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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char, guillemard street

good caramelisation, great flavours, but very fatty meat at this upmarket version of your typical roast-meat stall.

straight up, it’s pretty expensive – you could argue that a slab of pork in a restaurant would cost much, much more, and you would be right. but value is relative, and the comparison is more accurately made with singapore’s (gradually less) plentiful good-and-cheaper hawker stalls.

but the flavours are worth a visit – if only just to see the hype – and you’d be eating in a modern bistroesque environment with air-conditioning.

n.b. all Chinese and dialect spellings are mere illustrations and may not reflect their true pronunciations (though they certainly reflect my imperfect grasp of the language).


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joie restaurant by dozo, orchard central

really, surprisingly, good vegetarian fine dining atop orchard central. I’m a big fan of vegetables, not so much of vegetarian eating – the latter with its not-always-positive connotations of overt ingredient manipulation, and the unhealthiness you often see in the Asian understanding of the cuisine (i.e. deep-frying and excessive use of gluten products).

I came here with absolutely no expectations – no review-reading, no foodie-asking – and they delivered a quite remarkable meal full of fresh ingredients and many surprises. and whilst the plates belie a care expected of the fine-dining standard they aspire to, the prices don’t (in other words, great for dates and impressing without being hard on the pocket).

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may may, tras street

for all you resolution-makers, health-bunnies and aspiring yuppies, this place is for you. a modern, luxe restaurant that serves up balanced grain bowls at lunchtime and transforms into sexy bar at night – this place has been garnering more-than-decent reviews across the board (and I have finally visited something while it’s still very trendy).

AND, if you’re up for something sweet to balance all that healthfulness out, they’re known for their salted egg yolk donuts. there should be a law for so much overindulgence in a single form.

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gajalee, esplanade

it’s the first day of the work-week (and work-year, if you want to be depressing about it). how did the holidays time pass so quickly?!

but to start things off on a very positive note, here’s a fantastic indian (specifically malvani, if that means anything to you) place we chanced upon the other day. situated terribly in a back alley between the esplanade and satay by the bay, this indian restaurant looks strangely posh for its otherwise uninteresting (read: shabby) exterior.

and the food is quite utterly fantastic, with a focus on seafood and tandoori offerings. the prices are high too, which is expected given its location, but I would say the experience well-worth worth it.

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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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