Pizz Please ~

Pizz Please ~

It’s time for pizza!
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

There really does seem to be one Din Tai Fung-esque fried rice stall too many around the island these days — there is seemingly one such stall in most heartlands. Was going about the Central Business District looking for somewhere wallet-friendly to dine at and came across this new stall named I 🤍 福口福 hidden within Marina Food House. The stall places it emphasis on their fried rice offerings — the star item of the stall being the XO King Fried Rice and their Black Truffle Fried Rice which are prominently listed on the menu board that fronts the stall. As with most other stalls serving up similar fare, expect a familiar mix of other Din Tai Fung-esque fried rice being available here — think variants of the fried rice such as XO, Spicy and Egg Fried Rice available to pair with meat options such as Pork Chop, Chicken Chop, Shrimp and Crab Meat. Prices of the fried rice dishes ranges from $6.50 to $10.00 — not exactly the most pocket-friendly option around, but still relatively affordable considering this is in the Central Business District after all.

Being a one-man show, the Fried Rice is done upon order; that being said, the Pork Chop and Chicken Chop have been prepared ahead of time to be heated up when the order of the fried rice is being prepared. The Pork Chop Fried Rice (XO) comes with no surprises considering what we all know comes with the Din Tai Fung-style of Fried Rice that has been further popularised by King of Fried Rice — the XO variant sees the fried rice being wok-fried with XO sauce. The result is this plate of fried rice that is savoury and with bits of crisp umami-ness that comes when one chews on those bits from the XO sauce included. As with almost variants of such styles of fried rice we have came across, the grains being used in the variant served at I 🤍 福口福 features short-grain rice that is lacquered with just enough oil that gave it a consistently moist texture throughout. The rice does come savoury with a slight hint of wok-hei for that light smokiness that makes it so good on its own; what was really the limelight for us was the Pork Chop however — no doubt it does seem to lack that crispness that some renditions such as the one from FireRice had. That being said, we liked how tender the Pork Chop here was; does not require much effort to chew and maintain its juiciness — all that whilst still lightly peppery and not particularly porky for a good flavour.

With so many Din Tai Fung-esque fried rice stalls around, it does feel that the market for such fare has been pretty much saturated — there is also significantly less hype surrounding such dishes as opposed to when the trend has seemingly started with King of Fried Rice having aggressively expanding throughout the entire island. That being said, I 🤍 福口福 is a stall that would serve the office folks around the Central Business District well — there are some, but not that many of such stalls located at this end of Singapore; definitely provided office workers yet another dining option or a convenient spot for them to get their cravings for Din Tai Fung-esque fried rice resolved. The fried rice is executed well, while we did really enjoy the pork chop despite there being some room for improvement for it to be up another level. Overall, something which we would not mind going for again; a reasonably priced Din Tai Fung-esque fried rice option in the Central Business District that would appeal to the office crowds working in the area.

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Whilst COVID-19 may have been quite the thing that had impacted a lot of F&B establishments in a bad way, it is also pretty inspiring to hear how the pandemic has created opportunities for some in a way — Jelebu Dry Laksa ie one of those home-based businesses that had started out during the pandemic which has since become a fairly established brand name on its own. Gaining popularity through their signature Dry Laksa, Jelebu Dry Laksa have had tie-ups with other establishments and made its appearance during events such as that of the Singapore Food Festival — all of which helped to raise awareness of the home-based business that led to their newly-opened permanent space at VivoCity in collaboration with The Tipsy Collective; The Tipsy Collective being the group behind establishments such as Tipsy Penguin, Tipsy Bird, Tipsy Panda, Tipsy Bunny and Tipsy Flamingo; they are also behind brands such as Kubo Woodfired Kitchen, Lady Wu and O/T Bar as well. The entire space is decked in a really retro style that seems to have old-school local elements alongside colonial-style decor for a look that is nostalgic, relatable, yet classy. With the opening of their permanent space, Jelebu Dry Laksa’s signature Jelebu Dry Laksa still takes centrestage here, while the establishment also serves up quite a variety of small plates, mains, soups and sides and desserts as well. For beverages, Jelebu Dry Laksa does have quite a fair bit to offer — the highlights would be the Iced Homemade Drinks which are special concoctions of local beverages, while the two cocktails available are also heavily inspired by local elements; otherwise, Jelebu Dry Laksa also serves are canned drinks, juices and bottled water, as well as Nespresso Coffee / Tea and a decent variety of alcoholic beverage such as beer and hard liquor as well.

Having not tried Jelebu Dry Laksa’s signature item before our visit made to their VivoCity outlet, it is without a question that we would give the Jelebu Dry Laksa a go. The Jelebu Dry Laksa is available in four different variations here; the Kosong, the Grilled Tiger Prawn, the Butter Poached Lobster (Half) and Butter Poached Lobster (Whole) — we found ourselves going for the cheapest variation of the lot, which is the Kosong at $12++. Being the most basic variation of the lot, the Kosong rendition features crispy ebi, blood cockle, tau pok, fishcake, beansprout and sambal — the other variants would see the addition of grilled tiger prawn or the butter poached lobster on top of everything which was listed here; patrons would have the option to opt out of blood cockles if they do not wish to have them. Based on the introductory paragraph on the Jelebu Dry Laksa on the menu, the noodles of the Jelebu Dry Laksa “are first simmered in the thick broth of the laksa” before being wok-fried; it is also noted that unlike most other Laksa Goreng dishes that we have came across previously, the noodles used here seem to be of a thinner variation than thick bee hoon typically used in Laksa. As such, the Jelebu Dry Laksa seems to be especially flavoursome from the rempah spices with that slight hint of richness from the coconut that didn’t seem to be overbearing; the flavours seemingly all absorbed into the noodles, while the noodles are also especially slurpy and therefore not as jelak as other renditions that we have had. The blood cockles here are pretty fresh and provides a nice soft bite for a slight brininess, but it was the Crispy Ebi that added this umami note that seems to further add on to the flavour of the dish with a crisp texture as promised. Not sure how we would have felt of the Jelebu Dry Laksa if we were to order the slightly more pricier variants; this is especially so for the variants with Butter Poached Lobster at $38++ and $58++ for the half lobster and whole lobster variant respectively, but we were certainly satiated with this one at $12++.

