Ramen Bari-Uma, Singapore

the search for my favourite bowl of ramen in singapore continues, this time with a trip to bariuma ramen. we decided to give this place a try after many people dubbed it underrated and after checking it out, i must say i have to agree!

a corner unit in the basement of the unremarkable tanglin shopping centre (accessed from the main road; there is no need to enter the mall at all) is where you’ll find this great ramen joint that hails from hiroshima. what i like about its location is that it is tucked away at the quieter side of bustling orchard road, making it central yet well away from the crowds.20140623_193708

we were there on a monday night and though there was no queue (which seems to be a prerequisite for ramen joints in singapore), there was quite a healthy crowd and even as we left at close to 9pm, there were still customers streaming in and several who placed takeaway orders.
20140623_194129its a really casual and fuss-free place that i felt gave off a very homely/family-run vibe, probably due to a combination of the relatively hidden location, simple decor, open kitchen and friendly staff. in fact, i could imagine this being a traditional ramen house in japan where customers came for piping hot bowl of ramen to hide from the cold outside!

this huge sign plastered on the wall at the entrance of the shop also cracked me up and seemed very typically japanese:

the menu is mainly focused on ramen:20140623_194334
but they also have some sides that you can order to go with your noodles, like gyoza and yakitori. they also have some hot stone rice bowl options: 20140623_194225

we had read about and seen the sign outside the shop about the ajitama-uma ramen being their specialty, so that’s what the both of us opted for.
ajitama-uma ramen – $15.50
the ajitama-uma ramen comes with a thick-cut slice of flamed chashu, a whole onsen egg, bamboo shoots, and a sprinkling of fresh spring onions. the soup base is a combination of shoyu and tonkotsu – this is quite interesting and unique to bariuma, given that most ramen shops in singapore serve bowls of ramen that are either shoyu or tonkotsu based, never really a combination of both; i think this is the first place i’ve seen and tried this! it was super rich and tasty, and was not only served piping hot but also managed to stay that way for quite a long while after, something that doesn’t happen with bowls of ramen as often as it should (i find that many of them tend to cool down really quickly ie if you snap a few pics of it before tucking in, it is no longer as hot as when first served!). i slurped up every last drop of the collagen-filled soup that was simmered for hours.
(pictorial evidence:

we soon realised our initial apprehension that the chashu wouldn’t be enough (since each bowl only comes with 1 slice) was unfounded when we saw how thick the chashu slice in our soup was. check it out:20140623_195506
look at it glistening irresistibly in all its glory – it was an extremely substantial slice and was surprisingly enough to go with the whole bowl of noodles! despite its thickness, it was not tough or dry; on the contrary, it was moist and tender, and the fact that it was flamed made it extremely flavourful and yummy. (i am clearly quite a fan of their chashu) if you really enjoy the chashu, you can even order a plate of aburi chashu as a side (see menu above); i can only imagine how delicious that melt-in-your-mouth goodness will be!

as for the egg, 1 of us got a perfectly done onsen egg with a wonderfully viscous yolk, while the other (me, sadly) got one that was completely overcooked.
the perfect:
the far (far far) from perfect (i was the sad and very disappointed recipient of this completely overcooked onsen egg):20140623_200600
the only saving grace was that when i told the waitress that my egg was completely overcooked, she immediately brought another over with no questions whatsoever. the 3rd egg was an in-between – the yolk could definitely have been more liquid, but thankfully it was not overcooked:20140623_200900
so do note that the eggs are quite hit and miss! i also felt that the egg white could have been a little more strongly-flavoured.

the noodles were great – i like my noodles to have some bite, and their homemade noodles provided just that; they were of the long and thin sort, and are freshly made at the restaurant. oishi!!!

oh yes, there is an ongoing promotion where if you sign up for their mobile membership, you get a free serving of 3 gyozas:20140623_201551

indeed, free food is hard to resist and so we ended up with these goodies to share between us:20140623_195333
chicken gyoza
we thought they were pretty good, but nothing exceptional. i liked how the filling was fresh and didn’t taste like the frozen sort, and how it was pan-fried till they had crispy bases like guo tie. they make a decent snack to stave off hunger pangs while waiting for the ramen to arrive. (although come to think of it, our gyozas arrived after our ramen hahaha!)

other than the problems with the eggs, i would say bariuma serves an extremely satisfying, and sadly underrated, bowl of ramen. i will undoubtedly be back for more and would even go so far as to say that in my humble opinion, bariuma serves up a better (and much more value-for-money) bowl of ramen than ippudo does! also, the fact that you don’t need to queue for the former is icing on the cake.

face of a very satisfied customer (aka my date for the night):
2 thumbs up!

