Thursday, January 31, 2013


C says:

Maybe it's just me, but I really don't get what the fuss of Bornga is all about. It could be the fact that it's opened by a Korean celebrity chef, and that Singaporeans are currently mad about anything Korean, but for someone who doesn't have Seoul fever, this place left a lot to be desired.

To put my review in context, we first tried going on Friday night after work, but the line was about 20 people long (they don't take reservations), and after it moved by only 2 people in 15 minutes, we cut our losses and decided to come on a weekday instead.

Fast forward to Monday evening. There was no queue and the entire al fresco area was empty. So imagine our surprise when we were told that there was a 10 to 15 minute wait. Why? Because the al fresco area was closed due to shortage of staff. Not very professional, but ok. We waited and were eventually ushered to a table.

The complimentary side dishes weren't as impressive nor varied as those at Ju Shin Jung, nor were they as tasty. The kimchee had less depth/flavour, but ironically that's why A actually prefers the kimchee here.

A specifically came here for the Naengmyun - their signature cold noodle, comprising thin buckwheat noodles in a light icy cold broth with sliced beef. I like cold soba, but I'm not a huge fan of cold noodles in a cold soup, but A really liked this and pretty much finished the entire (huge) bowl singlehandedly.

You have to order at least 2 BBQ items, so we ordered the boneless prime rib ($38), and the thinly sliced brisket ($22). You're supposed to wrap the grilled meats with the scallions and lettuce that are provided, which I did at first, but after a while I just had it with my steamed rice and some turnip kimchee.

I wasn't particularly impressed with either of the meats. At those prices, I'd much rather go to either Ju Shin Jung or even Gyu Kaku. There's a very limited selection of meats here, and only the brisket is under $35. The other 4 or 5 grill items are between $38 and $45, which can get you quite a lot more at Gyu Kaku.

A few other things bugged me here as well. Firstly, I didn't think the servers were particularly skilled in grilling the meats for you. After cooking the prime rib, they changed the grill top, but before waiting for it to get hot, they promptly plonked the brisket on to cook. Naturally, there was no sizzle or caramelisation, and the meat was sitting on the lukewarm grill top, steaming in its own juices instead of being grilled.

They also don't use different tongs for handling raw and cooked meats, like they do at Gyu Kaku, which doesn't bode very well in terms of cross-contamination.

I find that the food just isn't prepared with much finesse. Even the lettuce that was provided to wrap the meats with wasn't properly drained; it was still dripping wet, which in turn diluted the flavour of the lettuce wraps.

As you've probably figured by now, I was not very impressed with the place, but A doesn't seem to dislike it as much as I do, and actually doesn't mind going back.

A says:

C and I really disagree about this place. I quite like the food here. But then I like cold food so I had the cold noodles. Meat-wise, I found the standard the same as our other fave BBQ places. Plus, although the selection is limited, the standard Korean side dishes that come with the meat aren't as aggressively flavoured. Overall, it may not be my top pick for Korean BBQ, but I wouldn't mind going back.

1 Vista Exchange Green
#02-24 The Star Vista
Tel: 6694-4696
Open daily: 11.30 am -10 pm

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


C says:

First visit of 2013! Hopefully this sets the tone for rest of our 2013 visits to come, because once again, lunch here was great. While there were only a few changes to the main menu since we were last here in December, there were enough specials for us to only repeat one dish - the roasted padron peppers.

There was an uni and prawn bisque, which was beautifully served in a sea urchin shell on top of a huge stone. This dish alone should silence all the Esquina detractors out there who think this place doesn't serve food worthy of a fine dining restaurant. The presentation was exquisite, and the flavours were really intense.

The duck confit paella with gambas and mussels was also very good - kind of like a rustic surf and turf paella. The addition of the shredded duck confit was a nice touch, as it added a savoury meatiness to a regular seafood-based paella.

We tried a new egg dish on the menu - a poached egg with truffle egg mayonnaise, charred leeks and a walnut vinaigrette. Again, great flavour combinations, with each element not overpowering the other.