Have heard quite a fair bit about Jelebu Dry Laksa even before they had established their permanent space at VivoCity — personally, we did find that the Kosong variant and the Grilled Tiger Prawn variants are probably the value-for-money variants of the Jelebu Dry Laksa to go for here; the Jelebu Dry Laksa also being one of the more unique variants of Laksa Goreng that we have come across so far. While the introduction of the other dishes on the menu may seem to have been included to provide patrons with a wider variety of options to share around the table, the Char Siew Cucumber Roll and the Soya Bean & Grass Jelly that we have opted for do seem pretty well-executed, while the elements featured in both dishes are also on-point to the theme that Jelebu Dry Laksa has adopted — one that features local fusion elements, whilst also coming with a nostalgic factor as well. With prices of the mains (disregarding the Jelebu Dry Laksa) ranging from $15++ to $42++ and small pages ranging from $10++ to $18++, prices of the food here are typically around the same range as what one would observe in the other establishments by The Tipsy Collective; a spot that would work better for larger groups to share the dishes across the table. For those whom have yet to give Jelebu Dry Laksa a go; this is probably the best time to do so — a permanent location great for those wanting to give it a go or craving for their Laksa specifically.

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It seems that Okinawa-style Onigiri has been pretty much the rage recently — whilst the Central Business Districy had recently seen the opening of Hitokuchi Onigiri that is a dine-in concept at CapitaSpring, a new Mr. Onigiri has opened its doors at Upper Thomson Road along the same stretch of shophouses where specialty cafe joints such as Hello Arigato, One Man Coffee and Oak Coffee Co. are located. Occupying just half a unit of a typical shophouse, Mr. Onigiri is established more as a takeaway kiosk — there are no seats within the shophouse, and patrons who wish to have the Onigiri on the spot can sit at the bench located just by the road. Yet another establishment that had first started off as a home-based business that is establishing their presence as a brick-and-mortar space, the menu currently revolves around just Onigiri — there are a total of seven (7) variations of Ongiri available here; this includes the Otakotak Onigiri that comes with a fusion element. Beverages available at Mr Onigiri includes a variety of flower tea, hot green tea, as well as canned drinks.

Being one of the four items that are marked with a star on their menu, the Signature Melted Cheesy Crispy Chicken is described to come with elements such as Japanese seaweed, Japanese rice, tamagoyaki, spam, cheese, chicken patty and tartar sauce. Sinking our teeth into the Onigiri, we felt that the seaweed encasing the other condiments here is slightly on the chewier side; something that does make it a little difficult to eat considering how one would likely need some effort to bite off the piece of seaweed while the Japanese rice clings onto it. We liked how the portion of Japanese rice seems to have been relatively controlled here — the thin layer of rice was actually fairly compacted for a good texture; all that without making the entire Onigiri feel too heavy considering how it does come pretty substantial with all the other elements. The other condiments such as the tamagoyaki, spam and fried chicken were pretty decent; the tamagoyaki here felt more like a thin omelette while the spam provided much of the savouriness and meatiness that the Onigiri seems to need — the fried chicken cutlet felt close to those commercially made ones available in supermarkets, though still sufficiently crisp and tender nonetheless. The only gripe for us was the cheese; whilst the name of the item did suggest something oozy and stretchy, the sliced cheese that they had used for the Onigiri here felt a little far from what was expected. All of the elements does seem to be brought together with the use of mayonnaise for a creamy touch, though we wished that they could be a little more light-handed with that.

Not sure if this is the case, but it does seem that the hype for Onigiri just seemed to have began; it is interesting to see how the wave is slowly catching on ever since Hitokuchi Onigiri had first opened their doors at CapitaSpring. No doubt Mr. Onigiri is not quite that much of a fast grab-and-go spot that Hitokuchi Onigiri was poised to be; this is largely due to the fact that Mr. Onigiri was a one-man show when we made our visit — the same guy behind the counter dealing with patron’s enquiries alongside cashiering / ordering duties is also the same person preparing and packing the orders. As such, do expect some time for orders to be cleared during peak periods. Not sure if we would spend that much time to have Onigiri (we waited for slightly past 30mins considering that we were the second in-line after an order of seven Onigiri, while there were also various groups making orders whilst waiting for them to get our orders prepared), but one thing is definitely for sure — Mr. Onigiri does make for an interesting option especially for those staying around the neighbourhood; also a more convenient spot than the Central Business District for those who are looking to have a taste of how Okinawa-style Onigiri are like.

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If anything, the folks behind the collective of cafes that are Atlas Coffeehouse, Lunar Coffee Brewers, Columbus Coffee Co., Apollo Coffee Bar, Neptune and Supernova are those who wouldn’t rest on their laurels — with the opening of Supernova only earlier this year, they have since did a total revamp of Columbus Coffee Co.; a similar move that they had done to Atlas Coffehouse previously. Having closed down the space for renovations that lasted a couple of months, Columbus Coffee Co. now sports a new look that is completely different from what it was in the past — it now bears vibes that can be said as a fusion of Supernova at Joo Chiat Road, and Neptune located at East Coast Road; one that features quite a bit of wooden elements in its furniture and fittings that carries a rustic feel in a modern, clean and contemporary design language. As with the revamps that they have undertaken, the food menu at Columbus Coffee Co. has also seen a bit of changes — with the food menu now split into two sections, the beloved Pancakes are no longer served up at Columbus Coffee Co.; the Brunch menu (served between 9am to 3pm) sees the introduction of several new dishes such as the Bacon & Potato Omelette and Pork & Potato Benedict, as well as the some items off Supernova’s menu such as the Fried Chicken French Toast. The “Lunch till late” section of the menu is available from 11am till closing; features four new dishes exclusive to Columbus Coffee Co., whilst there are familiar dishes previously available here such as the Wagyu Cheese Burger, and the entire range of pastas as well. A new addition to the menu at Columbus Coffee Co. would be the range of Donburi; some of them being re-worked items off the menu to Lunar Coffee Brewers; items available all-day includes the range of waffles and side dishes to share, while the bakes available for the day are on display in the display chiller at the counter. Their specialty coffee is brewed using beans roasted by themselves under their Sinister Coffee and Goods brand; while other beverages available here includes a good variety of teas, chocolate-based beverages, water kefir, kombucha and slow-pressed juices.

