The Daily Cut, Singapore

amidst the myriad of salad shops in the cbd catering to the increasingly health-conscious office crowd looking to fight post-lunch food comas, the daily cut stands out from the crowd with its different take on the regular green salad.

eagerly counted down the minutes till lunch when i could go check this exciting new place out (#internlife), and arrived in the newly-renovated basement of one raffles place at about 1245pm on tuesday afternoon, greeted by a queue at the counter and a bunch of people waiting for their numbers to be called for collection of their food.
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as you can see from the pictures, the daily cut is an ultra fuss-free set-up, so simply “decorated” (in inverted commas because its not really decorated at all hahaha) that it almost looks like a temporary store that’s waiting to move into proper premises! there are no walls properly demarcating the shop space, and the sign is rather inconspicuous unless you look up and crane your neck purposefully. i like the fact that they have a small seating area with way more seats than many other salad establishments in the cbd. their ordering system is also rather efficient – you fill in a form like the one in the picture below, bring it to the counter to place your order and pay, and finally wait for your little salad (though i’m not sure if its still considered a salad given that the focus is on the protein/meats) box to be prepared.

here’s the order form which also serves as the menu:
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at the counter, you can see the staff at work putting together each box according to the orders received:
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meats to satisfy the carnivores out there
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veg mmm…

we had to wait pretty long (10-15 minutes) for our numbers to be called; we were actually starting to wonder if our orders had been somehow lost in the mix! but soon our yummy boxes were ready for our collection, calling out to us to tuck in.
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sirloin steak + romaine lettuce + edamame + sous vide egg + mushrooms (ginger ponzu dressing)

this was my box – i was super pleased with how everything tasted together (though it doesn’t look all that appetising i know)! we were all quite impressed with the ingredients that were used; they were clearly of a good quality and very fresh. the sirloin steak was excellent – perfectly medium rare, juicy, moist and very tender; most definitely worth the $1 extra to order this! the romaine lettuce was fresh, the mushrooms (hidden but you can just about make them out in the bottom right corner) were sauteed very deliciously and the sous vide egg was poached to absolute perfection (amazing egg yolk waiting to explode also hidden here, unfortunately). i also really enjoyed the ginger ponzu dressing which was refreshing and light.

my friend for a large-sized one that came with 2 proteins:
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chicken thigh + tofu + brown rice + parmesan + sous vide egg + avocado (ginger ponzu dressing)

i didn’t try the chicken thigh but my friend mentioned that it was a little dry. i did try the tofu though, and it was more like tau kwa rather than soft/silky/smooth tofu. it would have been pretty tasteless if not for the subtle chargrilled taste that made it much better (you can see the grill marks on the tofu pieces in the picture above). note that this is the only protein option available for vegetarians.

think this was the most appetising-looking/prettiest salad of our party of 3 that day:
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sirloin steak + sweet potato + sweet corn + almonds + sous vide egg (thai dressing)

the sweet potato was grilled very nicely and the subtle chargrilled taste lingered and really complemented the natural sweetness of the huge chunks. this was another great combi of toppings – a good mix of textures and flavours.

we all left with our boxes wiped clean, feeling satisfied and surprisingly quite full! the portions are quite generous (especially the proteins) yet don’t leave you feeling like you’re on the brink of entering a food coma. i really enjoyed what i had and the best part is that its pretty healthy eating! lots of protein (perfect post-gym meal) and a great alternative to the regular salad bowls which are full of greens with no meat in sight (this is definitely a draw for males; i noticed significantly more males here compared to other salad places around raffles place). another great thing is that you can mix and match the proteins/toppings/carbs such that you can eat here all day every day and never get bored…

that said, i think it is actually slightly pricey even for the generous servings and good quality ingredients that you get. but that doesn’t seem to be stopping people from making a beeline for them at lunch hour, including myself – might just have to make another trip down for lunch before my current internship ends in a mere two days! already getting excited about what to pick this time 😛

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The Daily Cut
1 Raffles Place, #B1-31, One Raffles Place
Singapore 048616

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PS. matt’s chocolate shop is just round the corner and we couldn’t resist getting some chocolate fudge cake for dessert:
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small fudge cake – $4
having heard so much about it, i had very high expectations and though i wouldn’t say i was disappointed, the cake didn’t quite blow my mind either. they heated it up in the microwave for us (check out the glistening dark chocolate layer on top mmm…) – made it look yummier than ever eh? the cake itself was extremely moist and rich, without being overly dense or sickly sweet and chocolate-y. in fact, i would say despite being so chocolate-y, it managed to remain rather light! pretty good stuff (Y)

