Tag Archives: japanese

Ezoca Japanese Cuisine

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Time flies. I am now documenting my third trip to Quayside Isle, Sentosa Cove – this time for a tasting session at the exquisite, fine-dining Japanese restaurant Ezoca. Ezoca is considered pretty new to the block of eateries along the quay, and adds an Asian touch to the Western food enclave.

The interiors are kept traditional with every piece of furniture imported from Japan. However it is styled to suit the needs for comfort for diners here with wooden armchairs and cushions. The restaurant is partitioned into a few areas: a sushi bar, a private corner separated from the rest by Japanese screens, a main dining place and even an alfresco area to cater to the likes of expatriates.

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Both a la carte and set menus are offered and they change seasonally. That day, I had the privilege of having the Yume course at $288 per set which is a 7 course kaiseki meal.

Presenting the first course/appetizer – Japanese Tiger Prawn, Cucumber and Persimmon with Tofu Cheese Cream and Walnut. The dish is simple in taste but refreshing and healthy as a whole. I love how the light, airy tofu cheese cream holds the prawn, cucumber and persimmon together.

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Second course/steamed dish – Short Neck Clam (swapped with fish in my dish) and Winter Melon Egg Custard topped with Tomato. In short, this is chawanmushi but not exactly your typical chawanmushi. It emits a stronger, more oriental smell and taste. Some may like it and some may not but I definitely like it – plus points for so many lush ingredients added in it too.

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The third course is one of my favorite course after the main – sashimi of a Combination of Fresh Seafood Platter. The type of fish depends on the availability from Japan so you might not get exactly the same types I have pictured below. On the left is Snapper sashimi with lotus root. As I bit into the snapper there is a hint of lotus which probably came from the lotus root. Coupled with the delicate freshness of the snapper it makes a great hit. In the middle is Toro sashimi, which comes from a fatty portion of the Bluefin tuna. Taste-wise, it reminds me a little of salmon except that the meat is thicker and more succulent. On the right is mackerel sashimi, which has a much fishier taste the others.

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The fourth and main course has got to be my favorite course of the day. It is a charcoal grilled dish – Japanese Omi Beef Tenderloin with Organic vegetables. In my mind I went wow when the dish was first served to the table. The uniquely shaped bowl caught my attention immediately. From the yellow of the bowl to pinkish-brown of the meat to the red and green of vegetables, I’m impressed by the color pallet already. Despite having spent some time capturing the dish on the camera, the tenderness of this A4 grade beef will still be present. There are 3 different dips including salts and soya sauce to dip the beef in but I prefer it plain the most. As I try more and more types and cuts of beef steak, each one gets better and better. This omi beef is no exception to that testimony. Omi beef rivals Kobe beef and Matsusaka beef as the top Japanese beefs but it is definitely less well known around the globe. Don’t forget about the organic vegetables (lotus root, beans, pumpkin, pepper) – they are prepared well to go on par with beef. Excellent seasoning.

For those not accustomed to eating beef, there is another choice for your main which is the Japanese Eel with Organic vegetables.

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Fifth course/braised dish – Conger Pike Eel, Garland Chrysanthemum and Seaweed in hot pot. The Conger Pike Fish, which is a type of eel, has a silken texture which I enjoyed very much. Also in the hot pot is a ball of mochi and vegetables like mushrooms. The stock may get quite fishy though.
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Sixth course/meal – Tempura Angel Prawn and vegetables with Turnip pickles and Red Miso soup. Nothing can go wrong with tempura and Japanese rice. I found myself addicted to the rice more than the tempura – it is sticky to my liking with a tinge of sweetness. I was informed that Ezoca uses a premium Japanese rice Yamazato Seiryu Mai, a type of the Koshihikari rice. The Koshihikari is popular in Japan and is one of the most expensive types there. According to the waitress the rice is even cooked with Japanese mineral water. I wouldn’t mind living in Japan just for their rice. A bowl of Red Miso Soup accompanies the tempura rice and, unlike the usual misos of casual Japanese eateries, it is more overwhelming.

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….and the last-but-certainly-not-the-least course/dessert is the Caramelized Apple and Homemade Red Bean Paste Sandwich with Japanese Kyoho Grapes with Wine Jelly. Having grapes with wine jelly out of the glass feels like I’m drinking wine. Yep, that spoonful of wine jelly is that powerful (and unique). There is an extra slice of muskmelon served on the dish which is not in the menu but nonetheless, it is especially soft and juicy.
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The experience at Ezoca was amazing in many ways but what struck me most was the quality of ingredients used in every dish. All of them are imported from Japan and are prepared superbly fresh. Also, service is nearly impeccable with staff who clearly know their stuff well.

