Strangers’ Reunion, Singapore

this cafe has already gained such a following since its opening that before reading this, you’ve probably already decided that you’re going to give it a try no matter what reviews say about it! well, i’m going to be joining the majority with a relatively positive review (about their famous buttermilk waffles at least!), so this will probably serve to egg you on and reaffirm your decision to go forth and pay it a visit šŸ™‚

it having been around and being talked about (especially their buttermilk waffles) for quite some time now (if i’m not wrong, it was one of the pioneers in the latest wave of new cafes popping up all over the island; its been around long enough to warrant a refurbishment of the cafe recently), i cannot believe it was only this christmas break that i managed to check this super popular place out!

visited on a thursday around noon, and it was already nearly full when we arrived. we were lucky to snag a seat! the cafe has quite a large seating capacity compared to some other places though, and service is quite efficient so even if you need to queue, it shouldn’t be too bad!
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here’s the menu:
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gotta love all-day breakfast places

the menu is pretty large, but not so extensive that you have a hard time picking what to eat – very optimal for those like me who love having a range of things to choose from but are promptly wracked indecision and fail miserably at picking something, the kind of person who has a panicked expression on their face when they realise the waiter has taken everyone else’s orders and is now just waiting on yours; also the kind of person known to regret his order right after placing it.Ā but i digress… back to the point now; we opted for the corn & zucchini fritters and a serving of their famous buttermilk waffles (how could we not) to share between the two of us.

20131219_130237Ā corn and zucchini fritters with avocado, poached egg and spicy tomato relish – $18

not sure if you’re thinking what we thought when this dish was placed before us – Ā we both agreed that it looked rather messy, unappetising and very homemade! like somebody just heaped everything onto a plate just before it was served, with little finesse or care. i was quite disappointed when i saw it but luckily it tasted pretty good, so that kind of made up for the poor presentation. the fritters were very light, not oily at all, and had bits of yummy corn and zucchini in them. the avocado was very fresh and perfectly ripe, while the egg was poached to perfection. the spicy tomato relish was important in bringing all the different components of the dish together, but i wish they had dished it out more generously. the serving was small – 2 corn & zucchini fritters topped with a few slices of avocado and just 1 poached egg.

i didn’t really think this was worth the $18 we paid, especially because $18 (and maybe a little bit more) can get you something much better presented, bigger and possibly even tastier elsewhere (at most of the other brunch places i’ve reviewed – maison ikkoku, nassim hill bakery, artichoke etc)

they had a waffle special (so exciting – i love specials!!!) that day, and that’s what we had:20131219_130247
buttermilk waffles with passionfruit, white chocolate, coconut zest & vanilla ice cream – $14.90

now this, unlike the fritters, was something worth writing home about. being ever present on the list of contenders for the best waffle in singapore, i ordered these with high expectations and am happy to say that they did indeed live up to them! the waffles were perfectly crisp on the outside but soft and fluffy inside. they remained this way for quite some time, and did not turn soggy rapidly like many others tend to, especially when served with ice cream! i loved the combination for this waffle special – the passionfruit added a nice zesty twist while the white chocolate balanced that out with its sweetness. the vanilla ice cream with coconut zest was also rather delicious! it was a very nice and light change from the usual chocolate-doused waffles with bananas (a good combination no doubt, but this was a good change!).

it was overall a pretty good experience at strangers’ reunion in a nice environment with good service. i would return to strangers’ reunion for their buttermilk waffles (though there are other amazing waffle options at creamier (belgian waffles) or DOC, but probably not for any proper food (though they do serve some more substantial lunch/dinner options) –Ā i thought the food wasn’t anything to shout about at all (besides the waffle) though; even the eggs that several other diners were ordering didn’t look great but i’m not sure how they tasted – i do think they need to work on their presentation! we weren’t particularly full after what we had since the servings were rather small, but nothing was calling out to us from the desserts menu or cake display so we passed on that too (shocking, i know :O hahaha). Ā i’m happy that i finally checked this place out, but it was allĀ a little overrated, i feel!Ā 20131219_125627

Strangers’ Reunion

37 Kampong Bahru Rd
Singapore 16935620131219_145300
hi lou!
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Kilo at Pact, Singapore

at the junction of orchard road and killiney road, take the outdoor escalator into orchard central and you will find yourself right outside pact – an interesting store that houses 3 things under one roof – a hairdresser, a boutique and a restaurant (kilo at pact). having heard rave reviews about this place, my friends and i headed there for dinner last week to check out whether it was really as good as people say it is!

