Sunday, January 18, 2009
Big D's Grill
One question I get asked all the time is, "What's your favourite restaurant in Singapore?"
An easy question like that should not be hard to answer especially since it's a question that I'm familiar with. However, everytime I get asked that, I fumble, I hestitate, I ponder. And I do mean every. single. time.
Thing is, I do not have a sole all-time favourite restaurant. At least not yet. Or maybe I'm just fickle. It really depends on what I'm craving for and whether that food meets my expectations at that point in time. For me, an easier question would be , "Where can you find the best damn chocolate cake?". Yes, be dish-specific, and I might have a faster answer.
The definition of good food varies for all. I always insist that what I like might not be what you like. That doesn't stop me from raving about a certain place though. When I like a restaurant/eatery/coffeeshop stall, etc, I rave about it like no tomorrow. Sometimes I think it verges on being irritatingly over-enthusiastic. So far none of my friends have complained about it, they are just amused at how excited I get when I talk about my favourite food places.
My most recent rave is Big D's Grill. The food was so remarkable that I could have died there and then and felt that I have lived life. Okay, I'm being over-dramatic there. Pardon my exaggeration but that was honestly how I felt.
The food was immensely enjoyable. I had wanted to go there for the longest time. I've heard alot about Chef Damian D'Silva and his old restaurant Soul Kitchen. His name's rather lengendary. I have never been to Soul Kitchen but I thought why not try Big D's Grill especially since it's so near where I live?
Currently located at Bedok South Road (note: it's moving to Holland Drive soon, in Feb), Big D's Grill is neatly tucked insie a wide spacious coffeeshop at Block 18. I decided to bring my family there last week because my cousin from Malaysia was visiting and had requested for some good Western food. I had put off going to Big D's for the longest time so I thought what better time than now. This way, my cousin could satisfy his fix and I could finally see what the fuss was all about.
The fuss turned out to be legit. I would say that we ate enough of the menu to give a fair judgement. The four of us (mum, sis, my cousin and myself) had five main courses. Yes we do have healthy appetites and we're certainly not ashamed of it.
Perhaps I should start with the photos, then you can savour the dishes with me (in your mind of course. ha). I hope you've had your dinner (or lunch, or breakfast - depends on what time it is when you read this!) lest you get sudden hunger pangs.
I had to do my research before checking out Big D's. Several local food blogs have mentioned the anchovy pasta and I knew I had to try it. After a forkful, I realised what had gotten them so excited. Very close to your typical aglio olio, this pasta borrows a very savoury sea salt-like flavour from the anchovies. My mother commented that it was a tad too salty for her. That I understood, because she prefers bland food (she puts so little salt when she cooks!). Cousin and I liked it so we lapped it up happily. I appreciated the spicy kick that came from the chopped chillies.
Kurobuta pork loin
Cousin loves meat so we had to get the kurobuta pork loin. His verdict? "This is real good!"
Please do check out the glistening piece of heaven:
The pork was all that we could ask for - juicy, moist, tender with none of that 'porky smell', as my cousin had noted. I liked that the centre was just slightly pink. The fats gave it a sufficient omph. It kinda melts in your mouth. Cliched, but true.
The mash and vegetables that came with it were great as well. A stellar dish.
The crabmeat linguine was perfect in every single aspect. The pasta was cooked just right and the sauce was sweet, tangy and spicy. I don't think I've ever had crabmeat linguine this good. The best part? The generous shreds of crabmeat. The photo says it all. Now go try it yourself.
Bang bang chicken
Other than the usual Western grill and pasta dishes, Big D's serves Asian specialities depending on when you visit. That day, Chef Damian recommended the Bang bang chicken, and the sambal buah keluak. We couldn't choose which one so we ordered both.
The bang bang chicken is a Sumatran dish. It tasted very much like an up-graded version of satay chicken. The sauce was thick and spicy. My family and I noticed that alot of Chef Damian's dishes leaned on the spicy side. Which was fine with us because we love our chilli.
Before the sambal buah keluak came, I have to admit that I was rather sceptical (as I usually am when eating buah keluak outside home). My friends know how much I love my Dad's buah keluak and those who have tried it (including my best friend Dot, whom my Dad always reminds me to invite whenever he cooks a batch) also agree that it's one of the best. So yes, I am bias towards my Dad's buah keluak.
But as it turns out, the one Chef Damian served was a bit different. In a good way.
Sambal buah keluak
Served with white rice and some raw onions by the side, this dish came only with the buah keluak sauce. It was also not a messy affair as I had anticipated. The flesh had been dug out and cooked with sambal and some other ingredients (we guessed it was coconut).
I know what it looks like. That black mess might not look appetising to you. But trust me on this, it's worth a try. Even if you usually hate buah keluak. His version was mildly sweet and had a very nutty taste. It was so tasty that I couldn't stop eating it with the rice.
Chef Damian came by to check on us and he suggested a sinful combination, "try eating the buah keluak with the anchovy pasta. it's sinful but really good."
So I did.
And I was glad I did.
It was good.
Really really good.
Then as the sauce diminished, I grew sadder.
I wish it didn't have to end. The sambal buah keluak had exceeded my expectations. I wouldn't say it was better than my Dad's. Don't make me compare! It's a different version and as it turns out, I quite like this version too. I might bring Dad here one day to try.
So the buah keluak was so good that I could not bare to waste the remnants.
What I did later might be disgusting to some, or plain uncouth. Whatever it is, I thought that it didn't matter. At least we weren't in some fine dining restaurant! Hey, I do know my limits.
I eventually did it. I licked the plate dry of its buah keluak sauce.
A friend who saw the photo commented that he found the lick marks disconcerting. Do you find it disconcerting? :)
I said that it is probably one of the highest compliments a chef can ever get.
Okay, I might as well do a poll here. Plate lickers, please leave a comment if you totally get where I am coming from. For those who think otherwise, please leave a comment as well. I want to know the general census on plate licking in public.
Last but not least, the bonet. Now, this was another winner. This sealed the deal. Chef Damian said it's a classic Italian dessert that's only found in Italy.
The best way to descibe it? A cross between a silky pudding and a smooth mousse. He had used bittersweet chocolate. That made the world of a difference I think. Now I understand why everyone else is crazy about Chef Damian's bonet.
Big D's Grill, you've won my vote. I'll be back to try the rest of your menu. Even though you'll be relocating to Holland Drive, I will make that trip down just so I can have another fantastic, plate-lickingly delicious meal.
Big D's Grill
Blk 18 Bedok South Road
Daily 11.30am-9.30pm, except on Thursdays: 5.30-9.30pm
*Latest update (21 Jan) - Big D's Grill has moved to Holland Drive. They are closed at the moment and will open on Wednesday, 4 February at their new location:
Block 46, Holland Drive, #01-359