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It was my first time stepping into a Lao Huo Tang restaurant when most of the time I had seen them in food courts. While a bowl of soup would cost at least S$9.80 here, I was really thrilled because the waitress told me that all soups are entitled to one round of refill, and this bowl was bigger than the standard soup bowls for double-boiled soups.

But the thing that really impressed me with this bowl of Pork Rib with Apple & Snow Pear Soup (S$9.80) was that it was light and naturally sweetened by the boiled fruits. Said to have detoxifying and beautifying effects, the soup was also not loaded with excessive amounts of sodium. Pairing it with a bowl of brown rice, I would say that this meal itself was simple with a touch of bliss.

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It took about a 15- to 20-minute wait for this to be served after ordering. Their Turkey Bacon & Scrambled Egg Pancakes (S$18.90) was one of the three savoury pancake options that one would consider for an all-day breakfast.

To be brutally honest, the wait was just a prelude to the bigger disappointment that came next. Without the soufflé puffiness, their classic pancakes was really ordinary in flavours (I quote the diners from my adjacent table commenting that this was comparable to fast food standard), and it did not help that the turkey bacon lacking crispiness and were served cold, and the scrambled egg was somehow tasteless. I probably would not be the only one who would think that this item did not match its price point.

Somewhere out there, there were diners who seemed pretty satisfied with their Tiramisu Pancakes. That might be something I would try if I were to come back for them.

Soufflé pancakes were not new to the local culinary scene, but these from Gram were quite special. Originated from Osaka, these S$17.90 pancakes were airy, fluffy and every piece were said to be 4cm thick. Slightly leaning when stacked, the wobbly pancakes also came with maple syrup, freshly-whipped cream and a dome of special butter. On its own, the pancakes could melt in the mouth with little floury taste; with the toppings, the pancakes became further enriched with sweet, buttery and silky notes.

While Gram was clever to use the limited portions to create the hype (one month on and the queue would still form for the Premium Pancakes), I was not impressed by the tightly-packed tables and the slow service, as this item was served 15 minutes later than the initially-promised time of 8.00pm (not forgetting a one-hour wait before that). The likelihood of coming back for this was questionable, as there were other restaurants out there that offered cheaper options, and much possibly a shorter wait.

Traditionally, soft serve ice cream sundaes would go best with thick chocolate fudge. Bubble tea lovers would probably substitute the sauce with tapioca pearls, but the conventional pearls were chewy with little value-add to the taste.

Now, with the tapioca pearls cooked in brown sugar syrup, adding them into a cup of ice cream could easily make a bubble tea lover jump in joy. HEYTEA, other than selling their extensive menu of tea and other beverages, also offered this regular cup of Bobo Ice Cream at S$4.50. The base, because of its composition to become a soft-serve, was meant to be super creamy, so it’s like enjoying a cup of bubble tea in the form of ice cream.

As it was expected to be really sweet, just be prepared to reach out for some water or their Pure Tea selections with the least sugar to wash down the sugar rush.

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Malaysia Boleh was one of those food courts that housed many stalls, selling hawker food that originated from Malaysia. While I would not want to comment on whether the tastes were indeed authentic, let’s just say that it would be an alternative for those who crave Malaysian street food, but could not cross the borders for them.

The Chendol (S$2.00) was something that one of my colleagues had recommended to get, but the first impression was that it had got to be damn good because it came in a ceramic rice bowl and the kidney beans were basically countable. I was quite satisfied eating my dessert because it was sweet enough, but I probably would not buy it again, because the “shiok” feeling was not quite there somehow.

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Malaysia Boleh was one of those food courts that housed many stalls, selling hawker food that originated from Malaysia. While I would not want to comment on whether the tastes were indeed authentic, let’s just say that it would be an alternative for those who crave Malaysian street food, but could not cross the borders for them.

The Chendol (S$2.00) was something that one of my colleagues had recommended to get, but the first impression was that it had got to be damn good because it came in a ceramic rice bowl and the kidney beans were basically countable. I was quite satisfied eating my dessert because it was sweet enough, but I probably would not buy it again, because the “shiok” feeling was not quite there somehow.

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A food festival called “Nom Nom Nom” sprang up at the ground level foyer of Shaw House, to be open to public from 5 July to 14 July 2019. 13 food and beverages kiosks were set up to welcome foodies around the area for some carnival munchies.

Honestly, among all the stalls here, I was most attracted to the Rosti stall which was operated by The 6ixs Rosti. I mean, the smell of fried potatoes was so seductive to me. And if you could pardon the amount of oil to make the surface crispy, the rosti was made to the shape of a gigantic croquette, but with sour cream by the side. With the cheese topping and the chicken Bratwurst, the portion of snack costed S$10.00. And while the seats are pretty limited within the event venue, it would be best to come in groups of no larger than 4 persons, and that would be provided that you wish to grab a seat at their picnic tables.

