Food Hunter

Ayam Penyat Ria @ Far East Plaza

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A friend of mine have never eaten Ayam Penyat before and I decided to bring her to try it. Originating from Indonesia, the chicken is marinated in different spices and subsequently fried. It is smashed (“Penyat”) and served with a fried bean curd, fermented bean curd and chilli.

The outlet we were at was the branch from the original one at Lucky Plaza. Though the outlet was small, there was no long waiting time and service was prompt.

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The chicken was crispy and juicy but to my dismay, it looked rather small and did not satisfy my hunger.  However, it was well seasoned and you could taste the turmeric powder. The chilli sauce was spicy and packs quite a punch. But be warned for those with a low tolerance, or you might end up a fire breathing dragon!

Fried and oily aside (which my friend loved it), I think the way how the chilli is prepared makes or breaks this dish, and it is something to excite the taste bud.

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Everything Else, Food Hunter

TANGS Market @ Orchard Road

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“Excuse me, are you sure you can finish two bowls?” 

That was the surprising question I got from a Caucasian man who was in the queue behind me.  One look at the food portion and I could have told him that I was able to finish both. But being polite, I told him it was for my friend and myself to have.

At $4, I was a little disappointed that my 85 Redhill Teochew Fishball Noodles was not able to fill my hungry stomach. However, the noodles had a reasonable spicy and sour taste from the chilli and vinegar sauce.  Thankfully it was just the right amount, if not it would have coated my lips in oil. The fishballs were quite springy and it came with a special mushroom / vegetable piece.

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To top off our lunch, we had Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat Original Popiah ($4). Known as the “Poh Piah Maker to Singapore’s Presidnet and Prime Minister,” it was slightly longer than the usual ones. Wrapped with stewed turnip, radish, beansprouts and fresh lettuce, this healthy snack tasted good and each had the right portion and  crunch to it.  The poh piah skin was not too thick and doughy and it slightly soaked up a bit of the chilli, hoisin sauce and turnip stew in it.

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The fishball noodles and popiah were not the only thing found in the TANGS Market. Tucked within the kitchen and household section of TANGS, it also brings Peranakan, Penang and local delights under one roof. Like a noisy street market, the queues snaked around the narrow walkways and people were jostling through looking for seats in the small area.

The interior were furnished in old school items with an eclectic mix of bright colours and Peranakan patterns and prints. Some includes childhood favourites like the Khong Guan little biscuits with sweet star-shaped coating and Nyonya porcelain wares. While the price to the portion of food serving did not whet my appetite, I do think this newly renovated place is breathing life once again to the once quiet underground passageway towards the Orchard Road train station.

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Everything Else, Food Hunter

Hainanese Delicacy Chicken Rice @ Far East Plaza

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Apologies for the lack of post recently! Our tyftfwe friends have been busy lately to let you in on our food and baking adventures!

Food is one of the way to catch up with friends and instead of a cafe, the classic dish of Hainanese Chicken rice was chosen. Conveniently located in town, office people would be seen queuing for this during lunch time. 

One of the reasons is because its reasonably-priced and fuss-free. The chicken was tasty and tender. The rice was fragrant but I found it to be a bit on the oily side. The chilli sauce was not too spicy but just right. Plus it always goes well with a plate of green vegetables topped with fried shallots.

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But was this worth the wait and queue? Its a yes and no, as I have tried other better chicken rice before but this still taste above the average. However, what I found quite interesting was the atmosphere sitting within a narrow corridor, eating out of a hole-in-a-wall and having to share tables with strangers. A mix of English, Cantonese, Hainanese and Mandarin conversations gets peppered across the shop making it quite a lively space.

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Food Hunter

Tokyo Pasta Mario @ Wisma Atria, Food Republic

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Scallop | Bacon | Spinach | Dry Sakura Prawn | Cheese| Linguine pasta

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Chicken Okura | Onsen egg | Japanese Mentaiko | Ladyfinger | Seaweed | Linguine pasta

I always had the perception that food courts do not do a good job with Western food or pasta in particular. Their range usually goes as far as to only have carbonara and bolognese. But I was wrong after trying Tokyo Pasta Mario.

Their pasta is done in a fusion of Italian and Japanese style and I found it to taste better than other mid range pasta places. What is great about their food is that it is priced reasonably between $6.80 – $9.80! They also serve Japanese teppanyaki and pizzas too.

