328 katong laksa, katong

surprisingly fantastic laksa in katong, one of a couple famous places serving this dish. I have eaten laksa less times than the fingers on one hand, and its very attributes are the reasons why I typically eschew local food: too-much-richness as with the coconutty soup and chilli oil, too-much-carbness as with the large bowl of noodles with nominal pieces of protein, and too-much-stress from the heaviness that calls for a post-eat run.

but, this was delicious.

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flowers for sunday

I thought I’d share this set of photos from a visit to the gardens by the bay, and its two beautiful conservatories.

I’m totally taking this weekend to show you the beauty of singapore – and celebrating our man-made (but wonderfully¬†so) garden city.

back to food programming tomorrow (or more realistically, sometime next week)!

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gorgeous singapore

it seems the right time to say thank you, to the extraordinary man that transformed our island.

we had a three-hour bicycle ride on the past weekend, during which I burnt a million shades of brown, riding from east coast park to satay by the bay. it’s a beautiful ride, mostly bike track and a little bit off-road, and I pedaled along in my rented BMX (because I’m cool like that), marveling at our tiny island.

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temper by anjali chocolate, loewen road

this is a tale of chocolate, and of chocolate-making in a kitchen that isn’t mine, but that I dearly wished was.

let’s start off with a confession: my favoritest, bestest, most comfortest chocolate to eat is the kit kat, original. now quiet down, you all – the story starts with an a love for dark chocolate, climaxes with an epiphanic (in a bad way) bar of 99%, and finishes with an ever-ongoing love for sugar milk chocolate and bonbons.

it’s weird that I’ve never thought of making chocolate now that I’ve done it – it’s almost as instant gratification as it gets, the flavor combinations are endless, and good chocolate gets expensive very quickly.

so it took an invite from anjali, a lovely, lovely second-careerist chocolatier to wipe these chocolatey finger smudges off my blinkered vision and show me the way of the chocolate.

set in a hard-to-find-but-totally-worth-it space in loewen road (if you thought dempsey was secluded, you don’t know this place), this beautiful black+white building has been refurbed to an air-conditioned chocolate-making palace complete with white walls and marble countertops (but of’cuz).

it was a brilliant time, but could it not be? the space is large enough for a dozen to putter about, sneaking bites of quality chocolate buttons and glasses of a decent chilean wine.

and anjali is like the cool aunt you’ve always wanted – she watches you to make sure you’re keeping safe and guides you along, but there’s no stressful mum-like hawk-eye-on-you.

the class was a truffle-making one, but anjali gave me the chance to make my dreamt-up bonbon – and so I set off to boil up a salted caramel (deliciously browned, even if u do say so myself) to fill a tempered, dark chocolate shell.

the three teams chocolate-ing that day came up with a delicious white-chocolate-and-coconut bonbon in a beautiful white shell, a mouth-cleaning oh-so-minty chocolate mint truffle, and our imperfect first batch of salted caramel treats.

honestly, it’s really difficult to go wrong with chocolate – it’s all about balance and quality, so the base of lovely belgian chocolate and the array of ingredients we had that day were just the icing on the cake.

plus, I loved the casual, homely vibe anjali had going (the wine helped, too) – and the education: she can go deep into the technicalities if you like, and keep it layman otherwise.

she’s marketing the place for events and bonding classes – and while they might cost a pretty penny (not unexpected, given the quality of chocolate and the beautiful space), I can see why she would. the place is intimate and cosy, a little sanctuary in the city full of chocolate and sweets, and wonderful for an adult day out.

Temper by Anjali Chocolate
73 Loewen Road #01-16
Singapore 248843
tel +65 9853 9663

p.s. Anjali makes her own chocolates too, and they are both tasty and gorgeous (and so perfect in their handmadeness) – you can totally skip the makin’ and go straight to the eatin’.

thanks, anjali, for the visit and the lovely lesson!

pantler, tanjong pagar

good little cakes and entremets in this newish, tiny cafe in tanjong pagar manned by young folk who seem to know (and enjoy) what they’re doing. a long counter laid out with slightly-over-ten cakes and croissants on the side, this place escapes that now-boring industrial layout of wood and exposed brickwork for a clean, modern, and perfectly enjoyable venue in which to sit down and have some cake.

close in offerings to the now-everywhere antoinette, this place has a little more of what you hipsters would call soul character, provided in most part by the neat rows of sweets and earnest (but not pushy) folks behind the counter.

we ordered nine cakes (possibly more, and not counting double orders), and despite delaying everyone’s caketification (like gratification, but with cake) taking photographs, I’ve only ended up with two that I’m pleased enough to show you.

but let me paint the scene for you – because you come here for my writing, don’t you?

all the cakes were gorgeous: well made and executed, with glossy glazes on the fancy ones, and a pleasing craggliness in the rustic, simpler cakes. my favorite was the yatsura, a dark chocolate (what else?) slice of moussey goodness, but the crumbly cheesecake was very much a favorite (I think we had three orders of those).

we didn’t take his recommended bests, like a tiger-ed sponge roll and creme caramel – so you might want to give those a go yourself, if so inclined.

