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Chinatown

Chinatown

Featuring Burnt Ends, Kok Sen Restaurant, Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao (Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre), Lepark, IZY Dining & Bar, Bar Cicheti, Neon Pigeon, Restaurant Ember, Mariko's, Pasta Bar
Kenneth Lee
Kenneth Lee
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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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Better than Chatuchak's!

Kin Cow's coconut ice-cream is rich, creamy and fluffy and it tastes exactly how fresh coconut should. It's a generous portion that fills half a coconut and topped with peanuts and mung beans. A satisfying way to end a meal.

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Looks simple but bursting with flavour.

One of my favourite dishes at Kin Cow - Kailan with Roasted Pork Belly. The fried kailan has the most pleasant wokhei aroma that's amplified even more when tasted. The roasted pork belly had a myriad of textures from the wonderful crispy skin to the gelatinous fat and finally, the tender meat. This dish is so good that you can just eat it with a bowl of rice. (But you should definitely try the other items too.)

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Tastes as wonderful as it looks.

Sautéed scallop on Japanese somen noodles with 64-degree Celsius sous vide egg yolk in bonito-kombu broth topped with violet tuille. Sounds like a mouthful but this petite dish hit the spot. The scallop was perfectly cooked but what garnered my interest was the bright pink broth. The umami from the bonito kombu combi makes the smooth cool somen irresistible. Definitely a refreshing way to start a meal!

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Not for the faint of heart.

This perfectly seared medium rare slab of foie gras (S$24++) was fantastic. Together with the savoury and sweet five spice sauce, the already decadently rich foie gras makes a sinful appetiser.

In contrast with the soft semi-solid liver, the crunchiness and earthiness of the Rose apple and crushed cashews add a nice dimension to the dish. A #burpproved dish in my books.

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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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