Monday, August 31, 2009


C says:

Still on our quest to conquer everything in the Robertson Quay area during our temporary squat in River Valley, we met up with a few of A’s friends last night and tried Shunjuu, an izakaya (grilled skewers) joint next to Bella Pizza.

The selection is huge, and when faced with so many choices I tend to overestimate my appetite and always end up ordering too much. Some of the standouts that we had were:

- grilled swordfish skewers. Wow. This was my favourite. The fish was really fresh, with a wonderful texture and an almost buttery flavour.
- pork belly stuffed with kimchi. I’ve recently acquired a taste for kimchi (in limited quantities), and I think it goes perfectly with pork.
- chicken hearts. Some of the best grilled chicken hearts I’ve ever had. They sliced these really thinly so it’s not too icky, and grilled perfectly so they’re nice and tender. Even A, who’s distinctly not a chicken offal eater, tried and liked these.
- cold udon with sesame sauce. A ordered this and was raving about it.

Various items wrapped with bacon/pork belly also featured prominently in our selection, including cheese, garlic, cherry tomatoes, scallops and okra. All were good, though anything would taste good wrapped in bacon and grilled, in my opinion.

After a heaty meal like that, we needed some kind of dessert to cleanse our palate. They only had 2 choices – a green tea ice cream and a yuzu sorbet. We ordered one of each to share. It was a good thing the yuzu sorbet wasn’t up A’s alley, because I loved it and promptly claimed it for myself. The flavour was delicate and a perfect balance of sweet orange and bitterness. A great end to the meal.

Service was excellent – they kept topping up our tea without being asked, and were very polite and efficient in taking our orders. As with all izakaya joints, it isn’t cheap, especially when you’re atetoomuch. Having said that, we did order quite a bit, and average bill was around $50 per person, which I guess is pretty standard these days for a non-austerity drive night out.

A says:

The skewered stuff is not the best I’ve had but it’s still very good. And the cold udon rocks. The wait staff are also very friendly and attentive.

30 Robertson Quay
#01-15 Riverside View
Tel: 6887-3577
Lunch: 12 noon to 2.30 pm
Dinner: 6 pm to 10.30 pm (11 pm on Thurs to Sat)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Vom Fass

C says:

I personally haven’t been to this store, which is on the 4th floor of ION, but I’m certainly very keen to check it out after cousin L gave me a selection of oils and vinegars from there as a belated birthday pressie (thanks L!).

Apparently the store has loads of different types of flavoured oils, vinegars, cognacs and spirits, and you can taste them all there. If you bring back the little bottles, I think they can refill them for you too.

L got me a raspberry vinegar, pumpkin seed oil and a 16 year aged balsamic vinegar – gals (you know who you are), looks like I’ve got aged balsamic in my larder now after all, heh.

We bought some Fougasse bread from Choupinette to try them out. The raspberry vinegar has a very fresh and pronounced raspberry flavour, and I think it’ll work very well in salads. The pumpkin seed oil was surprisingly dark and very intensely flavoured. The balsamic was really smooth and mellow, not tart and acidic like regular cooking-grade balsamic vinegar. In terms of bread-dipping, the pumpkin oil and balsamic vinegar tasted interesting on their own, but really complemented each other when paired.

I’m really psyched to check out the store to see what other cool flavours they’ve got.

A says:

Raspberry – No.
Pumpkin Seed Oil – Maybe.
Balsamic – Yes.

Although to me, having very good bread makes more of a difference than very good condiments. As in I’d rather go with killer bread and ordinary accoutrements than ordinary bread with killer oil, vinegar, etc...

The Chip Shop

C says:

Definitely not my first choice, given that it’s nothing but deep fried food. This was A’s choice, after BodyPump no less, but I must admit that as far as fish and chips go, this was decent.

A says:

Dining options at The Cathay really suck. Chose this as a last resort and surprisingly, it didn’t suck. Not good, but not bad. Very sloooowwww service though.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Space @ My Humble House

C says:

R and P are regulars here, so they suggested it when we met them at Esplanade tonight for a couple of Baybeats performances. I must say my first impression wasn’t great – we arrived earlier and waited outside to be seated to no avail. We ventured into the restaurant and asked for a table for 5, at which stage the snotty door bitch said they only had counter space available. Bear in mind the restaurant was only ¼ full. We said we had to check with our friends first, and she told us they’d clear the counter and asked us to take a seat outside.

We waited outside for a good 5 minutes without any progress. R and P arrived, and we just breezed into the restaurant and plonked ourselves at an available table. I guess we should have asserted ourselves and done that at the start, rather than meekly listening to the door bitch. R and P assure us that the service isn’t usually like this.

