Benito’s Hat, London

it was an impromptu decision to check this little mexican place out, when our original plans to eat at nearby lantana were foiled because we arrived at the awkward time between 1130am and noon when the cafe was no longer serving breakfast and had yet to start serving lunch.

located along goodge street, benito’s hat is hugely popular with the lunchtime crowd as evidenced by the snaking queue which had formed outside the shop when we were leaving. their menu is simple – burritos, tacos, salads (naked burritos – basically a burrito without the wrap) and soups. service is efficient and food is made to order at the counter:
20140117_115522
in action

all of us opted for burritos that day – we could choose from chicken, pork and a beef special as the meat filling (grilled veggies are also available for vegetarians), and for the toppings you have the choice of adding cheese/sourcream/lettuce/beans (choose from 2 types!)/rice. choose a sauce from the range that varies in spiciness, add some guacamole if you want, and you have your meal all ready to go! here’s the menu on the blackboards:20140117_115328

most people seemed to be getting takeaway, but they do have seats in the shop if you prefer to enjoy your food in-store. the burritos are pretty huge, and they’re all served with a side of nachos:
20140117_115846

the nachos were a nice addition but were missing some sauce or cheese slathered on top. as for the burritos, they were literally bursting with ingredients and their weight was testament to that fact – i was surprised at how heavy mine was when i lifted it to remove the foil! needless to say, it was extremely filling. in fact, i would say that its possible to share one between two small eaters!

20140117_120952
braised pork burrito with guacamole – £5.90 + 70p

i had my burrito with braised pork, and added guacamole for an additional 70p. i actually felt that 70p for the rather small amount of guacamole they added was quite pricey, but what is mexican food without guacamole! avo is always too good to pass on…
the burrito was VERY satisfying. the greens added were fresh, toppings were added generously (besides the guacamole as mentioned above), the braised pork was juicy and tasty, and the refried beans (you can choose between these and black beans) were delicious. it was a wrap that was bursting with flavour and was made even more yummy by the fact that it was freshly-made and warm! trust me, you’ll definitely get your mexican craving satisfied with this hearty goodness.

i imagined a serious carb overload if i added rice to the mix, so i asked not to have any added, but here’s my friend’s burrito which had rice in it: (sorry not a very appetising picture i know!)20140117_120017

we were completely stuffed by the time we had made our way through the burritos, but there’s always room for dessert right? 😉 and thankfully we all embraced the idea of desserts going into a separate stomach and decided to order some sweet treats to share, because the desserts were the highlight of our quick lunch there!20140117_122652
bunuelos: crispy strips of tortilla with cinnamon, sugar and real vanilla ice cream – £3.25

we were really excited when we saw this arrive at our table because we weren’t really sure what to expect and this looked like nothing we had tried before! the strips of tortilla were thin and crispy (just as they were described) and coated in just the right amount of cinnamon and sugar to give them a light sweetness that went perfectly with the vanilla ice cream which was thick and smooth. the oil used to fry the tortillas was fresh and because of how thin the strips were, they made for a lighter and seemingly less oily treat than churros would have been. it actually reminded me of a sweet dessert prata (for the uninformed, this is a delicious singaporean-indian flatbread/pancake-esque thing)!

20140117_122940tres leches cake – £3.75

we actually wanted to order the flan but it wasn’t available that day, so this is what we ended up getting and boy, were we glad we did! definitely worthy of first-pick status instead of the second choice status we relegated it to. the cake was amazingly dense and moist while not being too heavy, while the fresh cream that accompanied it was super duper light. the milky sauce that the cake was drenched in was sweet (maybe too sweet for some people), but not cloyingly so. this was really the highlight of our lunch that day, and this tres leches cake was still referred to with great enthusiasm when it came up in conversation recently, so that’s definitely a sign of deliciousness 😉 it was a pretty generous slice too, so the price you pay for it is rather reasonable.

benito’s hat was a pretty random find on a random friday afternoon, but it probably isn’t going to be random to me very much longer because i’ll be back when i’m looking for a simple, fuss-free mexican meal! they also have a happy hour from 5pm-7pm daily, where cocktails (watermelon/pomegranate/strawberry margarita, anyone?) are 2-for-1 – a pretty good deal worth checking out 🙂

