babette, jalan besar

ah, the by-now-famous flowing green matcha lava cake at this small restaurant in jalan besar. it’s a bit of a seedy area interspersed with these hipster, modern places – not the most comfortable area for ladies to be walking about late at night, but at least it’s relatively close to the main road.

I thought the food was just about alright – good for a first visit, and the cake was pretty good, but the food came very slowly, so we rather lost our patience.

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fat cow, tanglin

decent, but very, very expensive japanese at the camden medical centre. it’s known for its lunch sets – but really, all (expensive) japanese places are known for their lunch sets, primarily because it’s hella more accessible than the terribly dear à la carte dishes.

I’m going to suggest that you’re going to eat much better if you head straight for the entrees; if you’re only going to do the lunch sets, you could eat just as well at plenty other places. so hard a truth, you could bounce a nickel off it.

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kai, plaza singapura

surprisingly decent, sort of (maybe slightly better than) middling conveyor-belt standard sushi at this (almost hole-in-the-wall) Japanese cafe (diner?) at the basement of plaza singapura.

it’s quite a lot of qualification in that single paragraph, but this place was a better meal than I thought it would have been – and is a brilliant showcase of how Singapore’s space-intensification (or, turning corridors into store spaces) churns out a useful product from nothing.

I’m not quibbling over wasabi paste (I never do, actually) or anything fancy here – it’s a quick stop for a Japanese craving, and a satisfying one at that. service is brisk and helpful, and the small space renders the counter seats the best choice (for comfort and privacy).

I’ve found that at places like this, your best bet is often the oyako/ tonkatsu/ pick-your-meat don. at worst, the meat gets dry or tough, but the sweet broth and egg improves things regardless. and that proved right here – though of a slightly wetter variant, it was a bowl of comfort.

even the sashimi was fresh and sliced decently (no dodgy cuts here), which was most surprisingly (highest potential for failure, you know).

it’s a pretty cheap meal, and definitely an option if you’re in the area (also because there isn’t a sushi tei around).

Kai Sushi & Grill
#B2-33/34 Plaza Singapura
68 Orchard Road
Singapore 238839
tel +65 9455 3953
$$: 10-25 per person

yomeishu, the asian nightcap

nightcap
/ˈnʌɪtkap/

an alcoholic drink taken before bedtime.

yomeishu is one of those things that only adults would want to partake of, as with chicken’s essence (how is that name even appealing?) and eggplant.

my dad has a bit o’ the amber liquid every night before bed – and it’s really as asian as it gets: brewed with a hodgepodge of medicinal herbs, the japanese liqueur is meant as an everyday panacea.


I’ve seen that red box and dark bottle at home for the longest time – and it’s only recently that I got curious enough to have a taste.

it’s a pretty astonishing one – the liqueur is sweet and incredibly herbally – if you’ve ever been to an asian household and seen and SMELLED herbs brewing in a claypot over fire (usually done by the matriachs of the household), you’d recognise the intensity.



the dark bottle is topped with a distinctive red cap and comes with a plastic cup embossed with the same majestic bird atop. that cup should portion out the recommended 20ml serving – but I’d start slow, and go at it in sips until you take to the taste.

its appeal is likely that of a good amaretto or whiskey – beginners don’t usually take to its specific flavors, but connoisseurs wouldn’t see the fuss.

I’ve had three middling cups of it now, and it makes for that something-sweet I like after a meal. an acquired taste, but a pretty sophisticated one that deserves savoring – and even better that it comes with those health benefits, eh?

my point here, though, is that you should never diss your parents for their weird drinking and eating habits – you’ll grow up into them someday (and ain’t that the thing that really bites?)

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prime gyu-kaku, chijmes

decent bbq-it-yourself wagyu (and more) at this newly-refurbished outlet of the gyu-kaku chain at chijmes.

the once-chapel has been redone, with a long stretch of mid-ranging japanese restaurants serving a range of specialties, from ramen to tonkatsu. this one specialises in beef, of course, with the marbled styles dominating a menu broken up with sides and a couple seafood options.

it’s easy eating – a comfortable casual-ish environ and good slabs of meat. and is it just me, or can you stare at that meat-flipping gif forever?

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monster curry, ion orchard

a seriously HUGE plate of rice with delicious japanese curry and fried peripherals at this small not-a-stall-not-yet-a-cafe at the basement of the ion shopping mall.

my sister is a big fan, so of course we had to try it sometime – I do enjoy japanese curries and their tendency toward the spicey-without-the-spicy, chock-full of soft carrots and taters, and it also reminds me of cold london winters and easy post-school meals.

this has one of those gimmicky customizable heat levels, enabled by varying squirts of chilli sauce squeezed into the same base curry – which is flavorful, pleasingly thick (not in a cornflour sort of way) and immensely eatable.

and also, make sure you share. the portions are huge.

we went for the combo, which had EVERYTHING: golden-brown pork and fish cutlets, shrimp tempura and boiled pork slices topped with cheese, all sitting in a moat of curry with a bank of good japanese short-grain rice.

and it was good. we enjoyed it immensely until perhaps the third-last bite, after which it was a little nauseating from the richness and sheer size. my favorite was the large, tender white fish fillet – I’d steer clear of the shrimp, which had a loose tempura coating that wasn’t cooked well enough.

next time (probably months later, given how stuffed I felt at the end), I’ll just get the large fish fillet, with the omelette option.

Monster Curry (ION Orchard Outlet)
#B4-52 ION Orchard
2 Orchard Turn
Singapore 238801
tel +65 6509 4555
$$: ten-ish a person

ethan’s gourmet, tagore lane

tiny little gourmet supermarket in this industrial area – an odd spot for a place quite as cute and consumer-friendly as this, but the space is welcoming and the goods are worth the drive.

and also, as an aside, my favorite indonesian restaurant has an outlet just above this space – so you can get your (gourmet) marketing done and fill your belly at (almost) the same time!

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flor patisserie, duxton hill

decent-alright japanese-styled-french cakes at this tiny cafe in duxton hill. flor patisserie is pretty well-known for its light, japanese cream-type cakes, but I hadn’t gotten to it previously on my dessert circuit precisely because of those characteristics: I like my cakes hefty and substantial, and these fluffy, creamy things do little for me.

but for its class, the desserts are good – certainly worth a visit if you’re into this sort of thing.

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hong kong, the expat edition

the holidays are coming (!!), and I bet quite a few of you will be making your way over to hong kong, an asian first world mecca. I was there in april with a girlfriend, and we had resolved to eat too much, spend too much and buy too much – and also, we had resolved to spend the time like expats.

it’s not really the usual mode to enjoy hong kong – travellers usually go all berserk on dimsum and roast meats and wanton noodles (coming up in the next post!) – but hong kong has a plethora of amazing dining options that extend past that.

let’s go!

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masumi sake, an education

let’s get it out there – I’m pretty much a pleb when it comes to alcohol. I know what I like – bubbles in champagne, the sugar in muscato, the indulgence of sweet liqueurs, and occasionally, the dryness of a white. it’s pretty obvious I drink rather stereotypically like a female (hey – nothing wrong with that), and I can’t talk provenance or evolution or authenticity or profile with any sort of authority – so I don’t try.

when the opportunity to learn a bit about sake tasting came up – I was apprehensive but pleased. I like the drink (it’s just about sweet enough for my palate), it hasn’t got that whole condescending patronizing scene about it – and really, there’s something gorgeously reverrent about clear sake being poured into a cup.

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