Old Hen Coffee Bar

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Opened by three brothers who wish to serve up coffee and simple comfort food is 3 months old Old Hen Coffee Bar. They first gained attention from the cafe hoppers because of their special cold brew. My main agenda when I visited was to see for myself how good it was too. Before I move on to that, I thought the aesthetics of this well-lit space deserves a mention. Though the pairing of wooden tables with light blue walls is slowly turning into a cliche, the decor was kept simple enough for that extra touch of minimalism. The honorable mention goes to their hanging lights made of junkyard materials – they are truly eco-friendly, and pleasing to the eye at the same time.
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Let’s just say it is rather meaningless to drop by this place without getting your hands on a bottle of their specialty cold brew. The White Cold Brew ($6.5) I had was superbly creamy. The lower levels of caffeine and its acidity may put off some caffeine lovers but I was very well satisfied with this milky version. With that said, this can be a good try even for non-coffee drinkers. Besides coffee, the Valrhona Chocolate ($5 for hot, $6 for iced), Matcha Latte ($5 for hot, $6 for iced) and Iced Thai Milk Tea ($5) seem like interesting choices – will be back for more!
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The food menu written on the chalkboards is generally limited to simple dishes. The Smoked Salmon & Apple Toast ($8.5) comprised mainly smoked salmon and apple with raisins, cucumbers and cream cheese. The apple and smoked salmon combination, though refreshing, might be starting to bore me out. Perhaps I will go for their Butter Chicken ($9.5) or Crab Coleslaw Toast ($8.5) next time.

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Don’t judge me, but I’m into this waffle fad for sure. Previous reviews were doubtful of their Homemade Waffles ($9) but they seemed to have improved when I tried them. This time, the berry compote which used to be the topping was replaced by greek yogurt, apple compote and salted caramel sauce. The new pairing definitely added value to the shabbier berry compote. The waffles were slightly burnt but crispy on the exterior, and not too dry at all.

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For desserts, they have cakes like Red Velvet outsourced from bakery Creme Couture, but I decided to skip them and go for the Panna Cotta ($5) which is made in-house instead. Made of 3 layers – caramel popcorn, chocolate and vanilla panna cotta, it was quite interesting but a pity that it was a tad too sweet for me to fully enjoy it.

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Some say this is “yet another new cafe”. However their sincerity in serving specialty coffee is obvious and is what draws customers the most. Perhaps a more comprehensive, unique food menu can be that step to instant fame. After all, cafe hoppers do want the best of both novelty food and coffee.
88 Rangoon Road

#01-03

Mondays, Wednesdays to Fridays 12pm – 12am

Saturdays & Sundays 10am – 10pm

 

Brunch at ROUSE

Muesli brioche toast

Sunday brunch at Rouse on Dunlop Street was a comfortable, laid back affair. I was pretty elated to step into the well-furnished space after passing through the throngs in Little India (the crowd was no joke).  The people behind this little hole of comfort certainly did a great job of converting an old electrical shophouse unit into a hipper cafe. Though intentional, the left wall gave off the appearance of peeling paint unpretentiously, while the right wall was bare concrete. There were also light bulbs hung by overlapping ropes, stacked crates served as some tables and mismatched chairs. Definitely going for the warehouse x minimal feel. A mirror runs along half length of the wall and even though mirrors are great for giving the illusion of a more spacious cafe, we thought it was a tad weird to eat right in front of the mirror.

enjoying the good light here

pre-brunch

The team at Rouse includes dedicated baristas who serve up pretty decent coffee using beans from Dutch Colony Coffee Co. My single shot of espresso ($3) and espresso with milk ($4.80) that I ordered subsequently were both robust and with a slight tinge of acidity.

Quinoa quake

Unlike your usual order of eggs benedict or waffles with ice cream that you might expect here, the options from the brunch menu are not just about that conformity. From items such as the sweet “Goldilocks” ($10.90) consisting of quinoa, greek yogurt, bananas and honey to the savoury Crabby Patty ($17.90), Rouse proves that it is not “just another new cafe in Singapore”. We opted for the Quinoa Quake ($16.90) – lemon dill yogurt, poached egg and smoked salmon served atop a quinoa patty, which seems like an alternative to eggs benedict. Though the special creation and interesting lemon dill yogurt sauce that we liked, we felt that the quinoa patty was too soggy, dampening the dish as a result. Luckily, the Muesli Brioche Toast ($14.90) was better than expected. I liked the textured french toast which came with a certain degree of crunchiness.

espresso with milk

brunch at rouse

Muesli brioche toast

As we were saving stomach space for our next cafe, we (sadly) left out desserts, which feature various types of cakes sourced by the cafe from an independent baker and recently, from Ice Cream Cookie Co as well. The cakes on display are always rotating, so you’re always in for a surprise. Despite not having them, I thought they looked drool-worthy enough. I’ll be back. One thing I appreciate is the passion of the team of employees here to serve customers better. Their friendly, goofy service is becoming a rare sight amidst the boom of cafes, so I’m never taking that for granted.

