Punch – By the folks behind The Plain and Ronin

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Brought to you by the lovely folks behind the The Plain and Ronin (2 very essential cafes to visit in Singapore) is their latest venture, Punch. Cue the expectations.

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The café is divided into two areas – the open air courtyard with benches, concrete tiles and walls lined with greenery, preferably for a chilly day, and the main air-conditioned dining area with tables and chairs. Despite it being a little warmer, my favourite spot is still the (natural) light-filled table by the windows. Perfect for the wannabe minimalist in me.

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On weekday mornings from 8am – 12pm, the café only serves Filter ($6.50)Chemex and V60 and Batch Brew Coffees ($4.5), together with the Donuts with Jam, Custard or Nutella ($1.20 each, $10 for 10 pieces). The donuts were mini, and tasted pretty normal. Nothing to shout about.

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Milk-based coffees like the White Espresso ($5) I had are only available from 12pm onwards. For non-caffeinated drinks, there is the lone option of Pineapple Slushie ($8). It may not be the cheapest drink around ($9.60 after GST and service charge omg) but it proved to be refreshing.

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Though the Poached Eggs on Avocado Toast ($13) may be a fairly simple dish to prepare, but the mountain of avocado piled on the two slices of slightly tough, slightly crisp sourdough toast sure did appeal. Would be better if the egg yolks can be slightly runnier though.

We tried another main course for lunch – the Grilled Seabass ($26) with mango salsa and greens. I liked the tangy, slightly sweet yet sour mango salsa which went well with the seabass.

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I believe there is a main course option for the fried chicken here, but we were offered the small portion of the Fried Chicken Wings ($11 for 5 pieces) on a particular Sunday. Sadly we didn’t really like the batter used.

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The food and coffee at Ronin are still my favourite amongst the three cafes, but I have to agree that the atmosphere at Punch is the most conducive for chilling. Well, apart from the smell of fried chicken from their open kitchen of course.

One final gripe – no printed menus around, only verbal ones from the servers. Which means you won’t know the prices unless asked. Eeks. Good thing that the café crew here is friendly and helpful.

P.S. They are open through Chinese New Year from 12pm – 5pm. Only for coffee and some small sweets though!

 

32 North Canal Road

Tues to Fri 8am – 11pm

Sat & Sun 8am – 6pm

Luxe Singapore

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Luxe Sydney’s first ever overseas venture led to the birth of Luxe Singapore mid-2015. Their gorgeous interiors and contemporary Australian fare took over social media last year, and till date I have patronised the restaurant four times.

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The space accentuates the vibes of a modern Australian cafe, with its white-washed walls paired with beige wooden tables and wooden floor panels. The laid-back ambience here and the fact that at any one time there would be westerners present, kind of makes you feel as though you’re somewhere overseas… away from overly humid weathers and insanely packed public transport.

Luxe offers different menus for brunch and lunch/dinner, and recently I gave their updated brunch menu a try.

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If I had an ideal breakfast bowl, it would be the Quinoa and Chia Seed Pudding with Coconut Yogurt and Fresh Fruit ($16) – I’m not very much of a “chia seed pudding” kind of person, but this dish won me over. There was a contrasting mix of subtle flavours that worked well – the sourness from the passion fruit and the sweetness from the coconut yogurt. The almond flakes and passion fruit seeds gave some added crunch too.

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Luxe also dishes out their own version of a Ricotta Hotcake with Berries, Exploding Candy and Maple Syrup ($20). Portion-wise, this thin slice of ricotta hotcake may be pricey but surprisingly it turned out better than expected. The hotcake was dense and moist and felt like a thick slice of crepe instead of the usual fluffy ones you’ll find. Watch out for the crunch and sizzle of exploding candy as you dig in.

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The old and boring poached egg dishes like the Eggs Royale with Smoked Salmon, Hollandaise ($20) may still be served here, but they are done well above average with great presentation. What I liked about the hollandaise sauce was that it was not too buttery and rich.

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For a less common poached egg dish, go for the Breakfast Bruschetta ($21) that comes with poached eggs, pesto, parmesan, rocket and roast tomato on artisan bread. Thanks to the generous amount of parmesan shavings and pesto, the bitterness of the rocket leaves got hidden well and I managed to chomp them down easily. A seemingly simple yet satisfying dish.

