Author: Alex Chua
Home-grown cafe Strangers’ Reunion, located at Kampong Bahru Road just 5 minutes’ walk from Outram Park MRT, is set to redefine and elevate café dining experience with a new all-day brunch menu.
Best-known for serving some of the best coffee and all-day brunches in town, this time the new brunch menu features inventive cooking method with a conscience. Using fresh, seasonal and upcycled ingredients and sauces homemade from scratch, the resulting dishes reveals a level of sophistication more often associated with fine dining establishments. Now that’s more than a cuppa in a café scene.
Take the Salmon Skin Chips ($11.90) for instance. This moreish appetiser utilises salmon offcuts and trimmings from the café’s homemade coffee smoked salmon and deep-fried it to become a dish by itself. Studded with goma, avocado coulis and coffee-smoked salmon puree, it presents a juxtaposition of nutty, salty, sweet and sour flavours without being too overwhelming or oily.
The Snapper Ceviche ($13.90) contain a combination of snapper chunks cured in lime juice, avocado, cilantro and red onions. Light and refreshing, it is the perfect starter dish for a brunch date.
For the vegans and cauliflower fans, the Roasted Cauliflower Salad ($14.50) is the choice pick. It comes in 2 ways – charred to yield caramelised florets with deep hazelnut notes, and pickled in rice wine vinegar infused with black pepper and bay leaves. We had the caramelised ones and it is crunchy and irresistible. It’s just so good I am almost a vegan-convert by this dish.
Coming to the mains, the hearty Pork and Broccoli ($21.90) satisfies me thoroughly. Taking a leaf from the upcycling philosophy, the tender roasted meat uses the under-utilized pork collar ends and broccoli stems as accompanying greens. Complemented with 3 sauces – broccoli puree, coffee shoyu and burnt onion jus to give an extra depth of flavour. Simple, straightforward and in your face delicious.
Here’s the savoury protein – Pan Roasted Chicken Breast ($21.90). Chicken breast cloaked in a house-made jerk sauce and accompanying succotash of greens. I like how the sauce compliments and further accentuates the succulent meat.
Here’s a dish common in the café scene, Strangers’ Coffee Smoked Salmon on Toast ($18.90). Well, not quite so. The house-cured salmon is cold-smoked with spent coffee grounds and hickory wood to give the aromatic coffee-smoked salmon, while an espresso-infused crème fraiche is slathered on toasted sourdough bread. Sounds too caffeinated? It is not, the coffee is used just to give that light coffee aroma.
Undoubtedly one of THE go-to cafes for its quality coffee, now the café – in its cool tones of greys, whites and wood – can include inventiveness and upcycling to its name with the introduction of the all-day brunch menu.
33/35 Kampong Bahru Road, Singapore 169355
Operating Hours: 9am – 6pm daily
Author: Alex Chua
Now I don’t have to travel all the way to Bangkok just to indulge Baan Ying.
Launched on 26 Jan 2019, the Thai specialty restaurant opens its first ever Singapore outlet in Royal Square, conveniently located near Novena mrt. In conjunction with its opening is the introduction of The Great Baan Ying Brunch (#TGBYB) – a weekend semi-buffet consisting of 1 main course along with a buffet spread of 12 to 15 delectable appetisers, sides and desserts on rotation every week.
Affordably priced at $38.80++ per adult and $19.40++ per child (four to ten years old; kids under three dine free; child price includes complimentary fruit juice), this is enough to draw me in, being a big fan of Baan Ying’s ala carte omelette rice and fried fish dishes. As for semi-buffet, this is something new for me.
The main brunch attractions, the 6 mains are the Bone-in Iberico Pork Chop, Angus Beef Steak, Grilled Large River Prawns, Pan-fried Salmon Steak, Junior Omelette Fried Rice and Junior Omelette Fried Noodles. Me and my friend tried the Iberico Pork Chop and Grilled Salmon, both were well-proportioned and plating wise rather straight forward. The moist and tender salmon is served with homemade Thai seafood sauce to give it an umami edge, while the juicy pork chop is perfectly marinated with Aunty Ying’s secret blend of Thai spices. Do note that you have to top up an additional $9.80 for the pork chop, but its definately worth it.
