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 ( ūüė¶ oh how i miss my prawn mee, duck rice and goreng pisang ūüė¶ #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 Рthe 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 Рsoft 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) ūüôā 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

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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 ūüėõ )! ūüėČ 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

White Mulberries, London

“we really shouldn’t be going out but that’s why we’re heading out early and coming home right after seeing the poppies to do work.” prime example of #wishfulthinking because after paying the tower of london and its beautiful sea of ceramic red flowers a visit bright and early at 9am earlier this week, the call of brunch was too strong to resist and we found ourselves checking out this wonderful little hidden gem tucked away at st katharine docks, just a stone’s throw away from the tower. we had to eat anyway… (#excuses)

even though we all had essays to go home and work on, nobody regretted this sidetrack (or sidetrek? bahaha) to brunch because the coffee was great, the food was good, the atmosphere lovely and the company even better. i have to say that my expectations were exceeded, and we all thought it was quite deserving of its well-earned accolade of being london’s best coffee shop in 2014.

white mulberries occupies a cosy shop space facing a charming waterway that’s like an oasis of calm in the heart of bustling london. they serve a range of food throughout the day (but are closed for dinner) and everything is all laid out at the counter, sitting pretty and begging to be eaten. some of what they have: banana bread, muffins, croissants etc for breakfast, sandwiches and burgers for lunch, and cakes, tarts and cronuts (!!!) throughout the day mmm…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

we were hungry and excited so may or may not have ended up ordering a tad too much for three people –¬†OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
brunch for 3 Рfilled croissant (£4.50), burger sandwich (£~5), yoghurt granola with fruits and seeds (£4.50), cronut with lemon zest (£3), banana bread (£2.80), mocha (£2.80), latte (£2.50), chai latte (£~3) (note: additional charge of 50p for eat-in)
it was certainly quite a spread for a trio who hadn’t even intended on having brunch out before going home, but i suppose we knew it was unlikely we’d be back soon since it is a bit further out from where we normally hang around, so all out we sure went!

starting with the drinks, i had the chai latte and i absolutely loved it! definitely one of the best chai lattes i’ve had in london (the only other one i remember as fondly being from bea’s of bloomsbury if i’m not wrong) – robust yet lightly fragrant, perfectly spiced and not too sweet, this big cuppa warmed me up from inside on this bright and chilly morning. the others were very pleased with their coffees too!

as for the food, i cannot emphasise how much i enjoyed my big bowl of granola:
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i normally avoid ordering granola in cafes because its something that can be rather easily replicated at home as long as you have the right combination of ingredients and everything is added in the right quantities. i spied this at other tables when we arrived though, and just could not resist ordering it! absolutely no regrets – it was super delicious: refreshing, light, tasty, and made with the perfect mix of the different components in perfect quantities. i particularly enjoyed the addition of plum and white mulberries, and loved the yoghurt so much that i was tempted to ask them what brand they were using (but i didn’t). quite a sizable portion too, so i was really pleased with my choice!

as for the other food we ordered, the savoury croissant was equally delicious. stuffed generously with some greens, cheddar, tomatoes and ham, this croissant was full of strong flavours and was highly satisfying. would recommend trying this if you’re looking for a savoury and hot breakfast option (they toast the sandwiches).

we also tried a burger sandwich with german sausage, rocket, cheese of some sort etc (sorry for the etc – i just cannot remember what exactly was encased between the wonderfully soft bread!!!) and it was yet another great combination which offered very strong and satisfying flavours. particularly enjoyed the sausages because they had bite and were clearly not the highly processed mass-manufactured type.

finally on to the sweets, we ordered banana bread and a cronut to share! didn’t manage to finish these two but took them home in a little box to share the love with the other housemates heehee. we all felt the banana bread was a little dry, especially towards the edges. i also thought it would have been nicer if accompanied by some sort of cream/sauce/drizzle/custard/yogurt/fruits/whatever it is people have with banana bread, just to give it that added kick. as for the cronut, we took it home and heated it up in the oven later that day and it was pretty good, though nothing i’d really rave about.

at the end of our little brunch date, i declared white mulberries officially one of my favourite cafes in london. such a pity that its far from our usual stomping ground though, or i’m sure i’d be there a lot more often, whether it be for a warm chai latte on a cold day or for a quick hearty sandwich lunch. if you’re in the vicinity, i highly recommend giving this cafe a try and hopefully you’ll be as pleased with your discovery as we were. see you there! ūüôā
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White Mulberries
D3 Ivory House
St Katharine Docks
London E1W 1AT

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PS. sorry for being mia for a bit – was off in marseille for reading week (had an amazing time) and now that school has resumed, reading which was meant to be done during reading week has been keeping me busy/the biannual essay season is here ūüė¶ promise to¬†update whenever i get the chance to!

