Saturday, 22 April 2017

Montana Singapore

It's been one crazy month... I've been preoccupied with a lot of work events including a work trip coming up really soon. I'll be heading to Rome next week so won't be sharing any food here but perhaps on my instagram @bluntandfussyeater.

I met up with Bak Bak and Bak Bak 2 this week and brought them to Montana Singapore because Bak Bak wanted western cuisine and desserts. Montana started out as Montana Brew Bar, a semi bar and waffle place. Some of the original dishes included the popular Mac and Cheese Waffle and the red velvet waffle stack. They have since revamped their menu a number of times. This is my second visit, the first was with Ms MooMoo.

We kicked off the meal with Mac and Cheese Fritters with Tomato Relish ($11). Bak Bak as her name suggest wants to try everything on the menu. I found this side to be pretty good! I like it that it was fried till crispy without as residue oil left in the bowl. The mixture of mac and cheese with an added spiciness also appeals to my taste buds. Going with the tomato relish, it makes for a great opening dish. 

For mains, Bak Bak 2 had the Crab Aglio Olio ($20.80). It comes with loads of chunky crab meat tossed inside the Aglio Olio. The pasta was cooked till al dente with the garlic flavour just right. The crab meat is probably one of the most generous servings I've seen in an Aglio Olio dish and probably made the dish very much value for money.

Bak Bak settled for the Signature Mac and Cheese Waffle ($13.80) on my recommendation. I'm disappointed to say that the standard dropped from my very first visit. One of the most intriguing aspects of this dish is the wonderment of where the Mac and Cheese is. It's actually inside the waffle and taste will be apparent when you cut it up. It's also the signature dish of Montana Singapore so for this dish to fail in quality, makes me wonder if Montana Singapore is starting to lose their identity. The waffle is still baked till crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The issue here is the generosity in the Mac and Cheese serving. The taste was totally missing, it felt like an empty waffle. In fact, it felt like eating plain waffles with tomato relish. What's the point of expanding their menu and compromising on the quality of signature dishes? It pisses me off further because I brought my friends there after having a positive experience a year ago.

Rant aside, I decided to try something new and picked the Southern Fried Chicken Waffle ($14). This one is a mixed review with Bak Bak finding the chicken to be tasty and well marinated with the sous-vide southern spice batter. I on the other hand found the dish difficult to finish. While the waffle was crispy and fluffy, I found it a tad dry going with the southern spice marinated chicken. I agree that I found the chicken tasty on the initial bites but had difficulty finishing because it became a 'jelat' experience subsequently. It's probably not a bad dish to share but it's a little overwhelming if it's a dish for 1.

Finally for desserts, it's a struggle between the waffle stack or the new instagram worthy cakes they just added. Bak Bak chose the cake and we settled for the Smokey Nutella ($14.80). It's not a very big cake but it's enough for 3 people to share. I'm almost ashamed to say that I went against my better judgement to choose the waffle stack because I gave in to my weakness for picture worthy desserts. The cake was very ordinary. It's probably a decent cake but nothing out of this world. Enough said.

Will I be back again? Maybe not. I am very much unforgiving when it comes to poor execution of signature food. I mean, com'on, if the very thing that made you known in the first place is presented badly, how do you expect to retain the trust of any customers? People are bound to order the signature dishes and it's almost a sure-fire way to keep customers away in double quick time. To be fair, Montana Singapore has a very interesting concept and I'm not sure if it's the chef's off day for my experience. If you aren't too fussy with food and would like to give their waffles a chance, it's probably a novel experience at the heart of town.

Montana Singapore
1 Selegie Road #02-25 Pomo Singapore 188306

Sunday, 16 April 2017


This weekend, I really ate a lot. It's the mother's birthday and my family celebrated at Hotel Jen's J65 buffet. My sentiments of that buffet experience is summed up by the fact that I'll only eat there again if it's for free... Aside from that, I spent my long weekend feasting at both the Soup Restaurant and Epiphyte.