this little ramen joint is certainly a hidden gem, and i’m already looking forward to the next time i can again tuck into this bowl of porky goodness! see you there 😉
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Ramen Bari-Uma
19 Tanglin Road
#B1-01, Tanglin Shopping Centre
Singapore 247909

ps. they’ve opened a 2nd branch at united square


The Living Cafe, Singapore

i cannot believe how long it took me to discover this hidden gem located right in my hood!!! located at the row of shops along bukit timah road just before you turn left onto 6th avenue is the lovely living cafe that serves an exciting range of really healthy food. i used to think it was just a healthy eating/organic food shop but my sister discovered that it was also a cafe a while back, and recommended that i check it out. 20140623_143610

i love how bright, open, clean and tastefully decorated it is. there is ample seating space in the cafe on the first floor, and a little loft towards the back of the shop where they have a shop selling healthy foods. they pride themselves on serving a range of not just raw and vegan foods but also regular foods which are done using quality ingredients and cooked healthily. you might be wondering what on earth raw food is and how one eats food raw – i took this excerpt from their website:
“Raw food generally refers to a vegan diet that goes beyond just steering clear of animal products. There’s no cooking in the traditional sense (in that nothing is heated above approximately 118 degrees Fahrenheit), and ingredients are not chemically processed, pasteurized, homogenized, genetically modified, hybridized, or otherwise compromised. The basic premise behind a raw food diet is that cooking and processing foods generally decreases their digestibility and vitamin and mineral density, as well as their overall health-promoting qualities.”
(more info about raw food can be found here!)

here is their lunch menu (they have a separate dinner menu, and a brunch menu on weekends):20140623_143442

besides food, their menu also features a range of freshly-squeezed juices and freshly-made smoothies. all of them sound delicious and the best part is that they are not only completely guilt-free, but also very good for you!

for those who would rather stick to water (in order to save some space for dessert ;)), you can help yourself to some reverse osmosis water:20140623_143652
not sure if it was all in my mind but i really thought the water tasted better than regular water! this might sound quite silly because it is just water after all, but i swear it tasted more pure and refreshing than tap water/regular ice water! its what i imagine water drunk straight out from a bubbling stream to taste like.

given that it isn’t often that you come across places serving raw food in singapore (hawker food galore!!!), i decided that i had to pick something raw from the menu:
raw “cheese” burger: onions/beet/carrot/tomato/sprouts/raw “cheese” sauce/raw pattie (dehydrated – nuts/seeds/oats/onions/flaxseed)/guacamole – $18
i absolutely loved this!!! one of the responses i got to posting a picture of this on instagram was a correction of my caption of “raw “cheese” burger” to “raw “cheese” “burger”” which i was rather amused by. healthiest “burger” ever? the carrots, beet, onion and alfafa came together wonderfully to make this yummy crunchy salad that was moist despite not being doused in dressing. the moisture must have come from the natural juiciness of the fresh veggies i think, because the “cheese” sauce was mostly contained to the top of the pattie, and was added in far from copious amounts at all. having the pile of veggies with the pattie was the best thing ever – the sauce tied everything together, and i enjoyed every bit of that pattie. the nuts, seeds and oats created a really nice bite and even though it was dehydrated, it still retained sufficient moisture to not be too dry. it reminded me a little of falafel (gotta love falafel) in pattie form, but denser and with more bite.

deconstructed so you get a better look of the pattie:20140623_145702despite it being completely veggie, it was actually rather filling (but not overly so) and left me feeling really satisfied. not sure if you can tell from the pictures, but it was a really huge “burger” and was piled very generously with super fresh greens. i liked it so much that i have a feeling i’ll find it difficult to order something different when i return to the living cafe…

my sister opted for the vegan tofu burger:20140623_145015vegan tofu burger with wedges and coleslaw: sesame crusted tofu bun, eggplant, mushrooms, raw dijon mustard dressing – $15
all their homemade burgers come with a serving of sweet potato wedges and coleslaw. though not raw and not entirely vegan (there are fish & meat options), they are prepared in as healthy a way as possible with the best possible ingredients. the sweet potato wedges were baked and lightly flavoured with some kind of herbs; they were of a great texture (just the right amount of bite) and the natural sweetness of the potato really shone through. as for the coleslaw, it was light, fresh and very refreshing – none of that commercial stuff drowning in mayo. i personally really liked the sesame-crusted tofu bun because i love everything tofu and everything sesame; this was right up my alley and such a cute idea to substitute bread with! the mushrooms and onions were tasty and added flavour to the tofu; the sister was really happy with her choice too.

the aftermath:20140623_151051

our plates were wiped clean (spick and span!!!) but the best part about eating such foods is that you never feel too stuffed or uncomfortably full even though you’ve had a filling and satisfying meal. perfect for checking out their array of raw desserts:
20140623_143110the only thing better than having dessert is having dessert that is healthy yet yummy. these desserts are really amazing, considering that they are raw!!! the living cafe has an array for you to pick from, ranging from truffles to cookies to cheesecakes to chocolate-mint slices to chocolate ganache cakes.

we opted for the lemon cranberry tart which the counter staff recommended:20140623_151525
lemon cranberry tart – $8.90
though quite steeply-priced at $8.90, my sister and i both agreed that this was totally worth it. it was so enjoyable that i’d have this over a regular (non-raw) lemon tart any day!!! the lemon filling was of just the right tartness and the consistency was dense yet  not too heavy. the cranberries and pistachio bits that topped it added texture to the tart, as did the crust, which was probably my favourite part! after taking a bite of the crust, i decided a close-up shot of it needed to be taken so it could be appreciated in its full glory:20140623_151640just look at that amazing crust – if my taste buds didn’t fail me, it contained fig, pistachio, cranberries, dates, other nuts? so so so good. it was moist and dense but still provided sufficient bite that a tart base requires. it was also naturally sweet which balanced the sourness of the lemon filling. this is another thing i’d find hard to resist ordering the next time i return!

