saveur art, ion orchard

I’ll start off with the best photo in this series, to make a point – it all looks gorgeous here, but I feel like the flavor fell short of expectation (both from reviews and looks).

this is the upmarket version of the much-lauded saveur restaurant in bugis, which is known for low-priced french cuisine – I didn’t like that one either, and this place strikes me the same way: the prices are low for a reason.

I don’t doubt there’s a strong selling point in making what is a typically expensive cuisine more accessible for the masses, and the food isn’t so subpar that you wouldn’t eat it – but I do think the prices are low because the portions are small, and the flavors are muted just because there doesn’t seem to be much in there to provide that flavor you’d expect.

so, not bad, but I feel like the hype can be attributed to the lower prices more than the food – and if you aren’t restrained by budget so much, I would recommend going somewhere else.

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tampopo, ngee ann city

I’ve always been curious about tampopo, given that it was rather popular quite a few years back, and there are healthy queues when I pop by town on the weekend. it’s the first time I’ve been here after walking pass so often, and I’ve got to say I’ve doubts as to whether there’s any point in coming here, since prices are about the same as sushi tei and ichiban boshi, and the flavours are nowhere as good.

it reminds me of watami quite a lot – both are relatively cheap japanese options with huge laminated menus suited for japanese food plebs. I also retract my “nowhere as good” from before, for I think it’s more that the food is rather rough around the edges, and not quite refined, akin to the sort of japanese food you get at a food court stall.

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watami japanese restaurant, bishan

this casual japanese eatery falls rather in the lower bound of mid-range japanese restaurants in singapre – the higher spaces filled by the likes of ichiban boshi and sushi tei – both in terms of marketing and food quality.

the food is decent enough for hump day (and any of those tough-going weekday nights), the menu extensive enough for repeat visits, and the price low enough to encourage the latter. think of this almost as a japanese cha chan teng – casual, family-friendly, but certainly not the sort of restaurant you bide time in.

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sushi tei, town

good japanese chain outlet at the top of the raffles city shopping mall. so you must know by now that sushi tei is one of our favourite places – it’s become our regular hangout for decently reliable food at reasonable prices, and this was the first time we made it to the raffles city branch. this outlet isn’t anything particularly special, but we made quite a few good choices on the menu this time (instead of sticking to our regular orders) and I’d like to share. just because I’m nice like that.

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ministry of food, bugis

decent japanese-style desserts at this chain of cafe-restaurants – this one at bugis. I love all that sort of textural jellies and pastes and starchy components you get in asian desserts – which is what I think western desserts sometime miss out on – and japanese desserts in particular incorporate many of these. I don’t know of many options in singapore where you can get really good versions of these desserts (unless you’re willing to pay quite a pretty penny), and so the mainstream japanese chains do a good enough job to sate my cravings.

the dessert menu here ranges from traditional items like sweet red bean soup with mochi (rice cakes), to slightly more western variations with soft serve ice cream and cocktail fruit, to modern items like green tea frappucinos. most of the things we’ve tried have been between the meh-to-good range.

what I really like here though, are these baked mochi puffs – essentially pieces of rice cake that you heat over a grill or in a hot oven that puff up like mad and create a crunchy crust and a chewy interior. served with kinako – soy bean powder, red bean paste and kuromitsu – a dark brown sugar syrup – this is one very good dessert. it’s also very good with a bit of matcha ice cream on the side.

sushi tei, serangoon (take 2)

I know I promised to share the recipe for sesame cake (so yum) with you, but let me just renege on that and show you some better quality photos of the food at sushi tei, which is one of my favourite japanese places in singapore to dine at. I know that many people sort of toss their heads at the mention of sushi tei as having good food – even my mother does – but I do not think I’ve visited another restaurant as frequently as I do this chain, and for good reason too.

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addie’s thai cafe, london

really good thai food at earls court. addie’s is pretty well known despite the fact that it’s more of a local than a destination restaurant, but the offerings of fantastic thai food at reasonable prices in london are less abundant than you might think. I generally like going to busaba eathai, but with a small-ish (comparatively) menu as compared to addie’s, the flavours there can get a little monotonous after a couple visits – and addie’s is brilliant for punchy thai meals.

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zizzi ristorante, hampton court

surprisingly great italian near the hampton court palace. so I’ve been to zizzi’s before, about two years into my stay in london, and I did not have a great time. the food was mediocre, service was hectic, the place was cramped – this was at the earls court outlet – and I left never wanting to come back. and I didn’t, until now, and it was great.

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balans, london

great simple brunch place along high street kensington. I used to live not ten minutes from this place, and always wondered what the food was like – I think I didn’t expect it to be impressive seeing as how this was a pretty generic chain (though really my liking for food at ASK and byron really should have advised me better). but this place was fantastic, and really just the thing for a mid-morning brunch with the family. it isn’t spectacular, but it is pretty good, and wholly able to satisfy the craving for some hearty food in the morning.

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