Chinatown

Chinatown

Featuring Burnt Ends, Esquina, Kok Sen Restaurant, Restaurant Ember, IZY Dining & Bar, Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao (Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre), Lepark, Bar Cicheti, Por Kee Eating House, Neon Pigeon
Kenneth Lee
Kenneth Lee

If you’re at Burnt Ends, please do yourself a favour and have the cheesecake. It’s my favourite cheesecake by far.

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Best doughnuts ever.

I’ve seen glimpses of these brioche doughnuts from Burnt Ends Bakery all over social media and I couldn’t help but wonder, “are they that good?” They’re just doughnuts and with a rather steep price tag if I might add. Well, my curiosity got the better of me so I ordered three boxes of different flavours and my fulfilment date was a whole week later. Wow. At least this gave me something to look forward to.

A week had passed and this was probably the most exciting thing to happen to me during the circuit breaker. Sad, I know. Well, the verdict was, the doughnuts were worth the price and the wait.

The texture was unbelievably great. The sugary coated exterior had a nice doughy bite while the interior had a pillowy consistency. The filling to dough ratio was about 4:5.

I’m sucker for simple flavours like its vanilla chantilly cream and Nutella which are GREAT but I’d totally recommend its passionfruit curd. It’s a perfect balance of sweet and tangy.

For the flavoured brioche doughnuts, a half dozen box goes for $24+ and a baker’s dozen goes for $52+.

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A dessert that needs no introduction, but I’m gonna do it anyway — the infamous berry tart from Burnt Ends.

It’s truly one of the best desserts I’ve had. The mixture of blueberries and raspberries creates a very delicate balance of sweetness and tartness that is rounded of by the nutty flavour of the almond flour base. Not pictured is the accompanying vanilla chantilly cream that goes beautifully with the tart. The texture throughout and of the crust hold well yet crumble nicely only upon eating it.

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A wonderful standout.

The uni and lobster paella was incredibly rich and robust with flavour. There was just the perfect amount of char on the rice that added a crisp umami contrast to the sweet creamy uni. The saffron aioli elevated the dish to a level of sophistication you do not get elsewhere in paellas.

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A holy matrimony of tuna and beef tongue.

Gotta admit that I was skeptical at first. But immediately after I sank my teeth in, I was in food heaven. The Lingua di Manzo Tonnato ($18++) is an explosion of umami flavours driven by the braised beef tongue, the tuna mayonnaise and the lovely onion marmalade.

This is a definite must-have.

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Definitely one of my favourite pastas!

If you had to order one pasta at Pasta Bar, it would be the tortelli. These hefty pillows were decadent to say the least. Each tortelli was stuffed with a generous amount of pumpkin and amaretti filling. The pasta was doused in a beautiful sage butter sauce that made each bite of the pasta most gratifying.

When we first ordered the dish at 8pm, we were informed that the kitchen had just served its last portion and that it was sold out. I was utterly devastated but by some wicked magic, the waiter returned to inform us that there were still two portions left. Thank goodness for us! My advice would be to try and reserve the pasta when you book a table? Or come earlier to avoid disappointment.

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A party in your mouth.

Not many things come close when you pop a Burnt Ends’ “steak frites” in your mouth. The meat and fat of the steak tartare will melt in your mouth as the caviar helps to enrich the flavour of the beef. The fried potato base helps to round up everything together. It’s not typically on the menu but available at special request.

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My favourite tendon haunt launches its new winter tendon today!

Tendon is one of my all-time favourite comfort foods and I think no better place does it than Tendon Kohaku. The quality of the ingredients, the crisp but non-oily batter as well as its signature sweet sauce are all factors to its success.

This season, the restaurant is introducing its new winter dish, “Winter Ocean Treasures” that will be available for only three months. What’s innovative with this dish is the introduction of monkfish liver, a first for tendons. It’s especially popular during winter in Japan and taste and texture are commonly compared similarly to foie gras. Many usually consume it raw or cooked in a broth but rarely in tempura form!

The seasonal tendon that goes for $21++ also comes up with Alaskan snow crab leg, prawn, dory, squid, Japanese fish cake with mentaiko, king crab stick and topped with USA ikura. I’d really recommend anyone who loves tempura or tendons to try this delectable dish.

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Mentaiko always hits the spot.

After navigating the labyrinth which is Chinatown Complex Food Center, I’ve found @sutachi.sg.

Sutāchi is a Japanese-Italian food concept, providing restaurant quality food at hawker centre prices. On the menu, one can find a selection of rice bowls, noodle bowls or even bar bites that go well with the nearby craft beer stalls. What caught my eye was the salmon mentaiko pasta.

The pasta was definitely a looker with its vibrant pink hues of the salmon, golden runny yolk and that torched brown mentaiko. Couldn’t wait to dig in! After mixing everything, the spaghetti dish oozed with goodness as one could smell and taste the char of the mentaiko sauce. The salmon chunks were light and cooked well. Overall, it was a well-balanced dish in terms of taste and intensity as eating something this creamy, didn’t make one feel too glutted.

I’d definitely back for my mentaiko fix or even try the gyu donburi next!

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My favourite Japanese quick fix in Chinatown.

Whenever I’m near Chinatown Complex and craving Japanese, I’m sure to come to Kazan. It offers a whole range of bento boxes that’s really bang for your buck.

One of the top sellers is the chicken teriyaki set. In the set, you get a sizeable portion of crispy fried chicken doused in a sweet teriyaki sauce on a bed of shredded lettuce, julienned Japanese pickles, a potent miso soup, a dollop of kewpie mayo and of course, Japanese rice. I’m also amazed at how fluffy and loose the Japanese rice was that I could just eat it on its own. For $5, that’s really insane value.

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Damn shiok.

Got introduced to these juicy bombs recently and I love it. These Szechuan spicy wantons (or Hong You Chao Shou, 红油抄手; $4.50 for 10 pcs) are doused in the perfect balance of vinegar and chili oil to make a wonderfully flavourful sauce without being too spicy. What separates this apart from other establishments would be the texture of the wanton - soft and firm. How can I only have 10 of these? I need more! #burpproved

The infamous Por Kee champagne pork ribs!

The champagne pork short ribs [S$22 pictured/33/44++] have a beautiful glaze - a mix of sweet and salty. Though the meat isn't "fall-off-the-bone" tender, it's still really easy to bite and chew. Just having this with white rice is perfect.

This zi char restaurant sells great food but be wary of the price and portions. It feels more like a tourist trap in Tiong Bahru.

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I look at the number of posts, then I look at my stomach and I realise my body is a machine.

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