The Great Baan Ying Brunch features a plethora spread of Thai-riffic appetisers, sides and desserts. To keep up with the healthy, I started my meal at the DIY Thai Salad station, mixing and matching ingredients like peanuts, dried shrimp, cherry tomatoes, long beans and either tangy green papaya or green mango. The end result is a refreshing and colourful salad. Nothing beats some physical DIY activity, especially when it comes to buffet.
A traditional house-made rice cracker with a rich and luscious coconut, pork and shrimp dip, the Kao Tung Na Tung (Crispy Rice with Pork and Shrimp Dip) is easily one of my favourites. The crunchiness of the crackers and the savoury, meaty dip goes very well with beer.
Not to forget the Mini Larb Moo Tod (Deep Fried Spicy Meat Balls mixed with toasted ground rice). Can’t go any closer as these succulent balls are just too easy to down.
For desserts there are Rainbow Ruby, Sweet Potato in Coconut Milk and Coconut Jelly. Shaped like a delicate flower petal, the Coconut Jelly are just so refreshing and delightful to pop into the mouth.
My verdict? The Great Baan Ying Brunch is value-for-money with lots of quality, tasty buffet spread and a mains to boot.
103 Irrawaddy Road, Royal Square @ Novena, $02-07 S329566
Author: Alex Chua
beGin takes a typical gin – usually drank in a traditional English-style habitat with upholstered furnishing – and gives it a chic new spin. Situated upstairs Singapore’s oldest traditional English Pub – The Penny Black, beGin is the only speakeasy bar that houses over 50 gins from different countries. Gin lovers can sample the vast selection in different ways (neat, with tonic or in fashionable cocktail) and pair it with savoury British-Indian small plates. Expect colours, delicious bites and upbeat music with friendly bartenders tucked inside this rustic, moodily-lit speakeasy.
Starting off the course is the Royal Chatanee (S$4), which consists a medley of mild to punchy dips – Tomato, Chilli & Ginger Chutney, Asian Salsa and aromatic Spiced Cilantro Mint & Coconut dip. This grazing platter with refreshing dips is good to awaken the palate for subsequent courses.
Popping into the Crab bomb-a ($13 for 5 pieces) has that savoury oomph of seafood satisfaction. The curry sauce, hidden within the light hollow crisp, is made with beGin’s in-house spice mix for that unique kick. Very addictive and easy to pop in a few.
Appearance can be quite deceiving. BeGIN’s bestseller the Samboo-sa Pasties ($11 for 3 pieces) is a modern interpretation of the humble curry puffs. The chicken has that fiery tandoori masala taste, encased in a fluffy crisp choux pastry for that lovely crunch.
A definite crowd-favourite, the nacho del goa ($15 for 5 pieces) is a twist to the classic butter chicken. Sitting atop nacho-shaped papadums, the prawns are coated with buttery northern Indian Sauce and onion yogurt. It’s not enough to pop in just one of these tasties.
The Cheeky Nigiri is perhaps my personal favourite among the delectable bar bites, partly due to its tender meatiness. Made of beef cheeks, yellow sushi rice and vindaloo sauce, this can simply be a meal of itself.
Enough with the food. Now for the drinks. LAVENDER ($25) is inspired by HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s luscious lavender garden. A dome once lifted releases smoke that unveils the dignified, feminine cocktail. Taste of floral and, with its opal pink, slightly girly drink, but I love it still. No judge.
For those who are into adventurous drinks, the Jagmohan ($25) is a curry and clove spiced tequila mix. Essentially Northern India in a drink, this unassuming cocktail is exotic and tastes of spices, completes with the tomato, chili and ginger chutney on the side with fried crisps.
KOKO ($23) is that decadently well-balanced cocoa-infused rum die-hard chocolate fans would find irresistible. Performed with a ‘fire’ show – igniting the dehydrated orange atop the rum – this fiery concoction is creamy, mellow-sweet cocoa and tastes just like a dessert by itself, which I simply adore!