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Special thanks to Wendy and Ezoca for hosting the tasting session.

31 Ocean Way

Quayside Isle (Sentosa Cove)

#01-12

Singapore 098375

 

Tuesdays 5.30pm – 9.30pm

Wednesdays to Saturdays 12pm – 3pm

5.30pm – 10pm

Sundays 12pm – 9.30pm

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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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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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Hoshino Coffee

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As what I said on my previous post on Hifumi, I’d be exploring the new extension at Plaza Singapura – this time at yet another Japanese cafe cum restaurant enjoying long queues. Seems like the new restaurants at PS are doing quite well with the crowd especially on weekends. The food models displayed at Hoshino’s entrance can already make me drool, but are they the real deal?

I ordered what seemed to look like the signature dish/most appetising dish on the menu, the “Fuwa-fuwa” Hoshino Souffle ($15.80). The entire layer on top is actually cheesy fluff which sad to say, came nothing close to what I expected it to be. It may seem to be a big portion but everything above the bowl was merely their cheese soufflé which proved too much for me to finish them (but you had to finish it to get to the bottom). At the bottom is a bowl of cheese baked rice which was not that bad but nothing to rave about either.

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The other dish we ordered was the Hoshino Spaghetti w/ Eggplant, Bacon, Shrimp and Sausage ($14). I have to admit it was a good Japanese twist to the Italian Aglio Olio. Quite big a dish too. My only complaint is that they scrimped on a sauce which could’ve made the spaghetti better well-balanced.

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If you’re still doubtful about Hoshino, have their souffle pancakes – truly the signature. There are souffle pancakes with different toppings ranging from maccha to vanilla to mango but my friend and I decided to go plain with their Double Pancake Souffle Style ($12) which came with vanilla ice cream. We were unhappy that they took so long to arrive despite the early order – another patron which came later even had her pancakes already. But nevertheless, we were impressed with the thick, fluffy, spongy and warm pancakes. Definitely a first for me. Have them together with ice cream and maple syrup and you’re good to go on a satisfied tummy.

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I admire their food presentation a lot, but soon after I realized that they may seem to be better looking than they taste. Service-wise, there was an inconsistency with how their staff handles matters so I may think twice about coming back. Maybe I’ll try another pancake soufflé. My only regret is that I didn’t try their drip coffee. Still, Hoshino Coffee is rather popular in that new area so do make reservations to avoid queuing for long.

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68 Orchard Road

#03-84

Plaza Singapura

Daily 1130 – 2200

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Hokkaido Sushi Restaurant M Hotel

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A few months ago I had the opportunity to go for Canon’s Food Photography Workshop by Dr. Leslie Tay (of Singapore’s best known food/hawker blog  ieatishootipost.sg) which they hold once or twice a year. I’ve missed a few of these workshops previously so I was pretty excited to get some tips and meet some food and camera addicts. The location was at Hokkaido Sushi Restaurant at M Hotel off a street of Tanjong Pagar, which I’ve never heard of before. Now I’m here to tell you that Hokkaido Sushi Restaurant has got to be one of the most underrated Japanese places in Singapore.

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The restaurant is a rather cozy one with a bar counter. Definitely the place to go in Tanjong Pagar if you need a quiet hideout. All of us attendees had a hands-on session with our cameras before enjoying our 9 course Kaiseki meal (valued at $65 per person).

We started with the very refreshing Wafu Salad and Homemade Pitan Tofu.

Then came the assorted 5 pieces of Sashimi. I was never a fan of sashimi (not even when I went to Japan) but that day felt like a life-changing moment when I finally came to like it. I didn’t really fancy their maguro though.

The Hokkaido Ginkarei Shio (Grilled Hokkaido Halibut Fish) was my first halibut ever and except for the irritating number of small bones in a small portion of fish, it ranks high on my list of favorite type of fishes. Soft and tender; not Shio but Shiok.

To restate my stand from a previous blogpost, everyone loves chawanmushi. The Hokkaido Ikura Chawan Mushi (Steamed Custard Egg with Hokkaido Beni Salmon Roe) came with a generous serving of salmon roe which was interesting.

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Signature Hokkaido Mai sushi: truly a signature. In the middle is a roll of cooked salmon wrapped with crispy seaweed which you can hear crunching in your mouth. The sushi was also rolled in sesame, then topped with salmon roe (again!) and a sauce that added flavor. Unlike the usual sushi, this had a unique texture with a good blend of ingredients which made me hungry for more.

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Another highlight of the menu was the Hokkaido Taraba Udon (Hokkaido King Crab Leg Udon). The crab’s leg meat was very tender and unfortunately we couldn’t get more than one crab’s leg in the udon… So we could only capture this massive Hokkaido King Crab below on our cameras.

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Every meal deserves a sweet ending and we polished off our green tea ice cream before saying goodbyes. It surprises me that Hokkaido Sushi Restaurant is less known in the food context of Singapore. Furthermore it’s kaiseki menus are fairly less pricey than some other kaisekis in Singapore, so I don’t see how it is so underrated.

M Hotel Singapore

Level 9

81 Anson Road

Mon: 11:30 – 14:30, 18:00 – 22:30
Tue: 23:30 – 14:30, 18:00 – 22:30
Wed – Thu: 11:30 – 14:30, 18:00 – 22:30
Fri: 23:30 – 14:30, 18:00 – 22:30
Sat – Sun: 11:30 – 14:30, 18:00 – 22:30
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Hifumi Japanese Restaurant

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The new extension of Plaza Singapura is here with many new F&B outlets including new branches of old favorites and totally new restaurants unheard and unseen of. They are a fusion of Western, Malaysian, Thai and especially Japanese eateries. Of those, Hifumi is one that is enjoying long queues for lunch and dinner.

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One of the main reasons why shoppers are attracted Hifumi would be their all-you-can-eat Japanese sides served in a mini buffet style in the center of the restaurant. If you opt for the set meal when you order the mains instead of a la carte (about $2 more) you will be entitled to it (with additional rice and miso soup with your main course). My favorites from all the sides were: Japanese curry, tofu, potato salad and chawanmushi. A definite thumbs up for this concept of theirs. I am not sure if they rotate these sides on a daily/weekly basis though.

Moving on to the mains, the prices are very well affordable, just that their standards were soso, or just right. I had the Tonkatsu set ($13.99) by myself which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was a tad too dry and it could be a little crispier for a more authentic feel.

Another main course my friend had: Bara Chirashi sushi set ($17.99)
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The Hamburg set ($15.99)’s beef was not that bad either considering it’s price. I guess the fact that Hifumi’s food is just nice with value-for-money prices are keeping it’s customers, with more to come. Everyone likes simple and comfort Japanese food right? That said, I will be trying more restaurants at the new PS extension so look out for them!
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#04-68 Plaza Singapura

68 Orchard Road

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Ramen Santouka

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Indoor dining

I admit that I am not the number #1 fan of ramen but neither am I someone who avoids it. Ramen is one of my favorite alternatives when western food gets too heavy for my stomach and I am not kidding when I call it my favorite alternative. Thanks to friends who are lovers of Japanese cuisine, I was led to the less noisy lane to Cuppage Terrace amidst the buzz in town on a Sunday night. Numerous new ramen stalls pop out nowadays but santouka remains an old favorite for many.

There are 3 different types of soup base you can expect to choose from at Santouka: Shio, Miso and Shoyu. I had shio, which is tonkotsu (pork) based soup with a topping of salt. I also tasted the other soups but preferred shio – it suited the chashu ramen the best.

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I liked how the noodles were rather springy with a bit of character. The soup was one of the best I have came across so far. On the other hand, the thick slices of chashu were quite tender, deserving a thumbs up.

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Also I opted for the set meal which came with chawanmushi, salad, a rice bowl and a side of fried salmon slices – all of which were prepared conscientiously. This was rather worth the price of 20 over dollars (can’t remember the exact value) I felt.

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It seems like the other outlet at the Central is more popular, so I will find another chance to visit the more spacious branch.

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Alfresco area

21 Cuppage Road

Cuppage Terrace

Mondays to Saturdays 1200 – 0000

Sundays 1200 – 2130

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Kabe no Ana

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Pumpkin croquette

Nex has always provided the dining option for me whenever I need a quick fix at somewhere convenient. Kabe no ana is a casual eatery specialising in Japanese pastas and pizzas, part of the Japanese chain of eateries at a corner of the mall – Shokutsu 10. Its a cozy space with warm lights and particularly attractive to families. There you can also find seafood by Kuriya market, soba by Shimbashi Soba and japanese pastries from a bakery all on my list to try next.

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Chicken teriyaki

I tried two pizzas – Teriyaki Chicken ($5.9) and Pumpkin Croquette ($6.9) and a pasta – Mentaiko Carbonara($13.9). Personally I find the pizzas here much better than the pastas. They were certainly good and that surprised me. I like that the crust is thin and a little crispy, just of the right consistency. The teriyaki chicken (a house favorite) was certainly flavorful; the pumpkin croquette was special with a quirky yet unforgettable taste. Another point to add is that the pizzas come in small sizes as well – no worries about  sharing.

On the other hand, I felt that the bacon bits enhanced the carbonara but the dish was a tad too dry. Still, the menu has an extensive range of japanese pastas to choose from (more than 25) and with a little bit of luck it may be possible to get a hidden gem. Not to forget, many set lunches and meals are there to satisfy your wallet.

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Service was rather shabby at times with some miscommunications between the waitresses and customers. I was rather disappointed that most of the better-looking desserts on the menu were not available, I had to make do with a strawberry ice cream ($6.9) which looked better than it tasted. Otherwise, I would be more than happy to have the lava cakes and tiramisu on the menu.

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23 Serangoon Central

#B1-80 NEX Mall

Opens 1100 – 2200 daily

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Ma Maison Restaurant

The Ma Maison group of Japanese restaurants include full-fledged restaurants and cafes and what’s making them do so well is their casual yet hearty affair. Ma Maison @ Bugis Junction, the outlet I visited, had a Japanese-French appeal with its dim interiors. Despite seeming a tad too dim and dusty, I loved the rustic charm of the narrow restaurant.

An extensive menu awaits you at Ma Maison as new items are regularly added and may come in the form of a whole set of lunch and dinner offers and set meals.
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A plate of prawn paste chicken wings ($9.80) to start the meal as appetizers. Nothing much to rave about them though.
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Surprisingly, the different outlets of Ma Maison all have differing signature items. Ma Maison @ Bugis Junction emphasizes on their mains of beef steak and pastas. Their hamburg steak dishes look especially appetizing (plus the fact that I have a thing for japanese beef) so I got the Italian Hamburg with Cheese ($16.90). Though the steaks weren’t out-of-the-world fantastic, I still like the idea of what I call “casual beef” at comfort prices.
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Fruit pies and tarts are a must when at Ma Maison. Initially I was pretty much tempted by the massive array of colorful fruit pies, cakes and tarts however a sudden appearance of brownie and ice cream on an isolated sheet of the menu changed my mind in the spur of a moment. Surprisingly, the seemingly out-of-place dessert was made well – a soft, light one for the tummy.

Overall, with its centralized locations, decent food and prices, I see no harm to return. Next on my list: the praised Tonkatsu at Tonkatsu by Ma Maison, new kid on the block Aloha Ma Maison and more cakes at Cafe Ma Maison!

 

200 Victoria Street

Bugis Junction #02-51

Singapore 188021

1130 – 1430, 1800 – 2200 on weekdays

1130 – 1430, 1700 – 2200 on weekends

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Donq Bakery

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I am the type of “kiasu” blogger who rush with the crowd during a hype. Well, not exactly to rush with them exactly since I usually take a few weeks to make an eating trip after spotting a trend. Donq gourmet grocery has opened its doors at the basement food hall of Takashimaya in Orchard not long ago in late April. It has since then attracted many customers. It is easily one of the busiest, if not busiest, space at the dining hall.
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Donq Bakery was founded in Japan and incorporates a French style within. They are said to be sold out of products in the evening so be there early. It was a tough decision, what with the extensive range of products and everyone of them seem to be a ‘best-selling’ one.
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From left to right: the Sausage Boat, Dutch Bread and Tart Bresson Fruit.

The Dutch Bread ($2.40) was something special, what with its hard crust and soft interior (like a baguette) with a slab of cheese hidden within. I thought it would be better for the cheese to be cheesier as it reminded me of a block of butter, but on the other hand it keeps the bun plain but a good time of plain, if you understand.

The Tart Bresson Fruit ($2.80) left the greatest impression on me. It’s appearance attracted me in the first place, then I realized it tastes as well as it looks. It’s a soft tart of sweet custard filling with mixed berries which are a tad sour to complement each other.

Don’t forget to grab some other of their renowned items such as the cheese cookies, pain au chocolat and spinach and sausage buns!

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Takashimaya Singapore

391A Orchard Road

#B2-03

Singapore 238873

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