Saturday, July 31, 2010

Coffee Club: Rise and Shine to Breakfast!

The weekend is here! While many working people prefer to sleep like there's no tomorrow (at least I do), a good breakfast does lure the lazy one to willingly crawl out of bed!

I'm not sure since when Coffee Club started serving its breakfast menu, but I was roaming about Millenia Walk one morning waiting for my girlfriend when I spotted its outlet. Reasonably priced with an array of selections, I reckoned its worth a try!

I liked its quiet environment and the blend of green/blue cushioned seats, made one felt relaxed and wanted to just simply laze around. They even had a wide range of magazines free for you to browse! Service was prompt and polite, topping up ice water as and when necessary.

Mushroom Bruschetta ($6.80)

Served on toasted loaf pieces, the mushroom slices were earthy and juicy, topped with melted cheese and herbs, while the scrambled eggs were served hot and fluffy with a dash of pepper. Nothing fanciful, but something light and comforting to kick start your day!

Complementary Coffee and Cookie

Have a sip of their house coffee (the stains look ugly I know, my fault for swirling it!) and nibble on the cranberry cookie. Flip through magazines, read the daily news or like me, explore fellow foodies' adventures so I can have ideas for dinner. Come on, there's no rush at all!

Bill for one was $8.00 after taxes. I was pretty satisfied with my breakfast and the cosy ambience, already tempting me to return for their other choices! How will you begin your weekend morning?

Coffee Club
9 Raffles Boulevard #01-47B/53/54, Millenia Walk
Tel: 6337 7848

Taken with Nikon D70
Thursday, July 29, 2010

GoGo Curry: Edible Black Gold!

I got a thing for Japanese Curry. When I was young, the two things that ballooned me to obesity was baked potato with sour cream and bacon bits from Olivers' Sandwiches (Anyone remembers them?), and japanese curry packets from $1.99 Shop (Rings a bell too, anybody?) There was something addictive about that spiceless brown mixture that went so well with plain rice. A lot of rice. So it always excites me to see new shops specialising in them!

GoGo Curry hailed from Tokyo Japan, with a single outlet in New York and Singapore being its 2nd stop outside Japan. With its signature Gorilla, it occupied one of the basement stores in Ion Orchard with their own sit-in area. I liked the idea of introducing their curry rice in different classes, as it allowed people of varying appetite to suit their needs. Pay at the counter, get your number stand and wait for it to be delivered to your table!

Canned Green Tea ($1.50)

Not serving tap water, the two of us decided to share a can of drink. Trust them when they said "No Sugar", as it was really one for the purist with slightly bitter taste. Again, I would prefer such tea in the hot state.

Grand Slam ($18.50)

Don't know which one to choose? Try everything! Girlfriend and I shared the largest platter that came with Pork cutlet, Chicken Cutlet, Grilled Sausages, Breaded Prawn, Hard Boiled Egg, and loads of cabbage shreds. That's a mouthful!

I eagerly tucked into the curry and it certainly didn't disappoint. Thick, gooey and close to black in colour, the rendition here was mildly spiced and very rich in flavour, exactly the type that would have been simmered with vegetables for a natural sweet aftertaste. Definitely met my anticipation!

The cutlets on the other hand, was more of a letdown. While the batter was delightfully crispy and light, the meat itself was rather dry and tasteless, which in turned made the juicy little sausages stood out. Prawn was standard while I loved to drench the egg yolk in curry and paired it with a mouthful of rice!

Wiped Clean!

Though marred by the cutlets, I'm willing to give it another try as I was told by a friend that they were really well done during her visit, and without a doubt for one of the best japanese curry gravy found on our island. Also, there's a third reason..

Credits: GoGo Curry Singapore

Clearing most of the Grand Slam portion by myself, I was convinced that I got hope of attaining weekly top 3 during the actual challenge. I really wanted to take part in the competition last week, but my wisdom tooth was killing me and I could barely open my mouth wide enough, leaving me with no choice but to postpone it. Just temporarily!

GoGo Curry
#B4-55 ION Orchard
Tel: 6509 4555
Check out their website for menu and competition records!

Taken with Nikon D70
Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Crystal Jade HK Cafe: 茶餐厅 Goes Chic!

The craze on Hong Kong Cafes had certainly died down these days, no more newspaper features or new entrants into the market. First thing first, I feel that none of these cafes are actual replicas of those in Hong Kong, more of modified variants that had been suited to local tastebuds. Despite knowing that, I was still curious enough to check out what this one could whip up!

Located at Orchard Central, the cafe is a casual eatery operated by the Crystal Jade group. Decor was modern and vibrant, furnished with colourful seats and gleaming lights, while the booth sides had splendid unobstructed view of Somerset Road and beyond. You could self-service and tick on the paper menu yourself, or the efficient waitresses would gladly do it for you too.

