Tuesday, October 30, 2012


C says:

In case it’s not apparent by now, we’ve become quite the frequenters of Star Vista mall. Yes, I still think it’s quite a monstrosity, but I have to grudgingly admit that it has quite a mind-boggling array of eateries, and with ample parking this has become quite a hangout for us of late.

We’re always on the lookout for good frozen yogurt, and our favourite so far is Red Mango’s original, for its creamy texture and just the right mix of tart and sweet. Sogurt comes pretty close though, and what sets Sogurt apart is a pretty extensive selection of flavours. At any given time they have 6 – original and 5 other flavours, and while most other yogurt joints only do their original well, Sogurt’s flavours are all pretty damn good.

It’s all self service – take a cup, dispense any flavours you want, and pay according to weight. Besides original, the green apple and lychee flavours are also outstanding. For a while they had chocolate, which was rich enough that you could almost (but not quite) imagine that you were having soft serve ice cream instead.

At Star Vista, they’re conveniently located right next to the taxi stand/pick-up point, making it really easy for A to swing by on the way home and wait in the car while I run in to get our yogurt fix. The fact that they close at 10.30 pm is an even bigger plus. We just need to remind ourselves that low fat doesn’t mean fat-free, sugar-free or most importantly, calorie-free.

Oh well. At least it’s good for digestion...?

A says:

So good. In terms of original yogurt flavour, it’s probably my second favourite (after Red Mango), but what sets this apart are the sweet and sorbet-like lychee and green apple flavours. We’ve been back many times so the proof, as they don’t say, is in the yogurt.

1 Vista Exchange Green
#01-34 Star Vista

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Porn’s Sexy Thai Food

C says:

Porn’s officially has the cutest logo ever. With 3 other outlets at Liang Seah, Junction 10 at Woodlands and SAFRA Mt Faber, the new outlet at Star Vista is probably the most (or only) convenient one for us.

Porn’s is short for Pornsak Prajakwit, owner, restauranteur and apparently a Mediacorp TV host. We stumbled upon the newly opened Star Vista branch when we were exploring the many restaurant options in the mall.

Both the tom yam soup and the pad thai fared well. The tom yam looked anaemic but true to authentic tom yam, this slowly but surely packed quite a punch. I was very impressed with the heat and the pretty bold flavours. They were generous with the fresh seafood inside as well.

The pad thai was a little on the sweet side, but otherwise I thought it was a fairly good version of the dish. I would’ve liked a little more acid and a little less sweetness, but overall quite impressive.

Their appetizers were less successful. The stuffed chicken wings were quite average, with the filling lacking any definitive character. The most disappointing though, was the grilled pork. Perhaps it was inevitable (and unfair) that we compared this to the grilled pork neck from Two Fat Men. This was pretty much the antithesis of Two Fat Men’s stellar version of the dish – no smoky grilled flavour, lean and dry pork, and a dipping sauce that was lacklustre and had absolutely no discernible flavour.

There’s some potential, given that 50% of the dishes we had were pretty good. Unfortunately it’s just left me with a craving for Two Fat Men’s grilled pork.

A says:

Decent food. But not exactly great. I guess the lack of a condiment tray in a thai joint is an indicator of how good the food will be. The thai iced tea rocked though. And I wouldn’t mind a revisit.

Porn’s Sexy Thai Food
1 Vista Exchange Green
#02-09 Star Vista
Tel: 6694-3501
Open daily: 11 am to 10 pm

Friday, October 26, 2012

Toby’s Estate

C says:

Another independent coffee joint in the Robertson Quay area, Toby’s Estate is far from new but coming to the area for brunch on a weekend is just too manic. We made our way there on a weekday mid morning on a day off, and surprisingly the area was still pretty crowded.

The lunch is only served from 11 am, and consists mostly of sandwiches and wraps. We ordered off their breakfast menu instead – a smoked salmon Eggs Benedict with an espresso hollandaise, and a regular full breakfast.

I couldn’t fault either of them. They were both perfectly acceptable versions of the dishes, but neither of them would make me travel all the way to Robertson Quay. The espresso hollandaise was interesting, but maybe a tad gimmicky.

