[XMAS BUFFET] Feast in Merriment @ Element, Amara Singapore

Hello everyone!

Let’s begin this post with a Christmas song sing-along! I know, why don’t we sing Deck The Halls, a crowd favourite at any Christmas party for sure?

♪ Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la 
♪ Tis the season to be jolly FATTY
Fa la la la la, la la la la ♪

Throw away your skinny jeans and belts because with all the Christmas-themed buffets in town, stretch pants are back in fashion once again! With so many festive buffets to choose from but a limited calorie budget to work with, hopefully this write-up on the Yuletide dinner and lunch buffet that’s set to launch on the eve of Christmas at Element (courtesy of Amara Singapore) would help you decide if it’s worthwhile to expand your waistline for. That is, unless you belong to the ‘I-can-eat-as-much-as-I-want-and-I-will-still-be-skinny’ group.

In which case, I hate you.

—🎄 Appetisers 🎄—

Cognac Lobster Bisque

Cognac Lobster Bisque

In the pot, this may look like an ordinary lobster bisque to you but it actually includes an ingredient which gives it an extra zing of flavour – Cognac. Added last to the bisque for a stronger kick, the smoothness and silky richness of the Cognac marries well with the sweetness and creaminess of the soup. Perhaps to cater to children and non-drinkers at the buffet, only a soupçon of Cognac was added so the slight bitter and tangy aftertaste that I got from the lobster bisque didn’t occur to me that it was Cognac. In fact, I had thought it was the spiciness from pepper because the distinctive bold flavour of Cognac just wasn’t picked up by my taste bud! Ironically, Fiona, who isn’t a fan of alcohol, could tell in one sip that there was liquor in the bisque 🤷 But it wasn’t too overpowering so she cleaned the bowl in no time!

Personally, I did not really like the texture of the lobster bisque as it was a little too watered-down for my liking and I prefer it to be creamier and heartier. Still, this is a rare find at any buffet and a must-try if you are a crustacean lover like me!

Tuna Tataki with Cucumber Ribbons and Puffed Quinoa

Tuna Tataki with Cucumber Ribbons and Puffed Quinoa

Tuna Tataki with Cucumber Ribbons and Puffed Quinoa (reviewed here)

Tuna Tataki with Cucumber Ribbons and Puffed Quinoa (reviewed here)

One of my favourite dishes at Element makes an appearance again this Christmas! If you’ve not read my verdict on the tuna tataki on my previous post, I urge you to do so now for a more detailed review! But in summary, the cool, softly chewy texture of the Tataki was what does it for me and this was also probably why it was snapped up so quickly at the media tasting event 😍

Editor’s note: Most of them was taken away by you, my dear.

Smoked Duck, Salami and Prosciutto

Smoked Duck, Salami and Prosciutto

Honey Baked Butter Squash with Honey Mustard and Pumpkin Seed

Honey Baked Butter Squash with Honey Mustard and Pumpkin Seed

Diced to bite-sized pieces, the butternut squash felt squishy in the mouth, almost like the texture of potato but softer, and has a lightly sweet and nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin (although many would argue that they’re basically the same considering that they are used interchangeably in certain countries) on its own. The pumpkin seeds give it an added crunch while the honey mustard lends a slightly zestier and more savoury edge. This is definitely the dish to go for if you intend to start the buffet on a healthier note. But being someone who is huge on more piquant flavours, this was rather bland on my palate.

Cocktail Prawn and Crab Meat with Duo Melon

Cocktail Prawn and Crab Meat with Duo Melon

Cocktail Prawn and Crab Meat with Duo Melon

Cocktail Prawn and Crab Meat with Duo Melon

A fine example of a simple yet elegant pairing that cannot go wrong, this dish features shredded crab meat mixed with a mayonnaise base and topped with a mountain of prawns. The prawns, which are deshelled for fuss-free eating, have such irresistibly crunchy and firm texture that I could not help but gobble up at least 15 pieces of them in one sitting. No doubt this is going to be a favourite among children and adults alike at the buffet table!

Marinated Duck Rilette with Red Wine, Dried Fruits and Gherkin Salsa

Marinated Duck Rilette with Red Wine, Dried Fruits and Gherkin Salsa

Believe it or not, the duck rillette took me some courage to overcome my apprehension of trying it. Apart from the fact that I had never eaten meat prepared Rillette-style (a cooking method originated from France 🇫🇷) before, it honestly wasn’t the most appealing dish on the buffet table. But I recalled tasting the tuna tataki for the first time and instantly falling head over heels for it. Thinking that this would turn out the same way, I took the plunge and scooped some of the duck rillette along with the sauce onto my plate.

Voilà! Fortune favours the brave, perhaps. The duck rillette (or rillettes de canard, as the French calls it) came across as a breath of fresh air. Soft and smooth in texture, it was akin to the texture of a pastry or pâté. By itself, the meat was rather salty (and in Fiona’s words, tasted like “mushy canned food”) so pairing it with the red wine sauce – which resembled and tasted delightful like cranberry jam – would be highly recommended as the sweetness of the sauce evens it out. This would also go perfectly with bread!

—🎄 Main Course🎄—

Turkey Buah Keluak

Turkey Buah Keluak

What’s Christmas in Singapore without roast turkey smeared with the familiar buah keluak (yes, it isn’t charred although it looks like it)? From cempadak creme brûlée to pandan pudding, it seems like we can always count on Element to come up with the most innovative fusion food ideas regardless of the occasion. And in case you didn’t know, buah keluak (or pangium edule, Malay for “the fruit which nauseates” 🤨) is dubbed the black truffle of the East as it is considered an acquired taste. Used mainly in Malay, Indonesian and Peranakan cooking, these seeds are obtained from their poisonous fruit and are then made safe for consumption by fermentation.

The presence of the buah keluak lends a bitter and earthy taste to the turkey, which would otherwise be terribly bland and dry like chicken breast meat (but twice as bad). According to the chef, this took three days to prepare which, unless the turkey is served to a large group of people who love jaw-tiringly chewy meat, isn’t worth the effort (and slaughter). That said, I truly appreciate the creativity and ingenuity presented in this dish and would recommend this to homesick non-Asians who don’t mind a little South East-Asian twist.

Stir-fried Moreton Bay Bug with Salted Egg

Stir-fried Moreton Bay Bug with Salted Egg

Who would have thought a foreign-sounding crustacean could be localised into a dish that would fit my palate to an absolute T? The creaminess of the salted egg sauce coupled with the firmness and lightly crispiness of the meat was a dream-come-true.  Unlike typical salted egg dishes that would bring you to a state of surfeit (i.e. “gelat“) after a few mouthfuls, this just kept me asking for more. I figured it was probably due to it being infused with some spice during preparation.

Steamed Garoupa with Lime Beurre Blanc topped with Tomato Vierge

Steamed Garoupa with Lime Beurre Blanc topped with Tomato Vierge

Roasted Chicken with Meat Floss

Roasted Chicken with Meat Floss

Tajima Wagyu Beef with Foie Gras, Truffle Mashed Potato and Port Jus

Tajima Wagyu Beef with Foie Gras, Truffle Mashed Potato and Port Jus

The addition of the foie gras (those whitish slabs but in very limited quantity) was a splendid touch as it helped to bring out the flavour of the wagyu beef even more. However, probably to cater to the masses at the buffet, the meat was generally cooked to medium which made it somewhat tough and chewy and thereby cheapen the quality of the meat. I feel that this would be better suited at the live station so patrons can request for their steak to be cooked to their preferred doneness (which in my case, would be rare). Furthermore, as an avid lover of wagyu beef, it also kinda annoyed me that the beautiful marbling of the wagyu beef was wholly concealed by the charring and port jus sauce 😫 Where’s the justice for the poor wagyu cattle that died for this?

— 🎄 Desserts🎄—

Cempedak Creme Brûlée

Cempedak Creme Brûlée

The Cempedak Creme Brûlée is like the pinnacle of the Christmas tree as it is, without a doubt, the ⭐ of the dessert section (and as a result of that, effectively stealing the thunder from the log cakes at a Christmas-theme buffet 🤣). Find out why this is the best dessert in my tummy’s opinion on my previous review here.

Macarons (Gingerbread Spices / Coconut / Blueberry + Salted Caramel) - 6 pcs/pack at S$16+ or 10 pcs/pack at S$25+

Macarons (Gingerbread Spices [pink] / Coconut [white – highly recommended] / Blueberry + Salted Caramel [blue – highly recommended]) – 6 pcs/pack at S$16+ or 10 pcs/pack at S$25+

Ho, ho, ho! Spot me on the Christmas log cakes!

Ho, ho, ho! Spot me on the Christmas log cakes!

Fancy gifting your loved ones a log cake to commemorate the season of giving? Element also offers traditional log cakes in three tantalising flavours to suit different tastes. They are available for order at the restaurant.

Amara's Signature Cempadak Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$65+)

Amara’s Signature Cempedak Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$65+)

Out of all the log cakes that were brought out, the Cempedak Yule Log Cake was the first to be reduced to nothing which pretty much attests to the popularity of the cempedak in Element’s dessert line-up. The log cake had a fluffy texture with a very robust cempedak flavour that was fragrant and yet not too overpowering at the same time. Each bite of the cake melted in my mouth before I realised what was happening.

Dark Chocolate Cherry Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$52+)

Dark Chocolate Cherry Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$52+)

 

Pink Champagne Lychee Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$52+) - this is alcoholic

Pink Champagne Lychee Yule Log Cake (1 kg, S$52+) – this is alcoholic

Christmas is the time to spend with your family and loved ones, and what better way to do so than to indulge in some cempedak goodness (and many other crowd favourites) at Element? If you’re interested to dine at Element, do make your reservations in advance to avoid being a sad 🐼!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Element at Amara Singapore · 165 Tanjong Pagar Road Singapore 088539 · Tel: 6879 2607 · Nearest MRT station: Tanjong Pagar (EW15) · Click here for more information
Prices and time for Christmas Eve/Christmas Buffet Lunch and Dinner as above

Prices and time for Christmas Eve/Christmas Buffet Lunch and Dinner as above 

The writer is a glutton who occasionally allows his appetite free rein and steals food from Fiona’s plate. Among some of his favourite food are a good steak and meaty crabs doused in chili sauce. Read more posts by Alphonsus here.

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[POP-UP] MINIONS CAFE @ THE Guest cafe&diner Singapore

Bello everyone!

After two runs of the immensely popular Pokémon Café at EwF Bugis Junction in 2015 and 2016, PARCO (Singapore) returns with another pop-up café concept and this time, it revolves around the adorably small, yellow, cylindrical critters of the Despicable Me series – the Minions!

For a limited time, the first pop-up MINIONS CAFÉ outside Japan will operate from 23rd November 2017 to 31st January 2018 on the third floor of Orchard Central. Rebranded from “The Despicable Me 3 Cafe” in Japan at five THE GUEST cafe&diner outlets located in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sapporo and Fukuoka during July and September this year, the Singapore edition brings in 14 original food and beverage items on the menu – all of which are specially conceptualised and developed by THE GUEST cafe&diner for the MINIONS CAFÉ.

MINIONS CAFÉ

MINIONS CAFÉ

Waitstaff are donned in Minion-inspired attire so it's very easy to identify them!