we went at 730pm on a thursday night and the restaurant was nearly full save for a few seats at the bar, so i think reservations are probably a good idea if you are planning on dining there. i thinkĀ having 3 different things within one common space is quite an interesting concept, and the shop has a very nice, clean and modern/minimalist feel to it with its huge glass windows, concrete tables and floor, and simple wooden seats and walls:ImageOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the food is fusion-ish; the dishes are pretty much modern takes on traditional vietnamese/japanese cuisine (eg summer rolls, makis etc). don’t think very much can be seen here (sorry!!!), but if you squint hard enough, you might be able to get an idea of whats on the menu heh:Image

we ordered 5 items to share among the 4 of us.

first up, the baby eggplant:Imagebaby eggplant in donburi sauce, with marscapone cheese & tempura flakes – $12

we really enjoyed this delicious starter! the eggplant used was very fresh and the tempura flakes added a nice bite to the eggplant (that in regular tempura would normally only come from the entire piece being coated in batter), keeping the dish light. the donburi sauce and marscapone cheese combination was surprisingly good – the cheese added a twist to what would otherwise have been quite an ordinary japanese dish, albeit a very yummy one. it was a really promising start to the meal!

for our second starter we had the tuna tartare, which our waiter said was the most popular raw dish on the menu:ImageAvocado-wasabi tuna tartare & flour chips – $20

it was a good recommendation! even my friends who don’t normally eat tuna sashimi enjoyed it as the strong taste that sometimes accompanies raw tuna wasn’t there at all, probably because the tuna was nicely seasoned. the tuna was very fresh and despite it being a tartare, the pieces were distinct and not too finely minced; they retained a chunkiness to them which i really liked. it would have been nice if there was a little more avocado though. we also couldn’t taste any wasabi at all! a very yummy tartare that went well with the flour chips.

we also opted for the mentaiko pasta:Image
spaghetti tossed with cod roe, spring onions and shoyu – $18

i know it doesn’t look great in the picture, but i really enjoyed this dish! it was simple, but super tasty. they were generous with the mentaiko and the spaghetti was done just right with a nice bite to it. it wasn’t a sauce-y spaghetti, but wasn’t dry either. despite this being quite a common fusion of italian and japanese food, i was still impressed with this dish because i thought it was well-executed.

beef short ribs rice bowl:Imagebeef short ribs rice bowl (all rice bowls come with nigata rice, sweet corn, radish, sugar peas & wasabi sprouts) – $17

i can definitely imagine myself returning to pact for lunch one day and ordering a rice bowl for myself. besides the beef being tender, juicy and well-cooked, the rice was really yummy! no idea what nigata rice is and what makes it different from other types of japanese rice, but the rice was delicious! we all figured they must have seasoned it with something. it was sticky and moist, the texture somewhat resembling what you will get with mango sticky rice. eaten together with the beef and the vegetables that accompanied it, it was a satisfying dish that was not too heavy despite the carbo, and seemed very “clean”.

our fifth and final dish was the salmon avocado sushiro:Imagesalmon avocado sushiro with prawns, japanese cucumber, tamago, spring onions – $15

the sushiro was like a giant maki, which they very kindly cut into 4 so that we could share it easily. this was the last dish to arrive at our table, and the one that i felt was the most disappointing. it was rather average and i thought there was nothing that set it apart from regular sushi rolls! although i liked the fact that it was packed with ingredients, i would have preferred the rice to be less compact; it was almost like a huge mass of rice. the sushiro was accompanied by a side of soy flaxseed chips, which were nice, but i didn’t (and still don’t) really see how they complemented the sushiro. doubt i’ll order this again – it is filling and i feel that there are other more interesting things on the menu to be tried.Image

all in all, we had a great dining experience at kilo! the food was a refreshing change from run-of-the-mill cafes and restaurants, and ingredients used were fresh and of a high quality. however for the price we were paying, we all agreed that the servings were on the small side and could definitely have been bigger. dessert choices are also not very extensive and we ended up heading to cold stone creamery downstairs for a yummy dessert fix!Ā besides that though, no other complaints at all! i will probably be back šŸ™‚ i would love to try their weekend brunch menu!Image

Kilo at Pact

181 Orchard Road, Orchard Central
#02-16/17/18/19
Singapore 238896

(given the nightmare that navigating orchard central is, the easiest way to find kilo is to take the outside escalator from the intersection of orchard road & killiney road as mentioned above!)ImageImage

The Breakfast Club, London

i LOVED the breakfast club. food and ambience-wise, it definitely lived up to my expectations (which were extremely high having heard so much about it). but what didn’t just live up to my expectations but EXCEEDED them, was the queue. despite the fact that we made a trip there on a weekday afternoon at 130pm (a time we assumed would mean a thinning post-lunch crowd), we had to queue out in the cold for a good 30-40 min before finally being let into the warmth of the cosy little place.Ā OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
some of our fellow queue-mates gave up and left the queue halfway, but i’m glad we didn’t Ā because i thought it was worth it!!!