The trip to Epiphyte is long overdue for various reasons. There's simply too many cafes to visit and deciding which one to go is one of the good problems I have to solve each week. Also, there's pretty much mix reviews on the food. Some say taste nice, some say nice for camera only... in any case, Vain Pot and I mutually decided to give this place a go. Epiphyte is in a way a garden themed cafe. A step inside the cafe will showcase a display of different types of plants into different pots and containers around the cafes. The shop decor provides a very relaxing feeling with lush greenery all around you. It's interesting to watch the staff preparing more of their plants while waiting to serve customers.

For mains, Vain Pot and I shared the Pink Risotto ($22) and Seafood Cartoccio ($26). The pink risotto is one of the better renditions of risottos that I've tried. The pink colour is made through roasted beetroot cooked with risotto creating a natural pink. Along with pan-seared scallops and parmigiana, we found the balance of the dish to be just right. I like it that the creaminess is not too overwhelming you get tired of eating after awhile and that the beetroot taste isn't overpowering. I also liked it that the rice is fat, plump and easy to swallow.

The Seafood Cartoccio has a strong laksa taste in the sauce which I found to go very well with the bread that comes with it. It is actually coconut prawn broth with daun kesom (Vietnamese coriander). I've nothing much to complain about the ingredients, found the entire dish to be generally enjoyable but not particularly stand-out. A safe choice I guess.

For desserts, Vain Pot ate the Terrarium ($13) which is the green looking thing in a glass container. It's basically pistachio siphon sponge with a little bit of mint leaves, croustillant, plum konnyaku, diplomat and flowers. The peach liquer sauce comes on the side and goes well to add moisture to the sponge making the entire dish enjoyable. I don't take mint so I merely took a bite. I found the sponge with cream and cookie crumbs to be highly addictive and if they could remove the mint leaves, I would have devoured the entire thing on my own.

My choice of Twilight ($10) is superficially with the intent of taking nice Instagram photos. That said, it turned out to be an enjoyable dessert. It's made of dark chocolate mousse, cointreau orange curd and light chocolate sponge. I enjoyed the milkiness of the chocolate mousse and the orange curd gave the added sourish zest that balanced out the sweetness.

On the whole, I found my entire experience at Epiphyte to be satisfying. It's definitely a very refreshing way to dine away from the typical brunch food or standard mains I'm used to having. In fact, I would say this is one of my more adventurous experience. I like the colours, I like the common food made different, I like how camera friendly the food look and I like it that the food doesn't suck. I think this is the kind of place to bring someone you wish to impress without the pretense of posh and glamour.

47 Neil Road, S088827
(Please check the operating hours before you go, it usually opens at 4pm but has exceptions on certain special occasions and weekends)

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Honolulu Cafe

This entire month I am overwhelmed with work, in particular this weekend. Didn't have any time to have a complete meal with friends worthy to write about till Sunday. Through a stroke of luck, I happened to be in Jurong East for work. So finally managed to try Honolulu Cafe after putting it off for months.

Honolulu Cafe originated from Hong Kong, and is known as a Cha Chan Teng (coffee place) back in its homeland. It opened its first outlet in Singapore Centre Point and Westgate is its second outlet. Their typical food highlights are its traditional Cha Chan Teng Hong Kong food like tomato spaghetti, luncheon meat and pork chop rice and even dishes that is cooked with instant noodles. I guess the most popular dish in Honolulu Cafe is their egg tarts. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to try it this time round. It is usually sold out by early afternoon and they only start selling it at 12.30pm. 

This visit is spread out over lunch and dinner. Too many dishes to try and not often in Jurong. For starters, Jurong doesn't seem to have much interesting noteworthy mains. In fact, I noted that Jurong East seems to have more interesting desserts like Lab Made, another made in Hong Kong product and the latest one is Doufu.

