Monday, February 28, 2022

Ăn Là Ghiền - Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine @ Lorong 27 Geylang (Near Aljunied MRT Station) [Singapore]

Many people would ask me for recommendations on good food in Singapore; while I can name a few, I can never match up to the Great Kon who literally maintains a list of highly-rated restaurants in his brain!

So, for the many reviews I have published in this blog, a great many came from his mental list. One of them was Ăn Là Ghiền; a Vietnamese outfit in Geylang that commands a high score of 4.7 by over 700 Google reviewers.

Nothing particularly stood out from the interior design of this non-air-conditioned eatery; I would think it would be the Vietnamese version of our local coffee shops, with cartons of beer stacked along the walls. One thing did stand out; the high concentration of Vietnamese customers, which is clear evidence of the food's authenticity! 

Scan the QR code on your table and proceed to order! If you need assistance, you may check with the service staff, who appeared to be Vietnamese. Note that they conversed way better in Mandarin.

First thing on our table; a bucket containing five bottles of Vietnamese Saigon Special beer! My issue with ageing is the growing adoration for beer when it comes to barbecuing; the combination is perfect.

Apparently I am still not up to standard; since my beer pouring skill was confirmed to be lousy with an insanely amount of froth. Not to mention that what you see above was the aftermath; some beer had already wet the floor.

Whatever the case, let the bingeing start! As I have never been to Vietnam, we left the ordering to the Great Kon, who had been to Ho Chih Min countless times for its food. 

Bún Chả Hà Nội - I know this is rice vermicelli but at first glance, I wonder if this would be the Vietnamese version of our local putu mayam. Turned out it was one of the things I always ate in Vietnamese restaurants in Singapore; the dry noodles! 

Strangely, I have never been a fan of pho. However, this is the first time I am seeing Vietnamese dry noodles being served like this and the eating method was also different.

I am supposed to dip the vermicelli into the sauce; all the while, my way was to pour the sauce into the ingredients and mix them up! With an amalgamated flavor consisting of sweetness, sourness and spiciness, this was comfort food that threw out no surprises. 

Cánh Gà Chiên Nước Mắm - supposed to be fried chicken wings with fish sauce, it felt a bit like Korean fried chicken with soy sauce, similar to 4fingers, yet not as addictive. I love the accompanying onions! 

Vú Dê Nướng - indicated as grilled mutton breast, we were baffled as they didn't have that signature gamey flavor at all and had a nice tenderness to the texture. Marination was sesame based with a refreshing fruity taste. 

Bánh Mì Thít Nương - do you know that I have never had a Vietnamese baguette in my entire life until I visited Ăn Là Ghiền? And I actually like French loaves, especially when you dip them in curry or smear them with butter and kaya! 

My first experience was great; the crust was irresistible and the roast pork, with vegetables and mayonnaise didn't fail as a filling! Guess this would motivate me to check out nice-tasting banh mi in Singapore. Heard there's a good one at Tanjong Pagar; lookout for my review! 

Bánh Xèo - the picture on the menu didn't look like the actual dish, which was a lot more appetizing in reality. This egg pancake featured a good crisp and contained bean sprouts, onions, sliced pork, prawns, and a whole bunch of vegetables that had me scratching my head. I think my mom could stir fry them for another dish. 

Anyway, we decided to use the vegetables as a wrap for the pancake instead. Flavor was bland on its own and you would need the sauce in the middle to enhance the taste.

Fresh Japanese Oysters - why were we having Japanese oysters in a Vietnamese restaurant? Because it was happy hour and each was priced at just S$1.90 each. I was eventually persuaded by Kon to order one, after his first order of the oysters turned out to be beyond expectations, with numerous claims of "wow"! 

He was right; it was huge, fresh and indeed creamy! But I am still an oyster novice and for a moment, couldn't quite handle the tabasco sauce drenching the oyster.

Măm Nướng (Nhỏ)
- preparing for the highlight of our meal, Vietnamese BBQ! I am curious as to the differences it would have from a typical Korean BBQ, Thai Mookata etc. 

Our platter of ingredients, I recognized the prawns, the mutton breasts, pork belly, chicken wings, chicken drums, baby octopi, bacon with enoki mushrooms, ladyfingers, brinjal and yes, a plate of vegetables. Vegetables seemed to be a huge component of Vietnamese cuisine! 

Time to grill and that's when the unluckiest would be smoked throughout and it was real uncomfortable! One thing we did conclude after our meal was that we seemed to be the only group having BBQ that day.

Continuing the grilling. 

