Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sunday Champagne Brunch Buffet at Edge, Pan Pacific Singapore

Edge at Pan Pacific Singapore really shines with some of the best buffets in town. The variety is mind-boggling, and the value for money noteworthy given some of the premium ingredients offered. They launched an All-New Theatrical Sunday Champagne Brunch some time ago, with seven live food theatres and 16 stations, and a live band. It is also one of the longest Sunday brunches lasting four hours from noon to 4pm. Eat til you really drop!

It's almost impossible to try everything, but here are some highlights:

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Digital Version of Michelin Guide Singapore Free Online



The digital version of the Michelin guide Singapore 2016 https://guide.michelin.sg/en/2016-guide is now live! You can search the database of the full selection of 200 restaurants, eateries and local hawker favourites. This includes the 137 notable eateries, in addition to the Michelin Starred restaurants and Bib Gourmand restaurants announced the week before.

With hawker centres being an integral part of Singapore’s food culture, the first edition of MICHELIN guide Singapore also features 62 hawker and street food establishments.

Reservations for several of the listed restaurants in the MICHELIN guide Singapore can be made via https://guide.michelin.sg/en/2016-guide.

The Michelin guide Singapore is also available as an App on the iOS platform (Android one akan datang). The Michelin SG app carries the same listings as the online guide, so you can check listings on the go.

Personally, even though I don't agree with some of the stars and bibs, I'm curious about the 137 notable eateries, so I will be checking this out.

UPDATE: 

I got the app! But it wasn't straightforward.

It doesn't turn up in the "search" inside App Store. I had to Google it and then get it via the link in a browser.

And then when I tried to register an account, it said "invalid URL"...well, it turns out I had a space after my username Camemberu (my iPhone put it in when I selected it off the shortcuts), so it wouldn't take. When I deleted that space, it was ok.

Nice app otherwise, with a clean interface and easy-to-use search filters.


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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Singapore Garden Festival 2016 at Gardens by the Bay

The Singapore Garden Festival (SGF) this year is huge! It's happening from 23 – 31 July 2016 at Gardens by the Bay. The nine-day event is the largest show to-date, spanning 9.7 hectares across The Meadow, Flower Dome and Bayfront Plaza. There's so much to see that it might take the whole day. Bring comfy walking shoes, sunblock, and lots of water!

Here are some of the highlights you should not miss:

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

20 things to do in Bangkok (plus Banyan Tree hotel package)


Would you agree with this list of 20 things not to miss in Bangkok? Well, some look like first-timer favourites although there are a few I have not heard of before. But I'm not familiar with Bangkok, having visited less than three times in my entire life (I guess when something is nearby, you explore it even less). Still it is one of Southeast Asia’s most enigmatic cities, embracing both the traditional and modern in one destination.

This list is shared by the Banyan Tree Bangkok - the city's only five-star all-suite hotel - as part of their 20th anniversary celebrations. They also offer an exclusive holiday package that will run until 22nd December, inclusive of limousine transfers, complimentary cocktails, spa discounts and more (see end of post for details). I hear the spa is legendary; I hope I can go someday!




History lessons

1.       Start with a visit to The Grand Palace, undoubtedly one of the city’s most famous landmarks.

2.       The expansive complex not only includes the former residence of the Thai monarch, but is also home to Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the revered Emerald Buddha.

3.       The Golden Mountain (“Phu Khao Thong”) is also well worth a visit. As one of the tallest structures in Bangkok, it allows for some of the most stunning panoramic views of the city.


Culture Vultures

4.       The Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall brings to life the story of Thailand’s rich history through a combination of multimedia and interactive displays.

5.       Jim Thompson’s house and its lovely garden-enclosed compound featuring an arts centre, souvenir boutique, and traditional teak houses reflective of unique Thai architecture.

6.       Thai Cooking Classes have also become a must. Learn to prepare popular dishes such as Tom Yum Goong, Som Tum and Gaend Kiew Whan Gai with lessons conducted at Banyan Tree Bangkok.




Shop till you drop

7.       Siam Square shopping district is the central shopping area for both locals and travellers alike. Here you will find everything, from renowned high-end brands to boutiques of independent traders.

8.       For a distinctive shopping experience, explore the Train Night Market Ratchada - Talad Nud Rod Fai. It sets itself apart from other bazaars by touting only the hippest and trendiest wares at competitive prices.