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Business was thriving during the lunch hours of Dosirak, and I was quite lucky to get a seat quite quickly with my lunch date.

Burpple Beyond allowed us to have a one-for-one deal of their Bibimbap. The Soy Citrus Salmon (S$12.90) had some cubes of seared salmon, topping a bed of brown rice (additional S$1.00) and five sides which I would personally recommend their spinach, beansprouts, kimchi, corn and cabbage. Onsen egg (additional S$1.00) would also be a nice additional touch to the rice box for some extra protein amidst the crunches.

Add both the Omma’s Gochujang and Soy Garlic Jang to enjoy a spicy finish with additional fragrance to the already tasty Bibimbap. Don’t be shy to also shake the box like a pro to mix the contents evenly, and then add a second round of sauces to make sure every single grain would capture some authentic Korean flavours.

#BurppleBeyond

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The new burger joint at Level 1 of Wisma Atria seemed to have attracted a bunch of curious diners, for Burger+ marketed itself offering premium fast food at affordable prices.

Apart from some delicious-looking burgers, they also sold alcoholic beverages, Korean fried chicken (they were supposed to be a Korean kitchen by the way) and combo meals, comprising a side order and a drink, would entitle a diner to offset up to S$2.50 for their meals.

One of their signature items was the Avocado Bacon Burger, which came with a buttered potato bun, 130g beef patty, their special B+ sauce, baby romaine lettuce, tomato, half a sliced avocado, bacon, seared onion and cheddar cheese. It sounded like a mouthful for a S$17.20 burger, and the overall presentation was definitely earning itself some Instagrammable moments.

While its taste was also quite the same as some other new burger joints that I had tried recently, that might have also been the best experience of the burger. Sure, potato buns might be quite unique in the burger scene, but the texture was a little too soggy for me after absorbing the B+ sauce and the patty juice.

With this burger paired with other items to make the cheapest possible combo, the meal with a regular fries and a regular drink would easily cost me S$22.50. Sad to say, that if the flavours did not stand out so significantly, paying a premium for supposedly affordable burgers became just a little against the grain for most diners who read “affordable” in a different way.

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d’ Good Café’s third restaurant played a more Asian theme, specifically on the local coffee and tea scene and our familiar Kopitiam heritage.

The Hainanese Roulade & Risotto Balls (S$19.50) repackaged the local favourite chicken rice into a more Westernised presentation. The chicken was tender and juicy from the poaching, and the garlic-ginger chilli remoulade encapsulated the ginger and chilli sauce quite perfectly. And that small piece of foie gras was more of a touch of luxury to this dish, giving me a sense that the food was worth the money. My only slight gripe from this dish was their risotto balls, because the rice was not as compact within the ball and was a tad marshy for its texture. Overall, it was still a good dish and I would actually recommend this dish to those who loved chicken rice anyhow.

They also had an in-house coffee museum that was open to public, but given that visitors would be shuffling their way into the museum without any obligation to spend in the restaurant, sitting near the entrance of the museum might cause some inconvenience to those who minded someone squeeze behind their seats.

The grilled eel here just tasted a bit different from those that I could get from other competitors, because the eels were first steamed then grilled with a nice caramelisation of the sauce and captured a smoky taste. This also meant that the Unagi would boast a combination of juiciness and crispiness, with a sweet and smoky finish.

It would have been a routine for me to order the Unagi Hitsumabushi (S$32.80) for an extra pot of Dashi broth, to be added to a portion of the rice and eel. Those who were informed would know that the mains should be divided into portions, each to be eaten in a different way using the condiments provided. Also, if you were like me, who liked the Unagi to be a little more saucy, you could actually ask for an extra serving of the Unagi sauce to intensify the sweetness of the eel.

The Long Pasta might be out of stock rather quickly, but that did not stop the kitchen from serving their Supremo Porky Marinara (S$14.00) with Curly Pasta instead. Although the purplish pasta lost its beauty in the red tomato sauce, the general taste of the dish was still acceptable, given that the pasta was close to al dente.

The dish also came with sliced pork (Haus Bacon) and a large beef and pork meatball (Haus Meatball), which was perfect if meat is a staple in your food. However, what I truly enjoyed about the dish was the generous portion of Pork Croutons (also known as fried pork lard) amidst the sauce. Not only it added crunch, but also that fragrance of lard filled my mouth quickly as I minced it with my teeth.

The good news was that with an additional S$2.50 for a free flow drink, one could easily get a friend to enjoy the same, thanks to Burpple Beyond!

#BurppleBeyond