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

Boopshi’s, London

pictures of boopshi’s succulent schnitzels accompanied by good reviews were popping up too frequently to ignore on various social media platforms throughout last term and so¬†sometime in the middle of it, i¬†decided that a¬†meal there was most definitely in order.

specialising in austrian schnitzel and spritz,¬†boopshi’s is a relatively new addition to the buzzing fitzrovia restaurant scene. with large glass windows letting plenty of natural light in and simple wooden furniture, this corner shop is simple and nothing fancy at all, but certainly a great space for a casual meal. we had an early lunch on a friday afternoon and the place was empty when we first arrived at about 1230, but soon filled up with the lunch crowd.

they serve a range of dishes, but look around and you’ll see that what 99% of the hungry diners have before them is a schnitzel – it is after all what they pride themselves on. besides those sumptuous slabs of breaded meats that they offer, they also have various sides and other plates¬†on the menu:
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the schnitzels in buns sounded like a really¬†good deal but we were there for the meat and didn’t want any distractions from bread, so all of us got whole schnitzels, along with 3 sides to share – spatzle n cheese, fries and sauerkraut. i can never resist the promise of a glistening egg yolk, so ordering a duck egg to top my schnitzel was an absolute necessity:
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rare breed pork schnitzel with duck egg Р£10.50 + £1.25
five pairs of eyes sparkled¬†as our schnitzels were placed before us – to hungry souls, there are few things better than being presented with¬†huge slabs of delicious breadcrumbed and freshly-fried goodies! what you see in the picture above doesn’t do justice to the generous serving sizes, for some reason my schnitzel was a little smaller than the rest…¬†one of my friends was served a pork schnitzel so big that the plate beneath was nowhere to be seen, i kid you not.

i’m glad the gravy took a while to get to the table because it allowed me to¬†try¬†some of the schnitzel as it was, and to fully appreciate the fine breading and naturally sweet pork. the juicy and tender meat was moist and coated in just the right amount of breadcrumbs such that the dish remained light despite it being so meaty. i also liked the fact that it was not drenched in excessive amounts of oil and i didn’t feel like i was eating anything that was exceptionally greasy (wishful thinking? denial?). the lemon definitely helped; a healthy dose of some lemon juice¬†added a lovely refreshing zest and helped to lift the taste of the schnitzel. taken with the gravy that was very tasty, this was¬†a suitably hearty and satisfying¬†treat.

as for the duck egg, it was an egg lover’s dream come true. cooked to absolute sunny side up perfection, the egg was slightly browned on its underside and had a yolk so large that it was enough to slather all over the schnitzel upon the all-important popping of yolk, and so creamy that it left me craving duck eggs for¬†a few days after (subsequently scored half a dozen from fortnum & mason and was super eggcited).

given how big the slab of pork was however, i can imagine it getting a bit monotonous to eat without any sides or toppings, so good thing we ordered sides for the table:20141114_124134L to R: frites (¬£3.50), large spatzle ‘n’ cheese (¬£6.50), sauerkraut (¬£3.50)
they did not disappoint and were a great accompaniment to the main event. starting with the fries, they were thin-cut shoestring-types¬†which though appeared a little undercooked for fries because of their very yellow hue, were actually cooked very well! crisp on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. as for the spatzle n cheese, it was essentially¬†austria’s take on mac and cheese – firm and chewy pasta (texture reminded me of gnocchi) generously enveloped in creamy but light cheese. i thought it could have been a little more flavourful but all was good otherwise; it was like a warm homecooked hug ūüôā last but not least, the sauerkraut was probably my favourite side. it was a great rendition of this traditional dish, wonderfully seasoned and cooked just as sauerkraut should be, soft but still retaining a slight crunch. i could have had a whole serving of this to myself!

