Wanted to head to another spot within the vicinity for lunch, but got turned away as there wasn’t any seats available and that we did not make a reservation. Got reminded that Park Bench Deli had opened their latest concept, ONDA by Park Bench Deli nearby; so that was exactly where we headed to for lunch instead.

Being the first of a series of smaller shops that Park Bench Deli has intended to open progressively, ONDA by Park Bench Deli takes over the former premises of the now-defunct Sugarfin; the space only features standing dine-in areas, and is almost akin to a hole-in-the-wall concept. ONDA by Park Bench Deli only offers two sandwiches, with a small variety of light bites, where one will be able to pair with either coffee and alcohol drinks.

Being one of the two “mains” available here, the Cubano will be our pick over the Hot Dog. Featuring elements such as sweet ham, lechon, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard — all coming in between the soft roll. Upon its arrival on the table, it is well noted on how generously stuffed the sandwich is with meat — copious layers of sweet ham and lechon providing quite a meaty bite, considering how the elements have gone through the panini press so everything is compacted well together, making it very easy to eat without messing the sandwich whilst having it. Noticed how the sweet ham provided a hint of savoury note typically of cured meat; this went well with the meatier lechon — nothing short of being juicy and tender, without being anywhere gamey. The meats were well-balanced with the slight savouriness of the Swiss cheese, but the pickles and mustard help to provide a contrast of flavours that takes away some part of the meatiness which makes the sandwich easy to have; both providing a slight tang and a zing that kept things going here. The soft roll is a clear winner here though — toasted to crisp perfection, the bread did its job well with its audible crunch as one chews through the soft roll; absolutely appetising!

Being an offshoot of Park Bench Deli, it is difficult not to associate ONDA By Park Bench Deli’s sandwiches with those stellar sandwiches that Park Bench Deli had been consistently serving over the years — the Cubano is one that stays true to that. It is a showcase of the attention to detail — well-sized sandwich that fits well to a mouthful, whilst also beautifully layered with various elements that makes for the textural contrast. For those working at Circular Road where visiting Park Bench Deli at Telok Ayer May be a bit of a far walk for lunch; ONDA by Park Bench Deli is no doubt a good alternative to the original store for a sumptuous sandwich treat!

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Visited the new Ambling Turtle at The Flow just beside Roxy Square along East Coast Road over the past weekend — the new cafe had taken over the former premises of the mattress shop that previously occupied the same unit; the menu features a limited number of Peranakan-inspired mains mostly revolving around sandwiches, as well as desserts such as waffles and bakes.

Went with the Pulled Beef Rendang Sourdough Sandwich; there is also a choice of the croissant sandwich that seems to be more popular an option for those who have seemingly visited this spot and posted on social media. The sourdough toast was decent, though given how Micro Bakery & Kitchen is located just right across the road, the sourdough just isn’t the element that i would head down to Ambling Turtle for. Coming with elements such as cucumber, lettuce, chili padi and pulled beef rendang sandwiched in between, the pulled beef rendang did carry an evident hint of the spices whilst the meat is considerably tender, though was mild in terms of spiciness — some may also find it a tad dry considering the nature of the original dish but it does seem rather fitting here since their variants comes in a form of a sandwich and that would have caused the bread to soak up too much liquid anyway. Liked how the Peranakan touch here goes all the way to the items served on the side — the Achar providing a refreshing, tangy crunch in between morsels of the sandwich to reset the taste buds.

Felt that the croissant sandwich would have been a better option than the sourdough sandwich here, considering how the butteriness and flakiness of the pastry would probably have went together with the pulled beef rendang better as compared to the sourdough toast. That being said, Ambling Turtle is a spot to be commended for its effort to incorporate the neighbourhood’s Peranakan heritage into its theme — from the decor, to the dining ware and to its food menu; something which sets it apart from other cafes in the vicinity.

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Headed down to Takashimaya for some shopping because things just kept breaking of the late — was more of just looking for a quiet spot that I don’t have to jostle with the crowds to dine at since I was hungry and didn’t really want to do all the shopping before I had my dinner. Got reminded of Grand Jete Cafe & Bar — a Japanese cafe that serves up pasta, sandwiches, and rice dishes that is hidden in a corner outside of the mall at the other side of the driveway away from the taxi stand.

