Lan Zhou Noodle Bar, London

i cannot believe i it took me 2.5 years to discover this hidden gem right in the heart of leicester square; if i had known of it earlier, i’m sure i’d have spent many a cold night there slurping up oodles of noodles, elbow to elbow with other hungry patrons of this hole-in-the-wall…

it was a cold and rainy day and having just ticked one off the london bucket list by ice skating at somerset house, my ravenous friends and i decided that a large bowl of piping hot noodles sounded really, really good. so off to lan zhou la mian we trooped!

lan zhou la mian is not a shop i would venture into if it wasn’t recommended to me by friends – their shop window is filled with trays of (if i may say) dubious-looking extremely brightly-coloured ready-to-eat hot food (think mr wu’s chinese restaurant eat-all-you-can-buffet-style food that always makes me upset because i hate that it would make some people who don’t know any better think that that is all chinese food is about – fried spring rolls, lemon chicken and “singapore noodles” (the most offensive thing ever!!!)) and given how it is so well-located just a stone’s throw away from leicester square tube station, it appeared to me to be the type of shop that serves sub-standard chinese fare at cheap prices. we couldn’t have been more wrong though, and hurrah for that!

venture into the little shop and you will find (1) an almost 100% chinese clientele (a sure sign of its legitimacy) and (2) a chef hard at work making noodles before your very eyes! needless to say, i was ultra excited – the last time i had fresh hand-pulled noodles was about 3 months ago in sunny singapore, its taste quickly becoming a fading memory in my mind…
20141205_141545

they have an extensive menu that includes a range of cooked dishes and cold and hot appetisers, but we were there for the noodles, and that alone left us spoilt for choice. besides all the different types of noodles they have, you can get them all soup/dry/fried, and you can choose how thick you want the noodles to be. there are countless permutations and combinations that will be made-to-order just for you:20141205_140946

the aforementioned friends who recommended this place highly recommended the beef noodles, so the stewed beef la mian soup is what every single one of the 4 of us opted for. the noodles took quite a while to arrive (one would expect faster service using all the other casual chinatown eating spots as benchmarks) and the waiting time was exacerbated by the fact that it was 2.30pm and we (or maybe just me) had just done the most exercise we’d done all year by skating for an hour.

words cannot express my utter delight when a huge bowl of piping hot noodles was placed before me some 15-20 minutes later:
Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset
mid-way through the monstrous bowl
we couldn’t have been happier with our huge bowls of noodles (#asiankidsforever). the broth was thick, tasty and flavourful, and the beef brisket was tender, well-seasoned and added in generous amounts. note the addictive chilli oil in the picture that was added in copious amounts for that extra spicy punch, making this bowl of soupy goodness even more satisfying than it already was on its own. as for the noodles, i was sold after taking my first bite. you could tell they were definitely freshly-made (the waiting time was warranted after all) – bouncy, springy and cooked for just the right amount of time to give it the perfect bite. i could not stop enthusing about the texture of the noodles as i made my way slowly but steadily through the huge bowl. soon it was all gone and i ain’t gonna lie, i was a little sad (as i tend to be when i have nothing left on my plate that previously contained a mountain of all things delicious).

at just £6.50, this bowl of goodness was like a warm, comforting hug on a cold winter’s day, and i will certainly jump at any chance to return. mega plus points for the fact that it opens till the wee hours of the morning (5am on saturdays?! truly a #rarespecimen in london), so this is certainly a place to visit when you’re in need of a late-night supper or desperately need to satisfy a sudden intense craving for oodles of noodles before bedtime. love me some la mian!!!

Lan Zhou La Mian (Noodle Bar)
33 Cranbourn Street
London WC2H 7AD

Imperial Treasure Shanghai Cuisine, Singapore

sometime last year, yet another addition was made to the array of imperial treasure and crystal jade restaurants within ngee ann city (there are so many variations of the 2 brand names within that one building that i always find that i have to triple check which outlet is the one i’m meant to be heading to) – imperial treasure shanghai cuisine. head up to the 4th floor of the building and you’ll find it where coca restaurant used to be; its hard to miss because of the row of cocoon-like booth seats lining the side of the restaurant.
20140812_184257

if not for the fact that our shanghainese family friends took us for dinner there one night, i probably would never have ventured into this restaurant. it exudes a fancier and more upmarket vibe than the regular chinese restaurant chains like crystal jade la mian xiao long bao or din tai fung, more like somewhere that you’d go to for a sit-down extended family dinner rather than somewhere i’d head to with friends for a casual dim sum meal. boy am i glad they took us there that one night though, because that was the fateful meal where i discovered my current favourite xiao long baos in singapore!

