Officially 21!!!

so today marks the day that i officially become an adult, and i thought it was the appropriate occasion to depart from my usual pictures of food and instead post some pictures of people dressed as food ūüėČ very very very happily celebrated turning 21 with a bunch of my favourite people on sunday evening, and it was my dream party – surrounded by people i love dressed as food i love all doing what i love (ie feasting). so this post is dedicated to my amazing family and friends who have all contributed in one way or another to making me who i am today; love you guys long long longgg time!!!

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and now a moment to shine for those who i got to dress as i wished since they didn’t meet my exacting costume quality standards ūüėČ :
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yes, that’s nic (ie guy in banner at the top of this page)
(he claimed to be chendol:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAand i have to say he got the colours down pat, but unfortunately not enough to meet my exacting standards ūüėõ )

and the food, oh the food, all my favourite foods together in 1 dinner! we had rojak from my all-time favourite silver stream rojak, satay/sambal stingray/chicken wings/otah done on the spot, popiah, kueh pie tee, briyani and curry, tau sua, teh tarik, and my favourite of the night – a prata man who was making all kinds of amazing pratas before our very eyes, from plaster pratas to onion pratas to cheese and egg pratas to paper pratas to chocolate banana pratas… you name it, he made it!
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and of course no birthday is complete without cake (i eat cake every day because its somebody’s birthday somewhere…). this stack of panCAKEs was a surprise from the dear parents and sister ‚̧
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dad dressed as a satay man and mum dressed as a dim sum cart lady; my parents are the best ūüėČ ‚̧

so that marked the beginning of a week of birthday feasting (am coincidentally in between internships and have a break from work this week YAY) and really happy days ūüôā

signing off my first post as a 21-year-old,
rach ūüėÄ

ps. will be back to posts full of actual food soon; stay tuned! ūüôā just needed to put this all down in a post to remember this little foodie’s food fete!!! i hope the pictures were as good as, if not better than, the usual drool-inducing food¬†snaps¬†hahaha!

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Ah Loy Thai, Singapore

if not for the fact that i used to have math tuition (oh, those were the days) in the area and spent quite some time exploring random parts of bugis, i probably would never have stepped into or even thought of stepping into shaw towers along beach road. it is old with a facade which is in need of an uplift, and is definitely not a building that catches your attention¬†at all – even if you say you¬†have no idea¬†which building i’m talking about, i’d place bets on the fact¬†that you’ve probably gone by it several times without¬†realising it!

located on the ground floor of the aforementioned nondescript building, ah loy thai is one of a handful of food outlets there. it occupies 2 shop units (1 of which seems nicer than the other), and is almost always fully packed at meal times. they have the hallmark of a popular joint right outside their shop Рa barricade is put up in anticipation of a queue. decor in the shop is fuss-free and far from being fancy Рits the kind of place people turn up at in shorts and slippers, with good and affordable food being their sole purpose of visiting. 20140719_183553

we were there close to 7pm on a saturday night, and were surprised to find that there was a table for us available¬†immediately, albeit in the unit we later discovered seemed to be the “poorer cousin” of the 2 units they occupy there…
compare where we were seated (ft. my excited dining companion):20140719_183609with¬†their 2nd unit further down the corridor:20140719_191959see what i mean? the chairs and lighting really make all the difference…

didn’t bother us much though, since we were there for the food and not the ambience, but if you’re celebrating a special occasion for example, then i’d definitely recommended opting for a table at the unit that’s further down the hallway¬†if possible, for that little bit of improvement in the setting.

you place your order by indicating what you want on an order form and taking it to the cashier to pay. the food will then be served to your table when ready. here’s the menu:
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between the 2 of us (big-eaters), we ordered 3 dishes to share, beginning with the green mango salad:20140719_184210thai green mango salad Р$6.90
for some reason the serving looks pretty small in the picture above, but it wasn’t actually that small at all; it was very sufficient for 2 people to share. we really enjoyed this refreshing salad, particularly with the peanuts and little dried shrimps which added additional crunch. the sauce was of just the right sourness and the green mango was fresh. i’d order this again when i return!