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Riverwalk Tandoor, Singapore

had a massive craving for indian food after a friend sent me a snap of her devouring naan and butter chicken over the weekend, so it was indian food my friends and i ventured out in search of when we met for dinner last night. i was rather impressed with the food and so decided that i had to write about it pronto before the smell of freshly-made naan and curries escapes me and fades from my memories 😛

we were recommended riverwalk tandoor by an indian friend (legit recommendation right here 😉 ) and i was mighty pleased to find that they do a super reasonably priced buffet – $15.90++ for lunch and $18.90++ for dinner; free flow naan, here we come!!! conveniently located just across the road from the central (ie clarke quay mrt station) in a corner unit facing the river on the ground floor of the riverwalk, the restaurant was completely empty when i arrived at 630pm, totally different from the scene at jumbo seafood right next door where there was already a line of people eagerly awaiting a seafood fix.
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the restaurant looks quite traditionally indian, and is spacious and comfortable. because of the space and number of tables, i think this would make a great place for a group gathering! the buffet spread is on one side of the restaurant, and once i stepped in they started opening the food covers to reveal yummy food within (i must have looked starving) mmmmmm… i immediately got to work and managed to snap pics of the buffet offerings in their full untouched glory before other guests started tucking in!
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the buffet spread consisted of 8 main dishes (3 meats 1 fish and 4 veg), briyani, white rice, soup, a section with pickles + mint sauce + raita (indian yoghurt) + papadum etc, and dessert – quite a spread for the price you pay, we thought!

here are the meats/fish:
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everything was pretty good but if i had to pick a fave, it would definitely be the tandoori chicken. taken with the mint sauce, it was super tasty and very successfully satisfied my indian food craving – the meat was very tender and moist and the seasoning and tandoori flavour was spot-on.

the other meats available were chicken masala and gosht mirchiwala. the chicken masala was not bad but i thought the sauce could have been a little thicker and creamier. the meat was also not as moist as that of the tandoori chicken; the pieces i had were a little dry. as for the gosht mirchiwala, i still haven’t figured out if it was lamb or mutton we were eating, but it was good anyway! the curry was thick and tasty, great for dipping naan into it.

i also enjoyed the fish tomato curry – the fish pieces were fresh, big and meaty, and the tomato sauce was pretty light. the batter of the fish soaked the sauce up to make for quite a good dish. had a few servings of this as a break from the more heavier meat curries.

here’s the vegetarian section:
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fave out of the vegetables was definitely the vegetable jalfrezi. it was a mixed vegetables (beans, carrots, cauliflower) dish in a very nicely spiced tomato-based sauce. i had quite a few servings of thisw because it was the closest thing to aloo gobi that was available as part of the buffet. another dish so tasty that it really satisfied my indian food craving. the other veg dish that i had several servings of was the kabuli paneer. i love paneer and normally always order palak (creamed spinach) paneer whenever i have indian food. couldn’t identify the veg that went into this but the paneer was super yummy; i had lots and lots of it heehee. light, spongy, fluffy – almost like tofu! the dahl and other vegetable dish were also pretty good.

there was also a pickles section of the buffet:
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the papadam was greattt. they regularly brought out fresh batches – crispy and warm and fried in fresh oil (none of the funky reused oil taste you get with some fried things yay!). the pickles were not bad and i absolutely loved the mint sauce and the raita. so yummy!

now on to what was basically my staple for the night, the naan glorious naan!!!

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i stayed away from the briyani and rice because i was readying myself to load up on the naan heehee. the naan here is freshly-made and served to your table – all warm, super fluffy and drizzled generously with butter. what i had been dreaming of and what i had come for – yes yes yes more more more please! they regularly replenish the naan baskets at your table when you’re finished and that was very welcome heh. another picture as a tribute to my love for this amazing bread-y goodness:
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and eaten with the naan we had round after round (as much as our stomachs would allow) of:20140818_19011020140818_191651

at the end of it all, we were super full but sampled the desserts they had available. they had 2 (i assume) traditional indian desserts – gulab jamun and this other milky thing (sorry i forgot the name and its cut off in my picture of it, as you will see in the pic below):
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the gulab jamun was extremely sweet (as expected), so we nibbled at it and stopped there. as for the milky dessert, i’m still not sure what exactly goes into it. it was like… vermicelli-type noodles in a very milky base. wasn’t quite our cup of tea at all, so we stuck to the fresh fruits which were super sweet and juicy, a perfect and refreshing end to our heavy meal.

i’d definitely come back to riverwalk tandoor the next time i’m craving some hearty indian food, and will be spreading the word about it! given the price of the meal, you really can’t complain about the spread or the quality of the food. its nothing fancy but it was good enough for us. didn’t check out the a la carte menu, but might do so next time if i’m not intending on feasting (rare occurence but i assure you, it does happen :P).

we left with very happy (and heavy) tummies, full of enthusiasm to walk off our dinner with a stroll down the river. the enthusiasm didn’t last long though, and we soon found ourselves lazily plonked down by the riverside outside central enjoying the live music from across the water and watching boats go by… perfect end to my night! 🙂
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Riverwalk Tandoor
20 Upper Circular Rd, The Riverwalk #B1-38
Singapore 058416
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Lolla, Singapore

lolla was the sister’s choice for her birthday dinner this year, so its where we headed for some celebratory feasting on thursday night (her birthday was actually on friday but we were under the giant white tents at marina bay watching the spectacular Cavalia that night, so dinner on thursday it was!). 

