Sunday, September 30, 2012


C says:

We never went to Saveur back when it was just a hawker stall in East Coast (the location probably had something to do with it), but it's a lot more accessible for us now that they've moved to a bona fide restaurant on Purvis Street.

They don't take reservations, so be prepared to wait unless you get there before 12.15 for lunch. We were there just after 12 and managed to snag one of the last few tables.

Befitting its origins, the place is fitted out very simply with bare walls and simple monochromatic furniture, with a few chandeliers adding a quirky formalness. Unfortunately, all the hard surfaces make for rather poor acoustics. When the restaurant is full, you can barely hear yourself speak amidst the din. Maybe that's one way to ensure that people don't linger, so that they can turn more tables.

Saveur's known for their very reasonable prices for almost restaurant-quality food. Their seared foie gras is only $9.90. Granted, the portion is quite small, but executed quite well, with the outside seared and inside nice and runny.

We ordered both the duck rillette ($7.90) and the pate terrine ($11.90), both of which were surprisingly generous portions given the amount of toast that accompanied them. I preferred the rillette to the terrine, which was less like a pate and more like processed meat.

Their angel hair pasta with minced pork and sakura ebi was a steal at $3.90. It could've been seasoned a bit more, but overall it was pretty tasty and very good value for money.

They're famous for their duck confit, but we were ducked-out having just returned from Bali the day before, so we went with their barramundi ($13.90) instead. The fish was average, but the accompanying potatoes, which were probably roasted in duck fat and tossed with crab meat and spring onions, were delicious.

Don't go to Saveur expecting fine dining. It isn't, nor does it purport to be. If you go with the expectation that you'll be getting very decent French bistro-style food at very reasonable prices, then you won't be disappointed.

A says:

Service is very good. Food is very good for the price. Great value for money. Best budget gourmet place I can think of.

5 Purvis Street
Tel: 6333-3121
Open daily: 12 noon – 2.15 pm; 6 pm – 9.15 pm

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


C says:

Ever since one of our readers informed us that Chef Peter had left Chikuwa-Tei since February this year, and that the standard had dropped as a result, we were keen to find out for ourselves. They were still pretty crowded on a Sunday night, which boded well.

In order to do a fair comparison, we decided to order our usual, i.e. the chirashi sushi and the chawanmushi, but I couldn’t resist an order of the angler fish liver with ponzu sauce as well. This was very good, with the liver having a delightfully creamy texture and none of the fishiness that you may expect from fish liver.

When the chirashi sushi arrived, it definitely didn’t look like the chirashi that we used to have. There was a smaller variety of fish (no uni! Sacrilege!), and the fish didn’t look as appetising as before. The tuna was definitely a letdown, with practically no flavour at all. My slices of salmon, being closer to the belly portion, were better compared to A’s, which were thick but didn’t really taste like anything at all.

Thankfully, the swordfish and white tuna were still very creamy and fresh, and I dare say that the rice was better than before.

The chawanmushi was still good, but somehow it too lacked the oomph that I’ve come to expect from Chikuwa-Tei’s legendary chawanmushi. Either the dashi stock wasn’t umami enough, or the fact that it didn’t have as much chicken and prawn as I remembered, but I was  a tad disappointed.

I guess it’s true then. The standard really has fallen, though not dramatically so. Until we discover where Chef Peter has gone to next, this is still a decent option for a reasonably priced chirashi sushi.

A says:

Still good.

9 Mohamed Sultan Road
Tel: 6738-9395
Open daily: 11.30 am to 3 pm; 6 pm to 10 pm

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Paul Bakery

C says:

I'd like to consider our unplanned visit to Paul as somewhat of a teaser. We were there minutes before last orders on a Sunday night, so understandably some of their signature items that we wanted to try were sold out. Still, our experience was good enough that we definitely want to return.

Tartines, crepes and potato pancakes make up most of their menu. I had the roast chicken tartine with a dollop of cream cheese - given that I'm not really one for sandwiches, this was much better than expected. The tartine was an open-faced sandwich, and the chicken was very tender and had a nice smokiness.

A had potato pancakes (a bit like a rosti patty) topped with smoked salmon, which he was very happy with. I liked that the smoked salmon wasn't excessively salty.

The Mille Feiulle I wanted was sold out so I got a strawberry tart instead that was quite nice. A's sugar crepes were very simple, and very good because of it.

To be honest, I don't know how packed this place is on weekend mornings/brunch, but if it's not insane I'd like to come back to try more.

A says:

Totally me. I like.

391A Orchard Road
#03-16/16A/17, Ngee Ann City Tower A
Tel: 6836-5932
Open daily: 10 am – 11 pm (last order 9.45 pm)

Friday, September 21, 2012

&Made Again

C says:

Just a quick update. We tried the original B Burger today, which comes with a dry-aged beef patty, garlic aioli, caramelized onions and Comte cheese. It was excellent – juicy, flavourful and again all the components were perfectly balanced. A thinks it’s the best of the 3 burgers, but for me it’s still a hard fight between the B Burger and the 3 Little Pigs. No photo because we were too hungry…

We also tried the Red salad to drink, which is basically like a tomato gazpacho. It was good, not overly acidic and drizzled with a very fragrant olive oil. It came with some warm cheesy madeleines studded with beetroot that were extremely addictive.