i was so impressed with the food we had with our family friends (we had a proper shanghainese feast – starters, pork buns, dim sum at the side, fish, duck, rice cake, rice wine dessert etc etc) that i vowed to return, and jumped at the opportunity to do so when a craving for xiao long baos came around…

the great thing is that they serve dim sum even at dinner time, so i visited after work on a weekday night for my yummy shanghainese dim sum fix. service is top-notch and extremely attentive, and we were given a booth seat which was nice and cosy for two. besides booth seats, they also have a good number of private rooms and regular tables. i love how the area is quite spacious and the tables are well-spaced to afford diners privacy and a pleasant dining experience.
20140812_184641

 here’s the dim sum menu:
20140812_184918

between the 2 of us, we ordered 4 different dim sums and a bowl of noodles to share. would definitely have gone for more if not for the fact that i had a huge and late lunch that day! the meal started with the usual chilled braised peanuts that you get at chinese restaurants, and its worth mentioning that they were pretty good – well-braised to soft perfection and very nicely-flavoured too.

first of our dim sums to arrive was the xiao long bao:
20140812_190729
shanghai steamed pork dumpling – $7.80

as i said above, these are my current favourite xiao long baos in all of singapore – they are divine! served piping hot, the xlb skin is smooth, delicate, moist and thin (but not too thin such that you have soup leaking out everywhere), bursting open to reveal wonderfully tasty soup and tender and juicy meat.
20140812_191043
all i can say is it’ll be a while before/ it won’t be any time soon that i return to din tai fung or taste paradise for their xiao long baos. this is officially my new go-to place for these little packets of tasty goodness! perfection in a mouthful mmm…

we also ordered a plate of pork buns:
20140812_191013
pan fried shanghai pork bun – $4.20

these were some beautiful buns 😉 just check out how perfectly pan fried they were:
20140812_191224
love the crispiness that the lightly-charred base added to the pau which was a great addition of texture to the pau skin. the pau skin itself was great – soft (but still retaining a nice chewy bite), light and of just the right thickness. as for the meat within the pau, it was actually pretty much like the xiao long bao filling, as moist and tasty and juicy as ever! together with the fluffy pau skin, this made for a great little pau. such perfectly pan-fried paus are not that easy to come by, so i’d recommend ordering this for a taste of some typically shanghainese dim sum.20140812_191245

 moving on with the pork filling agenda, we also got a plate of pan-fried pork dumplings:20140812_191320
pan-fried pork dumpling – $4.20

the last of our porky items for the day – guo tie, and they didn’t disappoint either! these delicious dumplings literally exploded when you bit into them, the piping hot porky juice filling your mouth. the skin was soft and thin but wonderfully crisp on the bottom, and each of them contained as much juice as the xiao long baos. definitely one of the better guo tie renditions i’ve had!

the final dim sum we ordered was the scallion pastry aka chong you bing:
20140812_191324
deep fried scallion pastry – $3.20

this wasn’t quite what we expected as we were imagining more of a flat chive pancake-like dish. nevertheless, it was pretty good! the pastry was flaky and light, encasing a generous amount of scallions that were fresh, crunchy and well-fried. even though it was deep fried, it wasn’t too oily and was very tasty.
20140812_191611

 finally, we ordered a bowl of noodles to round off the meal:20140812_190932
noodle soup with pork and vegetable dumplings

i very fondly remember this to be a very delicious bowl of noodles! much finer than the regular la mian or noodle soups that you get at other more mass-market xlb restaurants, the soup was delicately flavoured and noodles cooked to perfection. they were thin, tasted very fresh and had a nice bite to them. as for the soup, it was extremely tasty and had a very strong taste of natural sweetness from chicken (i think? if our taste buds didn’t fail us). what we liked most about it was that it didn’t taste like any old noodle soup; instead, the soup tasted like very well-done double-boiled-type chicken soup that they serve on a per bowl basis to start the meal in good chinese restaurants (sans the fancy ingredients that normally go with it eg abalone, mushrooms, chicken etc). the dumplings in the soup were also great:
20140812_192658 
they were big, the dumpling skin was extremely smooth, fine and thin, and they were generously stuffed with yummy pork and fresh vegetables. i’m sorry i don’t have the exact name and price of this bowl of noodles, but it was really good and i’d certainly order this (or any other bowl of noodles to try something new, for that matter) again when i return.

imperial treasure shanghai cuisine is a great place for a spot of shanghainese treats. besides the divine dim sum offerings, they also serve a range of main dishes and more substantial food for a full-blown chinese banquet. because not many people know of or pay much attention to its existence, i’d say their xiao long baos are a hidden gem (for now, at least). reasonable prices (our total bill came up to less than $40 if i remember correctly), great ambience, wonderful service, delicious food and a convenient location smack in the middle of orchard road – what more can one ask for? definitely worth a try!

