Food Attack

Food Attack

Featuring Portico Host (Alexandra), The Disgruntled Chef (Dempsey), 4Fingers Crispy Chicken (ION Orchard), Doi Chaang Coffee (Rochester Mall), Mama Panda Kitchen (River Safari), LeNu Chef Wai’s Noodle Bar (Bugis Junction), HarbourFront Centre, Dian Xiao Er (Jem), elements & co., Kyū Coffee Bar
Vanessa Kou
Vanessa Kou

Not just about the aesthetics, Kafe Utu’s offerings were surprisingly good - though my experience is currently limited to a couple of their drinks and dessert.

A fun and interesting take on the all-familiar mocha, their Bidibado “Abracadabra” ($6) is served with pink peppercorn, roasted nuts, natural peanut butter, and a mix of spices which added a gentle peppery note to the smooth dose of caffeine. Light and fragrant, the Utu style mocha was also rather mild by itself hence the nutty and spicy elements provided a nice balance.

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If you are looking for something exotic, the Cacao Kali ($8) was truly “Badass”. Topped with nutmeg and cinnamon-infused whipped cream, the concoction was spicy - like it-should-come-with-a-warning and tickle-the-back-of-your-throat spicy. But I guess in such instances turning up the heat added to the whole appeal of the drink. Rich and warm, the kick from the cayenne pepper and the delicate oomph from the layer of smoked paprika really elevated the decadence of the dark chocolatey beverage.

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To douse the fire from the hot cocoa, the Nakupenda ($15/ market price) was the perfect treat. Essentially a Kenyan doughnut topped with their housemade softserve ice cream! The warm pastry was not too dense or greasy and paired harmoniously with their seasonal softserve. The cool swirl made available during our visit was their rose-flavoured ice cream. Smooth and lightly milky with pleasant floral taste, the ice cream was so moreish. The flavour was both clean and natural which was very enjoyable.

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If the cheesy saying “Everyday is Valentine's Day When You Are with The Right Person” is true, why express your affection with greetings when you can say it with edible gifts?! Spelling love with their handcrafted bakes, Puffs and Peaks’ fluffy yeasted donuts were just as good as I remembered them to be! Think silky smooth chocolate custard, earthy Hojicha cream, velvety orh nee, and my new favourite, Passionfruit curd piped generously into the pillowy perfection. With just the right amount of zing, the curd had a very bright sweetness that went superbly well with the flavour of the dough.

And having their brownies for the first time, I think I am in love! The Hazelnut Praline Brownie was a foolproof combination with a strong dose of nuttiness from the layer of hazelnut paste atop. Distinct yet not overpowering, the hazelnut swirls didn’t take away the decadence of the moist dark cocoa brownie and instead added a very nice fragrance that wasn’t cloying at all.  

Having the best of both worlds, their Classic Brookie takes a regular chocolate chip cookie and marries it to a dark cocoa brownie for the ultimate treat! The classic half being buttery and semi-sweet while the other spots a more intense chocolatey aroma. But overall, the cookie had a lovely chew as well as a soft and fudgy bite. The melty Valrhona dark chocolate also providing that extra bittersweet oomph to tie the half-and-half cookie together.

All in all, a heartfelt thank you to the @puffsandpeaks team for sending your artisanal bakes my way!

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Filling up my pantry with more snacks because as we all know eating is an integral part of the lunar new year, hence The Bold Batter’s shortbread cookies are what I am reaching for this time! Going nuts for their “GO NUTS” ($20), the newer flavour was right up my alley with the mix of caramelized nuts studded in the buttery shortbread. More savoury than nutty sweet, the bits of sea salt were chef’s kiss as the extra dose of saltines was able to counter the sweetness of the aromatic caramel coating spotted on the toasty almonds and cashews. The crisp edges of the bite-size cookies also made them real addictive.

But for something decadent, look no further than their “GET SHORTY V2” ($25) which was very much worth the calories and the risk of a sore throat. The melty and generous chunks of rich bittersweet chocolate going hand in hand with the crumbly and buttery classic shortbread. That crunch from the sugar-crusted edges giving the pastry a nice texture and managed to balance the intensity of the dark chocolate as well as the salt flakes featured atop. Ideal as a gift for chocolate lovers!