On my first try, I had the Scallop, Bacon & Spinach Pasta with Dry Sakura Prawn topping ($7.80). Presented in a big plate, it felt as though I had ordered something from a restaurant. The pasta was tossed in an aglio olio style and there was a slight olive oil taste. The mix of the sakura prawn, the salty taste of the bacon and spinach matched pretty well together with the fresh seared scallop pieces (though I love for the scallop to be bigger). Plus, the pasta was cooked al dente which was quite rare in a food court!

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On my second visit, I had the Chicken Okura with Onsen egg in Japanese Mentaiko ($7.80). After giving it a good toss with the onsen egg, the noodle became thick in the egg sauce and mentaiko (marinated pollock roe). It almost had a similar resemblance to carbonara with a hint of the pollock roe’s taste. The chicken was lightly pan-fried, but I do think that was done so as to allow for the sauce to be more prominent. The ladyfinger was quite a weird combo in the noodle but I’m not complaining since I get to have some greens in my food! 

Comparing between the two, I preferred the scallop pasta because it had more ingredients and it did not feel too heavy on the stomach after eating it. However, some guys might find the pasta portion a bit too little for them. But I still think that their pasta is worth a shot to try!

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Food Hunter

Toss & Turn @ Ion Orchard

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Before an extensive 4k walk to church, I wanted to pack some healthy food for dinner and was craving for a good sandwich and salad. Having passed by this place a couple of time, I decide to try Toss & Turn, a soup and salad bar by Cedele.

Packed in a designer style wrapper, the combo was a mixed grain loaf with chicken avocado and with a side salad.  One bite and you get the flavours from the roasted chicken and the freshness of the vegetables. The avocado had a slight sweetness to it and the good thing about it was that it was slightly mashed and not too chunky on the mouth. 

On the other hand, the salad was piled with lots of goodness; edamame beans, purple and green lettuce, carrots and croutons. The plus to it was the free flow sunflower seeds and pomegranate dressing that I could add to my salad from their counter. The pairing of the sweet and light dressing with the sunflower seeds and the croutons added a nice dimension and texture to the crunchiness of the salad. If you think that pomegranate dressing is too wild for your taste bud, the counter also serves other types of dressings, like the usual Caesar, Thousand Island to the fruity or less heavy kind for the salad.

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I was surprised that the portion of the food left me feeling quite full from the hearty meal! Judging by the stream of people that visit this outlet from office people to school going students, it seems to hit the right notes to appeal to people to eat their greens. I even went back a second time to try to create my own salad to take-away.

However, their service was a let down as I was kept waiting at the cashier while the staff was busy minding other customers and errands. While the regular salad portion was huge, their food prices is a bit steep ($9 for a regular bowl, $7.80 for half a bowl) just for greens and I think having it too many times seems like high maintenance? Maybe I’ll stick to buying fresh veggies from the supermarket and tossing them myself.

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Food Hunter

MEDZ @ Millenia Walk

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If you have been to Marche, MEDZ offers a similar concept with a wider range of cuisines. Not only do you get Western food, there is French, Italian, Greek, Mediterranean, Moroccan and Spanish. A dessert bar and a selection of beer and cider is also included in the menu. Among the things my friends and I had, we had the rosti, moroccan chicken with couscous, carbonara and the octopus squid ink paella.

Having travelled to Spain and Italy, I had certain expectations of squid ink and paella as separate entities. But I was being too adventurous that day and chose from their menu the squid ink paella with octopus and pork. My paella came with lots off round blops in my plate and I soon realised that it was small octopus the size of fishballs. Honestly, I freaked out a bit at the sight of the “little creatures” because you could make out the whole body with its mantle and tenticles  still intact.

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So with my game face on, I ate the octopus as a whole. The texture was rather chewy and my thoughts went into a bit of an overdrive of whether something will burst out of its mantle. They were quite generous in their servings that I had to give away some the octopus (or rather I did not want to see anymore blops). I felt that the combination of the pork belly, octopus and paella was too much for one seating especially when the squid ink also added on to the rich flavours (I had to have some salsa to neutralise the taste).

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Moving along from that octopus encounter, I had rave reviews for the other food. The carbonara tasted like any regular ones you can find elsewhere. The rosti (according to my friend) was pretty good and thicker than Marche’s. While the Moroccan chicken was quite a refreshing change from the other food that I see commonly. Served in an earthen pot, the chicken was done well and the couscous was a refreshing change from eating plain white rice. My cider loving friends also found their bottles to be rusty and ended up returning the drinks even after a new bottle was given. 

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I do think that this is a place to bring friends if you cannot decide on a single cuisine or type of food to have as a group. At least your friends have the choice of choosing what they want and saving you the hassle. The atmosphere is also pretty decent to have friends sit around, linger and just talk while eating. But if I ever return, I think I should stay clear of the octopus and squid ink paella.  

