Friday, 17 July 2015

Chill Out Grub For Lazy Weekends

We do love our long weekends, don't we?  Some might take off on a short trip to a neighbouring island, others might be at the beach, Jerome and I would be eating,  We would either be cafe-hopping, brunch-grazing, trying out new restaurants or rekindling our memories with old ones.

Long weekends are meant for chilling out.  You could spend your chill out time having an intellectual debate about the recent  bimbotic choice of a cover in Rolling Stones magazine, watch a mindless B-grade remake of a movie  about dinosaurs, or pay $70 at Universal Studios to queue for 4 hours for that 1 mega ride and spend  another 1 hour to locate the washroom after so that we could throw up our lunch.  Jerome and I however, are more practical people. We just want to eat our way through the long weekend.

Chill out weekends call for "Chill Out Grub" and this should definitely include some light but not-too-light bites and a fair measure of alcohol.

Jerome's choice of restaurants for chill out grub were the tried and tested, know-what-you-would-get-when-you-ordered-it type because while he used half his brain on weekdays for decision-making at work, he was not one to use what was left of his brain for decision-making over the long weekend. 

So he headed for Smokey's BBQ American Smokehouse & Grill where he ordered a smoked beef chilli nachos. The portion that arrived was huge. It was prepared with deep fried flour tortillas served with salsa, and topped with American cheese, sour cream and home made chilli con carne. Jerome loved the passion that the Smokehouse team had been putting into their culinary vision. They used a  blend of mesquite and hickory wood chips imported from the U.S. to recreate the smokiness of an  American Barbecue. So if you intend to get beyond the chill out grub, do try also their  U.S. Prime Beef Brisket marinated in Gordon Biersch Maibock, a beer from San Jose, California.  The meat was smoked and slow-roasted for 20 hours and smothered with barbecue sauce.

Smoked Beef Chilli Nachos At Smokey's BBQ American Smokehouse & Grill

Jerome's verdict on Smokey's Smoked Beef Chilli Nachos? - Belly Fantastic

Another restaurant well known for its chill out grub that had remained consistent in the variety and quality of its offerings is Chili's  Bar and Grill.  Among its Tex Mex favourites, Jerome swore by its Santa Fe Quesadillas as a chill out dish.  This comprised of flour tortillas filled with seared shrimp, corn and black bean salsa, American Monterey Jack cheese and a spiced Santa Zfe sauce. This was served with house-made pico de gallo and sour cream with citrus-chile rice and black beans.

Chilli Bar and Grill's Santa Fe Quesadillas

When Jerome decided that he wanted to sweeten his chill out time with some exotic cocktails, the safe bet for him was to head to the lobby lounge at Intercontinental Hotel.  There, he picked his cocktails by colour.  He loved his "girly drinks" like that.  He had the Basil Grande, created by Intercontinental Hong Kong, which was a heady concoction made from  vodka, grand marnier, maraschino liquer, cranberry juice and strawberry syrup.  He also had the Blue Devil, created by Intercontinenal Seoul, which was a lovely potion made from gin, tequila, rum, vodka, grand marnier, blue curaçao and pineapple juice.

Jerome's verdict on Chili's Santa Fe Quesadillas? - Belly OK.

Cocktails At Intercontinenal Hotel's Lobby Lounge

Jerome's verdict on Intercontinenal Hotel's cocktails? - Belly Expensive But Ok Lah

While Jerome determined his choice of chill out grub by what he had remembered ordering week after week, I was a little different.  For my choice of chill out grub, I tended to get off the beaten track and would pick more unique offerings.  

One of my top picks was El Mero Mero at CHIJMES. Even if you were not in the mood for food, their cocktails are enough to make you put on your dancing shoes and show off your salsa moves. There were no words suitable enough to describe the cocktails here apart from the word SEX.  We were mesmerized by the Latin Lover which was made from dark rum, a variety of fruits and aromatic bitters.  We flirted with the Habanero Mango Martini, which was made from habanero tequila and mango purée. We swooned over the Maracuya, a margarita made from fresh passion fruit.

Cocktails At El Mero Mero

When we were finally ready to line our tummies to salve the headiness caused  by the cocktails, the unique Mexican cuisine created under the culinary direction of executive chef Remy Lefebvre, did not disappoint.  We had the Street Food Corn Sampler that came beautifully served with organic baby corn served in a Mexican sugar skull (the representation of the Mexican festival known as Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead)  and smoked corn mushroom huitlacoche donuts with cotija-mayo dipping sauce that came in a tube.   We were particularly enamoured by their tacos.  You know how you would go to some Mexican restaurants and you felt that in spite of the variety of tacos served, they all tasted the same?  We did not feel the same at El Mero Mero. The tacos served here  were absolutely delicious. They were quite light, more refined and the ingredients were so fresh that we could taste each ingredient within a single taco.   We had the Wild Fish Tacos which consisted of fresh red snapper fillet, tempura shishito and onion rings with chipotle-mayo sauce on flour tortilla.  We also had the Duck Carnitas Tostadas which were duck carnitas on a flat crunchy tortilla with salsa verde and braised onion.

