The Beast, Singapore

i still don’t know how i should feel about me being someone that comes to mind when my male friend decides he wants to head out for some legit “man food” and needs an eating companion… to put it nicely i would say that i guess people around me recognise my extremely healthy and large appetite, to put it less nicely i would simply say i’m known to be a greedy pig who is ready to eat everything and anything all day every day.

the aforementioned legit man food was to be found at the beast, so off for their sunday brunch we rather excitedly headed. what i feel sets the beast apart from the myriad of other eateries and cafes in the haji lane area is its very strong identity as a southern eating spot evidenced in not just its food – think fried chicken, biscuits with gravy, bacon, maple syrup – and drink – mimosas (they have an all-you-can-drink option at $20/h), cocktails and bourbon, lots of bourbon – , but also its decor – large wooden counter tops, bar stools and refurbished oil drums.
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they open for dinner every day of the week and on sundays, brunch is served till the dinner menu takes over at 5pm. here’s the brunch menu:
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with so many tantalising and, more importantly, interesting (you won’t find such a quintessentially southern menu anywhere else in singapore, i believe) options on the menu, we were spoilt for choice but eventually decided on the fried chicken with waffles and pulled pork hash, along with a serving of cornbread.

the cornbread was served first, sitting happily on a wooden slab and accompanied by a side dish of maple syrup. we very excitedly poured the syrup all over (the more the merrier) and sat back to admire it glistening in and surrounded by a pool of golden goodness before tucking in.
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freshly-baked cornbread ($6)
i really love cornbread so this was my dream come true. but even if you’re not as much of a cornbread fan as i am, i’m sure you’ll still thoroughly enjoy it because it was delicious; i would suggest you give this a try if you’re ever at the beast! the cornbread was served wonderfully warm, and had the perfect texture – light, moist and fluffy while still retaining just the right amount of density to be slightly crumbly around its edges. drizzled (or should i say drenched) in maple syrup, it was the perfect mix of sweet and savoury. simple, but very yummy.

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chicken & waffles – southern fried chicken, waffle, bourbon maple butter sauce ($20)
this was a must-order for us because its probably their most highly publicised brunch offering on social media and was what lured my friend here in the first place. the slab of chicken (you can choose between breast and thigh) was huge; definitely more than enough to have your fried fill with every bite of waffle. it was well-seasoned, the skin oh-so-crispy, and despite it being a really thick slab, the meat within was not overcooked and remained moist. paired with bourbon maple butter sauce, this was quite addictive. the waffle however, paled in comparison to the chicken that sat proudly atop it. it wasn’t bad, but it was certainly not a standout, not a waffle i would eat if it was not accompanied by the chicken. it was crispy at its edges but i felt it was lacking in density (too light and airy) and taste (batter could definitely have been quite a bit more flavourful). i’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt – perhaps it was intended to be this way so that it wouldn’t be too heavy when taken with the fried chicken?

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pulled pork hash – 10h pulled pork, home fries, poached egg, bbq sauce ($18)
i am a huge fan of pulled pork so this was my choice and we were quite pleased with it! there’s nothing for scale in the picture so i’m not sure if you can see how generous the serving was, quite beastly indeed (sorry, i just had to, the pun was going to come up eventually anyway 😛 ). this was a really hearty dish packed with really strong flavours from the barbeque sauce and egg yolk! the ten hours expended on the pork shone through in how tasty, moist and tender the shredded meat was, and the fried potatoes were addictive and perfect for soaking up the sauce and sweet juice from the pork. each component played a part in the interesting mix of textures offered, and i really liked how the bbq sauce wasn’t overpowering. this was rather heavy though so i’d definitely recommend this to be shared, especially given the portion size. i think a slice of toast on the side would have been a perfect accompaniment to the pork and would have helped lift the dish from being the very heavy-going manly meal that it was.

was tempted to end the meal with a bacon maple glazed donut or bourbon pecan pie, but we were wary of the portion sizes and felt like we needed a lighter dessert to wash down all that heavy food (ended up adjourning to artistry for really yummy speculoos cake) so we passed. the beast is yet another exciting option for sunday brunch in the haji lane area; you now know where to head to should the queues at maison ikkoku or symmetry be too long to handle!

