[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 )
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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

Tanuki Raw @ Orchard Central

Hey everyone!

Remember when Orchard Central used to be a ghost town? I remember how quiet it was when it first started despite its prime location along Somerset. Empty shops (mostly boutiques) that looked like they were on the verge of closure lined the mall and there was hardly any affordable eateries around. Most of the time, I would avoid going there because there was seriously nothing much to see. And it also didn’t help when the MRT exit was directly linked to its competitor Somerset313 which also enjoyed the bustle and attention brought by its anchor tenants like Forever21.

Fast forward more than 3 years and the mall began to show some improvements with more well-known F&B outlets occupying most of its commercial space. I like how Orchard Central has now become an international food hub, offering established brands like Dean & DeLuca and Lady M which were previously too out of the way for me.

Besides international brands, there were also a couple of local F&B firms that made their way to Orchard Central. One of them is Tanuki Raw, a sushi and tapas bar restaurant 🙂 As unusual as its name, this restaurant celebrates Happy Hour every single day, offering $2 oysters and $10 Martinis and cocktails from 5pm to 8pm when long queues typically start to form. There’s even an al fresco area where you could enjoy great live music while you dine!

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Shopfront, snapped with my phone.

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A picture of my resting bitch face to begin this post HAHA. We were given an outdoor seating on our second visit!

tanuki-raw-11

Apple & Mint cocktail (S$10+)

The $2 oysters come with a catch – you can only order a maximum of 6 oysters per alcoholic drink ordered. So boyfriend and I (reluctantly because not in the mood for alcohol actually) ordered a cocktail so that we could get the oysters as well. After all, they were our reason for dining at Tanuki the very first time.

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Fresh oysters at S$2+ each.

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The oysters were remarkable – fresh, huge, clean and meaty. It’s super worth the price!

tanuki-raw-4

5 slices of Salmon Sashimi at S$7+.

Like the oysters, the Salmon Sashimi can only be bought with purchase of any alcohol. It was great but nothing extraordinary; it didn’t leave an impression. Nevertheless it was fresh and adequately thick and fatty.

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Garlic Fries at S$7+.

I was craving for truffle fries that day but the restaurant doesn’t have it, so I settled for garlic fries! They came piping hot in a basket and in such generous amount which was impossible for me to finish. They were incredibly tasty, mildly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Bravo! Each piece was thick and sliced proportionately too 🙂

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Rockstar (sushi roll) – seared salmon draped over mozzarella, mentaiko sauce, at S$10+.

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Mozzarella in the middle.

This is an all-time favourite at Tanuki, and possibly mine too. I really love the torched taste of the seared salmon as well as the richness of the Mentaiko sauce. The entire thing was simply delicious. As most of you are aware, sushi traditionally has to be eaten in one bite but this is such a mouthful hahaha. It took me awhile to successfully chew every bit of it.

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Truffle Yakiniku Donburi – pan seared black angus short rib, onsen egg, truffle soy sauce, at S$18+.

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I’m in heaven~

This was the highlight of our dining experience because it’s the bomb. I couldn’t believe I finished the entire donburi when I was supposed to be on a low-carb diet. So if you’re on a diet, I suggest you forget about this dish altogether (pretty sure it’s more than 500 calories) because once you start, it’s gonna be so difficult to stop goddammit. IT’S SO GOOOOD.

Meltingly tender and extremely satisfying, the thick black angus short rib slices were an absolute treat. The eggs were cooked perfectly (just look how runny those whites are) and the rice (mixed with toasted sesame seeds) was phenomenal. Needless to say, this is a must-try when you’re at Tanuki.

That’s all for this food review!

Thanks for reading 😉

Tanuki Raw
181 Orchard Road
#02-03 Orchard Central
Singapore 238896
Operating hours: 11:30am – 10:30pm daily
Tel: +65 6636 5949
E-mail: tanuki@tanukibar.com
Facebook | Menu | Instagram | Twitter

Free Flow of Wagyu Beef @ Tenkaichi

Hello everyone!