located at the hiving-by-night ann siang hill, lolla is a mediterranean-inspired tapas-style restaurant that serves a range of what struck me as fusion-type small plates meant for sharing in a group. it occupies the ground and basement levels of a shophouse – the ground floor houses a long counter where guests can watch the chefs at work while the basement is home to a communal table. would have loved to be in on the action at the counter but we were told when we called to make a reservation that the counter was for walk-in customers only (i wasn’t particularly pleased to hear that, to be honest… shouldn’t those who make reservations get first pick of where they sit?). the place is trendily decorated to exude a casual and fun yet stylish vibe, and the restaurant was already buzzing when we arrived slightly past 7.
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ground floor counter seatingOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
communal dining one floor down

indeed, testament to the casual and unpretentious nature of the restaurant is the fact that the menu is so simply printed on a piece of paper that doubles up as your place mat.i hear the menu changes according to what seasonal produce is available, and besides whats listed on the menu they also have a few specials written on the mirrored walls for you to choose from. this is what was available on the menu the night we visited:
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[NB: as you can probably tell from the picture of the menu above, the lighting where we were seated at the communal table was terrible for photo-taking and the pictures hence don’t quite do the food justice… 😦 probably explains why i am still sore about not getting to sit at the counter despite making an advanced booking; the lighting at the counter is highly optimal]

the service staff were friendly and willing to recommend the specialities of the restaurant, so it didn’t take us long to decide on what we wanted to have. 

we started our meal with a full portion of their famous sea urchin pudding:
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sea urchin pudding (full portion) – $40

served chilled, this. was. delicious! and we all agreed that it did live up to the hype surrounding it. a generous chunk of fresh uni sat proudly atop squid ink pudding and the two came together wonderfully to make for highly tasty, rich and satisfying mouthfuls; it was truly the epitome of umami. the squid ink pudding (with tomato, cream and egg yolk thrown into the mix) was smooth and creamy, with a strong taste of seafood. this was the first dish to be served and promptly raised our expectations for the rest of the meal. note that its so savoury that it can get quite heavy and jelat, so ordering a portion (or two, depending on group size) to share is ideal.

next, we were served one of the specials of the day:
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pan roasted padron peppers – $15

this was a special available for the night and we chose it for our dose of greens for the night. the peppers were very well done – very lightly coated in some kind of batter/crispy bits that added texture to the dish. the peppers themselves were cooked to perfection and were extremely juicy and naturally sweet. not quite sure what else went into them but it was quite an interesting and tasty dish. not exceptionally memorable and wouldn’t rave about it or think of having it again though!

we also had some scallops mmm:
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hokkaido scallop carpaccio – $38

my first thought when this arrived at our table was that it appeared similar to the mentaiko scallop carpaccio at the sushi bar! felt a little bad for / realised i was wrong in making that comparison after though, because i daresay this was much better (also much pricier) / the two are actually quite different. i’m not exactly sure what sauce was drizzled on top of the scallops here (this happened a lot that night – not quite knowing what went into the creation of the amazing flavour explosions in our mouths, if only we could see what the chefs behind the counter got up to while preparing the dishes; this is me feeling sore again about not getting to sit at the counter… hahaha #life), but there was definitely some kind of salt sprinkled on top i think? everything came together wonderfully and the scallops were of just the right thickness – not too thin such that the natural sweetness could not be appreciated, but also not too thick – just as carpaccio should be. very delicious!

there is a section of the menu dedicated to eggs, and we were torn between the tortilla with smoked eel (which was recommended by the waiter) and the scrambled eggs. eventually settled on the latter:Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset
scrambled with bottarga di muggine- $22

did not regret choosing this over the tortilla one bit! topped generously with bottarga di muggine which is fish roe from grey mullet, these were some of the best scrambled eggs i have ever had. if only the lighting at the table was better, you’d be able to see the glorious yellow of the egg and the wonderfully creamy texture of the eggs. the texture was really spot-on – it was creamy and slightly runny (but far from being too wet), and the fish roe added a nice saltiness to the eggs. once i took my first bite of this dish, i lamented to the mother that “i wish i knew someone who could make scrambled eggs as good as these”. true story.

