Sunday, 21 October 2018

Froth - Asian Fusion Dining in CBD


What do you do if you love Chinese food but end up in a western restaurant because of work? Froth is an Asian Fusion Dining concept located at Ascott Raffles Place. It was introduced to me by a colleague who doesn't enjoy noodles or western food but he mentioned that the food at Froth resonated with him.


This Sio Bak Aglio ($24.90) was his recommendation. It's legitimately good! The sio bak has a very crispy skin with fat, juicy and tender meat. Its flavour was literally oozing out of every bite. To top it off, another friend who also doesn't appreciate these 'atas' dishes actually praised the sio bak. If this isn't valid testimony of the dish, I don't know what is.


The Chilli Crab Pasta ($24.90) is another noteworthy dish. For a start, the fried till crispy shellcrab is loud and distinct. The chef also included a fried mantou at the side which is pretty ingenious. The pasta sauce was slanting towards a tomato sweet flavour which kinda appeals however not spicy enough! As a whole though, the dish stands out for good execution and generosity.


I enjoyed my Prawn Aglio ($24.90) dish. At first glance, it looks kinda ordinary and the prawns used look like something my mom can prepare. Dishing into the linguine, my entire perspective change. For a start, the noodles were oozing with wok-hei flavour. I strongly believe that good pastas are fully immersive in both the initial taste and the subsequent after taste. This one left a lingering after taste which leaves you craving for more. It's western yet chinese which reminds you of char mee yet it's linguine and aglio olio.

I reserve special praise for the linguine. You notice that all 3 dishes were using the same noodles but they all carry their own distinctive taste. The fact that they are all supposed to be aglio olio but yet stand out in such a differentiated manner highlights the ingenuity of the chef's skill. I guess with the hotel price tag, it's a given. That said, good food is good food and my meal at Froth is definitely memorable.

Froth
2 Finlayson Green, Ascott Raffles Place
Singapore Level 2, Singapore 049247

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Tarte by Cheryl Koh - Delectable pastries at the heart of Orchard


Tarte by Cheryl Koh is a patisserie based on the 2nd story of Shaw Centre. The concept originated as a takeaway kiosk selling pastries by Les Amis Pastry Chef, Cheryl Koh. Chef Koh won the 'Asia's Best Pastry Chef' in the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants awards in 2016.


I've long heard about this patisserie and it's been sitting on my shortlist for the longest of time. I'm really glad to have finally made this trip with a friend and try out some of the much acclaimed pastries.


I'm totally not a fruits person so all the fruity selections are by my dining companion. Sometimes it's great to dine with different people because it brings out the adventurous side in me. Being a sport, I agreed to share. This is the Fresh Passionfruit Curd ($10) which is really creamy in texture and carries a zesty fruity flavour. Our general consensus is that it is too sour for our liking however I feel it's a matter of preference and not so much of bad execution.


I went for the Pistachio Tart ($10) which greeted us with a challenging hard-rock appearance when I couldn't knife through the pastry with my fork. Despite the not so impressive first impression, we unanimously agreed that it is good. We like it that the tart isn't too sweet and the flavour is not overpowering. The balance is just right.


The Earl Grey tart ($10) is another winner. It is a creme bulee infused with artisanal crafted ceylon teas with bergamot and citrus. The flavours are all very distinct and on point. I enjoyed the tart a lot especially when it isn't excessively flavoured. Judging from my limited experience trying out tarts, I know that these are the best I've eaten so far. In fact, my bad experience with lousy tarts are partially a reason why I tried so little.


My friend was very drawn to the Fraisier ($10). That was her first choice when we made our selection. The cake is made of light sponge with creme mousseline and French strawberry. It is very good! As someone who doesn't like fruits in my food, this is something I am willing to take a couple more bites. The sponge is really light and you don't get tired eating it at all. The strawberries are not the least sour and they are sliced with the absolute right proportions that goes exceedingly well with my fork full of sponge cake.