Iced Milk Tea ($3.90)

The things they do to glam up a humble cup of milk tea! Served in a tall flask with dried ice smoking from the hole, you would then pour the milk tea into a slanting shooter for drinking. I thought that it did has the wow factor initially, until you got tired of pouring and tempted to drink straight from the flask instead!

Gimmick aside, the milk tea itself was of rather good quality, nothing less than what I would expect of Crystal Jade. Then again given the above-average price, you were probably paying more for the effect than the tea!

Club Sandwich ($7.90), Deep-fried Mid Wings ($5.90)

Now that's something I would agree with for afternoon tea! Double-decked ham and cheese fillings with refreshing tomato and cucumber slices, heaps of hot fries and a bunch of in-house salad. You could even share this as a side!

It was my fault that I thought it was coated with their signature prawn paste, but the usual wings were nonetheless nicely done with crispy coating and juicy meat.

Steamed Rice in Lotus Leaf ($8.80), Seafood Baked Rice ($10.90)

Both dishes used fried rice with egg as base, a good change from the plain ones. While the Chinese sausages, mushrooms and pork ribs were nicely marinated, fragrance from lotus leaf was clearly lacking. The baked rice to put it bluntly, was just run-of-the-mill.

Bill for three was $53.20 after taxes. Hits and misses, I would probably return if I were in the vicinity for teatime, with my verdict on local HK cafes remain unchanged. Maybe I will bring my own extended straw to sip from that flask too!

Crystal Jade Hong Kong Cafe
#07-05 Orchard Central
Tel: 6509 3118

Taken with Nikon D70
Sunday, July 25, 2010

Patite Patisserie: Design Your Own Mousse Cakes!

This is an invited session

In the past, creating your own cake literally meant buying the ingredients, mixing them and baking one from scratch. As much as we loved to have personalised cakes, the thought of going through the tedious process stopped most of us, not even mentioning the expensive cost of baking oven and horrors of a failed lump of dough that was meant for a special someone.

And this, is where Patite Patisserie comes in!

From the team behind The Patissier, the concept of Patite Patisserie is to provide fuss-free personalised cakes in the comfort of your own home. While DIY cakes is not exactly a new idea around, what sets them apart is that their range of frozen mousse cakes promised premier ingredients and fresh taste right out of the box. To celebrate its launch, a bloggers' preview was held last Saturday at Hotel Re!

Chocolate Dream, Strawberry Delight, Mango Madness

Available in three flavours, the cakes came topless and was entirely up to you to decorate. The chocolate one had a thicker rich layer on top as oppose to the mousse cream in between, strawberry was refreshing with a tinge of sourness but my personal favourite would go to the mango, as I liked how it was natural tasting unlike most that would hit you in the face as being artificially sweetened.

Halfway through the event, the organisers demonstrated how really easy it was for anybody to come up with good-looking cakes. Layers of waffle biscuits, some fruits here and there, and a sprinkle of rainbow rice..

Voila! Done within 5 minutes! And to prove their point that anybody can do it, we were given hands-on opportunities to play with an entire cake each! Presenting to you:

Guarding the Harvest, kitchens of Shaguri-la

Phoebe and Chloe's pink fantasy with two cute ducklings guarding their strawberries, surrounded with Pocky fences.

THE Chocolate Cake, kitchens of Riz Cartons

Fen and Yuan's simplistic naming, but tastefully designed chocolate indulgence with a touch of berries, wafers and ladyfingers

The PREMIUM Chocolate Cake, kitchens of Sweeotel Standford

Elaine's professional creation with artistically-placed berries selection and trimmed ladyfingers

Fruity Paradise, kitchens of Ah Hung Confectionery, your neighbourhood friendly store with $1 pandan waffle

Guess whose I-like-to-have-alot-of-strawberries-and-chocolate-rice-and-lets-add-an-open-oreo-too creation?

At the usual price of $25 per cake (Optional decoration kit at $13.80), I thought that it was slightly pricey as you would definitely spend additional amount on toppings, which pushed your overall costs even higher. Also, I have to say that I'm not a fan of mousse cakes as they are usually too light for my liking, so I might not appreciate how good these were as opposed to other mousse cakes.

Then again, its only my personal preference and Patite Patisserie might just hit the right spot for mousse cake lovers who are willing to spend a little more for some creativity funtime and unique presentation! How will your cake look like?

Patite Patisserie
Available for online orders or walk-in purchases at Meidi-Ya Supermarket, Liang Court
Check out their website for more ongoing promotions!

Special thanks to Celena Ho of OC Group Pte Ltd for the invitation!