I wouldn’t say this was the best cake shop, or epiphanic, but it has a quiet charm coupled with perfectly-good-for-teatime cakes – and I enjoyed how much the people behind the counter seemed to enjoy their work. definitely worth a visit, and bring a crowd (despite my reputation for sweets, I did not eat these on my own) so you get to share.

198 Telok Ayer Street
Singapore 068637
tel +65 6221 6223
$$: <10 a cake

level33, marina bay

good fusionish european dining high up in the financial district – this is the first time I’ve done a full meal here, and it was a good one. it’s on the pricey side, but at least the dishes were pretty stellar, and the muscato and beers are reliable.

plus, you very seldom have the option of starting dinner in an air-conditioned, comfortable place (it’s far too hot for an entirely al fresco meal these days), before proceeding outdoors to a fantastic view for some dessert and a sip of something-something.

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satay by the bay

a short one for a bad one – this one was nearly on the same scale of disappointing as the refurbished lau pa sat. I had read rather lackluster reviews about this place before visiting, but one must appease one’s mother confirm such opinions, so we came here for supper one late saturday night.

the turn into the carpark is a pretty out-of-the-blue sharp ninety-degrees, so be careful – and we missed it once before finally arriving at a half-occupied complex smelling very strongly of satay (I know, duh, but this was a clothes-soaking, grease-sticking sort of smell). many stalls were actually closed, or closing (and it was only just before 10), so we settled only for a plate of chicken and beef satay and some cut fruit to wash away the fattiness.

I applaud the effort that went into creating such beautiful space, but really, it’s nothing without good hawkers. the satay was average at best, and could do with rendering a bit more fat and grease, and the fruit was cheaper than I expected.

neither of which makes for good advertisement or reason to return, however.

Satay by the Bay
18 Marina Gardens Drive
Singapore 018953
$$: 5-15 a person (it really depends on what you’re ordering)

river safari, singapore

how is it Monday again! but I thought I’d help start it off on a good note with these gorgeous (even if I do say so myself) photos of the animals at the river safari.

I recently posted about my trip to the Singapore zoo, which was an interesting visit made even more special through nostalgia – and the river safari certainly doesn’t have the same handicap distinction, given its recent opening in the past year or so. but I massively enjoyed my day out here. there’s just so much to see, and I can even bear the outdoors for the joy of being out there (notable for I truly detest being under the sun).

plus, there are pandas. those make up for nearly everything.

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potatohead folk, keong saik road

eh, okay, burgers at this trendy singaporean outpost of a balinese cool hangout. located at hipster keong saik road, in a building that once belonged to a much-loved cze char place, this place is fashionable and knows it.

the food isn’t bad, but it’s rather pricey for what is essentially an upscale burger boutique, with a menu comprised of a dozen burger options and some sides and desserts to go with. and while it isn’t as overwhelming impressive as the hype made it out to be, it does make for a decent enough meal (just a rather expensive one, and with pretty bad service).

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fleeaway cafe, little india

uhm, meh. this is going to be short; I’ve held this one back, in the hope that time would smooth away the disappointment, but it hasn’t worked, and one must move on.

the cafe decor was more impressive than its food. full of kitschy, nostalgia-inducing knick-knacks of your (just me?) childhood, this place is a collection of hipster-style collectibles that serve both as merchandise and decor. set against a rather aesthetically-pleasing turquoise backdrop, the place makes for fantastic photography.

I tasted two items here as part of an event: a sweet potato salad, and their oh-so-famous laksa-in-dough-fritter (or more colloquially, youtiao).

the salad was pretty enjoyable – the sweet potatoes were of the japanese purple-skinned, white-fleshed variety, and were rather a balm to the sweet tooth. tossed atop a mixed salad of young leaves and halved cherry tomatoes, it was refreshing and substantial, though with quite a bit more mayo than was required.

but I took issue with the laksa-in-fritter. just to break it down – laksa is a rich, coconutty noodle dish redolent with chilli oil and not at all something I would stuff between deep-fried dough halves.

but I give it its due for novelty, and perhaps my lack of appreciation of it could be due to a personal bias for lighter, more balanced food.

not quite my sort of thing.

Flee Away Cafe
70 Dunlop Street
Singapore 209398
tel +65 6291 6778
$$: 20 per person