Imperial Treasure Shanghai Cuisine
Takashimaya S.C., #04-22
391 Orchard Road
Singapore 238872

75 Ah Balling Peanut Soup, Singapore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Cosy Corner, Singapore

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

they are a small family-run (i’m assuming) set-up that sells a range of affordable one-dish meals including japanese fare like udon and katsu rice, but what they are really famous for are their yummy local dishes ie mee siam, mee rebus, popiah, kueh pie tee etc. there is limited seating space within the shop so its always quite full no matter what time of the day you visit; there are always customers popping in for a quick bite or taking away food!
20140626_131546

when i’m there, my order is standard – a serving of mee siam, accompanied by their super popular popiah! 20140626_132853
was also feelin’ a chendol (it was yummy) to beat the heat that day
the food at cosy corner never ever disappoints. it is one of my all-time favourite places to have a bowl of mee siam; i know i will always leave happy. the secret to its smashing success is definitely in its gravy – not too thick or too thin, very very tasty and far from being diluted. squeeze some lime into it before eating, and it really packs a super satisfying punch! the tau pok is also worth mentioning – fried to ultra crispy perfection while remaining soft and airy within. the tow gay is also fresh and well-cooked, not at all overdone to the point of being soggy as it tends to be at many places. my only qualm is that they seriously overcharge for the addition of 2 measly prawns to the dish – if i’m not wrong, they charge an additional $1 for just 2 prawns! i hadn’t realised this but now that i’ve taken note, i might just go with the mee siam without prawns the next time round. admittedly though, the prawns do add more texture to the dish. and despite the fact that mee siam is probably available more cheaply at any regular hawker stall, i keep coming back for more. #addictive!

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

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

My Cosy Corner
587 Bukit Timah Road #02-02
Coronation Shopping Plaza
Singapore 269707
20140626_131640

Kin Kin Chilli Pan Mee, Singapore

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

if you’re reading this and wondering “what on earth is pan mee/ kin kin chilli pan mee?!” (pretty much my reaction when i first heard about this), pan mee is basically u mian, and at kin kin which hails from our neighbour malaysia, they serve it dry with some seasoned minced meat, ikan bilis, fried garlic, an egg with a glorious runny yolk, and you are free (and highly recommended) to add plenty of their famous dry chilli flakes. perhaps better explained by this sign pasted on their shop door:
20140622_121525

visited on a sunday morning for brunch. they open at 11am and when we got there at about 1115am, we did not have to queue but we snagged the last 2 available seats in the (very decently-sized) shop to make a full house.
20140622_114821

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

the menu consists of just 6 items:20140622_114124

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

20140622_115316
signature dry chilli pan mee – $5.00
might not look like very much in the picture, but its actually a pretty decently-sized bowl that left us feeling quite satisfied! anymore and it might have become jelat i feel? they were pretty generous with the ingredients too; there was more than enough meat/meatballs to be eaten with the noodles.
after mixing:  20140622_115759what i found interesting about this bowl of pan mee was the fact that it did not taste dry or rubbery (which noodles that lack sauce sometimes tend to be) at all despite the lack of sauce. after mixing, the noodles were mostly coated in the delicious egg yolk, chilli flakes, and some (very minimal) sauce from the minced meat. each individual component was not outstanding (although 100 gold stars go to the perfectly poached egg – runny egg yolks never fail to steal my heart), but the mixture of everything put together was actually very tasty and did not disappoint! special shout-out also to their famous chilli flakes which really packed a punch:20140622_114027

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

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

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

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

Restoran Kin Kin Chilli Pan Mee
534 MacPherson Road
Singapore 36822020140622_121604
20140622_121503Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Link

http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/07/an-introduction-to-singaporean-food-cuisine.html

“I could spend the rest of my life eating in hawker centers.”
“I get the sense that Singaporeans are less likely to “go out” for Chinese or Indian than they are to just go out and eat everything in sight.” (emphasis added)

as i’m sure i’ve said many times before, Singapore – home to only some of the most unpretentious yet the most delicious food in the entire world :’)

Flesh and Buns, London

i’d been wanting to try flesh & buns since i heard that it was owned by the same people behind one of my favourite bowls of ramen in london at bone daddies. the thought of roasting your own green tea s’mores was also too good to resist, so it was flesh & buns that we headed to to celebrate one of my housemate’s birthdays!

occupying a pretty large space in the basement of a building at seven dials, it is an izakaya restaurant (drinks accompanied by food) that made its debut quite recently in the london dining scene. decor is simple and modern, with large tables that make it a good venue to meet up with larger groups of friends. it was rather quiet when we visited on a sunday night:
20131208_202454
its a really dimly lit place so unfortunately the photos aren’t going to be great because all i was armed with was my s3 camera 😦

as their name suggests, they pride themselves on their handmade buns, which are to be eaten with their mains. their buns are basically kong bak pau buns (for those who have absolutely no idea what i am going on about, kong bak pau are chinese braised pork “burgers”) – delicious steamed buns that are eaten with different fillings:
20131208_210200

the menu seemed to be going in the direction of fusion, with a mix of interesting asian and western dishes. they do things tapas-style, the idea being for you to order a number of dishes that the whole dining party can sample.
here’s the menu:20131208_203234

the first dish to arrive at our table was the beef tataki:
20131208_204957
beef tataki with onion ponzu & enoki mushrooms – £10.50
this was probably my favourite starter of the night. the sauce was delicious and the beef was fresh and sliced to just the right thickness – not as thin as beef carpaccio but not thick to the point of chewiness. neither was it stringy, which is another huge plus point! eaten with the condiments that topped it, it was a really yummy burst of flavours in the mouth.