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Food Hunter

Thai Smile Cafe @ Lorong Telok

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I first visited this coffee shop style Thai eatery after work. It was late and my colleague and I had not had dinner. She suggested Thai Smile Cafe, one of her favourite post clubbing food haunts open late into the night. Perfect for supper or a late dinner. She recommended the Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Galangal Soup). I tried it and have never looked back since.

A few weeks later, I was back for my second visit. I needed to satisfy that Tom Kha Gai craving and try more of their dishes! Thai Smile serves up a variety of Thai food and Thai-Chinese food. It is popular with the expatriate crowd but don’t let that put you off! Contrary to expectation, the Thai food is pretty authentic and, better yet, affordable.

 

 

IMG02457-20131018-2013Yam Woon Sen (Thai Glass Noodle Salad)

The salad was refreshing and delightfully spicy! The mix of lime juice, lemongrass, fish sauce, chillies and herbs created a light and piquant salad. It was tangy, savoury, spicy and sweet all at once. The glass noodles were smooth; the crunchy shredded carrot and sliced onions and fresh squid and shrimp thrown into the mix added a good contrast in textures. A beautiful salad I enjoyed down to the last noodle!IMG02459-20131018-2014Basil Chicken with rice

The Basil Chicken was decent but not spectacular. The seasoning could have been more flavourful and the minced chicken was a tad dry and lacking a strong basil taste. However, this would do good for those who do not quite like the strong taste of  basil!IMG02460-20131018-2014Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Galangal Soup)

And finally, the Tom Kha Gai! This is a spicy soup thickened with coconut cream and is a rich, sinful delight to indulge in with a bowl of rice. The chicken chunks were tender and there was little else inside the soup, letting its flavours shine through. The bad cousin of tom yam soup, the Tom Kha Gai is one unhealthy option and sharing the calories always helps.

Thai Smile Cafe is a great place for Thai food when a late night craving hits and is good enough to satisfy huge Thai food lovers. I would definitely recommend this place if you happen to be having some drinks in the Circular Road/Clake Quay area this public holiday. Happy deepavali to all our hindu readers! (:

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Food Hunter

NamNam Noodle Bar @ Wheelock Place

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On days when I get a craving for something hot and soupy, I often find myself hankering after a steaming hot bowl of pho. The herbal, meaty broth and flat rice noodles are soothing, homey and not to mention, pretty healthy as well. Authentic Vietnamese food can be a little tricky to find in Singapore, and although NamNam Noodle Bar is opened by the Les Amis group, it serves up a good version of the classic Vietnamese dish.

Sam and I headed down to the Wheelock Place outlet for lunch on a weekday and were pleased to find that they were offering a set lunch consisting of a choice of Chicken or Sliced Beef Steak Pho, a side of Vietnamese Spring Rolls and a choice of a Vietnamese Iced Coffee or Iced Lotus Tea. Naturally, we both picked the beef and iced coffee.

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Vietnamese Spring Rolls | Fresh Southern rolls with sweet shrimps, egg and fresh herbs

It could be a matter of personal taste, but I felt that the spring rolls were abit too bland for my liking. The dipping sauce did help to give it a sweet-savoury flavour packed with shallots and garlic – and the sauce eventually did make this a very likable dish- but the spring rolls alone were clean tasting and seemed like it could do with abit of seasoning. Despite that, I must point out that the shrimp was fresh and the amount of fresh herbs, egg and vermicelli wrapped inside made a good combination of natural flavours and textures, making it a great dish for the health conscious.

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Pho Beef Steak Slices

The noodles were a joy to eat: smooth, slippery and light, cooked to perfection. They carried the flavour of the broth well, unlike how noodles sometimes don’t soak up the flavours of the soup they swim in. There was a good amount of noodles and a surprisingly large number of beef slices. We had thought that they might stinge on the meat but were proven otherwise. The meat was done medium well, with the centres still a rosy shade of pink. Thinly sliced and tender, we enjoyed every bit of it. The herbal, lightly salted soup was satisfying and light. For those who prefer their soup with a bit more punch, sauces such as fish sauce, hoi sin sauce, chilli sauce and soy sauce are available. Just add them straight to your noodles and slurp up every last bit.

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It was a great deal, considering the central location and the fact that the meal filled us up very nicely. When asked about her opinion of NamNam, my Vietnamese friend put it across best. ‘Authentic or not, if it’s good, it’s good. Who cares.’ Well said!