as you can see from the pictures, the servings here are big and we were really full after (even though we arrived at lunch feeling ravenous and ready for attack) all that intense savouriness, but all felt like we needed something sweet to end off the meal so we ordered a serving of apple strudel to share:
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oma’s apple strudel – ¬£5.50
given the apple strudels i’m accustomed to (think ritz apple strudel – super flaky, crisp pastry and chunky apple slices), this was not quite what i expected.¬†i loved the apple filling which consisted of plump raising and thin, moist and juicy slices of apples which were heavily spiced with cinnamon (one of my friends actually found it too cinnamon-y), but was not a huge fan of the pastry that encased it. although it was light and thin, i would have preferred it to be flakier, airier and crispier; here it almost seemed dense because the many layers were stuck together. the fragrant vanilla ice cream brought everything together rather nicely and was a good complement to the very cinnamon-y¬†apple filling. perhaps it is a matter of personal preference of how one likes their apple strudels to be (catering to commercialised tastebuds vs very traditional as boopshi’s does it),¬†but i was a little disappointed because this¬†came highly recommended as one of their specialties. would probably skip dessert and focus on the mains when i next return! oh and on the topic of desserts, i was also disappointed that the waitress seemed completely unfamiliar with the menu and didn’t know any better than us what a “kaiserschmarrn” was; she had to check with the other restaurant staff.

neverthelesss, boopshi’s is a great spot for a hearty meal that adds to the wonderful mix of dining options along charlotte street. definitely worth a try if you’re up for some schnitzel!20141114_135609

Boopshi’s
31 Windmill Street
London W1T 2JN

Paradise by Way of Kensal Green, London

sunday roast is always a good idea, and birthday sunday roast for the last to turn 21 in our house was one of our best ideas yet. the birthday girl actually wanted to have her¬†birthday party at paradise (it was fairytale-themed so it would have been 200% appropriate), but the room size wasn’t suitable for the number of guests¬†so she had to pass… it just made her even happier when we removed her blindfold upon reaching paradise and she realised where she was though!

paradise by way of kensal green is located in a building that looks like any regular neighbourhood pub from the outside and in no way at all betrays the eclectic charm and beauty of the place within. step inside though, and you’ll very soon realise that this is far from your average watering hole:
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwe were seated here in the bar area because the dining room was fully booked, and found that our initial worries that it would be lacking in the atmosphere that the main dining area had were completely unfounded. with huge flower vases, an interesting mix of furniture and one of the prettiest bar counters i’ve seen, it was perfect for our casual sunday girls lunch.¬†

we opted for a mix of roasts from the menu and after quite a wait (we were less than impressed with the service; more on that later), were presented with huge plates of gloriously hearty fare.
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with my fave five – four fab friends and food

i opted for the roast beef:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Roast rib eye of beef with all the trimmings Р£17.50
the servings at paradise are clearly big; look at the size of those plates! two generous slices of thick and juicy roast beef were served with a warm and fluffy yorkshire pudding and a super delicious mix of roasted parsnips, carrots, kale, red cabbage and potatoes. the picture above was taken¬†pre-sauce (because the sauce took forever to come… it took¬†at least¬†a good 10 minutes and a reminder after the food was first served) and i felt the beef was a tad dry at the edges, but nothing at all that the sauce couldn’t solve when it finally arrived. the meat was wonderfully tender, naturally sweet and very tasty. the yorkshire pudding was warm, light and crispy at the edges but soft and pillowy within. as for the roast vegetables, they were a huge hit at the table. i remember the carrots to be amazingly sweet, and the potatoes to be some of the best i’ve had – they were done to perfection with wonderfully crisp exteriors (we still have no idea how they managed to achieve that). so good was the skin that when we were too stuffed to eat anymore heavy carbo, we found ourselves slicing the potatoes open and digging out some of the actual potato, just leaving the thin crispy edges for our very happy consumption…

the other roasts at the table were the herb crust roast chicken (£14.50) and pork belly with bramley apple puree (£15.50). all the servings were extremely generous and just as delicious Рthe chicken was roasted to perfection, juicy and moist meat encased by a light crispy skin, while the pork belly was tender and not too fatty with an ultra crispy skin. needless to say, we were all belly happy after (nearly) wiping our plates clean.

there’s always room for dessert though, and especially after the yummy food we just had, we had high hopes for some mouth-watering sweet treats. we ordered 3 desserts to share, and were once again not disappointed with the food at all:
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top to bottom: baileys & caramel cream cake, sticky toffee pudding, lemon tart
my favourites were the lemon tart and the sticky toffee pudding. the lemon tart was a refreshing end to the meal as it always is, the lemon filling tangy but not too sour and of a great consistency. the tart base was crisp and light, and the almonds were a nice addition of texture. as for the sticky toffee pudding, it was dense but not too heavy, and the toffee flavour though strong was not cloyingly sweet or overpowering in any way. the baileys cake had an interesting texture that was a cross between a light cheesecake and a cream cake, but reminded me more of the latter. it was very light and its base was very enjoyable though i would have preferred it to be crunchier – instead of the typical kind of base usually made of digestive biscuits, the biscuits used here were lighter and had a subtle chocolatey hint to them.