This year marks Singapore’s Golden Jubilee (or SG50 for short) and many discounts tied to it have been sprouting up everywhere as early as last year, much to the delight of penny-punching people like myself. I have enjoyed discounts at participating shops especially eateries which were unknown to me previously (or I didn’t patronise because of the price). News of such discounts are usually spread by word of mouth (such as Facebook), just like how I got to know about Tenkaichi‘s fabulous promotion. In conjunction with SG50, Tenkaichi is rolling out their best deal ever:

Premium BBQ Buffet with Free Flow of Wagyu Beef at only S$50+ on weekdays and $55+ on weekends!

*jaw drops*

Boyfriend and I are huuuuge lovers of Wagyu beef. But we don’t eat it often because it’s considered as a luxury food which can cost at least S$50 per a hundred grams. Heck, even fresh Wagyu beef sold at our local grocery stores aren’t cheap! So S$50+ (there isn’t GST but there is a 10% service charge) for free flow of Wagyu beef is definitely a steal! Fortunately, we learned about the promotion early and made dinner reservations at the restaurant 3 weeks in advance because all slots were snapped up very quickly!

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Shopfront at City Gate (Keypoint)

Keypoint is about a 3-4 minutes’ walk away from Nicoll Highway MRT station. It’s quite convenient because there is an overhead bridge leading all the way from the train station to Keypoint, so you don’t have to cross the road at all! Tenkaichi is located on your right if you use the correct entrance but it’s also not difficult to find it if you enter through a different door.

Like Keypoint, the interior design of the restaurant speaks of mediocrity and the age of the premises. As someone who values first impression, very often I equate good decor to good food (although I’m always proven wrong). The ancient-looking floor carpet in the restaurant certainly made me have second thoughts about the positive reviews I read online about Tenkaichi. It’s hard to imagine that a restaurant like this would be the home of the top award-winning Japanese BBQ Buffet Restaurant in Singapore specialising in premium quality Wagyu beef.

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Cooked food section

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Takoyaki

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Tempura and others

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Sushi

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Fruits

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Pickles

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Sauce and condiments

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Ice cream which we never got to try because we were too full by the end of our meal!

But contrary to my suspicion, it does serve premium Wagyu beef and it’s so damn good. It’s definitely not a gimmick. As boyfriend described, he could really taste the superiority of the beef and every piece melted in his mouth. I dare say that it’s also one of the best I’ve eaten so far at such an affordable price. In fact, with Tenkaichi’s lowest price guarantee, if you find another restaurant in Singapore at a lower price, they would gladly beat it by 10%! Of course, terms and conditions apply 🙂

Diners are given a 2-hour limit for the buffet to which a restaurant staff would remind about half an hour before the time is up. The time limit is more than enough for people with small stomach capacity like myself. But for people like my boyfriend who can eat a bull (literally), you’d be wishing for a time extension!

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Wagyu Beef Yukke, marinated Wagyu Beef with Egg Yolk, to be mixed and eaten raw!

The above is my FAVOURITE Wagyu beef dish of the night. The slimy texture of the beef may seem revolting to some but trust me, it’s absolutely tasty! It’s like eating sashimi, but better!

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Wagyu Karubi, Wagyu beef short rib

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Wagyu Nakaochi Karubi (Wagyu beef rib intercostal)

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Short ribs mixed

Some of the short ribs are cut in thick slices which Bf and I found hard to bite.

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Wagyu Tataki, lightly grilled Wagyu beef sashimi. To be eaten raw as well! But I’d suggest to leave that stomach space for the Wagyu Beef Yukke mentioned above!

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A plate of sashimi – Shiro Maguro (white tuna), Tako (octopus) and Shime Saba (vinegar-pickled mackerel). HEAVENLY.

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Hotate, giant scallop – really nice and soft when it’s grilled!

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Shake Sashimi, Norway salmon sashimi. They weren’t served cold but they were fresh nonetheless!

The salmon sashimi was a last-minute order because we wanted to just have Wagyu beef throughout the course of our buffet meal. But leaving out salmon sashimi at a Japanese buffet just didn’t quite do for me!