I think I’ve found myself a favourite cafe spot – the small round table at the back of Luxe, where natural light flows in from a transparent back door. Admittedly, prices are steep for brunch fare and their coffee is a tad bitter in my opinion. But then again you can also have champagne with breakfast here, like I did during my last visit. Because why not?

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One out of my four meals here was courtesy of The Uniform SG and Luxe Singapore.

1 Keong Saik Road

#01-04

Tue to Fri 11am – 12am

Sat 9.30am – 12am

Sun 9.30am – 4pm

The Plain Jane Cafe

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North Easties rejoice! The very dreamy-looking The Plain Jane Cafe has opened in Serangoon (opposite Serangoon Stadium), just a distance down from Nex. Swiss rolls take the centre stage over here, with some beautiful interiors to complement them.

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At a corner of the front of the cafe there is a drawer table decorated with dried flowers, books, candles… and even a rocking wooden horse beneath it. Yes you got it. Let’s not forget there are marble tables, old school wooden chairs, hanging light bulbs, and a retro tiled floor as well. My kind of cafe and lifestyle space.

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We tried the Latte ($5) and Mocha ($5.5) here, and I thought that the coffee could have a more robust flavour, although it was quite smooth.

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As a fan of matcha, I personally preferred The Not So Plain Matcha Swiss Roll ($5.9). Despite taking up a huge portion of the swiss roll, the matcha cream was not to the extent of making me sick of it. It was light and airy while the cake was soft and fluffy.

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Meanwhile, my friend liked The Plain Swiss Roll ($4.9) better. Since the cream in this roll was plain, I thought that the cream content could be lesser. Nevertheless we cleaned off both plates of swiss rolls easily.

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I guess the Lemon Yogurt Loaf ($4.9) has to make do with not being the main character in this cafe. But it caught our eyes too, for looking quite prettily. The yogurt loaf was on the sweet and dense side. Pretty decent.

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I’ll definitely be back to try more flavours of swiss rolls! Read: earl grey and thai milk tea.

 

Blk 211 Serangoon Avenue 4

#01-10

Singapore 550211

10am – 10pm daily, closed on Wednesday

Kanshoku Ramen Bar

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Truffle ramen and truffle edamame? Yep, you did not hear it wrong. These are now served at Kanshoku Ramen Bar, the offshoot of Kanshoku Ramen which first opened at The Metropolis two years ago.

Traditional ramen in broth is available, with choices like the Black Garlic Ramen ($14.9), Flaming Hot Tonkotsu Ramen ($14.9) and the Signature Kanshoku Ramen ($13.9). But the truffle lovers in us were there for the trendy alternative the other day.

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Served dry, the Black Truffle Ramen ($16.9) is a must-try. The thin ramen noodles are tossed in some truffle oil and topped with black truffle shavings and two slices of well-marinated charshu. Considerably, the amount of truffle served was generous but not to the extent where it can get too strong and overpowering. Not sure if I can ever order a bowl of traditional ramen for myself here when the truffle option is so tempting and tantalizing. I particularly liked how the marinade on the slices of charshu gave it more flavor. We also added ajitama for $2 to our ramen. There was initially some confusion over the availability of the truffle ramen, but all I know for now is that it’s served on a daily basis at the orchardgateway outlet.

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The other truffle dish here is the Black Truffle Edamame ($4.9), which is coated with truffle oil and black truffle shavings. It might possibly be the best side dish amongst the others on the menu.

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Sadly, the too ordinary Nagoya Chicken Wings ($6.9) fell short of our expectations.

Drinks-wise, Kanshoku has a selection of sake and craft beers. A pity we couldn’t try the Yuzu Lemon Juice ($5.4) and Matcha Latte ($5.4) which were not available that day.

Kanshoku means ‘to finish eating every last bit of your food’ in Japanese. And so we did.

