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Café Discoveries

Café Discoveries

So many cafés, so little time. But slowly and surely, I will conquer them all! :)
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

A modern interpretation of the traditional Malay steamed rice cake filled with Gula Melaka, the snowy-white “Putu Piring” ($7.90 per slice) by Sipopo had me going gaga over its cloud-like softness of coconut cream topped with grated coconut, and the layers of chiffon sponge sandwiching gula melaka with mini chunks of crunchiness intact. I was told by the staff who attended to us there’s sweet potato in the #cake too but I couldn’t quite taste it myself (not that it matters to be honest).

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Ordered this for delivery during the Circuit Breaker and it was wonderful, BUT nothing beats having @thelokalsingapore’s housemade Banana Bread right on their premises.
Served warm, it comes in a generous big block and is lavished in caramelised bananas and yogurt (both made from scratch in-house too). Then, on go toasted macadamia nuts and for the finishing touch, grated lime zest. So in every bite there’s fragrance, warmth, sweetness, mushiness, buttery crunch and a teensy bright note of citrus freshness. I still think it’s extraordinarily yums, like it‘s always been from my first taste of it a couple of years ago.

Chef-owner Darren (@fuzzychef) shared with me when I dropped by last night that @thelokalsingapore is now open from Wednesdays to Sundays and serves their Brunch Menu from 9am to 9pm. That’s not to say they have stopped their Dinner Menu because it’s available in the evening but if you get a craving for Bacon & Eggs for dinner, or feel like doing things your way via their “Pimp My Breakfast” option (there are 15 items to choose from), you now know where to go. I actually really like the sound of that and plan to check it out soon.

Because my brother-in-law picked up the food from Wheeler’s Yard himself, he got a 20% discount. And that translated to a tidy amount of savings since he settled the bill for our whole family at home.

The choice of the men was the bestselling “Suki Beef Rice Bowl” ($19.90 before discount) and they very much enjoyed the sliced oyster blade steak in housemade sukiyaki sauce. It’s served with an onsen egg and braised daikon (Japanese radish) on Japanese rice embellished in shio kombu and seasame seeds.

While my niece got the healthy “60 Degree Chicken Breast” ($18.90 before discount), a large piece of very tenderly-cooked protein on housemade potato mash accompanied by grilled butter corn, roasted hazelnuts and shio konbu, I opted for my all-time favourite, the “Vegetable Rice Bowl” ($15.90 before discount). The fresh-tasting, Japanese-inspired creation has never failed to satisfy me with its base of Japanese rice drizzled in a sweetish sauce and the silken tofu, mushrooms and assorted vegetables heaped on top. The lovely flavours and textures from the juicy “bok choy”, sweet and smoky roasted corn kernels, crisp haricots verts (they’re the skinny French beans you find mostly served at fine dining restaurants) and the aforementioned braised daikon are what I love most about it.

My brother-in-law also added two side dishes for us to share: the very addictive beer-battered, crunchy-fried Furikake Cauliflower ($7.90 before discount) and a Glazed Sweet Potatoes that featured a housemade yuzu soy sauce ($5.90 before discount). We gobbled both of them up along with everything else in no time at all.

If you like well-executed tasty dishes that are superb value-for-money, please click on the link in @wheelersyard bio on Instagram to order.

They do FREE ISLANDWIDE DELIVERY too if you prefer to #stayhomesg.

T R E A T
Earlier this year when I was at a relatives’ home for a gathering, I got to enjoy @patissierwoo’s Ispahan Tart as Aunty Jean had bought it for dessert. I recall being impressed by it, so when Melissa Woo (she’s the Woo in #PatissierWoo) DM-ed me to say she wanted to send over her Takeaway Tea Box Set, I did a happy dance. Honestly, I was just as impressed if not more by my second encounter with her bakes. Everything was flawlessly executed, and flavours were exquisite.

The Takeaway Tea Box Set is truly a lovely little indulgence that at $38, is value for money especially with the high quality of the creations. Here is what the current one comprises of:

1 x Lemon Tart (8cm) - This has a super crisp pastry crust and a stunning filling that’s balanced in perky citrus acidity and creaminess. LOVED IT!

1 x Earl Grey Sticky Date Pudding - Soft and fluffy, the pudding and sauce are separately packed, so you can warm them up before eating which is important.

1 x Cacao Nibs Sables (not shown in photo) - The delicate cookies are fragrant, light and crunchy. My niece enjoyed them so much she claimed the bottle for herself.

3 x Rose #Macarons - Crisp of shell and perfumed with the right amount of rose scent, these beauties are divine.

2 x Vanilla Bean #Choux Puffs - My other favourite because the vanilla cream filling is to-die-for.

