Thursday, November 23

Ikoi Japanese Restaurant

Ikoi Japanese Restaurant
401 Havelock Road, #01-01 Miramar Hotel
T. 6887 3788

I have not been here in quite awhile but my nephew’s hankering for Japanese food for his birthday led us back. And what a wrong decision it was. Unlike a few years back, when the food really was delicious, the dishes we were served this evening was ordinary and far from refined. The sashimi though fresh but not the best I have eaten while the tempura was coated in a thick heavy batter. And it was pricey for this quality of food. The meal was served ala carte buffet style priced at S$30++ /US$19 for adults and S$20++ /US$12.50 for kids.

Sunday, November 12

Sabar Menanti Nasi Padang

Sabar Menanti Nasi Padang
50 Kandahar Street

I have written about this place before. And I just have to again - the ever divine ikan bakar (above) - so fresh, simple, superb. And also the jackfruit curry, made not with the fruit but the bits that separate the fruit.

Pontian Noodles

Pontian Noodles
S11 Food Centre
Blk 504 Bishan

I discovered this place by chance when a friend insisted I try this. The dish looks very much like wonton noodles, but for the mildly sweet dark sauce and the smallest of wontons - typical of the Malaysian style noodles. They may be tiny but they were packed with flavour. Not too bad for a snack really. No wonder the stall had a long line in front of it.

House of Hunan

House of Hunan
238 Thomson Road
#03-09 Novena Square
T. 6733 7667

This was one gorgeous restaurant. The décor was amazing, so much so that you will forget that you are actually in a neigbourhood mall, in a otherwise typical restaurant.

Helps loads too that the restaurant is still fairly new, and running this hugely attractive promotion: S$9 / US$5.50 for a gamut of its specialities.

We ordered up a storm. Covering practically all of the table: the double boiled chicken soup, cold garlic chicken, drunken chicken, claypot tofu, braised trotters, fish steamed in a special chilli mix, prawns stir fried with preserved chillies, long beans with spicy minced meat. I am no expert on Hunan food, but everything was spicy and delicious, and our tongues were burning. After awhile, the spiciness didn’t matter anymore and we kept tucking it all away.

To cool the meal down, we had several desserts: the bean paste pancake was tasty, the jelly with lime sorbet was divine, and the caramelized sweet potato, made by dunking steaming hot sweet potatoes in a bowl of syrup and then plunged into cold water was interesting.

Le P’tit Brenton

Le P’tit Brenton
200 Upper Thomson Road #01-11
T. 6259 4300

This is one peculiar creperie. The first thing I noticed were its signs: “Please put your mobile on silent”, “No taking of pictures in the restaurant”, “Minimum charge of $10 / US$6 per person”, and all that whispering. I felt compelled to whisper. This surely was one place with an attitude. Its no wonder the chef once threw one of its diners out for raising a ruckus in the establishment.

That aside, the crepes were fabulous. The lemon crepe left us craving for more while the banana and chocolate crepe reminded me of the cold days in Paris. Will I be back? Certainly for the crepes. Though I could do without the attitude.

Update: Went by the cafe early Dec 06 only to find it shut. Apparently the cafe could not get their lease extended. And from the note at the shop trying to sell off everything, it does not look like they have plans for relocating.

Sum’s Kitchen

Sum’s Kitchen
3 Jalan Legundi
T. 67572118

This is awell-kept secret. Out in the middle of Sembawang is this nondescript restaurant run by a Hong Kong chef. Looking more like the usual cha chan tang (Hong Kong style cafes) you will be wowed by the simple and delicious dishes it serves up. The fragrant winter melon soup, the divine roast duck that was fabulous at every bite, spinach cooked with century egg and salted egg that was light and addictive, the pepper squid, fresh steamed cod… Call ahead especially if you are planning on having dinner there, the duck runs out quick.


5 Koek Rd
Cuppage Plaza
T. 6734-2492

I do enjoy dining here. The small everything – all the grilled dishes are served on skewers - deceives you into thinking that they are just small bites... Not. Many small bites make a big meal. This dinner, the star attraction was the grilled sweet potatoes that were amazingly sweet to the bite. My parents loved it. Came at a price though – each serving was S$18 (US$11) and we had two!


12 Greenwood Avenue
T. 6465 1980

I have long avoided Sebastian’s due to its association with the current Les Amis that seems to be expanding way too quickly to the detriment of its quality menu. What I found though was a cosy neighbourhood restaurant that was terribly relaxed and great for just dropping by. Ambience aside, the food was ordinary. The onion soup was a little on the sweet side. From too much sugar maybe? and I am not referring to the sweetness that comes from the onion. The roast beef was nice though and in just the right portion when shared with a friend. We also had the profiteroles that tasted a tad store bought and the lemon soufflé which was good but not the best around.

E-Sarn Thai Cuisine

E-Sarn Thai Cuisine
20 Sixth Avenue
T. 6462 5608

If I am not mistaken, this used to be the Thai Noodle House on Coronation. Started by a Thai lady who moved to Singapore with her husband, it serves home-cooked Thai meals. I have only tried the noodle dishes here: the pad thai is yums though – flat rice noodles stir fried in fish sauce and a multitude of spices and seafood and the beef noodle soup was just as fragrant. If this is anything like the Thai Noodle House, the dishes will be just as good.

