s Concourse outlet was getting absolutely slammed on the Saturday night I went, fantastic food came out of the kitchen swiftly, and the waitstaff were always absolutely amiable. With food and service this excellent, I’m truly glad that this local born F&B joint hasn’t just managed to survive and break even, but they’ve managed to live long and prosper.

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Yes, do not adjust your television sets, the risotto really is green. Unfortunately, eating it did not turn me into the Incredible Hulk, but it did contribute to my incredible bulk. And yes, it was rather redolent.

The squid was grilled to perfection and had a striking smoke scent that made the calamari just that much more enjoyable. It was bouncy and snappy, a dead giveaway of its outstanding freshness, and the taste was dead on point.

As for the green risotto, it apparently got its color from the preserved seaweed jelly thing the Japanese love, and quite a few strands of said seaweed jelly lurking around within the mellow mound of risotto. The rice itself was slightly past al dente, but it was still quite perfect, and it was undoubtedly unctuous.

The only drawback was that there was way too much olive oil in the dish. There was so much oil left at the bottom of the plate that when I was done, the USA pulled up to deliver a massive dose of freedom and democracy upon my plate.

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It's been a while since I've paid a visit to Ah Bong's Italian, so it's only right for me to sample the newest dish they have to offer. Their new Hunter's Pomodoro ($21 with fresh, house made pasta) certainly made the pilgrimage back worth it.

Coils of fettuccine are coated with a luscious, savory bolognese style tomato sauce that's unarguably loaded with T H I C C chunks of lamb meat and chorizo, and bacon bits sprinkled throughout and served piping hot to anyone fortunate enough experience this excellent plate of pasta.

It was quite gamey, so anyone who has a compelling aversion to gamey flavors would find this plate of pasta quite abhorrent. However, if you're brave enough to play the game, you would enjoy just how utterly hearty the Hunter's Pomodoro is. At its core, it's a savory, meaty and wholesomely hearty pasta. I, for one, found it a tad too salty for my tastes, but I still found myself enjoying Chris' new pasta procreation nonetheless.

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...I see food, and I eat it. Especially if it's as good as Joo Bar's rendition of a classic seafood risotto. Their seafood gochujang risotto ($24++) switches the standard seafood broth out for a luscious, thick and creamy red pepper paste cream sauce which is derived from the ubiquitous gochujang paste.

The only downer about this risotto is that the king prawn in it had lost its freshness, resulting in a mushy and pasty texture. Other than that, it was a masterclass in how to take the fusion out of confusion.

The rice itself is cooked to a perfect, astonishingly al dente doneness, resulting in tender little pearls that simply melt under the gentle pressures of your jaw. The stellar cream sauce drenched every single facet of the risotto, from the al dente rice to the pleasantly briny clams. The sauce was charmingly creamy, packed full of marvelous flavor and had the mild, peppery heat of the gochujang looming in the background to keep the sauce from becoming overbearingly rich.

Besides the one errant tiger prawn, the rest of the seafood ensemble was sufficiently fresh, and there was just so much of it! Besides the pleasantly briny clams and mussels, a whole ocean of squid was swimming within the risotto, making the $24 price of admission well worth it.

While it's the least Korean dish on the menu, the seafood gochujang risotto is definitely one of the best.

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The newest family member in Ah Bong's lineup is definitely not to be looked pasta. This delicious plate of duroc pork Genovese is a fairly accurate representation of Ah Bong's dishes: simple, yet complex, rich, and seriously mouthwatering.

The fat of the duroc pork is rendered out into the sauce that the pork has been braised in, resulting in a full-bodied, rich sauce that's overflowing with savory goodness. Better yet, that sauce swamps the al dente pasta, imparting all of its piquant goodness to the soft strands of pasta.

As for the duroc pork, every tender fiber of it is jam packed full of delightful flavors, and it damn near melts in your mouth. As a matter of fact, it's pretty much just some ridiculously peerless pulled pork. Ah Bong's signature roasted tomatoes are on station to provide a measure of acidity and sweetness to break up the dense shindig of savory flavors every now and then.

There are many reasons why I've pasta over many other Italian joints to make Ah Bong's my go to place of pasta of unrivaled value, and this is one of them.

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Foxhole Café is the first and only (at time of writing) café in the previously dead and boring neighborhood of Hougang central, finally bringing some desperately needed life to the area.

Normally lasagna isn't exactly the first thing that springs to mind when you're visiting a café, but Foxhole Café manages to pull it off decently for a relatively reasonable $14.90.