all in all, we were extremely satisfied with our meal at paradise. the food was great and luckily it was, because the service was rather frustrating at times. don’t get me wrong – the staff were all friendly, accommodating and lovely, but it was the pace of service that left much to be desired. we had a lot of trouble getting the attention of the staff, and whenever we asked for something, it often took several reminders before our requests (which were simple ones for things like sauce, the bill, water refills etc) were acceded to. perhaps it was because it was a busy sunday afternoon for them, but given the popularity of their sunday roast, one would imagine they’d be used to and good at dealing with such crowds.

nevertheless, i would still recommend this beautiful place for a wonderful sunday roast experience and hopefully we have better luck with the service next time!

Paradise by Way of Kensal Green
19 Kilburn Lane
London W10 4AE

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Khan’s Restaurant, London

was suddenly hit by a massive craving for some good indian food and had intended to give the legendary tayyabs a try, but we were put off by the idea of a potentially (and highly possibly) snaking queue on a chilly autumn friday night. so based on my cousin’s recommendation, to khan’s we headed instead! am happy¬†to say that we had no regrets at all, because i was super pleased with the yummy meal. in fact, so pleased was i that i think a trip to tayyabs may no longer be necessary…

one often associates bayswater with a slew of chinese restaurants – mandarin kitchen, goldmine and the like, so when i told friends that i was heading to bayswater for indian food, i was unsurprisingly met with some raised eyebrows accompanied by “indian? not roast duck?”. i think this will be happening quite a bit more in the coming year (final year omg #timeflies!!!) though, so hopefully the surprise will soon turn to curiosity and excitement to try it too ūüėõ

i was imagining a family-run-type establishment – small, cosy and not occupying more than 2 shop spaces, but i was wrong. very wrong. khan’s has been around for 34 years now, and their success and popularity shows in the large space they occupy and high seating capacity the restaurant has.
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yes, the decor is slightly (understatement?) tacky, but the place is spacious, clean, big and comfortable. beyond this first section where you can experience the pleasure of dining under palm trees while indoors, the back section offers you an alternative of moroccan lights¬†as company. at times i felt like i was in one of those arabian nights restaurants in a theme park, but i wasn’t in the least bit bothered by it because the dining area is actually rather pleasant.

they have a good range of dishes to choose from on their menu, still traditionally prepared by the founder’s family,¬†and purported to have maintained the same quality and standard over the decades.
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for the 2 of us to share, we ordered a serving of butter chicken (what i had been craving and needed to have), fish tikka curry, sag paneer and a garlic naan each. food was served rather promptly and by that time we were starving and all ready to tuck in.20141003_192830L to R: butter chicken (£7.75), sag paneer ($4.30), fish tikka curry (£8.95)
all the curries were very good. my massive butter chicken craving was more than satisfied, the sag paneer was nic’s favourite of the night, and the fish tikka curry was flavourful and being the¬†lightest out of the 3, balanced out the richness of the other 2 dishes.

starting with the butter chicken – chicken¬†prepared in butter, cream, cashew nuts, coconut, masala sauce and dressed with almonds-, this was a butter chicken lover’s (ie me) dream come true. the gravy was ultra creamy and flavourful, thick and rich but not too heavy and with a subtle but palpable taste¬†of a nuts – it really hit the mark for me and is definitely one of the better (if not the best) butter chickens i’ve had in london. i couldn’t stop¬†dousing my naan in this sinful goodness! our conclusion: definitely worth the calories ūüėõ our only qualm about this dish was the chicken itself – it was a tad dry and we hoped that the meat itself would be more seasoned. it lacked the tastiness that the gravy had, possibly because the chicken wasn’t cooked in the gravy long enough (no idea, just hazarding a guess).

as for the sag paneer, (spinach cooked with homemade cheese), it was nic’s absolute favourite of the night. i really really enjoyed it too, though if i had to pick one fave of the night, i remain loyal to my beloved butter chicken. the spinach was very tasty and creamed to the perfect point¬†that it was smooth but not overly so and still had a nice texture to it. it was also of the perfect consistency and thickness and though i can’t pinpoint what it was about it that made it different from sag paneer that i’ve had at other indian restaurants, it¬†was very yummy and certainly worth an order if you’re at khan’s.