The food was served very quickly although many a time the restaurant staff got our orders wrong. But they took our rejection in stride and got our orders out within a few minutes. Amidst the surge of patrons, the staff never failed to flash an amiable smile on their face and assist in the needs of the customers. I was truly impressed!

More pictures of the meat on the grill to make you drool.

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The grill was constantly loaded with Wagyu beef because it’s free flow!

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The grill warmed up very quickly and the beef cooked relatively fast!

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About done

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Ready to eat! Yummy 🙂

Bf and I made a pact to return again even though the SG50 promotion is going to end today (5 April 2015). He has nothing but praises for the Wagyu beef and it’s not very often that he would rave so much about something. It must be really good then! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Tenkaichi Japanese Restaurant
371 Beach Road,
City Gate (Keypoint) #01-18/19
Singapore 199597
Tel: 65 – 6293 4498
Email: tenkaichi_sg@yahoo.com.sg
Website | Menu | ReservationsFacebook

Family Reunion @ Gion Dining

Happy Lunar New Year and 恭喜发财 to everyone, especially my Chinese readers! Also, 财源广进 to those who are still trying their luck on BlackJack and Mahjong! Lady luck clearly isn’t on my side this year as I kept losing money to my formidable banker and only managed to recoup some losses from playing Mahjong. Fortunately all my bets were small so I didn’t lose much. Plus, everyone had fun! And I guess that’s what matters most 🙂

Ever since the passing of my Grandma, my maternal relatives had always have trouble finding a place to host family gatherings because no one likes cleaning up the mess at the end of each session (either that or cooking for a large group of people is tedious). So gatherings after 2009 were either held at my cousin-owned restaurant or the function room at my aunt’s condominium. But the labour crunch during the CNY period meant that it would be impossible to hold gatherings at these venues. So to save us from racking our brains, my uncle very kindly booked a few tables on 初二 at Gion Dining to accommodate everyone.

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The Japanese restaurant, although conveniently located on the second level of Royal Plaza on Scotts (Orchard), didn’t quite draw the crowds because of Carousell Buffet on the ground floor, which serves as the main attraction for the hotel. So nobody else other than my family members walked into the restaurant the entire time, leaving the place entirely to ourselves! Shiok man!

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My #ootd from Love, Bonito. Boyfriend didn’t have time to go home to change because we had an impromptu Mahjong session the night before, so he just grabbed whatever shirt he left at my place.

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My adorable nephew and niece

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Niece and cuzzie

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One of my uncles, cuzzies and another little addition to the extended family!

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My niece, also boyfriend’s new god-daughter (his all-time favourite person. Yes, he likes her more than me)

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Qtipi

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Sake. Not really a wine drinker (especially Japanese wine) so I didn’t really take much of it. But beer works for me.

It’s now time to eat! What’s a Chinese New Year dinner without first making a mess on the table with lo hei?

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Look at the mountain of Salmon Sashimi..

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Full view of our Yusheng. For non-Chinese, Yusheng “usually consists of strips of raw fish, mixed with shredded vegetables and a variety of sauces and condiments, among other ingredients” and it’s “often served as part of a multi-dish dinner, usually as the appetizer due to its symbolism of “good luck” for the new year.” (Wikipedia) Apparently, this CNY tradition is only applicable to the Chinese community in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Surprisingly not so in PRC, Taiwan and Hong Kong even though it originated from the Cantonese community!

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Everyone at the table would “then stand up and on cue, proceed to toss the shredded ingredients into the air with chopsticks while saying various “auspicious wishes” out loud,” (Wikipedia)

That was my third Yusheng this year (you know, we Chinese really love doing things in abundance) and the one I had at Gion wasn’t the best out of all of them. Japanese-style Yusheng has always been my favourite because it usually comes with more fish (salmon) than those in Chinese restaurants and tze char. Although this came with really fresh Salmon Sashimi, they were in such big slices that they weren’t enough to go around. On top of that, the flour crisps were replaced by peanuts and bleagh, I dislike peanuts.

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Miso soup was nice but nothing special.

