Tag Archives: food

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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The Lokal

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So, so so many new cafes in Singapore. (too many?) There came to a point in time where I was coming to know about a new cafe each day without fail,  be it through Instagram, blogger friends or the world wide web in general. Pretty sure this influx of new cafes started in June or so, leaving us bloggers in a frenzy where we scurry off to as many of those hideouts as possible.

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Brought to you by Sarnies, The Lokal is Australian-inspired and has so far gotten the nod from food bloggers and cafe hoppers alike. The space is dim, with some light filtering in through a few windows by some tables. Indie vibes checked. Good thing’s that the layout is well-suited to pack people in groups of 4-5 without compromising much on spatial assets. We checked this place out just this Friday for lunch when the lunch menu was served from 11am onwards. Served from 8am to 11am is the breakfast menu which looked promising and fulfilling as well.

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Coffee here was such a delight. I had the cappuccino ($5.50) – smooth, aromatic, right acidity, no bitter aftertaste. Even the latte art’s on point! On the drinks menu there are also smoothies, freshly squeezed juices, teas and sodas so fret not, non-caffeine takers.

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My dish consists of smashed avocado, homemade ricotta cheese, pomelo and toasted almonds on sourdough ($18). A tad pricey though considering the small portion. It’s plain but it makes for something light and healthy on the palate. I’m especially recommending this to all the avocado lovers out there. And P.S. they do place some emphasis on the fact that they make the ricotta from scratch.

Another refreshing and light choice would be the Pita sabich sandwich filled with grilled aubergine, tomato, cucumber, boiled egg and hummus ($16). My friend thinks that the hummus makes this colorful dish tastes less simple as a vegetarian option.

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We also tried the Roast chicken panini with crispy pancetta, tomato, avocado cos and aioli ($15) – coming in a surprisingly bigger portion than the avocado dish. Those with larger stomachs should therefore opt for their sandwiches/burger. The Roast beef on rye, caramelized onions, watercress & grain mustard creme fraiche ($17) and Schnitzel burger, red slaw, grilled pineapple, Emmenthal cheese, lettuce, anchovy mayo on a sesame seed bun served with chunky chips ($28) are yet two other tantalizing alternatives.

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Do not leave without satisfying your sweet tooth. Both the Sticky date pudding with caramelized sauce & vanilla ice cream ($12) and Banana cake with caramelized bananas & hokey pokey ice cream ($12) called out to us so we had both. Between the two, our favorite was the banana cake which felt somewhat like a french toast. The cake was soft but substantial enough to be soaked in syrup that didn’t make it too soggy. I loved how it’s not too cloyingly sweet. Meanwhile, the sticky date pudding, though decent, was pretty average. I would prefer a spongier pudding which would soak up some butterscotch sauce instead of their version which was too dense for my liking.

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Overall verdict? I’m giving the nod too. This is one promising establishment amongst the whole new lot of them – friendly service, quality grub. They so deserve another trip down.

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136 Neil Road

Singapore 088865

Mon – Fri 8am to 6pm

Sat & Sun 9am to 4pm

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Peels – Breakfast in NYC

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New York City is not a food heaven, but THE food heaven. It’s hard not to find a single restaurant on any street at all and this is backed up by statistics, which says that if you hop to a different eatery in NYC for every meal it would take you 52 years to finish trying every one of them. For the past 2 months prior to my trip I’ve been looking up cafes, bakeries, ice cream shops and restaurants on the net so I pretty much have a long list of places that can’t even be fulfilled on a single trip alone.

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Among these places, Peels is one of the top casual brunch spots in Manhattan ($$$$) where both tourists and locals patron often. It made for a perfect stopover en route to the Brooklyn Bridge (our main attraction of the day), being only a short 5 minute walk away from the nearest subway station. Reaching at 8.45am, we found ourselves stepping into the warmth of an empty, 2-storey restaurant. The brunch crowd comes a few hours later. PS I heard that on busy summer weekends queuing for brunch takes hours. I was amazed at how NYC restaurants take their decor seriously. Not a single piece of furniture is mismatched and the interior is rustic charm at its best. I can imagine how vibey it must be in summer when all the colors come to play. 