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The Beast
17 Jalan Klapa
Singapore 199329 

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Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters, Singapore

the newest kid on the upper thomson cafe block is pacamara boutique coffee roasters – a joint which recently relocated from somewhere in the vicinity and renamed and revamped itself along with its location change. i never visited them previously but from what i’ve read online, it used to be oz speciality coffee at thomson v two.

pacamara occupies a spacious corner unit at the row of shops right after the now-defunct longhouse food centre ( 😦 oh how i miss my prawn mee, duck rice and goreng pisang 😦 #jcmemories) along upper thomson road. it has huge glass windows that let in plenty of natural light, giving the cafe a very uplifting vibe (but also as my mother would say, potentially resulting in pigmentation if you plan to sit there the entire afternoon lol) and providing the perfect set-up for the perfect instagram picture (not to mention the adorable little pots of succulents on the tables that serve as good props to fill awkward gaps – hello good photos!). clean lines, a largely white colour palette and simple wooden furniture make for a simple and fuss-free but stylish minimalist space.
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as you can see from the picture, tables are communal so this might not be the best spot for a cosy and romantic first date or an intense pour-your-heart-out conversation with the bffl, but it is great for all other purposes, especially those of the chill hangout sort. this picture was taken at 1030am when we first arrived – the cafe was rather empty and we were clearly spoilt for choice as to where to sit; by the time noon came around however, it was full and buzzing with a healthy lunch crowd.

they do all-day dining, and offer a decent selection from morning right through till evening:
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we were there for brunch and i was rather pleased with the good mix of sweet and savoury offerings they had despite there not being that many things on the menu. eventually decided to order a truffle benedict and french toast to share between the 2 of us. orders are placed and payment is made at the counter, followed by the food being served to you when ready.

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truffle benedict – brioche, smoked ham, wilted spinach, free range poached eggs served with truffle hollandaise sauce ($18)
our noses were excited by the tantalising whiff of truffles as the dish was served to our table. i’ve read other reviews where people complained that there was barely any hint of truffle in this dish and although i agree that it wasn’t particularly strong, it was definitely there (perhaps there is some inconsistency in the amount added? or they’ve improved since the reviews i read were written?) and we definitely smelt it!

because no eggs benny review is complete without a picture of the eggs and their yolk post eruption, here is one for you:20141231_105944
needless to say, the eggs were poached perfectly, all oozy and runny and pregnant with liquid gold. the ham was of good quality, smoked well and sliced relatively thickly. as for the spinach, it was lightly-seasoned and cooked to just the right point – soft but not overdone such that it became mushy or overly wet. the hollandaise sauce brought everything together wonderfully and the truffle complemented it very well, adding that extra oomph to it that allowed it to remain light despite its creaminess. as for the brioche, it was buttery, fluffy and soft but crusty at its edges from a light toasting. i thought this was a very good rendition of the brunch essential eggs benny.

thankfully our sweet item of choice was as satisfying as our savoury dish.20141231_105249salted caramel banana french toast – brioche french toast, caramelised bananas drizzled with salted caramel sauce and topped with whipped cream ($16)
the french toast looked great and luckily we were not disappointed with how it tasted at all! i look forward to having this again just looking at the picture above and recalling how it tastes – i remember the thick salted caramel sauce that reminded me of hot fudge on a sundae, the generously-added and lovely slices of lightly caramelised bananas and the perfectly soft/eggy/fluffy/warm slices of thick brioche toast. it was surprisingly not too sweet, and the granola bits were a nice touch – they added additional texture and a nice crunch to the dish. as for the whipped cream, i don’t think we touched it at all because the toast by itself was so enjoyable!

needless to say, we left belly happy and very happy; it was a suitably satisfying last brunch of the year 2014 (food-wise and company-wise) 🙂 indeed, not only is pacamara’s food good, the environment is nice, parking is free (if you’re lucky enough to get a space in the parallel parking lots that line the row of shopfronts), coffee is great (apparently, will definitely try next time!), and prices are nett. i’d certainly recommend this as somewhere to add to your cafe-hopping list!

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Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters
185 Upper Thomson Road
Singapore 574333

Sacha & Sons, Singapore

happy new year everyone!!! you may or may not have noticed that we now officially have our own domain (ie we’ve dropped the wordpress from our url), hurrah! it was one of nic’s new years resolutions to get over his self-proclaimed tech noobness and sort that out, and he very adeptly did so thank you nic (you are now forgiven for leaving me to do most of the writing 😛 )! 😉 i am ashamed to admit that i haven’t been religiously updating about the new places back home that i’ve managed to check out this holiday, but today i woke up and decided i had better get cracking on that given that there are a mere 2 days left to christmas break, so here i am, appropriately kickstarting the new year with a post on the newly-opened sacha & sons.

while in nyc over summer, i had the honour of having what was probably the best (and also most expensive) bagel in my life thus far – a classic smoked salmon cream cheese bagel from traditional new york deli russ & daughters. i occasionally think of it and wonder when i will get to taste a bagel that comes close again, and am delighted to say that judging by the food i had in this little corner of mandarin gallery that day, i think i might have found just the place!