20140117_11545620140117_124808

Benito’s Hat

56 Goodge Street
London W1T 4NB

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Advertisements

Banh Mi Bay, London

i was really impressed by the takeaway i got from banh mi bay’s outlet along rathbone place (off charlotte street) last term, so it was with pretty high hopes that i checked out their sit-down branch at holborn last week. am glad to say that those hopes were not dashed!

paid their outlet along theobalds road a visit on a friday night around 8, and it was packed (and rightly so)! we joined the queue for a table and thankfully did not have to wait long before we were ushered to one. the restaurant isn’t very big, but definitely has sufficient tables for a relatively fast turnaround time i believe! service after being seated was not great though (water only came at the end of our meal after we had asked multiple times since the beginning); but i guess that is to be expected of somewhere so popular and crowded on a friday night.
20140117_194625

the menu was too extensive and spread out over too many pages for me to take pictures of, but i snapped some shots of their takeaway menu scrawled on blackboards (note the super reasonable takeaway prices; the dine-in prices are a little more but still very reasonable!):
20140117_194637 20140117_194700

having just visited hanoi over the christmas break, i was super excited to see banh xeo (this amazing super thin crispy pancake) on the menu – it was by far my family’s favourite food discovery of our trip! didn’t order it at banh mi bay this time though, because it felt more like a summer rolls-kind of night 😉 (but i will definitely be back to try the banh xeo).

we ordered a serving of summer rolls to share, and i had a bun vermicelli noodle salad with chargrilled pork (another of my favourites in hanoi) while my friend had the rare beef pho. the food came quickly which was great because we were pretty hungry by then and the amazing smell of viet food in the air did nothing to quell our stomachs’ complaints.

20140117_200312
summer rolls – £4.40

the summer rolls were nothing outstanding or exceptional, but were certainly a good rendition of a traditional vietnamese appetiser. as summer rolls should be, they were light and extremely clean-tasting, stuffed with fresh ingredients (sliced pork, tiger prawns, lettuce, rice vermicelli, vietnamese herbs) and wrapped in soft skin. the prawns in the rolls were fresh, sweet and juicy, while the skin was thin and soft but not wet. safe to say that our summer rolls craving was successfully satisfied!

20140117_200307
bun vermicelli noodle salad with chargrilled garlic pork – £7.50

i had an amazing bowl of something similar to this in hanoi (bun bo nam bo), from this hole-in-the-wall stall that just sold that one dish, and was the proud recipient of a tripadvisor certificate of excellence. have been craving it ever since, and was quite pleased to find that banh mi bay does a decent version of it, especially considering the fact that we are miles and miles away from hanoi. firstly it must be highlighted that the bowl was HUGE. not sure if you can tell from the picture, but it was really rather big and full of vietnamese goodness! you pour the sauce (like a salad dressing) all over the noodle and mix everything together to give you this:
20140117_200731okay i realise it doesn’t look super appetising, but trust me, it is good stuff. and really healthy too! plenty of veggie and so light and clean-tasting, but certainly not lacking in meat too. the chargrilled pork with garlic was delicious – it was tender, super well-marinated and so very tasty, and they were really generous with the amount they gave. in fact, i finished most of the vegetables and noodle even before i finished the pork! which is not usually the case, but i’m definitely not complaining. i would have liked more peanuts for that added crunch, but besides that, this was definitely good enough to make me a happy girl. really worth it for the price – i can see why banh mi bay has appeared so many times on lists of cheap eats in london!

20140117_200322
rare beef pho – £7.50

my friend ordered the rare beef pho and again i think its not very clear in the photo, but the serving was BIG. the bowl was pretty huge and they were generous with both the pho as well as the beef. the beef was thinly sliced and tender, but the piping hot soup was definitely the highlight of the dish – light and extremely tasty, and not too oily or heavy in taste at all. the perfect dish for a cold winters night!

they didn’t have any very exciting desserts so our meal ended there, but we were still more than satisfied with dinner and its huge servings of legit vietnamese fare! love how there’s a takeaway outlet so close to me; its the perfect place to pick up yummy lunch as a mid-day pick-me-up 🙂 i’ve tried the bay special baguette before (pate, spiced pork and pork roll) and i remember it as being pretty delicious too!

oh and my friend who i had all this yummy food with was leaving for glasgow the next day and wanted to take away dinner from there to have on the train… i think banh mi bay’s definitely just earned themselves another fan 😉

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Banh Mi Bay

4-6 Theobalds Road, Holborn
London WC1X 8PN20140117_194425

ps. good food is always made even better with great company:
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
soul sister/partner-in-crime/the straw to my berry/the apple to my pie

