Author: Alex Chua
Strong, juicy and meaty, just the thought of having yakitori never fails to bring up the joy in me. And Yatagarasu Yakitori is no exception in conjuring this gastronomic pleasure. If you’ve dined at this quaint-essential Japanese yakitori restaurant before, you would’ve noticed a common principle behind the skewers – the uncomplicated simplicity of ordering and food presentation with no shortage of flavour. As a lover of barbecued Japanese skewers, especially authentic ones with beer, I can’t wait to join in for a culinary adventure.
The 36-seat restaurant in Circular Road is helmed by Chef Kota Tanabe, who has over 12 years of experience, including working at a Japanese izakaya (gastropub where after-work professionals dine and drink sake) in Singapore. Chef Kota is friendly and knowledgeable, and he enjoys interacting with diners, surprising them with nuggets of information on the ingredients and preparation methods. The interior exudes the Japanese izakaya vibe, with its red paper lanterns inscribed in Japanese letters, wooden furnishing and lacquered bamboo tracing along the ceiling.
Yatagarasu has one of the widest pork wrap skewers selection in Singapore, with our 15 types of pork belly wraps to choose from, each skewer is unique in presentation and taste. The ‘lollipop’ Shiso Leaf Pork Wrap is among the many skewers I craved in this establishment. The light, mellow flavour of the shiso leaf complements the meaty, juicy wraps, barbequed to a perfect whitish pink with glistening grill marks. Chef Kota lets me try the shiso leaf itself and I am surprised how a bland ingredient commonly found in Japan can elevates the meat taste.
Next, the Enoki Mushroom Pork Wrap gives a texturized bite to the meat. The barbequing process also helps to enhance the enoki mushroom flavour, balancing the meat profile. This is a good skewer companion for a glass of cold, chilled beer.
Perhaps the most creative/ experimental pork wrap skwer of all, the Yakisoba Pork Wrap is also the most visually arresting. With the yakisoba sauce pouch placed on top of the meat, you have to slightly squeeze the pouch end to emit sweet delicious straight into the sauce.
Besides the unique pork belly wraps, Yakitori also doles out an array of barbecued skewers featuring chicken and vegetables. Try the popular chicken wings, soft bone and the fillet skewers ($2.50 each) with the restaurant home-made yakitori sauce to kick the indulgence up a notch.
For lunch, the restaurant has a special meu featuring Oyako-Don (chicken and egg rice bowl). Both chicken and egg are summered in a flavourful dashi sauce. Only 50 bowls will be served each afternoon and the lunch service starts from 11.30am.
72 Circular Road
#01-01 Singapore 049426
There’s nothing in the world that’s one size fits all. But if you’re looking for a restaurant that sells quality sandwiches, handmade pastas and steak while sipping superbly-brewed specialty coffee, then .elia is the right place. Bistro by day, restaurant by night, .elia brings a curated menu where signatures from abroad are delectably assembled with a personal touch. Located at 10 Jiak Chuan Road, this new 30-seater restaurant provides diners a modern twist to traditional fare such as tortellini and wagyu steak. Stripping off the bells and whistle, leaving just the essentials on the plate. Helming the culinary direction is founder-and-chef Clint Seah. His casual yet refined menu logs his travels, inspiration and culinary journey – leading to the birth of .elia. Since opening its door on 3rdAugust, this quant restaurant has received nothing but raving reviews. I can’t wait to join in for a gastronomic experience.
Exuding a quiet charm, walking into .elia gives me an impression of bare monochromatic translucency – you can see all the way to the kitchen the minute you walk in. On the right side sat a long marble top; the drinks section where you can order their specialty coffee, exotic tea, and alcoholic drinks. The interior speaks chic minimalist with a splash of grey, wooden furnishing and natural light.
Showcasing the best produce of each season, you can expect non-pretentious, honest freshly-made pasta and sandwiches (yes, even the bread is baked fresh!) just like the décor itself. Each type of bread and pasta is paired to its corresponding ingredients, bringing out the best in every dish.