seriously, eating clean has never been so appealing! i left the living cafe feeling really satisfied and happy after having such healthy yet yummy food. given the quality of what you’re eating, i also feel that the prices are very reasonable; everything stated in the menu is nett so you pay exactly what you see with no hidden costs. another plus point is that its open every day of the week!

as i paid at the cashier, the (very friendly) staff member asked if i was “eating healthy” and my response was “not really, but this makes it a whole lot easier!”. i’ll definitely be back here when i’m in need of a detox; in fact, i think i will be back even if i’m not!

The Living Cafe and Deli
779 Bukit Timah Rd
Singapore 269758

Kin Kin Chilli Pan Mee, Singapore

am back in the +65 for summer (best time of the year!!!) and finally got the chance to try the much raved about kin kin chilli pan mee. admittedly, i am pretty late to jump on the bandwagon but hey, better late than never!

if you’re reading this and wondering “what on earth is pan mee/ kin kin chilli pan mee?!” (pretty much my reaction when i first heard about this), pan mee is basically u mian, and at kin kin which hails from our neighbour malaysia, they serve it dry with some seasoned minced meat, ikan bilis, fried garlic, an egg with a glorious runny yolk, and you are free (and highly recommended) to add plenty of their famous dry chilli flakes. perhaps better explained by this sign pasted on their shop door:

visited on a sunday morning for brunch. they open at 11am and when we got there at about 1115am, we did not have to queue but we snagged the last 2 available seats in the (very decently-sized) shop to make a full house.

turnaround time for the tables is pretty quick; people don’t tend to linger at such places long once they’ve finished their meal (although this shop does have air-con – a mega plus point-  so one can sit pretty comfortably for an extended period of time) and the ordering system is simple and efficient – you are given a sheet of paper to indicate your orders and you take that sheet of paper to the counter to pay. your food will then be brought to your table when ready.20140622_114220

the menu consists of just 6 items:20140622_114124

most people order a bowl of noodle accompanied by a bowl of soup, and we followed suit. we waited about 15-20 minutes for the food, which i was quite surprised by because i expected an establishment like that to be churning out bowls by the minute. nevertheless, i suppose you could say it was worth the wait, though i wouldn’t go so far to say it is worth queuing 2 hours for (which i heard was the case when they first opened).

signature dry chilli pan mee – $5.00
might not look like very much in the picture, but its actually a pretty decently-sized bowl that left us feeling quite satisfied! anymore and it might have become jelat i feel? they were pretty generous with the ingredients too; there was more than enough meat/meatballs to be eaten with the noodles.
after mixing:  20140622_115759what i found interesting about this bowl of pan mee was the fact that it did not taste dry or rubbery (which noodles that lack sauce sometimes tend to be) at all despite the lack of sauce. after mixing, the noodles were mostly coated in the delicious egg yolk, chilli flakes, and some (very minimal) sauce from the minced meat. each individual component was not outstanding (although 100 gold stars go to the perfectly poached egg – runny egg yolks never fail to steal my heart), but the mixture of everything put together was actually very tasty and did not disappoint! special shout-out also to their famous chilli flakes which really packed a punch:20140622_114027

we also ordered a bowl of soup to share between us:20140622_115346fishball/bean sheets/meatball soup – $4.00
the meatballs and bean sheets were nothing to shout about; they tasted like regular kinds that you can get commercially in supermarkets. the fishballs on the other hand, were something else! they were firstly, huge (check out those bulbous globules in the picture) and secondly, really really soft and pillowy!20140622_120210
definitely some of the softest and largest fishballs i have ever had. there was still a nice slight crunch to them on first bite, but their insides were extremely soft and fluffy. besides the pan mee, i would say the fishballs are worth a try if you are a fishball fan! i’m actually not one at all but i still quite enjoyed them. i think they must be rather popular because they allow customers to buy them raw!

we polished off everything, generally a sign of a satisfying meal:20140622_121155

and now for the all-important question: would i return? i think its something quite unique and different and i’d return if i’m specifically craving it! i would probably occasionally think of having a bowl and would be quite happy to make the trip down as long as the queue isn’t more then say, 10-15 minutes long.

note that if you’re looking for traditional ban mian though, this is not the place for you to have that craving satisfied (you’ve probably already gathered that from the pictures). its also worth noting that we felt really really thirsty for the rest of the afternoon so i think the food must have contained quite a bit of msg…

Restoran Kin Kin Chilli Pan Mee
534 MacPherson Road
Singapore 36822020140622_121604
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All about Amsterdam (tried and tasted)

the end of exams saw me promptly escaping to amsterdam the morning right after my last paper! it was a wonderful short getaway with my mother dearest and i proclaimed that i would definitely be back after just half a day of exploring the place – i was won over by the amazingly friendly people, the charming bridges and canals, the idyllic vibe, and needless to say, the good food finds 😉 will be sharing some of my favourites in this post!