Link

Chinese New Year caloriez (read at your own risk)

hate to rain on your cny parade/goodies binge, but thought this was worth a share!

all i can say in response to this is… #YOLO? or as a friend suggested, we shouldn’t always believe what we read on the internet. but unfortunately, that’s probably just wishful thinking 😦

i’m a firm believer that everything in moderation is the way to go though, so go forth and eat on, my friends!

pineapple tartz/bak kwa/love letters/kueh bolu/cookies – get in ma belly 😛

and to all our readers who celebrate cny wherever you may be, gong xi fa cai and have a fabulous time celebrating with friends, family, and FOOD. good food. 🙂

The Exhibit, Balham

an invitation to check out the revamped menu of a happening joint in the heart of balham was too good to turn down, so it was on a rainy thursday night that the 2 of us made the trek into zone 3 to pay the exhibit a visit! we were afraid we would be unable to locate the restaurant but thankfully it was just a stone’s (more like a grain of sand, actually) throw away from the tube station – so not to fret; even in zone 3, the exhibit is extremely accessible!

we got out of the tube station, and 2 minutes later, we were here:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

rach was thrilled by the old-school diner sign and the classic movie timings display, so it was with high hopes that we stepped through the doors and into the exhibit. we headed right up to the 1st floor (making a mental note to check out the bar after) where the diner was. immediately we were struck by how american the layout of the diner was.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

as we were ushered to our seats we were informed that there was a thursday night deal where shakes went for £1 (for a soft shake) or £2 (for a hard, ie with alcohol) each. they have different deals every night which keeps things exciting and people coming back for more (and more). we were particularly taken in by the “movie nights” deal where you get 2 courses and a movie ticket (to catch a film in their boutique cinema on the 2nd floor) for just £15.90 – a real steal, in our opinion! check out the blackboard for the full range of offers:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

for a thursday night, the place was pretty crowded but service was still efficient which was great! here’s the all-american artery-clogging (but totally worth the reduction in lifespan) menu:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

while deliberating what to get (ordering is always a life-changing decision), we decided to start with 2 shakes – a cookie monster soft shake (on the left) and a tiramisu hard shake.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
cookie monster – £4 (£1 with a main on thursdays), tiramisu – £7 (£2 with a main on thursdays)

i (rach) had the cookie monster and loved every drop of it. it was thick, creamy and full of cookie goodness, though i think what could have made it even better would be the addition of some chunky cookie bits. it was also surprisingly not cloyingly sweet, which allowed me to make my way steadily through the entire glass instead of having to leave half of it, as milkshakes often make you do. very satisfying for this cookies and cream fan over here! nic ordered the tiramisu shake which was what jumped out at him from the menu once we were seated but he was, unfortunately, kept in his seat. we both found it a little too diluted and icy; we tasted more alcohol than anything else and even after mixing the cream in, it lacked the thick creaminess that one would expect from a shake.

and now on to the food, we decided to try as wide a variety of food from the menu and settled on the ribs and a burger. we were told the signature was a firm favourite with both the staff and customers. we were also keen on the wild boar and chorizo burger but popular opinion swayed us towards the purist’s beef burger. to accompany those 2 mains, we had a 5 inch stack of onion rings (and promptly regretted not going for a taller tower of that finger-lickin’ goodness) and the interesting-sounding skins with mushrooms.

food glorious food!
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the signature burger is a hand-made ground steak beef patty enclosed in a seeded brioche bun, topped with red lettuce, onion, relish, dill pickle and mustard mayo. we built on that by adding jalapeños, guacamole, cheddar and a fried egg (they have an impressively huge range of toppings to choose from, that can be added to any burger on the menu). when it arrived, nic had the chance to show off his superior photography skills (or so he thinks) by snapping this pic:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
signature burger – £7.25 + toppings (prices as stated on menu)

cross-section:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the burger was very decently-sized and because of what we had packed into it, it was extremely hearty and satisfying! since most people are most concerned with the patties in their burgers, patties first – they were extremely meaty, chunky, and we could really taste the meat, though we would have preferred it to be a bit more medium-rare (though i’m sure you can make a request for that). it was clearly not factory-made and was quite a thick slab such that it wasn’t lost in all the other ingredients that we had added. together with everything else we had picked, it made for a delicious burger. especially the fried egg because, as rach always says, she is a complete sucker for wet egg yolks, and this was one such amazing egg. given how amazing the fillings were, the brioche bun was a bit of a let down. it wasn’t as buttered as we would have liked and was a tad too thick. nonetheless as a whole the burger was delectable.

