An Introduction

An Introduction
The Simplest Aphrodisiac

Flavours of the Month

Flavours of the Month
Rocks Urban Grill & Bar

Overseas Trips

Overseas Trips
The Reason to Travel

The A List

The A List
Featuring the Best

Oh Carol! Cafe & Bistro

31 October 2009

Mondays are usually "special lunch days" with the best friend as we try to find new places for lunch after our astronomy lecture. The latest lunch saw us at Oh Carol! Cafe & Bistro at Buona Vista Biopolis, a place we expected to find scientists in white lab coats but instead could only see ordinary-looking people. But hey, we're here more for the food of course.

Cheese Fries: 4.5/5

The cheese fries were delicious and really one of the best I've had. The fries came thick, hot and crispy just as I like them to be, and the cheese was not too sour nor pungent. People who prefer "soggy" fries could always head to Fromage at Cityvibe, which isn't too far away.

Seafood Cheese Baked Rice: 3.5/5

I really wanted to try their "homemade" beef burger but I just had a case of heartburn (too much fast food haha!) and decided to go a bit easy and get the baked rice instead. It turned out okay, simple indeed but with adequate portions of fish fillet, squids and a few prawns.

Salmone Pasta

The best friend's pasta, featuring smoked salmon in white wine cream suace. She said it was good, the taste of the smoked salmon managed to balance out the (slightly heavy) cream sauce. She also likes the addition of mushrooms as they give the dish a nice aroma, making it just a bit better than the one from Coffee Club.

Very good.

$4.90 for the cheese fries
$9.90 for the seafood baked rice
$12.90 for the salmone pasta

* Prices subject to the usual 7% GST and 10% service charge.


20 Biopolis Way, Centros Block #01-02.
Next to MOE HQ, Buona Vista.

Polar Puffs & Cakes

27 October 2009

So much work lately that it's hard to find time to blog. I still have a couple of posts waiting to be typed out but till then here's a short post on a cake that my parents bought for me recently: the Nutella cake. No it isn't my birthday (but if you really would like to know it's on March 25 -smiles-), I was just wondering how it would taste like and they got it for me. So sweet of them.

The Nutella cake definitely needs more "Nutella" flavour to it because otherwise it's just a basic and simple chocolate cake. It actually tastes just like the small, rectangular cake bars (featuring Sesame Street characters, for one) that Polar sells as well. I would certainly prefer the Coco Exotic over this, but if Polar would like a tip or two, here it is: 1) do something about the recipe because the sponge part gets a bit dry after a while, and 2) do a hard, biscuit-like base for an added texture.

About $22.

For venues, click here.

Dallas Restaurant & Bar

23 October 2009

Gentle touches of serenity, amazing company and good food - that's all I could ask for on a simple Thursday night. Tucked away from the loud chatter of expat folks and the strong smells of beer, this is our little sanctuary for the night.

Crab and Prawn Fritters: 3.5/5

Dim lights don't go that well with a digital camera like mine, but setting off too many camera flashes in search of that one satisfying shot did begin to feel like a disturbance to the calmness of it all. After a while, I decided to settle for hurried shots instead and be more intrigued by the stories that we had to tell. But if you must know how the fritters tasted, they were quite flavourful - a mix of (mashed) prawns and crabmeat in an aromatic wrap of spices. Pity there were only two pieces of them.

Chickpeas Soup

This was the soup of the day that the dining companion for the night, Enlin - "the pretty one" - had for her appetiser. I'm quite sure it was chickpeas soup, as much as she heard it as "chick-piece" from the waitress. You wouldn't want to know what I thought I heard, and I'm very sure it's not it.

Wagyu Beef Burger: 4.5/5

This, my dear friends, is one of the best beef burgers that I've had. Wagyu-grade beef patty - thick, juicy and very beefy indeed. Enlin didn't fancy this too much, and I'm thinking maybe it's because it's not as well-done as the ladies would usually prefer it to be. The man likes it very much though, along with the caramelised onions, barbecue sauce and melted cheese. If you could add a fried egg, this would be even more spectacular.