Waitstaff are donned in Minion-inspired attire so it’s very easy to identify them!

More Minions posters hanging from the ceiling. Sadly, these are not for sale at the merch corner

More Minions posters hanging from the ceiling. Sadly, these are not for sale at the merch corner

Or in the language of the minions, "Po ka?!"

Or in the language of the minions, “Po ka?!”

One part of the dining area

One part of the dining area

Apart from that, exclusive MINIONS CAFE Original Goods – currently not available anywhere else in the world – can also be purchased alongside other official “Despicable Me 3” merchandise with either cash or NETS (we didn’t see the option to pay by credit card). Considering how well-received the Minions are, long queue is expected at the MINIONS CAFÉ so why not take this chance to browse the merchandise booth while waiting to be seated or served?

A small corner for the merchandise

A small corner for the merchandise

Minion-inspired toys, snacks and stationery found here!

Minion-inspired toys, snacks and stationery found here!

Below is a low-down of all the dishes offered at the MINIONS CAFÉ with the exception of the Banana Smoothie (S$12.30+) which was missing from the media preview. Dishes that we managed to taste at the event would also be accompanied with our (honest) review as well as our verdict of the presentation, taste and value for you to make better informed decision on whether it is worth the trip.

The menu

The menu

As with most themed pop-up cafés, do bear in mind that licensing fees (the killer) and importation charges among other overhead expenses are factored into the costs so the prices will unsurprisingly be on the high side. All prices stated are not inclusive of 10% service charge and prevailing government taxes. Payment, we believe, can be made with cash, NETS or credit card. We will update should there be any factual error.

Unfortunately for my Muslim readers, MINIONS CAFÉ is not Halal-certified.

Minion’s Great Escape Cream Stew (S$20.90++)

In the latest Despicable Me film, Minions are caught and imprisoned! Oh no! This time, they are really in the cream stew!

In the latest Despicable Me film, Minions are caught and imprisoned! Oh no! This time, they are really in the cream stew!

Presentation-wise, the Minion’s Great Escape Cream Stew gets all the credit it deserves. The visual presentation of the displeased Minion is very well done to the point that it was a struggle deciding whether to keep the edible facial features of the Minion or to dissect and eat it. Of course, we went for the latter choice. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have known it was actually made of tasteless thin rice wafer instead of some cardboard material we initially suspected was solely for decorative purposes.

The saffron rice that forms the bulk of this dish is slightly buttery with a subtle sweetness. The cream base – which reminded me of cream of mushroom soup – was a little too cloying on its own for my liking but when paired with the rice, the fragrance from the carb complemented the sweetness of the sauce very well. That said, the amount of ingredients in this dish is too little. Visibly, the number of broccoli florets, carrot and potato chunks on the plate is minimal to say the least and there is far too little protein in the form of chicken meat for it to qualify as a main course. If not for the scanty portion of meat, we would have seriously thought this was a vegan dish. Nevertheless, the abundance of greens, coupled with the fact that this comes with a mini salad bowl, makes this an extremely healthy dish.   

VERDICT (out of 5)
Presentation: 🍌🍌🍌🍌
Taste: 🍌🍌
VALUE: 🍌🍌
Overall: 🍌🍌🍌

Minions Vacation Plate (S$23.90++)

Aloha! Take a trip to Hawaii with Minions and indulge in the Hawaiian Iuau inspired plate of beef hamburg and garlic shrimp, accompanied by tropical pineapple and luxurious avocado. Margo, Edith and Agnes certainly thought this dish was a great idea for a honeymoon's set up for Gru and Lucy! It comes with a green soup of Gummi Bears and meat, courtesy of our darling Agnes.

Aloha! Take a trip to Hawaii with Minions and indulge in the Hawaiian Iuau inspired plate of beef hamburg and garlic shrimp, accompanied by tropical pineapple and luxurious avocado. Margo, Edith and Agnes certainly thought this dish was a great idea for a honeymoon’s set up for Gru and Lucy! It comes with a green soup of Gummi Bears and meat, courtesy of our darling Agnes.

Looks like a glorified version of Nasi Lemak!

Looks like a glorified version of Nasi Lemak!

VERDICT (out of 5)
Presentation: 🍌🍌🍌
Taste: (NOT RATED)
Perceived value: 🍌🍌
Overall: 🍌🍌🍌

Minion Riceball Party (S$21.90++)

Straight from Japan, Minions transform into adorable rice balls, flanked by fried prawns, sweet corn, fried chicken and French fries with original Minions Balloon.

Straight from Japan, Minions transform into adorable rice balls, flanked by fried prawns, sweet corn, fried chicken and French fries with original Minions Balloon.

Tulaliloo ti amo~

Tulaliloo ti amo~

An original Minion’s balloon will be provided with each order of Minion Riceball Party. The image on the balloon may differ and the colour (I saw pink, blue and maybe yellow) is chosen by the staff at random. The balloons are not helium-pumped and will be tied to a stick.

VERDICT (out of 5)
Presentation: 🍌🍌🍌
Taste: (NOT RATED)
Perceived value: 🍌🍌
Overall: 🍌🍌🍌

Pizza Box (S$13.90++)

Mel and Minions are hungry! They want pizza! Unexpectedly, a live singing competition awaits them... Hawaiian pizza topped with chicken ham and pineapple, with corn and French fries on the side.

Mel and Minions are hungry! They want pizza! Unexpectedly, a live singing competition awaits them… Hawaiian pizza topped with chicken ham and pineapple, with corn and French fries on the side.

This dish comes with a Movie Scene Card which we didn’t see at the event. The inside of the cover has a maze game stuck on it to keep your children entertained as you devour the pizza in peace!

VERDICT (out of 5)
Presentation: 🍌🍌🍌
Taste: (NOT RATED)
Perceived Value: 🍌🍌🍌🍌
Overall: 🍌🍌🍌🍌

Minion Pudding (S$24.90++)

This Minion is too cute to be eaten! Mango pudding with fruits and vanilla ice cream within.

This Minion is too cute to be eaten! Mango pudding with fruits and vanilla ice cream within.

Luk at tu!

Luk at tu! *jiggle*

This dish comes with a free character cup. A brand new cup will be provided upon order. But better act fast because limited quantities are available (while stocks last).

VERDICT (out of 5)
Presentation: 🍌🍌🍌🍌
Taste: (NOT RATED)
Perceived Value: 🍌🍌
Overall: 🍌🍌🍌

S’more and Minion’s Ice Cream (S$16.90++)

Perfectly browned marshmallows surround a lone Minion (made of mango ice); sandwich molten marshmallow with biscuits for a campfire s'more effect!

Perfectly browned marshmallows surround a lone Minion (made of mango ice); sandwich molten marshmallow with biscuits for a campfire s’more effect!

Gelato!

Gelato!

If you’ve been eating marshmallows straight from the bag, you’ve been doing it wrong. Or rather, you probably haven’t tried s’mores yet! This traditional nighttime campfire treat popular in the United States involves roasting marshmallows before placing them between two biscuits (or atop just one piece since the biscuits provided are odd-numbered). Then, you proceed to chomp them down like a sandwich. Yummy!

The brown crust and soft gooey middle of the still-warm toasted marshmallows (which sweetness is further enhanced by the chocolate syrup beneath them) represent an epitome of a simple pleasure. In between bites, take generous spoonfuls of mango ice-cream in the shape of a lone Minion for maximum enjoyment. Needless to say, it took us no more than one bite for us to realise that we were in the presence of an absolutely heavenly combination of comfort food!

Granted, this may not exactly be the most innovative dish on the menu but is certainly one of, if not the best. However, I would advise you to share this dessert with your friends as it may be a sugar overload and calorie overkill.

VERDICT (out of 5)
Presentation: 🍌🍌🍌🍌
Taste: 🍌🍌🍌🍌
Value: 🍌🍌🍌🍌
Overall: 🍌🍌🍌🍌

Caramelized Banana (S$16.90++)

Minion's favourite food... Banana! Torched lightly to create a smoky caramelized taste. No wonder the Minions want some too!

Minion’s favourite food… Banana! Torched lightly to create a smoky caramelized taste. No wonder the Minions want some too!

VERDICT (out of 5)
Presentation: 🍌🍌🍌
Taste: (NOT RATED)
Perceived value: 🍌🍌🍌🍌
Overall: 🍌🍌🍌🍌

Rescue Mel Affogato (S$13.90++)

Save Mel by unlocking his cell! Break open the chocolate with your spade and pour espresso into vanilla ice-cream; watch Mel float to freedom!

Save Mel by unlocking his cell! Break open the chocolate with your spade and pour espresso into vanilla ice-cream; watch Mel float to freedom!

We didn’t get to taste this, unfortunately, but just by the looks of it alone, the fun factor of this beverage warrants a high score for creativity!

VERDICT (out of 5)
Presentation: 🍌🍌🍌🍌
Taste: (NOT RATED)
Perceived value: 🍌🍌🍌
Overall: 🍌🍌🍌

Upside-down Minion Jelly Soda Drink (S$12.90++)

Enjoy the jiggly mango jelly soda drink from bottom up!

Enjoy the jiggly mango jelly soda drink from bottom up!

VERDICT (out of 5)
Presentation: 🍌🍌🍌
Taste: (NOT RATED)
Perceived value: 🍌🍌
Overall: 🍌🍌🍌

Be Bad Café Latte (Hot S$8.90++, Cold S$9.50++)

Minion commands you to Be Bad!

Minion commands you to Be Bad!

Hot and iced

Hot and iced

A closer look at the latte art on the hot latte

A closer look at the latte art on the hot latte

The Be Bad! Café Latte comes in hot (what we were offered) and cold and topped with two versions of latte art on thin, flavourless gelatin strips which are served randomly. Made from boiled fresh milk and espresso, the bitterness of the latte complements, or rather, balances out the sweetness of the s’mores dessert earlier. On top of that, it also refreshes the palate and provides a caffeine jolt to go with your sugar rush from the all the other dishes.

VERDICT (out of 5)
Presentation: 🍌🍌🍌🍌 (both)
Taste: 🍌🍌🍌🍌 (hot) / NOT RATED (Cold)
Value: 🍌🍌🍌🍌 (both)
Overall: 🍌🍌🍌🍌 (both)

Free limited edition original coaster with any order from the drink menu (but you're unable to choose the design)

Free limited edition original coaster with any order from the drink menu (but you’re unable to choose the design)


GRU&LUCY “GRUCY” Soda (S$8.90++)

Perfect combination of Gru and Lucy. Frozen fruits in stunning blue soda drink.

Perfect combination of Gru and Lucy. Frozen fruits in stunning blue soda drink.

We are not sure if this drink is meant to be stirred but we did in attempt to evenly distribute the flavour and fizziness. But surely it wouldn’t have caused the soda drink to instantly lose its carbonated sting? The absence of the tingling sensation intensifies the sweetness of this drink so we ended up not enjoying it as much as we hoped to. But if you are not a caffeine person in any way, this would be the most affordable (i.e. cheapest) non-caffeine beverage option on the menu.

