Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kith Bistro at Sentosa

C says:

We couldn't be happier and more proud of Kith. Hot on the heels of opening their Park Mall outlet, they've now opened their third, and arguably most ambitious, branch to date, at Quayside Isle in Sentosa Cove. Being the first proper coffee joint in the Sentosa Cove area, it offers the residents a much-needed coffee fix without having to venture out onto the mainland.

Being in the area is definitely somewhat of an alternate reality. Sipping coffee and having brunch whilst looking out at yachts bobbing in the bay is definitely not a slice of normal Singaporean life for most of us, but for a brief escape from reality it's a nice change of scene.

The menu here is similar to that at Park Mall, with a few tweaks. They offer all-day brunch up to 5 pm, and main courses and pastas are available after 11 am. I'm slightly disappointed that the awesome foie gras pasta isn't on the menu, but we ordered the spinach pasta with crab meat, and the linguine with king prawn. The crab meat one had a tendency to be a bit jelak, but adding some of the cherry tomatoes from the linguine helped ease the monotony.

A couldn't resist the grilled banana bread with vanilla ice cream for dessert - this is so simple but they do it really well.

Their coffee is stellar as usual. They even have a 3/4 latte, which I found perfect - a regular shot of espresso with an amount of milk that's in between a regular latte and a piccolo latte.

Owner Jane says weekend brunches are insanely crowded, but weekdays, even evenings, are pretty ok. It may be hectic for them but I'm still really happy that they're doing well amidst so much competition. It's really nice to know that they came from such humble beginnings at Robertson Quay, yet they still haven't compromised on their quality or their friendly, laidback vibe.

A says:

An awesome place to visit on a weekday off. Like a mini laidback holiday.

Kith Sentosa
Sentosa Cove
31 Ocean Way
#01-08 Quayside Isle
Opening hours: 8 am - 10 pm (Closed Tuesdays)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ramen Keisuke Tori King

C says:

Located at 100AM, Tori King is by Chef Keisuke Takeda, the ramen master behind the wildly popular Tonkotsu King at Orchid Hotel. Tori King, as the name suggests, is the chicken equivalent to his porky masterpiece. The broth is made from chicken instead of pork, and you get a whole stewed chicken thigh with every order, as well as a few slices of chashu.

The chicken broth is definitely lighter and cleaner tasting than its heavier pork counterpart, but I still prefer the flavour and depth of a pork-based broth. The chicken thigh is slow-cooked, and then quickly grilled just before serving, so it's very tender yet still has a nice smokiness. It's so tender that there were no problems picking the meat off the bones with just chopsticks.

One of their signature items is the spicy green ramen - their regular ramen with a generous smear of wasabi paste over the chicken. I'm pretty ok with spicy food so I decided to give it a go.

Evidently, an ability to endure the heat from chilli padi is no match for the sinus-burning heat of wasabi. I was suffering from start to finish, since the steaming heat of the broth sent the wasabi up my nose by simply breathing in the steam. Ramen-slurping was out of the question. I had to ladle the noodles onto the spoon and gingerly take small bites.

Just like at Tonkotsu King, they offer a free flow of hard boiled eggs and bean sprouts here. It's much less crowded than Tonkotsu King, probably because people still prefer traditional pork-based ramen to chicken. I know I do.

A says:

Chicken broth vs pork broth? Pork broth wins! Which explains why the queues at this place are so short compared to the lines at the Tonkotsu King down the road.

Ramen Keisuke Tori King
100 Tras Street
#03-15, 100AM
Tel: 6604-6861
Open daily: 11.30 am - 10 pm

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


C says:

Of late we haven't had very good experiences with raw oysters. From the very insipid ones at The Oyster and Crab Restaurant, to the downright inedible ones at Todai, they all seemed to be lacking the lovely, briny liquor and bright freshness of a good oyster. It could be due to them doing the unthinkable - rinsing off the oysters to get rid of bits of shell as a result of poor shucking techniques.