The tandoori lamb shoulder was probably the least successful dish of the day. The tandoori flavour was quite subtle, and the lamb, though very tender, was more braised/slow-cooked than we usually like. The accompaniments, a pickled cucumber and some kind of chutney, tasted faintly of achar; I wonder if that was the chef's intention.

We tried a new dessert - a chocolate tea ice cream with sacher sponge, pickled cherries and hazelnut praline. I quite liked this for a change, but I think A would've preferred the cookies and cream again.

For Esquina newbies, they've just lauched a Chef's Tasting Menu - $95 for 10 courses. It's available at both lunch and dinner, and you get tasting portions of most of their specialties, with a choice between 2 main courses. Since we've pretty much eaten our way though their entire menu (and all its variations), we may not go for this, but if you're planning a visit and don't quite know what to order and where to start, this sounds like a good idea.

A says:

Win! Plus, the new Chef's Tasting Menu is great for newbies. I may try it myself one day if I can't choose between all the great dishes there.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

La Barra

C says:

La Barra is a new restaurant at Star Vista, offering arepas, the ubiquitous street food of Venezuela and Colombia. They're situated right next to Senor Taco, and given the similarity of their offering, you may mistake them for being one and the same joint.

As you know, I'm not a big fan of Latin American cuisine, but I'd seen arepas featured in a number of food shows so I was keen to try them. In all the shows we've seen, the arepa is hollowed out and stuffed with filling, somewhat like a pita pocket.

In contrast, the ones at La Barra are flat discs, either used to sandwich a filling like a burger patty, or just served alongside a main course. We tried the Arepa Burger, and a main course of Carne Asada (literally, roasted meat).

The burger patty was quite good, but it was really messy to eat because the arepa is quite firm, so if you apply enough pressure to either cut or bite through it, you're pretty much squeezing all the filling right out the sides. It came with what seemed to be plaintain fries, but the waitress claimed they were regular potato.

The Carne Asada started out quite well, but once the meat grew colder it got really tough and hard to chew. The chimichurri sauce it came with was a godsend - the bright parsley sauce lifted what would've been quite a heavy dish.

The tiny new potatoes that accompanied the carne asada had a very interesting texture. They were really soft and fluffy inside, almost like pommes noisette.

Oddly enough, the arepas were the main thing that I didn't like in both dishes. I'm not sure how they ought to be, but I found them too dense and heavy, and the texture a bit too mealy. Maybe that's how they ought to be, though, in which case I don't think they're quite my cup of tea.

A says:

Not bad. But the arepas aren't really my thing. It's not really expensive so give it a try and see how you like it. I will say the dense arepas really fill you up so it is good value in that regard.

La Barra
#02-21, The Star Vista
Tel: 6694-2495

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Squirrel Bites

C says:

This tiny little unit in Vivocity, next to HK Kim Gary, sells, at first glance, deep fried flat bread with either sweet or savoury toppings. I perhaps unfairly dismissed them as an unhealthy waste of calories, but A was keen to try it so we ordered one - the chocolate, banana and coconut one.

I stand corrected. I may not have this regularly because I still think it's pretty unhealthy, but I have to admit that it was pretty tasty. The dough turned out to be really light and fluffy, almost like a donut. It's dusted with cinnamon sugar before your chosen toppings are added.

Each one is prepared to order, so you do have to wait a while; we had to and there wasn't even much of a queue.

A says:

Surprisingly good. It definitely tastes better than it looks. I definitely wouldn't mind having another one sometime.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Omakase Burger

C says:

Everyone seems to be raving about Omakase Burger, the burger joint that opened recently at the new Grandstand at Turf City, but I must say I wasn't completely blown away. Yes, objectively their burgers are pretty good - their signature element is a smashed beef patty, creating an irregular surface that offers optimum caramelising and formation of a charred crust. But quite a few factors stand in the way of my giving them a unanimous two thumbs up.