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The Chawanmushi was served hot thus I really enjoyed the smooth and firm texture (though still incomparable with my all-time favourite Chawanmushi from Itacho). If I remember correctly, there were diced chicken and artificial crabmeat. Perhaps it would appear more appetizing if it was topped with slices of Narutomaki (Japanese fish cakes with a swirl in the middle).

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The Sumuono Moriawase was one of my favourites that evening. There were prawn, octopus, crab claw meat and other meat (can’t remember the rest oops) with seaweed and cucumber in sweet vinegar sauce. They were all soooo fresh!

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Live oysters (shared among 6 people) was mad fresh too! Spritz some lemon juice onto it and you’re good to go! The coldness of the oyster made eating it even more enjoyable 😀

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Lobster sashimi (extreme bottom left) was MY FAVOURITE. It was so fresh and sweet! This dish was shared between 2 people but there were plenty of flesh on the claws so Bf and I didn’t have to compete against each other for it hehehe.

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This HUGE (I think it was as long as my arm) salmon was steamed to perfection. I’m not sure if it’s actually on the menu (or was it a special item requested by my uncle) because it tasted a lot like Seabass cooked Cantonese-style with all the sweet and savoury soy sauce. But the steamed salmon was so gooood and my jaw hung in stunned disbelief when it came. It was gigantic, I repeat, GIGANTIC.

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Close-up shot of the meat to make you drool!

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Tempura prawn and potato! Being a seafood lover, I’m surprised to find myself liking the potato more. It’s chewy and addictive!

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Okay, this is definitely not on the menu because it was prepared by one of my aunts – broiled mushrooms and chicken feet with abalone. #aufamilycancook!

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4 strips of Chicken Karaage because I forgot to take a picture of it when it was served. I don’t really like Chicken Karaage despite being a huge poultry lover because they tend to be really dry from my experience. But this was mildly juicy and very crispy! I believe this is a common item on their Groupon deals. Worth a try!

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I believe this was Gyudon (beef bowl) without the rice. It was a tad dry and I don’t think we managed to finish this. Kinda expected considering the amount of food we were served that night!

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These cheesecakes (I only had one slice of it anyways 😦 ) were the BEST I had tasted in my life, no joke! It was like a mixture of vanilla ice cream and fluffy cheesecake which literally melted in my mouth. IT WAS DIVINE OMG. If I didn’t have to rush off for a movie, I’d totally ask for another slice! This is highly recommended 🙂

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And the sumptuous feast ended with a bowl of porridge which I felt was a um… strange arrangement? But it was alright and the watery texture reminded me a little of KFC breakfast porridge.

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Let me conclude this post with a picture of Bf entertaining my bored nephew in between dishes with Clash of Clans.

All in all, the dishes served towards the end of the meal were a lot better than the entrees and appetizers. I personally think that this restaurant has potential if not for the steep prices. After reading some not-so-favourable reviews about the restaurant online, I can conclude that Gion Dining specialises more in seafood sashimi and makes better food when there is a smaller dining crowd.

Try avoiding Groupon vouchers (the dishes they typically include in their Groupon promos look awfully cheap to begin with anyway) if you can afford the regular prices and don’t dine there during the period of time when Groupon vouchers are accepted as I don’t think the restaurant, which is visibly facing a shortage of manpower, is able to handle the Groupon crowd.

So there, I’ve said my piece! Thanks for reading 🙂

Gion Dining
Royal Plaza on Scotts
25 Scotts Road
#02-01
Operating hours: Opens daily
Lunch: 11:30am to 2pm (lunch closed on Mondays)
Dinner: 5:30pm to 10pm
Contact number: 67356100
WebsiteFacebook | Email

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons

Hey everyone!

I hope you’re not hungry from all the food talk yet because there are still several more food posts coming up and they are just too good to be missed. I have obviously been procrastinating too much lately. Blame the exams! 👿

Bf frequents Bugis area a lot because he goes to the infamous Sim Lim Square to satisfy his gaming needs. Very often, he would take a faster route via Rocher Road to get there because Bugis Street is always too crowded, and he would notice this long queue of people outside a restaurant snaking down the street. Upon closer look, he realised that people were actually queuing for a Ramen restaurant, or Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons (Keisuke for short) to be precise, apparently very widely talked about online.