1. Gartine
gartine was where we had our first meal of the trip! it is a cosy little cafe with limited seating space and apparently they are often packed (so reservations are recommended), but we visited at tea time so we were lucky enough to get a table immediately. service was polite and always with a smile (as it is all over amsterdam, we soon learnt), and they serve a range of what are supposed to be traditionally dutch open-faced-type sandwiches, along with afternoon tea if you visit mid-afternoon. the mother and i were planning on doing lots of food-hopping so we ordered just 2 items to share.

we were spoilt for choice and ended up opting for something recommended by our server – the pumpkin sourdough bread topped with smoked salmon, young salad and chive yoghurt (€8.50):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
it was a pretty generous portion and we thought it was pretty reasonably priced! especially compared to what we’d have to pay for something like that (probably labelled something along the lines of a gourmet-type sandwich) back home in singapore. the chive yoghurt was delicious and the ingredients were extremely fresh, especially apparent in the greens! the bread was also very yummy, the perfect base for great toppings.

spotted a fridge full of homemade cheesecakes right when we walked in, and knew from that moment that we had to try at least one! i think the options that are available vary daily depending on what they have freshly made. on that day, we were lucky enough to get to try this pear cheesecake infused with lavender and honey (does that combination not sound heavenly?). i can’t remember the price but it was definitely not exhorbitantly priced at all.
this wasn’t a regular cheesecake; it was much lighter, fluffier and almost airier in texture. it reminded me of the japanese cheesecakes which are much less dense than the classic american-style cheesecakes. my favourite part of the cheesecake was the whole pears that were standing proud in the cake slices, and also the crunchy base which was different from the regular digestive biscuit-type base. this biscuit base had more of a light chocolate-y taste to it, and it was kind of oaty/grainy/chunky-ish so it added a very nice bite and a great contrast of texture and taste to the cheese bit of the cake! the cheese bit carried a subtle but very nice lavender taste and together with the honey, it made for a great combination! i initially didn’t quite like the texture of the cheesecake as much as regular cheesecakes, but i have to say it definitely grew on me. it was a very light dessert, the kind that’d probably make you unknowingly wolf down a few slices (dangerous!!!).

gartine is a great cafe for a light, tasty and reasonably-priced cafe-style meal. its a perfect place to rest your feet after some shopping given that its located on a little lane off the main shopping avenue. they also do full-blown afternoon teas which is worth checking out if that’s what you’re looking for (throughout our meal, i was jealously eyeing/sneaking furtive glances at the very appetising-looking tea date that the 2 ladies at the table next to us were enjoying).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Taksteeg 7
Amsterdam 1012 PB

2. Banketbakkerij van der Linde
stumbled upon this shop while walking ambling down the main shopping street right after our satisfying meal at gartine, and after we saw the snaking queue (largely consisting of local patrons – always a good sign!) outside, how could we not give it a try to see what the fuss was all about?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwhile in the queue, we chatted with a friendly local lady in front of us who assured us that our initial plan to get a tasting portion-sized small to share (they have 3 sizes and even the largest is only about €1.50) was not a good idea – “at least a large!”, she said. so that’s what we ended up doing, and we definitely did not regret it!!! best soft-serve ever – i am now unable to view mcflurries in the same light ever again.

the queue moves quickly and the excitement escalates as you reach the front and see cone after cone of the creamy goodness being scooped.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

unfortunately i don’t have a pic of the ice cream before i attacked it; i just could not wait! but it came in a really cute shape – not round like normal ice cream scoops but kind of flattish at the top so its almost semi-circle shaped (clearly not happening in the picture i have… i am sorry! haha).20140521_164925
this was some heavenly soft-serve ice cream and after taking the first bite, my mum and i both understood how its been around since 1937… something so simple but yet so, so good! it was amazingly smooth, creamy and light as a feather, almost like eating fresh whipped cream but in a slightly more solid ice cream form. it only comes in one flavour which is what you see here. i wouldn’t really describe it as vanilla because its not exactly fragrant vanilla bean-type ice cream, its more like whipped cream-flavoured ice cream, nothing like anything i’ve had before.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetthe face of the lady behind me to my right says it all – “why did she get her ice cream before me..??!”

when you see tons of people strolling down the street happily licking these white globules of goodness (nevermind the rather unglamorous mess their lips and mouth are left in), you’ll know you’re close.

Banketbakkerij van der Linde
Nieuwendijk 183
1012 MG Amsterdam

3. Winkel 43
after some exploring on foot, we found ourselves right in the vicinity of this cafe famous for its apple pie, so we popped by to try some of their famous apple pie even though we had just inhaled gartine and ice cream!

dubbed the best apple pie in amsterdam, we had high expectations and i have to say we were not disappointed at all! it was served to our table warm (presumably fresh out of the oven), a big slice with chunks of huge apple chunks and a perfectly crusty (for lack of a better word to describe it) crust. so. good. the whipped cream that accompanied it is also a must-try – went perfectly with the pie and it was so light and so fresh!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAjust look at how huge those chunks of apple are! i can’t decide if i what i liked most about the pie was the crust or the filling. i loved that they used chunks of apples for the filling which were juicy and moist while retaining just the right amount of crunchiness, and it came together perfectly with the raisin and cinnamons to make an amazing filling. as for the crust, it was also pretty much perfect in terms of texture and thickness – oh so buttery, and the fact that it was warm accentuated how it was wonderfully crusty but not crumbly.