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braised beef tripe – $23

these pieces of beef tripe were cooked to absolute perfection – slightly crispy on the outside but tender, moist and having just the right amount of chewiness that tripe should have within. not quite sure what they were seasoned in but they were extremely tasty! the tripe pieces also came accompanied by some kind of tomato/carrot/celery mix, and the two went wonderfully together – the tastiness of the tripe was very well-balanced by the sweetness of the veggies which were soft and wonderfully sweet. there was also a subtle smoky taste, possibly from being grilled? a great meat dish to order if you’re feeling a little adventurous and want to try something different from the usual lamb cutlets or steak.

the other meat we ordered was the pork collar which came recommended by our waiter:
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iberico pork collar – $26

pork is my all-time favourite meat so i was immensely excited to try this! we requested for it to be medium rare and that is exactly what we got – thick slices of meat cooked precisely to medium-rare as evidenced by its pinkness. the thickness of the pork made for a great bite that proceeded into close-to-melt-in-your-mouth goodness. the meat was so tender and naturally sweet that the sauce drizzled on top of it wasn’t really needed. i wouldn’t say we were disappointed by this dish but i think i was expecting more in terms of flavour, especially because of how good everything else we had tasted was up till this point. the pork was amazingly cooked, but taste-wise it was pretty much just like chinese cha siu (very expensive chinese cha siu…).

back to seafood, we also ordered the grilled octopus:
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grilled octopus – $26

this was a hit with us – the octopus was very fresh, and was speckled with charred bits that added to the taste and texture of each piece. drizzled with a sauce that was subtly spicy and accompanied by lime, this was like grilled sotong on steroids. each piece was crunchy and sweet, with none of the mushiness/sliminess/stringiness that non-fresh or poorly-cooked octopus tends to have. needless to say, our tummies were happy. very happy.

the last item we ordered for the night was the tuna tartare:
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tuna belly “chutoro” tartare – $39

they had forgotten about this item we had ordered but thankfully we remembered it was missing and had them serve it promptly! (one of the) best of the night was certainly saved for last. chunks of tuna are seasoned in something (once again) mysterious and magical and all our eyes lit up as we took our first bites of this super yummy dish. the pieces were very well-chilled (which certainly upped the delicious factor; nobody likes warm sashimi) and had just about enough fattiness to have a hint of a melt-in-your-mouth effect. my only qualm was that some pieces had strings of fats which were hard to bite through in them, but the exquisite flavour of them more than made up for it. this is definitely something i will not pass on when i return to lolla!

finally, we ended the meal with dessert:
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steamed dark chocolate pudding – $15

this was the only dessert on the menu (they also have doughnuts, crema catalana and a selection of creamier ice creams) that really called out to us, and we were not one bit disappointed with our choice. we all agreed that this was one of the best chocolate puddings (or even desserts, for that matter) we have ever had!!! it was so so so good. the dark chocolate was extremely rich and delicious, and the pudding actually resembled the inside of a molten lava cake (only the best part of it), only better 😉 the addition of chocolate and coffee chips sprinkled on top added texture and taste to the decadent and ultra creamy and smooth pudding and paired with the vanilla ice cream (which i really have limited recollection of; it was all about the chocolate, really), this is really a chocolate lover’s absolute dream, and we were so tempted to order another serving!

i love birthdays in the family because it means not just getting to enjoy good food, but enjoying good food in great company ❤ we had a great meal at lolla (though we weren’t quite as full as we had liked to be and proceeded to maxwell round the corner after dinner for some supper #familyofpigs) and though i thought it was quite pricey given the serving size, i anticipate that i will be back – the innovative dishes and bold and delicious flavours that really work are a huge draw. hopefully i’ll get a counter seat when i return so that i can take better pictures that do the very yummy food justice. i apologise again for the lousy photos; i did try my best to save them by editing but they’re still far from what i would have liked 😦

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happy birthday sis!!! ❤

Lolla
22 Ann Siang Rd
Singapore 069702

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Assembly Coffee, Singapore

evans lodge just got more exciting with this (relatively) new kid on the block. opened some time late last year/ at the start of this year, assembly prides itself on good coffee and is the perfect place to stop and get a cuppa if you’re in the dunearn road / bukit timah area. i’m not big on coffee but am still very pleased with this addition to the area’s offerings because the food is good too!

i visited on national day with three friends; we were looking for somewhere convenient to have a spot (or more) of tea, and assembly coffee fit the bill with its waffle and cake offerings, its location and ample parking right within evans lodge itself. it was packed when we arrived at 2.30pm but we were lucky enough to snag a table for four just as a couple was leaving. assembly occupies a rather small shop unit in evans lodge – when its not too packed i can imagine it making a really nice and cosy place to chill with a book and while the afternoon away, but when it was packed like how it was when we visited, it can get rather cramp and stuffy.
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where we were seated (by the window on the left, semi-hidden in the pic) was bordering on uncomfortably hot and i think it can probably be attributed to the lack of sufficient air-conditioning and the strong sunlight coming in through the windows that day.