The entire dining experience was wonderful and I'm very impressed. So this is what it is like to eat tarts from an award winning pastry chef! If you are looking for a coffee place to rest and chit chat in Orchard Road, this is The Place for you.

Tarte By Cheryl Koh
1 Scotts Road, #02-12 Shaw Centre, S228208

Sunday, 30 September 2018

The Breakfast Club - Authentically English Breakfast


I came to know about The Breakfast Club during my research for my first trip in London back in 2017 but only got to try it now. The story goes that Vain Pot didn't feel they serve up anything we couldn't really find in Singapore so we ended up in Granger & Co back then. So later on, another friend dragged her to Breakfast Club and she discovered wonderful pancakes there. *rolls eyes*


Finally, I get to dine in The Breakfast Club! This is an awesome place that I really think every visitor to London should have a meal at. Yes, it serves a lot of typical brunch food you can find everywhere but it's authentically English. Dining here, it made me feel that most of the brunch creations we find in many cafes originated in these Western cultures. The Breakfast Club seems to bring out this culture so distinctively, it'll be a waste if you skip this place when in London.


Looking at the menu, there's a whole list of stuff I really want to try. I settled on the Salted Caramel Banofee Pancakes (9.50 pounds) because pancakes were the original reason that made me shortlist this place (I was googling best pancakes in London). It tastes really awesome! I found the pancakes to be soft and fluffy but a little bit doughy. It however went really well with the whipped cream, chilled bananas and salted caramel sauce. In fact, the balance was so good, I finished the 3 stacks of pancake which would have been too much for my Asian stomach normally.


Vain Pot ordered the Oatmilk Porridge, with crushed pecans, coconut and maple syrup (5 pounds), mainly because I wanted to try it too. I could tell it's not exactly her thing. I really like the western version of porridge because of the thick milky texture of oats in milk. I especially like the sweetness of the dish and the crunchiness of the fruits (usually bananas) or nuts that it comes with. I think it's an acquired taste but I really like it.


I found it a pity that it's my only visit there despite 3 trips to London. Then again, Vain Pot whips up really delicious brunch so I feel rather reluctant to have my brunch outside. I strongly recommend a visit to The Breakfast Club to experience the vibrancy of the cafe culture in London as well as the authentic English dishes that they serve. This single dining experience has certainly won me over!

The Breakfast Club
11 Southwark Street, SE1 1RQ

Monday, 24 September 2018

CBD Lunch Ideas at The Basement


Hong Leong Building recently completed the revamp of their basement food hall, called The Basement. It is a floor with a wide selection of food where the CBD working crowds' tummies are assured to be well pampered. Having recently been working in the area myself, I've had the pleasure to frequent it so often I can write about my dining experience.

Pho Thai 



Pho Thai is a combination of 3 restaurants selling Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese cuisines. The Japanese food which many of my colleagues also tried doesn't exactly have positive votes. In fact, most complain that the rice is too hard. While my bowl didn't have such complaint, it was too watery. The chefs are not very skilled which frankly for their price point, can be quite a harsh assessment. However, given that there are 2 other restaurants there, the jap food relative to the other choices seem to fail badly.



On a separate occasion, I tried the Thai Basil Pork rice. It was satisfactory. I wasn't expecting much from a lunch crowd eatery and the least it can do is get the basics right. I'm pleased with the level of spiciness of the pork, flavour and the sunny side up that it comes with.

Baba Bento


Baba Bento was one of my favourite meals in The Basement. For a start, it's my first ever Bunga Telang rice. It comes with 4 choices beef rendang, ikan assam pedas, ayam kapitan and ayam pongteh. I settled for the Ikan Assam Pedas set which also comes with keropok and drink. The spicy assam fish packs a lot of flavour and the fish is cooked till tender, just the way I like it. I also enjoyed the sambal egg and chap chye that completes the meal. The entire lunch was fairly enjoyable and the biggest headache for me is the availability of seats at this highly popular lunch spot.