no thai meal is every complete without some tom yum soup, so we ordered a bowl of that to share too:20140719_184347tom yum seafood soup – $7.90
i thought this was an extremely reasonably priced bowl of soup! you probably can’t tell from the way i’ve taken the picture that it came in a large claypot-like thing which really held a substantial amount of spicy soupy goodness. (you’ll probably be better able to see its size in relation to other things in picture of everything placed together below) we ordered the one with seafood, and were pleasantly surprised that they were generous with the squid, prawns and mushrooms (oyster mushrooms, not the lousy canned button mushroom substitute) that they added. all the ingredients were very fresh too! the soup packed a real punch and we were super satisfied, happily ladling and slurping up bowl after bowl. ¬†if you can’t take spicy food, this is probably a no-go though; the soup is rather spicy and we quite quickly developed runny noses and red faces. i thought this dish was testament to the fact that quality does not always have to be compromised on when something is priced relatively affordably. this is again something i would order on a return visit!

another thing i will never leave satisfied from a thai meal without having is none other than pad thai:20140719_185353pad thai – $7.50
this dish took the longest to be served, but it was worth the wait! it was another very generous serving with prawns and chicken as toppings, and my friend and i both thought it was one of the better pad thais we’ve had. there was just the right amount of wok hei for the noodles and mixed with lime squeezed over it and plenty of peanuts, it made for an excellent dish. we especially loved the noodles they used; they were thin and retained bite, almost like the texture of tang hoon but in thin kway teow form. two thumbs up! the prawns were also fresh and crunchy, as was the tow gay. we also liked how it wasn’t too greasy, so wiping the plate clean was no problem at all ūüėČ (we were actually getting really full about 3/4 through the pad thai but it was so yummy that we just kept going…)

ah loy thai is a great place to have authentic and homely thai food at affordable prices. i definitely prefer it to the other cheap thai eateries in the bugis area like jai thai and first thai. plus, tom’s palette is right across the corridor so its ultra convenient for having dessert after ūüėõ (which is exactly what we did, despite us being¬†really full from dinner.) i will certainly be back for more!

Ah Loy Thai
100 Beach Road
#01-39/40 Shaw Tower
Singapore 18970220140719_192118
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PS. as i mentioned earlier, tom’s palette right across the corridor from ah loy thai is the perfect spot for some ice cream for dessert. they are known for their salted egg yolk flavoured ice cream (tastes pretty much like frozen liu sha), but i thoroughly enjoy other flavours from their wide range like banana and roasted nuts, black sesame, lavender, honey and cinnamon etc.
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with my favourite partner-in-crime/partner-in-many-non-stop-eating-and-feasting-adventures/fellow bottomless pit

GRUB, Singapore

this place has been on my list of to-try places for the longest time, and i finally got the chance to check it out two weekends ago, yay!!! located smack in the middle of bishan park, grub is a real crowd magnet for its family-friendly environment and fun food offerings; the long wait on weekends is testament to its ever-growing popularity.

visited on a saturday afternoon around 1pm, and the place was packed! do not be deceived by the lack of a line in front of its doors (i eagerly quickened my pace thinking we’d gotten lucky and somehow evaded the crowds, but quickly learnt that that was pure wishful thinking), they run a system where you leave your number and they send you a text message when your table is ready.20140705_140513

there were about 15 groups in line ahead of us and the estimated waiting time was about 45 minutes, but hey, they say good things come to those who wait right? we did consider giving up and heading off to somewhere else, but i’m glad we¬†ultimately chose to wait – it wasn’t so bad with good company in the air-conditioned comfort of the car, armed with many photo-taking devices ūüėČ
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approximately 45 minutes later, we were sent a text and very excitedly leapt out of the car; good food awaited! it was a hot day (what’s new) and thankfully we were lucky enough to snag a table indoors:
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clearly excited

grub is¬†surrounded by greenery and bathed in natural light coming through the huge glass panels that surround the building on 3 sides. the indoor area is pretty spacious, and i like how the tables aren’t cramped together such that you can hear entire conversations going on at the table next to yours without even trying.20140705_140957