Visiting Columbus Coffee Co. for dinner, we were skimming through the various items available on the “Lunch till late” section of the menu and found the Halibut & Scallop "Pao Fan" to be the new item that just seemed to struck a note with us. The menu describes the Halibut & Scallop "Pao Fan" to come with elements such as halibut, scallops, white shimeji, tomato broth, crispy rice, green bullet sauce and lemongrass chilli — the tomato broth being served in a teapot for patrons to pour into the bowl of “Pao Fan” containing the rest of the other elements to their desire. On first look, the dish seemed rather unique; instead of having the rice served in the usual way, the rice comes in a form of a rice patty — think something similar to the rice in the rice burgers of MOS Burger with that slight chew, whilst the patty is also said to have been grilled for a slightly crispy touch. Pouring in the tomato broth, we were surprised how that rice patty managed to absorb those lightly tangy notes of the broth that was seemingly close to a borsch soup without having the rice turn soggy or soft; something which we found pretty interesting. As one goes for the lemongrass chili, the lemongrass chilli does add a umami touch to the entire dish — a little similar to what one would expect from hae bee hiam (i.e. spicy fried shrimp) on its own. Mixing up the lemongrass chilli into the tomato broth adds complexity to the entire dish however; gives that tomato broth a flavour almost akin to Tom Yum soup that was light and refreshing — all that while the green bullet sauce helps to further ante up the spiciness of the dish that packs a punch even for those who are tolerable to moderate levels of spiciness. The seafood featured in the dish are pretty fresh; the halibut being pretty flaky and smooth — free from any undesirable odour while the scallops were plump and bouncy. The white shimeiji helps to add a touch of savouriness with a soft crunch factor that further gives the dish complexity. Overall, the Halibut & Scallop "Pao Fan" does feel like a really comforting dish that is amazingly well-designed; so complex, yet so familiar whilst being light and easy to have when compared against the rich nature of the seafood stock for typical Pao Fans — a worthy spiritual successor to the Mussels with Coconut Lemongrass & Ale that was on the previous menu here at Columbus Coffee Co. before this revamp, and is also one of the most value-for-money dishes to order here in our opinion at $24.50++ considering the prices and composition of the other items on the menu.

One thing worth commending on the folks behind Columbus Coffee Co. is how they seem to be always moving on with the times. They have never seemed to have been afraid of tearing down what they have built up and reworking things again from the ground up; this can be said for the refreshed Atlas Coffeehouse, but this is even more evident in this current rendition of Columbus Coffee Co. — gone are the “canteen” vibes at the back of the shop where individual tables are lined up to form a long row of seating space for dine-in customers. Now, the same area is beautifully segmented away from the other seats located beside the windows, yet done in a smart way to maximise the dining space of the cafe. We also really liked how these folks have seemingly put the word “progressive” into the term “contemporary progressive cuisine” that best describes their food. Having been consistently researching and developing for new dishes to be introduced with every revamp, they are also not afraid to remove some of the old favourites that can be said as “dated” so as to maintain being current; a move that most cafes seem to abstain from making. Atlas Coffeehouse, Lunar Coffee Brewers, Columbus Coffee Co., Apollo Coffee Bar, Neptune and Supernova have often been called “expensive” over the years; while it is true that the prices of the dishes have been increasing over time with their concepts, one thing is certain about them — there is always that level of quality which is synonymous with their concepts that makes them a preferred spot to dine at. It is exciting to see how far they have come, and how Columbus Coffee Co. has turned out to be with this revamp; wishing the folks all the best with the re-opening — we would definitely be back for more!

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Mattar hasn’t been a neighbourhood that is known for much; probably only except for the Circuit Road Food Centres which are located just a short walk away from Mattar MRT Station. A recent addition to the neighbourhood within the Lion City Sailors Football Club, Sailor’s Galley is a new concept by the folks behind Tigafolks & Co.; a halal food caterer which “believes that fond memories are shared and made from and on the dining table” by “ensuring gourmet quality novel experience”. Sailor’s Galley is not too difficult to locate within the building that it is situated in — walking into Lion City Sailors Football Club from its main entrance at Circuit Road, the cafe is located just at the end of the flight of steps on the right hand side next to the security post. The interior of Sailor’s Galley is simple but well-designed; it sports a blue-coloured theme that runs pretty consistently throughout the entire space — the marble-esque table tops and cushioned seats alongside wooden fittings around the counters and the brightly-lit surroundings made the cafe seem pretty comfortable to sit around. Patrons who wish to have a glimpse of all the action in the kitchen can also opt to sit around the bar counter as well, while there is a two-seater table near the cashier that comes with the view of the football pitch. The menu at Sailor’s Galley features items across various sections — the sections include Sides & Starters, Pasta, Burgers and Mains; there are also cakes being display within the display chiller for those looking for a dessert option as well. Whilst there isn’t any indication of the establishment being Muslim-friendly on their social media pages, it is noted that we did not notice any dishes featuring pork at Sailor’s Galley during our visit. The choice of beverages served at Sailor’s Galley includes specialty coffee, frappes, canned drinks and bottled water.