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The Cinnamon Sugar Donut (3 USD) comes with a price tag heftier than our local Krispy Kreme outlet but at least the Americans are serious about their donuts.  

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Farmers Breakfast (13.5 USD) was a King’s breakfast – fried eggs, smoked bacon, hash browns and toast.  The best big breakfast yet. If you think you’ve had the best bacon in Singapore, the bacon here puts it to shame. It’s thick, juicy and what a good bacon should be – oozing with goodness. Also – look at that perfectly fried sunny side up. Even the toast was adequately fluffy.

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I ordered Biscuits & Gravy (12.5 USD) for myself because online reviews rave about the biscuits here. This particular dish may not look the most appealing and delectable but based on taste, it says otherwise. Poached eggs here have egg whites which are a lot firmer but still producing a runny yolk which spills out. Instead of the usual English muffin or toast, the North American version of the biscuit, a soft quick bread or aka the biscuit from Popeyes, lies below the 2 poached eggs. And on top of it all is not the usual hollandaise but a much more sinful, flavorful sausage gravy. Filled with bacon bits, it complemented the main dish so well that each bite was as pleasant as eating into warm lava cake. Kudos to the just-right portion which saves the entire dish from being overbearing. For something more flexible there is also the option to Build A Biscuit where you choose from a list of items to be sandwiched between 2 biscuits. 

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I wished we had the opportunity to order from their brunch menu.. It’s one of the reasons why people keep going back. Nonetheless I had one of my best breakfasts on that wintry Saturday morning. There were mixed reviews about the service at Peels but I received warm, attentive service from a male server. A pretty good morning for me indeed. Oh bring me back to NYC.. who cares about the Statue of Liberty or Empire State Building when you can have fabulous brunches in the Big Apple?

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325 Bowery

New York, NY 10003

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Arbite – a hearty brunch

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Arbite is no newcomer to the list of popular brunch places in Singapore. It’s cosy interiors created by wooden furniture in a white space is no doubt a less formal, more chillax place for heartlanders to have gatherings there especially on weekends. The view overlooking Serangoon Gardens may not be posh but it certainly made the place look airy.
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I jumped straight into my order immediately. With such a pretty name, the Sea Salt Banana Pancakes ($14.90) was a definite call. With huge chunks of banana heavily caramelized in between the pancakes, you’ll never have to endure an overload of plain, boring pancakes. What’s more, the plate is rimmed with caramel sauce, berries and nuts.
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In my opinion many brunch places have mediocre breakfast sets with a random mixture of sausages, eggs….. but even till now, the Arbite Breakfast ($12.90) lingers in my cravings  with a note set in my memory. A good spread indeed: veal bratwurst which was tender to my liking, greens, bacon, mushrooms, fried potato balls, a nicely grilled tomato, soft brioche and of course truffle eggs (additional $3). Even though I preferred truffle on fries, I must agree that truffle on anything is still good.
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The Truffle Fries ($10.90) here are of a thicker cut. The hints of truffle salt and oil are barely there on the fries, they’re mostly hidden in the truffle mayonnaise. So don’t forget to dip them in!
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By that time, the both of us were pretty full from such a hearty and filling brunch. Yet, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity for desserts since they sound delicious by descriptions on the menu. Sadly, My Wife’s Chocolate Cake ($8) was quite a disappointment. I would think that a wife has better standards for her chocolate cake. It was undeniably dry and normal with no kick to it. I can imagine a sallow-faced wife.

 

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Lucky for Arbite’s Gula Melaka Tiramisu ($8) which saved the day. Having a gula melaka mascarpone made the dessert extra sweet but I’m not complaining. Because of the well-infused gula melaka into a tiramisu, it has turned out to be a unique rendition which is not too heavy on the stomach.