as for the outdoor area¬†however, i imagine it getting really really hot especially if you’re sitting there for an extended period of time on a typically muggy afternoon in sunny singapore. didn’t seem to deter these folks though:20140705_150510

they have an extensive food and drink menu and as you’ll see proudly proclaimed on it, at grub, they believe in i quote them, “eating responsibly”. this means cooking with ingredients which are as natural as possible, without adding any msg or artificial preservatives and flavourings. the meats they use come from pigs, cows and chickens which have been naturally fed and responsibly farmed, while their fish are caught in waters free from contamination and water-borne diseases. given the quality of the ingredients going into their food, i would say the dishes are very reasonably priced!
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among the 4 of us, we ordered the mentaiko fries, truffled egg cocotte, GRUB double cheeseburger, crispy fish burger and churros to share. service was pretty brisk given the crowd that day, and soon we had this yummy array of food before us:
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the first appetiser we ordered was the mentaiko fries.    20140705_141923
mentaiko fries – $9
don’t let the simplicity of its look fool you, these were some wonderfully¬†cooked chips, and the mentaiko aioli and nori seaweed that topped them made them pretty perfect! this was a nice change from the usual truffle or cheese fries options you get at most cafes these days. the mentaiko aioli was very tasty but remained light, and the nori seaweed added another dimension of texture to the mix. everything came together very nicely and we had every last bit of the mentaiko dip, using the other plain fries that came with the burgers to wipe the saucer of additional dip clean. almost every table at grub had at least one plate of this on the table, and we could see why.

the second item we chose from the appetiser menu was the truffled egg cocotte:20140705_141947
truffled egg cocotte with crispy parma ham & toasted foccacia – $7
this was a decent dish, but i probably wouldn’t order it again when i return because it was not particularly outstanding. it actually reminded me of the half-boiled eggs you get with your kaya toast sets at ya kun, just with truffle added and topped with a few slivers of crispy parma ham. let me show you a picture of what it looked like after mixing and you’ll get what i mean:20140705_143320sorry for the rather unappetising picture, but see what i mean now? ya kun eggs!!! (which are delicious, don’t get me wrong.)¬†i liked how the truffle taste was prominent and the combination of egg, ham and truffle was really good stuff. our only qualm was that the toasted foccacia provided was far from enough to be eaten with all the egg. we had at least half the ramekin of egg left after finishing all the focaccia, and ended up having to dunk our plain fries in it again.

as for the mains, we opted for the extremely popular crispy fish burger:20140705_141835
crispy fish burger: crumbed fish fillet, remoulade – $14
this was definitely one of the better fish burgers i’ve had in singapore, and we could all see why it is so popular among grub’s patrons. firstly the fish fillet was a very generous portion and secondly, it was crumbed and fried to perfection! the tasty batter coated the fish in just the right amount (nobody likes overly thick batter), keeping it light and allowing us to appreciate the freshness of the fish within. i would probably order this again when i return; it reminded me of my younger days (i make myself sound so old) where i would get the filet-o-fish at mcdonalds though of course this tastes far, far, far better. i guess you can say grub’s crispy fish burger is like filet-o-fish on serious steroids hahaha ūüėČ

a picture of the yummy fish that the glorious golden batter encased:
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we also ordered the double cheeseburger:
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GRUB double cheeseburger – double patty, double cheese, bacon – $18
for just $5 more than the regular cheeseburger, you get an additional patty, more cheese (mmmm…), and some bacon – why not make the upgrade? check out the cross-section:20140705_142905
this is the perfect burger for those of you with voracious appetites to feed. the cheeseburger was pretty good, but we all preferred the crispy fish burger. the patty was moist and tasty, remaining pink in the middle which i really appreciated. topped with bacon and coated in cheese, everything went well with the burger bun. i felt that it was a tad dry though, not in terms of the meat, but in terms of some kind of sauce that would bring everything together. perhaps if the cheese was meltier and hadn’t hardened as such, it would have played that role of tying everything together perfectly. besides that however, it is a really generous portion for its price, and i am sure it is a hot favourite with hungry men (stereotypes, i know…). also loved the addition of a gherkin!

