Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Fabulous Baker Boy: Al Fresco Brunching

No matter how much the Caucasians love it, I simply cannot stand dining alfresco in Singapore's weather. Heat in the day makes me sweat within a minute and even at night the humidity makes me feel sticky and irritated. Then again, I realise I will be missing out some great places that only embraces such aircon-less settings and are probably worth risking the heat for, which explained the trip to The Fabulous Baker Boy.

Located at the bottom of Fort Canning Park opposite Liang Court, the little cafe had an odd mix of tables and chairs at its alfresco area, with the air-conditioned indoor limited only to its cashier and a short stretch of bar bench. Well to be fair, the shelter and the good number of strong-blowing fans were enough to keep one cooled so its not that bad outdoor really. Order at the counter and have your food delivered to your table, fuss-free as you laze time away. Oh yes, do make reservations in advance or else you have to be really lucky to walk-in for a table on weekends.

Iced Latte ($5.40), Iced Tea ($3.00)

Choosing iced options for obvious reasons, the latte perked me up for the (not so early) morning while the house blend tea was pretty refreshing.

Towkay Ng’s Egg Benedict with Additional Mexican Sausage ($15.50), 3 Cheeses Pancake ($11.00)

Essentially two Egg Bens with sauteed spinach, there wasn't anything to fault with good-ol runny yolks and a creamy Hollandaise sauce, top up with sausages if you want a meatier bite. I'm not usually a pancake person, but one oozing with Mozzarella, Parmesan & Cheddar cheese sounded too good to be missed. Taste-wise, it wasn't cheesy overload either with the right balance of maple syrup and fluffy pancakes.

Total bill for two was $34.90 nett. Not too bad to be out in the sun (not literally I mean) once in a while to have a cuppa with pancakes, and having heard much about their pies and fried chicken waffles (woah) on the dinner menu, it will be worth a visit in the evening. Now I have to worry about mozzies, that is.

The Fabulous Baker Boy
70 River Valley Road
#01-15, The Foothills
Tel: 66948336

Taken with iPhone 5
Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tsukada Nojo: Oh That Collagen-ish Chicken Soup

As a Shangahainese, I have always been proud of my mum's chicken soup. Brewed with the indispensable JinHua Ham (金华火腿), it is so rich that it turns into wobbly jelly upon chilling. And over at Tsukada Nojo, I have found the Japanese (almost) equivalent of it.

Taking Singapore by storm a while back with insanely-long waits and sold-out-by-8pm scenes, the Japanese eatery at Plaza Singapura (Now with a second branch at Chinatown Point) specialised in hotpot made with their imported organic "Jitokko" chicken. The glass-walled kitchen tells it all as the chef busily scoops pudding-like chicken stock into pots all night. While dinner is still very packed with a maximum of 1.5hrs allowed for each table, the lunch crowd seemed to have eased as I could easily walk in for a bowl of ramen with the same chicken stock.

Nikumaki Onigiri ($3.00)

They also have a number of sides for you to nibble on as you wait for your pot, the most popular being their series of rice balls wrapped with bacon. Glazed with a savoury sauce, these tasty treats are rather large in size and better shared if you don't want to be overly stuffed. Additional toppings such as cheese or chilli are also available for extra flavours.

Bijin Nabe Set ($25.00 per pax)

And here it comes! Watch as the chicken pudding melts and boils over the induction cooker at each table, filling the air with pleasant whiffs that makes you anticipate its taste even more. The servers are also well-trained to educate customers if its your first time here, scooping the soup into sake cups and recommending you to take sips of it. And boy, how awesome it is indeed. With the intensity maxing out on a scale, it was the perfect comfort broth that makes you go "shiooookkkk" and addicted for more. The chicken meat itself was also tender and flavourful, even better than the kampong chickens we have. With soup refill allowed only once per person, be sure not to overboil the soup as to enjoy every drip of it.

Ingredient serving for two

Introducing the myriad of hotpot ingredients, the servers will also add these to your simmering broth, my personal favourites being the fresh prawn skewers, minced chicken balls and beancurd skins which soaked up the soup nicely. Very hearty mix of vegetables too.

Mochi Noodles

And when you are halfway through, ask for your serving of noodles that comes in the form of thin egg noodles, thick Mochi noodles and rice noodles. Despite not trying the other two, I was hooked on the the chewy mochi noodles on my first attempt and have been taking that every time then.

