I know a lot of friends who run marathons. Me, I go for marathons too, but of another kind - eating! The Yummilicious Feast saw 14 bloggers running through eight eateries at Icon Village (12 Gopeng Street) in four hours. This was the first in Omy.sg's series of three feasts. I picked Icon Village because I had not been there prior to this. Well, join me as we go through the things we ate, and see if we should have collapsed.
1. KUMO Japanese Kaiseki Restaurant
#01-47/58 Icon Village; Tel: 6225-8433
Sampler Sushi (from left to right):
- Tai (sea bream) aburi-style (blowtorched)
- Lightly poached Crystal Bay Prawn from Australia
- Hamo (pike eel) with special ginger-miso-perilla sauce. Hamo is a summer delicacy in Kansai. It is a saltwater eel, so it has no muddy taste that needs to be hidden under heavy marinades. We were told it's very hard to prepare, as there are many bones in the eel that only a skilled chef can break down into very tiny pieces.
- Octopus (long-legged variety that's in season for summer) with dollop of ume
- Hokkaido Uni
Most of the seafood is from Japan, but they do accommodate requests from customers to serve ingredients from elsewhere. I think the sushi may have waited a little too long for us (we started late), so the rice was a tad dry, as was the tai and prawn. But interesting choices, nonetheless.
Chef Hidehashi Nobuaki trained with the legendary Kitcho group of restaurants in Japan. He is also licensed to serve fugu.
Kumo means "cloud" in Japanese, and the restaurant is inspired by nature's ephemeral beauty and aims to constantly change with new tastes. It's part of Kitchen Language, the F&B arm of Far East Organisation. The next restaurant, SALTA, is also part of this group.
2. SALTA Argentine Parrilla and Grocer
#01-46/56/57 Icon Village; Tel: 6225-8433
SALTA is the first Argentinian restaurant and grocer in Singapore. It's named after a city in Argentina that's famous for its food, especially beef. I hear "Salta" all the time at home - Dora the Explorer yelling "SALTA!" (Spanish for jump). So I guess it doubles up as jumping for joy, if you're a carnivore like me.
Mixed Grill Platter: Beef Sirloin, Beef Skirt, Chicken Thigh, Black Hog Pork Loin, Pork Sausage. With grilled vegetables and chimichurri sauces. The sausage and sirloin were good, but the skirt is a bit tough (as beef skirt typically is). The chicken came with extra crispy skin (big plus)!
The meats are only seasoned with salt, to best showcase the natural flavours of the meat. If you'd like extra dimensions to taste, try the meat with the three sauces served in chimichurri bowls - paprika chimichurri, salsa verde and salsa criolla.
There is a five-metre long parilla, or charcoal fired grill, that was imported from Argentina, costing US$25,000. The Asador (grill chef) controls the heat by moving the grill closer or further from the coals.
The place was packed on a Saturday, which is unusual for a CBD location. I found out why. All-you-can-eat for S$35++.
3. Pizzeria L'Operetta
#01-78 to 81 Icon Village; Tel: 6222-9487
Don't be fooled by its casual exterior. Pizza L'Operetta is very serious about its pizzas. The vivacious owner Katsumi Mizutani wanted to bring the real taste of Neapolitan pizza to Singapore. He installed a 2,300kg traditional wood-fired oven from Naples, made with volcanic rocks of Mount Vesuvius itself.
The pizza dough is specially fermented for 24 hours, to give it that special soft and chewy quality. The pizzas are baked at 500 degrees Celsius for about 70 seconds.
We had the Pizza Bismarck - named after the German chancellor. Apparently he loved eggs, so the egg on top is the only connection to the pizza. Tomato, ham, mozzarella and mushrooms make up the other ingredients.
I have to say the pizza crust is quite nice. Soft and gently chewy, just lightly crisp on the surface. It only hit me later that it's very much like a naan. They do have a nice variety of pizzas, including pizza bianca (white pizza). Prices range from S$22 to S$28.
