Friday, October 31

Sunday Folks, Chip Bee Gardens

When WZ asked me what plans I had for the weekend, I replied, "Huh, it's only Wednesday."

"But it's your anniversary weekend..." She chided.

"My wedding anniversary .... is holy crap TODAY!"

Wow, I never thought I would be someone who would forget my wedding anniversary but as my elder sister consoled,"It's a good thing, it shows you have other priorities in life." True that. I'm not going to waste my time wondering what surprises my other half has installed for me.

Ice cream and waffles on the other hand. Well yes, I do.

KW suggested checking out Sunday Folks due a missed opportunity the last time round. On a Wednesday evening, the place was absolutely buzzing with people and mainly due to poor sound acoustics. Your noise-canceling earphones don't stand a chance here. When we left just after 8pm, there was a line of Millennials camping outside the dessert cafe. But it was close to my bedtime so I couldn't hang out with them.

The hipster barometer is close to hitting its peak.

I kid, I kid. Can Sunday Folks do any wrong? Not if they get their waffles right. Established by the folks behind Creamier, the famed waffles have an ardent following and the allure is not lost of us. Thick, toasty and absolutely gratifying, the waffles were pretty darn good. Amen to that.

We had the Sea Salt Gula Melaka soft alongside our waffles and the soft serve was pleasantly creamy. What I loved was the ingenious chocolate wafer that prevented the waffles from becoming - God-forbid - soggy. But four toasted marshmallows for $1.90. Sigh, food costs sure has skyrocketed.

Though I had to shout to get myself heard (doesn't happen at home, I promise), I wouldn't rule out another visit though off-peak hours would be de riguer for me.

Wednesday, October 29

Tim Ho Wan 添好运, Toa Payoh

Chances are you have been to one of the many franchised outlets in Singapore (last check, there are five outlets and counting) or you have even been to the original outlet at Mongkok.

There is much pride that comes from being the "cheapest Michelin star" - can you imagine one of our local humble eateries like Kok Sen or Ya Kun Kaya Toast being awarded such an accolade? Yes, the STB would be milking it for whatever it's worth, I am sure. 

Naturally with franchises popping up fasting than you can place a second order of those BBQ pork buns, the allure is somewhat diminished. A least, in my books. The snaking queue at Plaza Singapura paints a different picture. I never understood why people would bother queuing up; in time to come, it would be another Din Tai Fung, with an outlet within every three to four MRT stations.

When J "Die Hard BBQ Pork Buns Fan" suggested going to Tim Ho Wan for lunch, I went along begrudgingly on condition that we didn't have to queue. Amazingly, there wasn't a queue at 12.30pm. Unbelievable! Perhaps the hype has simmered... Perhaps we had "more good luck" than others (hur hur).

Their signature BBQ pork buns is a must-order for J. He told us of how he once downed six in one go during a lunch date - I'm surprised we heard from him in person and not from his eulogy. I could see why people love this buns - served warm, the crust was literally made up of fairy crumbs that were blessed with a sweet milkiness; but I wish they did something about those dodgy char siew fillings.


The ma la gao (sponge cake) was light, fluffy and extremely likeable. Despite being stuffed and bloated, I found myself picking till the last crumb.

The pig intestines were assertively gamy in a love-me-or-hate-me way; a decently generous potion of chopped liver encased within the silky smooth cheong fun.

The pan-fried carrot cake barely made an impression. It was soft and ... Wait, that's just about it.

One polarizing dish was the teochew dumplings. I loved the mochi-esque skin and crunchiness of the peanut, chives and mushrooms but J absolutely hated it. The stinker of a look on his face when he bit into it was hilarious!

The siew mai looked rather pedestrian but it sufficiently pleasing. Bouncy to the bite without an overwhelmingly porky smell.

Steamed pork ribs was a savoury oily pool of tender yet chewy pork ribs. This is a dish I find myself liking more as I age.

I loved the glutinous rice. I'm surprised it isn't one of their "Heavenly Kings." It was exactly how I like it: soft, nudge-able and sticky with lots of chunky fillings.

One of their specials for October was the yam fritter with chili crab. Permission to raise an eyebrow or two granted. Despite it being seemingly dodgy, we ordered it because W loves wu kok and Tim Ho Wan doesn't do the usual chili-crab-less version.

It was well, you can expect, a little weird, especially since the chili crab concoction didn't taste like anything we were used to. Despite so, the wispy crispy shell and pungent yam filling meant W wiped it clean.

On hindsight, our meal wasn't cheap - $18 a head - and the menu isn't extensive to warrant too many return visits. Given that prices match those of restaurants such as Taste Paradise and Imperial Treasure, I would easily head back to my regular haunts and leave others to join in the hype - and queue.

Oriole's Knickerbocker Glory

Wow, I can't remember the last time I visited Oriole. In fact, the last time was probably lunch with Dave, and KW and I had just gotten engaged. When my sister and KH suggested post-lunch coffee there, we agreeably marched towards it since plenty of good times were spent there with what feels like a lifetime ago.

I ordered the Oriole Knickerbocker Glory with a triple scoop of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, some brandies cherries and crushed double chocolate cookies thrown in for good measure. Oh you know, just in case someone complains of it not being sweet enough.

I'm not sure why it's called a Knickbocker but it could be a Knickerblocker since your underwear will feel somewhat snug afterwards.