27a Boat Quay, The Penny Black Upstairs, Singapore 049817
Operating Hours: Mondays to Saturdays: 5pm – 1am
Author: Alex Chua
When you’ve got warm company and unagi what more do you need. Opened by one of Tokyo’s most well-known unagi restaurants with a stellar 125-year history, Unagi Ichinoji surely can satiates your unagi wants with ease. Located at EAT At Seven at Suntec City and Riverside Village Residences, the premise looks like an izakaya with traditional wood panelling, superb customer service and authentic Japanese vibe. It is probably the next best place to dine and unwind if you don’t have the luxury of time to fly to Japan.
One can’t say they have stepped into Unagi Ichinoji without tasting unagi – that’s what they are specialized for. The Unagi Kaisen Hitsumabushi Set (small S$25.80 and Medium $33.80) comes with a slab of freshly grilled unagi fenced by a chirashi-style array of fresh sashimi including salmon, tuna, squid and octopus, all air flown from Japan. It is absolutely a gratifying experience chopping down the luscious piece of fish. Even the fluffy rice is well taken care of. The Japanese Hokkaido rice is coated with a special in-house marinade to give off that exquisite flavour.
The Unagi Wagyu Set (S$36.80) uses A5-grade wagyu imported fr Kagoshima Japan & restaurant’s signature freshly grilled unagi. Accompanied with unagi chawamushi and Japanese pickles. Tender charcoal grilled beef & umami unagi, a bowl I would surely grab when I am feeling indulgent.
For the non-unagi lovers (is there any really?), there is the Chicken Hitsumabushi Set ($26.80). Fresh organic chicken (Sakura Chicken) is used to give it a more succulent texture. Charcoal grilled elevates the palate with a smoky note. For me, however, it would be unagi anytime.
Now, if you don’t know what is Hitsumabushi, there are actually 3 special ways of eating it to experience different flavour profiles. First, divide the bowl into four portions. Enjoy the first portion on its own and relish the depth of flavour of the eel. Then, for the second portion, add nori (seaweed), wasabi and green onions to the Hokkaido rice and eel. For the third portion, add the clear dashi to the abovementioned mix. The final portion can be enjoyed however you fancy. Personally, I very much prefer to enjoy by its original form without any condiments.
Address: 01-05 Riverside Village Residences, Robertson Quay Singapore 238251
Operating Hours: daily 11.30am to 3pm; 5.30pm to 10pm
I drink Coffee or Milk Tea every morning before I start work and this has become a habit. If I don’t drink them before work, it feels like something is missing and I won’t be able to concentrate.
Recently, SkinnyMint sent me their 28 Day Fat Burning Coffee & Fat Burning Hot Chocolate to try. Even though I was very intrigued by the new launches, my first thoughts were……. “How will they taste? Will they really work?”
I would be skeptical about the results but since I have previously tried both SkinnyMint Morning and Night Teatox and both worked for me, why not give the new products a try too?
Instead of drinking coffee with high sugar content, I am drinking both the Fat Burning Coffee and Hot Chocolate on a daily basis. Just imagine…. burn your fats away while enjoying a cup of hot coffee. Sounds too good to be true?
What I am most happy about, other than the fat-burning portion is reducing my sugar intake! Although I do not really drink frizzy drinks, the coffee and tea I consumed on a daily basis is quite frightening.
Take a look at the supplement facts below – 0 Fat, 0 Sugar!
Both powders smell nice. The coffee has a coconut-y smell & taste as it is coconut flavored while the hot chocolate taste nothing less than a good cup of unsweetened chocolate. Good for people who wants that chocolatey taste in their mouth – without the calories!
You can even put them into your bag and bring them out if you do not have the time to drink them in the morning as they come in sachets form. All you need is a cup of hot water and pooooof!
The drinks can help suppress your appetite and boost your metabolism as they contain natural metabolism booster. Studies have also shown that 96% of the people who tried them had a significant decrease in appetite. As for me, I do find myself emptying my bowel more often – at a very regular timing too.
Also, whenever you feel like snacking at work, just make yourself a cup of hot chocolate. It is only 25 Cal per serving! Say no to chocolates and opt for the hot chocolate instead.
Join me and add these drinks to your breakfast today if you wanna lose some weight or control your appetite!
Do drink them for 28 days to see better results!