Yingthai Palace Restaurant

Yingthai Palace Restaurant
36 Purvis Street
T. 6337 9429

My first image of Yingthai from when I first started eating here was the old Thai women chopping veges in the back of the restaurant. To me, this is the mark of authentic dishes. And it was. This is on the top of my list for tom yum soup, som tam (papaya salad), yam woon sen (vermicelli salad) fried fish cakes, pandan chicken, olive rice, claypot vermicelli with prawns… All dishes are stellar. One of my favourites though is the mango fish: a pomfret fried so crisp that you can chew through the bones, and served with a spicy mango infused dip. Divine.

Sanobar (Lebanese)

One Fullerton Road #01-05
T. 6423 9182

I could taste the smokiness in the dip. A smokiness that the chef later confirmed came from directly grilling the brinjal (eggplant) over a charcoal fire till it slides off the skin. It was delicious, the brinjal dip. We also tried the hummos that was marvelous with the lavosh (flat bread) and the very excellent chickpea patties. The grills were just as good: the kebab, lamp chop, chicken and fish, served with a dry chilli dip. It had the charcoal smokiness I love on meats cooked this way. The lamb shank was so tender it tore off easily at the touch of the fork, and went well with the couscous, and a naturally sweet vegetable stew.

All dishes were complemented with a date drink that tasted more like really delicious rose syrup filled with almond slivers, pine nuts and raisins.

And to end off a superb meal, we were presented with these lovely pastries filled with almonds, walnuts, and in one instance, flavoured with an amazing rose essence.

Kim Choo Kueh Chang (Peranakan)

Kim Choo Kueh Chang
109/111 East Coast Road
T. 6440 5590

We dropped by the Pernakan (or Straits born Chinese) restaurant one night and was surprised at how quiet it was in spite of its excellent menu. The fish head curry was exceedingly fresh, and though we ordered just a half portion, was rather generous. The rendang (dry beef curry) was a bit tough, but I know of people who like it that way. The sambal kangkong (spicy stir-fry vegetable) was just spicy enough while the petai (an Asian bean) was equally fragrant and spicy.

For those who are keen to find out more about the Pernakan culture, they also have a museum on the upper floor.

Saturday, November 11

Guan Hin (Teochew Restaurant)

Guan Hin
Blk 34 Whampoa West #01-01
T. 6298 3179

This is a Teochew restaurant that has been around since I was little. I rediscovered it again recently following reviews by other foodies. We ordered a variety of its dishes, all tasty: stir fried white chives with prawns, jellied pork, the unique fried kway teow with chai po (rice noodles stir-fried with preserved turnip) and the must-have steamed fish.

What was ordinary was its goose. Typically a favourite in Teochew menus, it was neither tender nor fragrant. I did enjoy the dessert though – the ornee (steamed yam custard) was nicely textured and not too sweet even with the pumpkin sauce. Being a family run restaurant in a quiet neighbourhood, the prices were also very easy on the pocket.

Botak Jones

Botak Jones
Blk 608 Ang Mo Kio Ave 5

I was very excited when I first went to Botak Jones, knowing that I can now get great burgers in the neighbourhood. After this second visit (this is also the first time I ate here. I took away the burger the last time), I am not so sure I will be back. The burger was ordinary and soggy, while the fish and chips was just flat. For a good burger, I will still head for either Brewerkz or Uber Burger. So much for the initial excitement.

Banoo (Persian)

7 Mohamed Sultan Road
T. 6235 7989

Middle-Eastern dining is getting better in Singapore. I came to Banoo, a new Persian resturant with great expectations and I was pleasantly surprised. I first started with their version of the yoghurt drink flavoured by crushed mint leaves. It was light and a superb way to start a meal.

Then came the eggplant dip and the hummus that was delicious with the flat bread. The grill was just tasty – we tried the chicken, beef and lamb – though picky me would have preferred it a tad more smoky.

What stood out here were its stews. It was cooked for hours till the meat was tender and the dish naturally sweetened by the vegetables. We tried a second stew and found it to be just as tasty, and rather similar in taste to the first. Perhaps all Persian stews share the same base? And the best part of it all, the place was comfortably casual and very afforadable.

Bedok Food Centre

Bedok Food Centre
Opposite Bedok Camp

This all time favourite hawker centre of mine recently had a facelift and came out looking a tad like Adam Road Food Centre. Famed for its cuttle fish kang kong (a salad of sorts) and cheng tng (a Chinese dessert) that is usually available from tea-time onwards. But I saw it in a brand new light when I came for lunch.

What caught my eye was the ayam pengyit, chicken that is first fried and then smashed to release the flavours, and served in an unique clay dish. I was told this is an Indonesian specialty that is growing in popularity among diners here. The chicken was fragrant and went well with the chilli sambal that gave it an added kick.