For the weekday lunch menu (available on Mondays to Thursdays), the Panchetta (image above) is the must try. Cooked in brown butter and egg yolk with Italian bacon, you could feel the rich, exquisite flavour carried into the freshly-made trenette. Choose the lunch set to add hot coffee/ tea for just $1 – absolutely value-for-money.
Come dinner time, elia morphs into a casual dining concept befitting for a place for a place for a romantic date or just hanging out with friends. Simple and elegant, the un-frivolous naming Octopus features a perfect mix of grilled octopus with sauteed kale, caramelised chili and macadamia nuts.
Surprisingly not chewy, I love the firm, crisp bite of the delicious octopus and the visually appealing composition of this dish.
As a unyielding carnivore, the Wagyu Beef Shortribs is my personal favourite dish within the menu. Sous-vided and seared to a perfect medium-rare, expect an explosion of flavour with each mouthful.
Overall, this cosy restaurant indeed whipped up some interesting, gourmet food. It is a perfect place to organise for a small private functions too. Fun fact: .elia does not stand for perfect. In fact, the name means far from perfect. It recognises that there is more to life than being perfect, one of which is to remain humble and constantly seek improvement. A good principle for us to seek and remind ourselves to abide to, every day in our lives.
10 Jiak Chuan Road Singapore 089264
Author: Alex Chua
If you want to learn the dark art of crafting a perfect cuppa, The Coffee Academics might just be the right place. The award-winning coffee concept store hailing from Hong Kong, this specialty café sources only the best coffee beans from all over the world. It͛s roasted coffee offerings had been awarded 92 to 94 points by the World Coffee Review, achieving the distinct honour of being ranked highest in Asia and top three in the world. Not only does it serve quality coffee, The Coffee Academics teaches how to make one too. Being the first and only coffee house in Singapore to offer the Colour Your World Latte Art workshop, my friend and I, both impulsive coffee lovers but coffee-making novices, can͛t wait to try our hands on this beautiful craft.
Teaching this creative workshop is the bubbly Head Barista Vanessa Caceres (centre). Having won the Coffee Champion title at the 2015 All Star Female Barista Latte Art Champion in Bogota, Colombia, Vanessa leads an expert team of baristas in its Signature Coffee Classes. Be sure to sign up early as the coffee classes are kept small and intimate to ensure maximum hands-on learning experience.
At the beginning of the workshop, Vanessa covers the basics first, including how to brew a cup of expresso and milk frothing. Next, she introduced to us the intricate world of espresso latte art, and subsequently wow us away with a series of beautifully-drawn, colourful latte art designs. With consistent pulls and strokes, the Head Barista brought vibrancy of red, green and blue to the otherwise conventional white and brown. The colours used are naturally-extracted food dyes to prevent the taste from being compromised.
Besides including colour dynamics to the cup, Vanessa drew intricate 3D art designs like the cute cat above. Her pleasant, affable personality was infectious and we the participants were constantly engaged and intrigued to what designs she would come up next. To ensure the workshop runs smoothly, the cafe uses only professional, state-of-the-art equipment and award-winning beans for the workshops. This class could also serve as great team-building activities or with like-minded friends (up to seven participants) who appreciate good design and coffee.
͚Hey, let me draw your portrait,͛ she said enthusiastically, and in less than a minute and perhaps a few seconds of touch-ups later my friend͛s face floats on top of the latte. A visceral representation which he appreciates so much that he asked me to take a few pictures of him together with the cup for his Instagram profile pic.
Overall, I enjoyed my evening learning from Vanessa, and hopefully my friend did too. We went home happy of the deliciously brewed latte we sampled and a certificate of participation to boot. Moreover, we went home with a heightened appreciation of the many creative ways a simple cuppa could be crafted.
The Coffee Academics Singapore Flagship Store
#02-01/02, 6 Scotts Road, Scotts Square Singapore 228209
Author: Alex Chua
Delight your taste buds with four locally-inspired dishes at Eighteen Chefs Chilli Crayfish Pasta There is nothing more Singaporean than Singapore’s food itself. In celebration of National Day this August, Eighteen Chefs elevates the spirit of multi-cultural diversity to a whole new gastronomical level with the introduction of four delectable, locally-inspired dishes. A household name when it comes to quick, affordable Western cuisine, the halal-certified restaurant is well-known for its customizable cheese baked rice and wide variety of freshly-prepared western fare with a local twist. The juxtaposition of local and western ingredients of these four new dishes is on point, and it should gel with the local’s taste buds as well. The surprises truly satisfy!