You can get them from skinnymint.com!
Author: Alex Chua
Pig out this New Year at Butcher’s Kitchen to welcome the Year of the Pig. Known for using fresh, safe and healthy ingredients, Butcher’s Kitchen team of experienced chefs unveiled their latest CNY menu for all to ogle, salivate and go oink oink. The restaurant’s latest cutesy 3 Treasures Porky Yusheng comes in the shape of a pig, fashioned with roast pork belly, pork lard and char siew. The Instagram-able lo hei is generously lashed with a tangy house-made plum sauce to toss for a sweet new year. Also, freshly-made chips – Butcher’s Kitchen very own creation – is topped on the pig as the alternative to the traditional golden crackers. The generous portion of the yusheng is suitable for 8 to 10 pax.
Besides the yusheng, The Butcher’s Kitchen has also introduced two pork-based pasta – Char Siew Pasta with Truffle, and Mala Pasta with Roast Pork Belly. I particularly fancy the Mala Pasta Pork Belly dish, which has that savoury roast pork belly with perfect meat-to-fat ratio which I can easily over-indulged! The crunchy crackling is not too hard with a heavenly mouthfeel to it.
But for my personal favourite is the Herbi Hiam Pizza. Cormprising of cheese, fried crispy pork lard marinated with prawn chili, and heaped with snow of dried sambal prawn, it is sinful beyond the nth degree yet understandably delicious. To give that powerful spicy punch, prawn chili is drizzled on top. Great for dinner with friends or for supper, which I am still mesmerizing it as I was typing about it.
Beyond the pork dishes, the restaurant has also launched the Original Fresh Chips. Fried daily, these all-natural, freshly made and highly addictive chips come in beautiful designed bottles for you to share and gift the goodies to your loved ones for a perfect CNY crunch. Better keep this away from me or else my new year resolution dissolves in bubbles.
The Butcher’s Kitchen
#02-472 Suntec City, North Wing, 3 Temasek Boulevard
Operating Hour: Tuesday to February 19, 10am to 10pm daily. Closed from February 4 to 6
Seating Capacity: 120 pax
Author: Alex Chua
Tucked on the 10th floor of YOTEL is KOMYUNITI, a venue where people connect over nice food and drinks. It is a bar, restaurant, alfresco terrace and a co-working space combined together. KOMYUNITI means ‘community’ and this is evident in the furnishings and layout that invites guests to network, socialise, co-work, eat and drink. Helmed by Head Chef Mark Tai and F&B Manager, As’ad Isnin, expect yummy modern Jap creations crafted via their very own culinary and mixologist experiences and interpretations.
Being just recently launched on 1st November, I love the feel of having mod-Jap cuisines in these sleek, stunning surrounds.
To start, we had the Salmon Poke – marinated cubes of salmon served with crispy fried onion crackers on the side. Very Hawaiian-vibe, very refreshing with a hint of spiciness (house-made Chili Sauce), the salmon has to be really fresh to be served as poke.
Next, we had the Curry Corn Soup and Mama’s Tomato Soup. I particularly love the cream of corn, with its curry spices for a surprising touch without being too overwhelming. Comes in plate of 3 cups, these small plates are perfect for those having a small intimate gathering.
It is so easy to pop this plate of Buttermilk Fried Chicken. I love the mouthfeels when bite into the cornmeal crusted skin, it is not oily at all yet so juicy and tender. Would be good if the sweet potato mash can be a heap too!
Obviously, the high-quality proteins take the lead here. The pinkish Slow Roasted Duck Breast packs that meaty, flavourful punch even though they are thinly sliced, while the Roasted Pork Belly possessed a full-bodied taste, it is thankfully not salty but savoury. The meat-fat ratio is evenly distributed and the crispy crackling skin is a clear winner.
If you don’t drink you haven’t been to KOMYUNITI. Just kidding, but the bar does mix pretty interesting cocktails that suits the style of refined, contemporary Jap. KOMpliment, KOMYUNITI’s signature cocktail, is fruity and fragrant, and made with butterfly pea flower-infused gin for that delicate touch of iridescent purple. We’ve also tried tropical cocktails like the vanilla-infused gin Tiki Chin Chin, sours like vodka-based Chaussettes, and bittersweet Benjamin Button. The one kicker for me is Fat Roger. Perhaps I overindulged so the fat-washed bourbon suits that occasion. To drink you will need to first roll the smoked ham with dried cranberries, eat it and then wash it down with whisky.
