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

Symmetry, Singapore

spent my last sunday morning of summer in singapore having brunch at symmetry with the dear sister! we had been planning on going for ages, but just never managed to find a good time to go till that day. am happy we finally got to check it out though, because it was a nice morning spent at a very nice cafe.

many people have been raving about symmetry since it opened, dubbing it one of the best brunch places in singapore, and news has certainly spread fast – when i called the day before we planned on going, they told me the only reservation time available was at 2pm and we’d have to queue as walk-in customers if we wanted to go any earlier. this did not deter the sisters tan who were determined to seize our last chance to try out this place before i headed back to school, so we decided to go early on sunday morning in a bid to get a table!

i knew i would love this place once i saw this outside the shop:
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“people who love to eat are always the best people.” hear, hear!!!

and this too:
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we arrived 15 minutes after opening time (it opens at 10am) and were very surprised to see the cafe already almost full! its popularity and the lengths singaporeans go to for good food (ie waking up early to get to a cafe once it opens) are insane. we were very nearly relegated to the outdoor seating section (that has no shade!!! :O), but thankfully they managed to find a table for us.

we loved the decor of the cafe – it is extremely tastefully designed, and is one of those places where a hodge-podge mix of items appears cool and funky instead of random and messy; the kind of place where a random biscuit tin or old dusty light bulb picked up from the trash (that would look gross and dirty in your bedroom) would appear super alternative and interesting.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

in celebration of their one year anniversary, symmetry has a menu that brings to customers all their best and most popular dishes. it opens up like a marauder’s map, so ordering food was a rather exciting affair hahaha (its the little things!).
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my sister had heard great things about the eggs benny so she decided to go for that, while i went for their baked eggs. we wanted to try a starter as well but after consulting the super friendly and helpful server, decided that it would very unfortunately probably be too much to stomach ūüė¶

i didn’t have too much of the eggs benny (my baked eggs were way more than enough to fill me up and keep me happy) but from the few bites i had, it was definitely one of the better eggs bennys around in singapore. the hollandaise sauce was light but still packed a satisfying punch, while the eggs were perfectly poached, the bacon was tastily done (yummy charred edges), and the muffin was well toasted – crispy on the outside and fluffy within. the eggs came with a side salad, which was refreshing when taken with the creaminess of the eggs in sauce which could sometimes be a bit much for some people. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
anniversary benedict : 2 poached eggs, hollandaise, aged cheddar, onion, bacon – $23

as for the baked eggs, it came bubbling away in a huge pan and tasted as hearty as it looked! two perfectly poached eggs sat atop a huge pan of chorizo, spinach and cheddar in a super yummy tomato-based sauce. i am a huge chorizo fan and the chorizo here was really delicious and added in just the right amount so that the dish wasn’t too salty! i also loved the addition of cheddar, but was a little let down by the pork sausage though; i felt it tasted a bit processed and would have preferred something with a more bratwurst-like bite. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
symmetry eggs sur le plat: 2 poached eggs, pork sausage, chorizo, garlic confit, creamed spinach, cheddar – $26

piling spoonfuls of the generous amounts of chorizo/sausage/tomatoes/carrots onto the toast that accompanied it was a seriously delicious combination:
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the serving was rather big but that did nothing to deter me from finishing it all. needless to say, i was pretty extremely stuffed but very satisfied by the time i was done with it:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the great service, food and ambience make for a great experience in this quaint cafe tucked away along a little lane, and i will definitely be back for more. i would love to return to try out the rest of their offerings (they are a cafe by day and a restaurant-bar by night), especially the non-breakfast ones which i hear are just as good, and their waffles too! the only qualm i have is that its a little pricey, especially when compared to maison ikkoku (see review here) which is just a short distance away, and which i enjoyed just as much!

be sure to make a reservation if you’re planning on heading down though. they have an electronic queue number system in place outside their shop, which is proof of just how popular they are and how essential it is to make a booking at least a few days in advance if you don’t want to be disappointed!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
electronic queue system – insane stuff for a little cafe

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Symmetry Cafe
9 Jalan Kubor #01-01
Singapore 199206