Tacos And Tostadas At El Mero Mero

My verdict on El Mero Mero's cocktails and chill out fare? - Belly Incredible.

When I wanted to go on a little adventure by visiting a place that was way off my radar for chill out grub, I would pay Le Park a visit.  This place was situated in the heart of Chinatown, on the rooftop of People's Park Complex, which was an old and  grubby building you would never think of visiting unless your elderly mother intended to visit a travel agency to book a tour to China for elderly folks, or buy a gallon of Chinese medicinal herbs to cure your "heaty" disposition.  

Le Park was accessible only after meandering through a rabbit warren of old-fashioned clothing stores and climbing up a few flights of backroom stairs that reeked of pee.  When you came to the entrance of Le Park, you would even be wondering if you had taken  the wrong turn and ended up at a dingy KTV pub.  Once you had overcome the prejudice of first appearances and stepped through Le Park's door, you would be transported to a different world of a fantastic variety of unique beers, and Asian-inspired tapas.  There was no menu for the drinks, although the variety was extensive. The different types of beers, ciders  and sodas on offer were lined up at the till.  All you needed to do was to walk up to the till, point to the bottle you might like and pay for it.   The food menu was quite limited but the portions were big enough to  fill you up as a main course for one.    

Not A Place You Would Expect A Chill Out Bar

For drinks, we had the Fucking Hell beer, so named because it came from a place called Fucking in Austria.  I might migrate there.  We also had the Woodchuck Hard Cider because it was made from Granny Smith apples and I needed a serving of fruit that day.

Wide Variety Of Beers And Ciders At Le Park

There were a few unique Asian-inspired Tapas on the menu like Thai Basil Pork With Stuffed Tau Pok,  Pepper Salt Crispy Chicken Skin and Otah Bomb,  we decided to veer on the safe side, no doubt influenced by Jerome, and ordered the Chicken Wings with Thai Chilli Sauce and Chunky Spam Fries With Truffle Mayo.  However, when we ordered the Nachos with Peri Peri Chicken which were not quite Asian-Inspired, that truly knocked our socks off.  The spiciness of that tangy Peri Peri chicken was a winner when combined with nachos, and got us to order yet another round of drinks. 

Ordinary And Less Ordinary Fare At Le Park

My verdict on Le Park's drinks and chill out grub? - Belly OK

We loved chill out grub on a lazy weekend afternoon.  It offered us a choice to go heavy on our order and turned it into a full meal or we might just want to order a few light bites, then wait and see where our day was about to take  us.  Jerome and I liked choices without the pressure. Ultimately that was what chilling out meant right?

Post Script:

When Jerome read this blogpost, he protested  about my unfair judgement of his safe options for chill out grub. He alerted me to a visit he had made to Suprette, a restaurant located at the historic Kam Leng Hotel which now looked a little like "Hotel Hot Sheets".  The location of Suprette was also pretty much off the beaten track and the food was purportedly quite unique as well. Jerome enjoyed its Five Spiced Chicken Wings which was fried to a perfect crisp and served with Kecap Manis.  He also had the Suprette Burger which was sandwiched between toasted sesame seed buns and filled with Grueye cheese and balsamic onion relish.   He also pointed me to the fact that Suprette too served Fucking Hell beer.  Bravo Jerome, for walking on the wild side from time to time. Woo Hoo....

Suprette's Nondescript Location

Suprette's Five Spiced Chicken Wings And Burger

Jerome's verdict on Suprette's Chicken Wings and Burger? - Belly Awesome

About The Writer:

This blog post was co-written by my brother Jerome and I. Although we are siblings who grew up 11 years apart, shaped by differing experiences to see the world from different perspectives, we do share a common obsession – FOOD.  We celebrate our passion for life with food.  However, our attitudes to food are quite different and the way we celebrate our love for food are also quite different.  Jerome lives to eat and hoovers everything edible that crosses his path.  As he shovels food into his mouth with that fork in his right hand, he takes photographs of what he eats, and posts pictures and notes up on Facebook with his left.  Often, his beautifully written prose about what he had eaten would be 7 paragraphs in length and would not have any punctuations in between because he had been too busy multi-tasking.  

I, on the other hand, eat to live. It is not just about my attempts to eat healthily. As I am a “cam-whore” and “social media hussy”, I spend about half an hour styling my food, taking photographs, writing notes and posting them across my social media platforms before eating them, right after the hubby has paid for the bill and is about to head out of the restaurant.  I enjoy reading all my posts about what I had eaten because I know that I had lived fully in spite of watching what I eat.  Welcome to the foodie world of the quirky Ong siblings.

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