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the face of a very pleased exam-free girl who is having her cake (pie) and eating it

Winkel 43
Noordermarkt 43
1015 NA Amsterdam

4. Bird Thai Food
unfortunately i did not take any pics of this meal we had, but this is a great spot in amsterdam’s chinatown (a stone’s throw from the red light district – what an experience!) for a thai food fix! run entirely by thais, there is both a bird restaurant and a snackbar; they are across the street from each other in chinatown. the former has a more extensive menu and is pricier (you pay for ambience) while the latter is just a little bigger than a hole-in-the-wall and serves the purpose of fuss-free dining.

i was honestly not expecting much from it, but was really impressed with the authenticity of the pad thai and tom yum soup we had. the servings were large and they were generous with the ingredients added. we ate at the snackbar and there was barely any space to move around; to get to our table we had to get other diners to stand up and shift their chairs/tables around a bit! it is a completely no-frills fuss-free place but they serve great food at affordable prices, and that is what matters! if you’re looking for a bit more of a polished environment, hop across the street to the restaurant and i’m sure the food will be as good.

Bird Thai Snackbar
Zeedijk 77
1012 AS Amsterdam

5. Eetcafe Singel 404
okay, guys. this is the real deal – this place is so good that my mother and i went twice during our trip. a pity we discovered it on our 2nd last day only; that means we only had one other opportunity to have it on our last day before heading back to london. if we had discovered it earlier, i’m pretty sure we would have gone every day!

singel 404 is a small cafe by a canal that is conveniently located. they serve some of the best sandwiches i have ever eaten.
feast your eyes:
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the focus at this cafe is definitely on the sandwiches, and here’s the super extensive menu that was a real (happy) problem for me – wayyyy too many choices, and everything sounded amazing (from what we had, i’m sure everything tastes amazing too) and was priced so so reasonably.20140523_111515

on our first visit there, we tried the roast beef sandwich (left) and the brie with smoked chicken (right), both on cornbread, along with a fruit mix smoothie with yoghurt. never had better sandwiches, i swear this is true!!!20140523_104831
left: roast beef with cottage cheese, fresh pesto, grilled courgette, sundried tomatoes, rucola – €6.75 / right: brie with smoked chicken, guacamole, sundried tomatoes, italian herbs, garden cress – €6.75

trust me, they tasted as good as they sound and look. and at such a steal too! given the amount of ingredients they heaped onto each piece of cornbread (note that you can choose from a range of breads) – we were in sandwich heaven. not only were all the different ingredients of a high quality and very fresh, they came together perfectly to make more a very very (i cannot emphasise this more) satisfying meal. these sandwiches really fill you up and are the perfect fuel for a day of exciting touristy explorations.

my mother, who is a huge roast beef fan, was completely sold by the roast beef sandwich. the fresh pesto (so yummy) and cottage cheese was an amazing combination, and topped with the sundried tomatoes and those (numerous) thin slivers of beef, she was beyond pleased.

i too thoroughly enjoyed my brie and smoked chicken sandwich – smoked chicken, brie, sundried tomatoes and guacamole; what more can one ask for?!? so many of my favourite things together atop a piece of delicious cornbread! my only qualm about this was that it was rather heavy, i think it was probably the guacamole that caused it to be so. very very delicious nevertheless!!!

on our second visit the very next day, i tried something different while my mum stuck to her roast beef because that is how much she enjoyed it the day before. we were worried that if she got anything else, she wouldn’t be as satisfied and would have to return to london dreaming of the singel roast beef sandwich that she could not have a second time… hahaha. on our second visit there, i tried the bacon with brie instead, and we opted for the same fruit mix smoothie, but this time with ice cream (even though it was morning and our first meal of the day – that’s how we roll)!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
brie with bacon, walnuts, honey, thyme and garden cress – €6.50

i preferred this brie with bacon sandwich to the brie with smoked chicken one i had the day before. i think the bacon and the crunchy walnuts (loved this) added a different texture to the mix of toppings and the lack of guacamole definitely made it lighter! also loved the honey; i can never say no to bacon and honey – to me, its one of the most perfect combinations of sweet and savoury (read: bacon, banana & maple syrup pancakes etc!!!)!

nothing better than starting your day with some amazing sandwiches by the canal

i’ll be back here every single time i’m in amsterdam, that’s for sure. if i lived in amsterdam, i’d probably go to singel for lunch every day if i could…

Eetcafe Singel 404
Singel 404
1016 AK Amsterdam


6. Lanskroon
a friend recommended i come here for freshly-made stroopwafels so imagine my delight when i was happily devouring my singel sandwich, looked across the canal, and saw lanskroon right there at the corner across the bridge! post-sandwich dessert was thus settled, and we were greeted by not just stroopwafels, but an array of freshly-made traditional cookies, pastries and pies when we entered this cosy corner shop. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

it isn’t the fanciest or newest of cafes, but the smell of freshly-baked homemade treats should be more than sufficient to draw you in and keep you there till you’ve had your fill of their delicious goodies. try some and trust me, you will not regret it!!!