9.       Or stick to the tried and tested route with a visit to the famous Chatuchak weekend market boasting more than 8,000 market stalls.


Foodie’s paradise

10.    Travellers will find no shortage of inexpensive and delightful Thai foods along the streets of Bangkok. One of the most iconic street food locations is Chinatown - Yaowarat which offers a wide array of authentic Thai hawker fare.

11.    For a unique gastronomic experience, head to Apsara Cruise (first photo above), a vintage-style rice barge that sails along the majestic Chao Praya. Aboard the vessel, you will be treated to an exclusive selection of Royal Thai cuisine, courtesy of Banyan Tree Bangkok.

12.    Saphan Leung - Yellow Bridge is also famous for its Anaharn Tham Suan (made-to-order) stalls selling noodle and seafood dishes.

13.    Let Vertigo and Moon Bar, located on the 61st floor of Banyan tree Bangkok, awe you with a unique alfresco dining experience and stunning panoramic views of the urban landscape.


Live like a local

14.    Immerse yourself in the action of the most popular sports in Thailand -Kickboxing or Muay Thai, by catching a live match or two in any of the stadiums littered throughout the country.

15.    Take a Longtail Boat Canal Klong Tour and explore the ancient waterways of Bangkok and the communities that still live along them.

16.    When day turns into night, ride a Tuk-Tuk or Sam Lor (three-wheeled taxis) to explore the buzzing metropolis.


Rejuvenate

17.    Treat yourself to a revitalising massage at Banyan Tree Spa (photo on the right), one of the largest and most luxurious spas in Bangkok.

18.    Take a stroll around Lumpini Park, a green oasis in the middle of the city.

19.    Visit Baan Silapin - Artist’s House, a two-hundred-year old dwelling that serves as a great escape from the hustle and bustle.

20.    Book with Banyan Tree Bangkok and enjoy the lavish offerings of the 20th Anniversary Celebrations Package.


20th Anniversary Celebrations Package

The 20th Anniversary Celebrations Package includes a stay in the Serenity Club category, where guests will be able to enjoy a multitude of benefits such as Club Lounge access, complimentary breakfast buffet, free-flow refreshments, a stylish limousine airport transfer, 30% off additional spa treatments and complimentary cocktail at Bangkok’s newest sky-high cosmopolitan bar, Vertigo TOO. Guests can also unwind with an exclusive spa treatment, a 90-minute massage session for 2 when booking directly with Banyan Tree Bangkok.

*Terms & Conditions:

·          Rates for Serenity Club starts from THB 8,896++ and rates for One-Bedroom Suite starts from THB 9,896++.

·          This offer is valid for stays from 01 March 2016 until 22 December 2016.

·          A minimum stay of 2 consecutive nights is required for this offer.

·          This offer cannot be combined with other promotions and gift certificates.

·          Other conditions may apply, please contact hotel reservation for further information.

·          Quote EDM Package for 90-minute message session for 2

·          Guests can enjoy 30% off additional spa treatments but this offer excludes beauty treatments


BANYAN TREE BANGKOK
21/100 South Sathon Road
Sathon
Bangkok 10120, Thailand
Tel: +66 (0) 2679 1200
Email: bangkok@banyantree.com



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Monday, July 25, 2016

Spinacas: Healthy Salads and Bento Delivery in Singapore


One of my most popular posts is the "Five Local Food Delivery Services in Singapore You Probably Didn't Know About" and I think it speaks to the increasing way we are buying dinners instead of cooking it ourselves. I totally understand - cooking is wonderful but only if you have the time (and proclivity for washing up) and money. Yes, groceries are not cheap.

But it would be great to eat healthy, so I'm always happy to find a healthy food delivery option. Spinacas (meaning "spinach" in Spanish) which I previously thought was just about salads, actually has some hearty meals with low carb or low GI sides.

Besides generously portioned salads, there are bentos that cater to people who prefer a meal with meat and rice along with vegetables: each bento includes 150g meats, 150g savoury brown rice cooked in an onion-chicken stock, and 80g of vegetable side and bento toppings.




Recently I tried three orders:

Pulled Pork Bento (S$11)
Pork shoulder slow-cooked in cinnamon meat stock until meltingly tender then hand-pulled to juicy perfection. Comes with savoury brown rice, avocado guacamole and a side of fresh pineapple-tomato salsa

The brown rice is cooked quite soft, with a savoury hit that makes it good enough to eat on its own. I liked the pulled pork, but I do wish it had more of that yummy sauce (well, I guess we are saving calories). The salsa is surprisingly nice. Mine had apple slices instead of guac.