oh and as you can see in the pictures, fries are served as a side with the burgers. like the mentaiko fries, they are cooked to perfection Рcrisp on the outside while fluffy inside and not overly oily, best eaten when first served as they are all warm and toasty and delicious.

finally, we ordered churros from the dessert portion of the menu, but had them served with all the rest of the food because we simply couldn’t wait to sink our teeth into them.¬†20140705_142117
churros with dark chocolate and tangy creme anglaise- $9
its not often that you find churros in singapore, and even more rare to find decent, let alone good churros! these though, were definitely the best churros i’ve had in singapore. they were of a thickness that i love (i have never been a fan of skinny churros), coated in just the right amount of sugar, crisp on the outside but amazingly soft and fluffy inside. alternating between dipping them in the dark chocolate and cream, i was very very pleased. if you’ve never had churros, grub is definitely the¬†place to give them a shot ūüôā
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we left grub full on food and friendship, happy from the satisfying meal and a great catch-up with fab friends we’ve known for 14 years! i’d definitely return to grub if i’m looking for a place with a different environment from the usual cafe in the middle of the urban jungle that is singapore. the only thing that would make me think twice about returning is the fact that they don’t take reservations and the almost 100% certainty (especially on weekends, maybe weekdays are better?) of having to queue/hang around bishan park aimlessly is a turn-off. not sure how long i’ll be able to stay away from those churros though… ūüėõ

GRUB
510, Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 (Bishan Park 1)
Singapore 569983

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sisters tan x sisters yeong finally together again!

PS. if you’re wondering where to park, parking is available at 2 carparks right by bishan park – note that 1 which is slightly further from grub has free parking, while the other which is right where grub is operates on a coupon parking system.

 