Ah Bamas


My colleagues later brought me to Ah Bamas and they rave about the awesome food as well as the extremely hospitable lady boss who can cook you any Indonesian cuisine you can dream up if you buay paiseh request for it. The Ayam Penyet we tried was pretty impressive! The chicken packs a very crispy exterior although I found the meat rather dry. What really makes the dish a winner is the chilli. The chilli has a wicked spiciness that all my colleagues couldn't get enough of. In fact, a couple of them went for 2 to 3 extra chilli servings because it goes so well with the rice and the chicken. Be warned though, the spiciness can be challenging for some to manage.

Turkish Cuisine


Then there're also the random days we couldn't get seats and have to settle for Turkish Cuisines. Turns out that the food is pretty good. The roast chicken with rice was very tender and it goes very well with the tartar and chilli sauce that the dish comes with. While Turkish food is simply not my kind of food, the meal was still a very competent effort.

Crave


Crave is known to serve pretty fantastic Nasi Lemak. There're a total of 6 sets you can choose from, mainly either fish or chicken. I settled for the chicken filet set which I was very happy with. The chicken is fried excellently with crispy skin and tender meat. I find that their chilli packs a punch that makes the entire meal a joy to eat. You can take my word for it coming from someone who doesn't really eat Nasi Lemak by choice.

As a whole, The Basement is a very interesting place to have lunch. Most of the food range from $7 to $15. Not exactly the cheapest place to dine at considering there's Lau Pa Sat next door. I guess their merits is really a centralised dining hall with a myriad selection. You definitely won't grow bored dining here everyday but you might go broke.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

2 Day 1 Night in Paris


Paris is one of the most romantic cities in Europe. It is a place that is so rich in culture, excellent food and picture perfect views. Paris being a 2 hour train ride from London is a perfect getaway for a short pampering trip over the weekends.

In my case, this is my holiday and it's part of a larger Europe trip. I actually stayed 3 days in Paris but one of them was spent in Disneyland which will not be covered in this entry. Because it is my first time in Paris, we tried to cover everything in 2 days and I got to say, we did well despite the time constraints.

Le Bossue


We discovered Le Bossue by chance because a lot of shops are not open on Sundays and Mondays in Paris. This is an excellent breakfast spot and we literally had our breakfast there for 3 days straight. The pastries, cakes and cookies available for selection are heavenly and really it's one of the meals I still miss a lot now that I'm back in sunny Singapore.

Shopping at Lafayette


Visiting Paris is never complete without the shopping. Lafayette is one of the biggest megamalls with a wide selection of famous brands. To be honest, we usually try the outlets for the best deals but when you are short on time and willing to splurge on the latest designs, this is the mall to go. Even if you don't wish to shop, it's worth a visit because of the grandiose architecture that's in the mall. In a country where you need to pay for the washrooms, Lafayette has very clean washrooms which are free!

Sadaharu Aoki


While in Paris, patisseries are a must have! Sadaharu Aoki is a famous Japanese patisserie has a shop in Paris and naturally it's on my must-try list! I enjoyed the black sesame ice-cream (not in the photo) the most.

River Seine


This photo is taken on the Pont des Arts Bridge. This is the famous love bridge where couples used to put love locks at on the railings. This bridge is overlooking the renown River Seine and the view is awesome.

We took lots of photos on this bridge with the wonderful backdrop so it's something you can do too!


Couples can buy a lock and attach it to this signage at the start of the bridge. Said to bring good luck and longevity to your relationship.

Notre Dame Cathedral

 






The Notre Dame Cathedral is a church with amazing architecture. Even if you don't share the same religion, it's worth a visit. You can check out the guided tour timings to fully appreciate the history and architecture inside the church. This is the most famous church in Paris and it is a tourist attraction.

Musee D' Orsay


I actually paid to enter Musee D'Orsay twice over the two days I spent in Paris. This is because uncultured me only wanted to visit the museum to take this photo of the clock. We visited the museum near the closing time. Vain Pot got captivated by the amazing sculptures and art pieces inside the museum that we didn't managed to take photos of the clock on the first day. So we went back the second day to fulfill my initial objective.