4 x Chocolate & Orange Mini #Madeleines (not shown in photo) - Extremely moist and deeply chocolatey, the soft cushions are loveliest with a sip of hot coffee.

Please note this current set is available only until 19th April as Melissa refreshes the content fortnightly. Boxes are available daily but should be reserved 24 hours in advance (before 6pm).

To order, please email:
[email protected]

Or call / WhatsApp: 96310150

Eggporn is at its yummiest when the perfectly poached eggs are smothered in a lip-smacking sauce. Like this delectable version at @allium.sg (thanks Chef Dillon for letting us have a taste). We had gone there for brunch and were busy enjoying our orders of “Muffaletta” Sandwich ($22 nett) and “Hainanese Sweet & Sour Pork Loin” ($26 nett) when we were surprised by a serving of this “Heritage Eggs” ($19 nett). Covered in diced Jamon Serrano, a very appetising pickled shallot beurre blanc, and accompanied by sautéed spinach and finely chopped chives, this was a wonderfully rich, savoury and absolutely delicious dish. On the side was housemade bread to make sure we could mop up every bit of that eggy goodness.

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I ordered the “Salami and Potatoes” Galette on my second visit and found it is as immaculately made and tasty as the “Off The Bone” Galette ($16++) I had during their soft opening.
I do feel this is a little more substantial though because it has small cubes of roasted Russet and Red Pontiac potatoes as a filling. Besides that, there is Brie cheese and a soft-cooked egg too. I appreciate how the slices of salami are lightly fried before they are arranged on top of the folded Galette to be served. For sure they are a little more delicious warm.

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Presentation of this item is eye-catching but its taste is what made my dining companion Caecilia and I immediately vow to return ASAP.
The crêpe itself is freshly made upon order, so it is warm and soft. Within the cut-up rolled pieces of the crêpe is gooey melted Camembert - it is quite a strong cheese so if you aren’t already a fan, this might not be the right choice for you. We, however, are. And our opinion is that this tastes wonderful, especially with the drizzle of honey for a delicious blend of salty and sweet. The accompanying fig jam is also really good. We were told it’s specially made for Gather by the owners’ friends in Australia. You can also pick up a jar if you like it that much as they retail it right there too.

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Even if you were not aware that the NEW @gathershop.co at the Raffle Hotel (the entrance faces Carlton Hotel on North Bridge Road) is by the same owners of the now defunct #ThePlain, #Ronincafe which closed permanently on 30th January due to rent increment, and @Punch.gram (still going strong and has been passed the baton to serve Ronin’s extremely popular “Wicked” Mocha Mint and insanely delicious scrambled eggs - still the best in Singapore in my opinion), you will get the feeling of familiarity once you step in.
Like all of @vincteng and @phaybulous’ other dining establishments that have ever existed and continue to thrive, @gathershop.co is very tastefully done and run by a team that seems genuinely happy to see you every time - click on the link in @vincteng’s bio and you will understand where this originated.
#GatherSG to me, whether it was intentional or not, bears a close resemblance to The Plain, one of the first Aussie-style cafes to open in Singapore, and that is a very good thing (I’m sure many of you were just as sad as me when it closed). If you had ever been there, I think you will agree when I say #GatherSG is an evolved version of it. Yes, there is a mini boutique on the bigger premises retailing exquisite merchandise curated by their business partner @Huishaan, a large round marble cum cork designer table that costs a cool 8,000 Euros for customers to sit at, and a menu that focuses on galettes and crêpes BUT the light and easy energy, the cheery greetings, the on-the-ball but somehow-feels-unrushed service - those remain true.
My friend Caecilia and I dropped by during their soft opening yesterday and were very impressed by the freshly-made food and coffee we had. There is an exactness and polish to the way they prepare every item which means presentation is simple but beautiful, and taste has no compromise. We both loved the savoury “Off The Bone” Breton-type #galette ($16) for its ratio of ham, gruyère, cheddar and egg filling to crepe, spot-on seasoning as much as we did our dessert #crepe, the honey-drizzled “Figs and Camembert” ($16). By the way, you must like strong cheese if you wish to have the latter as that crepe is filled with a lot of it. Coffee was faultless as expected.
Clearly, I can’t be any happier with #GatherSG. In fact, I wanted to return today for more. However they are closed to do some final touches, so I am returning tomorrow (6th Feb) when they officially open at 8am to the public.

Operating hours:

Mondays to Saturdays
8am to 10pm (walk-ins only).

Sundays
8am to 6pm (reservations allowed).