besides the coffees they are known for, assembly offers simple breakfast/light brunch or lunch-type food items. here’s the food menu:
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and the drinks menu:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

we were all really full having just come from respective lunches, so we passed on the mains and headed straight for the sweet dessert offerings. wasn’t difficult to agree on what we wanted – the four of us ordered a waffle and brick toast to share. i was so tempted by the cakes on display in the counter (i wonder if they’re outsourced?) which included exciting things like horlicks tarts and dark chocolate-pistachio-cranberry cake (mmmm…) but was reminded by my teatime companions to exercise some self-control and rein the omnipresent greediness in me in.
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cake display mmm…

considering the crowd, the food was served in a relatively decent amount of time. first up, the famous earl grey caramel waffle:
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earl grey caramel waffle – waffle with homemade earl grey caramel sauce topped with new zealand natural vanilla ice cream and strawberries ($11.50)

i wasn’t disappointed by this waffle! it was wonderfully crispy on the outside (which made eating the edges delightful) but moist and fluffy inside. the vanilla ice cream that topped it went very well with the caramel sauce. the first of my only 2 qualms is that the earl grey taste could have been a little stronger! till now, i can’t tell if the earl grey is just in the sauce or if it is infused in the waffle batter; i only tasted it fleetingly in some bites so can’t quite figure out where the subtle earl grey flavour was coming from. secondly, i thought that the waffles could have been lighter within as i felt that the inside of the waffle was a little on the dense side; you can tell from the picture below that they are very moist inside which is great but at the same time i think they could be a little lighter and airier (for lack of a better word).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
but of course i’m comparing the waffles here to my favourite waffles at creamier, so the benchmark is set pretty high 😛 this still made for a highly satisfying waffle mmm yes…

we also had the brick toast:
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assembly’s brick toast – “shibuya” inspired honey brick toast topped with vanilla ice cream, artisan honey greek yoghurt and fruits ($12)

back view:
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this plate of toast was a real show-stopper; its the kind of thing other patrons stare at curiously (aka enviously) when they see it being served to your table and wish they had ordered too. the centre of a super thick slice of toast is cut out and into little blocks, while a scoop of ice cream sits pretty within the now empty core of the thick toast. i quite liked this but the general consensus among the four of us was that it was bordering on being too sweet and we all preferred the waffle. its basically really thick toast that’s fried (i think?) till its nice and crunchy on the outside, but that remains soft inside. it was coated in sugar and honey which made it very sweet, but we realised that was probably what the greek yoghurt was for – to balance out the sweetness of the ice cream + sugar-coated toast combi. taken with the yoghurt and fruit, it became much more enjoyable and was actually quite addictive; crunchy outsides and fluffy insides paired with ice cream and finally dipped in yoghurt. sounds rather odd i know, but actually tasted quite interesting. the greek yoghurt was a refreshing addition. 

we also ordered an iced latte but i only had a sip of it so i can’t say much about it:
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iced latte: $5

they are extremely serious about their coffees here though (look at the number of people working hard behind the counter), so i’m sure it was very good, and much needed in the heat!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

i’d definitely return to assembly coffee again if i’m looking for somewhere to have a light meal around the area; what we had that day satisfied me enough for me to want to try their savoury offerings as well as some of that yummy-looking cake! a (very) belated welcome to the ‘hood, you guys! 😉

Assembly Coffee
26 Evans Lodge
Singapore 259367

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my teatime companions – old and very dear friends :’)

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clearly i am the only / the most patriotic one among the 4 of us… (#happybelatedbirthdaysingapore #loveyoulongtime) all decked out in red & white to show my love for this amazing city that has given me so much, and has always kept the foodie in me 129843094829304% satisfied!!!

Extra Virgin Pizza, Singapore

the boy loves pizza. and when i say loves pizza, i really mean loves pizza. to better illustrate my point – he has birthday pizza on his birthday instead of birthday cake. yes, birthday pizza.

so it was only right that we pay a long-overdue visit to extra virgin pizza, after we got wind of some people dubbing it the best pizza in singapore. they have 2 outlets on our island, one catering to throngs of cbd workers on weekdays at asia square, while the other serves more families and young folk at united square.

at united square, they occupy a large shop unit with high ceilings and big glass panels which makes for a very nice dining setting, casual yet giving off quite a hip and happening vibe.20140729_183310they have a long open kitchen counter where you can observe the chefs at work, and the tables are well-spaced out so that everyone is comfortable and can speak to each other without having to strain any ears or voices. also, i would imagine this would make a great place for dining in large groups because their spacious restaurant space afford them the ability to very easily join smaller tables together to form one long table. this picture was taken at 6+ on a weekday evening before the crowd came in; it got a lot more crowded after!
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their menu offers sides, starters, pastas, pizzas, drinks and desserts, though of course they are most well-known for their artisanal neapolitan-style pizzas.
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we opted for 2 of their most popular pizzas – the spotted pig and the pistachio pesto. the spotted pig was served first:
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spotted pig pizza – tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, pork sausage, applewood smoked bacon, parmigiano reggiano ($26)

for the size of the pizza, we thought it was priced rather steeply at $26. i suppose the high price comes from the fact that they use only the best all-natural ingredients without any preservatives or additives at all – extra virgin olive oil (of course, given its name), pizza flour that is said to be the best in the world, and imported cheese and assorted toppings. after taking my first bite, i was struck by how the quality of the ingredients really shone through. the toppings did not taste processed at all like many of the more mass-market pizzas, and they were not overly-seasoned or piled onto the pizza such that it remained light and allowed for appreciation of the amazing crust. the boy on the other hand, initially wasn’t as pleased as i was (i suppose boys still prefer things in large quantities, things that are hearty juicy saucy tasty artery-clogging) but later came to really enjoy it too!
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the tomato sauce was fresh and light, slathered onto the pizza in just the right amount. it went very well with the toppings and cheese, and brought everything together to make for a very tasty pizza. i thought the mix of bacon, pork sausage and pepperoni was a little too salty at times, but otherwise it was all great.