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277 Orchard Road

OrchardGateway

#01-06

11am – 10pm daily

Montana Singapore @ PoMo

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Montana Brew Bar entered the cafe scene last year with interesting waffles and burgers at affordable prices, making it one of the cafes that stand out more. I too myself have been a fan, having tried their food at the old premises. Great news for the foodies out there: Montana has gone big and better, having switched units at PoMo and occupying two levels now.

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Don’t be confused by the differing themes of the two levels. The new Montana is based on a 3-in-1 concept within the same restaurant. The first level is occupied by South Bronx, a casual burger bar serving up burgers and booze while the second level is occupied by Montana Brew Bar serving waffles and pasta as well as Fabulous Dough serving donuts. Collectively, they make up Montana Singapore.

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Fans of the old Montana Brew Bar need not worry as their signature waffles are making a comeback – with the same old quality and consistency. My all-time (both past and current) favourite has to be the Truffle Jalapeno Mac & Cheese Waffle ($12). Months of research and experimenting resulted in this waffle-lised mac and cheese which is topped with white truffle oil and served with jalapeno tomato dip on the side. Though the hints of truffle are quite faint, this waffle can still be easily ranked as one of the best savoury waffle in Singapore.

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Look out for a strong contender of the Mac & Cheese Waffle – the Assam Crab Waffle ($18). Inspired by the kedah laksa, this assam-spiced waffle is topped with seasoned crab meat and pineapple cucumber salsa. Fortunately, the sourness from the assam is not too overpowering and the waffle is not overly spicy. Overall, a very refreshing dish.

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The last savoury waffle we had that day was the Bulgogi Beef Waffle ($16) made of gochujang rice waffle with sous vide bulgogi beef, orange sesame coleslaw, sous vide poached egg and bonito. The rice waffle is pretty soft and came with a spicy aftertaste that sets in slowly. A decent dish but compared to the previous two, this waffle was underwhelming.

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From the dessert waffles menu, the Red Velvet Waffle ($11) – a red velvet waffle stack with vanilla ice cream and white chocolate rose sauce is making a return, looking as tall, steady and aesthetically pleasing as before.

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The new Black Velvet Waffle ($14) is NOT a charcoal waffle. It is instead a black sesame waffle with black miso caramel and a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream coated with black chocolate. The subtle flavour of black sesame in the waffle won me over immediately. It also gave a tinge of sweetness to the waffle.

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Marnier Brew ($6.50) – grand marnier coffee with a coconut sphere. This is essentially cold brew infused with coconut water once the sphere melts. Unlike normal cold brews you find in Singapore with a strong, sour and acidic taste, this one is much milder in taste. The coconut water helped to sweeten the cold brew in an unusual yet interesting way.

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Over at South Bronx, we shared some sides like the Beer Battered BBQ Chicken Wings ($7) and Mac & Cheese Fritters with Tomato Relish Dip ($8) which weren’t too bad at all.

All burgers are served with triple fries comprising curly, straight cut and criss cut fries to accommodate everyone’s preferences.

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Sir Spam-A-Lot ($12) – fried egg, luncheon meat patty, smoked bacon, grilled pineapple ring, spicy BBQ mayo.

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The Original Rump Shaker ($12) – South Bronx original, house-made beef patty, signature sauce, smoked bacon, melted cheese slice. Preferred the beef patty burgers to the luncheon meat patty burgers.

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Our favourite amongst the three burgers is probably The Mac Daddy ($16) – beef patty topped with jalapeno mac and cheese. I never knew mac and cheese could work well in a burger, but somehow it complemented the beef patty rather well. There was a spicy kick to the dish, thanks to the jalapeno.

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Montana is one of the cafes you must visit this year if you haven’t done so. Despite the major renovation and revamping works, their prices remain affordable even for students. As for food quality, it has remained as consistent as ever. After all, they do take feedback very seriously.

Thanks Amanda and Montana Singapore for the invitation!

Montana Brew Bar

1 Selegie Road

#02-25

PoMo

8am – 10pm daily

 

South Bronx Burgers

1 Selegie Road

#01-02

PoMo

Mon – Thu, Sun 11am – 10pm

Fri & Sat 11am – 12am

Little Bao – Best Brunch in Hong Kong?