last but not least, we had the fish tikka curry – slices of oven baked fish cooked in a medium spicy sauce. this dish was marked with a little heart next to it on the menu which represents “healthy eating: low fat”, so i suppose this was our (admittedly rather feeble) effort to make the meal a slightly less sinful one… we also enjoyed this dish! it was lighter than the other 2, where the sauce was less creamy (but that didn’t make it any less tasty) and a lot more tomato-ey. my favourite part of this dish was the fish pieces in the curry. they were fresh and naturally sweet, which was a pleasant surprise because one normally associates fish in such things as tasting frozen and not very fresh.

20141003_193126garlic naan Р£2.65
not forgetting my staple at any indian meal, naan!!! (do you sense my excitement; just writing about it makes me excited hahaha) had a garlic naan here and was extremely satisfied. the naan was just the way i liked it – (1) BIG, (2) crispy edges, and (3) fluffy. it had the surface area of an entire plate, and was wonderfully soft and pillowy while having the odd slightly-charred crispy patch and crispy edges all around. used every bit of it to soak up all the flavourful and creamy curries, and all the plates on the table were wiped clean by the end of the meal. (we were also ready to enter into food comas by that point.)

all in all, it was a hugely satisfying meal at khan’s and i was extremely happy. i can never leave bayswater without having some gelato at oddono’s in whiteleys, so to top off an already good night, we headed for my fave gelateria (in close competition with gelupo for top spot in my books) for our usual hazelnut-pisatchio-gelato-in-a-cone-please fix. my idea of a great friday night, and something i’m definitely going to need to do again¬†soon… ūüėÄ

Khan’s Restaurant
13-15 Westbourne Grove
London W2 4UA

PS. saw a sign outside the restaurant advertising their lunch buffet at a really reasonable price of ¬£9.95 – that’s certainly something worth checking out too!

BOBO Social, London

yet another new kid on the london burger block, and this time just a stone’s throw away from where i stay. i’m certainly not complaining! ūüėõ bobo social is a newly-opened burger joint in fitzrovia located in a cosy shop at the very end of charlotte street which prides itself on offering great burgers in a charming and civilised (i say civilised because your experience at bobo social will probably be far from the usual unglamorous juice-and-sauce-dripping-all-over-your-hands-and-running-down-your-wrists experience that many other burger joints offer) environment.

there has been quite a bit of hype surrounding it since it opened, so it was a natural choice for one of my first meals back. indeed, we knew it was popular but didn’t realise quite how popular it was until we heard they were often full and reservations needed to be made in advance. so we promptly called on thursday night to make a reservation for lunch on friday, but turns out we had moved too slowly because they were already full :O some #seriousbusiness going on here! nevertheless,¬†intent on not letting anything get in the way of us and our burgers, we decided to go with the lunch deal advertised on their website, and took away our burgers¬†to the park to enjoy them as we basked in the¬†(last of) summer sunshine.

i arrived a¬†little before 1pm¬†to place the takeaway order, and was greeted by warm and smiling staff who were efficient and offered me a seat while i waited for the food to be prepared. the place was nearly full on the ground floor (they were expecting to be full by 1pm), and if i’m not wrong they have more seating in the basement.
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decor is simple but tasteful, and i noted how patrons who were dining in were served their burgers on an eclectic mix of intentionally-mismatched dining ware Рthe burgers sat neatly right in the centre of the pretty vintage plates, and tucking into the burgers with fork and knife was a very civilised and dainty affair.

didn’t take a picture of the menu i was handed, but¬†its available here at their website. you’ll notice that unlike other burger joints, on top of sides, they have a range of small plates, cocktails, wines and a decent selection of desserts (a friend tried the white chocolate cheesecake for dessert and gave it her stamp of approval). i believe this is how they are hoping to differentiate themselves from the rest – offering a full dining experience instead of the idea of “fast food” typically associated with burgers.