located right next to its sister restaurant wild honey (the two are owned by the same couple) in a corner of mandarin gallery’s third floor, this delightful delicatessen occupies a bright, tastefully-decorated and spacious unit that is perfect for a casual hangout over some unique nosh.
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(i have concluded after looking at this picture that the space looks much better and more inviting in person; this photo unfortunately does not do it any justice)

besides the classic new york smoked salmon bagel (which i did not actually try but definitely plan on returning to do so), sacha & sons serves an exciting range of food that one would expect to find in a traditional jewish deli in the big apple, filling what used to be a gap in the singapore dining scene, and very successfully might i add. here’s what they have to offer:
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their pastrami came highly recommended and i really wanted to try their bagels, so ordering was a surprisingly stress-free affair despite the myriad of choices available on the menu. we decided on a grilled reuben with pastrami and scrambled eggs with sturgeon and smoked salmon, placed our orders and paid at the counter, and returned to our table to eagerly await the arrival of the food.

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scrambled eggs with sturgeon, smoked salmon and caramelised onions served with a toasted bagel and cream cheese with herbs – $18

i am a huge fan of bagels and this was without a doubt one of the best bagels i’ve had in singapore. hand-rolled, it was served freshly-toasted and warm with a crisp exterior encasing a soft and fluffy (while retaining just the right amount of bite) interior, basically the perfect texture of a quality bagel. i am also a huge fan of seeds and nuts (who isn’t?) so the generous sprinkling of sesame seeds that topped the bagel was truly my cup of tea and added additional texture and crunch to the bread. a generous slathering of some thick and creamy cream cheese and a heap of scrambled eggs to top it all off made for the perfect combination of flavours. the addition of herbs in just the right amount to the cream cheese also lifted its taste and prevented it from getting too heavy.

as for the scrambled eggs, they were well-executed – fluffy, smooth and neither too dry nor too wet. very well-sized slivers of fish were generously added to the mix (every spoonful of eggs contained a decent dose of fish pieces) and gave the eggs texture and a savouriness, while the caramelised onions added sweetness. i feel like the latter was overpowered by the strong flavours of the fish though. and i think i’ll probably opt for the purely salmon and onion and sturgeon-free option the next time i order this – if you aren’t a fan of strong fishy flavours, you might want to do the same because i felt that the sturgeon added quite a distinct fishiness.

indeed, the scrambled eggs were rather scrumptious but what truly stole the show for me was the glorious grilled reuben sandwich:20150108_123348grilled reuben with pastrami, swiss cheese, sauerkraut and russian dressing – $18

the only other place in singapore where i’ve had a grilled reuben is nassim hill bakery. it might be a case of personal preference, but my friend and i both agreed that sacha and sons’ rendition is far better. we were so impressed and satisfied by this humble-looking sandwich that there were already discussions of returning for more as we savoured our respective halves.

the pastrami is house-cured and smoked, and is so fragrant and perfectly-flavoured that my mouth waters thinking of sinking my teeth into it again. for the grilled reuben, they have achieved the perfect ratio of meat to cheese to sauerkraut, resulting in satisfaction guaranteed in every bite. i was initially worried that it would be a tad dry, but my worries were unfounded because everything sandwiched in between the two slices of delicious toasted rye bread came together amazingly well and there was an immensely satisfying burst of flavour in each mouthful. the pastrami was tender and so flavourful, oh and did i mention its beautiful pink hue?
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what stands out about this sandwich for me is that despite being so tasty and sounding so heavy, it remains light and i believe i’d have no problems finishing an entire one. perhaps it is because the flavour of the pastrami is delicately fragrant, the cheese is added in just the right amount to complement and not overpower the other components, and the sauerkraut brings a lovely and refreshing slight zest and tang to the mix. they are also generous in providing two whole pickles along with the sandwich. i am seriously looking forward to returning for this when i’m next back in singapore.

besides the delicious food, service at sacha & sons is also worth mentioning. staff are friendly, welcoming, attentive and ever ready to help. they also have a range of samples of their different offerings for you to try before placing your order – i managed to try the smoked trout dip, smoked salmon dip and chopped liver. all were good, and special mention goes out to the chopped liver which is a liver lover’s dream come true – thick, creamy and oh-so-liver-y (for lack of a better description). my advice is for anyone who has even a slight dislike of liver to stay away though, because even for someone like me who quite enjoys liver, i found the taste quite overwhelming. on second thoughts though, it could have been due to the fact that they were so generous with the chopped liver sample that the ratio of liver to cracker was about 3:1…

i was very impressed with the entire set-up and will certainly return. hopefully they maintain both the high standards of food and service even as they grow in popularity (which i am sure they will). another plus point is that they take reservations, yay! definitely go check it out!

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Sacha & Sons
333A Orchard Road
#03-02 Mandarin Gallery
Singapore 238897