The O List

The O List

From places all Over. Official Ratings: Ovation, Outstanding, Optimistic, Okay, Overhyped, Overpriced, Odious.
Cephas Lim
Cephas Lim

Spread a little Christmas cheer with these dolled-up festive macarons! It's a little bank-breaking at $5.60 apiece, but hey, you'll be a lot cooler with the kids than with a last-minute, store-bought, marked-up, clichéd log cake~

Ride a sleigh into everyone's dinner memories, because by this date, someone's already getting the turkey.

Thanks to Shawn's friends at Bonheur and Burpple for allowing us to sample Santa's little belly at The Great Escape! :)


"Lots of people assume that a Fire Ramen is spicy, but's because we really use FIRE!"

Before you can partake in the $15.80++ spectacle, you'll have to fulfill some conditions:
1) You should call in first to check if the Senior Chef is in that day.
2) You must tie up your hair.
3) You must wear a provided protective apron.
4) You cannot move your hands beyond past your back. That's right; leave the photo-taking to your friends.

The addition of burning flavoured oil alters the taste of the Fire Ramen's thick tonkotsu broth, bringing out the aromatic fragrance of the spring onions and a taste similar to tempura oil.

Shin-Sapporo's also reviving a crowd favourite by demand - Sake Ramen [$15.80++].
While the dry Abura version features a sweet, vinegar base, our pick is the soup version, a thick, tonkotsu broth laced with potent sake to satisfy your inner degenerate.

Lastly, while most dessert options at ramen stalls tend to be gnarly or nominal at best, the owner of Shin-Sapporo also owns Atmosphere Café & Bistro, and the Molten Lava Cake [$8.80++] exceeds the typical, microwaved-straight-from-the-freezer tortes that so many subpar Japanese chains provide.

Thanks to Burpple, Shin-Sapporo, Elva & Frederick for hosting this tasting!


The O List

Price Range: $16-$22

O for: Okay

What is popular here?
Shoyu Ramen [$12.90++]
Perhaps Shoyu's not my kind of broth; instead I prefer a heartier, thicker Tonkotsu base. The overabundance of beansprouts also introduces an unwelcome flavour dimension to the broth.
The Aburi Chashu is the only positive for me, though Santouka's divine Iberico Slices still hit a sweeter spot. Overall, Otoko's still far from cracking a personal Top 5 Ramen spot.

Volcano Egg [$1.50++]
A picture perfect, yolk-flowing companion to ramen. Served cold to the touch.


The O List

Price Range: $8-$10

O for: Okay

What is popular here?
Little Maki-san [$7.90]
Mega Maki-san [$9.90]
It's really up to you, but a good mix of "Essentials" would include Ebiko, Steamed Ebi & Tempura Enoki Mushroom. Parmesan's really overpowering, so only go for that if you enjoy emptying packets of powdered cheese on pizzas.

For "Sprinkles", Tempura Crunch adds a nice crumbly texture, while Chilli Crab pairs surprisingly well as a "House Sauce".

All "Specials" sound palatable, but from our experience, tempura soft-shell crab gets a little lost in the mix of flavours, all competing for your tongue's attention.

Great for secondary school meet-ups just before catching a movie upstairs. If you haven't used your Entertainer 2015 before the year ends, now'd be good.


Reposted cos @chelseacreekbakes is finally on Insta!
Seriously, go check it out. My photo is literally uglier than all of hers.

Inspired by Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar and MasterChef fame, @chelseacreekbakes offers some of the best and affordable homemade cakes this Christmas!

Starting with a generous coat of malted milk frosting and piped with airy mascarpone, the light sponge inside hides milk jam & an impossibly crisp filling of honey-coated cornflakes, making each bite explode with a tantalizing crunch. Topped with another variant of milk powder-infused golden cornflakes and finished with a glorious, dripping glaze of dulce de leche.

For more homemade cakes like this Breakfast Cake [$45.00] or an exquisite Christmas Tree Croquembouche [$45.00] with matcha-glazed choux pastry, DM @chelseacreekbakes on insta for enquiries!

The O List

Price Range: $10-$17

O for: Okay

What is popular here?
Unlimited Mix-Ins: Regular [$9.50]
Me: "Wait, so in theory, we could ask for like 5 scoops of cookie dough, and they'll oblige?"
PR Rep: "Yup! It's not unlimited if we say no!"
There you go, guys. A legal loophole to lop everything & the kitchen sink into your bursting wafer-bowl.
Add $4 for a waffle (read: space for even more toppings).

Really grateful that I had added some berries, that lent much-needed acidity to cut through the cloying sweetness from the ice-cream equivalent of a little kid running into a 7-11 & mixing all flavours of Big Gulp.

What should I try instead?
Pearl of the Orient Tea [$6.00 est]
One of the night's revelations was that you could actually order & sip teapot-brewed Gryphon tea, right next to your ice-cream waffle in the Marble Slab franchise. Really takes the edge off the sugar overload.

This was a hosted Burpple tasting, courtesy of Marble Slab (Kallang Wave) & Burpple.

The O List

Price Range: $13-$24

O for: Overhyped

What is popular here?
Cereal Soft Shell Crab & Jasmine White Rice [$21.40++]
Ingredients are a universal favourite, but over at Folks Collective, it's executed quite mundanely.

Salted Egg Yolk Prawns & Jasmine White Rice [$18.40++]
Again, had the potential to be amazing.
Again, had the taste of the ordinary.

Recently added to The Entertainer's pantheon of collaborators, but while Folks' ambience is as flawless as Thai eateries go, its food is strictly normal.