Hanare Japanese Cafe, Singapore

finally got to try the much raved about teppei barachirashi one night after work last week; it was the perfect¬†way to reward myself after a whole day of being cooped up in the office! we didn’t have it at teppei itself because teppei only does omakase at night (and i hear they are fully booked for their attractively affordable omakase dinners for months); neither did we have it at hana hana (also opened by teppei and located right next to it) which serves teppei’s lunch menu in the day, but focuses on yakitori at night. that left us with hanare, another off-shoot by teppei (that makes them a trio of restaurants) which offers a japanese buffet as well as some simple set meals in a really fuss-free and family-friendly environment. hanare is located a stone’s throw away from teppei and hana hana, at the top floor of a shophouse along tanjong pagar road. look out for the signs they place along the walkway so you don’t miss the doorway with this staircase that will take you right up to the cafe: 20140710_183435 helps in working up an appetite ūüėČ we were there right when they opened at 630pm, and were among the first few to arrive. i was really pleasantly surprised because i imagined we’d have to queue after hearing horror stories about the snaking queues at all 3 teppei outlets during lunchtime that start forming at least half an hour before they open (do these people not need to work?!)! since the prices at hanare are the same both at lunch and dinner, i would say it definitely makes heaps more sense to go for dinner; avoiding lunch crowds is always the way to go! as the word “cafe” in its name suggests, hanare is meant to offer a very simple no-frills experience. decor is really simple and doesn’t feel much like a japanese restaurant at all; in fact the whole set-up seems a little makeshift, with basic tables and chairs and bare walls.20140710_183901 you place your order and pay at the cashier before taking a seat. there are a few options to choose from – the japanese buffet (at a really affordable price of $19.90), the bara set (equally affordable $17.60), and the hanare special (just $12)!20140710_183551 we were there to try the famed teppei barachirashi, so we went for 2 bara sets. the bara set comes with a bowl of the barachirashi as well as a free flow of 4 side dishes. the side dishes available as part of this set change on a daily basis if i’m not wrong, and on that particular day, this was what was available: 20140710_183636i do think the presentation of the dishes can be improved on but for the price we paid, i really¬†didn’t think there was any reason to complain. the 4 sides available that day were (from left to right in the above picture) salad, a stew, edamame, and something that tasted like a cross between a fishcake and potato cake in some kind of sweet sauce (clearly i wasn’t really a fan of this… hahaha). as part of the bara set, you can also help yourself to the white rice, miso soup and japanese tea available at the buffet table. 20140710_184158took a mix of the side dishes to snack on while waiting for our barachirashi to be served. the salad greens (tomatoes, cucumber and lettuce) were actually very fresh and made for a refreshing side dish when paired with the sesame dressing that was provided. the edamame seemed slightly overcooked to the point of being a little soggy, but the beans within weren’t affected so no complaints about this either (gotta love edamame!). as for the stew, i think it was meant to be something like oden although there was no fishcake in it (if i’m not wrong, japanese fishcake is usually a key ingredient in oden); instead it was a mix of carrots, radish, lotus root and chicken. i really enjoyed it, especially because i am a huge fan of daikon and lotus root!!! the broth was light and tasty, and i had quite a few servings of this. finally we come to the unidentifiable fishcake-type thing which i really did not fancy, especially because it was cold after being left at the buffet table for quite a while. had half of a piece and left the rest… service is efficient and our barachirashi arrived really soon after we placed our order. it was all quite exciting finally seeing the bowl of chirashi¬†that i had seen countless pictures of sitting very very pretty right before me: 20140710_184259 the first thing that struck me about the bowl of chirashi was that i could barely see the rice hidden below the chunks of fish. definitely a good sign! as evidenced by the picture above, they were really generous with the fish for the price, and i have to say that the fish was really quite fresh. there was a mixture of tuna, salmon, scallop, ikura, yellowtail etc, and all of it was thoroughly seasoned with a soy-based marinade (if my tastebuds did not fail me). topped with some seaweed, spring onions and sesame seeds, it made for am extremely tasty bowl of chirashi. my only qualm was that the sashimi could have been better chilled while the rice could have been cooled down a little more before serving. it was as if they just scooped straight out from the rice cooker (in fact, they probably did?) and piled seasoned fish on top of the rice; i felt the rice was seriously lacking in rice vinegar and everything else that makes sushi rice sushi rice, it felt like i was basically eating a bowl of white rice. also, the rice was so hot that some pieces of sashimi appeared to have cooked a little after mixing it all together?! definitely not how i like my chirashi… all that said, can’t deny that this was still a great bowl of sashimi goodness, especially for the extremely affordable price. so how does teppei’s chirashi compare with its counterparts¬†at my other favourite haunts (ie aoki and sushi bar)? i actually think they’re all different so it depends on what you’re looking for! at the sushi bar, the chirashi is basically very fresh and delicious pieces of sashimi very generously laid atop a bed of rice; it is completely unseasoned, just good, sweet, thick slabs of unadulterated sashimi. at aoki on the other hand, there’s just something amazing about how everything is put together¬†and some magical aoki touch is added to it, making quite possibly the most perfect bowl of mazechirashi ever. the fish pieces at aoki are small but provided extremely generously (still has the highest fish to rice ratio, in my opinion) and yes, quite clearly, aoki still has my vote¬†for the best bowl of chirashi in singapore; even if not the best, definitely my favourite. at teppei, the seasoning is soy sauce-based which makes it tasty, but i think i prefer a lighter seasoning so that the flavours and freshness of the fish isn’t lost. took a quick look at what they offered as part of the buffet spread, and found that the food was very simple and home-style. don’t expect any fancy or fine japanese cooking or foods; what they had available as part of the buffet spread consisted of a lot of japanese curries, katsudon, gyoza, siew mais, soba etc:20140710_183744 20140710_194046 i’d probably give the buffet a miss, but the chirashi is something i am likely to return for if i’m looking for a cheap japanese meal in the tanjong pagar area. if i’m pining for chirashi¬†and desperately need to satisfy a dire craving¬†though, i’d probably be more content if i head to the sushi bar or aoki. don’t get me wrong – it was definitely a good bowl of chirashi and i will return for it, but for some reason (perhaps the strange temperatures of the rice and fish?) i probably wouldn’t constantly miss¬†it as i do with aoki’s… have to acknowledge the fact that the former is definitely much much more wallet-friendly than the latter though!