on our first visit there (yes we visited multiple times during the course of our 4 day trip), we tried their specialty the honey stroopwafel (they also do a coffee one which my mother preferred), an orange and poppy seed biscuit, and a slice of their apple-cranberry pie.

behold the glorious freshly-made honey stroopwafel:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthis stroopwafel was unlike any i’ve tasted before – definitely far, far different from the commercially made ones you find in supermarkets, and different from the regular ones you get along the streets in amsterdam which tend to be softer as well! the two pieces of wafel were extremely thin and wonderfully crisp, and the honey filling glued them together perfectly. my mother didn’t enjoy it as much as i did though, because she didn’t like how the honey got stuck to your teeth! i had no qualms about that however, and happily wolfed it down. tried the coffee one on our second visit, and my mother much preferred it because it lacked the stickiness of the honey!
coffee-cinnamon stroopwafel
i liked both – the honey was sticky but that made the stroopwafel more moist as a whole while the coffee provided a more dry/crisp snack; both different but both equally good! we bought a bunch and carefully handcarried them back to london.

and our absolute favourite thing from lanskroon: their apple-cranberry-walnut pie. check it out in all its glory:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
this pie is legitly awesome. legitly. awesome. we also bought 2 slices of this back to london and surprisingly, they survived the journey without getting completely smashed; in fact they held their form pretty well! this pie was different from the apple pie we had at winkel 43, but equally amazing in its own way. the fresh cranberries (just look at how plump they were!!!) were my favourite part, and the apple bits and walnuts added the perfect crunch to the filling. the crust was also deliciously buttery, not too thick, and was the perfect casing for the fab filling. it was sooooo good that we had this thrice in the four days we were there and i am salivating looking at this picture. if only i could fedex some of this to me now…

we also tried the orange poppy seed biscuit:
it was really interesting and like nothing i’ve had before! normally i see poppy seeds being sprinkled in cake (eg lemon poppy seed muffins – yummm!) but never like this where the whole biscuit is stuffed with poppy seed! it gave the filling an almost black sesame-like texture and taste, but i wasn’t complaining at all because i love black sesame! the orange flavour also went wonderfully with the poppy seeds. they have a huge range of homemade traditional biscuits like this, so definitely try some!

oh and before i forget, look out for their resident cat – the fattest cat i have ever seen. and i mean fattest i have ever seen:
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i love this very authentically local bakery, and will return again and again and again whenever i’m in amsterdam. a must visit!

Singel 385
Amsterdam 1021 WL

7. Pancake Bakery
what is a trip to amsterdam without having some dutch pancakes? there are a few pancake parlours that are known to serve up the best in amsterdam, and this is one of them! the mother and i were ambling around looking for somewhere to have dinner, and found ourselves right in front of the pancake bakery so it was there that we decided to feed our hungry selves for the night.

the shop has 2 floors and was nearly full when we visited but luckily we were able to get seated immediately. i think they must get pretty crowded but service is brisk so turnaround time shouldn’t be too long! they have a very extensive menu including many interesting international options (think mexican, indonesian chicken curry, greek gyro etc pancakes), and a large range of both savoury and sweet pancakes. they come in one (huge) size and the prices differ according to the toppings added.

we ordered a bacon and cheese one for our savoury choice, and an apple and cinnamon one topped with cinnamon ice cream (gotta love some cinnamon) for dessert!
bacon and cheese pancake

i didn’t manage to take a very appetising-looking picture of the savoury pancake (lighting problems!!!) but it was delicious! i think the cheese made all the difference – the slightly burnt bits formed a crispy and super tasty top layer. the pancake itself was thin and the bacon and cheese were heaped on rather generously! i thought it was a bit pricey though, if i’m not wrong this pancake was about 12 euro or more, and the international ones with fancy ingredients were going for about 15 euro! compared to the delicious sandwiches at singel, the pancakes were definitely on the costly side. (though i think the price for pancakes across amsterdam is generally comparable to this.) yummy yummy yummy in my tummy! the serving is (clearly) big so if you are a small eater, definitely share! we were satisfied but the sweet tooth ever present in both my mum and i was calling out for more, so we proceeded to order another pancake, a dessert one this time.

lighting is much better for this one:Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset
apple cinnamon pancake, topped with cinnamon ice cream
the sweet pancakes were slightly cheaper, i think this was about 10-11 euros. this time we could taste the pancake itself better because the taste of the batter wasn’t adulterated by the cheese (so good though) and bacon that topped it. the apple slices were sweet and added a great crunch to the pancake, while the cinnamon ice cream (hopefully homemade!) was very yummy and heaped onto the pancake so that every single bite could be savoured with some creamy cinnamon goodness.

massive mug of syrup

The Pancake Bakery
Prinsengracht 191

8. Hap-Hmm
on our last night in amsterdam (mega sad face), the mother and i decided we should try some traditional dutch food! a quick search on google brought up this little family-run restaurant in a neighbourhood out of the city centre and near our hotel, so this was where we picked for our sampling of some homestyle cuisine. we went for an early dinner around 5.30 and it was already full of locals enjoying hearty homecooked meals (i think we were the only tourists there!).