The cafe was 3/4 full during Sunday lunchtime, which says something given how people are willing to queue for hours at hipster brunch places. Yet I'm glad Oriole has retained its charm and not caved into the mismatched industrial look and feel canibalised by others. To the good ol's days :)

Monday, October 27

Catalunya, The Fullerton Pavilion

KW's belated birthday meal with his folks took place at Catalunya. I wasn't expecting much since tapas is so 1Q2014 and Spanish food in general doesn't excite me. But I will say, I love being proven wrong and I'm sure the Mister loves it when I take a bite out of the humble pie. Yes, learn and let live - secrets to a happy marriage.

Battling a post-vacation cold made my tastebuds BLAH to most flavours so I was initially worried about the muted flavours of the meal. I couldn't possibly ask for red-cut chili now, can I? However, by the end of the meal, the cold or dulled tastebuds was a horizon away.

Classic El Bulli starter. The Spherical Olives is a token El Bulli teaser for plebes like us. It was playfully enjoyable. The thinnest of olive "skin" barely keeps the olive "jus" together and the surprise is definitely a conversation starter if you have boring dining companions (not that I had any).

KW didn't care much for the Catalunya Tartar - a meatless tomato tartare - but I loved the intense but refreshing tomato flavour.

The thin toasts were rather bland and the foam was mere garnish but it didn't stop me from enjoying the dish.

The bread with tomatoes was the only dish I didn't like, mainly due to the fact that it was served cold.

The Avocado Roll was a dish I had seen on other blogs and I remember thinking it looked so pretty! Yes, I do occasionally think of very airy-fairy thoughts. I can't remember exactly what was so good about it but it was wholesomely wonderful - fresh, zesty yet indulgent.

The Jamon Iberico Croquettes might seem extremely average joe (or Jose) but they were commendably comforting. Creamy béchamel sauce pricked by the rich savory iberico jam encased within a thinly breaded cocoon.

I never cared much for potatoes and ometlette, 'cuse me, the tortilla but this is the tortilla to rule them all. We found a gratifyingly tasty Tortilla De Trempo that was stuffed with potatoes, onions and chorizos, further topped with tomato drops and garlicky mayonnaise. This is classic amped up Catalunya-style and we likey very very much.

While the suckling pig was undeniably tender, I was satisfied with two mouthfuls - in other words, I don't think I could stomach an entire hog of it. A touch of citrus lifted the usual humdrum mashed potato from being plebeian.

By now, you might have realised I'm not a paella person so I was really happy when the rest of the table voted in favour of the lobster risotto. The briny fragrance of the lobster was unmissable and every al dente rice grain was plumped up by the lobster broth.

The lobster roll might be the hipster flavour of the month but I would easily choose this over a lobster roll any day. Easily one of the most memorable dishes I've had all year.

The ribeye was surprisingly excellent. In fact, it could even give some steakhouses a run for their moolah. Intense, gamy and flavourful, I'm glad KW followed his gut and ordered it.

Yesh, I had to take a picture of the French Press because the copper-tinged pot is souvenir I was tempted to take home with me.

Desserts rarely excite me unless (yes, I'm generalizing) it comes out of a French kitchen. Strong flavours and interplay of textures, desserts at Catalunya were impressive.

I, for one, would definitely recommend the Creamy Almond Cake, which had a overdone-but-still-excitable molten centre and caramelized shell. Texture and zing was provided by the puckerish sorbet and cookie crumbles. I have been searching for a similar recipe but nothing comes close to this. Ugh.

Complimentary birthday brownies weren't news-making but they were a nice touch. 

My only gripe was that the loud dance-y music was rather off-putting (yes, I'm an old fogey at heart), otherwise, Catalunya is a place I would recommend for special occasions.

Friday, October 24

Genki Sushi, Orchard Central

We celebrated the intern-becoming-an-offical-member-of-the-team with lunch at her favourite restaurant Genki Sushi at Orchard Central. The guys were struck by the existence of Orchard Gateway - incredibly embarrassing. Anyho, it was super fun to watch the mountain tortoises take on the iPad ordering system. Good times. 

A very decent sashimi moriwase

Seaked salmon with pollack roe - top gun of the day

More salmon to boost our brain power

Seared fluke - always pleasing

Surprisingly good surf clam salad

Crunchy salmon skin

Vegetable kakiage with thin and crispy batter

Spicy salmon - likeable if you like heat with your kewpie. I do. 

Garlic-butter oysters, which I am told, were very good

Panko-crusted oysters - a weakness of mine

Overly starchy and forgettable 

More omega-3 for the little bun

Wednesday, October 22

Random bits, Seoul 2014

Love the passive-agreesive tone of the non-smoking warning

Travelling with kids tip #1: Pay for space. 
Service apartments rock, especially when you have a hyper-active 2 year who needs space to rrrruuuuunnnn! 

An pan from Sinsegae's bakery was amazingly packed with grounded red bean. 

A shitty version of an pan pancake... Don't you just love the quirkiness?

Travelling with kids tip #2: Take breaks.  
The cranberry muffin from Starbucks was surprisingly moreish. 

Travelling with kids tip #3: 
Bring along a partner who doesn't mind doing the heavy-lifting. 

Soft serve ice-cream brand Honey Creme

Liquid nitrogen ice cream Voila Noir

Parfait from Myeondong

Travelling with kids tip #4: Offer bribes that you can handle. 
That said, we never found an ice cream that hit the sweet spot in Seoul.

Travelling with kids tip #5: Prepare for the worst but hope for the best.
Your kids might surprise you. Above it all, stay "wish full" and awesome!