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Sweet-Tooths and Small Bites

Sweet-Tooths and Small Bites

All things sweet or small for the after-meal satisfaction.
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

From the Taiwan Food stall at Koufu Enterprise One, which is a short walk away from Ubi MRT Station. Having opened for two months, the stall is run by a couple; the husband being in the F&B industry for 31 years, coming from Kaoshiung, Taiwan, having his experience working in various kitchens of multiple restaurants before opening his own stall here. Whilst offering quite a variety of bento options alongside a good selection of sides that are all freshly-prepared upon order (yes, sweet potato fries being fried only when one orders them).

The Braised Pork Rice is the most affordable item here at $3.50, and is one that I absolutely enjoyed being one of the better (if not the best) that I have ever come across. Claimed to be one of their best sellers, the portions are generous here; quite a fair bit of rice for the price, considering how Braised Pork Rice often come in smaller portions at the same price elsewhere. Coming with minced meat that comes with the braised sauce, the flavours are savoury, yet comes with a distinct note of spices such as cinnamon and a lingering hint of slight sweetness β€” very subtle, yet comforting without being too faint to detect, which works great with short grain rice that it comes with. The minced meat was delicious; a good balance of lean and fatty bits that created a meaty bite, yet carried some chewy bits that melts in the mouth. Simple as it sounds, but this is a bowl of finesse for a dish that many places tend to mess up. Really impressed with how the stall also keeps a secret menu, where regulars can quote them the names of various Taiwanese dishes and they may be able to whip up those items if the ingredients are available (the Sakura Ebi Fried Rice is actually pretty delicious too). A place I am likely to return to for more delicious Braised Pork Rice, and also to try more Taiwanese delicacies that may be a rare find elsewhere!

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From the new Buta Kabayaki at Food Republic [email protected]omerset which replaces the former premises of Monster Curry, serving up Japanese Curry Rice and various forms of Donburi involving different cuts and styles of pork.

Going for the Okinawa Style Pork Jowl Don which is currently on discount at $5 (usual price $7) for its opening promotion, the Donburi came with 5 slices of Pork Jowl, sous-vide egg, pickled vegetables and spring onion on a bed of short-grain rice. Whilst the Pork Jowl was brilliantly done being all tender and succulent, carrying a light hint of char without any hint of porkiness from the meat, the meat was slathered in a sauce similar to BBQ sauce which carried a sweetness that seemingly overwhelmed the flavours of the meat β€” a pity considering how well-executed the meat was. Otherwise, the other elements are pretty pedestrian, though kudos to them for serving up a sous-vide egg which carried a flowy and oozy molten yolk; all jiggly and wobbly. While this was decent for its price for the promotional period, I can't really help but to think if I would actually consider to have this again at its full price β€” I would not mind paying slightly more for more slices of meat, considering how it all seem to have ended too quickly, and definitely also doing away with the sauce which constantly interfered with the flavours of the meat as well.

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Nothing gets me more intrigued than deep-fried garlic pork dishes β€” having tasted my very first one at Thai Jing Jing ever since those days when they were located at Berseh Food Centre, I found myself on a constant hunt to look for such iterations of the dish elsewhere.

This variant comes from Jia Wang Cafe; a new tzechar stall which had taken over the former premises of now-defunct Broth Noodle Bar (and also Sin Lee Foods, if that is a more familiar name for most). Really liked how the variant of the Fried Garlic Pork came with fried cloves of garlic and bits of diced garlic β€” the addition helps to enhance the textures by introducing some crispness and crustiness to the equally crispy nuggets of fried pork, itself being savoury, juicy and tender; no effort required to chew through the morsels of pork here. The result is an undeniably garlicky affair; something that certainly strikes a note for garlic lovers like me, while the drenching of the sweet sauce introduces a hint of sweetness that cuts through those garlicky notes a fair bit for yet another dimension of flavour β€” very delicious indeed.

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Checked out the new Kamome Bakery which had opened its doors at Goldhill Plaza; a Japanese bakery which serves up bread baked fresh on a daily basis whilst also offering soups and stews alongside drinks such as coffee and tea as well.

Amongst the few bakes we had gotten, the Pork Katsu Sandwich is probably the one that stood out a bit more with its light and fluffy bread encasing the Pork Katsu which comes sufficiently thick, slathered with Katsu sauce for a slight sweetness. A shame that the bakes are served straight out of the shelves without an option of having them warmed up β€” think of it as a Pullman Bakery or Johan with seats; though that makes it a rather good option for a quiet hangout with just bread and coffee at hand.