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Fusion food is in in Hong Kong, and Little Bao still remains as hip as ever since its opening in 2013. This swanky diner gives western food an Asian spin, with the focus centered on the Chinese bao. They’ve also started to open for weekend brunch.

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No coffee here at Little Bao unfortunately, but they do have a rather good cocktail selection. For something more pleasant and less strong, opt for the Chris Lemonade (HKD$85, SGD$15.5) – 42 Below vodka, chrysanthemum, honey, rhubarb bitters or Yakult Fizz (HKD$85, SGD$15.5) – Broken Shed vodka, absinthe, Yakult, egg white.

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I’ve always thought that only truffle fries which are heavily laden with truffle oil and truffle salt make a good plate of truffle fries, but Little Bao’s take on Truffle Fries (HKD$98, SGD$17.9) has opened a new dimension of what a good plate of truffle fries can actually be. Their version involves shitake tempeh and truffle mayo paired with shoestring fries and resulted in an addictive side dish. And I usually do not eat mushrooms, mind you. The fries are also served with pickled daikon on the side.

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We also had another side to share – the Roasted Pork Cheek (HKD$128, SGD$23.4) which was cumin-spiced and came with fennel and burnt apple puree. The pork was sufficiently tender and moist and not fatty at all.

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Pork Belly Bao (HKD$78, SGD$14.3) – slow-braised pork belly, leek and shiso red onion salad, sesame dressing, hoisin ketchup

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For myself, I had the Szechuan Fried Chicken Bao (HKD$78, SGD$14.3). The Szechuan fried chicken may be a tad oily, but was slathered in a delightful combination of sweet Chinese black vinegar glaze and slightly spicy Szechuan mayo.

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Beef Bao (HKD$88, SGD$16.1) – grass-fed organic beef, tomato jam, roasted onion sesame mayo, shiso, cheddar cheese

Just as we were finishing our baos, a family with children sat on the bench outside the restaurant, ordered the ice cream baos, and devoured them without complaint in the light drizzle (restaurant was running full house at that time). A reminder that dessert here should never be skipped.

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The LB Ice Cream Bao (HKD$48, SGD$8.8) comes in two flavours – green tea ice cream with condensed milk and salt ice cream with caramel. Personally, I preferred the green tea bao for its distinctive green tea flavour. The salt ice cream felt more like vanilla ice cream with a muted vanilla taste. Nonetheless, the warm, crispy fried mini buns, together with the ice cream, ended the meal on a high note.

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Generally the baos are pretty small so it’s highly recommended to get some sides to share, followed by the savoury and the dessert baos for the full experience. Best brunch in 2015? Yes, I conclude.

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G/F, 66 Staunton St

Mon to Fri 6pm – 11pm

Sat 12pm – 4pm, 6pm – 11pm

Sun 12pm – 4pm, 6pm – 10pm

Sheung Wan MTR Exit A2

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Hong Kong 2015 – Where I Ate

Quick summary of some places I went to in Hong Kong this time round. (You can check out pics and a summary of my trip last year here). Feel free to drop a comment or even email for any tips or advice! Happy to offer or receive them both.

Central/Sheung Wan

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Oddies Foodies (Read the full review HERE) – Their signature Nightwolf – eggettes on soft serve might just be the most instagram-worthy dessert in Hong Kong and you definitely will not want to give it a miss. Exclusive to this second branch is the gelato with flavours like Dark Matter (dark chocolate) and Interstellar (mango) and their frozen Jar-Letos.

45 Gough Street

12pm – 10.30pm daily

Sheung Wan MTR Exit A2

 

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Little Bao (Read the full review HERE) – My essential brunch spot in Hong Kong. Nuff said.

G/F, 66 Staunton Street

Sheung Wan MTR Exit A2

Mon to Fri 6pm – 11pm

Sat 12pm – 4pm, 6pm – 11pm

Sun 12pm – 4pm, 6pm – 10pm
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Mak’s Noodles – One of the world’s cheapest Michelin starred restaurants. The texture of the noodles here are much springier than I expected and the soup is on the salty side. The beef tendon and wanton were pretty good though.