Shiraz Braised Beef Cheeks Salad (S$17)
Premium beef cheeks (150g) are slow-braised with ruby red Shiraz, baby carrots and celery to make them extra tender and flavour packed. All served on a bed of fresh green baby spinach and romaine lettuce, and complemented with 7 healthy toppings.

I have to say I enjoyed the huge and hearty green salad with all its toppings more than the super tender beef cheeks. The red wine notes are pretty strong (for me), so I guess wine lovers will adore this.



Meat Lover Honey Soy Chicken Salad (S$9, 11)
Chicken cubes marinated with a warm Cantonese ginger-sesame dressing and sautéed with soy.

The chicken is pretty intense, flavourwise, but a tad too sweet for me. It is a pretty big portion and might overwhelm the little salad, but you sure won't go hungry after this. For both salads, I like that the produce is so fresh.


Sides: Cauliflower Mash (S$2) and Vegetarian Spiced Chickpea Patties (S$3) 
Don't miss the sides. I loved the cauliflower mash (my favourite item!) and thought the spiced high-protein chickpea patty was interesting (but those who don't like Middle Eastern flavours probably won't take to it).



Spinacas delivers to many locations islandwide - see the link for areas and delivery charges (S$4-6 depending on postal code).

Minimum delivery order is S$30, and it's best to order 24 hours in advance.




Many thanks to Spinacas for the experience.
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Friday, July 22, 2016

Singapore Michelin Guide 2016 aka "Err...That Restaurant Got A Star?"



If you thought the Bib Gourmand awards had a few funny names in it...well, wait til you see the full Michelin star list. The guide has always had its bashers and critics but it's still the most iconic and coveted rating for restaurants. So to see this list for Singapore...

I think Lennardy put it well here in his post:
https://lennardy.com/2016/07/22/the-michelin-guide-singapore-edition/

Yes, many of these restaurants deserve the star(s). Seven out of 10 of my predictions came true, and those are crowd favourites anyone can come up with. But as Lennardy put it, "there are some very questionable restaurants on the list."

3 Michelin stars 

Joël Robuchon Restaurant (Resorts World Sentosa)

2 Michelin stars

Restaurant Andre (Bukit Pasoh Road)
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (Resorts World Sentosa)
Les Amis (Shaw Centre)
Odette (National Gallery Singapore)
Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro (Mandarin Orchard Singapore)
Shoukouwa (One Fullerton)


1 Michelin star

Alma by Juan Amador (Goodwood Park Hotel)
The Kitchen at Bacchanalia (Hong Kong Street)
Beni (Mandarin Gallery)
Candlenut (New Bridge Road)
Corner House (Botanic Gardens)
Crystal Jade Golden Palace (Paragon Shopping Centre)
CUT (Marina Bay Sands)
Forest (Resorts World Sentosa)
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodles (Crawford Lane)
HK Soya Sauce Chicken Rice Noodles (Chinatown Food Complex)
JAAN (Swissotel the Stamford)
Lei Garden (CHIJMES)
OSIA (Resorts World Sentosa)
Putien Restaurant (Kitchener Road)
Rhubarb Le Restaurant (Duxton Hill)
Shinji by Kanesaka (Raffles Hotel)
Shinji by Kanesaka (St Regis Hotel)
Summer Pavilion (Ritz-Carlton, The Millenia Singapore)
Sushi Ichi (Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel)
Terra Tokyo-Italian (Tras Street)
The Song of India (Scotts Road)
Waku Ghin (Marina Bay Sands)




I don't know. I'm naive. Maybe when they get more local reviewers and do not take sponsorships (especially those that may involve a conflict of interest), we can have a more impartial list. And do it before all credibility is lost. Wait, oh, it's too late?


The beef fillet Rossini style came shielded in this dramatic glass dome



Meanwhile, I'll go back to binge-watching Suits and wondering what the **** stormtroopers are doing in the Maldives ocean. Noooooooo!!! This is a much bigger travesty!








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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What to Eat at Japan Food Town at Wisma Atria, Orchard Road


Japan Food Town is the next foodie wonderland with 20,075 sq ft dedicated to Japanese food. It may be located next to Food Republic at Wisma Atria, but make no mistake - this food hall is NOT a food court. It features 16 shops, each a specialist in particular area of Japanese cuisine.