Fried Pacific Dory Fish

Enlin's fried dory atop a small heap of mashed potatoes. She said it was "not bad, quite good" but would prefer the salsa tomatoes to be more finely diced and chopped up, even more to a puree-like state, as compared to these slightly larger pieces. The fish was fresh and soft, which is good.

Fried Banana with Ice-Cream: 4.25/5

We were so full from our main course but this was pretty good stuff. Not your usual deep-fried goreng pisang mind you, this banana fritter had a fried batter more akin to a puff pastry. I like the way the both of them went together - the hot, sweet banana fritter and the cold, smooth ice-cream - delightful. Once you're through with all of that, wrap it all up with a nice cup of hot tea :)

Very good. Friendly and polite, the staff were regularly filling our glasses with iced water as well.

$34++ for his set dinner
$28++ for her set dinner

31 Boat Quay.

Additional Comments
Harris: Ladies, you may like to bring a jacket if you get cold easily.
Enlin: Ladies, you may like to bring a jacket, unless jumping onto the guy's lap seems a better option.
Harris: Yeah, and you chose the jacket.

First picture source here.


21 October 2009

Too often many of us food bloggers get caught up with the thrill of visiting fancy restaurants and unique, boutique-like pâtisseries that we sometimes find ourselves neglecting the more "commonplace" eateries and bakeries. "Epid'or" sounds like another one of those pastry boutiques but it's actually the name of the Raffles City branch from the Four Leaves chain of bakeries. Of special mention here is their "Coco Exotic" cake, a cake that can be found in all their other branches and one that I've also been eating quite often this year from birthdays. But I'm not complaining.

It's certainly one of the better chocolate cakes that I've eaten, and it's cheaper too. A 15cm x 15cm cake costs about $26 (price list here) and can be shared amongst eight people. I like the simple chocolate mousse and sponge cake because it is not overwhelmingly sweet or creamy, but the highlight is really it's "biscuit" layer of crunchy hazel-nut flakes that reminds you of either Rocher chocolates or Nutella, or both. It also reminds me of (but is not completely similar to) my favourite Chocolate Praline Cake from 1 Caramel, though the Coco Exotic admittedly has a bit more sponge than does the Chocolate Praline. I would agree with Four Leaves that the Coco Exotic is "a delectable treat for chocoholics" :)

Some of you have observed that I've been over-indulging in sweet treats lately and I have to agree. I had the Coco Exotic cake on the same day that I had the delicious Chocolate Tortino from Pizzeria Giardino and an ice-cream sundae (featuring the merry trio of one cheesecake brownie, chocolate macadamia and chocolate chip cookie dough) from Ben & Jerry's. Most satisfying indeed :)

Pizzeria Giardino

18 October 2009

This was a recommendation by a friend of mine (Thanks Shereen!) and as she said it would be, it's a pretty little place located at Chijmes. It's al fresco dining here, so humidity can be a concern on some nights. Advice from a friend: get an ice cold beer!

Fruitti Di Mare Pizza: 3.75/5

Seafood pizza! It's one of the few pizza choices for me because most of the pizzas here have either ham or bacon on them. The pizza is alright, its of a thinner crust and the cheese is quite good. It would be better if there was a bit more of the ingredients, and if they could be distributed more evenly. One of the two slices I had only had one prawn and a piece of squid! If you're interested in seafood pizzas, may I suggest the pizza from Timbre as well, I like that one the most!

Prosciutto di Parma Pizza

All of us stared at this when it arrived. I don't think it takes much effort to prepare this pizza surely! Just get the base done, smoke the ham, place it on top and finish it with a promising-sounding Italian name - Prosciutto di Parma.

Chocolate Tortino: 4.25/5

The highlight of the night. We were about to leave when I decided to order this. I'm that desperate for all things sweet to keep my spirits up. And why, this got everyone's spirits up, it was really good! Yeah, everyone was looking at it with a smile and when I gave the green light they all went after it with glee :)

Just imagine the tastes and textures:

Outer cake: A bit firm to touch (because it's oven-baked)
Inner cake: Soft and spongy, but rich with chocolate
Chocolate lava: Warm, fluid and delicious
Ice-cream: Simple vanilla, smooth and cold
Butter cracker: Buttery and crunchy

Now you know why we love it so much! :)

Very good.