77 Wellington Street

11am – 9pm daily

Central MTR Exit D2

 

Austin

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DimDimSum Dim Sum Specialty Store – Cheap and good dim sum. We were a little upset that the liu sha of our Piggy Custard Buns didn’t flow out, but every other dish we ordered made up for it. Other stuff we tried include the Pineapple Buns with Pineapple Custard Filling, Rice Flour Rolls with BBQ Pork and Har Gow.

23 Man Ying Street

G/F, Man Wah Building

Daily 10am – 1am

Austin MTR Exit A
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Seng Seng Pho Cha – This Korean eatery was not on my list of places to visit; I chanced upon it while heading to DimDimSum as they are along the same street. After seeing Koreans dining there, I thought I should be back another evening to try it out for myself. Our favourite there was their Cheese Corn Fried Chicken. On that chilly night, the chimaek (fried chicken and beer) we had felt heavenly.

18 Man Ying Street

Man Ying Building

Daily 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 2am

Austin MTR Exit A

 

Wan Chai

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Honolulu Coffee Shop – They are most well-known for their egg tarts, which I agree are quite different from the usual egg tarts you’ll find in Hong Kong. Their version comes with an incredibly soft egg custard surrounded with flaky outer pastry crust. The macaroni with pork chop in soup is also surprisingly satisfying.

176-178 Hennessy Road

Daily 6am – 12am

Wan Chai MTR Exit A4

 

Yau Ma Tei

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Mido Cafe (Read the full review HERE) – Just a cha chaan teng that I go to every time I’m in Hong Kong. No big deallllll.

63 Temple Street

Yau Ma Tei MTR Exit C

8.30am – 10pm daily, closed on Wednesdays

 

Jordan

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Horizonte Lounge

1 Cheong Lok Street

29/F, Hotel Madera

5pm – 1am daily

Jordan MTR Exit B1

 

Tsim Sha Tsui

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Unar Coffee Company Shop No. 2 – Tucked away at a corner of the pier where people travel to Hong Kong Island from Kowloon, this coffee shop is almost impossible to locate without any help. This is a great pit stop for coffee after a walk along Victoria Harbour or after shopping at Harbour City. For a unique experience, try their Iced Cucumber Latte which is quite refreshing (a bit of an acquired taste though).

Salisbury Road

Shop KP 41, 1/F, Star Ferry Pier

8am – 8pm daily

East Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Exit L6
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Jean-Paul Hevin Chocolatier – Not too bad, but with Laduree and Pierre Herme around in HK as well, it will be a tough fight for them.

Shop 212, Ocean Centre, Harbour City

10am – 10pm daily

Tsim Sh Tsui MTR Exit A1

 

Kennedy Town

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Sunday’s Grocery (Read the full review HERE) – This grocery store in the up and coming hipster neighbourhood of Kennedy Town is brought to you by Yardbird, a famous yakitori joint in Sheung Wan. Expect western style takeaway food such as fried chicken and sandwiches made with quality ingredients. They are not as simple as a “takeaway store”.

66-68 Catchick Street

Tues to Sun 11am – 9pm

Kennedy Town MTR Exit C

Lazy Susan – Pop-up dining at House and Open Door Policy

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Meet Lazy Susan. She’s Spa Esprit Group’s new F&B concept – an all-day dining pop-up joint at House @ Dempsey currently and at Open Door Policy soon after. Scouted for this very first pop-up of theirs is Chef Haan Palcu-Chang of Mama Flo’s in Toronto, who is a true mixed culturalist. Thus Lazy Susan’s menu takes its inspirations from food styles of asian traditional breakfasts to hawker fare, cafes, dim sum meets diner.

Don’t be surprised if you walk into House and the place looks a little different to you than before. The new pieces of decor are centred on red and give the western-based House an Asian touch. Take note that currently the House menu is only available on Monday to Wednesday and the restaurant will only serve food from the Lazy Susan menu for the rest of the week.

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We tried both cocktails from the drinks menu. For something more light and pleasant, the Tiffin Punch ($12 per tiffin, $45 for set of 4) is recommended – it comprises gin, lychee liqueur and grapefruit.

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Go for the Tiger Mama ($10) if you would like a spicy kick – spiced vodka, Chambord, cranberry juice, ginger beer. Definitely not for the weak.