The prices are fairly reasonable as the ingredients are shipped via Naha airport in Okinawa Prefecture, which is the one closest to Singapore. They are even able to bring in premium ingredients like Matsuzaka Beef, Kinme-mai Rice, and Kindai Maguro to Singapore.

However, not all shops are open yet; four more will start by end July or August.

So here is a quick look at what's available for now:

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Chinatown Food Street 50 Cent Fest: Nostalgic Food At Prices from the Past!


It's the 50 Cent Fest! No, I'm not talking about no gangsta rap. Chinatown Food Street (7 Smith Street) is going to be transformed into a 1950s/1960s pasar come 30-31 July, with prices that match. Yes, come grab your favourite nostalgic dishes for just 50 cents.

There are more than 30 specially-curated hawker dishes, including rare or long lost dishes like Kok Kok Mee, UFOs, Ice Ball and Rickshaw Noodles. More than half of these dishes will be sold at a mere 50 cents to resemble the prices of the past. You might remember the saying - "50 cents is bigger than a bullock cart wheel!"

This event is part of this year's Singapore Food Festival (SFF).

OK, so it looks like not ALL the dishes can be 50 cents; some are in multiples of 50 cents. Let's take a look:


List of Food Items (50 cents in red)

Char Kway Teow $0.50: Kosong (without Egg) / $0.50 x 2: With Egg
UFO (Fried Oyster Cake) $0.50
Kok Kok Mee $0.50
Sweet Noodle $0.50
Rickshaw Noodle $0.50
Ice Ball $0.50
BBQ Chicken Wings – $0.50
Fried Carrot Cake (Black) – $0.50
Charcoal Fire Toast Bread – $0.50
Steamed Glutinous Rice (Sweet and Savoury) – $0.50
Steamed Bee Hoon – $0.50
Nasi Lemak wrapped in banana leaf – $0.50
Roti Prata – $0.50
Satay – $0.50 per stick
Rose Syrup Drink with Basil Seeds – $0.50
Chin Chow Drink – $0.50
Green Bean and Barley Soup – $0.50
Cheng Teng – $0.50




Hainanese Chicken Rice Balls $0.50 x 2
Rojak on Wheels $0.50 x 2
Mee Teh $0.50 x 2
Ngor Hiang Platter: Prawn Fritters, Pork Rolls, Pork Liver Rolls, Egg Rolls, Pork Sausage – $0.50 x 2
Fried Rice – $0.50 x 2
Steamed Cockles – $0.50 x 2
Oyster Omelette – $0.50 x 2
Fried Hokkien Prawn Mee – $0.50 x 3
Bak Kut Teh – $0.50 x 2
Braised Duck Rice – $0.50 x 2
Prawn Noodle Soup – $0.50 x 2
Pigtail and Kang Kong Soup – $0.50 x 2
Sliced Fish Bee Hoon – $0.50 x 2
Laksa – $0.50 x 2
Bird’s Nest Drink – $0.50 x 2
Vinegar Pork Trotters – $0.50 x 3
Chilli Crab – $0.50 x 4

See the PDF of the food items with descriptions here

It'll be a blast from the past; you can try the services of a letter writer or street fortune teller. Visitors can also bask in the lively atmosphere with performances by opera singers and martial art professionals. Families can also enjoy black and white movie screenings.




Event Venue and Timing

Chinatown Food Street, 7 Smith Street, Singapore 058921
30 July 2016, Saturday: 3pm – 11pm
31 July 2016, Sunday: 11am – 11pm

Cash terms only





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Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Peranakan: Closely Authentic Nonya Food, Gorgeous Restaurant

The buzz is on about "The Peranakan" that just opened at Claymore Connect (Orchard Hotel's shopping arcade revamped into a sparkling new mini mall).

Chef Raymond Khoo who has had 30 years experience in F&B came out of retirement to do Peranakan cuisine using his mother's and godmother's recipes.

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Dong Ji Fried Kway Teow at Old Airport Road Food Centre





Dong Ji Fried Kway Teow needs no introduction. It serves one of the best char kway teow in Singapore. But I'm probably biased because it's the kind that I prefer - dry rather than soggy, savoury rather than sweet. It's a bit more like Penang fried kway teow than the local variety that tends to be doused in sweet dark soy. Some people prefer the wet, sweetish type.