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Had been going around to try different iterations of Kaya Toasts, so skimming through the menu to find this one from Uncle Ho's Cafe (by the folks behind Uncle Ho's Tuckshop at Pasir Panjang) at the newly-revamped Republic Plaza was a bit of a surprise.

Spread with Hainanese Kaya (aka Brown Kaya) and butter, it is pretty much the same deal as the usual Kaya Butter Toast but it's the Banh Mi that really shines here β€” served warm and toasted, the light crustiness of the bread and its airy and fluffy interior gives a great texture alongside the buttery, sweet and coconut-y mix of flavours slathered within; a different take from the denser bread we are often used to. Sure; it may sound gimmicky in a certain sense where it might seem like a lazy iteration of a local fusion by slather-ing ready-to-eat condiments with a Banh Mi, but it is a combination that I really dig and a refreshing take for the Kaya Toast lover in me.

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From Standing Steakhouse, which had recently opened its doors at Orchard Plaza where the former premises of Il Den used to be located at Level 4. Having only enough space for 15 pax, the concept is very much what the name suggests β€” patrons would have to dine standing up at the tables provided; no chairs around here.

Operating as a two-man show, the only item on the menu here would be the US Rump Steak, served at a weight of 200gm per portion with a choice of sweet corn or broccoli as the side β€” all that for $20 nett. Served only at medium rare, the steak was absolutely delicious; one of the best at the price tag β€” the beef does not require much effort to slice through and was not particularly gamey, whilst being tender with all its juices locked in, flavourful from on its own, whilst the exterior was nicely crusted. Coming with a knob of Herb Butter, the butter helps to add a savoury, buttery note to the beef to help enhance the flavours, though other condiments such as Fresh Garlic, Salt, Wasabi and Soy Sauce are available as well β€” the purist in me prefers pairing the beef with salt, though the Fresh Garlic intrigued my taste buds with a refreshing flavour that takes away much of the meatiness. The sweet corn were decent; the nibs of corn providing a slight sweetness that gives a good break from the meat. A pretty value-for-money deal, especially considering the price point β€” essentially a steal for its quality. Really enjoy visiting establishments like this; hole-in-the-wall concepts that no-frills and all about honest cooking with passion and skill that does not burden the wallet β€” a hidden gem that is worthy to check out!

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Visited The White Tiffin recently; the F&B establishment having moved from Fragrance Empire Building to its new premises at Changi City Point. Serving up their famed Nasi Lemak, the menu also sees a variety of other Noodle and Rice offerings, such as Curry Chicken and Laksa as well, alongside with cakes and desserts (including the Soya Beancurd Tart that seems to be supplied by Le Cafe).

Really enjoyed the Nasi Lemak they have to offer; coming with other elements such as Ikan Bilis, Peanuts, Achar and Salted Egg Fish Skin, the Nasi Lemak here is one that comes with quite a number of accompaniments on the side. The Nasi Lemak here comes infused with Blue Pea Flower to carry that blue hue; otherwise, the rice was pretty fluffy and carried a nice hint of fragrance from the coconut β€” distinct, yet light. The portion of the Prawn Paste Chicken is pretty generous; the fried batter being all crisp while the flesh itself was juicy and succulent, carrying a umami flavour from the prawn paste used in its marination β€” the flavours being on point and well-expected for what it seems to suggest. Carrying its signature hint of sweetness, the chili is the sort that is typically served with Nasi Lemak yet carrying a moderate level of spiciness that tingles the tastebuds. Other elements like the Ikan Bilis and Salted Egg Fish Skin were crispy like they should; none of the limp, aired-out ones that one may get at a coffeeshop because they were sitting at the counter for too long, while the Achar came peanut-free (yay for me!) and carried a refreshing crunch that gives a good break from the heavier elements. Had always been wanting to try them out after reading multiple articles on them; a great eat that I would consider having in the area, and something which I would most certainly wish to have again!

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Having went for their Brownie during our previous visit here sparked our curiosity on how their croissants would be like β€” an item which we had missed during our first visit because they were just simply sold out of all forms of croissants and Danishes by the time we arrived. Really totally enjoyed this one; the exterior so crusty from the sugary layer that coats the entire bread, while the insides were soft yet firm, buttery, light and flaky and absolutely a joy to have. If there were to be a comparison made, this would sit nicely in between Tiong Bahru Bakery's rendition and Barcook Bakery's variant β€” an in-between for its texture with the sweetness slightly veering towards the Tiong Bahru Bakery one. Pretty sure the Kouign Amann here is something I would very much specifically crave for (the Brownie is as great, though its certainly too big for one), and one that I would be most happy to make the special trip down for.