Thankfully, we found Tanuki, and my faith in oysters has been restored. Opened by the people behind Standing Sushi Bar, Tanuki has been drawing the crowds with its awesome Happy Hour promotion - between 5 to 8 pm, martinis are $10, plus with every drink order, you're entitled to order up to 12 oysters at $1 each.

The oysters were, for me, the perfect size. Slightly plump but not too big that it got too rich and cloying. They were very well shucked, without any bits of shell, and the oysters were cut completely free from the shell so you can just slurp it down in one. Best part? Loads of lovely oyster liquor with each one.

Being part of a sushi group means they have pretty good raw fish too. The Salmon Don comes with fresh salmon sashimi, salmon belly, aburi salmon and ikura (salmon roe). I would have liked the aburi salmon to have been aburi-ed a bit more, but this was pretty good and the ikura in particular was full of flavour.

Their appetisers were a bit touch and go though. The Tanuki balls - beef carpaccio draped over deep fried potato and cheese balls - were very good. The potato balls were light and creamy, with a nice hit of cheese in the centre.

The Edamame spring rolls sounded better than they tasted. The filling was mashed edamame, bringing to mind less than appetising thoughts of English mushy peas.

I quite liked the American roll, their version of a cheeseburger sushi with sliced beef and cheese rolled with sushi rice and deep fried, but A wasn't too keen. Until I told him to add the vinaigrette from the oysters to mimic the flavour of relish - the hit of acid really prevented the dish from being too rich.

Clearly we need to try our luck with the food items, but I'm coming back here any chance I get for their Happy Hour oysters.

A says:

Great value for the good quality oysters. Everything else is kind of average. But still, definitely a place we'll revisit.

Tanuki Bar
181 Orchard Road
#02-03 Orchard Central
Tel: 6636-5949
(No reservations for Happy Hour)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Nene Chicken

C says:

I've concluded that Korean fried chicken really isn't for me; or if that's too much of a generalisation, then to be specific, I really don't like Nene Chicken's version. It's everything that I don't like in my fried chicken - a thick layer of batter, and slathered in sauce.

They do their fried chicken two ways at Nene - chicken wings, and chicken tenders, which are bite-sized pieces of both white and dark meat. You can then opt for one of a number of sauces, including Freaking Hot, Cheese, Sesame and Green Onion.

We got the chicken tenders with Sesame, and the wings with the Freaking Hot sauce. I didn't like the tenders at all - the sesame sauce was abnormally sweet, and the chicken was far from tender, especially the white meat pieces.

It was a cute touch that they gave us plastic gloves for the wings, but after a couple of wings, diminishing returns kicked in fast. The wings were overly battered and the sauce was thick, sticky and overpowering. For those who can't take heat, the Freaking Hot packs a bit of a punch, though it only kicks in after a while.

Maybe the other flavours are better, but I really don't think I can even bring myself to try any of them.

A says:

Eh, I might go back to try a few other flavour combos just to confirm my "Not recommended" opinion. But even for a person who likes food drenched in sauce, this was really too much. In fact, the only good thing I can say is that you get a lot of meat on the drumlets.

Nene Chicken
1 Vista Exchange Green
#01-24, Star Vista
Open daily: 11 am - 10 pm

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Loysel's Toy

C says:

Loysel's Toy, part of the Papa Palheta chain, is tucked away in a nondescript building in the Lavender area, near the Kallang River.
Indoor seating is limited, so expect to sit outside at peak hours on weekends. There isn't much ambience, since you're literally sitting in a void deck-like area, amidst cyclists or noisy families.

The coffee - a latte and a flat white - was pretty good, but not worth a special trip there, at least not in my opinion. I think I prefer Jewel or Kith's coffee.

As far as the food goes, the menu is quite limited but it was pretty decent. The full breakfast featured some pretty good sausages, and surprisingly good scrambled eggs.

After the disappointing pineapple tarte tatin at Open Door Policy, I ordered the pancakes with grilled pineapple and bacon, and was finally satisfied. The pancakes were nice and fluffy, and the pineapple was at least properly caramelised.

We wouldn't come here all the way just for coffee/brunch (Crawford bak chor mee is another story, though!), but if we happen to be in the area anyway, it's a nice quaint little brunch spot.