Having skimmed through the menu, we found ourselves leaning towards the Chicken Roulade — this dish features Rolled Chicken Leg stuffed with Baby Spinach and Cream Cheese, Carrot Puree and Grilled Asparagus. It does seem that there is quite a bit of effort placed in the plating of the dish here — the rolled chicken leg sits atop the grilled asparagus; there is also the inclusion of sautéed baby potatoes as a side with some cherry tomatoes, while the carrot puree and the brown sauce is being smeared artfully on the side. Digging into the rolled chicken leg, we were especially impressed with how well-executed the meat here was — we really liked how they had managed to retain much of that tenderness of the chicken leg; it was easy to chew and juicy, all that whilst carrying a nice hint of savouriness and slight crustiness from the grilling. Whilst the menu does list down cream cheese as one of the elements rolled into the chicken leg, we found the cream cheese wasn’t quite prominent here — probably a good thing considering how it could have potentially made the dish a little more heavier than it should be, while the baby spinach was an element that helped to cut through the meatiness. The grilled asparagus was equally well-executed here; still crunchy yet retaining its moisture, it seems that it is simply seasoned with salt to further ante up its flavours. The sautéed baby potatoes were very much prepared in the same way — also pretty delicious on their own, while the brown sauce on the side felt a little heavy; somewhat more suitable to be paired with red meat rather than white meat in our opinion. What stood out for us however was the carrot purée; looking unmistakably like a sweet potato purée or pumpkin purée, we liked how the carrot purée comes with a light and smooth consistency with just a very light touch of sweetness to go alongside the rolled chicken leg — the use of carrots perhaps to create a puree where they could have a better control on the level of sweetness rather than using an ingredient that is inherently sweet. Overall, a dish that delivered beyond what we have expected especially at its price point at $18.90++.

We have also tried other items at Sailor’s Galley; this includes the Sailor’s Fish & Chips, as well as the Marinara Beef Ball Pasta — it does feel like there are bits and misses with the various items we have ordered. While the Chicken Roulade was pretty impressive and well-worth it’s price tag of $18.90++, the Sailor’s Fish & Chips do feel like something less memorable — probably could have had more impact if served with thick-cut fries and if the fish could have retained more moisture. The Marinara Beef Ball Pasta was the least inspiring of the lot — while patrons do have the option to pick between three pasta types, the Fusilli which we have went for was slightly overdone; the texture was a little too soft and somewhat mushy for our liking, not to mention we weren’t too big a fan of the tomato purée that they seem to be using which was no doubt tangy but a little bit on the sweet side. The only bit that we did enjoy from the Marinara Beef Ball Pasta was the Beef Balls; they do carry quite a good bite without tasting in any way gamey. Sailor’s Galley does seem like a good spot to chill at for dinner with a bunch of friends after work without the drinks for those looking for a spot outside of town; the vibes are especially relaxing, and one could also watch the action at the football pitch when it is being used for matches or practice. Whilst it is noted that the food does feel like a hit or miss situation depending on the item ordered, they do seem to be heading towards the right side of things if they do continue to refine on their offerings. A spot worthy to check out if one is in the area looking for something more gourmet than your average cafe fare to go for.

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Yet another name that doesn’t need much of an introduction to those familiar with the local F&B scene, Joji’s Diner has recently opened a new outlet along Stanley Street — the same street is also home to other establishments such as the newly-opened Paris2Tokyo (which we visited not too long ago), Common Man Stan, Carrotsticks and Cravings and Miznon. Joji’s Diner was established by the same folks behind Breakfast Club — the very first Breakfast Club located at within Yaowarat Coffeeshop that is situated just a stone’s throw away from Kovan MRT Station. The brand had expanded its operations with the introduction of Joji’s Diner, which is their very first standalone concept located at Upper Serangoon Road, and had also opened yet another Breakfast Club in a standalone shophouse unit at Holland Village — this outlet has since ceased operations. Their latest concept at Stanley Road follows closely to the style of Joji’s Diner at Upper Serangoon Road — modelled after American diners in the 1950s to 1960s, expect a flashy and retro-themed interior featuring red and white booth seats with metallic walls around the entire shophouse. The ground level is pretty much dedicated to their usual dine-in operations; the second level is a space that is meant for their bar operations, which is yet to be ready during our visit — the space is also decked in a similar style to the ground level with the exception of the area dedicated to the bar counter. During the day of our visit, Joji’s Diner’s menu at Stanley Street featured a curated selection of items that are also available at their Upper Serangoon Road outpost — think items such as their Smash Burger, Poutine and the All Star Platter, while there are also list of side dishes listed in the Ala-Carte section. The Banana Split is the only Dessert item listed on the menu during our visit. Beverages include the signature Pink Lemonade, as well as coolers, sparkling beverages, juices, specialty coffee, tea and milkshakes — the list likely to expand as they kick into full operations with the bar open in due course.

Having tried their All Star Platter during my previous visit to their Upper Serangoon Road outlet, we decided to go for the Chicken & Waffles this time — one of the items which has attracted rave reviews since their time at Upper Serangoon Road. The menu describes the Chicken & Waffles as an item that comes with three elements; Chicken, Waffle and Sunny Side-Up — all that with some paprika powder sprinkled over the top. Those who need some maple syrup to go along with their Chicken & Waffles can help themselves to the bottle of Country Kitchen maple syrup that is being placed at every table. Digging into the waffles first, we felt that the waffles were above average — while these were made better than how some places would do them, there have been waffles that were texturally better than the ones we have had here at some ice-cream parlours that we have visited. Here, the waffles can’t really be described as crisp; that being said, they were definitely more on the denser side and felt a little more cake-y — not nasty, though we did feel that it adds on to the already-heavy dish on its own. Interestingly though, we did note that the the waffles did not only carry a buttermilk fragrance, but also carried a slight sweetness that lingers at the back of the tongue; provides some form of balance against the fried chicken on the top. The fried chicken comes boneless for the convenience of the diners — portioned in quite a huge slab, it features a crisp golden-brown batter with juicy and tender flesh within; didn’t really feel particularly greasy as well and seemed to have been seasoned in pepper for a slightly spicy note to cut through all the carbs and meat, which is pretty essential for the dish to keep thins more balanced here. The sunny side-up came in a neat circular shape; likely to be shaped with moulds considering how they are also missing of the crisp ends around the sides — the yolk being still somewhat molten which works for that eggporn shot if it is still needed. Overall, a Chicken & Waffle dish that seemed to have performed better than what we have expected for something that costs $12.90 — pretty value-for-money with decent execution, and at a portion size that would also work well as a dish to be shared with one other.