VERDICT (out of 5)
Presentation: 🍌🍌🍌
Taste: 🍌🍌
Value: 🍌🍌🍌
Overall: 🍌🍌🍌

BALTHAZAR’s Bubble Gum?! Milk Tea (S$10.90++)

Fashioned after Balthazar's giant pink bubble that ravaged the city, dance battle it out with Robot Clive in this eclectic milk tea drink!

Fashioned after Balthazar’s giant pink bubble that ravaged the city, dance battle it out with Robot Clive in this eclectic milk tea drink!

Kampai!

Kampai!

VERDICT (out of 5)
Presentation: 🍌🍌🍌
Taste: (NOT RATED)
Perceived value: 🍌🍌
Overall: 🍌🍌🍌

Free limited edition original placemat (paper) with any order at the MINIONS CAFÉ

Free limited edition original placemat (paper) with any order at the MINIONS CAFÉ

Gru and Minions make a special appearance at the media preview!

Gru and Minions make a special appearance at the media preview!

Find out when Gru and Minions will make another appearance on The Guest Cafe Singapore Facebook page!

Find out when Gru and Minions will make another appearance on The Guest Cafe Singapore Facebook page!

You would, however, have to either make a purchase on the merchandise or dine in to get a chance to take photo with Gru and Minions. (Psst.. the easiest way to meet the mascots is to get something affordable from the merchandise corner!)

That’s all from us. We hope this little review has helped in one way or another!

Pank yu for reading and poopaye! 🖐

MINIONS CAFÉ – a concept by PARCO

Orchard Central
181 Orchard Road, #03-23/24/25, Singapore 238896
(take the escalator next to Desigual for easier access)
Opening hours: 11.00 am – 9.00 pm (last order)
Nearest MRT station: Somerset
*MINIONS CAFÉ is not Halal-certified*
PARCO SG Website | The Guest Cafe Singapore Facebook

The post is co-written with Alphonsus, my fellow glutton.

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Pokémon Cafe Singapore @ EwF Bugis Junction

Hello everyone!

Anybody growing up in the ’90s was bound to have a favourite cartoon that they would religiously follow on TV.  For me, I was an ardent Pokémaniac. Much as I hated waking up early, I made the effort to drag myself out of bed before 10am every Saturday just so that I could watch a 30-minute episode of Pokémon on Kids Central (now okto). That was before the internet became a household commodity so unless I blew my meagre pocket money on VCDs, there was no way I could catch up on episodes I missed. Even as an adult now, I still go into a frenzy at the thought and sight of Pokémon (I have a Nintendo 3DS purely for playing Pokémon). Hence, receiving the news about the opening of Pokémon pop-up cafe in Singapore has got to be the best thing that has ever happened to a Pokémon aficionado like me.

In collaboration with Everything with Fries (EwF), the pop-up cafe at Bugis Junction happening between 27 May and 31 July 2016 is the first in South-East Asia following its roaring success at Shibuya PARCO in Japan. The concept of the food and drinks in the cafe’s original menu are inspired by Pokémon stories and characters with Pikachu as the main protagonist.

The queue on a Thursday afternoon

The queue on a Thursday afternoon

As I had expected, the queue had already started to form before the opening of the cafe. Then, as if the 5-hour waiting time wasn’t intense enough, everything was sold out about 2 hours ahead of closing time on the first day. HA! Beat that, Hello Kitty!

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Pokémon merchandise is also sold exclusively at the cafe alongside other official Pokémon products which you may find at, no doubt, a way cheaper rate at the Pokémon centre in Japan. When I was there, however, popular items like the Pikachu T-shirt for adults were already out of stock, leaving only the plainly-designed one for kids. The key holders (cheaply made with plastic that scratches easily) and can badges each encased in silver plastic packaging to prevent customers from choosing the design. The only thing that is honestly worth buying is the Pokémon XY Omnibus Kalos Region at S$22.90. The merchandise corner is open to walk-ins so you don’t need to dine in order to get anything there.

Pokemon cafe - bar and kitchen area

Pokemon cafe – bar and kitchen area

Occupying the entire EwF space, the Pokémon cafe is adorned with yellow balloons, blown-up Pikachu figures and decals of other favourite characters from the Kalos region. It is apparent that considerable thought had been put into the look and feel of the cafe. Apart from the familiar tunes of the Pokémon game playing rather softly in the background, all the waitstaff sport Pikachu ears headband and have Pikachu tail dangling from their backside. Perhaps it would seem more coordinated if they have worn a yellow shirt instead of their white EwF (I suppose) uniform.

But that’s beside the point. I would rather more effort be put into the execution of the dishes because many of them turned out to be a huge letdown and embarrassment. If you haven’t been there yet, maybe this review would save you the hassle of making a trip to the cafe and waiting at least 1 hour in line (the dwindling crowd speaks for itself) only to spend close to S$100 on substandard food. In this entry, you will be treated to some behind-the-scenes happenings relayed to me by a staff as well.

Pikachu Smiling Rice Omelette with Magma Sauce (S$25++)

Pikachu Smiling Rice Omelette with Magma Sauce

Pikachu Smiling Rice Omelette with Magma Sauce

I wouldn’t have bought this Pikachu Smiling Rice Omelette with Magma Sauce if not for the complimentary Pokéball mug that comes with this dish. For the price of S$25++ for a big insipid mound of Saffron rice as Pikachu’s face and two miserably dry, malnourished and thin omelette rolled up into the shape of the ears, surely that is daylight robbery. Seaweed was used to recreate the darker areas of the face and ears. I was appalled by the ridiculous use of ketchup for the cheeks and mouth. I mean, they could have gone with red-dyed crackers or something since this rice omelette was starting to remind me of Nasi Briyani. And at the side was some salad to inject some greens in the dish. Basically, I felt like I was having a vegetarian meal because of the apparent absence of meat on the plate.

The profit margin from the sale of this dish alone must have already been enough to cover the overhead costs of the business because it’s so overpriced and bland, to say the least. How cunning of the owners, I thought, to have used the mug as a bait to diehard Pokémon fans.

Carb-loaded meal - that's how much rice was on my plate. The portion is as big as my face

Carb-loaded meal – that’s how much rice was on my plate. The portion is as big as my face

Colour of magma sauce

Colour of magma sauce

The highlight of this dish was the Primal Groudon’s magma sauce which tasted like curry, except that it was reddish-pink and not spicy at all. The overall lack of flavour of the rice was momentarily salvaged by the semi-sweet and earthy taste of the sauce which filled only half the small Pokéball cup. Goodness me! Can they get any stingier than that?

Special Move “Fire Blast”! Primal Groudon’s Bolognese (S$20++)

Special Move “Fire Blast”! Primal Groudon’s Bolognese

Special Move “Fire Blast”! Primal Groudon’s Bolognese

Upon learning that the beef patty dish was unavailable, we reluctantly switched our next order to this Special Move “Fire Blast”! Primal Groudon’s Bolognese.

Worse. Decision. Ever.

It was a typical chicken bolognese paired with egg white patty in the middle and two sides of a toasted bun with a faded Pikachu imprint and that’s it. No pasta, rice whatsoever. You’re expected to fill your stomach with just bread as your main carbohydrate food from this supposedly main course *slow clap* Perhaps the overwhelming amount of Saffron rice from the Pikachu Smiling Rice Omelette is meant to be shared with whichever poor soul has ordered this dish. Taste-wise, it was unsurprisingly mediocre. The chicken bolognese from Pastamania certainly tasted heaps better with a more generous serving of meat. So, steer clear if you’re hungry.

The “Pokéball” – looking nothing like the fondant-textured one on the menu – is made of egg white and had ketchup once again (what’s with the excessive use of ketchup, though) smeared on the upper half, thereby adding even more acidity to the already-acidic flavour of the chunky bolognese sauce. Despite the fact that all the recipes and artistic direction of the dishes were provided by the licensor (which I doubt were conscientiously conformed here because it’s quite unlike the Japanese to produce such unacceptable standard of food), the whole dish seemed to be put together by amateurs and there is clearly no attempt in flavour balancing at all.

Wanna Get Tingling!? “Volt Tackle” Soda (S$10++)

“Volt Tackle” Soda

“Volt Tackle” Soda

Mango sherbet

Mango sherbet

Just when I thought things would get better once we had our beverages, we were subjected to yet another disappointment. As per usual cafe/restaurant protocol, we expected our drinks to be served first before our mains. But alas, they only came just before our dessert. Even though we were thirsty from eating too much Saffron rice and ketchup, we were still rather cool with the wait.

About 30 minutes into our dining experience, our beverages finally came. Everything was pretty much identical to what we saw on the menu except for the mango sherbet in the “Volt Tackle” Soda. From my knowledge, sherbet is a sweetened frozen dessert made with fruits and dairy product such as milk or cream. But the barely-recognisable Pikachu sherbet in my drink looks more like coloured ice. And to top it off, there is not a single mango flavour. Nevertheless, the passionfruit soda was refreshing but no way it is worth S$10++. Not even with that less-than-one-teaspoon amount of popping candy for the added tingling effect.

(Seriously man, want to give so little popping candy then might as well don’t give la)

Stick-on Pikachu tail on all cutlery

Stick-on Pikachu tail on all cutlery

Iced Pikachu Latte (S$9++)

Iced Pikachu Latte

Iced Pikachu Latte

Finally, a perfectly executed art direction. Give this barista a pay raise!

Finally, a perfectly executed art direction in this cafe. Give this barista a pay raise!

The best item on the menu is surprisingly a beverage – the Iced Pikachu Latte – partly due to the perfectly execution of the latte art as well as its overall visual appeal.. which is sadly almost nonexistent in this cafe. The sweetness of the cream lent a refreshing contrast to the mild bitterness of the espresso which was pulled in the morning (yes, that’s right, the staff are asked to prepare the espresso early in the morning daily). But they somehow don’t blend easily so we had to keep licking the straw to taste the sweetness. One cup of iced latte takes approximately 10 minutes to make due to the pasting of Pikachu’s face and adding of the cream.

The cheeks you see here are colour melts but now the cafe has changed to using red whipped cream (man, the inconsistency..). The ears are formed with monaka (the same thin and airy wafer used in Japanese ice-cream sandwich) dipped in dark chocolate sauce forms the ears. Monaka has an light, airy and elastic texture, somewhat like our biscuit piring wafer, but is more resistant to liquid.

Complimentary Pokemon coasters with every drink purchase

Complimentary Pokemon coasters with every drink purchase

Pikachu’s Sweeeeet Pancake (S$20++)

Pikachu’s Sweeeeet Pancake

Pikachu’s Sweeeeet Pancake

Although we were told at the entrance that we weren’t allowed to request for desserts to be served later, we still ended up having to wait more than half an hour (from the time we settled down) for our Pikachu’s Sweeeeet Pancake to arrive and only after we incessantly chased for it because we were in a hurry. An insider divulged that food service can be slow at times as the cafe staff go in order of highest demand, hence the preparation of the less popular food items may be delayed. To cope with high volume of orders, the pancakes – which were the most sought-after – were made in batches of 20, kept aside and reheated in microwave oven when they need to be served. Even so, reheating takes time, thus greatly affecting the speed of service. Sometimes you may find thyme and mint leaves (for decorative purposes anyway) missing on your plate as well because the cafe has run out of them. Apart from these two ingredients, the cafe also constantly faces shortage in milk. I find this sloppy considering that the ingredients were all gotten from local suppliers.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION

Puffs and crepes are perpetually served a lot slower as they require much longer preparation time.