The 3 Little Pigs and the B Burger are also available at Bruno Menard’s latest bistro at Asia Square, La Cantine (slightly more expensive than at &Made though). We haven’t tried it yet but it’s definitely on our impending to-go list.

A says:

Awesome burger. Awesome milkshake. Win!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Osvaldo OLA-Cocina Del Mar

C says:

This latest offering from No Menu’s Osvaldo may have his support and branding, but the food is distinctly Spanish. While Osvaldo is occasionally there greeting patrons and making sure everything is running smoothly, the kitchen is led by chefs who were previously from Santi at Marina Bay Sands.

The menu is pretty lean, with only about 15 different tapas, and another 8 to 10 main courses. The tapas menu isn’t particularly exciting either, with the usual suspects of jamon croquetas, garlic prawns, and octopus with paprika. We went with an order each of gazpacho, croquetas and a tomato and anchovy toast.

Prices may seem reasonable, with tapas prices hovering at around $10 to $15, but portions are tiny and if you’re looking to fill up on tapas, the bill can add up pretty quickly. The croquetas and the tomato and anchovy toast were a bit lacklustre and predictable.

The gazpacho was slightly better, but again a tiny portion. Tapas are meant to be shared, but I don’t see how the toast or the gazpacho portions could reasonably be shared in any meaningful way.

In addition to their menu offerings, they have daily specials that are well worth a try; unfortunately, these are more often than not made with fresh ingredients that are on hand, and therefore don’t come cheap. The pan-seared scallops with jamon were delicious and a decent-sized appetizer portion, but pretty steep at $38.

One of their perpetual specials is the Spanish suckling pig. For $58 you essentially get ¼ of the pig – the trotter with a decent amount of meat attached. The pork is cooked sous vide for 18 hours, then upon order it’s roasted in a searingly hot oven for 45 minutes so that the skin crisps up. This was amazing, and made up for the somewhat lacklustre tapas. The pork was fork tender but not too soft, and the skin was paper thin and amazingly crisp. It was well seasoned and just bordering on salty, which was fine with me since I prefer a slightly heavier hand when seasoning meat.

Since I pretty much ate most of the pig, A had the vanilla rice pudding for dessert. I expected this to be stodgy and heavy, and was pleasantly surprised that it was quite light and aromatic.

While prices are a bit steep for a casual after-work venue (it’s located within Tower 3 of Marina Bay Financial Centre), it may be worth considering if you want to usher in the weekend in style, or to reward yourself for getting through a particularly bad day/week.

A says:

Like most of Osvaldo’s restaurants, the food’s pretty hit or miss. There were a few great dishes so it’s still worth trying out. And service is excellent too.

Osvaldo OLA-Cocina Del Mar
12 Marina Boulevard
#01-06 Marina Bay Financial Centre (Tower 3)
Tel: 6604-7050
Sun – Fri: 11am – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10pm
Sat: 6pm – 10pm

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Jika Udon

C says:

The people behind Hong Kong chain Itacho Sushi have opened a new joint at JCube, marrying two of their dining concepts - Jika Udon x Itacho Sushi. Most of the Itacho Sushi menu is available here, along with their fusion udon creations.

They're having a hamachi promotion, with their hamachi nigiri sushi going for only $1.90 each. We tried the original and one with citrus paste, and a fatty hamachi for $2.40. No surprise that the fatty one came out tops.

Their aburi sushi was good, but I find that the rice to fish ratio is a bit better at the ION outlet; there was a bit more rice here, but still very good, particularly the aburi fish dorsal sushi.

A's cold udon with egg was pretty good, with the raw egg adding a nice richness and the udon had a good al dente texture.

Unfortunately, my udon with chashu in pork soup was let down by the broth. I must admit it's been a while since we've had noodle broth where the flavours are manufactured rather than coaxed out of ingredients via a long slow cooking process. This is one of those cases where once you've tried the real stuff, it's pretty hard to go back.

The space is bigger than ION but they seem to have fewer servers. Getting someone's attention is quite a challenge but once you do, they're pretty efficient. I'd come back for the sushi but steer way clear of the soup udons.

A says:

Pretty decent. But they really are short of staff. Service is excellent when you finally catch their eye. Unfortunately, that takes a very long while to do.

Jika Udon x Itacho Sushi
2 Jurong East Central
#02-15, JCube
Tel: 6684-4083
Sun–Thu: 11am – 9.30pm
Fri–Sat: 11am – 10.30pm

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Co + Op Nasi Lemak

C says:

The Island Creamery folks have opened a nasi lemak joint opposite their ice cream parlour in Serene Centre. It's a pretty simple, no frills set-up, with a traditional nasi padang/economy rice point-to-order system.

I picked the fried chicken wing, sambal kacang botol (winged bean) and omelette. A had the ayam masak merah, lady's finger and sambal goreng.  