i didn’t take a picture of the menu but the food is priced extremely reasonably and all of it is good old-fashioned homecooked food, exactly the kind of food i imagine the dutch have at home. we started with a beef carpaccio and it was so yummy that we were tempted to order another serving but decided to hold back so we would have space to fully enjoy our mains! 20140523_180118

the carpaccio was absolutely delicious. the beef slices were fresh and cut to perfect thickness. topped with a mixture of cheese, pine nuts, fresh greens and some kind of light vinagrette-type thing, this made for an amazingly flavourful dish. we loved every single bite of it and it was polished off in no time. also came at an astoundingly reasonable price of just a little over 5euro!!!

for mains, we tried a traditional beef stew and the fish of the day. we were too excited to start eating and i forgot to snap a pic before we started so this pic of us midway through the meal will have to do:
the beef stew was warm, hearty and very delicious when eaten with the sides that accompanied each main (a mix of vegetables and potatoes). the beef chunks were wonderfully tender and so tasty! as for the fish, it was fresh and went well with the sauce that it came with. we also thoroughly enjoyed the vegetable sides – the carrots were some of the sweetest i have ever tasted; it made us wonder if they were coated in sugar?! the other star of the meal was the fried potatoes – nothing like fries because the potatoes were cut into large pieces and not strips. i guess they were a little like flattened wedges if that makes any sense to you? they were so crisp on the outside yet so soft, warm and toasty inside – the mother and i finished the entire bowl even though we knew it was really going to fill us up, it was worth it!

hap-hmm is located along a very residential street and is a distance away from the main tourist belt/city centre area of amsterdam. it is certainly not somewhere you would chance upon unless you are specifically looking for it, but it is worth the trek if you are looking for some traditional homecooked dutch fare at affordable prices in a warm, authentic and homely setting.

1e Helmersstraat 33
1054 CZ Amsterdam

9. Cheese
there is cheese everywhere in amsterdam, and i mean everywhere. there’s a cheese shop at almost every corner and the number of flavours and types of cheese they have is pretty astounding! its dutch tradition to eat cheese with mustard (i never knew this till i was in amsterdam) and as odd as it sounds, a sliver of cheese topped with mustard is actually really yummy and addictive! all the shops lay out plenty of cheese and accompanying mustard for customers to try so go in, feast, and come out 1kg heavier 😉

10. Raw Herring
another thing the locals in amsterdam love is raw herring, and we were lucky enough to chance upon this stall selling just that while we were strolling through albert cuypmarket on the last day of our trip. didn’t understand what the signs said but i gather they were definitely accolades that the stall had earned for the raw herring they served.
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also could not resist some fresh tuna tataki and smoked salmon from the stalls selling fresh fish at the same market – yummy!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and that concludes my list of foodie picks in beautiful amsterdam!!! as always, i’ll end with a few pics of this gorgeous city and its canals:
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amsterdam central station20140522_150141
maarken fishing village
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zaanse schans windmills

Quite possibly the longest meal of my life (Kokkeriet, Copenhagen)

at the end of a wonderful day exploring copenhagen, it was Restaurant Kokkeriet that my family and i headed to for our michelin-starred dinner – a must-do activity in this danish city that is famous for its range of exciting gastronomical options! we were only in lovely copenhagen for 2.5 days prior to boarding our cruise ship and because they were a sunday and a monday, we didn’t have many options to choose from (most of the restaurants open tuesday-saturday). case in point: noma, consistently named the best – with the occasional slip to 2nd best – restaurant in the world, was on our must-try list but it wasn’t open on both sunday and monday! just means that we’ll have to make another trek to copenhagen sometime, i guess.

kokkeriet is located a short distance away from the busy city centre of copenhagen. it is a small and cosy restaurant that is smart-looking without being pretentious. service was very good, with each dish being introduced as it was served, and the restaurant prides itself on the the modern twist it introduces to traditional Danish dishes ie using plenty of traditional and seasonal danish ingredients like potatoes and beetroot in modern and exciting ways.

for dinner, they had 3 options – an a la carte menu where you choose 3 dishes (starter/main/dessert), a “large menu”, and a “smaller menu”. we opted for the large menu despite the scarily long list of dishes we were going to be served, going along with the mantra of just going all out since we were there anyway hahahahaha. as it turns out, “large” was quite an understatement but hey, no complaints from any of us, even when we took close to 5 hours (see post title) for the entire meal 😉

the menu for the night:20140602_184935
the smaller menu excludes the dishes in italics)

before service of the actual menu got underway though, we were served 5 light snacks to kickstart the meal. they were really interesting bites and a good preview of what was to come over the course of the rest of the meal:20140602_182801
smoked salmon/sour cream
i remember thinking that this wasn’t what i expected at all based on how it was described. the salmon was in floss form, and i couldn’t really discern the sour cream?

the “snakes” on those sticks (inedible, as the waitress kindly pointed out, just in case we were over-zealous foodies hahaha!) were breadstick-like things. we really enjoyed this! had a very addictive savoury taste and if they came in any larger quantity, we could imagine a situation of having unknowingly consumed a whole bowl/pack.

