Friday, June 30, 2017

Grand Park Orchard Hotel Singapore: Staycation and Mitzo Brunch


I really like the Grand Park Hotel's Ultimate Weekend Getaway. It guarantees you a full 24-hour stay with flexible check-in between 11am to 7pm. Most 2D1N vacations already feel too short, so it's really nice to be able to wake up anytime for a luscious buffet breakfast without worrying about having to check out rigidly at noon.

The location is smack dab in the middle of Orchard Road, so there's no shortage of shopping, food and entertainment. We had high tea first on Saturday and checked in at 5pm here; it's just awesome knowing you can stay til 5pm the next day.

The rooms are simple but sport contemporary chic and flair. I love the big dramatic photo wallpaper behind the bed. But what's even nicer is that you can also enjoy the photo in the bathroom which has that big see-through window.


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The bathroom has everything you need, of course.



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There are a couple of places to chill at. The pool area has a bar and lots of seating amidst green foliage. That touch of greenery and nature just makes the whole place seem like an oasis in the midst of the city. The bar area seems open to the public, so you could have friends drop by for a drink and chat.



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The pool is where we spent most of the time. It's nicest early in the morning when there's nobody! Come on in; the water's warm! The 24-hour gym is on the same floor here, and overlooks the pool.


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At night, the place takes on a different vibe with the soft lights.





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If you get a Club Room, you'll also have access to the spacious Crystal Club and these services:
  • Private check-in and check-out
  • Complimentary high speed Internet access
  • Personalised butler services
  • Business support services
  • Complimentary breakfast (6.30am to 10.30am)
  • Complimentary afternoon tea (3pm to 5pm)
  • Complimentary evening cocktails (5.30pm to 7.30pm)
  • All-day light refreshments at the Crystal Club Lounge
  • Two pieces of laundry per stay
  • One hour usage of Crystal Club meeting room per day (subject to availability)

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Yes, there's plenty of food, but the evening cocktails are probably the highlight for those who drink.




For us, we preferred to take the amazing weekend brunch at Mitzo, the modern Cantonese restaurant at the hotel. We had been here before, so we knew the food would be stunning.

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Somehow I never tire of the psychedelic colours here! Mitzo is so unlike other Chinese restaurants in terms of decor - the glass, mirrored surfaces and interplay of colours all seem to stimulate the senses in a wondrous way.


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Mitzo
The weekend brunch features over 40 selections of dim sum, wok dishes and supreme seafood delicacies comprising of Bamboo Clam, Live Lobster and Abalone dish. There is also a playroom to keep the kids entertained. I have a more detailed post here from an earlier visit.


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Mitzo itself also has private niche area that serves as a bar. You can enjoy cocktails and champagne with your brunch too.

Weekend Brunch price: S$68++ per adult (food only)
Kids under 6 dine free. 6 to 12 year-olds enjoy 50% off.
Top up S$60++ per person for free flow of cocktails, champagne, wines and beer.


Even with the full 24-hour stay, I felt like I could stay longer at Grand Park Orchard because there's just so much to explore around the area. If Orchard Road isn't enough for you, fret not. The hotel provides a complimentary daily loop shuttle service that connects to major MRT stations, Orchard Road and Marina Bay shopping belts and sister hotels.

Speaking of which, take a peek at their sister hotels too. They even have one in Otaru, Hokkaido!

Grand Park Otaru
http://www.camemberu.com/2016/01/grand-park-otaru-hotel-in-hokkaido-japan.html
Grand Park City Hall
http://www.camemberu.com/2012/04/staycation-at-grand-park-city-hall.html
Park Hotel Clarke Quay
http://www.camemberu.com/2012/09/park-hotel-clark-quay-weekend-getaway.html


GRAND PARK ORCHARD
270 Orchard Road
Singapore 238857
Tel: +65 6603-8888
Email: info.gpor@parkhotelgroup.com  






Many thanks to the Grand Park Orchard for the staycation invitation.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lennard Yeong Creates XOXO Burger for 25 Degrees (Hotel G)


I love OMG moments in food. It's when you bite into something so tasty, the flavours swirl about and stun your senses, making you eager for the next bite even before you've finished chewing. The XOXO Burger at 25 Degrees is one of these experiences.

Well, I had known ahead that this was going to be good (after all, Lennard Yeong is behind this collaboration), but the umami punch still took me by surprise.