4. Ramen Culture
#01-82/83; Tel: 6222-5110
After sushi, grilled meats, and pizza, we come to...ramen!
Hotstone Tsuke-men. The soup base or dipping sauce is a thick, highly salty, spicy soybean-paste concoction. But not like spicy miso. I love salty ramen but this was a little on the overpowering side.
Oxtail Ramen. The broth is pleasant enough, but it just doesn't quite taste Japanese. In fact, neither did the tsuke-men. The noodles were also a bit too soft for my liking. Barikata (extra firm) or nothing!
5. Muffet's Room
#01-16; Tel: 6410-9353
Muffet's Room is a small and spartan little place with interesting chalk art and vintage posters. There's barely space for 20 people, actually, as they originally aimed to be a takeaway joint. However, not many Singaporeans take to takeaways, so they saw a steady rise in walk-in diners instead.
The best item here - beer-battered fish and chips! The batter is crisp perfection and the Cream Dory within is nice, thick and moist. The owners were inspired by the fish and chip shops they visited in Perth, and decided to replicate one here. Prices are friendly too - S$8.90 for small portion, S$10.90 for large portion. I'll be back for this.
To cater to the walk in customers, they've added more items to the menu, like pastas, sandwiches, juices, milkshakes and Belgian waffles. We tried several pastas - the Lemon Fish, Tomato Salmon and Chicken Italia. All quite thick and creamy.
6. Whips Cupcakes
#01-85; Tel: 6222-5432
The best red velvet mini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting I have ever had! OK, not that I've had that many, but these surely win by a country mile!
Whips is a gourmet cupcake store (following the trend earlier in the U.S.) conceptualised by three 20-year old girls. They also cater for parties and special occasions like weddings and baby showers. We saw some custom cupcakes they did for Yahoo, Google and some other companies too. Cupcakes are about S$3.50 each, and mini cupcakes S$1 each.
7. Pâtisserie Glacé
#01-33/34, Tel: 6400-0247
Most dessert aficionados are well-acquainted with Pâtisserie Glacé. Chef Tomoko Higashiguchi started it to bring fine Japanese cakes and pastries to Singapore. She believes in using best ingredients without preservatives. and making baked creations a mother would serve her child.
Strawberry Shortcake (top left): a popular choice
Low-fat Cheese Tart (bottom left): we liked this a lot
Earl Grey Tiramisu (top right): it's nice, but the bergamot is pretty strong in this
Rin Rin Ice Cheese Tarts, various flavours (bottom right): a signature item. The coldness makes it refreshing, but also dense and heavy. Still, quite interesting.
So now I have seen the famous Pâtisserie Glacé. It's a lot smaller than I thought - just a display counter, no sit-down or walk-in areas. But there's magic happening in the bakery just behind.
8. Frost Bites
#01-29; Tel: 6225-0585
Frost Bites is a casual little joint serving homemade frozen yoghurt. They usually have two flavours - the regular milky kind, and a flavoured one that varies according to the day. I got a mixed combination, and found I liked the Yakult grape one more than the regular.
The fro-yo and toppings are sure to please, but the sweetest thing from Frost Bites is the girl behind the counter. She was so cheery and friendly, she made everyone feel very welcome and at home.
So that's it for the feast. Actually we paced ourselves and shared most of the dishes, so we didn't overeat. I saw some other interesting shops in Icon Village too, including a French gourmet food retailer.
If you haven't been to Icon Village, it's worth a look. Meanwhile, check out the promotions they have going on. Also, if you are among the first 100 visitors to "check in" to Icon Village on Foursquare or Facebook Places and leave a comment, you may be able to redeem a S$10 cash voucher instantly. See their info counter.
Thanks, Omy.sg, for organising this crazy event. Apart from the food, I made some new friends too. We are going to have our own little makan marathons in future!