as for the crust, it was perfect!!! i absolutely loved the crust!!! thin and crispy on the outside with a subtle smokey yet lightly sweet taste, but so wonderfully fluffy and chewy inside. apparently the pizza dough is left to age for 3 days with live yeast, before being hand-stretched and baked to order in extremely high heat ovens. so light that i could go on eating the crust forever, but yet tasty. i think its pretty hard to achieve a thin pizza crust that retains some kind of chewiness (think the ultra crispy crispbread-like crusts at skinny pizza), but the crust at extra virgin pizza really hits the mark and is completely on point at doing that. the little charred bits (characteristic of authentic neapolitan pizzas) on the crust adds to its yumminess. you won’t be seeing any bits of crust left on people’s plates here, that’s for sure!

next up, we had the pistachio pesto pizza, a vegetarian option. the boy wasn’t too pleased with my choice of something meatless but given the rave reviews we’d heard about this pizza, we couldn’t leave without trying it! turns out he didn’t find it so bad after all; he quite enjoyed it in fact, though i suspect he might have said that just to make me feel less guilty about ordering something herbivorous. such is the power of love 😉
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pistachio pesto – pistachio pesto, mozzarella, baby arugula, lemon vinaigrette, pecorino, provolone ($24)

this was a really clever concoction which i thoroughly enjoyed. the pistachio pesto was super yummy; i imagine it would also go amazingly with some pasta/spaghetti! it made the pistachio nut lover in me extremely happy.
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the nutty fragrance of the pistachios really came through, and added a great texture and crunch to the pizza. all the toppings came together perfectly and the pizza was so tasty that it didn’t feel like we were eating something completely meat-free at all. the addition of the lemon vinaigrette was also wonderful, it balanced out the slight bitterness of the argula, and went perfectly with the pistachio that seemed to have caramelised from the high heat of the oven – so good!
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not-so-perfect picture featuring perfect pizza crust with huge delicious charred spot and perfect amazing pistachio pesto topping

though pricey, extra virgin pizza does serve some very good pizzas made with top quality ingredients. definitely worth trying if you’re craving pizza and looking for someplace different from your usual pizza haunts to check out! service is also friendly and efficient, which makes for a very pleasant dining experience.

NB: despite the good food at extra virgin, pepperoni’s still remains a firm favourite of the boy’s and mine for pizza! its more reasonably-priced and also offers my all-time favourite heavenly extra large breaded portobello mushroom with chicken and a range of very good pastas!!! yum.
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Extra Virgin Pizza
101 Thomson Road #01-14
United Square Shopping Centre
Singapore 307591

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PS. headed to black ball in the basement of united square to have some grass jelly dessert – yumz. #1 rule in eating/of life: no meal is ever complete without dessert.
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My Little Spanish Place, Singapore

don’t know what took us so long to check this charming place in our neighbourhood out, but last night (i liked it so much that i decided i had to write about it pronto!) the tan family finally did tapas! and boy were our tummies glad that we finally got round to giving this cosy spanish restaurant at the row of shops after coronation plaza a try.

when we called to make a reservation that morning, we were told that they were fully booked and they could only offer us a table outside. but we went ahead with the booking anyway, and went prepared in our absolute sunday best (shorts) to keep cool in the heat. turns out we were given a table inside when we arrived instead, so that was already a great start to the night 🙂 and given that its a cosy family-friendly neighbourhood set-up, we didn’t feel particularly awkward or underdressed for the meal.
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this picture was taken at 630pm when we just arrived and the crowd had yet to come. by 7ish, the place was full and people without reservations were either turned away or given tables outside.

i was pleasantly surprised by the restaurant’s interior. it is tastefully decorated and the warm yellow lighting and cushioned seats with large pillows that line the side of the wall give it a nice homely feel, like you’re dining in someone’s traditional spanish home. not sure how clearly you can see it in this picture, but they also have a range of hams on display which is quite a feast for the (greedy) eyes. the menu is simple, but with a good range of dishes to cater to a myriad of preferences:
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for our party of 5 (grandma tan was over for the weekend), we ordered a few tapas to start, followed by 2 small pans of paella. the first tapas that was served to the table was the tortilla:
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tortla de patata con alioli – traditional spanish egg omelette with potatoes and onions, served with homemade aioli (4 pieces for $8)

said to be the national dish of spain, this was a good rendition of the traditional spanish tortilla. the omelette was fluffy and tasty with a thin crusty layer, and the potatoes were added to the mix in just the right amount such that it wasn’t too heavy. the onions also added a nice lift to the omelette and the aioli complemented the simplicity of the egg very well. my only qualm was that it could have been served warm/hot; not sure if its meant to be served completely lukewarm (it was bordering on room temperature).