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BBQ Jackfruit Bum ($12) – looks like a pulled pork burger but it’s not. This is in fact a vegetarian burger, with the patty made of braised jackfruit slathered with gula melaka BBQ sauce and pistachio-studded guacamole. It may not taste as exciting as pulled pork but it’s still interesting nonetheless.

Wing Bean Toast ($12) – sourdough toast from Tiong Bahru Bakery topped with creamy white mozzarella, wing beans, XOXO sauce and hibiscus leaves. The toast cools and hardens quickly once you leave it out for some time, so the taste did not come out quite as expected.

Cheese Mantou in Chilli Crab Sauce ($14) – deep-fried halloumi cheese blocks to dip in Lazy Susan’s own chilli crab sauce creation. A seemingly simple dish that got me hooked on it. Talk about comfort food.

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Marry Mee Goreng ($12) – sunny yellow noodles flash fried with fresh seafood, laksa leaves, chives and red chillies. I typically avoid the traditional mee goreng as it can be very heavy on the palate with a deep and spicy flavour but Lazy Susan’s rendition is lighter and more refreshing.

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Stinky Meets Crispy ($22) – probably the highlight of our tasting that day. Apparently the chef has only tried har cheong gai once and went on to create this dish of har cheong gai and sunny side-up on rice flour waffles, drizzled with sambal maple syrup. We were impressed by the crisp har cheong gai that even though the batter (for the waffle) could be further tweaked to better compliment it.

Khao Bun ($12) – pork sausage patty infused with lemongrass and turmeric with pickled veggies and coriander in a steamed bun. The lemongrass flavour was a tad too strong for me.

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Luncheon Meat Croquettes ($8) – fried glutinous rice balls stuffed with aromatic luncheon meat, Chinese chives and tart Sichuan pickles, all rolled in healthy quinoa. I liked how these rice balls, unlike our Chinese equivalent, are not laden with flour. Rather, they are filled with quinoa and it does feel slightly healthier.

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On general, we felt that the 3 desserts on the Lazy Susan menu were rather underwhelming with small portion sizes yet hefty price tags on them. Among the three, the Cornfield Cake ($8) was our favourite. The grilled corn-cake that was served with fresh creamed corn and balanced with a big sprinkle of sea salt flakes was saved by the sea salt which gave the otherwise bland cake a sweet-salty touch.

Meanwhile, we felt that the Mango Pudding ($8) – was normal and really not worth the 8 bucks which could get us a good slice of cake from House’s dessert menu.

Like A Bibik ($8) is a baked sago cake in pineapple and dill relish, drizzled with gula melaka sauce for a sweet finish – some will like it, some will not.

I say: Go for some plates to share, try the har cheong gai and maybe skip the desserts. Expect an array of flavours and watch out if you don’t take spicy food.
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Thanks Janet and Spa Esprit Group for the invite!

3 – 27 December at House @ Dempsey

8D Dempsey Road, Singapore 249672

Thurs & Fri 12pm – 11pm

Sat 11am – 12am

Sun 9am – 11pm

 

5 – 24 January at Open Door Policy

19 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168650

Mon to Sun 12pm – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm

Mido Cafe

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Upon the thought of cha chaan tengs in Hong Kong, Mido Cafe (美都餐室) would be the first to pop up in my mind. This two-storey cafe is located on a relatively quiet street in Yau Ma Tei, a stone throw away from the MTR station. The cafe is full of nostalgia, and it feels as if you’ve been transported back to the traditional coffee shop days. A tiny flight of stairs leads the way up to the second floor which is usually crowded and abuzz with small talks.

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Just like other cha chaan tengs, the menu here boasts a wide variety of dishes ranging from simple breakfast items such as toasts, sandwiches and macaroni to dinner items like rice and mixed grill. Despite growing up in an Asian city with a Chinese majority, I’ve almost never had such food for breakfast. And so I ended up relishing every moment of my breakfasts in HK. We have never had a bad Almond milk (HKD$15/SGD$2.70 for hot, HKD$17/SGD$3.10 for cold) or Milk tea (HKD$15/SGD$2.70 for hot, HKD$17/SGD$3.10 for cold) in Hong Kong, so I guess it is alright to skip that daily cup of joe and go for them instead. Apparently the Yuan Yang – a mix of coffee and tea (HKD$15/SGD$2.70 for hot, HKD$17/SGD$3.10 for cold) is good here as well (didn’t get to try it though).