The chicken wing was wonderfully crisp without being oily, and the ayam masak merah was really juicy and tender. Unfortunately, except for both chicken dishes, everything else was very subdued. It seemed as though everything had been dumbed down - under-salted, under-spiced and the sambal had absolutely no heat.

At this point, we'd more or less made up our mind that this didn't warrant a revisit, but on impulse A decided to order the kaya toast for dessert. And just like that, everything changed.

This was truly one of the best kaya toasts I've had. The bread was toasted but still soft, the kaya was the green pandan sort rather than the brown kind, and best of all, they use a good amount of really good salted butter. The balance of flavours reminded me of a really good salted caramel. Amazing.

Service was mixed. I was told to wait a few minutes for my chicken wing but after A was halfway through his meal and I asked if the wings were done, turns out the girl who took my order forgot about it completely. She served it with nary an apology, which also annoyed me. Likewise with A's tea order. In contrast, the male chef who also did double duty clearing tables was very polite and friendly.

All in all, there were definitely some misses, but I'd come back just for numerous orders of the kaya toast, and maybe a few of the really good chicken wings too. But really, the kaya toast alone is worth the visit. 

A says:

It’s more like nasi padang than nasi lemak. And the sambal was pretty bland. Luckily, the kaya toast and teh saved the day. This is my new go-to place for a good kaya toast.

Co + Op Nasi Lemak
10 Jalan Serene
#01-08 Serene Centre
Tel: 6469-3935
Open daily: 8.30 am – 8 pm

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Buko Nero

C says:

The thing about Buko Nero is that if you don't make your next reservation while you're still there finishing up your current meal, you kind of lose the groove and end up not going for ages. That, coupled with just too many new places to try, meant a hiatus of almost a year since our last visit.

The set up still hasn't changed, with Oscar running the kitchen solo and Tracy running front of house. Their 5-course set dinner is still a steal at $55, especially given the audacious prices that some places are charging these days.

Amuse bouche was a hard boiled egg puree on a crisp crostini topped with confit tomato. Light, fresh and a great start to the meal.

Salad was a simple green salad with sliced nashi pear, tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette. It was simple but perfectly seasoned, with the ingredients paired surprisingly well.

I really like Oscar's light cream soups, so was slightly disappointed with the crabmeat and coriander bisque. It was more like a clear crab consomme thickened with beaten egg, a bit like an egg drop soup. The coriander was fairly subtle but I still have trouble getting used to the flavour.

After the white peach and calamansi sherbet, A had the rigatoni with salmon ragu that was part of the set, and I changed the main to one of the day's specials - a tagliatelle with lobster and porcini mushroom in a bisque sauce. The tagliatelle was great, really flavourful yet rustic. The rigatoni was okay, but a bit too typical.

The dessert was a ricotta cheesecake drizzled with honey, and served with a raspberry gelato. The cheesecake with honey was outstanding; perfect end to the meal.

Despite some newcomers on the restaurant scene that we're clearly enamoured with, I still have a soft spot for Buko Nero. A visit there always makes us happy, and while once a month is a bit of a stretch, we'd ideally like to head back maybe every quarter. If we can get a reservation, that is. 

A says:

Brilliant cheesecake. Very good meal. Pity it’s so hard to get a last minute reservation.

Buko Nero
126 Tanjong Pagar Road
Tel: 6324-6225
Dinner: 6.30pm to 9.30pm (Tuesday to Saturday)
Lunch: Noon to 2pm (Friday and Saturday)
Closed Sunday and Monday

Sunday, September 02, 2012

More from Kith Bistro

C says:

After barely scratching the surface during our last visit to Kith Bistro, we made sure we were ravenous when we came here again, this time for dinner, for a proper sampling of their extensive menu.

I ordered the fried chicken bites because I really wanted something to nibble on to start with, but I didn’t expect them to be as good as they turned out to be. The chicken was marinated in some kind of tandoori marinade, then breaded and fried and served with a yogurt dip. Tender, full of flavour and a perfect start to the meal.

The king prawn spaghetti was done aglio olio style, with cherry tomatoes and chilli. This was tasty, but was a bit underseasoned and lacked a real depth of flavour. After the initial *yum*, it became a bit one-note after a while.

In complete contrast, the linguine with foie gras, mushrooms and white wine was the total opposite. At first bite it seemed a bit subtle, but the more you ate, the more the umami flavours of the mushroom and foie gras really came through. I love this dish, and I’ll be hard pressed not to order it again next time.

We had room for dessert (yes we were very hungry; in our defense it was our first meal of the day), so we had the soufflé cheesecake and the banana bread with vanilla ice cream. The cheesecake was decent, but paled in comparison to the awesome banana bread. The bread was moist and full of real banana flavour, and to top it off they grilled the slices so it was warm and slightly crisp. Perfect with the vanilla ice cream.

This is really the kind of place that we love. Both the food and the atmosphere channel the passion of the people who work at and own the place. No frills or pretence, foams or brushstrokes. Just well-conceived dishes prepared with heart.

A says:


Kith Bistro
9 Penang Road
#01-01E Park Mall
Tel: 6338-8611
Open daily: 8 am to 10 pm (last order 9.30 pm)