So I guess the above explains why the queue hardly moves? It all stems from the poor management of the cafe and shortage of manpower which contributed to the long waiting time for food to be served.

Going back to our expensive dessert which also comes with a free Pokéball mug, the first thing we noted was the disproportionate appearance of Pikachu’s face compared with the ears. The edges of the uppermost pancake were ripped off as if it was scooped out of the pan in a haste with no hoots given to quality control (do they even use the mold?). Despite being supposedly reheated, the pancakes we had were still cold but that’s honestly fine with me because the sweetness of the refillable maple syrup would have taken the attention away from it.

Pikachu’s facial features on the pancake are neatly constructed with cocoa powder and topped with monaka ears. The star of this dish is undoubtedly the tail. Made using a slab of Japanese-style butter cookie, it provides a soft crunch and a melt-in-your-mouth consistency. I personally prefer this to plain-tasting monaka.

Now, I believe many of you have read this review by Vivian Tian on the “bleeding” Pikachu served with the Pokéball Cream Puff. Here’s the other side of the story, provided by the preparer herself:

The blogger (Vivian) is my friend and whatever desserts and drinks you’ve seen here is done by me. And I will take this time to explain the reason behind it.

Originally the moose you’ve seen here is meant to have film used (the same EDIBLE FILM used on our iced lattes). And I have a minimum standard of professionalism when making food, and when we found out we had no film left, we had to make red whipped cream. And, obviously, those who baked before will know that too much red food colouring will make it more liquidy. And alas, I tried my best handling something new, and it bled. 

NEVERMIND, WANT TO REMAKE. But the bloody server decided to serve my pikachu from hell to them WITHOUT ASKING. Pissed, but nevermind. Knowing they will reject, I remade it. Cause I know them well, they will know what I go through. 

And she forewarned me how strict she will be, I said okay.

In conclusion, my experience was tainted by the unnecessarily long waiting time and expensive dishes prepared using cheap ingredients which I can readily find in my home refrigerator. But then again, I don’t blame the cafe staff because their morale has probably hit rock bottom after getting pushed around by their bosses. As much as I’m a huge Pokémon lover, I don’t condone the owners’ blatant profiteering and their poor staff management. So no, I don’t recommend dining at this cafe.

Thanks for reading!

Pokémon cafe @ EwF – a concept by PARCO
Bugis Junction, 4th Floor
200 Victoria St, 188021
From 27th May (Fri) to 31st July 2016 (Sun)
Operating hours: 11:00am (last order at 9:30pm )
Facebook | Instagram

Banana Kaya Dessert @ Domino’s Pizza

MEDIA INVITE

Hey everyone!

The SG50 weekend may be over but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop! In my book, birthdays last the whole month. Whaddya say if we continue the golden jubilee celebrations ’til the end of August? After all, it took us 50 years to come this far and it would be a pity not to stretch out the celebration for as long as possible, amirite? 😀

How about some Singaporean-inspired delights by Domino’s Pizza to kick-start round two of the National Day celebration?

dominos-pizza-banana-kaya-24

Introducing Domino’s all new Banana Kaya Dessert!

This new offering certainly evokes some nostalgia in me. I believe many Singaporeans (and even Malaysians) would agree that kaya jam is simply part of our everyday diet. Long before I discovered the wondrous joy of Nutella and peanut butter, breakfast before school was always white bread spread with kaya jam accompanied by a cup of hot Milo tirelessly prepared by my Mom. Subsequently when I got a weekend job during my Polytechnic years, I would have kaya toast served with teh (hot milk tea) at the kopitiam (coffee shop) under my block faithfully every morning before I headed to work.

Therefore launching this new Banana Kaya pizza in conjunction with SG50 is pretty apt, isn’t it? 🙂

Domino's Banana Kaya Dessert

Domino’s Banana Kaya Dessert

Domino's Banana Kaya Dessert

Domino’s Banana Kaya Dessert

Domino's Banana Kaya Dessert

Domino’s Banana Kaya Dessert

Thickness of the crust

Thickness of the crust

I had the privilege of tasting this new item at the launch party two weeks ago. The Banana Kaya dessert comes with light and buttery crust sprinkled with icing sugar. Filling the middle is a generous layer of sweet, authentic pandan kaya made from rich coconut cream, fresh egg and aromatic pandan leaves and topped with oven baked banana slices that marry well with the spread. It’s about the size of your personal pan pizza which you can either have it all to yourself or share it (the calories, that is) among your friends!

I must admit, though, that it’s exceptionally delicious only when served straight from the oven so you can savour the crunchiness of the crust. It doesn’t taste as nice when it’s all cold and soggy in the middle (I know because I inadvertently left my second slice under the air-conditioner and it was blergh). But fret not! Domino’s Pizza, as you know, has a 30-minute delivery guarantee (and a 15-minute takeout guarantee) so you can rest assured that your orders would be delivered to you hot and fresh. Otherwise, do consider dining in!

What’s more, because it is (still) SG50, this delightful Banana Kaya Dessert is selling at 50% off for a limited period! In other words, this is going for S$3.90 instead of the usual price of S$7.80! Not only are you able to indulge in the familiar flavours of a childhood favourite, but you also get to enjoy great savings on this new dessert! 🙂

Here’s what also went down at the launch party:

*sings* Everything is awesome!

*sings* Everything is awesome! (photo credit: The Influencer Network)

Other bloggers who attended as well

Other bloggers who attended as well (photo credit: The Influencer Network)

Won myself a Domino's Pizza T-shirt woohoo!! (photo credit: The Influencer Network)

Won myself a Domino’s Pizza T-shirt woohoo!! (photo credit: The Influencer Network)

One of the games lined up for us was to stack as many bananas as possible on a team member's head and thereafter, walk to the other end of the restaurant without toppling them over. Unfortunately none of us could do that u_u (photo credit: The Influencer Network)

One of the games lined up for us was to stack as many bananas as possible on a team member’s head and thereafter, walk to the other end of the restaurant without toppling them over. Unfortunately none of us could do that u_u (photo credit: The Influencer Network)

But the other team successfully did it! So skilled lah. (photo credit: The Influencer Network)

But the other team successfully did it! So skilled lah. (photo credit: The Influencer Network)

The next challenge was to make our own banana kaya pizza using the many fingers of banana and a small bowl of homemade kaya provided by Domino's. (photo credit: The Influencer Network)

The next challenge was to make our own banana kaya pizza using the many fingers of banana and a small bowl of homemade kaya provided by Domino’s. This was our creation! (photo credit: The Influencer Network)

Our pizza when baked!

Our pizza when baked!

Not bad ah :D

Not bad ah 😀

And we won for that segment! (photo credit: The Influencer Network)

And we won for that segment! (photo credit: The Influencer Network)

If you’re planning to throw another party over the weekend (that’s not too far away, thanks to the off-in-lieu!) with your family and loved ones at your crib, or a potluck dinner for friends to get together, you definitely have to take advantage of this SG50 deal rolled out by Domino’s Pizza!

Pizza partehhhh

Pizza partehhhh

You can now complete your meal with Domino’s ‘2 Pizzas’ deal for only S$22Choose 2 regular pizzas from the wide array of Italian favourites and at the same time, select your desired crusts including Classic Hand-Tossed, New York Crust, Crunchy Thin Crust, Cheese Burst Crust and Domino’s latest Cheesy Crust – a crust that is luxuriously filled with melting hot mozzarella and coated with garlic and herbs. There are also 6 delectable and original pizza sauces to choose from, such as Domino’s signature sauce, Sweet & Spicy sauce, Smoky BBQ sauce, Napolitana sauce, Top Secret sauce and Pesto Passion sauce.

What I love about Domino’s is its huge selection of flavours which are not limited to the same ‘ol boring ones like Hawaiian, Pepperoni, Chicken and whatsoever. They have really interesting additions like Basilico Chicken, Chilli Beef and Sicilian Prawns in the Classics and First Class range (surcharge applies). Plus, they taste reaaaally good.

Ultimate Hawaiian (surcharge applies)

Ultimate Hawaiian – “loads of delicious roasted chicken, shredded chicken, juicy pineapples and fresh mushrooms on our brand new pizza sauce” (surcharge applies)

Sicilian Prawn (surcharge applies)

Sicilian Prawn – “succulent prawns, fresh onions, cherry tomatoes on pesto sauce” (surcharge applies)

Meatzza (surcharge applies)

Meatzza – “100% mozzarella cheese with succulent smoked chicken breast, chicken ham, chicken sausage, cabanossi, beef pepperoni and ground beef” (surcharge applies)

Basilico Chicken (surcharge applies)

Basilico Chicken – “roasted chicken, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, onion and pesto sauce” (surcharge applies)

Alfredo Prawn (surcharge applies)

Alfredo Prawn – “onion, red pepper, pineapple, prawns, mozzarella cheese on Top Secret sauce” (surcharge applies)

Full list of flavours can be found here.

Apart from that, you can also enjoy 50% off (yes, another one!) your all-time favourite sides! Available daily from 3pm to 6pm (share with your hungry colleagues!) with no minimum spending required, these are the sides eligible for the awesome discount:

  1. Chocolate Lava CakeS$3.40 (RP S$6.80)
  2. *NEW* Golden Chicken (Golden Mediterranean Chicken, Golden Outback Chicken, Golden Italiano Chicken or Golden Mexican Chicken), S$5.40 each (RP S$10.80)
  3. Cinnastix, S$2.90 (RP S$5.80)
  4. Napolitana Baked Meatballs, S$5.40 (RP S$10.80)
  5. Banana Kaya Dessert, S$3.90 (RP S$7.80)
  6. Roasted Chicken Drummet (6 pcs), S$4.90 (RP S$9.80)
Golden Mediterranean Chicken

Golden Mediterranean Chicken (S$5.40)

Golden Italiano Chicken (S$5.40)

Golden Italiano Chicken (S$5.40)

Psst.. There’s a Domino’s SG50 contest going on!

Celebrate Singapore’s 50 years of excellence and heritage with Domino’s Pizza Singapore. 5 lucky winners will win a pizza party worth $100. You may choose to take part on either Facebook or Instagram or even both platform.

For Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1JsrGp4
For Instagram: http://bit.ly/1LTRQD3 (hashtag #BananaKaya #DominosSG)

Contest ends 16 Aug 2015

Oh gosh, my stomach is starting to growl after seeing all the pictures above! I guess my dinner later is settled. What about yours? 🙂

Signing off with a group picture with the rest of the amazing bloggers! Thanks for the invite, TIN :)

Signing off with a group picture with the rest of the amazing bloggers! Thanks for the invite, TIN 🙂

Domino’s Pizza

Operating hours: 10.30am – 11.00pm
Delivery Hotline: +65 6222 6333
Pizza Menu | Sides Menu | Drinks Menu
Outlets | Website | Facebook | Instagram | App

New Eats at 313@somerset + Tring 313 App

MEDIA INVITE

Hey everyone!