Luscious double patty on the XOXO Burger
It's a double patty that works well. The darker patty is made using XO Sauce (dried shrimp, dried scallop, bacon held together by shrimp paste) and the lighter one is the classic turkey patty. Turkey works better as a beef patty would have clashed too much flavourwise.

Kaffir lime mayonnaise and bitter arugula are added on top and the whole lot is sandwiches in a homemade brioche bun grilled both sides in butter. It's best eaten together with the pickles (for sweet acidity) and onions served on the side.

25 Degrees is a burgers, wine and liquor bar from Los Angeles that just opened three months ago at Hotel G (200 Middle Road). The XOXO Burger is their first ever Singaporean collaboration, with Lennard Yeong. It's a limited run, from 28 June to 31 August 2017.




I've been following Lennard's blog since the early days and have always liked his keen-eyed experiments. He's probably best known as one of the finalists in the inaugural season of MasterChef Asia. Lennard has steadily put his mark on the local food scene, working with top restaurants and chefs along the way. In celebration of its original Singapore outlet, 25 Degrees tasked Lennard with creating a local-inspired burger, working together with Sous Chef Sam Chan.





The XOXO Burger at 25 Degrees
“When I was thinking along the lines of ‘local’, so many ideas came to mind,” says Lennard. “We all have our favourites from laksa to chilli crab, but I wanted to explore something a little more off-tangent. XO sauce came to mind as it pairs perfectly with rice and noodles, and I thought that I had try it out with bread. I expanded the idea from there.”

Hey XO sauce totally works with bread; I know because it's one of my cheat sandwiches!



Fries, Curly Fries and Onion Rings
You can go for some sides (S$5 each): curly fries (my favourite of the lot), shoestring fries and onion rings. On weekdays, there's a lunchtime promotion (11am to 3pm) for the burgers - only S$12 with sides!



Chocolate Milkshake
Don't miss the milkshakes (vanilla, strawberry or chocolate) either - huge glasses for just S$10! Malt shakes are at S$12.



25 Degrees is at Hotel G, 200 Middle Road
25 Degrees may be raved about by Hollywood A-listers but the Singapore branch certainly doles out hefty burgers and desserts at great value. I'm definitely coming back to try the signature beef burgers. And more of the XOXO Burger! 😍


25 DEGREES
Level 1 Hotel G
200 Middle Road
Singapore 188980
Tel: +65 6809-7990
Facebook (fb.com/25degreesSG)
Instagram (@25degreesinsingapore)
Open daily
11:00am – 1:00am from Sundays to Thursdays, last order at 12:30am.
11:00am – 3:00am on Fridays and Saturdays, last order at 2:30am.






Many thanks to 25 Degrees for the invitation; first photo courtesy of 25 Degrees. 
Other photos (other than Instagram and second shot) taken using Canon EOS M6 kindly loaned by Canon Singapore.
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Friday, June 23, 2017

Hilton Saturday High Tea Buffet at D9 Cakery


Many of us remember the Hilton's cheesecakes as one of the best in Singapore. Even before their renovation the hotel was a hot favourite for high tea. Now the D9 Cakery at Hilton Singapore has launched a Saturday high tea featuring unlimited handcrafted desserts and those famed Hilton cheesecakes encased in a six-meter showcase.



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Right at the entrance you are greeted by a sleek black showcase of little savoury bites and glass drawers of desserts. You'll find gourmet dessert jars with flavours like Ultimate Chocolate Decadence (three types of premium Valrhona chocolates, caramelized hazelnuts and walnuts), The Apple of My Eye (fresh apple compote and Calvados apple brandy), Citrus Panna Cotta (four types of citrus fruits) and Cassis Chestnut.



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The selection includes artisanal cake creations of Ivory Coffee (a combination of 28% white chocolate and fragrant Illy coffeebeans), Matcha Azuki (freshly baked with premium green tea powder and red bean paste exclusively flown in from Japan), Fudgy Chocolate (rich with 68% Valrhona dark chocolate) and Cassis Caramel (sweet Valrhona 36% Caramélia chocolate and fruity blackcurrants).

The signature Hilton cheesecakes come in four flavours of classic American, blueberry, caramel, pecan and maple. There are also freshly baked Vanilla and Raisin scones with clotted cream and jams.





