Sometimes all you need for a good meal is a plain cabbage salad in a chilled bowl followed by an incredibly light, flaky and juicy tonkatsu donburi.

Saboten is a chain of tonkatsu restaurants from Tokyo.  That’s pretty much all they serve here in Singapore, and they do it incredibly well at a reasonable price.  I never thought much of breaded pork before.  Consider me a convert.


9 Raffles Boulevard, #P3-01, (Parco Marina Bay)
+65 6333-3432

Tropical Bale

This was an oddity of a restaurant that G and I both enjoyed in Ubud.  While the food was a wonderful mix of local and French at a price perfect for the budget conscious, there were however a few quirks and not-so-good dishes that could be improved to make it the fine dining establishment that it strives to be.   Then again, sometimes a restaurant is that much more memorable because of what the chef tries to accomplish in a bold but imperfect manner.

Tropical Bale is better suited for a lazy afternoon idling over tea while enjoying the view of the rice paddies in back.  When we went at night however, the dim lighting coupled with the cavernous parlor created an almost spooky atmosphere made worse with a barely lit open kitchen bathed in harsh fluorescent.  Once seated however, the friendly staff and surrounding decorations conveyed a much warmer greeting.  The nostalgia pictures hanging on the wall implied a story of a local chef that may have once visited and possibly learned to cook in France, but we’ll never know since he was on vacation that week, leaving his very capable and young assistant in charge. Continue reading »

BLU Restaurant & Bar

Restaurant Week is now over in Singapore, and for the budget-conscious it was a great opportunity to dine at new (and old) restaurants that might not have been on your must-eat lists.  That said, a few of the participating restaurants are worth patronizing normally, and at $35/$55 per set menu during Restaurant Week they are an absolute steal.  This explains why a number of places were fully booked a mere 8 hours after registration opened.  Fortunately, I was still able to reserve a table at my top to-try for this year, BLU.

Modernist cuisine, or molecular gastronomy, is still a fairly novel field, so it’s always an adventure to try out a place daring enough to fuse laboratory experiments with cooking techniques.  While most of us may never have the chance to eat at Fat Duck, Allinea, or El Bulli, at least there are a few restaurants in Singapore like Fifty-three, Novus, and BLU, that incorporate cutting edge techniques to add avant-garde twists to classic dishes. Continue reading »

Le Bistrot du Sommelier – c’est si bon!

Our visit to Le Bistrot du Sommelier began as a mission to try tête de veau, a dish that we learned was rarely available as a special.  Fortunately, this rustic French bistro offers a number of other dishes that were all enjoyable, making a second (or many more) visit a certainty.   Since it was an impromptu family dinner with G’s brother M and mom A joining us, we were able to sample a variety of starters as well as take on the côte de boeuf, a signature dish.

True bistros are great finds in that they offer delicious and unpretentious food in a casual environment without breaking the bank.  There is also the added benefit of being able to order and enjoy wine without the need to have Parker’s latest wine guide handy.  Le Bistrot du Sommelier is a fine example of what I mean.  Other than the prices (it’s Singapore after all), this really is a welcoming place to enjoy a good rustic French meal without worrying about which fork to use.

While the printed menu options are limited, if you look on the walls, you’ll see the giant blackboard of beef-related offerings as well as seasonal specialties.  The Mont D’Or cheese high season had just ended in February, but they still had some in stock, so we ordered a 500 g serving along with an order each of the goat cheese salad, foie gras terrine, and escargot for our starters.

I should also mention that bistro food tends to be very rich and hearty.  The foie gras for instance came in a generous block that even for four liver lovers was quite plenty.  Similar with the salad as there was a bed of celeriac hidden beneath the greens.  Only the escargot came in a measly half dozen serving, but I can forgive them because of the wonderful accompanying sauce.  Our downfall though, was the Mont D’Or, baked with onions and ham.  Think fondue, but a mild taste and velvety creamy texture with a hint of pine.

By the time we finished appetizers, the women were ready to call it a day, but the heaviest items had yet to arrive.  Our mains were a shared 1 kg côte de boeuf that was beautifully cooked medium rare and smothered in onions and whole garlic cloves, and a classic steak tartare that was easily the best I’ve had in Singapore.    My only quibble was that it had a bit too much mustard and rough cut parsley.  The tartare beef was incredibly fresh with a great texture that would have been more apparent without the over-spicing.