we also ordered a full rack of ribs to share:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
full rack of ribs (original flavour) – £11

the ribs were generously slathered with a thick gooey layer of barbeque sauce. nic appreciated that the ribs were slightly charred and rach liked that they were meaty. the meat was soft and tender, though we felt they could have been even better if the sauce soaked right through the meat and the insides were more thoroughly marinated. they were good enough to leave us licking the bones though; that’s always a positive sign of good food!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and now for the sides, the onion rings exceeded our expectations, not just in terms of serving size (aka height) but also in taste.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
5-inch onion ring stack – £3.50

we absolutely loved the batter which was crisp and left no aftertaste of stale oil but what nic loved even more was the juiciness of the fresh onions which is clearly evidenced here:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
evidently pleased. which is longer – his hair or the onion???!!

and finally, what was probably our favourite dish of the night that left us yearning for a second serving after we had finished the first one:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
skins with mushrooms – £4.20

this amazingly simple dish was simply amazing – it consisted of a fried potato skin filled and baked with mushrooms and cheddar. rach’s favourite part of the dish was the skin which remained crispy even after we had left it for a while – who knows why we did as it should have been gulped down immediately. nic felt that the pureness of the taste was so good that the sour cream (pictured in the middle) was rendered redundant. the sweetness of the fresh mushrooms complemented superbly with the saltiness provided by the melted cheese. it’s a wonder why this dish hasn’t been propagated on to some other american diners’ menus yet. as mentioned earlier, we liked it so much that we had a second serving.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
the star of the night

despite all that we had eaten, there was space for dessert (there always is)!!! we went for the sundae:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
the exhibit sundae – £3.90 ft. nic and his tongue

a typical american diner dessert, the exhibit sundae consists of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, peanut butter, toffee sauce, crushed brownies and whipped cream. our favourite part of the sundae was the addition of chunky peanut butter, it added a very nice and welcome bite to the otherwise slushiness (not in a bad way) of a sundae. the brownies also added texture to the dessert which we enjoyed.

after dinner, we were kindly shown around by luke. we checked out the top floor which has a big room with a bar and a balcony that can be used for private gatherings or parties. the top floor is also where the boutique 28-seater cinema is located, and they show films twice a week (check out the movie schedule on their website and advance booking is recommended). for popular films, additional screenings may be added, as happened on the day we were there, when about time was being screened for the third time. unfortunately, we were oblivious to this fact 😦 if we had known that they were showing it that night, we would have made haste with our food and headed up to one of the cushy sofas to enjoy the movie.

besides the diner, the first floor has another function room that plays host to a range of events, including a speed-dating one that was going on that night.

and finally on the ground floor, there is a lovely bar which charmed us with its stylishly modern yet cosy interior. it also helped that they have live acoustic music on thursday nights and there was a healthy crowd that had the place buzzing and alive.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

overall we were thankful to have been invited to the exhibit as it would not have otherwise crossed our minds to venture out this far. the trip, however, was thoroughly worth it and it would be a waste to let the (slight) distance deter you from paying the exhibit a visit. the concept of having a diner together with a cinema and a bar is fresh and unique; in our humble opinion, this hangout has all the makings of a great venue for an all-in-one night out. be it a night for a nice meal before a movie or just a night for drinks after work the exhibit is a perfect place to get together with mates for a jolly good (and food) time.

thanks for having us, greg; and luke too for showing us around. we’d love to return to check out the brunch menu soon!

The Exhibit

12 Balham Station Rd
London SW12 9SG
http://www.theexhibit.co.uk/

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

PS. finally writing together again!!!
(excuse the unimpressive attire – this is us on a school night in rach’s kitchen)
Photo on 19-1-14 at 8.46 PM Photo on 19-1-14 at 8.46 PM #2 Photo on 19-1-14 at 8.46 PM #3

The Missing Pan, Singapore

tried this new kid on the block a few days ago, and my friends and i were very pleasantly surprised by it! adding to the small mix of eateries around the coronation plaza area, the missing pan now provides an alternative to choupinette (which is just a few doors down) and little diner (further down the road) if you’re looking for a spot to have some brunch/cafe-style food.