We are also Ramen lovers! How could we not know of its existence? Curious, we decided to check it out together one day when we were at Bugis to find out what the craze was all about.

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Seems like the norm in popular restaurants nowadays! Great, I love this system. Fair and square.

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Good service! Too bad we didn’t have the chance to try it haha.

We went at about 1pm on a weekday when everyone else was working, so there was no queue at all! We managed to get a table in a jiffy.

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Yay free stuff makes everyone happy!

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Beansprout is free! This is the main pot which you are supposed to get your own servings from.

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Grinder for the sesame seeds that you can add to your Ramen. The added seasoning brings out the different flavour of the soup.

Orders are made by filling out the order chit which you are able to choose the taste of the broth according to your preference! Keisuke is pretty flexible in this aspect as it allows you to choose the strength of the taste of your soup, its oiliness and the hardness of the noodle texture. Once completed, the service staff would collect it from you. Payments are made at the cashier after the meal.

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Price list (excluding GST and Service Charge)! The one on top was Bf’s. Mine’s right below.

We opted for everything that the restaurant recommended. Trust the experts! Hahaha.

There are only FIVE main dishes – the Ramen – to choose from: Spring (Basil & Cheese), Summer (Spicy Pork Minced), Autumn (Pork Minced with Bonitos Flavour & Fried Mixed Mushrooms), Winter (Pork Broth) and King (Stir-Fried Pork with Ginger on top), thus the name “Four Seasons”. The variety is very limited but that’s exactly what’s keeping customers coming back! And trust me, you don’t need anything more to satisfy your hunger. The portion is actually quite big.

Here’s what we ordered!

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Green Tea Cola

It’s a Japanese Green Tea-turned-fizzy drink, oh my Goodness!

Best. Cola. Ever.

You could still taste the Green Tea, albeit sweetened. It tasted so good, we wanted to get another bottle! I don’t think you can get this anywhere because it’s actually self-manufactured 😦 But I did stumble upon a news about Green Tea-flavoured Coca Cola drink! C’mon, Japan, export them pleeeease! Sharing is caring right 😦

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My Autumn Ramen with Special Toppings (meaning everything)

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It’s so friggin’ good…..

This is highly recommended among all the seasons-named Ramen because the broth is very flavourful and thick (even though I asked for “normal” taste so can you imagine how thick is “thick”?). The mushrooms dominated the taste bud but because it’s so strong, you may grow sick of it towards the end.

The noodles were so springy, the soft-boiled eggs so chewy and the yolk was almost runny. Perfection. But I didn’t quite like the pork chashu because it was rather tasteless on its own and also quite difficult to chew.

Still, this is one of the best Ramens I’ve had in my 24 years of life.

However, I probably won’t be ordering it again the next time I patronise because…

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Bf’s King Ramen, also with Special toppings

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The best among all!

There is something even better! It’s called the King Ramen, and boy does it really live up to its name.

The danger of ordering this is that I’d probably drain out the soup before I even dig into the noodles because the soup is just too delicious. If I could use an expletive description, I would totally use on this. But I shall refrain from doing so because I’m a good girl. And also because I want this blog to remain safe for kids. Hahaha.

Likewise, the broth was an explosion of flavour, sweet, savoury and tangy. I know because I took a sip of it and I immediately regretted my choice afterwards. 😦

It’s also more value-for-money because it has more toppings than the rest and it’s only an additional of S$2!

And if you guys noticed, every flavour of Ramen a Keisuke has its own bowl design. I like that they get down to the specifics. I’ll definitely want to get the black bowl next time.

Alright, that’s all for this post!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons
158 Rochor Rd (beside Bugis Street)
Singapore 188433
Operating hours:
Mon to Fri: 11.30am – 2.30 pm, 5pm – 10.30pm
Weekends and Public Holidays: 11.30am – 10.30pm
*Restaurant may close earlier if soup stock runs out