Firstly, at $14 and above for just a burger, I expected a sit-down service concept. I was surprised to find that it was fast food style - you stand in line, place your order and get a disc that starts buzzing when your order's done. Everything is self-service, from the condiments to the pickles to your drinks order.

They simply cannot cope with the volume of orders that they're getting, and there aren't enough seats either. You can't place your order without finding a seat first, so you have to wait twice - once to find a table, and again when you join the line to order.

The food takes a while as well - I think we waited around 10 to 15 minutes for our burgers. A had the Ultimate Cheeseburger, which had everything from bacon and cheese, to onions and mushrooms. I just went with the Deluxe Cheeseburger, which comes with mushrooms and onions. At almost $18 and $16 respectively, these were really small. The growing teenage boys who were seated next to us probably finished theirs in about 5 bites.

To be fair, the burgers were pretty tasty. The default doneness is medium, but you can ask for something else - we requested medium rare. The patties were juicy and flavourful, and I liked the crisp charred exterior. I just wish there was more meat. You can pay $5.90 to make any burger a double, but that'll make the Ultimate almost $24, which seems pretty extravagant for what essentially is fast food.

Their fries are decent, but their onion rings are really good. Nice and sweet, with a crisp crust that's not too thick.

They do a pretty good soft serve ice cream for dessert too, which is similar to a Hokkaido milk ice cream.

Overall, I don't deny that the burgers are pretty good, but I still think that their price point is a little too high in the context of the fast food concept.

A says:

Really good burger. Also, really tiny burger. I'd say it's midway between a slider and a regular burger. And given the size, there's really no point loading it with toppings. I'd advise sticking with the basic Omakase Burger. I also recommend the great onion rings and finishing with the soft serve ice cream. Just don't go expecting a huge meal.

Omakase Burger
200 Turf Club Road, #01-05
Tel: 6763-2698
Opening hours:
Mon - Thurs: 11.30 am - 3.30 pm; 5 pm - 9.30 pm
Fri - Sun: 11 am - 10 pm

Sunday, January 20, 2013


C says:

OKB stands for both Our Kind of Bakery/Bistro, and One Kampong Bahru, its address. By day, between 11 and 6, it's a bakery selling home-made cakes, cookies, breads and pastries. In the evening, it becomes a bar/bistro, serving up drinks and sharing plates of bar bites.

We only discovered this place after trying one of the Bakery's cookies - a buttery shortbread studded with cranberries that they created for Christmas. I was so enamoured with the melt-in-your-mouth gem that I did a bit of online research, and called them to find out more.

Turns out the cranberry cookie isn't on their regular menu, but the pastry chef can whip up some to order if you give her enough notice (about 2 to 3 days). We arranged to collect the cookies on a Friday evening after work, and headed there for dinner.

The place is really cosy and small, with a pretty limited seating area. Tables are also quite small, which makes it a bit of a challenge for us given how much we order. Still, the food and especially the service more than make up for it.

Two standout dishes we had, not coincidentally also their two most popular, were the chicken wings and the steak. The mid-joint wings were marinated in a belachan butter marinade, then fried. I think there was only a light coating, and no batter - just the way I like it. The marinade was super flavourful and mildly spicy, and the wings were cooked to perfection. Each order comes with 4 wings; we're gonna need 2 orders next time.

When we ordered the steak, we asked for it to be medium rare, but were told that the steak is actually slowed cooked through, because they sous vide it, and sear it upon order. I'm pleasantly surprised that they take so much trouble; it certainly shows because the dish was really good.

The pan-seared scallop with buah keluak oil was pretty good too, with the very meaty scallop cooked perfectly. I couldn't really taste the buah keluak oil though. 

The pan fried Haloumi cheese with tomatoes and the chilli crab rillette were, in comparison, a little disappointing. They weren't bad, just a bit ordinary compared to the other dishes.