Isn’t it amazing that a small country like Singapore would be able to accommodate the countless malls we have today? Take the stretch of Orchard Road for example. To date, there are more than 20 shopping centres housed along the 2.2 kilometre-long boulevard and as a frequent shopper at the retail district, I can totally understand the dilemma of having too many malls to choose from. But I for one prefer to shop at malls that won’t burn a hole in my pocket (unlike y’know, luxury malls) because after all, I’m still a student. A broke ass one, that is.

Therefore I was really elated to know that one of my go-to malls in town – 313@somerset – has rolled out a FREE mobile application to help shoppers to discover exclusive offers and promotion from over 170 retailers within the complex itself!

Like Qoo10 and other group buying sites, the Tring 313 app is regularly updated with time-sensitive deals on food, gadgets and fashion items offered by merchants which you have to prepay to enjoy. It utilises location-based targeting technology to allow users who are within walking distance from their current location to be notified of a featured deal within the mall. But more often than not, these deals are so popular, they get snapped up even before they expire! This shows how much of a massive discount you can get out of these promotions for them to be so well-received.

For instance, I spotted a $30 for $50 Forever21 voucher while I was browsing the app on my bed late one night. As I was too lazy to get off my bed to get my credit card, I left the buying to the next day. But it was already gone when I woke up! Holy shizzle.

(ok lah I woke up pretty late that day, at like 2pm. But you get my point)

Anyway, since its opening in 2009, 313@somerset has been continually renewing and adjusting its tenant mix so if you haven’t been to the mall in ages, you are definitely in for a lovely surprise. Now a completely refreshed mall, it’s been updated with new F&B tenants such as Soup Stock Tokyo, O’ma Spoon, Chir Chir Fusion Chicken Factory and many more.

Now, let me take your stomach on a virtual culinary tour around some of the latest F&B offerings at 313@somerset. Get your tissue paper on standby to wipe any drool off your face.

Soup Stock Tokyo

Since its inception in Tokyo in 1999, Soup Stock Toyko has expanded with over 70 outlets in Japan and it has recently opened its third in Singapore. It is a fast food chain well-known for its soups which are made with fresh ingredients sourced from Japanese farms. Hungry mall-goers can also look forward to other food choices on the menu such as curry rice. As far as I know, the kitchen at the 313@somerset outlet is headed by a Japanese chef (same goes for the day-to-day operations, also run by a Japanese) to retain its Japanese feel.

There is an ongoing promotion (“2 for 2”) for those who are dining in pairs. For just S$30.80, you and your buddy will get to choose your preferred curry to go along with your rice, a drink and a small soup each.

Drinks: Iced Tea, Lemon Tea Soda and Mint Soda

Drinks: Iced Tea, Lemon Tea Soda and Mint Soda

Soups (from top left, clockwise): Chicken Vegetable Soup, Pork and Tomato Stroganoff, Hokkaido Crab Bisque, Tokyo Beef Borsch

Soups (from top left, clockwise): Chicken Vegetable Soup, Pork and Tomato Stroganoff, Hokkaido Crab Bisque, Tokyo Beef Borsch

The Chicken Vegetable Soup was a clear broth with a choke-full of cabbage and meaty chunks of chicken for an added kick of protein.  It had a mild but refreshing flavour that’s perfect for a chilly day and it’s definitely also the soup to get if you’re looking for a light and healthy entrée.

The Pork and Tomato Stroganoff, on the other hand, was a complete opposite in terms of taste as it was bursting with rich pork and tangy tomato flavours. The soup was slightly spicy on its own but if you have high spice tolerance, it should be subtle enough to slip past your tongue.

When it comes to gourmet soups, I tend to gravitate towards those with a creamier and heavier consistency because they are one comfort classic that help to satiate my hunger at the same time (though I’m not a fan of the calorie and the fat content). Therefore, my favourite out of the 4 soups I had was the Hokkaido Crab Bisque for the same reason. However, unlike other crab bisques I have tasted, the tomatoes (an ingredient which SST seemed to love) which were simmered with the crab stock had kinda overwhelmed the more delicate crab flavour. But overall it was still quite enjoyable. Perhaps SST can consider topping it with croutons to make it taste less “flat”.

Another personal favourite was the Tokyo Beef Borsch which had caramelised onions and tender beef, onions, potato and carrots served in thick and flavourful brown soup. I simply love how the lemon slice and yogurt were strategically positioned to resemble a rising sun with its reflection in the water (I know right, I’m so imaginative hahaha), probably to indicate that it is the soup to drink to brighten up your morning.

Onion Chicken Curry

Onion Chicken Curry and Hokkaido Crab Bisque

Onion Chicken Curry

Onion Chicken Curry

Paired with moist brown rice laced with cooked onion, this dish hits a healthy home run. The pieces of chicken meat were tender and mostly deboned while the curry – a yummy mix of spice (not spicy though) and cashew nuts – was fragrant and thick with a slightly foamy texture on the surface. I enjoyed the taste which leaned more towards the sweet side. The slab of onion in the middle was surprisingly sweet as well and it was soft enough for my fork to cut through it with ease.

Tomato Chicken Curry

Tomato Chicken Curry and Chicken Vegetable Soup

Tomato Chicken Curry

Tomato Chicken Curry

The piquant flavour of the curry came mainly from the tomato so the acidic taste was a little overbearing for me. It kinda reminded me of tomato soup, just slightly sweeter and richer because of the curry (which also contained watercress and spice). But it was a great complement with the moist Japanese rice.

Prices range from S$10.80 for a regular soup set (regular soup + Japanese rice or bread) to S$16.80 for a curry soup set (curry + rice + small soup).

Soup Stock Tokyo @ 313@Somerset
313 Orchard Road
#B-14 & B2-53/53A
Singapore 238895
Operating hours: 10.00am – 10.00pm Daily
Website | Facebook | Instagram


Chabuton

Owned by the world’s first Michelin-starred ramen chef Yasuji Morizumi, this ramen restaurant has made quite a name for itself in both Japan and Thailand. Its first Singapore outlet at 313@somerset was first open in 2014 and since then it has went on to add 3 more outlets across the island.

Feasting like there's no tomorrow

Feasting like there’s no tomorrow

Chabuton signature Ramen

Chabuton signature ramen

Chabuton Kara Kara Miso Ramen

Chabuton Kara Kara Miso Ramen (S$13.40++)

Topped with spicy minced pork and lean char siew slices, I believe it’s a ramen dish specially created for the Singaporean (or Southeast Asian) taste bud since the Japanese generally can’t take spicy food. The pork bone broth is slightly more salty than I expected but from what I understand, patrons can tweak the oil and saltiness level of the soup and the spiciness of the meat to suit their preference.

Chabuton Tonkotsu Ramen

Chabuton Tonkotsu Ramen (S$8.30++/S$11.90++)

Chabuton Tonkotsu Ramen

Chabuton Tonkotsu Ramen

The ramen that made Chabuton famous was also a tad salty (although not as much as the Kara Kara Miso Ramen) but I still preferred this for its creamier and richer broth. All ramen served in pork bone broth are sprinkled with roasted white sesame seeds to give an added texture and flavour.

Shoyu Zaru Ramen

Shoyu Zaru Ramen (S$11.90++)

This was an interesting ramen because there’s a specific way to eat it. The bowl of “soup” beside it is actually Chabuton’s signature Shoyu Sauce which acts as a dipping sauce for the ramen. To enjoy the Shoyu Zaru Ramen, you’d have to keep dipping the noodles into the sauce otherwise it’d just taste absolutely bland and dry. It got pretty tiring after awhile (sorry la I’m very lazy haha) so I ended up dumping a whole bunch of noodles into the warm sauce which turned cold very rapidly under the air-conditioning. But the noodles certainly tasted a lot better and springier after it was “seasoned”.

Hitokuchi Gyoza

Hitokuchi Gyoza (S$5++)

Just one look at the flat bite-sized gyoza and you’d be able to tell that there wasn’t a lot of filling packed into each dumpling. However I liked the skin as it was crispy and not too oily.

Ika Karaage

Ika Karaage (S$5.00++)

The fried squid was cut into small cubes for easy sharing and was completely devoured at the end of the tasting. Each piece of tender squid was coated with a light and crispy batter that went really well with the dab of mayonnaise provided on the same plate.

Aka Ebi Mentai

Aka Ebi Mentai (S$4.90++)

Another side that was a hit among the bloggers was the Aka Ebi Mentai although I felt that the prawns were slightly overcooked as the shell didn’t come off cleanly. Still, they were very meaty and delicious.

Ajitsuke Tamago

Ajitsuke Tamago (S$3.00++ as an add-on with Buta Kakuni)

If you’ve been following my food reviews (especially those on Eggs Benedict), you should know that I’m extremely particular about my eggs – the yolk has to be runny or the meal is ruined. The soft boiled eggs at Chabuton came with a moderately runny yolk that would definitely harden if left a few seconds longer in the pot. *phew*

Chabuton @ 313@somerset
313 Orchard Road
#B2-01
Singapore 238895
Operating hours: 11.30am – 10.00pm Daily
No website | Facebook


O’ma Spoon

The popularity of Korean food is on the rise in Singapore. O’ma Spoon is the republic’s first contemporary Korean dessert café franchise and it specialises in milk snow bingsu and other healthy desserts with most of its ingredients directly imported from Korea.

Yes, apparently bingsu doesn’t just refer to “shaved ice”. It could also mean “shaved milk” (made out of fresh milk) as demonstrated by the creators of the lovely desserts below:

Injeolmi Bingsu

Injeolmi Bingsu (S$12.90)

Injeolmi Bingsu

Injeolmi Bingsu – shaved milk

Wholly covered with Korean soya bean powder were some sticky Injeolmi rice cakes, crunchy cashew nuts and almond flakes layered around the nicely shaven milk ice. It’s a nightmare for people with an allergy to nuts but a total paradise for those who love them.

Mango Cheesecake Bingsu (Premium)

Mango Cheesecake Bingsu (Premium, S$18.90)

Topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a slice of cheesecake (ah, didn’t capture it on camera but yes, there was indeed a slice of cheesecake magically stuck to one side) with a generous amount of fresh mangoes, blueberries and almond flakes surrounding the shaved ice, this bingsu is every sweet tooth’s dream and also one of the more value-for-money desserts at O’ma Spoon.

Green Tea Bingsu

Green Tea Bingsu (S$13.90)

Green Tea Bingsu

Green Tea Bingsu – shaved milk

And here comes the flavour that all matcha lovers *raises hand* would go gaga over. Apart from the surface of the shaved ice, you’d be pleasantly surprised to see a layer of matcha powder hidden within when you dig into it. The scoop of sweet green tea ice cream atop the snow mountain was an added bonus. Apart from that, there were also red beans, almond flakes, cashew nuts and a dash of chocolate syrup to enhance the overall texture and taste.

Unless you have a really huge appetite, you may want to consider sharing the bingsu with your friends because the humongous portion is designed for 2 to 3 people.

Injeolmi Toast

Injeolmi Toast (S$8.90)

A cheaper and smaller alternative to the Injeolmi bingsu (if you’re alone), the Injeolmi toast is a simple oven-baked honey bread dusted with Injeolmi powder with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Choco Strawberry Honey Butter Bread

Choco Strawberry Honey Butter Bread (S$14.90)

Or, you could go with a two inch-thick toast slathered with chocolate spread and topped with strawberries, nuts and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. But if I were you, I’d rather spend the money on one of the bingsus because it’s more worthwhile.

