Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Look what I have had! Going for Middle-Eastern @ Al Hamra

It is rare that I do a food review without my trusted Canon Digital IXUS 40, but that was what happened when I joined my ex-colleagues for lunch at Holland Village. With the same people that visited "Turkuaz" for Turkish cuisine, we visited "Al Hamra" a restaurant located opposite Turkuaz. Al Hamra serves a variety of Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine. The ambient of the restaurant is cosy and furnished in a typical Middle-Eastern style. We dined indoors instead of al fresco, to enjoy the fabulous setting of the restaurant. I leaned back slightly on the comfortable couch, an elbow resting on the silky smooth bolster and through the huge window, I watched people walking up and down Lorong Mambong on a busy Tuesday noon, while waiting for our food, which came shortly.
An a la-carte en·trée is priced at around S$22, which I had difficulty deciphering its description from its traditional name. In the end, we ended up having the set lunch. Priced at S$13.80++, from the jumble of traditional names, we understood that the set meal encompasses a soup, a 'triple-item' starter, entrée of choice (chicken or mutton minced meat kebab) and rice pudding dessert.
Please bear with my bad pictures from my humble SE K750i.

Al Hamra
Lebanese & Middle Easten Cuisine

Lentil Soup
This warm legume soup tastes very much like a watered-down version of dhal. Its light taste churns up our appetite for the starters.



Starters
This 'triple-item' starter includes a pita (flat bread), salad, a tasty fried ball (made with mashed beans) and a savoury dip (made with chick peas).




Entrée of minced chicken or mutton kebab
Unlike the Döner kebabs that I had at
Sultan Kebab, the ones at Al Hamra are Shish Kebab, which are grilled meat on skewers. The original grilled of the meat is very much retained with a tinge of herbs/spices. The meat is served with a pita and some salad. I had the mutton and the mutton does not have any strong mutton stench which some dislike. It is also tender and not too dry.


Laban (Dessert)
The Laban is a popular Middle-Eastern rice pudding dessert that can be served chilled or warm. The ingredients of a laban should include, white rice, whole milk, sugar, orange blossom water (distilled water with orange essential oils) and cinnamon powder. This dessert is really sweet and tasty, i bet it is fattening too! But it is better than most of the Indian desserts that I have had.


Verdict
I love the ambient at Al Hamra. I would anytime choose to get the set lunch instead of the a la carte menu, for the price. Thought they are Middle Eastern food and do not serve pork, they serve wines and other alcohols to cater to the mixed population that visits Holland Village, hence they are not certified 'Halal'. Though Al Hamra and their neighbour Turkuaz, serve different types of kebabs, nevertheless, both are Middle Eastern cuisine. For now, I prefer Al Hamra over Turkuaz, since the starters and desserts are better at Al Hamra.
Note that they have siesta at 2pm until evening.


Al Hamra Lebanese & Middle Eastern Cuisine
23, Lorong Mambong (Holland Village)
Singapore 277682
Tel: 6464 8488
Fax: 6466 1896
Email: enquiry@ahs.com.sg

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

MINI-GAME: PUZZLE BOBBLE

GAME INSTRUCTIONS

Click on the panel to activate game.

Press "Enter" to start. Use "Left/Right Arrow Keys" to set angle and "Spacebar" to fire.
This game has got music & sound effects when activated (cannot be turned off).









Goulasch and Seafood Aglio Olio. Back at "BENNY"!

After having the Cheesy Cordon Bleu at "Benny... Traditional Great Tastes™", I could not stop thinking about the other European cuisine served there, hence I decide to return on the very next day! I had the Beef Goulasch and Aglio Olio with Seafood.


Cheesy Pork Cordon Bleu. Click here to learn more about it.


Aglio Olio with Seafood

S$5.20
"Aglio Olio" means Garlic and Olive Oil. This spaghetti is stir-fried with garlic and olive oil, with green capsicums, carrots, mushrooms (not champignons) and seafood (squid rings, mussel and shrimps). The shrimps are fresh and succulent. I will usually prefer my pasta with cream, eg. Carbonara, but this Aglio Olio at "Benny" changed my opinion.