At $25++ per pax, I will think its money well paid for such excellent soup quality along with the variety of ingredients to go with it. If you have been following my Tumblr or Instagram (Yes, I'm finally instagramming), you will see that I have been lunching at the Chinatown Point branch to satisfy my craving. Heading for another round soon!

Tsukada Nojo
60A Orchard Road
The Atrium@Orchard (Plaza Singapura)
Tel: 63365003

Taken with iPhone5
Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Onaka: Fusion Attempt for (Previous) Restaurant Week

I was making reservations for the upcoming restaurant week (and surprising myself with the number of planned attempts!) when I realised that I haven't even write about the last one. Oops. As I don't believe in forking out extras for so-called "starred" restaurants (which the list grows longer everytime) and being kept in the dark by "surprise menus", my choices became easier and thus made a lunch booking at Onaka Restaurant & Wine Bar.

Located at the rather new Alexandra Retail Centre (aka PSA building), dining at Onaka is about fusion dishes made with consciously-sourced ingredients. With a clean, modern decor and comfy cushioned seats, it was quite a pleasant place to enjoy the 25++ 3-course set lunch.

Watermelon Sashimi, Curried Tomato Soup

With eye-catching presentation, the cold starter could definitely fool one as raw fish at first glance. Topped with roe-look-alike tiny wasabi balls, I have no idea how do you sous vide a watermelon (says so on the menu) but it had a soft texture while retaining the natural sweetness of the fruit. The accompanying soy sauce completed the sashimi look but was frankly odd to dip the watermelon slices in. Very intriguing concept!

On comparison, the soup looked boring but was still a sourish hearty one with tinge of curry spices.

Pumpkin Seabass, Wonton Mee V2.0

For the main courses, the fish was pretty well done with a coating of fragrant roasted pumpkin seeds and was moist and tender within. But the highlight got to be the upmarket remake of the hawker favourite, as we had al dente capelini, succelant sous vide chicken charsiew, and huge ravioli (wanton la) with crunchy prawn fillings. Oh yes, the topping of savoury cantonese-styled Conpoy XO sauce added much points as well. Now this is one upgrade that I can accept gladly.

Avocado and Chocolate Emotions, Lemon Cheesecake with Berry Compote

Layering of rich, creamy fruit butter with smooth chocolate mousse, what's not to like? Well it was indeed a fantastic creation but also probably one of the rare times that I would hope for a smaller portion, as it did felt heavy midway through. Again, the lemon cheesecake paled in comparison and acted like a neutralising dessert with its sourish flavours.

Complimentary Healing Tea

A much-appreciated gesture to top it off the 3-course meal, these herb teas cleansed the palate nicely.

While Onaka is still in the upcoming Restaurant Week, they have opted to remove the menu preview. Not a move that I will like to see but if they are still serving the same stuff, then I will say the unique concept and one-of-its-kind creations is surely worth a visit.

Onaka Restaurant & Wine Bar
#01-32, 460 Alexandra Road
Alexandra Retail Centre
Tel: 62702012

Taken with Nikon D70
Friday, September 06, 2013

4 Fingers Crispy Chicken: Munching on the other KFC

When I was in Korea, our student hosts ordered supper one night that came in the form of Korean-styled fried chicken. The sweet and sour drumlets and wings were very enjoyable after all that Soju and Makgeolli. While its not that yet common in Singapore, some Korean restaurants (Think Kko Kko Nara) have been serving them and even more conveniently, fast food places like 4 Fingers.

Located at the basement of Ion Orchard, it took me quite a while (years, rather) to finally queue and try out their stuff. With few counters and limited seats, waiting can be quite a hassle and not an ideal place to eat if you are in a rush. Hopefully their bigger, newer outlet at Plaza Singapura will be more attractive.

Katsu Chicken Sandwich Combo ($9.95)

Tucked within a fried yet thankfully not oil-guzzling bun, the chicken cutlets had a crispy outer layer while the meat remained tender and moist. The pairing of sourish kimchi coleslaw and fries made the sandwich all the more appetising.

12 Pieces Crispy Chicken Combo ($16.95)

Trying out both flavours, I preferred the ones glazed with Soy Garlic as it had a better savoury oomph than the Spicy. A pity that wings and drumlets were a tad too skinny and dried. Note that you are getting really just 6 full sized chicken wings as a wing and a drumelet is considered as two piece.

Bill for two was $26.90. A rather expensive fast food meal that wasn't particularly filling either. Now that it got me started, will head to BonChon Chicken and Nene Chicken soon for a comparison.

4 Fingers Crispy Chicken
#B4-06A, ION Orchard
2 Orchard Turn

Taken with iPhone 5