Joji’s Diner has always been a spot that is known to be one that serves American-style diner fare at rather wallet-friendly prices. No doubt there is no way one would likely make Joji’s Diner an everyday lunch option, but with prices of their mains ranging from $12.90 to $23.90 (most of the items falling below $20), it does work out well as an option to treat oneself to for something better during the work week; that is especially considering how most of the establishments located along the same stretch charges prices more steep than Joji’s Diner for brunch fare as well. We also felt that Joji’s Diner does seem to keep a rather consistent standard; the items we have had at their Upper Serangoon Road outlet might be different from what we have ordered at Stanley Street, but the quality of the food does feel expected for what we have experienced previously. What was rather impressive was their Hot Latte (Double Shot); perhaps one of the stronger lattes we have had even for specialty coffee shop standards, and was surprisingly well-pulled for an American diner that seems to place more emphasis on their milkshakes than coffee in the first place. Their locations have always been a little out of the way for those who do not reside within the neighbourhood that their outlets are situated at; we are definitely glad that they have opened an outlet in the Central Business District that makes it convenient for those whom have yet to visit them. Looking forward to what they would be up to once the bar opens though; likely something that would pique our interest to make a revisit in due course!

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Funan has recently been seeing quite a bit of movement of its F&B tenants; with former tenants such as that of Carl’s Junior, Yu Kee Braised Duck and Hawkerman which have all moved out of the mall recently, new entrants such as GyoGyo (a establishment focusing of Japanese grilled fish by Minor Food Singapore) and Five Foot Lane has established their presence in the mall. Taking over the former premises of the now-defunct Hawkerman outlet within Funan, Five Foot Lane is a new concept that focuses on serving up Indonesian dishes inspired by the street hawkers of Jakarta; the establishment is non-halal however, considering that they do serve dishes that contains pork. Whilst the layout of the space has not seen much changes the days which it was occupied by Hawkerman, there are some slight changes made to the furnishing and fittings overall; the space now sporting a slightly more colourful interior with splashes of pastel pink, green and bright yellow against wooden furniture and fittings — all that for a fun look that would attract the target audience which usually frequents the mall. We visited Five Foot Lane during their soft launch phase where they are serving a soft launch menu; the menu comprises of what one would typically expect out of an Indonesian eatery — think Fish, Beef, Pork and Chicken dishes such as that of Grilled Pomfret Fish with Rice, Signature Beef Rendang with Rice, Pork Satay, and Smashed Fried Chicken with Rice. The Noodles section features Indomie dishes served with different meat options, while there is also the Vegetables and Sides sections that would work well as a communal item to share across the table. Choice of beverages were rather limited during our visit; these were mainly restricted to canned beverages, as well as bottled drinks such as Tehbotol — all displayed at the counter and not listed anywhere on their printed or online menu.

Having skimmed through the menu, we found ourselves going for the Indomie with Pork Belly Sambal Rica; the item featuring elements such as Sambal Rica marinated pork belly, assorted vegetables, thinly sliced egg omelette and prawn cracker as per the printed menu. It is noted that both the Pork Belly Sambal Rica and Indomie came in separate bowls, with the bowl of Indomie coming with the all the other elements mentioned in the menu description of the item. Being a rather safe bet on its own, the Indomie is pretty comforting as one would have expected it to be — the noodles being springy, while also just savoury enough and lightly spicy (the noodles come spicy by default) that should work just fine for those with lower levels of tolerance to spiciness. The assorted vegetables included with the Indomie also seems to have featured cubes of pickled cucumbers and carrots; these provided a light tanginess which we found to be quite refreshing when had together after all the spicy elements in the item — the egg omelette itself was nothing much to shout about, though we were not too big of a fan with how the prawn cracker felt a little limp on some parts as though it has been placed in the open for a little too long. Moving on to the Pork Belly Sambal Rica, the Sambal Rica is described as a special sort of sambal that is known for being hot and spicy. The chunks of pork belly served up with their Indomie with Pork Belly Sambal Rica were pretty chunky; though there are some bits that felt more gelatinous from all the fatty parts, we liked how there are also quite a fair bit of leaner meat that gave a good chew. The sambal rica didn’t come with much of the ingredients that went into the making of it (i.e. the chili, shallots, garlic etc.), but the oil that came with it does provide quite a piquant kick on its own that tingles the tastebuds for those who are tolerant to moderate levels of spiciness — would have went absolutely well with a bowl of rice on the side to drizzle the oil with.

Indonesian fare is something that seem to be a niche that very few eateries would dabble into — whilst that is a market for such cuisine in Singapore, there just isn’t quite the same appeal for such food as compared to Korean, Japanese or even Malaysian fare to begin with. Five Foot Lane does seem to be a daring move to provide the masses an option of Indonesian fare within the mall that isn’t a mass-market brand that one would be able to easily find in other locations. Having tried also the Signature Beef Rendang with Rice and the Fried Tofu Inside-Out (i.e. Tofu with chicken and carrot filling), we found their offerings to be relatively decent, though there were definitely parts where it could certainly be more refined for more impact. Perhaps it is the lack of familiarity to Indonesian fare in general for us and us not having tried authentic Indonesian fare for the most part — the food just seemed a little difficult to relate to; probably just something that stuck out with us. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to wait out till they have officially launched for a more complete experience of what they have to offer.

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Haji Lane has seen some movements in its F&B establishments over the late; with cafes such as that of Sooner or Later that has recently moved into the ‘hood, the latest opening at Haji Lane would be Toast Days. Taking over the former premises of the Fish & Chip specialty store run by the The Black Hole Group named The Mad Sailors, the folks at Toast Days seem to have completely revamped the space following their move into the space. Gone are the rustic English-style decor with its royal green walls and red cushioned bench seats by the windows on the side of the shophouse. Instead, Toast Days have completely transformed the space into what one would find familiar in a local coffeeshop — the name Toast Days does seem to be a word play on the term “Those Days”; not sure if this was the exact intention of those behind the concept. Expect marble-esque tables and wooden stools for the furnishings used for the dine-in area; the ceiling of the shophouse being decked in wood that seemed to give the space the vibe of the old — a mural being hand painted on the wall depicts what seems to be a scene of a man behind the counter of an old-school coffeeshop brewing coffee / tea. As the name suggests, Toast Days is primarily an establishment that serves up local toasts that works great as a breakfast item or a tea-time snack; think a menu that features Toasts such as that of Butter Sugar Toast and Kaya Butter Toast, just to name a few, whilst also serving up sandwiches such as the Fish Otar Sandwich and the Chicken Satay Sandwich. Apart from toasts and sandwiches, Toast Days also serves up old-school pandan waffles, as well as various cakes that are in displayed in the display fridge, or packaged in transparent plastic boxes. Beverages available at Toast Days include Nanyang-style coffee or tea, as well as options such as Milo, Iced Homemade Lemon Tea, Canned Drinks, Coconut Water and Honey Lemon.