the second appetiser we had was the fried squid aka calamari:
20131208_205003
fried squid with japanese pepper and lime – £8
there was nothing very outstanding about this starter, in my opinion. we really wanted to try the grilled beef skewers (with kimchi & yoghurt) but they had run out by the time we placed our orders 😦 it was good calamari and the batter was light and tasty, but nothing exceptional at all.

we also ordered the eel cucumber roll and the softshell crab roll:
20131208_205425
eel cucumber roll (grilled eel, sweet soy) – £10/ softshell crab roll (jalapeno mayo, chives) – £9
we all thought the rolls were rather pricey for the serving size (5 pieces each?!). they weren’t anything to shout about; i think you can easily get better rolls elsewhere. the jalapeno mayo was an interesting addition i suppose, but again it can be recreated pretty easily at other joints, i feel.

the last starter we ordered was the grilled corn:
20131208_205405
grilled corn with lime spice butter – £4
i loved this starter, especially because i adore corn!!! the corn was grilled to perfection and slathered in butter, naturally sweet but yet made even yummier by the extremely tasty butter. i. love. corn.

now on to the mains, which definitely impressed me more than the appetisers (thankfully!). we ordered 4 to share among the 6 of us.
first up, the crispy piglet belly:20131208_210208
crispy piglet belly with mustard miso & pickled apple – £14.50
the crispy piglet belly was basically like chinese roast pork. but it was a pretty good rendition of it! the meat was tender and juicy, and the skin was thin and crispy. the layer of fat wasn’t too thick and it wasn’t too oily too! it went well with the mustard miso, and we all really enjoyed the amazingly thin slices of pickled apple that were a very refreshing twist to the meat!

we also had the crispy duck leg:
20131208_210216
crispy duck leg with sour plum soy and beetroot pickles – £13.50
the duck was also really enjoyed by all of us – it was like duck confit with a slight asian twist. the skin had that yummy melt-in-your-mouth texture, while the meat within was moist and tasty! if i return, i would probably order this if i’m looking for a meat to go with the steamed buns.

our third choice of main was fish; we got the grilled sea bass:
20131208_210948
grilled sea bass with coriander miso and kimchi pickle – £16.50
i remember this to be very yummy, probably something i’d order if i return! the fish was extremely fresh and grilled to perfection. the skin was crispy and coated in just the right amount of coriander miso, while the meat was firm, moist and naturally sweet. our only gripe was the small serving, given the price we were paying.

the above 3 mains are meant to be eaten with the steamed buns or vegetables (which come together with the buns):
20131208_210842
i thought it was good that they had lettuce and other vegetables to eat with the mains – too many buns would fill you up really quickly, and veggies are always a healthier and lighter accompaniment.

finally, we went for the spicy beef hot stone rice aka flesh & bun’s take on bibimbap:
20131208_210412
spicy beef hot stone rice with mushrooms and sesame butter – £8.50
i think this was probably the most reasonably priced out of all the mains we ordered – the serving was definitely the biggest of everything we had ordered! i really enjoyed this dish and how the many ingredients and sauces added culminated in a big bowl of goodness. i felt that there was something different about it when compared to what you get in regular korean restaurants, but couldn’t quite place it. it was really tasty and the veggies added were fresh and retained their crunch. this dish had me scraping at the burnt bits at the bottom of the pot when we were done (not the healthiest thing to do, i know).

and finally, definitely last but not least, we had our dessert – one of our main motives for going to flesh & buns. out of the 4 we ordered though, i felt that only 2 were worth the hype and out of those 2, only one was something i’d return for.
the dessert menu:
20131208_213124

first, we had the bone daddies sundae:
20131208_214918
bone daddies sundae: matcha ice cream, blueberries, jelly, honeycomb, cream – £7
i felt there was too much going on with this sundae – it was nice and exciting to have a huge range of toppings added to the sundae, but the (major) downside is that i thought the matcha taste of the ice cream was almost completely masked. there was also something in it that we could not identify, but that made the whole thing kinda sour..? i’d probably give this a miss if i visit again.

we also had the yuzu meringue pie:
20131208_214911
yuzu meringue pie with raspberry yuzu sorbet – £7
this was very refreshing! the combination of yuzu and raspberry made for a very tart but yet not too sour dessert, and was a good break from the sweetness of all our other dessert choices. i thought the yuzu pie was delicious, as was the raspberry sorbet. i’m not really a fan of meringue so can’t say much about it! if you’re into sour things, this is definitely for you!