Hanare Japanese Cafe
99B Tanjong Pagar Rd
Singapore 088520

20140710_183508Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset another pic of the chirashi for good measure PS. perfect place for dessert after the meal, keeping with the japanese theme, tsujiri tea house at 100am mall for the best matcha soft serve ever!!! IMG_20140710_234908 best best best

75 Ah Balling Peanut Soup, Singapore

tang yuan in peanut soup is one of my all-time favourite desserts (i cannot emphasise “all-time” more!!!). ¬†while in london, the freezer almost always has some frozen tang yuans (definitely go for springhome brand; they’re the best by far) to satisfy those random late-night tang yuan cravings my (crazy) housemates and i have; that’s what you get in a house of 5 (greedy) asian girls ūüėČ . sometimes we have it with canned peanut soup, other times we just have it in ginger soup – perfect for a cold winter’s night.

its hard to find good ah balling in singapore these days; its the kind of thing i avoid ordering at dessert stalls which serve a whole range of desserts, because i’m always convinced those stalls just use frozen tang yuans anyway, so why should i pay a premium just to have them at a hawker centre and not at home? am thankful that stalls like this remain, stalls that still make their ah balling from scratch (you can see an aunty hard at work in the stall)!

75 ah balling is located on the 2nd floor of the golden mile hawker centre and its hard to miss given that there’s almost always a line of people in front of the stall (with good reason, i think!).

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetthe peanut soup is definitely the star of this dessert. the soup is fragrant and sweet (but not overly or artificially so) while the softness of the peanuts is a sign of how long they’ve been boiled for. they also serve the tang yuans in ginger soup at this stall, but i’d say definitely go for the peanut soup because it really is one of the better and yummier ones around.

as for the homemade tang yuans, they come in 5 different flavours – black sesame, peanut, red bean, yam and green tea! i like my tang yuan filling to have a little crunch/graininess so i normally head straight for the peanut or black sesame instead of the pasty red bean and yam types. couldn’t pass on the green tea though, so i ended up going for¬†4 tang yuans, a mixture of green tea, peanut and sesame:20140706_125621 20140706_125855 20140706_125413

i felt that the skin of the tang yuans was a bit thick, as you can probably see from the pictures. but the saving grace was its¬†texture; despite being thick, the skin was very smooth and soft and i think that made all the difference between the tang yuans here and the store-bought ones. the green tea one was decent but i probably wouldn’t order it again when i return. it was good that the matcha flavour wasn’t too artificial, but i did think its skin was exceptionally thick, at least thicker than the rest. favourite was the peanut – i love it when the peanut filling has white sesame seeds mixed in; so yummy!!! plus check out its explosive goodness… bite into it with caution, you have been warned heh.

already craving another bowl of this just looking at these pics; if only good ah balling in peanut soup was more readily available! i also like the one at maxwell hawker centre, but that stall always runs out by lunchtime and i do prefer the peanut soup at this golden mile stall. they charge $1.70 for¬†4 tang yuans in peanut soup/$2 for 5, while¬†plain peanut soup goes for $1.20. it doesn’t get much cheaper (and better) than this, folks!

to me, this is serious comfort food. simple is always good ūüôā

75 Ah Balling Peanut Soup
505 Beach Road
Golden Mile Food Centre #01-7520140706_124727

My Cosy Corner, Singapore

my cosy corner has been occupying a cosy corner (sorry, i just had to… bahaha)¬†on the second floor of coronation plaza for as long as i can remember. its certainly not the newest/snazziest/hippest/trendiest eatery out there, but it is definitely an all-time favourite of mine (and many residents in the area), and is worth sharing about!

