SMU Life

SMU Life

Knowing places with good food and great deals makes college life that little bit better
Lucas Lim
Lucas Lim

bara chirashi with a bowl of miso soup for $9.90. located at food republic @manulife centre, chirashi tei offers some cheap japanese fare for both students and the working crowd alike. if you're an SMU student, get 15% off your meal and that means $8.40 for the set. while the quality of the sashimi certainly pales in comparison to places with more premium options that are priced higher, the allure of a bowl of bara chirashi priced as such is almost irresistible. i actually found the quality of the salmon sashimi cubes to be quite decent while the maguro, on the other hand, was a letdown. the mekajiki was slightly watery for my liking but i'm not really one to complain given the price that i'm paying. the chefs are usually rather generous with their ikura as well. my numerous visits to this outlet has actually yielded different results, sashimi freshness changes but i have yet to find the best day to pay a visit yet. maybe it would be easier if i asked the chef when the sashimi would be freshest? regardless, the taste has been decent enough to warrant multiple visits from my friends and me over the past few weeks. urgh the location tag keeps messing up???

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according to chef shaun, this is his signature dish and it definitely did not disappoint me at the #burpple eatup. priced at $20, it is more expensive than saveur but the duck confit here is on a different level. chef shaun specially imports the duck from france. crispy golden brown skin, juicy fat, moist succulent flesh that falls off the bone easily. i'm not sure if any other places in singapore serve it with a berry compote but i have yet to come across any. further accompanied by a mushroom fricasse prepared in-house, roasted potatoes and fresh baby spinach, i think that chef shaun has found a winning combination. probably the most value-for-money duck confit in singapore and my gut feeling tells me that @thebetterfield might become the new go-to place for a consistently comforting plate of duck confit.

p.s. smu kids, we might be getting a discount here soon!

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Remember to order this a day in advance! My personal favourites are the sea salt caramel cheesecake, peanut butter chocolate cake, key lime tart.

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Looking for a new place to hit up? Pho Tai is located at the newly opened Capitol Piazza. Pho Tai offers 3 different soup combinations priced at $9.90 each: Beef Steak Slices, Beef Combination, Chicken. The price is comparable to that of Nam Nam, minus the snaking queues. That's probably due to the fact that Pho Tai is a brand new store and not many people know about it. Well now you're in on it! An interesting fact is that Pho Tai originated from Paris and while we may expect non-authentic Vietnemese cuisine because of that, I urge you to give this place a shot. The broth is so much more flavourful than the ones I have tried elsewhere and the rice noodles seemed to be marginally thicker and more chewy. The beef slices were tender and juicy too! I guess I won't be jostling with the queue over at Nam Nam's Raffles City Outlet that often anymore.

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Monday will once again be here to greet us all when we wake up tomorrow morning. My own method of beating the Monday blues or any dreariness is to simply have a good meal. Good food -> satisfaction -> happiness. For those working near the Bugis, head down to Albert Centre Market and Food Centre for Hock Lee Fishball Noodles. The stall is not difficult to find, it's located in the middle of the food centre and I have never seen it without a queue. Hock Lee's signboard proudly advertises "特别辣椒” which translates into special chilli, which they add to their noodles. Apart from the special chilli making the noodles taste better than the average bowl of fishball noodles, I didn't find anything particularly special about their chilli sauce. Springy strands of meepok tossed in chilli and vinegar, my favourite Singaporean breakfast. What deserves special mention however, is the fishball served by Hock Lee. Hand made by the owner, the fishballs are exceptionally bouncy and you can tell from its texture that while smooth, is not your typical factory made fishball. The fishballs are flavourful and I suppose that these exceptional fishballs, coupled with "特别辣椒”, are what keeps the queue forever snaking. Also, they usually sell out around lunch time, so be sure to arrive early!

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$4.50 for 3 pieces, I think the 流沙包 at Imperial Treasure needs no introduction. My only wish is for the chefs to put more custard and salted egg yolk filling into the bun. Also, Imperial Treasure's filling is more viscous than the usual ones you find, so you'll find yourself able to bite on tiny pieces of salted egg yolk.

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Replacing KFC at the basement of Raffles City Shopping Centre is Imperial Treasure Noodle & Congee House. Many people associate the Imperial Treasure group with steep prices. I guess that doesn't come unwarranted because, well, the name of the restaurant and also, it's reputation as one of the finer Chinese dining establishments in Singapore. However, it really depends on what you order at the restaurant. Sometimes, I'll simply order a bowl of Plain Egg Noodle With Seasonal Vegetables (you have the option to have it dry or with soup). All it costs is a mere $3, cheaper than dining at the food court. And if that's not enough for you, you can order another serving of it and it might still end up being cheaper than eating at the food court.

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Many of you should have seen pictures of the Better Field's Blackmore Wagyu on your Burpple or Instagram feed. After all, going at a mere $21, even I couldn't resist trying it. Also, fellow tastemakers and friends have given it rave reviews. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by my steak. The meat was a little too cold, overdone and dry at parts. Undeniably tender though, accompanied with truffle pesto, this dish had the potential of being as spectacular as what others described it to be. I suppose this is a problem that plagues many new establishments: achieving consistency at the beginning. Friends who ordered the same thing as me received a steak that turned out slightly different. I honestly hope that with time, the Better Field will indeed get better.

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The Better Field is the new kid on the block, located just a few shops down from the famous Waterloo Street Leong Yeow Chicken Rice and Waterloo Times. This is The Ultimate Truffle Fries ($12): golden fries, parsley, white truffle oil, black truffle pesto, grade paciano. I couldn't really taste any truffle prior to dipping the fry into the truffle pesto but once I did, I couldn't stop myself from finishing the bowl. And as you can see from the picture, my friends quickly helped me to accomplish that task as well. Just be warned, the space here is small so it might be difficult to get a seat during peak hours.

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The crispy pork belly, as the name suggests, had a crackling skin. I found the serving of pork belly to be really generous and the pork belly seems to have a strong western influence in terms of the way it was cooked. You don't get the thin crispy skin commonly found in Chinese restaurants but rather, a thick version of it. The aglio olio however, was really disappointing. It lacked flavour, especially in terms of the amount of salt added. The aroma from the garlic and chillis also failed to seep into the pasta. Also, it felt like the pasta was just boiled and tossed in an aglio olio seasoning. Improvements can definitely be made to the pasta and this dish will fare alot better.

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Really glad that 7Kickstart opened in school 😌 An interesting take on the traditional chwee kueh, you don't get your usual chye poh (preserved radish) but you get spam instead! I would've preferred it a little less sweet than what was served but the texture of the chwee kueh was decent enough to make up for it.

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No less popular than its sister restaurant Standing Sushi Bar, Tanuki Raw is usually known for cheap oysters and sashimi slices. In all honesty, I've never really been a fan of Tanuki Raw. That was until I chanced upon the lunch sets offered by them. The Salmon Don, priced at $12, comes with slices of fresh salmon sashimi and lightly seared aburi salmon accompanied by spicy mayo and yakiniku sauce. I think it's a great steal. At an additional $2, you get hot green tea, miso soup and a small bowl of salad. Can't wait to try more items off their lunch set menu like the CHIRASHI and truffle yakiniku don! Also, the salmon don was a really great way to treat my body after countless sleepless nights due to midterms.

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I like writing lengthy reviews Find me on Instagram @lucas__lim 👋

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