The first dish, Chilli Crayfish Pasta ($16.80) is served with a mix of succulent crayfish and pan grilled fish atop a toss of pasta. I love the rich, tangy sauce which mixed perfectly with the pasta and the freshness of crayfish.
Dry Laksa Pasta
For those who adore Singapore’s standard of spiciness would definitely appreciate the Dry Laksa Pasta ($14.80), as it can be quite hot to the tongue. Accompanied with grilled tiger prawns, juicy prawns and eggs, the pasta is best consumed while its hot to retain the succulent laksa taste!
Pineapple & Chicken Satay Kebabs with Fried Rice
The dish which I would come back for more is the Pineapple & Chicken Satay Kebabs with Fried Rice($13.80). Almost melt-in-the-mouth, thick tender grilled chicken kebab pineapple skewer is drizzled with peanut satay sauce, paired with fragrant friend rice and toss of side salad, making it the perfect composition for a protein-rich meal. The dish tastes delicious, with the nutty richness balanced by the refreshing flavours of the pineapple and meaty punch from the kebabs. There are no charred edges in the skewer.
Fluffy Rainbow Ice Cream Sandwich
What better way to end the course with every Singaporean childhood dessert? The colourful Fluffy Rainbow Ice Cream Sandwich ($1.80) is just like your everyday cheer-me-up ice cream sandwich from your favourite peddler plus more. Uncompromisingly sinful and localized, you can choose between flavours such as sweet corn, raspberry ripple, red bean, choco mint and durian, wrapped in a visually pleasing unicorn-like colored bread.
There’s no reason not to visit Eighteen Chef’s for a quick, affordable yet tasty meal. Ultimately, Eighteen Chef’s is a place that makes you feel good. As does the food.
Author: Alex Chua
Are you a Japanese style hamburger fan? If yes then you would surely adore BURG Kitchen. The latest addition to top-rate Japanese restaurants Eat At Seven, BURG Kitchen doles out the juiciest hamburg with up to seven choices of sauces that customers can select from. Ranging from demi-glace, teriyaki with mayo and wasabi, to oroshi ponzu and ponzu spicy chilli, these delectable sauces compliments the robust flavour of the well-marinated meat itself. The kitchen is helmed by Chef Kataoka, who uses only quality blend of minced Australian beef and wagyu fats to boost up the texture and flavour.
Besides the hamburgs are other delectable main courses as well. Comfort food lovers, read on to find out more!
Nestled deep inside Eat At Seven, this Japanese-French fusion-style restaurant is not prominently positioned unlike the usual makan premises. What it lacks in visibility it gains in privacy and cosiness which I personally enjoy. Tucked within the raw slabs of red and white concrete, wooden floorings and below the orange arch arcs are comfortable sofas and cushioned seats –its like a little enclave where you can coast around for a little breather, away from the peering crowds in the bustling mall. The open kitchen concept and long panel window at the entrance exudes a sort of modern and spaciousness without feeling too exposed. It is basically a dining oasis where family and friends can enjoy intimate chat over sumptuous, comforting food.
The first dish, Penne Meat Sauce Gratin ($14.50++) comes with a single minced beef ball atop melted cheese. The cheese is stringy and not overpowering the tasty meat and tomato sauce penne. The dish is served with a bowl of rice and miso soup, making it a really satisfying meal.
I love the presentation and aroma oozing from the Golden Curry with Handmade Creamy Croquet and Beef Meatballs ($15.50++). Aesthetically pleasing with its colour scheme of green, yellow, and red from zucchini, baby corn and red pepper. The curry has a creamy texture, and a runny onsen egg tops it off perfectly. A healthy, nutritious meal without feeling too green (note: bland) to the palette.
The dish is something that makes me want to come back again with a friend to share. Marinated with pepper, nori and sesame seeds, the Chicken Wings with Spice Blend ($14.50++) gives a uniquely piquant kick and a crisp bite on the well-flavoured meat.