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Food Hunter

Krispy Kreme

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The highly anticipated first Krispy Kreme outlet has finally hit our shores after all these years of buying these doughnuts back from far flung places like the UK or the US! Evidently, Singaporeans will do anything for these, being the slaves to food that we are. If 13 hour flights and the possibility of these little rings of dough getting crushed won’t stop us, neither will a 30-man deep queue that Sam and I encountered at the newly opened Tangs outlet. Not that we had any intention to queue for them anyway. Thankfully (and yes, this blog is all about being thankful for everything we eat, ain’t it?), my dad had the foresight to buy these back from Jakarta, where apparently people don’t queue feverishly for doughnuts, and where these sweet treats come cheaper. Thanks Dad!

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Original Glazed Doughnut

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To be honest, I wasn’t terrifically excited to see a box of Krispy Kreme in the kitchen. I’ve never really had a good impression of doughnuts, probably due to the oily, sugary neighbourhood bakery types I got fed as a child – not that every neighbourhood bakery does bad doughnuts, but. Despite my incredulity over these sugared rings of fried dough, I was dead curious: What was the hype all about? Weren’t these just doughnuts? So I decided to heat an Original Glazed Doughnut, Krispy Kreme’s signature, up for breakfast.

A couple of minutes in the toaster and the sugar glaze melted into a happy sticky mess while the doughnut remained soft and fluffy despite being left overnight. What struck me was that there was none of that oily smell that often comes with doughnuts. Not a bad start! One bite into it and all inhibitions were gone. I finally understood the 13 hour flights and the 30 man deep queue. The doughnut was light and not cloyingly sweet. It was barely even oily and the doughnut was deliciously airy. I finished it much faster than expected and found myself wanting another. Do they put some addictive component in those things?

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Coffee Kreme Filled Doughnut | Chocolate Kreme Filled White Chocolate Glazed Doughnut

To be honest I’m not too sure what the next two are called because they don’t appear on the Krispy Kreme site. Products do vary from country to country and these may or may not be available in Singapore. When Sam and I checked the local store out, we found a red velvet variation not mentioned on the website!IMG02478-20131019-0716

I highly doubt it would be possible to get doughnuts for breakfast before work in Singapore. Not with the 30-man deep queue! But do try them at least once because you’ll never think of doughnuts the same way ever. Speaking of which, maybe I should join the queue since I’m getting a craving from writing this post…

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Food Hunter

The Burger Bar by Fatboy’s Concepts @ Far East Plaza

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Think of the word “Burgers” and the immediate place that comes to mind is a fast food joint. However, apart from those, you will find other eateries that serve burgers with so much more variety. One of these is The Burger Bar by Fatboy’s Concepts. This small outlet is a branch from the main Fatboy’s Burger Bar you find in Thomson and Katong.

What makes The Burger Bar by Fat Boy’s Concepts different from other places is that you get to build your own burger. Think of it as an unhealthy version of Subway. It gives you the freedom to choose the type of meat, bun, toppings and sauce. The plus point of being able to customise your burger is that you will never ever get bored of eating from a standard menu since there are somewhat endless choices.

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Ordering is done on your own on an iPad which simplifies the ordering process. The basic burger is priced at $6.50 with a choice of meat and given toppings of lettuce, cheddar cheese and tomato slices. The next step is to select any additional toppings or premium sauces (prices range from $0.50 to $3). The final step is a choice to top it up to make it a set meal (an addition of fries and a drink) or to have additional sides.

I got myself a burger consisting of grilled chicken on a wholemeal bun with smoked chipotle sauce and an additional topping of grilled pineapple. The burger came piping hot and it is quite telling from the grill marks on the chicken that it was hot off the grill. Although I had anticipated the burger to be on the smaller side (given its price), I was quite surprised how generous they were in serving up a huge slab of chicken.

Because of its size, handling the burger was a bit cumbersome at first. Once you get past that and you sink your mouth into the burger, the different textures and flavours create such a party in your mouth. There is the juiciness of the chicken, the charred grilled taste of the meat, the crunch from the lettuce and the sweetness of the pineapple. However, my bread turned soggy after awhile due to the amount of juice and sauce and I was left trying to not let it seep through the wrapping paper.

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Generally the meat was well cooked over the grill and the burger itself left me very full even without a set meal! Although I did not try the other sides, my friend who ordered the mozzarella sticks found it a bit tough to bite through. However, it was quite fun to watch how far you could stretch the cheese!

The space is quite small but if you prefer something different and away from the hustle and bustle of the Orchard crowd, this may be the place for you. But after eating this, I do think a run was very much needed.

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