for the takeaway deal which is available daily from 12-2pm and is what we went for, you get a original BOBO burger and a side for a reasonable £10. i only waited about 10 minutes before i was presented with 2 big paper bags of food glorious food.
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arrived at the park and excitedly dug into the paper bags to unveil and lay out them goods (this isn’t all; we had 5 burgers and 5 sides in total).
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behold, the BOBO burger basking in last friday’s glorious sunshine:20141003_132511
BOBO burger Р6oz rare-breed beef, lettuce, tomatoes, charcoal-roasted red onions, BOBO sauce (£8.50 or £10 with a side for takeaway)

size-wise, the burger wasn’t very big and i could handle it quite comfortably with one hand. good for the weight and health-conscious who see this as a guilty indulgence, the burgers aren’t very large or greasy at all so they leave you feeling satisfied but not too full. the lettuce, tomatoes and onions were fresh and complemented the beef patty well. on to the beef patty – according to their menu, their burgers are handmade daily using¬†rare-breed beef, and¬†single species wood is used in their charcoal ovens to enhance the flavour of the meat. i must say that the beef patty was indeed well-seasoned, flavourful and very tasty. the meat was coarsely-ground giving it a really nice hearty texture, and the patties were also all cooked to medium-rare perfection, just look at that wonderful pink! :20141003_132846we all felt that they could have been juicier though; they were a tad dry, resulting in no¬†messy juice-dribbling-moments at all. i would also have preferred more sauce; it seemed like i hardly had any of it so unfortunately i can’t really say what BOBO sauce tastes like! as for the next most important part of a burger, the burger bun, BOBO uses buttermilk brioche buns¬†which i¬†enjoyed very much – buttery, soft and fluffy, worthy of proudly emblazoning a big “B” across the top as they do. all in all, it was a pretty satisfying burger but it didn’t quite blow my mind or excite me in the way that i had hoped. the BOBO burger is definitely closer to the style of honest burgers, clean and simple, without the sauciness of patty & bun’s offerings. its worth noting that the rest of their offerings on the menu sound very promising though, and might be vastly different from the original BOBO.

just realised (very belatedly) that i forgot to take a close-up shot of the sides, so unfortunately you’ll have to make do with squinting a little to see them in the picture of everything laid out above, and then envisaging them in their full glory in your minds. for the sides, we went for 2 servings of sweet potato fries, 1 serving of skin-on beef dripping chips, 1 serving of apple slaw with toasted pumpkin seeds, and 1 serving of mixed leaf salad with pomegranate and croutons.

the favourites were definitely the sweet potato fries and the apple slaw. the apple slaw was refreshing and a nice and healthy (relatively) accompaniment to the burgers. the apple was sweet¬†and wasn’t sliced too thinly such that they retained crunch and juiciness, while¬†the dressing was light despite it being mayo-ish. our other healthy side was the mixed leaf salad with pomegranate. it wasn’t anything to shout about, a light accompaniment that could probably be served at any other restaurant.

as for the sweet potato fries, i loved how they were chunky and rather thickly-cut, almost like wedges except that they were still rectangular and generally fry-shaped, not wedge-shaped. i can imagine that they would have been even better if taken fresh at the restaurant; they were unfortunately a little soggy by the time we tucked into them, but still satisfying and remotely crispy on the outside nevertheless! they were supposed to be sprinkled with truffle salt but unfortunately there was nary a hint of that… as for the beef dripping BOBO chips, given their fancy-sounding name and the fact that they were named after the restaurant, i had very high hopes! they ended up meeting my expectations, but not quite surpassing them in any way. they were good fries, but not particularly outstanding and in fact i think they could have done with a little less salt.

all in all, we were all a little let down and agreed that the burgers at BOBO didn’t quite live up to our high expectations. admittedly, our expectations were pretty high because we had heard so much about the burgers, and the fact that we took them away instead of dining in probably reduced the taste-good factor, even if just by a little. we also found the prices rather steep compared to the other big burger names in town (patty & bun still remaining my top choice and honest coming in a not-very-close second; i swear patty & bun really has my heart ūüėÄ ), and hence all agreed that we wouldn’t quite jump at the chance to head back to bobo. that said, the other burgers on the BOBO menu (which come at a heftier price tag) sound really interesting and i like the idea of the experimental burger sessions they have on monday nights, so there is definitely reason to give it another chance!