it looks like a pretty small space from the road looking in, but there’s actually a second storey which has a good number of tables and if you’re lucky enough, you can get one by the large window on one end which is perfect for watching the world go by below you. there’s a very casual and laidback vibe and we were one of just four tables when we visited, so it made for a really nice, bright and airy environment to have a good catch-up over good food.
20140107_122052

they call themselves a bakery and brasserie, and serve a range of cold and hot cafe foods, along with breads and cakes displayed at the counter on the first floor. here’s the menu:20140107_12223620140107_122247

the over hangover and french toast salpicon were not available when we went 😦 i was quite disappointed because i thought the french toast sounded pretty special and would have liked to see if this unusual combination of french toast toppings was a hit or miss! nevertheless, we were happy with our 3 options – the eggs benny with smoked salmon, croque madame, and the rosemary rosti stack.

service was pretty efficient and we were soon presented with these goodies:
20140107_124634

first thing that struck us was the rather generous servings – clearly meant to be a hearty meal rather than a dainty pick-at-your-food type of cafe, which i liked!

i think my favourite of the lot/the one i was most pleasantly surprised by was the croque madame:
20140107_124137
croque madame: gammon ham, gruyere, parmesan, egg (croque monsieur has no egg) grape foccacia – $14

i thought it didn’t look as appetising as the rest (especially in the picture above, i realise… oh dear), but it tasted so good!!! here’s what i think is a better picture, after we flipped the top half over to form one big tasty sandwich:
20140107_124942

the gruyere was delicious and my only regret is that i didn’t have more of it more when it was freshly made and brought to the table because after a while, it was naturally less melty than before. the gammon ham was yummy (not the processed sort), and topped with an egg and parmesan, everything came together deliciously. the bread was possibly my favourite part of the croque madame – the foccacia was so wonderfully soft and fluffy, and it was (rather unusually) topped with grapes, which added a very nice mildly sweet touch to the general savouriness of the whole thing. it wasn’t as heavy as i thought it would be; i really enjoyed their rendition of the croque madame and will be back for more!

next up, the eggs benny:
20140107_123946
62 degree eggs benedict with smoked salmon: avocado, seaweed crumbs on sourdough with in-house hollandaise – $22

they were out of avocados when we visited, so they replaced them with spinach which was alright, but i think i would have preferred avo. i can imagine the texture and bite it would have added to the mix, particularly if it was chunky avocado! also, who can resist avo on toast??? the eggs were perfectly poached as you can probably tell from the picture, but here’s another one for the yolk to have its chance to shine:
20140107_124751exactly the way i like them in all their runny yolk glory – sooo gooood!
as for the salmon, it wasn’t really raw smoked salmon which i was expecting; the salmon was actually almost like tataki, lightly seared on the outside and more raw on the inside. the hollandaise sauce was also tasty and satisfying without overdoing the creaminess. however i felt that the sourdough left much to be desired! it seemed like it wasn’t properly toasted when it arrived at our table – it wasn’t warm at all and the crusts were thus a little chewy, almost making me feel like i was eating old/stale bread. we ended up picking the toppings off the sourdough and leaving the 2 slices more or less untouched. what a difference from the amazing foccacia in the croque madame! this dish would have been good if the bread were better toasted.

last but certainly not least, we had the rosemary rosti stack:
20140107_124324
rosemary rosti stack: bacon, sunny-side egg, tomato, grilled zucchini salad – $16

this was yummy! even the side of grilled zucchini salad was really good and was gone in no time. the zucchini was naturally sweet and perfectly grilled – charred in all the right places, giving it a nice subtle smokey taste but not a burnt taste at all. the rosti was very well done, crisp on the outside but cooked perfectly through. and though you can’t see it from the picture, it had bacon hidden within! topped with an impossibly perfect sunny side-up, we were pleasantly surprised that this dish wasn’t as heavy as we thought it would be. it wasn’t too oily, and was something different from the regular brunch options you get elsewhere.

finally, we ordered a dessert to share. these were the desserts that were available that day, besides what was listed on the menu:
20140107_133714we needed to put name to face (cake) before making a decision, so headed downstairs to check the display out:20140107_134117

settled on the brownie cheesecake which came recommended by the staff.20140107_134350

don’t think there is really any form of scale in the picture, but the slice was rather big! a generous serving, just like their mains. the cake was good, though i wouldn’t rave about it or consider it something i would return for. the combination of brownie and cheesecake was interesting, and it was surprisingly not overly sweet or heavy. taste-wise the cheesecake layer was like light japanese cheesecakes, though texture-wise it was denser than that. as for the brownie layer, it was moist and chocolate-y just as it should be. worth noting that from 2pm-5pm, they offer a free drink with every cake order!