$25.00 for the fruitti di mare pizza
$25.00 for the prosciutto di parma pizza
$12.00 for the chocolate tortino
$14.00 for a pint of San Miguel beer
$9.00 for a bottle of Stella Artois

* Prices subject to the usual 7% GST and 10% service charge.

Chijmes, #01-30.

Additional Comments
Opening Hours: 4pm to 11pm (Sun to Thu), 4pm to 12am (Fri & Sat).

Central Thai

17 October 2009

Central Thai is a pleasant, and I must add, very peaceful, restaurant located in Orchard Central. While this "vertical" shopping mall has been up for quite some time now, it has been opening its stores and restaurants to the public only very gradually, too gradually perhaps that visitor traffic has been affected by quite a bit. That said, there's something about this place that still draws me in, maybe it's in its simplicity, or maybe it just doesn't try to cram too much within a single building like (the more popular) Ion Orchard. Put together, Orchard Central is a place to go if you're in the Orchard area but somehow you're not in the mood for crowds and with a preference instead for cooler and more open spaces.

Wok Fried Rice with Seafood: 4/5

This is simple and almost basic, but really nice. Adequate amount of seafood ingredients in fried rice that's not too dry nor too oily. The eggs are mixed evenly and nicely around the rice, giving it an overall pleasant and balanced flavour.

Green Curry with Chicken

The best friend had this, and said that it was good. Although it has been some time now, Central Thai still has its one-for-one opening promotion for its rice and noodle dishes (green curry included), which makes a meal here pretty affordable. Prices are similar to those you may find at Thai Express, perhaps even about a dollar or so cheaper here, and I think it's really worth a try.

Seafood Tom Yum Soup: 3.5/5

Ah, how can anyone not order a tom yum soup when at a Thai restaurant? The tom yum soup has a fair balance of spicy and sour, and can be nicely shared between the two of us. I would still prefer the tom yum soup from Ah Loy Thai (cheaper too) but the one from Central Thai is decent enough.

Excellent. The staff constantly refilled our glasses of iced water, and I could see how observant the manager is as he walks past tables and glances through the glasses to see if they need to filled.

$9.90 for the wok fried rice with seafood
$8.90 for the green curry with chicken
$6.90 for the seafood tom yum soup

* Prices subject to the usual 7% GST and 10% service charge.

Orchard Central, #08-03.

Much Ado About Blogging

13 October 2009

Just recently, a couple of things regarding the blogosphere have come to my attention and as I read through these events I can't help feeling amazed (and a bit disgusted) by the way things have turned out. The first, and more well-known, case refers to the latest ruling in the US where bloggers "must reveal ties behind [their] endorsements" [1], and it's not surprising how Singapore is considering to do likewise on the grounds of "[protecting] consumers by enabling them to make an informed assessment about what they read" [2].

I think this is fair enough. I'm glad to say that the local food bloggers I know have been very upfront about their reviews, always making sure to add that some of their posts are based on invitations by the restaurants (some call it an "invited review"), and thus to caution their readers of any bias or leniency that could have developed in the course of writing. Not everyone actually comes out with glowing reviews (in fact, some are less than effusively positive and to me it does seem like a wasted act of generosity on the part of the restaurant) but this is the way the food-blogging scene goes.

I believe four rules should apply here.

Rule #1: Restaurants, like it or not, are in a competitive market economy. If you're good, you stay and you grow in popularity. If you're not, you either buck up or leave.

Rule #2: Taste is subjective, it always is. It differs from individual to individual. I for one don't exactly appreciate French fine dining, but more importantly I will make sure that I point this out to the readers so that they can note my personal preferences and take the review with a pinch of salt. And the best way to confirm a review? Taste it yourself, and then share! The new ruling mentioned at the start of this post may go some way in stamping out biased and paid reviews, but in the case of taste you can't possibly hold it against someone if their tastebuds or personal preferences don't match yours.