Anyway, on to the food. The chicken rice is Sam Leong’s grandmother’s recipe and is apparently outstanding, so I ordered it. I like that you can choose whether you want the thigh or the breast portion. I had the thigh, of course, and I must say it was very good. The chicken was tender and moist, and the sauce had a hint of Chinese rice wine that I really like. The rice was fragrant yet not oily, and it came with a double-boiled soup. All for only $9.90.

A had the laksa, which at $14 was a lot better value than the one at Canteen. This came with large prawns, cod fillet, fried oyster, scallops and taupok. The laksa gravy was quite light, which is a good or a bad thing depending on what kind of laksa you prefer.

We ordered the carrot cake to share, but this was a bit disappointing. It came with lots of ingredients again – crab meat, prawns and scallops, but the carrot cake itself tasted a bit flat and too floury.

We were full but had to try their desserts, which were from the Humble House kitchen. A and I shared the Pumpkin crème brulee with mango sorbet. The sorbet was so-so, but I really like the crème brulee. P had the lemongrass gelee with lime sorbet. I had a bite of the gelee and it was very light and refreshing.

The menu is pretty limited, but there are a couple more dishes I wouldn’t mind trying, like bak kut teh with lamb ribs, and a wagyu beef hor fun. I also loved their chrysanthemum tea, which had a wonderful flowery fragrance. Note to self: find out if they sell their tea leaves.

A says:

Very slow service and one of the waitresses was not very polite. The food however was excellent. Not exactly cheap, but not expensive considering the quality of the ingredients. Definitely worth considering if you’re at the Esplanade.

Space @ My Humble House
#02-25 Esplanade Mall
8 Raffles Avenue
Tel : 6423-1881
Opening Hours:
Lunch : 12:00 - 3:00PM
Dinner : 6:00 - 11.00PM

Friday, August 28, 2009


C says:

Saizeriya, which opened in Liang Court about a year ago after the mall’s revamp, takes up a fairly large space on the second floor. The decor seems a bit stuck in the 80s, so it was with some trepidation that we joined the (then) relatively short queue on Friday night.

I’m finding it hard to be objective about the food there, simply because it’s just SO cheap! A and I each had a starter and a pasta main, and our grand total bill was $23.90. For starters we ordered tea smoked duck breast, and chicken wings (they were out of the mid joint wing, and asked if we were ok with the drumlets instead). Each dish was only $4.48 – very reasonable, especially for the duck, which was clearly pre-bought and just sliced, but still quite tasty and honestly, at that price, who’s complaining?

I ordered the Pollock roe spaghetti, which was essentially a mentaiko-like sauce topped with seaweed. For $5.68, this was very decent – the spaghetti was quite well-cooked, and the Pollack roe sauce was pretty tasty.

A ordered the bolognaise-esque spaghetti with meat sauce, also $5.68. Again the pasta texture was good, but the sauce was a bit too thin (and not enough of it). It was a little bland and needed some parmesan cheese, but luckily the waitress managed to find a jar of it for us.

We just had plain water, but they’ve also got a drinks buffet for $3.99, where you can get unlimited soft drinks, coffee, tea and iced milo. We had a pretty good experience here, but when we told P about it, she begged to differ, saying that she really wasn’t impressed when she tried it when it first opened. She had their so-called specialty the Doria – a cheesy baked rice gratin, which she said was really burnt and not at all appetising.

Maybe they’ve improved since then, and perhaps you just need to order the right things. They run like a well-oiled machine, with very efficient and extremely polite waitstaff. This is a good no-frills place for anyone on a budget, which is evidenced by the long line that formed while we were eating. Just come without any expectations.

A says:

Don’t expect fine dining but for the price you pay, you get very pleasant service and excellent value for money. Fully recommended for when you want passable pseudo-Italian and are a bit broke.

177 River Valley Road
#02-22 Liang Court Shopping Centre
Tel: 6337-9001
Open daily: 10 am to 10 pm

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wild Oats

C says:

It’s been more than two years since our one and only visit to Wild Oats, and to be honest I didn't know that they still existed, until I read a recent post on Chubby Hubby’s blog about their Spam (or rather, luncheon meat) fries. Since I read the post, I couldn't get the thought of fried strips of luncheon meat out of my head, so we made a date with some of A’s friends for a late dinner there on Saturday.

They’ve certainly expanded their food menu considerably since they first opened, when they only served chicken wings and a selection of hot dogs. They’ve trimmed the hot dog selection to just one, and the chicken wings now just come with one dip (the yummier gorgonzola), but they’ve added at least ten new items. Between 4 of us we ordered quite a few items to try.