all in all, missing pan is a nice little addition to the neighbourhood that i wouldn’t mind returning to if i’m looking for some good and reasonably-price cafe food. oh and there’s a 15% student discount, so its a great spot for students of schools in the area to have a nice meal. they also sell breads at the counter on the first floor! 20140107_134133

The Missing Pan

619D Bukit Timah Road
Singapore 269724

Prata Place, Singapore

and the search for the best prata in singapore continues! my all-time favourite prata stall is found in a relatively nondescript coffeeshop in sin ming (see here), but to my greatest horror, it was closed on the day i headed there for a prata fix 😦 was super disappointed because i had been craving it and had planned to head down on that day quite a bit in advance! and was even more shattered when the kaya toast stall aunty informed me that she didn’t have french baguettes for the kaya toast that day (i love it). there was a serious lack of spring in my step as i left the coffee shop…

refusing to settle for prata house along the main upper thomson stretch itself (i used to go there as a jc student; the prata is oily, and so are their floors), we decided to give casuarina curry a go since i hadn’t been in quite a while, and was interested to see how it oompared to my more recent prata adventures. googling the address however, the reviews didn’t seem as stellar as they used to be; it was suggested that a prata place in springleaf now served prata that was much better, and so that’s where we decided to head to!

tucked at the very end of a row of shops (many of which were food outlets) facing the main road with a sleepy residential estate behind is prata place. its not a very big shop, but spacious enough to serve a decently-sized crowd. it is extremely casual (perfect shorts & slippers kind of place)  and just very functionally decorated (though i don’t think anything more is usually/should be expected more of a prata shop) but a huge plus point is that there’s air-con so this is the perfect place to take visitors (or anyone for that matter) who dislike sweating it out in hawker centres to get good prata. service is also extremely friendly and efficient (orders are taken on ipads!)
20140103_132743

they have a huge range of pratas/thosais/murtabaks including some interesting choices like a chicken floss prata, red bean prata and a prata burger! here’s the very exciting menu:20140103_12561220140103_125623

check out the fascinating inverted V-shaped paper prata that the neighbouring table ordered:
20140103_125814
the paper thosai also looked very good!

we ended up ordering a plaster prata and a fish briyani set (because by the time we reached prata place, we were famished and needed some rice) for the 2 of us. and of course a milo dino couldn’t be left out of the picture 😉 (who even eats prata without a milo dino/teh tarik as accompaniment anyway?!)20140103_130002fish briyani – $4.50

we weren’t wowed by this at all; it wasn’t anything to shout about though it was definitely very authentic. quite a big piece of fish was given (though you can’t really see its size in the picture), as well as a very generous serving of briyani rice accompanied by pappadam and achar. the briyani sets seemed to be quite a popular option with the lunch crowd though, so maybe the chicken/mutton briyani is more exceptional!

20140103_130333
plaster cheese prata – $3

the only thing better than a cheese prata is an egg (with a wet egg yolk, no less) plastered across its top. this was amazing – i was in prata heaven. the prata was crispy on the outside but soft and fluffy inside. i absolutely loved the addition of the egg on top of the prata rather than within in like in regular egg pratas (my first time having a plaster prata!!!), and loved how the cheese they used here wasn’t a slice of sandwich cheese inside the prata, but was instead mozzarella bits sandwiched between the prata and the egg. i was really extremely satisfied and decided that plaster prata was probably one of my new favourite things to have (going through a plaster prata phase now – had one the very next day at tekka market, but was sorely disappointed because it paled in comparison to prata place’s). the curry was also good – not too sweet not too spicy, and was not the diluted/tasteless type.

i was intially intending on ordering an additional plain prata to really put their pratas to the test, but after having my plaster prata, i decided that that wouldn’t really be necessary 😉 the crispy outside and the fluffy inside really shone through, and i doubt their regular pratas will be anything less than that. definitely want to try their red bean prata the next time i visit though! (i saw pictures, it looks like a tau sar pia!)