Rule #3: Restaurants shouldn't attempt to control or censor reviews. They should learn to accept constructive criticism and try to improve. Managers who constantly check on forums or blogs to see how they are faring as well as to gain feedback on how to change show that they are passionate and dedicated in what they do.

Rule #4: Restaurants, if you're just in it for the money, get out and get lost. You're not going to last anyway once you start your cost-cutting measures like drastically reducing staff size or compromising on good quality ingredients. Do it because you have the passion for food and for the art of cooking, and because you want to share it with people who are more than willing to pay for such delights.

This sets us up nicely for the second case. A talented food blogger recently posted an online letter to Today [3] about a local pastry boutique threatening legal action after reading less than favourable reviews on her blog. Some legal eagles are saying that there are grounds for action, but I'm more appalled by the growing acceptance in this country that everything can be achieved just by suing.

Constructive comments should be welcomed and should in fact be encouraged. By "constructive" I mean sincere and genuine criticism that is meant to let restaurants know where they have gone wrong, or are weak in, and how they could improve. It should not be easily confused with condemnation or taken as an insult. Restaurants should know that the best way to do well is to cook good food, provide good service, offer a good ambience, and most of all listen to what their customers have to say about them, rather than going out there trying to shoot down any negative reviews they can find.

I've seen how some managers have gone on to the "Hungrygowhere" forums or even directly to the blogs to apologise for bad experiences and have tried to make up for them - this is the element of true and committed service that restaurants in Singapore (and anywhere in the world in fact) should aspire towards. Word of such acts of sincerity actually spreads faster than you can imagine, and I'm sure that it will endear customers to you because they know that you are trying. That, my friend, is what really matters!

Food bloggers meanwhile must always be responsible in what they write and should refrain from making groundless or unsubstantiated criticisms like, "This food sucks!" or "The food is horrid, don't ever support this lousy restaurant!". Instead, help the restaurants out by giving suggestions on how to improve or by simply explaining why you felt that way. Was the food unacceptable because it was dripping with so much oil that made it humanly impossible to stomach, or was it because the food wasn't as fresh as it should be, or on another matter altogether, was service bad because the staff was rude to you, and if so, what did the staff exactly do?

It certainly seems to demand a lot of effort and even I have to keep reminding myself to be fair to the restaurant and the people behind it. As bloggers, I think we have to be aware that others are always reading what we write and more often than not people are simply too impressionistic (but this does not necessarily exclude bloggers) that they are reluctant to try out a restaurant that has just received a condemning review, even if it was based on personal preference and experience. So while you want to be honest, always remember to be fair as well.

Now that all been said, food bloggers, please keep eating and please keep blogging! =)

Julie & Julia

12 October 2009

Earlier last week I was invited by Nuffnang to attend a free preview screening of the upcoming movie Julie & Julia, and I must say that this is a really refreshing change from the usual romance comedies or action movies. Thanks must certainly go to Ms Raine from Nuffnang for contacting me about the movie tickets, and although she told me that there isn't a need to blog about the movie, I just thought I would say a few words about it.

Julie & Julia depicts the life of Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep) in the early years of her culinary career as she tries to publish a definitive American guide to French cooking. Her life story becomes intertwined with modern day Julie Powell (played by Amy Adams) who embarks on an ambitious mission to cook all 524 recipes from Child's cookbook within a single year, in part as a bid to find some drive and meaning to her life. Almost needless to say, this movie will take you back and forth between the lives of the two ladies as they cook (and love) with ardent passion and dedication.

So you're probably wanting to ask now, why should I watch it? Well aside from it being a refreshing change, this is defintely a movie for those who love food and would know how it feels when you taste something absolutely delicious - that same indescribable sense of satisfaction and delight that even us food bloggers find it so hard to express, more often than not having to settle with superlatives like "fantastic", "wonderful" or even "yummylicious".

That said, this is a movie especially for food bloggers, even more so for those who post their own recipes and kitchen creations on their blogs. I think I can say for most of the food bloggers in the theatre that the thoughts, actions and emotions that constantly run through Julie - having to keep blogging to reach readers she has never met nor known, having that excitement when she gets random comments on her posts, deciding to add bits and pieces of her life story for that personal touch and even wondering if the readers are concerned with the slightest of a virtual hiatus - are the same things that we go through as food bloggers who love food and who just want to share the joy to anyone and to everyone out there.