Remembered how I did enjoy their Mentaiko pasta quite some time back, as well as their signature Apple Pie which seemed to have been quite a thing back then — decided to go for their Ebikatsu and Egg Mayo Sandwich this time round for how I have had multiple pasta dishes over the week, and how I am very much into fried Ebi patties in sandwiches and burgers. Was pleasantly surprised with the execution of the sandwich; the bread of the sandwich comes well-toasted and came all crisp — slightly buttered for a light savoury note while the other elements such as the prawn cutlet, egg mayo, lettuce and tomato cones in between. The greens and tomatoes were pretty fresh, but the star that took the show was the Ebikatsu that came with chunks of prawn flesh without much use of fillers; the fried, golden brown exterior being all crisp and the entire patty did not feel particularly greasy. The egg mayo features diced hard boiled egg that came in consistently-sized cubes; makes for a good texture whilst not being too heavily doused with mayonnaise — sufficiently creamy without being particularly jelak. Shoestring fries were sufficiently crisp, though the fries were also admittedly a little over-seasoned with salt.

Admittedly there seems to have been a change of ownership at Grand Jete Cafe & Bar; there has been substantive changes made to the layout, and the menu has also seen a revision (missed those illustrations that they have for the various items on their old menu) — there is now a section dedicated for light bites, while there are also a few collaborations with other merchants, including one with gelato from Denzy Gelato where the gelato is served with a Monaka Waffle that is exclusive to Grand Jete Cafe & Bar. A rather forgotten spot in the heart of Orchard Road that works great for a quiet meal away from the hustle and bustle of the malls.

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Checked out the new Puteca Abate Italian Street Food and Deli Sandwich Bar; a new concept opened by the folks behind Pastaria Abate which is located within The Working Capitol at 1 Keong Saik Road — also known as the former premises of now-defunct The Daily Roundup, 1KS, The People Vs and more.

Focusing on Italian street food such as Paninis and all, Puteca Abate Italian Street Food and Deli Sandwich Bar is still currently in its soft launch phase — items such as pasta and pizza are *likely* to be available next week, along with a wider selection of desserts and bakes. Going for the specials for the day, the Monte Cristo is more of sandwich of a French origin that uses elements such as ham and melted cheese; all that in between two slices of bread and egg-dipped before being pan-fried — comes with a sprinkling of icing sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup over the top. Think of it as savoury rendition of a French toast; shaved ham that seems to be provide not only the savoury notes of cured meat, but also texture in between the slices given how it is layered out, all with melty, gooey cheese in between the egg-dipped bread that is done the same way as our local variant of French Toast — all that combined with the sweetness of icing sugar and that rich maple syrup that gives it a nice sweet-savoury balance. Certainly a sandwich I hope makes it to the main menu here, and something which I most certainly wish that I can have yet again!

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Discovering Steeples Deli is like walking into a F&B establishment that is lost in time — the rustic delicatessen is one that I have always been wanting to drop by for quite a while, and the sheer rustic vibes and old-school settings have been well-preserved over time; the heavy use of wooden elements, bricks and tiles with counter seating simply brought us back to simpler times where having a sandwich/burger in such an environment was considered fancy and great for dates.

True enough, the Cuban Sandwich here stays true to the rustic vibes of the place. It’s only my first time here; not sure if this has been served the same way since their establishment 38 years ago — but nonetheless, it’s how the entire sandwich went together that really got to me. First bite down and the thing that hits is the crispness of the bread; almost akin to that of a good sourdough — crisp on the exterior, yet with enough tension for a good bite within. There on, the pulled pork here comes fairly chunky for a meaty bite; a slight hint of smokiness of the meat comes with a crunch of the pickle — all that without a porky stench with the meatiness well-balanced with the Dijon mustard slathered on the toast. Even the coleslaw is worth a mention; served cold, it’s crunchy, fresh and really refreshing — a good break between munches of the sandwich indeed. An item we have had no regrets on ordering!