But desserts are not the only draw.

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Cheese lovers were lining up at the à la minute Swiss Raclette melted cheese station, which had an array of accompaniments like pickles and olives.


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You can have the raclette cheese melted over baguette or potato and rocket leaves. The tartness from the cornichons help to cut through the richness of the cheese. 




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The highlight for me though is the beautifully grilled satay.


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It's so nice to have huge meaty chunks instead of the increasingly shrinking satay you see elsewhere. The peanut sauce is also commendably aromatic. I think we went back twice for this. I'm tempted to return just for this.



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We also found the laksa satisfying. It's at the live noodle station.

Other savoury items include juicy pulled pork sliders, croque monsieur, roasted chicken tortilla wraps and mini tuna burgers.


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The live Teppanyaki ice cream station right in front does interesting concoctions with all kinds of toppings.



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Dress it up anyhow you like. My girls picked a mix of chocolate treats - wafer rolls and M&Ms - to go with the chocolate ice cream.



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Complete your high tea experience with ten selections of Asian and European TWG tea blends or top up an additional $35 for bottomless rounds of sparkling wine, selected beer, white and red wines.


Hilton Endless Saturday High Tea at D9 Cakery

1st seating: 12p.m. to 2:30p.m.
2nd seating: 3p.m. to 5p.m.

PRICING
S$41++ per person with free flow of coffee and TWG tea
Additional $35 for free flow sparkling wine, selected beer, white and red wines

S$21++ per child (aged 5 to 12 years old) / Children below the age of five dine for free.

D9 CAKERY
Lobby Level, Hilton Singapore
581 Orchard Road
Singapore 238883
For reservations, call +65 6730 3392 or email D9Cakery@hilton.com.







Many thanks to Hilton Singapore for the invitation. 
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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Singapore 2017 Bib Gourmand Awards: Nine New Entrants

Man, the queue at Man Man Unagi is going to be even worse now.

The list of Bib Gourmand winners for 2017 just came out. There are nine new entrants. Apart from Man Man, we have Tsuta and Shirokane Tori-tama, European restaurant Bar-Roque Grill, and Peranakan restaurant The Blue Ginger.

Hawker stalls include Ah Er Soup and Zai Shun Curry Fish Head, Liao Fan Hawker Chan which specialises in Cantonese-style roast meat, and New Lucky Claypot Rice.

Bib Gourmand awards are given to food establishments that offer a high-quality menu at a reasonable price - which in Singapore means a maximum of S$45.



The full list of 2017 Bib Gourmand winners (in alphabetical order, with new entrants marked with an asterisk) along with addresses and my previous reviews:

A Noodle Story – #01-39 Amoy Street Food Centre
Alliance Seafood – #01-27 Newton Food Centre
*Ah Er Soup - #01-143 ABC Brickworks Food Centre
Balestier Road Hoover Rojak – #01-06 Whampoa Market Place
*Bar-Roque Grill - 165 Tanjong Pagar Road #01-00
Bismillah Biryani – 50 Dunlop Road
Chey Sua Carrot Cake – 127 Toa Payoh West Market & Food Centre #02-30
Depot Road Zhen Shan Mei Claypot Laksa – #01-75 Alexandra Village Food Centre
Famous Sungei Road Trishaw Laksa – #02-67 Hong Lim Market & Food Centre
Hong Heng Fried Sotong Prawn Mee – #02-01 Tiong Bahru Market
Hong Kee Beef Noodle – #01-42 Amoy Street Food Centre
Hoo Kee Bak Chang –  #01-18 Amoy Street Food Centre
J2 Famous Crispy Curry Puff – #01-21 Amoy Street Food Centre
Ka-Soh Restaurant – 2 College Road
Kok Sen Restaurant – 30 Keong Saik Road
Lagnaa - 6 Upper Dickson Road
Liang Zhao Ji – #01-07 Whampoa Market Place
*Liao Fan Hawker Chan - 78 Smith Street
Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant - 1 Keong Saik Road #01-01
Na Na Homemade Curry (Bukit Merah) – 115 Bukit Merah View Market & Food Centre #01-48
*New Lucky Claypot Rice - 44 Holland Drive #02-19
New Ubin Seafood – Block 27 Sin Ming Road #01-174, Sin Ming Industrial Estate Sector A
Peony Jade (KeppelClub) – 10 Bukit Chermin Rd
Shi Hui Yuan – #02-33 Mei Ling Market & Food Centre
Shish Mahal Restaurant – 29 Albert Street
Sin Huat Eating House – 659/661 Geylang Road
Song Fa Bak Kut Teh – 11 New Bridge Road, #01-01
*The Blue Ginger – 97 Tanjong Pagar Rd
328 Katong Laksa (Joo Chiat) – 51 East Coast Road
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice – #01-10/11 Maxwell Food Centre
Tiong Bahru Hainanese Boneless Chicken Rice – #02-82 Tiong Bahru Market
*Shirokane Tori-Tama - 11 Unity Street
True Blue Cuisine - 47/49 Armenian Street
Tsuta Ramen - 9 Scotts Road, #01-01, Pacific Plaza
Whole Earth – 76 Peck Seah Street
Yhingthai Palace – 36 Purvis Street #01-04
Zaffron Kitchen (East Coast) – 135/137 East Coast Road
*Zai Shun Curry Fish Head - 253 Jurong East Street 24 #01-205