If you are planning to take display pictures at the clock, be sure to plan your photoshoot before hand because there is a long queue and many other annoying tourists who obviously do not care if there are people who wants to take the classic shot. It is pretty much a 1 min of fame where you make or break the display photo you want.

Louvre


The Louvre is another famous museum in Paris that houses the Mona Lisa. If you are into art pieces, it is best to set aside half a day to make your money's worth. I personally think you can only fully appreciate the museums if you set half a day for each. Oh, and if you are like me who only likes to take photo of the architecture, it is best to visit the Louvre in the morning when it isn't opened yet.

La Briezh



Crepes is another traditional French cuisine that is highly encouraged you try when in Paris. La Briezh is a specialist crepe restaurant that serves a myriad of savoury and sweet crepes done in multiple ways imaginable. The food quality is really good too!

Pierre Herme 


We tried all the popular desserts in Paris actually. The list includes Laduree and Angelina, for some reason, I have no idea where my photos went. Got to say out of all the desserts we tried, the macarons are Pierre Herme won our vote. Best!

Eiffel Tower


You didn't visit Paris if you haven't seen the Eiffel Tower. It's advisable to make 2 trips to the Eiffel Tower, one for the day shots and another at night. Due to time constraints, we squeezed our visit from evening till night... partly due to piggy Vain Pot who couldn't wake up in the morning for our morning shots. If you do not need to go up the Eiffel Tower, you can stake camp at Trocadero Gardens to take this awesome shot.


The Eiffel Tower has a light display at every hour at night. The grand finale is at 1am. I really like this night shot I took because it looks so postcard worthy.

Le New York 




While waiting for the lights display, we had dinner at a nearby restaurant called Le New York. Don't be fooled by the name because the place serves up really good French cuisines. We totally enjoyed the escargot, duck confit and salmon penne. The duck confit especially was really tender on the inside and has a very crispy and flavourful exterior. Even the salmon penne which disappointed me at first appearance because I wanted chunky salmon meat, carries a fresh salmon flavour that was extremely creamy and appealing to my taste buds.

Moulin Rouge


The final attraction of our stay was at Moulin Rouge which is basically a musical performance. I didn't get tickets to go inside but passed by to take photos.

As a whole, the entire trip to Paris was really good. The reputation that Paris carries for good food, culture and architecture is true. Given more time, I'd want to visit more places and appreciate the art scene in Paris. For a 2 day 1 night trip, this is as satisfying as it can get!

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Restoran Super Kitchen Chilli Pan Mee - Chilli Pan Mee from KL in Singapore


With the influx of foreign establishments opening shop in Singapore, food is fast becoming a lesser lure to tempt me overseas. In my recent Europe trip, I prioritize activities over what to eat. This is coming from someone who used to tell my travel companions they can do anything they like as long as I pick the food. Restoran Super Kitchen Chilli Pan Mee is better known as "Restoran Super Kitchen Chilli Pan Mee Batu Road", a Kuala Lumpur eatery that has now graced the shores of Singapore. There are still 2 other Malaysian origin Chilli Pan Mee that have come to Singapore and I'm looking forward to try them out too!


The Chilli Pan Mee ($7.80) is served with an onsen egg, fried shallots, minced meat and ikan billis atop of its signature noodles. Their dry chilli flakes is placed at the side of the table and you can add it in on your own. This is a good thing as it caters to people of all spicy levels including those who don't take spicy. Having said that, you probably won't really appreciate the dish if it's not spicy.


When the chilli flakes are mixed into the noodles, the dish packs a punch. In fact, I think I'm one of the more timid diners in the shop. My friend dining with me transformed her yellowish white noodles to orange-red, in her words to achieve the ultimate 'shiokness'.


Besides the traditional Chilli Pan Mee, the eatery also has other noodles like this Curry Pan Mee ($7.80) and even rice dishes. Even the curry in this noodles pack a very traditional old school curry taste. That said, I think it's best to stick to the original if this is your first time here. 