O’ma Spoon @ 313@somerset
313 Orchard Road
#04-20/32
Singapore 238895
Operating hours: 10.00am – 10.00pm Daily
Website | Facebook


Pie Face

The world’s leading pie chain from Australia has arrived on the shores of Singapore with new flavours to its line-up of tasty Aussie pies.  Established in 2003, Pie Face is best known for baking all of its gourmet pies from scratch as well as its delicious fillings created by its chief pie baker, Mr Francois Galand. Other than its array of pies, the micro-bakery cafe also serves artisan coffee, crumbly cookies, moist cakes and piping hot soups.

Meet the Pie Faces: Chunky Steak, Chicken + Mushroom, Chicken + Peppercorn, Classic Mince Beef, Thai Green Curry Chicken, Spicy Chicken, Creamy Vegetable, Creamy Mushroom

Meet the mini Pie Faces: Chunky Steak, Chicken + Mushroom, Chicken + Peppercorn, Classic Mince Beef, Thai Green Curry Chicken, Spicy Chicken, Creamy Vegetable, Creamy Mushroom (starting from S$3 each)

The flavours are distinguished by the faces on the pies. Find out more here.

Classic Mince Beef

Classic Mince Beef

Hand-piped with juicy ground beef mixed with onion, fresh coriander, garlic, gravy, tomato paste, these mini classic minced beef pies are savoury enough to make you swoon.

Spicy Chicken

Spicy Chicken

If you’re in for some tongue-tingling heat, you will very much enjoy these spicy chicken pies because they are all packed with chicken meat, onions, garlic, cracked pepper and… chilli padi! The spiciness is no joke, I swear. I took a few bites and my sore throat immediately worsened heaps. Haha! For a non-spicy version, try Thai green curry chicken pie 🙂

The larger version of these pies are also hearty enough to be eaten as a meal.

Sweet Pies (S$3.30 each): Mini Coffee Mousse Pie, Mini Butterscotch Pie, Mini Green Tea with Red Bean Pie, Mini Raspberry Pie, Mini Chocolate Pie, Mini Lemon Pie, Almond Frangipane Pie, Apple Crumble Pie

Old and New Sweet Pies: Mini Coffee Mousse Pie, Mini Butterscotch Pie, Mini Green Tea with Red Bean Pie, Mini Raspberry Pie, Mini Chocolate Pie, Mini Lemon Pie, Almond Frangipane Pie (new), Apple Crumble Pie (new), all at S$3.30 each

Sweet Pies

Pretty colours!

Mini Raspberry Pie and Mini Butterscotch Pie

Mini Raspberry Pie and Mini Butterscotch Pie

The coloured pies are all infused with sweet mousse-like filling (with the exception of the Lemon Pie which had a sour lemon custard). My favourite was the butterscotch pie because it’s so sinfully sweet (hehe).

Pie Face @ 313@somerset
313 Orchard Road
#B3-10
Singapore 238895
Operating hours: 10.00am – 10.00pm Daily
Website | Facebook | Instagram


Chir Chir Fusion Chicken Factory

Adding to the long list of restaurants specialising in Korean Fried Chicken (KFC) in Singapore is Chir Chir Fusion Chicken Factory (pronounced chee-ruh chee-ruh) which stands out from the crowd with its unique menu.. and ridiculously big portions which can feed for me for days are meant for sharing among at least 4 diners.

Press for service

To save you from flailing your arms like an idiot

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Chir Cream Beer (full pint at 650ml, S$13.90++, and half pint at 350ml, S$18.90++), refreshing ice cold beer topped with a layer of fresh whipped cream

Lady Killer

Lady Killer (S$16.90++), mojito with an inverted Cass beer

Not a rum lover (or a drinker as a matter of fact) but the Lady Killer was surprisingly decent and refreshing with a not-so-strong alcoholic punch as I could still distinctively taste the lemon and mint. It also makes a great palate cleanser before the main course.

Red-gizer

Red-gizer (S$14.90++), strawberry slushie with coconut milk and an inverted Red Bull can

Don’t you find it fascinating how a simple drink like Red Bull can be transformed into something so sophisticated? The Red-gizer satisfied my sweet cravings with its insanely saccharine flavour.

Many of us were intrigued by how the inverted drink was able to fill the cup with its content without overflowing, and even more so when we realised that it could also replenish the cup every time we took a sip. It must be the angle, yes, but still it didn’t make sense. Since there wasn’t any obstruction at the opening, I reckon the crushed ice also played a part in regulating the flow. Argh, couldn’t have my meal in peace without first unraveling this mystery!

Passion Yellow Tok Tok

Passion Yellow Tok! Tok! (S$14.90++ for non-alcoholic /S$18.90++ for alcoholic), a sweet and sour passion fruit mocktail

Passion Yellow Tok Tok

Passion Yellow Tok! Tok!

The sweet and tart passion fruit base instantly became fizzy beverage with an iSi soda charger. Soju would be added instead if we had gone with the alcoholic option.

Passion Yellow Tok Tok

Passion Yellow Tok! Tok! mixed with Blue Marine Tok! Tok! (S$14.90++ for non-alcoholic /S$18.90++ for alcoholic), a green grape mocktail to give a cool turquoise concoction

Other Tok! Tok! flavours available for you to experiment with are Blue Sky (blue lemonade) and Berry Purple (blueberry and forest berries).

Coconut Milktail

Coconut Milktail (S$12.90++), a sweet strawberry mocktail with soft coconut milk, and the blended Blue Marine and Passion Yellow Tok Tok in the background

Having any two of the above beverages would essentially be enough to fulfill your calorie requirement. They’re so sinful but oh-so-good!

Honey Grape Salad

Honey Grape Salad (S$18.90++)

Looking to begin your meal on an even sweeter note? Try the Honey Grape Salad! It may not be the most appealing salad but boy, it was marvellous. Toss the chilled seedless grapes, raisins, walnuts, almonds with the ricotta and whipped cream and you’re ready to eat. The sugary and crispy tortillas were nice and crumbly and they balanced out the juiciness of the grapes.

Nest Snow

Nest Snow (S$32.90++)

Nest Snow

Nest Snow

Seasoned with cajun (note: spicy) and topped with whipped cream, these chicken tenders that sit atop a bed of creamy white cheesy sauce and sweet salad (was pleased to see broccoli) were a bizarre combination but the taste proved to be totally off the charts.

Crispy Fried Wings

Crispy Fried Wings (S$26.90++)

Crispy Fried Wings

Crispy Fried Chicken

I’ve heard great things about the fried chicken but the crispy fried chicken I had were disappointing – bland and too dry for my liking, probably because the kitchen was overwhelmed with orders that day (there was already a long queue waiting outside the restaurant at 2pm).

Garlicky Wings

Garlicky Wings! (S$28.90++)

Garlicky Wings

Garlicky Wings!

Garlicky wings had a more promising flavour, of course. Topped with garlic flakes and fried garlic cloves to live up to its title, the crispy wings were doused in rich, fragrant, caramel-coloured soya sauce that didn’t quite deliver. The soya flavour was more muted as compared to that of soya chicken wings I’ve had elsewhere.

Spicy Wings

Spicy Wings! (S$28.90++)

Spicy Wings

Spicy Wings!

The spicy wings stole the limelight. They were well-marinated which evened out the spiciness of the chilli sauce. I gotta admit, they were indeed spicy so you may need to take a few big gulps of water in between to mellow down the heat.

Rosemary Herb Roasted Chicken

Rosemary Herb Roasted Chicken (S$29.90++)

Rosemary Herb Roasted Chicken

Rosemary Herb Roasted Chicken

A healthier alternative to fried chicken, the roasted chicken was aromatic and succulent in general, though some pieces were slightly drier.  All in all, the woodsy rosemary marinade really enhanced the overall meat flavour

Chir Chir Fusion Chicken Factory @ 313@somerset
313 Orchard Road
#B3-04/05/06
Singapore 238895
Operating hours: Sun – Thur 10.00am – 10.00pm, Fri – Sat 10.00am – 11.00pm
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Dinata

Its 313@somerset outlet is its only take-away kiosk in Singapore, specialising in traditional and authentic Portuguese snacks and pastries using only the freshest and highest quality ingredients.

Our pastries were delivered to our table packed in paper bags so some of them may appear a little lopsided. Let’s just focus on the taste, shall we?

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Indulgent treats (from left): Chicken Drumstick, Chocolate Doughssan, Cornucopia Hazelnut and Portugese Egg Tart

Portuguese Egg Tart

Portuguese Egg Tart (S$2.80)

The tart was a bit of a letdown because the crust wasn’t very flaky (in fact it was a little soggy) and it kinda lacked the light texture I hoped for. I came across some online reviews on their egg tarts and understood that it was supposed to have cinnamon sugar sprinkled on the surface. But that seemed to be missing from my tart. Having said that, the custard was smooth and I don’t mind giving their signature pastry a shot again (definitely with the Tring 313 app!) because after all, I love egg tarts.

Chicken Drumstick

Chicken Drumstick (S$1.20 for mini, S$2.20 for regular)

Known as Coxinha in Portuguese, this pastry contains thick chicken chunks covered in dough and moulded into a shape that resembles a chicken drumstick (hence the name), battered with bread crumbs and deep fried to give the golden brown appearance. The semi-cooked dough that lined the inner wall of the batter reminded me of glutinous rice, soft and sticky, while the chicken meat was more on the dry side. Nonetheless, this makes a suitable snack to combat hunger in between meals. Other variations available are the crab and prawn drumsticks specially catered to seafood lovers.

Cornucopia Hazelnut

Cornucopia Hazelnut (S$1.20 for mini, S$2.20 for regular)

These cone-shaped pastries, perhaps inspired from the shape of a conus (cone shell), were glazed with white icing and hand-piped with thick hazelnut cream that had a mild roasted taste to it. I started devouring it from the pointed end to prevent smearing my lips with the cream. Also comes with strawberry and coconut flavours for those with inquisitive taste buds.

Chocolate Doughssan

Chocolate Doughssan (S$1.20 for mini, S$2.20 for regular)

With a thick coat of chocolate frosting spread all over the top and rich, velvety chocolate cream infused into the topmost layer, these lip-smacking chocolate doughssans (a hybrid of donut and croissant) are the perfect alternative to éclairs for your parties. They were light and airy like donuts but lost out on the flakiness of croissants. Would probably taste better after warming it up (available upon request). Not fond of chocolates? There are also cream doughssans for you to indulge in.

Dinata @ 313@somerset
313 Orchard Road
#B3-42
Singapore 238895
Operating hours: 11.00am – 10.00pm
Website Facebook | Instagram


Hvala Waffle Bar

Operating on the same ground is Hvala, a dessert kiosk run by a young couple that sells waffles with a twist, and vanilla soft serve. But unlike typical ice cream parlours, Hvala serves their specialties separately because each of them is handcrafted with unique flavours (and toppings) that work on their own.