You can see last year's list here:
http://www.camemberu.com/2016/07/singapore-michelin-bib-gourmand-awards.html




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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Menya Sakura: Foie Gras Ramen and Truffle Onsen Egg Rice


Foie Gras Ramen.

My world has been changed. I never thought fatty goose liver could taste good boiled or in a soup. But chef Sho Naganuma has managed to do it. He has tenderly sous vide-cooked French foie gras and wrapped it in a smooth chicken breast chashu. The resulting texture is like a delicate beancurd or custard with the alluring flavours of foie gras. In some ways, this is even better than the usual pan-fried variety.

I can see how the chicken works well holding the foie gras in a roulade form. The meat itself is well-marinated in homemade chashu sauce, and it is so tender, I couldn't tell it was chicken breast.

The soup is 100% chicken broth enhanced with shoyu tare topped with a gorgeous mushroom fricassee (three kinds of mushrooms sauteed), toasted pine nuts and watercress. Instead of pork lard on the surface of the soup, chef uses argan oil for a hint of the exotic. Yuzu zest adds the final lift to this incredibly gourmet experience.

So much flair and flourish in a single bowl but this is devoid of any forms of pretentiousness; it's totally worth the S$22.90.

I've always admired the Japanese's finely honed sense of harmony, and this dish is a lovely example of how the flavours and textures complement and set off each other.

However, it's a lot of preparation work that goes into this! So the run is very limited, only until 1 July 2017.
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Monday, June 19, 2017

Monti Festino: Italian-Style A La Carte Sunday Brunch Buffet

Few things convey luxurious relaxation as a lengthy Italian-style brunch, complete with stunning waterfront views of Marina Bay and its surroundings. Monti at the Fullerton Pavilion hosts this brunch every Sunday from noon to 3pm.

You'll be presented upon arrival with a seafood platter (one per table) - Alaskan King crab, tiger prawn, tuna tataki, salmon sashimi, Fine de Claire oysters, mussels, clams - with three accompanying sauces. You can also request for just the oysters, tuna, salmon and gamberi (tiger prawns). I think presenting seafood this way is a clever way to reduce wastage.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Yayoi Kusama-Inspired Afternoon Tea at Fullerton Hotel


If you totally adore the polka-dotted frenzy that permeates the art of Yayoi Kusama, you'll be glad to know you can continue your enjoyment of her art in this specially themed afternoon tea at The Courtyard, Fullerton Hotel. The tea is only here for a month - from 9 June to 10 July 2017.

The Fullerton Hotel Singapore’s Executive Pastry Chef, Enrico Pezzelato, who is a fan of Kusama, has specially designed five sweet creations will draw from the iconic Japanese artist’s original pieces currently exhibiting at National Gallery Singapore, from 9 June to 3 September.




These designs are personally approved by Kusama's agency in Japan.

These include a cube of lychee mousse flecked with dots, which mirror the constellation in Gleaming Lights of the Souls. I liked this one; it had a piece of kueh lapis as the base for the mousse. It's a nice touch using a local element.

The most colourful treat is crafted with hazelnut cream on a Breton sable that carries bright gelatinous dots, a tribute to All My Love for the Tulips, I Pray Forever, a piece that was sold for US$5.1 million – the highest price ever paid for a work made by a female artist. The big dots will remind you of colourfully decorated cream cakes in retro bakeries.

