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78,79 Boat Quay
Singapore
 049866
Tel: 6438-2482

Enotecca L’operetta is undoubted one of our favourite pizza places in Singapore. It is a  Vera Pizza Napoletana certified pizza restaurant where its pizzas are baked in a wood fired oven. Their service is excellent as well. The waiters are friendly, chatty and they never fail to refill our glasses.

Some tips:
1) Make reservations to sit outdoors – you’ll have a beautiful view of the Singapore river!
2) When ordering your pizzas, always top it up with their special Mozerella cheese, it makes a big difference to the pizza
3) Ask for recommendations.
4) Order to share

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Hup Lee Cafeteria
#01-35
Arcade Shopping Centre
Raffles Place 

Sliced fish soup is the food of corporate champions in Singapore: It is tasty, high in nutrients, and easy to take away on a busy desk-bound day. The sliced fish soup stall at the back of the Arcade Shopping Centre is popular with the white-collar crowd working around Raffles Place. The fish is prepared just before they open shop at 10:30am and turnover is incredibly fast, so there is hardly any time for it to sit around and grow soggy.

I visited early on a Monday morning to catch the food at its freshest. The soup was extremely good, fortified with chunks of salted vegetables and a slice of tomato for added tartness.

The fried fish slices ($4.50 for a basic bowl) simply stole the show. Whereas other hawkers may use the batter to cover up the mediocrity of their fish or to act as a bulking agent, the meat here was firm and fresh and the flour well-seasoned and surprisingly crunchy. We’ve travelled far and wide for good fish soup, and Arcade’s is heads and shoulders above what we’ve had before.

The notion that special food can only be found in out-of-the-way places is misguided and is wont for changing. Food in the CBD tends to be overlooked because of the location’s sheer prosaicness, but if one cares to look, there are dozens of hawker stalls tucked into the numerous food centres in town that are so deserving of being catalogued and re-discovered.

The Quayside,
60 Robertson Quay #01-11
https://www.facebook.com/SmittenCafe

Met up with Denise just before she jetted out of Singapore for coffee at Smitten. Had a latte specially pulled for me by the erstwhile barista (thanks!) and learnt what acidity means in the context of coffee (sourish aftertaste). It was a good time catching up.

Smitten is situated in the quiet Quayside complex next to the multicoloured Alkaff Bridge at Robertson Quay

The cafe occupies a small narrow space at the Quayside. The decor is simple, with bare concrete flooring, stripped ceiling and whitewashed brick walls. The cafe is jam-packed with knick-knacks commonly associated with the coffee business – assorted cups, french presses, filters, coffee bags for sale, and a pretty cool looking coffee roaster at the back. The aroma of freshly-brewed coffee pervades the premises, all the better to enjoy one’s cuppa in.

My coffee was in good hands.

The blend that day was on the sour end, with enough tartness to kick the mid-morning sleepiness out of me. Denise says it’s akin to what one will get at the London coffee houses. Kaffeine and Prufrock did have very similar-tasting brews. I enjoyed it, but generally I prefer my coffee on the nutty side.

Bratwurst Panini

Smitten also has a small selection of sandwiches to whet your appetite. The bratwurst panini could be smelled from a not-inconsiderable distance away and oozed cheese like lava. It’s rich so it’s best enjoyed when shared.

Diner en Blanc has been getting all sorts of coverage in the news recently, so we aren’t going to talk much about what it’s all about. The event was held outside the ArtScience museum at Marina Bay Sands, which made for some really nice pictures! We’ll leave you with some we took that night. Maybe we can convince you to go for the event next year 🙂

A word of advice for the men: get your white pants early to avoid unnecessary panic.

5 Purvis Street #01-04
Tel: +65 6333 3121

Angel Hair Pasta with Sakura Ebi

French food anywhere hardly comes cheap. Considering the number of processes involved in making even some of its classic dishes, the price might even be justified. However, the two proprietor-chefs at Saveur Restaurant may have stumbled upon a happy solution to French dining’s price-quality dilemma. Following their move from a humble hawker stall along East Coast Road to their current premises at Purvis Street, Saveur has thrown down the gauntlet and (to quote Monty Python) now shake its fist in the general direction of fancier/pricier establishments like Garibaldi (No. 35) and Gunther’s (No. 36) down the road. Saveur is budget French dining at its most optimal.