Thought it’s kinda sad to see how Steeples Deli was pretty quiet on a weekday afternoon when we made our visit; gone are the days where the spot still remained buzzy and offering a wider variety of bakes — tough circumstances that has hit F&B establishments hard especially in this area and the CBD after the pandemic with work-from-home and social distancing measures in place. Given its heritage, Steeples Deli certainly has its place in the F&B scene even in such times; a spot worthy to check out for some old-school vibes and rustic eats that stood the test of time!

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Thought it would be good to make it a point to try Arabica’s food menu exclusive to their outlet at Chip Bee Gardens which was launched fairly recently; after all, this is the only Arabica outlet in the world to serve up a hot food menu — pretty much a highlight for those who are looking to experience their many outlets across the world, not to mention that the menu is developed by a head chef of a now-defunct Michelin-star restaurant in Taichung.

At S$32, the Beef Katsu Sando is the most exorbitant item on the menu — consisting of elements such as Deep Fried Japanese Wagyu Tenderloin, Homemade Katsu Sauce, and lettuce, this was an item that is pretty stellar in its own right. The toast comes soft and fluffy — pretty light and pan-fried slightly for a bit of sweetness; not too heavy on carbs but otherwise the star here is undeniably the Beef Katsu. One could easily tell the high quality of the Wagyu Beef being used for the dish here — not only was it melt-in-the-mouth tender, the sizeable chunks of beef carried a good meaty bite with every chew; no tough, fatty bits or veiny parts that refuse to fall apart — very delightful on its own that it does not really quite matter that the deep-fried batter was a little soggy from the Homemade Tonkatsu Sauce which carried a nice vinegary sweetness that cuts through the heaviness of the fried meat.

Must say that the item is pretty respectable in terms of quality and execution — it’s a pretty great Beef Katsu Sando to go for. That being said, its hefty price tag makes it feel more of a one-time off for me; sure, the beef is pretty high quality and all, but spending $32 on a single item in Arabica’s environment kinda feels a little excessive to me given the type of establishment it is. Still, something which I say it’s worth a try if one’s willing to splurge a little in their cafe escapades!

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From the newly-opened No Sleep Club along Keong Saik Road; a new cocktail bar which serves up bar bites, starters and also "Crack-wiches" (essentially open-faced sandwiches) alongside a long list of cocktail options with non-alcoholic options such as coffee and tea.

Featuring elements such as oak-smoked Mackerel, Kale, and Avocado Butter, the Smoked Mackerel on Toast works as a great brunch plate, as well as a good pairing with alcohol considering how it is not too heavy in its overall feel. Really liked how the Mackerel comes with an intense flavour from the smoking process; savoury, smoked fish that carries a punch while the avocado butter comes more like a smashed avocado here — the creaminess binding all of the elements together from the crusty bread all the way to the crisp kale and the smoked Mackerel altogether. The bread comes crusted on the exterior, whilst dense within and giving a bit of a tension with every bite — pretty good on its own. Coming with a side of pickles, the pickles take away the heaviness of the dish with its zingy notes — refreshes the taste buds from the smoked fish, avocado and toast. A pretty chill spot that is rather apt for the neighbourhood that it is in, No Sleep Club serves as a great option for brunch (though options albeit limited) in the Keong Saik area; would probably be back some other day for the drinks they have to offer.

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Smoked Salmon, Fresh Spinach, Chives Cream Cheese, Dill and Capers. Dropped by Onalu, which had recently opened its doors at Singapore Management University, School of Accountancy replacing Kraftwich by Swissbake which previously sat in its premises. Offering SMU students and staff with a choice for healthy food, Onalu serves up a variety of smoothie bowls (i.e. Acai Bowls) and Bagel-wiches.

Opting for the Onion Bagel with our order (other choices of bagels include Sesame Bagel and Plain Bagel), the Smokin' Sally is a great choice for a classic combination of condiments with their own twist. Really enjoyed the bagel for how it carries a firm bite without feeling overly dense nor heavy; the onion shallots speckled on the exterior providing a slight garlicky hint of flavour which went really well with the entire Bagel-wich. Unlike other similar bagel-wiches served at other joints, the cream cheese spread is in no way heavy or overwhelmimg; the infusion of chives help to keep things light and refreshing, neutralising and cutting away any of that jelak feel usually associated with cream cheese whilst the creamy texture that binds all of the elements together. The smoked salmon is fresh, providing the bagel-wich with a distinct brininess of cured fish that is not overpowering in terms of saltishness. Overall, a very well put-together package altogether; a well-executed item that's fairly reasonable for its price point (i.e. $8.90 for public; a dollar off for SMU students and staff). Certainly lucky to be a student these days with such quality and value-for-money locations opening on campus worth the occasional splurge — all that without the sin.