we also had what flesh & buns has become pretty famous for (how could we not) – the green tea s’mores!
20131208_215424
s’mores: marshmallows, biscuits, green tea chocolate – £8
we were beyond excited when the charcoal stove was brought to our table for us to roast the s’mores. there was definitely a major novelty factor there – the idea of DIY roasting not just regular s’mores, but green tea s’mores at your table. it was a really fun experience (though the marshmallows ended up being kinda burnt), but i wouldn’t rave abut the taste. we all agreed that the green tea chocolate was pretty lightly flavoured, but teamed with the biscuits and melty marshmallows, still made for something rather satisfying. given that we were only given 2 s’mores though, i would again say this isn’t really value-for-money though it might be worth paying for the fun experience.
20131208_215716
birthday girl with the completed s’more

and finally, on to my favourite dessert and quite possibly my favourite dish of the night:
20131208_214906
kinako donuts with black sugar custard – £8
these. were. amazing. DELICIOUS. amazing. they were like giant sugar-coated exploding donuts. pictures to illustrate my point:
20131208_215958 20131208_220005 20131208_220244
just look at that!!! the outside of the donuts were as good as the inside – they were light and fluffy, of just the right thickness to hold the amazing oozy custard, and coated in sugar. so sinful but so good, especially because they were served warm. the black sugar custard actually tasted quite like normal custard, but it was extremely smooth and creamy and not too sweet at all! if there’s only one dessert you have space for after dinner, its these amazing balls of goodness that you must go for!!!

all in all, we had a pretty good experience at flesh & buns but i’m not sure how soon i’ll be returning just because i thought it was rather pricey (though looking at the pictures of the donuts again, i now realise that they are indeed quite hard to resist :P)! some of their dishes are rather novel though, so i suppose its worth trying at  least once. they also have a lunch set-type thing, which seems quite reasonable!
20131208_213131

Flesh and Buns

41 Earlham St
London WC2H 9LXProcessed with VSCOcam with c1 presetIMG_20131209_101906
night out with my chicas bonitas aka best housemates ever 😉 ❤

New Ubin Seafood, Singapore

had heard about the increasing popularity and seen on various instagram and facebook feeds quite a bit about this place recently, so decided to drag (okay fine i didn’t have to drag; the fam bam is always willing to hunt down good food teehee) my family there for a meal one sunday evening.

we had previously visited this place once, but it was a long time back before it became the popular seafood haunt that it is today. i remember being very young and bewildered that we were having dinner in a coffeeshop-like setup in the middle of a bunch of car workshops!

the set-up remains the same today, but i now see the place as being charming in its own way, the kind of casual family place which people visit in their shorts and flipflops, with the menu scrawled in multiple colours on a chalkboard that stretches across the wall. its a bit like a secret shack hidden amidst car workshops nestled in sin ming, which i guess some might find appealing since it offers something very different from the usual modern set-ups that we so often visit these days.20130825_195714

we ordered 3 types of crabs, their famous beef, a plate of hokkien mee, and of course some glorious fried mantous (cannot live without, especially when there’s chilli crab sauce to be slurped up) for the 5 of us. they were having a buy 2 crabs get 1 free offer when we visited (there was a huge banner outside announcing this deal so i won’t be surprised if its a perennial offer) so that’s why we went for 3 crabs; if not for the fact that anything more would have been too much food, i think we might have given the other interesting options on the menu (like the pork knuckle) a try!

the crabs were all rather small and the meat was not particularly sweet or firm, though they were reasonably fresh. they were decent crabs though, and very reasonably priced if you take up the buy 2 get 1 free offer. the highlight of the crab dishes for me was definitely the different sauces of each style of cooking.

the first kind of crab we got was the black pepper crab:
20130825_185113besides the fact that the crab was on the (very small) side, we all thought the sauce was really delicious! it wasn’t the kind of black pepper crab that is very dry. instead, it was a little more sauce-y than usual (though from the pic it doesn’t appear to have much sauce at all on the plate i know); i prefer it this way but i’m not sure if everyone has the same preference! the sauce was very tasty and of the right consistency and pepperiness. i generally prefer crab done in other ways, but thought this was good nonetheless!

we also got a salted egg yolk crab:20130825_184613more tiny crabs! i’d like to think it was because they chose the smaller ones for us since we were a relatively small group attempting to eat 3 crabs? i am generally in love with anything that has salted egg yolk in it; i absolutely adore salted egg yolk and all its super savoury and tasty goodness. this dish was certainly no exception and was in fact one of the better salted egg yolk dishes i have had. they were generous with the egg yolk coating, and in my opinion, totally nailed the rich and grainy texture of the salted egg yolk paste. i could not get enough of this and am also guilty of licking the crab shells clean. shell-lickin’ good? i also polished off every single bit of the paste left on the lettuce leaves. am definitely getting something in this style the next time i visit, if not crab then squid!

the third type of crab we ordered was the quintessential chilli crab which no seafood dinner in singapore is ever complete without:20130825_185014
the chilli crab gravy was also very yummy and i loved the fact that there was plenty on the plate for us to drench our fried mantous in. it was of the right consistency – thick enough but not too heavy, and was the perfect mix of sweet and spicy! super yummy.

next, we had what nearly every beef-eating patron at ubin seafood orders, the rib eye steak!
20130825_185020
this was DELICIOUS. seriously good stuff. the beef is black angus rib eye from the states and is reasonably priced for its quality. we requested for it to be done medium-rare, and it was broiled to perfection – super yumz! i loved how the outside was done till it was just very slightly charred and hence crispy with a hint of smokiness, while the inside remained super moist and juicy. served on a large wooden board accompanied by wedges and caramelised onions, the smallest serving of this that you can order is 500g so this is perfect for sharing! it seems like this is the star dish of ubin seafood, and rightly so. a must-order when you are there!