Maison Ikkoku, Singapore

located along a quiet street in the kampong glam area, maison ikkoku is possibly one of my new favourite places for brunch in singapore! the cosy cafe is located on the ground floor of a 3-storey shophouse, while the second and third floors house a boutique and cocktail bar respectively – all part of a multi-concept lifestyle store that the people behind maison ikkoku are trying to sell.

i visited a week and a half ago and was extremely satisfied and impressed with the food – what better way to spend a saturday morning than with 2 of your bestest friends and amazing brunch food?

case in point:
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on weekdays, they only serve a limited range of breakfast items, and for a short 2 hours from 9am-11am (their weekday menu can be found on their website at http://www.maison-ikkoku.net/). if getting up before 10am and making your way to kandahar street proves to be a bit of a challenge for the more sleep-inclined among you, then besides the fact that its probably a lot more crowded on weekends, heading over on a saturday or sunday instead is a great alternative! the weekend menu is extensive and has an exciting range of all day breakfast items to choose from, which i love!

here’s a peek at the menu:
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we ordered 3 items to share, and they were all super yummy.

the first thing we got was the umami florentine – sauteed shiitake mushrooms + sauteed baby spinach with garlic + poached eggs + hollandaise sauce + sauteed asparagus + toasted english muffins! we also added smoked salmon on the side.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
umami florentine – $16 (+$4 for additional side of smoked salmon)

this dish was one of the BEST eggs benny/eggs benny variations that i have had. being a mushroom lover, i loved the addition of shiitake mushrooms which were perfectly cooked and plated in copious amounts (so much so that the sauteed spinach under the mushrooms is completely obscured). it was something different from the usual portobello mushrooms typically used in brunch food, and complemented the sauteed spinach perfectly. the spinach sauteed with garlic taken together with the mushrooms and finally topped with perfectly poached eggs was an amazing combination. the homemade hollandaise sauce was also wonderfully done; it was light (not jelat¬†at all)¬†and its consistency was just nice, bringing everything together very nicely. couldn’t get enough of it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAquintessential shot of oozy egg yolk

the next thing we ordered was the french toast with caramelised bananas – thick brioche french toast with cinnamon + caramelised bananas + home-made caramel with sea salt + toasted walnuts + sour cream.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
french toast with caramelised bananas – $15

if you like sticky cinnamon buns, this will be heaven on a plate for you. i happen to absolutely adore sticky cinnamon rolls so this was amazing to me – not only was the presentation super enticing with thick toast stacked on top of each other, piled high with caramelised bananas and walnuts, and drenched in an amazing caramel/cinnamon sauce, it also tasted really really good. didn’t taste much sea salt (as mentioned in the description) at all though, and we barely touched the dollop of sour cream by the side, (both of which were probably meant to balance out the sweetness of the toast i imagine) but that’s probably a good sign because i suppose we didn’t think we needed any of it, ie the toast wasn’t sickly sweet at all!¬†the bananas were yummy, the toast was really thick and fluffy, and the walnuts were fresh and added a great crunch and texture to the dish. it is actually as filling as it looks in the picture though, so i think it’d probably be a bit too much for one person to stomach without feeling like its too heavy; this is ideal for sharing and is a lovely sweet lift to the usual savoury brunch options.

the third thing we ordered was the break of dawn Рpork bratwust + crispy smoked bacon + cherry tomatoes + breakfast potatoes + scrambled eggs with chives + mesclun salad with almond & classic lemon vinaigrette +  double orange salad + sourdough toast.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
break of dawn – $22

this is hands-down one of the most value-for-money brunch dishes i have ever had. seriously. at bigger establishments like wild honey, you’d probably pay more than this and get something barely 1/3 the size? just check out the size of that plate – it was HUGE and piled high with an array of breakfast foods. i think two average eaters can share this plate very comfortably and leave feeling very satisfied! each component on the plate was good which i thought was no mean feat, given that its rather hard to achieve that with the number of different things they served up.