Copious amounts of minced beef are mixed into a thick, tangy and utterly heartwarming ragu (you can opt for chicken instead), which is tucked tightly underneath multiple blankets of flat pasta sheets, béchamel, and a covering of Parmesan and mozzarella cheese before the piquant pile is smothered in a final covering of the same zesty ragu. The heavy, meaty and savory beef brings the satisfaction while the zesty ragu cuts through the richness of the bovine and the luscious béchamel with its mellow acidity while being the warm, wonderful glue holding the delish dish together. The thick black truffle chips on the side certainly added even more enjoyment to this already delightful dish.

It's simply scrumptious and guaranteed to put some fire into your belly, but it's not without its flaws. The sheets of pasta were a little undercooked as they were a touch pasty in the centre, and there wasn't quite enough cheese at the top as the cheese porn was conspicuously absent when I dug my fork into the lasagna. If Foxhole café improves upon these two points, they could very well give a few Italian eateries a run for their money.

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The slow braised Angus beef cheek with truffled risotto is without a doubt, the most gut gratifying entrée on Ah Bong's recent Christmas menu. Loaded with capacious chunks of Angus beef cheeks that have been braised low and slow, roasted pumpkin, and ubiquitous shiitake mushrooms wading in a thick, tasty broth.

The risotto itself is the only element in this dish that I could find any fault with. It has a strong bite to it, being just the right side of cooked. I would've preferred it to be slightly more al dente. As for the beautiful beef cheeks, they were fantastically flawless. Rich and utterly umami, these plump beauties fell apart with picture perfect poise under the stresses of a spoon, and damn near melted away upon my palette.

The pumpkin slices added some chunkiness into the dish alongside a measure of sweetness to bring a twist to the saucy flavor fest. Meanwhile, the shiitake mushrooms brought an element of earthiness and mildly chewy resistance into the risotto. I have to commend Chris for making the taste of truffle slightly muted in this dish. Many would probably complain that the truffle wasn't strong enough, but it's a good thing as it allows each individual element of the risotto to bask in the limelight instead of hogging it all.

This is, without a doubt, the perfect dish to warm your weak, weary soul on a wintery, cold Christmas night and put some fire into your belly.

Oh who am I kidding, Singapore doesn't have winter. We have flash floods though.

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I used to think that the old chef's adage of the quality of your ingredients being the single most important facet of any dish was a bit far fetched, but Ah Bong's has made me realize that it's a lot truer than I have previously thought.

Ah Bong's well known mangalica sausage is tossed in a slightly spicy tomato based pomodoro sauce alongside some al dente tubes of penne. Then, some crunchy cubes of refreshing zucchini are tossed in before the simple, almost spartan affair is plated.

As simple as it may look and sound, it's a totally different story when eaten. The rich, hearty pomodoro carries a gentle hint of garlic and just enough heat to keep your tastebuds looking alive. The sausage brings even more flavor, but more importantly, the meatiness and the little hint of fabulous fattiness to the table, while the zucchini keeps the texture from being monotonously soft and refreshes the palate, one cube at a time.

This serving of spicy sausage pomodoro is a lot like the pastas I had in Florence and Rome, as they were all equally adept at filling and warming my belly while lifting my spirits a little.

P.S.: Of course, it also really helps when you've got a chef as competent as Chris.

#burpplebugisunder15

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A fun-gi. Yes I know that joke was an absolute banger. I'll be here all week. In all seriousness though, I really did enjoy ravishing this plate of risotto that's vegetarian friendly. Ah Bong's truffled mushroom risotto is loaded with chunky slices of shiitake mushrooms and some onions (I think), finished off with a healthy helping of Parmesan cheese grated atop. The arborio rice was on point, being firm enough to provide a bit of bite while being soft enough to prove its al dente status. And I have no idea how Chris managed to make the simple white wine sauce mixed in with truffle paste (that's right, truffles were ground into a paste before being added to this) so utterly luscious and creamy, but he did.

Personally, I thought the risotto could've been a little softer as there was more than enough bite and resistance from the chunks of shiitake to provide a contrast of textures, but it's really just a minor nitpick when you consider how darn delicious this dish is.

#burpplebugisunder15

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I've always given Ah Bong's signature Birthday pasta a pass as there was always a newer, more exciting offering on the menu. But when my tongue made first contact with the orecchiette that was coated in that redolent roasted broccoli pesto, I regretted not giving this a go much, much earlier.

The roasted broccoli pesto is earthy, hearty and bursting with fantastic flavor. It's not quite as saucy as it could be, but the thick pesto coated every orecchiette shell snugly. It's a little disappointing that there weren't any florets of broccoli in the pasta to bring a little contrast in texture and inject a little freshness into the dish, but it's hard to be overly critical when there's a generous portion of stellar, savory black pig bacon to bring more flavor to the table.

Top that off with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese and you've got a pasta worthy of any birthday boy/girl.

#burpplebugisunder15

7 Likes

Alcohol may not be good for my body, but my body is good for alcohol.

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