besides the onions and wedges, the beef also comes with a complimentary plate of beef fried rice:20130825_184906
they use the beef fats that were cut off from the meat served to you to fry this super sinful plate of rice. it is a very simple dish with a bit of a smokey taste which really reminded me of claypot rice. though there are many others that rave about it, i thought it was pretty good, but definitely didn’t think it was outstanding enough to warrant having an entire bowl of something so sinfully unhealthy!

we got a plate of hokkien mee to end off the meal:
20130825_191522look at all that pork lard on the top screaming unhealthiness hahaha. this came highly recommended by the staff at the restaurant, and i thought it was pretty good! they were generous with the ingredients and i liked how it was the wet kind of hokkien mee, not the kind that’s fried dry. the sauce was tasty and despite the substantial amount the noodles came with, it remained rather light and wasn’t heavy. not a bad choice if you’re looking for some carbo to order.

all in all, it was a satisfying dinner with food cheaper but as good as that at the usual big seafood chains! i will definitely be back to satisfy future seafood cravings if i’m in the mood for somewhere casual and slightly off the beaten track. not sure if i’ll bring tourist friends here for seafood though; i feel it’ll be nicer to take them somewhere by the water instead and will probably be worth paying that bit more for a nicer ambience.20130825_185339

oh and be sure to make a reservation early before you go; the place is packed on weekends!

New Ubin Seafood

27 Sin Ming Road
#01-174, Sector A Sin Ming Industrial Estate
Singapore 575680

Swee Choon Dim Sum, Singapore

[disclaimer: sorry for the unoptimal quality of the pictures in this post!!! i only had my phone on me to snap pics and also by the time the food came, we were so starving that i wasn’t too fussed about getting the perfect shot before tucking in heh. especially sorry for the unappealing pictures of half-eaten food!]

finally managed to head down to the famous swee choon dim sum recently for a mega dim sum feast! headed there after an intense wednesday at work and was tricked by google maps into thinking that it was really near to lavender mrt station; it was not very near after all and by the time we spotted the big red swee choon sign, we were starving and dying to eat.IMG-20130814-WA0031 unsurprisingly, there was a queue when we arrived around 7pm but thankfully it moved quickly and we were soon comfortably seated at a large table in the air-conditioned part of the restaurant! (we originally considered sitting outside so we wouldn’t have to queue for a table, but the outdoor seating is in this extremely dark alley behind the restaurant – not a very pleasant or optimal eating environment at all!) the queuing time is also made better by the fact that there are seats for you to sit while waiting, and menus and order forms are given to you so you can order and the food arrives soon after you get seated at a table.IMG-20130814-WA0029 the menu is very excitingly extensive:20130814_19195020130814_19195520130814_191935given the huge range, it’s really easy to get carried away ordering everything that takes your fancy. but then again over-ordering always happens without fail when i’m eating with these two, so my take on the consequences of being spoilt for choice by a huge menu is probably just an excuse for the fact that we ended up ordering $90 worth of dim sum that night. (who said swee choon was cheap?!)

20130814_194305 dim sum feast for “three boys” because apparently i eat the equivalent of what a 3rd boy would eat

20130814_193844 what always happens when food is served #asianproblems

20130814_194241 1. drunken chicken
the drunken chicken was quite decent though i would have preferred it to be a little more chilled. the meat was tender, moist, and well-flavoured while the sauce was light and tasty. we all quite enjoyed it! 

20130814_194422 2. mee sua kueh
the mee sua kueh is one of swee choon’s specialities. i’ve don’t think i’ve ever had anything like it! we all agreed that it was quite an interesting item on the menu – mee sua is fried together into these block-like pieces which have crispy brown outsides. i think its worth ordering just to give it a try, but it fills you up rather quickly and can get a bit boring to eat after a while since there’s nothing else (ie no meat, veggie etc) added to it. its pretty much eating plain fried mee sua in “kueh” form. will probably give this a miss the next time i’m there!

20130814_1944473. har gao
i enjoyed the har gaos although i would have preferred the skin to be a tad thinner. as for the filling, it was really yummy and they were generous with the prawns that were fresh and crunchy!

20130814_1946534. pei tan porridge
the porridge was very average, neither great nor bad. always a nice accompaniment to dim sum though, and they do a decent enough rendition of it, so its worth ordering if you want some porridge to go along with your dim sum.

20130814_1946595. pancake with egg & meat floss
another swee choon specialty! sounds like quite a strange combination and looks that way too, but it was pretty good! tasted like an asian savoury crepe, and the cucumber stick in the centre added bite and crunch to the otherwise soft mix of things. it was a good combination of tastes and textures!

20130814_194702 6. xiao long bao
i didn’t have very high hopes for the xiao long baos but they were actually pretty good and one of the better ones I’ve had in Singapore i feel! we ended up ordering 3 longs in total (omg now that I think about it that 1 long each hahahahaha. extreme eating with these 2 once again.). they were really well done – the skin wasn’t too thick and the soup and meat within were very yummy, especially when eaten fresh and piping hot!