Pan-fried foie gras with lentils and pickled onions, available in 35g and 70g lobes

Confit of Duck, Orange segments, Sautéed Shitake

The menu is simple to navigate, and not so fancy as to overwhelm. We strongly recommend the bestsellers: pan-fried foie gras with lentils and pickled onions ($7.50-$13), the angel hair pasta with sherry minced pork and sakura shrimp ($3.90), and confit of duck with orange segments and sautéed shittake ($8.80). We also had their premium offering of pan-fried monkfish ($23.90). The food was faultlessly prepared and tasty to boot, which really makes us wonder why it is that other restaurants still manage to murder their food at thrice the price!

Pan-Fried Monkfish

9 Penang Road
Park Mall #01-01
Tel: +65 6338 8611
http://kith.com.sg/
Kith café did well by opening its second outlet at Park Mall, a niche mall known more for its expensive furniture shops and lack of patrons. Yet, it’s precisely because of its slow-n’sleepy character that makes it suitable for an indie joint like Kith – far enough from the manic bustle of Orchard Road but still a convenient 2-minute walk from Dhoby Ghaut MRT station. Kith’s coffee came highly recommended by friends, so I dragged Hweifen along for a coffee and lunch.

We started with a macchiato and latte. Now, I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a coffee person, so I was happy to defer to the judgment of my better-informed counterpart. She proclaimed in her characteristic manner that the coffee was “mehh”, which I translated meant “good, but I’ve tasted better”. She also noted that the macchiato was smaller than she thought it would be. On my part, I was glad the waitress didn’t give me a dirty look when I asked for sugar with the latte.

Because we were also hungry, we had the tenderloin spaghetti ($19) and big breakfast ($15.50). The spaghetti itself tasted fine, tomato-tangy with the beef adding a smoky hint. However the treatment of the tenderloin was shameful. The meat is just too delicate for stir-frying. The lack of fat means it dries up quickly when subject to high heat – which was exactly what happened. A better choice would be to use sirloin or ribeye, do it on a griddle as a large chunk and then slice them medium rare into the spaghetti.

The big breakfast was customizable, but I picked the wrong combination by choosing the poached eggs and brioche toast. The brioche with added butter and jam was particularly nasty. Go for a sandwich-able combination – ciabatta/focaccia with eggs done scrambled/sunny-side-up. Nit-picking about the steak aside, Kith was decent for food. What made the place nice was how chill (what an indie word!) the place felt. The premises suffered from no lack of natural light and there was plenty of seating in the canopied alfresco area outside. Plus, the waiting staff was really polite (“certainly, sir, any drinks to complement your mains?”). No brusque, dour service here, sir. At Kith, we teach our people their proper Ps and Qs, mind you. That really made my day.

19 Tanglin Road
Orchard Parade Hotel
Tel: 6732 4438

There is a little bit of everything at Akashi. Its set lunches and dinners are priced affordably for the casual diner, but its sushi counter is also a place of wonder for the sashim-ly inclined. Akashi is one of the better known Japanese restaurants here in Singapore, but it deserves a mention anyway for its consistency, longevity and quality of food. Judging from the evening crowds, we aren’t the only ones who think so. Be sure to make reservations to avoid disappointment.

The menu is extensive, so we’ll only cover our favourites. The chawanmushi ($8) is some of the best we’ve had, silky smooth with a tangy citrus inflection. The black-hog tonkatsu (served in a set) was consistent on the half a dozen occasions we’ve had it, with a nice crispy batter and some marbling for added juiciness.

Sashimi – fresh, thick slices with plenty of bite

California Reverse Rolls, with a massive topping of ebiko for kicks

Akashi has a decent selection of California-styled rolls, with the house special reverse rolls priced at $10-$15 for 8 pieces.

The chirashidon set ($28) is generously portioned, with large chunks of salmon and tamago sliced into it. Also consider ending off your meal with some of the restaurant’s Japanese ice creams. The goma (black sesame) ice cream is particularly good.