A cottony soft strawberry shortcake, topped with whipping cream and sandwiched between cocoa butter printed with striations, bear the mark of Life is the Heart of a Rainbow.

In keeping with Kusama’s I Want to Live Forever from the My Eternal Soul series, 70% Valrhona dark chocolate mousse is tinged a desert red, and topped with a blue chocolate disc and a thin strip of coverture to finish. So rich and delicious the dark chocolate!

Also available is a mango cremeux confection, which sits delicately on piped buttercream frosting and a chocolate base, featuring polka dots synonymous with Kusama. This reminds me of Kusama's Pumpkin, one of my favourite pieces.




This three-tier Afternoon Tea also comes with finger sandwiches, bite-sized pastries, assorted cakes and freshly baked scones. The latter are served with clotted cream and berry preserves. All items are replenishable and the spread is complemented by free-flowing TWG tea or any coffee of your choice. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the experience is complemented by a live harpist.

The Yayoi Kusama-inspired Afternoon Tea, priced at S$43++ per person, takes place from 9 June to 10 July 2017, from 3.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. on Monday to Friday; and 2.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. (1st seating), and 4.30 p.m. and 6.00 p.m. (2nd seating) on Saturday and Sunday.

THE COURTYARD
Lobby, Fullerton Hotel
1 Fullerton Square
Singapore 049178
Tel: +65 6877-8911 / 8912





Many thanks to The Fullerton Hotel Singapore for the invitation. Last photo courtesy of Fullerton Hotel.

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Expedia Essential Food Guide to Asia


If you love planning your travel itineraries around food, you'll be happy to find this new resource by Expedia: the Essential Food Guide to Asia. It lists 10 of the top foodie destination cities in Asia - Seoul, Hong Kong, Osaka, Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok, Penang, Hanoi, Shanghai and Bali - and gives recommendations in categories like street food, standard restaurants, fine-dining, and Michelin-starred restaurants.

It looks like a curated list with select recommendations; it doesn't seek to overwhelm you with hundreds of choices.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

El Cubanos: Cuban-Style Pressed Sandwiches To Die For


I really love finding hidden gems or amazing food that hasn't been hyped about yet. El Cubanos is one of these places. It serves Cuban-style pressed sandwiches which not only take your tastebuds by storm but are affordably priced too. Chef Sanny Abdul Salem is incredibly energetic and passionate about making good food, and you can taste it from the first bite.
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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Morton's The Steakhouse Singapore: Spring 2017 Menu



Despite all the new steak places opening in town, Morton's The Steakhouse is still one of my favourite places for steak. In all its 19 years in Singapore, it's been reliable and consistent. You know what you're gonna get, and you know it's going to be good.

The menu rarely changes at this American stalwart, but they have started introducing select seasonal items to cater to regulars who might want to try a little something new. Here's some new items for spring:

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

McDonald's Goes Bananas with Minions!


The Despicable Me Minions are establishing dominion over McDonald’s Singapore this June, and they’re starting with the Soft Serve machine! The mischievous Minions will be switching out McDonald’s famed Vanilla Soft Serve with a creamy Banana Soft Serve.

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

JW Marriott Singapore South Beach: Beach Road Kitchen Dinner Buffet

If you're visiting the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach are, you may want to check out the hotel's adjacent Beach Road Kitchen which serves all-day dining fare. Like at most hotels, it's a safe mix of international dishes and local favourites, but the food is certainly five-star to match the hotel.

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Menya Sakura: I Finally Found Singapore's Best Ramen


I'm often asked which ramen place is my favourite in Singapore. We really are spoilt for choice here with over 50 ramen shops, and it's so easy to be jaded, but I can now emphatically say I have found the one I like best and it's no other than the fairly new Menya Sakura at 69 Boat Quay.

Menya Sakura serves Nagoya-style ramen which is characterized by hearty soups carefully brewed from both selected meats and seafood to achieve the best combination of flavours from the land and sea.

The ramen here is, in a word, DIVINE. Good ramen is not about the broth being rich or intense; the taste and mouthfeel have to be well-balanced. The flavours at Menya Sakura are finely tuned and clearly done with an artisan's pride.
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