Saving the best for last, the Cheese Burg ($19.80++) is a 200g patty consists of a blend of quality Australian minced beef with wagyu fats, well-marinated with salt, pepper, miso, sautéed onions, breadcrumbs and milk. Topped with Colby and cheddar cheese torched for a smoky tinge and gooey consistency, giving it a robust, meaty flavour to every bite. If you are a true-blue carnivore, the Original version ($18++) without the cheese topping is gastronomically perfect enough.
Heres 3 words to sum up BURG Kitchen – sumptuous, cosy and value-for-money. Whats more, every main course ordered entitle unlimited servings at the salad and dessert bar! Making this restaurant a steal for the Suntec office dwellers.
Burg Kitchen Address:
Eat at Seven, 3 Temasek Boulevard, #03-315, Suntec City Mall, Singapore 038983
Phone: +65 6266 5338
Opening hours: 11:30am – 3pm, 5:30 – 10pm (daily)
Look at this basket of mints! I literally grew up with IMPACT Mints (Peach Flavour) because I started eating them since young! I remember how I would save up for it because it was a little pricey when I was still a student back then. Haha. It was also quite cool to have a little tin of mint in our pockets back then.
I am also quite sure that you guys are no stranger to IMPACT Mints too! Tell me they made an impact during your schooling days too!
Just last month, I had the opportunity to attend their FIRST EVER MEDIA PARTY in asia and from there, I learn more about the mints! I never never never knew that they had it in Mango flavor too!
Other than learning about the brand, we also had dinner and some hands-on activities like making our own parfait! Lucky for James because he had 2 shares. He ate one on the spot and I gave him mine for his breakfast.
Make a guess, which were the two earliest flavors? The mints were only available in Japan before it came over to South East Asia. And IMPACT peach mints were produced with special Japanese peaches! With that, I had always thought that the mints came from Japan! To IMPACT, the taste and quality meant the world to them.
Do not belittle these little tins. They may contain tiny mints, but each mint can refresh your breath instantly. They will also burst into their respective flavors when you place them into your mouth.
What was interesting that day was also the fact that they included the mints into their ice blended drinks – bringing the drinks to another whole new level of minty freshness!
I also love the entire set up of the event. All the decorations and dessert table were SO cute. It felt like a fun gathering for a tea party after a long week of work.
Even though I looked really tired, James and I really enjoyed the event thoroughly. Thank you for the gather, brand introduction, dinner and of course, the mints!!
IMPACT Mints can be found at NTUC FairPrice, Cold Storage, Giant, Sheng Siong, SPC, Caltex 7-Eleven & Cheers Outlets.
Also, be sure to follow them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/impactmintsg/) for more updates!
Author: Alex Chua
The owners who introduced Chir Chir Fusion Chicken Factory and Masizzim to Singapore have started a chic Japanese restaurant, whose name means ‘Golden Mountain’ in Japanese. Kogane Yama is K Food Holdings’ first original dining concept housed at the hip enclave of Bugis Junction. Launched on 4 June 2017, the 44-seater pays homage to the humble yet satisfying tendon bowl. With each serving features a lavish heap of perfectly fried, golden-brown pieces of tempura atop a mound of sweet Japanese rice. I am definitely bowled over by these crisp, battered tempura bowls. For days that call for a plate of fried food, the tempura here unquestionably delivers.
Walking into the interior you would be immediately transported to traditional Japanese eatery, with light wood tables and concrete walls, accented by hints of royal blue mountain-print noren (Japanese curtains) hanging along the walls and from the ceiling. The minimalistic feel gives a touch of modern sophistication with the addition of Japanese-Scandinavian black leather cushioned chairs and banquet seats.
Kogane Yama puts a creative spin on the traditional tendon bowl selection. First, choose the type of tempura you’d like, from signature items such as the Chicken Bowl ($13.80+), a bowl boasting tender Chicken fillets and select vegetable tempura; Prawn Bowl ($13.80+), featuring juicy prawn tempura with select vegetable tempura; Vegetable Bowl ($13.80+), a bowl loaded with an assortment of perfectly battered veggies such as long beans, carrot, shiitake and enoki mushrooms, sweet potato, green bell pepper and more; as well as the highly recommended Mixed Bowl ($15.80, above+), a mixed of EVERYTHING from the above.