the bratwurst was of a good quality (not at all the processed kind of sausage), and the cherry tomatoes were amazingly sweet, fresh and juicy. we all loved how they were the kind that are still on the vine when you buy them, and not the more run-of-the-mill oval-shaped ones. the potatoes and bacon were not bad too – well-fried and not too greasy. as for the mesclun salad and the orange salad, they were both very enjoyable additions to the plate to cleanse the palette in between bites of heavy breakfast food. the greens of the mesclun salad were fresh and the almonds added a nice crunch to the leaves. i also loved the lemon vinaigrette which was light and refreshing. as for the oranges, they were drenched in cinnamon and i’m not sure what they were meant to be eaten with, but they were delicious all the same and as i mentioned earlier, something refreshing to accompany the more greasy foods on the plate. the scrambled eggs were delicious. we all loved the addition of chives and they were light, fluffy and creamy – a worthy competitor of nassim hill’s scrambled eggs, i thought. they also gave a huge serving of scrambled eggs (we couldn’t finish it even among the 3 of us); not sure if you can see it in the picture but it was really a very big pile, plenty to be eaten with each component on the plate. last but not least, we had 2 thick pieces of sourdough, which was really welcome as an accompaniment for the hot foods on the plate to be piled high on.

despite the fact that the 3 of us are pretty big eaters, we did not manage to finish everything we ordered. we came pretty close though, because the food was so yummy that even though we were full, we kept picking at the remnants and going back for more bits and bobs left on the plates. unfortunately that left us with no space for desserts! they have several interesting cakes in the display, which i hope to try the next time i visit! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwe were especially intrigued by the “fade to black” cake that is meant to be a tribute to Metallica.¬†the coffee is also supposed to be good, but we didn’t have any as we found the prices for the drinks slightly steep.

all in all, we thoroughly enjoyed what maison ikkoku has to offer. great food with generous servings at very reasonable prices – no additional service charge added, so what you see on the menu is what you pay! its a great little place to hang out that has a very chill vibe, the kind of unpretentious place where you order at the counter and get water for yourself. the cafe is pretty small and it does get very crowded on weekends (we witnessed several people being turned away/being told to wait about 30 minutes for a table), so making a reservation is definitely recommended if you’re planning on going at brunch peak hour (about 11am onwards).

i’m definitely returning to maison ikkoku but i’m not sure what i’ll order this time – i enjoyed what we had the last time so much that i’m not sure how willing i will be to depart from those choices we made! maybe i’ll go on a weekday so my choices will be limited and i’ll be forced to try the rest of their offerings which i hope will be equally great! ūüėČ

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Maison Ikkoku

20 Kandahar Street
Singapore 198885

ps. rich & good cake shop a few doors down has some great swiss rolls in variety of local flavours to offer – pop by & give it a try!!!

pps. don’t forget to pop by haji lane and kampong glam while you’re in the area! its always nice to take a stroll around a culturally rich area rather than being constantly surrounded by towering skyscrapers. some exciting post-brunch things we did that day documented by my la sardina:
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Nassim Hill Bakery Bistro Bar, Singapore

tucked away from the hustle and bustle along main orchard road but still conveniently located at the post office building opposite tanglin mall, nassim hill bakery is a great spot to chill and unwind over good food either before or after (or both!) battling the crowds in town.

i visited on a saturday morning and was able to get a table quite easily although there was a constant stream of customers and almost all the tables were occupied at any one time.¬†we didn’t manage to get one of the individual tables though, and ended up at the big communal table in the centre of the cafe. but it wasn’t bad at all – the table is big and¬†chairs are well-spaced such that everyone can sit comfortably in groups without feeling like you’re too close to your tablemates.¬†its a nice, bright and open space that gives off the vibe of a casual neighbourhood joint; the kind of place where people sip coffee and read books while their dogs sit by their feet wagging their tails.¬†OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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they serve a range of breads, cakes, sandwiches, soups, salads etc but it was the brunch food that we were drawn to. after extensive deliberation and lots of indecision (food choices are always life-changing decisions), we settled for an eggs benny (but with salmon not ham), a scrambled eggs with prosciutto and a hot reuben sandwich (manly food for the lone man at the table).

