happy new year!

first, an early happy new year to you! may it bring you everything you’re looking for, and more.

I do this nearly once a year – by which I mean I do a visit to the gardens by the bay, and marvel at the beautifulness of what we’ve created here.

there are more extensive sets of photos here, here and here – and I hope they make your day as much as they made mine.

xx





madrinaa italiano, chip bee gardens

it’s christmas! or rather, it soon will be christmas, as you would have noticed from the decorations being put all about town (somewhat precipitously, some might argue, BUT NOT I) since november. and as befits the end-of-year, our natural inclinations to slow things down invite opportunities for more extended lunches – and this place in holland village accommodates that sort of thing, if you’re so inclined.

located in chip bee gardens, enclave of the expat and yummy-mummy, this restaurant serves up rustico italiano – a direct translation (and language massacre, my apologies) of what I fancy is rustic italian home-cooking. it’s surprisingly good too, considering the lack of reviews and the empty tables we arrived to at lunchtime.

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gattopardo, tras street

DELICIOUS, oh-so-good italiano (more specifically, sicilian) dining at this small, cozy little restaurant along tras street. this post is a long time coming, given that I ate here during my birthday (six months ago, hello!), but it’s a goodie (even if it is also an oldie now).

I nearly don’t dare to come back here given how pleasant my memories of this meal was, so I implore you to try it and give it ago, and perhaps bring back some reassurance?

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nakajima suisan grilled fish, takashimaya

nothing fancy, but an oh-so-satisfying food store at the back of the takashimaya food hall – queues build up long and quick here during mealtimes, so choose to eat at an awkward time, or get ready for a bit of a wait.

this isn’t a place to linger – even if you were to ignore the death stares dealt to you by the horde of people queueing to take you place, the food is meant to be quick and cheap – and satisfies by fulfilling both those expectations and topping it with tasty, satisfying fare.

you have plenty of time in the queue to decide what you want to eat – and the menu is standard enough that you don’t exactly need to look at the menu, if you see what I mean: it’s a standard bento format with your choice of fish (cod, horse mackerel, eel and etc.)

when you do reach the head of the queue, you get to an efficient, japanese-sounding man who takes your order and payment, before waving you quickly to your seat.

I started with a chawanmushi, which was a great start to the meal – soft, smooth, custardy steamed egg, that was: (1) surprisingly unsalty, which is a common gripe; and (2) really surprisingly chockful of chicken, fishcake and gingko (my favorite part!). seriously cheap and good (even the fiance, who doesn’t usually like chawanmushi, shared this!)


and the bentos that arrived quickly after were just as satisfying. first of all, they don’t skimp on the rice quality here – it’s good, sticky-enough japanese rice, cooked well enough to maintain grain integrity. secondly, the fish comes in a generous portion (I’ve certainly gotten much smaller for much higher prices elsewhere), sauced adequately and tender.

the grilled cod had fatty skin that was blistered and charred enough to bring texture and interest. if you really want to fault it (but what for?), you could gripe that the cod fillet comes with bones (be careful!) and the unagi certainly isn’t fatty enough to be melt-in-the-mouth, but I would call you a grouch (which is rich, coming from me).

anyway – it’s about one step up from food court in ambiance but more than a few steps up for quality, and it’s certainly a nice meal to round off a long day.

Nakajima Suisan
#B2 (Takashimaya Food Hall)
Ngee Ann City
391 Orchard Road
Singapore 238872
$.5: less than twenty

casa tartufo, duxton hill

meh-er than I expected italian restaurant specialising in tantalizing truffles (it’s in their name) at a little corner near club street. I’ve walked past this place numerous times after dinner in duxton hill or keong saik, and it’s always looked like a romantic (read darkly-lit), cosy, little place to eat.

the food doesn’t quite live up to expectations, however – and those expectations are bolstered first by its focus on truffle (which really, can do no wrong) and the very lovely ambiance of the place.

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ryan’s grocery, binjai park


cute little grocery in binjai park, with a focus on gluten-free, complete with an in-house butchery and shelves of amazing imported goods. I have a weakness for supermarkets, and spend an inordinate amount of time in them on holidays (hello and sorry, fiancé!) – and I especially love seeing new things you can’t get in our ntucs and cold storages.

so it’s fair and likely embarrassing to admit that I have a love for imported goods – just for the variety – and while I don’t have gluten-free requirements (hallelujah bread!), this place is a veritable haven for them.

(and OH MY GOD, but did you know that mary berry has her own mayonnaise?!)

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takumi, marina at keppel bay

unspectacular, averagely japanese at this restaurant by keppel bay – it’s actually a little disappointing, given the distance to which you literally have to travel to, and the expectation you build up while sitting in this quite gorgeous restaurant.

but it’s fairer to say the food isn’t all that bad – it’s merely a case of unfulfilled expectations.