A says:

Go for the location and coffee. The food's pretty ordinary.

Loysel's Toy
66 Kampong Bugis
#01-02, TURE
Tel: 6292-2306
Tues to Fri: 9 am - 6 pm
Sat & Sun: 9 am - 7.30 pm

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Daikokuya Ramen Dining

C says:

I'm thrilled that there's another place to get Jiro-style ramen besides Ramen Champion at Iluma and T3. Jiro-style is characterised by a light but fatty broth (with some, you can even see little cubes of fat floating in the broth), a mountain of cabbage and bean sprouts, and a heaping spoonful of chopped garlic.

I fell in love with Bario's version at Ramen Champion, though some have criticized their thick, chewy noodles. The one at Daikokuya then, at the basement of Raffles City, seems to strike a good balance.

Their Jiro-style ramen (called Stamina Ramen on the menu) comes in two flavours - a miso broth and a shoyu one. I feared that the miso would be too overpowering, so I opted for the shoyu instead. Good call - the broth was quite light, notwithstanding the fatty bits, and didn't mask the flavour of the garlic and vegetables like the miso may have had. The noodles are a regular thickness, so this may appease the Bario detractors.

I also like that they offered white vinegar to go with the ramen; it really helped to cut through the fatty, garlicky broth.

A ordered the Spicy Maze Ramen, which was essentially a dry noodle with a spicy bean paste - think a really good version of Indomie Mi Goreng. If I weren't so enamoured with the Jiro-style ramen, this would be my new favourite. Instant noodle afficionados out there will completely understand.

In addition to the usual Sapporo miso ramen and Kyushu ramen, I like that they have some interestingly different varieties here, that you don't find in many ramen joints. Purists may argue that a true ramen-ya should only offer one style, and while I generally agree, I don't mind variety if they get it right.

A says:

Not the best ramen, but with the wide selection here, there's easily something for everyone. Don't go with high expections and you won't be disappointed.

Daikokuya Ramen Dining
252 North Bridge Road
#B1-13 Raffles City
Tel: 6336-7456
Sun - Thurs 11.30am – 10pm
Fri, Sat 11.30am – 10.30pm

Monday, March 11, 2013

Open Door Policy

C says:

I'm at Yong Siak Street, arguably "the" street of the moment in Tiong Bahru, practically every weekend because of yoga, but I'm done too early to make the most of it. However, A's started classes too, albeit much later, so he's done just in time for me to meet him back there for brunch.

Because we didn't make reservations, we only managed to get a counter seat at Open Door Policy. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as we could watch the chefs in action behind the glass-walled kitchen.

I like that they serve their regular menu in addition to their brunch menu; sometimes there's only so many brunch dishes you can have at one go. We decided to have one dish from each menu.

I ordered the Papaduck - duck fillets crusted with pappadum and served with a mint yogurt dip. This was a surprisingly good combination, and while the duck was cooked a bit more than I would like, it wasn't tough and had a lot of flavour.

A had the somewhat more predictable smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and wilted greens. This was a huge portion, and the eggs were lighter and fluffier, and less creamy, than usual scrambled eggs.

The 2 desserts that called to us both required a 20 minute wait - the chocolate and pistachio souffle, and the pineapple tarte tatin with coconut ice cream. We opted for the latter, to our regret. I expected the pineapple to be more caramelised, but instead they were just chunks of canned pineapple. Bit of a letdown.

Watching the kitchen prep and cook the other dishes definitely whet our appetite though. I foresee us coming back here pretty soon to sample some of the other creations that we saw.

A says:

The portions are huge so it's actually pretty good value for money. Surprising for a yipsterTM (yuppie hipster - TM pending) hangout. Highly recommended except for the pineapple tart.

Open Door Policy
19 Yong Siak Street
Tel: 6221-9307
Lunch: 12 to 3pm
Dinner: 6pm to 10:30pm
Weekend Brunch: 11am to 3:30pm
Closed on Tuesdays

Thursday, March 07, 2013

2Fifteen Kitchen

C says:

This little bistro nestled within the depths of Rochester Mall makes a very viable last minute option. We called for a reservation on a Friday night, but it turns out we didn't need to - there were only 3 tables of 2 when we arrived, and the restaurant was barely half full throughout the course of the evening.