check out all the accolades they have – i always trust a tripadvisor rating šŸ˜‰OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the interior of the cafe oozes hippie vibes and has this lovely charm and a funky eclecticism about it. the atmosphere is laidback and super chill, and the staff are friendly and rather efficient!2013031515551495520130315155503833Ā 

we knew what we wanted almost immediately as we had plenty of time to inspect the menu placed in the shop window while waiting in line outside.
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i had the pancakes with berries and OMG I thought they were the best pancakes EVER. i know my friends concurred because louisa proclaimed at the end of the meal that she was really full and satisfied but could do with more pancakes šŸ˜‰
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they were of just the right thickness and were drenched in the perfect amount of maple syrup. the edges were crispy but the insides were soft and fluffy, and the cream that topped the stack was just amazinggg – light, fresh, and very tasty! they were also really generous with the berries which is something i loved; i hate it when restaurants are stingy with their toppings and you end up with either a lot of plain bread/pancakes etc without any toppings left, or too much toppings left because you scrimped and saved on the number you ate with each bite of the main (am i the only person who does this???). i am already looking forward to the next time i get to go back to have these pancakes; its going to be hard deciding between trying something new and having these again! maybe pancakes with banana and bacon next time? ~DROOLS~

louisa had the poached eggs with avocado on toasted bread and it was super yummy as well.
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the avocado was divine – it was topped with chilli and lime which brought everything together amazingly well. the avocado pieces were of the right size, not too pureed and not too chunky, and the texture and consistency of the mixture was great with just the right amount of bite. it was also neither too wet nor too dry. they were really generous with the avocado toppings once again, with a huge pile heaped onto the toast! lou did mention that she would have preferred the egg to have a runnier yolk though.

janus ordered the typical boy meal – the full monty.
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it came piled high on a huge plate like a breakfast mountain. i think it had potatoes, beans, sausages, mushrooms, black pudding, toast, eggs, a tomato, and bacon. like i said – BOY MEAL hahaha. surprisingly, it wasn’t too oily – in fact, we didn’t find a pool of oil collecting below all the food on the plate as i had imagined. i didn’t have much of this as i was pretty much preoccupied with my pancakes, but i did pick at the beans, sausage, black pudding and egg.
the scrambled eggs at the breakfast club aren’t the creamy/milky type so if that’s what you prefer, don’t go for the scrambled eggs here. they are of the drier variety, but pretty good nonetheless. as for the sausage, i thought it was quite nice as the skin (is that what its called?!) was crispy and the filling was soft, but louisa didn’t like it because she prefers firmer sausages. the bacon was yum and we all quite liked the black pudding, and janus said the potatoes were good! the serving was HUGE and janus couldn’t finish it despite being a growing, hungry boy. he also thought it was all quite messy and would have preferred the food to be more separated. but then again, isn’t that what a huge traditional fry-up is all about? in his words “its like… you find egg in your beans and beans in your egg” (he is not a fan of beans btw, hence the despair).

since we had queued for so long, we each went all-out and ordered a smoothie each too.Ā 20130315144155749
clockwise starting from the light pink: the big breakfast, green is good, blue monday

green is good & blue monday were much lighter than the big breakfast and you will understand why once i tell you what went into the big breakfast. green is good had spinach, mint, mango & apple and it was a very light and refreshing mix, perfect to accompany a heavy breakfast. as for blue monday, it had blueberry, strawberry & apple so if you are a berry fan, this is the one for you!
i had the big breakfast and should have guessed from the name and the list of ingredients that it could probably constitute a meal on its own – strawberry, banana, oats, honey, yoghurt and milk. i finished it all despite it being very thick and extremelyyy filling because it was so goooood but next time, i’ll probably share it with someone.
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happy at the breakfast club!!!

total bill: oh dear, i can’t remember the exact sum but i think it was around Ā£35-Ā£40

ambience: relaxing, hip, funky, eclectic, cosy, warm, friendly

who i would recommend this to: anyone who loves and appreciates a good, hearty brunch in generous servings, and has enough time to spare to queue for a table! there is a queue outside this place at almost all times of the day (though when we left at around 3pm, there were empty tables – perhaps this is a good time to head there! for tea/ a late lunch) and i heard that on weekends, the queueing time can be as long as 1.5h (which even i am turned off by)! but if you have some time to spare, just take the queue as part of the experience –Ā salivating as you peer through the window and see people feasting on their hearty meals, letting the anticipation of sinking your teeth into some good food build up šŸ˜‰

will i return? YES! loved the vibe of the place and the food was really very satisfying. there are so many other things on the menu i would love to try! and the best part is, they serve breakfast from 9am to 5pm šŸ˜€ and if i’m not wrong, they even have some breakfast items that remain on the menu even after 5pm!

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The Breakfast Club
33 D’Arblay StĀ Ā London, Greater London W1F 8EU
020 7434 2571

-rach