To sum up, KOMYUNITI hosts quite an extensive selection of delectable dishes and fancy cocktails with a welcoming, feel-good environment.
Level 10, 366 Orchard Road, Singapore 238904
Breakfast 6:30am – 10:30am (11am on Sat, Sun, Public Holidays)
Lunch & Dinner: 12pm – 12am (1am on Fri, Sat, Eve of Public Holidays)
Author: Alex Chua
Pig out this Chinese New Year at Ginger, Park Royal on Beach Road as Executive Chef Vincent Aw serves up extensive auspicious culinary delights. The all-day dining restaurant features an array of delicious dishes up for kiap-ping like Braised Pig Ear Terrine with Chinese Herbs at the Salad station, Baby Lobster with Abalone Sauce, Abalone Fried Rice, and Braised Dried Oyster with Sea Moss on the Hot Food isle. What is special is the D.I.Y Yu Sheng station. Perhaps the first in Singapore, you can create your own Prosperity Yu Sheng at the Yu Sheng counter to toss up a good fortune.
Here are a few dishes that I’ve kiap-ed (or grabbed) and enjoyed thoroughly, so if you’re here for the CNY buffet you can go straight to hog these yummies out.
As an unrepentant carnivore more often than not I will just fly towards the meat station, but the pot of Broccoli with Dried Oyster is just visually desirable. The green broccoli possessed that nice crunch, soaked in a rich oyster broth to give off that distinct umami taste; very flavorful and back of my mind patting myself for being a healthy picker for a change.
Priding themselves on serving consistently good quality crabs throughout the year, this Baby Lobster with Rich Abalone Broth is a dish I will indulge over again and again. Cooked a la minute at the live station, the lobster meat is fresh with a good springy bite, and pretty easy to peel off the fresh from the shell. Just remember to drink it hot as the taste will be slightly off when it’s cold.
Other Chinese favorites I raved includes the very tender, very juicy Braised Pig Trotters, Abalone Fried Rice (wok-hei power strong in this one), as well as the Pineapple Salad with Sliced Bak Kwa and Braised Pig Ear Terrine with Chinese Herbs at the Salad station.
Besides these yummy CNY specials, also available at the hot isle are the surefire hit Baked Salmon topped with deep-fried fish skin – a good source of protein and omega 3 which I have many helpings.
Chinese New Year is never complete without stuffing yourself aplenty with decadent treats and delicacies. Make Ginger the go-to restaurant for your CNY indulgence and book today!
Park Royal on Beach Road – Ginger Resataurant
7500 Beach Rd, Singapore 199591
Available from 21 January to 19 February 2019
Lunch: 12pm to 2.30pm, from $48 – $68 (for adults) | from $22 – $34 (for child)
Dinner: 6pm to 10pm, from $68 – $108 (for adults) | from $34 – $54 (for child)
Dining reservations at Ginger can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at +65 6505 5710
Author: Alex Chua
Christmas and the new year celeb (hello 2019!) just zoom us by and before you know it its CNY again. If you’re totally unprepared or just wanting to amp up the festivity with gastronomic delight, then you might want to book Park Hotel Clark Quay’s 6-course Harmony Menu ($378++ per table of 4-5 pax) or 8-course Ultimate Success Menu ($658++ per table of 9-10 pax). You won’t regret it. Here’s a glimpse of what you will be getting.
Yu Sheng – the only dish that requires us to bottoms up and splatter around with chopsticks while chanting auspicious words. The Auspicious Abundance Yu Sheng contains flown-in yabbies (lobsters) which are easy to pop into the mouth. The dry-cured Jinhua ham is something not to be wasted after the rowdy tossing because, besides the appealing ruby color, it’s just so tasty.