And I love that he is so generous with his ingredients. Go for the S$4 portion (above) and you'll see. There's so much seafood, Chinese sausage, fish cake, cockles, egg, bean sprouts and chives that you can hardly see the rice noodles!

What's admirable is the old man at the stall fries the kway teow in small batches - no more than two or three portions at a time - so that each plate gets perfect wok hei and attention. There is no other way to fry a good plate of kway teow (unless you have eight arms capable of segmenting and individually frying




Dong Ji Fried Kway Teow
On one of the days, the old man had run out of kway teow, so he fried one for me with just yellow noodles. It was still awesome. Just for comparison, this is the regular S$3 portion.


DONG JI FRIED KWAY TEOW
Old Airport Road Food Centre #01-138
51 Old Airport Road,
Singapore 390051




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Friday, July 15, 2016

Lolla Now Has Sunday Brunch!

I have always loved the food at Lolla; it's food made by people who love food. They let great ingredients speak but their cooking execution, however minimal, is always remarkable. So I'm very happy to learn that they now open on Sundays for brunch. But don't look for pancakes, waffles or Eggs Benedict here. If you know Lolla, you can trust them to have standout dishes with character.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Singapore Michelin Bib Gourmand Awards 2016: The Hawkers and Restaurants Who Made The List



Oh this is big news! Seventeen hawkers have been given the Bib Gourmand 2016 award by the Michelin Guide Singapore. There are a total of 34 awardees in total; another 14 are restaurants and three are listed under "other food establishments" - I guess not quite hawker, not quite restaurant then. 

The Bib Gourmand ratings are usually given out just a few days ahead of the guidebook release. To qualify for the rating, venues must offer a good value meal for under S$45.

Not surprisingly, the list includes well-known names like Tian Tian Chicken Rice, Balestier Hoover Road Rojak and Chey Sua Carrot Cake. But I'm glad to see young hawkerpreneurs like Fishball Story and A Noodle Story in there. 

I love lists. I like to kepoh and see what other people judge as good. I actually appreciate it even more if they include something new instead of the usual overhyped and overexposed names. You know, some of the brands that have gone downhill expanding too fast or cashing in on their fame. Some names in here are headscratchers, but well, taste is subjective.

Anyway, there are some names I have not heard of in here, so I'm looking forward to discovering new stuff. I wish there weren't so many duplicate dishes though (do we really need three laksas? They could have added char kway teow, nasi lemak or bak chor mee).

Here are the list of awardees and their addresses (food trail time!):

Hawkers

1. Claypot Laksa – #01-75 Alexandra Village Food Centre
2. A Noodle Story – #01-39 Amoy Street Food Centre
3. J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff – #01-21 Amoy Street Food Centre
4. Hong Kee Beef Noodle – #01-42 Amoy Street Food Centre
5. Hoo Kee Rice Dumpling –  #01-18 Amoy Street Food Centre
6. The Fishball Story – Timbre+, 73A Ayer Rajah Crescent, and 2 College Avenue West #02-01, Stephen Riady Center, University Town
7. Wedang (Indonesian food and satay) – #B1-28 Golden Mile Food Centre
8. Famous Sungei Road Trishaw (laksa) –  #02-67 Hong Lim Market & Food Centre
9. Na Na Curry – 115 Bukit Merah View Market & Food Centre #01-48
10. Chey Sua Carrot Cake – 127 Toa Payoh West Market & Food Centre #02-30
11. Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice – #01-10/11 Maxwell Food Centre
12. Shi Hui Yuan (horfun noodle with chicken and duck) – #02-33 Mei Ling Market & Food Centre
13. Alliance Seafood – #01-27 Newton Food Centre
14. Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice – #02-82 Tiong Bahru Market
15. Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee – #02-01 Tiong Bahru Market
16. Balestier Road Hoover Rojak – #01-06 Whampoa Market Place
17. Liang Zhao Ji (soy duck) – #01-07 Whampoa Market Place