ROUSE

 

36 Dunlop Street

Singapore 209364

Mon, Wed – Thur 11am to 9pm

Fri – Sat 11am to 11pm

Sun 10am to 7pm

Mooncakes from Peony Jade 2014

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With less than a month to go to the Mid Autumn Festival, everyone’s off scurrying to mooncake fests to source for that good box of mooncakes. This year round, I’m glad to have tried both traditional and snowskin mooncakes from Peony Jade Restaurant. Led by Peony Jade’s dim sum master chef Chef Wong, the culinary team has brought back old classics as well as new flavours, all of which are made with no artificial flavourings, stabilisers or preservatives.

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One of the most renowned items from Peony Jade is no doubt their signature Flaky Teochew Orh Ni Mooncake with Premium Fragrant Golden Pumpkin & Single Egg Yolk ($33 for 2 pieces, $59 for 4 pieces). Peony Jade’s version of the teochew mooncake is even crowned to be the best in Singapore by some. The yam filling is smooth and is enhanced by a thin layer of pumpkin which gives a more distinct flavour. The skin is also adequately flaky for that extra crunch.

The other traditional piecce I had is the Low Sugar Baked Mooncake with Premium Mother of Pearl White Lotus Paste & Single Yolk ($33 for 2 pieces, $59 for 4 pieces). Good thing’s that you can’t even feel it’s baked with less sugar! There are 2 other renditions to this traditional baked mooncake – one with jin hua ham and assorted nuts and the other with macadamia and double yolk.

 

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Just like previous years, Peony Jade’s 4 Heavenly Flavours ($64 for 4 pieces) is back again this year. Among the 4, my favorite is definitely the durian mooncake. This Top Grade Pure Mao Shan Wang Durian Mooncake in Organic Pandan Snowskin has a core of 100% pure mao shan wang – if that’s not self-explanatory enough already. The rich filling also complements its organic pandan snowskin, which has a less subtle fragrant of pandan but refreshing nonetheless. Another interesting contender is the Snowskin Kochi Yuzu & Apple Cream Cheese Mooncake. The filling is a creamy concoction with the yuzu flavour dominating that of apple cream cheese. I found that pretty unique. And for those who lust for exotic fruits, the Snowskin Soursop Mooncake and Snowskin Premium Cempedak Mooncake would suit you.

What I’ve tried are only the large snowskin mooncakes. The small ones come in a variety of new flavours, including Valrhona chocolate, coconut truffle and apricot. The only issue to consider is that the snowskin mooncakes degrade quite rapidly after 3 days. Otherwise, Peony Jade’s mooncakes should be on your shopping list this year. Grab them at either their 2 restaurant branches (location stated below) or at on-going roadshows, one of which is the mid autumn fest at Takashimaya. The fest at Takashimaya will run from now till 8 September.

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Special thanks to Peony Jade and 37 Communications for the mooncakes.

Peony Jade @ Clarke Quay

Blk 3A Clarke Quay

#02-02

Singapore 179020

 

Peony Jade @ Keppel Club

Bukit Chermin Road

Keppel Club (Level M)

Singapore 109918

Tiong Bahru Bakery launches new tea set

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I’m sure  Tiong Bahru Bakery is no unfamiliar household name  representing the the gourmet and artisanal bakeries we have here. By now, you might have known about their third, latest outlet at Tangs Orchard but there are still more exciting news for all the lovers of Tiong Bahru Bakery out there. This time, they are dishing out a new lunch set, afternoon tea set and several new pastries as complements. Read on:

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For those who’ve always wanted a proper meal even at a bakery, the Panini Lunch set ($9.90) might just be calling you. Choose from either the smoked salmon and cream cheese or bacon and mushroom curry which comes with freshly tossed Caesar salad as well. Available daily from 11.30am – 3pm.

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Of course, emphasis is placed on the highlight – Cafe Gourmand set ($16). This is inspired from  the petit four which the French have for tea. The four items – a mixed berry tart, mini pear vanilla verrine, canele and brownie are specially picked by celebrity chef Gontran Cherrier (another namethat we are all familiar with) and served on this beautiful tile. Among the four, the canele and pear verrine were my favorite: the former had a tender custard center while the latter felt like an insanely sweet crumble atop mousse. The brownie was a tad too dry for me.  Get these tea sets from 3pm – 6pm daily!
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Finally… gourmet hot dog buns from Tiong Bahru Bakery! Sausage buns should never go out of trend so I’m glad they came up with not just one but two creations – the Spicy Pork Hotdog with Black Sesame Vienna ($5.30), which I felt was more interesting, and the Chicken Hotdog with Pepper Vienna ($5.30).

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You might remember the chocolate and apple kouign amann editions that Tiong Bahru Bakery came up with. This time, they’re launching a new Pistachio Apricot Kouign Amann ($4.50).  As a regular kouign amann consumer I was pretty dang excited to try out this delectable looking pastry with hints of green from pistachio and spots of orange apricot. I love how the pistachio was subtle and not overpowering the original flavor. Surprisingly the combination in this pastry did not make it too sweet.