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Got the opportunity to check out the new Uptown Nasi Lemak which has sprouted up at the coffeeshop situated at 121 Telok Ayer Street recently (the same one where the $1 Peanut Pancake is located). Serving up Nasi Lemak with a variety of seafood and meat options, patrons going for the Nasi Lemak with Ayam Berempah can go with either the Drumstick or Thigh option at $5.50, or the entire Leg at $6.50.

Thought that the rice here is fluffy, and while the rice did carry a slight lemak note, it would have been even better if it could carry a heavier hint of coconut for more punch. Otherwise, the meat was pretty good; crisp on the exterior and juicy and succulent within, the chicken comes with hints of spice such as turmeric and lemongrass for a more complex, yet fragrant note, while it also comes with crispy Ikan Bilis for a crunch, half-boiled egg, cucumbers, sambal and achar. The sambal here is not quite the sweet variant we would usually associate with local renditions of Nasi Lemak, but is the savoury-sweet sort that is more reminiscent to Malaysia-style versions with caramelised onions and soft Ikan Bilis for a bite – carried quite a decent intensity of heat that should be manageable to most with a low to moderate level of tolerance to spiciness, while the achar gives a tangy and refreshing crunch to reset the taste buds from all the carbs and meat. Pretty decent, though more of an option I would consider only if in the area.

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Signature Brown Sugar Sponge Cake, Gula Melaka, Chantilly Cream. Flor Patisserie had recently opened its doors at Capitol Piazza, serving up their quality Japanese cakes at Level 1 where Aesop used to be located at within the mall.

While the "Cups" section of the menu is completely new and exclusive only to this outlet, the Signature Roll Slice was something that seemed particularly trendy in this day where Brown Sugar is all the rage. Really loved the lightness and the fluffiness of the Signature Brown Sugar Sponge Cake; a mellow, earthy sweetness that tickles the tongue, while the Gula Melaka-infused Chantilly Cream helps to enhance those notes by providing a similar flavour with a slight contrast; also light and fluffy β€” almost cloud-like. Not quite a fan of roll cakes, but the Signature Roll Slice here is a brilliant item for those who are looking for a light dessert; neat presentation, with great execution and light flavours. Always a place I can rely on for quality Japanese cakes done with finesse that totally works for the price it commands.

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From The Bakehaus; a rather unassuming small-scale artisanal takeaway bakery situated in the row of shophouses opposite Old Hen Kitchen. While the main focus here are the loaf breads that they bake fresh daily in-house (think delicious sourdough breads that are crusty, yet considerably light and fluffy within as opposed to the usual sourdough), The Bakehaus also offers Streusel breads and a small variety of bakes including croissants (all of which were already sold out when we made our visit during a weekend afternoon) for those who prefer getting something smaller and more manageable for one to have.

Despite having no seats here for folks to dine-in, the Brownie here made it well worth the visit; perhaps one of the most rich and decadent slices we had ever came across of the late. The thick slab of brownie comes at $6; all crusty on the exterior, yet fudgey and velvety smooth within β€” so ever chocolate-y without causing that burn in the throat, though best to share at its size. Despite not being a fan of extremely chocolate-y desserts, this was something that really got me wanting for more; no doubt food coma-inducing, but utterly delicious with a flavour contrast from the sea salt speckled over the top that helped to add a hint of saltishness to cut through all that sweetness. Sure, we have yet to try their croissant offerings, but having tried this, their Streusel bun and some samples of their cheesecake and sourdough, The Bakehaus does seem like a spot with quite some potential; a great place to grab delicious sourdough especially for those residing near the area!

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Moving into a brick-and-mortar shop space at Everton Park recently, The Better Half serves up specialty coffee and a wide variety of cakes and bakes in the quaint neighbourhood, though with limited seating both indoors and outdoors.

Being one of the items which had caught our attention while skimming through the variety of bakes and cakes on display at the counter, the Gula Melaka is double-layer cake that features Gula Melaka Sponge, Gula Melaka Avocado Buttercream and Toasted Almonds. Really liked how the cake was not overly sweet; the Gula Melaka Avocado Buttercream is the main driver for the flavours of the cake here β€” the mellow sweetness of the Gula Melaka with its deep, earthy undertones completely matched the buttery smoothness of the avocado-laden creamx while the Gula Melaka sponge was rather light and fluffy. Despite its height, the Gula Melaka Avocado Cake is pretty manageable; a cake that is not too dense nor sweet and comes even with a herb-y (rosemary?) note that helps to cut through the slight tinge of sweetness to keep things interesting and providing a harmonious contrast of flavours. A space we would most certainly step in again for a quaint setting with satisfying cakes and good coffee; that is also pretty much depending on luck hoping that there are empty seats while passing by the small space...

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Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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