First up was the whole reason for coming here – the luncheon meat fries. Luncheon meat is cut into thin strips, deep fried and served with a kaffir lime mayonnaise. I had high hopes for this dish, but I must say I was slightly disappointed. For me, the perfect piece of spam is fried till crispy on the outside, yet still a bit soft and pale pink inside. These were overfried so they were cooked all the way through and therefore a bit too hard. And while the kaffir lime mayo on its own was a really fragrant dip, somehow I think it’s just too posh a flavour for humble ol’ spam. I found that the fries went better when dipped in regular ketchup.

They’ve got mini Wild Rocket burgers too, which were pretty good. The patty was a little on the dry side, but otherwise I was quite happy with these.

Their minced pork meatballs are served with some kind of tomato salsa, and while they weren’t spectacular in any way, I found them incredibly addictive.

In classic Wild Rocket style, they incorporate local flavours into Western dishes, and one example is the Sarawak chicken curry shepherd’s pie. While this may sound slightly dubious, I actually thought this was very good. The curry didn't seem to be dumbed down – it was quite heavily spiced and had a decent amount of heat too. And it surprisingly paired quite well with the mashed potato.

I find it a bit of a bummer that they don’t serve soft drinks or coffee here, though. I was having one of those days where I really needed a coffee, but ended up being ‘forced’ to order a cocktail instead. The food is interesting, but because it’s primarily a bar, the vibe is just a tad too chi-chi and not conducive for just hanging out.

A says:

I didn’t really expect much but was very pleasantly surprised. Excellent bar food and superb service. Fully recommended for some light bites with drinks.

Wild Oats Bar On the Hill
11 Upper Wilkie Road
Tel: 6336-5413
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 6 pm to midnight

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Aoba Hokkaido Ramen

C says:

Our very first trip to ION was on a Thursday evening after work. Big mistake – the traffic was terrible, and we missed the whole reason for our visit, which was a friend’s performance. Still, we met her for dinner after her gig and after a failed attempt at getting a table at Watami Izakaya (they closed off the queue at 8.40 pm!), we tried our luck at adjacent ramen joint Aoba Hokkaido Ramen, and managed to secure a table after a short 5 to 10 minutes in line.

Their specialty here is there Shoyu ramen, so even though I’m usually a Kyushu (pork bone) ramen girl, I ordered the Shoyu ramen with braised pork belly. The pork belly was pretty fatty, even for me. I think next time I’ll go with the char siew instead.

Hokkaido ramen seems to be thicker and chewier than the normal ramen we’re used to, so those who like their noodles on the softer side may find this a bit too firm and starchy. I found that it went really well with the broth, which was packed with umami flavour. Surprisingly, although it was shoyu based, it wasn’t excessively salty.

A decided to order the Shio ramen with scallops. The broth was lighter in flavour, and because of that I preferred mine.

We also ordered the mentai chicken wings, which were just fried chicken wings topped with some kind of cheesy mentaiko/mayonnaise sauce. Yummm… these were totally addictive, and I dare say the best part of an already pretty good meal.

ION certainly has a wealth of new restaurants to try. The crowds are currently putting me off, but at some point I do want to give the more interesting ones a go.

A says:

It’s good and well worth a visit, but I wouldn’t queue up for this given the wealth of choices here and in B4.

Aoba Hokkaido Ramen
#B3-25, ION Orchard
2 Orchard Turn
Tel: 6509-9394

Friday, August 14, 2009

Les Artistes Bistrot

C says:

Les Artistes Bistrot is the more casual offering from Chef Nicolas Joanny, of Nicolas Le Restaurant. It's actually at Nicolas’ original premises, and Nicolas has moved a few doors down. We were very impressed with the set lunch that we had at Nicolas the last time, so we thought we’d give Les Artistes a try. (Do note that since then, Nicolas has raised their prices for their set lunch – it's no longer a super affordable $38 for 4 courses.)

The Les Artistes set lunch is $34 for 3 courses. I must say I’m quite impressed by the selection – you get at least 5 choices for each course. This also means a considerable amount of indecision because you feel like trying everything…

A went straight for the trout gravlax without hesitation. After much pondering, I decided on the rillette and terrine platter, only to feel slightly cheated when the amuse bouche arrived – it was rillette on toast! Hmph. The gravlax was a bit too raw for my liking, but the rillette and terrine were lovely.

A ordered the entrecote of beef with red wine reduction, which was topped with caramelised onions and served with a glass of potato puree. I expected this to be quite basic, and was very pleasantly surprised at how well executed it was, with the beef cooked perfectly. The potato was excellent as well.

I went for the Kurobuta pork cheek with penne in a porcini mushroom and thyme sauce. The pork tasted a lot better than it looked – I expected it to be quite dry, given the pieces were quite browned and rather thin, but it was melt-in-the-mouth tender and very flavourful from all the fat. The penne unfortunately fared less well. You definitely had to eat it together with the pork, because on its own it was a little tasteless.