By the way, Hvala is pronounced as “hva-la” with the h spoken quickly. But as we all know, Singaporeans have lazy tongue so the unofficial pronunciation is “fa-la”. Hvala is Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian for thank you and it was chosen as the business name to capture the essence of the amazing hospitality and service of the Croatians.

Of Waffles and Ice Cream

Of Waffles and Ice Cream

Real Vanilla Soft Serve with Salted Caramel

Real Vanilla Soft Serve with Salted Caramel (S$3.00)

Real Vanilla Soft Serve with Chocolate Fondue

Real Vanilla Soft Serve with Chocolate Fondue (S$3.00)

Real Vanilla Soft Serve with Maple Syrup

Real Vanilla Soft Serve with Maple Syrup (S$3.00 without the toppings)

The high-quality soft serve ice creams are made with vanilla beans (evident from the little black specks all over the swirls) and they were seriously so decadent and creamy, they made all the vanilla ice cream I had before look bad. Had thought that I would prefer salted caramel more to the other two but I actually fell in love with the one drizzled with maple syrup. It blended well with the ice cream and enhanced the overall sweetness. The one with chocolate fondue required a bit more effort to eat because the chocolate hardened very rapidly above the cool temperature of the frozen food, therefore making it difficult to dig into the ice cream.

Enjoy a cup of vanilla soft serve to go with any waffles of your choice for just an additional S$2.50!

You can have your waffle tucked beneath the ice cream too!

NEW: You can have your waffle tucked beneath the ice cream too! (price varies according to the toppings you put)

Ooh waffle!

Ooh waffle!

I know I mentioned that their waffles and soft serve are sold separately but I guess after taking into consideration all the feedback from their customers, they had eventually decided to incorporate the waffle into the ice cream! But nothing beats having the full-sized waffles which come with many different toppings though.

Original Hvala Waffle

Original Hvala Waffle – served with maple syrup, icing sugar and cocoa powder (S$3)

Apple Cinnamon Waffle

Apple Cinnamon Waffle – caramelised apples with pastry cream, salted caramel and cinnamon powder (S$3.50)

Tiramisu Waffle

Tiramisu Waffle – homemade tiramisu cream and chocolate shavings (S$3.80)

The waffles, especially the original and apple cinnamon, were absolutely amazeballz. They were made to perfection – warm and crunchy on the outside and fluffy and soft on the inside. The portion was just right. I could easily finish one on my own if not for my exploding belly.

Prices are relatively affordable as you can tell and its popularity is slowly picking up (there was a short queue for it when I was there). Give it a couple of years and you will see outlets after outlets emerging all around the island.

Hvala Waffle Bar @ 313@somerset
313 Orchard Road
#B3-50
Singapore 238895
Operating hours: 11.00am – 10.00pm Daily
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Oh am gee, are you spoilt for choice? If you wish to go on a food trail (like this) and try all the food featured above, perhaps the app I mentioned earlier can be of some help! With the Tring 313 app, you can take advantage of the deep discounts offered by these retailers and indulge in a feast without overspending.

Some current offers on Tring 313

Some current offers on Tring 313

Hvala Waffle Bar deal happening right now!

You can pay through PayPal or with your credit card!

You can download Tring 313 here (iOs) or here (Android).

Have fun pigging out and remember to tag @313somerset and hashtag #wealwaysshare and #313foodie in your photos on Instagram to gain likes from lurkers (hawhawhaw)!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

313@somerset

313 Orchard Road
Singapore 238895
Nearest MRT: Somerset
Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Cupcakes @ 51 FiveOne Degrees

Hey everyone!

Most of you might have read about the downfall of Crumbs Bake Shop (based in the United States and was once the largest cupcake company in the world) and how the gourmet cupcake trend has been on a decline over the past few years. Fortunately, most if not all of the cupcakeries I patronise in Singapore are still surviving even though queues have significantly shortened and some (the more indie ones) have also pared down their operating hours.

As an ardent lover of gourmet cupcakes, I’m always on the lookout for spectacular cupcakes that are sold in physical stores (so that I can try some flavours without having to meet the minimum order, unlike buying from online shops) and recently, I came to know about this cupcakery at Toa Payoh North (just across SPH building) which has already got me hooked and had me return for the second time (despite staying in the extreme west of Singapore). It may not be the most convenient place to get to, but trust me, the cupcakes are worth the 15-minute walk from the nearest MRT station under the scorching hot sun! And the calories.

So if you guys haven’t heard of 51 FiveOne Degrees, it’s about time you do. Apparently, it’s quite a well-known cupcakery too, having featured on The Straits Times, herworldPLUSThe Smart Local and many others I believe I have yet to stumble upon.

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Shop front

My first box of 51 FiveOne Degrees cupcakes was given to me by my boyfriend who discovered the gem one fine day when he decided to make a detour to his workplace. It was one of the best gifts from him ever.

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So pretty and summer-isque! I didn’t note down the name though because we were in a hurry 😦

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More cupcakes!

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They sell tarts too!

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And more tarts!

At S$3.80 per cupcake, prices are generally higher than those sold in mainstream cupcakeries like Twelve Cupcakes. 51 FiveOne Degrees, however, offers a discounted rate of S$20 for a box of 6. You’d be so tempted to buy more than you can stomach simply because it’s way cheaper to purchase in quantities. (It’s okay, you can always share them with your loved ones!)

With a wide variety of flavours to choose from, you will be spoilt for choice! It took me some time to finally decide on the 6 flavours because everything on display looked so appetising and ravishing, especially the swirled frosting and the carefully crafted candy glass!

Here’s what I ordered and a brief review on each of them:

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My cupcake selection 🙂 Top row (from left): Speculoos Cookie Butter, Cookie ‘n’ Cream, Lemon Grey // Bottom row (from left): Forest Berries, Red Velvet, Salted Caramel

Speculoos Cookie Butter is a classic vanilla bean cupcake with Speculoos cookie butter filling topped with buttercream, cookie crumbs and a fraction of a caramalised biscuit.

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Speculoos Cookie Butter cupcake (S$3.80)

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Speculoos cookie butter filling

A must-have for cookie lovers, this is the best cupcake flavour hands down and also my top favourite which I’d always pick as one of my 6 choices. The thick and creamy Speculoos cookie butter filling is the reason why the cupcake is so crunchy and addictive. It’s so good, it just makes you beg for more!

Forest Berries is a classic Madagascar vanilla bean cupcake baked with forest berries and topped with blackcurrant buttercream.

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Forest Berries cupcake (S$3.80)

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Forest Berries cupcake

The presentation is gorgeous and I especially love the little fondant flower placed on the swirls. The cupcake is slightly sour due to the forest berries that are fused into it, as well as the blackcurrant frosting. But on the overall, it’s alright to give this a miss because there are better-tasting flavours!

The Red Velvet cupcake is an all-time favourite classic made with a hint of cocoa and topped with vanilla cream cheese frosting.

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Red Velvet cupcake (S$3.80)

Moist and soft, it was baked to perfection with a vanilla cream cheese frosting so divine. But it would have fared better on my charts if there was filling in the cupcake.

Cookie ‘n’ Cream is a vanilla bean cupcake blended with cookie crumbs garnished with rich Oreo biscuit buttercream.

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Cookie ‘n’ Cream cupcake (S$3.80)

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Cookie ‘n’ Cream cupcake (pardon the terrible lighting)

I’m a huge sucker for anything Oreo (I love my Fried Oreo, Oreo Cheesecake, Oreo Milkshake, Oreo McFlurry, well, you get the gist) so this was one flavour I had to try. Visually, it looked stunning and appealing. But taste-wise, the absence of filling made it less memorable and the Oreo biscuit that was tucked into the frosting was already soggy by the time I ate it. The cupcake was perfectly moist and fluffy nonetheless and a (surprise!) full piece of Oreo biscuit was also baked into the bottom of the cupcake. On the overall, it’s worth a try but I wouldn’t buy it again.

Salted Caramel is a classic Madagascar vanilla bean cupcake filled with a Fleur De Sel caramel core and topped with buttercream.

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Salted Caramel cupcake (S$3.80)

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Fleur De Sel caramel core

I sank my teeth into the cupcake and felt the thick and gooey caramel filling oozing into my mouth. It was incredible and of course, sweet. The core was relatively big and it occupied most of the middle of the cupcake, enough to satisfy any caramel lover.

And finally, we have Lemon Grey, an Earl Grey cupcake with a lemon curd core topped with lemon buttercream.

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Lemon Grey cupcake (S$3.80)

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Beautiful icing rose

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Lemon curd core

Taking a short break from the usual sweet treats, this cupcake has got nice and refreshing citrusy flavour which would instantly perk you up from your post-lunch slump (thus making it an ideal choice for your takeaway dessert during the workdays). It is tangy and perfectly balanced by the mild sweetness of the Earl Grey cupcakes. Definitely worth a try! 🙂

Apart from cupcakes, people also flock to 51 FiveOne Degrees from all over Singapore for their chiffon cakes which apparently are their best sellers! Widely adored for their soft and cottony texture, these chiffon cakes come in 3 flavours – Premium Chocolate, Orange and Pandan – and they typically sell out by noon. We bought the Pandan one for S$13.50. Not sure if the same price applies to the other two flavours.

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Pandan Chiffon Cake

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Pandan Chiffon Cake

By the way, did you know that this cupcakery is owned by a 23-year-old Singaporean girl? Her baking skills are truly astonishing especially at such a tender age. I will definitely return again to try the filled tarts and more cupcakes. New flavours for the latter are introduced every now and then and I’m pretty excited to find out what great flavours are in store! The catalogue on its Facebook page and website isn’t up-to-date though, so they only way to know all the flavours is to visit the physical store.

That’s all for this review 🙂

Thanks for reading! ❤

51 FiveOne Degrees
203 Toa Payoh North
#01-1113
Singapore 310203
Tel : 6526 9328
Operating hours: Mon-Fri – 11:55am – 8:55pm
Sat – Sun – Closed
Website | Facebook

Durian Fiesta 2015 & Taiwan Porridge Buffet @ Goodwood Park Hotel

Hey everyone!

It’s the time of the year again when the familiar pungent smell of durians fills the air of Geylang and many neighbourhood centres. Lovers of the world’s smelliest fruit crowd around durian stalls island-wide, looking to sink their teeth into the creamy, sweet (or bitter, if you’d like it to be) and fibrous flesh. Many businesses have also joined in the craze by incorporating the king of fruits into their menu – typically in buffet style – to entice durian lovers like myself who want to try something different. However, prices for such durian feasts tend to be on the high side so I had to narrow my choices down to one. And after much deliberation (RWS’ durian buffet looks really tempting too but is unfortunately way beyond my budget), I decided to give Durian Fiesta at Goodwood Park Hotel a go!

Incepted in 1983, the Durian Fiesta returns annually to much fanfare. This year, to commemorate Singapore’s 50th year of independence, it has also introduced 6 new creations made with D24 durians to the line-up of the durian-centric goodies, twice as many as usual. They are the Instagram-worthy Durian Rainbow Ice Cream Cake, Durian Carrot-Walnut Cake, Mini Durian Chocolate Wafer Rolls, Durian Macarons, Durian Egg Tartlets and “Mao Shan Wang” Horn which can be purchased at the hotel’s Deli starting from 16 March 2015.