My verdict for my first Vietnamese BBQ was non-conclusive. Meat marination was almost the same throughout but it didn't elicit that lip-smacking good sensation, unlike my virgin experiences with Korean and Thai BBQ, which had been raving and craving for the next few months.

We cleaned up everything, except for the vegetables.
Meat lovers, we are. 

p.s. Joke of the day - we need the great Kon to explain what the above was as we thought they were some kind of wipes and that spray was disinfectant. They are edible Vietnamese paper rolls and the bottle of water would be used to soften the sheets.  


45, Geylang Lorong 27, 
Singapore 388177
(Near Aljunied MRT Station)

As above.


Vietnamese Saigon Special beer - S$19.90 for 5
Bún Chả Hà Nội - S$9.90
Cánh Gà Chiên Nước Mắm -  S$6.90
Vú Dê Nướng -  S$14.90
Bánh Mì Thít Nương -  S$4.90
Bánh Xèo - S$9.90
Fresh Japanese Oysters - S$1.90 each
Măm Nướng (Nhỏ) - S$34.90
(No GST, No Service Charge)

Interior Elevator Art on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas (Cruise to Nowhere from Singapore)

I briefly mentioned about the numerous artworks located throughout Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas on my initial cruise back in August 2021; a collection worth US$5 million with the theme "“What Makes Life Worth Living".

One such art component was spread throughout the 10 interior elevators onboard the cruise ship. Designed by Ms Deming King Harriman, the images gave us a refreshing, anthropomorphistic take on animals. I didn't have time to take pictures with all ten of them back in 2021 but in my recent trip, I did! 

With the vain gorilla.

With the alcoholic ring tailed lemur.

With the cocky King penguin. 

With the suspicious owl.

With the sexy plains zebra.  

With the pretty African elephant.

With the funky masai giraffe.

With the fashionable canine.

With the studious, eh, llama?

Lastly, with the towering flamingo. Do look out for them if you are ever on Quantum of the Seas; let's see if you are able to take photographs with all of them! Now, that's a challenge! 

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Dinner at Main Dining Room (Silk Restaurant) @ Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas (Cruise to Nowhere 2022)

In the August 2021 cruise, I managed to dine at three out of the four main dining rooms; namely, Chic, Icon American Grill and The Grande Restaurant

For my recent February 2022 cruise , it was almost exclusively at Silk restaurant! I mean, I was curious about its interior design and was looking forward to having my meals there, but not for almost every meal at the main dining room.

With blood red walls, I was expecting it to be an oriental setting with Chinese lanterns, wooden windows with carvings of dragons and phoenixes, although it turned out to be a mix of a few cultures. 

With references from the Chinese name of the restaurant, it actually referred to the silk road, for which was in essence a network of trade routes "spanning over over 6,400 kilometers" between the east and west; hence, the setting drew from Oriental, Indian, and the Middle Eastern. 

Since I am already here, might as well review the food. As I have had 'experience' based on August 2021 cruise, I roughly looked through the menu and knew there would be a few repeats.

Cheese Platter - that's a must and counted as one of the items I absolutely missed from Royal Caribbean. Since Alex is not a cheese eater and I can't finish all the cheese by myself, I requested for later meals to remove all the cheese except for the blue cheese, which I utterly love with the date chutney! 

Crispy Coconut Shrimp - nothing spectacular about the breaded shrimps; I was more impressed with the pineapple, red onion coleslaw which tempted the tasted buds at all fronts.

Classic Fish & Chips - when you see this on the menu and Alex is with you, chances are high that he would order this. Batter wasn't crispy and there was a slight tinge of fishiness; well, the fish and chips guru felt that it was still to his liking. Who am I to argue with the guru? 

Aged Prime Rib of Beef - said to be slow roasted, I think any beef lovers would find it hard not to order this. Doneness for me; medium. 

Although it might appear a tad too raw, the reality was that it wasn't bloody and the meat was tender. Taste wise, not fantastic but will do as a protein main with a flavor enhanced by the accompanying fruit-like sauce. 

Seasonal Fruit Medley - as expected, fruits to conclude the meal. In my review on Royal Caribbean for the August 2021 cruise, I kept emphasizing my love for the fruits! Strangely, the fruits for the recent cruise were disappointing; they were not as sweet! 

Apple Blossom a la Mode - I had this previously and didn't think it was worth a re-order. But since it's Alex's first time on Royal Caribbean, he opted for it and enjoyed his dessert. To be fair, his last cruise was on Dream Cruise and I had heard from quite a few friends that the food there was atrocious!