Between the two food items which we have ordered, we preferred the Kaya Butter Waffle; pretty much the usual neighbourhood Pandan waffle that comes spread with kaya and a slab of cold butter — their interpretation of a Kaya Butter Toast served in a Pandan waffle form. Freshly made upon order, we were told that the waffle would usually take a preparation time of 8mins — the waffle came to the table piping hot; the slab of butter pretty much almost fully melted by the time we had finished taking photos of the dish and starting to dig into it considering how hot the waffle was. Everyone seem to have their own preferences for how their neighbourhood-ly Pandan waffles are being done; some like them to be crispy, but this would be the one which would appeal to those who like some chew in their Pandan waffles. If anything, the Pandan waffle here is plush and sufficiently dense; the batter being just sufficiently chewy that it doesn’t take too much effort to chew apart, though this isn’t the sort of waffle that comes with a crisp texture. The batter also wafts of a distinct Pandan fragrance; this further enhances the flavours of the Kaya that is being spread in between for the Kaya Butter Waffle which we have ordered. We liked how they seemed to be really generous with the amount of kaya lathered onto the waffles; slicing the waffle apart with fork and knife sees the kaya oozing out by the sides — all mixed with the melted butter that makes everything seemingly rich. No doubt it does get a little saccharine at times whilst also artery-clogging from all that Kaya and Butter that is going on, but it’s that type of sinful that just felt so good and a little difficult to stop digging into it. We were also pretty impressive with how the waffles were able to retain its original texture as per how it was when it first came to the table; that is despite all Kaya and melted butter that would have made some waffles all limp, soft and soggy usually — definitely something that has been nailed right here.

In times where many of the more nostalgic spots are slowly closing their doors one by one, Toast Days does seem like an interesting addition to the cultural neighbourhood of Kampong Glam — one that is dedicated to serving up old-school breakfasts and Pandan waffles that somehow gels well with the touristy settings of Haji Lane. While we had yet to give their toasts a go, we definitely preferred the Pandan waffles over the Fish Otar Sandwich we had went for — the type of bread being a little soft and limp, making it difficult to chew even though it had clearly been toasted; the plating also seemingly haphazard and felt like a salad that featured pieces of bread and strips of Fish Otar in it considering how sliced cucumbers and lettuce are being strewn around one side of the plate without much integration to the rest of the elements. The Nanyang Kopi here is probably one of the more well-pulled ones that we have ever had from such hipster establishments; one that carried quite a strong and punchy aroma whilst being sufficiently sweetened from the condensed milk. The shophouse does get a little warm on sunny afternoons however; something for those who must have air-con to take note. That being said, Toast Days certainly makes for a good addition for something local within the Kampong Glam neighbourhood — somewhere which we would certainly not mind parking ourselves at should we be looking for a a strong cuppa over Kaya Butter Toast on an afternoon being a tourist in their own country!

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Waa Cow! should not be an unfamiliar name to most whom have been following the hipster Japanese dining scene for quite a while; with its first outlet being situated in Stephen Riady Centre within NUS U Town (it is often been mistaken that their first outlet is within the Raffles Xchange at Raffles Place MRT Station), Waa Cow! has become quite a staple within the Central Business District. One can now easily find Waa Cow!’s presence within Marina One West Tower, as well as in the recently renamed CIMB Plaza (formerly known as Change Alley). Waa Cow! has always been a brand associated with their Signature Wagyu Beef Bowls — that being said, their latest concept situated within myVillage @ Serangoon Gardens hops on the Yakiniku bandwagon. Adopting a similar approach to other individual / personal Yakiniku concepts such as that of Yakiniku Like, Yakiniku Go etc., Waa Cow! Yakiniku serves up a variety of different cuts of meat, chicken and pork for the patrons to grill to their heart’s desire. Patrons can either opt for the meats in ala-carte or in the form of a set, whilst there is an extensive menu of sides (in both to-be-grilled, or ready-to-eat form) for patrons to go for as well.

For those whom are looking to try the various different meats that Waa Cow! Yakiniku has to offer, the Karubi, Pork Collar & Chicken platter would be the one to go for. Opting for the set, the set sees the meat platter being served with a bowl of Japanese Rice, as well as a standard side of Spicy Miso & Leek Relish and a canned drink of the patron’s choice. For those looking to switch up the the items offered in the set by going for options such as the Truffle Rice, or to add on sides such as the various different types of Chawanmushi and Sashimi available on the menu, there would be additional charges on top of the standard price of each set. For our order, we had opted for the Truffle Rice, as well as to add on the Wasabi Mayo, Truffle Sauce and Mentaiko Sauce as well; each table also comes with bottles of the Ponzu Negi and Garlic Butter Teriyaki, as well as black pepper for patrons to use for the meat as well. Whilst the flavours and textures of the grilled meat are pretty much up to how one grills them, we note that the cuts of the meat were pretty much on point; the Karubi and Pork Collar were both more towards the lean side but still were pretty tender for the most part. The highlight to us apart from the Karubi and the Pork Collar though were the Truffle Rice and the various sauces we opted for. It is no doubt that Waa Cow! is not the first establishment to have came up with truffle-infused rice, but their variant was just amazingly subtle and light without being overwhelming — didn’t disrupt that delicate texture and flavour of Japanese short-grain rice. We went a little crazy with the sauces here considering how the additional sauces weren’t that necessary — the reason so is because we just could not settle with the thought of going for either the Truffle Sauce or the Mentaiko Sauccw; it has indeed been a long time since the last time we had made a visit to Waa Cow! anyway. The Mentaiko Sauce and Truffle Sauce were as good as we remembered them to be — sufficiently rich and creamy whilst being umami or carrying a good hint of truffle aroma, but the Wasabi Mayo sauce carries that slight earthiness of wasabi without launching itself into an overwhelmingly numbing affair. The Ponzu Negi and Garlic Butter Teriyaki were also good; the former being that lightly savoury sauce with a hint of Yuzu for a refreshing kick that resets the tastebuds, while the latter is a immensely thick and rich teriyaki sauce that is sufficiently garlicky for a slight twist.