The highly-anticipated dessert buffet with durian pastries was only available from 30 May during dinner and lunch at the Coffee Lounge. It was so popular that tables on the first week were fully snapped up when I tried to make my reservations. I had to wait ’til the following Friday to successfully get one :\

For S$35.80++ per person (or top-up S$28.80++ for Dessert Buffet with Durian Pastries with any a la carte main
course order), patrons would be treated to a nice selection of food at the buffet table, including some of the new creations that can be quite expensive if bought à la carte (à la carte prices in brackets).

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Durian puffs, one of the signature items offered at the buffet (U.P. S$8.55 for 2 pieces; S$21.40 for 6 pieces; S$51.35 for 20 pieces)

A signature at Goodwood Park Hotel, these pretty puffs have lavish swirls of creamy D24 durian carefully wedged between fluffy choux pastry cases.

I loved the thick and intensified durian puree and it’s such a fun pastry to eat because you can easily pop a few of these into your mouth due to its small size! But I felt that the puffs would be a lot nicer if they were refrigerated. Those I had were kept in room temperature for some time so it kinda lacked the shiok factor.

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Durian Mousse Cake (U.P. S$11.75 per slice; S$68.50 for 1.3kg cake; S$128.40 for 2.5kg cake; S$176.55 for 3.5kg cake)

The star that launched the inaugural Durian Fiesta in 1983, this legendary cake is ultimate indulgence with generous lashings of pulpy D24 durian mousse.

Probably the main highlight of this buffet, the cake scores high on presentation (love the little cubes of durian pastry studded on it) and taste. Described by my boyfriend as thick, moist and delicious, the cake was 100% pure rich durian which can be quite gelat (Singaporean slang for flavour overdose caused be having something overly sweet, salty, spicy and etc.) after a while so unless you’re obsessed with durians, you wouldn’t want to go beyond one slice.

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Durian Cappuccino Cake, back by demand after a 3-year absence (U.P.  $11.75 per slice; $62.05 for whole cake weighing 1 kg)

Back for the first time since its inception in 2011, this alluring cake is a 30cm-long stack of cappuccino
mousse, lush durian mousse and chocolate sponge ensconced in yellow-gold crumbs of vanilla sponge.

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Durian Macarons (U.P.  S$22.45 for 6 pieces)

Given a local slant are these French confections comprising creamy, pulpy durian sandwiched between crisp dark chocolate shells – simple, but satisfyingly decadent.

As a macaron lover, I was really looking forward to the durian macarons at the buffet! But they left me rather disappointed because I didn’t think that the (mild taste of) dark chocolate complemented well with the durian center. Boyfriend, on the other hand, felt that he was overdosing on sugar. You know, as boring as it may sound, I seriously wouldn’t mind if the macarons were made entirely of durians. Wouldn’t that be awesome?! 🙂

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Durian Wafer Roll (U.P. S$32.10 for 10 pieces)

Delicate in size but brimming with flavour, these thick wafer cylinders curled around pulpy durian cream are blanketed in dark chocolate and finished with chopped nuts for extra crunch.

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Making of Durian Crêpe

Making of Durian Crêpe

Making of Durian Crêpe

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Durian Crêpe (U.P. S$9.65 per piece; S$68.50 for 8 pieces)

Featuring creamy durian pulp neatly enveloped in ultra-thin crepe, this stellar dessert makes for a simple yet satisfying treat.

The mini durian crêpe was prepared in full view of the patrons and regularly replenished because they ran out so quickly. But we personally felt that they were nothing short of ordinary. The palm-sized crêpe was thin and not crispy at all (the chef could perhaps leave them on the pan for a little longer). Its only saving grace was the generous amount of durian puree wedged in the middle.

The above pastries pretty much constitute more than three-quarter of the durian dessert buffet. As you can see, not all the much-hyped new creations were included in the buffet. The food choices were indeed very limited too (in fact I was kinda astounded to see the limited selection of food the first time I entered the restaurant) and I wouldn’t recommend paying close to S$40 (seriously, with that kind of price for a substandard buffet, I’d rather spend it all on a few kilograms of 红虾 durians) for it despite the presence of regular sweet treats to make up for the shortcoming. Don’t expect to leave the place with a satisfied tummy if you’re merely there for the dessert buffet.

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Other food items available: Chocolate Banana Cake

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Sour Sop

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Rocher Roll

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Cheesecake, if my memory doesn’t fail me. It’s actually not bad!

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Ang Ku Kueh

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Kueh Lapis Sagu

Knowing that the dessert buffet wouldn’t fill us up, Boyfriend and I had opted for the Taiwan porridge à la carte buffet which is also inclusive of the dessert buffet with durian pastries. Although slightly more costly at S$49.80++ per person, the price difference of S$14++ gives you full access to free flow of sweet potato porridge and classic dishes so that you can eat to your hearts’ content. Furthermore, each guest also gets to enjoy 1 serving of D24 Durian Ice Cream with Rainbow Bread, created in celebration of the nation’s golden jubilee. Without a doubt, this buffet steals the limelight with its much wider variety and bigger portions of food as compared to the dessert buffet and it would be foolish not to settle for this buffet option when you’re there. After all, it’s what Goodwood Park Hotel is well-known for!

All dishes were freshly prepared in the kitchen and served to our table. Here’s what we ordered:

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Taiwanese Sausage (appetiser)

Apart from Taiwanese sausages, there were also Salted Fish with Salted Egg, Baby Squids in Sweet Oyster Sauce, Fried Taman Fish with Sesame Seeds and Shredded Bamboo Shoots with Chilli Oil that you can order for appetisers.

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Fried Omelette with Prawns and Onions

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Fried Omelette with Chye Poh

“When in doubt, choose both.” Hence, we got two different types of fried omelette because we simply couldn’t choose. Both were good and loaded with generous servings of prawns and chye poh. The omelette itself was thick and perfectly golden too!

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Wok Fried Beef with Black Pepper

Tender and tasty, the beef slices were sublime with the right chewy texture and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It would be better if more black pepper was sprinkled onto the beef though.

Another beef dish on the menu was Wok Beef with Spring Onions and Ginger which sounds absolutely mouth-watering, I know. I would order that as well if my stomach hadn’t filled to maximum capacity. 😐

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Stir Fried Kai Lan with Oyster Sauce

I ordered some greens to complete the meal and to hopefully relieve some of my body heat (from eating too much junk food recently). The Kai Lan was fresh and super crunchy. I loved it so much that I even called for a second serving.

Not a fan of Kai Lan? No worries. There are also other vegetable dishes to choose from including Stir Fried Broccoli with Garlic, Stir Fried French Beans with Dried Shrimps, Stir Fried Bean Sprouts with Salted Fish, Stir Fired Eggplant with Minced Pork and Stir Fried Kang Kong with Sambal. With so many varieties to choose from, you’re bound to find something you like or excites your palate 🙂

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Sautéed Chicken with Dried Chilli (宫保鸡丁)

Soft and savoury, the diced chicken glistened with the tangy coating sauce. The dried chilli also gave it an added tinge of spiciness. Yummy! 🙂

Also available are Sautéed Chicken with Spring Onions and Ginger, Fried Chicken with Prawn Paste (虾酱鸡) and Stir Fried Chicken with Black Beans. The menu also includes pork dishes such as Muy Choy with Pork, Steamed Minced Pork with Prawn Paste, Braised Pork Belly with Dark Soya Sauce and Shredded Pork with Preserved Vegetables.

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Steamed Sea Bass with Crispy Bean Paste

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Steamed Sea Bass with Crispy Bean Paste

The highlight of the meal, we had our money’s worth out of this steamed Sea Bass. The fish was reasonably big for 2 people and had incredibly fresh and tender flesh. The layer of fried garlic enhanced the overall flavour of the fish and gave it an extra crunch (saying this even though I absolutely detest fried garlic because I accidentally took a bite of the fish with some fried garlic and actually liked it!).

Unfortunately, fish dishes are only limited to one order per table so we didn’t get to try the other fish item on the menu – Deep Fried Pomfret with Black Soya Sauce. However, you get to enjoy unlimited serving of the Sautéed Prawns with Dried Chilli which is also on the seafood menu.

As we were already partially satiated from the durian buffet, we didn’t have the stomach space for more porridge dishes such as beancurd (boyfriend’s favourite). Beancurd lovers would be ecstatic to know that there are 4 different types of beancurd dishes to choose from namely Chilled Beancurd in Japanese Soya Sauce and Pork Floss, Braised Beancurd with Minced Meat, Braised Beancurd with Chicken and Salted Fish and Home Styled Tofu.

Towards the end of the meal, we were served the D24 Durian Ice Cream with Rainbow Bread but to our disappointment, it turned out to be entirely different from what we had expected.

We got this:

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D24 Durian Ice Cream with Rainbow Bread (S$7.50++)

..when we were actually expecting this:

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Durian Rainbow Ice Cream Cake (S$11.75++)

Imagine our surprise when we were served the actual Durian Ice Cream with Rainbow Bread. I couldn’t help but feel slightly cheated. 😦

Granted, it was probably our fault for misreading the name but surely Goodwood Park Hotel could have done a better job at coming up with a more distinctive name for the rainbow bread, right? Or perhaps, place a picture of the product somewhere on the menu to avoid confusion (especially) among first-timers like us because I’m sure we weren’t the only ones being misled.

But anyway, we tried the one with the rainbow bread (a scoop of D24 durian ice cream sandwiched between bread) and subsequently bought a piece of the Durian Rainbow Ice Cream Cake (a layer of vivid-coloured cake hugging the core of the D24 durian ice cream) before we left the restaurant. Countless photos of the latter have been making the rounds on various social media platforms so it was absolutely necessary to try it or my durian buffet experience would be incomplete. Both of them contain luscious D24 durian ice cream but of course, the one embedded in the Durian Rainbow Ice Cream Cake was bigger, richer and more satisfying which tasted a lot like the actual fruit. For S$11.75++, you’re actually paying for the novelty. It’s delectable but a little too expensive for a cake slightly bigger than the size of my.. palm? Still, I’d recommend durian lovers to give it a try 🙂

On the overall, the dessert buffet with durian pastries was a hit or miss and definitely not worth the price tag. But the Taiwan porridge à la carte buffet was commendable and certainly warrants a second visit.

Durian Fiesta Price Options (16 Mar 2015 – 2 Aug 2015)

$35.80++ per person (Dessert Buffet with Durian Pastries only)
$28.80++ per person (Top-up of Dessert Buffet with Durian Pastries with any a la carte main course order)
$49.80++ per adult, $24.90++ per child (Taiwan Porridge A La Carte Buffet, inclusive of Dessert Buffet with Durian Pastries)

Dine-in prices are subject to 10% service charge and prevailing GST. Child price is for children aged 6 – 11 years

That’s all I have for this review!

Thanks for reading ❤

Goodwood Park Hotel
22 Scotts Road
Singapore 228221
Durian Fiesta: 16 March 2015 – 2 August 2015
Deli operating hours: 9:00am to 9:00pm
Coffee Lounge operating hours: 12:00pm to 2:30pm (lunch),
6:00pm to 10:30pm (dinner)
Tel: 6737 7411
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