The number of tables here are limited but you’ll be happy that Arbite has opened another eatery, A for Arbite at Aliwal Street. Both the concept and menu mimics the original outlet except for its funkier location.

66A Serangoon Garden Way

Tuesdays to Fridays 11.30 am – 3.00 pm     6.00pm – 10.30pm
Saturdays & Sundays  9.00 am – 10.30 pm

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Five & Dime Eatery

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This is a long overdue post of my belated birthday dinner. Of course, everything would not have been possible without Amanda, Tricia, Wileen, Angela and B who specially planned the secret trip to Five & Dime. The original intention was to proceed to Valentino’s for an Italian fix but since they were full I was brought here whilst being kept in the dark. Anyway, I loved the theme of the entire place. It’s a little hard to describe, more like a creation of artsy meets kiddy meets classic feel.

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Mocha on Mars ($12) and Decadent Chocolate ($12) in the background. I had the mocha milkshake and how I wished there could be less caffeine and more chocolate in it to balance it out (it tasted rather bitter for a drink called mocha on mars).

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Calamari ($8)
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Unlike the usual thick and cheesy ones out there, the Mac n Cheese ($15) here was based on a lobster sauce together with cheese thus giving it’s pinkish appearance as you delve into it. It was less heavy a dish and certainly a lot less cheesier which I felt was a good thing, unless you prefer an over dosage of cheese.

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The Cajun Chicken ($18) was not that bad, what with its evenly grilled surface.

Next was a surprise. The Mentaiko Pasta ($18) captured in the first picture was a great fusion pasta. I’ve had those at other places served either too creamy or too dry so it was heartening for me to finally find a good one there at Five and Dime. The faint taste of mentaiko was not overpowering, neither was it lackluster in flavor.

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Fish & Chips ($20) which were okay.

The Burger ($23) which I ordered was a tad of a small portion but otherwise enjoyable.

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Something like a Nutella Brownie with ice cream ($12) written on a blackboard would catch my attention immediately. When it first came served to my table I thought it looked divine. Sure enough, not only was the nutella concentration just the right amount for me, it was also just as moist to make a good brownie. Topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it ended my lovely dinner on a sweet and satisfying note.
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The space here at Five and Dime may be a little small for a full-fledged restaurant but heck that, the dining experience was intimate. Just remember to make a reservation early. Generally the food here was enjoyable with a few outstanding dishes you must try ie mentaiko pasta, mac and cheese, nutella brownie. Now that I’m craving for more from five and dime, I certainly need a date to hop down and grab some of their brunch items. I mean, we’re talking about beef hash, panini, pancakes and waffles over here.
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297 River Valley Road

Mondays to Thursdays 12pm – 10pm
Fridays 12pm – 12am
Saturdays 10am – 12am
Sundays 10am – 10pm

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Ladurée Boutique Singapore

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The macaron craze is back. Thanks to the much awaited Laduree which set up operations not long ago in Singapore, of course. Moreover, other than the permanent boutique fixture, there is yet another takeaway counter. To add a cherry  macaron on top of the ice cream, both are conveniently located in the heart of Singapore in Takashimaya shopping centre. The former is at level 2 while the latter is at level 1. Oddly enough, the queues at both counters are of about the same length so I would definitely recommend to peek in at the classier, bigger boutique. 

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It starts off with a wallpapered ceiling of a picturesque sky and classic chandeliers against the backdrop. Then are the rows of shelves of boxes, tote bags, jars of soft caramel and scented candles exclusive to the boutique.

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A minimum of 8 macarons are needed to get you a box to fit them all in, otherwise it’s just a scrawny paper bag. I decided to go ahead with the Singapore Limited Edition box (8 macarons) despite the $38 price tag which can make hearts skip a beat. A macaron costs $3.80 but there are only 8 of them, so essentially you’re paying about $8 for the box. That was hefty but I took it anyway.

The Strawberry Candy Marshmallow was one of my favorites. The marshmallow bit in the filling was a surprise and gave the macaron some different mouth feel compared to usual, creamy fillings.