i’d been eyeing the scrambled eggs from the moment i stepped in and a waiter walked past me carrying a huge plate of it. it looked amazing and was calling out to me even though i’m usually more of an eggs benny kind of person (runny yolks ftw), so it was this hearty dish that i ultimately settled on:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhearty scrambled eggs with swiss cheese & prosciutto – $20

the scrambled eggs did not disappoint and were the highlight of the dish. i thought they certainly tasted as good as they looked! they were light, fluffy, soft, buttery, creamy, smooth, and moist but far from being too wet. (feel free to add in any other adjectives you would use to describe really good scrambled eggs; am pretty sure these will fit the bill.) not sure if you can see it clearly in this picture, but i also liked the fact that they weren’t scrambled to the point of them becoming a mass of single-coloured light yellow eggs. instead, they were of varying shades along the spectrum of white to yellow. they also went perfectly with the saltiness of the prosciutto, the swiss cheese and the accompanying bread in the bread basket.

all eggs breakfast sets come with a basket of bread accompanied by butter & jam:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe breads were really good as well! the basket contained a mix – fruit & nut, their signature beer bread, ciabatta etc, all of which were yummy. and the jam that accompanied it was even better – i loved the homemade fig jam so much that i would definitely have bought a jar home if not for the fact that my family hardly eats bread with jam for breakfast. (my dad is a total chinaman when it comes to eating habits – he must have noodle soup/porridge every single morning without fail, while my sister and i have taken to just having a huge bowl of cereal in the morning after getting into that habit while we’re away from home at school) the orange jam was good too, with bits of orange peel in it, but i would have preferred it to be a little more tangy and a little less sweet.IMG-20130817-WA0005happy customer ūüôā

the eggs benny, often dubbed one of the best in singapore, was pretty good too! my friend changed the ham to salmon but for those of you who want to stick to the standard order of ham, i observed from people dining around us that the ham they use is what i like to call proper ham – not at all like the lousy ultra thin slices of pre-packed picnic ham you get at supermarkets. the slices are thick and looked very tasty!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

eggs benedict Р$20 

the hollandaise sauce was one of the better ones i’ve tasted, and the eggs were perfectly poached. i also liked how the muffin used was white ciabatta which was really fluffy and yummy. everything tasted really good together!

the last thing we ordered was the hot reuben sandwich. the serving was huge! perfect for a hungry boy but definitely too much for an average girl. it probably doesn’t look that big in the picture below, but check out the following pics with people as scale and you’ll see how generous a serving it is.¬†OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
hot reuben: sliced corned beef with melted emmental, saurkraut, onions and Russian dressing on signature Grimbergen Ambrée beer bread Р$18

the hot reuben is full of beef slices, cheese, onions, and other amazing things that come together wonderfully and present themselves in the form of a massive uber hearty sandwich. check out the cheese (and also how half the sandwich is the size of 3/4 of my dear friend’s face hahaha omg):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

a close-up of the supersandwich:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAit actually reminded me of the salt beef sandwich they have at selfridges back in london, minus the pickle and mustard. i only had a little of it since i had a big pile of scrambled eggs to tackle, but that bite was enough to make me want to order it if i have a sandwich the next time i’m there! they were generous with the sandwich filling – definitely not the kind of sandwich where you have some plain bread left with nothing to eat it with, and the signature beer bread had a delicious hint of maltiness that complemented the ingredients really well. being one of nassim hill’s signature dishes, it certainly did not disappoint! my friend who had it was super satisfied and thought it was really reasonably priced. in his words, “i can’t believe its cheaper than the egg dishes when there’s so much beef!” i’ve always thought its not easy to please a typical boy because they’re generally more interested in quantity rather than quality and are happiest when food is cheap, so that stamp of approval must definitely be a sign of great things ūüėČ

what i also really like about this place is that there’s no additional service charge or gst so what you see on the menu is what you pay. there’s free parking right outside as well, though the number of lots is quite limited. getting a space on a weekday will probably be no problem though.

the verdict: definitely worth checking out!

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Nassim Hill Bakery Bistro Bar

56 Tanglin Road
Tanglin Post Office #01-03
Singapore 247964
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