Two new brioche creations are here too: the Green Tea Brioche with Almond and White Chocolate ($4.20) and Cranberry, Orange and White Chocolate Brioche ($4). Sadly the green tea brioche (not pictured here) was lacklustre as I could hardly taste neither the green tea nor white chocolate. It also gets somewhat mushy after some time. But the cranberry, orange and white chocolate brioche (pictured below) fared quite well. The texture was firm unlike the green tea version and the cranberry and orange enhanced the sweetness of the white chocolate with touches of citrus.

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Similar to the mixed berry tart in the gourmand set is the Raspberry and Pistachio Cream Tart ($7.3). The main difference is of course the swap of strawberries with pistachio cream which I, somehow, preferred.

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Overall, some creations were delightful while some paled in comparison, but one thing’s for sure: Tiong Bahru Bakery is still a favorite which I’ll never tire of.

#B1-11/12

Raffles City Shopping Centre

Singapore 179103

9am – 10pm daily

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Matsuri

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Easties can now rejoice. New on the list of restaurants in Singapore is one week old Tonkotsu King Matsuri – the sixth (wow) outlet of Ramen Keisuke. Instead of the usual, more centralized locations, Matsuri is settled at the basement of Parkway Parade. Matsuris are essentially Japanese festivals which the Japanese hold close to their hearts. Represented by elaborate parades, fireworks and floats, these festivals will now serve as inspiration behind  Tonkotsu King Matsuri. I realized soon afterwards that the different ramen here are named after different festivals!

Keisuke Takeda w ramen

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We started out with some side dishes that evening. If you haven’t visited Keisuke’s fifth outlet Gyoza King at Orchid Hotel, fret not. Gyoza ($3 for 3 pieces) is available here as a side dish (they are main courses at Gyoza King) and is made with the same recipe as that from Gyoza King. They are folded by hand over here! At the same time I was also introduced to the two carbonated drinks found only at Keisuke outlets – wasabi ginger ale and green tea cola. Soft drinks will never be the same again.

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Another side dish highly recommended to me was the Chicken Nanban with Tartar Sauce ($9), so I certainly had that. Slathered on pieces of crispy fried chicken is Keisuke’s own version of tartar sauce – or so I prefer to describe it as a delectable egg mayo concoct which complemented the fried chicken pretty well. This should be the mandatory side dish to order. I didn’t have the capacity to taste another side dish, but the Matsuri Meshi rice bowl ($7), topped with a sunny-side-up, chashu cubes and tobiko roe dressed with a specially blended shoyu sounds promising too.

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Tonkotsu Ramen Nebuta ($18.9 for special combo) is inspired by the Nebuta Matsuri festival held every August, which stages a parade of giant Nebuta lantern floats through the city’s main streets. The highlight for this ramen is the broth – made from a fusion of Tonkotsu and Niboshi broth. The Niboshi broth is special in that the stock is made of Japanese sardines which are particularly well known in Aomori. This gave rise to a rather pleasant savory broth with a touch of seafood flavors.

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The Tonkotsu Ramen Sanjya ($18.9 for special combo) is probably my favorite bowl among the 4(!) we had that night. This one is especially for the spice lovers out there. Inspired by the Sanjya Matsuri – a festival held every May in Asakusa, the ramen features three different spices – red chili, green chili and the black one consisting of minced pork. Before devouring the ramen and spices all at once, taste each one with a spoonful of broth – each one gives a different spice profile. Then mix all of them together and taste the powerful punch packed in by all of the spices. I love how each spoonful tasted slightly different from the previous, thus the element of surprise.

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Taking center stage in this bowl of Tonkotsu Ramen Awaodori ($18.9 for special combo) is Chef Keisuke’s secret recipe pork sukiyaki and a raw egg topped on tonkotsu ramen. As a result of the sukiyaki, the broth turned out sweeter than expected as well. The Awaodori Ramen pays homage to the Awaodori festival held in the Tokushima Prefecture every August, well-known for the dancing that thousands of people take part in on the streets.

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Having tried a similar version from Tonkotsu Four Seasons, I was pretty excited to try the Tonkotsu Ramen Yukimatsuri ($18.9 for special combo), whose name came from the Yuki Matsuri held every February in Sapporo in Hokkaido, during which snow and ice sculptures adorn the wintry city streets. The broth combines a tonkotsu broth with miso stock and is topped by a dollop of parmesan cheese powder. This might be a tad heavy on the palate for some but I reckon if you like cheese and a slightly creamier broth, it would be great.

Keisuke Takeda at entrance

As a fan of Ramen Keisuke, I never fail to shower each branch with praises. From the first to the sixth, every outlet has its own concept and I like how even the ramen is unique to each outlet. Quickly head down to Matsuri before the queues start to snake just like those at a typical Ramen Keisuke restaurant.

This was a media invitation – thanks Tecks!

 

80 Marine Parade Road

#B1-18A

Parkway Parade

Singapore 449269

11.30am – 10pm daily

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