For dessert, I went with the apple tarte tatin with cinnamon cream, and A had the caramelised banana. I actually found the cinnamon cream a tad overpowering, and preferred the dessert without it.

For an amuse bouche + 3 courses, this is very good value for money. Nicolas next door also has a set lunch - $42 for 3 courses and $52 for 4 courses. We walked by after lunch and peeked at the menu, which looked quite similar to the offerings at Les Artistes, so I wonder what could justify the slightly higher prices at Nicolas.

A says:

Awesome. Definitely worth it.

Les Artistes Bistrot
35 Keong Saik Road
Tel: 6224-1501
Lunch: Monday to Friday: 12pm to 2pm
Dinner: Monday to Saturday: 6.30pm to 10pm

Monday, August 10, 2009

Meidi-Ya food court part two – Romantic Kobe curry rice

C says:

Strangely enough, we patronised the curry rice stall but neither of us ordered the curry rice. I ordered the teriyaki beef short rib rice, and A had the pork katsu bento. At least A’s friend M tried a chicken cutlet curry rice, which didn’t look too bad.

The beef rice was ok but I found the teriyaki sauce to be a tad too sweet, although the beef was quite tender.

A’s katsu was well-fried – nice and crispy and quite juicy.

This didn’t wow me the way the udon did, though. And with each plate being about $3-$4 more than a standard bowl of udon, I’d much rather have the udon any day.

A says:

Not bad, but not cheap considering it’s like a food court stall. I’m not a big fan of curry rice anyway so this may turn out to be my least favourite stall here.

Romantic Kobe
177 River Valley Road
#B1-50 Liang Court
Tel: 6333-0630
Open daily: 10 am to 9 pm

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Meidi-Ya food court part one – Tsuru Tsuru Tei Udon

C says:

We’re also about 5 minute walk to Liang Court, so we’re on a quest to try every single one of the stalls in Meidi-Ya Supermarket. First up: Tsuru Tsuru Tei Udon.

A went for a Karaage Udon, and I had the Chili Pork Udon. A’s was a clear soup with the chicken karaage served separately. It looked quite nondescript but the soup was excellent – really cheng, clean-tasting yet flavourful.

Mine was the polar opposite of his. This was almost like a kimchi soup base with sliced pork. This is good if you want lots of flavour, but if you’re after a traditional clear soup udon, go for the regular ones. I’m going for the beef udon next - the same clear soup topped with slices of beef.

It was only after we got home that we realised that it’s opened by the same group as Tampopo. No wonder the quality was good.

A says:

Not the best udon I’ve ever had, but it’s certainly served up quick. Passable for a fast food version of udon I guess.

Tsuru-Tsuru Tei
177 River Valley Road
#B1-50 Liang Court
Tel: 6339-7264
Open daily: 10 am to 9.30 pm

Friday, August 07, 2009

Bella Pizza

C says:

We’re squatting in the Mohamed Sultan/Robertson Quay area for the next 3 months, which is not going to do wonders for our austerity drive. Sure enough, on Friday night since we were moving some stuff into our temporary home, we decided to pop down to Bella Pizza, which was just a 5 minute walk away. We learnt our lesson and made a reservation in the afternoon.

We started with a salad of bocconcini, cherry tomatoes and rocket to share. This was quite a tiny portion but it was only $7, after all. Nothing spectacular, but a good way to whet our appetite nonetheless.

I ordered the ravioli stuffed with beef, served with porcini mushroom sauce. There were some good flavours going on here, but it can get slightly rich so it’s best to share. My one criticism is that the ravioli were slightly hard – the pasta skin wasn’t thin enough.

One of their specialities is a boat-shaped pizza, the Barca. It comes in two flavours – one with Italian sausage and sautéed onions, and the other with buffalo mozzarella wrapped in Parma ham. Goes without saying that A ordered the Parma ham one. This was visually quite interesting, but I think their regular pizzas are better – crispier and less crust. Another interesting thing about this was that when you had the parma ham and the crust alone, you could really taste the parma ham, but once you took a bite with the cheese, you couldn’t really taste the ham; you just got a general salty flavour.

We each had the banana crepes with mascarpone cheese and nutella – this dessert is just too good to share.

Well, I think we came to the same conclusion as the last time – there’s a reason they’re called Bella Pizza. Their pizzas are better than their pastas, and their regular pizzas are definitely better than their folded ones.

A says:

I likea the pizza here. Expensive, but good.

Bella Pizza
30 Robertson Quay
#01-14 Riverside View
Tel: 6734-0139