Next, pick your base. You can choose to have the classic Japanese short-grain rice or top up a dollar to enjoy it with either Soba or thin Udon – both steeped in a clear and fragrant dashi broth. I personally adore the Udon here which is thinner and flatter.
Finally, choose the level of spiciness for the tentsuyu sauce – from non-spicy to level one to three. When I tried the level 3 I find it is still palatable, although I knew I could take the heat. You could also top up $2 to make a set, which comes with a bowl of chawanmushi and either miso soup or green tea.
Having a couple of refreshers definitely helped to soothe through the large meal. I have a hard time deciding which one is my preferred drink, either the Calpis Soda ($5.50+) or layered Azuki Matcha Latte ($6.80+), as I adore the taste of both drinks. The Calpis soda is a concoction of fizzy soda and vanilla-flavoured yogurt. The Azuki Matcha is sweet and creamy, and its great as a dessert itself.
Overall, this tempura specialty restaurant is a great, convenient premise for casual, value-for-money dining. What makes Kogane Yama different from other tendon restaurants is the many options available to customise your tempura set without overwhelming us with numerous selections.
Address: Bugis Junction, 200 Victoria Street, #02-50, Singapore 188021
Sun – Thu: 11am – 10pm (last orders at 9.30pm)
Fri and Sat: 11am – 11pm (last orders at 10.30pm)
Author: Alex Chua
Braised Minced Pork Ricebox, Spicy Drumstick Ricebox and Braised Chicken Ricebox
If you fancy Taiwan street cuisine, and particularly Taiwan railway food, there is a new spot in town to dine at. Conveniently located in Ocean Financial Centre at Raffles Place, Woo Ricebox serves tasty and affordable Taiwanese lunch sets and a myriad of yummy delights that would definitely satisfy the foodophile in you.
Here’s some interesting background about this brand. Woo Ricebox began with a simple purpose –to serve travellers comforting meal on the long train journey, hence leading to the emergence of the ricebox. It opened its first outlet in 1939 at Chihshang Township, a major railway interchange in Taitung. Today the brand has grown to over 200 stores in Taiwan, and its original premise transformed into a Museum to share the history of Taiwanese and local rice culture.
Who can say no to the Signature Braised Pork Ricebox with Preserved Veggies, or Lu Rou Fan ($6.80)? Presented in an oval bamboo box, you can choose between pork belly or lean pork. The meat is nicely marinated, flavourful and goes really well with the specialty rice. Woo Ricebox uses only premium short-grain rice specially imported from Chihshang in Taitung, which is prized for its fragrance and springy texture when cooked.
If you’re like me who find fried food simply irresistible you will be spoilt for choice with Woo’s selection of seven different fried mains, which includes Woo’s Pork Chop Ricebox ($8.30) and the awesomely HUGE Spicy Fried Chicken Ricebox ($8.90). Woo’s secret batter and frying technique gives a delightful crunch upon biting into the meat, and it doesn’t give the oily feel which really sits well for me.
To make your meal more satisfying, you can grab some side dishes like the addictive Spicy Drumstick ($5) with juicy meat wrapped in light crispy skin, Taiwan Sausage ($1.50 for 7 slices), Braised Beancurd ($1.50 for 2 pieces) or Salt & Pepper Popcorn Chicken (picture above, $4, available only during off-peak periods).
As for my personal favourite I would definitely grab the Gua Bao 割包 (chicken $2.20/ pork $2.60). Filled with tender pork/ chicken and preserved vegetables, sprinkled with peanut powder, giving it a textured bite with juicy, meaty taste. A must for busy working professionals who needs a quick, fuss-free grab-and-go lunch!