The movie goes on for 123mins and I have to admit that by the 103-min mark I was finding the movie a little draggy. Still, the frequent display of delectable-looking dishes continues to elicit gasps, whistles and sounds of awe from the audience throughout the movie and you could tell it was an enjoyable experience. A pity we couldn't get a taste at all of the food (we wish!), but right here my advice to you is to not go in with an empty stomach but instead have some popcorn or nachos by your side - I'd especially recommend sweetened popcorn. If there's just one more takeaway from the movie, it would be that of love surely, seeing how the doting men stood by their ladies as much as they possibly could. And that feeling of seeing your loved one enjoy your cooking - priceless.

Secret Recipe

11 October 2009

Pecan Butterscotch: 3.5/5

When you're down, always grab something sweet to lift your spirits. You may say, why should we pay for happiness, and what's the point really if it's just for the moment. But sometimes, right there in the middle of the night, I'd do anything to make myself happy.

The Pecan Butterscotch from Secret Recipe was sweet, nutty and light. Nice combination of caramelised pecan with white chocolate. I don't like overly rich cakes so this was quite alright, just that the portion was a bit too large. Greedy me for choosing the biggest slice (as compared to the other cakes), but I suppose I was just desperate.


Novena Square 2, #B1-105/106/129.
For list of other branches, click here.

Bumbu Desa

My family meant to have dinner at the Novena Square 2 outlet of Ayam Penyet Ria, but it has closed and had since made way for another Indonesian restaurant. It's still in the middle of its soft opening but everything on its menu should be made available by tomorrow.

Speaking of the menu, the food certainly looks promising and seems to have that authentic Indonesian touch to it. Business went about smoothly with a regular stream of customers, though I realised that most had asked about the disappearance of the previous restaurant first before they decided to step in.

Ayam Panggang Bumbu Desa: 3.25/5

This is definitely spicier than the usual curries that we eat and I thought it was quite good. However, the portion (and cut) of the chicken leaves much to be desired, and I would really prefer having potatoes instead of deep-fried beancurd in a chicken "curry" like this.

Ayam Goreng: 3/5

The little sister got this, but she didn't quite like it as compared to her favourite ayam penyet, the latter of which is crispier and more flavourful. This dish is just as its name suggests, fried chicken, and didn't inspire much. Served with an Indonesian coleslaw, which I found quite interesting.

Ayam Panggang Makasa: 2.75/5

The other sister didn't really like what she had. She found the chicken a little too dry for her liking and certainly not worth paying $7.90 for.

Sate Madura: 3.5/5

The satay ("sate" in Indonesian) set that my father got turned out to be the best of the lot, though it would have been better if there was a proper portion of steamed rice rather than those little pieces of lontong. The meat was well-grilled and marinated, and certainly chunkier than the typical satays, in part to justify its $7.90 price tag.

Soto Banjar: 2.75/5

My mother didn't like this at all and I think the combination of bland-tasting chicken, boiled egg and tang hoon (thin rice vermicilli) was just not good enough.

Es Cendol

Something sweet to complete the meal. This is one of the other things (other than the satay that is) that we didn't have complaints about. Overall, I think Bumbu Desa is just having some teething problems, and to be fair we've not tried the rest of their dishes. I'm willing to give them a second chance next time.

Good and friendly, but one minus point goes to the cold coffee that they serve. We returned it and asked for a hot one.

$7.90 for the ayam panggang bumbu desa
$7.90 for the ayam goreng
$7.90 for the ayam panggang makasa
$7.90 for the sate madura
$6.90 for the soto banjar
$3.00 for the es cendol

* Prices subject to 10% service charge.

Novena Square 2, #B1-01.