next, we were served 2 tapas on a board – the garlic prawns (left) and fried chorizo (right):
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chorizo frito – fried chorizo (spicy spanish sausage) $16

the chorizo frito is what you see to the right of the serving board. we actually didn’t order this but were given it on the house when we informed the manager that this was not what we had ordered (we had ordered the clams with chorizo – see below) – A+++ for service (although the waitress who took our orders seemed a little unsure and we had to repeat things many times to her – to not much avail, it seems, given the wrong order?) didn’t find anything exceptional about this dish; the chorizo was extremely salty but good when taken with the accompanying bread (which was very good – crusty on the outside but soft inside, and served warm). considering it was fried, it was not too oily! but i don’t think i’d order this when i return unless i am a huge chorizo fan…

the garlic prawns on the other hand, are certainly worth mentioning: 
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gambas al ajillo (garlic prawns) – fresh shrimp cooked in boiling olive oil with garlic and chilli pepper $16

i wasn’t too impressed with this dish when i first tried it, but soon came to appreciate it much more when i dipped the bread into the delicious sauce, which to me was the highlight of this tapas. the prawns themselves were fresh and cooked to perfect crunchiness. they were naturally sweet, but i felt that the sauce could have been infused into the prawns more; i felt like i was eating plain prawns with just some sauce coating it, a real waste because the sauce was very yummy! it was super fragrant and had a strong taste of prawns; best savoured when bread is dipped into and completely soaked in it. we ended up asking for more bread so that we could lap up every drop of this prawn-y sauce. it was a tad on the heavy/oily side, but that didn’t bother me much.

next, we had the croquettes:
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croquetas – lightly-fried jamon-stuffed creamy croquettes $10

these little croquettes were little nuggets of happiness. i was all excited when i saw their perfectly golden-brown exterior, and was not in the least bit disappointed upon biting into it. the croquette filling was smooth and creamy, and oozed out once you bit through the light and crispy ‘skin’.
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the generous chunks of juicy jamon added texture and depth to the croquette and despite the cream, it remained light and made for a satisfying treat.

finally, we had the clams with chorizo:
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almejas con chorizo – fresh clams cooked in a chorizo-based broth $15

we thoroughly enjoyed this dish! it was a generous serving of clams (more than enough to go around for 5), and the sauce was extremely tasty while remaining light. it was tomato-based with small bits of chorizo that added texture and bite, and went very nicely with the fresh, plump and sweet clams. this was another sauce that we happily soaked up with bread.
moving on from the tapas to even greater things, we also ordered a serving of grilled squid:
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calamares rellenos a la plancha con cebolla y pimientos – whole grilled squid stuffed with caramelised onions and red peppers, grilled and drizzled with a sherry wine reduction $21
close-up of the stuffing:
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i really enjoyed this dish. it was a generous serving that is great for sharing, and the squid was fresh and grilled wonderfully. it retained the right amount of crunchiness and had a perfect subtly charred taste that was balanced by the sweetness of the caramelised onions and red peppers. the sherry wine reduction was very tasty and squeezing some lemon juice to go along with it lifted its taste, and kept it light and refreshing.
finally we were on to the paellas, which take 40-45 minutes to cook because they are made to order. we were told that each small pan serves 2-3 people, but upon seeing the serving size, i think its pretty generous and can probably serve 3-4 people especially if you have other food. for the 5 of us, we decided to go with ordering 2 different small paellas rather than 1 medium-sized paella. the first paella that we ordered was the house paella:

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paella de la casa – house paella $49 (small)

this was one amazing paella, definitely one of the better (if not the best) ones that i’ve tried in singapore. it was so wonderfully robust and full in its flavour, and the range of ingredients including mussels, chorizo, prawns, squid and chicken were generously added. it was extremely fragrant and the rice was cooked perfectly – not too dry and certainly not too wet. a little steeply priced, but i thought it was worth every penny for the ingredients added and its great taste; every grain of rice was infused with the fragrance of saffron and seafood. i would definitely order this the next time i visit. paella perfection in a pan! i daresay this was my favourite dish of the night.
the 2nd small pan of paella that we ordered was the squid ink paella:
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arroz negara – blank ink paella $44 (small)
this paella was very different from the house paella. it was good as well, but the hot favourite at the table that night was definitely the house paella. flavoured with black squid ink broth, and served with prawns and squid and a side of aioli, this was an interesting change from the usual paella. as with the house paella, the rice was moist and every grain was flavourful. the prawns had a wonderfully lightly-charred taste and a squeeze of some lemon lifted the taste of the dish such that it was easy to polish off yum yum. the aioli was an interesting addition that was nice but not particularly necessary. if slathered on too generously, the paella was at risk of becoming too heavy.
the paellas were certainly worth the 40-45 minute wait, which didn’t feel that long anyway, because we were kept more than happy and satisfied with the steady stream of well-timed tapas. they have a small but adequate selection of yummy-sounding spanish desserts including a chocolate tart, custard cream-type thing and of course churros! we were too stuffed for dessert, but i will definitely try some on my next visit.
i’m so glad that we finally tried this place out and my only regret is that we did not do so earlier! its so difficult to find good spanish food in singapore (and it tends to be quite overpriced), but for now this seems like its going to be one of my go-to places for delicious tapas and paella. they also do brunch on weekends and that is something that i really want to try too. churros for breakfast/lunch/brunch? mmmm definitely…
My Little Spanish Place
619 Bukit Timah Road

