Ramen. It wasn’t really until our trip last year to Kyushu that G and I truly understood what the craze was all about. There is a local favorite, Taiho, that serves up a slightly greasy and salty tonkotsu ramen with pork rinds… mmm. Craving some noodles at home, I decided to learn just how difficult it would be to create a bowl from (mostly) scratch. Since I lack the patience to fry up rinds, I went with the next best thing- bacon. As luck would have it, the Momofuku ramen recipe happens to include this tasty internet meme as a key ingredient. In total, this dish took 3 days to make, but that was only because I also wanted sous vide crispy roast pork as well.
Wild Honey is reminiscent of a local hipster coffee shop replete with deep sofa-chairs and the latest trendy design magazines for your perusal. Their specialty is serving breakfast items from around the world all-day. While the food may not be mind-blowing fantastic or truly “authentic”, the dishes that we’ve tried so far have mostly been satisfying. The one big drawback is due to the cafe’s relative size, it gets packed early. By 10am on the weekends, expect at least a 20 min wait.
G and I stumbled upon Matsu awhile back on our way to eat at Torisho Taka (they are neighbors). The restaurant serves mid-ranged Japanese-French fare in a semi-formal setting, equally appropriate for a date night or business lunch. Since the set menu prices seemed reasonable and the reviews online were generally decent, we decided to try a little fusion one weekend.
The lunch prices are comparable to lunch deals available elsewhere (or next door for that matter), but diners have a few different price options to choose from for more variety or courses. Since this meal was breakfast/lunch, we elected to order the “Matsu Set” – a six course meal for $58.
If there is one must-try restaurant in Singapore, it’s André. Do yourself a favor and eschew the fine-dining “chain” establishments at MBS and RWS. Instead, try a place that is uniquely Singaporean and deservedly world-class. The New York Times recently listed Restaurant André as one of their 10 restaurants worth a plane ride, and it is also one of only 3 restaurants from Singapore on the top 100 list. Despite having been opened for some time, the restaurant still commands a 4 week reservation time. The wait however is more than worth it as André is the epitome of what fine dining should be – personal, flawless, and memorable.
The restaurant is a cozy 30-seater that only accommodates one service each evening since the 10-course meal can last 3+ hours. There are no set menu options, but as our party of four experienced, dishes can be substituted or adjusted quite radically on demand. The service here leans more towards warm and casual, always present but never a distraction. Towards the end of the evening, Chef André makes the rounds, spending time chit chatting with the diners and happily answering questions. Even though there were other diners around, the personal attention from chef and staff made us feel like we were the only guests that evening.
On one of the rare family nights that everyone agreed to try some place new, we decided on Torisho Taka (since last minute reservations at Kazu are nigh impossible for large groups these days). G and I had been there for lunch and found the food to be quite good, and as the sister restaurant to Aoki, one would expect a certain level of excellence at Taka. Their specialty is sumiyaki, with cooked dishes as a secondary attraction. The ingredients are fresh and primarily from Japan.
It’s been awhile since I’ve had time to cook/bake anything of interest. Truth be told, G and I have been so busy with the baby countdown and personal to-do checklists (buy baby stuff, clean baby clothes, change jobs, more baby stuff) before D(elivery)-Day that we’ve eaten out a bit too much (also on our to-do list: top 10 ramen joints, Andre…). Still, I did find some time last week to try and make a more “local” macaron.
Kaya is a spread (made from coconut milk, egg, sugar, and pandan leaves) that is great with butter on toasted bread. The first time I ever tried it was actually back in SF. G was so excited to find it available at our local Ranch 99. Here in Singapore, there are definitely more varieties of kaya that range in taste and color, from brown to green. I’m not enough of a connoisseur to tell you where to find the best kaya, and so I normally just reach in the fridge and grab whatever is available.
G and I have a fondness for mom and pop restaurants. Back home, we had Tekka, run by an elderly Japanese couple in their sixties. While we’ve come across a few places like that here, none have made an impression quite like Ooi. The restaurant is run by an adorably friendly obasan with her chef husband, the creator of straightforward and downright tasty meals. It might just be our new favorite (but pricey) spot for a good Japanese home-cooked meal.
Hidden in the basement of Cuppage Plaza, it’s unlikely that one would happen to stumble upon Ooi. This could explain why it’s filled predominantly by regulars, and why we were the only new faces that evening. It’s a small restaurant, seating maybe 20 people. The wife, Hiromi-san, alternates serving dishes, chatting with the guests and taking shots of shochu. Fortunately, she has two other staff to ensure that food is promptly served and drinks always filled.
Apologies for the dark and blurry photos. My DSLR doesn’t exactly fit in a suit pocket, and the dim lighting at the Amara Sanctuary on Sentosa was not so S95 friendly. This World Gourmet Summit event had one of the most interesting meals, food-wise, that I’ve had in quite a while, made even more amazing given the size of the dining crowd and the relative complexity of the courses. The meal was almost a perfectly executed banquet feast by guest Chef Michael Ginor, co-founder of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, and chef/owner of LOLA, New York.
The occasion, umm… well it doesn’t really matter. It was a fête that I had the opportunity of attending instead of G. There was a long ceremony at the start involving the well-heeled in a scene that I can best describe as: the Free Masons threw a party and invited the “party
-goers from Eyes Wide Shut. This lasted well over an hour… and no food was served. Fortunately for us, we had unwittingly stood near the kitchen entrance before the start of the event and were treated to first choice of all of the mouth-watering hors d’oeuvres.
G and I dined at Absinthe a few months after it had opened. That meal was one of our most memorable dining experiences in Singapore thus far. So, we were excited to have an opportunity to return as well as introduce T & A (A’s review here) to “that French place” that I had raved about forever.
Our second visit, while enjoyable, didn’t quite have the impact or warmth as the first. Like most other restaurants in Singapore, popularity can change a place, seldom for the better. Gone is the amazing hospitality that G and I first experienced, replaced by remarkably efficient yet cold and distant service. So much so, that the staff hardly said a single word to us the entire evening (not even bothering to explain each course), yet they diligently refilled our water and addressed our few dining issues quickly and graciously. While I can no longer recommend Absinthe for remarkable service, the food is still quite good, well thought-out and executed.