Waa Cow! has been through quite a fair bit over the years; the establishment having also survived through the nation’s Circuit Breaker period where eateries in the Central Business District felt a great impact on their sales due to the lack of office crowds returning to office. From being a totally new brand name, and then establishing themselves as one of the go-to places for fancy Wagyu Beef Bowls in the Central Business District, Waa Cow! seemed to have proved themselves as a pretty trusted brand over the years — their outlets in Marina One and CIMB Plaza being hit destinations for office workers to hang out for an after-work wind down. It is needless to say that the folks around Serangoon Gardens are a pretty lucky bunch to have them around their neighbourhood — a Yakiniku concept with a focus on personal Yakiniku grills that is reasonably priced; the lowest-priced sets being listed at $14.90 before prevailing charges. With meats of a decent quality at its price as well as great sauces and a delicious specialty of Truffle Rice to boast, Waa Cow! Yakiniku is definitely one of the spots that is worth making the trek to for those who are especially into barbecue meats and the personal Yakiniku grill experience; a destination that is likely to be an attraction for those living outside the area to make a visit into this unique neighbourhood in the island.

The Central Business District has pretty much been bustling with the return of most of the office workers recently — quite glad how this has also translated into new F&B establishments taking over the premises that are left vacated by their previous tenants ever since COVID-19 had started. Opened just earlier this week at the Food Garden food court within Asia Square, Tok Tok Beef Soup is a new concept by the same folks behind South Union Park, Eleven Strands and Restaurant Mia (also unrelated to Tok Tok Indonesian Soup House and Tok Tok Indonesian Restaurant at [email protected] and Joo Chiat Road respectively) — the stall is situated along the same stretch where Twyst and Pepper Lunch are located at for those who are familiar with the food court. Unlike their previous concepts, Tok Tok Beef Soup is not a restaurant-style concept; rather, Tok Tok Beef Soup is a food court stall — the first of such establishments for them. Primarily serving up beef noodle soup, the stall offers five (5) types of beef noodle soups — the Sliced Beef Noodle Soup, Ultimate Trio Beef Bowl, Beef Ball Noodle Soup, Beef Cheek Noodle Soup and Beef Short Rib Noodle Soup. Apart from beef noodle soup, Tok Tok Beef Soup also serves up Steamed Buns — think different meats sandwiched in between Lotus Leaf Buns just like what the now-defunct Bao Makers used to serve up. Sides available at Tok Tok Beef Soup includes the Truffle Kombu Sweet Potato Fries, while beverages available include Pink Lychee Lemonade and Lemonade (both from a Nestle dispenser), as well as soda drinks and water.

Being one who rarely makes beef noodle soup a choice to go for a meal, we found ourselves going for the Beef Ball Noodle Soup which sounds less intimidating as compared to those that feature sliced beef. Tok Tok Beef Soup allows patrons to pick their choice of carbs — one could opt for the Kway Teow, La Mian, Ban Mian or Plain Rice as the carbs to go with the Beef Soup; we went with the La Mian for our choice of noodles. Digging straight into the bowl, we started with the La Mian first — the La Mian is done just about right with the noodles carrying just enough bite without being overly firm. Having a sip of the broth, we found that the broth was especially interesting — whilst it does carry that savoury note that is typical of braised beef noodle soup, there is this element of tanginess that seemed to have come through from the use of tomatoes(?) that makes it especially appetising. That light, zippy note cuts through the heaviness of the meatiness and the broth, and along with the coriander just made it especially comforting and easy for one to finish the entire bowl of soup — something which would really be what we would be craving for on a rainy day. Apart from the beef balls which seemed to be handmade (considering how they were a little unevenly shaped with a bit of variance in texture — we could be wrong though), they also have included beef tendon as well; the former provides a good meaty bite with a slight gaminess from the beef that further elevates the flavours of the broth and noodles, while the latter gives this interesting gelatinous and chewy texture that provides so much contrast to the bowl of noodles. Needless to say, we found ourselves finishing the bowl of Beef Ball Noodle Soup in no time — each element seemingly having its place in the bowl of noodles for that extra flavour and texture, but yet comforting and speaks to the heart while at it; really satisfying.

It hasn’t been too long a while since we have said this; having followed the folks from South Union Park, Eleven Strands and Restaurant Mia over the years, we are pretty much fans of what they have served up. Tok Tok Beef Soup may be quite their most “outlandish” concept so far — one that operates as a food court stall, and also probably the only one by far that seems to be dedicated in serving up homely local fare. That being said, the end product feels like it is nothing short of what we would have expected from their previous ventures — just quality, comfort food that is priced reasonably for the office workers in the area. Not only is the food quality of the usual standard that one would expect from South Union Park, Eleven Strands and Restaurant Mia, but the portion sizes here are really generous for the price — the lowest priced Beef Noodle Soup dish starts at $10.90 for the Sliced Beef Noodle Soup and the Beef Ball Noodle Soup; the latter being packed with loads of beef balls and beef tendon, while the price of the Steamed Buns ranges from $6.50 to $6.90. It is needless to say that we would definitely return for the other beef noodle soup items; the beef noodle soup being something which we would probably be developing cravings for, though we are also pretty positive that we would be giving their range of Steamed Buns a go in due course as well. Congratulations to the folks behind South Union Park, Eleven Strands and Restaurant Mia for the opening of Tok Tok Beef Soup, and wishing them all the best in what is to come!