BOBO Social
95 Charlotte Street
London W1T 4PZ
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PS. we didn’t know then, but that friday turned out to be what seems to be the last day of summer… its suddenly gotten cold and it seems like dreary london is here to stay for winter ūüė¶
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picnic-perfect ‚̧

Kanada-Ya, London

first london post of the new (academic) year! the first week of school has come and gone, and i’m pleased because i had an extremely foodful week. the fact that i’m now in final year has definitely fuelled this food frenzy to try out as many new places and try as many things on their menus as possible ūüėõ guilt is starting to settle in though, because it was definitely far from being as fruitful on other fronts (which may or may not include readings)… need to get back into school mode pronto! #newweeksresolution

i had heard lots of good things about and seen good pics of one of london’s newest¬†ramen shops while home in singapore for the summer, so jumped at the chance to check it out last tuesday night when my friends and i were craving some oodles of¬†noodles. the choice of dinner venue was between koya (tried and tested, guaranteed satisfaction) and kanada-ya (new and exciting), and i’m glad we went with the latter because we were not disappointed! arrived just slightly past 6.30pm on a weekday evening and we were greeted with this queue before us:
20140930_183916undeterred, we hopped into line. it helped that almost everyone both in the queue and in the shop¬†was asian and the majority were japanese actually – a sure sign of the shop’s credibility ūüėČ some menus were handed down the line to keep patrons occupied while they waited, but the menu isn’t very extensive at all so like us, you’ll probably make your choice before the queue¬†even¬†moves an inch.

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it took us about 45 minutes to be seated at a table for four so it was great that the food came pretty quickly once we filled in and submitted our order sheets. we each got an original ramen with an egg added, and also ordered a serving of original onigiri for the table to share.

the onigiri came swiftly:
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plain onigiri Р£2.50 for 2 pieces
unfortunately, we were sorely disappointed by the onigiri. it was literally just plain japanese rice moulded into the classic onigiri shape and placed atop a sheet of seaweed. i suppose when the menu described it as plain, they really meant that it would be completely plain… we suspected that they’d be a letdown once we saw them brought to our table, but still clung on to some hope that there’d be some sort of seasoning in the rice. alas, we were wrong and even sprinkling some sesame on top couldn’t save them. we certainly weren’t expecting any toppings, but all agreed that we had imagined at least some japanese spices or flakes of some sort sprinkled over the top. many of their japanese patrons seemed to be ordering the onigiri though, so maybe this is actually the¬†traditional and legit stuff, just not what we’re used to. the ones with plum or salmon are¬†probably more appetising; maybe (just maybe) i’ll give them a try when i return.

thank goodness the ramen arrived before us hot on the heels of the onigiri, so we didn’t have much time to feel despondent about our poor rice ball choice. it could have been that our expectations were slightly lowered because of the onigiri (but i doubt so), but we all thought the ramen was very very good, so satisfied was one of my friends that she¬†declared it the best ramen in london at the moment, and i concur.
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original ramen with hanjuku egg Р£10 + £1.80
the super tasty soup is an 18 hour pork bone broth; the thickness and milky porkiness of it is testament to its very lengthy cooking time, and will leave you wanting to slurp up every last drop of it. what i liked most about the broth was that it was very satisfying, but not heavy. as for the chashu pork belly, it was perfectly seasoned and cooked and so tender that it¬†was very nearly worthy of being described as melt-in-your-mouth goodness. very very nearly. as for the noodles, like ippudo, you can choose how well you want them to be cooked. i always prefer my noodles firm so i opted for the hard, and was not disappointed – they retained a great bite even after sitting in the soup for a while, far from turning into fat mushy strands. and now coming to my favourite part of the bowl… the egg (nothing new there)! i would definitely recommend adding an egg (or two) to your ramen. at ¬£1.80 it does seem pricey but i thought it was worth it. after all, its not every day that you come across such a perfectly cooked and seasoned onsen egg. just look at the bright orange yolk and its wonderful consistency – still wet but not running all over the place and into the soup! besides the yolk, the white was also very well seasoned and i finished my 2 halves wishing i had another two to finish. or four. or more. ūüėõ will seriously consider ordering 2 eggs when i return! our bellies were happy¬†and as we were making our way through the big bowls, we were already imagining how perfect it would be to have this soupy¬†goodness to warm our chilled souls in the dead of winter when its freezing outside.

on top of the great food, service is friendly, fast and quite efficient. the shop itself is cosy and does not have a large seating capacity at all, so be prepared to queue when you visit. we all agreed that it was better than bone daddies and shoryu which made the wait to get a table worth it; hopefully you’ll feel the same way too!