When this dish is presented someone murmured ‘oh this is the Fa Guo Piao Xiang ah’. Usually I don’t take Yam Ring due to personal preference but this one I would. Encased within the Stir-fried Seafood with XO Sauce in Crispy Yam Basket contains succulent ocean delicacies such as squid, scallop and prawn. But what’s amazing is the yam basket – so crispy its like munching into nicely just-fried chips. Quite a memorable dish I must say.
While the fish head is a little bit daunting to look at, I wouldn’t want to skip this Steamed Red Garoupa with Jinhua Ham. The precious ham are inserted into each evenly sliced section of the fish meat, giving it an extra oomph. Who knew fish and pork go so well together.
If you want to huat (be prosperous) for the new year you must eat this. My favourite dish in the menu, the Money Bag contains generous amount of tender Jinhua ham full of juiciness which explodes into your mouth. The broccoli, which are soaked in the delicious broth, are distinctively crunchy and inviting. I adore the mouthfeels.
The feast ended with Chilled Coconut Pudding for dessert. Deceptively plain and simple, this light, cooling dish balances different level of sweetness pretty artfully. Yes I am bias because I love anything coconut.
Overall, Chef James Wong does an excellent job serving dish after dish of memorable deliciousness. While the spotlight falls onto the Jinhua ham (half of the dishes contain this savoury wonder from Zhejiang), it weaves in and accentuates the dishes without being overwhelming.
Park Hotel Clarke Quay
1 Unity Street, Singapore 237983
Author: Alex Chua
Have a luxurious start to the year with Chef Chen Kentaro at Shisen Hanten – the highest Michelin-rated Chinese restaurant in Singapore for three 3 years in a row. Located on the 35th floor at Mandarin Orchard Hotel, this elegant restaurant, with its opulent chandeliers and dramatic flowers arrangement, is set to impress diners and guests alike. For the year of the pig the acclaimed Szechuan restaurant features seven auspiciously-themed set menus – from the eight-course Prosperity menu at $538++ for four persons, to the Splendour menu that features Braised Four-head Australian Abalone among its courses, at $2,588++ for 10 persons.
If you’re mesmerized by the 90’s original hit Jap TV show Iron Chef since young like me, be delighted to know that this swanky restaurant is started by the ‘Father of SzeChuan Cuision’ Iron Chef Chinese Chen Kenmin. You wouldn’t want to give this place a miss now would you?
The signature Foie Gras Chawanmushi with Crab Roe Soup is simply seductive and excellent. What is noteworthy about this is the subtle foie gras aftertaste which paired so well with the hot fresh crab roe chawanmushi soup. It is also a refreshing change from the double boiled shark’s fin soup that we see on so many menus nowadays. The Deep Fried Prawn Balls with Yuzu Sauce is executed superbly, crispy with a burst of mellow citrusy. You could definitely tell how fresh the prawn is from the first bite.
The ultimate gastronomic experience I have is the sizzling Sichuan delicacy Wok-fried East-spotted Grouper with Shishito Pepper. The succulent flavors are accented by accents of Shishito Pepper and while mildly spicy it wasn’t overwhelming so. Bathed in golden broth that numbs the tongue and satiate the senses, this fiery signature is not to be missed.
Have the best of both worlds with a duo of Braised Baby Abalone and Black Moss with Beancurd. A CNY must-have, the tender baby abalone is perfectly braised and the beancurd soaked up that rich umami broth. When eaten together with the black moss there’s a nice contrast of textures from the tender abalone, the slightly drenched moss and soft beancurd. Flavors well-balanced, this dish is purely a match-make in food heaven.
What I am anticipating most is perhaps the Stir-Fried Iberico Pork with Spicy Sweet and Sour Sauce. The prized iberico pork slices are layered on one end of the plate, the sauce and accompany veg placed on another end. While the presentation of this dish has a touch of western interpretation, the taste of the savory pork is very much Szechuan.
Ending the sumptuous 8-course dinner is the visually pleasing Double-Boiled Hashima with Yam Paste served in Young Coconut: a delight to look at, a delight to spoon it up and enjoy. I expect something light but the taste is much stronger. Nevertheless, to me anything coconut and creamy is addictive.
Shisen Hanten by Chen Kentaro
333 Orchard Road, Level 35, Orchard Wing, Mandarin Orchard Singapore, Singapore 238867