Experience tells us that food normally tastes better if the proprietors are around to keep things ship-shape. At Akashi, it so happens that there are three brothers to do just that, with two of them taking personal charge of the the sashimi counter at their Tanglin flagship. You’ll find them slicing fish and swigging sake with their guests in the evenings. Our friend goofing around above introduced us to his Uncle Don, who in turn gave us advice on life and clarified the distinction between women and ladies (“you leave the woman at home, you bring the lady out”). Quite pithy for a man on to his 12th sake cup.

1 Fifth Avenue
#01-01 Guthrie House 
Tel: +65 6468 3656

Chu, Xue and I have been going to Venezia at Guthrie since we were fifteen. Waffles & a single scoop of ice-cream used to cost $3.80, but no thanks to inflation, the price has doubled. I love my waffles with Tartufo or Gianduia  (almost like hazelnut, but not quite).  Glen tried it with salted caramel last week and they tasted like pancakes! Both our families have grown to love this cosy corner and we’ll head down whenever the dessert compartment in our bellies scream for some ice-cream loving. If you are driving along Bukit Timah Road, be sure to drop by! It’s addictive, and you’ll be back for more.

26B Dempsey Road, Singapore
Tel: +65 6476 5305

Yellowtail Sashimi Salad

A few of us headed to The Disgruntled Chef for dinner last week. This Dempsey newcomer is owned by Daniel Sia, formerly of the White Rabbit, who decamped to run his own cosy establishment at 26B. The Disgruntled Chef serves food tapas-style – in small and large dishes and all best shared. This concept favours large groups, but this does not detract from the fact that this is still a really good restaurant for dates and intimate evenings. The bar is also well stocked for cocktail occasions.

Crispy Lamb Shortribs with Cumin and ChilliThe shortribs were really well seasoned and had a rather distinctive Mediterranean taste to it. The meat was meltingly tender.

 Beef Ribeye

The meat was nothing to yell about – it was well sourced but might have been a tad overpriced. The seasoning was commendable. There was an effort to introduce a level of complexity to the beef without those new flavours being too overwrought. We appreciated the saucer of jus on the side as well. Leftover essence should never go to waste.

Miso Cod, Spinach leaves, red seeds.

I found myself enjoying the spinach leaves more than the cod. The leaves are fleshy and have a natural tendency to absorb sauces like sponges. Perfect place to bed a fish positively bathing in the lovely brown sauce. That said, the dish was perfectly executed. It was well balanced and presented in lovely colours.

Fullerton Hotel, Singapore
Tel: +65 6877 8188

Chinese restaurants in Singapore have always suffered a deficit in public image. It used to be that you couldn’t get a young person to step into one outside of a family wedding or their grandparents’ birthday dinner. Thankfully, the scene has received a boost with trendier debutants like Paradise Dynasty and Jing entering the market.

Add Jade to the list. Fullerton’s Chinese banner-bearer serves up attractive Oriental food in the spacious confines of the hotel’s high-ceilinged ground floor annexes. We wouldn’t go so far as to call the menu ‘fusion’, but might venture to say that it is classic Hong Kong and Shanghai cuisine updated to suit a younger palate.

If uninitiated in the complexities of the Chinese a la carte menu, or so as to avoid an inexplicable seafood bomb in your final bill, there is an extensive selection of prix-fixe sets available, from $58++ to $288++. Increments on the lower end are very considerate to diners on a budget ($58, $68, $78, $88++), so one can hardly complain of a lack of options to choose from.

As a Chinese restaurant, Jade really is the whole package. A spacious dining room, no lack of elbow space and confidently prepared food all made for a lovely night out.

1 Bonham Street
#01-20, UOB Plaza 2

It was Gloria’s idea to bring me to the Salad Shop in town yesterday. I’m not a rabid carnivore but I did have some reservations about having salad for lunch. Turns out my scepticism was misplaced. The funky serviettes at the restaurant sums up the Salad Shop’s philosophy aptly – it is a veritable oasis for the health-conscious office worker and offers an alternative to the typical hawker fare ubiquitous to the CBD.

The Salad Shop has a very impressive selection of feeds available. For the recalcitrant carnivore, the Prime Feeds provide a respite with a variety of meats and fish to go with the salads. Lest you feel overwhelmed by the sheer variety available, you could try what we had.