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M E D I A T A S T I N G

Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner has a new spin-off concept in town - quite literally as you can only find Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner at Funan Mall and Raffles City. For now anyway. The menu is by Chef de Cuisine Paul Albert, a young French bistronomy chef who radiates a bright-eyed energy. Having spent time at a few of France’s top Michelin star restaurants and an apprenticeship at The Slow Bakery in Rio, Brazil, he has not only grown passionate about the art of fermentation but also amassed knowledge for it. Hence, the technique is showcased pretty heavily in his food which is more exuberant in flavour than what one would expect of such healthy and wholesome looking and sounding dishes.

Here is everything we got to try:

1. Chayote Kimchi & Mung Bean Salad (VV) $18 - For a salad, it’s punchy! I was taken aback by how tasty the combination of homemade chayote kimchi, mung bean, crispy buckwheat, green parsley oil, watercress, pea shoots and roasted peanuts could be. Second helpings? Yes please

2. Hot Chicken Salad & Caramelised Pumpkin $20 - The slow-cooked chicken breast with kabocha pumpkin confit and herb pomelo salad with wasabi dressing also got my vote. Love what the brown butter brought to the overall especially.

3. Super Green Warm Soup (V) $16 - We had a tasting portion but it was enough to get what it means to drink your greens. Chinese spinach, bok choy, Shanghai green, chye sim and lady’s finger were blended into a thick liquid and served with beetroot pickled ricotta, roasted candlenuts, sautéed shimeiji and green herb oil. I appreciated this for daring to be different and thought it was actually quite slurp-able.

4. Miso Whole-wheat Spaghetti with Broccolini (V) $19 - The pasta has the company of made-from-scratch basil and almond pesto, miso eggplant confit and grated grana padano cheese which gives it a hearty taste. You can also choose to make it #vegan by leaving out the cheese.

5. Pulled Pork Creamy Risoni Pasta $22 - The rice grain-shaped pasta is tossed with king oyster mushroom, pulled pork that’s been prepared in the Classic American style - with a mix of smoked paprika, brown sugar, mustard seeds, garlic and a pork jus and shiitake reduction. Having absorbed all the rich butter, broth and cheese, the small slippery carb becomes delicious.

6. Portobello, Avocado and Hummus Black Sandwich (VV) $19 - Between the lightly toasted slices of charcoal bread is a veritable bowl of salad because packed with the dhal hummus are roasted portobello, avocado, shredded pickles and fresh herbs. On the side, a basket of amazing housemade, still-warm purple potato chips. Majorly addictive.

7. 100% Sourdough Waffles - Originating from a 158-year-old ancestral "mother”, I enjoyed the Liege-style waffles plain the most because of their insane fragrance and flavour. You can pick them up at #TBBSafari or have them dine-in, presented in sweet or savoury styles at either of the #tiongbahrubakerydiner outlets. For the former, they come with a delightful mix of lemongrass chantilly cream, ripe Thai mangoes, caramelised almonds and a salted butter caramel sauce. The latter sees them plated with crispy bacon, a fried egg, goji berries, ricotta cheese and a housemade special maple syrup ($23).

8. Fluffy Brown Butter Pancakes (V) $21 - Served with the same toppings as the sweet style of the Waffles, these are made using fermented buttermilk batter and brown butter which gives these pancakes a distinct colour and taste. I would recommend sharing one for dessert as the portion is big.

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I assumed it would be the Italian cheese, a savoury version of the mozzarella, that would command this stage but the Shakshuka’s smoked tomato chutney snuck up and stole the show (price: $22). I have to admit though, I wouldn’t mind if it had a bit more body.
The default bread it comes with is housemade rye (pictured above) which is perfectly fine, but since I am not a fan of rye per se, I added on Pane de Campagne, an Italian crusty bread ($5). Also made in-house at @burnclubst, the four slices were deliciously dressed with dried herbs and a drizzle of olive oil. I preferred the texture of this dunked in the Shakshuka.

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Although they are called “pies”, these Melbourne-inspired pitas are made with sourdough flour, and come stuffed with three kinds of cheese, spinach plus my chosen add-on of beef brisket.
The dough of the pita has a slightly coarse texture and satisfying chewiness which I found to work well with the flavourful fillings.
To my surprise, the beef brisket was subtly sweet but it was very tasty. If you prefer other meats, they do offer a savoury pulled pork and lamb as well.

Price: $12 for 4 pieces of the Triple Cheese and Spinach Pie.
Add-ons available at $6 for pulled pork and $8 for beef brisket or lamb.

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I think this is ideal for sharing and makes for a delicious start to any meal at Burn.
The burrata is made in-house, and has goat’s milk added which, I was told by owner Pav, gives it a more savoury facet of flavour. Piled on top are freshly grilled padron peppers that bring on a juicy, almost fruity crunch and subtle fragrance to the creaminess. Don’t worry, they aren’t spicy at all.

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Follow me on Instagram (@veronicaphua) for much more content! 😊

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