next ramen conquest: ippudo london, which is opening right opposite kanada-ya (ooooh competition). london be upping its ramen game and i’m not complaining ūüėČ

Kanada-Ya
64 St Giles High Street
London WC2H 8LE20140930_190349

Kimchi Korean Restaurant, Singapore

i often lament the fact that singapore has a lack of good and reasonably-priced korean food, so was rather excited to try out this relatively new joint that opened earlier this year after hearing good things about it! i’m glad to report that it did not disappoint, and i’ll definitely return when craving some korean kimchi goodness.

kimchi korean restaurant occupies a nice and spacious shop unit on the 2nd floor of suntec city. i was initially worried that i’d get lost in the maze of shops in sprawling suntec, but i entered on the revamped side that’s at the doorstep of esplanade mrt (i think its the side known as the convention mall) and finding it was a breeze. we arrived just before 7pm on a thursday night and the restaurant had several¬†available tables when we arrived, but filled up really quickly soon after and was nearly full by the time we left.
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the dining area is very pleasant Рtables are big and well-spaced out, good for both meet-ups in groups and cosy meals for two where you can talk about anything in the world without worry that the guests at the next table are eavesdropping. as for the food, the restaurant prides itself on having 100% of its food prepared by korean chefs, and a head chef who has worked in top 5-star hotels and establishments in korea.  i do think their experience showed in the food that was served to us that day and the best part is that the food is not only good but also reasonably priced!

snapped a pic of the order sheet since its pretty much a summary of the menu (the actual menu is a lot prettier with nice pics to go with the food descriptions):
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as you can see from the menu, they have a good range of korean staples – from barbequed meats to rice bowls to stews to soups to bulgogi – , and all are reasonably priced.

we ordered a kimchi soup, a andong jjimdak, and a seafood pancake to share. food was served promptly and soon i had this glorious bowl of bright red piping hot soup sitting pretty before me:
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kimchi soup (with rice/glass noodles) – $9.80

the soup comes with rice but i asked to change the rice to glass noodles instead, and they very gladly obliged. this was a great rendition of kimchi soup – it was flavourful and really packed a good punch (without being tear-inducing spicy), ingredients were added generously, and the soup was of just the right thickness (far from being diluted). the boy who normally detests kimchi (aversion-to-supposedly-sour-things alert) actually didn’t mind this and said it tasted different (in a good way) from the other kimchi soups he’s had and given his stamp of disapproval. i love kimchi soup/stew with glass noodles so was super pleased with this and happily slurped up them oodles of slippery springy noodles. good stuff.

the other main we ordered was the andong jjimdak aka chicken bulgogi, because it came highly recommended in the menu:
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andong jjimdak (with rice) – $15

andong jjimdak is a stew-like steamed chicken dish that made us feel like we were having a lovingly¬†homecooked meal. tender and well-seasoned pieces of chicken were served in a pot together with a myriad of root vegetables (carrots, radish, lotus roots etc) and glass noodles, and doused in just the right amount of some kind of soy-based spicy sauce. the chicken was naturally sweet and the sauce was fragrant. inspired by the chef’s own family recipe, this dish exuded a homely vibe yet was refined and light in taste. wasn’t too blown away by it at the start but the yummy mix of flavours grew on me as we progressed through the bowl.¬†

no korean meal is complete without some pancake so ordering one was definitely in order (pun unintended):
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pa jeon – $8.90

we opted for the seafood pancake and it was delicious! i really enjoyed it and thought it was certainly one of the better korean pancakes i’ve had in singapore. it was really nicely done – just the right thickness, crisp on the outside but soft and a little chewy on the inside, with seafood generously added to the mix, and pan-fried to golden perfection. the chilli sauce it was served with was also great and went well with the pancake (though it was yummy just having it on its own too). if only there were more pieces… ūüėõ

besides being a restaurant, they also have a small section at the entrance of the shop selling a range of korean goodies including drinks, snacks, noodles for cooking and fresh produce. we left really satisfied with the meal and without burning any holes in our pockets. this place will definitely come to mind when i’m thinking of somewhere to have korean food from now on, and i intend to return to try the barbequed meats sometime soon!¬†

Kimchi Korean Restaurant
3 Temasek Boulevard
Suntec City Convention Mall, #02-387
Singapore 038983 

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