We were all so stuffed that we passed on dessert.  Along with the tete de veau, desserts are also on our list of to tries for our next visit.  Le Bistrot du Sommelier is reminiscent of my favorite bistro that I always visit when I travel to Grenoble for work.  I don’t know or care if it’s the best in town or just average, all I know is that the service is friendly, the food is tasty, and experience memorable.


Le Bistrot du Sommelier
46 Prinsep St #01-01,
+65 6333 1982

Lunch @ Torisho Taka

G and I have added Torisho to “our must try for dinner” list due to our recent lunch experience there.  While we both have a fondness of Kazu Sumiyaki for our grilled food needs, it’s always good to have more options.  And Torisho is no stranger to quality; it’s the sibling restaurant of Aoki (which incidentally offers an amazing chirashi lunch).  The lunch selection is not fancy – mostly a selection of donburi, but each dish is well prepared and the prices are quite reasonable.  G went with the wagyu ($38), and I, the pork ($28). Continue reading »


G had a craving for a croque-madame and suggested that we eat at Hediard, a cafe and fine foods boutique that feels unabashedly old world with its dark interior and reserved upscale decor.  It was already 2pm by the time we sat down, and the lunch rush (if there was one) was well over.  Other than the Asian bohemian contently sipping coffee by the windowsill, the place was completely ours.  While an empty resto-cafe could have been a warning sign that the food wasn’t up to the standard of the prices charged (the food was great),  at least the ambiance was worth it so far.

Continue reading »

Kazu Sumi-yaki

We recently ate at Kazu Sumi-yaki with our favorite foodie cousins, S & L, and were pleasantly surprised that while the crowds have gotten bigger, the overall quality was still worth the wait and the price.  For grilled meat-on-a-stick cravings, this is still the place to go in Singapore.  Located in sketchy Cuppage plaza (home to waaay too many karaoke/hostess bars), Kazu has been serving up skewered meat for over a decade, but unlike some other once-notable restaurants, the chef/owner can still be seen daily, grilling away in the kitchen.

Continue reading »

Yakiniku Yazawa

Yakiniku Yazawa is a guilty pleasure that we secretly indulge in every few months.  It’s always the same ritual, a tacit nod of approval from the wife, followed by the anticipatory drive over to Mohammed Sultan, with a hurried stroll into the best yakiniku restaurant on the island.  Spur of the moment visits have become harder as the place is now much more popular than when we first visited almost a year ago.  Even on weekdays, reservations are highly recommended.  But a bit of advance planning is worth it for the consistent quality A5 Japanese wagyu.

The Yazawa company in Japan is a wholesaler of beef as well as restaurant operator.  They are known for serving high quality beef at affordable prices, and their first foray in Singapore is no exception.  The A5 grade wagyu  is flown in weekly, chilled, never frozen, which allows diners to enjoy authentic Japanese beef that is almost comparable to what you might eat in Japan.   The selection of cuts changes daily as the beef is brought in whole pieces and sliced here.  The friendly and helpful staff can help you select a good variety for your grilling delight.

Continue reading »

And the secret ingredient is… Tofu!

Long before Iron Chef aired its tofu-themed battle, Sasanoyuki had already been serving tofu-based meals for a few hundred years (open since 1691).  While the Iron Chefs and challengers typically create 4 or 5 dishes based on the theme ingredient, this restaurant delivers at least 9, that’s right 9, dishes where tofu is the star.  While it may be hard to imagine how this humble curd could be served up in so many ways without patrons leaving in bland disgust, our meal here really opened my eyes to the possibilities of tofu-based cooking beyond just adding it to soup.  Second to the all-beef based meal at Sutamina-En, the lunch at Sasanoyuki was my other favorite of the trip.

Continue reading »

Mmmm… Sushi for Breakfast

G and I were too tired (lazy) to head over to Tsukiji fish market at 430am to watch the tuna auctions, but we did make it over at what we thought was a very early 6am for a sushi breakfast at the “#1″ sushi stall in Tsukiji – Sushi Dai.  Turns out we weren’t the only ones.  When we arrived there were already at least twenty people waiting already.  So we queued.  After one hour the line had barely moved, but die die we would wait a couple more hours if need be in order to eat our fill of the freshest raw fish in town!

After two hours of waiting, we finally made it into the tiny twelve seater stall.  The omakase cost around 3500 Y, and included 10 nigiri of the chef’s choosing + 1 “gift” of our choosing.  Soup and a tuna maki were also included in the meal.  Not a bad deal considering the cost and quality of the fish.

Continue reading »