Old Hong Kong Tea House II

10 October 2009

I think Old Hong Kong Tea House still has some way to go when it comes to its food, but looking around I think the people are there more for the cosy ambience that sets in after midnight. No one rushing you to finish up your food and get out, people lounged around chatting, others fixated on their laptops or even on their PSPs. Air-conditioning helps too, because while 24-hour prata cafe aficionados might swear by their favourite Al-Ameens, Al-Azhars and Spize Cafes, the weather at night may not be as cooling and as bearable all the time. Service here is pretty alright too.

Chicken Chop Cheese-Baked Spaghetti in Curry Sauce: 3.25/5

The curry sauce tastes like the (diluted) Japanese curry sauce from Eighteen Chefs. Not that it's bad, I find it okay but I do wish it would be a tad thicker. The chicken chop was quite average and didn't impress much, while the spaghetti was "trimmed" to make it "shorter" when I would prefer it to be left alone as it is.

Macaroni with Luncheon Meat and Egg

Dilys, the company for the night, had this. It surely doesn't look that exciting or fascinating as a dish but I guess it would do as a slightly healtheir option for a late-night snack. She commented that 1) the carrots were not soft enough, 2) the soup was quite starchy and (even) 3) that the fried egg wasn't as evenly cooked as she would like it to be. Still, the addition of some chilli made this simple dish decent enough.


$9.80 for the chicken chop cheese-baked spaghetti in curry sauce
$5.80 for the macaroni with luncheon meat and egg
$2.80 for a cup of cold yuanyang
$2.50 for a cup of herbal cooling tea

86 East Coast Road, Blk A Katong Village.

Additional Comments
Open 24-hours.

The Show Must Go On

07 October 2009

Sometimes all you need is a warm cup in your hands, a forkful of sweet chocolate cake and a listening friend to make the pain go away. No matter how fleeting, such moments suddenly mean so much more to me, even more so when I know that there's no more turning back to everything. And so you look ahead, pushing yourself, knowing that life must go on.

I would like to thank everyone for their kind words, at least most of them were. It was definitely not all about me, for whatever happened I'm sure we both had our part to play in it. But all I want to say here is that I hope you will always remember that it was our love that started this blog, this blog that we once shared. To many, it's just awash with words and pictures of food. To me, I hear the sounds too - the tinkling of the spoons, the hum of pleasure as you savour your desserts, your laughter - and I can still remember as well the different smells that would slowly tease and entice our senses. For all of that, thank you for the memories.

Of course I had to ask myself if this blog could go on now that things are so different. There might not be as much going on as before, and I can also imagine just how much the posts of yesterdays would remind me of the past. Yet given all that has already been done, I think the decision that I have to make is clear: that the show must go on. It may not be easy, but it will be something that could help me cope with all that has happened, to deal with the pain of letting go and to heal the wounds with time. I hope things will turn out all right.

I really do.


Pictures of coffee and cake above were taken with the Nokia N85 at Tully's Coffee, located at Orchard Central, #03-33.

The Picturehouse Lounge

06 October 2009

This was from a lunch a week back when I was at Dhoby Ghaut to collect a birthday present for the girlfriend. The Picturehouse Lounge is a very small eatery located at The Cathay, situated in fact near the fifth-floor washrooms. The Lounge has been having this one-for-one lunch promotion (12-2pm, main courses only) for quite some time now and I wanted to try it out of curiosity. Since the best friend had accompanied me to collect the present, that made the two of us, which is always good for one-for-ones.

Calamari Rings: 3/5

The rings were ordinary but the biggest problem was the portion. I saw that they reduced the price from $3.50 to $3 but then there were only six rings so it was still considerably expensive.

Black Pepper Chicken Chop: 3.75/5

The chicken chop far exceeded my expectations and turned out pretty tasty indeed. The black pepper gravy went really well with the tender chicken meat and the smooth mashed potato.

Pasta with Chicken

The best friend had this, and she said it was alright as well.

Very good.

$6.50 for each of the main courses, which works out to $3.25 each
$3.00 for the calamari rings
$2.70 for a glass of soft drinks

* Prices subject to the usual 7% GST and 10% service charge.

The Cathay, Level 5.

2009 ·*the simplest aphrodisiac by TNB | Official Singapore Food Blog.