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Moving into the newly-revamped 896 Dunearn Road (previously known as Sime Darby Centre), Kong Cafe is a new Korean-inspiree cafe that had recently opened its doors.

Offering a soft-launch menu up to October, the soft launch menu features some selection of toasties as well as egg-based dishes for those who are looking for something more substantial. Featuring Korean-style beef stuffed and cheese stuffed in between two slices of bread, the Korean Style Beef and Cheese Toastie works pretty for those who prefers a more filling sandwich. Stuffed with quite a good portion of beef, the beef comes all savoury but not particularly gamey; coming also with melted cheese in the middle, it's a pretty decent treat with the crusty bread that is pressed via a panini press before serving, though could have come with some garden greens or chips on the side to make it seem a little more wholesome overall.

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Perhaps one of the openings that had created much hype for the week, Fong Sheng Hao had opened their very first outpost in Singapore with the opening of PLQ Mall at Paya Lebar.

Visiting the outlet on the very first weekend of the mall's opening, the stall was very much out of everything else on the menu except for this item when we visited for dinner. Quite enjoyed this sandwich actualy; perhaps more fitting to be a more breakfast-y main rather than a light dinner — the toast comes pretty crisp and well crusted on the exterior, whilst it comes stuffed in the middle with the said special pork patty, omelette, and cheese. The special pork patty is pretty tender; of a decent thickness without being too thin, and carried a savoury sweetness that is almost akin to that of Taiwanese sausage without being too saltish nor fatty in the cut of meat used. The omelette comes folded in layers; fluffy and pretty fragrant, while the melted cheese promises an ooziness when one tries to pull the sandwich apart that is all so satisfying. An item that works well as a light bite for the morning or even as a tea break, it is little wonder why the place is consistently packed with a short queue even despite during dinner hours. Pretty worth the try if at PLQ Mall.

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Opened recently at where now-defunct C Plus Cafe is right opposite where Non Entrée Desserts is at the same row of shophouses where Mrs Pho House is located, Gather The Misfits is a new cafe that serves up toasties and waffles with ice-cream in the day with specialty coffee brewed using a blend of beans roasted by Prodigal Cafe amongst other beverages available.

A rather simple affair, the Prosciutto with Black Garlic Mayo is something that suits those who like heavier flavours — the Prosciutto carried a savoury note; saltish flavours typical of cured meat, while the black garlic mayo helps to bind the meats and the toasts with its garlicky creaminess. The toast was also equally satisfying; crisp on the exterior without being overly dense, while the garden salad at the side comes tossed with Goma dressing for a roasty, nutty hint of flavours. A pretty cosy spot for a quiet cuppa and something light away from the crowds.

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From the newly-opened Starter Lab at Havelock Road; a brand that is pretty established for their housemade breads back in Bali, Indonesia.

Having had a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches prior, the Starter Lab 3 Cheese is possibly the best we have ever had. Baked in-house fresh on a daily basis, the sourdough toast is pretty crusty and crisp on the exterior; the bread carrying a good bite and chew with a slight tension with every bite — the sourness from the fermantation process also being clearly evident as well, which is already great to have on its own without any condiments. Using a mix of three cheeses, the cheese gives a satisfying cheese pull that works for the 'gram; the cheese being all melted, oozy and stretchy that it's ultimately savoury and comforting — pretty impressive overall. Coming with a side of pickled jalapeños, the pickled jalapeños helped to add some sweetness in between, whilst also introducing a fiery kick that refreshes the taste buds for those who might find the dish a tad heavy due to the immense cheesiness. An item which we really love, the only gripe came from the service however — a particular wait staff pulling a disgusted face over clearing barely-stained tissue papers and the table is not one would expect from a cafe; not a big issue overall considering its a single individual but you get what I mean...

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Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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