the only thing holding me back from returning more often is the distance; it’s about double the distance to get here compared to getting to sin ming from home. but given that it opens all day (nearly – till midnight!) every day, who knows how long more i’ll be able to stay away from that plaster cheese prata…? 😉

The Prata Place

1 Thong Soon Ave
Singapore 78743120140103_12585220140103_132817

Strangers’ Reunion, Singapore

this cafe has already gained such a following since its opening that before reading this, you’ve probably already decided that you’re going to give it a try no matter what reviews say about it! well, i’m going to be joining the majority with a relatively positive review (about their famous buttermilk waffles at least!), so this will probably serve to egg you on and reaffirm your decision to go forth and pay it a visit 🙂

it having been around and being talked about (especially their buttermilk waffles) for quite some time now (if i’m not wrong, it was one of the pioneers in the latest wave of new cafes popping up all over the island; its been around long enough to warrant a refurbishment of the cafe recently), i cannot believe it was only this christmas break that i managed to check this super popular place out!

visited on a thursday around noon, and it was already nearly full when we arrived. we were lucky to snag a seat! the cafe has quite a large seating capacity compared to some other places though, and service is quite efficient so even if you need to queue, it shouldn’t be too bad!
20131219_145240

here’s the menu:
20131219_141035
gotta love all-day breakfast places

the menu is pretty large, but not so extensive that you have a hard time picking what to eat – very optimal for those like me who love having a range of things to choose from but are promptly wracked indecision and fail miserably at picking something, the kind of person who has a panicked expression on their face when they realise the waiter has taken everyone else’s orders and is now just waiting on yours; also the kind of person known to regret his order right after placing it. but i digress… back to the point now; we opted for the corn & zucchini fritters and a serving of their famous buttermilk waffles (how could we not) to share between the two of us.

20131219_130237 corn and zucchini fritters with avocado, poached egg and spicy tomato relish – $18

not sure if you’re thinking what we thought when this dish was placed before us –  we both agreed that it looked rather messy, unappetising and very homemade! like somebody just heaped everything onto a plate just before it was served, with little finesse or care. i was quite disappointed when i saw it but luckily it tasted pretty good, so that kind of made up for the poor presentation. the fritters were very light, not oily at all, and had bits of yummy corn and zucchini in them. the avocado was very fresh and perfectly ripe, while the egg was poached to perfection. the spicy tomato relish was important in bringing all the different components of the dish together, but i wish they had dished it out more generously. the serving was small – 2 corn & zucchini fritters topped with a few slices of avocado and just 1 poached egg.

i didn’t really think this was worth the $18 we paid, especially because $18 (and maybe a little bit more) can get you something much better presented, bigger and possibly even tastier elsewhere (at most of the other brunch places i’ve reviewed – maison ikkoku, nassim hill bakery, artichoke etc)

they had a waffle special (so exciting – i love specials!!!) that day, and that’s what we had:20131219_130247
buttermilk waffles with passionfruit, white chocolate, coconut zest & vanilla ice cream – $14.90

now this, unlike the fritters, was something worth writing home about. being ever present on the list of contenders for the best waffle in singapore, i ordered these with high expectations and am happy to say that they did indeed live up to them! the waffles were perfectly crisp on the outside but soft and fluffy inside. they remained this way for quite some time, and did not turn soggy rapidly like many others tend to, especially when served with ice cream! i loved the combination for this waffle special – the passionfruit added a nice zesty twist while the white chocolate balanced that out with its sweetness. the vanilla ice cream with coconut zest was also rather delicious! it was a very nice and light change from the usual chocolate-doused waffles with bananas (a good combination no doubt, but this was a good change!).

it was overall a pretty good experience at strangers’ reunion in a nice environment with good service. i would return to strangers’ reunion for their buttermilk waffles (though there are other amazing waffle options at creamier (belgian waffles) or DOC, but probably not for any proper food (though they do serve some more substantial lunch/dinner options) – i thought the food wasn’t anything to shout about at all (besides the waffle) though; even the eggs that several other diners were ordering didn’t look great but i’m not sure how they tasted – i do think they need to work on their presentation! we weren’t particularly full after what we had since the servings were rather small, but nothing was calling out to us from the desserts menu or cake display so we passed on that too (shocking, i know :O hahaha).  i’m happy that i finally checked this place out, but it was all a little overrated, i feel! 20131219_125627

Strangers’ Reunion

37 Kampong Bahru Rd
Singapore 16935620131219_145300
hi lou!
Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset