Kith Cafe @ Robertson Quay – Makings of a Lazy Afternoon

31 12 2010

Compared to countries such as UK and Australia, I find Singapore to be severely lacking in breakfast and brunch places and for the few reputable brunch places such as Riders Café, Spruce, Café Epicurious and Jones the Grocer, they get so packed on weekends that it’s impossible to lay back for a couple of hours to read a book without getting distracted or be on the receiving end of the hungry stares of people queuing to get seats.

Situated along the Singapore River near Robertson Quay, Kith Café does not pose any such problems. It’s a quaint café which opens at 7am daily, where the atmosphere is tranquil and serene. Free wifi is provided and I imagine it would be an ideal place to just drop by after school to do your course readings and whatnot. If you are driving down, do park at Watermark and get Kith Cafe to stamp on the parking coupon to waive parking charges!

Serving a variety of drinks beyond just the usual Latte and Tea, I had the Watermelon and Lychee Ice Blended($4.80) which I found pleasant. Nick had the Earl Grey Lavender with Citrus($4.80) which was my favourite of the 4 drinks we ordered because it was really soothing and refreshing amidst Singapore’s sweltering weather and makes you just want to go “ahhhhhh” after taking a sip. Wan Swen had the Vanilla Maple Banana Milkshake($6.50) which was thick and frothy, a sure way to please banana lovers.

Marcus had their signature Kith Macchiato($4), which comes in a puny cup compared to the Macchiato at Starbucks.

For food, I ordered the Big Breakfast($14), comprising of Toast, a Pork Sausage which my friends found awesome but I instantly recognized it as a brand I have been frequently getting from the supermarket(I think it’s called Tatsumoto) but I have to agree, it’s pretty good and has been my guilty pleasure for many a supper. There was also Fried Bacon and a Grilled Tomato, alongside Scrambled Eggs which I requested to change to Poached Eggs instead. I felt that the eggs were slightly overpoached and it tasted really bland with no accompanying Hollandaise Sauce. I did like their homemade Strawberry Jam, pretty watery but surprisingly the flavour was not diluted.

Wan Swen ordered the Spaghetti Chicken Pesto($14). It was damn awesome! The flavours were robust and chicken well marinated and tender. Will definitely order it on my next visit.

Nick had the Crispy Bacon, Poached Eggs, Avocado and Tomato Foccacia Sandwich($10). He loved it, probably because the flavours are well-balanced here.

Marcus had the Roast Beef, Cheddar, Rocket Salad and Caramelized Onion Multigrain Sandwich($10). He commented it was nothing very spectacular, just usual café nosh.

I also tried some of their cookies which were $0.50 for 2 pieces. I didn’t really like it because it was rather bitter and starchy but Wan Swen was really taken by it. Guess cookie love lies in the eyes of the beholder.

Is it a lazy afternoon? If yes, Kith Cafe is the place to be. If no, drop by Kith Cafe and the afternoon just got lazier.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

KITH CAFE

7 RODYK STREET, #01-33 WATERMARK @ ROBERTSON QUAY

TEL: +65 6341 9407

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Tatsuya Japanese Restaurant @ Goodwood Park Hotel – Affordable Lunch Bento Sets!

29 12 2010

Barely a month ago, I patronised Aoki in what I felt was one of my most memorable meals this year. Rival Tatsuya Japanese Restaurant lies a 5 minute stroll away, and I was hoping that I would get a meal there comparable to the one I had at Aoki.

Dinner at Tatsuya doesn’t come cheap. A pair of ala-carte Tuna Belly Sushi will set you back by $30. Even the most basic of sushi like the Salmon or Tuna Sushi costs an exceeding $10 per pair.

Lucky for budget conscious students like me, the set lunches here are a different story and a viable option within my spending threshold.

News of the affordable lunch bento sets at Tatsuya seems to have gotten around and it proves to be a popular lunch spot for the well informed. Reservations are highly recommended and if you want to get the full blown Japanese dining experience, request for a counter seat so you can marvel at the culinary skills of the Chefs as they artfully craft their sushi masterpieces.

While Tatsuya is considered a fine-dining Japanese Restaurant, the layout isn’t exactly posh. The aisle for the counter seats are rather cramped and only allows one person to walk through at a time but if claustrophobia is an issue, dining al fresco is also available though there isn’t much of a view. Unlike Aoki where you get undisrupted viewing pleasure of the Chefs at work while sitting at the counter seats, the refrigerations units used to store the Sashimi here is quite a visual hindrance for those who are vertically-challenged.

My lunch kaki today was ex-JC classmate Shiwei. It’s weird that we only became closer after school’s out, I think food might have been a contributing factor. So there you go, no 1 perk of being a foodie; you get to rekindle friendships as you meet up for lunches!

Shiwei had the Sashimi Unagyu Bento($30.90), comprising of Chawanmushi, Sashimi(Salmon, Tuna & Yellowtail), Tempura, Unagi over Rice, Miso Soup and Fruits. Special mention goes to the smooth Yuzu Flavoured Chawanmushi, which held a mildly sweet citrus flavour. The Tempura was good too with a light crisp batter.

I had the Sushi, Yakizakana Bento($28.90), comprising of Chawanmushi, Potato Salad, Tamago, Assorted Sushi, Grilled Cod with Mentaiko, Miso Soup and Fruits. The Sushi was fresh and compact. I really hate it when my sushi starts falling apart after I grab it and dip it in Light Sauce but this problem was not evident here so I was quite pleased. I found the Grilled Cod pretty addictive, bearing a tasty smokey flavour made savoury by the Mentaiko.

Overall, Tatsuya serves a set lunch which is definitely worth visiting but personally, I rather top up a few more dollars for Aoki because the ambience is more elegant, the quality and variety of sashimi given in the set lunches are better and they include a trio of desserts within their set lunch as well.

Bon Appetit!

TATSUYA JAPANESE RESTAURANT

22 SCOTTS ROAD, GOODWOOD PARK HOTEL

TEL: +65 6887 4598





Cacio e Pepe – Authentic Italian Fare

26 12 2010

This is what food blogs should be about, reviewing and unearthing restaurants with potential that are tucked inconspicuously away at uhloo places. When I first read about Cacio e Pepe roughly a year ago, I decided to KIV it first and get back to it when I had the time. Since then, I have had 2 separate friends randomly coming up to me raving about it so I knew it was finally time to check it out personally.

Lunch Sets are available here at an affordable $12.80++ and comprises of a Soup of the Day, Pasta of the Day and a Drink (Coffee, Tea or Soft Drink).

Today’s Soup of the Day was the Potato and Leek Soup.

Pasta of the Day was a Choice between the Chicken Penne and Mushroom Fusilli.

The Chicken Penne came in a Tomato Base and I really loved the flavourful tang that hits you only after some mastication.

Out of the 2 Pasta Choices, I preferred the Mushroom Fusilli which had the perfect kick-ass cream sauce. Just the right amount of thickness and richness.

Feedback from my friends was that they found the pasta slightly too chewy and the portions too minute. In Cacio e Pepe’s defence, personally I prefer my pasta with more bite so the chewy pasta was fine for me, and when you pay $12.80 for a set lunch, I guess we can’t complain much about portion size.

On the other hand, if you order ala carte as I did, the portions are slightly larger.

My order of the Spaghetti Vongole($18) was well-executed. The spaghetti was uber smooth and very palatable. The only downside was the bitterness from the clam juice which I found slightly overbearing.

For Dessert, I had the Chocolate Lava Cake($13) which comes in both an alcoholic and non-alcoholic version. I chose the later. I didn’t find very impressive as the exterior of the cake wasn’t crisp, having the texture of a butter cake instead, not to mention it’s slightly overpriced. You’d be better off having one from Bakerzin.

Overall, I felt Cacio e Pepe did a decent job for their pastas, especially the pasta sauces and given the extensive array of choices on the menu, I will definitely be back for a better assessment.

Bon Appetit!

CACIO E PEPE

4 ROCHDALE ROAD

TEL: +65 6281 1905





Lai Wah Restaurant – Founder of the Yu Sheng and Yam Basket

24 12 2010

Don’t we all just love the examples of longstanding traditional neighbourhood Chinese Restaurants? A few off hand I can think of off-hand are Chin Lee Restaurant at Bedok North, Hua Yu Wee at East Coast Road and lastly Lai Wah Restaurant at Bendemeer Road, all of which possessing it’s own unique and illustrious history, offering dishes that have been around for the past 30 years or more.

Lai Wah’s history is exceptionally rich in that it was the inventor of the Yam Basket, as well as the Yu Sheng (which we toss during the Chinese New Year) which has permeated into present society as so much more than just a dish, it now forms part of the Singapore culture.

While set lunches are available, I felt that ordering ala-carte here did not equate to much of a price differential from the set meals, and since this was my second visit, I had some idea of what to order this time round.

The Cereal Prawns ($20/5 pieces) was pretty decent. I liked how the large prawns remained crisp over time and that there was little observable excess oil from the frying.

As the founder of the dish, every visit to Lai Wah warrants an order of the Yam Basket with Cashew Nuts and Prawns($18). I was blown away by the Yam Basket on my previous visit and had determined that Lai Wah served the best Yam Basket out of all the Yam Baskets I had feasted on, but somehow today’s one didn’t strike the same chord.

For our daily vegetable fix, we ordered the Mushroom mixed with Vegetables($14) but if you are more of a carnivore like me, seriously just screw the veg and get another meat dish!

One of the main reasons why I suggested we eat at Lai Wah was because of the Crispy Squid with Salted Egg Yolk($14). The waitress screwed up my order and gave us a small instead of a large($18). Anyway, even if it’s just 3 people eating, trust me and just get a large!

Although it’s supposedly one of the signatures here, I felt that the Mandarin Stewed Chicken($22) was lacking somewhat. The meat was not tender enough and the gravy was too watery and not very flavourful.

Ordering desserts are quite unnecessary here as everyone got a free serving of Almond Jelly with Longans after the meal.

Though the food wasn’t bad, I was slightly disappointed given my heightened expectations from the previous visit. STILL, THE SALTED EGG CALAMARI IS A DEFINITE MUST ORDER!

Bon Appetit!

LAI WAH RESTAURANT

BLK 44 BENDEMEER ROAD, #01-1436

TEL: +65 6294 9922





Ippudo – Still not hitting the Mark

23 12 2010

It’s been a year since Ippudo opened its flagship Singapore branch in Mandarin Gallery. Back then, it opened with much fanfare with full page write ups on The Straits Times and I was inevitably lured to see what the commotion was all about during their soft launch, even foregoing a movie ticket (Zombieland) I had purchased as I waited 2 hours in line just for an available seat.

Did it wow me then? The answer is no but one year down the road, I decided it was finally time to pay them a revisit, especially on hearing that standards have gone up and previous teething issues have been sorted out.

This time around, I tried the Shiromaru Kakuni($19.50++) which is a smooth Hakata-style ramen served in Tonkotsu broth. For this ramen, you get a slice of chashu and simmered pork cubes. Having been spoiled by the kurobuta pork cheeks at Santouka and Tampopo, the chashu here wasn’t very impressive. Likewise, the simmered pork cubes was not as tender as I thought it would be. Still, I do see improvements in the texture of the ramen and rich tonkotsu broth since my prior visit. I also liked the fact that like how you can order your steak rare, medium or well done in steakhouses, Ippudo allows you to order your ramen Hard, Medium or Soft to cater for personal preferences.

I made a side order for the Nitamago($2++) aka flavour egg which I feel is essential in completing the whole ramen experience. Sadly, the egg white was overcooked and it pales in comparison to the Nitamago at Marutama and Tampopo.

Also notably pricier than other ramen joints, it will probably be at least another year or more before I do patronise Ippudo again.

Bon Appetit!

IPPUDO

333A ORCHARD ROAD, #04-02/03/04 MANDARIN GALLERY

TEL: +65 6235 2797





Bistro Petit Salut – Le Affordable Authentic French

22 12 2010

Bistro Petit Salut holds a dear place in my heart because as far as I can remember, it was the very eatery that got me madly in love with French Cuisine. At that time, I was a newly initiated foodie convert and French Cuisine was unappealing to me with its high barriers to entry, being seemingly perched up on a pedestal with it’s sophisticated sounding dishes and unaffordable cost.

A visit to Bistro Petit Salut changed this presumption. It made me realize that authentic French nosh can be sought at a friendly price and that French Cuisine is not synonymous with Fine Dining.

Wanting to share this experience with my SMU bidding group, which we have aptly named ourselves The Humbled Group after getting pwned and humbled in class participation during our first class by some North Indian students, I suggested celebrating S’s birthday lunch here.

3-Course Set Lunches here goes for $25++ which is also inclusive of coffee, making this one of the most affordable set lunches around in my book.

For Appetizers, we had the Salmon Tatare in Lemon Dressing, Basil and Arugula Salad (more commonly known as Rocket Salad). To put it more simply, this was just Diced Raw Salmon with Rocket Leaves, with the Lemon Dressing used to lend a brighter and cleaner flavour to the fish. Sashimi lovers would love this.

The Homemade Pork Rillettes, Mesclun Salad with Walnut Dressing and Toast wasn’t as well received. Think of it as canned tuna soaked in brine in where the tuna was substituted with pork instead. To be used as a spread for the toast, the cured pork was not very agreeable with our Asian palates.

The Appetizer I would definitely recommend ordering is the Half Dozen Baked Burgundy Snails with Tomato and Garlic Butter. After all, where better to eat Escargot then at an established French bistro? There aren’t many places in Singapore that serve escargots so having it here would set a good benchmark at a very reasonable price.

The last of the Appetizers we tried was the Prawn Salad with Vine Ripened Tomatoes with Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette. I’m not sure how restaurants do it but there’s definitely a secret in how they manage to make their prawns taste so fresh and crunchy. I don’t cook so this question has always eluded me but I have heard soaking prawns in sugar solution before cooking makes it more springy.

For Mains, we tried the Catch of the Day with Mixed Garden Vegetable and Nicoise Vinaigrette. If I’m not wrong, the fish used was Treadfin and it was cooked in a healthy manner with minimal use of spices, allowing the natural flavours of the fish to be accentuated.

Good Risottos are hard to make, and even harder to find in Singapore restaurants. It’s always a challenge to balance the right amount of cheesiness and viscosity of the cheese and Arborio rice but Bistro Petit Salut seems to have gotten it just right with its Mixed Mushroom Risotto with light Cream Emulsion & Parmesan Cheese.

MZ was quite unlucky, having chosen the Pork Rillette which we considered a miss. Unfortunately, her unlucky streak continued in her choice of main, the Braised Lamb Shoulder “Navarin” Style with Carrots and Potatoes. The meat was utterly dry and tough and subsequently left unfinished.

I was really pleased in my choice of Chicken Leg Confit with Sauteed Potatoes, Bacon & Mixed Green Salad. Lightly crisp skin and tender flesh, with fried cubes of bacon soaking up all the chicken fat, utterly utterly sinfully delicious.

For desserts, J had the Classical Creme Brulee. I felt that it had the perfect consistency and sweetness but with the large portion that was given, a risk factor would be “gelatness” so this would be best shared.

Having had a great experience with the Choux Bun at Au Petit Salut, I decided to get it here as well, the Choux Bun with Vanilla Ice Cream, Warm Chocolate Sauce & Slice Almonds. I definitely didn’t regret it. The closest resemblance I can link to the Choux Bun is the push cart ice cream served with bread. Of course, there is a much higher satisfaction level crunching on the Choux Bun here than a $2 ice cream sandwich.

Normally cheesecakes in set lunches are shams, but I really savoured the “Gateau au Fromage Blanc” aka Homemade Cheesecake with Madagascar Vanilla Beans here which I found surprisingly not too cloying after the rich and oleaginous mains.

Wanting something lighter, you might want to consider the airy Homemade Strawberry Shortcake. Both the Strawberry Shortcake and Cheesecake came with a scoop of Sherbet (forgot what flavour though) which I thought was very generous given the already reasonable price of the set lunch.

Having a penchant for Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, S decided to supplement an extra $5 for it. I thought it was fairly decently executed, nothing you can’t get in other establishments. I really like how Bistro Petit Salut is so flexible in terms of set menu item changes, maybe I should try switching to a Foie Gras appetizer next time.

Compared to sister restaurant Au Petit Salut, I would prefer the latter for its location amidst a lush landscape and classier ambience but if you are just looking for no-frills authentic French food, Bistro Petit Salut would be slightly friendlier on the wallet.

Bon Appetit!

BISTRO PETIT SALUT

44 JALAN MERAH SAGA

Tel: +65 6474 9788





Triple 3 – $88 Weekday Buffet Dinner, Auspicious or just plain Ostentatious?

20 12 2010

I usually get comments from friends that SMU girls are hotter and prettier than girls from NUS and NTU, and on hearing this I always give them the same reply, “With quantity comes quality”. With only around 900 female students per cohort in SMU in contrast to the respective 3500 and 4000 female students per cohort in NTU and NUS, I believe that by the sheer overwhelming absolute numbers, there definitely has to be more chio bus in NUS and NTU, albeit much spread out over the large campus so you don’t get to see them as much as in SMU.

Well does this analogy of “with quantity comes quality” apply to buffets as well?

Personally, I don’t think so. I’m no fan of buffets and I’m perplexed as to why it has grown so popular in Singapore. Perhaps it’s due to our multi-racial and multi-cultural society where we like to pinch a bit of Indian here and there, nibble on some Chinese and move on to sample Japanese and European cuisines. After all, we Singaporeans pride ourselves as a global people, don’t we?

Still, I don’t see how buffet quality food justifies the hefty pricetag that comes along with it. That’s where Triple’s 3’s 1-for-1 buffet deal comes in (for DBS Cardholders which lasts till 28 Feb 2011). (Citibank has a separate promotion where 1 dines for free for every 3 paying adults for Sunday Brunch).

Triple 3 has been touted as one of Singapore’s more extensive and pricy buffets, going for $88++/pax for weekday dinners.

The buffet starts with the usual Salad and Seafood Bar. Not a bad selection of seafood, ranging from raw oysters, scallops, clams, mussels, hokkaido crab legs and chilled prawns, all of which were adequately fresh.

Next up, the Sashimi Bar. More than usual buffet variety with Salmon, Salmon Belly, Tuna, Swordfish, Octopus and a type of Clam.

There’s also a section for nibblers. Japanese Fried Chicken and Chilean Seabass are just such crowd pleasers.

There’s also a station for Roast Duck and Soba, as well as a Grill station. I really loved the beef, probably the most enjoyable roast beef I have had in a buffet.

For the pasta station, the Tomato-based pasta is worth mention while the cream Cream-based pastas were lackluster and bland.

Decent Chawanmushi and an overly salted Black Chicken Soup.

Most of the heated dishes were Indian Cuisine so I decided to give most of them a miss as spice doesn’t do you any favours in a buffet setting, especially when there’s sashimi and other raw seafoods involved.

Hokkien Mee was pretty good.

A queue would form at the teppanyaki station whenever the prawns, beef or salmon was about to be done. I didn’t think much of these assorted teppanyaki though.

Finally it was time for desserts. Delightful cakes here and there but nothing good enough to leave a deep impression.

I would say Triple 3 offers a pretty good spread and while there’s nothing awesome enough to rave about, most of the food was above average.

So, if you are a buffet fan, I think Triple 3 deserves a visit, especially with the ongoing 1-for-1 promotion.

Bon Appetit!

Triple 3

333 Orchard Road, Level 5 Meritus Mandarin

Tel: +65 6831 6271








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