happy national day, singapore

you awe me year after year – and may you stay beautiful, strong and resilient.

x

I had the opportunity to attend the first preview parade for 2016 (an excellent initiative on our government’s part to ensure more people get to watch the show every year), our first at the national stadium in years. it was excellent, as always, but I do wish we could have retained the mobile column and the red lion segment.

the celebratory song is excellent this year too – catchy and upbeat, and it gets you going. happy national day, everyone!

pita pan, marina bay sands

this is one of my favorite places to grab a meal – and even if prices appear to be rising and the portions gradually reducing, and the flavors a little less robust than when I first tried them a couple years ago, it still hits the spot rather perfectly.


I love mediterranean/ middle eastern food – and this tiny place on the outside of the marina bay sands shopping mall has a simple menu of a few choice dishes (and various flavored permutations).

I tend to order the same thing: hummus, shakshuka, falafel and tabbouleh – all which give you a good spread across both flavor and texture spectrums. the homely falafels are particularly savory and delicious, and any heaviness is offset by the fresh, herbacious tabbouleh (with juicy pomegranate seeds dotted throughout).

the red shakshuka tastes better to me than the green – and everything goes quite nicely with the triangles of heated pita that arrive alongside.

it’s a simple meal, and a nice way to catch up with friends (or spend some alone time) – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Pita Pan
L1-87, Bay Level (on the outside, near the ArtScience Museum)
2 Bay Avenue,
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, The Shoppes
Singapore 018972
tel +65 6688 7450
$: 15ish

zafferano, clifford pier

ok, ok, I ate here during restaurant week – which was in.. october? WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?!

decent food, good view, quiet cosy-type environs all done up in dark tones – it’s a safe choice for dates, and its location in the CBD is plenty convenient.

I will say though, that the photographs of zafferano are a little nicer than the actual restaurant is, but at least the food and service pass muster. and – they have a stellar tenderloin on offer that was quite utterly delicious.

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napoleon food & wine bar, telok ayer

cute little wine bar hidden away in telok ayer run by a legit frenchman, filled with an impressive number of wine bottles and plenty of artwork with (slightly lame-o) alcohol-derived puns.

they serve plenty of nibbles and mains here to go with your glass of wine – but beware: the sharing plates aren’t small, and the well-seasoned, rich flavors almost necessitate sharing.

take the home-made terrine of foie gras, for example, which had the goose liver mix served with fig chutney, a balsamic reduction and a small roll of bread. this is plenty rich, and slightly overwhelming in such a large portion (large for me at least, since I do not favor the liver), but that chutney was delicious and helped to keep the dish fresh.

the hand-cut angus beef tartare was perhaps my favorite starter: served with a raw yolk, capers, and crunchy diced white onions. stir in plenty of pepper, mustard and just a touch more salt, and it is delicious. crispy hand-cut wedges came on the side, flavored with parmesan and truffle. all in all, super moreish.

the angus beef tenderloin has that same meat seared pink and served with a creamy gratin dauphinois, ratoutouille and a red wine sauce. but the carrot puree that arrived bright orange was the star of the show: soft, silky, and very pure-tasting (though the texture is slightly reminiscent of baby food).


the shrimp truffle capellini felt particularly asian, especially with those bits of salted seaweed strewn throughout. the noodles were well-cooked, and there were plenty of shrimps to break up the texture – it’s a nice fusionesque dish, and a light-tasting option if you’re looking for some substance.

but if you’re in for something rich, the lobster risotto is definitely the way to go. it was a particularly creamy (and wet) rendition, with tender grains of acquarello rice and al dente asparagus dice to break up the texture. and I haven’t even mentioned the lobster, which comes in nice thick slices and as sweet as you’d want.

the last part was definitely the best – but how can you go wrong with chocolate? a mi-cuit (half-cooked) canelle – I have never had one like this before – that had an oozy, oozy, molten centre, next to good vanilla ice cream and coffee crumbs. not to forget the slab of chocolate ganache though, and my goodness was that fudgy and rich and good.

it’s a small piece of parisian bistro in sunny singapore, and a very nice one run by a friendly frenchman. they know their food here, and it’s a lovely place to grab some wine after work on the weekdays. definitely one to try.

Napoleon Food & Wine Bar
206 Telok Ayer Street
Singapore 068641
tel +65 6221 9282
$$.5: 35ish onward

thanks to the entertainer and napoleon for the lovely meal and wine!

wingzone, bugis+

perfect-for-students and binge-day casual dining a few steps above regular fast food in bugis+. if you spent most of your university days (this applies more to men than women, and of course I’m generalising) surviving on take-out and fast food, this place will bring back memories (most especially if you did that tour while in the US).

conceived by two starving students in Georgia who just couldn’t fathom another slice of pizza, this place has nearly twenty years of experience behind it, and more than its fair share of expanded waistlines.

it’s no diet food for sure, but those wedges are well-worth any guilt.