Aside from mains, Restoran Super Kitchen Chilli Pan Mee serves a range of soups and drinks. The selection is quite wide and you will not grow bored of simply eating spicy noodles. As a noodle and spicy food lover, I enjoyed my meal. It helps that they are located at Far East Square at the heart of CBD as this fits a typical lunch treat on a busy and sleepy day. 

I'm pretty certain I'll be back again with my colleagues and friends I jio for lunch. I'll be looking forward to slowly increasing my spicy food threshold and hopefully I'll reach orange-red levels to experience the 'shiokness' one day. 

Restoran Super Kitchen Chilli Pan Mee
22 China Street, #01-01, Far East Square, 049564

Saturday, 1 September 2018

5 day 4 nights in Belgium


When you think of holiday destinations in Europe, popular cities that springs to mind are like London, Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Rome... how about Belgium and its lovely cities? This was the exact train of thoughts I had when I planned my recent trip. The original plan was Paris and Barcelona but I did a last minute switch to Belgium after getting tempted by the sights and food on some travel guides. As a result, I spent 5 days and 4 nights in Belgium where I visited 4 Belgian cities.

Brussels

        


There's really nothing much that intrigues me in Brussels besides eating. Located at the city centre near the Grand Place, there're rows and rows of chocolate shops. Most of them offers free tasting so you can pig your fill before buying some chocolate souvenirs home. The range of chocolates in Brussels totally blew me away. Every shop I go, I almost wished I could buy the entire shop and I don't even like candies.


Another must eat in Brussels is Belgian Waffles. There's long streaks of queue for all the good ones so be mentally prepared to wait. Maison Dandoy comes highly recommended prior to my trip. Despite promising myself I'll try it, I gave up queuing. The waffle in the photo is a Brussels waffle with dark chocolate sauce from The Waffle Factory. They also have a queue but thankfully it moves much faster.


Aside from the snacks, there's the famous Manneken Pis which is a classic must take monument. It's impossible to not know who he is. That guy is literally everywhere ranging from chocolate models to even the peeing on the sink where I wash my hands at one of the restaurants I dined at. What is less known however is Zinneke Pis and Jeanneke Pis. These two are Manneken Pis's dog and sister. You might want to take photos with all 3 monuments if you need a walking activity after all the eating. There's also a comic strip wall nearby but it's so pathetic, I don't want to feature it here. 


Another traditional Belgian food is meatballs and I encourage you to try some. We went to Balls & Glory to check out their meatballs. I don't take beef and most meatballs are made up of veal and pork. Balls & Glory serves up meatballs of other flavours like pork, chicken and vegetarian. They are really good and worth the calories! I enjoyed the sides very much too! 


We also discovered an unexpected pasta place. Vain Pot's tip to finding good food is to see if they have 4.5 stars or more on TripAdvisor. On this instance, it worked excellently. Pasta Divina is the best thing that happened on my holiday. The pastas are so heavenly, I am filled with deepest regret I didn't have time to eat them again. This is the first time I felt an immense urge to ask the table next to me to let me take a bite of their pasta because I simply wanted to try the entire menu. 


Mussels, another classic Belgian food not to be missed. To try authentic Belgian mussels with fries, it's best to visit Le Zinneke where they serve up mussels cooked in as many different ways as you can possibly imagine. I'd like to warn Asians though that they seem a bit discriminatory. We felt that the service for us was terribly slow and other tables were served multiple times before we had any service at all. I'm glad to try the mussels once but I don't want to go back and get frustrated again. 

Ghent


Ghent is known as Belgium's best kept secret. It's a historic city with lots of architectural beauty from the commissioned murals that totally left me mesmerized. I totally enjoyed my day there and it's my favourite place in Belgium. Walking around Ghent has a calming effect on the mind because everything just looks so pretty and ancient. 


While at Ghent, you can visit the Gravensteen Castle which carries a dark history. Personally, I think castles are better appreciated outside rather than the inside. If you have been to castles before, you might wish to skip going in. If not, it's pretty worth the money. 


