Gaest, Singapore

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gaest
21 McCallum St
#01-01, The Clift
Singapore 069047
Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset 20140915_112409

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

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

Scandinavian Kitchen, London

i liked this place even before i stepped in, when i saw this outside their shop:
20131211_132251the humour was a sign (pun unintended) of good things to come – good food and good service in a nice environment! it was packed when i had lunch there on a wednesday afternoon, and with good reason, we soon learnt 🙂
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the lunchtime crowd

what you can order for lunch (which they start serving around 11.30am) at scandinavian kitchen is simple – smörgåsbord (your choice of sandwiches/wraps/salads), swedish meatballs (with your choice of 3 salads), or a scandi hotdog! everything is available for takeaway as well – the eat-in price is slightly more than the takeaway price, and taking away is hence extremely reasonable! see prices here:20131211_132522

a mix of sandwiches/wraps/salads can be chosen for your smörgåsbord from the glass display at the counter – they had a pretty wide range and everything looked good so that made picking just 3 (we opted for the 3 pieces one) quite a difficult task! the sandwiches & wraps:20131211_133232and the salads:20131211_141453

we settled on a smörgåsbord and a plate of swedish meatballs to share! you place your order at the counter, and bring the food to your table yourself, helping yourself to cutlery and water along the way.

the smörgåsbord:20131211_133442smörgåsbord (3 pieces) – £6.50 (eat-in)

i can’t remember the exact names of the things we picked, but the one in the front on the left was something with prawns (no surprise there) and going in a clockwise direction from there, we had one with pate at the back, and last but not least, one with a warm salmon topping. 

i can’t pick a favourite because i thought they were all really yummy. if only they were bigger.. 😛 guess i’ll have to opt for the smörgåsbord with 5 pieces to be truly satisfied next time! the ingredients were very fresh – the prawns especially; i remember them to be naturally sweet and crunchy. they went together really well with the egg and tomatoes to make a very light and refreshing open sandwich. as for the one with pate, the pate was smooth and did not taste too strongly of meat. it was topped with bacon which i would have preferred to be crispier, but all was still good. and finally for the warm salmon one, it wasn’t exactly warm but i suppose they called it that since it wasn’t cold like smoked salmon slices and was instead cooked and made into something like a chunky spread. it was tasty and went really well with the dill and rocket that topped it!

however, if i had to pick one out of the three that i wouldn’t order again, it’d probably be this salmon one – it wasn’t bad at all, but i felt that it wasn’t as flavourful as the rest or as i had hoped! or maybe its because it was served on a crisp flatbread as opposed to the other 2 which had rye as their base, some extremely delicious rye at that! i was tempted to buy a loaf home (they sell it in their grocery section) but resisted, since i was leaving london and heading home really soon. next time i will!

we also ordered a plate of meatballs with 3 side salads to share:
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swedish meatballs with 3 salads – £6.95 (eat-in)

this was a really generous serving – we were given nearly 15-20 meatballs, accompanied by 3 big servings of salad! we opted for the apple and beetroot salad (bottom left), the artichoke and rye kernel salad (bottom right), and the pizza salad (top right).

i loved the beetroot salad, and not only because it was my favourite shade of pink! it really reminded me of what i had in panama (see here), but this was a lighter version in a dressing that was less thick and mayonnaise-y. the beetroots were fresh and juicy, and the rare apple bits added a nice touch! i also loved the artichoke salad, with its bits of feta and rye kernels. it was something quite different with an interesting combination of ingredients. as for the pizza salad, what went into it really shed no light on why it is named as such – consisted of cabbage leaves that seemed to be soaked/dressed in a light vinegar; an interesting salad that is apparently quite typically swedish!

the meatballs were super yummy. i liked the fact that they were small and almost bite-sized, served warm and quite crisp on the outside while soft and moist within. i would definitely come back for these! they also have a meatball open sandwich, if you don’t think you can handle a whole plate of 20 balls at one go.

having finished all that, we had dessert accompanied by some pomegranate cider! i must first say that the pomegranate cider was really nice – do try it if you’re a cider fan and you’re at scandinavian kitchen. it was light and refreshing, and my friend liked it so much that she bought a few bottles home. as for dessert, they had a few cakes and sweet pastries to choose from:
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we ended up going with something that one of the staff recommended, and did not regret it one bit. behold, the amazing kladdkaka, a traditional swedish sticky brownie:Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetsticky brownie with whipped cream – £2.75

the brownie was. amazing. i am normally not a huge fan of things that are this chocolate-y, but this was pretty heavenly.  as you can probably see from its glistening interior in the picture – it was incredibly moist and sticky, having an almost half-baked/cookie dough-type texture. might sound weird to some people, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. i also loved how the top was crisp and went so wonderfully with the soft inside and the freshly whipped cream that topped it. it really had the homemade feel to it as well, which i really liked; it made me feel like i was having a really good piece of cake in someone’s wooden cabin in the middle of some scandinavian woods 😛 come to think of it, maybe scandinavians are just really good at making chocolate cake – i remember having really good chocolate cake while i was in norway with my sister last year! i’m definitely returning for more of this yummy brownie.

besides serving food, scandinavian kitchen also has a little supermarket section at the back that is well-stocked with a range of scandinavian products. throughout our lunch, there was a steady stream of customers browsing the shelves and the majority of them seemed scandinavian – looks like its a one-stop shop for them to get a taste of home!
20131211_155353besides the seating area you see in the above picture, they have more seats downstairs!

scandinavian kitchen is a wonderful little hangout along great titchfield street. it offers food that is legitimately scandinavian – everything is made using fresh nordic produce and though simple, they come together to make some very good dishes! as my friend said, everything tasted “… scandinavian.” we felt that there was really something different about the food there! service is friendly and efficient (pretty sure the staff are nearly all, if not all, scandinavian), and the staff all wear shirts with cute slogans at the back (not particularly relevant i know, but it adds to the experience!). the cafe itself is nice and it was not difficult getting a table at all despite the lunch crowd – most people seemed to be getting takeaways. i will definitely be back for more 🙂

Scandinavian Kitchen

61 Great Titchfield Street
London W1W 7PP20131211_15584920131211_155915