Dropping the pretense of a fanciful name, this Matcha Yuzu Lychee cake (S$11.00) was an elegant dessert that I thought was quite befitting of a Christmas-y theme, even though it might not necessarily be the case.

Within the not-too-sweet Matcha mousse was a layer of Yuzu curd supporting visible slices of real lychee flesh. With a good balance of sweet and bitter notes, I was immersing myself into a relaxing mood amidst the light jazz music at the background.

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It was a chance discovery of GAMO when I was at Bras Basah Complex to grab some stationeries, and I was quite drawn to their pastry display, honestly.

It was also a comfortable ambience to sit down for a cup of coffee on a weekday afternoon. Their Ichigo beans, blended from the Columbia and Ethiopia region, featured subtle notes of strawberries, honey, lavender and mandarin, which gave it a mildly acidic but light on the palates. A hot, black coffee, at S$6.00 per cup, was also reasonably affordable under this cosy environment.

After a change of operators, the coffee shop was taken over to become Nam Wah Coffee Shop and offering a range of hawker favourites, but what I was most excited about was Ishiro Fusion Bowl which used to be housed at Nanyang Polytechnic.

Fast forward a couple of years, their menu seemed to have also expanded with a few more options. As I tried their Mentaiko Salmon Bowl (S$10.90), I was happy that they also topped the rice bowl with tempura crumbs for that extra texture. I guessed the greatest impression of this item was the extra creamy feel to the rice, as though the rice was coated with cream after mixing everything well. Then again, not everyone might like such a creamy feel, therefore I would say, proceed with caution.

But if there was something I would truly desire from this visit, was that they could really invest in plastic bowls, just for the sake of supporting environmental friendliness.

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The Garlic Chilli Prawns (S$18.00) was a modest dish in my opinion, as it appeared to be a simple starter served with grilled country bread. In fact, I was slightly relieved that the chilli padi kick was not set in (unless when I ate the chopped chilli itself).

What was beautiful about this appetiser was that it was sautéed perfectly while still retaining the crunchiness of the prawns, yet able to infuse the fragrance of garlic and a gentle taste of char.

And then the greatest excuse to order their crowd-pleasing Truffle Kombu Fries (S$15.00)? Just say that there’s not enough bread to soak up the sauce. But wait, do we even need an excuse to order those fries?

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Tarte Flambée is a specialty of the region of Alsace, Italy, whereby the dough is very thinly rolled and topped with ingredients before being baked. Despite the thinness of the crust and the simplicity of the topping ingredients, they are usually delicious and flavourful.

And so when Mia Restaurant had their Honey Bacon Tarte Flambée (S$22.00) in their menu, I was pleasantly surprised by how crispy the crust was even though there was a good layer of mozzarella cheese covering it. On top of that, the bacon, caramelised onions and drizzled honey was also in a perfect proportion to balance out the sweetness with a touch of savoury delight, great for going around the table or for one person’s indulgence.

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For those who would prefer something cool and yet filling at the same time, their Korean Cold Noodles (S$9.00) was one of the two carbs dishes that was available. Though it was refreshing given its serving temperature, in my limited knowledge of Korean cuisine, it did not quite taste like an experience I would get from an authentic Mul Naengmyeong. Nonetheless, if cold noodles would be something that you would look for to fill your stomach, this dish might just meet your expectations.

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The ambience here at Tianfang Pavilion Chaoshan Hot Pot was very conducive on a weekday night. Not sure if it was because the restaurant was less heard of or because it was slightly away from the heart of Chinatown restaurants, but I thought it was a nice environment for a hearty hotpot dinner.

Some tables allowed for two soup bases to be selected, while those for bigger tables have room for four. While they offered Spicy soup base (S$16.00 for single soup base, up to S$20.00 for two), the level of spiciness differed from my usual encounters at other steamboat restaurants. In fact, since the soup bases were mostly more authentically flavourful with meat broth, they also tasted delicious at any point during the meal without being too salty.

For those who wanted a just a quick meal, the restaurant also provided individual hot pots with one soup base, for only S$5.00!

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Thank goodness for a good number of hawker stalls from the previous Golden Shoe to stay on and eventually move to Market Street Hawker Centre at CapitaSpring Level 2! While the facilities had definitely made a marvellous facelift, Hock Gooi Hainanese Curry Rice continued to feed the mouths of the average salarymen (and women of course) over here with affordable Hainanese curry rice.

Most of their default sets here would cost S$3.50, with a fried egg, cabbage, and a scoop of curry sauce (you could of course say no if curry’s not a charm). I ordered the Pork Chop which I felt was slightly over-seasoned, but it was easily balanced off with a mouthful of curry rice. The two lady stallholders were really sweet to remind me that the curry would also be more densely flavoured (read: salty) too, but it was really reasonably seasoned in my opinion.

Food might not be above average, but it brought about warmth as well as a filled tummy at affordable prices.

The Rebel Bar recently had a makeover of their menu to only comprise vegan-friendly items, which also implied that there was no trace of our familiar meats, dairies and eggs in the food they served.

Having a try at their Zoodle Bolognese (S$18.00) was in fact a curveball I threw during the Burpple Eatup as it was not one of the prescribed items we were supposed to have. However, I was most pleased with this “pasta” dish, as the zucchini was shredded into strands of noodles and topped with minced Impossible meat “bolognese” sauce. The flavours definitely hit the right notes and were sufficiently tasty, thanks to the other natural seasonings such as red onions, cherry tomatoes and spiced chickpeas.

Although this might be less hearty than our conventional pasta dish, I thought it was a nice entry-level dish for those who didn’t quite believe they would enjoy vegan food prior.

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In their refreshed menu, Lao Beijing had their Wagyu Beef Truffle “Hor Fun” (S$40.80), which had their Hor Fun done two ways: the conventional stir-fry and also the less seen fried crispy version. Slices of wagyu was layed atop the dish, before topped with a half-boiled egg. This noodle dish was served dry, with the beef and truffle gravy by the side to be poured in when ready to eat.

This dish would have made a nice finish to a meal after a couple of sharing plates, because the “wok hei”, crispy rice noodles, beef gravy, aromatic truffle and juicy beef slices made the carbs very enjoyable for the palates. On the other hand, not that the dish came in a large serving, but given the price point and the degree of satisfaction, I would say that it’s good enough to be shared between 2 to 4 persons. I reckoned too much of good stuff would not necessarily make it more satisfying.

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Huggs Collective at Thomson Plaza had quite a nice ambience when it was quiet and peaceful, and since I could enjoy a 30% discount with Burpple Beyond, I went for their Iced Latte Gula (S$7.00) which was essentially espresso with Gula Melaka.

Apart from the distinct flavours of the processed coconut sugar, what was unexpected was that the coffee became much smoother and tasted frothier, even though it was iced and it sat for a few minutes before I took my first sip.

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This seductive Grandma’s Carrot Cake just sat on the cake stand right in front of the restaurant’s entrance. One might have wondered if the S$18.00 dessert was worth the damage, and I sure thought it did!

The portion was impressively big, bigger than a floppy disk box (does anyone even know what this is by the way?). It was what it was, with “Grandma’s” homemade deliciousness and love in a dense and generous cake, as well as a rich and citrusy cream cheese frosting. There was even at least one wall of walnuts, on top of those found within the cake layers, for those who liked extra crunch.

The cake was good for sharing, but if you had a big heart (and stomach) for carrot cakes, you might consider eating it by yourself. Just be prepared that the frosting might be too rich for liking beyond the 60% mark.

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