I'll strongly recommend the canal boat ride while in Ghent. This is especially the case if you love taking photos as some sights are out of reach without the boat ride. I've been on a couple of boat rides this trip and I must attest that the ride in Ghent is the most value for money. The sights are spectacular and taking in the multitude of historic architecture can totally take your mind away from stress. 


As we were in Ghent on a Sunday, most shops are closed. Gust however is a highly rated brunch place that lives up to their hype. The brunch menu we tried was fantastic! Worth the visit when in Ghent. 

Brugge


Brugge is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Belgium. It is known for its preserved buildings and cobbled streets. Brugge attained most of its touristy fame from being listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site. Walking around the city, you can get really awed by the amazing preservation of the ancient buildings. People still live in such houses today??? 


I was quite determined to try as much local delights of Belgium as possible. The lunch in Brugge took place in a restaurant serving authentic Belgian delicacies. I'm glad I tried the eel in green sauce where the eel tasted so fresh and tender, and I was impressed the kitchen came out and gave us more eel half way into the meal. Wow! The mussels and fritez were equally awesome. You can taste the freshness of the mussels and it's not rubbery to eat at all. I highly recommend Restaurant De Koeste when in Brugge to try their local dishes. 


Another fantastic place I dined at was De Bocarme. It has a unique underground cellar decorated setting and the restaurant is family owned. I was impressed by the impeccable service despite they only have 3 people operating the place. It's a wonderful ambiance and you can see each table enjoying their food and wine. As it was Vain Pot's birthday, I'm very impressed with the management for successfully producing a cake with sparkles at my early morning request. Seriously, finding a birthday cake in Belgium is probably the biggest challenge this trip...


Personally, I found Brugge a little too touristy for my liking. There's so many souvenir shops, I lost count how many we entered. Besides that, the cobblestone streets and standard historic design of their buildings left me bored later in the day. One thing you can try is the horse carriage tours. They look fun and it's probably worth the memory. Having said that, I couldn't take the stench of the horses so had to pass. 

Dinant


Dinant is another under discovered city of Belgium. The number of tourists visiting is really a handful and it's such a pleasure posing for nice photography without masses of people in your photo. Really, it's quite a joy to be here for photography aficionados like me. 


One of the attraction in Dinant is the Grotte La Merveilleuse. The cave tour was quite satisfying as it was my first ever visit to a cave. That said, the guide had limited English so you can only catch key words and the bulk of the tour was conducted in French. Dinant is located in a French speaking Belgian community. I simply busied myself snapping photos. By the way, the end of the cave requires you to climb 150 steps to exit so be in comfortable shoes for your own sake.


Aside from the caves, there's the Charles De Gaulle Bridge where saxophones of different designs and nationality line the bridge. Dinant is also known as the Saxophone City because it's the hometown to the inventor of the Saxophone. 


Another key highlight of Dinant is the Citadel of Dinant where I took the shortest cable car ride up. You can also climb 420 steps up the stairs if you want some exercise. The view here is taken on top the Citadel where you get to tour its historic war site. 


On top of the wonderful time I had taking photos, I would like to highlight my particular joy in my Speculoos ice cream cone. I simply love the sweetness of this flavour and associate speculoos with Belgium so much. It's such a fattening indulgence but I don't care, it's happy food. You can buy it from Leonidas in Dinant. The food choices in Dinant is truly limited and that's the biggest drawback of the place so please plan your meals outside of Dinant. 


I found Dinant to be a beautiful quiet town that really satisfy a one day trip. I went camera crazy there and so did Vain Pot. She got plentiful of display photos there. 

To sum up my 5 day 4 nights Belgium trip, it's more than satisfying. I enjoyed my stay and still miss the pastas at Pasta Divina. I even joked to Vain Pot we could make another day trip to Brussels simply to satisfy our food cravings and shop for chocolate. Ghent is my favourite place and I highly recommend everyone who visits Belgium to take a peek at this beautiful city. I really would love to be back during Christmas 😍...