Restaurants

1. Alaturka (Turkish) – 16 Bussorah Street
2. Hjh Maimunah (Malaysian) – 11-15 Jalan Pisang
3. Ka Soh (Singaporean) – 2 College Road
4. Kok Sen (zi char) – 30 Keong Saik Road
5. Lagnaa (Indian) – 6 Upper Dickson Road, Little India
6. New Ubin Seafood – Block 27 Sin Ming Road #01-174, Sin Ming Industrial Estate Sector A
7. Peony Jade at Keppel Club (Cantonese) – 10 Bukit Chermin Rd
8. Shish Mahal (Indian) – 29 Albert Street
9. Song Fa Bak Kut Teh – 11 New Bridge Rd
10. 328 Katong Laksa – 53 East Coast Road
11. True Blue Cuisine (Peranakan) – 47/49 Armenian Street
12. Whole Earth (vegetarian) – 76 Peck Seah Street
13. Yhingthai Palace (Thai) – 36 Purvis Street #01-04
14. Zaffron Kitchen (Indian) – 135/137 East Coast Road


Other Street Food Establishments

1. Bismallah Biryani – 50 Dunlop Road
2. JB Ah Meng Kitchen (Cantonese) – 2 Lorong 23 Geylang
3. Sin Huat Eating House (crab bee hoon/rice noodle) – 659/661 Geylang Road


Links go to my reviews showing photos of the food. I have some I have not posted, and will add more as I go. Photo above is of Kok Sen Restaurant.




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5 Hotels and Places to Stay in Luang Prabang, Laos


Luang Prabang in northern Laos is one of the best preserved towns in Southeast Asia, rich in architectural and artistic heritage, but having a UNESCO World Heritage Site status means the tourists will be stomping through. So there's no shortage of places to stay, but oh which one to choose? Note that accommodation tends to cost more here than other places in Laos. The high season is October to March, with a brief peak period in mid-April for Pi Mai and Christmas.

Here are a few places which I'd pick as interesting to stay at in Luang Prabang:

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

3 Nagas Luang Prabang MGallery by Sofitel


The 3 Nagas is an elegant UNESCO protected property blending vintage French architecture and traditional Lao design. The hotel has 15 rooms (30-56 sq m) in three historical houses, each over 100 years old.

Naga refers to the mythical dragon or water serpent that pervades Lao folklore, and the three houses are probably blessed with the creature's energy with the name 3 Nagas.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Gemmills: Morning Coffee and Breakfast In Edgy CBD Cafe


The Singapore CBD coffee and breakfast scene just got a bit more grungy with Gemmills, a sliver of a back-alley cafe near Telok Ayer Street. You can grab a fuss-free drink and go, or stay awhile and slowly savour that cup of Vittoria coffee, some homemade muesli or homemade sourdough toast.

I liked the muesli - the oats had the recently toasted aroma that formed a lovely canvas for the fresh yoghurt, sweet berries and crunchy hazelnuts.



Untitled
The underground atmosphere is carried through from sister restaurants Maggie Joan's and Moosehead. The owners were also inspired by John Gemmills, the auctioneer-banker in the 1840s who gave Singapore its first public drinking fountain. A place to quench thirsts - that's what this place is about.




Apart from offering coffee and tea, Gemmills is a licensed bottle shop, so customers can grab some wine or craft beer as well.

The food menu is kept fairly simple. In the mornings, you get simple breakfast items - mostly toasties (including Vegemite) and pastries.

Lunchtime is from 11am; there are daily rotations of sandwiches (from S$9), tarts (from S$8) and cakes (from S$6).



Photo courtesy of Gemmills Singapore
In the evenings, you'll find a curation of artisan cheeses (from S$8 per 50 grams), charcuterie (from S$7 per 50 grams) and a range of small bites such as mixed nuts (from S$4), marinated olives (from S$7) and duck rillettes (from S$10).

The roasted vegetables and feta bruschetta (above, S$14) looks so good, I'll have to come back and try it.



Untitled
My toasted ham and cheese croissant came a little squashed though.




Untitled
There's a cosy nook which I'm sure will be highly coveted by those who want to linger and chat.

Every month, Gemmills will also run a collaboration. For August, it's going to be GEMMILLS X STAMPING GROUND: Stamping Ground Coffee House will bring two unique cold brews to Gemmills. I tried both; they are quite light and refreshing.


Untitled
Although the address says 110 Telok Ayer, Gemmills has its entrance at Gemmills Lane. Look for the same olive trees that also flank Maggie Joan's next door.