Glen (Elephant Size:  6 mains + 2 supplementary feeds + 1 prime feed S$12)
Base – Mixed Lettuce
Main feeds – Roasted Pumpkin, Croutons, Sunflower Seeds, Tomato, Feta Cheese, Mushroom
Supplementary feeds – Grilled eggplant, Avocado
Prime feeds – Smoked Salmon
Home made dressing – Mint Yoghurt

Gloria (Zebra Size:  6 mains + 2 supplementary feeds S$10)
Base – Mixed Lettuce
Main feeds – Carrot, Mushroom, Raisins, Mixed Peppers, Pasta, Baby Potatoes
Supplementary feeds – Poached Chicken, Bacon Bits
Home made dressing – Caesar

#01-23
Amoy Street Food Centre

The people working in Singapore’s Central Business District will probably be familiar with Hock Lam Street beef noodles. They might think the forementioned beef noodles are actually quite tasty. We’ve got news for you. Set aside all preconceived notions of what makes a good bowl of beef kwayteow and make your way to this humble stall at Amoy Street Food Centre.

Here at Number One-Twenty Three, they serve the stuff like they should – the dry gravy is distilled from proper stock and saturated with marrow-filled goodness. Hardly any corn flour is necessary to thicken the mixture. The beef slices are cooked to perfection (slightly pink and chewy), and the beef balls actually put up a hearty, meaty resistance when bitten into, quite unlike the starch-filled pretenders ubiquitous to air-conditioned food courts all around the island. (Alas!)

For the best bowl of beef noodles you’ll taste in your life, this is all priced very attractively – $3 for a bowl with beef slices and meatballs in it. It works up to $5 if you add tendons and all the truly yummy offal-ish stuff. Food in Singapore has been getting expensive, but several stalwarts to traditional hawker cooking still remain, if you care to look for them.

34A Lorong Mambong
Holland Village

https://www.facebook.com/pvbakery

Very pretty cupcakes.

Now, we realise we’ve been going on and on about about cupcakes, tea and coffee recently. That’s mostly been a coincidence so far, but perhaps it’s also been because of the veritable explosion in the artisan eating and baking scene in Singapore recently.

The Plain Vanilla Bakery at Holland Village is an outpost dedicated to the fine and delicate art of cupcakery. It’s run by a friend of my brother, Vanessa Tan, recently returned from a career in law in London to try her hand in the business of baking. Part of the fun of eating cupcakes is the aesthetic aspect of it, and PV has gotten that down pat, with a range of very pretty and delicate choices available. They have a mainstay of classic flavours like the red velvet and carrot cupcakes, but there are also seasonal options available depending on the availability of special ingredients.

(from top, clockwise) Oreo Chocolate, Strawberry White Chocolate, Carrot, Red VelvetThey come at $3.20 a pop, or $18 for half a dozen. From the four I selected, I most enjoyed the red velvet and the strawberry white chocolate cupcakes. The latter had a moist strawberry jam core that added a nice fruity tang to the cake. The cupcakes are substantial, with a lovely and (un)healthily large dollop of icing crowning each of them. Best enjoyed with a pot of tea.

What I appreciated about Plain Vanilla is the fact that this is not mass-production BreadTalk baking – the little helpers in the kitchen were fresh young faces who had just completed their A levels and waiting for university to begin. All of them were amateurs but possessed a grasp of baking fundamentals to put some seasoned bakers to shame. It’s nice to be able to eat stuff made by people who care for the food they hand to you from over the counter.

32 Maxwell Road
#01-08 Maxwell Chambers
Singapore, 069115

Once Upon a Milkshake was a chance find – We just visited the Red Dot Design Museum along Maxwell Road (just next to the traffic crossing where Sticker Lady displayed her now-removed ‘My Grandfather Road’ road graffiti) when we saw a sign directing us to a funky milkshake place around the corner at Maxwell House.

A&W Ice Cream Float with Cookie and Cream

The place serves a wide variety of snazzily named milkshakes and A&W ice cream floats. There was even a red-velvet cupcake option, but we weren’t sure how a combination of cheese and chocolate in a float would taste exactly. In any case, the ice cream float brought us back to the day when ice creams in creamy soda drinks were every child’s weekend guilty pleasure. Quaffing from double glazed frosted mugs made the drink infinitely more pleasurable. Now that’s a level of dedication we can get behind.

Glen being glen 🙂

Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that taste the best. Root beer’s gotta be one of them!

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