Singapore 269720
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Shimbashi Soba, Singapore

today i shall write about my newfound love for this soba place in paragon’s basement: shimbashi soba!!!
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i remember having tried it once with my parents when it first opened; it was quite a long time ago and we didn’t like it enough to pay it any return visits in the following years. it was only about 3 weeks ago when it was suggested as the venue for a dinner with some friends that i returned for them oodles of noodles. and i am glad i did!

shimbashi soba is a casual family-friendly set up with pleasant and efficient service and an extensive menu. besides a range of hot sobas and cold sobas, they also have set meals, some sushi rolls and assorted japanese sides, along with a decent array of desserts (which i hear are worth a try). we were there at half past seven on a weekday evening, and the place was full, with a queue forming outside the shop a while after we were seated. they have quite a few tables though, and food is served quickly so the turnaround time for tables is pretty quick.
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some info about their soba which is handmade on site daily:
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on my first visit there, i ordered the tenchirashi soba which is soba topped with mixed tempura fritters and a poached egg. this is the bukkake style of serving, where the soba is served chilled, with sauce poured over it. my eyes lit up when the plate of soba was laid before me, and i was not disappointed when i took my first bite!
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it is a generous serving of soba and there is seriously a mountain of tempura on that plate, so much so that its hard to mix everything together without having pieces of tempura falling off the plate, and you can barely see the noodles hidden below when the dish is served. the mixed tempura consists of prawn and assorted mushrooms and veggies like ladies fingers – just my cup of tea! the tempura wasn’t oily which kept the dish light, and the amount of batter coating each piece was just nice. the ingredients were fresh and the oil used to fry the tempura was definitely fresh (always a plus point! nobody likes the taste of reused oil…). together with the sauce, egg, and topped with spring onions, everything came together very well to make a super yummy and refreshing cold soba dish. i loved this so much when i had it the first time that i ordered the same thing when i returned yesterday night! i contemplated others but figured the probability of not being as satisfied and leaving disappointed were too high…

as for the soba itself, the noodles are delicious – they are of perfect consistency, springy with just the right amount of bite. the texture is spot-on and the best part is that the noodles are really light and you don’t feel overly full even after having a whole plate of noodles! the very yummy noodles are made fresh daily and are cooked and served only upon each order; this shines through in the taste and texture of the noodles. no preservatives or additives are added, and the soba is said to contain a range of nutrients not only beneficial to one’s health but also having anti-ageing and beautifying properties.

if you want to really appreciate the noodles in a completely unadulterated form, i would suggest going for the options on the menu with less toppings to distract from the noodles themselves (they have plenty). other things my dining companions have ordered at our meals:
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cold soba with kimchi

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cold soba with sesame dipping sauce

this is the best way to really savour the noodles as they are – just plain noodles dipped into a delicious cold and creamy sesame sauce. despite being thick, the sesame sauce is not heavy and goes very well with the noodles.

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cold soba with clams broth

the broth here is a warm broth and we were pleasantly surprised at the clams in it. they were rather big and plump compared to clams used at other places which tend to be small and completely unsubstantial. the broth was yummy when taken with the soba, but was too salty for my liking when taken alone.

sorry i don’t have the exact prices for the different dishes above but they all range from about $16-$20! for the quality of the soba i’d say its worth it, but it is a little on the pricey side for the plain sobas which just come with dipping sauce (like the sesame one).

i’ve gone twice since i rediscovered this place, and i’m sure i’ll be going back pretty often, especially when i’m looking for a light, refreshing and quick meal. they also have an extensive vegetarian menu with a range of vegetarian sets that include vegetable tempura, vegetarian soba, vegetarian sushi etc. they all look good and seem to be a draw for vegetarians looking to enjoy some japanese food. oishi!!! soba so good 😉

Shimbashi Soba
#B1-41 Paragon, 290 Orchard Road
Singapore 238859
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PS. if none of the desserts on the shimbashi soba menu catch your eye, there’s always honeymoon desserts right opposite to satisfy those cravings for some yummy chinese desserts:20140717_211325
green tea x durian x vanilla x watermelon: weird but (very) wonderful