they are a small family-run (i’m assuming) set-up that sells a range of affordable one-dish meals including japanese fare like udon and katsu rice, but what they are really¬†famous for are their¬†yummy local dishes ie¬†mee siam, mee rebus, popiah, kueh pie tee etc. there is limited seating space within the shop so its always quite full no matter what time of the day you visit;¬†there are always customers popping in for¬†a quick bite or taking away food!
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when i’m there, my order is standard – a serving of mee siam, accompanied by their super popular popiah!¬†20140626_132853
was also feelin’ a chendol (it was yummy) to beat the heat that day
the food at cosy corner never ever disappoints. it is one of my all-time favourite places to have a bowl of mee siam; i know i will¬†always leave happy. the secret to its smashing success is definitely in its gravy – not too thick or too thin, very very tasty and far from being diluted. squeeze some lime into it¬†before eating, and it really packs a super satisfying punch! the tau pok is also worth mentioning – fried to ultra crispy perfection while remaining soft and airy within. the tow gay is also fresh and well-cooked, not at all overdone to the point of being soggy as it tends to be at many places. my only qualm is that they seriously overcharge for the addition of 2 measly prawns to the dish – if i’m not wrong, they charge an additional $1 for just 2 prawns! i hadn’t realised this but now that i’ve taken note, i might just go with the mee siam without prawns the next time round. admittedly though, the prawns do add more texture to the dish. and despite the fact that mee siam is probably available more cheaply at any regular hawker stall, i keep coming back for¬†more. #addictive!

look around cosy corner while you’re there and you’ll notice that some people order mee rebus, some mee siam, some laksa, and others even japanese (always a ?!?!?! kind-of-moment for me). but what almost every table will have a serving of is their famous popiah!¬†20140626_133011
popiah – $2.20 per roll
popiah aficionados will know this – cosy corner’s popiah consistently appears in lists of the best popiah in singapore, and i wholeheartedly agree that it is certainly a worthy contender! the rolls are freshly made-to-order and you can watch the aunty behind the corner at work as she gets¬†rollin’. let’s start with the skin – it is thin and moist and is wrapped around the filling so skillfully that nothing ever falls out when you eat it/when it is cut. the filling is added generously and is extremely juicy and tasty in a very nice homecooked and not msg-laden kind of way. the chilli sauce (homemade) adds a great spiciness and my favourite part of these decadent rolls is probably the crispy fried garlic bits that are well-mixed and hidden in the glorious turnip filling that also contains beansprouts, cucumber and egg.20140626_133339once again, though pricey, i never stay away from their popiah for long. forever a favourite!

definitely pop by if you’re in the vicinity and are looking for a quick bite in a no-frills fuss-free eatery. it might just leave you constantly looking for reasons to return to coronation plaza to have more of their yummy homemade comfort food! (there’s a ntuc there so grocery shopping can always be the reason for regular visits :P)

My Cosy Corner
587 Bukit Timah Road #02-02
Coronation Shopping Plaza
Singapore 269707
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La Ristrettos, Singapore

this cafe is the epitome of a hidden gem in singapore. tucked away where nobody would expect to find a cafe, la ristrettos is nestled among medical clinics and practices on the 8th floor of novena medical centre. you wouldn’t know its there unless you’ve seen stuff about it or heard about it through word-of-mouth, or you randomly chance upon it while on your way to a medical appointment.

we were looking for somewhere in the newton/novena area to have brunch on a saturday morning, and it was la ristrettos that we decided to head to. arrived around 1030am and had to wait about 5 minutes for a table – it is a small cosy place with a large communal table, a long window seat and another small standalone table. if you’re willing to brave the heat (or rain), they open out into the rooftop garden of the medical centre so you can dine¬†there too.20140628_103105 20140628_103000

my first thought when i entered this little cafe was that they take their coffee very seriously. not only because the words “coffee boutique” are proudly declared on the big brick wall you see when you enter, but also because they have a few impressive coffee machines hard at work. the interesting thing about the machines is that they are laid out on an open counter and not behind a counter; its almost like you can walk right up and make yourself a coffee:
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snazzy coffee machine/monstrosity

for such a cosy little set-up with a small kitchen, i was impressed by the range of food and drinks they had on offer. 20140628_105444

pastas are served from noon onwards only, so we focused on the all-day breakfast menu which had a nice range of food, that was quite different from regular eggs benny/eggs florentine/french toast fare (a good change!):20140628_104145

you place your orders and pay at the counter, and the food will be served to you when ready. for the 3 of us, we ordered a grande with scrambled eggs, a toasted sourdough topped with chicken and a poached egg, and a mushroom frittata:
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grande – choice of eggs, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, spicy italian sausage, sourdough ($14)
i didn’t have much of this but my friend who ordered¬†it (a boy who wanted something more substantial; big breakfasts like that are always popular among hungry growing boys) seemed pleased enough with it! tried the scrambled eggs and they were pretty well done, fluffy and moist. the sausage was good too; it wasn’t the kind of poor quality processed sausages you get in cheap supermarkets. this is great if variety on a plate excites you. at $14, i would say this is really reasonably priced too!