However, the Chocolate Coconut Marshmallow did not meet my expectations – what I felt was an incompatible taste of chocolate with coconut.

I’ve had tons of really sweet pistachios which I liked a lot. The rendition of Laduree’s Pistachio was not overly sweet yet it did not fail to amaze me.

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The Salted Caramel is another hot favorite. It was more substantial than those from other macaron places.

An interesting macaron would be the Marie-Antoinette Tea. It has a bubblegum feel to it which was refreshing.

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The Liquorice (black) was average.

The Coffee flavor had a lingering aftertaste of – well, coffee.

As aforementioned, macarons here cost $3.8 each. Except for the 24K Gold Chocolate which costs $7.8. Basically it’s a chocolate macaron coated with “24K gold”. You can see that I actually bought it – for the pure reason of curiosity and tempt. Tastewise… yup it’s just a chocolate macaron.

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The overall feeling speaks of classiness and it’s not hard to understand why: simple ganache fillings but made more than ordinary and macaron shells of the right texture (at least for me). What’s next for Laduree in Singapore? A tea salon – coming soon.

 

391 Orchard Road

#02-09 (boutique)

#01-24A (counter)

Takashimaya Shopping Centre

Ngee Ann City

10am – 9.30pm daily

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Menya Musashi Kodou

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Named after Miyamoto Musashi, the 5 branches of Menya Musashi are currently enjoying some attention as they join the new ramen scene in Singapore. Originating from Tokyo, it seems that their ramen stalls in Japan sell a-huge-number of bowls a day with stretching long queues.

And then, it’s always a battle in the mind between choices of ramen. Over at Menya Musashi, Ramen comes in white (original), black (garlic and onion) and red (spicy) flavors for the soup base.

We went with something rather original to start with. If there’s anything memorable about the White Kakuni Ramen ($14.9), it would be its braised pork belly which was juicy, tender and oozing with goodness. I also had the Bokuto Gyoza ($5.9) as my I’m-bored-I-want-my-ramen appetizer and sure enough it served as a dish solely for that purpose.

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The tsukemen, a.k.a dipping noodles, was something new I’ve never tried. Tsukemen comes in white, red and black as well. Unlike the usual ramen served in soup stock within the same bowl, the noodles are dry and separated from an independent bowl of hot, piping stock which is much thicker than soup. The right way to devour the 2 bowls is to dip a pair of chopsticks full of noodles in soup and slurp them up right after. Otherwise, you may find yourself a mouthful of extremely thick and salty soup. I had the Black Tsukemen ($14.9) which was interesting. The soup can, however, get less warm if you stop too long for photos though….

Overall, I still find their soups a little too salty for my liking. It appears to encourage you to drink more water rather than the soup. Despite those, the tsukemen experience is worth a try.

 

2 Orchard Turn

ION Orchard

#B3-25

Daily 11.30am – 10pm

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Equinox Restaurant – High Tea Buffet

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My maiden visit to level 69 of Singapore’s Swissotel The Stamford at Raffles City was a wonder. Equinox Restaurant had always been one of the buffet places on my list to tick off, and now it’s certainly not an easy task to sit down in front of my laptop and piece back the every bit smoothly.
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The first thing you notice at Equinox is not its food. As you start to step on soft carpeted ground, the area is transformed into an orient setting of wooden frames matched effectively with velvet, light blue seat couches. This sleek setting, at 69 floors high, overlooks Singapore’s CBD and all over Marina Bay. A mandatory shot indeed.
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I had a hard time thinking if I should jump start on the array of desserts since they look especially good. But I decided to play it safe and went off to get the savoury. Despite it being a high tea buffet, I found the spread rather wide. Western classics include salmon sandwiches, duck wraps (which I loved a lot) and salads; the Chinese selection includes dimsum buns and dumplings; and there are bentos of sushi assortment for the Japanese lover.

There is a short coming though. The food quality for its high tea buffet will definitely pale in comparison to the lunch and dinner buffet. Their savoury finger food, although alright, was nothing much worth tasting or remembering. Some were slightly above average, while others fell short of it.