For dessert, we shared a salted caramel cupcake, and a mini blueberry and lemongrass creme brulee. Both were surprisingly very good. The cupcake interestingly used a chocolate rather than a vanilla base, and was very moist and light.

I had some reservations about the flavour combination for the creme brulee, but I needn't have worried. You could just about taste both the blueberry and the lemongrass, but neither were overwhelming.

Overall, I was very impressed with both their baked goods and their bistro offerings. Parking is a bit of a problem, as is seating/table space, but those aren't enough to keep us from going back. Those wings were amazing.

A says:

The food ranges from average to above average, but the desserts are awesome. The place is a bit cramped and the service a bit iffy (which I'm hoping are just teething problems since they've been open less than a month).

Overall, I'd go again, mostly for the desserts.

1 Kampong Bahru Road
Tel: 6220-4711

Friday, January 18, 2013


C says:

It doesn't get more old school than this. Shashlik hasn't changed in years, but I guess over the years, our palates have gotten a little more, should I say, particular. A recent vist with A's family was somewhat underwhelming, but at the same time you have to give them props for doggedly remaining stuck in the 80s, and refusing to change.

We always start with the Borsch. Portions have gotten a little smaller, and they're much stingier with the beef - we each only had one piece of beef in our bowl. It was still pretty tasty though.

I remember someone ages ago recommending the Egg Millionaire, so we ordered a portion to try. Basically, it was an egg custard of sorts, with cheese and bacon, re-stuffed into an egg half-shell and baked. Definitely an 80s kitschy dish.

Because the steaks here are served on a hot plate, they end up still cooking when they arrive, so we asked for rare instead of our usual medium rare. The waiter seemed very apprehensive and tried to discourage us (maybe they don't get many rare orders?) but we stood our ground, and good thing too. Especially how slow I eat, by the time I was halfway through my steak it was already medium rare to medium.

They still serve Baked Alaska and Peach Melba for dessert, but we decided to pass since we weren't particularly enamoured with everything else. Will we go back on our own? I don't think so, but if A's folks suggest it for another family dinner, I guess we won't say no.
A says:

Super old school. This was what passed for a high-end steakhouse back in the day. Now, it's relatively affordable and value for money. The steak standard is very good for what you pay (around $30+ per steak). The borsch soup has been scaled down in terms of portion, but I mean the price hasn't changed much in like 10 years so something's got to give right?

I'd recommend this if you're pretty old and out for a kitschy steakhouse experience.

Shashlik Restaurant
545 Orchard Road
#06-19 Far East Shopping Centre
Tel: 6732-6401

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Keong Saik Snacks

C says:

Since we're such ardent fans of Esquina, I guess it was just a matter of time before we tried Jason Atherton's other venture nearby - Keong Saik Snacks. Touted as Esquina's much more low-key sibling, it has a much more casual vibe, at least when we came here for lunch on a Saturday. The same may not be the case in the evenings, since there's apparently a 'hidden' bar next door. I imagine it'll be quite the hipster apocalypse.

Anyway, the space is a lot bigger than Esquina. There's counter seating, as well as quite a few tables. There's also a No Reservations policy, but given the size of the space, I don't think the queue/wait gets as bad as Esquina. Perhaps it was wrong of us to go there with preconceived expectations of an Esquina-like experience. Because of those expectations, our actual experience fell far short.

We sat at one of the tables instead of at the counter, so maybe that was a mistake, since we were a bit further removed from the cooking action behind the counter. Although given the pace at which the food arrived (read: all at once), I don't think all the dishes could've fit if we'd eaten at the counter.

Portions are not Esquina-sized tapas portions, i.e. they're regular appetizer/entree sizes. (The hot dog, for example, consists of a 9-inch chorizo sausage, which is pretty damn big.) We ordered 5 dishes, expecting tapas-sized portions, and ended up super stuffed.

First to arrive was the Lobster Roll - this turned out to be a foccacia rather than a roll as such, and the lobster filling unfortunately reminded me of prawn cocktail. There was also a lot of bread, which filled us up pretty quickly.

I had barely taken a bite of the sandwich when the DIY tuna tartare arrived. It was an interesting concept, giving you chopped tuna and a host of condiments for you to season as you wish. Still, that meant I had to take a break from eating to season the tuna, and all the while even more dishes arrived. The tartare tasted ok, but I think the DIY aspect is a bit of a gimmick.

The shaved asparagus, fennel, burrata and basil salad tasted good, but I found it a bit haphazardly put together. The romaine lettuce was in chunks rather than separated into individual leaves. To make things worse, it was served in a bowl with a tiny base, so if you press your fork anywhere except dead center, the bowl would tip off-balance. Highly annoying, which was a shame because the salad really was pretty good.

The Fish and Oysters was just that - a cone of deep fried oysters and fish fillet (2 pieces each of cod and seabass). Pretty simple, and it needed the malt vinegar that came with it, but quite well executed. The oysters in particular were very well done.

There were a few additional dishes on the weekend brunch menu, the Yorkshire pudding with beef cheek and foie gras being one of them. I was very impressed with the light crispiness of the Yorkshire pudding, which saved it from being quite a rich, heavy dish.

Needless to say, after all that food, desserts were out of the question. All in all, maybe because we went expecting a completely different dining experience, we left pretty disappointed. Yes, prices are lower and portions are bigger than at Esquina, but unless you're specifically looking for a no-frills experience, give me the precision and care that goes into each plate of food at Esquina any day.

A says:

Fairly large portions and good value for money. The dishes have less finesse and are less refined as Esquina's though. If I had time (to make it to an early sitting) and money for Esquina, that would be my first choice. If you want someplace more affordable and casual, then this might be better.

I won't say anything about the secret bar because I didn't go there, cause like I'm no longer a hipster.

C says:

"No longer a hipster"? Since when were you ever?!

Keong Saik Snacks
49 Keong Saik Street
Tel: 6221-8338
Open 12 noon to 11 pm daily  

Sunday, January 13, 2013


C says:

Morganfield's is a Malaysian diner chain with its first Singapore outlet at Star Vista. They specialise in "Sticky Bones" - hickory-smoked pork spare ribs that are slow roasted till so tender that they're falling off the bone. I'm not a big fan of diner food, but A's folks wanted to try it out so we came for dinner on a Sunday evening.

We initially considered sharing one of their festive platters for 4, till we did the math and realised that it was actually cheaper to order each component of the platter separately. Given the number of platters that were flying out of the kitchen, it appears that their marketing strategy worked.

A and I shared a Ribs on Ribs combo - 2 half-racks of ribs plus 2 sides. You can choose between Hickory BBQ, Smoked Peppercorn and Tuscan Baked Spicy Tomato. We went with the first two, with sides of corn on the cob and red skin mashed potatoes.

The Hickory BBQ was predictably good, but I actually preferred the Smoked Peppercorn. It had a deeper flavour and some nice heat, which made each bite less monotonous.

There's no denying that the ribs were really tender - the meat pretty much just fell off the bone. Strangely enough, that's also my main criticism - it was more like pulled pork than bbq ribs. I like my ribs to be nicely grilled, and still firm enough for me to pick up and gnaw at. Here you don't even need to use your fingers; your knife and fork will more than suffice.

The apple pie was a letdown. The shortcrust pastry was soggy; the filling nothing to shout about. It was saved by the scoop of pretty decent vanilla ice cream.

Even though we got there early, we still waited ages for our food to arrive. I guess the kitchen couldn't cope with the multiple orders of festive platters. I can't deny that the portion sizes are very generous, but we left feeling full but unsatisfied.

A says:

The ribs were tender but still generic. Everything else was just generic. Blah. Oh, and the dessert was awful. At least the portions are generous. And the service was very good, all things considered. But all in all, not recommended.

1 Vista Exchange Green
#02-23 The Star Vista
Tel: 6694-3635
Sun to Thurs: 11 am - 10.30 pm
Fri & Sat: 11 am - midnight

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Best of 2012

C's Best of 2012

2012 was a good year, at least food-wise. Unlike 2011, where we were struggling to even find enough contenders for the list, we were quite spoilt for choice for 2012's list. We even had to cull some otherwise worthy establishments, in order not to detract from the truly deserving ones.

If this were in order of merit, no prizes for guessing that Esquina would be top of the list. But because it's too hard to arrange the rest, I'm doing this in alphabetical order.

We still haven't tried Bruno Menard's new bistro La Cantine, but &Made at Pacific Plaza has some of the best burgers we've had in a while. While the original B Burger was good, I still have a soft spot for the Three Little Pigs burger, maybe because it was the first one I tried.

They don't take reservations, but turnover is pretty high since they have an extremely efficient kitchen, so be patient and wait it out. You won't be sorry.

Amuse is a late entry into the list. I was almost certain that I'd include Catalunya, but Amuse's tapas are more interesting, better executed and more importantly, make me want to go back for more.

For some reason, the place hasn't generated a lot of buzz, so for those of you who can't deal with the no reservations policy at Esquina, give Amuse a try.

Sorry, this may be a copout, but our loyalties to Ember remain strong. Surviving ten years in food-obsessed and food-fickle Singapore is quite an accomplishment, so kudos to them.

For as long as they're still around, we'll be there at least once a year.

Need I say more? Every one of our 7 (or possibly 8) visits in 2012 resulted in us scrolling through our calendars, already mentally planning our next visit. Almost every dish pops, with each ingredient playing a specific role and nothing unnecessary or redundant.

The plates are prepared with such care and attention to detail, that sometimes it could work against them - some detractors simply can't look past the fact that they are paying restaurant prices to sit on bar stools, or *horrors* have to wait for seats. They don't expect, and are therefore not willing to pay, for exquisite food that they would probably have no qualms paying double for at a place like Pollen.

All I have to say to that is - excellent. More space for us, then.

And, for the record, Pollen wasn't even in contention for the list.

A doesn't normally like cooking his own food, so the fact that he voluntarily comes here speaks volumes about how good it is, and how much we like it. Skip the wagyu cuts for a more wallet-friendly experience - we do. Their regular meats are good enough, anyway.

They've recently introduced a new dessert - milk pudding with kinako powder and kuromitsu syrup. This is awesome, and a perfect end to a meal that always satisfies.

Kith Bistro
Kith Bistro at Park Mall is everything that we love about the first one at Robertson Quay, and then some. More seating, an expanded menu, and food prepared with heart? Yes please!

With an increasing number of artisanal coffee places sprouting up, I'm glad that Kith has still managed to hold their own.

I was on the fence about whether Masa should feature in my list. Since the last time we wrote about it, the menu has changed somewhat, and the wagyu appetizers that we liked so much, like the tataki and the carpaccio, are no longer available. In their place is a wagyu sashimi, featuring unctuous slices of heavily marbled wagyu beef, but at $28 for 6 tiny slices, it's a bit too steep for a casual night out.

Still, I've decided that Masa still makes the list, simply for the awesomeness that is their hamburg steak with the demi-glace sauce. Since their starters are no longer a regular option, I guess we just have to order larger portions of the hamburg steak then. Yay.

Menya Musashi
I can't not have a ramen joint in my list. It was a tough fight between Tonkotsu King at Orchid Hotel, and Menya Musashi's tsukemen. In the end, because the neverending queues at Tonkotsu King are a bit of a deterrant, Menya Musashi's tsukemen has my vote this year.

I love their white tsukemen (A prefers the nuttier black - the dipping broth is a complex blend of pork and bonito, and after adding the soba-yu you get a lovely soup to wash everything down. The noodles have a great thickness and texture, and you can order as much noodle as you want for the same price. What more could you want?

Plain Vanilla Bakery
I'm not big on cupcakes, but I love the ones from Plain Vanilla Bakery. I love the fact that they're first and foremost really good cakes, and that they customise the cake base for each cupcake flavour, rather than dry vanilla or chocolate bases meant to showcase fancy frostings or decorations.

I also love how they experiment with new flavours, and put out seasonal limited edition selections, like a pumpkin range for Halloween and a festive selection for the holidays. I think they've started diversifying into cookies and tarts, but I hope they don't neglect what they do best.

Ryoshi Sushi Ikeikemaru
This new conveyor belt sushi joint at Liang Court serves really good quality sushi at very reasonable prices. They give generous slices of fresh fish, on top of relatively small morsels of rice – no sushi robot chunks here. Plus, unlike Itacho Sushi, their service is outstanding – if you know what you want, you can be in and out in about half an hour.
In particular, their salmon nigiri, and various versions thereof, are excellent and very good value for money.
Purely in terms of the original flavour, I prefer Red Mango, but I really like Sogurt’s other flavours like the Green Apple and Lychee. Plus their location at Star Vista makes for a convenient drive-by yogurt fix. They’re partially to blame for my recent weight gain, though. At the height of our obsession, the two of us shared around 250g of fro-yo almost every evening. 0% fat but clearly not a lightweight in terms of calories. Still, I guess it’s better than ice cream…

SPR MRKT may be a bistro within an upmarket grocery/convenience store, but don’t underestimate the quality of the food that they serve. Chef Jo’s creations, like his blackened fish and chips and grilled baby squid salad, pack so much flavour and are so well executed that they wouldn’t be out of place in a chi-chi restaurant.
Pastry chef Furrene Hoh’s evil desserts are another main reason for my putting on weight. Rounding off almost every meal there with a bread pudding and vanilla sauce was, on hindsight, not very smart.
To be fair, we’ve only been to Teppei once, but we really liked our experience here. The food was good, service was great and the overall cramped yet jovial ambience was really up our alley. Plus, $60 for a no-frills, fuss-free omakase meal really can't be beat.
I hear that getting dinner reservations are increasingly difficult though, with advance bookings of at least a week required even for a weekday dinner. Oh well, I guess that reinforces why they’re on my list.

So, there you have it - my Best of 2012. May 2013 be an even better year, for food, for life, for everyone!

A's Best of 2012

Safe to say it's our fave place in Singapore. Although I really do prefer the lunch service as opposed to the more hectic dinners.

The best food you'll find in a small coffee/bistro place.

Menya Musashi
I love the tsukemen here.

Ryoshi Sushi Ikeikemaru
The best combination of value/quality at a conveyor belt sushi joint. (I'd skip the bland cooked dishes though.)

Almost as good as Esquina, which to me, is saying a lot. Plus you can make reservations, and the service is good.

Don't know why it took so long for us to discover this place. Awesome (and not that expensive if you order right). And the service is super impressive for a grilled meat place.

So good. Not cheap but it has an awesome selection of sweet, fruity flavours.

Noodle Place
This place brings back great memories for me. The meats are a bit inconsistent but in my opinion, the noodles are the best in Singapore.

BK A4dables
Surprise entry. Unlike C, I don't mind going with good junk food (which also explains our different cholesterol levels). And it's rare to find something with this balance of variety and value for money. I pick the rodeo beef set where for around $5, you get 2 slider versions of their onion ring western burger, a small fries, a small drink and a mini sundae. Win!

Modern Peking Duck
Our must tar-pow item at Vivo City. $6 gets you a box of very generous portion of roast pork or 6 slices of peking duck crepes. Buy 3 boxes and get the 4th box free.

We come here for our anniversary every year. That pretty much says it all.

Also rans:
Papparich for awesome steamed kaya toast and curry (let down by the bad coffee).
Co-Op Nasi Lemak for the kaya toast and excellent teh (let down by the average nasi lemak).
Jewel Coffee which is my go-to place for a quick muffin in the CBD.
Sarnie's for the best sandwiches I can never have because it's always so damn crowded at lunch.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Hong Kong Kim Gary Restaurant

C says:

An early trip to Vivocity on Sunday morning saw us wandering around aimlessly whilst the mall woke up. Most of the food outlets only opened at 11.30, so when we walked past HK Kim Gary and saw them open and pretty bustling, we decided to mosey in and give them a go.

They have a huge menu with somewhat of an identity crisis, since they have everything from Korean spicy noodles, to baked rice/spaghetti, to Spanish rice and Norwegian salmon platters.

I was spoilt for choice, with a huge array of different noodle soup dishes to choose from. Korean spicy noodles with shredded pork? Nissin noodles with luncheon meat? Hong Kong spicy noodles? Help! I decided on the Hong Kong spicy noodles with chicken wings, Typhoon shelter style. This arrived looking a lot spicier and more menacing than it actually was.

I don't know what Typhoon Shelter style is, but this came with bean sprouts, a spicy bean sauce-based soup and lots of fried garlic on top. Not bad at all - the chicken wings were pretty tasty too.

A had a baked pork chop spaghetti with two sauces - minced beef and sweetcorn white sauce. This was surprisingly less tasty than it looked. Somehow it was a bit bland despite so much sauce and cheese.

We also shared a luncheon meat sandwich, which was let down by extremely greasy, butter-soaked bread. Don't get me wrong, everyone knows how much I adore butter, but I like it when it's still slightly cold and solid, not melted and soaked into the bread.

I certainly wouldn't travel to Vivocity for this, nor would I wait in line, but if there were no queues and we weren't craving anything else, I wouldn't mind coming here for some instant noodle comfort food.

A says:

The quality of the food and service is average. But what this place has going for it is its giant menu. Full of weird hybrid dishes right up my alley. It wouldn't be my first choice, especially with the long queues that usually form here, but it's definitely a number 2 or 3 option.

Hong Kong Kim Gary Restaurant
1 Harbourfront Walk
#02-128 Vivocity
Tel: 6376-8183
Open daily: 11 am to 10 pm

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Au Chocolat

C says:

Being huge fans of the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate from Serendipity 3, we were curious to try the version (with only one “R”, since the former is probably trade mark protected) at Au Chocolat in Marina Bay Sands.

I wanted so much to like it, but unfortunately it was quite disappointing. The whipped cream was actually the best part – the frozen hot chocolate itself was icy, and had none of the rich, creaminess of the original.

However, all is not lost. Their food items were actually surprisingly very, very good. The Au Chocolat Signature Burger, which comes with cheese, bacon and a Portobello mushroom in addition to a juicy beef patty, was one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time. I asked for it medium rare, and the patty was perfectly pink and juicy, and all the ingredients came together to make a damn good burger.
The fries deserve a special mention too – they were the perfect thickness (not too skinny and not fat wedges either), crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy inside. Ask for both ketchup and mayonnaise if you’re feeling decadent – the combination is heavenly.

We also tried one of their crepes – with parma ham, melon and gruyere. This sounded good on paper, but wasn’t quite as good as expected. I think they threw too many ingredients into the mix, and everything just ended up getting muddled together. I ended up deconstructing it and eating the ingredients separately.

A had their white chocolate and espresso milkshake, which was good if you like thin, drinkable milkshakes. It wasn’t too sweet, and the espresso flavour was stronger than expected.

It’s funny that for a primarily dessert place, their desserts (or at least the ones we’ve tried) didn’t impress us all that much. It’s a good thing that their burger more than made up for it.

A says:

Yeah, the food is great (especially the burgers and fries) but the desserts are very ordinary. Very strange for a dessert place. And the frozen hot chocolate is really a bad copy of the one from Serendipity 3.

Au Chocolat
#L1-03, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
Tel: 6688-7227
Sun to Thurs:10 am - 11 pm
Fri & Sat: 10 am - midnight