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, July 23, 2010

Travel: Sights and Sounds of 西门町, Taipei ROC

Taiwan, probably the only place in the world where you could have an entire building of KTV

A buddy of mine went to Taiwan today for a week of study exchange, and I can't help but to be reminded of the fantastic trip I had with friends a year back. Taiwan is a Singaporean's favourite, particularly among students for its cheap expenses and pop culture. A five hours flight would bring you straight to the exciting city of Taipei, and another hour of coach ride towards its hip, shopping district of 西门町!

Where I stayed, and a 鼎茶 outlet conveniently located beside its entrance

Popular among Singaporeans, Rainbow Hotel was situated smack in the centre of 西门町, room rates were very affordable at less than S$60 per head per night for a 5-person room (Two double, one single). Amenities were decent and clean, providing you with a comfortable good night sleep, waking up to a simple complimentary buffet breakfast and very friendly/helpful receptionists.

One of the main streets, shopfronts and a mega KFC

In some way, 西门町 reminded me somewhat of Hong Kong's shopping areas, with the colourful neon lights, rich "2nd-level-shops" culture and clattering of voices and music everywhere. The crowd here leaned towards teenagers, with many fashion/lifestyle shops, gaming arcades, cinemas and fuss-free dining.

鸭肉扁, 阿宗面线

Speaking of food, these two were highly recommended by our guide book, both having their own rich history and loyal supporters. The Large Intestine Mee Sua was simply the best I had eaten, which the alternatives in Singapore came nowhere close!

Smelly tofu, street vendors and instant noodles in 7-11s

There were also dozens of other street snacks for you try. Grilled sausages, braised items, fried dumplings, scallion pancakes, the list went on! Operating way past midnight, what particularly amusing was the sight of street vendors running away from Police patrols at regular intervals, who were really just appeasing rent-paying shop owners with no real intention to detain anyone at all.

Even the convenience stores here seemed so much more shoppable! Interestingly, there were so many of them that Taiwanese came here for their daily essential needs. The beef noodles that I raved about? Get cartons of them here!

Product launch, a typical eatery

Weekends at 西门町 were always happening: mini-concerts, album launch and book-signing events, live dosages of Taiwan showbiz! And when you got tired of star-gazing, you knew that there would always be something tasty nearby to fill you up!

Click here for my first food write-up on 西门町

All shots taken by Weiliang with his Canon 450D
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pine Garden: Wedding Sweets!

Let me confess, I haven't been to much weddings. In fact, its countable with a single hand. That being said, I'm extremely poor when it comes to traditional procedures, and my mom told me that its customary for the Groom to buy little boxes of sweets (or cake vouchers), while the Bride will go around distributing them to invited guests! Enlightenment please, Fen and Yuan? =)

A family friend's daughter recently got married (Congrats Kitty!) and instead of the usual big bakery brands, she sourced for something more unique as gift cakes!

Post-Note: It should be Raspberry instead of Strawberry Jam. Apologies for the error.

Located in the neighbourhood of Ang Mo Kio, Pine Garden is apparently a small but reputable bakery that were well-known for their cake selections (described to me by a Singaporean friend). No offense to their fans, but I have never heard of them before so I was rather curious to explore within the box!

To my delight, the assortment was very visually appealing, with each item being handpicked and smartly arranged. I'm not going into molecular details of describing them (No good at that anyway), but a quick overview on each one!

Marble Cheesecake - Smooth and creamy, base was a little too harden though, should have let it chill awhile more out of the fridge.
Blackforest Sponge Cake - Nicely sweetened with berries without feeling overly artificial, light cream sandwiched in-between alcohol-infused sponge.

Citrus Drop- Cute pattern on the top, nice strong lemon flavour without tasting like detergent.
Pistachio Chocolate Sponge Cake - Chocolatey sponge with rather thin chocolate cream, thicker layers please!

Lychee Martini Sponge Cake - Best among all! Loved the juicy fruit bits and liquor-soaked sponge! On my watchlist if were to buy a whole cake!
Strawberry Cream Sponge Cake - Very ordinary

Coffee Sponge Cake - Another nice one with prominent coffee flavour
Raspberry Jam Tower Cake - Better than the strawberry cream, with chocolate sponge and cream
Orange Jelly Tower Cake - Similar to above but with orange jelly and vanilla sponge instead.

If you realised, Pine Gardens used really basic ingredients (sponge and whipped cream repeatedly) and infused them with fruit flavourings, delicately crafting every one of them. It might not use exquisite ingredients or expensive seasonal fruits, and honestly it might not even taste as good as many boutique patisseries out there.

But at the end of the day, it is the heart that really matters, with the pretty little things carrying the sincerity of the newly-weds, sharing the joyous occasion with their guests! Here's to a blissful ever after!

Pine Garden
Blk 529, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10, #01-2369/2329
Tel: 6457 6159

Taken with Nikon D70