What should I try instead?
Tom Yum Fried Rice [$6.00]
One of my personal favourite dishes at Thai Tantric. Since its move to the mall's corner, its sleaze factor has considerably diminished, but Orchard Towers itself remains authentically shady.


The O List

Price Range: $20-$30

O for: Overpriced

What is popular here?
SG50 Laska Penne [$17.00++]
While it tastes okay, with mussels, shrimp and scallops to boot, I couldn't help but think how much more satisfying a bowl of actual laksa would be. Singapore, yay you~

PS Someone should really do something about the service standard at the Clementi branch. Basically "Diner Dash" on the highest difficulty.

What should I try instead?
328 Katong Laksa (QSC) [$4.00]
If the original's too east for your liking, Queensway Shopping Centre provides some Western salvation. There're 2 ground-level laksa stalls, so look before you leap.


The O List

Price Range: $40-$60

O for: Optimistic

What is popular here?
Lamb Biryani [$24.00++]
Exquisite basmati rice, infused strongly with saffron & paired well with tender lamb cubes.

Table's Pop [$11.00++]
Billed as a sugar-free popsicle made with fresh coconut & chia seeds, this signature dessert was alright, but not as impressive as other reviews made it out to be.

Bombay Pani Puri [$9.00++]
Think a complex, Indian Kueh Pai Tee. The assembly process involving sweet chutney, mint paste & spiced water makes for an interesting experience.

Chilli Cheese Kulzza [$10.00++]
A nice starter in the form of Flatbread stuffed with cheddar. Add Chilli salsa for a slow burn to turn up the heat...eventually.

Butter Chicken [$24.00++]
Delicious, plate-scraping goodness.
Price is a little steep though.

Naan [$5.00++]
Serviceable, but you can definitely find better naan elsewhere.

What should I try instead?
Butter Chicken [$6.00]
Upper Bukit Timah's Al-Azhar whips up a comparable Butter Chicken for a quarter of the price. Pity that the standard of their naan to mop it all up, is slipping.

This was a hosted Burpple meal, courtesy of Table by Rang Mahal.


The O List

Price Range: $13-16

O for: Overhyped

What is popular here?
Pat Bingsu [$12.90]
Shaved ice was sufficiently fine.
Topped with red beans, toasted almonds, peanut powder & rice cakes, its taste wasn't great enough to overpower the thought at the back of everyone's minds that Bing Go Jung's version is bigger AND cheaper.

Oreo Bingsu [$12.90]
Little variety in its one-note flavour profile, which tasted like it was almost tailored for a child's palate.

Chocolate Banana Bingsu [$15.90]
It tasted the best out of the three, only by virtue that I like bananas lol.

What should I try instead?
Milk & Red Bean [$11.00]
Look for posts on Bing Go Jung to juxtapose that disparate Hand:Bingsu ratio. Westgate's newly-opened Nunsaram looks miserly in comparison.


The O List

Price Range: $24-$33

O for: Optimistic

What is popular here?
Country Baked Ribs [$21.90+]
After tasting a string of dry pork dishes recently, it's nice to see tender meat falling right off the bone. Though it's already quite flavourful, I wished that they would have infused an even more emphatic punch to the tastebuds & seasoned more aggressively.

Manna Spring Chicken [$11.90+]
Again, flavourful & tender.
Again, I could not care for its accompanying peach slaw.

Beef Stroganoff [$14.80+]
Prefer a creamy, white base to its Southern approach of adding bell peppers & capsicums.
The thin beef strips were really just of zhi-char standard or less.

Add $8 for a passable French Onion soup and unlimited access to an unremarkable salad bar, drinks & yoghurt dispenser.

What should I try instead?
Baby Back Ribs [$32.00++]
Was really impressed 4 years ago by North Border Bar & Grill's signature, which was well-marinated & heavenly soft. Needs a repeat visit soon to verify its worth.


Have you ever tried such good, comfort hawker fare, feeling both familiar & familial, that it fills a long-lost gap left behind by the inexorable outcome of every stall we love?

Food, arguably the only stimuli for our sense of taste, hence weaves integrally into our bedrock of memories. A child's tastebuds are most alive; compensating inexperience with receptiveness, and explaining why most children hate the detected bitterness in vegetables.

When I was in primary school, my family's favourite stall in Dover Market was a Teochew Porridge-esque stall, simply affectionately nicknamed "Maid Stall" for their seemingly endless work hours & diligence, which on hindsight, was terribly un-PC of my parents. I guess that's how it is with our favourite hawker stalls; ask for its name and we'll stumble, ask where it is and we'll bring you there on the double.
It was the stall that introduced me to the concept that vegetables, specifically cabbages, could actually taste great; not mere formalities to a balanced diet, but highlights of a meal.

But "Maid Stall" eventually succumbed to every hawker's Death & Taxes - old age, increased rentals and a dearth of successors, and while some stalls can be 'resurrected' by "Our Makan Places Lost & Found", my childhood stall stayed dead.

Thankfully, I had an Anton "Ratatouille" Ego moment with West Coast Market's 吉星 Hainanese Curry Rice.
Perfectly braised & delicious Cabbage, with an almost pink complexion, as well as overboiled Brinjal which was just the right texture of mushy, are both terrific vegetable choices.
Skip the obvious Pork Chop, which theirs is rather skinny & dry, and opt for their Meatball, which is tender, moist & flavourful.
Added an egg, cause why not.
Finish off with a ladleful of curry, which isn't spicy but delivers on its Hainanese taste in spades.

Our best hawker food picks may not be still around, and our hawker food picks may not be the best, but when a good stall hits close to home - I'm open to suggestions but mm, it's good enough for me.



Photos deceive. Read reviews.

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