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tostino e arrosto – toasted sourdough with garlic olive oil, spinach, roast chicken breast, tomato and poached egg ($11)
i loved this open-faced sandwich! it looks quite small in the picture but it filled nearly the whole centre of the plate and the plate was quite big, so it was actually bigger than it appears here. the combination of chicken, spinach, tomatoes and a perfectly poached egg was super yummy! i think my favourite part and the star of the sandwich was the super tasty and tender chicken slivers. the seemed more grilled than roasted actually, but however it was done, it was done to perfection and topped the sandwich in generous portions. the egg was wonderfully runny and taken with the honey mustard-type sauce drizzled around the plate, this made for a light but satisfying meal.
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RUNNY EGG YOLK my love

we wanted to get the bircher muesli because i had seen pics of this wonderfully-plated gloriously poached pear sitting atop some muesli (everybody loves pretty food) while reading about the place, but they had no pears that day! so we ended up going for the mushroom frittata:20140628_105833mushroom frittata – italian mushroom omelette with ham, mushroom, tomato & cheese served with sourdough ($12)
the frittata was served in a little personal pan and accompanied by some buttered sourdough bread. a frittata is like an omelette but with everything randomly mixed in as opposed to folded in (you can probably tell from the picture). they were generous with the toppings, and this made for a really tasty dish! my only qualm was that i felt it was a little dry because there wasn’t really any “wet” element in it. perhaps the frittata could have been done a little wetter? would have tasted yummier with the sourdough that way. nevertheless, i loved how it was simply done and presented; this dish exuded a very homely feel for me ūüôā

not forgetting the drinks we tried – i had a chai latte while my friend had an iced caffe.20140628_105148
iced caffe (espresso with gelato and milk) – $6.50
the coffee was good, and the gelato added a nice thickness and sweetness to the coffee. quite a generous serving, i would say!
as for the chai latte which i don’t have an individual pic of (but you’ll see it sitting pretty in some of the pics later), it was very yummy and definitely one of the better chai lattes i’ve had in singapore. the chai flavour was very fragrant and they had the proportions of milk just right, such that the chai taste wasn’t drowned out by milkiness and vice versa. i just love how chai lattes make you feel warmed from inside out; they are perfect for rainy days (or any day for that matter).

besides being tucked away from the crowds in its exciting nondescript location, i love how the prices at la ristrettos are nett. what you see on the menu is what you pay; they do not charge the extra 10 + 7 which is great! for the quality of the food, the prices are definitely reasonable and the dishes were simple but well-executed.

one negative is that they seemed to have run out of quite a few things on the menu – we were looking forward to having the pear tart or any other dessert that they had available, but they had run out of all desserts!!! i thought that was quite surprising given that it was a saturday morning when they should expect a healthy crowd. i guess they hadn’t restocked for the following week (they close on sundays)…

la ristrettos is a great place to grab a bite and relax with a coffee and¬†book. the atmosphere is really nice and relaxed; it exudes a friendly neighbourhood joint-type cosiness and warmth. definitely check it out if you’re in the area and looking for a good cuppa or a satisfying meal!

La Ristrettos
10 Sinaran Drive, #08-37 Novena Medical Centre
Singapore 307506

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset spotted: chai latte ($6) lurking in the back

20140628_112851 20140628_104328 20140628_104359 20140628_112739nothing better than fab food and fave friends

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we settled for mr bean ice cream and taking stupid selfies for dessert (a firm favourite)

PS. tip on how to find the place – take the escalators up for square 2 all the way to the 8th floor and you’ll see the roof garden. if you park in square 2, the escalators from the carpark are the ones to take!

PPS. gotta love the new s5 camera!!!