A had a cappuccino and I tried the Gibraltar Latte, described on the menu as the big brother of a Piccolo Latte. Both coffees were very complex, the cappuccino more pleasantly so. I found the Gibraltar a bit too intense for my fairly pedestrian coffee palate. To me it tasted almost alcoholic, though A vehemently disagreed.

I would come back here for the coffee if we were in the area, but not for a full meal.

Also, parking’s a bitch. Unlike Kith where you can park in the Watermark Condo, Toby’s Estate is located at a condo called 8 Rodyk, which doesn’t allow parking for non-residents. The nearest parking are the parallel lots along Mohamed Sultan Road, which are a bit too much of a palaver just for a cup of coffee, albeit a really good one.

A says:

Awesome coffee. The food’s good but far from the best for a coffee joint. And the lack of nearby parking is a real turn-off. So unless you live nearby or you’re a coffee fanatic willing to walk really far for a great cup of coffee, I’d give it a miss.

Toby’s Estate
8 Rodyk Street
Tel: 6636-7629
Opening hours:
Sun – Wed: 7.30 am – 6 pm
Thurs – Sat: 7.30 am – 10 pm

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tonkotsu King

C says:

This tiny little corner shop in Orchid Hotel has consistently garnered rave reviews for their tonkotsu ramen, but as a result their queues are pretty epic. At almost any mealtime, there are queues of at least 10 people, and when you get there it’s easy to see why. The restaurant seats at most 20, and along the counter you’re packed literally shoulder to shoulder. This is probably the most authentic ramen joint that I’ve been to in Singapore. It almost feels like you’re in a hole-in-the-wall place in Ramen Alley in Sapporo.

They’re really efficient though – you place your order whilst in the queue outside by ticking a series of boxes on order chits. By the time you’re seated and get yourself sorted out, your steaming bowl of ramen appears. You can help yourself to unlimited amounts of beansprouts and hard boiled eggs at each table, and they give you a little pestle and mortar to grind sesame seeds for your ramen.

The ramen is pretty straightforward. You choose between white, red and black tonkotsu varieties, and customise 3 aspects – how al dente your noodles are, the strength of the broth, and the oiliness. They recommend normal for all 3, which is what A had. I decided to pick “strong” for the broth; big mistake. While it packed quite a flavour punch for the first few spoonfuls, it got way too potent and salty thereafter. 

The pork was a bit hit-and-miss. One slice was a bit tough but the other was fattier and therefore nice and tender. The onsen egg was good (compared to the free flow eggs which were just regular hard boiled), and the broth was sinfully tasty, with bits of fat floating within.

I’m a really slow eater, yet it took us no more than half an hour from start to finish. So don’t be put off by the queues. I expect the line to move pretty quickly, because I don’t think is a place where people will linger.

A says:

Just like Japan. Very authentic. Unfortunately, we don’t have cool Japanese weather so it’s freaking hot inside. It’s probably the best ramen in Tanjong Pagar, but for me I’d rather visit Menya Musashi outlets.

Tonkotsu King
1 Tras Link
#01-19 Orchid Hotel
Tel: 6636-0855
Open daily: 11.30 am – 3 pm; 6 pm – 10.30 pm

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Menya Musashi’s other outlets

C says:

Since opening their first outlet at Raffles City, Menya Musashi have opened two more outlets – one at ION Orchard, and another at Star Vista mall at Buona Vista. Thankfully both are fairly easily accessible for us.

I like that in addition to their usual menu, they make a point to offer a few different dishes that are unique to each outlet. At the Star Vista outlet, they have a seared smoked duck that’s pretty tasty. The aburi chicken tsukemen though, sounded better than it tasted. The chicken was way overcooked, to the point of being dry and stringy.

Over at ION, the specialty is an aburi pork belly. It features in both a ramen/tsukemen, and in a chashu don. The tsukemen wasn’t too bad, with the pork belly packing lots of flavour. I’m still partial to the regular cha shu tsukemen though.

What I did find amazing was the chashu don. They take the aburi pork belly and shred/mince it, and layer it on top of Japanese rice. The smoky flavours really come through, and having it together with the rice balances out the strong flavours very well.

All things considered, if you’re looking to try their classic cha shu tsukemen for the very first time, I’d recommend heading to Raffles City; I think they do it best over there.

A says:

I LOVE tsukemen!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

SPR MRKT’s new menu

C says:

Actually, SPR MRKT have had their new menu for a few months now, but it’s taken us a while to visit on all 5 days to sample the whole menu. Losing our first batch of photos because of an HDD crash didn’t help either.

While I’m still bemoaning the loss of some of my favourites, like the beef broth and mushroom soup, I must say that there’s a lot to recommend from the new menu. Without further ado, then, here’s our lowdown:


The sundried tomato and parma ham salad was simple, but such a classic that it had to be good.

I really like the tomato and sausage linguine (pictured as a half portion – the kitchen nicely split it for us when they found out that we were sharing). The tomato sauce, made from scratch with more steps than I could follow, is very well balanced, without any of the tartness that sometimes accompanies a tomato sauce. 

I love their pork rib soup – a Western take on a bak kut teh, complete with super tender pork ribs, diced potatoes and carrots in a clear but flavourful broth. There was some texture too, in the form of what I thought were little bits of lard. Instead, Chef Jo explained that they slow cook pigs’ trotters, then shred them and set them in a terrine with the aspic. Once it’s chilled and set, then chop it finely and add it to the soup. Brilliant.

Monday’s cake is Lemon Vanilla Chiffon. This looks frightening large, but it’s light as air and absolutely delicious. It’s a toss up whether this is my favourite dessert, or the bread pudding (available daily).


Tuesday’s a good day to come. On the menu are both the awesome tagliatelle carbonara, and a new and absolutely awesome dish – Blackened Fish and Chips.

Unfortunately we don’t have a photo of the fish and chips after the HDD crash, but check out SPR MRKT’s blog for a picture and write up. The fish is superbly fresh, and coated in a crisp, light batter that’s blackened with squid ink. You don’t actually taste the squid ink, but you can just about discern a depth of flavour that wouldn’t otherwise be there without it.


Actually, Wednesdays are pretty good too, with one of their best dishes available – the grilled baby squid salad. The chargrilled flavour from the squid is incredibly intense, remarkably so given how tiny they are. It comes with an anchovy dressing that packs a punch – a little goes a long way.

The chicken and sweet corn soup is comfort food, but definitely elevated. The corn kernels are crisp and sweet, and there are generous chunks of roasted chicken inside a not-too-creamy soup.

The duck rillette sandwich, which I would recommend on a croissant, is a guilty pleasure, given how the sandwich oozes tasty duck fat. Not a regular choice, but delicious all the same.

The BBQ pork ribs are pretty good too, as is their oxtail pasta. The default for the latter is penne, but we hate penne so we nicely asked if we could switch to a different pasta. They suggested pappardelle, which worked wonderfully.


Thursday’s more of a soup and salad, with only one main catching my eye. Salads are roasted daikon with sesame dressing, or warm potato with French beans and sour cream shallot dressing.

Soups are a French onion with an Emmenthal cheese stick, and parsnip with scallops. The parsnip is a particular favourite, with very generous portions of perfectly cooked scallops inside.

The crispy pork belly is divine. I like that the pork is not slow roasted and therefore overly fork-tender. It still has some bite, which is what I like in a good siew yoke. The pork is well seasoned, the skin is crisp, and it’s served with caramelised apples that go really well. Tip: get it with their fork mashed potato rather than the shoestring fries. Though their fries are awesome, I think the mash works better with this dish.


Ironically, if we had to choose, Friday would be our least favourite (relatively speaking). There’s a pumpkin and saffron risotto, with the pumpkin making a surprising appearance in the form of breaded fried cubes. The other main is a take on steak and eggs, with a grilled wagyu steak topped with a poached egg, served with mushrooms and a red wine jus.

I like SPR MRKT’s fine dining take on casual classics, and Friday’s selection is perhaps a bit too fancy for my liking. They’re still executed really well, but I’m personally just drawn to the other dishes more.

We’re just getting used to the new menu, so guys, please don’t change it anytime soon!

A says:

I could go everyday.