Beef Goulasch
S$5.00
The Beef Goulasch can either go with spaghetti (S$4.80) or apple salad and mashed potato. I chose the latter. I was a bit disappointed by portion which looked rather small. The beef chunks are stir-fried in a tomato basil sauce with garlic and champignons. I have had Goulasch before, the beef should be stewed, hence, the stir-fried beef chunks are rather tough.




Verdict

I would definitely recommend "Benny... Traditional Great Taste™" to anyone who loves to try something different, a taste of European cuisine, at cheap prices of less than S$6 per dish. The Aglio Olio is definitely much better than what you can get at budget pasta outlets. I will definitely prefer "Benny" for better tastes than the expensive "Pastamania". I was rather disappointed by the Beef Goulasch though, but I know that making a good beef goulasch would need a lot of time to stew the meat, something that I do not expect from "Benny", where the food is served swiftly in less than ten minutes! Make sure you visit "Benny... Traditional Great Taste™" today!

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粥 with 生鱼片 at Amoy Street and Mango Sago at People's Park Centre

I just had 粥 with 生鱼片 at Maxwell Road Market last weekend, and was not too impressed by it. So Laurens insisted that I visit Amoy Street Hawker Centre, and try the food from "Hai Kee Famous Porridge".

"Hai Kee Famous Porridge"
#01-45
Amoy Street Hawker Centre
I have visited Amoy Street Hawker Centre for the famous Piao Ji Fish Soup, cheap Lor Mee and tasty Ondeh-ondeh. There are more hawker food that impressed many working in the region. According to my buddy, the "Hai Kee Famous Porridge" serves excellent 粥 (porridge) and 生鱼片 (raw fish slices ala sashimi), so I decided to give it a shot. I had the Century Egg Porridge (皮蛋粥) and share a platter of 生鱼片 with Laurens.


皮蛋粥
(Century Egg Porridge)
S$3.00

I love century egg porridge. I never fail to order a bowl when I have dim sum at places such as NETUNE (Marine Parade Hawker Centre) and Swee Choon (Jalan Besar). I decided to try the century egg porridge instead of having the regular pork porridge. I was immediately impressed at first look. The different porridge looks different, with mine having a yellow tinge compared to the white chicken porridge. In the porridge, there are huge chunks of century egg, unlike other places that have ''micro' bits. The porridge is then topped with you tiao (fried dough sticks) slices, fried shallots, spring onion and some sauce that gave the porridge its taste. The stall owner gave us more you tiao on the sides.

生鱼片
Raw Fish Slices (Sashimi)
S$4.00
The 生鱼片 comes topped with fried shallots, parsley, shredded ginger and chopped red chilli, served in a sesame oil-soy sauce. The lime are not to kill any fishy taste/smell, because there is none! The lime is to add a tangy taste to the fresh fish slices. The juicy tender 生鱼片 is really fantastic and tasty! I only hope that the fish slices are thicker, like sashimi.



Verdict
The "Hai Kee Famous Porridge" definitely serves 粥 with 生鱼片 that are worthy of their name. Though there some times when long queues do not define good food, the 粥 with 生鱼片 at "Hai Kee Famous Porridge" definitely deserves a 'double thumbs up' from me! If you have the "Hai Kee Famous Porridge", you will probably not find any better-tasting porridge!


"Dessert Hut"
#02-48/58
People's Park Centre
From the overhead bridge linking Chinatown Point to People's Park Centre, the door on the side opens up the a corner of the second level of People's Park Centre, where you find lots of people sitting in small shop spaces having a bowl of traditional Chinese dessert. They serve a variety of hot and cold desserts, such as tau suan, yam paste, glutinous rice paste, ah balling, almond jelly and mango sago. There are two dessert shops competiting with each other, but I decided to try the one with bigger shop space!
Mango Sago
S$2.50
The dessert is made of real mango puree with shaved ice and 'tadpoles' made with agar-agar (gelatin). The dessert is not overly sweet and the consistency is not too watery. Slurping the chilled thick mango sago dessert on a hot day is the definitely heavenly!