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torikin, bukit timah

surprisingly delicious collagen chicken hotpot (or is it chicken collagen hotpot?), also known as hakata mizutaki, at this little place along bukit timah. I admit to ALOT a healthy amount of skepticism before coming to this place – I don’t like thick soups, the texture or excessive flavor of fat, and the whole idea of collagen as a age-defying beautificant (literary license) is a pretty strange notion (like, do you just grow so fat you don’t get wrinkles?

and, well, it tastes (and is) a fantastically long-brewed chicken broth, although definitely a little too unctuous and viscous for me. but the chicken that comes out the pot is beautifully tender and flavorful, as are the vegetables that cook in the same.

but they don’t just do a collagen hotpot – you get things like okonomiyaki and oden, the latter possibly my favorite dish ever.

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gourmet greens week, or how to get your 5 a day

or, the most hip (hippest?) string of restaurants I’ve been to all year: humpback, oso ristorante, burlamacco, sugarhall and pepenero (and more!).

if you have an aversion to greens, can I suggest you grow up?, there’s a spate of restaurants out to change your mind with a slew of dishes that are so beautiful (and delicious!) as to defy any accusation of boringness.

on the week of 23 november, gourmet greens week opens at an amazing range of restaurants offering menus centered around beautiful vegetal produce. keep an open mind – because what they’re doing is plenty tasty:


humpback

like this brand new, hip-and-yuppie australian-feeling restaurant that’s drawing crowds for their delicious oysters and sides – they’ve taken the sunchoke, a rare tuber to see in singapore, and dished it up three ways: fried, pureed and raw .

one for the carb lovers, the freshness of the raw shavings plays up the heartiness of the other two preparations (and I love the trendy kale chip that came with it!).



oso ristorante

I didn’t have a great time at this italian place at bukit pasoh when I last visited for restaurant week a couple years ago, but the simple homeliness of the classic eggplant parmigiana was very (pleasantly) surprising here.

tender slices of eggplant baked with an intense tomato sauce and interspersed with cheese (BEST part of the dish), it’s a simple appetiser that exemplifies the best of italian home cooking. watch out for that sprout garnish though – it’s spicy (and more than a kick to the senses!)

also, a shoutout to that foccacia topped with perfectly caramelised onions – SO GOOD.



burlamacco ristorante

I’ve been here before, and ordered this very dish – eggs cooked in spicy marinara.

there’s something ridiculously easy about eggs in tomato sauce – the first brings richness (AND WHO DOESN’T LOVE EGGS), the second a bright tang – and I enjoyed it just as much now as I did before. scoop it up with the soft, fluffy rolls they serve here – italian eating is all about carb-overloading.

sugarhall

there’s plenty positive being said about this dark, fashionable restaurant, but I have to say that this was my least favorite dish. essentially cubes of tender beetroot atop mascarpone cheese on a dish of puff pastry, that last component overshadows the delicate flavors of the purple root.

if you choose, as I did, to eat the beets, cheese, and candied pecans, it’s a pretty decent dish – but I prefer the first few dishes. it’s all a matter of taste though, as each component was executed quite well (just that I didn’t like the finished product).

pepenero

this restaurant is ON my list, and this last dessert is only more incentive to visit for a full meal. zabaglione ice cream frozen with crumbled amaretti biscuits and served with a caramel drizzle, it escapes the too-sweetness you’d expect given the components, and hey – vegetarian dishes can be plenty rich too!

to finish (what was a fantastic meal), these dishes are available on the set menus offered by the various restaurants for gourmet greens week – and at $30++ for lunch and $45++ for dinner (where do you even see such prices anymore!), it makes a great deal for an innovative meal.

you’ll want to hop onto chope.co to make your bookings for the #gourmetgreensweek meals – and I forgot to mention that because of their collaboration with FIJI water, you’ll get a bottle of what is probably the most delicious bottled mineral water with your meal (but also, do what I did, and get a glass of white to go with the dishes – you won’t regret it).

Gourmet Greens Week
http://www.chope.co/
instagram: #gourmetgreensweek (did you know I’m on instagram?!)

thanks to chope and FIJI water for the lovely trail around town!

henri charpentier singapore, dempsey road

it’s nearly the weekend!

a (well, no longer) recent addition to our shores from tokyo, charpentier serves up fancy, expensive desserts in this french-styled japanese-feeling cafe in dempsey. a small space filled with curtains for partitioning, booth and sofa seats, it’s the sort of place you expect a japanese housewife to sit with friends for tea.

it’s rather unique in a time where most places are styled casual or hipster (or both), with a fully suited up japanese man serving as maître d’ to the noisy boisterous group of us here for a part 2 after brunch. but the desserts are lovely, theatrical in a very impressionable sort of way, and tasty for all the fanfare.

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