Woo Ricebox @ Ocean Financial Centre
10 Collyer Quay, #B1-03/05 Ocean Financial Centre
Opening Hours: 11 am to 8pm (Mon to Fri Last order 7.30pm),
11am to 3pm (Sat last order 2.30pm), closed on Sundays
Author: Alex Chua
Unagi connoisseurs would be pleased to note that Yamada Suisan, the famed Japan’s unagi wholesaler and top eel breeder, is collaborating with a Singapore restaurant: Eat At Seven’s Maguro-Donya Miura-Misaki-Kou Sushi & Dining (Maguro-Donya). These unagis (eels) are bred in clean, fresh underground water that runs to a depth of 70 metres underground, employing a 24-hour monitoring system to ensure that the quality of these eels are not affected.
The collaboration is made possible thanks to the matchmaking efforts of All Nippon Airways Group (ANA). This means that the restaurant can procure premium, top grade unagi at wholesale cost, and offer customers at exceptionally affordable prices!
An extremely popular haunt amongst the Japanese community, this fish specialist is wooing local fans with its prices and attention to taste. Helmed by Chef Takuya Matsumoto and Takayoshi Shishido, the restaurant has its own fleet of fishing trawlers and hence able to curate the freshest maguro and sashimi around the world and fly them directly to Singapore via ANA air freight. Maguro-Donya also imports Hokkaido rice directly from Japan, and each grain of rice served is al dente, moist and simply unforgettable!
The affordable Una Jyu Set (U.P. $35.80) came with grilled Unagi eels and 4 usual side dishes. Presented in a beautifully lacquered wooden box, the unagi, glazed with Teriyaki sauce, is tender, succulent and tasty, and you can literally taste the light, fluffy texture of the rice. One special mention is the green tea kanten, the mild green tea flavour emits gradually in the mouth without being overpowering or too bland.
Top up just $7 and you could enjoy the fresh and thick slices of the Premium Maguro, to be served alongside the Unagi bowl. The Una Jyu Sashimi Set (U.P. $42.80) is ideal for working professionals who wants a taste of quality fish and a wholesome meal.
Ala carte option is also available if you want to order just this delightful fish. Overall, I am sold by the texture, the combination of creamy fall-apart flesh with crisp skin and the interplay of sweet nodes from the Teriyaki sauce. Definitely a must-try for the unagi lovers.
Suntec City Mall
3 Temasek Boulevard #03-314
Operating Hours: 11am – 2.40pm
5.30pm – 11.30pm, Monday – Sunday
Author: Alex Chua
Beach Road is a hotbed of affordable good food, but it’s hard to miss the black exterior of Wah Kee, even though in passing you might’ve guess it’s just another regular stall in a coffee shop. Those in the know would flock to this new outlet to savour the signature bowl of prawn noodles popular for more than half a century – 65 years in exact. Along with the opening of its third new outlet (the first stall is at Pek Kio and the second at Esplanade), Wah Kee unveils the Wu Xiang Platter, dishing an array of classic items familiar to all Singaporeans.
Opened on April 2017, the third stall features a more laid-back, no frills, residential setting where diners can take a breather from the harsh air-conditioned premises to enjoy the cool windy breeze on al fresco. The first time this beloved brand – which has won the hearts of gourmands the likes of Hong Kong actor Chow Yun-fat and food blogger Dr Leslie Tay – set up an outlet in a humble coffee shop. And diners can definitely take a breather on the wallet with no GST and service charge!
The Big Prawn Noodle set is definitely the main crowd pleaser and a personal favourite of mine. Using only wild big prawns, these big prawns are fresh and succulent and the broth rich in flavour. You can choose between soup/ dry prawn noodles and three different noodle types. As a personal preference, I opt for the dry mee kia and the noodle is delightful with a tinge of spiciness.
Okai, enough about the noodles. The new dish the Wu Xiang Platter (prices from $8 onwards) showcases four exclusive mainstays which you wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. They are Wah Kee Prawn Cracker and Bean Curd Skin Roll with Prawns, Fried Wanton and Chinese Sausage. All of it offers a great accompaniment to Wah Kee’s legendary prawn noodle.
Wah Kee Beach Road Outlet Opening Promotion
Senior citizens aged 65 and above can enjoy Wah Kee’s bowl of prawn noodles (UP: $5) at just $3!
Wah Kee @ Beach Road
Blk 1 Beach Road #01-4757
11am to 10pm daily