PPS. the poppies were a stunning sight:
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#remembrance

Caravan Kings Cross, London

i am ever thankful for the weekly long weekends i have the pleasure of indulging in; its amazing what a difference an extra day (or two #terrifictimetabling heehee :P) off school can make! indeed, monday blues this week were even more¬†non-existent than normal because the weather was amazing and we celebrated a very dear friend’s birthday with good food (both at brunch and dinner mmm…) and even better company ‚̧

after successfully surprising aforementioned birthday girl bright and early at 9am in the morning by sneaking into her room and hiding behind her bed before jumping out screaming “surprise”¬†as the best birthday song ever started playing, we set off for caravan at kings cross for birthday brunch.

perhaps it was the beautiful weather that day which made all the difference, but i loved the look and feel of granary square where caravan is located. housing the central st martins school, the former goods yard is made up of tall imposing buildings surrounding a large bustling square with a carpet of little dancing fountains. there’s also a little canal running by the side of the square with lots of activity going on. the inside of the building was equally impressive – a large trendy space with high ceilings, plenty of seating area and a palpable buzz from a healthy and extremely trendy crowd.
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one of the best things about caravan is that they open early (8am on weekdays) and close late (midnight on fridays and saturdays); it really is a great place for all-day dining. they have a different menu for different mealtimes throughout the day, and they are the kind of menus which make you want to order everything on them because everything sounds yummy ūüėõ check out the menus here.

we started off our meal with a pick from their list of daily bakes – a spiced apple crumble slice which was a very delicious start to our brunch:
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spiced apple crumble slice – ¬£3 (if i’m not wrong), ¬£3.50 at the most
we were actually expecting more of a cakeslice-type slice of tart but this was good all the same. it was moist and dense and the crumble on top was yummy, lending the slice a nice addition of texture, crunch and just the right amount of sweetness coming from the fresh, juicy and subtly-spiced apples. needless to say, it was gone in no time, long before our other orders arrived…

as for the mains, i opted for the jalapeno cornbread. i had wanted to try their aubergine puree dish but they had run out! ūüė¶ nevertheless, the cornbread was satisfying:
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jalapeno cornbread, fried eggs, black beans, guindilla pepper Р£8.50
it isn’t quite clear in the picture but the dish consisted of 2 pieces of cornbread and 2 fried eggs. i love cornbread and this was no exception. the jalapenos added an exciting twist and upped the spicy game of the bread, while bits of corn embedded in the bread balanced it out with sweetness. the bread was dense and moist as it should be, but i found it a tad oily – perhaps from the fried eggs rather than the bread itself? (not quite sure about the oil source) i also loved the beans that added further texture and bite, and the fried eggs that had wonderfully crispy edges and perfectly runny yolks. they were the perfect accompaniment to the bread!

the other popular choice at the table was the baked eggs:
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baked eggs, tomato pepper ragout, greek yoghurt, toast, with chorizo sausage Р£9.50
i only had a few bites of this so can’t say much about it, but it was enough for me to appreciate the ultra tastiness of the tomato ragout – it was hearty,¬†tangy (but not acidic) and extremely flavourful.¬†the yoghurt and runny yolks topping the ragout perfected the mix of flavours. the chorizo was also one of the yummier ones i’ve had included in a brunch dish – iit was moist and tender, a far cry from the tough and dry chorizo one is¬†sometimes unfortunate enough to encounter in life.

last but certainly not least, we got a serving of coconut bread to share:
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coconut bread, lemon curd cream cheese, poached rhubarb Р£7.50
given the serving size, i thought this dish was on the pricey side. no regrets getting it though, because it was a refreshing accompaniment to our savoury mains. my favourite part of this dish was definitely the lemon curd Рsmooth, thick, creamy and a perfect balance between sweet and sour. i loved it and found myself using every but of rhubarb and coconut bread left to soak it all up! the coconut bread on its own left less of an impression; there was only a very faint hint of coconut and if not for the odd bit of coconut that i chanced upon in the process of enjoying this dish, i would have completely forgotten that it was meant to be coconut bread. maybe if i had had it without the lemon curd, the coconut flavour would have shone through more. texture-wise the bread was dense and moist like banana bread which i really enjoyed. the rhubarb added a good juicy crunch to round the dish up.

all in all, we were really satisfied with the food and ambience of the place but the one thing which we all found lacking was the service. it wasn’t particularly personal or warm; in fact, it was rather abrupt and cold at times. perhaps it has to do with the restaurant’s location and it catering to lots of hip and cool arty farty types? that said, it doesn’t detract too much from the fact that good food is served in a nice ambience, so it is definitely worth checking out if you have some spare time before or after catching a train. i didn’t try any, but i heard the coffee is good too! and did i mention that they take reservations?