We started with a lobster bisque, and escargots on toast. The bisque was pretty potent yet not too rich or creamy. I thought the escargots on toast was a nice alternative to the usual garlic butter-in-shells preparation, but I wasn't a fan of the cranberry vinaigrette on the salad.

Cousin L recommended this place, specifically the prawn capellini, and when the waiter also vouched for it as one of the restaurant's specialities, we had to order it. Granted, it had some pretty good flavours, but I think it would have been better with a slightly thicker pasta, like maybe a spaghettini, rather than the super-fine capellini. It ended up tasting a bit like fried bee hoon.

After much deliberation, we ordered the risotto with smoked duck and foie gras. To our surprise, this surpassed the capellini. The risotto was just shy of being perfectly cooked and oozy, but the flavour more than made up for it. The chopped-up smoked duck added a ton of flavour, and the pan fried foie was perfect.

The apple tart with ice cream was surprising - the "tart" was actually a really thin apple-flavoured cross between filo and puff pastry, with the ice cream served on a separate plate. Not really my thing; I'll probably pass on the desserts next time.

My first thought when I saw it so empty was that it didn't bode well, but the food was actually pretty good, so I think it's just down to feng shui/location. Rochester Mall is already very much in the shadow of Star Vista, and 2Fifteen is tucked away on the second floor, away from general foot traffic. Quite a pity, because it's definitely an understated hidden gem.

A says:

A hidden gem indeed. The menu is pretty simple for a "fancy" generic European restaurant but the flavours are all very strong. Service is also relaxed, helpful and friendly. The waiter said they did the foie really well and true enough, it was great. I hope more people start coming here because I like it and it's worrying to see it so empty. It may be a branding thing because it doesn't really cut it as the fine dining place it's trying to be. But it could work assomething less stuffy.

2Fifteen Kitchen
35 Rochester Drive
#02-15 Rochester Mall
Tel: 6659-8215
Tues to Sun: 11.30 am - 10 pm
Closed on Monday

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

RS Deli

C says:

We only intended to drop by RS Deli along Upper Thomson Road to pick up some snacks - namely, their sweet garlic emping. For lovers of emping, the bitter Indonesian cracker made from the belinjo nut, this is a heavenly version of it.

As M would say (albeit in a different context), the normally one-note bitter emping is now really complex and layered, due to a coating of caramelised sugar and garlic. I admit that this can be an acquired taste, but I grew up with this so I'm thrilled that it's now readily available.

We ended up staying for dinner because the menu looked interesting. A ordered a nasi lemak burger - essentially an all-in-one nasi lemak, with rice cakes for the buns and a patty of fried chicken and otak. Great concept but it could've been executed a bit better. The rice lacked the coconutty punch of proper nasi lemak rice.

I ordered a chicken curry rice set, which came with sambal eggplant. This was a bit disappointing as the chicken thigh pieces were a bit overcooked. The curry, being thick and sweet, also wasn't my thing.

The sambal fried chicken wings were better, with the chicken still tender and juicy. Again the sambal had a bit more sweetness than I normally like, but I suspect that's more of an issue to do with me.

The Pisang Saleh dessert was good - chargrilled bananas served with coconut ice cream and drizzled with gula melaka. A would've preferred the bananas battered, a la goreng pisang, but I liked the cleanness of the plain grilled banana.

We definitely won't come all the way to Thomson just for the food, though I definitely would for the emping, so whenever we return for another emping fix, maybe we'll try some of their other food offerings.

A says:

The quirky menu attracted me with the nasi lemak burger. Unfortunately, the rice wasn't coconutty. Other than that, I liked every other element. Overall though, the place is generally a cheap and good Indo-fusion bistrocafe. The only thing stopping me from more frequent visits is the horrible parking and traffic in the area.

RS Deli
244R Upper Thomson Road
Tel: 6455-1242
11:30 am - 10 pm; closed Mondays