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To my surprise and delight, there is a completely different corner near the entrance specially for pastries and desserts. I’d name it “My World” or “Willy Wonka’s World”, but probably My World so I can have it all to myself. The cakes are definitely worth a shot. I had numerous slices of log cakes, from which I have come to like their chocolate mousse cakes. Other worthy bites are the mini lemon meringue tarts, chocolate fruit tarts and glass shooters. Not to forget their spread of pralines which are classic. Skip the ice cream though. They were nothing more than ordinary.

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Vague memories remain of my trip to Equinox. With only an hour and a half for the high tea buffet, I was literally chomping down on my food as fast as I can to try as much of the spread. If possible, I’d likely go for either a lunch of  brunch buffet so I have the luxury of time to slowly dine and admire the view. With that said, it’s advisable to go for brunch/lunch/dinner instead but of course they come with a higher price tag. With such an idyllic setting, view, service and spread, I don’t see why not (come back for more).

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Level 69

Equinox Complex

Swissotel The Stamford

High Tea: 1530 – 1700 daily

Brunch: 1100 – 1430 on Sundays

Lunch: 1200 – 1430 from Mondays to Saturdays

Dinner: 1830 – 2230 daily

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Ramen Keisuke Tori King: Best Ramen in Singapore?

I hardly go crazy over ramen, but once I find a fantastic rendition, it’s gaga time.
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Ramen Keisuke had two branches, Keisuke Tokyo and Keisuke Tonkotsu before their latest, third outlet, Ramen Keisuke Tori King. I’ve never tried the first two and decided to leave them aside to go with the new craze on tori king. It is located at the newly renovated 100AM mall at Tanjong Pagar, just a few minutes walk away from its sister outlet Keisuke Tonkotsu at Orchid Hotel. 100AM’s rather quiet so far with the slow stream of people. As such, Tori King seemed like a bustling dining place.

On a weekday night, it was already crowded and we actually queued at least 10 minutes in line. Don’t expect to spend a long time in there since diners come and go quickly and there always seemed to be people waiting for seats.

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Tori King’s menu revolves around chicken. Their ramen come in three different types of chicken soup base – the original, black spicy and green spicy. Of which, you can choose three different levels of toppings – seaweed, tamago and all toppings.
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I had the Black Spicy Keisuke Ramen ($16.90 with all toppings) and it was by far the best bowl of ramen I’ve had in Singapore. What makes the black spicy broth different from the original broth is the additional factor of spiciness by peppercorn. Spicy chicken broth for ramen was a first for me. I found it much more interesting than pork broth. From the broth to the noodles to the partially runny tamago, everything was worthy. The best part? Definitely the tender chicken thigh which it is easily ripped by the teeth, grilled to perfection. The jap food khakis and I barely talked much as we were busily slurping through the bowl.
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Free flow hard boiled eggs and beansprouts come along on the table, so remember to get a fair share of them.

100 Tras Street

#03-15

100AM

1130 – 2200 Daily

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[Advertorial] Booxify: Home and lifestyle subscription boox

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Most of you may not have heard of Booxify before. Well, they are a new Singapore Startup as to which you can subscribe to their boxes. Oops, I mean booxes. It’s simple to understand how it works.

Basically, the team behind Booxify curates booxes once in every 1 month or 2 months for you to buy. In every boox are 4-7 products ranging from lifestyle, home and taste goodies.
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Just recently, I had their Ice cream and Brownie Boox consisting of 2 P.osh brownies, a cup of Marble Slab Creamery’s chocolate fudge ice cream and another cup of New Zealand’s Natural chocolate ice cream.  I like to think of it as a lifestyle bento set, it’s a great mixture of light bites which you can have while doing anything at home and absolutely convenient with free delivery right to your doorstep.
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Simply subscribe to them to get your lifestyle boox at $16 each, featuring a different theme each time. Head over to http://www.booxify.com for more details!

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