Caravan Kings Cross
Granary Building, 1 Granary Square
London N1C 4AA20141027_101909 20141027_101041

Gaest, Singapore

i’ve been wanting to write about gaest¬†since i visited it for dinner at the start of summer, but told myself to wait till i re-visited it for lunch so that i could give a complete (or almost complete – there’s still their weekend brunch menu to conquer!) run-down of their mouth-watering offerings. its now the end of summer (mega sad face) and i’m super happy i managed to squeeze in a brunch date with some of my favourite people at this amazing little place amidst the madness that the last few days of being home always proves to be (packing and last-minute meet ups galore, and this time with training contract applications added to the mix. plus squeezing in one last holiday of the summer – am now eating my way through nyc for a week before school starts!!!)…

gaest occupies a small shop space across the street from amoy street hawker centre. they only have space for about 10 within the shop, so most patrons end up sitting outside where they have many more tables. its quite pleasant to dine there in the evening when its much cooler (as we did for dinner), but can get pretty unbearable during lunch.

the first time i visited gaest was when they just started opening for dinner. i was initially disappointed to learn that they didn’t serve their sandwiches and salads that they have at lunch at night,¬†but ended up feeling pleased that¬†we got to try something different from them – their sourdough pizzas! here’s the menu:
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the dinner selection¬†(and their entire menu, for that matter) is pretty small, but everything on the menu (or at least everything i’ve tried thus far) is good so no complaints about the relatively limited offerings at all!¬†we ordered 3 pizzas for the 3 of us to share – 2 savoury and 1 sweet. we realised belatedly that it was quite a bit for 3 girls to finish even with the big appetites we have, but once we took our first bites of the pizzas, we realised that our worries would probably be proven unfounded. they were¬†super yum!

first up, the green kale and roasted pork pizza (sorry the pictures are not quite up-to-scratch; lighting was poor!) :20140714_194056
green kale and roasted pork pizza – mozzarella, white onion, roasted pork with crackling, honey marinated green kale, red apple and black pepper ($18)
this was definitely my favourite pizza of the lot; the combination of flavours and textures was amazing! it probably helped that my favourite meat (pork) was heaped on generously, and the saltiness of the meat was perfectly balanced by the natural sweetness of juicy red apple slices and the slight spice of black pepper. the pork was roasted to perfection Рslightly crispy on the outside but moist and tender inside, while the crackling was sheer melt-in-your-mouth goodness! the honey marinated green kale was a really tasty addition and together with the apple slices, prevented the pizza from being too heavy. some very strong flavours going on here, but the entire affair was kept light with a wonderfully thin and fluffy crust (more on the crust later) and a great combination of tastes and textures. i would say this is a must-order and will definitely return for this one day!

black forest salami and pickled cherry tomatoes pizza:20140714_194107
black forest salami and pickled cherry tomatoes pizza – mozzarella, smoked black forest salami, sweet pickled red cherry tomatoes, parsley pesto and roasted hazelnut ($18)
another savoury pizza, but something completely different! a really interesting mix of ingredients made for slice after satisfying slice – i particularly loved the addition of pesto and roasted hazelnuts.the hazelnuts were fresh and added great texture and crunch to the pizza while the pesto brought everything together very nicely.the salami was rather salty (as it is meant to be), but the cherry tomatoes balanced out the flavours well with their sweetness and juiciness. the charred bits of mozzarella were also a perfect complement to everything else that sat happily atop it.

and now for the sweet, rhubarb and strawberries:20140714_194517
rhubarb and strawberries pizza – mascarpone, rhubarb compote, fresh strawberries, lemon zest & fresh mint ($12)
this was good, but if i had to pick my least favourite of the lot, this would be it. don’t get me wrong, it was quite yummy, but maybe dessert pizzas aren’t quite my thing… especially after having pizza for the main meal too! nevertheless, like the savoury pizzas, i thought the combination of flavours here was pretty genius – the sweet strawberries and rhubarb compote were very nicely balanced out by the lemon zest (loved how they had actual bits of lemon skin and not just lemon juice squeezed over the pizza) and fresh mint. the mascarpone was fresh and light, and slathered on in just the right quantity such that the pizza wasn’t overly sweet.