20130814_1947107. egg tarts
the egg tarts were not bad, but nothing to shout about. they were portugese-style tarts as you can see from the pictures and the crust was flaky and crispy while the filling was quite wobbly and smooth, and not too sweet. didn’t get as excited as i usually do about egg tarts though… not sure why. i’ve been trying to think of what it was missing but i can’t seem to pinpoint it. maybe the filling was a little too wobbly and soft for my liking? the texture was almost like that of steamed egg; i guess i prefer fillings that are a little firmer!20130814_200445
very soft filling – a little too soft for my liking

20130814_1947358. prawn and banana fritter
i used to think that prawn and banana fried together in a fritter was an extremely strange combination, but i’ve come to really enjoy it! swee choon’s rendition of it was good. the banana was nice and sweet, the prawns were juicy, and the batter wasn’t too thick. the oil it was fried in was fresh (hate when oil is re-used to fry things; i always taste it in the deepfried sticks of things at old chang kee), and the 3 components all complemented each other well.

20130814_1949149. cha siu bao
the cha siu bao was good! the skin was fluffy and nice and they were generous with the filling that was juicy and not too sweet! yumz.

20130814_19535210. siew mai
they were generous with the siew mai filling which was sweet and juicy, and the skin wasn’t too thick! i remember thinking that it was a little heavy/dense and could have been more daintily done though, but then again this isn’t fine dim sum dining so i guess expectations should be managed in that aspect!

20130814_195436 11. (ryan and) big pao
the big pao was stuffed with minced pork, chicken, egg and mushroom. the ingredients made the filling nice and juicy and it was great when eaten hot, but i felt that the skin could have been a little thinner (even though it was quite fluffy).

20130814_20092912. liu sha bao
can’t have dim sum without having liu sha bao!!! swee choon’s liu sha baos are definitely one of the best i’ve had in singapore – they nailed the most important part of the bao which is to have the piping hot filling ooze out when the skin is broken. besides that, the taste of the custard filling was really really good. it was a perfect mix sweet and savoury with a texture that wasn’t too smooth; i feel that liu sha bao filling needs to retain a hint of graininess to represent the salted egg yolk that goes into it! we had another round of these treasures and i was clearly extremely pleased:IMG_20130814_221113

20130814_20294113. sesame pumpkin
i quite enjoyed this – it was basically sesame-coated pumpkin encasing red bean paste! everything went together quite nicely and i love how the sesame seeds coating the pumpkin added bite to the otherwise soft and mochi/tang yuan-like texture of the pancake. could have been a little less greasy though!

20130814_20370214. fried prawn dumplings
didn’t try this because by this point, i was completely dimsum-ed out and about to pass out from a food coma but my friends raved about it. supposedly really really good wan tons with amazing juicy prawn fillings. i would probably have had one if they weren’t fried, but i just couldn’t stomach anything so greasy anymore!

15. we also had their fried rice with shrimps and fried hor fun with shrimps (which i don’t have individual pics of), both of which we were disappointed by. they were nothing exceptional and hence not worth filling yourself up with at all! am definitely going to stick to the dim sum items on the menu the next time i visit.

20130814_205248 16. dessert
their desserts were decent! we had 3 desserts to share (even though we were close to rolling around on the floor in our stuffed states by this time) – grass jelly, ice jelly, and mango with pomelo and sago. the jellies were smooth and not overly sweet, while the mango with pomelo and sago was not bad but could have been thicker and less diluted. i was not expecting much at all since the focus of this place is on their dim sum and desserts would probably be more of an afterthought on the menu but was pleasantly surprised.  a good way to wash down all that food and end the meal on a sweet note!

20130814_210019doctor-to-be warning us of the potential ailments we might suffer from next time if we keep feasting so uninhibitedly each time we meet

given that there are not many places in singapore that serve dim sum at night (swee choon opens from 6pm-6am), its quite likely that i will be back at swee choon one day if i’m in search of dim sum past daylight. there are some hits and misses but it is overall a pretty good place with a very extensive menu so that everyone can satisfy their varied dim sum cravings. its definitely not a place for finely-made dim sum, but for the price you pay, i feel that you can’t complain at all!

(especially if you aren’t as crazy as the 3 of us who somehow managed to chalk up $90 worth of dim sum:20130814_210948
i do not know how my work clothes survived it… thankfully i did not have to go home with split seams hahaha.)

Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant Pte Ltd

191 Jalan Besar
Singapore 208882

IMG-20130814-WA0028
R001-005
feasting friends forever

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, Singapore

i was never a fan of bak chor mee until my mother took me to this place on a random afternoon after we collected my passport at the immigration & checkpoints authority. the stall is in a coffeeshop which is behind the immigrations building, and can be accessed via a pedestrian bridge across a canal that’s near the open-air carpark next to the building. one spoonful of the noodles and i was sold!!! (still wouldn’t say i am a bcm convert though, because this is probably the only bcm i ever crave)

i’ve gone back every single time i’m back home and each time, the queue seems to be longer. not sure if its because its become more popular of late or because i’ve just been going at the wrong times, but i think it might be the former since on my most recent visit there, we arrived at 11am (we thought it was the perfect time to beat the lunch crowd) and ended up queuing for 1 hour and 20 minutes. by the time we got our food, everyone at the table still thought it was worth it though, so i guess that means i will be returning to conquer the crowds once my craving for it hits again…

what greeted us when we clambered out of the car at 11am on a weekday morning:20130723_112026half of the queue. there were about 10-15 more people that couldn’t fit into this shot; the queue so long and snaking that i couldn’t even take a panorama shot to get the entire queue in 1 picture lol

by the time we reached the front of the queue, more than an hour had passed and my cousin decided that she needed to order the biggest bowl available ($10) to make the queuing worth it. 😉 the smallest bowl costs $5, and the largest $10:20130723_121049

she managed to finish every single bit of it!!! (as i mentioned before, a huge appetite and thankfully, a high metabolism to accompany it, runs in the family :P) as you can see in the picture below, the bowl itself is actually really large and it comes with a bigger bowl of soup too, but what makes it cost more is actually additional ingredients and not anything else. the noodles given in the $10 portion aren’t significantly more, but if you compare this picture to the next one, you can definitely see the difference in the amount of meat/liver/fried fish/meatballs/dumplings they give!20130723_122842 $10 bowl

this is the $6 bowl:20130723_122900$6 bowl

so what exactly makes this bak chor mee so good?

1. the noodles are cooked to perfection. they aren’t in the least bit overcooked and retain a delicious bite while not being too hard. you’ll also never find bits of clumpy noodles stuck together (that is pretty common in noodles that aren’t as well-cooked). my personal preference is mee kia, but both the mee kia and mee pok are good!

2. the sauce – note that this sauce is a vinegar-based type of sauce so it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. having grown up eating dry noodles in sauce that always includes some vinegar, this to me is the best sauce ever.

3. the chilli is really really good.

4. the ingredients are all delicious. the meat, like the noodles, is perfectly cooked – sweet, tender and not overcooked at all! the liver is crunchy and delicious (my sister who normally avoids liver like the plague actually enjoys this liver), the dumpling is not at all the kind of dumpling that has more skin than filling (in fact many people order a bowl of soup with dumplings on top of their bowl of bcm), and the meatballs are a yummy touch. and the pieces of fried solefish (ti poh) that top the dish are like icing on top of the cake – so good.

at this point, if the only reason why i haven’t successfully managed to convince you to go give this delicious bcm a try is the long queue, then i hope this helps me to further build my case 😉 :20130723_114706

another stall in the coffee shop does very good fried dumplings (guo tie) as well as chive pancakes! plus their queue is never as long as the queue for bcm, so this is a great snack as an appetiser or energy boost for the queuing while waiting in line for your noodles! the guo tie is perfectly brown and crispy on the outside without being burnt at all (check out the pic – no black bits in sight!), while the chive pancake is really well done with generous amounts of very fresh and juicy chives. both aren’t too oily as well – barely any oil was found left on the dish when we were done. i would definitely recommend ordering this along with your bak chor mee! the stall that sells these items is the 2nd stall to the left of the bak chor mee stall.

there is a western stall in between the bak chor mee stall and the guo tie stall, and this western stall is supposed to sell very decent coffeeshop-type western food! they actually have newspaper clippings about them stuck at the stall so it must be pretty good! i’ve never been one to go for western food in hawker settings though, so i’ve never given this a try. i guess this is a good option if you’re eating here with young kids who might not fancy or appreciate a bowl of bak chor mee as much as they would a plate of pork chop with fries. 20130723_113011 L to R: guo tie stall, western stall, bak chor mee stall

there is a carpark right by the coffee shop so its pretty convenient eating here if you drive! if not, walking from lavender mrt which is right by the immigration building is also a breeze. definitely be prepared to queue for about an hour if you head down at lunch/dinner time. if not, going once it opens in the morning (930am if I’m not wrong) or mid-afternoon should help to shorten the waiting time.

although my parents say that there is a stall in hong lim food centre that serves very similar bak chor mee with a shorter queue that moves more quickly, i have yet to try it and so hill street tai hwa pork noodle is currently still my favourite go-to place for bak chor mee in singapore 🙂

UPDATE: aforementioned hong lim bak chor mee has been tried and tested a few times, and unfortunately i have been disappointed each time! i find that its downfall is mainly in its noodles – what you get at hong lim somehow just lacks the same satisfying al-dente bite that hill street tai hwa somehow manages to deliver every. single. time. besides the noodles, i find that the ingredients at hill street tai hwa are always cooked to perfection, never over or underdone whereas the hong lim bak chor mee lacks that same consistency. hill street tai hwa – you have my heart, always and forever! ❤

20130723_120839

Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

#01-12, Tai Hwa Eating House
466 Crawford Lane
Singapore 190466