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Came across Empire Hotpot at Ngee Ann City quite a while ago; the hotpot restaurant is located at the same level as Kai Duck, Henri Charpentier and East Ocean Teochew Restaurant — all of which are located within the vicinity where Empire Hotpot is situated within the mall as well. Being part of the group which also operates Empire Fine Chinese Cuisine which is located just right opposite Empire Hotpot within the same mall, we only going out about the existence of Empire Hong Kong Cafe during a visit to Kai Duck previously. Whilst Empire Hong Kong Cafe operates within the same premises as Empire Hotpot, the “official entrance” of Empire Hong Kong Cafe is actually located at a separate door that is located in between Kai Duck and Henri Charpentier — the said door bearing the signage indicating “Empire Hong Kong Cafe” rather than that of Empire Hotpot’s, and displays the menu of Empire Hong Kong Cafe as well. With Empire Hong Kong Cafe being a lunch-time only concept, the door would stay closed once lunch service has ended, and would remain so even throughout dinner service. The menu at Empire Hong Kong Cafe is segmented into sections dedicated to Appetisers, Bread / Pastries, Soup, Braised, Wok Fried, Noodles, Claypot Rice and Western; patrons would also find a rather limited selection of Dim Sum also available at Empire Hong Kong Cafe, though those whom are looking for dim sum would be able to find a more extensive dim sum menu at Empire Fine Chinese Cuisine just right across the aisle in the mall. Beverages available at Empire Hong Kong Cafe includes the usual suspects such as the Yuan Yang (i.e. Coffee and Tea mixed with milk), HK Milk Tea, Almond Milk and Hot Coke with Ginger & Lemon, though Empire Hong Kong Cafe also does serve up other non-alcoholic beverages such as Iced Soursop Soda with Longan, Iced Mango Lime Soda with Aloe Vera, and Ice Blended Red Bean with Ice Cream.

Visiting Empire Hong Kong Cafe for lunch, we decided to go for the Scrambled Eggs with Shrimp on Rice after skimming through the entire list of mains which they have to offer on the menu. Arriving the table served in a plate, the Scrambled Eggs with Shrimp on Rice was what we imagined to be and have expected from a Hong Kong cafe; scrambled eggs loaded with prawns served with rice on the side, alongside some blanched greens. Digging straight into the Scrambled Eggs with Shrimp, we found the dish to be especially well-executed; the scrambled eggs itself being all warm, silky and still relatively runny — fluffy and eggy with a hint of saltishness that helps to uplift the flavours of the egg. The shrimp served alongside it were pretty huge; they were also quite generous with the shrimp here considering its size — there were at least 5 pieces that came with our order at least and they were pretty fresh. The shrimp not only helps add a good bite to the entire dish; it also came with its distinct hint of sweetness that further provides a flavour contrast with the scrambled egg. The right way of having this dish would be to have a little bit of the scrambled eggs with shrimp to pair up with a portion of the white rice; this way, the rice would be able to absorb all that runny egg, providing the moisture that the white rice needs.

Having wanted to try either Empire Hong Kong Cafe or the dim sum at Empire Fine Chinese Cuisine for quite a while, we were certainly impressed with our meal at Empire Hong Kong Cafe. We have tried quite a number of the items that were listed on their menu; this includes the Soup of the Day, Cucumber with Minced Garlic, Wok fried prawn ball with lychee served with rice, Custard Bolo Bun and Spicy Chicken Mid-wings — most of the items were well-executed, which includes the Wok fried prawn ball with lychee served with rice and the Soup of the Day. There was also no way we were going to give the Hot Coke with Ginger & Lemon — the final touch to what we think would compliment our main for an authentic Hong Kong cafe experience. Overall, we would say that we are impressed enough to make a revisit for some of the items which we have missed out this time; the execution of the Scrambled Eggs with Shrimp on Rice was especially commendable. Service was also pretty good here as opposed to some other Chinese establishments where things can get a little fast-paced; the service crew are pretty polite and seem to be working at a comfortable pace; they also do seem to engage in small talk with the patrons as well. For those who are already itching for Hong Kong cafe-style cuisine, Empire Hong Kong Cafe is a spot that is definitely worth checking out!

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Wasn’t really intending to drop a post about this but thought it was just a “might as well” situation considering how we have taken wayyyy too many photos whilst being in the queue; just might as well put them to good use. TWG Tea is a brand that most locals should be fairly familiar with; established in 2007, the brand is probably best recognised as an upscale tea salon these days with outlets being found in malls such as ION Orchard, Ngee Ann City’s Takashimaya, and Marina Bay Sands — just to name a few. There has been two outlets of TWG Tea in Takashimaya at Ngee Ann City for quite a while; one being situated in the upper floors that is a dine-in concept with hot food, while there is another within the basement food hall that was dedicated to the retail of their tea products and other merchandise. TWG Tea’s basement outlet has since moved into another unit within the same level; now occupying the lot directly beside Donq Bakery, TWG Tea is also neighbours with Bacha Coffee — also operates by the same group as well.

Most folks should be pretty aware of what TWG Tea serves up these days, but the revamped space in Takashimaya’s basement does done with a slight difference — this outlet is the very first TWG Tea outlet that actually serves takeaway tea. The list of tea available for takeaway here is definitely less extensive than what one would find in their dine-in locations; that being said, there is still a wide selection to go for — think a good range of their teas from all over the world, as well as other teas from their Grand Classic Teas, Classic Teas for the Morning / Daytime / Evening, Solo Teas, Exclusive Tea Blends and Theine-free Tea Blends selection; all of which priced at a flat rate of $8 per cup irregardless of the tea opted. Patrons also do have a choice of doing a bundle with the macarons (six pieces) or the chocolates (six pieces) at $20 and $22 respectively. Takeaway cups are also beautifully packaged in a yellow cardboard holder; the takeaway cups being in a shiny gold colour whilst also accompanied with a packed glass straw (the same ones used for dine-in for their iced beverages), as well as a stick of sugar that can be stirred into the tea if one requires so.

Not sure if it might be the case but it does seem a lot like Bacha Coffee’s success in operating the takeaway outlet at Marina Bay Sands might be the catalyst for the group to replicate the same for TWG Tea and Bacha Coffee at the basement of Takashimaya. Nonetheless, it does seem that there is no diminishing interest from the general public on their tea even though it is exclusively available for takeaway here — there is still pretty much a beeline formed for their takeaway teas; those who intend to drop by should factor some waiting time to queue and for their orders to be prepared. With the opening of the new outlet at the basement of Takashimaya which sees TWG Tea starting to accommodate to the takeaway crowd, it would be interesting to see if this would also be the start of more of such TWG Tea outlets to come in the near future.

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Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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