all the pizzas are made to order – the dough is kneaded and rolled and ingredients are added as each order is placed. indeed, besides the unique ingredients and creativity in combining them behind each pizza, credit must also be given to the pizza crust! when i first arrived at the shop that evening and noticed them preparing and kneading the dough in the shop window, i knew i’d be in for a treat ūüėČ
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the texture of the crust is my favourite part of it – thin and crispy on the outside, but chewy and fluffy inside, with just the right amount of charred bits. perfection in a pizza crust! and topped with such wonderful/fresh/quality produce, its hard to imagine anything they make going very wrong…

the next visit i made to the great gaest was at lunchtime and i was super excited because i knew i’d finally get to try the much raved about sandwiches, in particular the roast pork one! i was most definitely not disappointed. arrived at 11am on a weekday, and successfully beat the lunch crowd to snag a table within the shop.
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we opted for 2 sandwiches and a salad which made for an extremely satisfying lunch; even the hungry boy at the table approved and gave it his two thumbs up & man food stamp of approval ūüėČ
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salmon – locally cold smoked salmon, honey and apple pickled beetroot, rocket & horseradish cream ($15)
i wasn’t actually drawn to this at all when i looked at the menu because i felt that smoked salmon is something that’s rather common and can be found in lots of places, but i’m glad my friends went ahead and ordered it anyway, because i have to say this was one of the best (if not the best) smoked salmon i’ve had in singapore! the salmon was extremely fresh and sliced thickly, giving it a wonderful bite reminiscent of fresh salmon sashimi. the beetroot was a great touch which added some crunch, while the horseradish cream was delicious and brought everything together wonderfully. it was tasty but very light, and not at all jelat! the sourdough bread encasing these amazing ingredients was also very delicious – crusty (for lack of a better word) crust and soft fluffy centres… super yum!!! we lamented the fact that we couldn’t buy an entire loaf of sourdough to take home with us!!!

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salad of the day with homemade sourdough – watermelon/quinoa/feta salad ($14)
next, we had the salad of the day which was a mountain (#truestory) of watermelon and quinoa. as its name suggests, the salad of the day changes daily which is definitely going to keep me heading back for more. the salad was super refreshing, light and yummy, really perfect for a hot day! i especially loved the addition of watermelon which made the salad juicy and moist without having to add much dressing at all. also, i love feta and it was added really generously here so extra gold stars for that yay! the serving is really rather huge so i suggest it be shared, possibly as a side to the yummy sandwiches (though the sandwiches themselves are also rather big!).

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pork – roasted pork with crackling, orange marinated red cabbage with parsley, red apple & mustard mayonnaise ($14)
last but certainly not least (in fact i would say i’m saving the best for last), we had the pork sandwich. this sandwich. is. SO. GOOD. a must-try when you’re at gaest!!! the pork is roasted to perfection – the skin is crispy and amazing while the meat remains juicy and tender, its close to melt-in-your-mouth goodness and its not overly seasoned at all and the addition of crackling adds plenty of crunch. the orange marinated red cabbage is also a great balance to the heavy flavours of the pork, and it is this and the red apple slices which keep the sandwich light (though certainly much heavier than the salmon sandwich) and make it interesting. i really really enjoyed this sandwich, and not just because pork is my favourite meat. really brilliant stuff and given the serving size, very reasonable too!

gaest is a wonderful break from the otherwise pretty greasy and unhealthy food options in the area (think amoy street hawker centre across the street/ coffee shops around the area). its the kind of place that makes me feel like singapore really needs more of these lovely little cafes that offer something different from the usual cafe/brunch fare! not only is the food unique, interesting¬†and only made using the freshest of quality ingredients (i thought this really shone through both times i visited), service is friendly and warm, and the prices on the menu are nett – there’s really not much to complain about! now to try their weekend brunch when i next return to singapore over christmas. i already can’t wait mmm… ūüėČ

Gaest
21 McCallum St
#01-01, The Clift
Singapore 069047
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PS. hopping across the street to amoy street hawker centre for a 2nd meal/ dessert isn’t a bad idea ūüėõ we had chinese dessert at zhen jie dessert stall on the 2nd floor of the hawker centre, and were very satisfied – the perfect sweet treats to round off an already great meal!
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my current chinese dessert obsession is black sesame/almond/peanut paste with tang yuan so that’s what i got and i was extremely pleased because it was one of the best i’ve had in singapore (the other great sesame paste shop i go to is the one in chinatown complex hawker centre)!!! the paste is very fragrant, light and smooth and the icing on the cake here is that the tang yuans are handmade and very good too! realised belatedly that they are famous for their ah balling – you can order tang yuans in a whole myriad of soup bases ranging from pastes to peanut soup to barley ginko nut soup. good stuff.20140915_121837

PPS. i apologise for the recent update drought! was busy at my last internship followed by a week of packing and last-minute meet-ups. and now,¬†i’m eating my way through¬†the great new york city – one last hurrah before final year begins!!! more posts to come soon ūüôā stay tuned!

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 Рwhen 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 ūüėõ 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! ūüėČ

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!!!

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.