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Counting down to CNY and stocking up on various goodies, I am so glad I managed to snag me some of Made by Min’s eggless Kinako Mochi Cookies ($25) and Black Sesame Cookies ($22). And with just these two bottles, I have never been more ready to kick-start the festive celebration.

Melt-in-your-mouth, the Kinako Mochi Cookies were nutty and delicately sweet. Earthy and toasty, the pronounced flavour of the Kinako was so good. The slight chew from the mochi core was also fun and a pleasant contrast from the crumbly exterior. Light and fragrant, the Black Sesame Cookies boasted a rich buttery and even nuttier aroma. Perfect for goma lovers! The hint of savouriness amidst the deep earthiness of the black sesame was the icing on the cake. Texture-wise, it delivered a crumbly and almost melty bite as well~

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Getting the best of both worlds, Yat Ka Yan’s Yammy Chendol ($5.50) was a heaping pile of sweet and surprisingly savoury goodness. The subtle flavour of the shallot oil infused perfectly into the smooth orh nee. A tad odd at first but after a good mix, the addition of the yam made the combination much more luxe in both taste and texture. The fragrance from the caramel-y lashings of gula melaka, sweet red beans, and cool coconut milk were also able to meld well with the earthiness of the yam. And just as shiok as I remembered, the chendol providing that heady yet delicate taste of pandan is still my favourite part of the dessert.

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To fill your belly, you can get your seafood fix with their set of six different handrolls at $36 - starting from plump chunks of Hotate to Kampachi, brined Salmon, Toro, Crab, and lastly Engawa. My two favourite being the more premium Kampachi and Engawa. Firm and sweet, the former packed a surprising punch though it was simply cured in a mild dry spiced rub and glazed with their house-made nikiri. The rub bringing out the natural flavour of the fish, pairing well with the warm rice and seaweed. And of course, aburi anything is just better. Hence, their torched engawa with smoked salt and yuzu nikiri was a solid ten out of ten. The slightly oily texture of the fluke fin with the tantalising charred exterior was so amazing - warm and smokey. The subtle fragrance of the yuzu providing that refreshing dose of sweetness too.

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For a splurge, their seasonal roll is something you can look forward to as now they are featuring a beautiful Scallops & Uni Roll at $32 - bright and superbly creamy.

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A literal party in the mouth, Rappu’s Wagyu High Roller ($28) was a melty dream of wagyu, uni, caviar, and gold flakes. The briny-sweetness from the burst of ikura and the dollops of sea urchin elevating the savoury bites of wagyu. The meaty taste of the seasoned beef and richness of the caviar was prominent as well yet not overpowering in this indulgent roll. Inhaled in one smooth bite, the umami flavours of this opulent number were really enjoyable and I just love the combination of the crisp seaweed wrapper with the creamy-soft elements enveloped within. The order also comes with a potent shot of Gold Flakes Sake.

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I have started my Lunar New Year goodie shopping with @missvandough addictive Pandan Biscoff Tarts and Cheese Pineapple Tarts!

A MUST for any Biscoff fans, the pandan tarts were perfectly sized for optimal snacking. The light pandan fragrance from the base working exceptionally well with the distinctive caramelised flavour of the biscoff core. Topped with biscoff crumbs, the tarts also had a pleasant crumbly quality and weren’t all that sweet.

As for the Cheese Pineapple Tarts, the added savouriness to the buttery crust was certainly a plus - balancing the sweet and tangy filling. Texture-wise, the pastry was a tad powdery but blended well with the smooth pineapple filling. Overall, the cheesy flavour is rather prominent so it might taste a little milky for some.

Scoring yet another great deal at Le Coq with Burpple Beyond, I got my usual (Truffle Beef Yakiniku) and had their Steak & Scorched Rice ($28) for the first time. Good for 2 pax to share, the portion of the crispy garlic rice was pretty substantial. The scorched rice was also fragrant from the generous bits of garlic and held a smokey aroma from the slight char on the bottom as well as the edges that were touching the hot plate. As for the protein, the flame-grilled beef was done to a lovely shade of pink. Tender and lightly seasoned, the meat was surprisingly juicy and paired well with the rice. Though noting that the dish got a tad cloying toward the end.

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2 Moods: Hangry & Not Hangry [Instagram: @vanessa_kou]

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