GEMMILLS
https://www.facebook.com/gemmillssingapore/
https://www.instagram.com/gemmillssingapore/
Tel: +65 6221-5564
Open Mon-Sat from 8am to about midnight







Thanks to Gemmills for the breakfast and coffee!
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Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Original Katong Laksa: Janggut Laksa at Roxy Square


There are gems in my neighbourhood that I don't go to often enough. The Original Katong Laksa or Marine Parade Laksa is one of them. There is a branch in dark and dingy Roxy Square that still draws the crowds especially on weekends (don't even think of going there for Sunday lunch).

Much has been written about the Katong Laksa wars. Who was the real pioneer? Which ones were copycats? No one has described it better than celebrity photographer Russell Wong in a lovingly detailed post (I love his blog) - http://thewonglist.blogspot.sg/2011/12/which-is-real-katong-laksa.html




So long story short - Janggut the founder of Marine Parade Laksa is the orginator. Old man Janggut made history when he devised this style of laksa: the rice noodles are deliberately cut short, so you can use just a spoon to scoop them up, picking up a nice serving of savoury broth. In fact, a soup spoon is all you get with your bowl. The unitiated will feel odd at first, thinking they are short of an eating utensil. But go along with it, and you'll see it makes perfect sense. Saves on washing up too.

It's more robust and richer than the Sungei Road Laksa, but doesn't have the latter's charcoal-fire smokiness and fragrance. While this is pretty good on its own, I have a sense they used to be much better in their heydays. They did mention that they had to skimp a little on ingredients like dried shrimp because food costs are rising. My S$4 small-sized serving also was a little skimpy, as you can see.

They are still way better than 328 Laksa which seems to have totally sold out and made itself somewhat of a fastfood outlet.

Janggut's niece Ms Ng has an outlet at Queensway Shopping Centre #01-59 (open daily 10am - 9.15pm) and Janggut's sister-in-law has opened at Blk 128 Bedok North St 2, #01-02 (open daily: 9:30am to 5:00pm) as well.

UPDATE: one reader has alerted me that the Bedok stall may be closed for good, but I can't get through to Madam Ng (tel: 96221045) for confirmation. Anyone else know about this?


The Original Katong Laksa (Roxy Square)


THE ORIGINAL KATONG LAKSA
Roxy Square
50 East Coast Road #01-64
Singapore 428769
Open daily 8:30am - 5:30pm




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Friday, July 8, 2016

Big Lazy Chop (大懶排): Chinese Zi Char Bistro


Big Lazy Chop (大懶排) is a name that raises puzzled eyebrows especially if you are fluent in Hokkien swear words. Don't let it deter you from the food though, as there's some seriously tasty "zi char" here (and in air-conditioned comfort too). Actually the name is meant to evoke lazy days indulging in great food, so just take it as one of those quirky Hong Kong-like names.

Interestingly, the Head Chef here is a Singaporean. Mr Oh Ah Lek has 37 years of experience in the Asian kitchen, including as Head Chef of Fortuna Hotel Hanoi in Vietnam. “I like to push the boundaries by adding complexity with my choice of ingredients in the sauces. The main difference with my cooking also lies in how I control the fire for a strong, appetising wok hei.”

Sauces and wok hei.

When I first heard that sauces were the highlight here, I was a little skeptical. Many sauces if not done right tend to mask the natural taste of food items. Some are downright cloyingly sweet or nastily goopy. It can be a lazy chef's gimmick to dress up less than fresh ingredients.

But I'm glad I came to try the dishes here. The sauces (some 30 housemade varieties) play well with the food. You'll see the ever popular Salted Egg Yolk, Thai, Black Pepper, Butter Beer (inspired by how the Vietnamese steam crabs with beer), Citrus Champagne, and even a milky Indo Curry.

We kicked off with a couple of appetisers:

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Crispy Baby Silver Fish (S$6++)
This is the perfect beer snack. Crispy and well-seasoned, these whole whitebait will probably fulfil your day's calcium requirements.


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Handmade Fresh Crab Money Bag ($18++)
Such moreish little parcels, these money bags are. The wrappers are made from egg white; they are delicate but with just enough tensile strength to hold the generous crab filling. The last time I had something similar was at Yan Ting, although that was one giant dumpling. These money bags are handmade so there are limited quantities each day.




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Big Lazy Prawns (S$20++) - Crispy Crackers
When they brought these out to us, the crispy coating seemed deliciously familiar but we couldn't put a finger on what it was: not breadcrumbs, rice crispies, or cereal. Guess what? It's keropok! Fish/Prawn crackers! The novelty factor left after we knew what it was, but it was still pretty addictive.