2 McCallum Street
Tel: 6221-2105
Mondays to Fridays: 8am — 9pm
Saturdays: 9am — 4pm (Brunch)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Our trip to Bali: Mozaic

C says:

Given how well you can eat in Bali for relatively low prices, Mozaic in Ubud is definitely considered fine dining. Their 6-course tasting menus range from S$90 to S$110 – still very reasonable for Singapore standards but it’s definitely on the high end in Bali.

Chef Chris Salans is known for taking local ingredients, and incorporating them into this classically French dishes (the Discovery Menu), but for those who aren’t that adventurous, there’s a classic Chef’s Tasting Menu as well. Naturally, I opted for the Discovery and A had the Classic. We won’t go through each and every one of the dishes; just those that really popped.

First off, the ambience is fabulous. When the sun finally sets, the weather is quite pleasant, so dining outdoors is quite pleasant. They string enough spotlights across the garden that you have just enough visibility, while still retaining a soft romantic atmosphere. The home-made breads served with amazingly salted butter deserve special mention – the soft roll filled with parsley pesto is insanely good, and the salted butter was one of the best I’ve had.

Out of my Discovery Menu, the dishes that really stood out were the fish and meat courses. The fish was a coral trout confit-ed in coconut oil, with a Balinese spice reduction and parsley and mushroom salad. The fish was perfectly cooked, and I liked the sauce and the flavoured desiccated coconut that was sprinkled across the plate.

I had a choice between suckling pig and wagyu beef (for a slight surcharge) for the meat course. Because we were having Ibu Oka the next day, I chose the wagyu beef, which was served with a pumpkin-lemon puree, tempe crumble and a tamarind demi-glace. Again, the beef was served perfectly medium-rare, with a decidedly Asian tempe and sauce.

For A’s Classic Menu, the starter of seared sea scallop with pineapple and cured duck breast was very impressive, with a perfectly cooked and very meaty scallop accentuated with a sliver of salty cured duck.

The slow roasted pigeon was also very well done. The pigeon was really flavourful and tender and most importantly, not overcooked.

Mozaic has recently opened Mozaic Beach Club on Batu Beling beach, slightly further down from Seminyak. They have all-day tapas, as well as a fine dining restaurant similar to Mozaic Ubud. Again, it remains to be seen whether the restaurant is as good as the Ubud one, but having this as an option is yet another tick in the “just stay in Seminyak” box.

A says:

I guess I’d recommend it if you like exotic flavours in the Discovery Menu. The Classic Menu is great, but not really worth a special trip. Service here, like in everywhere in Bali, was excellent.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Our trip to Bali: Bebek Bengil

C says:

Bebek Bengil, or Dirty Duck, is another Ubud institution. What I thought was a fairly modest establishment from the outside turned out to be a huge operation, with numerous mini pavilions and a double-storey main eating area, all set amidst sprawling padi fields.

Their specialty is the crispy duck - half a duck fried so crispy that you can crunch most of the small bones. We only ordered one portion to share, expecting half a duck to be rather large, but the ducks here are either very small, or it shrinks considerably after deep frying.

The duck was really flavourful, and surprisingly not oily despite being deep fried. They serve it with some bean sprouts and a selection of chilli padi and shallot chutneys.

We liked it so much that we decided to return a second time to try their other specialty, the smoked duck wrapped in betel leaves, which requires a 1 day advance order.

Given how awesome the crispy duck was, this was a bit disappointing. It was by no means bad; it was still delicious, just not as good as the crispy one. It was really fall-off-the-bone tender, but maybe that was the problem. After a while it became a bit monotonous.

So is the crispy duck alone worth a trip to Ubud? I'm still deliberating. 

A says:

The crispy duck is way, way, way better than the smoked duck.  Awesome.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Our trip to Bali: Naughty Nuri’s

C says:

We've heard almost as much about Naughty Nuri's legendary ribs as Ibu Oka's babi guling; this time, however, it really is worth all the hype.

It's a tiny roadside set up, with their grill out front serving up plate after plate of amazing ribs and other bbq. Service is almost non-existent, but one taste of the food and you can forgive everything else.

We wisely decided not to share, and ordered a plate of ribs each. Hands down, the best plate of bbq ribs I've had in a very long time. The ribs were meaty and tender - none of the scrawny baby backs that we get here, and deliciously charred and smoky. The bbq sauce was also a perfect balance of sweet and tart. 

Their martinis are absolutely lethal. Completely not watered down, I was barely 1/5th through the glass when it started going to my head. Maybe we should've had some carbs to absorb the booze.

We tried their beef kebabs which were pretty good, but nothing close to the ribs.

The original Naughty Nuri's is in Ubud, but a couple of years ago they opened a second (possibly franchised) outlet in Kuta. While I don't doubt that the original will always be superior, I'm curious if the Kuta branch will be a decent enough alternative if we decide not to venture to Ubud in future. If anyone's tried the Kuta branch, do tell!

A says:

Possibly the best meal of our trip. Epic. Highly recommended.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Our trip to Bali

C says:

We recently took a short trip to Bali, and while beach holidays aren't really our thing, much preferring ice and snow to sun and surf, we'd read and heard enough about the food in Bali to decide that it was about time we paid a visit.

A few places did indeed live up to our expectations, and deserve their own posts so more on those separately. For now, we'll cover the best (or not) of the rest.

Ku De Ta

We stayed in the Seminyak area, and Ku De Ta was a short cab ride (or a long beach walk) away. We ordered stuff from their Grazing menu, and were very pleasantly surprised with the quality.

Standouts were the barbequed pork ribs with an Indonesian marinade, a lobster and pork gyoza, and extremely tender fried calamari. Flavours were very well balanced, and portions really quite generous.

A peek at their dinner menus showed a lot of promise, so that's definitely an option if we ever find ourselves back there again


Metis benefits from an amazing space - a huge building amongst sprawling padi fields. Unfortunately they take ambience and mood lighting a bit too far. I appreciate if you want to set a romantic vibe, but I also want to be able to actually see what I'm eating. Photos were impossible because it was just too dark. We should have taken cousin L's advice and come here before Bali’s really early sunsets at about 6.30.

Food-wise, I think they have potential, but they're a bit too aggressive with the flavour of their sauces. A consistent note throughout all the dishes is that the main ingredients were all but masked by the sauces, such that the latter was all you tasted.

They specialise in souffles, and since the menu advises a 30 minute wait, we ordered one at the start of the meal. After the mains, we waited an inordinate amount of time for dessert. They finally told us that the souffle had broken, and offered to either make another one (hence at least another half hour wait), or offer us ice cream on the house. We opted for the latter, and while it was a nice gesture, I really would've liked to try their famous souffle.

BBQ seafood at Jimbaran Bay

This was hands down the most disappointing meal of the trip. Again, I'd read a lot about the stretch of BBQ seafood restaurants along the beach at Jimbaran Bay, most of which are apparently tourist traps, but a few have been singled out as serving really good grilled seafood at reasonable prices.

After a soul-destroying 2 hour cab ride from Seminyak, we headed for Menega Cafe, which had the most smoke billowing from it which we took as a good sign.

We had squid which turned out to be skewered rather than a whole squid, prawns and a red snapper. The seafood had a nice char, but was at a rather unappetising room temperature when it was served. Also, while it was marinated in a garlicky sweetish sauce, it was undersalted so it all tasted a bit flat.

Yes, it was really cheap. The entire meal set us back less than S$30, but with an almost 4-hour round trip cab ride costing S$40, it just doesn't add up.

Ibu Oka

Bali is famous for babi guling (or roast suckling pig), with none more famous than Ibu Oka, a road side warung in Ubud that's been lauded to death in just about any article on food in Bali, and been given Anthony Bourdain's stamp of approval. Naturally, how could we not go?

You can order a number of different permutations - we had a mixed plate, with meat, crackling, crispy fried intestines and blood sausage served with rice on the side (another option has them all served on top of the rice), and a plate of just the meat and crackling.

I loved the fried intestines and the crackling was pretty good too, but at the risk of being lynched, I dare say that the pig meat itself didn't impress me all that much. Maybe because it was all doused in a watery spiced jus that was pretty salty, or maybe I just have very high expectations for my suckling pig. I certainly don't think this alone is worth a trip to Ubud.

A says:

Ku De Ta had the most interesting menu. And while I had high hopes for Metis, the sauce for everything was seriously over-seasoned. Of the places listed here, I’d only go back to Ku De Ta.