20140602_183435 game meatball in barbeque sauce

beetroot/duck liver/chocolate 
i found this the most interesting of all the starter snacks and this was my favourite! because of the really unusual combination of flavours, it was quite an acquired taste i think, but i personally thought they were delicious little morsels with a really interesting mix of textures and tastes!

another favourite at the table – paper-thin pieces of crispy fish. i remember this to be perfectly crispy, flavourful and light, with no hint of oil despite being fried. reminded me of the fried fish skin that tops thai green mango salads!

we also had bread before we started on the main meal, and oh my, the bread was out of this world! we all agreed that it was one of the best breads we’ve had – served wonderfully warm, crispy on the outside but perfectly fluffy within. made even better when eaten with the accompanying butter (left) / yoghurt-chive mix (right)!
we each had at least 2 rolls i think? and had to remind ourselves to exercise self-control and not go for thirds despite being offered, lest we run out of stomach space for everything else that was to come! when we raved about the bread to the waitress, she told us that their secret (oops, guess its not a secret anymore now) is that when they first bake the bread, they only do so halfway. the completion of the baking is done just before serving their diners so it really has the taste and feel of being fresh from the oven!

one final thing before the actual meal – amuse-bouche:20140602_185843
green asparagus/shrimp gel

and finally after all these, our tongues were (more than) sufficiently tickled and appetites sufficiently whet for the start of the actual 15 courses from the menu we chose! Feast your eyes on all that FOOD:
crab/fresh cheese/chamomile

white asparagus/hen egg/herbs
for those who have been following this blog for a while now, it’d probably come as no surprise that i repeat the fact that i ADORE wet egg yolks that burst in your mouth. well, hidden under the pieces of white asparagus was one such amazing egg yolk 😉

spring cabbage/scallop/clam juice/buttermilk
this was a family favourite – the scallop was perfectly cooked and very naturally sweet and juicy. yummy!

carrots/grape/trout roe
an interesting combination, but a good one nonetheless!

more food:20140602_195108
haddock/celeriac/kornly cheese

yellow split peas/beets/spruce

walleye/crisp bread/nettle

keepin’ it comin’:20140602_202756
quail egg/smoked herring/radish
i remember the smoked herring broth of this dish to be delicious! it was very light and tasty, a good break from the heavier sauces that were stronger in flavour prior to this.

okay, unfortunately this definitely took the prize for least well-liked dish of the night. we all thought the combination was just rather odd and unfortunately, nobody finished this dish! the green soup/sauce thing tasted extremely raw, like we were drinking wheatgrass juice and somehow it just didn’t work for us…

wing/rhubarb/pickled cucumber
delicious chicken wings! cooked to perfection such that the meat fell off the bone.

duck heart/mushrooms/Gammel Dansk
my first time trying duck heart and i’m not gonna lie, i was initially rather apprehensive. the texture was just as i imagined it to be – quite chewy since its muscle-y, but it was well-cooked so that it didn’t end up being rubbery. it was actually quite flavourful and had a nice bite to it!

okay by this point we were getting sleepy (though very happy):20140602_211841
potato/cream/smoked ham from Skagen

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this was my personal favourite dish of the night! it was like the finale of the dinner and the sauce that was poured over the pork was set on fire on the plate right before your eyes. not only was it visually exciting, it tasted really good too! the pork had a crispy skin, the meat was really tender and juicy, and the mash by the side was delicious and had bits of bacon mixed into it rather than just sprinkled on top of it. this made for a really satisfying and hearty end to the (savoury bits) of the meal in my opinion!

and finally, dessert! sorry for the poor quality of the dessert pics, it was getting dark outside as we made our way through the meal and i didn’t want to use flash cuz it wouldn’t do the prettiness of the food justice. you can thus see how the pics became progressively darker because of the sun setting outside, but the pics in the collage below are slightly brighter i think!
sweet bread/lemon mousse/meringue/verbena
loved the varied textures in this dessert, and the lemon was very welcome and refreshing at the end of such a big meal.

you can’t see how pretty this dessert was because of the extreme darkness of the pic (sorry about that!!!) but just imagine everything in the most vibrant shade of fuschia pink, my favourite colour! looked good, and tasted good too!

and with that, it was close to midnight and we had finally reached the end of this gastronomical adventure. if you’re looking for some traditional danish food with a modern twist while in copenhagen, then kokkeriet is definitely the place for you! in fact, one of the waitresses told us that it was the first danish restaurant in denmark to receive a michelin star! reservations are necessary, so do make them in advance, and go with a big, empty stomach 😉

it was a really good night with great food and even better company in the form of family. a wonderful start to the trip! happy, happy times 🙂

Restaurant Kokkeriet
Kronprinsessegade 64
1306 København K

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ps. some pics of copenhagen:
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the fantastical tivoli gardens

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best hot dog ever!!! organic hotdog from dop, a chain of hotdog stands that you may be lucky enough to chance upon. there’s one right by the round tower!

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made our own magnums at the magnum store! YUM. (didn’t matter that it was a cold and wet day)

postcard-perfect nyhavn

smorrebrod aka open-faced sandwiches all day every day! gotta love their really dense rye bread!!!