Wednesday, May 31

Wine Garage

30 Merchant Road #01-07 Riverside Point T. 6533 3188

More reasons to come to the Wine Garage : this return visit proved that yes, the food is consistently good. In addition to my favourites from the previous week, we tried the pasta with a zucchini cream sauce that was so fabulous I could not have enough of it. The sauce, though cream based, was so amazingly light. I cant quite figure everything that has gone into it but hey, it was delicious.

One Rochester

1 Rochester Park T. 6773 0070

This place really surprised me, not with the drinks but with its really interesting finger food menu. I was impressed enough on my first visit with the simple yet addictive lemongrass flavoured anchovy munchies that they serve with drinks. The roast pork (left) they served this time around blew me away. And I don’t even normally eat this stuff. The roasted bits, cut ever so tiny, simply, and lightly coated in a sweet black sauce, simply melts in your mouth, fats (yes fats!) and all. Sounds pretty groose but tastes fabulous. They also dished up this huge tray of grilled beef, tempura vegetable and stuffed chicken roll, though not as mind-blowing as the roast pork, was very tasty nevertheless.

Monday, May 29

Coriander Leaf

3A River Valley Road #02-03 Clark Quay Blk A T. 6732 3354

In place of a birthday party, my friends and I attended a cooking class instead, based on an “Easy Entertaining” menu. I am not too sure how much of a cooking lesson we had since it was a straight forward menu and we did the bulk of the cooking. But this came with loads of fun, no clean up (the assistant chefs took care of all of that) and nicely plated courses (the chefs took care of this as well). The dinner that evening started with bruschetta with tomato and tapenade, a warm orange salad with pine nuts, and roasted lamb that was a tad on the raw side (the chefs did the grilling). The highlight for me was the dessert (that I made of course!) of lemon and thyme cream in phyllo nests with marinated strawberries.

Sunday, May 28

Wine Garage

30 Merchant Road #01-07 Riverside Point T. 6533 3188

I really like this place – a place with an extensive wine selection and a range of delicious dishes to compliment it. We started the evening with a selection of appetizers: pork belly with watermelon (top) – a lovely refreshing combination; dates wrapped in bacon on a bed of spicy dip (top left) – excellent melding of flavours; and corn marinated with a spicy lemon sauce – divine.

We followed this quickly with a selection from the “small plates” section. These were dishes that were slightly heavier than the appetisers but far less substantial than the “big plates” selection. We had the cheese platter that featured an excellent range from Europe; a spinach salad with sliced apples that was nice and light; duck rillets with grapes and crackers that was nice and smokey and a minced lamb with yoghurt and mint with flat bread that was very nice warm but became a bit soggy when cold. And we had wine of course. It was a smashing evening!

Monday, May 22

Mellben Seafood

Blk 232 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3, #01-1222 T. 6285 6762

Fans of the Cantonese fish head noodle soup would enjoy this variation of the dish. The chefs here have replaced the fish with large Sir Lankan crabs that lend a different sweetness to the soup. And if you happen to pick a female crab laden with roe, you can be assured of a rich soup tinged in orange from it. The thick rice noodles, so slippery smooth, are the perfect compliment to the rich buttery (but not cloying) stock. They also serve other crab dishes: pepper crab, chilli crab, crab stir-fried with noodles, curry crab, etc.

This being a crab speciality restaurant, I would stick to the crab dishes. The other items I have tried on the menu – ribs, chicken, etc – have always been lacklustre. The simple meal for three, including a vegetable stir-fry and a baked rib was slightly over S$60 / US$35. The average wait for the meal is about an hour, and this is after waiting for your table. So it’s wise to call ahead. This coffeeshop takes reservations!


The Regent Hotel, #03-00 T. 6732 2234

I just had the most divine lunch. Recently rated among the world’s top 100 restaurants by the UK based Restaurant Magazine, Iggy’s lives up to the title.

I had the three course lunch that comprised of a heavenly squid ink risotto that was sufficiently wet yet firm to the bite; followed by the oh-so-delicious burger that forces you to leave the conventional expectations of a burger behind. The patty falls apart at the bite, leaving me to wonder what went into the mix that was altogether tasty yet textured. I rounded off the meal with the banana tarte that was lovely especially when eaten with the ice-cream.

But I could not keep my eyes on my lunch alone. I had spied a lovely cappellini tossed in olive oil and dried shrimp that looks like mee kia ta (Singapore style tossed noodles) but tastes amazing (a friend had ordered it) and a foie gras served on a French toast that I would so love to sample.

I plan on returning pretty soon. The three course lunch was S$45+++ / US$27. They also have a five course set for those with a hearty appetitie at S$75 / US$44.

Sunday, May 21

Chin Chin Eating House (Zhe Char)

19 Purvis Street T. 6337 4640

That was one of my favourites for the sea cucumber mixed vegetable (left) and Hainanese pork chop (pork chop stir-fried in ketchup with chips and peas, top), and the chicken rice of course. But this was at its original location on Seah Street, complete with old Hainanese chefs and grumpy senior waiters. Since moving to its new address on Purvis, the standard has dropped several notches. Sure the coffee shop is now spanky clean, airy and bright, and service, way efficient. The food however, failed to keep up. Its an average dinner nevertheless. Dinner for four came to over S$40 /US$23.

3 Babas Peranakan Restaurant

Jalan Gelenggang

I chanced upon this place while in search of a Thai restaurant. Lovely home cooked taste in the assam fishhead (top), cooked with plenty of ladies fingers and brinjal; ayam buah kelak (top left), a chicken cooked with a mashed nut was flavourful; the squid cooked in ink (middle left) was delicious when stirred into the rice though I wished they had left more of the nut in the shell than in the sauce; the sayu lodeh, vegetable curry was light; the lo bak, the meat roll was ordinary; as was the sea cucumber soup.

Generally delicious though the portions could be larger – the assam fishhead was served in a huge pot that was more bones than fish. Also service could improve. It was clearly a family operation that could barely cope with the half filled restaurant that evening. Prices were reasonable. The dinner for six was under S$70 / US$41.

Gayatri Restaurant

122 Race Course Road T. 6291 1011

I am not a big fan of curry shops but once in a while I do get a craving for the dum briyani from Gayatri. This is one of the few places I know that serve individually cooked pots of briyani (rice cooked with curried meats). I like the fish dum briyani here, add to that a side of mutton mysore (dry mutton curry, top), chicken masala, complimented with some refreshing rassam, a light assam soup, and it makes for an altogether satisfying meal.

Founder Ba Kut Teh Restaurant

347 Balestier Road

I go to ba kut teh (pork rib soup) not because I am a big fan of ribs, but because I like all the other side dishes that come with it. We were told that this was one of the better spots on Balestier. We actually had to stand in line for a table when we arrived past 9pm. But the queue moved along quickly enough and we very quickly filled the table with the stewed tofu (delicious), stewed soy bean skins (equally tasty) and kidney and liver soup (divine). We tucked into this with a bowl of mee sua (Chinese longevity noodles). The ba kut teh here is of the peppery variety – light and spicy.

Monday, May 15

Sabar Menanti Nasi Padang

50 Kandahar Street

What can I say – I almost always have the same dishes here: ikan baker (grilled fish) served with a sweet dark sauce, fresh chopped onions and chillies, jack fruit curry, sambal goreng (a tempeh and vegetable stir-fry), beef rendang (a dry beef curry), tapioca leaves in a light curry sauce…

Can’t seem to have enough nasi padang, the Malay version of a mixed vegetable stall. Simply go to the counters and point at everything your heart desires, which in my case, is usually everything!!! Some of the best nasi padang can be found in the Arab Street area.

Good thing about Sabar Menanti, besides the great food, is the airconditioned dining room that comes in real handy in this heat. Prices are not cheap though – our meal for two (sure I tend to over-order, but I finish most of it as well) costS$22 / US$14.

Sunday, May 14

Whatever Cafe

18 Keong Siak Road

For average breakfast at not so average prices… The toast with eggs and roasted tomatoes I had was S$9 / US$5.50.

Saturday, May 13

Va Va Voom (Vietnamese)

36 Seah Street

I love the food that this place sells – tasty traditional Vietnamese dishes with a lot less oil and without compromising on the taste. They take it a step futher by creating variations of dishes that enhance the original flavours even more. One favourite is the lemon grass grilled pork bun thit nuong (pork noodle salad).

I wish they would name the dishes as they are known in Vietnam though. To make it easier for customers to place their orders, VVV has created English references for all the dishes and left the Viet names out. I had to check with the owners to ensure that I got what I wanted.

They also had a yummalicous plum soda (right) – a simple concoction of a potent preserved plum thrown into a glass of soda.

über Burger

9 Raffles Blvd #01-06 Millenia Walk T. 6837 0280

I was sceptical when I first heard of this gourmet burger place that is touted for its S$101 / US$60 foie gras burger. But with the dearth of good burger places yet, I figured, no harm trying. The selection was extensive, from sirloin to lamb, chicken to wagyu, smoothies to milkshakes. The interior - ala upscale diner. The prices were not bad either – burgers start at S$15 /US$9. My recommendation based on the three different burgers I tried that afternoon (hence the interesting looking burger above): the beef burgers with onion rings and a milkshake.

Friday, May 12

The Cheesecake Cafe

685 East Coast Road T. 6448 7725
Closed on Mondays

What a lovely little hideout this is. Arrive early and you'll probably be able to get one of the coveted sofas at the back and bask in the soothing pseudo-Balinese ambience. Or forget that and sit opposite the display counter and gawk at the amazing variety of cheesecake all evening. Both options are of equal appeal to me, but only the latter was available this time. No water off our back, except when it came to deciding which cake to have. They all looked so good-from the blueberry to the tiramisu to the chocolate cheese...took us a while, I assure you. We finally settled on the chocolate chip cheesecake. Not bad actually. Not as light as the I.S. Cheese at Cafe Rosso, but not overwhelming. Smooth, yes; crumbly no. A couple of handfuls more chocolate chips and this would be a winner. S$6.90 a slice.

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Charlie's Peranakan Food

205 East Coast Road T. 6344 8824
Cash only

I've been on a Peranakan thing of late. Hence this latest romp to Charlie's. This was a slightly different experience though, perhaps because there were no overt references made to Peranakan culture and traditions. This seemed to be just about the food. The restaurant was furnished and decorated simply; the menu while not very long, featured all the well-known dishes. Top dibs to the achar fish (fish in a tangy vegetable pickle), so lightly fried it just melted in the mouth, leaving a nice sour aftertaste. Also good was the bakwan kepiting (minced pork and crab meatballs in soup) which was a bit too delicate for my dining companion, but I found had homey appeal. We were a little disappointed by the ayam pongteh (chicken in bean sauce) though--the flavours were indistinguishable from regular chicken in soy sauce. In keeping with the ambience, this was a good light Peranakan meal. Not for those used to stronger stuff though. Total bill for two: S$32.60


Wednesday, May 10

Kim Choo Kueh Chang

109 East Coast Road T. 6846 0375

Our hunt for desserts led us to this Nonya (Straits-born Chinese) restaurant. It served a mighty refreshing cheng tng (light mix of ingredients served with an iced syrup) and various kuehs (Nonya cakes). We tried the steam tapioca cake (left) that was nice and spingy and the Nonya bak chang, a glutinous rice dumpling filled with minced meat (I found this a tad try though my foodie mates loved it).

Kim Choo Kueh Chang has a a really interesting menu too that warrants tasting!

Mary – Tau Kwa Pau

125 East Coast Road / 39 Geylang Serai #01-09

This is yet another dish that I grew up with. A favourite tea time snack on a Sunday afternoon. Though totally delicious, I am surprised that not more places sell this. Its essentially a fried tofu, cut in half and stuffed with chopped meats, veges, and other "chef’s ingredients", and drizzled with the super spicy, super yummy chilli sauce. The amalgamation of flavours and textures… indescribable but leaves you craving for more. S$1 / US$0.60 each.

Ampang Niang Dou Fu

225 East Coast Road

This was probably the healthiest stop on our East Coast Road food trail. This shop sells an array of yong tau fu – bittergourd, soy bean skin, tofu, brinjal, chilli, etc, stuffed with a minced fish paste; fishball, quails eggs, etc. The selection is pretty standard, you just tell the waiter how many are dining. The stuffed pieces are served in a giant dish with soup. This must be the "Ampang" (a Malaysian city) style. The individual pieces can be eaten with a sweet sauce and a chilli sauce, or both. Everyone simply digs in. Delicious and healthy (but for the fried soy bean skin).

WEAST – Kong Ba Pao

163 East Coast Road T. 6345 5333

We were tempted by images of the “kong ba pao” – stewed pork buns that remind me of void deck dinners, but renamed “black beauties” by the café. It was tasty, a refined version of the chunky buns I normally have. The slice of pork, stewed in a thick dark garlicky sauce, was lean and easy on the bite. The sauce was also tasty, especially when soaked into the hot fluffy bun. Price S$2 / US$1.20 per bun. Café serves other treats too, pastries and mee siam (Nonya style spicy noodle), and the usual array of drinks.

Monday, May 8

Marine Parade Laksa

57 East Coast Road

We kicked off our East Coast Road food trails at the shop that a friend insisted serves the best laksa (the Singapore version of curry noodles) in town. However the debate on where the best Katong laksa is rages on. On first taste, the gravy seemed a bit on the light side, a tad watered down and not “lemak” (rich with coconut flavour) enough. I would have preferred a slightly thicker and richer sauce. A foodie friend also found the noodles a bit hard. But like I say, the debate continues, and I will be sure to try the other two “original Katong laksa” located stalls from this one, next time around.

Je Ju International

38 Seah Street

We were led here by recommendations of a Korean friend but was disappointed, by the nondescript bulgogi (barbeque) and the even more ordinary spicy tofu soup. Also this place serves the worse tasting kimchi (spicy picked vegetables) ever. I don’t know if kimchi can ever go bad but this one sure tasted like it!

No Sign Board

414 Geylang Road T. 6842 3415

I was in the mood for crabs and where else but to head to No Sign Board to satiate the craving. We ordered the chilli crab (no less); honey baby squid that was nice and crispy; cereal prawns which was crunchy and sweet; oyster omelette which was quite a joke – though a tasty dish, we found out only when it was served that all but one of us ate oysters cooked this way; and some stir fried veggies.

The Turquoise Room

7 Lock Road T. 4473 3655

This is one of the newest kid on the block in this growing enclave of dining places. It serves a simple Western menu with some interesting dishes. We started with the bruschetta and the mushroom pate crostini that was not bad and proceeded to the mains of a pork loin stuffed with apple and wrapped in proscuitto (top pix) – lovely combination that I want to try to make as well; and a light mushroom pasta. The food was quite tasty but with an overly active air-conditioning system, it got cold way too fast and took some of the flavour out of it. Oh, and the place was rather dimly lit too, hence the dark pictures. It's a very nice dining spot otherwise. The mains cost S$18 /US$11 on average.

Sunday, May 7

Green Tea Dessert, Japan

This is the most expensive ice kachang I've ever had - just under JPY1,000 (about S$13 / US$7.50) for a green tea version – but tastes real good. -- RC

Sik Wai Sin Eating House (Zhe Char)

287 Geylang Road T. 6744 0219

My father insists that this place is much better than Joo Heng Eating House. They serve very similar fare. Sik Wai Sin dishes up a steamed fish head with a bean sauce and steamed mince pork with salted fish – both equally delicious. We also tried the sweet and sour pork (so-so), and the fried chicken (so-so). The other signature dish here is the black chicken soup that was tasty but sold out by 8 that evening.

So which is the better place? They are equally good. When in the mood for soup and crowds (it can get super busy in Geylang) head to Sik Wai Sin, otherwise, for a more calm dinner, stick to Joo Heng.