In any case, I tried the Baked Chicken in Tomato Spaghetti ($9.50) and my colleague settled for Luncheon Meat with Double Egg with Rice ($7.80). I think to judge the food by how much it 'wow' me would be unfair because that's not what Cha Chan Teng type cafes are about. It's more of comfort food. I like the richness of the tomato sauce in my baked chicken spaghetti meal and my colleague had a really runny egg that went really well with his warm rice. It's really just the kind of food to start your day right. I couldn't try the egg tarts because I had my lunch at 11am and egg tarts were only ready at 12.30pm :(

By dinner time egg tarts have sold out. In fact, their bakery was empty when I arrived. I settled for Instant Noodles with Pork Chop and added an additional Chicken Steak ($5.50 + $1.50) to my meal. Greediness overload! Again, it's comfort food at its best. While it's nothing spectacular, the meal made me very happy. The pork chop and chicken steak had the right kind of grilled taste that I expected from Hong Kong food and the noodles were Q and cooked till just right. If this was spaghetti, I'll called it al dente!

I'll definitely be back to dine here again. Honolulu Cafe serves my kind of comfort food. Explains why I love travelling to Hong Kong so much. It's definitely the place to eat if you are a fan of HK just like me.

Honolulu Cafe
#02-06 Westgate Mall, 3 Gateway Dr, S608532

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Blend It Up!

It's weekends again and it's going to be a helluva busy month. I told myself, I'll try my best to do something I really like each day and that includes satisfying food cravings. I mean, busy or not, still need to eat right?

This week, given I'm so busy, it's the brother's recommendation. He was telling me that there's very interesting food in the Tai Seng area and one of which he tried was this little Italian Restaurant operated by Chef Peter Neo. In a way, Chef Neo is considered a mini celebrity chef having appeared in Mediacorp's cooking shows before. It's probably also one of the more affordable Italian food you can find in Singapore to satisfy any cravings.

To kick start the meal, a typical Italian Restaurant would offer complimentary bread. I was presently surprised that a neighbourhood establishment with affordable pricing would also offer complimentary bread.

Being not too hungry, we dived straight into the mains. I ordered the Spaghetti Prawn Paste Aglio Olio ($19). The dried prawn paste did gave me a sense of satisfaction when devouring the dish. It's sufficiently spicy but not overwhelming and had a distinct prawn taste that made the entire dish flavourful. Pasta of course was al dente. I also found the dish particularly value for money given that the chef added dory fish slices along with generous portion of prawns. How often you get such a competently executed dish at $19?

My brother chose the Crabmeat and Lobster Ravioli ($22). Frankly, up till now, I haven't really tasted excellently produced Ravioli and this one feels equally ordinary. I didn't find the crabmeat or lobster distinct in the dish and found the tomato sauce to be relatively ordinary. Of course, this opinion is limited because I hardly order Ravioli dishes and much less been impressed with one. I'm heading to Rome at the end of the month, maybe after trying some authentic Italian food, I might be able to give a fairer assessment.

Finally for desserts, we shared a Pistachio Lava Cake with Vanilla Gelato ($11.80). I observed that the lava cake was leaking lava the moment it was served. We wanted to cut it up for a nice lava flowing effect for photos unfortunately, the cake gave way from the bottom with the top still intact when we tried to cut through! That aside, tastewise it was good. The lava cake was nutty, cake was fluffy and pistachio flavour distinct. I wished the cake was warmer when served because the coldness of the gelato overshadowed the flavours of the lukewarm cake. There's probably room for improvement but I'm not complaining much given the affordable pricing.

They gave me a $10 voucher so I'll be back again to try their pizzas which I heard is pretty good too! Blend It Up certainty exceeds my expectation given its price range and food presentation. The food quality is definitely above average and despite the small issues, it's a place I'll go whenever I want an Italian fix without blowing a hole in my wallet.

Blend It Up
325 Upper Paya Lebar Road S534946 
(You can ask the staff at Blend It Up to remove the tyres they use to chop parking for their restaurant guest, limited lots)