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pasta fresca da salvatore, boat quay

ah, the lure of pork fat and cheese – and wine and pasta. I have a soft spot for italian eating – it’s hearty and delicious, and comforting and fresh with its honest, clear flavours.

pasta fresca da salvatore has been around for quite a while (nearly three decades!), and it’s one of those places that feels spectacularly appropriate for a cozy dinner with friends and wine. I was gobsmacked by the sheer range of food on the menu – as so would you be, even ignoring the fact that they allow you to customize anything from the noodle to the sauce they sit in (very good for fussy eaters who insist on customising their food a particular way – hi mum!)


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the populus coffee & food co., bukit pasoh

very hipster, very young clientele, similarly young baristas – decent food on a rather impressively-large menu for a coffee-focused place, but rather too-cool-for-you service that could be a little off-putting if you’re an old, plodding person soul as I am.

but these places sure know how to use design to create ambiance – I loved the wood, cork and black metal used all over here, and look at these lovely vintagey amber glasses.

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li bai cantonese restaurant, sheraton singapore

average-ish cantonese fine dining at the basement of the sheraton – which is to say, it fulfills at least the baseline for the sort of eating you expect at this sort of establishment.

very traditional, quite heavy, not really inspiring. we had high hopes for this place: it’s an institution in its own right, and you’ll notice from its clientele that it draws many old-school regulars. but while I have a care for tradition, our tastes run to the lighter flavours associated with modern cuisine – and we found this place a little too conservative, and might I say, a little stifling.

this post is a little late – but the flurry of CNY (chinese new year) celebrations and the closing of the financial does not make for punctual blogging.

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salt tapas and bar, raffles city

immensely satisfying – and one would say incredibly surprising – brunch at this tapas bar under the luke mangan group at raffles city.

truth be told, I’ve walked past this place a million times, but it just looked too tourist-y to bother (I may have been easily misled by its location right outside a hotel and the scores of Caucasians who enjoy dining al fresco) – and that’s stupid, because the food here is well-thought out, well-balanced, and well, very good.



egg berentine with bonito flakes



spanish omelette with spicy sauce


scrambled egg with ratatouille, sauteed zucchini and toast

if you’ve been here – the brunch menu is new – and if you haven’t, there’s plenty to eat and drink. it’s an excellent selection that covers both Spanish classics and otherwise reimagined versions of classic brunch-type dishes – which makes it acceptable even to persnickety parents like mine.

you can almost smell the rustic Spanish town of your dreams – the place is classy but not at all fussy, the sunlight streams over you like you’re a yummy mummy with nought but champagne in hand, and the rather seamless transition from patio to dining room could only be designed for/ by Europeans.


chilli salt and pepper squid, yuzu mayo



taco of tempura soft shell crab, pineapple salsa, wasabi mayo


grilled sirloin with mash, watercress salad, poached egg and madeira dressing

what with the multitude of dishes we had – I’ve resorted to using captions (incidentally, do you like this format?). but can I say how excellent the whole meal was? the flavours were all Mediterranean-style clean and simple, the seasoning was just so, and it was just that balance of rich and not-so-rich that truly hit the spot (I mean, you want to feel/ fill like you’ve indulged, but you’re not getting any younger are you?).

my favorite dishes are (in no particular order): 1) the tortilla of tender potatoes encased in egg, with a pool of tomato sauce that I could have used more of; 2) the very beefy beef, seared till pink and juicy; and 3) the pork ribs, which were omgawd-good, doused in a piquant, savory sauce and served atop a smooth mash that my sister couldn’t stop eating.


oysters served au naturel, nam jim dressing



pork belly sliders, bbq pulled pork, pickled cucumber & chilli

did I think anything could be better executed? yes, of course, but I did eat plenty of the dishes in their already above-average state. for example, the soft-shell crab and ikura tortilla was quite a spectacular mix of Japanese flavours, but its wrap was a little too floury and brittle – can I suggest further toasting and a softer tortilla?

the salt and chilli squid were a rift off the classic Chinese salt-and-pepper flavours, and the strips were very moreish, but the batter could have been much crisper.


halloumi, eggplant, chickpea, dried tomatoes, herbs, tahini dressing


sumac-spiced veal & pork meatballs, mash fontina


BBQ pork ribs, mash, pickled onion, sautéed pea, edamame

and of course one must finish with dessert – here, a single slice of excellent French toast. this was quite mindblowingly excellent, with a crisp exterior and soft, custardy insides. excellent.


french toast, Okinawa ice cream, clotted cream, jam

I think, one of the best brunch places I’ve had recently – and there has been a long drought of these. the proof is in the fantastic pudding – and if you too, suffer from what I’d like to call middle-ageness and require more than a cup of hipster jo’ (there’s a good drink selection, too!) and paltry dishes to get along, then this is the place for you.

truly praiseworthy.

Salt Tapas & Bar
#01-22A, Raffles City Shopping Centre
252 North Bridge Road
Singapore 179103
tel +65 6837 0995
$$.5: 25-40 per person (depending on gluttony)