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Big Lazy Prawns (S$20++) - Salted Egg Tempura
This is a different take on the usual salted egg seafood - the prawns are first fried tempura-style and then drizzled with the salted egg yolk sauce and topped with curry leaves and chili padi. So sinful but yes, I will willingly cut short my life by a few hours for one of these.

Now, despite the "chop" in their name, Big Lazy Chop's signature is not chops but ribs.


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Drunken XL Spare Ribs (S$23++): Butter Champagne
For the drunken ribs, you have a choice of butter beer, butter champagne or citrus champagne. These are fairly large ribs (about 20cm) and arrive piping hot, so be patient when picking up one of them to gnaw. You will have to gnaw, yes, because the meat, while tender, is not exactly fall-off-the-bones like in BBQ-style ribs. But they are so tasty, you won't mind getting messy fingers for it.

Apparently entire bottles of champagne go into the sauce along with passionfruit juice to temper the bitterness.


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Saucy XL Spare Ribs (S$20++): Coffee
The Saucy Ribs come in four flavours - buttermilk, citrus orange, coffee and salted egg. Our coffee ribs were indeed beautifully charred with a sticky coffee sauce but some pieces were a little too dry. I'm not sure if it's due to the ribs we got or the preparation style.




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Another specialty is the Wok-Fried XL Crabs (S$70/kg) using live Sri Lankan crabs; a 800-850g portion shown here). This is the Indo Curry crab and it comes in a big and presentable claypot. The curry is the thin but intensely savoury kind. No coconut milk went into this. Chef Oh uses four types of chilli, lemongrass and curry leaves. The ingredients are wok-fried for almost an hour for the fragrance to come through and the consistency to be reached.



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The gravy would go very well with rice. On its own, it's a little too strong.

You can also have the crabs done in black pepper, chili, salted egg yolk, or with bee hoon.

Mantous, steamed or fried, are available separately at S$1 a piece (min 4 pieces).




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French Bean with Minced Pork (S$9++)
The beans were excellent - so crunchy and umami with the minced pork (and possibly dried shrimp). Full as we were, we refused to let the staff clear the half-eaten plates til we had polished off everything. 



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Beancurd (Handmade with Fresh Soybean Milk) Hotplate Hakka Beancurd ($13++)
This simple comfort dish is so good here. The beancurd has a rustic homemade edge to it, and yet is tender and smooth. And whatever this brown sauce was, it made the whole dish come together.



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Fried Chestnut Bars (2 - 3 pax) (S$8++)
These steamed chestnut cakes are battered and fried. Sweet and sticky on the inside, crunchy on the outside. It's something I should have liked but I found them too greasy. After a heavy meal like the one we had, something lighter or cooling like a cold jelly or sorbet would have gone down more easily.

Meanwhile they do serve traditional Chinese teas (minimum 2 pax per tea pot) like Pu-Erh ($1.60 /pax), Chrysanthemum (S$2.20 /pax) and “Gook Po” (Pu-Erh and Chrysanthemum mixed, S$2.50 /pax). Pu-Erh is especially good for washing down oily food (and making you feel less guilty).



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They are also bringing in craft beers like these (left to right):
Innis & Gunn Original Oak Aged Beer (S$12++): tastes like whisky
Magic Hat Low Key Session IPA (S$10++)
Magic Hat #9 not quite Pale Ale (S$11++)
Lindemana Pecheresse Peches-Lambic Artisanal (S$9++): peachy and sweet, estimated to be popular with ladies but the guys in our team liked it too



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Big Lazy Chop has al fresco seating as well, but with the heat these days, I'm guessing the 40 indoor seats are going to be the more popular.

It is located across from La Salle College of the Arts in a building with huge printed words. It's diagonally across from Rochor Beancurd too.

The nearest MRT is Rochor (Downtown line). Take Exit A (Sim Lim Square). Walk along Rochor Canal Road and turn left into Short Street.

You can check out the full menu with prices online here.

BIG LAZY CHOP

1A Short Street #01-04
Singapore 188210
Tel: +65 62-388-443
Open Tuesdays to Sundays. Closed on Mondays
Lunch: 11:30am – 2:30pm (Last order – 2:00pm)
Dinner: 5:30pm – 10:30pm (Last order – 10:00pm)

Instagram: @biglazychop #dalanpai #biglazychop




Many thanks to Big Lazy Chop for the invitation

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