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

MINI-GAME: TETRIS

GAME INSTRUCTIONS

Click on the panel to activate game.

Use "Left/Right Arrow Keys" to move block and "Up Arrow Key" to rotate block.
WARNING: This game has got sound effects when activated (cannot be turned off).

Look what I have had! Cordon Bleu at BENNY, budget and good!

Having had Cordon Bleu at in Austria, I thought that it is not easy to find Austrian food in Singapore except at "Wiener Kaffeehaus", until I came across "Benny" at Maxwell Road Market. "Benny" is part of the "Initium Services Pte Ltd", a company that help aspiring food entrepreneurs kick-start their businesses. From their website, we can see that "Benny" is highly recommended by many reviewers such as Channel U and the local papers. So is "Benny" really that good? I decided to give it a shot!

For your reference, this is the Cordon Bleu from "Wiener Kaffeehaus".

"Benny...Traditional Great Tastes™"
#01-16
Maxwell Market
South Bridge Road
At "Benny", there is no fancy menu but a huge yellow banner at the store front shows what they have at a glance. They serve a small Cordon Bleu, Goulasch, Aglio Olio and desserts. From the outlook of the stall, it does not look like it is going to be intensive cooking work involved. The well-organized clean stall would easily earn an "A" rating for cleanliness. I had questioned how long is the chef going to take to prepare a dish, since it is self-served.
The chef took a breaded patty from the refrigerator and put it into the deep-fryer, while he heated a cupcake-like mashed potato into the microwave oven. While waiting for the food to cook, he dished out the apple salad onto the plate. In less than 8 minutes, my order is served.
Cordon Bleu
S$5.20

The not-too-big thick Cordon Bleu patty is topped with a creamy yellow sauce (I believe is sour cream) and garlic champignons.
The mashed potato is not too wet and nicely mashed, but except the bit of garlic-flavoured oil and tangy tomato sauce on top, the mashed potato got rather dry when I was halfway through.
Nothing too fantastic to comment about the salad with apple chunks.

The patty is rather solid, but not too tough for the flimsy plastic knife. The minute the knife sank into the patty, wet cheese oozed out from within and maintained its viscosity until I finish. The compact and solid patty retained its organized layers of pork and crust at all times without messing up the plate. The meat is slightly tough but not too much for those with dentures or weak teeth. I dissected the patty and examined the layers and realised that there are three layers of meat. The ham seemed to be missing. The minute I took a first bite on a chunk of the patty, a distinct taste immediately caught my attention. It did not take me long discover that they have used the bottled dried "mixed herbs" to give it the distinct taste. I know that because I use a lot of that. The taste of the "mixed herbs" was so strong that it overpowered the natural taste of the pork and cheese. It would be better, if they have used lesser of the "mixed herbs" and retain more of the original taste of the segments of the Cordon Bleu.


Verdict

Despite the significant differences in the taste of the Cordon Bleu at "Benny" against "Wiener Kaffeehaus", at prices less than S$10, it is considered cheap and definitely worth it! I am impressed by the deceiving small-looking portion which is very filling. I could not even finish my mashed potato. I will definitely return to try their goulasch and pasta. Of course, a review will be done for the benefit of my faithful readers. ;)

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

MINI-GAME: PACMAN

GAME INSTRUCTIONS

Click on the panel to activate game.
Use "Arrow Keys" to navigate PACMAN.
WARNING: This game has got sound effects when activated.










Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"SHOOTER" Review

SHOOTER
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Michael Pena, Danny Glover, Kate Mara, Elias Koteas
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua

In "SHOOTER", Mark Wahlberg plays Bob Lee Swagger, a former USMC (U.S. Marine Corps) Sniper who has the skill to take down a helicopter with an M40 sniper rifle. Getting intertwined in a political struggle, Swagger becomes a national fugitive. A twist of fate, made FBI agent Nick Memphis (played by Michael Pea) a comrade. Together, they worked hard and brought the conspiracy to light, only to discover that such high profile conspiracy simply slips through the grips of jurisdiction. The only way to end this is to put a bullet into the head.

If there is one action movie to get you hooked on collecting more of the 1/6th action figures or the Hot Toys Modern Firearms Collection II (PMC Selection), then "SHOOTER" is the one. In this movie, you will get to see scenes that bring the viewers closer to a sniper in action and how a sniper rifles are customized to be camouflaged. The is one damn hell of a good movie! I really never regretted renting it, might as well get the DVD! This movie was rated "R" in the States, but the platters that made it to our local stores, are probably deprived of many scenes, which I believe that I could see more of the gorgeous Sarah Fenn (played by Kate Mara)
All rights reserved to Paramount Pictures.

[MONEY] myPP Investments

myPP Investments
"let's play stocks"
Date: 24th October 2007

Client ID: fio

Today's Trade Actions:
  1. Captial added S$20,000
  2. Buy Genting International , 1 lot (0.685)
Today's Status:
  • Capital balance: S$19,315
  • Stocks owned:
    Genting International, 1 lot (0.685)
Client ID: mybearbrick
Today's action:

  1. Capital added S$20,000
  2. Buy SembCorp Marine Limited, 1 lot (4.740)

Today's Status:

  • Capital balance: S$15,260
  • Stocks owned:
    SembCorp Marine Limited, 1 lot (4.740)

New Hot Toys 1/6th PMC, CIA and Modern Weapons Collection III

In the upcoming 1/6th military action figures from Hot Toys, which could possibly be part of my humble 1/6th collection, are the PMC OPERATOR - PRIVATE
MILITARY CONTRACTOR 07 ver.
and THE CIA COMMANDOS - GROUP
OF OPERATIONS IN IRAQ (GOI)
. Also coming is the Modern Firearms Collections III, which I have an M4A1 from series II.

PMC OPERATOR - PRIVATE
MILITARY CONTRACTOR 07 ver.

The PMC Operator has got a nicely-crafted headsculpt with realistic beard details. I love that AKM. However, I possibly would get it from the upcoming "Modern Firearms Collection III: PMC SELECTION" (see below). The MICH headset is rather cool as well. Most importantly, the weathered demin jean is too realistic.



THE CIA COMMANDOS - GROUP
OF OPERATIONS IN IRAQ (GOI)

One damn good reason beckoning me to get this is the realistic SLR, which I can possibly custom it to be a "Nikon"! Another reason is the handsome looking face, which I can't put a name to. It is obvious that the recent HT releases are moving towards combining urban with desert camouflage outfits, which are too cool!



Modern Firearms Collection III: PMC SELECTION
This series marked as "PMC Selection", I believe to be intended for the Private Military Contractor. Even a fool can tell from the "PMC Operator" headsculpt printed on the box.
As usual, there are nine weapons:
1. AKM w/ Adjustable Amplifier Flash Hider
2. AKM w/ Drum Mag
3. AKM w/ Folding Grip
4. M4 w/ ARFX-E Stock
5. M4 w/ Duostock
6. M14 SOCOM II
7 .M14 SOCOM w/ Silencer
8. DRAGUNOR SVD
9. M40 w/ Silencer
I would possibly pass on the M4 if not for the interesting butt stocks (ARFX-E stock and Duostock), but I risk having too many M4s. I intend to acquire this series as a set, since I WANT the AKMs and do not have any M40, M14 and Dragunor sniper rifles, however, I do not require the M14 SOCOM II. If anyone would like to sub it from me, I would be glad!
Image source: HOT TOYS

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