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Pineapple bun with butter (HKD$12/SGD$2.20)

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Condensed milk and peanut butter toast (HKD$10/SGD$1.80)

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On that chilly morning in Mido Cafe, the Pork chop and macaroni in tomato sauce (HKD$60/SGD$10.90) was true comfort food. It was served warm in a creamy tomato base which was neither too salty nor heavy on the palate. Despite the large serving portion, we didn’t get sick of it. The pork was sufficiently tender as well. Having tried the Ham with macaroni in broth (HKD$30) on my previous visit, I can say that the macaroni in tomato sauce is very much more worthy of a try.

So grab that table by the window and enjoy the authentic cha chaan teng experience. It makes a perfect break away from the usual western brunch suspects, away from the hustle of fast-paced, metropolitan life.

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63 Temple Street

Yau Ma Tei MTR Exit C

8.30am – 10pm daily except Wednesdays

8 Korean BBQ

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I know it’s hard to tell from my social media, but I’m a huge fan of Korean food. Needless to say, I was thrilled to try out this hidden gem in Clarke Quay – 8 Korean BBQ, which is named after their signature, must-have 8 Colours Set (on to that later). IMG_5642 edit

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The restaurant occupies a relatively large space, including an al fresco area with a view overlooking the Singapore River. The raw industrial designs are complemented with their brick walls… word has it that these bricks were sourced from Korea. IMG_5652 edit

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And so we started our meal with the essential banchan (Korean side dishes) followed by the Seafood Bean Paste Stew ($18) which is mildly flavoured. Their Kimcheese Fried Rice ($20, good for 2-3 pax) which came next on a sizzling hot plate was rather special, boasting a twist on the kimchi fried rice. On top of kimchi fried rice, there are added mozzarella, egg, bonito flakes and Mangalitsa bits, which all leads to a flavourful rice dish. The rice also has a nice crisp to it.
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Then our eyes started feasting on it as the server brings out a humongous, long tray of Mangalitsa pork strips. The 8 Colour Set Version 2.0 ($98, good for 3-4 pax) features 8 thick strips of Mangalitsa pork belly, each of which is seasoned for 6-8 hours in different marinades. We were advised to follow this order of eating them: original, garlic, red pepper paste, yucha, plum, blackberry, honey ginger and galbi. The marinade is neither too mild nor too intense, making it enjoyable. The thick and fatty mangalitsa was slightly chewy and oddly complements the seasonings used pretty well. Some of my favourites are yucha, blackberry and honey ginger as they gave a slight sweetness to the savoury pork – this combination was surprisingly good. I would say this is a must for all who come, but if pork isn’t really your thing, there are still the tentalizing options of USDA Prime Beef and Kagoshima Wagyu on the menu.

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Ending on an even sweeter note, we had the Bibimbap Bingsu ($28, good for 3-4 pax). This large bowl of bingsu is made to resemble a bibimbap in a hot stone bowl, with each ingredient being replaced by stuff like fruits, granola, crushed oreo and red beans. Beneath the ingredients is the shaved milk ice which you mix the toppings thoroughly with. Though not exceptionally good, my friends and I didn’t leave any crumbs or ice behind.

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The overall experience I enjoy at Korean restaurants appeal to me very much, and is this why I feel that 8 Korean BBQ is one of the underrated BBQ places that you should try. From the warm and helpful service staff to the quality of the pork to even the simpler details such as the cool, just right temperature setting (you know it can get pretty warm when barbecuing), they encapsulate my wonderful dinner there. Extra points given because you barely get the smell of smoke on your clothes after leaving!

Special thanks to Cherry and 8 Korean BBQ for the invite.

6 Eu Tong Sen Street

#02-79/90

The Central

Opens 11.30am – 2.30pm for lunch, 5.30pm – 10.30pm for dinner

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